sex, stories

Yellow.

*Trigger warning: This post contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors. Please read with caution.*

 
She sat there, in the corner, alone.

She had purposely picked the dark corner in the room. No one would force her to talk if she pretended like she was in prayer.

Her eyes stayed focused on the floor until the green zig zags in the carpet made her dizzy. People around her were trickling out of the room. She wouldn’t get up until the sound of shuffling shoes stopped.

She thought about the tackiness of the mosque. Between the green carpet and pink walls it didn’t stand a chance.

In her peripheral she saw a sister making her way towards her. She closed her eyes and felt the light footsteps shift and head in a different direction.

Life had been hard on her.

She never forgot that the room was yellow. She would grow up to hate that color and anything remotely related to it. Just the sight of a solid yellow shirt would evoke a feeling of utter disgust in her core. She recalled a time when she was doing good. The memories of him were beginning to lessen. That recurring nightmare had stopped. Soon after she came to that calm, a coworker pulled out a yellow notepad at a staff meeting. That was what set her off. A damn notebook. She fidgeted in her chair and eventually had to get up and step out. She would stay in her office and pop a Xanax. I just need 30 minutes to let the pill kick in. Later, when talking to her boss she would jokingly laugh and say, “You know Muslims pray all the time.” Using a religious excuse always worked in her favor because its motives could not be questioned. He would give her a half smile and know she was full of shit.

She had just turned nine the first time her uncle crept into her bedroom. Her body felt things it was not supposed to feel at that age. He lifted her underwear and stuck his fat fingers in places that she didn’t know existed. Lying frozen on her back all she would see was the yellow ceiling. This was the celling that watched her childhood unfold as she created makeshift hijabs for her dolls. Ironically, the same ceiling was about to witness the vandalization of her innocence and youth.

Yellow.

Screams would not follow direct commands. They would not come out of her mouth. Her mind and body would remain disconnected for a while after that. She would blossom into womanhood and sometimes feel betrayed by her own body. Orgasms felt good but the exhilaration was quickly followed by shame. So she would avoid accidentally brushing her nipples in the shower or watching a makeout scene in a movie too long. She didn’t want to evoke feelings that would lead to memories of yellow.

She didn’t know what to do or how to feel. Sometimes her prayers would involve asking Allah for numbness. She would bow with her forehead on the floor feeling every prickle of the wool carpet. She knew it was haram to ask for death, but by Allah, if she could have she would. It wasn’t fair. Allah was not being fair by giving her this burden. All those years. All those fuckin’ years he touched her. Allah must have been mistaken. He was mistaken for thinking that somehow she was supposed to duaa her way out of this. This test was meant for Aisha, Sumaiya or Maryam. Not her. Allah, in all His Majesty and Glory, was never wrong but in this instance He was. Just this one time He had made a mistake. She was sure of it.

A tear fell off her face. She didn’t feel it roll down her check. The carpet turned a dark green as it soaked up her hearts grief.

“Alllllaah, forrrgiv—…” She stuttered through deep, huffing breaths. Her heart needed a moment to rest.

“Allah, forgive me for doubting you and your trials.” She whispered.

Sometimes she felt stuck. Islam was her backbone but she doubted it at times. That feeling of doubt often led to feelings of guilt and remorse. Everyone said doubting meant you weren’t a “good” Muslim. Religious guilt often ate her from the inside out.

Throughout the years the thought of confiding in friends and family crossed her mind. One semester she had come home for break, which coincided with Ramadan. After attending tahajjud one night with her family she had a moment of clarity. A moment free of the anxiety associated with being judged and blamed for something the nine year old version of herself couldn’t prevent. She would tell her mother. She had decided.

Later she would back down.

That was the closest she came to exposing it all. She wanted people to see yellow for what it really was. She often questioned why lemonade, school buses and even smiley faces had to be yellow. The absurdity of it all. The sheer ridiculousness. People had been deceived. It was not a color of happiness and life. Yellow was an offensive, overpowering and a demanding of attention type of color.

So in a corner she stayed. Had her moment and afterwards went to the bathroom to wash her face. She opened the door and walked out the mosque while pulling her cardigan closer as her black hijab blew in the wind. It was starting to lightly drizzle outside. Rain was a blessing and in her quiet voice she whispered a small prayer.

She walked towards the white sedan and opened the passenger side door.

“Honey, what took you so long?” Her husband said smiling.

“I just saw Laila and you know how much she talks.” She said. He chuckled and shook his head.

She looked out the window. Days would pass. Everything would appear normal. In spaces, she would hide but remain physically present. People would think she was fine.

