Stories from my Grandmothers
I come from a farmers' background and a very conservative family.
Many people are shocked when I tell them that I wear a skirt in my grandmother's house. She knows I'm different, but you know, out of respect, never hypocrisy.
I used to feel guilty for not living in a way that my grandmothers, who are very dear to my heart, would approve of at all, but I've realized that doesn't have to impact our relationship or the way we love each other.
It's unrealistic for generations to live on the values of past generations, it just doesn't work that way.
I thought about this as I watched four generations sitting in the same room. Coexisting. We all came from the same place but the difference between the first generation and the fourth is astonishing.
My grandmother was telling us how life used to be hard back then. How the scarcity of food was governing their lives and behavior. How their days were spent doing physical work and ending with little to no food sometimes. How she believes it was a good thing. It kept them fit and healthy.
Most families in Saudi Arabia back then used to eat only two meals a day with meals based around whatever was grown in the area. Bulgur, wheat, butternut squash, eggplants, onions, and of course, dates.
Simple and repetitive, but no one was complaining.
On Eid, they’d eat meat and dry the rest. They’re not used to the heaviness of meat, so they’d only eat a little bit before their stomachs would start aching.
My grandmother also told me, how they used to be very poor that the mother-in-law would keep the dates, flour, and matches locked with the key hidden by her breast. But that didn't stop the young daughters-in-law of trying to steal the key while they pretend to massage her shoulders.
She told us how men would cross the desert to Iraq or Jordan in search of a living. Sometimes never coming back…
Hunger defeats fear.
The desert is harsh, you can see that reflected in the drylands, brittle plants, resilient animals, and in the looks of the people.
But somehow my grandmothers remained soft and kind.