I am ten years old.
My uncle is driving me home from school. I am siting across from him in the passenger’s seat. My brown almond eyes, a shade as deep as the earth, are fixed onto the window.He asks me ;”What are you thinking about?” in curious Arabic.
I am speechless.
Doesn’t everyone do this?
The girls in my class are gossiping aloud, sneering a storm with glossy lips. I don’t find their butchering funny and so I don’t join them. My head is heavy with questions. This is the first time I realize that people take things too simply and that I do not belong.
I am fourteen.
A second cousin from the States is here for the summer. We walk out of a supermarket. There is a row of teenage boys lazing on a green metal -scraped bench. These boys were trying to fill the heavy shoes of men.
“That boy was looking at you.” My cousin observed. She lacked the humility women were born to have.
“Me?” She was the one who had fully bloomed. I had a white scarf pinned to my head.
I am beginning to belong.
I have become silence. A phantom with limbs. My days are documented into empty journals and notebooks. Life is drowning into black ink. I begin to question how much space I can occupy. Afraid that I am too much. Every two weeks, I cry a waterfall. I do not understand myself.
I am sixteen.
Writing and reading are abandoned. I slip into a facade and become social and pretty. Teachers adore me. Girls are nice to me. I reveal a crescent smile to whom ever speaks to me. For once, I am not too much. I am succeeding academically, domestically, and socially. Daydreaming is no longer a problem.The phantom still lingers within me but I ignore it. I still try to fit into cliques even though I have friendship as sturdy as olive roots.
It is the end of the year; I am about to graduate. This semester I learn how to manage time and shed the facade. I love school and learning. For English class, I pick up my pen and read my piece called “Through the Olive Tree: Palestinian Stories” to the class. This is the becoming. The shedding. I finish my piece. Silence.
“Did you write that?” A savvy girl asks from the back of the class.
“Yes.” I respond. Nothing more. I take my seat.
“Creativity is in the kitchen.” My mother tells me once after I had finished mopping the house. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering. She is the most intelligent person I know and I am more of a story than a person.
First year university. Second semester.
Eight-ten.I am siting in the first row of my psychology class. Stationed close the edge of the room, lost in an open window, my mind abandons me once again.
” I love you.”
Green cat-eyes stare into my mine. The class breaks into laughter. So do I. My psychology teacher has interesting ways of retrieving his students from their daydreams. But not all daydreamers are lovers.
Second year university. First semester.
Seven- forty five. I have Bio-statics at eight. My uncle finds me scurrying and offers me a ride. It is seven-fifty five. We are right in front of the Health Sciences Faculty. He asks me;” Are you late?” I reply no.
“Are you nervous?” With a breaking smile, I offer the same answer.
” Then what are you thinking about?”
Third year. Writing 1.
This course gives me a break from biochemistry, pathways, and disease. I am sitting not too far from my writing instructor, who adores me.
” Lina, what are you thinking?” She asks with a warm, curious smile. How intrusive, I thought to myself. She could always tell when I was in the clouds and I hated her for that.
Somethings never change.