Conceived – Lebanon: Meeting My Homeland (Chapter 3)

by Rayan Harake

About two months after my arrival, my mother goes with relatives on a religious trip to Damascus, Syria, to the Shrine of Sayyida Zainab (as), which many Lebanese Shias are accustomed to doing from time to time. I don’t have the required identity papers so I can’t go with her. At this point, I am not in school yet – I arrived in Lebanon about three months before the end of the school year and would need to wait till the close of the upcoming summer vacation to join a Lebanese school.

Like all visitors returning from the Shrines, my mother comes back with stories about what they saw; about the other visitors, the Syrians and the Iraqis, the Iranians and the Pakistanis. She also brings along two sets of Hijabs for me from Souk Al-Hamidiyah – a famous Souk lying next to the Sayyidah Ruqayyah (as) Mosque, a definitive stopping point for anyone visiting Sayyida Zainab (as).

I am ten years old, and Shia girls are supposed to wear Hijabs by nine. My parents (or more specifically, my father) didn’t think it was a good idea to wear one back in Brazil because of what the others might say. There isn’t that much of a Muslim presence in the city I grew up in; my mother would get looks whenever she was out of the house. The other Muslims we knew were predominantly Sunni, and Sunni girls are supposed to wear Hijabs when they hit puberty.

I am ecstatic about the new hijabs. I wear one the next day when I go down to the small yard in front of the building to play with my little sister. I normally prefer to stay indoors and watch cartoons, but my little spoiled five-year-old sister always got her way, and I was obliged to play with her in the yard as she wasn’t allowed to go there alone. Today however I wasn’t annoyed. My sisters will be coming through the yard from school, and I want them to see me wearing a Hijab. They come from afar, and start laughing as they approach; I had put it on the wrong way. When we are back inside, my sister teaches me the proper way to wear it.

My grandmother is a very social and hospitable woman. Friends and family love to visit her; never did a week pass without a major visit from a group of relatives. My teenage cousins can be counted as additional residents – they live nearby and normally come spend the day at my grandmother’s, especially now that we are there too. My sisters and I are always veiled inside the house because one of the boy cousins could be there at any given time – not that we mind.

My grandmother occasionally sends me to get her something from the market. I usually get 500 L.L. in return, so I happily go for her. On one such occasion, as I go down the stairs and am about to start crossing the yard, I see one of my cousins, Hussein, coming from the other end. It instantly hits me that I forgot to wear my Hijab. I had started wearing it just a week or two before – but I take it very seriously. I immediately start running up the three flights of stairs, and frantically knock on the apartment door for someone to open it before my cousin catches up and sees me without it again.

My family members would laugh at that story later on, especially when my cousin – no older than 15 – tells it from his perspective. “I was just coming into the yard, and Zeinab had left the building. When she saw me, she put her hands on her head with a sheer look of terror” – and that would be the part that draws the most laughs.

I had a cousin who was very lax about her Hijab. She would never wear it at home, even if other cousins were there. If she needed to cross from a bedroom to the kitchen – which forced her to pass by the living room entrance (where boy cousins would be sitting), she would scream beforehand, “DON’T LOOK,” and then proceed on her way without a care in the world.

(…to be continued…)

2021: Conceived – Volume 2 of a Contemporary Transadaptation

January: The Pack – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)

February: The Pink Shirt – Talia Stotts (America)

March: Dragging the Past out into the Light – Kate Korneeva (Russia)

April: Looking Forward to Spring – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)

May: Every Little Thing – Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)

June: The Girl Who Chased the Rainbow – Toni Wallis (Sarah-Leah Pimentel) (South Africa)

July: Another World – Jonay Quintero Hernandez (Spain)

August: Life after Nare – Nane Sevunts (Armine Asryan) (Armenia)

September: Meeting My Homeland – Rayan Harake (Lebanon)

October: Catching Water (Part Two) – Javier Gomez (Argentina)

November: Remember – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)

December: Los Caminantes – Veronica Cordido (Venezuela)

Background – Context

In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

Emblems and stories on the international community

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world

Credits

Photo: Tyre, Lebanon – Super Moon – Ole Dole (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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