In the Shadows of Men: As Years Pass By


Many years passed, and still I didn’t feel like myself. I looked as though I were drowning. In many ways, I resembled the images of refugee women trying to escape with their children to unknown lands, throwing themselves on lifeboats and risking their lives. Nevertheless, they jump and place their families in the bosom of the sea, riding its waves, preferring its deception, rage, and anger to the flaming earth of their home.

I found myself clinging to a scrap of wood after the collapse of my lifeboat. So many times, the sea threw me and I dove into its depths, rescuing one of my children from being swallowed by the waves. How many whales besieged us? How many waves threw us, and how many carried us until we reached a shore I did not recognize?

“Be fearful of the fierceness of the female if her child is endangered… and if she falls deeply in love.” I came across this statement while reading The Jurisprudence of Love by Youssef Ziedan.

This statement describes me. It summarizes many of the waves on my journey towards those islands where I searched for shelter, a shelter that could provide more than just a ceiling and warmth, something warmer than four walls surrounding me and my children. I could transform from a quiet, silent cat into a lioness. I hardly knew where that lioness came from. I had never felt the instinct of a cat the way I felt it in those years. Inside me was a cat taking its own refuge in isolation, keeping watch, and transforming into a wild beast if anyone came close to my children. That cat was ready to attack every expected danger. I could feel it strongly inside me, to the point that I felt scared of myself, and estranged from the strength contained within me.

I became the same way when men approached me like hyenas. Suddenly, a glow would erupt from my eyes and my body that perhaps scared them off and made them quickly run away. I enjoyed my inner, hidden strength, that was obvious to those around me.

But I also held on to the motherhood that poured out of me, filling my heart and enlivening my surroundings with springs and gardens of compassion, love, and dedication. The woman inside me was searching for herself, and there were many emotions mixing and blending strangely inside me. I threw myself at what I was searching for without realizing it. Somewhere inside me, that woman was searching for a great love—a great love the size of all the love I carried, a love that flowed from me. I was like a nursing mother whose breasts are always filled with milk. My emotions and my motherhood shared a strange unity.

My entire life became strange to me, and I could no longer understand or realize or know what was going on with or around me. The only thing I realized was that something had taken me by the hand to lead me towards a certain destiny, towards a belief that something good would happen, even if it was not yet close.


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