It was dark. There was a loud scream of pain very close to the room where I was.  I looked around and found no one in the room but me, and I was covered with blood. I decided to drag myself out and see what was going on. I heard another voice beside the scream another lady actually saying that, “It’s OK, It’s OK. Just breathe and push.” I opened the door and everyone in the room screamed as if they were waiting for me to come out, but I knew none of them. I felt free and strong for the first time in my life, so I screamed, “Freedom.” And everyone laughed. It was Thursday 8th of September 1983, and that’s how I was born.

     Actually, I don’t remember this story but my mom repeated it over and over because I loved it. What is so sad about the story is the ambiguous setting. My mother refused to tell me where exactly this room was or which building. I am still wondering!  Anyway, I am glad that mom has told me this; at least I was not brought from a hospital like my brothers.

     I always thought that I was the smartest kid in my school, too. All of my peers forget their mouths open, and mice came and stole their teeth. How stupid was that?! As soon as I heard their stupid stories, I started to close my mouth very firm before my eyes, and check if there are mice around. I even insisted that we should have a cat; so that the mice won’t dare to come closer. Thanks to that, I still have my teeth.  I replaced my teeth willingly, one by one when I was seven and no mouse ever dared to come trying to steal my teeth.

        I am really proud of my uncle, too. Man! He told me not to cry like girls before two weeks from school, so my first day to school was easy. I never cried like most of my class mates, because men never cry. Even Good girls never cry; because crying is only for weak sissy girls. So, even when it really hurts, no one could see my tears at all. I am a man!

     Until life uncovered itself, I strongly believed in those superstitions! I also believed that looking at sky in the night is dangerous for my sight because the stars might blind me when they are falling according my grandpa, who wanted me to sleep and stop counting stars as we set to sleep in the titular of the house.(Old fashion houses in desert are built with an open space where most of activities take place, and all the rooms are open into that titular. in summer my family used to sleep their because it is nice, breathy and bright).

My friend loved to dig holes in the ground, but one day while I was digging a hole in front of my grandparents’ house, he approached me and said, “stop! you might dig a skull of someone, you know?!” I burst in tears, and made fun of him. He was so serious, and he swore that his parents told him that. So, from that day on, I kept telling my younger siblings not to dig, and using the same excuse. His parents succeeded making the whole neighborhood safe for older people, who were victims of our small traps. (we used to dig small holes and people step on them and trip, then we make fun of them).

As a child I believed anything that I heard from the elder people. I even tried to convince others of it. One day I was trying to convince my grandfather that, if he gave me some coins, I can grow them for him as one can grow plants. my argument was that children are pure and god loves them, so, he would help them fulfill their wishes. He didn’t dismiss my argument, (because he told me that). He said he was broke, and I should ask my grand mother if she had some coins for me to grow. I was disappointed because I knew he had money but he I could not convince him, and I knew that he had coins with him at that moment. I mean, I just wanted to make some money for both of us!

Take home message

       If you have children, respect their minds and don’t deceive them. Because that’s what form their world view for a long time before life explain itself to them.  At that point, they would feel silly about themselves, or sometimes feel that their parents are lairs, which is bad.  These topics are really hard to deal with, especially if you have a curious child like the one above. Instead of lying to them, have simple conversations with them, taking in consideration their age, their thinking abilities and their comprehension. That can save time and effort, because all what the child has to do later is to expand their information. The same simple information they got from you as a parent or an elder person when they were kids.

Hussein Abdulwafi A graduate student at The University of South Florida, College of Education. Was born and raised in Libya, in a remote city of Ghat at the south west of Libya.

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