by Deeba Bint Thomas
Veiled and Jailed (Louise and Mariam)
I had been in the city barely a week, to visit my sister who had married a Muslim, she did not meet me at the airport but insisted I phone from there and get the instructions on how to get to their home from there.
After waiting for a taxi for ages I gave the instructions to the taxi driver and although he agreed to go there he did so with a bad grace, little knowing I am spoke his language fluently, I heard what he said about dirty Muslims under his breath. After an hour we and a terrifying ride on the City’s ring road we arrived in what looked like a horrendous place. And he charged me a fortune. I walked through a scene of burnt cars and shattered windows, hoping I was in the wrong place, eventually I find the building matching the name my sister had given me and pressed the number on the door phone which to my astonishment worked, my heart leapt when I heard her voice Oui, its me Louise and I heard her laugh with delight and the door opened and she told me to go to level 1 and knock on door number 10.
The lift of course did not work so I timidly climbed the stairs jumping at every shadow. A few minutes later I arrived at the correct door I knocked and saw a spy hole opened and a second later there was my sister he face covered ushering me in and when the door was closed she removed her veil and smiled. Come on I have cakes and coffee ready for you we can talk. There is so much to tell you. I could only agree Mary, who called herself Mariam had been the most independent and free woman of us all and it was strange to see her now like this.
She gave a delicious Turkish coffee and began her tale, you know how I was a matron at that hospital in the Middle East, and you know I was only going there for a year? Just to get a deposit for that house I had in mind? Well you know me one good looker and I fall for them? So I did. Ahmed looks so special and he is, he is soo kind he melted me, yes me the iron matron as my staff called me. After snatched moments together even foreign staff are meant to be segregated as much as possible, we decided to marry.
I had to meet his family and I had to accept Islam that was the easy bit, wearing the veil and abaya took months, and as you know getting mum and dad to accept things has been an uphill struggle. Ahmed thought I would be better if we came to Europe for my sake so he got a job as a doctor at a hospital. All was well for a while until he got accused of malpractice, the case was disproved but he was not asked back by the hospital and so here we are. I get not get work as a nurse because I will not remove my hijab and I am pregnant and need to go to a clinic but again because I wear hijab that is difficult, you know about the ban of course.
We talked about how this impacts on her; she does not go outside now because she runs the risk of being harassed not by the Police but by ordinary people, screaming at her, calling her Muslim whore. Ahmed does all we need. I tried to reason with her for the sake of your health at least just for when you go to the clinic remove the headscarf.
She would not be moved and we agreed not to discuss it for a while. At that point Ahmed arrived and greeted me warmly and was very welcoming, he was as every bit as lovely as Mary, sorry, Mariam said he was. After while Mariam excused herself and retired to bed leaving me and Ahmed alone together, and once he was sure Mariam was asleep we talked about his fears for her pregnancy, and he implored me to try and get her to he paediatrician clinic without the hijab, he said I love my wife more than anything and Allah will not hold it against us if she removes her scarf for only a little while. I agreed to try again and he smiled grimly.
The following morning Mariam after prayers, woke me gently with a cup of coffee and brioche and sat by the bed, and said I bet Ahmed asked you to persuade me to go to the clinic without my headscarf, I replied yes I would try we are both worried about you.
She nodded agreement and ok when you are ready I will show you my books abut hijab and how necessary it is. After hours of being showed the requirements for hijab, I interjected, but even Allah could not want you to suffer for a piece of cloth, she smiled thinly, no but I would feel as if I had betrayed Allah by forsaking it for my comfort, I cried but what about your health and that of your child?
We both fell into each others arms and cried. After a while we sat in silence deep in thought, and then I made the offer. The offer I made was if she insisted on going to the clinic in hijab then I would go with her also in hijab. She smiled and cried at the same time and agreed. And I said no face veil is my condition, she agreed to that too.
The next morning after prayer and breakfast, we got ready, unfortunately for me Mariam could only find an abaya with a sewn in niqab and as I said only she was to have her face uncovered I reluctantly agreed to wear it. Together we set off for the short walk to the clinic, on the way people stared in nasty ways some swore at us and I felt threatened, are they really that scared of some cloth?
After ten minutes we arrived and my sister went to the reception desk and the welcome we got was somewhat frosty. After thirty minutes of waiting I stormed up to the desk in a foul temper and demanded to know if my sister was going to be seen or not.
