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The 5 rules to be happy. Is there really such a thing?

I woke up late as usual at 6:45 am, headed to the bathroom, looked in the mirror to see if I looked beautiful when I woke up. My hair was shaggy, the purple coloured highlights had moved three inches down as my hair had grown in the past months. I went on to wake my twins up. It wasn’t an easy task though. In fact, it has never been. They always laze about in bed, refusing to get up. I didn’t have much time to play around with them, so I carried myself to the kitchen, started warming up their milk. I added honey to their milk because it is currently well-known how bad white sugar is for everyone. I huffed angrily at the thought of honey and white sugar; for I never knew how to always make foods with natural sweeteners. I prepared their lunch boxes; added a cheese sandwich for one and granola bars for the other. I smiled at this, my boys have been different and unique since the day they were born. A short drive to school was accomplished after some nagging over ‘you need to pack your school bag immediately’, ‘I will remove food from the table in five minutes’, ‘you need to be ready in 10 minutes, we are super-duper late’ … etc

Back home, all alone, I thought of how difficult my morning was. I needed to unwind. I brought my scented candle, placed under my LCD screen after lighting it. I then got the HDMI plugged into my laptop, going through a couple of sun salutation yoga postures. It felt amazing!

Please continue reading on:

http://www.duniamagazine.com/2014/11/the-5-rules-to-be-happy-is-there-really-such-a-thing/

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Egyptian mom Imane says she will not impose choices and options on her kids

My feet do not look very good in open sandals. I have a bone bulge next to my big toe which gives one the feeling of a car riding around a steep curve! And what else? My second toe is much longer than my big toe. Isn’t that catastrophic?! I had friends who had Barbie’s feet, literally, dainty and neat. They fitted in all kinds of shoes; open and closed – toed! I always just wished I was in their shoes, literally.

For years, I pretended to be satisfied with wearing closed toe shoes. But deep inside, I have always hoped to try an open sandals or slippers — and admire how my feet look in them. And so, I never quit trying on different open toe shoes, until I found sandals that fitted my feet perfectly from Birkenstock. OH, YEAH, that bulge was hidden in the cross strap, and my long toe was not poking out of the soles! I wore those sandals day and night, and I simply LOVED Birkenstock no matter how expensive their shoes were. I was on the hunt for more pairs; OPEN ones.

I can feel how bored you are now by my story and feet problems. But we are now in the middle of the story!

Read more on:

http://www.duniamagazine.com/2014/10/egyptian-mom-imane-says-she-will-not-impose-choices-and-options-on-kids/

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Oh, the jump they should do! Cross Cultural Dialogue: A mother applauding her kids’ failure

here they stood poised to jump at the side of the pool, just a few meters away, but the distance seemed very far still. In the inner cells of the brain of the mother I am, I wondered if I would be able to get to them fast enough in case they needed help. And even though they were surrounded by other kids and their coaches, they would still need their mammy right beside them if they were drowning! And yes, even when their mammy is not a good swimmer herself!

It was their first jump into the pool, such a high jump! Oh, that silly coach, how come he was asking them to jump this high? No, it wasn’t the highest or best jumpers I was focused on today, but rather these young swimmers ready to plunge into the pool designed for beginners. In my mind, I was thinking it surely required a whole awful lot of courage for those tiny creatures, my twin boys to make this first jump.

I caught their eyes, looked down at their tiny feet; questioning every second, “Will they do it? Will they have the guts?”

 

 

Please continue reading at:

http://www.duniamagazine.com/2014/05/oh-the-jump-they-should-do-a-mother-applauding-her-kids-failure/

 

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عندما استنشقت الدخان

 

(قصة قصيرة)

قررت أن أذهب لأحد المقاهي. ليس كتلك التي كنت أدعوها “قهوة في زقاق” لأعبر عن المقاهي الضيقة ذات الكراسي البدائية والمناضد الخشبية التي عادة ماتكون متسخة وملقاة دون أي ترتيب منطقي في أحد الأزقة/الشوارع. بل ذهبت إلى واحد من المقاهي الحديثة، حيث الكراسي المحشوة الوثيرة والطاولات النظيفة والجو المكيف والمضيفين الوسيمين ذوي الثياب الأنيقة النظيفة … نعم، وحيث الأموال الكثيرة التي عليك أن تدفعها لتشرب قهوتك بالشوكولاتة البيضاء بطبقة من الكريمة المخفوقة.

