Perhaps a little background is necessary before I recount these horrible experiences which some psychologists might find useful.
I am the eldest child of my family, and on my maternal side too, I am one of 2 children. My first 5 years of childhood were all spent in one village, but at 2 houses at a stone's throw from each other. My parents both work, so I don't have much memories of being attached to them, we were like other families in the area, but I don't have many memories. My father was not in my country at the time of my birth, and some time after that he went to Hajj, I don't remember this actually but I was thus informed. I don't have any kind or special words etched for eternity in my memory, from my mother or father. I remember my dad used to read me fairy tales out of these 2 thick books (1 blue, 1 pink). I can't find them but they should be there somewhere in that house. I also remember my dad taking me along with him, on his shoulders, for walks. Sometimes these walks ended up at the Nile. My dad loved fishing and still does now.
We lived in our own house, close to the Nile. That meant mosquitoes and some other kind of annoying insect were frequent visitors at night. We had a cow too, and his good friend Tiki would come and milk it, but it died when it fell into a huge drain and my father was very sad. Now Tiki's dead too and I'm actually surprised that my dad doesn't look so outwardly sad. I am super saddened by it although it has been more than a year now.
I remember some nights from Ramadhan, at that house, when my parents (1 or the other) had to go out because somebody had died. I remember milk and some pastry too that we usually ate with milk.
I remember my sister and I wearing white singlets and holding her hand, we'd walk to my Grandma's. I remember how the moon used to follow us those nights. We'd go to my paternal Grandma's daily (I think) because she was bed-ridden because of rheumatoid arthritis and can't speak much either.
I remember my maternal grandpa before he died.. he used to swing me with a 'hayla hop' and i remember him reciting surat alkafiroon.
I remember when i threw tantrums, his brother Hassan, who was our next-door neighbor would show his head from the window we shared and scold me. Unlike my grandpa, Hassan lived a long life, and he passed away in/before surgery about 3 years ago. During his last decade, he became a very quiet person as he became blind because of his diabetes. He could not see his first granddaughter but he did hold her and her younger sister too.
We're a part of a very closely-knit community, where we lived in family houses. For example, my grandpa's mother was alive then (circa 1995) and she had lived with one of her sons in their house which faced my grandpa's. So, that's 3 brothers seeing each other everyday. In addition, Hassan's other neighbour is his sister Zaynab. The other sister lived 3 houses away. It was a very safe place for a child to be. Not many cars, lots of safe domestic animals like rabbits and chickens. I am still fond of the place, but when I go there now, it's a lot sadder as the people who've lived there are dead.. Only a few remain since their descendants had moved to the capital or other countries to sustain their newly-started families (while retaining their family house) and may only come in funerals or festivals.
There were only a handful of families in my town whom I knew but were not at all related to me- the rest were all family.
I played with my neighbour's children, Oumaimah and Hana, and my twin cousins Hana and Hind and we all walked to school. In the afternoons/evenings I'd go to a Quran memorization class in the mosque that was being built in the same big yard that housed our kindergarten and a stone playground (a slide and swings and a ruined merry go round). I lost a gold earring there, lost in the sands for ever. I was a good student and always came first though perhaps I didn't know the meaning of a good certificate and its implications. My mom and her teenage cousins, Marwa and Wadeeda were helpful in teaching me at times.
I remember 2 male cousins of my mom who took me for vaccinations with another 2 second cousins of mine. One of those men apparently had also helped shave my head bald. I was shaven bald in the hope that my hear would grow thicker. I was born bald, and my hair was wispy and thin for quite a long time. So, thanks to these shavings my hair apparently flourished until I could at last escape my mom's hands and comb it alone. Now my hair gets cut a lot, i keep it at shoulder length and its back to being thin and wispy, but i like how soft and manageable it is. Every woman in my household makes it her business to worry about it.
I remember having violent tendencies twice. Once i actually mistreated this child of a maid that worked at my uncle's. I feel really bad about it now, to think that as a child I could harbor such evil thoughts! I used to pinch her a lot. The other incident was just a quarrel between friends, and i lifted a small piece of brick to hit her with it. I dont remember actually hitting her- maybe Esther Mikaelson compelled me to forget that memory. But the intensity of my desire to hit her with it is unforgettable. I did however forget why I had wanted to hit Oumaimah that badly. Interestingly and out of topic, I grew up to be ok with her but secretly resenting her although, as you know from other posts, I left that town before I even turned 8. I resent her because she was the reason that I became sexually aware (I have no concept of time in my childhood memories but she's in one of 3 such incidents and I think she was the earliest ) . Sexual awareness should not come with such negative feelings, resentment and guilt, I should have been an ordinary child who naturally came to understand things at an older age. Yes, I was more intelligent than the other kids and was more aware of many things and my parents didn't lie to me about stuff like my peers' parents, but still I wish the moment was different. You might be somewhat curious at this point as to what did she exactly do..
