Cinderella: The Big Fat Lie

It wasn’t just a play, it was a Cinderella story. My friend didn’t have to say much to convince me to go, given my love for theater, and add to it a classical childhood story, I was sold on the spot. In fact, I imagined it was one of those deep theater performances with supplemented messages, as Cinderella could symbolize a vast array of notions and ideas.  That said, I totally neglected the fact that it was probably a children’s play, only to be surprised when I arrived to the theater that indeed it was.  Yet, considering that some of my fondest childhood memories were related to children’s plays which the school used to take us to attend from time to time, I was actually excited. It was a reminder of why and how much I loved theater.

Alas, it wasn’t a play that I would take my hypothetical children to see, but as an adult, I really enjoyed it. It was almost devoid of any moral value, but it was funny and the actors were good, as well as the dialogue and special effects. Yet, despite enjoying the play, it was obvious that my good friend Abeer  had a major issue with it. You see, for people in the Western Hemisphere, it’s usually Santa that marks their transition from childhood to adulthood and represents the biggest clash with reality in their younger years. Yet, here in the Orient it’s different. In Abeer’s words, Cinderella was the biggest lie in her life, and I could only agree.

Let’s try to put this in perspective. Here’s a girl who has nothing, a good girl who never talks back or try to defend herself.  A victim if you will. And then, there’s a fairy with a magic wand that turns her life upside down in an instant. And it doesn’t stop there, because there’s a prince who’s, not surprisingly, everything she’s ever wanted. He’s charming, he’s handsome and most importantly he can protect her and provide for her so she never has to do all that tedious work for her evil stepmother again. Couldn’t be more perfect, no?

That exactly was Abeer’s problem. She was brought up with a deep rooted, subconscious belief that she’s a princess in a commoner clothes, a diamond in the rough waiting for a perfect man to discover her and that man definitely exists, in abundance too.  But as she grew up things began to clear up and reality proved to be far from what she read in the dreamy fairytale.

The reality was that she’s no victim, and no princess. She was a girl with lofty dreams and before she knew it she was a strong woman living away from home and earning a living. And despite all the hardships she had to endure, there was no magic wand to turn her life upside down, and most men who came into her life proved to be losers. Even when the closest thing to a “knight in a shining armor” came along, things didn’t go well and it was never meant to be. Moreover, she found that the older she got, the higher her standards became. Maybe she is a diamond in the rough and she deserves a Principe Azzuro, but this was no fairy tale, this was life as we know it, or don’t know it for that matter.

Victimizing women and portraying them as meek creatures who’s only role in life is to look graceful  and wait to be rescued isn’t something new for sure, but things have a weird habit of changing overtime. Women are no longer dependent beautiful things who can’t function on their own,  in fact sometimes they look too independent for those who still fear a strong, empowered woman.  It was something new when Jane Austen first opened the door for women to break free from societal chains that doom her to marry any man who can provide for her regardless of  his other quality, simply because she couldn’t possible provide for herself, something which Austin proved wrong by becoming a famous author and an independent single woman. And if that was an exception 200 years ago, nowadays it’s more of a rule.

Some might argue that this lead to changing the roles of men and women in society and contributed to the increased number of unmarried women, or spinsters as some would call them, because women now might feel that men are not good enough or that they don’t need to make that commitment, something which I respectfully disagree with.

The thing is, one can’t neglect the fact that there are different social and economic factors that lead to this, and I don’t think it has much to do with women being independent, on the contrary, being independent could help a woman make the right choice when it comes to choosing a life partner, because she no longer “forced” to marry anyone just to provide for her, she has to have a better reason. One might argue that at this rate women have no reason to get married at all, which can’t be any more wrong, since no matter independent a woman is, and no matter how happy she is with her life as single lady, for most women the emotional side always has the best of them. I’m not going to say family and motherhood, which is vital as well, but at the very least there’s the issue of emotional support, which is intensified by the picture of “Cinderella” that’s imprinted in her subconscious.

So that’s the dilemma.  A girl goes into life with big expectations, and then she’s faced with a world of disappointment, and even if she’s a successful talented young woman, if she doesn’t have a “Prince” on her side, the society will always look at her with a pity and perhaps condemnation because she failed to fulfill her Cinderella duties.

