What Have I Done?

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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?

Chasing What I Never Could Have #1

I was sitting in a room full for people, staring. Today, I told myself, something was different.

As they kissed each other on the cheeks and shook hands, I felt as if I was in a glass box, observing and seeing the outside world as if through a window sealed shut, or like those of shop windows, never meant to crack.

At that moment I stared on and wondered “what strange behaviors”. I hated being touched as a child, I somewhat still do, and just couldn’t understand why we would have to greet each other by kissing, caressing or shaking hands.

Touch overwhelmed me.

I think that was the first time I felt different, or perhaps, the first time I was conscious of it.

I was 5, playing with dolls, staring at visitors walking to the female assigned guest room connected to our living room, as my mother greeted them for a dinner party.

I still recall asking my mom around it – why do we greet each other this way, who decided it?

I never got answers from her, only anger and shouting. I still wonder whether she was just annoyed, or if I hit her incompetence nerve as I call it, because she never liked looking stupid or sounding stupid. I stopped asking her for anything, I recall, at around 7. she was hardly involved in our rearing, and even when she was, it was to punish.

I always thought differently, and was a different kind of “smart”, and she never liked that. She liked anything which praised her, which made her feel “superior”

My father was the opposite, and I still think he added more to who I was in the 9 years of my life he was alive to see, than she did up to now.

My father was an intelligent man:

He completed 4 years of highs school in 1.5. I recall something about them (father and uncle) going by boat to Bahrain for classes too. He studied all over the world, from Norway or Finland, Japan, London, Hawaii, to the United States and more.He studied Telecom Engineering in Scandinavia, in either Finnish or Norwegian (my mother managed to burn all his books, so we couldn’t figure it out) and he didn’t know a word – he claimed mathematics is a universal language, and he didn’t need another language.He was our human calculator, we threw any numbers at him and he was able to solve them in seconds.

But most importantly, he was well read, and always allowed me to read his scientific journals and books – though I wish I didn’t read about Marie Curie at 6 because I developed nightmares about radioactive material – and gave me the freedom to ask any, and as many, questions I wanted.

He listened, answered or directed us to where we could find answers, and only wanted what’s best for us. I still hate God for taking him away.

With him, I felt the most normal. he accepted me for who I was, and that window felt thinner than if I was with someone else.

He also understood I was a different kind of smart, and pushed for my education hard.

My mother is vehemently against any sort of education, even today, and she hence wasn’t too excited about my dad registering me at a bilingual kindergarten.

She initially delayed my enrollment because she thought I was “stupid”, and my dad and sister disagreed.

There, I recall trying to play with others and not knowing how to, I also didn’t know how to communicate with them. I thought I was doing well, but the teachers told my mother I was:

“too much to handle”, “disobedient”, “destructive”, “inattentive” “hyperactive” and downright just didn’t abide by their instructions.

I was hence marked as “unfit” for pre-school class and shoved into a room with 3 year old shouting and eating candy. I guess I didn’t care since I was having fun.

All I recall is learning about money in the kindergarten, and my mind was blown. I needed “money” to get candy? how have I never noticed this before!?

My mother made the decision to approve this, and all I recall are a few fights between her and my father on the subject.

To her, it was one less thing to focus on, she did not want to think about my homework, that’ll take from her socializing time, or want to help me with it, since it made her feel “incompetent”.

I was enrolled in a public school a year later. she pushed hard to not put me in a private school too.

So, was I all that the previous teachers described me as?

Oh, hell yes. I was a destructive handful who had too much energy, didn’t sit still, got into fights with 6th graders and anyone who dared bully me.

But I was also a Straight A student. I scored in the top 5 Percentile at elementary school.

suck it, I guess.

Alas, my teachers were perplexed, and divided over how to deal with me. They didn’t want to punish me and discourage me from studying, plus I was intensely bullied and they weren’t sure how to manage it.

I somehow knew I was always going to get away with it too. I was chubby with pink cheeks, had brown curly hair with gold locks, and was considered too “white” in complexion to fit in, so I was bullied on my looks often, though that came in handy with teachers.

I was “cute” and had a lisp, so whenever I got into trouble, they would call me to the principle’s office, they’d ask me to say a sentence that was going to sound cute with my lisp, and I’d be let go, scot-free.

I continued to bully back the other girls, terrorizing them by swinging my shoulder strapped Barbie water thermos around in the air and once it garnished enough velocity, hit them with it. My water bottles were deservingly stolen from me multiple times due to that.

My mother never took my behavior well, she was losing face in public, but then praised for raising a “smart daughter” so of course, a beating at home was eminent, and was kept behind closed doors.

What is wrong with me?

You would assume I was having the best time of my life, but I really can’t explain the dichotomy which exists within me up to today.

I never understood this combined rejection of my being. In both Kindergarten and Elementary, I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to have those friends you see on TV, and even more so, I wanted those real friendships I saw in class, during recess, between teachers – am I such a bad person?

Heck, I was the only kid not invited to this girl’s birthday.

How did I know? she announced it in class.

I recall being punished during class for disrupting the class and enjoying it. I was assigned tot his sticky desk on the side of the class, away from everyone. Is this punishment? isolation? you already do that, so your punishments suck, really.

Reject that which rejected you

The dichotomy was, then, this desire to belong, to have friends, to be normal, clashing with the desire to be left alone, to rebel against those who reject me and taunted me.

That desire to belong I blame for so much misery in my life, and so much pain.

The child in me couldn’t deal with the constant rejection, and the adult in me still tries to find her place in the world with a hot track record of failure.

the glass box I am in becomes thicker, murkier, and my desire to leave it hard to find.

What they did not know, was that they were setting me for success elsewhere.