The secret room which Sa’eed builds in his house in the small village of Wad Hamid in Sudan represents his link to western culture. The room is lined from floor to ceiling with books in English (none of the texts are in Sa’eed’s native language of Arabic). Furthermore, the room contains a real English fireplace—a symbol of British culture, which is a strange artifact to maintain in a small village on the banks of the Nile river in Sudan, located close to the equator, where there is no need of fireplaces. The pictures, paintings, and documents from Sa’eed’s life in England, also contained in the room, further attest to his links to the western culture in which he has spent many of the formative years of his life. Sa’eed’s secret room in Sudan stands in contrast to his London apartment. While the apartment in London embodies a fetishized version of his “eastern” roots, the room in Sudan represents his links to the west. Taken together, the two rooms suggest the extent to which Sa’eed is caught between these two cultures—western, English culture on the one hand, and his native eastern culture on the other.
Sa’eed’s Secret Room in Sudan Quotes in Season of Migration to the North
I struck a match. The light exploded in my eyes and out of the darkness there emerged a frowning face with pursed lips that I knew but could not place. I moved towards it with hate in my heart. It was my adversary Mustafa Sa’eed. […] I found myself standing face to face with myself.
How ridiculous! A fireplace—imagine it! A real English fireplace with all the bits and pieces.
“How marvellous your black colour is!” she would say to me—“the colour of magic and mystery and obscenities.”
“In London I took her to my house, the den of lethal lies that I had deliberately built up, lie upon lie: the sandalwood and incense; the ostrich feathers and ivory and ebony figurines; the paintings and drawings of forests of palm trees along the shores of the Nile, boats with sails like doves’ wings, suns setting over the mountains of the Red Sea, camel caravans wending their way along sand dunes on the borders of the Yemen, baobab tress in Kordofan, naked girls from the tribes of Zandi.”
“The moments of ecstasy were in fact rare; the rest of the time we spent in a murderous war in which no quarter was given. The war invariably ended in my defeat. When I slapped her, she would slap me back and dig her nails into my face...”