أخرجت علبة سجائري من حقيبتي السوداء الكبيرة التي تلائم الموضة، ووضعت ساقًا على ساق كما تعودت منذ صغري فأصبحت حركة تلقائية لا “أنتكة فيها” أو تعالي ونظرت إليها. أول علبة سجائر أدفع فيها مالًا خاصًا بي. فأنا لست مدخنة، ولا أحب الدخان … في الحقيقة، إنه أكثر ما أكرهه في حياتي. فكم كنت أكره رائحة الحمام عند خروج أبي بعد انتهائه من سيجارته. بل أكثر من هذا، أنا أكره حركات المدخنين. نعم فللمدخنين حركات تداعب الدخان وتلاعبه. ينسون معها من يكلمونه أو أن هناك أصلًا من يتحدث إليهم. فتجد شفاههم تتحرك إلى جنب من الأجناب وكأن أصابهم الشلل مثلًا لينفثوا الدخان من فتحة صغيرة في جانب فمهم، أو يكتمونه في صدورهم ويغلقون أفواههم وكأنهم يعتقونه في رئتيهم ثم يخرجونه في شريطين من الدخان متوازيين من أنوفهم، أو يرفعون رؤوسهم للسماء وينفثون خيطًا طويلًا من الدخان يتناثر ويتفتت قبل أن يصل إلى عنان السماء. الدخان يشبهنا كثيرًا، يشبه قيمنا الضائعة، يشبه ترابطنا، يشبه مشاعرنا، يشبه آراءانا، يشبه علاقاتنا.

ولكني سأتوقف عن الفلسفة، نعم لا جدوى منها على أية حال …

تناولت السيجارة الأولى من العلبة الأولى. لا ليست السيجارة الأولى. إنها الثانية. ولكني لازلت مدخنة، نعم أقسم بالله لا زلت لست مدخنة.

أنا فقط أردت يومها – يوم تلك السيجارة الأولى – أن أتذوق طعمها، أعرف لماذا يحبونها … كنت أراها دائمًا في التلفاز تلازم من هم في حالة عصبية أو حزينة ويحتاجون للتهدئة. وكم كانت صعبة تلك الفترة الفائتة من عمري. كنت دائمة الخلاف مع صديقي وحبيبي. لسبب ما لم تكن شبكاتنا العصبية تفهم إشاراتنا كما كنا في السابق. ثلاث سنوات مرت على خطوبتنا، ولكن المدة لم تكن هي المهمة، لم يكن الخاتمان هما ما يشكلان علاقتنا، بل كانت مشاعرنا. صعب أن أصفها، فهي ليست حبًا أفلاطونيًا كما في قصص الخيال ولا هي ألفة المشاعر مع طول الارتباط … بل هي كتلك الدخان داخل الصدر، استنشقناها وحبسناها، فعتقناها تمامًا كما الروائح العطرية، وتركناها تسري داخلنا مع الوقت، تذوب في خلايانا، تخرج من رئيتنا لصدرينا لقلبينا لعقلينا، وأبدًا لم ننفث هذا الدخان، بل حبسناه هنالك حتى اختنقنا به. تناولتها تلك السيجارة التي سرقتها من علبة أبي ودخلت الحمام وجلست على قاعدته. ماذا ياترى يفعلون بك؟ أأنت حلوة المذاق حقًا؟ أنا أكره أن أكون عبدة لسيجارة، أن أتعصب إذا تأخرت على أخذ جرعتي منها. ولكن ربما هي شيء جميل وأنا لا أعرفها بعد. لأجربها إذًا لأعرف إذا ماكنت سأختار عبوديتها بيدي أم سأكرهها للأبد وأعلن عصياني التام لها. تناولت الولاعة وحاولت إشعالها في يدي. ولكنها لم تشتعل! تلك السيجارة اللعينة! أتحاول عصياني، أنا سيدتها؟! مهلًا، ليس هكذا يشربها أبي، يجب أن تكون السيجارة في فمه، هكذا يشعلها. وضعتها في فمي وحاولت إشعالها مرة أخرى، ولكن الحقيرة لم تشتعل ثانية! لا بد أن هناك تكنيك، استراتيجية، طريقة. حاولت أن أشفط الهواء وأنا أشعلها، فاشتعلت، نعم بهذه البساطة، كل ماعليك أن تشد الدخان إليك، أن تشعره بشوق ما حتى يأتي إليك. حتى الدخان يفهم ما لا يفهمه بنو آدم، يفهم أن قدرًا ما من المشاعر مطلوب حتى تشتعل نيران أي شيء. استنشقت قليلًا من الدخان لأعرف مذاقه. طعمه دخان، نفسه نفس الفحم إذا أشعلته. لا شيء حلو فيه، ولا مالح. دخان يخلو من أي مذاق. أطفأتها.

