Glimpses from my Childhood

June 3, 2009 at 9:21 am (Just a thought ...) (, )

savannah

Scene one:

My mother dressed me and my two sisters the same; we all wore a white flowery dress and had two pony tails which made us look like three little dolls. My sister and I were so excited because we were going to have a picnic in Almontazah park. While we were waiting for my mother to get ready; we were staring at the cake she bought from Swiss Patisserie. It was the latest creation of the shop and was called “Swiss roll cake”. It had a log shape; it looked like a tree branch and had little colorful umbrellas  on the side. I wanted to play with the tiny umbrellas, I was so tempted to pick one up but was afraid that my mom would be disappointed. On the way to Almontaza park we stopped by my mom’s friend house. My mother told me to go down and tell her that we are waiting outside. There were no mobiles those days. I was so excited that my mom gave me this responsibility. So I ran really quickly inside the house and called her friend. I ran back to the car telling my mom that I have got the job done. Few minutes later we arrived at the Park. There were more of my mother’s friend waiting for us. We put the rugs and the food and sat on the ground. I was looking at my mom’s friends faces. I was thinking “my mummy is the prettiest”. I didn’t leave her side, I was looking at the colorful food in front of me whispering to my mom what I would like to eat. She prepared three plates of my sisters and me. Then she gave us plastic knifes and forks and some napkins. I made sure I got one of those tiny umbrellas. Then one of her friends said “weeeee Himyan, Why are you spoiling your kids like this, let them serve themselves”. I hated this lady immediately and started eyeing her. Then my mom answered “I want to make sure that they eat very well plus I don’t want them to make a mess”. Then her friend asked “And why the knifes and forks? They will be spoilt, they should learn how to eat with their hands”. I wanted to say “7mara; donkey” to this lady. This was the ultimate curse in our house. I looked at her with grudge showing in my eyes. But my mom made me feel better by saying “They are not used to eating with their hands, I don’t want to force them to do something they are not used to”. The lady didn’t drop it and said “then make them get used to it”. What is her problem? I thought, she has her own kids. I didn’t like her at all; and because of that I decided not to play with her kids.

 

Scene two:

As I said, “donkey” was the ultimate curse. My mom taught us that if we used such words we would go to hell. So one day, I had a fight with my sister and told her “donkey”. My sister opened her eyes in shock and put her hands on her mouth, then said “you will go to hell”. I told her sticking my tongue out “no I wont”. She said, “yes you will”. I looked down to see if the earth is going to crack open and swallow me. It didn’t. Then my sister said “tomorrow you wont wakeup because you will be taken to hell. When you sleep tonight, its going to be your last night”. I believed her, and was so frightened, but pretended to be tough. I will never forget that night. I couldn’t sleep, I was so scared believing that I will go to hell. I kept looking at the ceiling imagining a black creature that will drag me from my hair to hell. I cried myself to sleep. I still remember the nightmares I had. Fire everywhere and people being tortured; but the worse thing of all is that God was mad at me. I was running and crying asking for forgiveness; and suddenly I woke up. It took me few minutes to realize that it was a dream; that I didn’t go to hell. I was so happy. I jumped on my bed saying “I am alive, I didn’t go to hell”. Then I went to my sister and told her “donkey, I didn’t go to hell”. I realized then that it was something grownups would do to control us. How awful it was to realize this; it meant that I was growing up. Sometimes I wish that I was still that innocent, that naive.

 

Scene three:

Al-naser street was where I spent my childhood. It was way before they fixed the roads, or build all those new compounds. It was a dusty road that belonged to the children of the neighborhood. The afternoon was the best time of the day; it was when all grownups took a nap. We would either turn the house upside down then try to tidy up quickly before it hits four or stay outside in the sun. It didn’t bother us that it was hot and we never understood why my mom would get angry if she knew we were playing outside at that hour. The sun was our friend that witnessed us grow. Now it became the enemy we try to hide from. I remember one day I climbed the wall and discovered that all walls at the compound were connected. That was so tempting! I walked on the wall till I reached the end of the compound; I walked through 30 houses!. I saw people’s houses from the inside, their gardens, their laundry. I heard their voices and saw them from windows. Some of them have noticed me. And I enjoyed the surprise look they gave me. But no one ever told me anything.

