No Mahram……

It was now April, humidity was high in Al-Khobar and temperatures rose to 100 degrees. The compound home had central air keeping it at a constant and cool temperature. The upcoming move to Riyadh was exciting but a feeling of worry circled overhead. I didn’t know if the experience at the two previous schools had just been coincidence or if this was what we had to look forward to.  Our amazing newborn girl was healthy and sweet, the little ones watched her sleep and argued over whose baby she truly was, giggling and laughing as she grasped their fingers within her delicate hand. He made his trip home on the weekends to Al-Khobar and then back to Riyadh for the week, where he lived temporarily in “single” housing.  Life continued and my routine remained unchanged.

I had a cleaning schedule and followed it each day, running up and down the three flights of stairs from the kitchen to the bedrooms and up to the laundry room on the roof. I picked up toys, emptied garbage cans, made beds and did general daily clean up. As I made my way through the bedrooms taking sheets off for their weekly wash I spotted an unfamiliar sight. A dead bug covered in blood lay on the sheets underneath a blanket. Of course this made me shudder but I wiped it away and took the bed sheets and blanket to the roof to be washed.  A few days later when picking up baby Soos from her chair I saw another bug, a replica of the first one. I had become accustomed to cockroaches and made a quick run for my shoe when I spotted one, even lizards didn’t make me shriek at this point. But this was something entirely new and I had no idea what was to come. My first error was made after spotting the second bug, when I moved blankets, pillows and clothing into a different bedroom. I decided that we would sleep there for the time being while I sorted out this small issue. I sprayed the bed we had left behind and the surrounding area thoroughly assuming this would eradicate any bugs that remained. I was glad to have this behind us and I considered it a little inconvenience at best. We all piled into the second bedroom and settled in for the coming weeks.  We spent two weeks bug free until one night when my son jumped out of bed, frantically looking through the blankets. He said he had seen another bug, the same kind that had been spotted before. At this point I had no idea what was happening and so I made my second mistake and packed up our things, moving to the last bedroom. As we carried  blankets and pillows down the hall, I stopped in my tracks and remembered a story he had relayed to me. He had been staying at an older compound in an area designated for bachelor men in Riyadh when he woke in the middle of the night to find bugs on his bed and pillow. He got up and left the single’s housing and they put him in a hotel until they could find suitable accommodations. I stood for a moment horrified and frozen, dropping pillows and clothing. Surely these bugs could not have come along with him and planted themselves in our lovely home. I had never heard of such a thing and so I continued to the third and final room.

The next day I called the compound management and they sent a worker to collect a bug, which they easily found among the sheets. They called that evening giving a long and complicated name but in the end said that we had an infestation of” bed bugs”. The manager of the compound told me to exit the house for the day while they sprayed every fiber in our home including, couches, carpeting and of course the beds.  I packed up the kids and spent the day visiting friends on the compound, sitting at the park and restaurant.

It had been several weeks since they came to spray for bugs and we had put this behind us.  As I made my way down the stairs to bring another box of clothes for packing, I noticed a small dot stuck to the carpet. I leaned over and saw a tiny bug, a bed bug!  As I took notice it seemed there were now bugs on the couches, beds and carpeting.  I called the compound management but they said there was nothing more they could do and gave me the number for the company that had sprayed the house. I called and spoke to a very helpful Australian man who explained that bed bugs have a cycle much like lice and fleas so catching them in between that cycle is the only way to rid your house of them. He informed me that it was imperative  to spray the entire house every 7 days  for the coming month in order to stop the cycle. He also suggested hanging blankets, sheets and clothing on the roof in the unrelenting heat. And the last warning, bed bugs stick to material and transfer with you on clothing, bags and anything made of material.  I didn’t want to pack anything that would transfer these bugs to our new home in Riyadh. I ran furiously up and down the stairs, washing the blankets and bedding, hanging everything on the roof and then bringing it into the only untainted room on the top floor. Washing, drying and not touching anything in the lower floors was the new routine!  I called the compound manager explaining what I had learned and the procedure that was needed to get rid of the bed bugs. He had little interest in my plight but said the company would put us in a hotel for the day of the spraying and the day after. He assured me he would make a hotel reservation and things would be taken care of.  The phone rang minutes later and he announced in his aloof manner, that there was nothing more he could do, as a woman in the kingdom I could not legally check into a hotel without a Mahram (male guardian) .  I sat on a kitchen chair, not wanting to sit on a couch, the carpeted stairs or a bed, and tears streamed down my face. Taking care of a newborn, 5  small children, packing for the big move to Riyadh and now washing, drying, running away from bed bugs had finally caught up with me!

233 thoughts on “No Mahram……

  1. Yikes that’s really bad! I felt bad for you and your kids while I read this. It’s terrible that women are treated like that in Middle Eastern countries. A lady I met from the Middle East told me women aren’t allowed to drive a car there. Up until recently, women weren’t allowed to vote there either.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What an awful situation, on top of everything else you had to endure. It must have been dreadful to know that your home was infested with those bugs and be told nothing could be done about it. I’m not surprised your tears flowed. But you kept strong, for the children’s sake. I’ll look forward to reading the continuation of this, Lynn.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Lynn. Things are OK but I’m nearing the time when I’ll have to take a break from my blog. I need to spend more time on my book and I can’t do that and write blog posts too often. I’ll perhaps just post now and then for a while. I still have a couple of award posts and a quotes challenge to do, then I’ll get to serious work on my writing. Thank you for asking. I’m glad you had a lovely weekend with your mom. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

          • My parents both died some years ago and I still miss them. It’s so lovely that you’re back in your homeland and can be with them now. It was a marvellous move for everyone when you came back and stayed. Sorry, I’m getting carried away now. Talk again soon, Lynn. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

          • Yes it was Millie! My dad had cancer the year after we moved back so we were here with them!! I dont know how it would have been to be so far away!! We were able to help them move last year after 40 years. They were alone, lots of friends but not us. So, it has been wonderful!!! They have stood by us and now we are standing by them! Thanks Millie!

            Liked by 2 people

          • A wonderful story, Lynn. Things couldn’t have worked out better for you all. You just need the complete separation I know, to make everything perfect. You have so many new friends on WP all wanting the same thing for you.
            It’s 11.20 pm here, so I’m off to bed. I rarely manage to get up there before midnight nowadays, and I love to read for a while before I lie down. Talk again soon…

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Just doing my weekly catch up hope you are well…..whatever next for you ?no wonder the tears flowed but you came through lovely lady and that is testament to your inner the fall pictures..until next time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just can’t fathom or imagine not being able to go grocery shopping; a basic need for all humans is obtaining food and water, or being able to hire someone to exterminate bugs in my home simply because I am a woman! I am so thankful everyday to have been born in this time, and country. You are much stronger than I’ll ever be in this regard Lynn.

    I’m reading every post in anticipation for that, “AH- HA” moment when you realized you needed to get your children and yourself out of the Middle East, and how you managed to do so!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It took years!! Fear and the idea that i had many kids and i needed to give them the best. When i did leave it was not pretty! I kept waiting for him to realize i was good to be who he had started out as but that never happened! I knew inside that leaving would be hard but not as hard as it was. He threatened my life, said he would take my children and left me with no way to support the family. It has been a long road trying to be free and i am still in the middle! So leaving meant a difficult situation and turmoil and guilt for the mess that followed. So it took a long time!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.