Friday, February 6, 2009

Story so far...

Hey everyone that happens to stop by and read this...I have a book of sorts...a story so to tell that's been bouncing around in my head for quite a few years now. I decided I needed to start writing it down before it sent me round the bend in more ways then one. This is my first chapter of my first attempt...just want a little feed back. Its not autobiographical...but some things in it are very real to maybe its considered semi autobiographical.

Anyhow, for those who care, this is not a book to teach anyone about Islam or Muslims etc...its just a story that needs releasing from my head...plain and simple.

Also I apologize for the language...but its a story about real life...and real life has colorful language...whether we like it or not. Waiting to hear from you....

*edited and new content written


It seems she had been alone most of her life. She couldn't remember a time when she had anything other than her own mind to occupy her with. Don’t get me wrong here…she spent time with other people…called them friends and all, but she didn’t feel comfortable in their presence as much as she did within the confines of her own mind. The one place she was free from all of life’s restrictions. In her mind she could be anything, go anywhere, say whatever she wanted too, and best of all BELIEVE whatever belief felt right within her. She was 37 years old when much of what she believed about herself to be true…was proven to be wrong. It was the worst and best year of her life.

The morning of the day that she met the one person that was to become the “love of her life” started out much like the hundreds or thousands that had gone before it. She woke for fajr prayer with anticipation of facing her Lord. Her first thoughts upon waking were the same as every day...wishing she had miraculously lost some weight while sleeping...and wondering if THIS day held any promise of something different then yesterday. She tried to rouse her husband but he was far too interested in whatever dreams passed within his mind to care much for prayer. He turned over while muttering he would be up in a minute…and was snoring again within seconds. She resigned herself to the fact that he would never care as much for prayer as she did. To each his own. If she had cared, at this point in her marriage, for the soul of her husband she might have been more persistent. As it was she could only quietly revel in the thought that he would burn some day for all these prayers missed. She wondered if it was a sin to take quiet delight in the thought of her husband burning in the Hell Fire. She asked God to forgive her for such thoughts…just in case.

She performed her ablutions and waited patiently for the adhan to sound, passing the time reading the Quran. She had always loved the early morning hours while she waited for prayer…the quiet and solitude sat easy with her. She felt nearest to God at this time and the Quran seemed more welcoming and easy to grasp without distractions and life getting in the way. She generally read a few pages and reflected on what they meant to her. It always surprised her how whatever ayat she was currently reading corresponded with some thought she may have had recently…or some problem she needed advice for. It was like The Book spoke to her on some level…anticipating her spiritual needs…and responding to them. Thank You God for listening to me, she thought.

Once the prayers were finished she might consider going back to bed, but the possibility that her husband might awaken and demand sex from her generally kept her from crawling back into the warmth of the covers; the days had long since passed when she felt even a glimmer of attraction to the once charming handsome man she had met years ago. So rather then risk his waking she settled on the couch and turned on the TV. Most of the time she didn’t really focus on the images on the TV. but instead dwelt on scenes that rewound themselves constantly within her own mind. Playing the “What If” game kept her constantly busy no matter what else she might be doing. It agonized her to play this game as the result was never satisfying. No amount of playing and “re-ordering” her life actually changed anything. It just caused more frustration and agony to know she could’a, would’a, should’a done things differently to avoid the life she was now in. She had no one to blame but herself…

With a quick look at the clock and a sighful resignation of her lot in life, she heaved herself up from the couch (as usual promising herself to start that diet tomorrow) and set about starting breakfast and getting the children up for school. Her children were the bright moments in her life. All her “failures” could not even come close to measuring up to her accomplishments…her children. They were her pride and the one thing that made this life she was living possible. Without them to love and care for she believes she would have given up and given in long ago. Each new step she took in her daily struggles she took for them. Each verbal abuse hurled from the bitter lips of her husband was heard and swallowed and dropped down into the pit of never ending sorrow. The depression that threatened to swallow her whole…was only kept at bay by one thought…"my children need me"....followed quickly by another..."I need them". And so, each new step was taken, each new abuse swallowed, and each tear that fell was quickly wiped away…what was the use of tears anyhow, they didn’t change a thing. She sent up a solemn prayer to God to grant her more patience…and to help with the self pity…who needed it anyway?

