Friday, August 8, 2008

Somersaults in the Grass!

I was chatting to my daughters earlier who happen to be on the other side of the planet now...and have been for a month. I miss them terribly. There is hole in my heart that will not be filled again until they are within hugging distance once more. I still pretty much feel it was the right thing to do sending them there...but who knew missing someone could be akin to a physical pain that tylenol and the like cant touch?

My oldest daughter was showing me her new mobile phone by holding it up close to the webcam. I could see pics she had taken of her and her sister etc. They we grainy and hard to see but I was still happy to see them...allowing me to be sure that they were happy and fairly much as could be expected anyhow. However, it was when she showed me a short video she had recorded of her sister that I truly felt my heart skip a beat...and then settle down at last...believing with all my being that sending them home was exactly the right thing to do...and all because of a somersault in the grass.

Allow me to explain. The video showed my youngest daughter in the yard attempting to do a somersault. She would try...then fall..then try again...and fall...and there would be much laughing and goading to try again from those off camera...and she would. The video lasted about 3 minutes but I found myself with my nose practically pressed up to the small webcam window trying to take in every detail of that small grainy video....and a huge grin was on my is why.

Here in this country the female body is viewed as "walking fitna"..meaning that everything a female chooses to do with her body must first pass the acceptance of the males in that society she resides in...less she entice them and lead them to commit a haram act (it would be her fault of course as men have no control over their sexual tendencies...or so Ive been told). At any rate...because the female body is just a vagina with legs(throw in a pair of breasts too if you must)...then whatever she is doing...means her vagina is doing it too...and that means she is calling attention to her vagina...and that of course is HARAM!! Which leads to the very strongly held opinion that females should never ever engage in any sort of physical activity while outside and under the observance of the male gaze. Thus no bike basketball or any such similar sport...and definitely no somersaults or backflips or headstands...or any of those childhood forms of physical exertion we all did growing up. A trip to the park is a very stark lesson in this "rule"...boys will be running all over the place like wild boys the world over do...and girls will be most likely either sitting with the family...or walking quietly along talking with a friend or sister etc. Only the very young girls can get away with running about and just "being a kid"...being a kid only lasts until your around 6 or 7...after that...obey the rules and always always ALWAYS remember that your just a vagina in the eyes of the public...most especially the male public.

So Ive always been saddened a great deal that my girls could not "play" outside like I did as a child. They couldnt play tag...couldnt ride bikes...couldnt scream and shout and run around like wild animals less someone scold them and shame them into behaving other words...reminding them that they had a vagina that needed taming. Eventually they would give up in even trying to attempt to play...and just resign themselves to sitting or walking good little girls. I wont say they always obeyed the "rules" ...but then again...even prisoners riot now and then just to let off some steam.

So there I was...watching my daughter from the tiny screen of a mobile camera held up to the equally tiny screen of the webcam window watching her attempt some somersaults in the grass...and I felt like my heart would burst from the happiness it felt. At daughter being what she has always been but was never allowed to be...a girl...a child... fun loving, playing outside and enjoying LIFE...without the glares from the public...without the shaming hisses to behave herself...without the condemnations and whispered threats of haram and hellfire promised....she was having fun...and all of this heartache and missing of her that I have felt this past month melted away(almost...sigh) when I realized I most definitely did the right thing. All this suffering being apart...all this heartache that squeezes my heart in a vise like grip...all this worry and anxiety about what I sent them too...and what they left behind (us)...just didnt seem to matter while I watched her heart was mind was resolve was strong...and all because of a somersault.

but I still miss them ...sigh!


Marahm said...

Oh, how bittersweet! You did make the right decision, but it may have opened Pandora's Box.

My girls were raised mostly in Saudi Arabia. During one of our summers in the States, I bought a bicycle for the ten-year-old. She was ecstatic, totally thrilled, and we both felt awful that we'd have to leave the bike in the States.

The unvoiced realization was that she would soon outgrow it, and miss the best bike-riding years of her youth.

tee dimensionist said...

Whoa! I just got here through American Bedu's blog and so glad I did! Thanks for pimpin it : P

I can't say anything to this except for it really really being sad. I grew up in the UAE and did everything guys were allowed to do. And yes, the same mentality concerning women does exist in the UAE but on a much smaller scale. It's just unbelievable how these people view things, a little girl can't play because she draws unwanted attention to herself? Is there like a mental illness club everyone belongs to there? What's going on? These things really get to me.

Thanks for writing about it. I hope with time things change (although highly unlikely) but at some point people should just get tired of it, maybe not those who have grown there and are used to it but those who live outside and can see the changes.

