It's past 2 o'clock in the afternoon, lunch is ready and getting cold and Sa'eeda has not gotten home from college yet. Four o'clock, five o'clock came and gone and still no sign of Sa'eeda. Her mother and her two younger sisters started to worry, "it sure is unusual of Sa'eeda to be this late and not letting us know", the mother tells her two daughters. Their only hope and their only comfort was that Sa'eeda might have stopped over her friend and classmate Fawazia and should be home any minute now.
At 6:30 early that evening and nearly five hours later, Sa'eeda storms into the house, heads straight to her room, on the way, she grabs her late father's warn-out photo, hugs it tightly and with it she lays in bed. Her red and blood-shot eyes were wide open and her pillow was drenched with tears. She refused to talk to no one and wasn't about to tell or share her last five-hour ordeal. Other than the trips to the bathroom, Sa'eeda spent the following week silently in her room. The family's only meaningful and logical explanation of Sa'eeda's recent and odd behavior was that she still grieves and hasn't gotten over the loss of her father yet, who, in a Tunisian clinic, died nearly ten months ago.
This is, my friends, the beginning of Sa'eeda's (nicknamed seen) story. One of many stories that are likely shared and experienced by many young Libyan girls. Stories that because of fear and because of fear of retaliation remain known only to their victims.
Sa'eeda, one of three sisters and no brothers was a graceful young lady, tall, slender and had a well balanced physique. She was well mannered and was well liked by her peers, by her teachers and by her professors throughout her schooling. An A+ student, Sa'eeda was working on her last year of study at the college of agriculture in Tripoli's al-fateh university. She was also the first in her family ever to work toward and bound to earn a college degree.
Sa'eeda was walking home that infamous spring day from school, she just turned right on that dusty and unpaved street where she was born, played as a child and to-date still lives, when suddenly, three slaughterhouse dogs pulled next to her, snatched her into a late model BMW and sped away. In the nearly 10 seconds in the act of pushing and shoving, Sa'eeda screamed and fought and was stomped and stunned and as she cried for help, the ill-faithed Sa'eeda could only notice and hear few windows on both sides of the street slam shot, no one cared to come to her rescue, no one dared to challenge his/her own fear. For the next 20 minutes of road raging, zigzagging and high speeding, Sa'eeda was kicking and struggling like a cat fighting for her last of the nine lives, but her fragile and by-now tired body was no match for these three extra-sharpened canine critters, it took every once of their energy to subdue her, she was forcefully silenced.
The BMW carrying these predators and their prey arrives at this fancy and well-guarded GerGarish's seashore villa, pulls into the garage and the garage automatically closes behind it.
With tears, with cries and being shoved like a powerless little rabbit, Sa'eeda told them about the goodness and the forgiveness of Allah, she even recited some short sora's. She told them about the life and the teachings of Mohammed (s.a.a.w.s). She begged them for mercy, she begged them to letting her go and that she promised she will keep her mouth for ever shut; still, she got beaten to silence and starting with Mu'Tasim, all four men lined-up and took turns on raping her.
“ Welcome to the slaughter house !" yells one of the kidnapers. “You are not the first and you won't be the last and the only thing you could do is just set back, relax and (...) Ibn al-'aQeed.", says another.
“ Where breaking-in and re-breaking festivities take a place right here and we are the skillful masters." The third attacker adds.
In response to her cries, she hears...... “eh-emdi ra-bek, mish hana'Took lil qeera qeera on the way back." (Like the dead really cares what happens to their corpuses?)
Sa'eeda, in broad daylight, was beaten, thrashed, violated and raped by the son of the leader and his operatives.
Severely mutilated by a pack of slaughterhouse dogs, folded on three, holding on her knees, burying her head in her arms and crumbled onto herself like that of a discarded piece of paper. Blood was rushing onto her face and was shivering in shock; for a moment, she sat there trying very hard to put herself together, her cloths were thrown on her and she was ordered to get dressed, and, by now putrid smell of the dirt, smell of sweat and tears, smell of booze, a smell of slaughterhouse waste, a smell stronger than that of septic tank contents. She was sobbing that she couldn't find her underwear and her book bag. She wished the earth would open-up right there and then and swallows her whole. She felt dirty –a kind of dirt that will never wash away.