When the children were nearly ready to go she would go and wake her husband. Sometimes he drove them to school, other times he just wanted to make sure they were what he considered “properly equipped” for the day. Boys with their backs straight with pride, the girls with heads covered with the hijab. Pride for boys and hijab for girls were apparently the only two things to measure a Muslim with by his standards. It always quietly amused her and made her proud when her younger daughter rebelled against the hijab (she herself had often thought of just flinging it into the wind and defiantly walking in the street without it...but fear of judgment kept it firmly on her head)…and many times got out the door without it, conveniently forgetting it at the last moment. Other times she would remove it out in the street as soon as she was around the corner. She had many fashion statements to make when it came to her clothes…but the hijab was not one of them. Go girl! She wished she was as strong minded and independent as her teenage daughter. What can you do?…life was for the young. (37 was not old but in her was all but over regardless of how "young" she was)

She hated closing the door as her last child left for school. It meant that she was now alone with her husband and her dread at what this most assuredly meant was like a rock in her stomach. She could no longer stomach the idea of lying on her back and spreading her legs for his idea of sex. His touch alone sent shivers of repulsion up and down her spine. When she seen that glimmer of lust in his eyes…it was all she could do not to scream and lock herself in the bathroom…or better yet…run into the streets like a crazy woman. Instead she would once again quietly resign herself to life and come when he called. Removing her clothes and positioning her body in whatever sexual manner he demanded of her. She was like a mindless object for his dark desires. He never asked her what she wanted, what she liked or didn’t like, whether what he was doing hurt or not. Usually it did hurt, if not her body then definitely her pride, her soul. She could only lay there and pray that he finished quickly and was thankful when he did. Other times he seemed intent on a marathon of sex...and the never ceasing pounding and grunting nearly sent her off the deep end. She wondered what he hoped to achieve with the hour long sex...its not like someone was standing by keeping score or giving marks for enthusiasm and creativity. If credit was to be given for whatever reason...for sure she deserved the accolades just for her ability to endure such bodily assault again and again....and not even a tender kiss or caress to make the enduring bearable. Only bruises on her body and on her soul as a testament to the "love making" that had transpired.

Eventually he would roll off and strut to the bathroom to shower as if his ability and agility at sex was a thing to boast of. His concerns for his wife only extending to whether his breakfast was on the way or not and to maybe throw a comment back at her that she needed to lose some weight. Oh God! Where is that patience she was asking for earlier? It occurred to her many times that she could happily poison his morning coffee…if poison were at hand. The fact that she contemplated murder on an almost daily basis, if not hourly, no longer shocked her as it once did. God was forgiving for her errant thoughts. It’s not like she would ever actually kill him. (a thought best left unexplored)

As soon as he was out the door she shrugged off her resentment, her anger, her anxieties, like she might shrug off her clothing…leaving them all piled messily by the door…to be picked up and hastily donned once again as the hour drew near for his return all though at times he would sneak back home without warning, as if to catch her up to something. Catch her doing what she never knew…as he knew better than her that she had no life. Cleaning, watching TV. reading and dreaming of murder were about all that kept her busy. (that and her prayers...she could do without the rest and would give them up in a heartbeat if needed but not her prayers) If he expected to find her wrapped up in the lusty arms of a sweaty lover in their marriage bed…then he would surely have to wait a very long time. She had one male in her life that was causing her enough misery…only a fool would go looking for double the trouble. The most he might catch her doing was scrubbing the bathroom floors or hanging laundry. No whoreish behavior here…just move along.

