"Smile, sweetheart. Smile always and bring happiness to nice people's hearts."
Her young life is one without trouble or fear-until things turn upside down as her country is rattled by financial crisis, forcing young Maysam and her family to move in with her grandmother. In that angry household, the young girl learns some of life's more unpleasant lessons. Years pass, and poor Maysam grows into a young, unsociable, and forgotten lady.
She struggles to reconnect with the joyful and optimistic child she once was, as the burden of finding her own way in a culture that cannot see the beauty within her wears her down. Lonely, sad, and depressed, she is lost in her own troubles. To protect herself, she builds internal walls around her pain, resigning herself to a fate in which she merely exists, instead of lives.
But the joyful child inside refuses to accept this new self-imposed destiny. She vows to find a way to harness the happiness she sees around her. Can Maysam recapture the dreams of her innocent childhood in time to save her life and self-esteem?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.17(d)|
Read an Excerpt
An Illusion Called Beauty
By Samar Al-Mahiawi, Asma Boumezrag
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Samar Al-Mahiawi
All rights reserved.
An Illusion Called Beauty
Once upon a time,
Does it really matter when or where?!
Whether it was true or just a fairy tale?!
Or what really matter is that each story we tell worth to be heard ...
She was indeed little by age, few years or so, beautiful like a princess.......coming from a magical world.
Her infantile scent was redolent of fragrance, roses and many colors.
The name given to her was "Maysam" to reflect all beautiful virtues.
The little girl didn't understand much of the world, and thought people to be some shapes and types.
All she learned, smiling innocently since her mother revealed the fascinating secret of a sincere smile.
"Smile sweetheart, smile always and bring happiness to nice people's hearts" The little Maysam was greatly influenced by her small family like any other child of her age, she believed their talks, shared their moments of joy and sorrow.
Her eyes glow with joy each time she senses the beautiful love uniting her parents and when they ask her: "what is the matter Maysam?" She replies pleasantly: "I want to be like my parents when I grow up". One day, what was an unlikely expectation became actual situation. Overnight and all of a sudden, her small family had no alternative but to move to her grandmother's big home, now that the economic crisis has stroked the country resulting in poor income and scarceness in job opportunities. Since then everything went upset down ...
Although the new home was full of people, full of furniture of different types and sizes, still the walls were completely unwelcoming, not giving any comfort. Suddenly, the corners of the home turned cold like communicating its objection and pain to its occupants.
The grandmother did not like Maysam's mother because of her great wisdom, tranquility and peace loving nature. She always believed that her daughter-in-law was wearing just a mask and that indeed she was nothing but a chameleon showing different colors, attitudes and filling her son's head with trifles and a lot oflies. Maysam's mother was not at all like that which was creating issues and rising up jealousy in the heart of her sisterin- law who was still spinster.
Years passed by ...
The little innocent beautiful girl became a young unsociable forgotten lady ...
When I look at the reflections of my face ... I see nothing but ashes scattered and emotionless features ...
I can't recall when the shapes of those around me started to disappear slowly ... just like when you look at yourself in a foggy mirror, your picture will slowly be revealed until it reflects you and no one but you ... This is what I am seeing in the reflections of their eyes, no matter how these eyes look like, whether they were almond shaped, circled, squared, rectangle, big or small, they always accompanied me through my journey ... wherever I go ... they followed me ... they locked me up in its illusion shadows and made me feel so depressed and sad that I was unable to see without them.
It feels like I am going around myself ...
Who I could be?
What I have done?
Is there any refuge?
The feeling of loneliness, selfishness, betrayal and jealousy overwhelmed her family, started to rule their judgments. The very first punishment was forcing love out of close doors, ignoring to hear any appeals ... eventually, the glamorous smile on her mother's lovely face has disappeared and replaced by a sad bitter one, as her father stepped back away from his own family to be a free single bird again. Angry souls screaming loudly without permission, uttering all kinds of words which hit the heart hard through its rough letters, tears burning whatever comes on its way ... far away ... to the nowhere ...
Where all that love went?
Why did that smile disappear?
Time canceled all its regular basic changes, its painful fingerprints rebelled threating silently... in that house there were nothing but shallow weak souls looking for an exit or a shelter that could receive its old burden even for counted silly moments. Thus, journey of self-conflict began, through its paths with life acceptance of rejection, comparison and anger along with that bard feeling of guilt ...
I understand everything ...
I hear everything....
My small figure does not indicate anything ... it seems ...
Maysam's Family, like any other family, was a blabber lover. They used to gossip about people on non-stop basis, to compare people to each other, without realizing that their naive attitude may affect a child's self- confidence, and rise up sort of sophisticated questions in his mind, about how welcoming his family would be.
This mentioned child happens to be me! Their words still have a frightening echo in the deep of my heart. Every morning, I find it so hard to overcome my fears, my hurts, to maintain my principles, or even to go ahead with my life indeed.
