- Posted December 30, 2013 by
Hushshsh (Egyptian Diary) Chapter 3
In KSA 1986
Khaled and Nadia
I was very little when Baba and Mama decided to travel to KSA. In Egypt, we had a small flat in the public housing part of city comprising of one bed room and a wide hall. The floor was not a fancy one. By that time ceramic and porcelain were not common for poor people, so the floor was covered by rough tiles; supposedly white with black dots. But in my memory they show as grey with black dots. The walls were painted with a chalk-like painting. I remember when I sleeked my hands over them touching the tiny little goose pumps, they would get a bit dusty from the painting. The bed room of Baba and Mama was beige and simple. Mama never loved too much ornaments in wood (as was custom in Egyptians) or maybe its poverty that caused her not to. In the hall, Uncle Fouad, mama’s brother (my bestest uncle of all who was considered the richest), gave my parents the dining table and the golden salon as presents. Actually, I later on knew that baba didn’t have the money to buy mama ‘shabka’ (the wedding ring or wedding golden gift), so uncle Fouad was the one who helped him too. ‘Why the hell did mama marry baba?’ a frequent thought occurring to me during the years which made me set ‘good finances’ on top of characteristics for my new yet unknown husband.
I was still months when baba decided it’s about time to leave and build up a new financially good life. He accepted the contract to work in one of the governmental Saudi hospitals. Mama had her contract too to work in a private hospital. My memory about that period is quite like mush about that period.
Our house there was not a fancy one either. But it had two bedrooms; one for my brother and I and the other for my parents. There was a living room that had three flat sofas pushed against three walls and covered with dark beige sheets ornamented with big red flowers. Each sofa had two rectangular cushions set against the wall. Dad brought us a Japan-made Sony TV (when Japan made items were the most expensive and best made).
Because of mama’s work, she had to put me into a house that hosted children. Let me close my eyes for a second. I was quite young in age and little in size. I wanted to socialize with the other kids and I thought that people would take me for the good sense of humor I had. There was that boy wearing a black scarf around his neck. I wanted to play with him. He was laughing with me so I grabbed him by the scarf. He fell down. But I did not mean to. I was just playing with him. ‘Nadia’ a scream and a frowning face from the hostess followed. I shrank in my seat hunched my shoulders as if I wanted to disappear and refused to weep.
Because I was the fair sex in the house, Khaled took all the blame and beating from my father. And although he didn’t imply any hard feelings against me, he always put me on the frontline when a catastrophe took place. When we grew up and were telling stories of our childhood, I found him telling me that he was sorry, for once he dropped a glass and broke it and when baba came back home, he said that it had been me who broke the cup. Baba never liked to hit me so it had been over in 5 minutes. In another incident, Khaled declared he didn’t like baba putting eggs beside the beans (fool) in the same plate. Baba got so furious then I was told he yelled at him him ‘it is haram that you say this. You will burn in fire for that’.
Such attitude from baba made us avoid telling him any mistakes. Because he didn’t like us to watch TV for a long time, we played a trick to remove the evidence from the crime scene. The TV victim was hot so we used a wet towel to absorb the heat and cool it down. The trick worked well until I decided to try something else. That day, time passed by and we didn’t notice it was time baba came home. I wetted the towel and decided I am going to squeeze it this time at the back of the TV. ‘Teshshsh’ the sound raised as if I s sizzling something. I shivered. When I tried to switch it on, the screen didn’t light and a weird sound came out. My heart was pounding. When baba came, we had to confess our crime to him. Thank God it was fixed later on or else I wouldn’t be telling the story right now.
The first day in school was quite distinguished. Mama managed to get me in school very young at the age of 4 and half which was a privilege I was told. I would be the youngest amongst my peers and get the chance of entering college really young. The first class I joined when I was taken to school was the Quran class. I can’t remember why I hadn’t attended the morning assembly though. I just entered into the class. I walked embarrassed amongst the desks where the girls were neatly sitting all in their grey dresses with their hair tied in a white ribbon. I squeezed myself in between two girls whom I can’t remember their faces or names. The class was reciting after Abla Ne’ma. I just did the same like everyone else; paying no attention to what I am saying and eagerly looking around me. After the next verse, Miss Ne’ma said ‘Nadia’. The whole class recited the verse along with the ‘Nadia’ at the end. And again, and as if this was my reaction to all that have embarrassed or lacked respect to my emotions: I shrank in my seat hunched my shoulders and lowered my gaze.
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