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The Dunia of a Psychically Disable Woman (Diary)

Part One
By Raya Al-Jadir
Muslim Sister- The UK
Rayaimages
My life lacks the excitement I read about in books; it is rather simple and routine-based. So what would I write?

Dear Diary,

Oh… nope… this won’t do. Let me start again.

Dear… hmmm… who? I always used to read novels in which the protagonist would keep a diary and would address it as such ‘Dear Diary'.

But that to me seems so impersonal and cold, a bit like our society, which I want to escape through this venture of personal writing.

I have never thought about keeping a diary or even writing my private thoughts for a few reasons; if you write something it becomes more real, and I have always tried to retreat into my imaginary world which offered me protection and hope. Plus, I often think, ‘What would I write?’  My life lacks the excitement I read about in books; it is rather simple and routine-based. So what would I write?

The most important thing for me is my physical ability (not great).  I rely on my mother, family, helpers and carers to bring things to me and store them back on shelves, drawers, cupboards, etc…  So how can I trust anyone with my diary that has deep thoughts and emotions that I want to keep to myself?

The laptop diary! That is the perfect solution, word document rather than pretty little rectangular shape book with lock on the side, instead of the cute key lock I will have a password that no one will know.

Human curiosity can't be contained no matter how good and honest the person; isn’t it natural to be intrigued by very personal writing, especially if it is written by someone you have come to consider to be your 'private property'!

But suddenly, I realized why I am obsessed with how things are supposed to be done; yes, stories (and maybe history?) give us a very romanticised idea of diaries. But mine should be real and reflective of me.

The laptop diary! That is the perfect solution, word document rather than pretty little rectangular shape book with lock on the side, instead of the cute key lock I will have a password that no one will know. Yes, it is different but that is me, I always have to find alternative ways to experience what many others take for granted.

You will be my soul mate, so let me introduce my other soul mates alongside you: well there is Wheelie, my electric wheelchair. She is very kind and quite a free soul; then there is also Nippy, my ventilator - she is super special

My Soul Mates... My Wheelchair

Ah, I forgot to mention that I was born with physical disability. I mentioned it in passing before without divulging into details, but is it such an important piece of information? Does it make a difference and should you, my 'diary', know that? Maybe not, as I have only just 'met' you.

Aghh!!!  I still haven't figured out a name for you, I don't feel comfortable with 'Diary' – it’s like seeing a person and referring to it as human all the time without personification.

You will be my soul mate, so let me introduce my other soul mates alongside you: well there is Wheelie, my electric wheelchair. She is very kind and quite a free soul; then there is also Nippy, my ventilator - she is super special. I always feel safe when she is around and gives me real feelings of strength and protection. She is like the cuddly toy people take to bed with them.

Nippy, I use at night as soon as I am in bed until I get up in the morning. It helps me breathe as my lung muscles are super forgetful (not to mention lazy), so when I sleep or if I exert energy they get tired and almost go on strike, but then Nippy comes and pumps air into them and makes them work.

Let me think - who else must you know about? Laptop, iPod and mobile phone are my best friends too, and then we have little collection of cuddly dolls/figures. So now you have met my worldly goods we can...

I am 32 years old, have been for few months, but it is only today that I have realized that age is just a number – certainly one which is wasted on me.

Dunia Is the Name of My Diary

WAIT! I have found the perfect name for you. 'Dunia'! 'Dear Dunia' sounds so perfect!  ‘Dunia’ means ‘the world’ in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and several other languages. So you will become my exclusive world that no one else will enter without my approval, my Dunia.

I guess you are wondering why I seek you, Dunia. To be honest, I’m not quite sure. For over 30 years I have gone with the flow, taken each day as it comes, letting things go to please people and allowing others to control me.

I have never felt I can fully open my heart to anyone, fearing that I would upset them, or knowing that they could not understand me. And I am not sure I trust them enough either. I don’t like being judged or misunderstood; yes, I know, who does? It is just that I get hurt easily and it takes forever to recover, so I’ve chosen to stay quiet and bottle my thoughts and feelings inside.

Now I cannot do it anymore; I want to share my thoughts and explore them, I want to vent my anger and frustration and most importantly I want to escape my reality.

I know you will say, ‘there must be another reason; why now?’ But let us agree on something from the start- I get enough questions from everyone else, so please don’t ask or expect anything; let me be free with my thoughts and words. I shall, just this time, make an exception and answer your questions.

My Anger

I am 32 years old, have been for few months, but it is only today that I have realized that age is just a number – certainly one which is wasted on me. As in the eyes of others I am merely an undeveloped child (untrue, my body does the things female bodies do), a weak soul that needs guidance and protection. Is it because I am a woman in a male dominated world? Or a Muslim in a largely secular country? Or an Arab in a non-Arab country?  Or quite simply because I am person living with disability? I don’t know the answer, although I have tried to figure it out in my head many times.

All I know is that I have a deep feeling of un-belonging.

I remember years ago during my undergraduate seminars at university, I came across a quote from Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ where she says ‘there is no weaker voice than a black illiterate woman.’  Well, I am not sure if I agree with Ms Morrison. Has she ever tried seeing life through the eyes of others? How can she make such a judgement? Reading that made me so irritated that it put me off the book completely.

I am not saying I have it tougher, but being educated does not guarantee you a ‘voice’; it is much more complex than that.

Dunia, I am tired now from typing, so I will bid you adieu. You know, I think we will be the best of soul mates. I have already started to feel at ease with you which is why I have not stopped talking (not at all like me). And you know something?  I’ve  just realized I didn’t tell you the actual reason that made me switch the laptop, open a new word document and create ‘Dunia’.  Well, it’s a long story which I will tell you the next time we meet. I promise.

But, I'll leave you with a quick preview. The gist of it, I got invited to a birthday dinner and concert, which rarely, if ever, happens.  And my mother, who I affectionately call 'Mama', refuses to give me permission to go.

I know, 32 years old and not allowed to go out.  People my age are running offices and homes ….

Oh I’d better switch off! My sister keeps coming near me and trying to read what I am writing…

Adieu, my dear Dunia.

Related Links:
Rights and Care of the Disabled
Families With Disabilities
Islamic Perspectives on People with Disabilities

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