Teenage girl talk
We gathered on the top terrace of our friend’s house where we can see our house too. Young girls giggling, exchanging myths and facts. Discussing boys and beauty. Sameerah said “oh come closer girls, I must tell you my new discovery…”
We all rushed round her whilst we were all looking over our shoulders, before she murmured to us that she heard that girls can get pregnant if they kissed boys. Many of us were worried as we were not sure actually what kind of kiss that would cause pregnancy. [pullquote]I was worried – what if holding hands had the same effect? and planned to end my life before my pregnancy is discovered.[/pullquote]
Sameera was cheeky, a bit older than us, so to speak more experienced and spoke to many boys, maybe kissed them too, therefore, she was our chastity reference.
Muneera wanted to share some thing more cheerful and not as taboo as discussing boys or worse; sex. She said that if we don’t shave or wax our leg’s hair by the time we reach our 30′s the hair will stop growing. We were torn between leaving our legs hairy for the next 16 years or just do it and no one knows where we will be in 16 years time.
Sameera, Muneera and my older sister Tagreed were same age, about 5 years older than me, so they spoke in what seemed like a coded language. I never understood what they said.
A ‘’faraman’’ was issued by my mother. We are not to speak with Sameera, but we can carry on with her cousin Ameera. The annual reputation reports had came out and Sameera failed with distinction.
What about Muneera?? I asked. I liked her ideas about beauty, I always wanted to get rid of the hair on my legs. Mother allowed us after visiting Muneerah’s mom and made sure the house is full of honour.
Muneera’s brother died while studying in Egypt, which brought us closer. Their mother with her tattooed chin (a traditional practice by old women) sat there sad, patient, passive somehow. Her other two sisters were cold. They were strange people.
Muneera was different. Always smiling, lively, happy, flirty but I never noticed. I was young, naive.
A tragic death
One morning we woke up with a bit of atmosphere in our house. Mother left in an unusual hour and manner.
She came back and left in hurry again. My sister Tagreed looked around in disbelief. Muneera died she told me.
It was still early for me to digest such shock. “I don’t believe you” I said.
I went out looking for mother. She finally came back but was in hurry. “Mom, is it true Muneera died?” I asked as I approached her.
“Yes my darling, who told you? Sister Tagreed? Naughty girl, I told her not to tell you” Mother shouted.
She always tried to over protect me. [pullquote]Why shouldn’t I know about my friend’s death??[/pullquote]
Mother promised to take us over to Muneera’s house to pay our respects, before they bury her, when it is suitable. We waited and waited but never dared to go across the road to the house that is less than two steps from ours. Personally, I was scared. Death scared me. I didn’t know then I would come so close to death on many occasions.
[pullquote]I never thought that this mother that does everything to protect me would die in my arms, later on in life.[/pullquote]
Mother is back. She described Muneera for us. She said “she looked restful, has the same beautiful smile on her lips. Her mother put her hands together over her tummy and I closed her eyes. Muneera is lying there in peace.”
“Is her mother very sad?” I asked mom.
“She must be” mom replied.
“But she is sitting there with no emotions!”
“She’s a very patient woman my darling.”
I couldn’t understand – how a mother would cope with the loss of her child?
How did she die, we wanted to know? Mother told us that Muneera’s mom didn’t say much. They found her dead in the morning. How sad, we thought.
Few days later, rumours were all over the place. Muneera was killed. Her father poisoned her with the help of her mother. They suspected she was talking to boys etc. We detest that strongly. So what if she talked to boys?? Why can’t girls talk to boys? Why girls are denied to love and be loved?? Lots of angry “why’s” but no one, single because…
Days passed and weeks passed, sister and I still talking about Muneera. My cousin Nader who is our age was with us one afternoon, as usual, as they live across the road as well. We asked him ”do you think that Muneera’s father really killed her? and why, isn’t that awful?” Nader the cheeky boy, looked at us and I can still picture his smile saying “well if your daughter is…” and he pointed to his tummy as if pregnant “what else you would do but cleanse your honour?”
“Was she pregnant?” I asked. Maybe she wasn’t, but they said she went out with Adnaan, another cheeky bastard from a rich family who used to lure girls with his sport car and sleek looks.
That was the last we discussed the matter.
We never saw Adnaan again in the neighbourhood.
Muneera was buried and her beautiful, lively smile will always be alive in my memory.
Note: in Jordan, in the 1970s, there was no requirement to report sudden deaths to medical or police authorities. Bodies would be buried immediately by the family. Thus the relationship between the private and the public was very different to that in Western countries.
PS – do you think this has stopped now that it’s 2010?
- Pakistan: Another girl killed for ‘Honour’
- Parents bailed in ‘honour killing’ murder probe
- Honour Killings In Sindh.
- Punjab: Father kills daughter for ‘honour’
- Honour killing rocks Haryana, couple killed
- Man kills daughter’s lover for family’s honour
- The crimewave that shames the world
- Invisible massacre: the crimewave that shames the world
- One woman’s nightmare, and a crime against humanity
- UPDATED: “Honour” killings. The crimewave that shames the world – Robert Fisk – The Independent
- Honour killings in Canada: even worse than we believe
- Father arrested for daughter’s honour killing
- Robert Fisk: The lie behind mass ‘suicides’ of Egypt’s young women
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