Girls like her…
by Anita Menon
A fictional piece I wrote for a creative writing class. The Challenge was based on a news item in the Gulf Daily News on Sunday 15th February in which they reported that a 15-year-old girl committed suicide by jumping out of a three storey building.
11th August, 2013
It is my birthday tomorrow. I don’t feel excited at all. Growing up is no fun. As usual Mamma has made arrangements to have the local caterers serve dinner. My family will come for dinner and it will be chaotic at home. How I wish, I could celebrate it with my friends from school. We could go to city center and try the new milk shake place. But Mamma will never allow me. I will be 16 this year and since last year, I have hardly stepped out of the house without family. Meeting friends has been restricted to school and visiting each other’s’ homes. Doniya, told me that once we get married, it is easier to do what we want. With our husbands, ofcourse. But we have to pray that we have easy –going husbands like hers. It is late now and I better go to sleep else Mamma will think I am texting someone.
12th August, 2013
Happy birthday to me. 🙂
I’m relieved to be back in my bedroom. The dinner was such an exhausting affair; the same food, the same people and the same conversations. Aunty Noor won’t stop talking. She was talking about my friend Eman and how she has so many boyfriends. She said,” Girls like her; they have no place in this society. They are bound to bring shame to the family. If I was her mother, I would lock her in a room and never let her out. Alhamdulillah, our Reem is not like her.”
I think Eman is leading the life we all want to live secretly. She goes out to the mall and shops when she wants. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mum. I wonder, if my parents will ever get divorced? I would definitely want to live with Baba because Mamma is always cross with me. Baba wants me to be an architect but Mamma says a girl should be married off before she ‘sprouts’ a mind of her own. Eman and I are not best friends but we go to the same school. Mamma would be livid if she found out that I hang around with her during break-time. I can hear her speak in my head right now, “Reem, a girl’s reputation is everything. Once ruined, there is no way back home” How will Mamma react if she ever knew I had a secret crush in my life. J
It is late now, I should sleep. But before that, let me check my messages on the phone.
Eman: Hey, Happy birthday habibti. I missed school today because I was sick. I’ll see if I can meet you tomorrow. I have a gift for you. Xx
16th August, 2013
What a boring day it has been! School just dragged and there is pile of home work to do. I don’t feel like doing any of it. I told Eman about my ‘secret crush’ today on whatsapp but she hasn’t replied. It has been 4 days that she has missed school. I hope she is not too sick. Mamma won’t allow me to see her. She would say, “Reem, one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel.” Let me try messaging her now. Maybe she will answer.
You: Hope you are well Eman. Rasha was asking about u n complaining that u don’t pick your phone when she calls. If u are 2 sick, I can come and see u. I’m also excited to see my birthday gift. Xoxo
17th August, 2013
No news from Eman. I am getting worried. I am also worried that I am putting on weight. Rasha said, I looked fat with my hair pulled away from my face and my braces make my face look broader. I hate her. It makes me think whether that is the reason why my ‘secret crush’’ doesn’’t look at me! He passes by my house in his Patrol car but looks straight ahead. He looks so handsome in his uniform and he has so many friends or maybe they are his colleagues. But he looks so dashing in his ray bans. Uff…
Rasha told me that Eman has a boyfriend and she has seen them kissing outside of school. I think Rasha is jealous because Eman is so smart and beautiful. I wonder how Eman manages her grades so well and still does whatever she wants. I really wish Eman answers my whatsapp messages. I better ask her again.
You: Eman it has been so many days but you haven’t answered my messages.I wish you just answered. Worried much. xoxo
Eman: I am okay. Xx
20th August, 2013,
I met my ‘secret crush’ today. Yoohoooooooooo. Outside my school. My heart stopped. He gave me his phone number. 🙂 🙂 🙂
1st September, 2013,
I feel like I am not the same Reem anymore. I am so happy. I can’t focus on what people are talking about and my heart stops at the slightest thought of him. Is this love? I think I love him. I want to tell Eman because I feel she will be the only one to understand. Let me message her right now.
You: Eman, my darling, are u awake?
Eman: Yes. 🙂
You: can u keep a secret?
Eman: Yes 😉
You: I went out with ‘Secret Crush’ today. He is so tall n has dimples. I have a picture on my phone. Wait, let me send you.
