Lamia

An Intimate Affair by Brooke Shaden

I am dead.

I float in the grey mist that surrounds the earth. I am one of the legions of soiled souls.

We are the sinners, the adulterers, the black sheep of our families.

I am the disgrace, the shame, the dark secret that needed to be buried. My killers washed my shame with my own blood. I am the sinner and the sacrifice.

This is my story.

My name is Lamia. I was 20 years old when I was killed. I thought that death will bring me peace and oblivion, but it brought me neither. I remember everything. I feel everything. The pain never stops.

I lived with my family in Sidon, on the Mediterranean coast. I dropped out of high school, and decided to work because my family was poor, and I wanted to help them. I sold flowers to tourists on the beach every day, and returned home after sunset. I used to wake up at 0600 am each morning, bring the flowers from my friend Sarah’s flower shop, and sell them to customers.

One beautiful summer day, I met Hazim. He was an artist. He painted portraits and sold them to the tourists for a living. He painted a portrait of me, and said that I was the most beautiful flower sales girl he had ever seen. By the end of the summer, we fell in love, and decided to elope and get married. I was a Christian and he was a Muslim, and our families would never approve of our union. Hazim and I decided to go to Beirut. We lived there for four happy years. We had a daughter, and we named her Rose. One morning in November, everything changed. I took Rose with me to the market to buy groceries, when suddenly a white van stopped in the middle of the road, and I saw my two brothers stepping out of it. They dragged me and my daughter into the van, and it speeded away.

My brother Sami pointed at my daughter, yelling: “Is this your illegitimate daughter? You brought shame upon our family, Lamia? How could you do this to us?”

“She is not illegitimate, Sami. I am a married woman. I love my husband, and he loves me. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Shut up! We’re taking you home. It is about time that we dealt with you,” said Nadir, my younger brother.

“Please don’t hurt my daughter. Please, I’m begging you. She is only a child.”

Rose and I cried. We arrived at my home in Sidon at night. I learned that my father had a heart attack last year. My mother and sister Salma blamed me for his death.

They put Rose and I in my old room, and locked the door. I kept banging on the door all night, begging them to let me and Rose go. I kept begging them to give us food. The next day, the door opened. My mother and sister Salma came in.

“You filthy whore. You dragged our family’s name in the mud. Father is dead because of you,” shouted Salma.

“Salma, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I fell in love, and I have a daughter now.”

My mother approached me silently. Her vacant eyes were fixed upon me. Slap!

“Mother!” I cried. My cheek pulsated like burning embers.

“How dare you say that! How dare you! I’m not your mother. No daughter of mine would do what you did. I wish I never gave birth to you,” my mother shouted and spat at my face. I shuddered.

I sobbed and held Rose, who was wailing.

“Please! My daughter is hungry and scared.”

My mother and sister looked at each other, then left the room.

I heard them shouting outside the room.

“I can’t bear to look at her. She runs away with a Muslim, and gives birth to his daughter!” my mother said.

“She is so stupid. She caused us so much pain and shame. She tarnished the family’s reputation. People gossip about us. We became the laughing stock of the town. I can’t go anywhere in town without hearing whispers and accusations,” Salma said indignantly.

Sami and Nadir then joined them, and I heard them argue about the best course of action.

My two brothers were determined “to wash the family’s disgrace with my blood.”

I dishonored my family and humiliated them because I fell in love, and gave birth to a child. In the east, a man’s honor is measured by the virginity of a woman.

An hour later, Salma brought us food and milk. I thanked her, but she ignored me, and left the room. I heard the key turn in the keyhole. Her footsteps faded away. Silence. Darkness. Tears.

My daughter slept in my arms, as I choked back my tears, but they fell anyway. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed that they would forgive me and accept me and my new family. I prayed and cried so much, that my tears dried up. I was so scared from my own family! I worried about my daughter. This is my fault.

In the early morning, Sami and Nadir came into the room. They looked possessed. At that moment, I knew that I will die. It will be over soon. I begged them not to kill me in front of my daughter. I kissed her one last time, and handed her to my mother.

“Goodbye, mother. Goodbye, sister. Please take care of my Rose.”

Mother held Rose, and cried. Salma shouted: “Damn you, Lamia. Damn you to hell!”

My brothers took me in the van, and drove toward the beach. A boat was moored at the dock, and they took me to the farthest point in the sea.

“Brothers, every condemned criminal has a last wish. Please take my daughter back to her father. She needs to be with her father. He loves her. This is my dying wish.”

They nodded. Sami asked me to close my eyes, then he stabbed me several times. They wrapped my body in plastic, and threw me into the sea.

The sea embraced me with its loving arms, as I sank deeper and deeper, and disappeared into the grey mist.

*Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. [Source: Wikipedia]

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