Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hidden Children

When I was eight years old I was kidnapped by an Arabian man who hid me and my brother in his camel farm.

It’s totally true!

Albeit it probably only lasted five minutes but that is an emotionally scarring experience for an eight year old.

The year was 1994. My family were in Egypt on a winter holiday, although the sun was beating down on us, the sweltering heat making us sweat by the bucket load, our sun kissed bodies and our pink shoulders craving some Scottish weather if only for a minute.

I was wearing pink cycling shorts and a matching pink vest that day. I remember, because my brother told me I looked like a chubby Barbie and I cried.

* * *
“We’re going to ride on a caaaaamel!” I sang excitedly.

The next thing I knew, dad was speaking angrily to the Arab man who in turn was shouting broken English back at him. Dad was cross. The man wore long linen robes, and his head was covered with a tea towel.
All of a sudden a large rough hand reaches out and grabs my baby wrist. The hand doesn’t belong to angry tea towel man; it belongs to a younger man with a long dark beard. I’m yanked away from my parents; my brother is grabbed too.

“Mummy!” I cry as I reach out my free arm to try to grab hold of her outstretched hand.

Dad tries to get a hold of us but the angry tea towel man holds him back. He shouts in his broken English, “No! You not come in!”

My brother and I are taken past rows and rows of huge sandy coloured camels, chewing lazily, unaware that they are eating their own faeces. We are taken behind a sandstone building and are seated on a step on either side of an old leather-skinned man. The sand is in my eyes but the step feels cool against my bare legs.

I look at my brother and begin to sob. The sand in my eyes escapes in my tears, trickling rapidly down my cheeks and falling onto my vest to create a tie-dye look.

The old man turns to me and strokes my hair. I sniffle and look up at him, and see his one eye staring back at me. His other eye is gone. It is an empty hole. I can see his eye socket.

I am terrified, shaking, wonder what my big brother will do to get us back to our parents.

The old man then turns to him and they nod at each other, my brother, being the polite little boy he once was, says, "hello, how are you?"

Soon I hear footseps on the dusty ground and I make out a figure coming towards us that I dad!! My Hero!!
He takes us away and we get our ride on the camel.
But if you ask me, it wasn't really worth the trouble.


Amanda said...

oh my GOSH!! i just stumbled upon your blog and found this entry!! that is INSANE! i would have been so scared, especially of a man with one eye.