I hadn’t been to my parents in over four weeks. By Arab standards, doing that should get me disowned. No life excuses, responsibilities, pains or tribulations, or I-just-don’t-feel-like-it reasons can ever be used. None. Just means I’m a piece of shit daughter. By Arab standards.
My parents live 12 minutes away by car. If I wanted to, I could make time, but OMA they drain me. Well, my mom does. Also by Arab standards, to think such a thought is almost akin to blasphemy. Actually, they will throw religion in my face and how my ungrateful ways will land me a one-way ticket to hell. To be fully honest, sometimes the thought of eternal fire is better than enduring the nag nag nag that I get tormented with. Even when I visit, it’s not often enough, long enough, why don’t I give her grandkids, what am I doing with my life…has your anxiety level reached mine yet? Bet it has.
Look, I’ll be fair, my parents love me and they raised me to the best of their abilities until I left their care. I’m the oldest of their six children so I was always held to different standards. I couldn’t err or else my siblings would follow my path and then what will people say? Yeah, people. So this is me saying that yes my parents were lovely in some ways and I totally did not follow their plan in other ways and the blame game is getting hard.
Don’t do this and don’t do that. This will bring shame and scandal. “This is ‘aib.” The dreaded عيب (‘aib) has been the bane of my existence. This concept of shame could be applied to almost anything depending on the level of Arab parents wanted to be. Almost everything I did defied conventions (the ones stipulated in the Charter of Arabian Daughters of 1845).
A girl (and I mean anything from a teenager to a young woman) going out on her own after a certain hour – ‘aib.
A girl wanting to travel and she’s not married yet – ‘aib.
A girl wanting to smoke shisha in a public setting – ‘aib.
A girl thinking outside the confines of what is “culturally acceptable” – ‘aib.
So as kids, we can be little shits too. I would throw back: “Well, is it haram*?”
My parents: “No, but…”
Me: “So I can do it then since it’s not a sin.”
Rememeber that flip flop my mom has in the kitchen? Yeah, I got up close and personal with that thing. But, here’s the dilemma for my parents and many other Ayrab parents all over the Western (and some Eastern) parts of the world – what to do when your adult kids (especially the females, gasp!) can clearly think for themselves and understand your tools of manipulation? You is fucked. The parents that is.
So, no Quranic chapters on parents and transgression and authority is going to sway me. Sorry not sorry. If you lose an argument and throw religion in my face because you feel your influence over me is gone, then I truly can’t help you. I mean, you’ve lost the moment you introduced God into the equation. He was looking at the shitshow from the onset and I’m positive He didn’t want any in part in your fuckery.
I recently pissed off some of my siblings who said I’d crossed too many lines with my mother. “And wo unto he who doth transgress against his saintly mother”. That’s not a real quote, I just made it up but the concept is very true in the East. Arabs and Muslims moms milk that shit. Catholic guilt huh? Ha! Meet yourself an Um Ahmed. You’ll be praying for death to ease your suffering.
So, the idea comes from verses in the Quran that stipulate no matter what, you must always respect your parents and never defy them or anger them. Now, the Quran is very open to interpretation but being Arab, it’s all about the power trip. So, fuck you, I carried you for nine months, birthed you, you owe me your life.
I believe that to coddle my parents and pretend everything they do is ok, and create an aura of infallibility around every asinine idea and conversation they have is a major disrespect to them; so, I will call them out on it. And, they may not always like the words. That verse in the Quran didn’t go into the idea of asinine parents because I think it was assumed you shouldn’t be an asinine parent. Never assume.
So I said some things, revealed other things and I displeased my mom. When I did it before, it was never in the full on manner that I recently did. I kept some things inside. What I did eventually do I can only compare to when you’re feeling sick and you know you’ll get relief when you puke that shit out. I puked a lot of shit out. Some may think I crossed lines but I let all the festering bile out. I have never felt so free or clean in my life. I have zero regrets.
Did I anger my mother? Yes. But I’m not her keeper. I can no longer pretend her actions and words do not have a lasting effect on me. And if she cannot see that herself, it is more her loss than mine. I hope she understands one day, but the concept of the daughter who doesn’t know her place and her actions being ‘aib no longer apply here. That ship has sailed.