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Maktoub: That which is already written

Maktoub: That which is already written

Maktoub: That which is already written

My novel Indiscretion is set in Andalucia, Spain – home of the Moors for many centuries. Their influence on culture was profound, and so was their philosophy.

If you have read my books Burning Embers and The Echoes of Love, you’ll know I have a keen interest in philosophy, especially how it relates to destiny versus self-autonomy. In Indiscretion, I explore in depth several elements of the Spanish character, such as how they think of life and death:

‘The Spanish confuse life with death, and death with life. Perhaps the key to the soul of our people is to be found in the words of Socrates who said that “the wise man doesn’t fear death, and the pious man doesn’t regard it as a final end. It induces the first to make the most of life, and the second to live in hope of a better world. For each, death becomes life.”’

Entwined with such thinking is a belief in fate, which relates to a philosophy bequeathed by Moorish ancestors: that of maktoub. It literally means ‘already written’; these days in the West we often express the concept as ‘written in the stars’.

In Indiscretion, maktoub is a powerful force that is hard to escape, much less dismiss as incredible. Here’s a friend of the heroine, Alexandra, reassuring her that she can trust to destiny:

Fate will give you both a second chance. The world is full of the unexpected! There is some truth in the old Moorish saying: if it’s maktoub, written in the unknown, that you are meant for each other, then neither the oceans, nor the deserts, nor the whole universe will be able to keep you from one another. And you will meet again.

Alexandra tries to take comfort from this idea that all will come right, and she can relax and put her faith in maktoub. But events conspire to thwart her will, and before long she is uneasy:

It was as though invisible influences were at work, inexorably playing havoc with her life, preventing her from leaving Spain. This was the second time fate had interfered with her plans. She thought of the Moor’s maktoub, and of the gypsies. Was all of this ‘written’?

The lack of control is unsettling, but it can also be chilling. When she meets once more the gypsy who has been delivering dark warnings, she is left with ‘a cold, desperate fear that went straight to her soul’:

The power of the gypsies and the enigmatic hand of maktoub had finally caught up with her and claimed her.

From reassurance to fear – the same concept raises opposing feelings. The root of the issue is trust. If you trust wholly in fate, in destiny, in maktoub, then you know that come what may the right outcome awaits you. That is easy to do when the journey is calm and easy and happy, and the end goal looks achievable. But in the dark times, when obstacles are thrown in your path, it is all too easy to lose faith in maktoub, or to distrust its influence in your life. For Alexandra, then, her journey is as much philosophical as it is emotional and physical – she must find in herself not only faith in the man she loves, but also in a future that is right for her.

As The Beatles sung, ‘There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…’

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