Rita’s reputation


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Rita’s Reputation Part 1

 El Hasni family was living in Montreal in a beautiful two floor apartment close to Old Port. The first floor had a huge living room where they had two lounges. One that they brought from their country of origin which was Morocco and the other was from Montreal. Paintings and pictures showing the life at the market place called soukha karmel, people dancing with with their traditional dresses surrounded by musicians with their instruments, women with their hands painted, people going at the mosque and others architectural places of their native land were on the walls. Everything matched perfectly with the color of their furniture. They had done everything in order to blend the two cultures together both artistically and at the level of handicrafts. It was the same thing in their dinning room where a green round table that had on its surface Middle Easter drawings was well inserted in that pure old style European building. Calligraphy paintings were on the walls of the dinning room. Their kitchen was big and they had a American wooden brown table were they ate when they did not have any guest in their house. Next to the kitchen, there was a TV room where they spent most of their time. The second floor had four rooms in which each of them had its respective bathroom.

The father was importing products from North Africa and Middle East and was selling them in Canada and at the same time he was exporting Canadian products to Middle East. His wife was working in as an administrator in the center of health and social services. Both of their occupation gave them comfortable revenue and they were able to afford what most wealthy Canadians were able to get and even more. Their two children Ali (the eldest) and Rita (the second one) were going in the best schools and were living the good life inside Montreal. Their parents made sure that they were immersed both in the Canadian life style and in the Moroccan culture. They knew not only the history of their country but they were also inserted into the traditions of Morocco. The importance for Rita to remain virgin was stressed not only to her but also to her brother. It was a necessity for her brother to make sure that she did not put herself in a situation that could jeopardize her reputation. 

Although their parents were not strict, they were often asking Ali to accompany Rita when she was going out. They even allowed her to go out at night if her brother was with her. The two children were accomplices. Ali was not really behind his sister and whenever he was asked to go out with her by his parents, he will do it because it will give him the opportunity to receive money from his dad and mum and he will use that money for his date. He would go out and would drop his sister where ever she wanted to go and he will continue to his date.

Rita enjoyed partying. She liked to have fun. When she was out, she was testing different alcohol but was never going out of her way because she knew that her parents will kill her and it will alter the trust her brother had in her and especially the one their parents had in them. She was flirting and teasing a lot like most young people of her age. At the end of the night, Ali would always pick her up and they would go back home as if nothing happened. Ali was happy because he went for his date, Rita was happy because she had party and their parents were happy because the both came back home safely. They went home and everybody was happy.

Whenever she was out in a party where there was lots of North African, she behaved accordingly and did not do anything that could tarnish her reputation. There was no alcohol, no teasing, and no nothing. She was behaving like a perfect girl. She knew that if she was doing something that was misplaced, the next day, her mum would know about it. When she was going out with her Italian, Greek or Quebecoise friends, she was a little bite more relaxed than usual.

She always had to be careful because she knew that if she was not aware of her surrounding, there was a possibility that she would not see that a Moroccan or an Algerian man or woman was in the party she attended. If that was to happen and she surprised drinking, flirting or even people just caressing her face or her legs or her back and sometimes her breasts like young people usually do, there was a big chance that they would tell the whole thing and probably add some more to their parents what she was caught doing in the party. Of course as a matter of protection of her reputation and most of all the protection of the reputation of her parents, they would send the word to her own parents. She was not ready to face that nor was she ready to loose the freedom she had compare to her others Middle Eastern and northern African girls friends. Therefore, she took all the measures that were necessary to always scan the room she was into. She was always at a place where she could see everybody who was entering and who was leaving. She knew at all times what was going on. She always had a story ready in case and someone from her community would arrive in the room. She was prepared for those kind of surprises.

As for Ali, he knew his sister was not going to do something that would make him look like a fool in front of his friends from his community. Indeed if she was surprised by an one of them completely drunk or kissing someone else in a party, or sleeping with someone, it would affect his reputation as a good brother. It would mean that his friends would see his sister as a slut. More importantly, it would mean that he was not able to do what he was supposed to do in order to protect her from such behaviour. He would loose a little his manhood. He knew it was in her interest to protect him. If she would not do that, she would force him to act the way she did not want him to act. By the way, he did not even want to be on her back. He was just doing what his parents were telling him because he did not want to offend them.

In the community, everybody was watching everybody and it was keeping the community together. This was the way they were protecting their traditions. Therefore wherever a girl was, she knew, she could see someone of her community who could report what she was doing within a second. Rita was aware of that.

As for their parents, they had already left their country which was in itself a betrayal. The way they were regarded was that they would loose for sure their traditions. Their traditions were what kept them different from the outside world. It was what made them who they were. If that was lost, then there was nothing else to do because it meant that they were lost as well. It was therefore a matter of principles to show that the traditions were maintained. To live by those traditions were the way they kept the link with who they were back in their country. If they were loosing that, it meant that they had lost everything.

They could not afford that shame even if they had a lot of money and I should add especially if they had a lot of money. They had no excuses. They had the means and the wealth to arrange things in a way that was going to satisfy their children and make them follow the traditions. If they were not successful, it was probably because they white washed as they liked to say and that was the worst thing somebody of their community could afford to bare. Rita had to keep her reputation not just for herself but for her brother, her parents and for the community she was living in.

Rita’s reputation Part 2

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Over the years, Rita and Ali were very much accomplices. When they needed something from their parents, they went together and supported each other cases in front of them. They were able to get whatever they wanted. They grew up pretty much into that environment.

When they reached the aged of majority and they had their high school diploma, Ali wanted to go study finance in Great Britain and Rita wanted to study art and fashion in France. Her parents told her that she could not go there because she would be alone and they did not want to take any risk. She told them that she would behave correctly and that they had nothing to worry about it. They told her that it was out of question that she goes in Paris alone. They explained to her that they could not allow it because they were too scared for her well being and in their community girls were not supposed to be away from their family. They added that the only way they could accept that she goes in Paris was if her brother Ali would go with her.

Even if Ali would have agreed, they would have refused that Ali changes his mind about the location of his studies. They had pushed him to have the best grades because they wanted him to go at the London Business School. They had inserted the idea in his head a long time ago and with time, he grew into it and he actually liked the idea at the end. They wanted him to go there not only because it was a good school but also because they would be able to talk about it to their friends and family. They wanted to show off the success of their family and their son was going to give them that opportunity.

Given this context, when they introduced the idea of Ali going in Paris, they knew that Rita was very much aware of how important it was for them that Ali goes in London. As a good girl and very obedient to her family, they knew that she would not propose the idea to Ali because first of all, Ali did not want to and second, it would have hurt her parents if he was not going to London. They knew that because she loved them, she would not hurt them. They just put the idea in her head because they wanted to give the impression that they were opened to what she wanted when deep down deep, they did not want her to leave the house. It was a matter of traditions. Girls were not supposed to leave the house unless they were married. They did not want to allow her to live elsewhere.

She could have fought for London since her brother was with her but she never liked it. She and her family went there for vacation and even though she had the best time, she did not want to live there. Although they had one of the most prestigious fashion school and arts school she did not see herself living there. It was not in her goals. She rather stayed in Montreal than to go in London with her brother.

Paris was the city where she wanted to be and study. It had attracted her since she was young. The architecture, the arts, fashion, luxury goods, food, restaurants, life style, museums, the culture, place Vendome, Champs Elysee, Effel tower, etc had always fascinated her. Whenever her parents would ask her where she wanted to go in vacation, she would always put the city of Paris. Whenever they were going in Europe for vacation they had to include at least two or three days in Paris just to satisfy her. Everybody knew how important Paris was to her.

Although she was sad, she did not ask Ali to come in Paris with her which would have supposedly made it easy for her father to accept that she leaves the house. Her mum suggested her to do the Academie of Fine Arts in Montreal. It was not her first choice but she accepted it. Like women who used to say in her community: “what can you do? Things are the way they are”. She would have never believed that after living the life she had lived with her brother, she would be one of the girl who would say such a thing but she was. The reality that others girls were living in her community was becoming hers. She had always seen her parents a little bite different then the others. They had money, they were introduced in the best circles in Montreal, their knowledge of both cultures was amazing and they were envied by the others and at the end of the day, she was getting and doing everything she wanted. She respected them a lot for their life style and their appearance of “laissez-faire” with their children.

When her parents reacted like that, she was disappointed by their attitude. She would have never thought that they would be like that. She felt like she was duped. After getting everything she wanted all those years, when the time came to give her actually what she was craving the most, it was being denied to her. She felt betrayed but she accepted it since it was the rules in her community and she knew very well how those rules were dictating the lives of people in her community.

Seeing that she was sad, her brother told her that he will tell his parents that he rather study  in Paris instead of London but she told him that she did not want him to do that. She said that this time it was serious. They were no longer playing to go to a party or a night club. They were playing for their lives. She did not want him to kill his dreams because of her. His dreams had always been to go to LBS (London Business School). He had talked about it so much that she did not have the heart to ask him to cancel his dreams because of her. He tried to make her change her mind but she insisted that he took the trip to London.

He felt bad. He had always been there to protect her and for the first time, he was going to abandon her. They had always worked hand to hand and now he was going his way and she took a direction that surprised him. He did not understand what had happened but it had happened. He too could not believe that his sister was not going to get what she wanted just because she was a girl. They were never raised like that. He felt even worst because he was getting something for no apparent reason and his sister was not for no good reason either. It seemed as if life had decided way before they came that because of their sexual differences, one will get what he thought he wanted and the other will not get what she wanted. It was unfair but it was the story they were living.

As for their parents, they were pretty pleased by the outcome. Things were moving according to their plans. Their children did not make them changed their vision. When Ali took the plane, he felt guilty and he cried for abandoning his sister. Rita cried a lot as well. She knew life was not going to be the same without him in the house.

The parents were crying even though they got all they ever wanted. They were crying because they were going to miss having both of them around, they were crying because Ali was not going to be with them and maybe they were also crying because deep down deep they knew that what they had done was not a good thing but inside themselves they probably thought like everybody in their community: “what can you do? Things are the way they are”.

Rita’s reputation Part 3

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In Montreal, Rita spent her time working hard to get her college degree. Since she was alone, her parents would not let her go out as often as they used to when Ali was there. When she was allowed to go, she had to be accompanied by her cousins with whom she did not have the same complicity she had with her brother. Therefore whenever she was going out, she had a little bite of fun but nothing much. Although they often offered her to drink alcohol, she never really knew whether they were testing her or they were sincere. She always politely declined.

The only way she could be herself a little bite without being scared, was when she was at school with her girl friend Hinda. Hinda was a Lebanese girl who understood very well Rita’s situation since she was living herself under the same circumstances. They had lot of fun together. They went in many restaurants where they ordered foods and drinks of all sorts. They were alone outside and they were doing whatever they wanted. They often used the excuse of working late at the library to spend as much time as they could away from their house. They had the same desire to experience as many things as they could. They were determined to use every aspect of their college and university years to try everything they were not allowed to try in their community.

When they had two hours of school, they told their parents that they had to stay at their college till six or seven to study because they were some books that they could not bring home. While outside, they were doing everything they were not supposed to do. They spent time with different guys who invited them. They went in their apartment to see how the life of a guy who was living alone was. They wish they could do the same. Once there, they were smoking not only cigarettes but marijuana as well. They listened to music, talked and drunk quite often. Sometimes after drinking more than they could handle, since they were not used to, they often slept a little.

At others occasions, when they were drunk enough, they pretended they did not see those guys caressing their bodies or giving them massages. One would have thought that they would have let things go further but they never did. They were too scared of loosing their virginity. What would they say to their husband if they found that they were not virgin on their weeding nights? Both of their family would be humiliated. They could not take those risks.

The parties they could not attend at night, they were having it during the day. Sometimes they pushed their luck and stayed out till the library closed which was at 10:00 pm. They lived like that for a long period of time. Whenever guys would ask them out, they would politely tell them that they could not because of their religion. They were having fun with them but they were not letting them cross the lines.

A month before they finished their college years, somebody proposed to Hinda and her parents accepted. She did not know him. She was so depressed because she did not want to get married so soon and especially to someone whom she did not know. She wanted to continue her university but her father had decided other wise. In addition to that, she had to leave Montreal. It was so unexpected that it blew Rita and Hinda mind. They cried a lot together. The college years they had spent together partying were gone. The life they had created for themselves was over just like that. It was the end of the road for Hinda. With whom Hinda was going to do the dirty tricks now that she was leaving? When Rita thought about it, she was extremely sad to loose her friend but she was even sadder because it meant that this could happened to her anytime soon. Few days after her college years, Hinda got married and she left the city.

Rita was depressed to see that her life would probably end like the one of Hinda. The way her parents were behaving had proven to her that soon or later, it would be her turn to get married and there would not be anything that she could do about it.

When her brother came back from London for vacation, she was happy to see him but she envied him. She had never been jealous of him but for the first time she really wanted to be at his place. She could see in his face that he had changed. The experiences he lived in London made him something different. He was allowed to dream and she could not.

He could be any place he wanted and do anything he wanted. He was talking about working in Dubai and India and she wished she could do the same. She hated the fact that she was a girl and that it reduced her options.

When he asked her what she wanted to do after university, she felt scared to talk about it because she knew that she would probably not have any chance to realize it. She therefore told him with a little voice that she would take whatever was available. He looked at her and he was surprised. He almost asked her if she no longer had any ambition but he remembered that because she was a girl, her parents would most probably not allowed her to do what she wanted just like they did when she wanted to go study in Paris. It was hurting him to see that she ended up thinking like people who did not have any luck in their lives.

She had changed. Her face was no longer the same. It was as if something was broken. There was no hope in her eyes. She was once a vibrant person full of energy, full of project and now she was hesitating as if life had stopped her from dreaming. He saw the envy in her eyes. He saw that she wanted to do others things but she did not allow herself to think that it was possible. She smiled at him to cover the pain she was feeling but he saw it and did not know what he could do. He smiled back and they both pretended that everything was alright.

To diffuse the moment they were having, she asked him about the girls in London, how many girls had he seduced and if they were good in bed. He laughed a little bite to see that his sister always had the way to surprise him with her questions. As always he was shocked and he mumbled a bite and she added that she hoped that he did not ruin their name by performing poorly.

He told her that she was crazy and asked her to come next to him and in order for him to show her the pictures. She told him that she did not want to see pictures of them performing, she wanted nothing less than a video that would prove her that he was a strong man. He replied that he had always known that she had a twisted and sick mind and she answered that he had not seen anything yet.

They went through the pictures and they were laughing but things were no longer the same. She still had her humour but something was not the way it used to be.

Rita’s reputation part 4

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When her brother went back to London, she went back home and she looked at her life and her parents. She could not help thinking that her life was predetermined. She knew exactly what was going to come after. It was only a matter of time before her father might come and said that someone wants to marry her and they would start pressuring her into going with him.

She realized that she had spent all her life hiding from everyone. She could continue to do that but what was the point? She never tried to fight for what she wanted. When her parents said that she could not go in London, she did not say that she would go whether they like it or not. She simply submitted herself. She did what they wanted without fighting for it more than one day. She cried and accepted like everything in her life. She was so used to hide what she wanted that when they said no to her she did not have the gust to show them that she did not like it and that it was actually killing her.

The only consequence of that behaviour was that she felt jealous of her brother. She envied him almost to the point that she wished that he would not succeed his study. He was a constant reminder of her failure to realize what she wanted. Every time she was seeing him, she saw that he was a man and could do whatever he wanted and she was a girl and was prevented from doing what she wanted. When she saw him, she felt bad about herself. She thought of what had stopped her from trying and realised that nothing had stopped her. She just did not fight for what she wanted because she was used to behave as such. She had always seen women in her community behaved like that. She was just doing what the others were doing. She did not have the courage or the knowledge to be another woman. Her lack of determination to get what she wanted had inevitable consequences on her behaviour. She became somebody frustrated. She was more irritable. Her reactions were not as calm as they used to be. She hated the person she had become but she could not do anything to stop it.

She had the choice to be either someone who would be frustrated all her life or she could try to be the person she wanted to be. Was she going to settle for something that would torture her? Or was she going to try at least once to show her real face to her parents?

The conspiracy of silence in which everybody in her family was putting themselves about her situation was killing her. Everyone knew she was not happy about her situation. They all knew that she wanted to be elsewhere and that being in Montreal was just killing her but no one did anything to make her feel happy. It is not even that her parents did not have the money to send her there which might have been a good explanation for her to stay in Montreal but they simply did not allow it. She was also part of the conspiracy of silence. She pretended that following what her parents wanted for her was what she needed the most. She was showing to everyone what a good girl she was when deep down deep she was half dead. Her options were so limited that she had reduced them even more for fear of disappointing her parents. The smiles on her face were not sincere.

She was pretending in front of her parents, pretending in front of her community, pretending in front her friends even if they were drinking together; she never had an occasion to be completely herself. She was acting so much that at times, she did not know exactly who she was. The pressure from the family and the traditions was making her something she did not want to be. It was even making her doubt what she really wanted.

She had never noticed but more and more she had suicidal thoughts. Since she had no future that was exciting her, she did not see any reason to continue living. More and more in her sentences, she added the expression: “it made me want to kill myself” or “I wanted to jump of a building and kill myself”. To die was an acceptable option. Instead of fighting for what she wanted, she would rather kill herself.

Confronting her parents was such a horrible thing to do that killing herself was more alluring and easier way out. Accepting a life that she did not want to or to kill herself were the choices she had. What was the best thing to do? Maybe she could find another friend and they would continue to live the life she had with Hinda. Unfortunately she had done it already and was now bored by it. She wanted something else and beside she was doing all she could to forget that episode because it had broken her heart and was reminding her of a future that she might have.

She compared where she was when her brother was with her and what she had become and she was not pleased. She decided that she needed to try something before it is too late but she did not know what. She started going out and coming back late without giving any explanation to her parents. When they looked at her surprised, she did not say anything. She went straight in her room. Her parents did not know how to react to her new behaviour. She left the house very early to go to school then she came back around midnight and sometimes around 2:00 am or 3:00 am.

One day her father saw her in the kitchen and she was scared of his reaction and he asked her what the new behaviour she was showing lately was. She asked her what type of behaviour? He yelled at her to stop taking him for a fool. She ran back in her room and closed it. The following day, she left early and came back late. Since she was no longer doing what her parents wanted, she did not have the courage to ask them for money. She needed to find a job which she did. When her mum found out about it she was enraged and she went to talk to her about it. She told her that her father was getting old and her behaviour was only weakening him. He was extremely sad and disappointed.

Rita told her that she was also sad and disappointed. “I wanted to go to London and I could not. Who prevented me from doing what I wanted? It was my own dear beloved parents.” She added that her own parents who are supposed to love her the most did everything they could to put her in the situation that she was in. She continued to say that she did not see a good future for her in that house. She told her mum that she became something that she hated. She started envying her brother and even wishing that he failed at what he was doing because she was so jealous of him. She could not continue like that. She needed to do something and this is what she was doing to be a little bite normal in her head.

Her mum asked if she had no shame in her. She asked her where her heart was. Rita simply replied that her heart was in Paris and unfortunately she was in Montreal and in that house where she was burning a little bite more everyday and she could not take it anymore. Her mum told her that if it was a trip in Paris she wanted, she could have it. She did not have to do all those things. Rita yelled at her to stop pretending that she did not know what she meant. She told her that everybody was pretending that the situation she was in was a normal one but she knew now that it was not because she was suffering because of it.

She told her that she had taken the decision to go to Paris with her own money whether they liked it or not. She did not care about what would be the consequences for her life, for her parents or for the community. She did not care. Her mum asked her if she had become complete white washed to which she replied that she understood perfectly the mentality of white people and they were 600% right. She added that it made no sense to live under the parents’ rules or traditions if it would make you suffer like hell.

She told her mum that her friend got married by force few months ago and she said that she was sure that this was what they had planned for her. Her mum told her that in life we don’t always do what we want especially if we are girls or women. This was the reality of the family she was living in. Rita said that it will not be her reality. It might be the reality of her mum and cousins and of the community but it will certainly not be hers. She added that she would not be Hinda and she will start by going in Paris as soon as she gets the money. Her mum stood up in tears and told her before living the room that if anything was happening to her father, she would be responsible. When her mum left, she yelled while crying that she had realized that if she was not fighting for herself, no one not even her parents would and it had broken her heart to see that. She slammed the door and threw herself in her bed and cried.

Rita’s reputation Part 5

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Alone in her room, she cried because she felt a little bite of pity for herself. Her parents whom she loved very much were stopping her from doing what she wanted and by standing for herself she was hurting them and probably humiliating them. What have they done to deserve such a faith? They were doing what they have seen others doing and what they were accustomed to. By preventing her from doing what she wanted, they were doing what they thought was the best for her. By fighting for what she wanted, she was doing what she thought was best for her. Those were two irreconcilable views. Unfortunately, she had to make them suffer to be free. She had to hurt the people she loved the most to reach her goal. She had to humiliate them to get her freedom.

Seeing her mum crying and hearing her mum saying that she was making her father sick hurt her deeply. She had always seen her father as someone who was behind her and supported her in everything she was doing. He never resisted her will before. She was extremely proud of him. He was always proud of her and he used to introduce her to his friend as the best thing he ever had. The pain she knew she was inflicting him was making her doubt what she was attempting to do.

How come standing for her happiness had to make so many people suffer? It was not only her that was suffering but her parents as well. Due to the way she behaved, her brother would be seen as someone who came from a weak family where they had no respect and no sense of family. Men and women would look at her parents as people who were not able to teach good manners to their children. They will joke with her parents as if they were best friends in front of them but behind them they will say that they were weak with their children and they will probably swear that none of their daughters will marry her brother and none of their sons will marry her. Not that she was not necessarily looking for their approval but seeing her parents being cast away because of her was not easy but how else could she have done? What other choices did she have? She had tried the way of her parents but she could no longer go trough it. She wanted to please them and to be a good girl from her community but she had failed miserably. She was not able to do it. She no longer wanted to have two or three lives in parallel. One with the community, another with her parents, another with her friend, and always thinking about what she was saying because it could betray her. She needed something else. She was a grown up. She knew her parents and she knew herself. She knew that if she was going to continue like this, it would simply kill her and there was no way she was going to allow that.

She had to admit that she had in her something that demanded to be out. She had a dream that did not leave her alone. It kept on coming to her and it was asking her why did she abandon it? She had no answer for that. Every time she was thinking about it she became sad. The amount of sadness in her was increasing with time. The more she resisted what she had in her to accomplish, the sadder she became. She did not have enough make up or enough smiles to pretend that things were alright. Whenever she was trying to in front of people, the person that she wanted to be inside her was crying. Behind the beautiful smiles she always gave to people, a deep sadness was lying. If someone paid attention, he would have noticed.

People were as they used to in her community commenting about the fact that she was not doing what she dreamt of. Prior to the end of her high school, she told to some friends of her who were in the community that she would do her studies in France and everybody had asked her if her parents would agreed and she assured them that they will definitely do it. She even added that she knew her parents and that they could not refused something that was so important to her. 

When her parents did, she felt not only shocked but humiliated as well. The people to whom she had told that she would leave to Paris just looked at her and they did not say anything. She knew they were murmuring about her and the disappointment she was probably feeling but they did not want to rubbing in. They just pretended that nothing happened. They were even embarrassed for her.

Instead of running away, she decided to show her face and brought the subject and told them that she was a bite sad but that it was alright. Nobody answered. They changed the subject. They could have laughed at her which they did far away from her but their situations were not that different from hers. They only difference is that they knew in advance that their parents were never going to accept something like that for them.

She had spent her college year drinking and now she had enough. She wanted to accomplish her dream. The time had come for her to risk herself to fall from the heights her parents had put her. She was pretending everything was ok with her parents’ attitude but it was not. She needed to break the pedestal where she put her parents and claimed her right to exist as an individual and as someone who wanted to achieve things for herself. She knew that she wanted to exist for herself. She did not know exactly what she wanted to do with her life but she knew that it would be her who will decide what was going to be in it and who was going to be it. Other people could give her advices but she would be the one taking the decision.

It was with a clear determination that she said to herself that she would continue to act the way she was. She was not acting the way she did to hurt anybody. She just wanted to be herself. If her parents and brother were going to suffer from it, it was sad but she could not stop herself from living simply because people would be temporarily hurt. Besides why should she be the one sacrificing her life in this situation? Why were they not the one trying to help her in this situation or even sacrificing their reputation? They were not asking her to change a small thing. They were asking her to change her life completely. She could not do it. She was ready to be called and egoist and she had accepted to suffer the consequences.

Rita’s reputation part 6

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Rita continued to work and to go to school at the same time. It was not easy but she had no choice. It was either that or she was falling back into her father’s money and being force to do what he wanted. Between the two, she picked the hardest way which was to find her own money and to depend only on her shoulders. She found it strange that because she had chosen to fight for her freedom, she no longer had time for fun. She was either at work or in school and when she was not in those places, she had to study for her exams. It was an interesting experience for her.

Her parents observed her and did not understand why she was going through all these troubles when she could just stop and carry on with the life they were ready to give her. The hours she was spending outside of the house made them furious. They were not able to let go of that. It was a drastic and serious attempt to their rules. He father kept on telling her that his house was not an hotel where she was coming to sleep. He kept on reminding her that he was not going to accept that she behaves like this.

Four months later, her father who could not take her behaviour anymore decided to take the matter into his hands. One morning, when she went to university, he packed her stuffs and left them at the entrance of the house. His wife tried to dissuade him to do it but he would not hear her. She told him that she will talk to her and make her change her behaviour. She reminded him that Rita will have nowhere to go if she was kicked out of their house. After all, it was his daughter.

He told her that she wanted to be free therefore she must assume the consequences. She will be even freer now. He told his wife that since they have been so bad to her, he was certain that she would be better off without them. He insisted that it was his house and he had the right to do whatever he wanted. Since his daughter was doing what she wanted, he was also going to do what he wanted. Everybody was free and was exercising their freedom. He saw was no reason what so ever for him not to use his freedom to the fullest extend of his capacity just like everyone was doing. His daughter had shown him the way.

Now that he was behaving like Rita, his wife wanted to restrain him because he was her father. He told her that she did not restrain herself because he was his father. Why should he stop himself? He asked. He also argued that he had rights and desires and was not ready to give them up at any cost. He added sarcastically that as a matter of fact, he thanked his daughter for showing him his freedom. He talked about the sacrifices he had done for her and the little reward he received. He asked his wife if he ever mistreated Rita. She did not say anything.

She kept on asking him to reconsider. She told him that Rita was going through a phase and her youth was making her see things from a different angle. She went on saying that it was his daughter and he could not behave like that. It was his duty as a father to endure what she was doing. As a Muslim he could not put his daughter out to which he replied that he was a Muslim and his daughter was acting as if she was not. She did not respect the traditions and was making a fool out of him. Since she was not behaving like a Muslim, he was not going to treat her like one. Since she had shown a total lack of respect to him as if he was never her father, he was entitled to behave as if she was never his daughter.

His wife called Ali in UK and explained the whole situation to him and he could not believe how things had turned out. He asked to speak to his father and his father told him to stay out of this situation. He had nothing to do or to interfere in this trouble. It was between him and Rita and he did not want him to be involved. Ali tried to tell him to reconsider but his father hung off the phone.

The father was enraged by the fact that the daughter whom he cherished so much had disappointed him to that level. People were laughing at him when he went to see them. They kept on telling him that they saw his daughter here and there. In others terms, they were telling him that Rita was a slut and was not able to control what was going on in his house. It was the biggest insult in his community. Basically, they were warning him that soon his reputation will be tarnished.

He was diffusing the situation by telling everyone that children were always going through phases but with times, when the evidence were out there and the pressure of his friends was growing, he got offended by their remarks. He even fought with some of them because they were insinuating that his daughter was a whore. After a while, he had to accept the true. His daughter was gone and according to the rules of his community, he had to restore his honour. The only way he could think of was to reject his own daughter. It was the only think that would keep his reputation intact. He could not loose face in front of his friends. He had to be bigger than the situation his daughter brought him. This is why he decided to kick her out.

He had tried to understand why God was making him go through all these troubles. He saw others people who were less considerate to their daughters and they were doing everything their parents were asking. He thought that it was probably because he was too soft with Rita that she turned out the way she was now. He concluded he made a mistake by raising her the way he did. He regretted his softness with her. It he had to re-do all over again, he would have chosen to be a brutal father. He could not find in his memory something he had done to deserve what was going on in his house. He had always done what he thought was right. People envied the faith of his daughter. People wanted to be like him and now he was the subject of laughers. Was it fair for him? He asked.

His mum was crying. The perfect family life she had was crumbling from all parts. The big house was getting empty. She saw herself as a bad mother who was not able to raise her daughter appropriately. Her husband pain made her feel bad. She did not know how to stop what was going on. She had no control over the way things were moving. She was also humiliated with her daughter attitude. The way people were asking to her husband about Rita was the same women were asking her about Rita. She could not go anywhere without somebody mentioning that they saw Rita somewhere. It was both a warning and a kind of mockery but she was coping with those remarks way better than her husband.

After talking to his father, Ali called Rita on her cell-phone and told her the whole situation at their house. He wanted to know they arrived at this point. She explained everything to him and he did not know what to say. She told him that he had nothing to do in the middle of this mess. She thanked him for calling him. He tried to tell her to reconsider her ways and she lost it.

She told him that she could not. She had enough of those stupid rules who were only making her suffer. She could not take it anymore. She added that she could not believe that he would ask her to reconsider. She would have never expected him to be against her choice. She added that she had realized with time that if she was not fighting for her dreams, nobody else would and that included him.

She reminded him that he was in London pursuing his dreams and she was in Montreal living a life she did not want to live and everybody thought that it was normal. She could have killed herself and nobody would have understood why because they were assuming that everything was perfect in her life when the truth was that she felt miserable. The only answer she could give was to fight her misery and if her father wanted her out of the house because of that, she would leave and she hung up on him.

Rita’s reputation Part 7

After speaking to her brother, Rita stood there not knowing what to do. She tried to make few steps but she came back where she was. Then she tried to move a bite but her steps were heavy. It was as if her life had just crumbled in front of her. She was a bite lost. For a few moments, she was not able to rationalise things. Everything she had ever had was falling. She would have never anticipated such a development. She felt empty inside her. She could have fallen right there. It would have been alright as far as she was concerned. She breathed in and breathed out and was able to think a little bite.

Then it hit her that she was quick to tell her brother that she will manage herself alone but reality was that she did not know where to go or where to start. She cried and felt abandoned. She asked herself if that was the way she was being compensated for her desire to do what she wanted. Maybe life was just punishing her for being a bad girl. There were no others explanations for her situation. She did not even know if the money she was earning at the job was enough to get her an apartment. Everything in her was telling her to go apologize to her father and beg his forgiveness in order to fix things. She knew how to make things go back to normal. She knew what to do and what he wanted. The temptation to run to him and apologize was strong. Fear was pushing her to do just that.

Her pride could not accept that she would go back there and beg him to keep her in his house. It was too much to ask for her. It would have been to humiliating for her. She needed to find a way to leave her house the same night. She thought of a friend who could keep her for couple of days in her apartment but she did not want to be in somebody else house. Living at her friend’s house would have meant that she was not able to live on her own. If she was doing that, she thought that she might as well stay at her father’s house and do what he wanted. There was no point for her to leave her house because she wanted to be independent and to stay at her friend’s house and be dependent of her just like she was of her father. She decided that if she was going to leave her parent’s house, it was to live at her own place on her own. If she was moving out that day, it was to no longer be attached to something that she would not be able to leave. No matter how small the place she was going to find would be, at least it would be hers. She had always dreamt of living in her own apartment but never envisioned that the conditions would be the ones she was under. The circumstances were not the best ones but what could she have done. At that point, the only thing was to face the consequences of her actions.

She wondered if she would be able to live alone. Was she going to be scared at night? What if somebody was attacking her, what was she supposed to do? What about the food etc. Fear was bringing those questions and many of them were left unanswered. She got scared and almost panicked for a moment.  She did not know what to do. She thought that after yelling to everyone especially to her parents that she could live alone, there she was completely panicked at the first difficulty. She realized that she was unable to take care of herself if her parents were not around to support her. She was completely irresponsible. At the first arrow that life was throwing at her, she could not face it. She felt sorry for herself and a little bite ashamed. She thought that she had opened her mouth way too soon and now she was not capable to stand on her own. She regretted the fact that she yelled at her parents. She thought that she had been completely unfair to them because now that came the time to take actions and to live on her own, she was freaking out. She needed them the most. She wanted to stay under their wings. It was so safe to be around them. She did not want to continue alone. She hated the pride she had toward her parents. She felt like she did not want to be in herself. Her actions to her parents disgusted her and above all her weakness on that day disgusted her even more. She hated herself.

After crying for a while, she went to a restaurant. She ordered a sandwich and while she was eating, she remembered what her father used to tell her when she used to be sad and did not know what to do. He usually took her hand and with a reassuring voice,  he was telling her that in order for her to survive all the challenges she will have in her life, she will need to deal with them one at a time. He added: “my dear Rita, confronting all those situations at once is the surest way to fail all of them. Try to break all of them in little pieces. You will see. There is usually nothing that we can not deal with in the problems that we have. It is only our approach that is not appropriated to the situations we are facing. We never know how or when to handle situations. Sometimes we do not even have to handle situation but we think we should. Most of the times, the way we chose to attack a problem is definitely not the right way. We give the wrong answer to our problem. This is why most of our answers consist of running away, hiding ourselves or blaming others in front of our problems. Instead of behaving like that, we need to think of what we really want. Once we know what we want, everything becomes easier. So, my dear Rita, always know what you want. After that, the problem is no longer a problem of choice. It becomes a problem of how to reach your goal. This problem can be solved by breaking it in little pieces. It is simpler to deal with one piece at a time. Your problem will seem less enormous when you do that and more important they will be less scary.”

Since she did not want to beg her father to stay in his house and she did not want to live at her friend’s house, she decided to start looking for a place where she would stay at least for a couple of nights before she finds out where to live permanently.

She called several hotels to know their prices and she realized that they were too high. One of them asked her what was the range of prices she was looking for and he referred her to an “auberge de jeunesse”. The prices were affordable and she decided to take a bed there for a week. She went to visit the room and found out that inside each room were four beds. People were coming and going all the time. Each room they had were actually smaller than her bathroom at her parent’s house. Nonetheless, she did not have any choice. It was the only thing she could afford in these circumstances.

Rita’s reputation part 8

After she paid her bed at “l’auberge de jeunesse”, she stepped out and realized that she was going home to take her stuffs. She felt weird. If somebody would have told her that she will leave her parent’s house just a year ago, she would have never believe it but there she was completely ready to do it. She still got time to change her mind. Her head was spinning and was asking her if she really wanted to go ahead with that idea.

Instead of taking the subway to go to her parent’s house as she usually did, she decided to walk. She wanted to take her time or maybe she was not sure that she wanted to go take her stuffs. The panic she had experienced earlier was gone. Her steps were moving alone. She was not controlling anything. She had no clues as to how things were going to be when she was going to arrive home. She was not scared but anxious about it. She knew that by leaving today, she was crossing the line. It was the point of no return. The moment she was going to step out, the relation with her father and mother will be different. She will be a different person. It would be different world.

Without realizing, she arrived in front of her building. She hesitated before entering. Then something told her: “Rita, you wanted your freedom, do not chicken out now. Just go get it and whatever is going to happen will happen. It does not matter anymore. You are ready to do it, so do it. Remember, it will only take a few seconds. It might seem like an eternity but in few minutes, you will be out and it will be over”.

She breathed in and breathed out two or three times and she opened the entrance of her building, said “hi” to the guardian, pushed the button of the elevator and waited. Her heart was beating fast and she felt a huge pressure inside her stomach. She was so into her head that when the elevator arrived, the little ring that it did to signal its arrival surprised her. It sounded louder than usual. She got in the elevator and pressed the button to go to her soon to be ex-apartment floor. The tension in her was increasing as she saw the number in red showing that she was getting closer to her parents’ apartment. When she arrived at her floor, she was almost breathless. She breathed in and breathed out again and she went in front of the door. She took her keys out and while she was trying to open the door, her mum heard it and opened it for her and immediately told her: “look at what you have done. You are responsible of this family break-up and she started crying.”

She looked around and her bags and stuffs were all in front of the door. Her mum begged her to apologize to her father but she told her that she could not. She told her mum that Ali called her and told her everything. Her mum insisted that she tried to talk to him to see if there was a way they could compromise. Rita said that she knew how things were in the community. Once those decisions were taken, they could not comeback on them. It was done.

Rita told her that he wanted her to leave and it was probably the right thing for her to do because she could no longer stand to be yelled at or looked at as if she was a slut, or judged or regarded as if she had killed someone. She told her mum that without knowing, he was actually doing her a favour. By leaving, she was getting an opportunity to stand on her own two feet. It was about time for her to live on her own. She said that she had been under their wings for way too long. It had made her unable to deal with many things in the outside world. She was taking her father’s eviction as a new necessary experience. Sooner or later he would have done it anyway because she was not going to change. Therefore she was not really surprised. At the end, it turned out to be sooner than later and she was alright with everything. She had to assume the consequences of her behaviour.

She started taking her stuffs outside of her parents’ apartment. She did it one by one. Her mum told her that the house would be empty now. She could not do that to her. She needed her in the house. She asked where Rita’s heart was.

Her mum kept on crying. Rita told her that she could not stay in the house and was not leaving to hurt her. It was something that she needed to do for herself. She never wished for anyone to suffer. Even though she was in pain to see her mum suffering, she could no longer make herself stay in the house. She needed to leave for her own good. She had learnt something when they had refused to let her go in Paris. She simply understood that in life the only person who would fight for what she really wanted was herself. No one else would because they had others interest. It was not only true for her but for everyone in the world. It took her a long time to digest that but when she did, everything changed in her head. She even thought that it was fair. Why would anyone fight for somebody else when their interests are exactly in the opposite direction?

As her mum pain was increasing, she was crying even louder. Rita told her not to make it more difficult than it was already. Rita started crying herself while she kept on taking her stuffs closer to the elevator.

Hearing his wife, her father came out of the kitchen and saw the whole scene. He had a dark look on his face. He called his wife and said that Rita decided to go because they were mistreating her. She should go on and find her new life. He said: “She is leaving us because she did not think that we were good parents to her. Let her go. She is seeing you crying but she does not care. Let her be. We did what we could. Let’s not now humiliate ourselves in front of her. She had humiliated us enough in front of everybody and she keeps on doing it and she is determined to continue. Let her go. In front of all the things she had done, I did what I had to do. Now as my wife, I am asking you to come with me. Your pain will pass.”

His wife hesitated and she said: “let me at least bring her to the elevator”. Rita took the last bag that was on the floor and as she turned around to leave the apartment, she met her father’s eyes. They were dark. She could not sustain his look. She was terrified. He had never given her that look before. She could see the anger and the determination hate her for the rest of his life. She just knew that it was the end. She had to leave.

The neighbours had over heard the tears and they opened their doors to see what was going on. They just saw Rita and her mum crying. They tried to ask if everything was alright but they did not answer. They were entirely focused on themselves. Rita and her mum hugged in front of the elevator and her mum took the money she had in her pocket and gave it to her. When the elevator came, they put the bags and the others stuffs in the elevator and her mum kissed her one last time before the elevator closed.

Her mum went back home and cried on the floor. Her husband looked at her and then he looked down as if he was also lost. Maybe, if he had the courage, he would have cried with his wife. His head turned a little and he went back in the kitchen. He took a small bottle of water and drunk it all. He sat down and felt empty. He did not know what to do next. He was no longer sure he had done the right thing but he knew that in the circumstances he was confronted to, it was the only thing left to do. It was either that or he would have killed himself. He had not been raised to face those kinds of challenges. He did what he could with what he had and what he knew. Even if the outcome seemed unpleasant for everyone and particularly to him, he did not have another choice. No one behaved like his daughter behaved around him when he was a child. As a matter of fact, it was extremely disrespectful to act the way she did. No one would have even thought of behaving the way she did. He had accepted and swallowed a lot more than anyone in his country would have been able to take.

Her behaviour left him no others choices. He had to act. Surrounded by his traditions and prisoner of those traditions, it was the only way he could act. This was the appropriate way to deal with these situations back in his country. He could not kill her. It was a sin. The only thing left to do was to kick her out. If he would not have reacted that way, he would not have been a man of honour, a man of his traditions. It was the goal of all the people in his community. Nobody could escape it if they were in his community. God knew that he loved his daughter but his traditions were guiding him and there was no way he could have behaved otherwise.

He took a deep breath and he held his face in one of his hands. He heard his wife crying in the living room. His daughter was no longer there and his son was in London. He felt alone and sad. Tears came on his eyes but he wiped them quickly and he stood there and if anyone would have seen him, they would have said that there was no life in that body. If somebody would have told him that he would be at that point five years before, he would have never believed it but he was and it did not feel good.

As for his wife, she was crying. Tears were pouring out of her intensively. She did not understand how she came to this point. There was nothing she could do to change things. Her heart was twisted in million ways. She felt like somebody took an essential part of her and threw it away. The circumstances were too awful. The situation reminded her of the period when she left her country. She felt like she had abandoned them. When she arrived in Montreal, she was alone and had no friends. She felt really bad at that time. The children were a great relief but seeing them running away from her was a second dislocation from her family. It was too hard to handle for her. It was as if the family she had spent building was being destroy again. Why life was making her go through that? Was she that much of a bad person? She did not recall to have behaved worst than others. Why did she have to suffer this? She had not done anything to anyone. All she had ever tried was to be a good person and to build her family and now, everything was being taken away. She too felt like was treating her unfairly. She had suffered enough. She was not asking for something extraordinary. She just wanted to be a mother with her children around her but even that, life had chosen not to grant her. Then she thought like everybody did in her community in those moments of tension: “what can you do besides crying”. And she kept on crying.

Rita was crying in the elevator. She did not have any tissue and she told herself that she should not cry there. She would have the time to cry later. She quickly wiped her tears with her hands before the elevator arrived downstairs. She realized that she had not call a cab. She made the super call the cab and she waited. When driver arrived, she jumped in with her stuffs and she went to the “auberge de jeunesse”. She brought her luggage in the room where 2 others visitors where already sleeping. She thought she would have got a moment to cry but even in that room she could not. She quickly left her stuffs under her bed and she ran out to the restrooms which were in the corridor. She locked herself in and she finally cried in silence. She felt alone, sad and empty. Freedom was not supposed to taste like this.

Rita’s reputation part 9

After crying for almost an hour in the restrooms, she went in her bed. The beds were one on top of the others. She was on the one below. It was a single bed as opposed to the one she had in at her parent’s house which was not only a master bedroom but a queen size bed. The others visitors were sleeping and snoring. She was exhausted. She entered in her bed with her clothes and slept right away.

In the morning, when she woke up, she was surprised to be there. She did not recognize anything. She was almost frightened to be there. She felt she was in a bad dream. It took her sometimes to remember what had happened and where she was. When everything sank in, she looked at herself and saw that she slept with her clothes on. She went straight to take her shower but all of them were busy. She had to wait in line for a shower. It was her new reality. She felt strange. She understood and adapted rather quickly.

Later on, she went for a breakfast at “2nd cup” and organized her day. She decided to go in university to look for a large room to rent on internet. She found many of them at a price she could afford. She would have liked to get an apartment on her own but she did not have the money for it. She decided to skip school in order to look for a place to stay.

She called several places she saw on internet and scheduled a visit. She spent her day visiting. She saw different styles of rooms. There were rooms that were so dirty and smelly that she did not even want to enter in the house to see the room. In one of them, the owner was smoking all the time and there was no window in the room she was offered. Another one was in an apartment where the owner had eight dogs and there was poop in the bathroom. She saw one where the house was not only old but the owner seemed extremely odd. Others were way too far and she did not feel like spending three hours in transportation every day. On few occasions, they were asking her to give the money right away because “supposedly” the rooms where going extremely fast. As they were saying, the first come, first serve. Some of them even asked her to give them the money immediately and told her that they will give her the key the next day. Of course she felt there was something fishy about it and did not give any money unless she had the key of the apartment.

She had started early in the morning and it was 10:00 pm when she ended her visits. She was tired and had not eaten anything during the whole day. Although it had been a tough day and she did not find what she wanted to, she was a proud to have been able to look for a room for herself. She did it on her own. She had heard people talking about their adventures when they were looking for an apartment and she had secretly always envied them. Now, it was her turn to live those experiences. She felt happy she could say it was something she knew. She took a soup at a Chinese restaurant and went straight in bed after drinking it.

The next morning, the first three rooms she visited where great but there was only one that had all the charges included in the rent. It is true that the room was small but the house was big. There were four rooms all occupied by female students. It was five minutes from the subway and ten minutes from her university and work place. She took the room right away. She gave the money and received the key. She went back to the “Auberge the Jeunesse” and told them that she would leave the next day which they did not seem to have a problem with. That night in her bed, she felt a little bite appeased.

The next day, first thing in the morning, she called a cab and he took her things in her new apartment. She arrived there, cleaned up her room and bought two used mattress from her neighbours. The house was spacious. There was tv, cable and high speed internet all included her rent. The kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room were big which was quite different from the others places she visited. They were all furnished. The restroom and the bathroom were separate which was practical because she was going to take her shower without stressing that someone might want to urinate or else. She felt good in that house. She was happy to see that she was capable to pull herself of this situation.

When she lied down later in her bed, she was both satisfied and sad. She was glad and proud that she made it but sad that her parents were suffering because of it. Freedom had a strange taste.

Rita’s reputation posted Part 10

 

Two or three weeks after Rita’s departure from her house, her father started to come home a little bite sooner than he used to. When he past closed to his daughter room, he was not even looking at it. Seeing her empty room was hurtful. He took the habits of staying on the first floor in the living room. He sat on a chair that allowed him to see the outside view. He thought of what had happened. He reflected on his life and was asking himself where did he go wrong? He had done everything that he was supposed to do. He had followed his traditions. He was even considered as one of the most opened person in his community. He had never stopped his daughter from doing anything she wanted. He always found compromises between what the traditions were asking and what his daughter wanted. He had never beaten her up like others fathers were doing with their daughters. He yelled at her occasionally like everyone was doing. Even when he compared himself to white people he was extremely careful about his daughter wishes. At the end she turned her back on him. It was an ending he did not approve.

He told himself that life was just unfair to him. He had never asked life to give him extraordinary things. He always followed God’s path. He lived his life according to the rules and traditions of his parents, community and his country of origin. He had always seen his parents extremely happy with their traditions and they were following them with enthusiasm. He had just tried to imitate what they have done. They taught him well and he wanted to be a good son. It was his turn to show his children how to live a life of traditions. It was his duty as a father and he did it.

On paper, everything was supposed to be perfect. The life he had lived was supposed to give him rewards and happiness but instead it gave him nightmares, pain and humiliation. As a good Muslim, he was supposed to accept what his reality was but he could not. The end result he had was unjust. He looked around and saw parents who did not care as much as he did about their children. They never paid as much attention to their needs as he did. They did not consider their opinion as much as he did. The only result he got out of it was rejection and hatred from the people who benefited the most of his devotion.

After doing all he had done, he could not talk to his daughter, his wife did not particularly appreciate what he had done and was secretly blaming him for what had happened and his son was in UK looking at the whole situation and was probably concluding that his father was not able to withhold his family. If he was not able to enforce the traditions in his family what would his son stand for in life? If everything he stood for was falling, his son would not have an example of good life lived through the respect of traditions. His son will not believe how important it is and he will not carry on those traditions to his own children.

To everyone in his community and to himself, he was failure. Nothing could make him changed his mind. He was depressed. His world was crumbling. He was not eating much and was losing weight. He used to smile a lot but since Rita’s departure his face was always closed. Even in his business, where he once gave the greatest attention to details, to strategies, to forecasts and to the entire sphere that his trading was involved in, he was now doing it mechanically. He was no longer putting too much thought on it.  The businesses he had were only valuable if his children where around him. Now that everything was broken, he had no interest in his business. He had built his life around his children. The sole purpose of his business was because his children were with him. Now that they were not with him and seemed to be even reluctant to be closed to him, it meant that what he built his life around was wrong. If everything he had always worked for was false, it meant that he had a wasted life.

If he could not see where he had gone wrong, it was the proof that everything he had been told was completely wrong. He observed parents who were horrible with their children and he saw that they respected their parents the most as opposed to him who was opened to what they wanted, he was blamed, hated, rejected and disrespected. What sense could he have made out of it except that what he believed was wrong? 

After several months spent thinking about it, hating his children, hating his life, his parents, God, hating the mosque, hating imams, and hating everybody around him, his attitude toward his wife started to change. He started to control her which was something he had never done in the past. He insulted her and treated her like she was nothing. He became extremely cynical. After the period where he did not care about his business, he started to do business just to screw people. When he went to the mosque and the imam was giving him advises, he laughed at them.

His relation with his son became different. He no longer asked any question about what he wanted to do or where he wanted to be in the future. He was just sending money without paying attention to anything. His supposed friends in the community were showing him as an example to their own children of what could happen if they disobey to their parents. He was so respected before and he became the laughing subject of everybody tongue. During that time, he never asked about his daughter. He started drinking at night and was yelling at his wife whenever things were not the way he wanted. She grew scared of him.

She did not have the patience to help him. After Rita left, she was not the same. She hated her husband for throwing her out. She hated herself for not being able to prevent that. She wondered what she could have done to stop it but she could not think of anything. Deep down deep, when she saw her husband suffered like that, she was happy. He was only getting what he had created. Unfortunately, if that was the case, he would have been the only one suffering but things did not turn out that way because she was also suffering as well.

Why was she was suffering? She had to admit that Rita’s departure also had to do with her. Her lack of initiative to defend her daughter in front of her husband was one of the reasons Rita felt bad at home. She abundantly supported her husband vision because she had never heard of a different way to be. She could not have done things differently. She had never herself enjoyed the kind of freedom her daughter was vouching for. How could she have understood? How could she have explained to her husband? Because she had not been herself free the way her daughter wanted to be, she could not understand the value or the necessity of being free. She had never experienced the kind of freedom her daughter wanted even though they had lived in Canada for many decades and had watched all the movies. The reality was that her lack of experiencing her own freedom had biased her judgement. She could not understand her daughter.

When she saw her husband behaviour changing towards her, she was alright. She deserved to be punished. Of course she did not do it consciously but unconsciously, she was happy that he was cursing her and insulting her in public. It was all she deserved because she was not able to raise her children correctly, for humiliating her husband and for not being able to stop the war between Rita and her husband. She was guilty for all those reasons and it explains why she allowed her husband to mistreat her the way he did. She never had the courage to call Rita after she left. She was so ashamed of what had happened.

A year after Rita left, Ali came in Montreal and when he saw how the ambiance was in the house he was shocked. He went to see Rita but he did not know how to talk to her. He did not recognize her. She had changed. Even the dresses she was wearing were not the ones she would have wear in the past. The sadness he had seen in the past was still there but not the desperation. She was working full time and going in school at the same time. She had reduced the amount of courses she was taking in order to work and to pay for her bills. They did not have lot of time to see each other because she was always gone. His friends were looking at him so weirdly because of that situation that he did not want to stay in Montreal. Ali did recognize neither his city, nor his house, nor his sister nor his parents. He felt like a stranger in Montreal. He was alone and he did not like it. He decided to leave Montreal earlier then he had scheduled. He promised himself that he will not to coming back.

As for Rita, she did not have time to think too much. Her dreams of studying in Paris were still in her head but she knew that under those circumstances, she needed to postpone them. Her departure from the house was so tough on her that it was actually a good thing that her schedule was so tight because it prevented her from thinking about the loneliness she was feeling quite often.

Her father behaviour had changed so much. He had always been an occasional drinker but now he was drinking everyday after work. Since he could not sustain the effect of alcohol, what he usually did after drinking, was yelling and slapping his wife. The more he was drunk, the more he was violent. She often hided the bruises but people who knew her could guess that something was at least odd. Since she was still in the guilt game and she was also raised to accept those kinds of behaviour, she just took it and moved on. After all she was a bad mother, a bad person and deserved what was happening to her.

Three years after Rita’s departure, her husband was drinking more and more and beating her up with a high frequency. One day when he had drunk more than he usually did, he kicked her in the face so hard that she hit the wall, fell on a glace table, broke it and lost conscious. The neighbours heard the noise, they knocked on the doors and he opened and threatened to beat anybody who would come near him. When they saw the blood on his hands, they all went back in their house and called the police.

The police arrived and broke the door. His wife had lost conscious. She was lying on the floor with blood on her face and he was crying. The police called 911 and they came to take her to the hospital and they took him to their office. He was so drunk that he past out as well. He woke up 2 days after. The police asked him if he remembered what had happened. He cried. They shown him the pictures of his wife in blood and told him everything that had happened. He was ashamed of what he had done and became. He had slept for 2 days, had pissed in his pant and was in jail for almost killing his wife. They asked him about his children and he did not say anything. He called his lawyer instead and he came to take him out of jail.

He arrived in his building and the doorman who used to be so nice to him was looking at him strangely. He arrived on his floor and people looked at him with the same strange eyes as the doorman had given him. He rushed in his apartment. The blood was still on the floor mixed with the broken table. He went in the bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He did not recognize who in the mirror. It was as if somebody else had taken control of his body. He looked at the face of that person and was frightened. He started to vomit and he slept on the floor. He woke up few hours later, took a shower and cleaned his house. He called his lawyer to know in which hospital his wife was. After several phone calls to locate the hospital, the lawyer gave him the address.

He went there and they did not want him to see his wife but she told them that he could come. At the hospital, all the nurses wanted to kill him. He saw on their face the same look the door man gave him when he came back from jail. They all wanted to block him. They did not want him to see her. They resented him. They did not want him to be close to her. If it was their decision, they would have killed him. He felt their hatred on him.

When he got the authorization to get inside the room, he was scared of what he was going to find. He breathed in and out and he opened the door. Two others patients were in their bed and when he looked at his wife, he saw the bruises on her faces and he fell on his knees in the middle of the room. The only thing that could come out of his mouth was: “I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.” He cried in front of everybody. He had his hands on his face. He could not look at what he had done.

He used to be so proud of not being one of those men who are beating their wives but this is what he had become in three years. He was saying sorry for turning out to be somebody he did not think he was. He was saying sorry because of the way he had broken his family. He was saying sorry for the beating he gave her, he was saying sorry for not being able to handle the departure of his daughter and for having been the cause of her departure. He was saying sorry for putting both of them in the mess that they were.

It was as if those three years were a dream. As if something else took over his body and mind and made him do the things he did. He was awake. The person he used to be had came back in his body and that person was not able to look at what he had done. He cried and his wife left one drop of tear and she turned her face to the windows. When he finished crying he left and went back to his home.

In his living room, he remembered what he had done to everybody and was surprised. He would have never thought that he had that kind of hatred in him. He had always been so balanced and careful but his daughter departure killed him. It changed him completely. He was scared of himself. He had to recognize that he did not know himself.

Everything he had ever thought or believed about him and life was false. All his traditions, the rules and regulations he had fought for were completely wrong. What his parents had taught him was completely false. It did not apply to his reality. He lived surrounded by a lie and he had a hard time accepting that it had fell in front of eyes.

He rejected life because of his inability to handle that lie. Since life had betrayed him and treated him that bad, he decided to show life that he would behave with the outmost disrespect toward it. Since life had not respected him, he decided to go for revenge and the way to do it was: eye for eye and tooth for tooth. He thought he was destroying life by acting like that but it was himself that he was destroying. He took revenge against the person in him who made him believe and stand for his traditions and rules and regulations. He went ballistic against everything he was standing for before.

He realized that the fight against his daughter had excited the other side of him that he did not know about. That person in him took over when the pillars on which he had based his life before his daughter started asking for her freedom, felt down. If she was not staying at home and doing what he wanted, it meant that everything he had stood for was wrong. Since she did not, he needed others values.

Instead of adjusting and correcting, he allowed anger to take over and ramped in every cell that he had. Anger completely controlled his life. It pushed him to throw his daughter out of his house.

By acting this way, he was revolting against all the lies that people made him believed that were actually torturing him at that point. The efficient way to distance him from what he had learnt was to be exactly what he had always refused to be. The fight against his daughter was the expression of the distance there was between reality and the construction of the reality he had in his head. The illusions he had swum in for decades had broken in pieces in front of him thanks to his daughter.

Rita’s reputation part 11

 

He spent his time between work and home. He read the Koran and prayed a lot. He asked for forgiveness for the behaviour he had when he was under the influence of his daughter request for freedom. He begged God to forgive him for the way he acted against his wife. In his prayers, he told God that he was ready to do anything he would ask him in order to make his wife comeback to him. He told God that he had understood that his children did not belong to him but to God. He got that by stopping them from doing and being what they wanted, he was actually stopping what God wanted. Consequently by trying to prevent them from doing what they wanted, he was actually preventing himself the freedom he needed to get out of the prison that he was. By being a wall against his children, he became a wall against himself. It forced him to become all the things he promised his parents he would never be. It brought the worst out of him. He told God that he would never move any finger against his children’s will or anybody’s will because he understood now that by doing so, it was himself that he was hurting and nobody else.

All he wanted at that point was that his wife comeback to him. He did not have the courage to call her because he was ashamed. He called the hospital and pretended that he was his wife uncle and asked news about her recovery every single day. When the nurses told her that her uncle was calling every day, she knew it was her husband but she did not say anything. She was also thinking on her side about what had happened. When she looked at herself in the mirror and saw the black-eye, her broken nose which had become big because of the beating, the bandage all over her face, the bruises on her arms, breast, shoulders and her impossibility to move, it made her realized that maybe the three years of beating and insults she had  received were enough.

It had not made her daughter comeback nor has it made her think that she was a good mum. The only thing it did was to degrade her. She saw that hating her husband and herself for what had happened did not change anything. Instead of trying to regain her daughter trust and helping her husband to recover his senses, she put oil on the fire. All her life, she had allowed things to happen to herself even if she did not want them. It went as far as to support her husband into throwing her own daughter away from their house. She was not proud of herself. What kind of mother was she to stand with her husband against her daughter will and life? She wanted her daughter to be as dead as she was. She wanted her daughter to make the choices she had made for her own life. She did not want to see that there was another possibility. As a matter of fact, she did not want her daughter to remind her of the choices she did not have or the choices she did not make for herself. One of the reasons she stood with her husband was because she did not want to see that there was another choice for her.

She told herself that she would stop being ashamed for what had happened. She would simply accept that she failed her daughter education and she would try to do the best she can from now and on. She cried when she realized that it had been three years she had not spoken to her daughter. She had not even try to see if she was living in good conditions. All she did was to focus on herself and the difficulty she had not because she cared about her daughter but because she cared about how she looked in front of the community. Instead of facing the consequences of what was in front of her which was her daughter resentment of everything she was being told, she decided to abandon everything. She did not have any consideration for her daughter, her son or her husband. She only cared about her pain. It was way better for her to see herself as a victim. It allowed her to run away from her responsibilities.

Now that she had seen that, she said to herself that it was over. She was ready to see her husband and to ask him if he did not want to stay with her. If he would say that he rather be alone, she would take and apartment and ask for a divorce settlement. If he was going to say that he wishes to stay with her, she would tell him that she will take an apartment anyway in order to clear her head. She needed to stay alone for a while and to clarify her thoughts. Like her daughter, she needed to find her freedom and to live away from him for a while. The density of those three years were so high that in order for her to feel good in her head she needed to make that move for the woman that she was, for the mother that she was, for the wife that she was, for the girl she was never allowed to be and for the sake of her head.

None of their children heard of what had happened. Several weeks after when she was able to move on her own and the bandages were taken of her face, she called her husband and asked him to pick her up. He came and was not able to look at her eyes. He had his face down all the time. She asked him if he was alright and he answered that he was. They did not say anything in the car. When they arrived home, she looked around and remembered all the events that lead her to that point. She sat and asked him to come next to her. She explained everything she had in her mind and offered him the two choices she had in her head. He cried and begged her to stay but she insisted on leaving. He told her that he had no right to tell her to stay but he needed her too much and he understood why she would want to be away from him after he behaved the way he did.

She took some of her stuffs and asked him to drop her at an hotel she had found. He brought her there and he went at old port and cried when he saw the consequences of what he had done. Instead of cursing life as he did when his daughter was rebelling against his authority, he did not rebelled against life. He just cried and prayed more.

He accepted his faith and focus on his inner understanding of the Koran. He knew what the imams were saying but he wanted to find for himself what he agreed and disagreed with. He changed his behaviour in business. He took care of it seriously and did everything he could to fix the damages he had done in the past.

He was alone in the big apartment and it had so many memories that he could not survive there alone. He decided to rent it and he bought a smaller apartment. He was living for himself. He had never done that before. It was new a thing for him and he was getting used to it. He tried to accept what life had given him even though it was tough.

Few weeks later, since she was working, his wife found an apartment for herself. She was very happy. It was the first time she had done that on her own. Like her daughter, she was experiencing the freedom she never had. It made her feel good about herself. She redecorated her new apartment and was happy to live alone. It gave her a sense of accomplishment.

It was not long before people in their community heard the news of their separation. Everybody was surprised. They had fallen so deep in their heads that no one wanted to be their friends anymore. They were the failure of the community. Both of them did not go at the mosque anymore. They needed some time off their own community. They needed to redefine themselves away from them. They needed to find themselves.

Rita’s reputation part 12

Rita’s mother called her son in London and told him about the separation. He was shocked. He knew the situation was not the best but he would have never envisioned his parents being separated. He tried to dig what had happened but she just told him about the difference they had about life and their need to stay apart for their own good. He asked if it had to do with Rita and she answered to him that it had nothing to do with her. He asked her if she needed anything and she replied that she was already in her new apartment and her work was going fine. She added that he should not worry about them. He should just focus on his studies. He said that he would comeback in Montreal for the summer vacation to see things for himself.

She asked him Rita’s phone number or her email. He told her that it had been a long time he had not talk to her directly but they exchanged emails from times to times. He added that after her departure, he did not know how to talk to her nor if he should talk to her. He said that he was disgusted by the family and did not want to have anything to do with it. She tried to calm him by telling him that it had been hard on everyone but that they would find a way to get back together. She reminded him one his father saying about life: “With time all the wounds will be healed. There is nothing that time can not cure”. She could not say that things will be as they used to be because quite frankly she did not want to go back to the old days but she was able to tell him that they will get back together not like old times but way better than before. She promised him that from now and on it would be her primary focus.

She decided to keep contact with him on a more regular basis by calling him every week in order to get some news. She sent an email to Rita in which she clearly stated that she was sorry for what had happened. She explained that she had suffered a lot and was still suffering because of her absence. She said that she had no excuses for not trying to see how she was coping with her new life since she was thrown out of the apartment. She wrote everything she had felt over the years, how difficult it had been to live without her, how much she hated herself for not fighting for her, how the relation with her father deteriorated and the fact that she never had the luxury to live for herself or even to dream about it. It had never been on her agenda and she did not even know what it was all about.

She was not trying to justify her actions but to give a clear view of her perspective hoping that the truth will help her daughter not to forgive her because she was not sure that if her own parents would have behave the way they had with Rita, if she would have been able to forgive them but to make her daughter understand the perspective she was coming from.  

Rita received the email and she read it. She was very surprised that her mother wrote to her. She pretended it was a regular letter and she went through her week. No matter how hard she tried to act as if she did not care, her mother’s word kept on coming in her head. During the week-end, when she had little time, she was fighting with her mum in her head. She had developed a hatred for her mum and dad in order to survive outside. She had also promised herself not to talk to them ever again. She decided not to answer her mum’s email but she was thinking about her and what she wrote all the time.

Her mum understood that she did not want to talk to her or answer her email. She thought that if she would have been at her place, she would have reacted the same. She decided to continue to write to Rita even if she was not going to receive any response from her. Nothing in the world was going to stop her again from trying to stay in contact with her daughter by sending news to her or asking news about her. She was determined to face anything even the absence of answer to her emails from Rita.  She had made that mistake once and was not going to do it again. She was not going to behave like she did when her daughter was thrown out.

She knew the way she reacted back then completely destroyed her. She needed her daughter and nothing was going to stop her from trying to reach out to her. She thought that it was the least she could do and maybe one day, Rita might find a way to understand her and talk to her.

She was also motivated by her desire to do something for her daughter. She wanted to be close to her and to help her. She needed that bound that they had back in the days when they were living together. They used to be accomplices in the past and they lost it with the fight. She missed that. She understood now that she could not have given her daughter the help she needed because she had never experienced what her daughter went through. It was a new situation for her.

After she left her husband, she had a different understanding of what was going through Rita’s mind. She wanted to share it with her. She knew her daughter would understand. Her daughter was her only true friend. Since had left she was stocked with the people from her community who were all about playing games. Her daughter was the only person she could be her own self. She wanted her friend back. She wanted her daughter back. She had lost a lot since her departure and the only thing she could do if she wanted to get in touch with her daughter one day was to keep on sending those emails. And she did.

When she was writing the first three months, she was hoping to receive an answer. After those three months had passed, she kept on writing but was frustrated for not receiving any answer. Six months later, the frustration of not getting an answer had left her and she was desperate. She told herself that she should now live thinking that her daughter will never talk to her ever again. It was a painful thought but she needed to face that reality. Otherwise, she would have got a heart attack every time she was opening her inbox and felt disappointed when there was no answer. Nine months later, she felt like it was actually normal that she was not getting and answer and she even stopped hoping to receive one. She was just telling her how much she loved her without expecting anything in return.

After a year of writing, one day, she opened her email and saw Rita’s answer. She immediately cried. She had hoped about it so much and had stopped believing that she would get an answer that when it finally came, she could not believe her eyes. She stayed few hours in front of the email before opening it. When the effect of the surprise was gone, the fear of what was in the email came up. She was scared to find in the email that her daughter did not want to receive any email from her anymore. Few minutes after, she told herself that if that was her daughter wish, there was nothing she could do. She had promised in the emails she had previously sent her that she would listen to what ever she wanted and would just give her advises only when she would request them instead of trying to control her as she was doing in the past. Once she remembered that, she got the courage to open the letter and her daughter was telling her that she wanted to meet her when she was free. She answered right away: “Thank you, thank you, thank you for answering. Of course I want to meet you whenever you want. Your time will be my time”.

Rita’s reputation part 13

They met on a Saturday at the second cup near McGill College. Rita’s mum went there the first, she took a coffee, sat on a table and she waited for Rita while s drinking her coffee. Rita was scared. They had not seen each other for four years. She did not know how to be with her mum after all these years. She was a little uncomfortable and guilty for not answering back to her mum’s email. Although she had lot of anger in her, after a year of pretending to ignore her mum’s emails and all the love she was sending, she decided to give it a try. She wanted to see her mum even if she was still angry at her. She had realized that she could live without her parents. Life was not as easy as she was with them but she was surviving. She had lived without the approval of her parents and it was alright but she was not looking for that anymore, she needed their benediction. She had found that without her parent’s benediction, she was lacking something in her life.

The fact that she had a troubled relation with her parents was always a source of concern for her. She was never 100% good within herself. She did not need them to approve of what she was doing but to wish her well. Even if they disagreed with her, if at least they could wish her well, it would be a source of comfort. Every time she was thinking about her parents during those four years, she was either angry or sad and it had not helped her much. Even if she had decided to live according to what she wanted, the fact remained that her parents were still part of her life. When they were not around, she was thinking about them all the time. She was having strong arguments with them in her head. Their exchanged kept on going in her head.

What was the point of being away from them if they were going to be in her mind all the time? As a matter of fact, they were never as present in her life when they left them. Every thing she had done was always in reference to what her parents had told her. She was fighting more with them when they were not with them than when she was living with them. She concluded therefore that it was better for her to fix the problem she had with them instead of fighting over it with them when they were not around. The way they were integrated in her life was not at all satisfying. Their absence in her life was actually a heavy weight on her shoulders. Their absence and the constant fight she had with them in her head, made her see that she had unfinished business with her parents. They were questions that needed answers and staying away from them was not going to fix them.

By contacting her mum, she was actually helping herself. She had tried hating them or pretending that she did not care about them but it had only made her feel worst than before. When she wrote her mum, she was trying something else. With everything her mum had explained to her about her life and the way she grew up and what made her act the way she did, she had seen things from her perspective. After all, those were the people who had raised her, supported her and had lived with her for a long period of time. She could not be completely against them. If they could not be happy together, they could at least be in peace with each other. In addition to that, her brother was begging her to start talking to her mum. He knew she was trying to get in touch with Rita.

Rita arrived at the 2nd cup a little bite late. Her mum saw her first and waved. Rita recognized her and smiled. She came next to her and they both did not know how to act. They did not know if they should hug each other, shake hands or a kiss on each other cheek. While they were hesitating, their hands automatically touched and they stayed like that for few seconds and they sat. They both breathed in and out and they smiled. Her mum asked if she wanted something and she answered that she would go take a glace of water.

When she came back, they just smiled. They were both trying to speak at the same time and her mum told Rita to start. She asked how her mum was and she said that she was very happy to see her. She asked the usual question about life and her mum answered. While she was answering, she was looking at Rita’s face. She had not changed. She was still young but a toughness that was never there before was in her face. She used to be all about softness. Now the softness and kindness were not visible at first sight. She was thinner than before and she still had her long hair. Her mum congratulated her on her beauty and asked how life had treated her all these years. Rita paused for a moment and said that it had been good. Tears were coming in their eyes but they both restrained them. Rita asked how she was coping since she left her dad. She said very well and they both looked at each other as if they understood the difficulties they both went through. They were sisters who had gone through a lot and were separated by life. They had a lot to share.

At that moment, Rita who had been so immersed in her sadness and anger saw in her mum’s eyes the same pain she had gone through. It was as if she understood that she was not the only one suffering in her family. She had always known that but the actual visualisation through her mum eyes gave it a different weight.

Her mum thanked her for her departure. She told her that if it would not have been for her, she would have never tried to live on her own. She would have never known what it meant. She thanked her for going as far as she went. By acting that way, she had pushed her to discover that they were things that she wanted to experience and had never even thought of or authorized herself to think about it. Thanks to her she was trying them all. Rita was amused to see her mum talking like that. Rita thought that something was different in her mum. She was less of a mum and more of a woman. It is true that she had aged but in a weird way she seemed younger almost like an older sister.

Her mum told her that she wanted a fresh start with her. She wanted to get her daughter and her friend back. She missed them to much. Now that she had the freedom, they could go and try things together. She even offered her a vacation travel that they could do together, only the two of them. Something they had never done before.

Rita smiled and said that she would need to think about it. She told her mum that before doing any of those things, she would need to tell her many things that were on her mind. Her mum said that there was no rush and told her that she understood. After that they talked about each other work and how they were coping with everything.

Their meeting lasted for two hours. At the end they exchanged their phone numbers and promised each other to meet again sometimes soon. They held each other hands to say good bye. Rita’s mum left thrilled with the way things went with her daughter. Rita was pleased and puzzled to see that it went well. They both called Ali to tell him how things went and he was happy as well that things went smoothly.

Rita’s reputation part 14

After their first meeting, Rita and her mum met once a week for the next six months. They were talking about their lives and the challenges they were facing. They share their discoveries and supported each other. Both of them never mentioned Rita’s father. Rita was able to explain the anger she had in her and how it had affected her. She told her mum that she was greatly disappointed by family and her education and could see how her perception of the world was in contradiction with the reality of the world. It had created a great frustration in her about the world. Because of the education she grew up with in her family, she had expectations about life that did not come true. She hated the world because of that. She hated the world because it did not give her what she wanted. She was jealous of the people who succeeded. She envied them and did not know how to get out of it. The difference between what she thought the world was and what the world was, created a conflict within her.

She wanted to stay true to her education but no one believed in what she believed. She wanted to change and be like the others but every time she was doing that, she felt bad about it. She felt like she was betraying who she was. She did not know where to go to be happy or how to be in order to be in peace with her action and the people around her.

She spent a great deal of time thinking about running away and rejecting the way the world was moving. She doubted everything and did not trust any institutions or anyone and she felt like nobody understood her. The people who were around her did not live by the standards she or her parents were living. It created a great animosity between her and the others. She was always judging and criticizing them.

Her mum had listened to her and understood her very well. Rita was bringing the subject so often that she decided to help her solve her existential crisis. She explained to her that because there was a huge contradiction between what she had been taught and what she was living, she could not be in peace with herself. On one hand she had one world in her head and on the other hand there was a different world in reality. The two were colliding all the time. She had hoped about life, love and family that turned out to be unrealistic. Those dreams have been crushed on several occasions and she no longer knew how to live her life. She was scared by what was in her head and what was in the real world.

She was committed to the values within which she had been raised because she loved her parents and was used to those values. It was a way for her to respect her parents and to say that she still loved them even if she was thrown out from their house. It was the link she kept with her family even though her commitment was torturing her. Her mum insisted that she needed to drop the vision she had in her head because it could lead her to do the same mistake she and her husband had done with her. Her mum was surprised to find out that she was still following the traditions she grew up with regardless of how miserable it had made her life.

Her mum told her that with time she had learnt how to live her life away from traditions. It was not about living according to traditions that was important but to live according to your own truth. In order to do that, she needed to be opened to the reality she had in her head and the one that was outside. She was the product of those two cultures and she could not run away from them. She said that she would always be uncomfortable whenever she would try to stay just in one of them but if she would just accept the existence of those two cultures within her, she would find some peace.

As long as she was going to force her feet into one shoe, she was going to suffer. She needed to use those two cultures as two pillars of her life. It was what would help her define who she was in the world. She could not longer rely on what her parents, or her community or the reality she was facing to tell her what she was or how she should be. She needed to create her own traditions based on her experiences in the real world. She had the background of her family with their rules and traditions on one side and on the other side, she had the rules and traditions of the outside world. She needed to express those two cultures depending on the situation and what she believed was right at the moment she would express herself. Her mum advised her to move on case by case scenario.

Instead of fighting those two worlds the way she had been doing, she needed to digest and integrate both of them within her. Once those two cultures would be comfortably sat within her, she would no longer experience the pain of being within the two cultures. Her way to happiness was through testing everything that she had learnt at home and outside of her home. Before believing something, she needed to verify with her own eyes whether there was any truth to what she had swallowed in the past or what people were trying to teach her.

The only way for her to survive happily was to constantly test her beliefs. The moment she would rely on one belief, life was going to do anything it could to prove her wrong. The correct attitude was to be opened and to question herself all the time. It was the only way for her to survive. Her mum told her that since she had left her husband, she had lived her life to that simple rule and it had proven to be a life that was acceptable, satisfying and gave her back some joy which she was clearly lacking before.

Rita listened to her mum days after day on the subject and for the first time in four years, she had found the voice of reason in her mum. What her mum was saying was making her feel good. She remembered the time she was a kid and was listening to her mum with joy. She wanted to know everything she knew. She wanted her mum to teach her stuffs. She was craving her mum teachings. Since she was away from her parents’ house, she had missed that.

Receiving advises that made sense from her mum was the best feeling in the world. Her mum was giving examples after examples that she took from her own experiences. She was not trying to push her to believe what she was saying but just to show her what she had learnt herself. It was a unique experience. Her mum was extremely careful not to appear as a mum who was trying to indoctrinate her child but as someone who was trying to help and Rita felt good and bad.

It was as if she had killed the mum she had before. Seeing her mum being so prudent and meticulous about not hurting her feeling or to appear as if she was forcing something to her made her feel guilty. It was as if she had scared her mum so much that she could not speak freely. She wanted to tell her mum that it was ok for her to be the way she had always been. She wanted to say to her mum that she was sorry for what she went through because of her. She wanted to say that she could be the mum she had known in the past, and she was not going to react. She wanted to say that she missed that but she did not say anything. She just cried and when her mum asked if she had say something wrong, Rita cried even more and answered that she did not and added that she just wanted a hug from her mum. It had been four years since she received one. Her mum was hesitating and Rita fell on her arms and cried deeply.

Rita told her while crying that she missed her so much. She had wanted that hug for so long. She had dreamt about it for such a long time and that day, she was just collapsing and could not pretend anymore. Rita told her that she just wanted to be in peace with her parents. Her mum did not say anything. She hugged her tight and invited her in her apartment for the first time. They went there and her mum shown her the place and she liked it very much. She cooked and they ate together.

When they finished, they all went in the living room and Rita was exhausted. She slept on the sofa. Her mum took a cover and put it on her. She looked at her and she did not know why but she felt the need to cry. She cried in front her sleeping daughter. It looked as though she was reconciled with her. She cried but did not want to move and to awake her. When she finished crying, she stayed in her chair and slept as well.

Rita’s reputation part 15

When they woke up the next morning, they were both late for work and one after the other, they jumped into the shower. Rita went through her mum’s clothes and picked some since she did not have any in her mum’s apartment. Waking up together and rushing to do something together were not something they had done in a long time. They were smiling at each other while they were quickly taking their breakfast.

Her mum asked if she slept well. Rita said that she did and apologized for changing her mum’s program the night before. She told her that she did not have any program and even if she had one, she was the priority. Nothing was more important than spending time with her daughter. She added that she looked nice with her clothes when they were taking the elevator. Before they went on their separate way to work, Rita told her that she really enjoyed sleeping in her house and added that it had been a long time she had not slept that well. She proposed to her mum to repeat the experience sometimes soon if it was alright with her. Her mum replied that she was ready to do it as many times as Rita would need to. She added looking straight into her eyes that she could do whatever she wanted in that apartment because it was also her apartment and that it would be her pleasure to receive her. She wanted her to know that she could come whenever she wanted. Rita hugged her and kissed her before running to catch the bus. Her mum smiled. She was happy. She did not care about being late for work. She stood there she looked at Rita going in the bus. She waited that her daughter entered in the bus and that the bus took off before walking toward her car.

Both of them were appeased when they left each other.  They both felt good about the new spirit they were in. They were both extremely happy. It seems as though things were getting more natural. They had crossed a difficult bridge and were now on a more solid ground. Although nothing would be forgotten, they had made a huge step forward. They saw each other as people who were in the same family and most important behaved as such.

On her way to work, her mum thought of the things she needed to have at her place in case her daughter would decide to come. She made a list in her head and she almost re-arranged her whole house to welcome her daughter. She remembered the conversation she had with her and what she said about wanting to be with her parents. She decided to talk about it to her husband.

Since she had left him, she was talking to him on a regular basis. They were exchanging information about their lives. She had never told him that she was in contact with Rita and he had never asked.

As for him, besides working, he was spending most of his time studying the Koran, reading books about Sufism and the way human beings were functioning. He did not have a big social life. He was trying to understand himself better.

Few days later, his wife asked him if they could meet and he said yes. They met at lunch time and she told him about Rita and the way they got back together. She asked if he wanted to meet her. He said that he was not sure that she wanted to meet him. He was not sure it was a good idea. He did not want to force anything on her. His wife told him that few days ago, Rita collapsed in her arms and said that she wished things got back to normal with her parents.

He did not know how to react to the news. He was scared. He wanted to see her, to apologize and to try to work things out but he was scared that she would tell him that she wanted nothing to do with him. His wife told him not to worry and that she did not want him to meet Rita right away. She did not come to arrange a meeting. She just wanted to know if he would be opened to the idea if Rita would ask. She added that Rita did not even know that she was talking to him.

He deducted that since his wife and Rita had been meeting, they never talked about him. She told him that she did not do it in purpose and that the conversations just turned out to be that way. He was disappointed. It was as if life was punching him again for his mistakes. He had a deep sense of failure. He was responsible of his daughter reaction to him and there was almost nothing he could do. They were seating on the table plotting how to meet his daughter. What kind of father was he if he could not even see his daughter on a regular basis? He needed to arrange things behind her back and be so careful not to hurt her. This entire scheme was simply proving to him that he had failed dramatically as a father. He did not like that feeling.

He wondered to himself when life was planning to stop hurting him. He did not say anything because he knew that he had only himself to blame for what was happening to him. Luckily, the reading he had done had helped him cope with those feelings of desperation. He could recognize it right away and was able to face them consciously. He simply accepted what he was feeling and breathed in and out. His wife saw in his look that he was sad about the whole process. She told him to focus only on the fact that Rita said herself that she wanted to be in good relations with her parents and by parents, she meant both of them, her mum and her father.

He came back to his senses and asked his wife how she was planning on making them see each other if first of all, neither Rita nor her were bringing him in the conversation. He did not want to force anything on her. He had screwed up once; he did not want to do it again. He told her that he did not want to go again through the pain of failing to understand his daughter. He rather stopped everything if it would create problems for Rita. He did not want again to be responsible of her sufferance. He thought that he had done enough so far. He wanted to give her a break. He did not know how to deal with her or with anybody else. He told his wife that he had made people around him miserable enough. He wanted to stop that. He stressed that unless she was 600% sure that his daughter wanted to see him; he did not want her to do or try anything on his behalf.

She was also scared of breaking the relations she spent time building with her therefore she told him that she would not mention anything about him to Rita unless she brings the subject up. She told him that she was extremely careful with her. After talking to her, she realized that Rita was not only sensitive about that subject but extremely fragile as well. The separation from her family had traumatised her even if she had survived. Even the renewed relation she had with Rita was a fragile one. She did not wish to break it by doing such a foolish mistake. Having said that, she needed to be prepared in case Rita would ask about him.

She needed to know what she was supposed to say to her. Did he want to meet her? Did he miss her? Would he agree to meet her if she would ask? Did he want her to offer Rita a meeting with him in case Rita would ask? She needed to be prepared when those questions come up. He answered her questions and he asked how Rita was. She told him that she was thinner, she had grown up in her head and had a more matured face. Other than that, she was even more beautiful than before. He went in deep thoughts as if he was trying to imagine her.  

They finished their lunch and they went back their respective work.

Rita’s reputation Part 16

Few months later, Rita started asking about her father to her mum. She was wondering how he was and how his life was. Her mum just answered her questions without giving any additional details. When Rita wanted to know more about their break-up, she just told her that they need to breathe in different houses. When Rita was pressuring her mum with her question about her father, her mum asked her to forgive her in advance if she will not like the question that came in her head but she needed to ask it. Rita told her that she should feel free to ask whatever question she wanted. Her mum looked at her and asked if she wanted to meet her dad.

There was a silence in the room for a few seconds. Her mum thought that maybe she had asked the question to early. She thought that she should have waited a bite before asking that question. She thought of a way to get out of that awkward situation. The only thing she could come up with was to tell her daughter to forget about the fact she asked the question. She told Rita that she should not have asked that question knowing how highly sensitive the issue was for her. She asked Rita to forgive her.

While her mum was talking, Rita was thinking about why her mum would ask that question. Then she saw that it has been a while she was asking many questions about her father. She suddenly realized that maybe she missed him. Maybe by asking those questions, it was her way of asking to see him. She wished he could be with her. She was so comfortable with her mum that she was able to ask her about him. She wanted to have the same or a similar relation with her dad. Her mum had just touched a point that was she had not seen before. When her mum came to the part where she was apologizing for asking the question, Rita smiled a bite, hugged her and said that it was a fair question. Rita went on saying that anybody who would have listened to her talking would have asked the same question.

She told her mum what she was feeling about him and her desire to see him and fix things with him as well. Her mum told her that whenever she will feel the need, the only thing she would need to do would be to ask her. She will call him and ask when he would be available to meet her. She said that she knew that he wanted to see her but he did not want to force things to happen. He knew he acted badly but he just wanted a chance to apologize. Rita replied that she would need few more days to think about it and they switched the subject.

The moment Rita went back at her place, her mum called her father and told him what happened. She told him to be ready to see his daughter soon. He told her that it was apprehending their meeting but he was ready to see her. He wanted to see her. When they hung off, he wanted to prepare for the meeting by writing what he wanted to tell her and how he will dress up. Remembering what he had read on the Sufism books, he stopped everything in order to avoid deception. He decided that he will trust the moment.

Few days later, Rita was alone and was thinking about her mum proposition. Although it was very alluring there was still something in her that was saying that she should not see him after all he had done. Having said that there was a growing need to see him as well that overtook her ego and her frustration. More than anything, she wanted to be with her parents. She could have lived alone without them but when she saw how the relation with her mum was, she thought that it would be completely stupid of her to avoid her father and to miss on a more interesting relation with him.

Rita called her mum and asked her if she could tell her father that she would like to meet him. Her mum told her that she thought it would be best if they met alone which Rita completely agreed with. The meeting was set three days later and her father insisted that it took place in the park Maisonneuve in Montreal. Rita did not really understand why but she accepted.

It was the beginning of autumn. The leaves had already gone through the process of changing colors and were falling down. The weather was still above 15 degrees. Their meeting was on a Sunday afternoon around 1:30 pm. Rita’s father arrived there first. He had mixed feelings. He felt alone, it was as if he was going to see his mirror. He was scared and at some point something was telling him to leave the place or to call and cancel and to blame it on the cold he caught a day before their meeting.

He knew that he was not going to be able to live with himself if he missed that opportunity. He decided to stay. He looked at the leaves and the way they were moving. It calmed him. A gentle wind came and caressed him as if it wanted to tell him that everything would be alright. He sat on a bench located outside of the coffee that is in Maisonneuve Park.

He was waiting for her to come from the front when he heard a voice coming from the back and calling: “Dad”. He shook and turned around and saw her. She was smiling. He was taken by surprise. He did not know what to say. She asked him if he was alright. He had imagined everything many scenario and different ways they were going to meet but not that she would come from the back. He answered that he was alright with an hesitating voice that clearly indicated that he was more confused than anything else. She told him with a smile on her face: “did I surprise you by coming from the back? You did not expect me to come from the back right?” He smiled back and said: “yes indeed, you surprised me.”

Unlike with her mum, she went straight to kiss him on the cheeks. This behaviour also took him by surprise. He was still recovering from the first one that she gave him a second one. He still did not know how to react. All he could say was: “hmhmmh”. He was expecting a very difficult meeting but his daughter was all happy to see him. He did not know if she was faking at first but after observing her, it was clear to him that she was genuinely happy. He was the one feeling strange and she was doing everything she could to put him at ease. 

When he came back to his senses, he asked her if she wanted seat or to walk. She told him that she would rather walk if it was alright with him. He said that there was no problem. He had bought one hot chocolate and one green tea at 2nd cup before he arrived there. He offered her to choose between the two and she picked the hot chocolate and told him that it was nice of him to remember that she loved the two. He liked the fact that she noticed that and they started walking.

Rita told him that she was very happy that he accepted to meet her because she had wanted that for such a long time. She had thought that it would never happen again. She even dreamt about it in full colors. She said that she had come to realize that she could live alone without him but she was certain that she would never be entirely happy. She needed him in her life. After she saw the way her relation had improved with her mum, she just wanted to get back with him and do the same. She asked him what it would take in order for her to be in good terms with him.

He paused and was surprised by the way Rita had handled the whole conversation. She was straight to the point. Surely she had matured but this kind of maturation was a major achievement for her. He could not believe how she grew up. She was no longer the little girl he knew. He had not anticipated that the conversation was going to turn that way. He tried to look at her in her eyes but he could not. He walked a little bite up front and Rita stayed in the back. He hesitated before talking and he told her that since she was born, she had always surprised him and even on this day of their first meeting in years, he saw that she did not loose that quality.

He told her: “As a father, I messed up a lot and unfortunately, I can not change that. I am glad that my faults did not alter your smile and your happiness. I just want to say that I am sorry for all the wrong that I have done to you. You deserved a better father than the one you had and it is with sincere sadness that I am now looking at the things I have done to you. You are a better person than me because no matter what I have done to you, you still have the courage to come to me and ask what is it that you could do to make me happy and to make us stay together. It makes me feel strange. I feel completely undeserval of your love. To answer to your question, what you would need to do to get back to me,” He looked at her with tears in his eyes and he said: “just be yourself my child. Just be yourself. It had helped me to become a better person. You are the jewel of my life.” She was crying and she fell in his arms. They hugged each other tightly. They did not want to let go of each other. When they stopped, they looked at their wet faces and they smiled. He told her that they were like kids and he cried some more. He told her that he was sorry for not controlling his tears. He said that he should not be the one crying but he is. He did not know how to stop. He asked her to give him sometimes to calm himself. He held her hand and they walked. Rita felt much more at her ease with her father. The reconnection was instantaneous. There was not a long process like there was with her mum. Her smile was enough to fix things in him and her.

He inquired about her health and her life. She told him that it was not easy but she was managing the best she could. She asked about him and he said that it was not easy but he was managing the best he could. They both laughed. She told him that she heard about the separation with her mum. He answered that he discovered that he was not a very good husband as well so… She looked at him and did not say anything. She wanted to be supportive but she concluded that it was probably best if she did not say anything for fear of having to choose a side. She just looked at him with compassion and they continued to walk.

They stayed in the park for three hours and none of them wanted to leave the other. He offered her to drop her and she declined. She needed to be alone for a moment before going back home. She did not want to leave him and enter in her room right away. She wanted to stay with her feelings. She explained him everything and he told her that he understood. They hugged again to say good bye.

Rita’s mum wanted to know how things went but she did not call the same day. She waited the following one and called her husband first. He told her everything and he thanked her for making it possible. She told him that it was nothing and she was happy to do it because it meant a lot to their daughter and to him.

Rita called her mum and asked why she did not call. She told her that she did not want to disturb her and she felt like maybe she wanted to be on her own for a while. She knew that if she had called, she would have fired 3000 questions at her and she guessed that it was probably not what she needed at that moment. Rita understood and described everything that happened. She told her that she was very happy. She asked her mum if she heard about how her father felt about their meeting. She simply said that he could not be happier about the way things went.

Rita and her father met quite often in restaurants, art galleries, museums, book stores etc. They went to see shows and spectacles together. They exchanged ideas about books and he told her about Sufism and how it had made him realized how things were not exactly the way they were supposed to be. She was learning a lot from him. She had almost forgotten how immersed into culture he was. He knew a lot about life and she was just happy to listen to him.

Couple of months later, Rita’s father met his wife and he told her that he had been thinking about the trip in Paris for Rita. He wanted to pay for her studies. He had all the money but he was not using it. Her mum said that she thought it was a good idea but she did not know how to approach her with the idea. He suggested that maybe they should invite her together and tell her about it. She offered her apartment as the location for the meeting. She said that she will cook and invite them both. He agreed.

She called Rita and told her that she had invited her father in her apartment and she wanted her to be there as well. Rita was thrilled by the idea. On that day, they all went in her apartment. Rita and her mum were the one talking. They were telling him about the things that they saw and he was listening just like the old days. Things were almost as if they had not changed. It had been a long time Rita’s father had not been in that situation and he was nostalgic about it. He saw what he had lost and instead of being angry he just looked at everything and tried to grasp every detail in his memory.

When they arrived at the desert, her father said that he had been doing a lot of thinking and he wanted to congratulate her on the studies she continued and he wanted to do something for her. He said that it was paining him to see her working that much when he had the money and was not doing anything with it.

“I would understand if you do not want to touch the money that I have after I treated you the way I did but I just want to help  now that I know how to. If it is alright with you, I would like to pay for your studies in Paris.” He said.

Rita said: “I found it awkward that mum invited me with you”. Her parents were shaking thinking that perhaps it was not the right thing to do. They were scared that she was going to react badly to that proposition.

“I can handle my stuff alone” she said and her mum told her that by accepting their offer, it would not change anything about it. On the contrary, it would give her some kind of break in her life. It would speed up the end of her studies and she would find a job faster. Rita told them that she was used to her life and she did not want to change.

Her father said that he was not going to interfere in any way shape or form in her life. He was just going to pay for her studies, room and food and distraction in Paris just like he was doing with Ali. He told her that his money was for them. His needs were minimal and he did not know where to spend his money. He added that he knew he had only himself to blame for that.

Rita told them that she hoped they were not doing that thinking that it would facilitate their relation because she liked their relations the way it was just fine. Actually she did not want to change anything. The way they understood each other had never been that great and she did not want to loose that because she would accept to go in Paris at their cost.

Her father said that he also liked the kind of relations they were having now better than the one they had before. He added that as a father, he had been such a mess that whenever he sees something that he can do for her, it just gives him pleasure to do it. He told her that she should not worry about the manipulation game he was playing in the past. By accepting his offer, she will leave and it was actually torturing him. If he was listening to himself, he would let things the way they were because he wanted to be with her all the time. But for once, he did not want to think about himself. He was thinking about her happiness. This is why he was offering her the trip in Paris for her studies. Her mum told her that she did not have to answer right away. She could take a few days and think about it and she changed the subject giving her husband the eye to tell him to drop it now. He understood and they talked about something else.

They finished their desert, talked a bite, cleaned the dishes and watched a movie. Rita’s father slept during the movie and he left the first. Rita decided to leave even if her mum insisted that she stayed. She wanted to think about what had happened alone.

Although she was shocked that her parents brought that subject, she did not have any ill feeling toward them. She was confused by their offer and decided not to think about it. She kept on meeting her parents separately and she never brought the subject up again and they never did as well. When she arrived at the end of June cession at the university, she invited both of their parents at the restaurant. They called each other to check if the other knew why she was inviting them but none did.

The day arrived and they all went at the restaurant. Rita told them that she got her bachelor degrees and she wanted them to come to the ceremony. They were very happy and her mum said that she did not need to invite them for that. They would have been very happy to do even if she would have asked for it on the phone. She told them that there was another thing that she wanted to bring on the table and the parents looked at each other with a little bite of anxiety.

Rita asked them if they would be willing to pay for her master in France at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. Her mum hugged her and her father smiled. Rita asked if it was a yes or a no. Her father said: “of course it is a yes, of course it is yes. I can even write it if you want”. They told her how relieved they were. They thought they had done something wrong. The evening went well and they ate and joked a lot.

Few days later, Ali arrived for his summer vacation. He heard about all the development that took place and he was surprised and happy for Rita. They had a wonderful summer. They went several times at the mosque and even though their parents were separate, they were a family. They were no longer depending on the image they had in community.  They were in the community and outside as well. They were free of what ever the people in their community were thinking. What mattered were the journey they had and the way they had handled it. They were more truthful to themselves and therefore closer to God.

At the end of summer, Rita did not want to leave. She was scared of leaving Montreal and her parents. They had to drag her at the airport. She and her mum were crying a lot. Her father was there and he was happy to accompany his daughter and he was also sad that she leaves but it was what she wanted and he wanted to please her and so he had to let her go.

Her plane took off and her mum cried in her husband arms. She told him that their children were all gone and he said: “but at least this time, we can go and visit them whenever we want and they can come and see us whenever they want.” She invited him in her apartment. She did not want to stay alone. They ate and reflected on what they went through as a couple and with their children. She asked him if he wanted to spend the night and he quickly agreed.

They rediscovered each other. They learnt about who they were and how they could behave with each other. They got back together.

After spending couple of weeks together in her apartment, they decided to stay in their respective apartment and see each other only four nights a week. They both liked their new life and they did not want necessarily to renew the experience. They had done it and it was time to move on. They were both jealous of their newly found freedom. They wanted to try something different. They adopted a new system based on the presence of their kids in Montreal. When their children are outside of Montreal, they will live in their respective apartment but when they comeback in Montreal, they will go the apartment where their kids grew up and that was how their family was now functioning.

 

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