I was by that point in such a mood I had forgotten what I was wearing. The receptionist screamed back at me in the foulest language I had ever heard and she called the Police. It was then I really lost it, I have always been a hothead, I broke into English and told them I could not believe how disgusting their behaviour was. I was bundled out of the building and arrested, my sister was escorted home.
After an hour Ahmed arrived at the local police post but they refused to bail me. I was kept in a dark cell and occasionally a woman officer would look in, at one point she entered the cell and began to touch me I flinched but then decided to play along. I convinced her to free my hands and that was her big mistake, as an ex army martial arts expert I had her on the ground in seconds and she was in her own handcuffs arms behind her back. Finding a handkerchief in her pocket I gagged her quickly. AS I had not taken off the niqab while imprisoned, I had a brainwave she was the same size as me so I took her uniform and but it on and then dressed her in my abaya. A quick tap to the back of her head knocked her out so to the world she would look like she was me asleep, and I made my way very carefully out of the post and headed back to Ahmed and Mariams flat only staying long enough to pick up my things and go, they implored me to go back to the police post, but I would not, I hugged them both and said if caught I would say you knew nothing of my escape and I had used spare keys to get in.
I walked off into the night and who knew where, Ahmed gave me some money and the address of a cousin of his in a nearby port who could arrange for secret passage to Morocco. With a half formed plan my life took a new turn.
Veiled and Sold (Louise becomes Hadiyyah (Arabic name meaning gift)
I walked off into the night and who knew where, Ahmed gave me some money and the address of a cousin of his in a nearby port who could arrange for secret passage to Morocco. With a half formed plan my life took a new turn…………………………….
I arrived in the city Ahmed had told me about and shuddered, it was a grim place very much a working port city nothing touristy about here at all. After traipsing around for hours I finally found a working payphone, I phoned the number and heard a soft voice, I quickly explained who I was and what had happened and the need to leave quickly. He told me his name was Sadique and he was indeed Ahmed’s cousin and he would be glad to help but it would not be easy. He told me to go to his house the address of which he gave me and I scribbled it down quickly.
Not wanting to draw undue attention to myself I did not take a taxi, and purchased a street map and after an hour I found the house. Surpsingly it looked pleasant, after Mariam’s place I was expecting the worst. I knocked on the door and a well fed man opened it, he looked grizzled but expensive the complete opposite of Ahmed. He smiled and said “you must be Louise please come in”
With a shiver I entered the house, which was beautiful and very eastern looking, well what I fondly imagined was eastern anyway in my dreams. He ushered me into a living room and showed me to a sofa. After seating himself he said
“Well then you have got yourself in a mess haven’t you, but it was done for the best of reasons and I will help you all I can.”
I gasped out my thanks and he raised a hand and he said “no need for that I always help my family and you are family.”
I have a room ready for you, you must be tired after your journey, please follow me”
He rose and I followed him upstairs to a gorgeous room and gasped at how beautiful it all was, he smiled and said good night and left the room. I undressed and fell on the bed grateful for its softness and fell asleep. In the morning I awoke feeling wonderful, I dressed and went downstairs and found Sadique making breakfast, please sit he said, I have a few calls to make this morning and then we will know if we have a plan for you. The coffee and food was delicious and after I finished I went into the living room while Sadique got busy on the phone. I switched on the TV idly watched it.
After an hour or so Sadique came into the room, and said “good news, I can get you on the plane tonight”
I hugged him as hard as I could. The hours dragged by.
For the flight I had agreed to wear an abaya and niqab so I looked like Sadique’s wife, emerging into the street covered once again we got into the car and Sadique drove at speed to a private airfield where a plane was waiting. We drove up to the plane Sadique let me out and led me up the steps waved goodbye and said good luck and got into the car and drove off. As I entered the plane I noticed no one was inside I turned and then without warning was grabbed from behind, I felt a pad pressed against my nose and mouth and I passed out.
Sadique got home and then phoned Ahmed “hi cousin I saw her safely away she is in good hands, please assure Mariam that all is well have the police been?” Oh they have did they accept your story? They did oh great well got to go bye”
I awoke with a blistering headache and found I could not move. I tried to open my eyes and all was darkness, I was obviously blindfolded, then I tried to scream and only a grunt came out, gagged as well. I did manage to turn and felt the bars, so I was in a cage too. I cursed Sadique; the bastard had done this to me, is this how he can afford to decorate his home so lavishly. I fell into a deep pit of despair, what will be my fate?
