Tag: domestic violence

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Part 21

There was a small group of friends that I was part of at the mosque, but only because the girl that I considered to be my best friend was at the head of it. When I wasn’t hanging out with them, I would be listening to reggae on my tape player. Lessons were pretty boring when the Chinese boy left, so I would hide the headphones under my scarf while I listened to music in class. The dynamic of our little group was a bit odd. It was basically just us with a bunch of my friend’s groupies that would hang around. She was pretty and popular. I was the muscle whenever it was needed and the one that carried out secret operations that required sneaking into forbidden areas like the men’s section.  It turned out that my friend lived on the same block as me so excursions to the park happened more often.

Morning TV shows before school became an obsession for me at that time since my father got us cable for the Arabic channels. Captain Planet, my early childhood favorite, wasn’t around anymore so I had to make due with Toonami. Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon were necessary for me to start my day right as time went on. The moment I found out that those shows were adaptations of comics, I had to read them. Comics had always been one of my secret obsessions and the only book that we took with us to Egypt was the “Death of Superman” comic. By the time we returned the US, the poor comic was beaten from overuse and I needed new material badly. It eventually got to the point where I rejected the TV shows because I found the comics to be superior story-wise. Not to mention the artwork that was completely different from anything I had been exposed to before. Trips to Barnes and Noble would be begged for and, when I found out about Amazon, it was game over. We didn’t have a car so public transportation to Barnes and Noble in Hoboken became a bit tedious with the little ones. Sponsored time using dial-up internet through AOL was my portal to a more convenient way of getting my fix.

Chores also became a part of my daily routine and the one that I hated the most was cleaning dishes. It was like pulling teeth for my mother to get me to do them. Our domestic bliss had its had moments, as to be expected of any household. Once, I had gathered up my siblings to play computer games with me and my father stormed in yelling at us to get off. He accused us of doing nothing but goof around and I asked him what we did wrong. My line of questioning got him angrier and I my own anger rose with every accusation he shot our way. I ended up yelling at him, saying that we didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of treatment. He went and got the broom and started to hit my siblings with it so I grabbed the handle and refused to let go. We had a short tug of war while maintaining eye contact with each other. He eventually let go and walked away with a smirk on his face.

There was a night where he continued to hound me about my weight. He called me fat and mocked me about it while he laid in bed with my mother. She told him to stop at one point, but he told her to be quiet and continued. Trying to get her in on it. Looking back at it, it was his way of trying to push me to be lose some of it, but at the time it just made me more depressed. I cried myself to sleep that night while my anxieties about starting high school grew deeper.

High school scared me, but New Jersey started to feel more and more like home.


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Part 7

My mother’s favorite tool was her wooden spoon and I gave her gave ample occasion to use it.

I had a real issue with holding in my urine whenever the urge hit. Naturally, this resulted in many accidents at school, home, on the street. Wherever and whenever. She got fed up eventually and resorted to the spoon to make me stop, but that only made me more prone to hide the evidence. The spot that I chose to hide my soiled underwear was behind the heater in my bedroom. That only made things worse for me because of the smell. This problem stayed with me until my preteen years and nothing she did had any real impact on that.

Another thing that got me the spoon often was my tendency toward wandering off from my mother’s side and hiding in weird places. She told me about a time when, in a clothing store, I wandered off and hid under a large rack of coats ignoring her frantically yelling my name throughout the store. She found me by pure chance and, for awhile, she would put one of those child leashes around my wrist whenever we went out together. There are several other memorable times when it was used, like when I hung out with the Italian mechanic when we got separated one time, but that is negligible in the large scheme of things.

Aside from my mother being the disciplinary force during my early years, my parents did not get along well. The first incident of conflict between my parents was at the dinner table. My father wasn’t too pleased with how my mother had made spaghetti so he began yelling and threw the hot plate of food in her face. She ran out of the kitchen crying and I just sat at the kitchen table silent for a time scared and not knowing what to do. This kind of thing continued throughout the years, but it wasn’t as frequent during our time in Queens.

They sent me to Islamic school in the city instead of public school and the curriculum was a joke even by New York standards. All girls had to wear scarves, no matter their age, and class size was too large to teach anything effectively. The main focus, of course, was memorizing the Quran and studying the hadiths. Friends were scarce and I usually sat in the back of the classroom by myself with my seat far from others. Sometimes by choice and sometimes due to causing mischief with the only person that I considered to be a friend. He hated the stuck-up popular girls of the class and, while I felt the same, I had a crush on the one with red hair. She reminded me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and there was never a moment when he didn’t give me hell over it. We had fun together until I had to tell him we were moving. This coupled with my rejection of his romantic feelings, made him angry enough to not talk to me again. He confessed on the day of our third grade graduation and I basically told him that it didn’t matter because I was leaving for Egypt soon.

By that time, my sister and first brother had both been born. My sister’s birth made me jealous and even more angry than I already was. It took me some time to stop picking on her when my parents weren’t around and get used to her presence. She grew on me and I even started to feel protective of her and all of my siblings.

Egypt was a different world at that time, even by today’s standards, and our family changed a lot while living there.


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Part 1

Keeping a diary was never a thing that occurred to me  growing up and it was never my style to share my thoughts with anyone; not even privately to myself on paper. Instead, I would conjure up other lives on storyboards using my own art and words with any tools that I could get my hands on.

My story, like all others, started in the womb. The ones who conceived me were in love and their lives untouched by the mistakes that would produce me as I am now. She was an innocent and idealistic twenty-six year old virgin when she met him.  Her mother’s family hailed from Georgia with roots nestled deep into the history of this confused country. We still do not know if the tribe of our ancestors was Choctow or Cherokee, but we do know that one of the nations has records of their existence. Her father’s family lived in Minnesota but hailed from Germany and originated from the Netherlands. She grew up in a household that was infused with religious segregation and violence. A mother that was catholic and a father that is mormon, a father suffering from PTSD, a sick mother who was a retired RN that needed tending to, a verbally and physically abusive father to all those around him.  This was her home.

He was an illegal immigrant from Egypt that crossed over by himself. Working odd jobs in New York City and finally finding his niche as a line cook, he paid for one of his brothers to join him in the city. The brother that was able to study pharmacy crossed over on his own by way of scholarship grants offered to him because of his profession. His father was a strict man that built one of the first foundations that would turn the small farm village into a decent sized town and died young from liver disease. The paternal last name was changed due to his grandfather being a revolutionary from Cairo that moved to the countryside for anonymity during the Sadat era. His mother taught math to middle school children. The same violence and abuse pervaded his home demanding obedience from all present.

They met when she walked into the diner where he worked in Minnesota for a time and he said to himself, “that’s the one, that’s my wife.”