Saron is a young woman who grew up with her father Alazar, in the village of Dinki. The village is located a few kilometers north of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Her father‘s dream is that Saron should be educated and become independent, unlike what happens to other girls in the village of Dinki, where the young girls are forced to marry against their will. Saron’s main desire is to make her father’s life easier; her father who lives a hard life as a farmer. In order to fulfill this dream, she travels to Saudi Arabia to work and earn money in a short period of time. Her employer Aziz Al Saud, who is married to Meshael Alayban, is a man who does not understand the meaning of love and he has no interest in understanding what love means. His primary concern is to satisfy his own needs by exploiting women and their bodies. His wife, Meshael Alayban, who lives with a man who doesn’t show love and affection to her, had a lady brought in by him to help with domestic chores, which is not something she desires. She feels helpless and she turns her anger against Saron. Meshael Alayban treats Saron as a slave, but after a while, she revealed that even she lives as a prisoner in her own home and country. Thorns Never Last Without Roses, is a book about two women and their struggle against men‘s oppression and violence. It is a book about love, violence, hatred, and forgiveness
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This book is written in memory of all the women who are immigrants in the Middle East. They are victims of violence and oppression by their various employers, who physically and sexually abuse them.
This book is also in memory of women immigrants who have escaped the oppression and human violence meted on them by their employers, and those living in unknown places, without chances of returning to their homeland.
I want to thank my family members who have encouraged me in the writing process, during the two years I spent writing this book. Thanks for understanding and dedicating your precious time to help during the process of writing of this book.
I would specially like to appreciate the contribution my lovely wife, I am very thankful for your patience, support and encouragement when I needed them most. You’re great!
A lot of thanks to Alexandra Lindström, who read the first script and gave me her view on the book. Her contributions and suggestions helped a lot! Thanks for the tremendous work!
I am also very thankful to Senait Habtemariam, who read the final script and gave me her general point of view on the content of the book
A lot of thanks to Perry Rose, who has done a meticulous work and spent a lot of time to edit and proof read the book to enhance its readability. This book will never be published without your work. I am very grateful.
Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to my best friend, Bes Rakthai, for his contribution to the cover design of this book. I really appreciate your efforts.
I love you all. Bless you
Early in the morning, there was little darkness in the village of Dinki, which was located a few kilometers north of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. The village sits on top of the hill. The only light that shines in the village comes from the half-moon in the sky. As soon as the sun begins to shine in the morning, the first thing anyone would see was a church, St. Selassie Church which was built on top of the mountain and has a white background color and also painted with green, yellow and red bands around the building. Regardless of the location one stands, one could see the church because of its location on the top of the mountain. For the villagers, the church was a symbol of community where everyone belongs together and felt at home.
The year was 2008, and Saron had just turned sixteen. She lived almost her entire life with her father. She has no memory of her mother who died when she was a child. To grow up only with her father made her to be a self-rule girl. Her father's encouragement and advice may have helped her to be strong and mange herself with most things.
Early in this morning, Saron rose up gently from the bed and looked around the room. She took few steps and suddenly she stopped. Whenever she woke up, she was very careful not to collide with the large pillar which stood next to her bed. The house is supported by five pillars, four in the corner and the fifth in the middle. She did collide with the fifth pillar so many times when she was little, but the older she grew, the more she became aware of it. Sometimes, whenever she was sitting in her bed and looks at the fifth pillar in the middle, she always imagined how effective the fifth pillar was in supporting the building. Without it, the house would collapse. Sometimes, she compares the fifth pillar in the middle with her father. He is the safety that holds the family together. What would happen without him? She wondered, while looked at the fifth pillar.
