“A Pissed off Saint” – Preface

by Suma Nour

The plan is on and in the morning I am going to Syria and leaving for Antigua. I don’t care what is going to happen. The morning came and I gathered together my personal belongings and my daughter. and as I did, he shouted in his stern, taunting voice, “Where do you think you are going?” I knew without a doubt that he now thought he owned me. Where else will he get the good fortune of finding a girl that’s so shunned from her family with no one to come after him, no matter what he does to her? Not in Lebanon. I am still going to try and not easily going to give up. I answered, ”To Syria.” He laughed and said in a mocking voice, “No, you are not.” I wasn’t surprised, especially after the way he threateningly entered the room. I insisted that I was going. When he realized I was serious, he got his gun ready and snatched Nellie from my arms to his side by the door. He then pointed the gun to her head and said, “If you leave this place, I will blow off her head right here in front of your eyes.” I looked at Nellie who was five years old , standing there, shocked and scared, with her legs shaking and her eyes pleading for rescue. We both were terrified and we knew there was no rescue. She was all that I had in this life, the only reason I still pushed to survive.

In this moment I am reminded again of Mary’s story, which lived and grew up in this very house prior to us. The vision of Mary tragically dying in this house flashed in front of my eyes. I remember her as she used to come and visit over at my mom’s. She was about twelve or thirteen years older than me, about 5’7” tall, a size 8, and a nice gentle face. She had two kids, a girl and a boy. Her parents died when she was young and her grandmother raised her in this very house. She fell in love with the boy next door when she was a teenager. She, as was I, was forced to marry a man while she was still a teenager. He wasn’t that much older than her, but he was never there. He worked in Saudi Arabia, making a lot of money so his children could attend the finest schools and have the best educations possible. He only came home for a few days, once or twice a year.

The boy next door that she was in love with grew up to become an educated man. Their love for one another grew over time as they saw each other quite a bit more than she saw her own husband. The husband was a very good looking man. I met him a couple of times, and I only got good vibes about him. Saudi Arabia is not the most desirable place to live in. He was sacrificing his life for the sake of his family, On the other hand, what a life to live for both of them. During the time he was away working in Saudi Arabia, she and the boy, now grown up, were still in love and had an affair. The murmuring, gossiping, and jealousy escaped some people’s mouths and reached her husband’s ears.

One day, her husband surprised her and the family with an unannounced visit. He caught wind of the gossip, heard the rumors about his wife. In the little town where we lived you couldn’t get by without everyone in the community knowing everything about you. The gossip mongers were busy spreading the secrets of their love affair. Mary had written her lover a love letter and had not given it to him yet. When her husband unexpectedly came home, he went straight into her bureau drawers looking for evidence till he found the letter. He became outraged and wanted her to leave the house, but with her adultery known around the village, she couldn’t leave, where would she go? Her wretched situation and the stigma left Mary without any idea of what to do next.

When she would not leave, he picked up a gun and shot her in the head. Thirty-two years old, a sweet loving, caring person just fell to the ground dead because she was lonely and fell in love. I could feel her pain, helplessness and the lack of support when I think about her and many other women in the same situation as us… controlled and powerless.

Her husband/murderer was in the same political party that my ‘“captor’’ was in. He went without punishment because he was a member of the political party that ruled the area at that time. But in that culture’s view, she deserved it because she cheated on him. There was, is, no sympathy for women. Men can do anything they want that is immoral, but if a woman makes one mistake than she is the one to permanently dishonor the entire family. All these thoughts came to my mind in a split second. It would be my fault if anything happened to my daughter because I left my parent’s house and I did not obey their rules. But what will happen if he killed my daughter? Would I want to live? No, at this point I am only living for her. If he killed her, I would kill myself. I put my bag down and said, “Okay, you’ve got what you wanted, you just leave her alone.”