This is a story of a girl who was born in Madinah (formerly Hejaz, currently Saudi Arabia). When she was just three years old, she moved with her parents to Canada and after that to London since her father was working on his Masters and PHD degrees there. She heard her parents speaking in Arabic at home, but she also heard and spoke with her teachers in English in preschool. She went back to live in Saudi Arabia when she was in her early school years and had a difficult time adjusting to the Saudi ways. She was very shy in school and her teachers complained that she barely talked in class! In fact, she was shocked by the strict harsh way of teaching! She could not understand why teachers were yelling at students and why students feared them that much! But she did fear her teachers, especially the maths big loud teacher who threatened girls that she would beat them with her long ruler if they don’t memorize the multiplication table! No wonder, she hated maths!
The girl continued to live in Madinah until she was 24-years-old, but she never felt that she belonged there! Actually, she always felt that she was acting a role that was never meant to be hers, but she was already on stage and she had no other option but to do it!
In 22nd June 2007, she found herself a graduate student in the United States and thinking that she will finally get rid of the alienation she felt in the country she was born. A few months later, she realized that she would be living a new kind of alienation and a new kind of loneliness!
The girl is not quite here and really there! She is stuck in the cruel misery of the East, and confined with the crazy materialism of the West! She speaks Arabic with Arabs and speaks English with Americans and non-Arabs. She thinks she started to think in English, but she feels that she cannot feel except with her Arabic side! Certainly she feels with her English side as well, but she definitely thinks about what she should be feeling according to the American cultural expectations! She is absolutely playing a double- role, but in the case of the English role she consciously causes her reactions whereas she reacts unconsciously with the Arabic role!
Which one is she? The Arab girl or the Americanized girl? To what degree did she get rid of her cultural heritage? To what degree did she embrace the American ways? Is there a way out of the trap of those two contradictory worlds?
Let’s dive into her memories, thoughts, visions and words and see if we can find her a way out!