Be that as it may, the harm is already done, but fortunately we’re big enough to realize it and deal with it. What we must be concerned with more now is how to reform this mentality, remove all these cultural stereotypes and instill in our young girls the values so that they won’t grow up thinking of themselves as  victimized Cinderella’s, but rather as strong, empowered women who can write their own stories.

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LAYLA… 11

(11)

Layla couldn’t remember what happened that night. She could only remember that they were too afraid to do anything but run for their lives. They didn’t look back, they just ran and ran until their hearts were about to give out. She could vaguely remember Saif saying something, but she couldn’t make it out. The last thing she remembers is that when they went their separate ways, she had a haunting feeling that both their lives would nit be the same again.

Early that morning, Layla waited impatiently for someone to come with the shocking news that Abu Ashour wasn’t dead. She’d imagined how that would impact her family, what will happen to her sister? Would her father try to kill him again? She was so confused that she didn’t even know what to wish for anymore. She waited and waited for the big news, but nothing happen.

The funeral proceeded as was scheduled. The men carried the coffin to the graveyard where the corpse that was wrapped in white sheets was taken out and buried deep in the ground. She wondered how Saif would handle it, would he tell them anything, or would he just let them bury him alive? She was so anxious to see him, but to her disappointment, Saif wouldn’t show up at school for several days after the funeral.

Her patience was wearing thin, so she decided she wouldn’t wait anymore. That day after school she walked to Saif’s house where Nimra told her that Saif was refusing to see anyone and they didn’t know what was up with him. But Layla knew what that was about. She knew Saif was feeling guilty, she knew he thought they killed Abu Ashour by letting him be buried alive. She felt guilty too, but she wasn’t in agony as he was because she was used to feeling guilty and she knew more about Abu Ashour more that she could tell Saif. She thought about telling him, but then she thought about her father, and her sister. She was, as usual, too guilty and too afraid.

Several days passed and Saif wouldn’t show up at school. She went to his home every day, but he still refused to see her or anyone. One of those days his mother told her that Saif was running a fever. He was so sick and no one knew what was wrong with him. Nimra was crying, his mother was crying, and soon enough everyone in the village was talking about the “Mysterious Evil” that befell Saif. No one knew what happened to him. People started to gossip, and rumors flew around. Some said he was under some evil spell, some said it was a punishment for his parents for one reason or another, and some said it was a rare germ he caught at the water spring, and so people prevented their children from going there. No one went to the water spring any longer, except for Layla who was the only one who knew the reason behind that mystery.

Now Layla could not sleep or think of anything else. She decided she would tell Saif everything so that he may get better, but he still refused to see her, and his family too didn’y want anyone to come near him lest his illness was contagious. So Layla could do nothing but stay awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wallowing in guilt, fear and inescapable misery.

One of those nights it was raining, and she listened intently to the rhythmic tapping of rain drops on the window. The tapping went on, undisturbed by the sound of blowing wind, until it seemed to intertwine with an occasional bang on the shutter. She immediately got up and thrust the shutters wide open, feeling her heart about to bounce out of her chest as she saw Saif standing under the window, drenched with rain.

She ran out to meet him, his cheeks were so red with fever and he was trembling under the cold weather. He couldn’t stand anymore so they both sat on the door step. She wanted to ask him why he wouldn’t see her when she came to his home instead of coming all the way to her home under the rain in such a miserable condition. She wanted to tell him so much, about Abu Ashour and about Noura, but he motioned to her to listen, as if they had no time for both of them to speak.

“Layla… Abu Ashour wasn’t dead. He wasn’t. We let them kill him”

Layla nodded, not sure what to say.

“And I think I’m going to die too”

“No! don’t say that” Layla reacted strongly.

“Listen, I just need one thing from you. One favor. But promise you won’t tell anyone”

Layla nodded again, her eyes starting to well up.

He pulled out some paper sheets from under shirt and handed them to her. “You have to keep delivering those letters to Nimrah”

Layla’s eyes widened with surprise. “You were sending those letters to her?”

“It was the only thing that made her happy.” Saif’s breathing was more labored now and it was obvious that talking became such a chore for him. “She needed something to make her feel loved. This was the only way. You can’t tell anyone. Promise”

“I promise” Layla whispred, already feeling the obligation to fulfill that promise.