وعدنا إلى عهدنا السابق. نتاحدث، نتلاقى كل يوم، نحتضن أيدينا، نذهب إلى الحفلات سويًا، نرقص في الأفراح فنجد فرصة ما لحضن شرعه المجتمع، أو قبلة شرعناها لأنفسنا ونستنشق أنفاسنا فتذهلنا روائحنا العطرية ونطير في عالم مختلف لا يمت للواقع بصلة. ثم نهبط في يومنا التالي من الجنة، وكأننا أكلنا التفاحة المحرمة في الليلة السابقة فيحين ميعاد عقابنا ونفينا. وتسير بنا الأيام تارة مترابطين وتارة منفصلين نعلم أننا سنعود لسابق عهدنا لأن حبنا أقوى.

ولكن هذه المرة مختلفة، هذه المرة أنا أقوى من ضعفي وعبوديتي وإصغائي لصوته الذكوري العالي. أنا أقوى من أن أعتذر كل مرة عن خطأ أقنعني هو به. أنا أقوى من أذوب لأنه لمس يدي أو اقترب مني. أنا أقوى من رقصة وكلمة. أنا أقوى من مجتمع يحاول أن يضعني في قالبه. أقوى من صورة رسمتها الأشعار في الأذهان، أقوى من زينة ملامح سلبية فرضتها علي المعتقدات المتناقضة والشعوب المتلونة. تمامًا كحالها السياسي والاجتماعي والثقافي.

تناولت السيجارة الثانية. ورن الهاتف. إنه هو. أتوق لأرد عليه. وضعت السيجارة في فمي والولاعة في يدي وعيني معلقتين على هاتف يرن بلا انقطاع، هاتف أعلم أنه يحتاجني وأحتاجه، هاتف أعلم أنه قد يكملني وأكمله إذا أنا فقط تخليت عن صلابة رأسي وعنفوان طموحي. أشعلت السيجارة بتمرس هذه المرة واستنشقت دخانها ذا الطعم السيء. دخانها الأسود الذي أعلم أنه سيقتلني بالبطيء، نعم فهكذا يقول علماء الطب، دخانها الذي يرمز لمجتمع له وجه وقح يخفيه خلف علب الزينة، فلهذا قد يتوصل علماء الفلسفة، حبسته داخل رئتي هذه المرة، وكأني أعتقه، تركته يتغلغل في رئتي ومنها لقلبي لعقلي. وعندما نفثته بكحة صاحبته انتهت رنات الهاتف، وبدأت ثانية. نظرت له بلا مبالاة وأخذت نفسًا آخرًا بلا مبالاة، عتقته وتركته ينفذ من داخلي ليتلاشى في الهواء وأنا أمر بنوبة من الكحة والاختناق. فلعل بداية المرض تكون بداية الشفاء.

 

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Just one rule to make your marriage a success

–          ‘Oh, he doesn’t eat béchamel pasta!’

That was disastrous for me five years ago. How come the one I was marrying did not eat béchamel pasta? And even worse, what he preferred was the kind of the Egyptian vegetable stews I never happened to like!

–          ‘Oh, he doesn’t like reading’.

