31 March 2010

A Woman's Place

Hanady's voice was barely a whisper in the night. A sad voice, a voice with no body attached to it... I could tell she had been crying before, for a sob escaped over the phone line, secretly inserted between her words. 'I didn't know who else to call, Khulud.' I could hear the screams of a baby from a distance, and another child sobbing and breathing heavily close to the phone.
I remember Hanady from the university. A young woman... no, barely a woman. A girl trying to be a woman. In the second year of our studies I noticed a thick gold band on her finger... an invisible shackle... but she didn't know it then. She walked the dark corridors of the university, an Arabian princess, unawares. Dark curly hair, big olive eyes, smiling eyes. Expensive clothes from her fiancé, and every now and then a new, thick gold bracelet or a necklace... more shackles, until her body felt too heavy under the weight, but she still walked the university like an Arabian princess... smiling, the whole world under her feet...
That's how I remember Hanady.
Her fiancé, I heard, was an important business man, something with importing or exporting or something like that. From Nazareth. Good family. Rich family. Did she marry him for love? Or for money? Or because she was twenty two and it was time? Or was it an arranged marriage?
Don't know, doesn't matter now.
Everything is gone now.
What's left is a house to clean, long hours alone in the dark house, a meal to cook from scratch, a bruise over the left thigh, another under the eye... the left eye or the right eye? This week it's the left eye, but last week it was the right one... a sore arm from hitting the wall... a broken bone...
Then, as if that were not enough, two babies... born one year apart. Teeth that hurt at night, one already pulled, more to be taken care of. A few white hairs that seem to multiply too fast. Hanady's hair isn't curly anymore... she has ceased to be an Arabian princess, unawares...
Hanady isn't even a woman anymore... she only breathes, and walks, and cleans, and cooks, and cares for her babies...
There is no Hanady anymore...
Hanady doesn't live here anymore... not in this house, not in this body...

p.s. I wrote this short piece a few years back, after receiving a phone call from a woman I studied with at the university. As far as I know, her husband still abuses her and she lives an unhappy life. She calls me about once a year to pour her heart out and to draw some strength to go on.


  1. well khulud will it be part of your book or it is another story? (by the way she remains a woman even as she is don't talke her womahood away from her she has enough to endure)
    i am a bit concerned that you might try to enter all the evils of this world into one story and it might have an opposite effect. too much at times weakens the impact. also try not to slide into over sentimentality even politically cause it shouldn't come from a romantic field but rather from the humanist political side. of course sensitive but not slide into over sentimentality in your story of maisoon cause it sounds less politically convincing.i don't know if i am clear and of course it is only my opinion. hug

  2. Talmush dear,
    of course it's clear. this is NOT part of the novel. I do write other things as well.
    for you to distinguish, I always write in the title of the post "novel in progress" when it's part of the novel.
    this piece - I wrote it a few years back and I was going over my notebooks tonight and stumbled upon it, and just typed it as I wrote it, without editing.

  3. What a devastating story, Khulud. And the more so because it's non-fiction. Reality is brutal, nothing like the stories we make up in our minds. I hope Hanady one day takes matters into her hands. This is a reality for so many women, and so few dare to speak out. But another reality tugs at them and holds them down. She has her children, and countless other chains that are not allowing her to break free. Still, I have hope for her, and for other women who live the life she does. One day...


  4. Oh wow, this is intense. I shivered from how immensly lethal your words were. Excellent yet unfortunate.

    Khulud, you're a very mature and amazing writer. I am thankful :)


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