Often times these surprise visits meant only one thing…more sex. Surely there could be no other man on the planet that spent as much time thinking about, anticipating, and participating in the act of sex as her husband. It scarcely allowed him time for other things…such as a job or getting things done that needed doing…in her opinion. (she had long since lost count of the number of jobs he had "quit" or "lost" because management didnt see eye to eye with him...or some such excuse. He hated being told what to do ...plain and simple). How could someone so consumed about sex, so engrossed with the perfection of his own dick, so demanding of her body…wanting to stick his manhood into any hole that would accommodate him regardless of the pain it caused…how could he lead a normal life…when a normal life seemed so far outside his thought process. Sex sex sex…and then food, shelter, paying bills etc. She loathed him each time he grabbed his bulge and indicated with a quick nod of his head that she was to assume the position once again. God! God! God! she realized the humans were made in Gods image…did this mean God had a penis as well since generally God was referred to as “Him”, “He” in all religious discourse? Did God walk around grabbing His bulge while contemplating in what new position He would fuck humanity? She quietly asked God to forgive her for assuming God had human qualities.

Of course these midday visits meant that she could never really relax when he was gone…since the likelihood of his showing up at anytime was possible. It seemed his only desire in life, other than to fuck her as often as the thought crossed his mind, was to catch her doing something he considered “haram”. His ideas of what was and wasn’t haram didn’t even come close to what many Muslims followed, but her life revolved around avoiding his haram as much as possible. The arguments and punishments that followed when she was caught “transgressing” just wasn’t worth it. He made her feel like such a criminal with his accusations and abuse. A quick trip to the corner store for sugar was, according to him, an opportunity to flirt and make future appointments with potential lovers. If only he knew how ridiculous he sounded. She didn’t even like the act of sex, hated to even submit herself to it, would be quite happy to go the remainder of her life without ever once again spreading her legs…or the cheeks of her ass (no amount of arguing and pointing out that anal sex was haram to him had any affect...he always claimed later that he "didnt mean to")…or opening her reluctant mouth, for another man…she laughed quietly inside when he ranted on about such things. Men are so stupid when it comes to women. God! Please make him shut up!

Often times when she realized she needed to make a trip outside for something she would first call him on the phone just to see where he was, what he was doing, to gauge how long she had before he could realistically reach home. If he indicated he was far enough away, she would quickly don her much hated hijab and duffa and quickly dash to the store and back again…looking over her shoulder the whole way. Her heart beating fast and silent prayers to God to not let him come home and catch her in the street somewhere. Of course, he sometimes played the game too…indicating he was far away but really just down the road. This little two step they did, her trying to “commit her crime” of leaving the house and his trying to catch her at it, was a daily tango they did. Sometimes she won, sometimes he did…usually he did.

For the most part she stayed inside the house. It just wasn’t worth the hour long lecture and tuition on Islam and how to be a good wife and mother when she was caught out. She had better things to do with her time then listen to his sanctimonious drivel about what entailed a “good” Muslim. She would sit there patiently waiting him out, waiting for him to tire of hearing his own voice, quietly thinking her own thoughts. (in the past she would cry, apologize and "try harder" to please days she couldnt muster up the emotion necessary to cry and to try harder hadnt crossed her mind in a very long time) She often wondered if he actually believed any of the things he “taught” her…since he hardly practiced any of them himself. God…why did You create hypocrisy in humans?…why did you give us the ability to sound so pompous in the face of facts? Fact one…her husband was a horrible Muslim and a not much better man. Fact two…he apparently was completely unaware of this fact and felt it was within his rights to “teach” her in areas that he himself could use some tuition in. Yadda yadda yadda…blah blah blah…if he was going to fuck her she wished he would just do it and go…without the never ending lecture thrown in just to add insult to injury. She would sit there nodding her head…looking contrite…”learning” her lessons…all the while sending sneaky peeks at the clock wishing the time for the kids to arrive would hurry up and get here. God? Why does the time move so slow when we are caught in other peoples headlights?

On the days that he actually stayed away at work, or wherever it was he spent his time, she enjoyed the peace and quiet and spent time reading. Her passion was reading anything and everything and every opportunity to read was never passed up. It was with a quiet inner pride that she remembered her school days...graduating on the honor roll...teachers writing wonderful things in her year book...lauding her potential as a writer...praising her abilities and looking forward to her "first book".

