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  1. The 4 Days After That

    June 19, 2015  |  0 Comments

    I was awoken on the 22nd day in the lonely little cell in the police station up the street from my house with a haste when someone called my name aloud. I realized it was still early morning, and they must be calling to release me! I have never been so excited. I jumped up, forgetting the cold hard floor and my cracking bones. I peeked my head out the tiny window at the door to see a cop come up to me and tell me to pack my things. I had the biggest smile plastered on my face.
    It quickly vanished when he said “because you’re going to Baabda”. Baabda is a city in Lebanon that holds one of the harshest women’s prisons in the country. I was electrically shocked. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I quietly asked him to repeat what he said, and when he did, I asked him to make sure. “That’s impossible”, I remember thinking, “everyone told me I was going to go home, why would go from a jail to a prison if this was about to end?”.

    I packed my ‘things’ which consisted of a few old undergarments and two or three dirty shirts. I removed my ripped pants, left them behind, and put on an old pair of sweatpants only to realize I’ve already lost so much weight in 22 days that they were slipping off of me. I left the room, handcuffed of course, and walked slowly with my head down upstairs to wait for the run down van that was taking me on a two hour trip with windows to view what I can’t have.

    It was sickening.

    I arrived at Baabda later that day, still shocked and my head hung low. The police officers there were mean, except for one or two, and I never really liked women of this country to begin with. But now to deal with Lebanese women who had power? It took everything I had to stay calm and not get angry. Instead I tensed up with every answer I gave when I was being assigned a room.

    I walked in a room, larger than my cell, to find 20 or so women (which were described in one of my ‘Dear Diary’ excerpts). There were 8 beds. How did that work? Well, I got to see first-hand how it all worked. It all had to do with women who had money and were old; they were the priority. After figuring this out, there wasn’t much fussing one could do, and besides, where did I think I was to even begin to fuss? So I settled down on the floor and all heads turned to stare at me. The first question I got was “Shu 2aditik?”, translates to “what’s your case?”. So I just said drugs.. and all the women nodded as if they knew it the moment they saw me. Why? Because I was thin? Pshh. These women thought they knew it all. Little did I know, a few months from then I was the one asking that question to new-comers while already having my own assumption in my head.

    So I sat, chain smoked dazed and confused. Why am I here? Where’s my family? Isn’t anyone going to come to see me?

    Later that night, a young woman sat next to me explaining to me why she’s here. It’s because she found her husband in bed with another women so she tried to stab him and grazed him before he got away. She was entitled to do it, I mean, he was CHEATING on her! Right!? So of course, knowing I’m sitting next to an attempted murderer borderline psycho, I nodded in agreement. She then sat there to explain to me what each and every woman was doing here: what was caught on her, how did she get here, who that woman was (apparently a famous drug dealer), that girl who tried to make a bomb with her own two hands, the famous runaway attempt, the girl who’s pregnant over there…

    I was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t sleep that night. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was scared of being here with these women, or just simply terrified of my situation. It was probably both, which is why I probably slept with my back against the wall facing all other women as I wrote in my diary and made coffee.

    No one visited me the day after. Or the day after that. My brother and father came to me on the 4th day telling me that they’re trying to set me up to leave to another prison in Verdun, closer to home. I almost cried and begged them not to. I wasn’t exactly happy where I was, but a familiar nightmare is better that a new one. They left 5 minutes after that leaving me with sighs and food that I gave away.

    An hour passed by, and I heard my name being called out aloud again, and was told to pack my stuff, yet again. I closed my eyes and sighed as I walked back to my room and began to pack, and right before I left the door, some women made sure to tell me I was lucky to go down there because it’s “so much better”. Was it? Shockingly, yes it was. But not in the ways you might think.

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