أحمد عبدالله إسماعيل - Diary of a high school student

I go to the spice shop to buy some household necessities, on a fine spring morning. I wait until the seller has finished with the women’s orders first. The fewer women are, the more the place is crowded with them again, so I asked him boredly:
-Do you have anything I can pass the time reading until it's my turn?
He pointed to a pile of books and papers without turning around and said:
Take whatever student books you want.
Where do you get them ?!
He answered with just his tongue, preoccupied with what he was selling and following the movement of the store:
I buy them from a scrap dealer by kilo to make stationery for trade.
I pulled out something from its middle that surprised me. I found a diary written in high school student handwriting.
Flimsy, incoherent paper that requires effort to read and to be understood. It was scratched a lot and the pen shook while writing. It needed care, and it even needed retouching. The spice shop seller almost wrapped his wares in the papers of those notes. I was completely astonished when chance brought her story into my hands.
That diary revealed to me the details of a scandal that no one knew about when it occurred other than rumors. Then I discovered the truth that raised a storm of questions in me!
My eyes began to read,
“My life went on with its ambitions. The house was mostly quiet and I was immersed in my secondary studies, but I became noticeably miserable since I fell in love. How I wished that love would triumph, but now I say that my feelings were nothing but vain dreams and false hopes.”
I started reading these words. I could not stop myself from completing them. I tried hard to understand some of the words that ink had fallen over them. No doubt she wrote it with her tears. I read the rest of the lines eagerly to know what happened to its owner whose pen wrote the rest of the details of her story:
“I never leave my room which consists of a wooden bed, a sofa, a closet with a sliding glass door covered with Cinderella posters, a window overlooking the neighborhood, a wooden armchair in front of my mirror and another plastic one in front of my wooden desk.
The clearest thing you see on my room wall is my bright smiling face, my thin, broad forehead, and features that do not need make up, but the one misstep in my life made my condition different from what I was!
Goosebumps took over my head and all over my body. A few times, I started to sweat and my heart pounded in confusion and I said to myself:
“Is this my warm, spacious room that I used to enjoy all my time in? Why has it turned into a cold, narrow prison that restricts the flow of my life? Does my father believe what is rumored about me? I swore that those photos do not belong to me, so why does love turn into hatred, and containment into aversion?!”
I left the house to go to a private lesson, my colleague met me and asked how I was doing:
-Why are you looking at me with astonishment, a tear forming in your eye? I answered in a crying voice:
My father’s frightening looks this morning disturbed my heart, with the trembling of a sinner who saw the Angel of Death.
We passed a group of young men. I did not dare raise my eyes to them. My colleague asked me:
Why do they look at us as if we were criminals?!
I answered her with a heart filled with pain:
Whenever I go out into the street, accusatory looks follow me like arrows that only settle in my heart as if they were a series of raids on my freedom restricting my freedom after I was accustomed to going everywhere as if I had been the best person on earth.
My friend was silent for a long time until I thought she would not speak again, then she said:
I went to your house despite my mother’s warnings about my brother’s brutality if he saw me with you!
I shed tears and answered her sadly:
I was not surprised when the accusatory looks were repeated, but rather I got used to them, and I started walking with a broken gait even though I had not done anything except made love.
I was afraid that my colleague would be exposed to harm because of me, but she responded to my crying, and we started competing to see who could calm the other down. She said:
-I feel grateful for that crisis because it made me see the reality of virtuous people who never make mistakes!
Her words touched me and I said:
They are merciless, staring at me, some with disgust and disgust, others with desire and eagerness!
I stood to myself in a state of collapse, my tears flowing without stopping:
“Has love turned into a vice in their eyes? What curse brought me out of my usual life and into this hell? Will my family’s position on this scandal that has spread like wildfire change?”
I swallowed, my colleague took out a handkerchief with which she wiped my tears and said:
- I did not realize in any way the reason that made me leave my house distressed as if I had lost something precious.
I answered her in extreme weakness and humiliation:
My strength is gone, so I decided something without consulting anyone after seeing the humiliation throughout the last days. All the people in the neighborhood looked away from me with their frowning faces including the mother of our close colleague, Ibtihal, who closed the door in my face. Even Hanaa’s mother threw dirt in my way!
My friend sighed while wiping her tears and said:
I did not disclose to my mother the pain that I carried in my heart after everything had happened to you. My older brother threatened to burn or kill me if he heard your name on my tongue and asked me to unfriend you on Facebook.
I responded to her in denial hoping that I might go away:
Burning, killing, and canceling the friendship?! Until when will we be satisfied with this life?
Reactions became very fast!
What hurt me the most was people changing. No one wanted to believe me, even the teacher from whom I learned the Arabic language and memorized the Qur’an. He bullied me with his hints and looks!
She asked me in amazement:
Did your uncles support you?
I answered with bitter words:
I passed by them and saw strange looks in their eyes. Even my uncles’ facial expressions changed completely. I gave them the look of someone who doubted their willingness to listen to my defense! She inquired curiously: - Did you talk to them?
Did you defend yourself?
I answered her in a voice groaning with shock and fear:
I told them that I was deceived in the name of love, and we do not have control over our feelings.
