(Click here for A Woman Called Messiah, Part I)
“What the hell is this place?” the taxi driver asked. We drove along a winding road with hardly any streetlights. Abandoned warehouses were scattered by the roadside. Taking a taxi there was a precautionary step. Her neighborhood could be swarming with pimps, or her place could turn out to be a crack house.
Driving past the abandoned warehouses, we arrived at a nice-looking neighborhood. Following her instructions, I crossed a children’s playground. A guy lurking in the dark raised my suspicions. Shortly after that, I entered a tiny studio apartment. She walked towards me to greet me with an exaggerated sensuality. She was wearing a fancy blouse, black leggings, and too much makeup. The blouse was tied above her navel, exposing her belly. A tear in the blouse partially exposed her right breast. She looked like everything that society has taught us about women in prostitution. She then asked me to sit down, announcing that dinner was ready.
I got alarmed. Having dinner was not part of the plan. The food could be drugged. But I understood her need to be a good host and to have a safe social interaction. And I believe that giving is empowering. So, I ate the tasty rice that she’d made and served on a disposable dish. She also put on the improvised tiny table two pieces of cake as well as delicious-looking berries.
Then she told me her story. She had lost her mother when she was a baby, and her father and stepmother had neglected her. “I got married when I was thirteen years old,” she said. This translates to an ongoing statutory rape: THIRTEEN… “My husband beat me and his parents made me work for them. We moved to your country, and I gave birth to a boy and a girl. I couldn’t take the beating anymore and divorced him. But I didn’t want to lose my children; they are my souls.” She sighed. “The social worker said that they should stay with their father, temporarily. Instead, he received sole custody.
“Selling clothes in casinos and escort services, I was doing very well financially. But I was afraid of being looked at as a prostitute and I quit. Only I was unable to stay at any job for more than a week. Soon I couldn’t pay the rent, and I became homeless for ten years. Sleeping mainly in restaurants, whenever someone tried to take advantage of me, I left.
“God revealed himself to me as a man and took care of me. But he couldn’t stay with me because there are so many problems in the world. One day we will reunite. Then people won’t have to grow old, get sick, and die. Aging and disease are a reflection of the hardships that we go through in our lives.” She smiled, then added, “Finally I have my own place, and I spend lots of time with my grownup children.”
“What’s your greatest dream?” I asked.
“To move to a bigger place, so I can live with my children again.”
“Will it be OK if I write about you?”
“Sure, I’d like that.”
It was time to leave. She offered to show me where the bus station was. Walking with her, I didn’t see the guy who had been lurking in the dark before. Still, I felt concerned for her safety because of her torn blouse and sensual gait. And it was almost midnight (as if women and girls don’t get sexually assaulted during daytime wearing burkas). I decided to focus instead on her being the Messiah. She had earned it after surviving what no woman or girl should endure.
Are her troubles over yet? Not as long as people continue to shun those deviating from the norm and to objectify and sexualize women’s bodies. It doesn’t matter what we wear or don’t wear, or how we walk. It is a basic human right to be safe, always. And our bodies are ours and ours alone, ALWAYS!
Before the bus arrived, she said, “I abstained from sex for ten years. As long as I was separated from my children, I didn’t want to experience pleasure.”
I believe her.