Review and edit old stories- The message

As I rounded the second stair well my abaya ros (long silky black cloak that sits on your head and covers the whole body) caught under my shoe and ripped. I gripped a large piece of material that I had gathered up and clutched in my fist in order to keep everything precariously fixed upon my head. I knew it could fly off in a second and everything else with it, but that was the least of my concerns. The face cover that was purchased at the open market, had a mere slit for eyes to peer out. In my haphazard departure from the front doors of the apartment building, it had shifted and covered my right eye, allowing vision from only one eye.  None of these details mattered much as I hobbled up the cement stairs, 9 month old attached to my hip, two year old Foof propped upon weary arms and Saleeha grasping at my abaya.  Her high pitched fussing had turned into sobs as she strained to keep up. I was still befuddled as to the reason for this mad chase through the doors and up the stairs of the building, nevertheless I continued shuffling, stumbling and  preventing this parade from careening into the rails and down the stairwell.  I could hear the harrass (doorman and maintenance man) through his nervous giggles trying to reason with the crazed man. He kept repeating in his broken english, “no sir no sir, madam lives here sir”  but it was quite clear nothing would stop this advance.

It had all started as I approached the door to our building and rifled through my diaper bag for the key to the outer door. At that time a man, like any other man, approached me and eventually stepped in front of the doors, blocking my entry. His demeanor was unsettling but not alarming and he made numerous demands that I answer what appeared to be inquiries about my residence. I knew that it was not appropriate for men to engage with females not related through family ties and so I politely explained through broken Arabic that I did not speak the language. This did not suffice and his tone and attitude rapidly escalated from agitation to animosity and hatred. My heart raced as I gathered my little ones next to me, in my arms and behind me. The harras (doorman) then intervened, speaking in bits and pieces of Arabic and English. I took this  opportunity to slide through the doors and up the stairs, relieved that this intruder would now be locked out.

_DSC1135

basic face cover that I wore  

As I made it up to the first landing I heard footsteps that kept a steady click and seemed to accelerate with each raise of voices that now echoed in the halls. The only thing that kept him from catching up to us, was the well meaning harrass who kept repeating his words regarding my place of residence. I tripped and hung onto a small railing near the stairs feeling much like I was climbing a mountain gripping at rocks and plants along the path. The man stepped in front of me several times and I repeated the words I had heard the harrass repeat, “ live here, live here!!” The man now spoke in English and told me “Leave my wife alone go away do not come back!!” As I stood at the top of the third floor quite a mess, but safely to my destination, the invasion stopped cold. I found the key, hands trembling and stuck it in the lock. We entered the apartment and fell into a heap in front of the door. A relief came over me, I ripped off my abaya and face cover and comforted the kids who sat next to me in a daze.

We sat for a few minutes and then it occurred to me that this rampage might just be the beginning. I ran to the kitchen to use the phone ( a recent improvement to the apartment)  and dialed him to a friend’s number.  I told him what had happened in a calm and monotone voice, holding back tears as I knew anything else would be taken as hysteria. He didn’t seem alarmed and questioned me about the man and then let out a hearty laugh. He informed me that this was the new neighbor man he had met weeks before. He had recently brought his bride from Syria to live in an apartment downstairs. He  (husband) had insisted that I go and visit this man’s wife, a  poor, lonely newlywed.  I  made a carrot cake and made my way to her door.  I rang and heard movement behind the door but no answer so I returned the next day with the same routine. It was evident at this time, her husband was the crazed man! I was highly agitated that a good deed and a difficult one for me was met with this response. He (husband) explained to me that this man must have thought I was an unwelcome intruder or a beggar when he saw me in front of the building. He reminded me that visits of this kind needed a message sent beforehand!

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108 thoughts on “Review and edit old stories- The message

  1. What a surreal society! Like stepping through the looking glass! And those face coverings always give me the creeps when I see women wearing them. Especially when underneath are expensive trainers and priceless jewels on fingers etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh Lynz, I so want your story in printed book form, to read and reread again.. Even an ebook wouldn’t be good enough.. Your deserves the dignity and prestige of a hardcover novel..
    You had me at every word in this post..

