My first experience was so painful but I thank God he was gentle and he would stop whenever I made an uncomfortable sound. He was a white almost 50 year old man, his energy was that of a 20 year old but his wrinkles sold him out. Zuhura prepared me psychologically but it didn’t make it any less painful. She was my best friend, neighbour and classmate at Madhrasa; she was 18 years, a year older than me, wild and a very happy person. She used to laugh at everything and when I showed a face of disgust at her laughter she would say La taghdab (don’t be angry). I can swear on my life that that was the only thing she learned from Madhrasa, she was street smart not book smart. My parents resented her and my father used to beat me whenever he saw us together. Zuhura knew this but she didn’t get mad and we made an unspoken rule that we would only talk in class. I learned about my religion from teachers and extra lessons from Zuhura during break time. She was the sister I never had.
As I said, Ramadhan made it so easy for us; I would wear my booty short underneath the abaya and tell my mother in a polite way that I will spend the night at the mosque. We would then use the back door of the mosque and head to the stage. In the matatu, we would take the back seat so we could take off the Abayas and apply some make-up. Zuhura was so good at it; she could do it with her eyes closed. By the time we were done with everything, we had reached our destination. “Sabasaba?” the conductor would yell and Zuhura would respond “shukisha.” All the passengers would turn to look at us as we alight, some shook their heads, the staunch old Muslims would say Astaghfirullah under their breaths, some perverts would try to touch us and Zuhura was always ready with the slap. We did the same routine, standing at the pavement of the road, waiting for the “customers.” It was a very busy street and we always had a plan, when one of us got the customer she would go and be back by 4 am. It worked because we didn’t allow them to take us far from our spot. I never got used to that mess at all; I was still scared, worried and shy every time we went out. Zuhura, on the other hand, was handling it like a pro.
My brother did his KCPE and he didn’t do so well but he refused to repeat, so my father agreed to take him to a private high school. He used to leave at 6 am in the morning and return at 5 pm in the evening, at least for the first term. The second term, he returned at 6 or 7 pm at night, he stopped praying claiming that he was busy with studies. We were so close and I could see the change in his behaviour. He started hanging out with Hamadi who, rumour had it, was selling heroin to the drug addicts around our place. “Hamadi is generous” he would say, “he gives me pocket money and treats me like his young brother.” “Be careful with him,” I responded. One night he came in very late and he knocked on my window to open the door for him, I hesitated for a while but then I imagined what my father would do to him and I gave in. When I opened the door his eyes were shot red, when he realized I was staring at them he lowered them and rushed to his room. I loved my brother and I felt very bad that he was throwing his life away, and then it hit me, I was doing the same thing with my life. The look on my father’s face would have been amusing if I was to tell him about his “smart son” but it wasn’t worth the pain Hussein would feel afterwards.
One Sunday morning our Ustadh announced that he was not feeling well and we could go home if we wanted to. Zuhura suggested that we go to the beach instead. My heart almost dropped when she said that, I had never gone out during the day especially with her. “My father will kill,” I yelled in dismay. “He will not find out and we will be back before noon, I promise.” She said, smiling. I couldn’t say no to her clearly, so I agreed. At the beach she told me to take off my Abaya, I was curvy and never shy to show off my perfect body. I had on a tight dress which showed the details of my perfect body. On this day, I attracted one of the people that changed my life forever. I will live to remember this day and I will forever be indebted to Zuhura for making me go to the beach on that day.
To be continued…