(Published in Euphoria Magazine - May 2010 issue)
Why would a rapped girl live as a sinner for the rest of her life when she didn’t do wrong? Why would an ex- drug-addict be treated like a fatal infection when he’s already cured? Why would a woman be punished for her right to love and choose a suitable partner when she has a mind of her own? Because people’s views will forever stay the same; once they label someone for a sinner will always be a sinner? No such thing as second chances, no such thing as a strong will to carry on. When they say you’ve wronged, you’re dead, even if God still wants you alive…
With a bitter fuming voice, my once madly in love friend started trashing all living women, calling them liars, deceivers and something about being tossed cans! It’s been exactly two months since I last saw him, I remember him being all worked up about this girl he met during a leadership course and how thankful he’s to God to have guided him to that specific place to meet the perfect girl for him. What happened? Did she cheat? Faked her identity? Had an illegitimate child? What could’ve possibly happened to turn someone on the verge of proposing to absolute hatred and anger?
Him: “I’m not her first!”
Me: “Do you mean she’s not a virgin?”
Him: “NO, no, I mean she’s been in love before”
Me: “She’s been in love before! That’s it… that’s what supposed to make her an unsuitable wife and mother for your kids. She’s a twenty something “woman”. Did you truly expect to meet a “woman” who’s been caged all those years, waiting for you?!”
Him: “She wasn’t engaged, she was very specific; I’ve been in a relationship before”
Me: “So, if she was engaged, would that make her honorable, respectful and worthy of your precious ring? You’ve been in relationships before, you’ve been in love before, but it didn’t work out. And it’s not like she’s sinned, it’s her right to love and choose who she wants to be with. Or would you prefer her to stick around in a doomed relationship just because people like you would not want to marry her afterwards? Or better yet, lie about having previous relationships so that people like you would place her under the good Egyptian girl category and would want to marry her? She’s not a woman with a past; she’s an honest woman, with nothing to be ashamed of, and a free will to choose.”
It was my first time to attend an ambiguous writers’ meeting, where no one, not even the staff had a clue about what the coming issue is about. So, for the sake of jumpstarting ideas, they asked each of us to share a life changing experience and the impact it had on our personalities, beliefs, views and everything. Thus, after a long pause free from eye contacts and some “come on-s” from the editors, a dark attractive guy saved us all and took the stage…
“Hello everyone, I’m someone someone. A year ago, I was a drug addict, heroin to be specific. Regardless of how I got there and how my parents found out, what matters is that I was placed in a hideous rehab center which I escaped a couple of times. Each time, my family would force me to go back and each time I manage to either escape or smuggle in drugs to keep me there for a few days. Until, I witnessed a friend die from overdose. He was a rich kid, with everything to live and get well for, instead he chose to escape through drugs. His death shook me to my very core because I knew him; I talked to him and shared drugs with him. Only, then I realized that death is near, especially to me, so close that I can smell the stench of its breath. And I quit drugs for good. It wasn’t the rehab that helped me, I helped myself start over and build a new life. I was so proud of myself that I saw no shame in being a recovering drug addict. I find it influential. But people don’t, they don’t want to hire me, they don’t to marry me their daughters, they don’t want their children around me because apparently I’m a bad influence. I was acceptable when people knew nothing about my addiction but now that I outspoken, they want nothing to do with me...”
Walking by a well-known children’s park in Nasr City, she was startled by a loud winded breath-like sound. Turning around in search of the source, she saw a man “getting off” at the dark corner of the fence. As she increased her pace thinking what a pervert this man must be, she felt his strong grip over her left arm and suffocating hand clasping her mouth. Her heart pounded as he dragged her to his leisure spot. She prayed hard for it all must be a nightmare. But the stronger she fought, the firmer he sealed her mouth. His rotten smell, thick hairy skin, curious hands creeping up her body were too much for her to bear… She blanked out.
Awakened by the deafening horns of a truck, she had only one thought in mind, how will she get in her home looking like this without sparking questions? She searched her purse for cash and headed to the nearest clothes store, asked the sales girl to help her for she had an accident and can’t walk the streets looking like this. Tossing her filthy old clothes away, she had to decide. Should she keep this to herself, fake her virginity and not tell a soul? Or should she speak up and share the heavy burden with her family? After weeks of torment, she decided to tell, after all she didn’t do anything wrong. Today she’s imprisoned in her own room, detained from life, love, work, friends and ironically family…
When judgments prevail it becomes almost impossible for the eyes to see different angles and for the minds to embrace an alternative truth. When we make mistakes we hope they go unnoticed, so we can easily pass for people living within the norms of acceptance. When we question fate and destiny, trying really hard to extract the rare good from the bad, we find our stronger side. When we decide to face people with our truth, it’s always rejection in the face. If God intended for us, and those who’ve had/ are still having a challenged life, to walk a certain path, for some reason we can’t fully understand within the moment of crisis, then we’ll walk it no matter how smart, careful and faithful we are. The truth is our past is exactly like our future; can’t be changed nor controlled. It’s either we accept those around us the way they are or let them be. Because if even God won’t change the past, who are we to challenge, judge and punish?!