I was five years old, still in kindergarten, when I realized for the very first time that I was taller and bigger than my peers.
We were preparing for our graduation ceremony from kindergarten. There were lots of kids and lots of noise; I could hear their joyful laughter and smell the sweat coming off them after dancing the Debka. I wanted to participate in it so badly, but was excluded because I was taller than the other children in the song and dance “The Flowers.”
I asked to at least participate in the song; here I thought my height would not matter, but Miss Falak’s gloomy face said “No” before her mouth said it.
I stood alone in the corner of the classroom, watching the girls dance and sing, “I am the yellow flower… I am the red flower…” and I prayed, “Please God, let me in. Do anything and let me in.”
The girls sang the colors of the flowers: Yellow, white, purple, and red!
Oh, red! … I have a beautiful red dress with white flowers that my grandmother brought me when I was sick after eating bad ice cream from Abu Farouk shop; I will look great wearing it with the white shoes and red hat… I was daydreaming, when I accidentally heard Miss Falak ask the blonde girl acting as the red flower: “Do you have a red dress?”
The girl said No.
Miss Falak turned to the rest of us: “Girls, does any one of you have a red dress?”
I raised my hand till it touched the roof of the class and screamed: “I have one, I have a beautiful one, and I can go home and bring it, may I?”
And the answer came: “Yes, go!”
I ran in the narrow street between my home and the kindergarten. I was thinking, my mother is surely asleep, she will kill me if I wake her up, but I need to do so, Mom forgive me.” I knocked on the metal door to our home. I knocked and knocked, but my mother was asleep. I shouted: “Mother please wake up, wake up and open the door.”
“Who is it?” Came her angry voiced.
“What do you want? Why are you back?”
“I want my red dress, please open the door.” She opened the door with her eyes half-closed. Our ground floor apartment was dark, but I managed to find the dress.
I ran back down the narrow street again, the red dress in my hands, and I was singing:
“I am the red flower, I am the red flower!”
Shahd El-Swerki,25, married and mother of Lilian 4-years old and baby Omar born fall 2015. Works for UNDP as Communications Assistant. Holds a BA in English and French literature from Al-Azhar University- Gaza. Shahd loves to read and write short stories and articles. Her wish is for her family to have a peaceful life.