The last communication I had with him was a week or so after he left and returned to Saudi. Since that conversation there have been no emails, texts or phone calls. This lack of communication has helped me slowly look at what happened and to start piecing things together but has also meant no financial support. I want to thank each and every one of you who have emailed, called and commented on my blog. You have made a huge difference and your love and encouragement have changed my life.
Days had passed since his departure from our home and an eerie calm pervaded. No one spoke of the previous three weeks but the tension that had permeated every part of our life fell away leaving the usual fear and anxiety. I spoke when inquiries were made about food and transportation but sat silently most days, a confused and lethargic form. It seemed as if I had come so far, walked the road of desperation and betrayal and yet a part of me was still intact until this last event. A new feeling of numb and vacant went unnoticed until it could no longer be denied and I was unable to put thoughts into words and actions.
The last communication had been brief but the usual words were spoken and I played the customary roll reminiscent of years in Saudi, agreeing to any conditions that he listed. He would not allow my parents entrance into his home, nor would my sister and her husband be authorized to enter the premises. He did not want those that were against him eating food that he provided, nor did he agree with anyone spending time with his children. These outside influences were not acceptable and if I agreed to his terms he would consider resuming financial support. I stood in the laundry room, door shut, muffling cries that were undoubtedly still audible. A new hysteria took hold and even with the undeniable reality that he had in fact attacked me, I once again complied. “Yes whatever you want, you are in charge, please send money for the kids” shame and humiliation flooded my system and the cycle had been restored.
A sick feeling overtook me as I grappled with the idea that my refusals and standing tall had brought us to this point. It was the thing I had feared most, a lack of financial support and the idea that I had brought it on in one swift moment of stubborn indignation. I had never been allowed to work and in recent years when I showed interest the innuendo of cutting support always worked its way into our conversations. He reminded me of my honorable place as wife and mother and that scurrying around, acting as a maid was not becoming to my position in this life.
I frantically checked our joint account several times a day looking for that transfer of funds that were to provide food, clothing and medical care for the children. I soothed my injured brain and soul with the words he repeated when monthly money came late. “I will always provide for you no matter what” and so I sat waiting, on high alert, praying that he would make good on his word but acknowledging that the time had come for resumes and applications.
Each day crept past as I vacillated from fear and anxiety to stillness and inactivity. One month after he returned to Al-Khobar, an idea that had been tossed around for years was now put into motion. Saleeha set up a blog, insisting I pick a title. I reluctantly issued the letters that formed a name and remained unmoved by her excitement at the endless possibilities she saw in the future.
A vibrant yellow curry simmered on the stove, potatoes and chicken gently bubbled. A splash of color was needed for the square plate; a thin gold rim etched its way around the dish, adding flare to meringue shells. The sous chefs were summoned to roll pie crust, sauté onions and mix the filling for a broccoli carrot quiche. I fussed over the toppings for peanut butter pie as a decadent chocolate glace was poured over, cascading down the sides and into a glossy pool. Ideas were tossed around regarding the finishing touches, peanut butter cups or tiny bits of cookies and finally whipped cream was piped along the sides. The kitchen clanked and buzzed and had come alive once again with the sounds of family cooking. Preparations for a blog post were underway and this meant that everyone would help, from the youngest to the oldest. Suggestions from the kids who no longer lived at home were received and discussed until a conclusion was made and the final product was presented. A non-stop wave had taken me from my bewildered and dormant position on the recliner to a whirl wind case of cooking and writing. Little thought was given to the events that led up to this point and anything that remained was drowned out by the clinking of pans and the sweet smell of family cooking.