“Do you want to have kids?”
“Do you want to have kids?” He asked me. This was after he chased my aunt’s five kids out of the room. He locked the door and sat next to me on the bed and asked me this question. I answered yes, an innocent yes, this was the understanding of a 12 year old, you go to school, grow up, get married, have kids.
He had other plans.
He said he liked my necklace, I was flattered and a bit embarrassed. He touched my necklace and then his hand touched my neck, before I could grasp what was happening, his hand was inside my shirt, touching what was beginning to look like breasts. I felt weak in the knees, I couldn’t get up, but I kept remembering what my mother always told me. Make sure no one follows you to the bathroom, make sure no one touches you, if you feel uncomfortable; follow your instincts.
I was trying to follow my instincts, but something stopped me from getting up. He was my cousin and family was good… You trust family because they protect you.
“You can have your own child”, he said after he climbed on top of me.
I felt broken, and unable to move. “Say something, scream”, I kept telling myself.
My mother was in the next room with my two aunts; they were talking about a serious topic.
“Go with Hassan to the next room, we’re having grownup talk”.
“He touched my necklace and then his hand touched my neck, before I could grasp what was happening, his hand was inside my shirt, touching what was beginning to look like breasts.”
Now, we were alone in the room and I kept looking out the huge window. All I could see were buildings, maybe someone will see me and come help me. I wasn’t screaming, but the look on my face was enough to communicate how I was feeling: afraid and confused. One hand was touching my breasts and the other was hiking up my skirt. I remember that skirt, black with grey stripes. It was my third time wearing it and my last.
In my 12 year old mind, I didn’t know about sex or rape or molestation. So my actions were delayed, maybe I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was family and family protects you, they never harm you.
I let it go the first few times he touched my ass or when he brushed against me in the kitchen.
This time, though, it was painful. I felt like he was crushing me. I whispered, “no, get off me”, and with all my power, I pushed him away. I felt like I have been building up this energy for the last 12 years of my life. I rushed to the living room where my mother and aunts were sitting, sat down and didn’t utter a single word.
An hour later, I got my hair done and headed to my uncle’s wedding. I danced the whole night and didn’t even think about it.
It only came to mind a month later when my best friend told me that her dad’s friend kissed her. We sat giggling, making fun of the disgusting old man with the heavy mustache and chronic bad breath. I told her then, she was the first person I told, and the last for a very long time.
After this incident, I was scared of men, especially family. I didn’t want to get in the car with my uncle on my own. I kept thinking, “what if he tries to do something”. I couldn’t trust the closest people to me. I felt ashamed, are the men in my family freaks?
As I grew up and opened up about it, I found out that every family has its share of dirty cousins and uncles.
“After this incident, I was scared of men, especially family. I didn’t want to get in the car with my uncle on my own.”
I met Hassan years later when I found myself sleeping over at their house for two days. You think I’m a complete idiot, but do you know how difficult it is to say no to family?
I spent my time hiding in the company of his sister, avoiding him like the plague. At meals, I would shove everything down my throat and pretend I’m full and rush somewhere and engage myself in some activity.
Should I tell his mother and ruin her idea about her dear son?
The thought did cross my mind, but I decided to let go. He hurt me and he made me distrustful of family members, but I’m better than that. I rose above it and I decided to keep his secret.
“Make sure no one follows you to the bathroom, make sure no one touches you, if you feel uncomfortable; follow your instincts.”
His mother thinks of him as her good son, the man of the house if you know what I mean. When they dropped me at home, he dropped a note out of the window; I looked at him, smiled and waved at them. They drove past and the note was on the pavement. I left it there, I didn’t need to read it, I didn’t want to read it.
I was going to let go and leave my grudges somewhere and get on with my life.
BuSSy is a performing arts project that documents and gives voice to censored untold stories about gender 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 others, from different communities and cities in Egypt.
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