Monday, 29 September 2014

My Spot (Part 3)

When the weekend came, I went with my husband to meet his friends. I had been wearing the outfit my husband got for me for the past few days prior to the meeting but it had been always been at home. I had never worn it out and I was nervous meeting people wearing it.

However I wasn’t someone who chickened out of things and when my husband kindly asked me if I was sure I wanted to go, I said I did. The trip there was different from the trip to the mosque though. Not only was I dressed “correctly” for the meeting, I was also told to sit at the back of the car.

My husband told me the people we were meeting do not believe that women should be allowed to sit in the front seat of the car, much less drive one, so he wanted me to seat at the back. I was also told not to speak unless spoken to, to call all the men there “sir”, and always to be respectful to everyone there, including the women. Even to my worthless mind, I could tell that the meeting was obviously very important to my husband and resolved to be on my best behavior.

My husband didn’t tell me where we were going but for some reason I wasn’t surprised when he drove out of the city into the suburbs. He finally stopped at a 2 storey house that was situated at the end of a dead end road. In short, it was isolated with no need to worry about nosey neighbors.

We were not alone as there were already several vehicles parked along the driveway and along the road in front of the house. After parking, my husband led me to the door and knocked. The door opened immediately and I saw the man I would later know as the Interpreter for the first time.

A jolly big man with a loud laugh, the Interpreter greeted my husband with a big hug before ushering him into the house. I quickly followed the 2 men into the house where my husband was greeted with further hugs by other men. Even though it was my first time there, I could feel the sense of brotherhood between these men and immediately began to understand why my husband had been with the group.  

However as hugs and banter were exchanged between the men, I began to feel more and more out of place. I was totally ignored and noticed that I was the only woman in a room full of men. I thought the women were in the kitchen but when two men came out of the kitchen wearing aprons, the thought was quickly replaced by bewilderment; both at the strange sight of two religious bearded Muslim men in aprons and the question if I was the only woman in the house.

As my husband greeted the men who came out of the kitchen, a young boy barely in his teens stepped up before me. We looked at each other before he shook his head in disgust and signaled me to follow him. I looked at my husband but he was clearly too involved with his friends to bother about me. Worthless that I was, a flash of anger overtook me but before I could embarrassed myself, the young boy was beside me whispering in my ear. Even now, years after the incident, I remembered what he said to me.

“Follow me, you disrespectful worthless bitch!”

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Of course I now know how wrong I was and what offence I made but back then my worthless self was shocked and angered beyond words. This was a boy who was at most 14 and he was calling me a bitch! The boy did not wait for a response from me and instead turned around and started walking away.

Honestly, I don't remember why I did what I did but I followed the boy. It could be that I was so shocked that I just followed him but I like to think that even back then, my worthless knew the truth of his statement. I was/am nothing and I like to think that even back then, I knew in my soul the boy was right.

I like to think that I followed the boy because he was the first person who spoke the words of truth to me.

Whatever the reason, I followed the boy quietly to a door. There were 3 locks on it and they were not just simple locks; they were big padlocks with firm metal tinges. After unlocking the door, he opened it and I saw that there was a staircase leading down. At the bottom of the stairs was a woman in a niqab.

The boy stood aside, clearly expecting me to go down the stairs. Remembering what my husband told me about obeying, I went through the door and down the stairs. The door slammed shut behind me and I could hear the boy locking it. I walked down to the bottom of the stairs and looked at the other woman clearly for the first time.

She was dressed like me. A plain black long sleeved dress two sizes too big with thick black gloves and a black niqab on her head. Although I could only see from the outside, I was sure the dress was of a low quality, that it had a high-collared and that it was too rough to the touch. In short, I was sure her outfit was exactly like mine.

The woman nodded at me and I was about to greet her when she took me by the arm and turned me around. The stairs ended at the edge of the basement and the main floor was behind it. As I turned, I saw the women group for the first time.

The row of them were at the other end of the basement, all of them standing in a row facing the wall. The sight reminded me of my spots in the house, the place I was put whenever my husband was displeased with me, and it shocked me. Were all of them being punished or were they just...placed there?

Still in shock, I let the woman held my arm and guide me slowly across the basement towards the group. I remembered seeing the basement and thinking that it was sparse in the extreme. There was nothing there except for a blue stool and an overhanging light in the centre of the room. Outside the centre of the basement, the rest of the basement had a gloomy dark feel to it.