After a while a someone entered the room, I heard the cage door being opened hands took the blindfold off and I saw an old woman and all I could do was look hatefully at her. She flinched a little but took my gag off, at that I screamed at her “You whore where am I who are you, let me goooo”
The gag was soon on again and she scuttled off, but she did lock the cage again. At least I could see where I was, in a cage in what looked like a largish cupboard, and what I was wearing. It was what can only be called a skimpy silk black kimono like garment. And I was tied with silk black rope, arms behind my back, with the ankles tied together all connected to the floor of the cage. All I could do was moan and weep into my gag.
After a while a man entered the room with a camera and he took a lot of pictures, I lowered my head but he forced me to raise it by pulling on the rope. He arranged it to force me to go full length then released me and left.
The woman returned, pulled the ropes tight so I could not move and then lowered the gag and before I could scream again she shoved some mush down my throat and shortly I passed out again. When I awoke I found while still gagged and tied I was in a chair in what I can only presume was another room in the building I was trapped in, it was pleasantly decorated but the window was shuttered. I was now dressed in a long blue hooded garment and veiled with half veil, my eyes were clearly visible. My arms were tied to the chair so I could not get up.
The door opened and an old man shuffled in he came towards me his breath stank and his teeth were rotten and black. He removed the hood covering my head and stroked my hair and face, he lowered the niqab and looked at my gagged face and smiled. He then covered me up again and left the room. Shortly the old man and a younger man came into the room and started bargaining. I felt horrified I was being sold to this man with the rotten teeth. I saw notes being handed over, and then the old man leered at me and kissed me on the forehead his foul breath making me almost want to throw up.
I heard people saying goodbye and then vehicles driving off, so I was elsewhere? Some time later the old man entered the room with two women I was untied from the chair, immediately I tried to escape, but they held me too tightly and I was taken down stairs where I saw a trapdoor open, they dragged me across and pulled me down the stairs, I saw another larger cage then the one I had been in earlier and a chain in the middle of the floor, while I was held by one of the women, the other attached the chain to me, both hurriedly left me there, locking the cage as they went. The old man came down the steps with a younger man, the older man spoke in a language I did not understand, the other translated, he says your name is now Hadiyyah, it means gift in your language you are his mother’s gift to him. After that they both left.
It was only now I realized my predicament and if I was ever to get out of here; wherever I was I would have to play along for a while and pretend to accept my fate. And with that resolved I let myself sleep.
There will be plenty of time to plan and get it right.
Veiled and Free (Hadiyyah becomes Louise again)
It was only now I realized my predicament and if I was ever to get out of here; wherever I was I would have to play along for a while and pretend to accept my fate. And with that resolved I let myself sleep.
There will be plenty of time to plan and get it right……..
Months passed, I was only allowed out of the cage to help keep the house clean, I was effectively their slave, and at least the old man was not trying to force himself on me. Over time I had learned enough of their language to get the meaning of what was being said, one night I heard his mother tell him off for not having children yet, I shuddered I guessed what that would mean.
The following day I was taken out of the cage, bathed, oiled and lead to a bedroom where I was chained to a bed and left, after an hour or so he appeared looking as repulsive as ever. He came up to me very excited and as he started to stroke me he seemed to have some kind of seizure, he looked very blue in the face, his eyes were bulging, his breathing was low and wheezy and after ten minutes stopped all together.
I lay there for ages waiting for someone to discover the corpse, eventually his mother and sister entered the room and screamed at the sight of his inert body. Still screaming and wailing they dragged his body out and left me there. I heard phone calls being made and it became clear that relatives were being called over, this was it I was doomed. Another hour passed, I heard a car pull up and at least two people entered the house and then the shouting started, what I could make out was another brother shouting that you cannot do this anymore, and that slavery was now illegal and that he would take her with him, her being me I hoped.
A well built man stormed into the room, and pointed at me and shouted at his mother something like this is appalling mum it’s a good thing I am the local police chief, I will take her with me and make sure she is taken care of, at that I shuddered what kind of “taken care of”?
He unlocked me from my chains and told me to stand up and dress; I covered myself including my face. I was then ordered to follow him, what choice did I have, so I did, we went out through the house’s back yard. He led me to a car with tinted windows and told me to get in, I complied, sitting in the back of the car was another veiled woman, and she merely nodded at me. He stomped back in the house and did some more shouting. A minute or so later he came back got in the car and then we pulled away from there, my heart was going nuts, was he going to kill me? What would happen next?
