By Alawiya Abdalla
*The day after the arrival*
Ya Allah help my broken heart heal, Ya Allah make this pain go away. I can not believe I have seen my rapist for the first time since he violated me, and took away the one thing that is dear to me
I never thought about the possibility of running into him, and I never gave a thought about how I might react to him. I stopped breathing the moment I laid my eyes on him, it was as if my soul left my body and I was watching myself from far. I was a shivering wreck and I got very angry with myself! When will I ever be brave to face this bully?
Ya Allah help me defeat him, Ya Allah make me live to see the day when he is shivering from fear for a change. Ya Allah I cannot get this pain out of my heart, as I can’t seem to move on from it. Ya Allah please make it sooner than later, I am only human and I can only take so much
Yesterday was actually so amazing, once I have put my pain aside as I usually do. Seeing my mum and dad was amazing, I literally threw myself at them and did not wanna let go
My mum was quite embarrassed, as she kept telling me to go sit next to my husband
Osman kept asking me if I was alright, because he witnessed what Ayman did when he saw me. That was so thoughtful of him and he also kept playing with my younger brother Amr.
Hossam was here too, and was helpful as usual Mashallah. Our mothers promised us to each other since we were babies! There was not any official engagement or anything, but my aunty was hoping that we marry when we become older.
To be honest, I never really saw Hossam as anything other than my brother. Maybe it is because we were literally raised together from a very young age.
We were always playing typical Egyptian games on our street. The famous one called Belya (Tiny shiny balls you throw at rocks to see how much you can knock down like bowling)
We used to play all the time, until my mother reminded me that I was becoming a “woman” now and that I should not push or taunt him for losing all the time! I was shamelessly competitive as a child you see
I grew up and we drifted, but he was a constant presence in our lives. If we needed to get my dad downstairs for fresh air (which was not often because my dad did not want to burden him) Hossam would be in our house in an instant.
He was always there for us when we needed him, and I would have probably agreed to marry him had he proposed to me. I could see that my mother wanted it, but she never pushed me.
I told myself that I was probably going to love him after marriage, but when Ayman raped me I did not want Hossam to carry my shame on his shoulders. He is a good pious muslim who deserves someone with no shameful past, and that is when I agreed to marry Osman.
He just seemed so vain, and he made it clear that he did not fancy me. I felt at ease with my decision knowing that he will not ask me for my wifely duties, but Hossam would have and I could not have faced telling him or see the look of disgust on him
You see Osman was a stranger to me back then, a stranger who was only interested in the inheritance money. But now, I am seeing a different beautiful side to him
He is very kind and I just can’t help myself for falling in love him. I know he feels sorry for what happened to me, and I’m being naive for feeling the way I’m feeling right now but I just can’t help it.
I was dreading the sleeping arrangements as well!! My uncle and Fifi are staying in a hotel near our area. And then came the arrangements for us, and my mum kept insisting we take my room because we are “newly weds” and all that.
But Osman told them that he would prefer to sleep on the couch in the living room out of respect to them both. It did not go down well with my mum, as she thought he was rejecting me
He did it so it will not come from me, and arouse any suspicions. I felt so grateful, because knowing my mother she would have killed me if I even THOUGHT about it, never mind suggest it
In the end Hossam brought an extra mattress from my aunty’s house, for Osman to sleep on. I told Osman that I would wake him up at fajr so he can continue sleeping in my room.
Now I am back to my old routine, waiting for fresh 3esh (Egyptian brown bread) at the bakery down the road. I forgot how hectic and crowded it can be!!
It has been a looong time since I used my Karate skills to get to the front of the queue
So I am here about to push and shove my way skillfully as I did many times before, when I hear someone shout my name
“FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL (Egyptian beans dish) COME AND GET YOUR FRESH FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL” I was AWAKENED by this irritating man’s voice.
“FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL COME AND GET YOUR FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL” He kept screeching
Is he for real?? Who does that?? I look out of the window and I see this man carrying a giant looking cooking pan, and hordes of people pushing each other to buy it
WHHHATTT? And he is giving it out in plastic bags! Dang that must burn in your hands boy, as it looks pipping hot!
WHOAAA! Look at these women and men pushing each other to get some! I see a man on the floor and a woman hitting him with her slippers!! Damn, Egyptians must really like their beans boy
I continue watching in fascination, until I spot Shaimaa making her way to the bakery which is full of customers as well!!
Is she crazy?? That is not a place for a woman to be at!! I must go and rescue her
I put on my clothes as fast as I can, and I get out of the room running past my mother inlaw taking the stairs two at a time until I was outside the bakery PHEWWW.
“SHAIMAA” I call her name hoping she could hear me through all the shouting and mumbling.
She turns around, and looks at me in surprise
“What are you doing here??” She asks mortified that I am standing here
“I am HERE to save you lady! Now give me the money and I’ll get the bread for you” I tell her and give her my hands so she can put the change on it.
“I really don’t think you should__” I do not let her continue her sentence.
“JUST GIVE ME WOMAN” I demand it, does she think I cannot handle it
She hands me the change reluctantly, and I go to face the angry crowd
As soon as I go close to the crowd, something sucks me right into the hordes of people. It is like I was sucked in with a giant vacuum cleaner and to make matters worse I am finding it hard to keep my balance!!
OH NO! OH NO! YEP I’m falling!! THUUUDD
Yep, now I am on the floor covering my face to avoid the stampede!! I was like that for almost a minute until a lady saw me.
Instead of helping me up she started shouting something in Arabic and the next thing I know is slippers were raining at me from various angles
As these men I mean “women” continue their beatings AND somehow buying the bread, I feel myself being pulled out of the gathering.
I spot Shaimaa’s concerned face, and I instantly feel relieve.
“Ya Illahi! You shouldn’t have attempted to buy the bread before I told you about my system” She tells me inspecting my face for any bruises.
“I was doing quite alright back there I promise” I reply confidently, even though we all know a bunch of women were beating the life out of me
“Watch and learn” She goes before I have the chance to protest.
I watch her as she expertly disappears into the crowd, I hold my breath until I see her out with fresh bread in her hand
“How did you_What__that didn’t even take long!” I fluff my words as I am ASTONISHED by this
“Years of practice my friend” She replies proudly
“Yeah OKAY! Next time you wait and you will see. You just wait” I promise her this to salvage my wounded pride
We make our way back to the flat walk past my mother in law, this time I stop and give her a morning greeting
Then I try to go back to sleep with little luck
I toss and turn and nothing! Zilch! No sleep. I feel so annoyed, until I hear the funniest conversation between Shaimaa and her mother
Damn these walls are tooo thin boy
I put the fresh Fool and 3esh in the ktichen, and I go over to help my mum with preparing breakfast
“Shaimaa come closer so I can look at you binti (my daughter)” She tells me in that same concerned voice she has when I used to get ill
She takes my face in her hands, and she inspects and inspects and triple inspects
“Mum, what’s wrong?” I ask her nervously when I see her putting her hand on her chin
“Shaimaa my dear child, YOU DON’T HAVE THAT BRIDAL GLOW!” She says it bluntly (Oh dear)
“What are you talking about Ummi? I’m practically lighting this whole house on my own with my bridal glow!!” I lie, thinking what it is with women and the “bridal glow” they talk about all the time
“I’m serious! And where’s the side glances couple give each other? You are COMPLETELY ignoring your husband, HE on the other hand looks at you like a man who is not_How can I put it into words?” She takes a moment to think!
