Act I.I got married in Jeddah, on March 2012. Three months later, around Ramadhan, I pulled the plug on the project and that was that.
Being married to a Saudi meant that that was all I was going to be. A legal minor. As long as I was married, all of my achievements would be accredited to my husband's generosity for allowing me to perform outside my duties as a wife.
For a while, I thought it's just a Saudi thing. But it's a marriage thing, and it's in the implicit details of a lot of marriages around the world. That a woman is expected to represent herself as member of her society. While a man is expected to represent his achievements (and failures) as his very own.
Act II.I will gladly take vanity as part my issues with marriage. I hated the mere possibility that being married could have done to my writing voice. To my practices. To the decisions that have gone through plenty of consideration (childlessness, meditation, rolling paper).
That my ego just can't stand sharing credit for my work with anyone else. Just like how I don't mind bearing the consequences of the rest of my action as a citizen of the Universe, bound as much as anybody else to the laws of karma and physics.
I could have just rolled over and allowed the society to dictate its opinions on not having children. Or I could have just died because the integrity of identity is part of mental health, and mental health is part of survival. In my head, to indulge the social demands to act as a Saudi man's wife in Saudi, a woman, meant that I had to further forgo the important stuff that made me who and what I am. The stuff that made up my ego.
I couldn't commit to that kind of egocide.
Creative writing is a very soul-revealing work. It's very hard to write effectively, to stoke the creative fires, when you only allow parts of your mind onto the page. The contempt I had against one issue infiltrated the rest of my life because I could not arrest it on a page. It made me distrust myself and decisions and adequacy as a human being.
Since I couldn't wrap my words around my feelings about that aspect of my life, I could not trust using my voice about practically anything anywhere. It is as if all the arguments I had against my marriage, backfired against me: Married or not, I lost my voice anyway.
Ideally, I should have been able to continue writing even if I were married. Except that I have not seen that many Saudi women writers who managed to juggle creativity, children and marriage. So I presumed them all dead. I didn't want to die.
Part of writing down things is having the power to reframe the world in a structure of sentences. Not being able to write about an episode as important as that is a problem for
Hence, three years of being berricaded in a gridlock of seething silence.
Act III.Last year, I found that I could write unemotionally while flirting with the cliodynamics of literature. That's when I realized that enough time had passed. And that I've grown just enough ovaries to talk about it with close friends, even though I still couldn't write about it without getting too pissed.
Enter the wonderful world of Internet and the permeating powers of storytelling.
Ghazi Al-Buliwi is an Arab living in New York. From the sounds of it, he basically did the same thing as I did: Signed into a traditional marriage for the (generally) right reasons. Followed by series of discoveries that basically led to...well, you go ahead and have a listen for yourself.
In the meantime, I'm taking his lead by taking it easy on myself. Nobody gets in and out of marriage for a mere handful of reasons. And I just want to have my voice back. I just want to be able to tell my stories with the same ease as Ghazi does.
And if I never had to talk about marriage again (albeit unlikely), then so what?