She walked by the fifth pillar and the first thing she did was to wash her face and then dry it with a cloth that hung on the wall. On the wall, she also has a shelf which she uses to place her important tools. The three important tools that she has on the shelf are a comb, face oil and half a broken mirror; a broken mirror that she had found on the ground when she was on her way to school. She did not know who it belongs to. If someone had dropped it or thrown it away because it is broken, she wasn’t quite sure, but for her it is the most valuable tools. The first day she had found it, she was just ten years old. She remembered the first time she saw herself in the mirror. She could not stop smiling every time she looked in the mirror. She felt it was embarrassing to see herself which she is not used to. She was happy to see her short cut hair, big eyes, big lips and round-shaped face. It was then that she could see almost the whole of her face in the broken mirror. But now that she is older, she could only see half of her face, mostly, she has to move the mirror to the right and to the left to see all her face.
Every morning, her first routine was to prepare a lunch box for her father, whose name is Alazar. He was tall and had a width axis. His hard work by farming had shaped him with a well-built body. He was forty-five, his body build was proportionate with his age, but the appearance did not match his age. He looked much older. It could be a combination of morning chill and hard work. His lunch box which she used to prepare every morning was very simple. It consists of a traditional bread, Injera and vegetable stew.
In the thin bread, she puts a vegetable stew and then she rolls it and put it in a plastic box. Then she wraps the plastic box with a cloth which has canvas, together with rose. This part is the most important part of her mission. His mother bought it sometimes ago in the market. Before Grandma passed away, she gave him the cloth.
He was a bit surprised as to why he got the cloth. He could not question her because when she gave him, she was sick and tired. She looked at him, and understood what he was wondering.
"My son, to see life is like looking at a rose. Two people can see a rose, yet they can experience two totally different experiences. One can see the rose and experience a beauty and the other can see only the thorns and experience suffering. “
He liked it a lot, the cloth with a canvas together with rose. He wanted his lunch to be wrapped in it; every time he ate lunch and opened it, the first thing he saw was the rose. Every time he saw the rose, he heard his mother's voice; the same meaning and the same voice.
The life of the family, Alazar does not differ much from any other family in the village. All lived much the same way. Men are involved agriculture; boys either help their father or go to school, or both. Women and girls engage in household works and very few girls go to school. Her father believed that she was one of the few girls who should go to school. Most girls helped at home. It’s very common that many parents simply send their boys to school and not the girls. Their explanation was sooner or later, the girls will still get married, then it makes no sense to send girls to school, but her father decided that she would go to school and learn as much as boys. To prevent that, she would not be treated as a girl on the feminine personality of her hair, which her father had decided to cut short so that she would look like other boys, a girl who is short-haired. The teacher thought it was strange for a girl to look like a boy, but they knew it was for a purpose. The most important thing was that his daughter went to school and got as much education as boys
Saron and Alazar had shared their duties. Saron cooks after school and her father brings water, firewood and everything needed for cooking. Saron likes to go to school a lot. Her dream was to become a teacher. Her desire was that many girls in her village go to school. Her other dream was that she wanted to make sure her father moved to Addis Ababa and she wanted to get him a dignified life. Addis Ababa was the city where she wants to study teaching profession. But for Alazar, it was a long way to make it happen, for his girl to achieve her dream. He knew that he must protect her and encourage her so she would succeed in life. He took it as his main mission in life. He also had it included in his routine, how he would raise her to achieve her dream.
Every night as they sat in front of the fire, she reads the same book. It was what he wanted her to read for him, a book about the Empress Taitu. An empress who lived at the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, an empress who was very famous for her wisdom and deep involvement in the battle of Adowa (a city in northern Ethiopia).
Ethiopia was brought to the world's attention in 1896 when an African country without industry of weapons and with mostly barefoot soldiers, defeated Italy, a modern European country, at the battle of Adowa. Behind the success of the war is the heroine, Taitu. Battle of Adowa was a global historical event. The presence of Taitu in the middle of the army lifted their morale and further motivated them to die for the sovereignty of the nation and for freedom. It was a fight that ended colonial aggression of Europeans in Africa. It was a fight that taught unforgettable lessons to Europeans. She made sure she also collected 10 – 12 000 women and organized them to help the troops. Some collected buckets of water to carry for men in battle. Others remained in the camp to take care of the wounded. In this victory of Adowa, women had a gigantic role. The heroine, Taitu was the architect in the battle with her wise, courageous and patriotic leadership, together with her husband, Emperor Menelik.
