I was a very cheerful and loveable child.
I loved school.
I was happy when I memorized the tashahhud [a portion of the Muslim prayer], and I waited for mama to reward me.
Mama told me that there was a surprise waiting for me and my older sister, when we arrived in Cairo for holiday.
We loved summer vacation at the time,
Especially when we travelled to Cairo,
Because we got to play in the streets.
One day,
They told us that we were going to visit a doctor.
He was quite well-known in our area.
We always fell ill when we travelled,
Due to sinuses and the differences in weather,
So we figured we were going for a general checkup.
But that day,
Mama made us put on new dresses we’d bought recently,
And our aunt went along with us.
My sister went in first,
But she was a quiet child,
And the whole thing was over quickly.
She screamed once,
And I heard that scream,
But they managed to calm her down and get her out.
I was terrified.
I don’t know if I was scared for her,
Or scared of what was going on in that room.
I went in.
I remember what the room looked like,
what the doctor looked like,
And I remember seeing her tools being sterilized in boiling water.
They made me lie down on a bed.
Then all of the sudden,
They were taking off my clothes.
I screamed and cried.
They tried to hold me but couldn’t.
I kicked and squirmed.
I didn’t want them to do anything to me.
They brought my older sister in to calm me down.
But nothing would.
I continued to scream and wail.
Everyone at the clinic, and neighboring buildings, heard me.
“The doctor knows what a good girl you are,
And that you’ve memorized the tashahhud.
Go on, recite it,” mama said.
I began to recite it,
Choking on the words,
Barely able to continue.
The next thing I knew,
They were carrying me,
And my privates were bandaged.
Mama was smiling and happy,
And my aunt was telling everyone what had happened,
Like they were very proud.
I didn’t leave the house for the rest of the holidays.
We went back home,
And I now hate Cairo.
I hate my family and the way they think.
I fought for my younger sisters,
So the same thing wouldn’t happen to them.
And I succeeded and nobody touched them.
I’m now trying to become a gynecologist or pediatrician,
To prevent the crimes that happen to us under the guise of tradition.

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