Lodged in my Head

Growing up in a strong muslim household was all I knew as a little girl. I even dreamt that I would grow to be like my step mother who had lived in Saudi while she studied for a degree in Islamic studies until she met my father and had to return home for their marriage, only I promised to get my certificate before getting married.

My dad was a kind man who cared for people, even more than his immediate family sometimes and as such we had a lot of people living with us. My own mother didn’t go to school but as the matriarch of our home she made sure things are always as my father wants them, a typical example of a good muslim wife. The other wives, two of them, simply asked how she wanted things done because they know that doing otherwise would incur my father’s wrath and it’s ugly.


By the time I turned thirteen I began to get marriage offers but my father kept them away. I wanted to go to the university and he was in on it with me and so he would shut down any marriage conversations about me.

I did good in school and that even made him more proud so he never holds back on me, I can even say I was his favourite which can also be debated. In my last year of secondary school, my step-mother’s niece came to spend the holidays with my family, alongside many other children of different relatives who swam our house whenever schools were out of session.


There was something about Halima but I couldn’t help but notice how much she enjoys her own company. Days went by and we didn’t say any words to each other, even when she entered my mother’s flat for errands or when we ran into each other anywhere else. She just gives me a cute smile and never stops for a chat. I just made up my mind that she was a snub and returned the attitude. I paid less attention to her and didn’t even look her way when our paths crossed. This went on for the larger part of the holidays. But it all changed the day my brother confided in me that my step brother has been trying to get Halima to sleep with him and she fights him off, he heard because the topic came up among the older boys on their way to Islamiyya. 


I couldn’t sit on the edge anymore so I swallowed my pride and spoke to Halima but she was too shy to talk about it. I was about to walk away when she pulled me by my arm and started to tell me what had been going on, she spoke non-stop. Turns out she is a talker who  is afraid that playing with other kids will draw more attention from the rest of the boys and she is tired of fighting them off so I promised to protect her from them and that I did, even threatened my step brother and the rest of the boys that I would tell our father if they ever mess with her again and with that Halima stuck with me and we would do everything together whenever she visited. Halima made me talk about things I didn’t think were possible conversation topics, like the kind of man I wanted for marriage and the kind of woman I wanted to be when I get older. She wracked my brain and I liked her for that. We would both be in the room for hours just talking.


I knew I was enjoying her company and was worried what would become of me when she leaves after the holidays but she was sure we would always see each other as we didn’t live  far from each other so after the holidays we both took time after Islamiyya during the weekends to visit each other. Halima had a room to herself at home and we would just sit, gist and day-dream. She would ask the weirdest questions and I would have to question my mind before responding, she is a curious girl and I think that’s one of the reasons we are this close.


Few years later I was off to the university, not too far from home so Halima always came to visit. She is a year younger than I am but I have a bigger body and you would never suspect. Halima would spend days with me in my off campus apartment before heading home and I began to feel very lonely anytime she went home and would bug her until she returned.


One saturday morning while watching a TV series we were both glued too, I can’t tell if it’s impulse or intentional but Halima kissed me, not on my cheek or face but on my lips and that triggered series of confusion, mostly because I wasn’t sure if we should be doing that, like are girls even supposed to be kissing each other? And as much as I didn’t want to think so much about it I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about that moment and especially how much I liked it, I touched my lips all through that day just reminiscing about it.


I prepared talking-points in my head on the conversations I would have with Halima when I returned from Islamiyya on what it means for us to be kissing? Can we kiss other people, what do we do when men ask to kiss us? What about marriage and boys? Are girls even supposed to be kissing each other? Is it a sin if we do?  I was ready to pick her brains on why she kissed me. Only to get  home and Halima was gone. She left a note apologising, saying she has gone home to clear her head and that confused me even further, why would she want to clear her head, she kissed me and not the other way around. I didn’t ask her to kiss me.


For some days I was angry with Halima even though I wasn’t sure for what reason but mostly because I hate it when she goes home and then leaves like that after a special moment we share. I went on the internet to search for pictures of women kissing and my mind was blown by what I found. Women could have full blown sex, live together as couples and even get married. With every new information I found I realised that the world I had silently dreamed of existed and it made more sense why Halima kissed me though I was she was here to explain things to me.


After a week of mutual silence I went home for the weekend just so I can see Halima, because she has become the only topic in my thoughts. I couldn’t even continue the series we were watching because it made more sense to watch it with her. I noticed there were many cars parked on her street and the closer I got it became clearer that the cars belonged to wedding guests and being a Saturday I was convinced it’s definitely a wedding. My first instinct was to turn back but I needed to see Halima so I braved up and since I wasn’t badly dressed I opened their gate and was shocked to see her kneeling before an Imam, with a guy I recognized from her house and even though I was very shocked for a while it didn’t take long before it dawned on me that I had just walked into Halima’s wedding uninvited. 


I wanted to stay but I couldn’t, I was too shocked and heartbroken to stay so I left, walked straight home to my room to cry my eyes out but I wasn’t sure if it was for heartbreak, betrayal or shock, or even all three. It then occurred to me that I had developed feelings for Halima even though it was dead on arrival but I don’t regret that kiss. It set the precedent for the rest of my life and opened my eyes to the best part of who I have become.

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