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s very closed and he said that they were probably scared! But still, I had three little kids with me, could have fallen down the stairs with them all!I had a cake with me when I had visited? I doubt a beggar or intruder would bring a cake? haha

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Harrowing tale, such very strange and frightening experience with you little one tagging along! How cruel. You really should strongly consider putting this in hardcover, unless it would somehow endanger you. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Crazy men, both of them. He, who you called, had the nerve to laugh after you’ve just been unjustifiably harassed. Sounds like the man who lives there must treat his newlywed wife the same for all you knew. So much for trying to be neighborly.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. How frightening! It brings home the difficulties faced by not having the language. How awful for you Lyn when you were just trying to do the right thing. One wonders about the life of that poor woman you tried to welcome.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Different cultures and different ideas. Some I don’t understand, which makes me appreciate where I live. I am glad you were able to leave most of that part of your life behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lynz,
    You are very brave to share this story and I can understand your fear in sharing your stories, worried perhaps that the educated man, that your husband is, might read these posts, which would expose him. I think though your story is written a little confusingly and in a way that adds intrigue but is a little upside down so to speak. It is only at the end we come to realise that the mad chase up the stairwell was a chase by a furious husband, in response to your visit to their house with a good will gesture, the whole episode being actually orchestrated by your husband, to whom when you narrated your folly, it merited only a hearty guffaw.
    I mean from his attitude and the sadistic pleasure he takes at your discomposure, I cannot wonder why he could not keep a single job and was always or perhaps in search of El Dorado- the elusive land of gold. Perhaps he has a psychiatric illness – one of not living in the present and with dreams of plenty.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, this was a wonderful response to what I wrote! I am gaining strength each day in writing and unraveling what happened. I never understood! It was as if he wanted that American dream but then tortured me because I was part of it? I don’t know. My amazing children as well were made to go without! My son was embarrassed to bring friends home because even years later after leaving the fully furnished compound, he refused to move to another compound. They gave him and everyone moving $135,000 Riyals for the year of moving to a new place, he used $45,000 to move to a tiny,unfurnished (older, no facilities and kind of dumpy) compound like setting, rented their old furniture that was broken, glued together and a mess. We were robbed in the middle of the night, a man entered our home,no security out in the neighborhoods of Riyadh.My son was in charge of walking to the street to get items we needed, pharmacy etc. Well he volunteered because we needed things! But, he refused to get him a cheapy cell phone. So, he was out walking around running errands on foot and no way to call us and ask questions about what we needed. Just a silly little thing, but he would not budge or give the kids basic things! My folks always provided things, which again made him mad! When he married his cousin an arab lady, a/c in every room, full furniture, bedroom set, all gadgets, toys, high chair, things he refused me! nice people would hand them down to me! Sorry I still just dont get it! My kids are amazing, smart, creative, funny, amazing!!

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  8. Lyn, hearing your story, as you know, reminds me of all the abused women I worked with in a domestic violence group at the agency I worked for. While clearly there are cultural nuances, which he actually used to put you into a situation where something like this could happen, I think you and the women in my group would have felt your experiences to have been quite similar in the most important parts.

    I think you were right to say he both wanted the American dream, and rejected it, and probably in the same way wanted you, and rejected you (and anything from America, like your parents gifts, as well.) He did seem to be punishing you, keeping you and the children from even simple comforts and resources that were not luxuries in any sense, and his joy at your distress, or fear, is pretty extreme, even for the batterer’s I have known.

    Susie may well be right, and he may have some mental illness, personality disturbance, or something that drove him to what he put the children and you through (I am a licensed therapist so I do not say this lightly) But even saying that , and even if that may be a reason for his behavior, it is never an excuse. He had many choices besides enjoying your suffering.

    Like so many, I am glad you are safe now, and do hope someday you are legally free of him, and certainly free of any fear of him. I commend your courage and strength!
    Jo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I can’t say how wonderful it is to hear these things from a professional! I used to beg him to love me, ask him why why he hated me, I did whatever I could to please him, but my love for my kids saved me! I could not bare to see them hurt and sad and living without the rights that they deserved. He wanted my 19 year old to get married (now has three degrees and working on masters) and wanted my sons to stay in Saudi, which meant no education for them. They had to listen at the door to hours of “talks” in his room between he and I, convincing him that they needed to leave. The rule was they were not american! They could not say they were! Outside to strangers he would brag and tell people “these are my american kids” but inside our home, he would say” you are not american, no!!! do not say that you are” So a big mess. Thank you for helping me. I have OCD and it has been under control but lately I am nervous and worried, I see men that look similar to him and I jump! Anyway I feel its silly, its past and want to just be over this! But I dream about him and just can’t move on. xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lyn, You have been through so much and been so strong, but you have been taught to fear, so of course, there will be times when memories and fears bubble back up to the surface of your thought. But you can conquer them….you already have. However, if you are really feeling stuck, have you ever thought of a support group or a counselor? If there is a local domestic violence program in your city, they probably have some supports and services that are free and could perhaps help.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember this terrifying incident! I still don’t understand all of the why. And as the prompting of your husband to welcome the woman downstairs, it seems like he would have had more to say to the angry husband who chased you and your babies!

    Liked by 1 person

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