I'll definitely be back to read some more! : )

All the best,


tee dimensionist said...

And ooh I'm sooo glad your daughters are having a good time!

All the best to you and your family!

coolred38 said...

Marahm...your bike comment reminds me that my (ex)husband bought our daughter a bike one time...even though he clearly was never going to allow her to ride it was I wonder why he even bought it for her. Its still out side...barely used...3 years later. Hindsite tells me it was a bribe...sigh.

tee...thanks for stopping by. The favorite saying of the Arabs more often than not is...we want change but change takes time...Im left wondering...after 1450 years or much time we talking about?

tee dimensionist said...

Lol! A case of laughable tragedy right there!

Aafke said...

What a heartrending post...
I'm glad your daughters can finally move around freely for a while, and I'm sad for you having to miss them.

I'm so glad my parents threw me out of doors every fine day. I'm glad I broke my bones and my head falling off horses, and having to cycle to school every day since 6 years old in all weathers! :)

If your had your blog on Wordpress I'd have you on my blog-list and would know everytime you posted something new!

Anonymous said...

am happy for the girls so much, but in the same time i miss them so much, they are special for me, but if u love someone u have to sacrifice... and they deserve a new life,, i always gonna be missing them.. and happy for them.. God help us Leeann

L_Oman said...

I'm so happy your girls can be girls. :sigh:

I'm sure you wish you could be there to share the moments with them - will you continue to stay in Bahrain? (sorry if that's too personal)

Umm Ibrahim said...

Discovered your blog today and have been reading some of your posts.

Didn't realise Bahrain was so much like Saudi in terms of what girls can and can't do. I assumed it was a bit more relaxed there. Am so grateful for living on a compound here in KSA so all my girls from 12 down to the youngest can partake in 'normal' activities like bike-riding, gymanastics etc.

Is this your girls' first trip out of Bahrain? Hope they have a wonderful stay with lots of stories to tell you on their return and this is a good time for you to discover something of Bahrain that you never had a chance to discover in this past!

Look forward to reading more of your posts. :)

coolred38 said...

Thank you all for your positive comments. I dont actually plan to stay in Bahrain but not real sure when I will be able to leave. Its a dream at the moment. I got the girls out...and Im fairly sure they wont be coming back...other than to visit sometime when they are older if they choose. Eventually I hope to join them with the boys...and bring this saga to a close.

coolred38 said...

btw Bahrain has its particular areas which are more strict and culturally binding then others. I happen to live in Hidd which is very traditional and culture based when it comes to girls. I would like to move, boy would I, but rent prices are crazy...just cant afford it now.

American Bedu said...

I was so happy to see that this heartfelt post made it into Global Voices. Your words and descriptions really capture that true sense of freedom for a woman (or even a little girl) in a conservative muslim country.

coolred38 said...

Hey americanbedu...where can I find that at...I looked around and came up with nada...and thank you for the kind words.

Aafke said...

Nzingha said...

It was the small issue of my girls having to wear stockings to school that really hit home how young girls are sexualized. The smallest of things offend the senses of some due to some sexual delusion as if all in the world are as peverted as they are. The obsession w/ the hymen and the place of young girls all because men are such sexually weak creatures.

It is wonderful your girls have a chance to be simple fun loving girls. I pray they have many more days of fun and that you will soon be able to join them.

Susie of Arabia said...

What a great post. I know how much you must miss your girls, but it sounds like they are happy, exercising some of their new found freedoms. Inshallah, you will be able to join them soon.
I just hate how the people over here in the middle east seem to be able to turn something that is perfectly innocent into something with perverted sexual overtones. Once I was wearing my abaya with jeans underneath & had my hair covered because my BIL was present. I was sitting on a couch, playing with my 6 month old nephew jumping on my lap. My MIL told my hubby to tell me to adjust my abaya because it had opened up slightly revealing my jeans. Horrors! I just don't get why they always think in sexual terms about everything!

coolred38 said...

Thanks should have asked your BIL why he was "looking" anyhow...nobody ever asks them why they are looking in the first place in order to be aware that your jeans are showing...get tired of it.

Mary said...

I grew up in a compound in Ksa , that's why I had the freedom of my life there, playing squash, basketball all being able to play despite of my hijab, rather when I when to west it was hard for me, cuz I didn't have a chance to get the gym reserved for myself and friends as I would in the compound Ksa, therefore whenever I went out t o Cornish I would do all kiddish things as in running around, flying, throwing water balloons getting wet in water,lol!
No wonder there were grins and smiles around :)