Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Today is the weekly holiday [the weekend- Friday]?

I rise later than my usual time by an hour or two, depending on the mood and situation. If we have guests for lunch, then the day will be unsettling and tense like me until the guests leave and the house is once more calm. If there aren't any guests, then the program will be as follows.

Preparing breakfast- boiled eggs, white cheese, olives and some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, hot tea and bread. Usually I eat breakfast alone because everyone is asleep and I have a lot of work that's waiting to be done so I don't bother anyone and let them sleep late. I then go upstairs where the music of the washer begins- whether there's ordinary electricity, or I have to use a generator. By the time the washing is done, the household has risen, one way or another? whether by the ring of a doorbell or that of a telephone. Anyway, by the time I've hung the washing to dry on the upper roof or upstairs inside the house, the first part of the day is over. I then hurry to change the family sheets and pillowcases and vacuum the rooms. I rush to the kitchen to wash the breakfast dishes and make lunch.

Lunch comes later than usual on the weekend (it's usually at 2:30)? on this day, it's usually at 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. After lunch, I serve fruit or tea, put up my feet and take a short breath. The day is coming to an end. If I'm not tired, I go visit one of the neighbors and if I don't feel like it, I have a lot of other options other than leaving the house. By the way, I'm one of those creatures who don't like leaving the house unless it's for work, or to buy something necessary or go to the doctor or some similar case. I like to stay at home and I consider that a sign of emotional stability. My joy is here, inside my home, and if I have to search for it elsewhere, then there's something wrong. Even if I'm fighting with Azzam, or one of the boys? it doesn't change my mind. I'll simply find a room? as far as possible? and read or type? or just stare at the ceiling like an idiot. It doesn't matter- being alone gives me great joy. I miss that feeling on busy ordinary days.

When the kids were young, I used to go out with them at the end of the day, on the weekend? after baths, meals and homework. I used to take them to visit the bird garden or to a small 'fun park'. Life was more tiring when they were younger? but they were creatures who were easy to handle and used to reply, "Yes mommy, dear?" Now, they are tiring creatures who won't take advice- it bothers them and they think it's meddling in their business. Sometimes I wish they were small like before? but such thoughts make me smile and I laugh at myself? for what passes of our life cannot be brought back?


I think housewives look forward to the weekend to leave the house to visit friends and relatives because they feel bored at home. It's as if they're trapped there the whole week.

I remember when I was living in Saudi Arabia, I couldn't work. There, women aren't allowed to work- only as teachers, nurses or doctors? so what was I supposed to do with a degree in civil engineering? Then I found a Saudi architectural bureau, owned by a friend of Azzam, who agreed that I would work on the structural designs for the buildings the bureau handled? and I would do the work at home. Professionally, it was a boring experience? but it was financially rewarding.

I didn't have any colleagues with whom I could debate work ideas or designs. I used to think in solitude and endeavor alone, which was a bothersome process that afforded no fun or even professional experience. My days used to pass boring and similar? I had no sense of them trapped in the apartment. Azzam would go to work, dropping Raed off at school. They'd come back at noon and we'd have lunch together. After noon, Azzam would go back to work leaving me and Raed and Khalid home together- Khalid still wasn't in school. I would spend the afternoon helping Raed with his homework, playing with Khalid, then joining them to watch cartoons! I couldn't leave the house because over there, a woman is something to cover and hide.

I couldn't leave the house evenings unless I was with Azzam and the kids? we'd go to the supermarket to buy something and come home happy like we had been in Disney Land! And of course, I'd hide my face with a heavy, thick cover and if I attempted to lift it, there would always be someone there to scold me harshly- an old man with a long stick which was used to hit blunderers and those who cross their limits. A woman in that country feels she's something shameful that shouldn't be seen! Those were cruel years?

We'd spend the weekend there abroad- and that's a term that means 'outside of the city' there. The roads outside the city were good and the places lovely? and it was all done by foreign companies. The children would play with their bicycles and other toys they brought along from home. They'd have some happy moments with their family? after which we'd go home for baths, then dinner, then sleep? and tomorrow is school. I firmly held to a specific system, so that the house would be in order and the kids would learn to respect rules? and a time for everything.


It is now 10 p.m?. after dinner and offering endless services? I feel exhausted. As always after my day off, I go to work in the morning tired, whereas it's the beginning of the week and I should greet it with joy and energy.

But I comfort myself with the thought that tomorrow we'll die, and rest forever? and I find myself silent? without an answer? I don't know- is it the silence of terror, or of contentment with that amazing idea?

[Translated By River Bend]

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