“No don’t Ummi!! I know what you wanna say!! We are perfectly fine I promise you” I reply, shifting uncomfortably trying to figure out how to change the subject
“SHAIMAA BINT MOHAMED. ARE YOU NOT GIVING YOUR HUSBAND HIS RIGHTS??” She asks it so loudly, that I think to myself maybe the people queueing up for the 3esh didn’t hear it
“Ummi!! That was too loud. Can we like drop the issue now please!” I plead with her hoping that Osman did not hear ANY OF THIS CRINGY CONVERSATION
“How could you!! That’s haram!! Oh Ya Allah! It’s all my fault, I should have talked to you about the wedding night and all that. Everything happened so fast with your Nikah, I didn’t have time walahi. But fear not, I’ll talk to you about it right now” She talks so fast (Oh dear)
“Mum mum, No need for that seriously I___” She doesn’t hear a word I say.
“You see some men get over excited on their wedding night. And when me and your dad__” Now I cut HER off.
“WHOAAA MUM! LIKE SERIOUSLY!”
Then my conversation with my mum is rescued by non other than Osman! Phewwww
“Good morning Mrs Sarah” He greets her in English.
She understands what he said, but she answers him in Arabic. Then silence fills the air as me and my mum get back to preparing breakfast
Osman looks like he is holding a laughter that is about to burst Oh no! He has not heard the conversation has he??
I get my chance to ask,when mum goes to get my dad.
“You didn’t hear the conversation between me and my mum have you?” I ask him uncomfortably
“What conversation?” He replies slyly
“YOU DID_YOU SO DID! Oh how embarrassing!!” I say it wishing the ground would open up and swallow me.
“Oh THAT conversation? Yep I did! Have to say it was quite funny until your mum was gonna share too much information! Then I was like OH NO OH HELL NO” He says it amusingly
“Very funny! She’s just a good pious wife and she taught me from a young age, that I should respect and listen to my husband. That’s just how she is” I explain my mum’s concern.
“I know Walahi. I’m only messing with you” He says it playfully.
“Ramadan is on the day after tomorrow Inshallah. Have you ever fasted?” I ask him.
“Unfortunately no!” He replies shame engulfing him (aww)
“Well, I’m not gonna lie to you. It will be difficult in the beginning, but Inshallah with Allah’s blessing you will overcome it” I encourage him.
He looks like he is about to say something, when a knock interrupts us. I go to open the door and I see my friend DINA standing right there infront of me
“SHAIMAAAAAAA, YOU COW! YOU JUST LEFT WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING TO ME??” She hugs me fiercely and showers me with kisses on the cheek
“Dina Habibti, I’m so sorry it all happened so fast Walahi. I didn’t have any time to tell anyone” I try to explain my situation.
Dina is my childhood friend, and my bestest friend in the whole wide world. She works at the same place where I was fired from as well, so our nights and day were spent together.
She enters the living room, and spots Osman sitting.
“I see why you would want to hide your husband from the world” She whispers in my ear ” He’s Mashallah Mashallah cute”
Osman leaves the living room, feeling awkward You see my friend Dina is the opposite of me.
She is right there in your face, if she likes a guy she will go up to him and tell him to come knock on her parent’s door!! Her motto is one of these guys WILL come knocking eventually
Do not get me wrong, she is not loose or anything but she is just straightforward. She does not go out on dates or anything, but her biggest dream is marriage and kids and she feels that desperate times calls for desperate measures
“Congratulations habibti, you so deserve it. And I’m only like 10% jealous of you” She tells me jokingly.
“You’re welcome sweetheart. Inshallah it’ll happen for you too soon” I feel weird lying to my best friend
“So Hossam is free now?” She asks blatantly
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I hear he is” I tell her thinking she would be PERFECT for Hossam
“I’m gonna stalk him day and night until he agrees to marry me then” She says it so lightly, like it does not sound crazy at all!!
I laugh at her crazy ideas, and we go over things that I have missed during my stay in England. Subhanallah it feels like ages ago since I talked with her
“Shaimaa, how come you don’t have a bridal glow?” She asks that silly question
“Ya Rabbiiii! What is it with you and my mum and the BRIDAL GLOW?” I ask her feeling annoyed from this question now!
“It’s when you__” I cut her sentence.
“I KNOW I KNOW! Mum told me, my ears still hurts” I remember my earlier conversation with my mum.