And she would never let them think otherwise.

Never.

_________

I will start this off with saying you never know what a person is going through. One can never understand and comprehend the internal struggles and grievances of an unfamiliar heart. All of us are handed a different deck of cards in life. Some may consider their hand fair, others may not.

Never assume anything about anyone. Never assume the type of life or upbringing a person has had. In most cases those same assumptions will be shattered.

Muslims have a difficult time discussing healthy, consensual sex within the confines of a marriage. These discussions are extremely difficult to have in many cultural and ultra-orthodox circles. It leaves many Muslims feeling dirty. So naturally, it would make sense that molestation and rape wouldn’t easily make their way into our conversations.

Molestation, rape and incest happen everywhere. No one community is immune to this. The only difference is that religious circles (Christians, Catholics and Muslims) have somehow been duped to think that sweeping the issue under the rug will remedy the situation.

Facing and admitting the fact that there are ills, addictions and deep issues within religious circles is not easy. While we try to reach spiritual perfection some may get blindsided refusing to admit the stark reality. Certain things require professional help and simply praying your way out of it is not enough. That should be ok. We need to face our problems and work on healing victims of abuse. People shouldn’t be spiritually abused because they admit to trauma in their lives. I’ve heard of people going to Muslim leaders for help and being told that praying more is the ultimate solution.

Prayer is a part of the solution, yes, but not the end all be all.

Be open when it comes to discussing sex, especially with your children. Once sex is normalized in our communities then we can comfortably bring up the abnormalities associated with it.

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tips, womanhood

Womanhood and the Muslimah

As soon as she opened the door I was met with the smell of simmering spices and warm food. I carefully took my boots off trying not to get snow on the plush creme carpet. I was greeted with kind and familiar smiles as I walked into the house. It was a typical December evening in Chicago. The kind of weather where your face went numb if you stayed out in the cold too long. I was relieved to be behind closed doors. Both my body and spirit were marinating in the warmth that surrounded me.

These type of gatherings were rare when the temperature reached subzero digits, so naturally I looked forward to the comradery of sisterhood, laughs and good spirits. We talked about various topics which included work, school, politics and of course marriage (for those of us that were married) and dating ventures (for those of us who were on the prowl).

The conversation shifted to womanhood and it left me with several thoughts.

What does it truly mean to be a carefree, spiritual and emancipated woman?

I’m talking about a woman not burdened with societal and cultural baggage. Many would say this is not possible in Islam, but I disagree. Throughout the last several years of my late twenties I have found solace not only in myself but, simply put, being myself.

There is a huge difference between the two and I believe many women use other people or standards to define who they are. Respecting your individuality is a huge component in becoming the woman you are destined to be.

I can not say this without paying attention to the reality that there are consequences to being a woman without inhibition.

Most people will misunderstand you.

Period.

Every time I hear Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” I often imagine her supplicating this song. If you closely listen to the words it is a prayer. She lays her problems in front of Allah and pleads for Him to aid her. She reminds Him that “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good”. As most know Nina was a woman who, herself, was often misunderstood by the world.

So, I thought as a woman these are the main points of judgement many of us face (irregardless of your ethnicity or religious affiliation) at some point in our lives:

*How you dress.
* Your relationship status.
*What you say.

These three things will be the judging ground for society. If you allow they will ultimately rule your life. You, as a woman, must endure it.

Men will use this as a means to see if you’re suitable for marriage and other women will use this as leverage for comparison. Being a woman, particularly a Muslim woman, means that you must adhere to certain expectations without fault. Men on the other hand are given the leeway to have fault. This is a privilege of manhood.

This is just the way the world works. Again, a reality you must accept.

You will often be misunderstood. If you are single (by choice or circumstance) folks will not get it. They will question if something is wrong with you or perhaps why no one wants you. Additionally, you may wear hijab, may not or perhaps you only cover some of the time. You will not only be judged on the frequency of when you wear it but how you wear it.

Or perhaps you are the type of woman who is strong willed, vocal and firm in your opinions. You are often, again, misunderstood. People will tell you to tone it down. You may even be reminded that men don’t like women who “talk” too much. Reality is that most of these men are insecure and use your strong personality as their excuse. Perhaps this will lead to you changing fundamental parts of your character to fit into what society wants of you.

Keep in mind that there are ways you can combat these stigmas. Walk at your own pace not following the steps of someone else. Our identity should not be solely wrapped in how society or Islam views us. As women we should all be the sole definer of our lives.

I am all woman. I am all Muslim. I am all Black. I am so much more.

Be true to your womanly ways and never apologize for being you.

 

 

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