Mostly in that week and some in the days that followed, and, in her isolation from the world, Sa'eeda managed to write some of her thoughts. In these word -hers that is-, the misfortunate and the poor young lady is looking for explanations, for answers that may ease or sooth her ever-lasting pain, answers that the very-me and the very-you have!
In almost every page in her small and color-faded dairy booklet, there you find maps and shapes drawn by tears and as you fan these pages you can't help but feeling for Sa'eeda. Here is some of what she wrote:
"The violence that was forced upon me has changed my body, my soul and my spirit; Of them all, the physical scars shall fade away with time, but my soul, my reason to exist, my ailing mother, my two sisters and all of my family will be shaken for ever by fear and by the loss of their purpose".
“How can I reactivate, inject life into or will I ever relive, the love, the passion, the harmony, the perseverance and the youth I once had?"
“What have I done to lose and miss on my sense of happiness, content, peace? Allah is my witness, Nothing!"
"There's a dent in my life that I can't repair and its gouge is deepening by the minute".
“I keep telling myself, this never happened; comes morning, this bad dream was just a dream, but, how that could be a dream when the wound is forever fresh and the injury will never heal?"
"Will my misfortune mean little speck on the sand dunes of alhamada alhamra?" she asks, a tear drop in the trenches that fill the reservoir of wadi lemjenean, a cry in the darkness, a lonely hand-wave in the wilderness?", and how about the zambies in and around my neighborhood? My people as a nation, will they ever come close to sensing what I feel? -This very pen and this very paper seem to!"……"the same zambies can keep their sympathy and I careless, for it will do me no good, after all, they are the ones collectively and knowingly handed me over to these slaughterhouse dogs! But, will they ever come together and have a say that affirms: no one should be a above the law and every individual should be accountable only for his/her misdeeds?" if not, ya Allah, for me; I have received what has been written for me to receive, please let them know that theirs is indeed in the queue. Awaken them and let them realize that belonging to the human race is recognizing and fixing their ills".
“I don't belong among the living, for it we hardly share anything in common."
"ya Allah, break off this malevolent pain that imposes on me nothing but grief, darkness and dread. Make me into who I once was, take me back to the time when I strolled into my street freely and peacefully without feeling the need to look behind"
“I never knew a living being can die more than once, for I know it's not the works of you ya Allah"
“What did I do, ya Allah, to deserve all of this? And further, ya Allah, why would you create such mean spirited people?"
“The dent these bastards left in my life will never be repaired, nor will time make it fade away"
Graphically, Sa'eeda adds “ I die experiencing all the pain associated with death every time they (... ...), they extract what is left in life out of me".
"I learned and I experienced the things I never thought nor I anticipated to ever see. I experienced and swallowed death many times over. I first-hand seen fear and I now know what it is. I know the emptiness, the cold and the lack of healing. I learned first-hand the anxiety, the sleeplessness in the lonely and dark nights; I experienced them all and none of them was good".
On the last line of her journal, she writes:
" it's quite gloomy and dark from here on, I ask you Allah to please give me the strength and give me the patience, not necessarily to accept what had happened but to understand it".
In my recent visit and with its classical and static greetings, a family gathering placed this young lady and I within reach of one another. An instant I came to her -Lord knows how bad I wanted to give her a fatherly hug- instead, both of my hands firmly held hers, with running tears, with sobbing choking me like that of a dull and worn-out drill pit carving away my inner being and with my and your will-never-be-undone guilt, all I could say and all what came out was "I am sorry, I am so awfully sorry" over...... and over........ again.
-This is the detailed account of what happened to Sa'eeda. Sa'eeda briefly wrote about her misfortune in LN&V and can be seen at: http://www.libyanet.com/v19apr1g.htm , Z.M. wrote her back at: http://www.libyanet.com/v23apr1k.htm
- Similarly, this is also the ongoing story of a well-known lady, much chubbier lady, bigger and older, has scars on much of her wrinkled face, loosing what is left of her gray hair too and hardly can be recognized anymore. She is our only mother and still proudly answers to her favorite and oldest nickname, Libya!
- The names in here not necessarily reflect the actuals.
- The least I wish of you, dear reader, is this young lady's misfortune will find it's way to your heart as it did to mine, once it's there you do with it as you please.
Al-'eryan, April, 2001