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Monogrammed

It was November, temperatures were now in the mid 70’s and I was in my 5th month of pregnancy.  Things were going well for the boys at the new school. The teachers and administrators kept their word and no corporal punishment was used on the students. They went on numerous field trips to soda and chocolate factories in the area. The boys made friends and for the first time felt as if they fit in to this environment. See See (Saleeha ) was due to start first grade at the neighborhood school. She was excited to be a “big” girl and begin this journey. It ended rather abruptly on the first day of school when her teacher informed her that her name was not Saleeha, but SALIHA (the proper version of the my daughter’s name) and that she  (Saleeha) was, “not a good girl and not her friend!” I had not yet left the school and found See See holding her ripped up name tag as she ran down the hall calling my name. So, school would wait for another year. As we pulled away from the large cement building a sinking feeling settled within me, a fear that this would be the start of issues to come in the girl’s school system.

Gloria, Guadalupe and I continued to walk through the compound, take the shopping bus and sit at the park. Life on the little compound was mundane and steady for the most part until little issues arose here and there.  When leaving the confines of the compound women must wear an abaya (long black silky coat) especially if entering more traditional areas of the city. One day we made a trip to the local vegetable souk. Rows of vendors displaying their fruit and vegetables and people bargaining for large bags of produce. A particular woman who hated living in Saudi spent her time at the souk loudly arguing with the people selling fruit. The vegetable souk is generally not a common place for women to go, men do the shopping at such places in Saudi.  This woman argued, bargained and made a scene at every stall until she finally opened her abaya for all the men to see, under which she was scantily clad in her string bikini. As we hastily grabbed our bags and made our way to the bus she screamed and hollered at the unsuspecting workers, most of whom were  from Bangladesh and India. We loaded onto the bus and the driver sped off, only to have her flash her middle finger to most on coming traffic. She laughed and bragged for days to come of her escapades at the vegetable souk. It provided us with a peek into behaviors that would later become more common in expat, compound living.

He continued to spend the week days in Riyadh and then returned home for the weekends. The children clambered and jumped, hugging and kissing him after days without seeing “Baba”(father).  We sat for a couple of hours catching up on the week and all of the events that had passed. He told of the new, larger compound being built in Riyadh. It had a mini market, recreation center, parks, swimming pools and everything a person could hope for. We would be moving into this new home after school finished for the boys. He liked his new position, the supervisor and location, things were going well for him in Riyadh! As the children ran off to play he inquired about Saleeha’s school and how it had gone. I hesitated to break the news of the events at the school. He shook his head and reminded me that I had made a home too loving and warm for any child to leave. He then stood to leave for a night out with friends he had not seen all week.

I spoke to mom and dad on the compound phone once a week and this time they informed me that they would be coming to Al-Khobar for three weeks. This news sent waves of joy and excitement through our house for the month to come. A visit from Grama and Grampa would be a welcome change and a much needed breath of fresh air. We had not seen them for 18 months and it was a brief week at my sister’s house after living in Riyadh for 6 months. The children spoke of riding the bus to Rashid mall, walking on the Corniche along the sea and swimming in the compound pool with Grama and Grampa. They could hardly contain their excitement over the impending visit. I cleaned and cooked and although I was ready to enter my 6th month I felt light and free as I bounded up the three flights of stairs working to get things ready. They would share time between our house and my sister’s home in Dhahran. When he heard the news of the upcoming visit he shared fond memories of Mom and Dad, who had signed his paper work which meant taking responsibility for him, let him live in their home and in general given full support for his new life as an American. When he shared his thoughts of them, it  brought me back in time to days of scented letters and promises made to wait endlessly, a true and abiding love. He followed this with a stern reminder, that while they were most welcome, things in our household must remain the same, no alterations. As I sat in the marble foyer on a cushioned settee gazing out the large picture window to my new compound life, a long forgotten image kept creeping in. I could see him in the back yard of our Seattle home, he stood over the burning barrel he loved so much, he glanced in at me through the window as he tossed our monogrammed, leather wedding album in to the blazing inferno.

175 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi Lynz, I finally got around to reading this, and am glad that I waited until I was less rushed and could concentrate more on you wonderful writing.
    Three points spring to mind – What a b…….. of a teacher.
    I am also shocked by the behaviour of the ex pat woman, but then I have never been in her situation, so cannot imagine how desperate she must have become in order to do this – this makes me marvel even more at your composure.
    And finally in answer to your ‘bomb shell’ at the end – WHY? What purpose did that serve unless just to hurt you.
    Much love
    Lindy xx

    Liked by 2 people

    October 8, 2015
    • Hi Lindy hope things have calmed down for you at work etc.! Thanks for reading! I honestly don’t know! I guess just always letting me know I was not in his life, every time I felt close to him and there were so many times, good times, laughing, joking, confiding, seconds later that was over and I was thrown out of his emotional life! He didn’t want to get married in the church etc. but agreed so we could let everyone know we were married, but then he tossed it all!

      Like

      October 8, 2015
      • It must have been an emotional roller coaster for you.
        As for me, things have come to an abrupt halt, as I have taken ill this afternoon. I just began being violently sick 4 or 5 times, just out of the blue, I know have a headache, sore throat and am burning up – the doctor is coming in 45 minutes.
        So I do not think that I will be putting up a post any time soon and I still have Olyth’s last post to read – I was just beginning to read that when I realised something was wrong as I could not concentrate and became very agitated.
        Feeling fragile!

        Liked by 2 people

        October 8, 2015
        • oh my I am so sorry! take care dear!!!

          Like

          October 8, 2015
          • Thank you -not on form at all……

            Liked by 2 people

            October 8, 2015
          • ugh poor lady please do take care and rest!!! Let me know how you are doing!! 🙂 huggg

            Like

            October 8, 2015
          • Doctor just been Lynz and signed me off work – I think that this has contributed. She gave me an injection to stop me vomiting and it seems to have worked. Blood pressure and heart are fine. She’s putting it down to a severe migrane attack.But am to go see her tomorrow if not better. My neighbour has been an angel. Plus everything is more difficult explaining things in French when you are ill. On the sofa with the cat now watching ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ nothing else will do when you feel like this. Thank you for your concern my friend xx

            Liked by 2 people

            October 8, 2015
          • ohhhh soo very glad the doctor came around dear! thank you for letting me know how you are, I have been thinking of you!!! Yes please do take this seriously and make sure you are well tomorrow!!!! I am glad you have a neighbor God bless her!! Take care and relax!!!! much love!

            Like

            October 8, 2015
  2. Lynn! Such an “ending” or “beginning”!!! My stomach is in a knot about what follows! I do hope you can write about how you got out. You – not cute or beautiful? So sorry you felt that way! It certainly was not true at all. I thank you deeply for sharing your writing and experiences. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    October 8, 2015
  3. Everyone else has already said it, but I’ll add my echo, amazing story telling and writing. I’ve probably missed something in previous posts, but was your sister also married to a middle eastern man? How did the trajectory of her life go in comparison the yours? Your parents must have been horrified by what they could observe of your life over there.

    Liked by 2 people

    October 8, 2015
    • you hide it so noone knows. She married a Saudi, he lived next door to them in college so we met by chance. She lives a life with two huge houses a pool, her hubbie caters to her kids etc. So way different

      Liked by 1 person

      October 8, 2015
  4. Your story included many “highs” filled with happy memories of your parents and your husband showing respect towards them. It made me sad for what ended up happening. But, in the long run, you have a happy ending with the Palouse, nice happy family and parents are still here. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    February 22, 2017

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