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When I woke up, we had just landed in London, Heathrow. I jet setted through these airports so often, that it actually felt like I haven’t left home at all. There was nothing foreign, all felt familiar, and I knew it was too early to celebrate.

the layover was strategically short. I’ve heard too many stories of girls being intercepted at layover airports, locked up or drugged, taken (forcibly) on board private jets, and sent back home. In most cases, these girls disappear.

It’s not too far-fetched now, thanks to the stories of Saudi girls making the rounds on Twitter, but back in 2015? most of this was never unheard of in the west. The princesses of the UAE, the Saudis, and their stories too.

Girls disappear, want to know what happens to them? Death, forced marriage, imprisonment, forcefully being kept in a mental asylum, and fed drugs til the day they exhale for the last time. I used to think of that last breath often, how peaceful it must feel, the warmth you get to feel for the last time as you wilt into… into what… whatever it is, it mustn’t be worst than this. peace… that must be the only time I’ll ever be close to it.

What was it that we’ve done to deserve this but be born women?

Have I truly angered the Gods by just wanting a happy, albeit simple, life? Yes, I understand, happiness is what you make of it, when YOU have a choice, we do not.

My wrist wound was starting to pound and I needed to find my way into a pharmacy, Boots it is, I guess. Problem is, I did not have enough money, I had the emergency cash of around 2000 EUR and that would hardly be enough until I figured out how to get my savings out of the country. I decided to try and use my card, what’s the worst that could happen… and… it worked!

you see, debit and credit cards had to be signed off for use abroad by the bank, either via their app, or in person. everything in Qatar was linked to your ID#, to your telephone number, and since I did not have my Qatari sim which my brother has now that he has the phone, I could not access my funds.

i felt relief, I had authorized my card for use abroad when I was in London in July, and look at me… using it in the same city, and I’ll be able to use these cards for the next few months.

I bought some rubbing alcohol, cotton, and hygiene products. I forgot to bring shampoo and more with me, and it seemed like a great idea at the time, and headed back to the plane.

I got intercepted by two men, white, I don’t even recall their nationalities but all I do recall was that instant fear and trembling in my knees. I turned the autopilot on, “remember, you’re a lovely little girl from the Gulf with a lot of money, going to see your boyfriend in the States, and don’t know when you’d go back to Qatar so you haven’t booked a ticket yet.

That’s what I convinced myself was the persona, and hence I needed to act it out.

And… it worked?

I think I was taken aback by how easy all of this has been. I’ve had more trouble getting in and out of the country on previous occasions, and here I was, smooth sailing away from the motherland… and into… the unknown.

As I sat there On the plane, a mixed bag of feelings came over me. Calmness, pride, and anxiousness for the future took turns on my nervous system, until, I fell asleep again.

Have I truly succeeded where so many others have failed

Is this fate? it must be fate, there is no “facile” in life, unless it is all meant to be

perhaps I am just convincing myself I am chosen for this

and New York… of all places…

But my sister, and my niece, will I ever see them again…

what have I done?

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