It was the nightmare that kept me awake all days of my engagement. Books were crucial to my life. They represented knowledge, culture and mindset. It wouldn’t have mattered if he had loved politics and I loved romance books. It wouldn’t have mattered if he hadn’t place books on top of everything. The least was that books were something in his life. They were not! On the contrary, books were a waste of money! This marriage couldn’t be possible for me. And if it were, it would end up in divorce in few years.

–          ‘Oh, he loves George Wassouf’.

For those who don’t know, George Wassouf is a singer who is called the ‘sultan’ for some people. But for me, he was the most detestable voice I have ever heard. If it happened that a microbus (a very usual transport means in Egypt) driver played his tape, then it meant that it was the worst day of my life! And to my great luck, drivers loved playing his tapes a dozen times. So some stanzas would get refrained in mind and I would go crazy then; trying to hit my head to the wall. So imagine that my to-be husband loves this singer out of all the singers mother earth had given birth to. I was doomed.

Yes, we had nothing in common!

But I didn’t terminate the relation. I proceeded. And whenever I overcame a difference/obstacle, another one was looming. His family was different from mine. His temper was literally the opposite. To my biggest surprise, our chemistry grew. Some emotions moved. The heart beats rose when he rang me in the morning. My ribs shrank when he was sad. It occurred to me that I might be afraid to be a spinster. I thought maybe I had grown a liking to engagement rings and wedding dresses. That wasn’t me, no way! So what was it?! Him. He was very accepting, very loving. He never objected like Eastern men to my going outs. He never answered my usual question ‘what are the characteristics of your dream wife?’ by the usual answer ‘I want her to be submissive’. Well, he did once. But I didn’t hear it. I was in love with him. Such a heavenly man … Well … one second … I am lying!

He did show some objections, he still wanted an easy wife, he still criticized my sophistication!

We got married. And it was big. After our marriage, we fought for what to hear in the car. We struggled in our daily food choices. We lacked the common topics to discuss. We had arguments on how complicated I was. We had contradictory opinions on subjects. We had good times rarely and hellish times frequently. I was not the woman he dreamt of. He was not the man I dreamt of.

I would look at him while watching TV wondering if he had ever thought of holding my hand and saying romantic words. I would wait for him in my sickness to come and hug me and smooth my hair. But he usually came and shouted at me because I did not take the antibiotic as I was such a ‘careless’ woman. And it occurred to me that it might be the ‘relation’ that really attached us together. After all we had fun! And I waited for the moment when the desire withered and life got bored and monotonous to take the decision to separate.

Now I have written 644 words describing the melancholic status of my marriage in an article entitled ‘Just one rule to make your marriage a success’, so you must be saying now ‘are you kidding me?’

In fact, my life didn’t turn monotonous. I didn’t have a divorce. I didn’t separate mentally or physically. And he still loves veggie stews and George Wassouf and thinks books are a waste of money. And I am still not the submissive wife nor the delicate type of person.

Despite the big gaps, I watched some soccer games with him and enjoyed. He bought books with me (paid the money and mocked me). I cooked delicious veggie stews in some days when I ate very little and in others I made my béchamel pasta when he ate very little. I skipped the nagging and endless discussions and retreated to my own space (usually with a book) when I felt there was no solution to the issue we are addressing. I accepted that at some points I couldn’t stand him and instead of provoking him, I made friends with my emotions and talked with them. After all it is fine to dislike some attitudes. It is fine to hate a person and love him. It is fine to be far at some point. I even made friends with the fact that he would never say romantic words to me. I made friends with the fact that he didn’t like my independent attitude. Although he never talked about it, he too made friends with the fact that I would go to cut my hair short when I knew he loved it long. He made friends with the fact that I could spend a fortune on books and blocks. He made friends with the fact that I might refuse to obey his advice and walk my own path.

And it was so simple and clear. Our marriage succeeded because we gave each other a space for the differences. We accepted the little we shared and enjoyed it to the utmost and tried to please each other by disregarding the differences.

I would simply force myself beside him in the couch with a book in my hand while he watched his soccer game. Our minds were in separate locations but our hearts were linked.

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هل خلق الله يمين الطلاق الثالثة للمصريين؟

 

“طلقني” أسلوب تهديد تقوم به المرأة في الخلافات الحادة، وأحيانًا غير الحادة.