She sighed while thinking of the promise of her youth. Where did all that fire and passion for writing disappear too? Her thirst for the written word had not diminished...but her desire to write things down had over the years. She thought about the journal she use to keep...had kept it for over 10 years. Just day to day thoughts...anecdotes about the children...and the occasional rant and lament about HIM and his tirades and unjust treatment of her. She never told anyone of his abuse of her...but it helped immensely to express her anger and anguish on to the page...the cathartic release was probably the only thing that kept her from killing herself (or him)during all those years of insufferable abuse. God forgive her for thinking thoughts of suicide (and murder). Its not like she would actually do it.

She remembered exactly why she suddenly stopped an instant the choice was made and 10 years worth of journals was angrily and hastily dumped into the dustbins outside. Years later of course she regretted that rash decision...missing her written memories almost more then friends and family she rarely saw anymore. Of course HE was the reason for her decision to stop writing. She never hid her journals...they were right there in the open for anyone to read...the only one who read them was her husband. She might wake in the night in need of the bathroom and notice her latest journal was not beside the bed on the table. When she returned it would be there. She often wondered what he did in his "office" all night...well she knew at least one thing he her journals. What he hoped to find in them (for she knew without question he was hoping to "catch" her in her writing just as he caught her in the street sometimes) puzzled her as what little life she had held no mystery. She wondered if he actually thought she was stupid enough to write down the fact that she had a lover...had a hot and steamy liaison with him that day...might describe all the incredible sex they had...and then have the nerve to keep the journal beside the bed and not under lock and key (if she actually had a lock and key...nothing was locked against him in this house...all though he sure kept his office locked up tight) He pretended he didnt read it but she might sometimes play a little trick on him and insert some dubious sentence here and there...something that might sound as if she had did something but what that something was was unclear. For instance she had been out to the shops once and while returning she had noticed the neighborhood mentally retarded man sitting on the bench in front of the mosque. A second look confirmed what the first look had indicated...he was masturbating...and in full view of all the people passing by. Apparently nobody noticed...or cared enough to stop him as he continued on without disturbance. She blushed and quickly passed by...but that night she wrote in her journal..."I saw "carrot" while outside today." That was it...that was all she wrote on that subject...but a few days later her husband asked her (quite out of the blue) who Carrot was. She feigned ignorance but inside she was giggling...knowing full well why he had asked. God forgive her for making such a fool of him...but he certainly made it easy.

Eventually his determination to find fault with her writing...demanding to know what each sentence meant...what were the "hidden meanings" to this and that...did she actually plan on writing a book someday and making him look bad to his friends and family...was that her intention? Didnt she realize as a Muslim she shouldnt be wasting her time on such useless things? He never let up...and so she just quit. Without much thought or fanfare. All the journals into the garbage...and the only writing she did was now all in her head. At least he couldnt snoop in there.


marahm said...

I read this on two levels, first for content, then for craft.

As for content, I would have liked to see more about why she married him in the first place. Surely, she felt something positive for him at one time. Hatred and disgust can get boring, unless set against a background of love and hope. The contrast between her former love and her current disgust would show more of her depth as a human being, and would therefore engage the reader's sympathy more thoroughly.

As for craft, you've got some colorful expressions and vivid scenes buried under straight narrative. The piece reads like a first draft, and at this point, I wonder about your intent in writing it, as well as posting it on your blog. Sometimes, though, one must do the writing, and its purpose will emerge after the fact.

In any event, I'd drop the fiction part and stick to autobiography. Your blog posts are always well written and full of energy; this piece seems to skim a surface, and here is where you could help it by defining its purpose more definitively.

If you've written it solely as a cathartic tool, then you don't need any reader reaction or advice. If you've written it with the idea of publication in one of the numerous creative nonfiction journals or internet publications, then you might want to join an internet critique group, of which there are many.

I sense you are pulled in both directions. If you decide you are interested in craft and/or publication, I'd be happy to share some of the resoureces I've found productive (email me directly).

Hope this helps.

Chiara said...