Saif’s face turned pale now. He seemed relieved. He was so worn out with fatigue that he couldn’t hold his head up any longer, so he leaned and rested his temple against Layla’s shoulder. She wrapped her arm around him as they both closed their eyes.

“It’s okay. You can sleep now.”

Those were Layla’s last words to Saif, and the last words he would hear on earth.

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LAYLA… 9

LAYLA… 10

100 Days of Solitude – Day 18

Solitude is often a temporary state of mind, a transitory phase between denial and acceptance.

 

That’s how she’s always thought of it.

 

But then something scary happened. Everything seemed fake and pointless and she was driven by a hunch she no longer trusted.

 

And then came face to face with what something  she never dreaded, because it never crossed her mind

 

Solitude was now a lifestyle

عن الإصلاح والولاء وشوية بلطجة

فعلاً الأردن بلد العجائب، ومش عم بحكي عن البتراء، لأنه العجيبة الحقيقية إنه إحنا شعب ممكن يدبح بعضه مع إنه الكل في صف واحد

كيف يعني؟

يعني مثلاً في مصر كان في ناس ضد حسني مبارك وناس مع حسني مبارك فصار صراع بينهم، مفهوم، الشيء ونقيضه… لكن في الأردن الوضع مختلف! في الأردن طلعوا مجموعة سموا أنفسهم شباب 24 آذار مطالبين بالإصلاح، فجابهتهم مجموعات تقول عن نفسها إنها مؤيدة للملك، يعني اعتبروني مش من هالبلد وحاولوا تفهموني شغلة صغيرة: هل الإصلاح هو نقيض الولاء للملك أم أن الولاء للملك هو نقيض الإصلاح؟

طبعاً مش رح أجاوب على السؤال احتراماً لذكاء القارىء لأنه أوضح من أن يجاب عليه. بس عندي سؤال تاني من المشاهدات اللي شفتها في الشارع اليوم

قدامك مجموعتين: مجموعة تطالب بالإصلاح والقضاء على الفساد من دون التهديد بأي انقلاب على الحكم وتعبر عن انتمائها لبلدها واحترامها لحاكمها، ومجموعة تانية تقود السيارات بطريقة رعناء ويخرج من السيارة شباب يحملون أعلام الأردن وصور الملك… أي المجموعتين تستحق أن يطلق عليها وصف “أردني حقيقي”؟

أظن كلنا ممكن نتفق على إنه في ناس فاهمة موضوع الولاء والانتماء غلط… ويا ريت لما نحكي على التخريب نتذكر إنه شباب 24 آذار طلعوا مسالمين وبطريقة حضارية والتخريب صار لما إجوا أشخاص واضح إنهم مدسوسين أو لا يفقهون شيئاً عن البلد ولا عن الانتماء وانهالوا عليهم بالحجارة والشتائم

والله عيب يا جماعة اللي عم بصير، وعيب اللي بشوهوا صورة البلد وبقدموا مثال حي للتخلف ينحسبوا على أنهم المجموعات الموالية للملك وكأنه المطالبين بالإصلاح معارضون للملك!! وعيب نضل نحكي إنه المطالبين بالإصلاح مدسوسين من جهات خارجية وكأنه الشباب الأردني غير قادر على فعل شيء من تلقاء نفسه ويجب أن تكون هناك جهة تملي عليه ماذا يقول ويفعل

والعيب كل العيب يكون عنا حكومة فيها شخصيات ذات خبرة في المجال السياسي -وهي الخبرة اللي تم التذرع بها عند إعادة تعيين شخصيات وزارية سابقة-، ومع ذلك لا تمتلك القدرة السياسية على التعامل مع اعتصام سلمي شعبي لاحتواء الموقف بشكل حضاري… سودتوا وجوهنا

والعيب أكتر من هيك يكون عنا جهاز أمن ذائع الصيت ومعروف بأنه الأفضل في الدول العربية ومع ذلك يعجز عن حماية اعتصام سلمي من شوية بلطجية يشكلون وصمة على جبين الأردن والأردنيين

عيب والله عيب

 

 

The picture of the terrorist Israel killed

Apparently, playing football near your home these days is an act of terrorism. I just hope that whoever was responsible for this will burn on earth as well as in hell, and I sincerely hope that soon enough we will hear the news of something very ugly happening in so-called Israel.

