It seems harder to put this on paper, even though I already shared it with many. But the thing is, when we share with others, we always find ourselves choosing a part and leaving out another, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. On paper, we’re used to put down everything; every single detail and, surprisingly, all the memories strike you and words keep flowing and you start to relive the experience.
I remember that what had taken place was only a few years back. I realized what it was, and I don’t remember exactly how or why the memory of it struck me, but it felt like someone had uncovered a very old wound in my body and left me to find my own way to heal it.
It’s a wound so deep that you can’t describe or point out its place, let alone tell how it happened. I realized I looked at my wound, and I grieved in my own corner.
Ever since I was old enough to speak my own mind, those around me noticed how bitter I felt towards the male gender. I never noticed and, when I did, I failed to explain it. No, I wasn’t heartbroken and, no, I wasn’t raped.
There’s more to it than just what I’m about to tell you; it’s not one experience that feeds the fear and bitterness inside you, it’s your whole life and that of others.
He used to visit us weekly, and sometimes twice a week. I used to be a chubby child and I didn’t realize what this meant except later on. At the beginning, my mother used to sit at a distance during the lesson, then gradually she started to leave us and drop by every now and then to check if all was fine. Later on, I started to open the door and receive him all by myself. They trusted him; a family acquaintance who tutored all my cousins.
At the beginning, his touches were only pats on my back and leg when I did something wrong or lost concentration, then the duration of his pats grew longer. His hands stayed longer on my body and started going over to other places. It wasn’t just pats anymore. First it was above the clothes, then he would gradually and quietly pull out my shirt and slip his hands underneath it.
I can’t believe how fresh the memory is now, as if it just happened yesterday!
I didn’t understand what was happening. In the beginning I thought his pats were just fatherly, but later on I used to shiver every time the lesson started and he began to ‘play’ with me. I didn’t shiver from the pats, it’s when his hands went around my body and caressed my skin in such a way, but he used to sense this shiver and tell ‘don’t be afraid’. I wasn’t, simply because I didn’t understand, and the shivers were simply a biological response to what was happening.
I started to get used to his lessons, even miss them and long for them. I didn’t understand. All I remember is that I felt pleasure.
At the beginning, when my sister used to take the lesson with me, he would come up with any excuse to lecture us separately. Later on, I found myself asking to be lectured alone and I learnt to pick clothes easy enough for him to slip his hands underneath. Tight pants were complicated for instance, and dresses were just perfect. He would slip his hand from the side or between the buttons.
All went well. He came regularly and did what he did and I felt what I felt, but his hands wouldn’t stop going further. Discovering my body, they started going downwards gradually, then they started to move up my legs, till one day, they almost reached my panties. His hands started to move very strangely all over my body, not as smooth and caressing as before, but with hunger, trying to go around as big an area as possible. It hurt. It was then that I started to panic internally. This wasn’t very nice. It felt weird and painful and, for some reason, I felt he wouldn’t stop there. I just didn’t understand. I wasn’t too young, I was too naïve and, theoretically speaking, I should have already learnt all about these things by that age, but I hadn’t, just like most girls of my generation here in Egypt.
One day, he slipped his hand underneath my clothes and started to explain sexual intercourse as boldly as it can ever be told. The knowledge at that age and degree of innocence and naivety was just too shocking for me to realize where his hands were going.
No, they didn’t. All of a sudden, he stopped coming and I didn’t ask why. I just decided to forget all about it and, no, it never crossed my mind for a second to tell my mum that the guy who used to give me Quran lessons told me what you and dad do in bed, nor that his hands, mummy, go over unpleasant areas in my body. I’m now 21, but I remember as if it happened yesterday.
Guilt, shame, frustration. Oohh, that’s ok! It’s only the pain that wouldn’t go away. Sometimes, I would try to console myself by saying, “You were too young, it could have happened to anyone. It’s ok, as long as he didn’t…” But I just couldn’t forgive him or forgive my parents or forgive myself now that I know where and what his other hand must have been doing.
BuSSy is a performing arts project that documents and gives a voice to censored, untold stories about genders in different communities in Egypt. The project organizes storytelling workshops and performances where women and men step on stage to share stories about harassment, rape, gender discrimination, honor killing, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, motherhood, domestic violence, child abuse, mass sexual assaults and many other topics from different communities and cities across Egypt.
BuSSy’s upcoming performance ‘Forced’ is on the 26th of November in Goethe Institute in Dokki. The performance is part of the campaign “It Happens” against rape. For more information about the event, please check the link below:
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