“انتي طالق” أسلوب إراحة للذهن يستخدمه الرجل لتوضيح حقيقة “أنا مابيهمنيش على فكرة.”

كثيرون ممن أعرفهم من المتزوجين والمتزوجات الأحياء منهم والأموات، إما حالفي (ولا تنفع بالطبع حالفات) ليميني طلاق على أقصى تقدير أو مطلقين ومطلقات بالفعل.

المشكلة في من وماذا؟

المشكلة تكمن في الفتاة الحالمة التي تتربى مع عرائسها ذوي الجسد الممشوق المنثني في المناطق المناسبة والمشفوط في المناطق الأنسب. نفس تلك الفتاة التي تتربى على لف ورق المحشي كل يوم جمعة لإطعام الأفواه الجائعة. نفس تلك الفتاة التي تطلق لغيظها العنان ليأتي على كل مافي الثلاجة إذا ما واجهتها مشكلة. نفس تلك الفتاة التي تتلقى الكلمات النابية إذا ما على صوتها، فهي “بنت”. نفس تلك الفتاة التي تصفها أمها بأنها “عديمة الشخصية” إذا لم تتصدى لموقف ما. “عيب” هي أكثر كلمة تستمع إليها الفتاة وهي صغيرة، إنها فتاة تربت على معرفة ماهو العيب ولكنها لم تتربى على معرفة ما هو الصواب وكيف هي الخيارات وأين توجد الشخصية وكيف تبحث عن الأمان بعيدًا عن الرجال. هي نفسها من تتعلم أن الرومانسية لا تمت للزواج بصلة في حين أنها تتربى على حب من نوع “تايتانك” و”يو هاف جوت ميل” و”صغيرة على الحب” وأفلام الأبيض والأسود. نفسها هي من يجوب في خيالها صورة فارس على صهوة الجواد يحتضنها ويقبلها كما نهاية الأفلام ولكنه ليس حضنًا كأي حضن وليست قبلة كأي قبلة، إنه حضن تودعه أمانها وأحلامها وآمالها وآلامها وقبلة تشعل رغبتها وأنوثتها التي ارتبطت بكل ماهو عيب في المجتمع.

المشكلة تكمن في رجل تربى على المسئولية المتمثلة في “أنت مسئول عن إخواتك البنات ومامتك لما أموت”، فهو لا يفقه كيف يرعى أو يحضن أو يعتني، بل تربى على “الشخط والنطر” فهو “الراجل” هو المسئول. نعم هو المسئول الذي غالبًا ما رأى والده يضرب والدته أو على أفضل تقدير يشتمها لأنها لم تستمع له أو على أفضل أفضل أفضل تقدير رآه “يتنرفز” عليها لسبب ما، أو لأنه “عصبي بطبعه”. نفس ذلك الرجل الذي بيده السلطة الدينية والمجتمعية هو من يطلق له العنان ليختبر ما في الحياة من سجائر وخروجات وفسح وصياعة وشيشة وجنس وخمر. فأمه وأباه لا يعاتبنه، فكيف يتربى ويتعلم من خبرات الحياة إذا لم يختبر الخطأ والصواب بنفسه. هو نفسه من تربى على ألا يبكي “عيب أنت راجل” أنت أعلى من البكاء وأعلى من المشاعر وأعلى من الخوف. نفسه هو الذي رأى أخته تشتم وتضرب وتهان لأنها لم تستمع له. وهو ذلك الرجل الذي يتأخر في الزواج فتباح له المحاذير الجنسية لإشباع الرغبات، سواء من المحرمات أو المحللات. فيبلغ ذروة المتعة قبل حتى أن يتعرف عن من هي تلك التي سيتشارك معها حياته.

ويتقابلان، الفتاة الحالمة المحرومة جسديًا ونفسيًا مع الرجل القوي المشبع جنيسًا بطريقة ما، فلا هي تجده الفارس على صهوة الجواد الذي سيداعب مشاعرها الرقيقة التي طالما جرحها المجتمع وجعلت تنتظره يضمد جروحها ولا هو يجدها الفتاة التي تتقبل شتائمه وإهانته وقوته التي يحاول إثباتها دون مبرر.