“You’re not_Are you??” She questions me the same way my mum did
“It’s between me and my husband thank you very much” I feel my cheeks forming different shades of red
“Shaimaa! You know that Haram right?? The angles will curse you all night, you ARE aware of that right?” She says it in a concerned tone (aww)
“Dina Hayaty, I know that Walahi. But things are complicated” I feel like I am about to burst out the truth to her.
“We have been friends since like forever Shaimaa, you can tell me anything and you know your secret is safe. Just like I know mine is safe with you” She reminds me of our oath we made when we were younger.
What happened next was like someone opening a floodgate, and there is nothing anyone could do to close it. The way I suddenly told Osman about my rape, I decided that my best friend ought to know as well.
“Ayman raped me Dina” I feel like another rock lifting from my shoulders, the first one was when I told Osman
“Oh sweety, why didn’t you tell me!!! How dare he do that to you?? I know you told me he was pestering you with a marriage proposal but I never thought he would do that! I’m soo mad right now” She says it angrily with a hint of sadness to her voice
“Don’t, you’re gonna make me cry now” I try to hold back tears but I fail miserably, as floods of tears fall on my cheeks.
Dina comes over and she gives me a hug and tells me.
“One day he will pay for this Shaimaa my friend” She says the same thing Osman told me yesterday.
“Subhanallah, Osman just said that yesterday” I tell her about the coincidence.
“He knows? And that was his reply?” She asks curiously.
“Yeah he did actually. But what can he do? I don’t want him to do anything. I’m just trying to forget the whole thing” I say it wiping tears off my cheeks
She does not say anything but she seems to be deep in thought.
The moment was broken when we hear ANOTHER knock on the door, I was about to go and open it when Dina told me to go and freshen up because I look like I have been crying
I hear her opening the door, and I also hear my uncle, Fifi and Hossam’s mumbling voices from the toilet. I fix myself quickly and I go outside to greet them.
As soon as I leave the toilet, I spot Dina terrorizing Hossam Subhanallah, that girl does not waste anytime.
I go over and kiss my uncle’s hand and Fifi, then I go in the kitchen to prepare the breakfast for everyone. I pull Dina away from poor uncomfortable Hossam! Maskeen, the poor guy does not know where to look as he lowers his gaze.
We all sit down for breakfast, and chats form all around the house. My dad and uncle are talking away, my mum is trying to converse with Fifi but she does not understand a word as mum tries to speak in broken English. I made sure Osman was sitting next to Hossam and they were talking! And I was chattering away with Dina WHO kept looking over to Hossam__
All in all it was a successful breakfast I could not asked for a better start of the day. I was clearing up the dishes when I noticed that my dad and uncle disappear to his room, and Hossam going to the balcony followed by Osman and Dina chattering away in broken English to Fifi
Oh how I missed this simplicity about life in Egypt If I had my way, I would stay here forever and never complain. I sigh and smile as I contemplate the idea
Just finished having breakfast at my brother’s house for the first time ever. Is it not amazing how we come to appreciate certain things in our lives unexpectedly? I never contemplated breakfast with my brother could come to be very important to me some day.
Last year, this would not have been something that I would have been sitting smiling about. Oh no, in fact it would have been my idea of hell. I despised my brother that much back then
I asked to speak to my brother, because I cannot wait to get this heavy thing placed in heart. I never thought about labeling it before, because I always made excuses for my feelings.
I was mistreated, everyone overlooked me, No one noticed me. These were the excuses for the heavy ugly feelings I used to feel towards my brother.
I am finally able to put a label on it. I felt HATE, pure hate towards my brother. I do not feel it now, knowing that I could lose the ability to even remember how to dress myself someday. I am tired and I am ready to be a better person from now on.
“Mohamed, I want to start by saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry for never even picking up the phone, when you had the accident” I start my long due apology, sitting on a small chair facing my brother on his wheelchair.