I can hear their aggressive harmful words:
"What a cocky girl!"
"Look at your cousin, how obedient girl she is!"
"What a dark girl!"
"Shut up! You're just a kid"
"What a big feet!" ...
When I go through these statements, I find them so wrenching and so painful.
What is wrong with my feet? Why they are so big and ugly!! Is my skin that dark and unpleasant?! Does my young age prevent me from grasping facts of life? Why? Why do I feel a deep sadness laying heavily on my chest, an enormous scream shaking the depth of my heart. Why me and not others?!!!
More I realize what they were truly thinking of me, more I hate myself as this is what I am ...
Like scratched mirrors, they were constantly reminding me how ugly I am for them.
But after my constant suffering, I have decided! Yes, finally I decided to build a solid wall deep inside to keep myself away from them. I promised myself no more cries in front of them!
Ting tong, ting tong,
The doorbell rang lightly resembling a young butterfly motion. She must be our neighbor's daughter Ola who was lovable for her funny stories and quarrels like a beautiful bird bringing luck and happiness wherever, whenever it passes.
Oh I wish I could be treated like her!
I ... I hate her, oh my God, I uttered it ...
Yes I do hate her and I really feel sorry for that.
Maysam sighed for a few seconds and with sentimental yearning scolded herself:
No one loves me! No one ...
She walked into her room talking to herself, looking for an answer in her mirror. She took a look at herself ...
What do I lack? What is wrong with my personality?
Or is it my appearance?
Thoughts rolled through her head and burdened her small heart and suddenly, she heard
O what a beautiful girl, O Ola
Is there a nicer girl than you on this earth?
What can I do to wrap myself in a dress inlaid with similar words to protect me from such awkward situation?
Dancing with the air, exchanging funny jokes with laughter, their voices were very loud as if they were next to this drifter girl.
Maysam looked closely to her prematurely old face and after some time nodded approving her decision; yes, if I can do that I will get my happiness ...
Maysam came out of her room to ask her friend eagerly hoping to get answers for her questions; but it was nothing than her swinging wooden toy wherein she used to cast her blundering feelings away with the breeze. She made up her mind: I will not continue this way anymore Yes, I must look for the secret of that beauty! And get the same at any cost! Perhaps it will restore the joy I missed! With such a beauty, I shall walk forward confidently amongst people without any fear or shyness.
What is beauty?
Summer drew near followed by all preparations. It was quite an opportunity for people of the city to exchange talks and conversations about autumn carnival which used to be held every year. The carnival was an occasion for people to celebrate end of the warm season over the biggest bridge linking east of the city to its west as a bond of peace, harmony and unity. Those were nights of joy, singing and high competition among the most weird and most beautiful theaters and shows. However, Maysam was not thinking at all that way. She felt like a stray prey amongst this crowd gazing at her with mysterious dreary eyes. This situation led her more and more into skepticism until she became breathless. In spite of all that, she was still determined to join the Carnival in high hopes to obtain what she was longing for; perhaps her fate changes at last before it is too late. During those days, Maysam was roaming and wandering here and there taking notes of what was going on with the family. She was snooping around for any interesting topic, and secretly inspecting her grandfather's archaeological books. She was observing the faces, moving the head slowly and walking on her tip toes to be unnoticeable. The mother called upon Maysam in order to help her in preparing lunch.
Maysam started to cut some vegetables for her mother who was already cooking some rice and soup. And suddenly it came to her mind: "It is my chance to talk about the carnival!" She hesitated a little while, then said: Maysam: " a ... aa ... Mo Mom!" with uncertain tone ...
Mother: "What do you want?"
Maysam: "You know, it's a carnival time and all people of the city are eagerly waiting for the opening ceremony".
Mother: "That's right".
Maysam: "Can I attend?"
Mother: "With whom?"
Maysam: "With my school friends, of course"
Mother: "But this is the first time ever you are asking to go, what made you to change your mind?"
Maysam: "Nothing in particular, I just wanted to spend a good time with my friends, that's all!"
The mother kept silent for a while thinking.... before answering her,
"Don't worry, I'll inform your father but promise me to take good care of yourself and return safely before dark".
An overflow of contradicted and perplexed emotions overwhelmed Maysam rising up her curiosity about the future. Finally, luck is playing its simple and positive role helping her to achieve her goal. I wonder how long I can wait?
Maysam told her friends "sure, I'm coming", so they were surprised thinking "what's the matter with her?", as it was the first time she showed interest in joining them. Indeed, Maysam always wanted to do that, but the discomfort to walk along the city made her to think twice each time. However this time was altogether different.
It was so overcrowded for Maysam to feel peace, she was looking down and trying to stick to one of her friends by holding the tip of her shirt, but she ended up losing her way and her friends due to the jam. Frightened to death, she started searching randomly here and there, but she found no one. She screamed deep inside "Oh my God!! I can't see anyone of them". At this very moment, a flow of blundering thoughts invaded her mind. The solid wall she built skillfully has collapsed at first encounter with destiny ... it seems ...