وتمضي الحياة فمع الزواج، عادة تتمحور الحياة حول الحمل، فإن الفتاة حملت (وهي عادة ما تفعل فما شاء الله نسبة الإخصاب عند المصريات عالية جدًا) تبدأ رحلة أخرى تنسى فيها مشاعرها غير الناضجة وأنوثتها غير المشبعة وكرامتها التي تظل مهدرة وتتفرغ لتتعلم من البداية أصول لعبة الأمومة وهي لم تتقن بعد ما هية لعبة الأنوثة حيث ضغطتها وأعيتها لعبة الرجولة. وإن لم تحمل تدخل متاهة الأطباء لكي تحمل … وهلم جرة.

رجل وأنثى لا يفقه أيًا منهما شيئًا عن الآخر إلا ما رآه في محيط بيته وما سمعه في محيطات أخرى قريبة مع مجتمع معدوم ثقافة تقبل الآخر لا يصل الأمر بينهما إلا للتهديد والوعيد ومحاولة إظهار القوة.

ويبقى السؤال عالقًا في ذهني لماذا اثنتين؟ لماذا يلقي الرجل يمين الطلاق مرتين ولا يجرؤ على الثالثة؟ ولماذا تطلبها المرأة بإلحاح في الأولى والثانية وتتظاهر بها في الثالثة؟ أهي تلك العشرة التي تؤلف القلوب؟ أم هم الأولاد؟ أم حب حالت الظروف النفسية والمجتمعية من الاعتراف به سواء لكبرياء كاذب أو كرامة زائفة؟ أم هي لعبة الزواج التي يجب أن تتم حتى يجد كل منا فرصة للعبة الأنوثة ولعبة الرجولة؟

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2.2% Divorce Rate in Egypt. More Young Women Braving A Harsh Reality For Personal Freedoms

Divorce is such a threatening yet thrilling word in Eastern communities. While divorce statistics in Egypt are relatively low, they are also rising. According to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), the country in 2012 recorded a 2.2% divorce rate (slightly up from 2011). Among my group of friends, the rise in a few years is heart-breaking.

 

The society regards divorce as an indelible stain of shame every woman risks carrying when deciding to take the step of ending her marriage. No man, except for very few, would accept to marry a divorced woman. Marrying a virgin woman is the goal of every Eastern man; a goal that surpasses choosing a well-minded woman. I couldn’t find a clear justification for that virginity-must rule but that society sees a woman who’s been with another man as not fit for another! Ridiculous and shameful!

 

Please continue reading on:

 

http://www.duniamagazine.com/2013/12/2-2-percent-divorce-rate-in-egypt-young-women-enduring-a-harsh-reality/

 

Feel free to comment, share, like and dislike : ).

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Something behind my headscarf: Why I Wear Hajib

An important note: Ladies wearing headscarves and covering their bodies do shave and wax, cut their hair, wear highlights on their hair, go for pedicures and manicures, wear make-up and perfumes and … in short are chicks in their homes, believe it or not!

Day when we don’t focus on backbiting others and covetous behaviors, we learn something. Every day we look to other cultures and connect with other people for the purpose of learning and elevating our souls, we discover something new about ourselves.

So I wear a headscarf, it is a piece of clothing that we, Muslims, put around our heads. And we have to be modest all over; meaning that we have to cover all parts of our bodies and not show skin to anyone. Call it a matter of obedience to Allah’s orders. Call it a matter of not arousing men’s attraction and sexuality levels. Call it a matter of not looking at females as sexual objects in life. Call it whatever you like. Each woman wearing a hijab has a different story. And, I have a different story to tell.

At the age of 14, I decided I want to wear hijab. For no particular reason, I took the decision. I had not read the Qur’an verses that talk about hijab and I was not much of a religious girl to take the step. So why did I put a headscarf on top of my head? … And no, my hair was not a mess either.

I lived with my hijab 7 years without any problems and feeling very much neutral towards my hijab – I wasn’t particularly enjoying or hating it.
After my graduation, I started having second thoughts and doubts so as to why I was wearing this piece of cloth on my head. I started looking at actresses on TV and admiring hair style shows. Quite normal even for non-hijabi girls, isn’t it? But for me, a dent was being created in my convictions. Pardon me, I’d had no particularly strong convictions about hijab before anyway. So it was somewhat normal to feel like a leaf in the wind. Yet, I decided I wasn’t going to take it yet.

