The devil wears fake Prada

 Part one

Not a summer would go by without a trip to the luxurious Dubai. Somehow my mum had managed to make me go with her yet again. I mean I was living in a group home for kids at the time, yet the very person I had run away from had managed to convince me that a trip to Dubai would be good for us and somehow fix all of our problems. Emotional manipulation at its finest. The part she had so very conveniently forgotten to mention was the “quick little stop” we were gonna make at Hargeisa, Somaliland. 

“We will only be there for one week, two weeks tops!” she kept repeating. 

Yet, I remembered our last trips vividly. Two weeks meant two months. Yet I was 12, in a foreign country, scared shitless. Therefore, I had no choice but to go with her. And from Dubai to Hargeisa we went. In the most ghetto ass plane, I have ever been in. I mean they didn’t even have a fucking seat for both me and my mum. Even though we bought two tickets??? They had one seat, so my mum sat down. Then they brought out a large empty water bottle, put it down in the middle of the aisle, and told me to sit down. I didn’t even have a seat. Then they started to go through the safety rules and one of the flight attendants shushes me and has the fucking audacity to ask me to pay attention. Seeing that I am sitting on a fucking water bottle. Like what was I even supposed to do with the information about the safety procedures?  If an emergency broke loose and people were required to put on their masks, I wouldn’t be able to put one on as I DIDNT HAVE A FUCKING SEAT!!?!? No one seemed concerned with the fact that a kid was randomly placed on a water bottle in the middle of the aisle. Which set my expectations correctly for what was to come. 

As soon as we landed I was screamed at by four men. I heard the words “whore” and “white” be thrown around a couple of times before my mum wrapped my head with a scarf and the yelling stopped. It’s funny to me how I am considered black in Oslo and white in Hargeisa. Yet, my complexion never changes. It’s like I am a foreigner in both of my home countries. I read an article once, where a girl described it as being globally homeless. You don’t feel at home where you grew up and you don’t feel at home where you are from. I don’t think I have read a more accurate term. Globally homeless. That’s how I felt. I didn’t feel comfortable wearing a hijab in Hargeisa, yet I didn’t feel comfortable wearing my hair loose in Oslo. I wasn’t comfortable in either place. Every time we landed in Hargeisa I felt like we had been transported to a parallel universe. The same rules I was used to no longer applied. There was a completely different gender dynamic. Men were far more superior to women and therefore had more decision power. The women felt like housekeepers and babymakers to me. 

The last few times we visited I had made a friend. She was my age, yet our lives couldn’t have been more different. Her parents had died while she was quite young, so she was staying in a tiny hut next to my great grandma’s house. She lived there with her uncle and two cousins that were twins. All four of them lived in that tiny hut. I’m not sure what her uncle did for a living but he left every morning and came back in the afternoons. My friend, on the other hand, earned some pocket money from cleaning for my great-grandma. That’s how we became friends. I was always bored out of my mind so one day I asked her to play ludo with me. She agreed and I asked my mum if we could go look for it at the market. But by that point, she was already smoking her shisha so I knew there was no chance. That’s when my friend found a piece of wood and got out a pencil and started drawing the ludo game board on it. She looked at me and said, “we can use these rocks as chips, so all we need is a dice.”.  I found a dice from my room and we started playing. After some time the twins joined in, and it became our ritual. 

I was more excited to see her than my great-grandma, to be honest. But when I ran towards her to greet her, she seemed different. Less cheerful. A bit weaker somehow. I didn’t think much of it until later when she said she wouldn’t have time to play ludo. She said she had too many chores. So we did them together for her to finish faster so we could play. But by the time we were done I was exhausted, so I didn’t even have the energy myself. The next day I decided to surprise her and the twins with a water fight. Yet the second I started it they all got mortified and started telling me to not waste the water. I remember being so confused because it was from my bathroom faucet, and they never ran out. It wasn’t until I glanced at the hut that I understood that they don’t have access to water. And that the “pocket money” she gets for cleaning our house is buckets of water. At that point, I stopped suggestions games during the day as I understood that they had to work. But rather invited them to my room at night to watch Tom and Jerry, which they loved. Everyone in Hargeisa loved Tom and Jerry for some reason. I guess they are just universally loved. 

One night the twins decided not to come over, so it was just the two of us. Therefore, she felt free to take off her hijab and scarf. That’s when I noticed the marks on her neck. I didn’t need to ask any questions. I was young but unfortunate enough to know what those marks mean to a young girl. I asked her to stay over and made up some story of how it was because I was scared of ghosts. When I woke up I noticed she had wet the mattress she was sleeping on. She woke up shortly after in a panic, but I just looked at her and pointed at my sheets. I had also wet the bed. 

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