My mother was extremely critical and controlling toward me. She often denied me the freedoms that my peers enjoyed, insisting on being with me at all times. This behavior stemmed from a traumatic incident in which I was harassed by a man when I was just sixteen years old. The memory of that experience remained with my mother, causing her to be overly protective and cautious.
On a spring day, my mother and I had made plans to visit the city. The route we had to take to reach our destination included passing through Kocha-e-Qassab-ha (Butchers’ Alley), a small and narrow passageway.
The small and narrow passageway was lengthy and it took about ten minutes to pass the passageway and reach the main road. The passageway was desolate and it was rare to see anyone pass by. While we were walking, my mother began to share stories about Khala (aunt) Marzia and the stunning beauty of her daughter-in-law, highlighting her striking blue eyes and fair complexion. As she spoke, I listened intently to her enchanting stories until a man emerged from across the street and approached us.
Upon seeing his face, I noticed an unsettling look in his eyes. Despite his bulky build, he was quickly approaching us and wiping his perioral with his hands. I sensed something was not right and felt a creeping sense of fear. As my mother was oblivious to his approach, I hurried over to her side and warned her of the man’s strange behavior. Before she could react, he seized me by the waist and forcefully pulled me away from my mother.
Caught in his grip, his hands felt heavy on my body, and I was so overcome with fear that I could not even scream. My tongue felt like it was glued to the roof of my mouth. I was stunned, completely unsure of what to do. My mother leaped into action, shouting curses at the man, begging for help from anyone nearby, and doing everything she could to break his hold on me. But despite her efforts, he continued to assault me, laughing to himself and drawing me closer. I sobbed, hated the sound of his breath, feeling utterly hopeless.
The tense altercation between the man and my mother persisted until a young man emerged from a nearby estate to investigate the commotion. Once the young man exited his abode, the weight of the man’s grasp was lifted from my person, and he promptly fled towards the nearby thoroughfare. My mother implored the young man to give chase but to no avail. The man had gone, leaving my mother to angrily vent her execration. As a result of the harrowing experience, we decided not to visit the city and instead returned home. My mother’s curses continued to reverberate in the air at home, but my mind had already retreated to a state of unconsciousness. The harrowing incident had left me trembling with fear and disbelief, unable to comprehend the reality of what had just transpired.
In the aftermath of that day, my mother’s treatment of me took a sharp turn. She would frequently reference the incident and caution me against leaving the house unaccompanied, insisting that I limit my excursions and refrain from venturing out alone. “A young woman should always avoid going out alone,” she would often advise me. A young woman should preserve her reputation and goes to her husband’s house with a good reputation.”
I recall my mother advising me that it was not necessary for me to venture outside. She would caution me to remember the events that occurred that afternoon, whenever I expressed a desire to go out on my own. Following that incident, my mother frequently remarked that “keeping a young girl at home is a daunting task.”
I have always struggled to make my mother understand how deeply the memory and remembering of that tragic event pains me. She seemed to believe that the blame lay with me, simply because I was a girl, and that my very existence had provoked the man’s actions. In line with the societal norms of the time, my mother began to view my presence as a source of shame and believed that I ought to remain confined to the home.
Despite my mother’s efforts to conceal it from my father and brothers, her own treatment towards me never reverted to normal. It felt as though I was paying for a crime that I had never committed. I was being punished for a mistake that was not mine. I was paying for an individual’s sexual deprivation, social unawareness, and underdeveloped mindset. It was simply because I was a girl, that I was made to suffer. Even though many years have passed since that incident, I have been blamed so harshly that I dare not even approach that alley again, nor do I consider accompanying my mother to visit the city.