What seemed like hours later we swept into a large town and into a nice looking suburb, obviously he did well out of being chief of police. A huge garage door opened and the car swept in. The door closed, he got out and opened the door for the other woman and she came round to my side and opened my door and led me out.
She led me through a side door and we entered a beautifully appointed house. We went down a corridor and we entered a large living room with lovely sofas and cushions she lead me to a sofa sat me down and lowered her veil and gestured I should do the same. I did and she smiled and then said in fluent English My name is Almas, how are and who are you? And how did you end up in the clutches of the vulture and hyena, oh I am sorry about my mother and brother in law, he is no loss.
I told her everything and she said well you acted out of love and look what happened, but you are safe now, Mohammed is not like his family, a little corrupt yes, but not evil. Moh will find a way to get you home or at least to your loved ones. Louise I want you to stay here until it is safe for you to go. I felt relieved but also edgy, how long will this all take? Is this a ploy to make me Mohammed’s wife through kindness and a gilded cage?
Almas pressed a button and a servant entered the room and she ordered coffee and cakes for us which duly arrived and was exquisite. After we chatted for a bit she said I will show you your room, she lead me across a gorgeous courtyard and into a room with wide bed in it, a beautiful gilded dressing table and a huge cupboard, she opened it and said these are mine but please feel free to wear what you like, I looked in and gasped they were beautiful long dresses, mostly of silk and velvet, Almas smiled and said they are rarely seen, as you know we have to wear these outside and she pointed to the blue abayas with the black veil hanging on the hanger too.
And over here is the bathroom, I guess you would love a bath I will leave you now to relax and freshen up. She went out of the room, I expected the door to be locked but it was not and breathed a little easier. I had an herbal bath and felt wonderful and afterwards for the first time in months slept peacefully.
The following morning I awoke, I choose a bright blue silk dress which felt glorious on my skin. I heard a tap on my door and there stood Almas, ohh yes that is a nice one it suits you, it is time for breakfast, she led me to the dining room and we were served gorgeous coffee, fruit and savouries the ingredients of which I am not sure of to this day.
Moh wants to see you this morning you will have to be veiled is that ok with you? You see you are not a relative of his and so he cannot see your face, it is the way here. I nodded consent, went back to my room, put on my veil and pulled the abaya over me. Almas led me to Mohamed’s rooms knocked on the door and followed me in, she was not veiled. He said welcome please come in Louise isn’t it? I nodded. I am sorry about what happened my brother was a despicable old man, my mother is not much better; please accept my apologies on behalf of my family. It is my duty to restore you to your family I need to know where they are. I need to know how you got here in the first place. So I told him about Sadique and what had happened at the clinic. He nodded gravely, and said it will not be easy to get you home but we shall do it I owe you this; I will also make enquiries about Sadique.
A few pleasant weeks passed, and once more I had an audience with Mohammed and this time he had Sadique with him. Almas held my arm tightly as she felt me stiffen. Mohammed said I believe you too have met? Yes I said bitterly that bastard sold me. Mohammed raised his hand and said I have to tell you that it is not true Saidque had no idea that you had been sold he thought you where in a safe house in Tangiers, at least that is what his associate Anwar was telling him. Sadique went there and found you were not there and he could not find Anwar either. He searched for you but gave up after 6 months convinced you had been killed by Anwar, he is still looking for Anwar in this I will help. At this Sadique said please accept my profound apology is there anything I can do to make up. I said get me back to Mariam and Ahmed, you will also accept us into your home and we will live there. Sadique agreed.
After a week of preparation, obtaining false papers for me, officially I was to be Sadiques wife we said goodbye to my saviours, Almas and I hugged tightly we had become sisters and promised to keep in touch. We crossed over to Europe uneventfully and entered the Port I had left 6 months earlier and got through immigration without a problem. An hour later we arrived at Sadiques house and settled in. A day later Mariam and Ahmed arrived and we had a tearful reunion they had my niece Aini with them too. Sadique was very attentive and over time I developed affection for him and one day I said officially I am your wife would you like this to become true? He stammered out a yes a few days later I said shadahah and became a Muslim, a month later we married. Nine months later I gave birth to a beautiful daughter who we called Badi’a.
The two families now live together, Sadique has even lost weight, I have him on a diet and his face has reappeared even if I say so myself, he is a dish. That is the end of my tale for now……..