She looked in amazement and asked:
- Did anyone sympathize with you? How did you feel?
I answered in surrender and meekness in a voice that was almost audible:
I despaired of treachery. I felt weakness in my heart muscle, and excruciating pain throughout my body, but I maintained my balance.
After a moment I turned around with my eyes in a look that was satisfied by the sight of my family who were hovering around me, pursuing me with gossiping conversations and disapproving looks like strangers, even though they knew that I was a good person with morals!
LMy friend looked at me and was amazed at my appearance. I looked gloomy and sullen, looking at everyone in amazement!
I stopped for a moment and vomitted on the side of the street. My clothes were stained with vomit. I was about to continue walking leaning on my colleague who said:
Nothing deserves anger.
I tried to walk with difficulty writhing with extreme fatigue. I stood with my gaze fixed on those who looked at me in amazement as if they were welcoming a stranger who had come to them!
Despite the noise of the crowds, my eyes scanned the faces. It was difficult to remember calmly and reassuringly my first life before the tragedy, or what they call love. I wish I had not known it, but after a few minutes, I was able with great difficulty to activate my confused memory. I told my friend about the last scenes of life. In a flow, I received a letter written by someone I thought was my lover after his desire to possess me became intense:
Oh, my sweet lady with beautiful looks and sweet nature, I will destroy the fortresses of your tormented heart. I will declare the occupation of your body and make it tremble and terrify. I will extract from you a thousand females moaning at the hour of farewell.
I ignored his long message. Then he wrote threateningly:
- You were the one who sent the naughty photos in those sexy positions. You let the devil inside me get out of my body. A horse like you needs a rider. Either we live love through actions and not just words, otherwise your story will become a scandal to be told to children and grandchildren!
Because clouds do not hear barking dogs, I decided not to be at their mercy, so I ignored him and deleted his message completely like all his previous messages, but I was surprised that he shared my photos on social media sites with all his friends. I felt distressed, fearing that everyone would treat me unfairly. This made matters worse by the idea of scandal and shame taking over my family’s minds.
She asked me in amazement:
and what did you do?!
I stood up and bit my hands. I answered her while my body was shaking and my lips were trembling from the intensity of my collapse and I said:
I wish I had not loved. If I had known my ending, I would not have begun!
My best friend patted me on the shoulder, hugged me tightly in her arms, and said:
- How harsh life is in that neighborhood and among its people, after the pictures spread on public phones. They memorize the smallest details of your body and watch your video clips around the clock!
I stood looking at the people amazed at how most of them had turned to the opposite. The last thing that remained in my memory of that life, the calm that used to surround the house, my school friends, my free spirit that had recently stopped!
The teacher insulted me, alluded to my problem once and openly mentioned its details a second time in front of male and female mates when he said:
May God guide and forgive the sinner!
I stood speechless when he called me the “trend heroine” and prayed that the ground would open up and swallow me! After leaving the private English lesson, I asked the vet in a scratchy voice coming from between my ribs:
-Do you sell grain preservation?
The doctor was surprised, pursed his lips, looked at me and said in disapproval:
Do you want to end your life?
I answered him honestly without fear:
Yes, because of the scandal exposed on the Internet. He spoke in a fatherly tone trying to calm me down:
Be guided by God. Nothing is worth it. Days will pass and you will make fun of your worries and laugh at them!
Will I laugh again? What Jacob conveyed is less than a little amount of my sadness.
I set off until I came home, my mother did not stop looking at me harshly, and said in an anxious whisper:
Stay in your room so that your father does not kill you unconsciously.
I passed by my father who had returned from work full of anger. He looked and turned his back to me, as if he could not bear to see me, saying:
- The people of the neighborhood are keen to find a stumbling mistake in me, or discover a sin in me, and I do not know if this is the case with me alone or if they are standing with sharpened knives waiting for any calf to fall. Let them slit his throat without pity, and devour his flesh ferociously!
My heart was broken by his words. I was sad when he fell to his knees crying. My mother tried to calm him down. He started slapping his cheeks, tearing his jilbab from the collar to the lower end, and he kept screaming like a woman until his voice became hoarse. So I set off like an arrow towards my room and my feet tripped over a carpet spread on the floor. I fell, then ran to my room and sat on the plastic chair in front of the brown wooden study desk. My mother entered, collapsed in sadness, and said:
Are you happy with what we have reached? What are you doing now?
I answered her while my body was shaking:
I resorted to silence, and my silence became so distressing that I thought of committing suicide!
The mother did not realize what she was saying unconsciously:
- I wish I had not given birth. How I wish now that I had not been a mother. It is a reality, not a myth. He who said (You who gave birth to daughters, you who carry away anxiety to death) is right.
I remembered my father’s caressing of me when I was a little girl. I regained his happiness every time I kissed him in the air. His calls for me to cover up echoed in my ears. The world revolved around me. I almost lost consciousness. I felt that my eyes could not see. My mother ran to a bottle and sprinkled it on my face until it became wet. She gave me a little drink, just enough to wet my lips, then she hugged me remembering in a few minutes the most beautiful days of my life before that tragedy that turned it upside down.
