Worst Birthday Experience of my Childhood…

The tug of war between my husband and his aunt with me in the middle written about in this post brought back a flash of memory… i thought i have forgotten all about that day. Now to think about it, it might be why i hate mingeling with people i do not know and going to places i do not know about with people i have never met before… i am an antisocial person because of that day… the word birthday party i have been to when i was a child!!!

How can i forget a day like that?

The birthday girl, lets call her C, is a friend who was with me in all my school years since kindergarten until highschool. She was my school friend plus our fathers were best of friends and always with each other.

The story took place in either 1989 or 1990, the year when El-Jazeera El-Khathra (The Green Island) have just been opened and it was the It place to be! So my parents decided on a date, we were all going to experience that new lovely place every one is buzzing about…

Buuuuut

The date we were going coincided with the date of the first Birthday i have been invited to by C!

My parents were happy, back then my social circle included my cousins and my family and people i know, so i was pretty comfortable with them even though my older cousin was bullying me non stop. I guess they wanted me out of my comfort zone, and they wanted me to know the importance of honoring a commitment and going to an occasion when im invited to, osool il tawjeeb y3ni… fa they said i had to go…

So i was told the party is to be held at her grandmothers house. C and her family will come pick me up on their way, and that i am the only friend she wanted to be with her on that day. So i should have been honored…

Of course, I loved birthday parties in the 80’s!!! and having so many cousins where each and every one of which got a birthday of his/her own meant was a very happy and fun era!!! I was imagining… the games (kaki kaki kaki kaaa and musical chairs), the gifts, the music (toot toot?), and the cake (from al3alamya with the latest cartoon character on it, white cake with cream frosting and strawberry in between the layers)… 😀

The car ride was fun. We went into one of the old q8y residential areas withing the first ring road which i do not recall specifically… i remember parking underneath a big tree infornt of the grand house, designed like one of those old lovely houses of the early 60’s that are so modern with open balconies in between the rooms and wooden doors with high ceilings.

I also recall that the house was silent. There are not much cars, there are no blaring music, no baloons on the doors, no children milling around or entering the house…

Dread.. thats the word. Dread was building inside me. I was a child then, a very very shy child who didn’t venture outside her social comfort zone. and i didnt know how to feel with dread.

We go inside, i learn for the first time that men and women seperate from each other to go stay at different parts of the house without seeing each other…

We follows C’s mom and sister, the house is grand and kinda old, dark, and hollow, it is a strange place i have never been before, of course i didn’t know back then it is an oldie modern architectural gem… all i saw is lots of tiles (kashee) and strange spaces. We go inside a room with solemn women and kids sitting around an old lady, C’s mom tells me to go say hello to the old lady, who is C’s grandmother, then after a round of hello’s, i remember hating this situation, no body knows who i am! No body knows mummy, or daddy! what if i get lost?

Then C’s mom prooceds to sit next to the women, with C and her sister sitting next to their mom solemnly. and i follow suit.

i remember sitting there, silent and in my best school manners, waiting for the party to start.

I didn not know then that they are very religious people. i did not know then that music to them is haram, and dancing is also haram. and there will be no sort of celebration whatsover, i was still waiting to glimpse a baloon or confetti or even toys and stuff… when one of C’s aunts addresses me in a mocking questioning tone “Daddy’s Girl, wain 7jabech? laysh mo labsa 7jab???” tranaslation “Daddy’s Girl, where is your hejab? Why arent you wearing one?”

I did not know then that they are very religious and let their daughters wear hejab the day they come out of age. I guess it was my friends 9th birthday on that day and that i looked older than 9 “i was 8″… so C is enroute to wearing her hejab. Sure enough, every older girl was or is wearing her hejab then, and not very long after that day so was C… I was the only one whose mom dressed in a pink mini skirt studded with tiny star like strass with a matching white blouse!

Still, it is not my fault my parents didnt let me wear hejab!!!! why is that older woman attacking me like i have commited a crime or a sin? I was feeling sad and scared and disappointed and dreadful already!!! is that a way to welcome a shy little girl into your gathering?

I remember being speechless and not talking, i remember another lady telling her that daddy’s girl is a nice girl who will wear 7ejab when she is 9 of course… WHY DOES THAT STUPID WOMAN CARE ASLAN!!! WHY DOES SHE NEED ASSURANCE?!

So i sit there. No one is moving, women talking amongst themselves big adult talk. Kids sitting beside their momies listening to the conversation. and i was sitting there, already alienated by the deception of no birthday party, and by that stupid womans greeting to me… and by the feeling that i am the only one in this room who doesnt know anyone and is not sitting next to her mom, who is with my whole family in the green island…

after a loooong time, there has been food set on the table. Thats it, to celebrate the birthday of C a special home made cake was brought out without candles or singing or anything. Just cutting the food and giving it out. I do not remember what the food was, but i knew then and now that it was nothing like the food we are used to in birthday parties. Probably home cooked food like rice o stuff… and that i couldnt eat any of it.