You: What? Say something…
Eman: Going to sleep. Good night.xx
4th September, 2013,
Eman is not talking to me. I wonder what went sour between us. She refuses to sit next to me. The other day, she passed by without smiling at me, in the school corridor. But I am not sad. If she doesn’t want to talk to me, it is her problem. I have so much going on in my life that I have no time to fix anybody’’s imaginary problems.
He said, I look beautiful in white. I am going wear white every day. He even said, I had the most beautiful fingers he has ever seen. I should have told him, I am an architect in the making. 🙂
I wish Eman stopped being Ms. Grumpy soon. I am so sleepy. I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Good night.
We would like to inform you that your daughter, Ms. Reem is short of attendance. Last month her attendance was only 3% and her grades are falling. The teachers have tried to counsel her but it is not working. Please make an appointment with Ms. Reem’s class teacher as soon as you can.
1st October, 2013
I am in such trouble. I never thought the Principal would write a note, home. Mamma was like the fiend fyre from Harry Potter that grew monstrous with every passing minute. She demanded to know where and with whom I was spending my school hours with. I told her, I was too bored to sit in class, so I went for a stroll every day and then back to the school library. She knew I was lying but no way, am I going to confess. No way.
I have to be more careful now. Even if I get into trouble, I cannot have his name tarnished. I love him too much to see him bothered. Only if Eman would talk to me…
22nd December, 2013,
I love him so much Diary.
I Know I don’t write too often. But he listens to me and I feel, I say it all to him and then there is nothing to write.
Later, Diary. Be happy for me.
1st January, 2014
Happy New Year.:-)
14th March, 2014
Things are not going well between us. Me and him. He is so disturbed all the time and gets angry too. He wants to do stuff to me and I keep saying no. But I think I can’’t keep saying no, else he will leave me. I’ll die if he does. Eman keeps looking at me in class as if she wants to talk.
Eman: Reem, you awake?
Eman: need to tell you something.
You: Tell me.
Eman: Don’t go around with him. He’s not a good guy.
You:What are you talking about?
Eman: Nothing. Just take care.
31st July, 2014
I am feeling so sick these days. I can’t even get up from my bed in the morning. I have to rush to the bathroom to throw up. The whole day at school is a torture because either I am nauseous or dizzy. It must be a bug that is going around. I should go to the doctor. Eman watched me in the washroom when I was throwing up. But she didn’t come up to ask if I was okay.
Later towards the end of school she did and I ignored her. She wanted to tell me something but I walked past her like I didn’t see her.
Good night. Hope this bug goes away.
Eman: Hey, talk to me. Don’t ignore me. I know you are sick.
You: Yup. I can manage.
Eman: I think you are pregnant. Better get a pregnancy test. If you want one, I have one. Feel free to use it.
No, no, no it can’t be. Eman is only scaring me. How can I be….?
2nd August, 2014
This can’t be. I can’t be….. Now what do I do? Eman helped me do the test and it’s positive. I don’t know what to do now! I can’t think. Eman says, there is a way to manage this without anyone knowing. She has done this before last year and I remember how sick she was. Aunty Noor had come home and she made such a fuss about me putting on a little weight. If she ever got to know about this, she will go about telling everyone she meets in the town. Mamma will kill herself and Baba won’t be able to step out with his head held high. Let me ask my love, if he knows what I should do. Yes, he will know…
3rd August, 2014
I am the most unlucky girl on this planet. He doesn’t want to do anything with me now. He says, he is with the police and news like this will destroy his career and since I am a minor, he will be arrested. He asked me to do whatever I should do to get rid of it. I ran to Eman and cried till I didn’t have energy. It was as if the day couldn’t be worse. She confessed that last year it was he who had got her pregnant. She had tried to warn me that I wouldn’t listen. Now what am I to do? Each day, I will look bigger as my stomach swells from what is inside it. How will I hide it? I am too scared to do what Eman is suggesting? Turns out I am a girl just like her and Aunty Noor will have a field day gossiping about me.
I know what I have to do. Yes. No one will be shamed because of me. Not him and not my family. I wouldn’t want to be called the rotten apple.
Diary, I’m going to take you with me. This is it, then.
Ha. Ha. Ha… it is so funny they got my age wrong. I’m 16 and they said it’s 15. Silly newspaper people! I see Baba consoling Mamma but they will get over it in a few years. I see Eman preparing to go to a university in the UK. She thinks about me often at night, I know. How do I tell them, it did not hurt much! But how I wish I could be with them right now…