By reading the book every night, Alazar desired that the heroine, Taitu would be his daughter’s role model. Besides that, Alazar told her with his own advice what tools she should use to get by in life. He repeated some of the important tools every night.
"My beloved Saron... humans’ greatest enemy is fear and the opposite of fear is love. Everything you do will always come out from love. You should never be afraid of anyone or anything. The first step that you show to the world is that you are full of confidence. We humans are very quick to judge other people without even knowing who the person is. We are terrible at asking questions first, but we are always quick to point the finger at someone else. When you go, always stretch up your back and look up to. When people talk, look at them straight in the eyes. If there is anything you don't understand or unsure of about what someone says, you should always ask at once. If you get enough response, it is okay, if you don't get a response, it is also okay. The most important thing is that you've asked and that you will not regret afterwards that you didn’t ask. If you're going to say "No," say it and if you are going to say "Yes," say it too. You should always do your best as much as you can cope. You should never judge yourself; whether you have failed or not done enough, and you should never judge others, but you should always try to understand yourself and others."
Saron was one of those few girls who attended school and a girl who is forever confident and argues against adults, in particular against teachers, that she had become a problem for many teachers. She dared to ask questions that no one else did. She said "no" when it was expected that she would say "Yes" or vice versa. She looked straight into the eyes of a teacher when he talked to her. All these behaviors had been regarded by the teacher as disrespectful. So many times, her father was called by school management, but her father always defended her that she was right. "Children have the right to ask questions. Children have the right to speak to an adult if he or she is doing wrong. The saying that "An adult is always right" is just a myth. All people make mistakes, regardless of being adults or children." Alazar always tell them.
It wasn't just Saron who was unpopular at school, but also her father.
Saron had not only become matured in her age, but also in her body, which men in the village began to put their attention to. She had a short cut hair as a boy, but this did not prevent them from focusing their attention on her. Men could not resist seeing her big eyes, lips and well-shaped body, and they started to mention their interests to her father. Her father was not surprised by all the interests, which had started to stream in. He had anticipated this.
Every Sunday, people gathered in the Church to listen to the word of God. It was almost like an obligation to go to church. There is no excuse not to be there. Everybody watched each other to know those present and those who are not. This systematic coverage had the priest created in order to have full control on the inhabitants of the village. The village Dinki had 200 inhabitants and almost everybody knew each other. One particular person who knew almost everyone was indubitably the priest. He felt like a supervisor over the village and above all as a guide to the whole village. Sometimes when he stood outside the church and looked down on the village, he could feel the power as a bubble around him. He feels powerful, as powerful as a king or president. He liked this powerful feeling.
There were no rules on where to sit in the Church, but always ended that men sat next to each other, and women and girls did the same; they sat on the same side, but except Saron who sat next to her father. She held his hand when she was in the church. This gave her safety to sit next to the one who loved her very much. The men, the women and the girls who saw Saron did not understand why she sat next to her father in the middle on the men's side. No one thought that it was okay, even when there is no regulation that one must sit in a particular place. Saron often noticed the evil glances she got from women when she came in to the church or when she went out of the church, but regardless of their evil glances, she refused to sit in any other place than beside her father. She did not care what others think.
As long as what you do or say will not affect someone else, then you have the right to do or say it. It's called self-freedom. Her father used to say. After the Church, usually the priest used to be invited for lunch with someone, but today, he and other men went to visit The Alazar's without their prior knowledge. Alazar was surprised at the unexpected visit of a number of people. When Alazar saw that there was a priest, a father and a son, he had no difficulty in putting the puzzle together. He knew that this was about Saron.