 

 

Maybe if this child was Israeli the International community would have blown a gasket and called Hamas all kind of names. Seriously after seeing this I don’t know how anyone can argue about the Palestinians’ right to resist. Yes! an eye for an eye, and I don’t care if the whole world went blind because obviously they already are

LAYLA… 10

(10)

 

That night was very hard on Layla. Each time she remembered Abu Ashour She would shiver with fear. Why would she be so afraid after she’d seen him dead with her own eyes? Maybe he wasn’t dead. Maybe he was just asleep, who knows? Usually Naji is the one who declares people dead, and he wasn’t there. How could she be sure? What if Abu Ashour Came back for revenge. There was no rest for her until she’d seen his rigid, lifeless body with her bare eyes.

 

As soon as the first trace of dawn manifested in the horizon, Layla was making her way to Saif’s house. The village was still asleep and the unfamiliar quietness only added to Layla’s fears. As she arrived at Saif’s house, she picked a pebble of the ground and throw it at the window in the eastern wall of the house, where Saif’s room was. Fortunately for her, Saif was a light sleeper that she didn’t have to throw another one before his silhouette materialized in the window frame.

 

“You have to come with me” she said with a trembling sound that made him understand there’s no time to ask questions.

 

For the first time, Layla was running ahead of him. He didn’t know where she was taking him. They ran through alleys and winded corners they knew by heart that the dim light of early dawn didn’t seem a problem. They proceeded as fast as they could, panting heavily without uttering a word, until she suddenly stopped in her tracks. He was so close behind her that they almost collided at the sudden stop, but they didn’t notice, because their eyes were locked on the house where the corpse lay.

 

“There. He’s there.”

 

“Abu Ashour”

 

“Yes. I must see him”

 

“But… he’s dead!”

 

She turned to face him, and their eyes met, and he saw what he’s never seen in her eyes, a fear like never before.

 

“What happened?”

 

Her first instinct was to say she couldn’t tell him, but her tears betrayed her, and before she knew it she was laying everything out in front of him like an open book.

 

“I need to know he’s dead”

 

“Layla, he is dead! Everyone saw him.” He sounded more mature and reassuring than ever.

“No! We’re not sure. No one is sure! I need to see him. I need to be sure.”

 

He looked hesitant, and he tried to calm her down again and explain to her that Abu Ashour Can’t be alive, but she didn’t seem to be listening. She only looked up through teary eyes and said what he couldn’t argue against.

 

“I’m afraid”

 

Saif knew he had no choice, he had to make her feel safe again. He moved towards the house and she followed him closely. The door was open, but it took them a few minutes to muster their courage and cross the threshold. As they stepped in, they saw the still corpse lying on the sofa and could smell death in the damp air of the room. They moved closer until they were standing over the dead face, and despite the sheer horror running in her veins, Layla started to feel a sense of relief now that she saw that he was really dead.

 

Saif was relieved too as he accomplished his mission, and in an attempt to further reassure her, he touched the cold forehead of Abu Ashour.

 

“Feel it. It’s cold. That means he’s dead”

 

Layla hesitated a moment, then she put her hand in Saif’s hand who left it and put it over the forehead. He looked at her and smiled, but her eyes were fixed on something else, with the same fear that was in them earlier, and she seemed unable to speak. Following her look, Saif eyes rested on the sight that will haunt him for the rest of his life. There, just under their shaky hands, Abu Ashour Stared above with wide open eyes.

 

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LAYLA… 9

وأعشق عمري لأني إذا مت أخجل من دمع أمي

عندما كنت في السجن زارتني أمي وهي تحمل الفواكه والقهوة،  ولا أنسى حزنها عندما صادر السجان إبريق القهوة وسكبه على الأرض،  ولا أنسى دموعها،  لذلك كتبت لها اعترافا شخصيا في زنزانتي، على علبة سجائر، أقول فيه : أحنُ إلى خبز أمي… وقهوة أمي… ولمسة أمي… وتكبر فيَ الطفولة… يوماً على صدر أمي… وأعشق عمري لأني… إذا مت… أخجل من دمع أمي. وكنت أظن أن هذا اعتذار شخصي من طفل إلى أمه، ولم أعرف أن هذا الكلام سيتحول إلى أغنية يغنيها ملايين الأطفال العرب

