In my country, I learned how to protect myself. Protection from sun, wind, and men. Heavy clothing covers the skin, and scarves cover the face. It is dishonorable to appear without them and disrespectful of traditions. I dare not renounce or illegitimate them. Because of my graceful sway, men’s eyes fall on my hips.
No one ever admired my unexplored facial expressions, the thick long black hair beside it, and the hidden curves of my body. No one ever really got to know me.
Enslaved to the laws of centuries, clothing hides emotions, unhappiness, pain, and anger. Only the slit of the eyes can testify, for those who understand. For me, my village’s Muslim traditions are natural in my life. I don’t know the Western countries. I can’t even imagine their freedom in a faraway place with such a corrupt name. I stay away from the lights and the temptations caused by this external world, the rest of the world.
My activities include grocery shopping, the morning walk, and visiting my ancestor’s house. My daily life remains the same, the life of a young Muslim woman in the village. I care for my elderly mother and maintain the house with my three younger siblings while father earns the bread on our table.
It’s been a while since that day. I remember chatting with an old girlfriend in the market. The time passed without realizing it. Fearing my father’s anger at my long absence, I hastened home in the late afternoon.
I met young men in a narrow alley, the interest in their eyes lewd as they hissed obscenities at me. Frightened, I continued my way without looking at them until the whistles followed me. No human being was there to defend me.
Frightened, I looked for a way out of the circle they formed around me. Obstacle was their mocking faces, their dangerous eyes. I whirled confusedly in the alternations of unknown faces in my attempt to escape. Their hands came defiantly up my long skirt, and I was unprotected in the menacing ring they created.
I thought it was all over, the peaceful mental life, the good times, my purity and virginity. Unique memory, a rape. May Allah help me.
An angry male voice froze my agitated face. I didn’t recognize from the voices if the screams were my own. One of the men lunged at me and ran away. Fists met their gaze, the rapists without a name turned away in terror from a single figure who finally turned to look at me. Only he remained, his face tired from the struggle for my honor.
The man who saved me became my husband.
Created by Diana Chemeris
Story in Greek: