THE STORY OF SARA
Or A Reflection on Ourselves
Ayad Izzet Gharbawi
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: An Awakening. Page: 3.
Chapter 2: University. Page 12.
Chapter 3: Being an Activist. Page 23.
Chapter 4: The Hallowed Purification Programme. Page: 32.
Chapter 5: The Party Self Destructs. Page: 55.
Chapter 6: Confusion after the Collapse of my Icon. Page: 64.
Chapter 7 Getting a Job as a Psychiatrist. Page 69.
Chapter 8: Afim: Sick or ‘Normal’? Page: 84.
Chapter 9: Having Children. Page 105.
Chapter 10: Omar Again. Page: 109.
Chapter 11: The Meaningless Existence of My Husband. Page 121.
Chapter 12: My Daughter: Lara. Page 127.
Chapter 13: Getting to the Top in my Job. Page: 131.
Chapter 14: Success & Emptiness. Page 142.
Chapter 15: The Shock. Page: 148.
Chapter 16: The Trap. Page: 153.
Chapter 17: The Punishment. Page 162.
Chapter 18: The Barmaid and the Alcoholic Conversation. Page: 166.
Chapter 19: Old Age. Page: 180.
Chapter 20: Seeing My Son: Noor. Page: 184.
Chapter 21: The Unexpected Visitor. Page: 191.
Chapter 22: Conversation with my Social Worker. Page: 195.
Chapter 23: My Visitor Returns. Page: 206.
Chapter 24: Isolation. Page: 210.
THE STORY OF SARA
– OR, A REFLECTION ON OURSELVES
CHAPTER ONE: AN AWAKENING
Sara is my name.
I feel the need to write down the words, or rather, the connected and the unconnected stories, of my life.
I wish to say straightaway, that I am not an important person; on the opposite.
I am, in fact, a no one.
I achieved nothing meaningful in my life, and I was never famous.
So, why you may think, should anyone read about my life, considering that I am a nobody?
Well, I think, that precisely because I am a nobody, people should read about my life!
Because, since most of us are nobodies, therefore, I must be a reflection for a significant number of people.
I am a mirror that most of us do not see; after all, who wants to see what they really look like?
You see, if I were famous, then I would be in the minority of the population, and, as a consequence, I would reflect the lives of just a small fraction of the people.
In other words, if I were rich, and if I were to write about my life as a rich woman, then most readers would have absolutely nothing to relate to such a story.
But then again, to tell you the truth, I am plagued by insecurities and self doubt.
Why am I plagued by insecurities and self doubts?
Because life itself is full of doubts and insecurities!
Everyday there are so many events that happen that you do not fully understand - and so they have no certainty.
There are so many thoughts that come across your mind that you cannot believe in with certainty - in other words, you have doubts!
Life is made up of events, people and thoughts that are themselves uncertain, vague, indefinite, unclear, ambiguous and ultimately blurred.
That is why, for me, I found no certainty in my life, no sense of definiteness – and the end result is that my image of my personal reality was a blurred vision.
I could never see an accurate view of my own reality - because I had far too many flawed characteristics.
I am extremely temperamental.
I am extremely impulsive; I speak, behave and act without thinking in a sober, rational, deliberate manner.
I am not a very good judge of character when it comes to people. I often evaluate people wrongly. I misread who they really are.
I am often very cold with other human beings; I am unable to sympathise and be compassionate to other people.
I am not a good listener.
I am a slave to my irrational passions, my dark urges and my undesirable needs.
Now I am not saying that I have these characteristics all the time – but I confess that I do have them far too often.
And all these awful characteristics make me quite unable to focus on myself in a logical, coherent and rational manner.
I am unable to see my real Self; I cannot see where my rational mind tells me where I need to go with my life, rather than where my dark passions tell myself where to go.
So, maybe my story isn’t worth telling at all.
Should I write the story of my life or not?
Will anyone read it?
I am a member of the weak and the unknown and the unheard class.
I am a member of the invisible classes, of what they call 'Humanity'.
Even though, I don’t know what ‘Humanity’ actually means any more.
I am one non-entity amidst this ocean of Humanity.
I am a nothing.
So, what’s the point of my existence and, more importantly, the story of my existence!?
Actually, sometimes, when I’m in a good mood, I think, yes, come, do not be timid or afraid, and take a serious gaze at my own face, and I hope you will see yourselves – yes, you, the majority of the people out there, this night; for when you see yourselves in my face, you may learn so much about yourselves, and it seems to me, after I have been living and experiencing so long, you may learn from my mistakes.
It seems to me, that one of the problems so many of us people out there are facing, is that nobody seems to want to take a serious, unbiased way that they really look like – and this is because of fear.
But what is this ‘fear’?
I know that this fear is one reason that causes a nagging and persisting unhappiness.
This fear is because we are scared to look at ourselves and find a picture that is severely deformed and far too horrible to behold.
Do you believe that looking at your own face is an easy task?
I hear you tell me: Oh Sara, all you have to do is to look at the mirror and you see yourself.
But, I’m afraid, you are wrong.
Because when you say to me, that all you have to do is to see your face in the mirror, that is not accurate.
And that is, because the face you are seeing in the mirror is an image.
That is not your face!
That’s an image of your face!
And an image is only one degree of reality.
An image is never and can never be the whole reality.
So, you say, why is it that I am seeing an image of my face in the mirror and not the whole reality of my face?
Because you yourself are scared to scrutinize and stare so deeply at your own face.
Fear is restraining you from seeing your own reality.
You may see your real face and it may be a face that is far too ugly to see!
Now, when I am in a bad, bleak, hopeless mood, I really believe in the depths of my angry heart, that it is utterly pointless to write anything, precisely, because I feel that my entire life is completely worthless.
I feel my life is filled with emptiness.
How can you ‘fill’ anything with emptiness!
You know, I feel like ripping to shreds everything I’ve written, and yes, reader, I’ve done that many times – and, then I start all over again.
And how dare I presume that anyone out there in the world would be in any way interested to read the life of an empty woman who happens to be called Sara?
You see, at times like these, I have self hate.
I hate every single thing about myself.
And that includes my pointless story.
And so many times, especially at night, when I’m able to write my story, I think, what if no one is reading these words?
Could I possibly be that empty?
Could I – Sara - possibly be so utterly meaningless as a human being, to the extent that no one could possibly be interested, to give me more than a few precious moments of their time, from their important lives?
Well, for all you people out there whose lives are brimming with happiness; for all those of you people whose lives are so full and busy, so they never experience the utter tedium of boredom; for all those of you people who never face an inner emptiness, a loneliness within their hearts and minds; for all those of you people who have no fears, no anxieties, and no insecurities – then I can honestly tell you to hurl this book away!
And, yet, I would like to believe that - in the depths of my shaky beliefs and my uncertain certainties - that I have at least one listener with me!
You know why?
Because it gives me so much comfort and peace of mind to think that I have one human who is interested to know me!
The most horrible thing to me is to live in total isolation.
And to ease that unique kind of emotional pain, is to know that someone, somewhere in this planet actually cares for you.
I was born in the City, in a middle to low class neighbourhood, where families tended to help each other.
It was a closely knit community. You knew everyone, and everyone knew you and so, when there was any problem, people would help each other out. You see, in this way, problems became less heavy than they would have been otherwise, because when more people come to help you, the problem weighs less, as opposed to if each family had to cope with their problems all on their own.
It was a happy childhood; I adored my parents and I thought no one could be better than them.
They were my icons.
As a child, they were good to me, and I could see nothing wrong with them.
But how long did that last?
By the time my mind was waking up, so to speak, by eleven or twelve, I began to notice, that what I saw wasn't all that rosy at all. My parents used to argue a lot; Dad would scream and Mother would howl.
And what were the causes of these clashes?
Both were guilty of countless faults.
Dad drank too much; Mom didn't pay enough attention to housekeeping and so our house was rather *****; neither parent paid any attention to us; Dad would always invite his 'friends', and they would be rather ****** in their behaviour and with their jokes (or what they thought were 'jokes'); Mom would go for hours on end to her 'friends' houses, and leave us children alone; so, when they were in the mood to fight, good God, both sides of the trenches had lots of reasons, or excuses, to use as ammunition!
And what battles do we young children witness!
Dad would scream: "What kind of Mother are you when you do nothing for the house; you don't cook, and so we never have homemade cooking; you don't clean, and so the house stinks and is always in a terrible mess; and then you disappear for hours to God knows where, leaving us all behind! How much time do you even spend with our children? I’ll tell you how long – you don’t spend any time with our children! Children need love, attention and time spent with them; how do you think that affects our children? Do you think that makes then happy?"
And Mom would scream, at the same time: "What kind of Father are you? You're always drunk, and you're always socialising with drunk, ****** idiots. How do you think our children are reacting when they see their Father interacting with the most lewd, disgusting people? You're lazy in your job – and that is when you keep a job more than a few weeks – and, not surprisingly, you don't bring in enough money, and so we live a miserable lifestyle. And, you dare to ask me why I leave this house for so many hours? Of course, I want to leave this house – it's because I cannot stand the repulsive sight of you! And then, you have the nerve to ask me, ‘how long do I spend with our children’? You **** hypocrite! How long do you spend with our children? Not one minute!"
I would usually rush off to my room, and hide my body and soul in my pillow.
And as I grew into a teenager, my parents were fighting against each other even more.
Who was right and who was wrong?
Sometimes I felt for sure, that Dad was wrong; and, at other times, I felt that Mom was to blame; while at other times, I felt both were to blame; and then again, at other times, I would be so confused that I just gave up thinking about the whole mess, and just wish they never brought me to this world.
How could I judge them?
I could never really tell, because I didn't have the facts, did I? Who knows if Dad really was lazy at his job, and if that was the case, why he didn't he realize that we needed him to work harder, in order for us to have a better quality of life? Or, maybe he wasn't making enough money, simple because his job was a low paying one, and so it wasn't his fault that he brought such meagre wages.
Who knows why Mom didn't take care of the house?
Maybe she was depressed?
And who knows why she went off to her friends' house for hours on end?
Put simply, when you don't have the facts, how can you possibly judge in a reasonable manner?
But then, maybe, you, my dear reader, will say I am wrong, because one ought to judge the situation by using one's emotions and not just 'facts'.
To be honest, when I think of those wretched days, maybe they were both 'right' and wrong'; but in what measures – don't ask me!
What I do know for sure was this: the fact that both Mom and Dad never spent any time with me really hurt me and made feel insecure. I really needed their company when I was a child and right through to my adolescent years, but, unfortunately, they were never, ever interested to sit with me and talk to me – not even for a minute.
In my teenage years, I clearly remember that I felt that I needed Mom and Dad, because I remember feeling frightened for the first time in my life.
Why did I feel ‘afraid’?
I honestly don’t know.
Strangely enough, before the age of thirteen, all my parents' fighting did not leave me scared; no, my response was one of sadness only.
So, I tried to talk with Mom and Dad, issues that were bothering me, but I found out, to my horror, that they could not answer any of my questions.
I would ask my parents endless questions like:
"Should I continue studying in school and go on to university, or should I leave and get a menial job?"
"At what age should I get married?"
“Is marriage worth it or not?"
"Should I smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol – or, are these things wrong?"
“What characteristics should I look for, when I make friends? In other words, what are the good attributes versus the bad attributes in the character of any person?”
“What is morality?”
I remember that my parents were themselves confused by my questions, and at the same time they were irritated.
And, at other times, they were increasingly bored with my unending questions.
Strange combination, isn't it – to be both 'confused’, irritated' and 'bored' with someone nagging at you all the time!?
I know why they were 'bored'; that's the easy part – it was because, they gradually found me to be a nuisance or an irritant with my questions.
They were 'confused and irritated', because they felt stuck as to how they could best answer my questions.
You see, they were, themselves, doing all the wrong things, so how could they advice me to do what was supposed to be 'good'?!
For example, 'Can I smoke and drink alcohol?'
Good question, Sara, but a question that you shouldn’t really ask your parents, when you recall, that both were heavy smokers and drinkers!
And, when I asked them: 'Should I get married?' How can they answer that one