 

Please continue reading on this link:

http://www.duniamagazine.com/2013/07/something-behind-my-headscarf-why-i-wear-hajib/

I am so eager to hear all your comments and thoughts.

Thanks a lot

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A close up to the rape scene in Egypt

Simply, we are selling our car and buying a new one. It was past midnight when my husband finished emptying the clutter in the old car and brought all his cartoons home. I insisted I go down to give the old car one last look as if embracing it, or maybe thanking it. I had just finished watching a talk show about harassment (or rather raping) female revolutionists in Tahrir. I switched off the TV, put on my scarf and went down. The cold air hit my face. The distance wasn’t far, it was just there. One look and I would be back. It was too dark and quite. None was in the street. And I heard a scribble! My heart thumped faster while my mind was reassuring me there is nothing. I looked at the car but couldn’t utter my last words to her. The air blew harder, the scribble got louder and I didn’t give a shit about the car. That must have been a harasser, I ran back the corridor to the gate of my building, leapt up in the air crossing the two steps in front of the door, closed the gate behind me, and it was warm again. I went straight to the apartment, taking refuge in my husband’s side feeling warm and SAFE beside him.

But rape isn’t about that. It isn’t some imaginary tale happening in my head upon watching a program. It is a lifetime moment of life or death, and if it was life, it might mean the death of soul. So it is a moment of death or death.

A flashback to myself 16 years ago, I stood in front of one of my friends who asked me firmly “Do you love him?” I shyly nodded without muttering a word. The 11 years old girl (me) didn’t know then what love was. I was just back from KSA, where I had to be covered from head to toe, to Egypt where I entered a mixed theatre class and wore miniskirts. At that time, a friend came, out of custom to have a mate, showing admiration and saying “I love you”. I thought that was so gentle and I of course loved him back. But it wasn’t about dating! I loved him in the sense that he was cute and funny. For him, love was interpreted to secret phone calls and going outs. But that wasn’t the love I knew. I felt I have drowned myself in an unethical pond by just saying “I love you” back. And I lived with the feeling of guilt for the years that came after; guilty I said “I love you” to a boy!

A flashback to myself 10 years ago, I was in the bus going to my college, finally found a seat after a long time of standing up and there came a man to stand beside me. I felt something scribbling my shoulder. I drew my shoulder farther trying to figure out what was touching me. For me, looks at my body are sometimes hurtful, let alone trying to touch it. I thought the man beside me was inserting his hand inside his pocket and trying to touch my shoulder. But the reality was uglier. The man beside me was erecting out his penis and touching my shoulder. I leapt up so humiliated and got out of the bus at the next stop. The fresh air hit my face and warm tears rolled down my cheeks.

It is just a typical Egyptian society; raping girls for their being girls; caring less about their emotions and aggravating their status in society for the mere fact that she is a girl with a breast and vagina.

It is a society that breeds decent, delicate and shy females. A girl should be always embarrassed about her body, low voiced and elegant. In the same time, it allows men to experience the ugliest of things; breeding toughness in them by allowing them to utter the worst of words, hit, date girls (even if deceiving them with the name of love), give orders to their sisters, shout at their mothers, go out late in the night in addition to lots of deeds that are a yes for males and no for females. Few escape those ugly values but most sink down to them.

And now under the weak reign of the Muslim Brotherhood, girls are being flagrantly raped and harassed for saying ‘no’ and protesting. I am not saying this has never happened before, but it was not so open, systemized and ugly. I have no words to describe how I felt upon reading the testimonies of the raped girls. I simply shut close my legs and covered my breasts as if there was somebody trying to touch me. I couldn’t figure out how it is to penetrate through my body, how it is with fingers trying to poke every part of me, and palms squeezing my flesh? Is it painful? Humiliating? Devastating? No doubts, of course!

Nakedness is the word to describe that. Contradictions are the core of that. It is a nude society that tries so hard to look high valued while its deformities are so exposed and seen. Well, piousness is not about hiding penises and breasts. Women are not supposed to grow out more hands and legs to keep their privacies protected. We are not supposed to be afraid to be alone.

