My Son Is an Orphan

See, ma'am, I was born in 1964.
I worked at the Civil Status Organization at the Ministry of Interior Defense.
I was later transferred to the Civil Registry.
I was married before to another man. A successful merchant.
I led a good life, but my ex-husband was a little messed up in the head.

He was always suspicious of me.
Whenever he went out, he’d wedge a single hair between the door and the doorframe.
When he’d get back home, he’d check the door to see if I’d gone out.
His suspicions were very hard to deal with.
When God was going to bless us with a baby, my husband gave me an ultimatum: “It’s either me or the baby.”
So, I went and got an abortion.
Living with him became unbearable.
We got divorced, and I got all my legal rights.
I then got married to the husband I have now.
I had a job then. He was still waiting to get hired.
He used to give me around 15 LE allowance money, which wouldn’t have been too bad, maybe, 25 years ago.
I’m the type of person who likes to spend money—a spendthrift.
But he depends on the fact that I already make my own money.

He has no idea how I manage or what I buy.
I was frequently diagnosed with ovarian cysts.
I had 6 operations, and I paid for each one in full.
I tried to have a test-tube baby and also paid for that myself.
I had money and gold then, thank God.

The test-tube baby thing didn’t work out. I decided to adopt a child through social services.
He didn’t help me out then either.
“You’re the one who wants the child, so you do it,” he said.
It was him who was sterile, though. He had varicose veins and refused to go get treated.
I adopted a boy and became his mother. He was a year and two months old.
My husband didn’t spend a penny on him. I paid for the boy’s clothing, food, drink—everything.
When he grew older, I was the one who sent him to school.
I still had a job when I adopted my son.

I tried to plan ahead then.
My neighbors knew my husband and I couldn’t have children, so what was I going to do when the boy got older?
I decided to illegally enter his new name into the birth registry, but I didn’t apply for a birth certificate.
I was counting on the fact that I’d still have a job in the future.
When the boy got older, I planned to show him his name in the birth registry.
My past fears are now coming true.
“Why is my name Assem Medhat when baba’s name is Ali?” he asked.
“Whoever registered your name made a mistake,” I told him.
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
“I’ll change it when you get older and graduate.”
That’s not going to happen, of course.
I’m worried about what will happen when he grows up and wants to marry.
I’d have to tell the girl’s family. You might be okay with him marrying your daughter, but others won’t be as accepting.
But there was nothing I could do.

I was arrested and jailed for illegally registering his name into the birth registry.
When I was released, I had no money.
So, what did I do? I started taking out loans.
The boy needed private tutoring sessions.
I want him to turn out okay, so he won’t hate me later on after I die.
All I want is for him to graduate and stand on his own two feet.
I don’t want people calling him a bastard.
Once, when I wasn’t around, the neighbor’s son asked him why his name was different than his father’s.
I was furious.
My husband, too, cursed and yelled at the neighbors.

I forgot to tell you that I worked at Cairo Airport before I was jailed.
I bought a retirement plan.
I was lucky. When I was released after a year in jail, the plan I bought gave me an early pension of 150 LE. The money helps.
Every year, I take out new loans for my son.
My husband asks me what I do with my pension, and I tell him to mind his own business. I tell him to pretend I didn’t get the money.
What I do with my pension is my business.
We fight a lot over money.
He gives me an allowance and expects breakfast, lunch, dinner, fruit, and the ironing of his clothes to come out of it.
I try to help him out, though, because his leg’s been amputated.
He also suffers from polyneuropathy and is going blind in one eye.
But he’s still a scumbag no matter what I do for him.
Still curses me and throws me out of the house.
One time, he picked a fight with me
and brought his brother over to beat me up.
I kept my mouth shut, said nothing. My neighbors stood up to them.
I’ve become short with him, because of how insensitive he is.
He’s the type of man who deserves a severe beating!
But I’m waiting for God, not him, to reward me for what I’ve done for my son.
I tell you, I get up at 5:00 am to bathe and dress my husband. I make him breakfast, give him his medicine.
I want nothing from him. I just want my son to turn out okay.
To be honest with you, I feel sorry for my son.
Sometimes, he and my husband fight, and my husband tells him to get out.
When that happens, I pack my bags and tell him I’ll leave too if he kicks out our son.
Where would he go? He’s an orphan. His parents died in an accident. Where would he go?
I didn’t take him in to make his life miserable. That wouldn’t be fair.

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