The Start of an End III
Over the next 2 months I would enroll in a local driving school to learn how to drive. After all, driving was not a felony in Canada and I had intentionally arrived two months early to achieve a goal that was denied to me for 26 years.
This was the first objective on my “TO DO” list in this new life of mine.
For me, tackling this driving issue was like unsealing a can of slimy worms. Here was something I was forbidden from even thinking about my entire life in Saudi Arabia and now I was on the verge of accomplishing it.
Throw any defibrillator model at me and I could work it without a blink, but put me in the driver’s seat of a car and I would be good for nothing. I had mastered the most complex and diverse forms of cardiac arrhythmia, knew by heart all the algorithms, which class of drugs to administer for each stage, and had an immediate back up plan should the drug not work. But my brain circuitry would flounder when it came to memorizing a route to physically get somewhere.
I never felt so imbecilic, puny, incapacitated, unproductive, limited, mentally and emotionally handicapped, afraid, suspicious, and so easily intimidated as I did when I was fresh out of Saudi and in the real world.
The Saudi practice of Islam, along with the environment itself, had me on such a tight leash of inhibition and anti intellectualism for so long that I might as well have been buried alive.
The driving instructors would frequently inquire as to why I was having such difficulty and failing every other driving test. I could never offer a solid rebuttal because I didn’t know why. All I could perceive at the time was an exaggerated prohibitive fear that I could not and should not drive. I was still Saudi and thus had limited privileges as a woman.
Four driving tests later, I passed and earned my first ever driver’s license. Now I had the car and the license but I refused to actually operate my car because of this or that reason.
The rationalizations were endless.
Fear, however, was never a rationale that I would own up to and here is the bone I would like to pick with you over the next few minutes.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy
Every word I write, every intimate story I share, every argument I make against Islam/Sharia law or religion in general, and every news item I examine out of countries like Saudi Arabia (the holy land of Islamic birth), I do while bursting with retaliative resentment to the stained 26 years of terror I endured under the bloodied rusting sword of Islam. Only now I am more educated, polished and more in control. Now I can present my argument without heightened emotion or fear.
Fear is the chisel religion uses in the most sinister of ways to violently mutilate the lives of those like myself. It is the oppressor’s most cherished tool. But I prefer to think of it as an enchantment spell that is delivered to us through mosque platforms and ancient scriptures in a variety of flavors suited to meet our preferences.
Or so we are made to think…
Fear of ostracism by family, of ridicule by friends, of becoming an outlaw in society, fear of being labelled a whore by the (so called) religious, fear of punishment by the fascist state, fear of Satan’s whispers, and last but not least: fear of god’s wrath…the fear of eternal damnation and the bone eroding fires of hell.
Learn this word people, for it is a travesty many are burdened with. Learn to diagnose it and then learn how to overcome it. This ailment can and will devour the very essence of your humanity if you cave into it.
Now, allow me to list some of the highlights of my first year as a free Arab woman living in the West:
- Extreme anxiety related to any dealings with men. This would eventually lead to embarrassing panic attacks.
- Inability to perform the ABC’s of looking after myself without the aid of a driver or a nanny (I couldn’t even fry an egg).
- Ridiculous culture shock that lasted for 6 months
- I went through a terrible divorce after marrying a Saudi man whom I thought I had known (I walked out on him the morning after our wedding because he smashed my face in with a phone in a jealous fit)
- I started intense medical residency training which was excessively demanding, physically exhausting and mentally draining.
- Depression reached it’s peak (I spent the first 6-7 months either at home or at work and refused to socialize)
- I was introduced to the devastating world of racism (“Why are you in pants? You should be in a Burka”) and the old boys club of Medicine (“Women doctors who want to have a family should quit and become librarians”). Needless to say, I met some nasty people with M.D after their names. And yes, they were Canadians in Canada.
- Hate mail began “You Arab Terrorist pig”
Suddenly everything became overwhelming. I felt defeated and contemplated calling it quits, packing my shit up and heading back to a hell I knew how to deal with but for some strange reason I stuck with it.
This was not what I had imagined…this was not what I had dreamt of…
End of part III