“Khalifa, you being here says alot. There’s no need to remember the past, let’s just live today” He says it in that kind tone that I used to always mistake for showing off
“Mohamed I hated you growing up. I was jealous, didn’t even wanna be in the same room as you. Do you know why?” I ask before replying to my own question “It’s because you were the favourite one, the Atore (hero) and I was nothing”
“No one would even bat an eyelid if I walked past, you probably don’t know the feeling but it’s not nice” I tell him my feelings.
“And regretfully I started hating you, resenting you. And feeling intensified when you went after Sara, when it was obvious that I wanted to talk to her first the day you met her” I finish talking and wait for him to say something.
“That day I thought you were after Noha, and you know about her reputation right? I never thought that you wanted to talk to Sara, otherwise I would have never went after her. Why didn’t you tell me?” He asks with sadness in his voice.
“I did what I do best back then. I hated you Mohamed, I never realized that you thought I was after Noha. Subhanallah and all this time I thought, you heartlessly swooped in as usual” I say it not believing how small the situation really was, and how it was all in my head
We do not say anything for what seems like forever, and then I decide to break the silence.
“Mohamed I have Demetia. My brain is dying slowly, I don’t even know how long I have before I don’t remember my own name. I don’t hate you anymore Mohamed, I am lost and I need you to forgive me so I can move on from this” I tell him about me illness and regret.
I look down at the floor, waiting for him to say something_anything I totally understand if he wanted nothing to do with me. I would not want someone who just confessed how much he hated me in my face right now!
But this being my brother, he is totally the opposite of me. He pushed his wheelchair closer to me and told me
“I forgive you Khalifa, in fact I don’t need to forgive you because I’m gonna pretend that this is a new start for both of us” He says it with a smile.
I do not cry this time, enough crying! I feel so grateful to Allah for giving me this chance to make amends with my brother.
“It’s enough that your son is married to my daughter” He continues and I feel a stab in my heart.
“That’s another thing__” I tell him regretfully
I confess one last thing to my brother. I tell him all about the will, the sham marriage hoping for the best
So I am standing here in the balcony with Mr oooh I am so smart, and Mr oooh I am so religious
You see I had no choice! My dad went with my uncle, the women were chatting and Mr serious went to the balcony. I had to go in the balcony, otherwise I would be in there with the ladies! That is just not manly
“So? Nice breakfast right?” I try to make a conversation.
“Yes it was” He replies with a mixture of Egyptian/American accent.
“So?__” I was about to ask another silly question when we got interrupted by Shaimaa’s friend
“Gentlemen. I need to speak to both of you, before the ladies get back from washing the dishes” She says urgently in English.
“Dina you need to go back inside, this is not proper!” Exclaims Hossam.
“I will be quick I promise you future husband Inshallah. Hossam you know Shaimaa very well right?” She asks him.
“Of course!” He replies.
“What if I tell you that some scumbag hurt her badly, and we need to get revenge from him? Would you be in or out? Would you believe the scumbag or Shaimaa?” She asks him seriously.
“Shaimaa of course! What are you talking about?” He asks.
I suddenly realize what she is about to say and I stop her.
“I don’t think you should say anything further Miss Dina” I try to stop her from revealing Shaimaa’s secret.
“Mr Osman. I thought about only involving you in my plan, but we need Hossam to drive us there and other stuff I planned for that Ayman person” She explains.
“Ayman did something to my cousin?” Asks Hossam furiously.
“Yes he did, and he needs to pay dearly for my best friend’s suffering. Mr Osman, Shaimaa said that you wanted to make him suffer for what he did to her and I know EXACTLY what we need to do” She says it so easily, like she is planning to go to Disney land or something
“I’m in” I say it without hesitation because I DO need help to make him pay, I know nothing about Egypt and I need guidance.
“I’m in too” Says Hossam loyally.
We both listen to what she has to say, and I finally see what real friends are. Shaimaa is surrounded with amazing friends who would risk their lives for her and it is quite touching
In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.”
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