Quarantine Diaries #4 – On Living Between Divorced Parents During This Pandemic

By: Salma Gharraf

Ok so, here is a very brief background story 3ashan tefhamo el situation. 

I’m Salma and my parents got divorced when I was about 8 years old. Both of them remarried and I have a bunch of step sisters and brothers. I’ve been living with my dad since last November because my mom moved to Saudi Arabia. That’s basically it, now let’s get to it.

Day 1:

I was bummed men awelo keda because Feminist Friday, an event held by Zeina Amr (Founder of Catcalls of Cairo) got postponed to god knows when. It was “my first big gig” if that makes sense; I was going to perform a poem in front of a crowd other than my friends, but it’s not like it was a surprise, we’ve been hearing about lockdown and quarantine for a while. I just kept on denying the fact that it might happen. Ana keda 3ereft eni na7s.

I didn’t know how to tell my dad, he doesn’t even know I write lol. How was I supposed to tell him I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old, let alone will perform something next Friday?!

Day 4:

I tried painting on a canvas today, and I hated it! I don’t know if I’m the only one like this, but I never really felt like I have two rooms, two houses. It always seemed like one was my actual home and the other was some sort of guest house I went to for the weekend. At my mom’s place, I was the one who picked the furniture, the color of my walls. I painted all over the room, even wrote some of my favorite quotes without ever finishing them. All the Disney characters, planes, skies, and heavens I have drawn, that I’d stare at when insomnia arrives. All the books I have in my bookshelves; the diary of a wimpy kid series, scary Hassan El Guindy novels, and Ihsan Abd ElQuddous’ stories showed a part of who I am.

Those imperfect paintings and incomplete sayings were what made this room “mine”, and I fucking miss them.

Day 8:

Online classes started, and I don’t give a shit about them. They’re nothing but a bunch of people beyga3aro through my screen (if any of my friends read this, baheboko wallahi but you know it’s true), and an addition to my class’s collection of stickers, I didn’t do any homework during the first 3 weeks masalan.

To pass some time, my mom decided to buy me a 1000-piece puzzle (kol delivery guys souq 3erfo 3enwan betna t2riban men kotr ma batlob 7agat), I finished it in 5 days. She’s always tagging me in posts about self-care, photography/painting online courses I should join. Somehow, even though she’s miles away, she makes sure I never feel alone- at least when she’s awake and on her phone.

Day idk, maybe 10?

I only get out of my room when my step-siblings are staying with us. We’re not tied by blood, never called ourselves e5wat, more like flatmates or friends. But I’m happy when they’re around, although I don’t show it. I often feel super left out when they hang out with their mom, because of all the memories and people they talk about, while I’ve only known them for 2 years.

I vibe with my stepbrother when he’s not playing on our Ps4 in the kitchen. We’re the foodies of this house, always thinking of delicious meals to make or order, going to Heart Attack -before quarantine- at midnight. He is a much better cook than I’ll ever be, and he’ll always make sure to shove that fact in my face. Today he made us the best homemade pizza I’ve ever tasted!

Day 3 of Ramadan:

My dad decided to decorate our roof and make a Ramadan themed cozy corner, he bought this gigantic piece of cloth and some decorations. I helped him hang them before suhoor, it was the first time that I helped him do anything in the house. I felt happy because he asked for my help for once, and not my stepbrother’s. Sometimes, I feel like he wanted a boy and not a girl, although he says the opposite. 

I was generally feeling super down that day, I don’t know why. I didn’t feel like eating, so I just sat on the couch, checking my phone while they ate and chatted. 

_ Malek ya Salma?

_ Wala 7-7aga ana tamam

_ Malek ya habibi?

I realize I’m tearing up, for no apparent reason. Well, I know, but I just don’t wanna admit why.

_ I miss mami shewaya bas

That was the first time I cried during this pandemic, I guess I got kind of jealous when I saw my step-siblings sitting with their mom, joking around, getting to hug her whenever they want to. Dad tries to comfort me, but he -as usual- said all the wrong things.

It’s never been easy, opening up to my dad, I can’t recall one conversation that lasted more than 10 minutes between us. He wasn’t around much when I was a child. So, as you can guess, I was extremely anxious and nervous when I moved in. School kept me busy though, but now that I’m stuck at home, I need to adapt.

Before moving in here, I used to live with my mom on Weekdays, then head to my dad’s on the weekend, I never liked it. Bags to pack, carry every Thursday and bring them to school, the awkward explanation to my teachers as to why I forgot some books, repacking on Sunday and loading all this shit in an uber. The bright side? I saw both my parents whenever I wanted (although I would’ve loved spending some time with one more than the other, that’s not our point)

My step-siblings go through this till today, but it doesn’t seem to bother them at all, bel 3aks, maybe it’s because it’s a 10-minute ride (mine was 30-40 minutes long)

Do you actually care what day it is?

My friend’s dad passed away this week, and my mind has been blurry ever since. A series of “what ifs?” cross my mind, and the overthinker in me just takes over. I’m afraid something might happen to my mom, who’s far away. I helpless, can’t even go and see her. As I flip through my phone to hide from these negative thoughts, I notice we don’t have that many pictures (curse my insecure ass, again!). One lesson I learned this quarantine: TAKE PICTURES WITH YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS PEOPLE, YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU’LL NEED THEM.

Toz fel day:

I’m depressed, stressed and so close to having a mental breakdown, and I’m way too exhausted to talk to anyone who’ll ask too many questions. At times like these, I’d just hug my mom for a good 10 minutes, but right now, screaming at my pillow will just have to do.

Day whatever elmohem eno ramadan:

My step sister decided to have a photoshoot at 6 am, so we dressed up, multiple times, and took some cool pics on the roof at sunrise, but my insecure ass didn’t feel like posting anything. When we went down, we chatted with our step-parents for a bit, while nibbling on some sweet tomatoes. I choked on my third piece, remembering it was after Fajr, I suddenly screamed and ran to the bathroom, almost tripping on my clumsy ass feet, yelling “ELSHAMS TEL3ET”. By the time she understood what I meant, she had already swallowed 5 pieces, and we burst out laughing at our cluelessness. Then we watched an episode of “W neheb tani leih”, while -for the first time- talking about body image, online shopping sites/pages on Instagram, our insecurities, and hyping each other up. That was the most fun I had in quarantine, and the longest time I’ve spent with her.

el ayam ba2et shabah ba3daha :

I now facetime my mom maybe 5 times a day. We don’t talk, everything has already been said in the first call. I just put my phone on my laptop’s screen and do some work, while she’s watching Ramez with my stepdad. That’s my version of spending time with her

An “I miss you” text at 5 am has become part of my daily routine, my gallery is filled with ugly good morning and good night selfies so she can see that I’m ok, that I’m taking care of my skin and putting the mask she reminds me of every 5 seconds.

“Chillin at home” was gossiping while helping her make lunch, AKA watching her do all the cooking. We currently do the same thing, just through Facetime. Of course, it’s not the same, I can’t smell her food, nor can she yell at me for leaning on the fridge, but I’ll take what I can get.

Quarantine gave me the chance to express myself a bit more, to get to know some deep locked down feelings and well, as cheesy as it sounds, set them free. It felt like they were protesting inside of me all along, as if they’re some sort of minority in my brain, demanding to be recognized, to be heard, to be cared for. So, I listened, looked inside, and just wrote about everything. (if you can’t tell, I love speaking metaphorically)

Children of divorced marriages 7ewarat w 7ekayat malhash awel men akher and vary awy. I just hope any of you can, somehow, relate to mine 😊

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