I offer no solutions, for it is so personal. For myself, I would take refugee always in my husband and the males around me. That’s me. Other girls might choose the worst by keeping themselves home. Maybe for the more courageous, they would choose to fight; with electrics and weapons or maybe through walking in groups. Ok, one more way to fight is to write on your underwear “I have HIV”!

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Are Jews of the past Israelis of today? SARAH’S KEY: in the eyes of an Arab Muslim

Whenever I write, it’s usually because something makes a striking impression on my heart. This time it’s a bundle of emotions ranging between sympathy, guilt, and bewilderment.

It begins with my love for reading and enthusiasm to continue to do so. Recently, I began reading Sarah’s Key, a narrative by Tatiana De Rosnay. Through the reviews, I had known beforehand that it’s a book on the Jewish holocaust. I have known about the holocaust all my life but never tried to learn more or read up on it; not that I don’t care, but simply because I felt it had nothing to do with my life as an Arab Muslim. The whole thing for me was that Nazi Germany despised the Jew and decided to exterminate them.

Holding the book to my hands, I was struck by the question to myself, “Are you going to hold your same prejudices against Israel and apply them here? Will you be truly objective? Will you link the Jews to Israelis? Can you make substantial differentiation as you have always claimed?” “Of course, yes!” was the immediate answer, which came out loud.

But as I read, emotions like sympathy, and compassion began to overcome me and I felt I could not concentrate on the story. I didn’t want to end up directing my emotions to a certain end, but rather desired them to emerge naturally with no pushing from my conscious. I read on.

Thanks to Tatiana’s brilliant narration, I got completely caught up and overwhelmed in the story. Sarah, the small Jewish girl, who had to wear a yellow star badge, captured me as it has captured Julia Jarmond (the key character in the story, an American journalist investigating the roundup of Jews at the time). So weird how a yellow star identifying a religion, a kind of faith, could so devastate a life, or rather a million lives! Having been discriminated against in every spectrum of life; at schools, shops, streets, etc, the Jews eventually found themselves gathered up in 1942 Paris, rounded up in a stadium in what was known as the Vil d’Hiver. When the French Police came to take Sarah and her family, she locked her brother up in a closet, promising to come back, thinking she is protecting him. She held on dearly to the brass key.

Embarking on a difficult journey, witnessing physical torments ranging from thirst, hunger and physical, as well as psychological ordeals; having to witness suicides, deaths, miscarriages, her parents’ frailty and failing health, while all the time worried about her brother back in the place she had hidden him away. She then managed to escape from the hellish camp, with the help of a kind French couple, reached her apartment in Paris hoping to unlock and free him. But as she tugged the door of the safe open, “a rotten stench hit her like a fist … In the back of the cupboard, she glimpsed the small lump of motionless curled-up body … she saw the beloved little face, blackened and unrecognizable”. And for me, tears, weeping and gasps.

This is about humanity. It has nothing to do with religion, opinions or likes and dislikes. Such acts should be condemned anywhere and anytime.

But for me personally, it doesn’t end there. I can’t help thinking, some of those Jews are the ones who decided to occupy a space that isn’t theirs in the name of being a tortured nation. They are repeating the same savage acts done to them 70 years ago. Should I consider the holocaust a reasonable justification to the torments inflicted on Palestinians? How can their past ‘shoah’ at the time of war explain their present ‘shoah’ in Palestine?

I was taken back to 2008 when I’d read on the Telegraph:

A senior Israeli politician provoked controversy today when he warned that Palestinians firing rockets from Gaza would be punished with a “bigger holocaust” from Israeli armed forces. The use of the Hebrew word for holocaust, “shoah”, tends to be used exclusively in Israel to describe the Nazi persecution of Jews.

In Sarah’s Key, Sarah committed suicide at the end because she could never live with her pain any longer and the burden of not knowing overwhelms Julia Jarmond, who unfolds Sarah’s story. Feelings of guilt, pain and sadness stir in me while turning every page of the novel. At the end of it all, I still believe what I did before I started the novel, that Jews of the past aren’t Israelis and the yellow star has nothing to do with the blue one.

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