I would second Marahm's comments. While overall interesting, the narrative seemed to lose energy at points, and more description of her and a contrast with some happier early times would give the reader/author more to grasp onto whether you decide to publish or not. Right now autobiography, whether short long, with a disclaimer like "as I remember it" to protect the author is easier to publish and sells better than fiction, even if you do it under a pseudonym, pen name, "nom de plume" whatever. Other categories besides semi-autobiographical are "autobiographic novelization" and "fictionalized autobiography".
Good luck and remember all writing is re-writing. :-)

Ordinary Housewife said...

I disagree. I think it's engaging, interesting, I like the main character and sympathize with her right out of the gate. Of course it reads like a first draft. It is!

Don't write autobiography just because it sells. Write what you want. Adding an "as I remember it"and calling it autobiographical doesn't provide all the freedom you need in writing a story. Only fiction gives you the freedom to write whatever you want.

Marahm, if this opening passage leaves you wondering about why she married him in the first place, then she's done a good job of drawing you in, making you want to read more.

Nice job, Cool.

coolred38 said...

Thanks ladies...yes it is a first draft...the first time expressed from mind to lots of rewriting to do.

I agree Marahm....there is a reason she married him in the beginning...I figured I would ease that into the narrative as it went along...of course you wonder why she married him...she wonders that as well through much of her life apparently...

Im not sure why I would need a disclaimer on it since I mentioned its just a story...yes..some of the feelings are mine as any writer would have to embue their writing with personal feelings...and yes other parts are of a more personal nature...but as a whole this woman is not me and this story is not mine...soooo?

Thanks again ladies...unlike many writers...I enjoy feedback...either teaches me something more.

btw Marahm...I may take you up on that offer eventually.

janice said...

I liked it and hope I get to read the rest of the story. How she got to this point and beyond. Please post the following chapters, I'm hooked now....

Anonymous said...

I am hooked.

As to why she married him I figure the reader will find that out in one of the later chapters.

marahm said...

The leaders of creative nonfiction today are still debating the line between "creative" and "nonfiction."

If you need a disclaimer, that means someone who reads it might recognize him/herself, and that means it isn't fiction.

If you continue the story as fiction, I'd encourage you to deliberately develop it away from recognizable aspects of your life, such the those aspects would be only incidentally similar to those of the protagonist's life.

Also, I agree with Ordinary Housewife. Don't write something because it sells. The only writing that sells, or is worth reading at all, is that which originates in the guts and hearts of writers, regardless of genre.

(Yes, the piece drew me in, but I am a nit-picky writer who critiques with a microscope!)

Internet critique groups are inspiring and instructive. One person can critique well, but real wisdom is held in the collective remarks of the group. I hope you go for it. Even blog posts can be polished in a critique group. I've done it.

Chiara said...

Hi! I was being optimistic about your publishing prospects, and the reason for the disclaimer (a publisher and the legal team will advise you best) is because of the legal risks from people who think they see themselves in your pseudonymous autobiography (even if unnamed or disguised) or in your fiction for that matter (they use a different legal disclaimer); or for readers, publishers, OPRAH, who think they have been duped (remember the whooohaaa about "A million little pieces" wherein they all sold the author down the river, even though he submitted a fiction and they told him to publish it as autobiography?). I have seen recently published autobiographies with the type of disclaimer I mentioned, including one by an Iranian Canadian whose ex, inlaws, innocent cell mates, etc in Iran would not necessarily be thought to be involved.

Given your description of your ex and his family I would "cover my a**" which a publisher's legal team will make you do anyway. Calling it a fiction is not a guarantee as a Canadian prof found out when he published his novel with a disclaimer but hadn't fictionalized enough (according to those who thought they recognized themselves), and was sued by his colleagues and fired (no tenure--silly fool).

The marketing part (see I'm still being optimistic about your future as a writer) is a consideration you will come up against with a publisher (see above) and of course is your choice. Once again, if choosing fiction make sure you cover your "assets".
Speaking of which--you want the most financial bang for your words, right?--any commercial publisher would, and would advise you accordingly. Publishing online, except as you are doing here would involve similar issues of legalities and finances.

