A book was laid in my hands; books give you power, and power makes you invincible.
I am Dalia, the girl everyone talks about, the one with a shameful past but a successful future. I’m prominent on social media. Some love me for who I am and encourage me to continue changing the world. Others are simply disgusted by me and insist my reputation will never be unstained.
I grew up in an impoverished neighbourhood where everyone complained about their situation and did nothing to improve it. There were narrow streets, too much traffic, and too many people mingling among clustered cars. No one likes to walk on the sidewalk; they think that sidewalks are there to plant trees. Then again, I don’t remember seeing any trees. Or smelling fresh air. It's all jumbled up with car exhaust.
Fights in the neighbourhood erupted all the time. I was scared as a little girl as I hid behind my mother and cried. Yet, as I grew, I got used to the fights and learned that violence existed in every house, especially mine. I lived with an abusive father and a disabled mother, so problems regularly arose. I have two sisters much more beautiful than I—men whistle when they walk down the street. As much as they gave me trouble, I love them deeply; they are my younger sisters, whom I was raised to take care of no matter the consequences.
I walk into my closet and tap my foot. What shall I wear today? All my friends tell me everything I have makes me look stunning. My skin is not as pale as my sisters’, and I do not have vividly coloured eyes or full lips. I also have a big scar on my right cheek, a remembrance of my father from a long time ago.
I’m ready to start my big day. Usually, I arrange my hijab stylishly before going out in my best designer heels and brand-name clothes. Today, however, I prefer to be comfortable and wear sneakers, jeans, a long-sleeved, decent-fitting shirt, and a casual black hijab. After making a cup of coffee, I relax on my sofa and sip it slowly, savouring each moment as I stare into the space of my colourfully decorated apartment.
My hand trembles as I hold my cup.
In the other, I hold a real-life dagger.
And I wait impatiently for the doorbell to ring.