The first person who stepped into the house was the priest. As soon as he stepped in, he took out from his pocket, a ten-centimeter long silver cross and directed the cross against different angle to bless the home. Then the other guests stepped in as well and sat. Saron sat next to her father and saw the intense look on the faces of the new visitors. The priest was a tall and handsome man in his fifties. He wore a black round hat, white clothes with black coat. The major things which made him more elegant were his long white beard and white teeth. Now his eyes directed to Alazar.
"Ato (Mr) Alazar, we are sorry that we had to come to your house without informing you of an unexpected visit. The major reason is that we do not want to wait because this matter is very urgent."
The priest now began to direct his eyes against Saron.
“Everyone sees that the girl has become mature and she's ready to build a family, which is the will of God, that when she is ready, she will follow the will of God ... and that is to give a child. I am sure that many have already expressed their interest in her, but I think as a priest who knows everyone better than anyone else in our society; I know who is good for her.”
He turns to the right and pointed to a young man of about thirty-five years.
"It's this man. He is a good person and I know the family well."
The thirty-five year old man who has a rectangular formed face, bald and his incisors had gaps between each other, began to look and smile to Saron.
Saron did not like his smile
Are you kidding? You...my God...Why are you smiling at me? You fool! You don`t even know me...do you think I am a sheep or a goat, like you just pick me up and go home...you...crazy old man...I will study...and become a teacher....you hear me...nobody can take away my dream...no body...stop smiling now. Please, it’s embarrassing...Jesus!
As soon as the man smiled at her, she holds her father's hand as she always did. Her father had understood her concern and to reassure her, he squeezed a little more on her hand.
Then the priest continues with his talk.
"Yes, what do you say? I know ...I know ... You don't have to thank me for this ... it is my duty as a priest in order to create love between people ... right...and...If I may?... "
Her father stretched his back while his hand still holds Saron.
"The answer is no," he said briefly
The priest looked desperately but spontaneously, he asked Alazar
"Okay then ... Am I missing something? Did she make a promise someone else? Who is he if I may ask? Or is there.... "
“No one" Replied her father, and repeated again ...” No one... She will not marry him or anyone else ... She will continue her school and when she is done with that, then she is the only one who will choose her husband...The one she loves ... that is it ... I don't have anything more to add...” said Alazar
The priest looked like he was very confused. He turned to the other two to see their reactions. They looked just as confused as he. The priest turns again and looked to Alazar.
"It feels very uncomfortable to hear this. I've never heard anyone talk this way. Not in our village or anywhere else. What you are saying is against the will of God ... it's just that ...the..... "
"What is the will of God?" asked Alazar.
"In this case, is that a girl should serve her husband when she is mature which she is, your daughter." replied the priest, while he looked intensively at Saron.
"In my interpretation, it is only love that is God's will. Everything you do should be done with love and nothing else" he replied firmly.
"My son ... you cannot create your own interpretation of the will of God ... This is against the will of God ... I am very disappointed in you ... not only that you refused our proposal, but also that you are analyzing God’s work so wrong. I would not let a person like you in my church," said the priest and then he stood up while he looked the other two. As soon he did, they stood up as well.
Now was Saron’s turn to smile at the rectangle face man who wants to marry her, while he was staring at her with an angry look. He was very sure everything will go well like he planned. This was something he had planned and wished for a long time. Now he was very disappointed and angry.
I told you...you’ve come to the wrong house and dealing with the wrong person....My father will not let it happen as others wish....we do as we wish and as we want........goodbye...go now and stop steering me.....
The villagers went to the church, not only to listen to the word of God, but also to show the same affiliation with other people. Everyone who lived in the village acted like a big family. No one wants to be outside of it, and concerned that everybody could do as everyone else and, above all, as the priest wanted to. It was a statute in the village. Alazar had two choices. He is going to live as everyone else, and be controlled by the church and others, or listen to his inner voice. He knew himself that he will pay a high price for not obeying the priest, but to the girl he loves, he knows he can sacrifice everything.
Suddenly, he rose up as well.
