No words could be formed,nor could any make their way past her lips. She simply stood motionless, gripping two plastic bags that now threatened to expose items she had haphazardly thrown onto the grocery store counter and then into plastic sacks. A new era was about to unfold, one that would hurl them even further into the alternate reality where they had sunken deeper with each passing year. It had been three grueling days of heat and sheer boredom for 8 children and their weary mother, sitting in a hotel room waiting for the evening meal to be purchased and delivered. Hours were spent looking out the window, listening to engaging clatter from the street below. Workers sold colorful scarves, books and toys, women and men heeded the call to prayer and walked towards the holy mosque. He lay sleeping in the second room, napping throughout the day, waking only to use the restroom, walk to prayer and issue reminders that this trip was for worship, not frivolous play.
The 7 hour trip was spent speeding through the desert, from Riyadh to Medina, stopping at bathrooms only when necessity warranted. Feces, soiled diapers and urine lined the stalls, each of the children entered and then made a hasty retreat back to the car, unable to use the facilities. Desert tents, camels and an occasional shrub caught her eye as the vehicle followed a path to the holy city of Medina. A warm anticipation filled her heart and soul as they traveled on this sacred path. But now she stood, staring into the crowd, a booming voice broke through the click clack of ship ships (sandals) that hurriedly marked steps made through the crowded thoroughfare. He marched forward, boldly raising his voice to a level that had been hidden from the public until this time. His arms flailed and waved as he stormed, ranting and raging. People stopped momentarily to ascertain the situation that appeared out of nowhere and gained momentum and force with each piercing word. A small crowd formed and then dispersed upon seeing her, salty sweat dripped through her black, tattered abaya, lingering long enough to leave faded stains where she wiped away the constant drip drip of humiliation and fear. She stood steadfast, gripping the coveted treats that would bring a meager but much needed relief to the stagnant living quarters.