She tried to calm me down and said crying:
-Do not be afraid or sad. You are the most important one in this world we have.
I answered her while the words refused to come out of my mouth:
- When my father fell and collapsed on the ground and when you gripped my body tightly and shook it harshly a minute ago, I felt as if my soul was ascending to heaven. At that time, I regretted that I had trusted this young man, and I was saddened when I was disappointed in him one day. He was the dream and that...!
My mother patted me on the shoulder after she interrupted me and said:
-Everything will pass, the important thing is that there is nothing behind you that you are hiding from us!
Anger filled me, and I said:
-Never, believe me.
My mother closed the door behind her as if she were closing the door to a prison cell. She left me alone. I sat struggling with my conflicting feelings.
I said while smiling in dispersion:
- I miss this scoundrel. He is the disease that has no cure. Yes, I love him and long to see him, but I will kill him if I see his shadow to teach him that this is what it is like when a beloved person is abused!
I was overcome by despair, I felt worthless, so I got up to the balcony and tore the clothesline. I tried to tie my neck to it, but I was not tall enough to reach the ceiling. I thought about killing myself anyway. I fell to the ground after my feet were unable to carry me. I did not feel myself; I hit the back of my head against the wall a few times.
As soon as my father heard the sound of my screaming and collapsing, he rushed to my room. He opened the room door, pounced on me, grabbed my arms, examined my head and saw blood on his palm. I looked at him with tears running down his cheeks. I shouted in a voice roaring with anger:
Let me kill myself, perhaps you will be relieved of shame. Let me vent what is in my heart. I swear to you, I am your daughter, I am young, and by God, I am...!
My father put his hand on my mouth, and was silent for a moment to gather himself together, then he began to say:
All of Jacob’s afflictions are lesser than mine. Despair has gone beyond the scope. It is very difficult for any father to be in my place, but I must ask:
Are you still my pure daughter? Did you two have sex?
I answered him in the negative, and hid from him what had happened between me and this young man.
My father calmed down a little and said: - Only God knows the battles and conflicts inside me, the fire that consumes my insides, I only care about you.
My father shouted at me threateningly:
I will mobilize everything in my power to carry the head of this vile person on my palms.
My mother said in a challenging tone:
I want you to set me up on an appointment with the head of this bastard’s family, and I will not care about his solemnity. I will remove them from my way and break into his house.
My father was amazed and said with great emotion:
How can you go to them?
She answered in a voice groaning with oppression and said:
- I want to repeat to his ears the words of God Almighty: “Did he not know that God sees?”
We sat in silence until the sound of the phone interrupted it. Minutes later, my father received a number of the neighborhood’s elders to try to look into my matter. The next evening, my grandfather embraced me and kissed my forehead as he has done whenever he sees me since I told him the truth about my tragedy. Then he collapsed crying and said:
There is no help in my hand. You undoubtedly understand what is behind my silence and know how I face difficulties. An idea came to my mind, and I resolved to do something important that would be the talk of all the people of the neighborhood!
I asked him in amazement:
-What are you up to?
He sat down, his blood boiling with anger, and said:
-The wrongdoer will pay dearly for the drop of blood that spilled from you. Everything will end, your tragedy will end, fools will commit worse, and something will happen that makes this crisis forgotten, and no one will remember it.
Only a few hours passed until the social media blue space was filled with the story of our neighborhood because of the suicide of the closest person to my heart as soon as he ended the life of that scoundrel who had stained my honor with his meanness. He hanged him with a shawl he was wearing around his neck. After a period of silence in which only the sound of his breathing inhaled and exhaled was heard, in one moment, my grandfather drank tea in which he dissolved a handful of poisonous grain preservation pills!
I lay in bed one evening and said to myself:
“My grandfather was gentle like a spring breeze caressing my face on a sweltering day. He was an angel who surrounded us with his wings in the family home. His loud, spontaneous laugh emanating from his pure heart still resonates throughout the house; there has been no good person in this neighborhood since his passing.”
I read posts on Facebook describing what happened, including a post by my classmate’s father, the veterinarian, who wrote on his page words that were reported by newspapers, news agencies, and websites in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, in which he said:
They are not men, nor are they the most senior people who would tarnish their daughter’s honor. If we were truly men, this would not have happened. We do not deserve to live!
I became addicted to listening to the song “Message from Underwater”; Perhaps I will be cured of love, perhaps I will cut the deep roots of love from within me, perhaps I will learn how the heart dies and how longings commit suicide!
The spice shop owner sent one of his boys and told me that he had completed the requests of all the neighborhood women.
I have almost finished reading what that girl had narrated about herself. If the spice seller had left me sitting next to the spice shop leafing through those papers, I would not have known how much time had passed and I would still torture myself wondering: "Does the grandfather deserve that end?! Or is it the bastard who violated his granddaughter who does not deserve to live? Was it not possible to solve this crisis in its early start without loss?!"
Safiya wrote regretful words on the page margins. Those wordsechoed in my ears as if the black nightingale was singing in a sad voice:
(If I had known my ending, I would not have begun!)

أحمد عبدالله إسماعيل


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