"Thank you, gentlemen for your interest, but I have said what I want to say….I have nothing more to say….even if it costs me a great deal. I'll take the risk." Said Alazar.
"You're going to regret it much later. We are very disappointed with you," said the priest while he went out with other two.
Alazar did not say anything while they went out. Now Alazar looked to Saron while he still held her hands. He looked at her with a sharp eye.
"Regardless of what others do or say, I will never let you live like other girls, as housewives with no education .... Never.... You will go to school and graduate. You are going to live a completely different life than many others girls in this village.”
"Thank you father" she said, and then she hugs him.
Rumor of Alazar’s responses to the priest spread fast throughout the village. People wanted to show their sympathy for the priest, by ignoring and counteract Alazar and his daughter. Alazar did not bother about how others behave towards him. He focused only on his work, which was growing various vegetables and selling in the village's market. The money he earned was used to purchase, sugar, salt and other food supplies. He took the vegetable that was left home.
The only time that Alazar and Saron felt a little bit weak and reluctant was on Sunday morning when the whole village was in the Church. But nothing could prevent Alazar to be near God this morning. He thought that God can not only be in the house they called the church. God is everywhere and in all of us. He said in his mind.
On this Sunday morning, Alazar asked Saron to read a paragraph from the New Testament. She did read one piece to her father. They did exactly the same as the Church did. They had built their own church in their home.
To live a life outside of society and not to be with Sunday Church wasn't Alcazar’s primary concern. His primary concern was Saron's safety.
Women and young girls' everyday works include bringing water and wood down from the mountain. Often, the women or the girl has a female companion. The company was not just to have someone to chat with, but it was also for safety. It had happened to a lonely young girl who went down the mountain to bring water and was raped by young men who often hid in the woods until he finds his victim alone. Or it had happened to a family who refused to engage their daughter, but afterwards she was be raped by the man who wants to marry her. Then the man one who raped the girl admits that it was he who raped her and now he wants to marry her. When the family knew who the man that raped their daughter was, then they had two alternatives; either they report the man to the police or they let him to marry her.
Alazar’s primary concerned was maybe it could happen also when she went to school early in the morning through the forest. To prevent this problem, he decided to buy a trouser. Just in case if anyone tried to rape her by force, this would delay the event a few minutes while she calls for help.
The school uniform consists of a shirt and skirt, but Alazar switched the skirt to a trouser. He told her as he used to tell her always.
As long as what you do or say will not affect someone else, then you have the right to do or say it. It's called self-freedom.
Saron understands what he is up to, without any discussion she gets dressed. The first morning she came to school, it was the students who first noticed it. When the teacher got in to room, he did not understand all the noise and laugh. But after a while, he suspected that it had something with Saron to do. As soon as the teacher came near her, one boy said.
“She has a trouser... she is a boy now....” and then everybody started to laugh. The teacher looked to the students and said.
“Shut up...no one is allowed to talk...you hear me, no one!" then the teacher turned his face to Saron and looked at her with an intensive look and she did the same.
“Can you please stand up so I can see you?"
Saron stood up very slowly while she focused her look on the teacher.
"So...it is true then you have a trouser...why? I do not understand why you have to break the regulation? Does your father know about this?"
"Of course, he does...I act mostly based on my father’s instruction and this is his idea, and he has a reason for that"
"What kind of reason?"
Saron understood now that she could not tell them anymore. It is better her father narrates everything them.
“You have to ask my father”
“Then you tell your father to come here and explain this...can you do that...go home and do that" he said and then he walked to the blackboard while Saron left the class room.
The headmaster wanted to meet Alazar immediately.
"Ato Alazar ... so far I have had patience with you ... but now it is enough ... this crosses the line ...first it was her hair and now it’s her school uniform that she dresses like a boy ... No ... No ... I will not allow this!! You have to stop! "
Alazar had in advance, calculated that the school would react strongly, but he kept his point.