What an adventure it was; barefoot; all alone under the burning sun. When I went back home; it was passed four and my favorite cartoon show was over. I wasn’t upset because I was doing something far more interesting. But I didn’t want my mom to get suspicious so I pretend to be upset that I missed my show. The first thing my mother said when she saw me was “did you climb the wall?”. I thought “oh my god how did she know”. I said “no”. She said “then what is this white powder stuff on your black trousers?”. I smiled and said “ok you caught me, I did climb the wall”. Then she said “god knows what you were up too”. I went to play Barbie with my sisters; but I got bored really quickly; I was still imagining that afternoon. Then, somehow, my older sister and I decided to discover how chalk tastes like. Each one of us tried to convince the other to eat it; then we remembered my little sister who was usually our lab rat! We forced her to eat one piece of chalk and describe the taste. I still remember the crunching sounds that came from her mouth and her little angelic face looking so disgusted. I don’t remember if my mom showed up and saved her or if she decided to not to listen to us anymore; but I remember her spitting the chalk out and rinsing her mouth and saying “that taste bad!”

 

The end:

What a beautiful picture of three little girls who has nothing to worry about but their Barbie doll house and climbing trees in their garden. Our old house in Al-naser street carries so many memories. Every time I pass by al-naser street I look at our house and smile; I see myself on a tree or a wall. One day, I came back from a long summer vacation and went out with my friends. We usually pass by alkhayam café to get Kuwaiti coffee or sulaimani tea. Our old house was on the main road so we cant help but pass by it. On that day, I looked up, as I usually do to smile at the place that has such special place in my heart, and it was gone. The house was not there anymore! I pressed my hand on the car window and screamed with pain “NOOOO”. My friends suddenly were quiet. I cried, yes I cried! Where did my house go? How dare anyone demolish it?

I was mad at myself, because I promised to go visit the house once. It was my dream to go there, for one more time. Oh, how much I regret not visiting my beloved house. I was quiet and didn’t want to speak to anyone. The coffee tasted really bad that day!

7 Comments

  1. Dona said,

    First, I really enjoy the way you write. And Secondly and most importantly, I am able to relate to most of the things you have written here. I not a Qatari citizen, although I was born here and never left this place once. Almontazah park was and still is, a place that gives me nostalgia of different sort of experiences, joyful and sad. I felt the pain when my house in AlBidda got demolished.

    I’m glad I came across your blog today 🙂 Laters!

    • mimizwords said,

      Dear Dona

      thank you for sharing your thoughts .. and i am glad too to have you as a reader🙂

  2. mmk080 said,

    Our old house is still standing, but now there is a wall dividing it into two house, and each of the two parts is occupied by a family. I am so tempted to knock on the door one day and ask the residents if I could take a look inside. Do you think they would let me in or will they think I am some psycho trying to see the women in their family inside the house?

    But yeah, nice post!

  3. Dany said,

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum

    Dear Maryam,

    Firstly I want to tell you that I felt really glad for finding your blog. This blog can tell me a lot of things about Qatari considering that its very hard to make contact with a Qatari specially the women. I was always wondering in my head what are a Qatari like, what are their passion, how does it felt like to grew up in Qatar, what do they do in their daily lives (because i heard that Qatari don’t work…), and etc.

    FYI my name is Dany, I came from Indonesia just about 3 months ago. I’m a representative officer of a small Company from Indonesia. Its doesn’t pays well but I just couldn’t miss the chance to Qatar and live in Qatar. I know its probably sound weird but I heard that Qatar is the country with one of the harshest environment in the world and I heard that the working environment here are very challenging considering that your coworker comes from various country in the world. I just felt like I have to go to Qatar to test myself before i got settled down.

