My experience was tough. It was very hard at first. Teaching teenagers wasn’t an easy job. Until I started to love them unconditionally, accepting their flows and focusing on what they do right instead of catching them doing mistakes. One of the tools I held on to was Goethe’s quote: “If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”
I started creating for them experiences in which they show their talents and demonstrate their potentials. I encouraged them to be real and genuine. I did it for years while feeling satisfied with what I did between the walls of my classroom as an Educator.
What I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t aware of was what I was doing behind the walls of my home. With my daughter, who was a teenager too. ‘Maa’ndish banat’ was one of the statements I used with her to express my rejection towards some of her requests. Ignoring Goethe’s words and instilling in my daughter’s head that she is a girl, and hence she doesn’t have same rights like her brother. “Why?” My answer to her question was limited to: “Because you’re a girl”. It was a complete sentence for me back then. It included the meaning between the lines. It held the misconceptions my community transmitted from generation to another. And currently I no wonder why many women play the victim. We treat them as they are as ‘vulnerable creatures’ and they remain as they are, ‘victims’.
My Fabulous Veils readers were angry at Gameela, my main character. For her submission. For her victimhood mode. For not standing for her rights. For not confronting her husband Sherif. On my turn I don’t feel angry at Gameela. I feel angry at the brainwash I was subject to. I feel angry at myself for living for years with rotten beliefs, accepting them and not taking a single action except for raising my children to believe in them too.
My daughter once told me a story of a carpenter who used to craft beautiful handmade pieces every time he felt angry. He did it to channel his anger, believing that anger is energy that he needed to get it out. I loved the story and adopted it. Channeling my anger at the misconceptions, wrong beliefs and brainwash I, and my community members, experience in Egypt, I write, I speak and I invite people to think.
A movement is what Fabulous Veils is. It isn’t a novel for people to read on a summer day while drinking a florida cocktail. It’s a call for action and reflection. It’s an appeal for a pause for evaluation. Our words and actions are powerful and they shape our fate and the fate of our children. We ought to slow down and think of how to treat them so that they become what they ought to be and could be.
“Ignorance cannot lead to evil, misconceptions lead to evil.” – Leo Tolstoy