"The most important thing is that all the kids have school uniform. She dressed in a uniform ...it does not matter if it’s a skirt or trouser... who decided that only boys have the right to wear a trouser? What you are saying is that she is not allowed to wear trouser? This is what you are saying ... right? "Asked Alazar.
"I'm not saying that she should not have a trouser... of course, she can dress anyway she wants outside the school, but inside the school, she should dress like every girl....which is......"
"I understand ... but ... in what way will it affect others just because she has a trouser... tell me."
"It is a rule ... and everyone must follow the same rule ... which is.....”
"A rule that someone had created without understanding the consequences and all others will follow it without understanding it .... Very strange, I think," said Alazar
"Ato Alazar .... I will not waste my time now to argue and convince you that you’re wrong ... no matter what you think, you have to follow the rules like everyone else..."
"If I refuse ... What are you going to do?" asked Alazar.
"Very simple ... the student may be suspended from school ... so simple, it is ... we want to have clear and transparent rules ... how boys and girls dress. And look out.... but if you do not follow this rule, then it is over.... '
Alazar pondered a moment what was most important for his beloved girl, her safety or school. Both are important, but her safety was something more important than any other thing.
Alazar got up from his chair and looked at the headmaster.
"The priest wanted us to do like everyone else and you also want us to do like everyone else, but I will do as I feel right ...which is ...she will never come back her ... I will send her to another school where she can dress like she wants ...this is not the only school in the neighborhood................, although it's far from here,... goodbye mis ter..”
In the evening Saron and her father sat around the fire like they used to do. Saron picked up the book about Empress Taitu to read to her father as she always does every evening. She started to flip through the pages to find where she read last. When she found it, she looked up to his father to start to read, but her father said.
"Not tonight Saron ..... Not tonight....... Tonight, I have something important to tell you”
She put back the book, very amazed. While his gaze was directed towards her, he said.
"You do know that the last time, our lives have changed enormously. We are living more isolated. I attempted to sell vegetable in the market, but nowadays no one wants to buy from me. We cannot afford to buy salt, sugar, spices, etc. but of course, we have something to eat. The entire village is punishing us for my refusal to let you marry, but what concerns me most is not the economic issue, but your safety. I have been very concerned about it daily that something terrible might happen to you. Saron... So far, we have managed, but in the long run, I am not sure..... I cannot be able to protect you forever. School is a different issue that is also important. "
Now, he was sitting closer to the Saron like it was probably the important thing he wanted to say.
"Saron, my beloved girl ... you should go to Addis Ababa to your aunt, Seble-Genet. You are going to stay with her. You should go school there...... "
When Saron heard this, she got a mixed feeling. She would also like to go to school where she gets to dress as she wants. Maybe let her hairs grow as she had wanted when she was young. She would like to go and see a city which everyone talks about, but she did not want to separate from her father. She loved him. As soon as she thought of the last, she squeezed his hand. She looked at him with a sharp eye, and then she said.
"I want you to also move there ... What would you be doing here alone? ... Besides, we are isolated from the whole village.... You have to move to Addis Ababa." said Saron
He already knew she was going to say it due to how much she loved him.
"You're right ... I will be alone and isolated. ... But this is ... my village ... my parents are buried here... your mother is buried here.... How can I leave them and just move? In your case, it is your life safety ... it cannot wait ... This is very urgent. "
Then Alazar continued while he still looked Saron.
"I have already sent a message to your aunt and she thinks that this is a good idea. Tomorrow early in the morning, we have to go. You get to pack everything you need now tonight. After you have moved there, then I will visit you from time to time, but you do not have to come here alone never... Everything I do now is to protect you.”
After two hours of sleep, she woke up and rushed to prepare lunch to her father. The same routine as she did every morning, but now she saw that her father was sitting by the fire and smiled at her as he had been waiting a long time for when she would wake. Then, she did understand that today was a different day. Today is the day that she will leave the village and separate from her father for a while.
