My Super Woman

She said:
When I was young I was ambitious I had a dream like everyone else.
Sadly, what I dreamt about never came true.
When I was eight years old, I was told to stay at home to wipe floors and to clean them right.
I was told to feed my siblings lunch once they came back from school.
The agony I felt. I was treated like an outcast.
All of them, including my mother, used to abuse me but I kept my mouth shut.
Tomorrow will be better, words
I consoled my soul with.
I used to get jealous when I saw them buying new books each month.
I was the lonely child who grew up not knowing what the alphabet is.
I was ashamed of myself and they were ashamed of me.

In 1983 all of my siblings eloped with their partners and left me and my mother alone in the house.
In 1984, March 12, a young handsome bachelor named Omar came to Somalia to visit his parents.
He also came to get married. He was 35 years old; he was not getting any younger.
Everyone in that town was talking about his wealth and good looks.

His parents knew my mother and they told her, “Tell your daughter to be ready; by tomorrow she is going to get married to our son.”
My mother never hesitated; she agreed.
She said, “I will let her know.”
On March 13 I was set to marry a 35-year-old man.
I was 16 years old. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
I was questioning it all…if I was finally escaping from my mother, that torturous horrible woman, or
Was I just throwing away my life, just like that?

The night of our wedding, he left; he had a plane to catch back to Abu Dhabi.
He left me with his mother and I stayed with her for two years before the war began.
I lost half of my weight. I got dark. I didn’t know if I was completely exhausted because of work.
I starting vomiting, nauseous at all times. I didn’t know what was happening to me until she explained to me that I was expecting.

I didn’t get the money he used to send to me. Because she used to hide it away from me.
Imagine a 55-year-old woman hiding away the money her eldest son sends to his wife.
I didn’t say anything about it.
I knew somehow that no one would understand the struggles I was going through.

I was alone in the delivery room. I was in so much pain and he was in Abu Dhabi.
I was crying because my family wasn’t here with me but his family was.
The same night the hospital told me to check out, I took a black scarf and tied it around my belly to pull it back.
One thing my mother taught us all was to tighten up that belly once the baby is out of there.
I came back home the same night the baby was sleeping, so I continued where I left off.
House chores were waiting for me in the middle of the night; around 2 a.m. I was done.

In 1989 the war began. Civilians were laid on the streets.
The forces were checking if they were still alive; if not, they would shoot them down again.
Our house was gone and we had to hide behind the bushes for three days.
On the fourth night, we decided to run and enter Ethiopia.

I got shot in my lower abdomen. I was pregnant then with my third child.
I tied the wound with a white scarf to stop the bleeding and the bullet was inside until we reached Ethiopia.
We were safe.
I was admitted to a hospital in a helicopter.
I remember the doctors being so astonished about my recovery and how my baby boy was looking just fine.

In 1991 the war stopped.
Your father finalized the visa papers for us and then we moved to Abu Dhabi.
Life became easier because this time I had a companion—your father.
I wasn’t worried at all.

Ismahan Ali

About the Author | Ismahan Ali

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