Our menu for today:
1-Leftover grape leaves with stuffed eggplants and zucchini;
2- Shawirma salad.
My mom appointed me to prepare the salad. It is actually a dish that my cousin got the recipe for and gave it to my aunt. A couple of days ago we were visiting my aunt, and she had shared the recipe. My mom came downstairs to fetch something while I was preparing the salad. My mom likes all food to look very proper, and if there is something that she knows I will not perfect, I cannot touch it. The comments began, and I felt like I was being food critiqued: "The chicken is cut too big. Cut the pickles into smaller pieces so they could be eaten with a fork. Why is there still water on the lettuce? The cucumbers should be on top of the lettuce." she said as she drained the lettuce of water, took out a more salad-friendly platter, and placed the lettuce below the cucumbers. "Did you wash those tomatoes?" she asked. "OF COURSE I DID!" I said slightly losing my cool. "Here's the summaq. Sprinkle it on after you finish with the tomatoes, but sprinkle it evenly don't put cluster it up in the same place like you always do."
That was it; I lost my cool and could no longer hold my tears back. "I really don’t need this sh**!" I also cursed the day I set my foot into this country as I was going up to my room, but it forbidden in Islam to curse the time, so that will not be quoted.
After sometime my mom came up and apologized for getting into my work. She told me to go make the dressing and put the chicken and bread on the salad. My mom is not a mean person, but she got too wrapped up in the salad to consider my feelings. I also feel terrible for all the trash I said.
This is not just a matter of salad. I would never really cry over a plate of salad. It is the idea that lies behind it; I got critiqued because my salad did not look right. It brought back memories of being critiqued for not looking right.
I appreciate all positive criticism, but I am a very sensitive person. A hurtful word you have told me years ago may still be etched into my memory.
Some of it is advice rather than criticism. Such as
"You should wear contacts."
"You should change your glasses."
"You should grow your hair out."
"You should wear make-up regularly."
"You should match your hijab with your bag and shoes."
"You should buy dresses."
"You should wear your hijab differently."
"Your eyebrows should be raised up."
"You shouldn't wear guy clothes"
And the list goes on. I did listen to a few and try to "improve" myself. I went shopping in many cities of Palestine (inside and outside the green line). I hope society is happy now because I am not. All these things are insignificant to me, and I really don't give a care about any of them. Before I wore the abaya, I used to wear sweats and flip-flops to Ramallah. Just let me be. I focused more on the out for some time, while my inside was rotting. I lost a friend because I was shallow and couldn't read behind their words. Anything that needed more than the five senses to notice, I could not comprehend. I acquainted myself with people who told me what I wanted to hear, but they didn’t mean anything they said.
That is not the person I want to be. It is wrong to generalize that all those who care about their outer appearance are shallow and vice versa. It is a great thing to be beautiful inside and out. And I want to, but in my own way. Even if months go by where I look like I just got out of bed, I will clean up nicely whenever I feel the need to. Other than that, this is not really something I want to make the main focus of my life. So when if you ever pass by me in the street don't tell me I look like trash, nor tell me that I look great. Just smile and greet me. That's all I ask for.