On a sunny Saturday morning, Maha left for a ten day holiday, bidding the beloved kingdom in which she lived a sad goodbye, eager to travel and equally eager to return home when the time came. And my oh my, did the time come…
At which she found that she could not communicate with any of those who called themselves “friends.” All of them, being of a particular Tribe — let’s call them “Eh-Rabs” — would not take her calls. Except for one boy. He took her call, playing the role of Judge, Jury, and Executioner.
On trial Maha stood, unaware that a girl, Cleptomania, had spun a web of lies so deep and so impenetrable, that all others in the group had left Maha for good. Cleptomania had found filth and run it across Maha’s words. The girl had found hatred and run it across Maha’s words. She had found judgement, and criticism, and ugliness, and smeared these things across Maha’s words.
Cleptomania wore hijab, and so those in the group misunderstood this piece of cloth for piety, eagerly believing that Maha — who wears curls instead of scarves — must be as filthy as was told by Cleptomania.
Not only did this little man crush Maha with his words, but so too did he take it upon himself to crush Maha Momma, believing it was his Muslim duty to let Maha Momma know that she had not done a proper job of raising her daughter. And that by default, he would be receiving God’s blessings because of the filth which had dripped from Maha’s mouth and onto his life story.
How could this happen, you ask? Maha was so distraught on the phone, that Momma came in to understand the ruckus, and when Maha could not hold the receiver because she was shaking too hard, Maha Momma held it instead, and the creature on the other end decided to have a go at Maha Momma.
Maha begged him: I will pick this girl up right now. I will bring her to your home right now. I will sit her in front of you and your mother, and you will see who is lying. Please. Please. Please. Please let me defend myself against these claims.
Only. He would have none of it. And he would not allow it. And Maha, weeping and incapable of comprehending what in the fucking hell she was facing, collapsed.
The collapse didn’t leave me for nearly six months. I was paralyzed emotionally, and crippled physically by what had happened to both myself and my mum. I was terrified of going out in public in case I ran into one of these people. I became a recluse of sorts, not really seeing anyone or going anywhere, because if these people — who I had welcomed into my heart and my home — could so easily set me adrift, then what guarantee did I have that others would not do the same.
Not one of these people defended me. Not one of these people called me. Not one of them reached out to me. Not one of them gave me the chance to speak to the lies which had been spun around my ankles and used to pull my feet out from beneath me. Not. One.
And I wish I could tell you that all of the lies told by this sad and demented girl had a hint of truth to them, because then at least, I would have owned it and accepted the consequences. Only, there was not even a hint to anything she said. But still, the individuals in this group were eager to believe that I was the sort who would say such things, and that — I understand 12 years later — is a greater reflection on how they felt about me, than anything to do with my sense of self in any way shape or form.
By an amazing twist of fate a few months later, my mum and I were lost in a building. And who found us, but Cleptomania’s very close relative. Who brought us into his office and shared some stories over coffee. He told us the truth of Cleptomania. That she was a thief, that she was a liar, that she had been cast out of her family’s home. In short, he called her “a Bollywood film,” a “pathological liar.”
In another twist of fate, later that very same week, I ran into one of the original “friends” in the above circle, who told me that very soon after Cleptomania had spun her web about me, she also began spinning webs about all within the group. And within less than two months, everyone came to hate everyone. And this woman was sorry she did not stand up for me when she heard what was being said about me. So sorry and could we please be friends?
My answer was no. I accepted her apology, but rejected her friendship with honesty: “You let me hang out to dry. You know I would have had your back, and I would have never walked away from you, but you let me hang out to dry. So no. You don’t ever get the pleasure or loyalty of my friendship ever again. That was a decision you made long ago.”
When these people see me now, I usually turn my face as I am not interested in reliving the trauma their actions inflicted on myself or my mother.
Amazingly. The boy in question? Well…I ran into him recently on the street. I had not seen him in years, and he has never apologized neither to myself nor to my mum, though I know that he has admitted to others that he was wrong. Or so others say, which means nothing so long as he doesn’t say it to me.
We ran into each other and he treated me like an old friend. Like a warm, old friend. And he invited me for a drink. If Shock and Awe had a face, it would have been mine. I declined graciously, and managed to escape as fast as I could because I had to call my best friend and say: “You are not going to fucking believe what just happened…and let me tell you…life has clearly not been kind to this dude…”
The moral of the story is? Don’t be a fucking asshole. Especially not to a girl with a blog. And if she has a blog, hope that she has enough class to not call you out by name, no matter how many years later. Especially where her blog ranks really high up on Google search.