It has been an overwhelming period of many things…
Something stopped me and took me by surprise.
My daughter Serena.
As my usual habit, I was pouring all my emotions of the experience with Nawal Saadawi and Youssef Zeidan for the kids. And of course, they didn’t like it much. Of course…. Hearing the same story every ten minutes in every possible opportunity for a whole ten days. Serena is usually skeptical when she hears a man’s name. She quickly declares that she doesn’t like him and she shows disinterest. I guess my overwhelmed obsessive attitude must be suspicious as well.
Nawal wasn’t of more interest to them as well. Too much obsessiveness doesn’t convince my kids after all.
Until one day, last week, when I was watching Nawal on a YouTube of a few minutes where she was discussing her views on the veil.
Serena was caught with a sentence probably when Nawal said that the cover was unethical. She looked with her eye wide open and said: what is this woman saying? We listened to it again. And then she asked to hear it again and again and then she looked at me with a statement of confirmation: “I like this woman. I want to hear more of her. I want to read her.”
I was like…. voila…
Serena has some serious philosophical side. She is someone who genuinely reflects and pours out valid questions. She does surprise me, especially that she sounds someone who doesn’t care usually. Suddenly she pops up with a question that makes me look in vain.
She asked me to get her signed book, and she gave me a gift to her. When I came back from Egypt, the first thing she asked if I got her the book. I said yes but not signed, I couldn’t see her this time. She quickly took the book and started reading. She spent the whole four past days watching videos for her, she said. My kids hate reading. It reminds them of me. If they read as well, it would subject them to the same amount of mockery they enjoy uniting in against me.
I was thinking of Serena’s inspiration by Nawal Saadawi, and I was thinking how legendary people could become.
I happened to pass by an article for Nawal in the papers, and somehow it was connected with what Serena caught from reading and listening to her. Something she mentions about not expecting to live to see a day as such when dictatorships actually failed.
I was thinking. Has she believed to live to a day when a child as young as Serena will use her as the icon of change and freedom?
Some feelings of a mixed pride are surrounding me. A woman like Nawal who has challenged it all to be this phenomenon of a woman. That can be inspirational for generations after generations. I remember liking Nawal Saadawi as a child, hearing my mother mentioning her, and talking about her forbidden books. I wasn’t as sophisticated in my thoughts as my daughter. I was part of this halal and haram concept of living.She was a forbidden fruit. My mother was a strange rebel. She didn’t realize or wanted to be but wasn’t for real. I never understood what the forbidden was and what was the allowed when mentioning her books. I remember them like hidden treasures that needed to be treated with cautiousness.
Serena was discussing with me the thought of Nawal Saadawi yesterday. Arguing with her views, agreeing and admiring, but questioning as well. She felt compassion to her words that were related to losing. In the introduction of her book, she speaks about friends she has lost, and she didn’t think she would live for such a day.
Serena is the same girl who came to me a year ago trying to convince me to wear a veil. Feeling scared that I will go to hell for my infidelity of behavior. That effect of the surrounding society that leaks into the minds of our children from any possible way. It settles and stays. It has a great effect that is stronger than anything we do in raising our children. It is the result of a society sealed with patriarchy veiled with religion.
I feel proud that I have raised such children. Each time I think of Nawal. I think of this power of her that is related to her sense of truthfulness. How difficult it is to be a genuine person. How powerful it is.
I look at Serena, and I see this. I see a generation that is out on the path of truth. It doesn’t matter how and what. A way that seeks or knows and understand and doesn’t take a hushing word or a cuddle or a scream or a threat as an answer…
Just the Truth …
For it’s good and worse…