After a while, it was time to start the journey. After a quarter of an hour walk, she turns towards the village. The only thing she could see was the church which is located at the top of the hill. She turns back and continues to walk. After a two kilometer walk, Saron and her father arrived at the bus stop. After a while, the bus that will drive them to Addis Ababa arrived.
The bus started driving towards Addis Ababa. After a few hours journey, everything began to appear small and large buildings seemed close to each other. Saron’s first thought was that it was the city of Addis Ababa, but Alazar explained that this was just outside of the city. As soon as the bus reduced the speed, she could see several cars and buildings. After a while, she could see more cars and a house.
When they arrived at the bus station and stepped out from the bus, she became terrified. She had never seen so many people and so many cars. She had a mixed feeling of panic and joy. What she did not like was that the air was filled with exhaust and cars honked loudly. Her father looked at the sky that was covered with dark and thick clouds. Months of June and July are rainy period and now it was the month of July. Alazar didn’t hesitate that it will rain at any time. Not even could he think clearly when the rain started to pour, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Saron held her father's hand and ran with him. He pointed to the blue and white colored cars parked. When they got to the cars, they saw a number of people shouting at one another. The heavy rain created a chaos, which made people run in all directions.
"Piazza. ... Piazza. Piazza! "Shouted one man who stood beside the taxi bus.
Alazar looked towards Saron and smiled.
"That is the places we are going too ... to Piazza ... where your aunt lives ... come on hurry up" They started taking quick steps toward the crowd.
The heavy rain continued while people still ran across the street to take a shield from the rain or to catch a taxi without giving a lot of attention to cars. This is the worst moment that can happen; a car accident when people are running towards driving cars. Saron was totally silent all the way while she watched all the activities that were going on in the street.
Saron got a warm reception by Seble-Genet. Alazar has understood that his mission was complete and his daughter is safe from now on. He wants to return to the village as soon as possible before it gets dark. He had a long way to go.
Saron wished that her father stayed for a while, but she understands that he must go back. He smiled at her and his eyes were full of tears. Even though he smiled, yet his eyes revealed that he was sad. She hugged him hard. It was a moment that none of them would let each other go. Finally, he released her.
"Take care of yourself ... everything I do is for your best ... you know ...I will see you soon ... my girl ... and before I go, I want to give you ... this ... it is a special gift to you."
He took out of his pocket cloth with rose that he got from his mother some years back.
"This...you should have with you always. As my mother told me that I should see life like watching a rose. Two people can see a rose, but they can experience it completely different. One can see the beauty of the rose and experience the beauty of life and the others can see only the thorns and experience suffering. Life is okay, but we can experience it in different ways, it all depends on what we want to see; this will help you. You should keep it always.
She took the cloth embroidered with roses. Then she hugged him again and then he turned towards the door and he went away.
Seble-Genet was a tall and beautiful woman. She was two years younger than her brother. The first thing noticeable in her beauty was her long and well-combed hair. Her husband drives a big truck on the country side, but he died in a car accident a few years ago. With her beauty, her friends always wondered why she did not meet another man. But for Seble-Genet, living with another man was out of question. Her husband was different from many other men. He loved and respected her, but when he passed away she knew that she will never meet another man like him. She wanted to live alone with freedom rather than to live with someone and maybe end up in bad relationship for the rest of her life. Not often does she meet a woman who lives happily with her husband. Almost all the women she meets are complaining about something in their relationship with a man.
She lived a simple life in an apartment with two rooms. Her only income was through working as a hairdresser. She worked simply undeclared in her own apartment. The money was enough only to pay rent and buy food.
For Saron, living with her aunt becomes different than the normal life she was used to; a life she did not expect. She had met her aunt several times when she was a child. She remembers when her aunt comes to the village to visit them, but she had no idea what her aunt did for living.
