I was sitting in my room on a weekday. It was after midnight. I was sitting inside the closet of my room, buried under my blanket. It was hot. I remember feeling sweat pouring on the back of my neck and in my arm pits. My hands were drenched in sweat, as were my feet. Inside the closet and under my blanket was the only place in the house I could cry without anyone hearing me.
I loved him. I wanted to be with him. And he loved me. And he wanted to be with me. The cell phone rang again. He had called me 56 times. And I had rejected the call 56 times. I knew that this time I wouldn’t give in; no matter what he says. No matter how much he begs. He sent me another text message. I opened the text message. It was a picture. A picture of happy times. A picture of him and I by the lake. As I looked at the picture longing for his arms yet somehow wanting to escape his stifling hold at the same time, he sent me another text message. He said that he was going to send the picture to my dad if I didn’t pick up the phone. At 18 years of age, this threat was frightening.
Baba couldn’t find out that I had boyfriend. Baba would be disappointed if he found out. Baba would probably die of a heart attack if he found out. Mama would be mad. Mama wouldn’t be proud of me.
So I replied to the text message telling him that I want to break up. I told him that this time it’s done; it’s over, for real. Within seconds, my house phone rang and my heart fell to my stomach. It was him and there was no way I would reach the house phone before my mom. I rushed out of my closet with my blanket and laid sideways on my bed pretending to be asleep. I heard my mom pick up the phone from her room. She said “hello…hello…hello?”. No one replied. My mom hung up.
He sent me another text message. He said that he could keep doing this all night. I replied asking him to have some mercy and leave my family out of it. The house phone rang again. My mom picked up again. No one replied again. And again and again and again.
He had blocked his number while calling my house phone. My mom left her room with the phone and started pacing in the living room. My siblings woke up and I continued pretending to be asleep while giving close attention to every sound outside my room. Mama was worried that Baba was calling as he was out of town. She was worried that something had happened to my dad. My sister told my mom not to worry and she called Baba. Baba said it wasn’t him who was calling and that it must be a prank call. Baba told my sister to disconnect the phone and go to bed.
Baba; my hero. Time and time again.
I reminded myself to be strong. I told myself that this time it was finally done, it was over. As my mom and siblings all went back to their rooms I wiped up my tears. I unlocked my room’s door and stepped out carefully. I quietly made my way to the washroom to make wudu for the first time in months. I entered my room and sat on my prayer mat. In sujood I asked Allah to protect me from him. I asked Allah to forgive me for having a boyfriend. I told Allah that this time it was over, for real. While in sujood, I heard the cell phone he had given me vibrate. The vibrations wouldn’t stop. He was calling and sending text messages.
I stayed in sujood while clenching my eyes shut and shaking my head. “Ya Rab, please save me. Ya Rab, protect me”.
As I sheepishly got back up from sujood, I saw unusual lights flashing from my room’s window. My room faced the front street. Just like when my house phone rang and I knew it was him, I felt my gut telling me the lights outside my house were him.
I got up from my prayer mat. I turned off all the lights in my room to conceal any shadows. I walked up to my window. I bent forward and using my index finger, lifted my window blinds, just enough to see who was outside.
It was him. He was parked outside my house. His SUV was facing my house and the headlights were flashing right on to my window. The driver’s seat door was open and he was standing outside his car. In his hands he had a knife and his cell phone. I think I saw him look at me. He knew I saw him. My tears began to gush out of my eyes. My heart was beating in my head. My hands, feet and scalp were wet from the sweat.
As I asked myself the haunting question: “What is he going to do now?”, I walked towards my bed towards the cell phone that was vibrating constantly. This time I picked up the phone. With my hands on my mouth I moved the phone to my ears. I heard his voice; the same voice that told me he loved me, the same voice that told me that he would never hurt me. I heard his voice say: “If you leave I will kill you and your family”.
Written by: Leena Ismael* Stay tuned for Part 2!
This is a pen name to protect the author and her family.