Haywards Heath by Aminatta Forna
In Haywards Heath by Aminatta Forna we have the theme of connection, commitment, letting go, happiness, acceptance and loss. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Forna may be exploring the theme of connection. Attila despite the passing of time has never forgotten about Rosie or what she means to him. If anything his two visits to the retirement home suggest in many ways that Attila remains not only connected to Rosie but committed to her too. Though Rosie herself does not recognise Attila when he visits her. Something which may lead the reader to believe that Rosie is suffering with dementia. Which in many ways is ironic as she knows of Attila and her time with Attila. It is just a matter of not being able to identify or pick out Attila when he is in a room. The fact that Rosie can remember her time with Attila though not necessarily be able to identify Attila himself may be significant as Forna may be suggesting that Attila had a deep impact on Rosie’s life. She did after all hope that he might stay in the UK after he finished college but this was not something that Attila had planned for.
It may also be a case that Forna is exploring the theme of letting go. Despite the passing of time Attila not only remains committed to Rosie but he appears to be unable to let go of her. With memories flooding back when he sees her. Unfortunately for Attila the same feeling is not demonstrated by Rosie as she has dementia. She remembers parts of her past but may not necessarily remember the intimate moments. However it is interesting that Rosie calls the male nurse Attila based on his skin colour and his goatee. Mirroring Attila’s appearance in some ways. For Rosie her time with Attila is a moment in which she clearly enjoys. Again even if she is somewhat confused. How important Attila’s relationship with Rosie actually is to Attila is noticeable symbolically by the fact that on his second visit to Rosie in the retirement home he buys her the box of Newbury Fruits. It is as though a simple matter of what Rosie’s favourite sweets are further connects Attila to Rosie.
There is however an element of sadness attached to the story when Attila realises that Rosie does not recognise him. However rather than taking it personal he puts Rosie first and continues to stay be her side when he visits her. The walk in the garden being an example. Though it is noticeable that Attila takes a moment to refresh himself in the bathroom. Most likely due to the fact that he may feel hurt that Rosie does not recognise him. However he may have lost Rosie to dementia but she is still physically with him. This is something that cannot be taken away from Attila. Attila also apart from the time he goes to the bathroom. Does not allow for his emotions to get the better of him. He at all times puts Rosie first despite how he himself may be feeling due to Rosie’s circumstances. It is as though Attila has the inner strength to realise that the most important person is not himself but Rosie. Even if she does not recognise him. It may also be a case that Forna is suggesting that dementia, though a cruel disease, does not necessarily have to overpower a person. If anything Rosie is happy and Attila though forgotten about is pleased that Rosie is happy. He knows that she is getting the care she needs and that she is in good hands. Her life may have changed dramatically but she still has the ability to feel and accept happiness and joy. Even if she really doesn’t fully understand her circumstances. Which might be the point that Forna is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that everybody needs a helping hand in life. Just as Rosie may have helped Attila when he was younger. The nurses in the retirement home are helping Rosie.
The fact that Attila waits for Rosie to stop dancing and sits in a chair would further suggest to the reader just how committed and understanding Attila is when it comes to Rosie’s condition. He does not think of himself or the fact he might feel slighted by Rosie’s actions. Rather he is happy that Rosie herself is happy. However there may be a sense that Attila is fully aware that he has lost Rosie forever. Even so he continues to be at her side. She may have forgot the intimate moments she shared with Attila but Attila sees their relationship being based on true love. Even if some critics might suggest that Attila’s presence is pointless when Rosie can’t actually remember him physically. The fact that Attila relaxes in the chair while Rosie dances with the nurse might also be significant as it is most likely that he is just happy to see Rosie having fun. She may have dementia but she can still have fun. Just as Attila and Rosie had fun in one another’s company when they were younger.