Saron did not imagine sitting all day among women and hearing their life stories. Saron’s plan was to find a job as soon as possible and work for a year in order to support her dad economically. Then afterwards, she planned to go to school and continue her education. She was well aware of her father’s daily life struggle to survive. He struggles every day to get food on the table. He is used to drinking tea or coffee without sugar because he can't afford to buy sugar or he is used to eating food without salt or spice because he can't afford to buy them either. Saron was well aware of how difficult life had been when she lived with her dad. She had realized that she must find a job as soon as possible.
Saron was sitting and waiting until Seble-Genet called her for help.
Was this why I came here all the way leaving my poor father, to listen to these women all day with their talk and talk. Is this it or there is something more...where can I find a job? I have to find a job. There is something this women can do for me ...tell me where I can find a real job? I have to ask these women who is sitting beside me. She might know where I can apply for a job...
"Well...do you have any profession? Asked the woman
Saron just shook her head as the answer is "no."
“Well poor girl... it is not easy to find a job special with your age, without a profession and as a woman....... The only option is to go to abroad, to any Arab country and work for a household“
What is the matter with you...women...I ask you a simple question and the first thing that comes in your mind is to send me away...away from my family and home...are you crazy? ..Women ...what is wrong with you?
Seble-Genet who was standing beside them, fixing another woman's hair turned abruptly against the woman who was talking to Saron and then she shook her head as she didn't like the idea. Neither Saron liked what the woman said. Living several kilometers from her father was enough for Saron, but living in another country was something unthinkable. Even if she got the offer working abroad, she knew the answer will be no.
After a long search for a job, she finally found a job at a nearby cafe as a waiter. The salary was not much, but it will be enough to buy her a coffee, sugar, salt and spices for her father. But this was not the kind of job she was looking for to support her father, she wants to have a real job that could earn her enough money. She became restless on how she could find the best and fastest way to make money. All the girls who worked as waiters were on a minimum wage, which was not even enough to pay the rent. Most of the girls working as a waiter knew it was only a temporary job. They were there just to have job experience and to earn some money than nothing at all. Even so the girls were tiered by male customer’s attitude towards girls. While she was getting their order, the male customer could pull or touch her hand or ask her to meet her after work. None of these girls come to their job with joy. Every day, they experience sexual harassments from their customers. Each of them always thought of finding better jobs. Everyone kept on talking about the same topic, and it is in order to earn fast money and to migrate to any Arab country and work as a maid. Eventually, Saron became convinced that it was the only way to earn fast money, which is to immigrate to any Arab country. When she earned enough money, she would return back home and continue with school. This was her final decision.
Seble-Genet was cleaning her hair salon when she heard a noise at the door. When she turned, she saw Saron, but the first thing she could observe was the expression on Saron's face. An expression like Saron wanted to tell her something.
Of course, she will be pissed off when I tell her...but we will see if she has another option...which I do not think she has...I have to convince her that this is the only way...
"Hi ...Saron ...how was your day?”
Saron went to a chair and sat down and then she looked at her aunt with a sharp look and then she said.
"Now, I've made up my mind ... I want to migrate to any Arab country. It is the only way that I can help my father quickly. "
Seble-Genet come close and sat beside her. She looked at her with a serious look and then she said.
"Are you sure?" asked Seble-Genet.
"Yes ... I am sure" replied Saron.
“Saron ... what I have heard of those countries are........”
"I know " interrupted Saron quickly, like she does not want to hear more...
"You know what? Okay ... tell me what you know ... Let me hear? "
"Some girls have been treated very badly, but not all of them..."
"Not all of them? Only some of them? and you think you'll be one of those who will not be treated badly ...... listen to me Saron ... many girls were raped by men and beaten by the woman in the family and some girls have suffered even worse than this ..You know what I mean? "
Fear, fear, fear...fear....you see what you are doing to me ...living with fear is like living a prison in yourself.... How can we grow and make a progress if we fear that something will happen to us....tell me? If we are afraid to cross the street or to cross another country...then what? Bad things happen everywhere...this is not new.....
“I know what you mean, but like I said not all of them!" said Saron by raising her voice a little bit like she does not want to hear more about how bad it is out there. Then she added
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