    Sometimes I felt so tempted to just say hi and have a conversation with a Qatari that I met in Souq Waqif, but considering the warning I got from my Boss and fellow coworker not to do that got me back down, plus my position here is a representative officer so I cannot put my personal interest on top of my Company. I heard that I as a foreigner cannot make contact with a Qatari, even the slightest feeling disturb from the Qatari like they felt that your eyeballing them, might make you get sent back home. I’m still not convinced weather this is true, but I just cant take the risk. But now that I have found your Blog, I felt like that I have a chance to know what a Qatari is. Perhaps you can write more stories to describe how is it like to be A Qatari, whats keep bobbling in your mind, what is it felt like to grew up here.Also Perhaps you tell me stories how is it felt like to grew up in Qatar before those Oils and gas are found, before we the imigrant worker come here and flooded your country.

    Maybe I ask so much of you, but I really looking forward to be reading more of your Blogs.

    Wassalam

    • mimizwords said,

      Dear Dany

      I am so happy that you stumbled across my blog. Welcome to Qatar and I hope that you are enjoying yourself here. Rest assure that I will write more and more about Qatar and my prospective on things as a Qatari woman. There is so much to say about Qatar and Qatari culture and people. There are things that I like to address to Qataris and others to foreigners. For example, I would criticize a certain behavior or norm in the society because I would like to see change or improvement. But at the same time I proudly speak of my culture and traditions and show the good things we have. The Qatari society is just like every other society in the world. It is not perfect; it has many contradictions and problems, but at the same time it has many unique qualities and goodness that you wont find anywhere else in the world. If you would read “response to unveiling Qatar” you would know what am talking about.

      You made me laugh when I read your boss and colleagues impression of Qataris. “I heard that I as a foreigner cannot make contact with a Qatari, even the slightest feeling disturb from the Qatari like they felt that your eyeballing them, might make you get sent back home”.
      I know that many people think like that of us. Let me assure you that this is completely not true. If we didn’t welcome foreigner we wouldn’t have so many! You must know that we are formal; shy and conservative by nature. Don’t expect us to smile and hug like Americans because this is simply not our nature to do that to someone we don’t know. But if you do approach a Qatari, he/she will not be rude or complain or feel violated. On the contrary, you will be very welcomed. Give yourself a chance to approach someone and be friends with them; you will be appreciated and invited to their homes in no time. Because one thing I am proud to say about Qataris is that we are generous and hospitable.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts

  4. Dany said,

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum

    Dear Maryam,

    I totally agree with you about culture and traditions. I usually said it to my friends back at home that it is important to hold on to our culture and tradition but it is more important not to make the same mistake that our predecessor done. It is very good to continue culture and traditions but if there’s something wrong with it, we must stop it…. The different thing for my country is there’s like 300 of different ethnics there, so….wish us luck would you he2 😀

    I also like to say that “people are meant to be different” . I just couldn’t imagine how it would feel if all people dressed the same, talk the same, act the same, or even have the same goals. That’s gonna one boring world I say

    Oh yeah, please could you tell the stories of how people lived in Qatar in the old days. Way before oil and gas deposit were found in Qatar. How lives like back there, perhaps you’ve heard it from your grandparents or even grand grandparents. I imagine that live are very hard back then in Qatar, I just couldn’t pictured living here with out the AC and the “mobile AC”.

    But please don’t feel like I’m pushing to tell the stories, I’ll just wait patiently here, okay…

    Wassalam

  5. Mashael K. said,

    childhood stories are the best
    you can see somone’s soul for just the way he or she describe their childhood
    if you were lucky ,,in your book always the most funny,Innocent and lovable moments or memories will be in the first chapters of your life..
    THANK YOU for what you wrote and shared with us🙂

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