The woman guided me to the end of the row of women and tried to place me in the row. I glanced at the row and saw that all of them were dressed like us. Plain black dresses in niqabs, all the women not only looked the same, they were standing in the same position. Although the outfits hid some things, I could clearly see that their bodies and faces were all touching the wall.

The woman guiding me pushed me towards the last woman in the row, wanting me to stand shoulder to shoulder to her. I allowed her to do so, but she then pushed my back. As my body got closer and closer to the wall, I resisted. A resistance that was quickly met with a slap on the ass.

After the slap,  the woman pushed my back again. This time more forcefully.  I did not resist again. The woman was clearly the top bitch of the group and as the newcomer, I did not want to cause problems before I was even introduced. The woman pushed me till my body was touching the wall, then she pushed the back of my head. Before I know it, my face was touching the wall too.

Then the woman spoke for the first time. "Make sure your forehead, nose and chin are touching the wall. With no men around, we women are nothing but worthless meat. "

"We are worthless meat!"

The row of women replied as if in a chant and for the first time since I entered the house, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Then I felt the woman who guided me releasing my arm and standing beside me. Top dog she may be, but she was still a woman. I risked a quick glance and saw that her face was almost smashed to the wall. I remember half-wondering how she managed to breath but quickly got my face back into position. I admit, seeing her example made me push my face further into the wall.   

I did not know how long we stood there, but by the time I heard the locks of the basement being unlocked, my legs were tired and my face was numbed. I felt the woman beside me leaving my side. I knew she must have went to the base of the stairs to greet whoever was coming down like she did with me.

I waited patiently but in excitement. I heard a clap and I felt the other women in the row tensed up. I heard the woman who had guided me speak again, "Women, a man is in your worthless presence. Show your respect with your worthless bodies."

The row of women moved for the first time and I moved with them. Following their example, I threw myself to the concrete floor, my body prostrate on the ground with my arms outstretched above me. I now know that as a worthless woman, being on the ground is the only right position to greet a man but back then, I remembered feeling stupid doing this.

For a short while, the room was silent then there was another clap of the hands. The rest of the women started rising and I followed. Looking around, I saw that the man who greeted my husband and myself was now seated on the blue stool I saw earlier. I also saw that the other women were not standing up straight but instead were walking hunched over towards him. The women arranged themselves  in front of him and for the first time I did a quick count. There were 8 of us and we all knelt before the man.

The Interpreter then launched into his sermon and it was vastly different from what I heard from the iman from the mosque. There was no men around and the sermon was only for us women. The Interpreter focused strictly on the roles of women in this world and the relationship between us and men. He quoted from the Qur'an and Hadith, and gave detailed examples on how the holy Islamic scriptures clearly state that women were born to assist men, how we were here in this world to serve men, and how by simple logic, that meant that without men, we women were nothing.

We were worthless on our own.  We were worthless without men and if one day a woman found herself without a man to guide, protect and control her, she was worthless.  The Interpreter then went on, saying that women needed men and that not only were we worthless without men, it was nothing short of our holy duty to serve our man without question or hesitation.  We were here to assist men. We were born to serve men. We were nothing without men.

Women were born to be servants and slaves to men!

I was at the back of the group but there was no escaping the Interpreter's powerful sermon. He did not used words like "may" or "could" but instead used words like "must" and "would". As the sermons went on,  the Interpreter stood up and pointed down at the kneeling women in front of him. He launched into another section of his sermon on the impurity and weakness of women. He scolded us for the women of the world who believed they were as strong and as smart as men when all evidence said otherwise. Men were stronger and almost all advances in science were done by men. He said women must be grateful to be even allowed to be in the presence of a man because without men, we were nothing!

As he went now, I felt a feeling I had never felt before. It was the truth! A feeling exploded in my chest, my whole body shook as the truth of his words sunk into me. It was euphoric! That was our spot in life. Not as an ambitious career woman, not just as a wife, but as a servant and a slave because that's what we women were. This was the truth that I had missed throughout my life.

Women were born to be the servants and slaves to men!  

As the sermon ended and the Interpreter left, the women threw themselves to the ground again. I followed their actions, only this time I did it not in fellowship with them but in thanks to the man who had finally showed me the truth. He had delivered the truth of men and women to me, a lowly worthless woman, and for that I would be forever grateful!