The carnival was so cheerful with the breathtaking lights and amazing theaters that Maysam forgot her loneliness for a while, especially when she got to watch the fireworks, fancy costumes and global cosmetics brands display. She started to put some make up waiting to see impressions of others; maybe she changed and became prettier. However, she was still blocked in her old belief that mirrors were following her and getting uglier and uglier whenever she tried a new thing.
After a while, she realized that she was lost, and that she needed time to find her friends, unless they have changed their way. Her face turned pale and she started to hear her heart beating, till she heard an interesting announcement which was so appealing that she forgot again her affliction. She came closer then she understood that it was a call for a show.
'Overwhelming Beauty' ...
'Most Attractive' ...
Most Talented' ...
'Inspiring Dancers' ...
'Watch it now or regret it forever'!!
Said the man, who was inviting people to an overcrowded cave-designed room, decorated with golden coins with dim lighting where all attendees were eagerly waiting for the show to begin.
Maysam became inpatient as the man mentioned exactly what she was looking for, like he read her mind. She rushed to him saying: "You sir!"
The man wondered: "What do you want little girl?"
Maysam Said: "You have something which belongs to me!"
The man in an amazed enraged tone: "what do you mean? It's the first time ever to see your face!"
Maysam reformulated quickly her question: "No, you didn't get my point. You were calling people for beauty proudly; if you really have it, please give it to me, I need it badly!"
The man smiled in a sarcastic manner for a while then said: "hahahahaha, can't believe, come, come and tell them".
He took her to the shiny backstage, introduced her to some musicians and some of his impressively beautiful showgirls who were dressed in glittering costumes and accessories.
He called upon everybody saying with a half-smile: "come and listen, this girl wants something I possess!"
All asked: "what is that?"
The Man: "You tell them yourself little girl".
Maysam: "I'm looking for beauty, I want it to be mine!"
They all burst into laugh so loudly that their horselaughs reached almost to the audience outside: "O really?"
Maysam kept silence with a wary impression like confirming her last statement.
The man: "mmmmm well ... look at the huge crowed over there, do you think that they all gather for beauty?"
Maysam: "Sure ... what can be more inspiring for the souls, what can soften the hearts, what can fill this world with joy and laughter else than beauty".
The man stared at Maysam's face amazed at her enthusiastic talk, pondering over each word she uttered.
Maysam carried on: "What was in fact the beauty you were advertising for sir?"
The man proudly: "It's our fascinating show dear!! want to join?
Maysam blushed but didn't think twice before replying happily: "yes, yes I do".
The man was astonished at Maysam's determination to go through any adventure for the sake of beauty. He went to check the wardrobe, brought some glamorous garments, then gathered showgirls addressing them: "I want you to teach ... ((What's your name by the way?)) she replied ((Maysam)) great, I want you to teach Maysam how to dance cause she'll join you in the show".
The girls started to babble refusing to do so due to the limited time and difficulty of show as it took them months and months of constant training to achieve such a professional performance.
The man: "Alright, alright ... you will be teaching her only simple and easy things which can be complementary to the show. I guess you can do this much at least?"
((I just want to see what this strange girl is capable of)) in challenging tone to justify his insight.
Orsola, the team leader stepped forward. She was a child of interracial marriage; her father was Arab and mother was Russian. She was looking like "Matryoshka doll" which is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another, all with rosy cheeks and deep blue eyes ...
She said: "I will help her to perform nicely ... don't worry".
She dressed up Maysam properly, and started to teach her some simple movements Orsola: "Try to imitate exactly what I am doing ...
Dance this way, with agility and grace and don't forget to smile and whenever we move to the other side follow us ..."
Maysam got thrilled and delighted to possess the beauty of the place by taking part of the show ...
"Come on everybody, get ready, it is show time Don't lose focus ... good luck for you all"
Orsola: "Come on Maysam this is your chance to see the beauty of our show through the eyes of this large audience
Curtain lifted and the show began. Music started to flow magically enchanting the audience and dancers moving in splendid harmony with music tones, but Maysam was frozen in her place as a statue, not even a single step!
In spite of Maysam's great excitement to embrace something of that beauty, but audience unanticipated applause and acclamation were too much annoying and trembling to her delicate heart. She found herself suddenly center of attention of this large number of mirrors, all staring at her, evaluating her performance and passing comments on her appearance.
Somebody from the audience: "What about that girl? Why she isn't moving? Is she a decoration for the show?"
I can hear their whispers; understand their true opinion of me ... the way they are gazing at me, murmuring, laughing and mocking, This is not at all what I expected ... this cannot be beauty, no way!!! She thought.
[ARABIC TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
Excerpted from An Illusion Called Beauty by Samar Al-Mahiawi, Asma Boumezrag. Copyright © 2013 Samar Al-Mahiawi. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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