I wanted to become a fashion designer... but in Arab societies this dream will remain a dream

Saturday 4 June 202212:11 pm
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“In my childhood, I was convinced that everything that went astray on earth ended up on the moon. But the astronauts found no sign of lost and shattered dreams or broken promises or hopes betrayed.”

 -Eduardo Galeano

If not on the moon, where might they be?

In Arab societies, dreams are often shattered from within one’s home, from the head of the family himself when he tries to impose his ideas, beliefs, and views on his children by force and through intimidation.

From the conventional Arab home begins the story of ‘Close your mind, and do not even dare to think’.

It’s the summer of 2005. We were five little troublemakers in a small neighborhood, playing with a ball that we had bought from “Abu Marwan’s” store. We would always sit by the corner shop and wonder amongst ourselves: What will we become in the future? As always, my usual answer to my neighborhood friends was that I would become a well-known doctor, because this was my mother’s desperate wish.

I was always afraid of my dream, and of being called names by my friends, since our male-dominated, patriarchal society is often ruthlessly and relentlessly judging its very own people.

In Arab societies, dreams shatter in one’s home, by the father himself when he imposes his views on his children by intimidation. From the conventional Arab home begins the story of ‘close your mind, and don’t think’

I come home carrying the accomplishments of a tired young boy. I lie down on my warm bed, and think about my overwhelming desire and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. But every time I would gather the courage to tell my parents, I would always be rebuffed by the same patriarchal approach: “Yeah sure, because it will put bread for you on the table,” or “What will people think? What will our friends say about us… Do you want to ruin the standing of our educated family?”

I would always run back to my bed with sadness and misery weighing on my heart. I’d go crying to my lost dreams, since I was a child, and was always afraid of placing any heavy responsibilities on my shoulders. My mother used to always tell her neighbors, “My son is going to become a well-known doctor. Let Umm Ahmad burst with envy. We raise doctors, not electricians.”

As for my father, he would constantly talk about me in cafes where the men of the neighborhood would gather. He would say that his son, the future doctor, will become the doctor of the poor and the needy, and that he will treat all the people of the neighborhood for free, since we in the al-Suwayda Governorate pride ourselves with our generosity and chivalry, and the cafes of our neighborhoods are considered to be schools for the generations there.

What have I done wrong that I cannot even dream in this country? Or did we get used to the lack of things around us?

Our parents were not able to find their own lost dreams, so they decided to impose them on their children in the authoritarian language of coercion and oppression.

I began to hate hospitals. Their smell reminds me of my mother and father’s dreams. I became afraid of going to the doctor. There was only one thing I liked about him — it was his white suit, stitched from the sides to create a flowy look, as if it was a painting that was made by Picasso himself.

During that stage of my life, I dreamed of accomplishing something that was related to and was within the same realm of my personality. I tried and worked hard to achieve it despite the authoritativeness of my parents, but unfortunately none of it was realized. So I stopped visualizing other dreams for a long time. I felt misery, confusion, and fear, but life always takes us on high waves that send us from the top to the very bottom in the blink of an eye. Many a time we thought that the things we have always dreamed of will never come true. New dreams continue to pile up, while the first ones, the original ones, remain stuck just the way they were stored in our memories.

I no longer have the courage to dream in my own homeland. Our homes have become fragile, our homelands are oppressed, and our freedoms are gone with the wind. How can I dream of a society free from psychological fragility, while every day childhood is robbed from us, and we bear burdens and responsibilities that are much greater than our young childhood dreams.

I don’t have the courage to dream. Our homes are fragile, our homeland oppressed, and our freedom fleeting. How can I dream of a society free from fragility while we're robbed of our childhood and bear all the world’s burdens

Before I go to sleep, I ask myself: If these dreams are not on the moon, then where are they? But then I always remember Eduardo Galeano’s answer: “… It is a force within us. The strength and awareness of man are revealed through the most difficult moments he experiences in his life, and from here is the real winding path that starts towards attaining the highest ranks and gaining new heights within oneself and within one’s life.

 

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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