I go in there & before anything starts, I'm super excited & I remember Saturday night fever, dirty dancing, grease, swan-lake, rent, beauty & the beast, Phantom of the Opera (all the musicals that made me WANT to dance)
I was called out to the front. The teacher was Russian, married to a Jordanian; no one cared about her name (they called her Madame) that seemed sufficient.
She made me stand in front of the entire room & asked me to look at all the girls "look at all these pretty girls, see how they look, see what they wear?" Up until then I was still looking at their faces, some were giggling, ooo spotted a friendly face I waved at her, she waved back. Madame continued "now look at you" she turned me towards the mirrors, "look you are FAT, you think YOU CAN BE BALLERINA? You think you look ok?"
SHOCK..HUMILATION..my heart sank, my face turned red, my body felt hot..
I'm actually tearing up as I write this, because as a child you're supposed to dream, you SHOULD have aspirations, you MUST shoot for the moon. But what I discovered about our sad truth in the Arab world is, not only are we racist, sexist & sectist. We also are truly deprived of feeling gratitude or privileged. We are raised to feel heartbreak, sorrow, pain, victimized, the idea of 'THIRD WORLD' is so instilled in us that we refuse to hope, dream, laugh, feel pride, aspire, reach.
I walked slowly, trying to hold back the tears and sat behind a huge stack of mattresses, I shook my head, don't cry don't cry. The friendly girl came and sat next to me quietly, "it's ok" she said with broken English, "she is stupid, she can't even dance aslant, I like your hair" she made me laugh. Madame came and found her there "what you are doing here? Go we begin" the girl simply said "مابدي " and she took my hand and we walked off to get changed.
Later on the response I got from the other girls was non-stop laughter & bullying for the next 4 years. مين مفكرة حالك؟ I'm allowed to dream. أنتي ناصحة a word I only learned here – so what? Weight is an exterior obstacle I can/will get over. I was out-casted for being different.
4 years later, I lost the weight, became popular & bullied the hell out of these girls, had my own 'gang' & FINALLY made them feel like the outcast. Anger & hate drove me, I forgave but I never forgot. The moment I had the chance to fire back I did. & it only made me more popular.
Am I justifying this? Maybe. But I know now that one day when I have a daughter & she says she wants to be a queen, president, doctor, maid or a cucumber I'm going to be there for her & support her. NEVER EVER forsake her or her dreams.
This reminds me of our sad situation, we do not HATE Jews, but we (PALESTINIANS, ARABS, Nations , people, colors, sizes, religious beliefs) have bullied, kicked, made fun of. There is an anger, against governments. Oppressing someone because they're different? Terrorizing someone because they are inferior? NO ONE is inferior. Take something away from someone because you think it's rightfully yours? Child play.
Someone took that dream from me that day & I will never forget it, I still tear up but I refuse to cry. Back in the day someone took the dream from my father, he refused to kneel, but he did let go.
So when one says we shall forgive, but we shall not forget. It's not a threat, more of a internal need to keep our dreams alive. We're all one, made of one, will die one.
I may not have been a ballerina but one day I will dance my way to فلسطين .