She was making mud objects with me and then she made a sausage like object and I asked her what was that, and she said 'penis!' and giggled. It was adult size, perhaps that's what creeps me everytime i recall it. Another incident was when a boy about my age came to our house, and then with the pretext of let's play, took me to a bedroom in our house locked things up and said a verb in Arabic that i didn't know..Nothing happened that day, because someone came at the right moment and asked innocently 'what are you two kids doing?'. It's quite disappointing that they didnt realize that something was wrong. I wish they did, coz i hate that kid although at that age i thought he was cute and was sad that he's orphaned! Fast forward to 2014- yes, i learned the word he had said means 'sex' and is commonly used by the vulgar Arab netizens. The boy had lived outside that village until his mom died that year, I could say he learnt it in some arab country. But, but, the 3rd incident was when my cousin tried to do the same, only in the toilet, and he's like my age or a year older.. and there was another cousin (girl) there too (much older). I wonder if she's shared that memory with anyone. I don't think anything happened coz i dont remember, but I think he was trying to take his underwear off too. So I hate that cousin too. Hope he doesn't remember, though.. Perhaps what I really resent is the ignorance of parents to such issues.
I mean, what did these boys see that made them wanna do me or anyone else?
We are talking about a time and space where porn was inaccessible unless it's live action. :P
Besides, I always had it in my head that if a child sees a man banging a woman, the idea it would get is that daddy's hurting mommy, rather than that it is something pleasurable. So, what the hell did these kids see ? i know about monkey see monkey do, but this is just crazy they even knew the words to say and thought i understood!! It's horrible parenting- and while I am on the subject, I loved living with my grandma and as a kid, I appreciated having the extended family because my own was so small, but I think if I do have kids of my own, against all odds, I am definitely going to restrict the time they have with their extended family. I'll make sure my mom, uncle & grandma don't get to teach them any 'bad' words. I love them all, but there are things I wish never came out of their mouths (for example: asshole). My dad's fine though.
I am not against kids learning to express anger in some mild profanity like 'jackass' and all, but I am against them being told something is wrong by saying 'stupid', 'careless' or them insulting other kids. What I am also against is them learning dirty forms of a word, like saying 'asshole' when they mean 'anus'. Or using cute words for going to the toilet or for their privates.
Moving on, let's talk about sibling rivalry.
I have many instances that were recounted to me that show I was a loving sister, but I have similar accounts of jealousy and attempted violence as well. For instance, I remember taking her wherever I went, and I was told I had named her. On the other hand, I remember being really jealous about the attention-slash-pity she got from people for being disabled, and they also often noted her beauty but never mine. I was also jealous when a cousin, for example, drew Henna for her, but didn't do it for me, and when I voiced that it was unfair, that cousin had said "I'll draw for her.. even on her vag". That was very mean to say to a 6 or 7-year old, who had not incited such teasing. I was told that I once hit her head on a hard basin or something at bathtime, and that it was apparently out of jealousy. I have no recollection of this whatsoever. As I grew up, i still disliked her, perhaps it's a sisters thing, as I had never done anything to harm her. It was just annoyance at all the attention she got, being both the youngest and disabled at that. I was also annoyed that she copied all that I did which forced responsibility on me. Also, I'd be the one that got scolded for anything that she did, even if it wasn't my fault at all. Perhaps other older siblings can relate..
Whatever it was, she had a happier, and healthier childhood than I had, whether she knew it or not. The mistakes parents had made with me were not made with her for one. My lines probably show jealousy, but it's the truth the way I see it and yes, I admit it's not gone. Life is not that long for me to forget these little things.
Aspiring parents please take note of that.
My mom had a horrible ectopic pregnancy with a third child who didn't make it to this world, and I often wonder what life would have been like if he had been with us. The moral of that story, however, is that it's not a bed of roses and it's no fairy tale. Are you ready for the possibility of dying during childbirth, are you ready to have both your body damaged internally (as Mom had for many, many years) and your heart (the baby died after 7 months of care and dreams and whatnots). I've seen heartbreaking cases of a woman who had to push the dead baby out of her, would you have the energy to push through all the sorrow for a dead baby? I've also seen parents part with their few hours old babies who made it to this world with partial skulls. I've also seen disabled children of all kinds, some of whom came like that because of the choices their parents had made. Can you live with the guilt?