Sunday, June 23, 2013

Because I Am A Girl...

I wrote the following poem thinking of my own daughter, still so small and innocent. Her and her little brother are so close, always together and they love each other dearly. When I watch them happily playing together, oblivious to gender roles, sometimes I can't help thinking, will it be like this later when they are older? Will the surrounding culture have an effect greater than my own influence and upbringing? Will my daughter someday feel shy to run, jump and play with her brother? Will her 'boy' toys be taken away by her relatives? I will do everything in my power to make sure both my daughter and son grow up feeling they are treated, trusted and loved equally and that she can experience a real childhood exploring, experiencing and enjoying what the world has to offer!

I dedicate this poem to all little girls out there..

Because you are a girl. That is the reply,

when I ask over and over, why?

It's what 's best for you they claim,

life as a girl is easy, you're pampered and boys always get the blame.
But because I am a girl, I have it so much harder in this world.

They say they want to protect me, it's for my own good,

but they don't know or perhaps they misunderstood.

Because I am a girl, I cannot play outside the house with my brother,

I must stay inside locked up with my sister and mother.

My sister is happy because daddy says we are like princesses in a castle

But why do I feel like a bird in a cage, my wings unable to flutter?

I watch from my window as the boys play in the street,

why don't they have to worry about who they see or meet?

Because I am a girl I shouldn't run, jump, laugh and play,

that may cause someone to have the wrong impression of me, so they say.

I cannot ride a bike because someone might see, what will they think of my family and me!

But my brothers can go out and ride their bikes wild and free..
I wonder how it would be, if I were a boy?

If I were a boy I could surely climb a tree and nobody would care!

If I were a boy I could swim on the beach and nobody would stare!

But because I am a girl I can only watch in despair.
They say I'm so lucky because girls are like pearls.

Precious pearls in shells that only a few can see.

But I am a person, not a pearl. We are the same, my brother and me!

I don't want to live in a clam hidden away, sheltered from life,

my only goal to become someone's wife.
I want to swim out to the ocean and explore all its wonders!

Tears run down my cheeks at night when I lay in my bed and ponder,

I dream of climbing the highest of mountains with my brother.

I want to feel the wind in my hair as we race each other!

But I can't, only because I am a girl.

So I sit alone in my room daydreaming of another day, a day when I can be free of all these burdens. A day when I can open the door and live.

A poem I hope my daughter never has to write.

P.S. This poem and the images attached belong to ©Blue Abaya. 


Susie of Arabia said...

I know there are many girls all over the world who feel this way. Beautifully written and illustrated!

Uncle said...

Assalamualaikum Layla.

Beautiful.....that's what I can say about your latest entry. I am your new fan and love reading your blog. Keep it up. By the way, I used to work in Madinah and Makkah a few years back. But now i am back in Malaysia. So I can relate to most of your stories. Keep on writing and regards to your other half!

Layla said...

Thank you Susie! Unfortunately you're right, it's not only a Saudi cultural phenomenon but applies to many Asian ad African countries as well for example..

Layla said...

Wa aleikum salaam Uncle :)
Thanks for the kind wishes and comment!

Kelloush said...

I hope we able to overcome this for all our children inshallah. Now I want to see the poem "Because I am a Woman" or I could just write it myself! Sigh. Maybe if I did, my husband could understand!

Affinity for Modesty said...

That is a very sad poem. I will not allow my daughter to feel any less of a human inshallah. The sky is not even the limit inshallah.

Unknown said...

Nice poem and feeling of your & other girl's hearts,some can say and some can read.
Some parent can't give permission due to wild and bad society arround us and they can't take any chance.
Our people must be educated for the respect of girls then all matters will be comfortable.
I understand your feeling and unfair dealing of our society.
Wish you good luck.

Unknown said...

As long as you live in Saudi, this will be the fate of your daughter.

Layla said...

Elisa, sorry to disappoint you and your expert opinion on the matter, but NO, if it's up to me and my husband, who God willing will be the ones to raise her, she will not be the girl in the poem.

Anonymous said...

I am a girl, and I always get the blame :,((

Anonymous said...

Hi Layla! how are you? I'm a big fan of yours and a constant reader of your blog. Please don't take this the wrong way, I have been feeling that lately your posts are less and less personal, you don't relate any of your personal experiences and stories anymore. Is there something wrong? or probably you just have been very busy?

Layla said...

Hi there lqc,
Thanks for asking, I'm fine, just super busy and as you may have noticed the past few months I've only had time to re-post articles I wrote for other publications.
So right now my time is so super limited, that on top of the normal housework and my two very demanding and mischievous babies, I need to prioritize my paid work first :) then comes other stuff. I barely have time to shower or eat, let alone blog :)

If you follow my FB blog page, you can see some more 'personal' posts, albeit very short, but it's just easier to keep that up than write an entire post with images..

Also I am working on several projects behind the scenes related to the blog, you will find out soon what they are :) I am very excited!

Thanks for stopping by and take care!

Unknown said...

Hi Layla,

I am reading your Blog since long. I love the way you interpret, by reading your blog I can understand you have high respect for the country you live but at the same time I Like the way you touch base the issues around you. I really got moved by the poem today so thought of writing to you. Keep up the good work .

Anonymous said...

Hi Layla! My first time visiting your blog, found it from facebook's travel bloggers group. I'm very interested in cultural matters myself and lately especially fascinated by Arabic tastes. Beautiful pictures and touching words. I will definitely stay tuned. :)

Abigail said...

This made me sad - I feel this way from time to time. However, every time I walk in public (and I live in the USA), I feel like this is how I must live just to keep myself safe. The leering of men disturbs me very much and even when I cover appropriately, it still least in the area I live in. Even as a young teen I had some issues with men; I realized I was growing up when it occurred to me that the closeness and obsessiveness of a mentally handicapped acquaintance might be problematic, which my mother confirmed when we talked about it. I haven't done anything to get this kind of attention, but it still occurs - and that's why so many young women find themselves hiding or hidden away. I fear that no matter what society we live in, no matter what the customs are, we won't be able to be who we really are.

Abigail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.