“We are late again; can we never go out on time?”
“Here we go” she whispered to herself. That was the normal way to start the day – with her husband complaining or shouting.
It is still early in morning - the beginning of a new day. She has lost track of the days of the week - what difference does it make if it was Monday or Wednesday? A smattering of a difference came about when it was the weekend.
She carried the schoolbags for her kids, setting them at the ready. The boy was 6 and the girl was 8. She wonders that the bags are too heavy – even for an adult - what kind of system forces kids to carry burdens so early?
“Good morning to you too, darling!” she said, while opening the door. He never said a single word in the morning besides complaining. They started going down the stairs, walking three floors. The elevator was still not working. As usual they met the pretty neighbour on the first floor. The lucky woman is glowing as usual! She thought, while saying good morning. A single mother with a nice kid, she was quiet, but always pretty and shinning. What a life!
Reaching the car, she got in and sat next to her husband. She turned to look at him closely, Such a perfect husband! People would say about him. After 10 years of marriage, and living in a middle-class family, he would respect her in front of everyone, and never left her side, driving her to and fro from work.
She wanted to quit work years ago. He didn’t let her - as her salary was essential for the family’s finances. She never had anything of her own in her life, not a space, not a decision. Her husband was her second cousin. She had a traditional Egyptian marriage – where there was no love – well, who said love was a must for marriage? Love always comes after marriage. But for her, love never came. Life went on. He was a tough guy, no feelings everything seems so robotic. She almost forgot conversations, spending each day in silence. When she reached work, she only spoke a little with her colleagues - afraid to show them what she suffered. They got their first kid, then the second, and then life together stopped.
They separated quietly. She sleeps with the kids and he uses the main room. What was wrong with them? She never knew. But what they share can never be called life – they were two strangers sharing the same place and the same kids, nothing more than that.
In the 10 years, she never knew what he had in mind. He rarely spoke at all, whenever she tried to get closer he treated her so cold, slowly he killed every single emotion in her heart. Finally she spoke with her family asking for a divorce. That was refused. She could never get divorce without her family’s approval. She also couldn’t afford a family alone. She had no place to go if she got divorce. She told her family that they were already separated years ago, that changed nothing in the fact that she has to go on with that cold life. They told her that a cold life was no reason for divorce - he was just perfect for them.
He drives her everywhere because he is a suspicious person. He respects her in front of people because they barely talk to each other. He insists they stay together, as she gives him all her salary to share in life responsibilities. She turned her head looking at her neighbour passing them with her car. She was free, confident and pretty. This was a far dream for her. Looking at her own face in the mirror, she could barely see her features. She was veiled in silence, and that is part of her features now.
By Nehal Ossama Elsoda