Management made the announcement, residents would need to empty the compound and make other living arrangements. A large sum of money was given to employees and within weeks everyone would be vacating their homes. Neighbors and friends toured various residential facilities and scrambled to find a suitable replacement. He displayed genuine interest and we trailed behind him searching for a new residence. Each day he carted us along to upscale apartments, new homes and modern compounds and insisted that the ultimate decision was in my hands. I naively perused brochures, asked residential managers for advice and thoughtfully prepared for the move.
I tossed the last box onto a stack of ragged cardboard and remembered similar ones that had stood lined along the villa wall years before. This house was a far cry from where we had started, an empty, unfurnished villa in Riyadh. It was also lacking the finishing touches and amenities that we had grown accustomed to on the compound. White rusted bars framed the window and jagged metal wire held pieces of dining room chairs into place. I felt a twinge of guilt remembering my defiant and ungrateful attitude when he chose this place. Although I had learned that voicing my opinion was futile and ultimately brought more anguish to our household, this time a bitter fury spilled out and could no longer be contained. Enough money had been supplied for our family to move to a similar setting but this was seen as a waste and a luxury. I had defiantly and almost mockingly it seemed, accepted his words at face value and when forced to agree with his choice willingly, a resounding opposition rang out. Several days of insubordination were met with fiery silence and warnings of what was to come. I finally conformed and agreed that yes this was surely the best place for our family. Tears welled up as I held the last box, cut the tape and broke it down just as I had for each and every one, but somehow this one was different, unique. It signaled the finality of this move and all that it entailed. We would once again be on our own, living outside of the Western compound that had been our home for the past 6 years.The confines of the compound walls had not only been lacking in our standard isolation, but also inclusive, providing furniture, mini mart, recreation center and transportation. It was the most normal environment that we had resided in and as Osama solemnly reminded me, we would once again be on our own, left to fend for ourselves.