You have made an intriguing start, and I wish you every continued success whether in the blogosphere, or if I am forced to tape Oprah to see you promoting your bestseller. :-)

Suroor said...

Hi Coolred,

I would suggest an online critique group as well. It teaches a lot.

Your first chapter is engaging on two levels: who is "the love of her life"; and why did she marry this sex-freak.

I enjoyed it. Of course, it is the 1st draft and I enjoyed it like a 1st draft. In the following chapters you may want to add more detail like what the characters look like, what goes on in the mind of her husband (writing it in the third person has that advantage that you can write about what goes on in the heads of all characters and not just the protagonist).

Good luck!

Suroor said...

Because we know you a bit from the blog we are automatically reading it as an autobiography :) But why are we assuming the woman is white and had the choice to choose her husband? What if she is brown, and Middle Eastern and her family arranged the marriage and now she has found the love of her life? What if the husband blackmailed her over something to marry him?

Hmm... I am enjoying this!

Chiara said...

Suroor--interesting ideas, maybe to be incorporated.

I am basing my "autobiographical" assumptions on the blog, and moreso on the prologue to this post, specifically: "Its not autobiographical...but some things in it are very real to maybe its considered semi autobiographical."

Also being well-versed in literary criticism, and literature reviews, I am aware of autobiographical assumptions even where the material is far more distant from the author than this draft seems to be.

So far, this is a good narration of the isolation and wearing down of an abused woman.

Chiara said...

PS and of resilience

Nzingha said...

Suroor- I would agree w/ that she 'might' be of ME decent. A born Muslim perhaps but than the reference to "Humans made in God's image" would make me think convert.

coolred38 said...

Hey ladies...thanks for the feedback. can I set this post apart from the others. Like on the left hand side where the older posts are listed...can I somehow keep this one separate so its easier for people to click on just this post and see the updates?

Thanks in advance.

Chiara said...

I don't know the technical way to do it, but having a whole separate category like Aafke's Art or Loony Bin, or Bedu's discussion page would be helpful to you and readers.

Aafke said...

I thought it quite rivetting. I think the sex should come in later in the story. And more about why they married and how and when it all turned sour, slowly working up to a kind of climax: the horrible world she ended up in. And yeah, by all means, make it an autobiography.

I could show it to my agent, also a literary agent, when you are further along.
A good literary agent would also know how to protect you in case you end up writing it as an autobiography, or how to put it in case you make it fictional.

Oh, and btw, at anytime I'd be happy to put your husband out of the way for you. I'll pop by foir a holiday, just point him out to me...

The Queen said...

I'm not qualified to give you any writing advice but I can say that it sounds like an interesting book. Good luck with it!

Chiara said...

Aafke is right. Eventually a literary agent would provide general editing advice, find publication opportunities, and advise about legalities.

Anonymous said...

i want to read more about Carrot, the masturbating retard.

intrigued reader said...

coolred, have started reading your blog. It is very fascinating. Led me to google other blogs. I found this one and it reminded me of you...though the woman has lived her adult life in Canada. I think you could get some real insight from it. It's called crypto-muslim

coolred38 said...

Thank you Intrigued...will certainly check out that site.

Glad you stopped by.

marahm said...

If you can't, or decide not to, set this writing project apart from your daily posts, why not start another blog? You could fashion a whole different theme, and even use another name. Just be sure to link the new one to this blog, so your readers can follow the progress!

coolred38 said...

Thank you Marahm...I was actually thinking to do just that...make it a separate blog all together. Im still working on it...I havent really considered trying to publish it but others have thought its worth a try so who knows where that will lead. Ive seen worse out

Chiara said...

Good idea to start a separate blog. Though let us know in some way how to get there! :-)

Susie of Arabia said...

I'm so far behind on my blog reading and so glad I kept going further back into the posts of yours I missed. I think it was terrific and definitely drew me in and kept me reading. I think you've gotten some great advice here from Marahm, Chiara, and Suroor - and I'm looking forward to more installments.