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.
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.
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!”
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!