So im sitting at the table. Silent. Disappointed. Scared. Lonely. I do not want to eat this food. I wanted to play games and run the musical chairs. I want to go home. I want my mom. I want to be out of this depressing place. i do not want to be here near the mean old lady i do not want to…

Thats when big fat tears rolled down my cheeks. Onto the plate laden with food i cannot identiy infront of me.

The tears then turned into wails…. i was only 8!

Panic hits the room. Whats wrong with this child?

The only woman sitting nearby, the only one who was wearing a nice 7ejab and clothes like mommy would wear, as apposed to the other women clad in their black abayas, jumped from the table, and took me by the hand to the next room, i learned later on that she is a teacher, so she probably knew how to handle kids…

She told me “why are you crying?”
Daddy’s girl: Abi sniff sniff… aroo7 3nd ommy sniif sniff… anaaa ma a3arf a7ad ihneeee (i want to go to mommy i do not know anyone here)

Nice Lady: But u came with C and her sister and mother, you know them right?

Daddy’s Girl: but sniff … i want my mommy… i want to go homeee… sniff waaaaah

Nice Lady: Ok did u know that im the cousin of ur father?

Daddy’s Girl:U know sniff sniff my daaad?

Nice Lady: Yes i am your dad’s cousin!! didn’t u know? Me and C’s uncle are married! now u know me too right?

Right then, i remember feeling a bit of tiny relief! I was not totally alone! someone knew me! Someone is related to me, even though i have never seen her in my entire life!!! I was know alone!!! she knew daddy and mommy and my family and grandmaa!!!

So i stopped crying. She took me by the hand, sat me by her side, fed me something (cake and pepsi) paid attention to me, soothed me and told me jokes until it was time to go home…

and thats why, now i finally understand why, i hate going to strangers houses!!! Or meeting people i do not know!!!

and thats why i am the person i am now!!! the one who scares from big gatherings with women she doesnt know, and gets so nervous she doesnt know how to say hello to big crowds of women!!!

Now it’s crystal clear, cause whenever i am put again in a similar situation, i feel the same dread, the same scared little girl inside me squirms and tries to find a shelter!!! Yet, i am not the helpless baby girl i was once! I am a grown up know, i can handle situations, i can say no and yes, i can refuse to be fed unidentified food, and i can very well fend for my self when someone attacks me and the way i practise my religioun again!!!

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7 responses to this post.

  1. sad story

    Reply

  2. Ambaaih w333 9ej walla :S:S
    sorry for the bad experience ;(

    Reply

  3. Posted by Daddy's Girl on January 12, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    Ee walla ta3aqadt o ga3adt 😦

    If i ever have kids, they are never setting foot to a birthday party unless it’s pre-inspected!

    Reply

  4. waaay baa3d galbee so sad walah

    Reply

  5. omg ya 7araaaam 😦 thakarteeni ib myself when i was a kid.. i hateddddddddddddddd sleeping over 3ind people’s houses even cousins and close friends (i still kinda do).. i can stay min morning till night 3indihum bes by the end of the night i like to be in my own home, sleeping in my own bed.
    oo i remember one time my cousins were having this huuuuge sleepover; they invited all of my other cousins oo we watched movies oo kalaina oo tha7akna oo we played games.. a5er shay it was time to go to sleep. uncomfortable as i was, i still put my head on the strange pillow oo i tried to sleep.. bes i kept thinking about my mom. for some weird reason. walaht 3alaiha so i started to cry. bichait bachi oo all of my cousins woke up and theyre like shfeeeech! oo this is at 11.30 bilail ya3ni at that time it was laaate! chan 5alti itdish il’3urfa oo i told her i wanted to go home. 7aram she drove me all the way back to my house and athker nimt 3ind my mommy LOL min 3ugub that salfa i haaaaated sleeping over 3ind people..

    Reply

  6. Danderma, I am also shy, but you would never know it. Here is a great secret – the world is full of shy people. That lovely aunt who rescued you at the party is like an angel – and she is a great example to follow.

    I used to have to attend many functions where I didn’t know anyone, where the only reason I was there was because my husband was important. I dreaded them so much I would spend the afternoon in bed, so depressed, so full of dread, wishing I didn’t have to go.

    That’s when I learned the trick about having at least two great dresses – classics, not the latest thing – dresses that made me look like a million dollars. Just a little jewelry, but the best. It helps you to have confidence, not to stick out, but discerning eyes will see “she dresses quietly, but high quality.”

    Then, when you arrive – hold your head high – and look for that one person more shy than you are. Believe me, they are there. Find them. Talk with them quietly, smile, be kind – like your angels aunt at that birthday party who got you through it. YOU can be that angel now.

    Once you focus on taking care of someone else, your shyness disappears like magic.

    I still pray before public applearance kinds of events, “Lord, if there is someone there who needs me, help me find her.” Helping someone else helps you!

    Reply

  7. Posted by Lama on January 13, 2009 at 2:52 PM

    Great Writing.
    loved it.
    but felt sorry for that little girl with the mini pink skirt. 🙂

    Reply

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