(( محمود درويش ))

Happy Mother’s Day

 

المطران عطا الله حنا: ما يحدث في القدس كارثة حقيقية

في ندوة للمطران عطا الله حنا أمس تحدث عن الوضع الراهن في القدس، وقد لفت الانتباه لخطورة الوضع قائلاً إن الكلام صعب لكن يجب أن يسمعه الناس ويعرفوه، حيث أشار إلى أنه 10 أعوام في ندوة له في عمّان مع مفتي القدس ذكرا أن القدس في خطر، أما الآن فلم يعد ذلك يكفي لوصف الوضع حيث لا يمكن القول الآن إلا أن ما يحدث في القدس هو كارثة حقيقية وليس أقل من ذلك

وقد تحدث المطران بشكل موسع عما يحدث في القدس من تهويد ومحاولة محو للهوية العربية، حيث يقوم اليهود بشراء الأراضي والممتلكات بأموال طائلة، مما قاده إلى التساؤل: أين هم أثرياء العرب؟ وأشار إلى أن أكثر ما تحتاج إليه القدس الآن هو مشاريع سكنية لتدعيم صمود أهلها العرب فيها، وأن المخططات والتصاريح جاهزة لبعض المشاريع ولا ينقصهم سوى التمويل. ويعيد ذلك إلى الذهن الثروات الطائلة التي كشفت في قصر الرئيس التونسي المخلوع والثروات الطائلة التي كشف عنها في حسابات مبارك والقذافي. أمة يكنز حكامها الذهب والفضة ويتغنون بعروبة القدس بينما هي تسلب أمام أعينهم… هذا هو شر البلية الذي لا يضحك 

ويعيدني ذلك إلى قول المطران عطا الله إن القدس لا تحتاج إلى من يتغنى بعروبتها بل تحتاج إلى من يدافع عن عروبتها عملياً وعلى الأرض، وإن كانت الأرض في كل مكان تعني الكرامة فهي في القدس تعني الكرامة واالانتماء والهوية والدين والأمة 

ومن المفارقات التي أشار إليها المطران تخطيط إسرائيل لبناء متحف “للتسامح الديني”، لكن أين؟ فوق أكبر وأقدم مقبرة إسلامية في القدس وهي مقبرة “مأمن الله”، التي تضم رفات الشهداء من رفاق صلاح الدين الأيوبي الذين حرروا القدس ذات يوم 

كما تحدث المطران عطا الله عن وثيقة “وقفة حق” التي كتبها مسيحيو القدس إلى كافة مسيحيي العالم لحماية القدس ووقف ما يحدث فيها من ظلم وتهجير لسكانها الأصليين وترجمت إلى 20 لغة، وأشار إلى أن الوثيقة لاقت ردود فعل طيبة في كثير من الكنائس التي تبنتها واعترفت بها، وذكر أنه مدعو مع عدد من رجال الدين المسيحيين إلى جنوب إفريقيا للتحدث في كافة الكنائس هناك والالتقاء بالرئيس السابق نيلسون مانديلا وإعلان تبني دولة جنوب إفريقيا لهذه الوثيقة 

ولمن لا يعرف المطران عطا الله حنا فهو مثال للتسامح الديني والانتماء العربي والموقف النضالي المشرف، حيث تعتبره دولة الكيان الصهيوني داعماً للإرهاب بسبب مواقفه في نصرة حق الشعب الفلسطيني في المقاومة ضد الاحتلال. وقد تحدث المطران عن أهمية التسامح بين الأديان ونبذ الفتنة الطائفية في كل مكان في الوطن العربي، وأشار إلى أننا يجب أن نضع نصب أعيننا المثال الذي وضعه عمر بن الخطاب –رضي الله عنه- حين جاء إلى القدس لتسلم مفاتيحها من البطريرك صفريانوس، حيث كان ذلك مشهداً يجب أن يقتدي به كل مسلم وكل مسيحي من أجل الدفاع عن وجودهم وحقهم في فلسطين ضد العدو المشترك المتمثل في الاستعمار الصهيوني