December 2, 2009

Not So Sweet 16

In the name of Allah, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Peace be with you

I am going out of chronological order so I posted this first and I'll post more later. This memory isn't violent or as bitter as the other ones so I don't feel the need to warn you guys.

Sweet 16

In Spanish culture (central/south America) we celebrate when a daughter turns 15. It is almost like a wedding minus the groom. I mean it is a big deal, there is mass at the local church followed by a feast and a reception where the girl is ‘introduce’ to society. She then gets her first pair of kitten heels and I think make up. It is supposed to show that she is now available for marriage kinda thing. Most of the traditions are lost now since younger and younger girls start dressing provocatively and the ‘innocence’ of the whole thing is lost.

ANYWAY. When my 15th birthday was about to come my mom wanted to celebrate it. I said HELL TO THE NO! Why celebrate my birthday now? I mean she basically gave hell to anyone who wished me a happy birthday before why start now? SO she demanded we have a birthday party. I dug my heels in and refused. It was a farce. My mom was very upset and started making accusations that I wasn’t a virgin anymore (apparently when you celebrate this birthday it means you are a virgin?) and a laundry list of curses. Her reason for wanting the party for me was because she never had one and she always wished she had one. Ok? So the party is for you?

We didn’t have the party that year. When I was about to turn 16 my mom again started with the whole Quinceañera thing but instead it was now going to be sweet 16. She became so horrible to live with that I gave in. Defeated I was taken to dressing room to dressing room until we found a dress that looked EXACTLY like a wedding dress (a very beautiful wedding dress may I add) and it was custom ordered to be dyed a very, very light baby pink. I was a tomboy at this time but I am not going to lie that dress was BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, MAGNIFICENT.

The dress ended up costing almost $500 + dollars. It was a beautiful dress though. I wish I could show you guys pics but I am obviously not wearing hijab and those pics should only be seen by hubs. (by the way recently I started looking at those pics and I can’t believe the body I had back then, dang it. Why do we never appreciate our bodies until we loose them?) subhanaAllah.

I was then taken from practice to practice so that the ceremony would go flawless. I know this sounds like we had a lot of money but we didn’t. We were broke at this time. My mom was paying two rents (the factory and the house) and various other expenses. She even ordered a photographer, had my grandfather flown to the USA and we took some very beautiful pictures. That photographer was very talented. Mashaallah. Guess what else she got? A live band. Yup. They were also very talented by the way.

When all was said and done we went to do one last rehearsal at the hall and I was in awe. It was HUGE, the tables were beautifully decorated and it looked like a total fairy tale. It was better than some of the weddings I had gone to. Subhanallah my mom went all out. I don’t know the exact number of people at the venue but it had to be at least 500. There were more than 60 tables and each could sit 12. Can you guess how many of those people were my friends? 4. yes 4. My 2 best friends (who later abandoned me when I became Muslim) my high school history teacher and his wife (he didn’t abandon me when I became Muslim) and my chemistry teacher. So there were a total of 5 people but I only knew 4.

After we went to church and had mass we went to the waterfront and had the pictures taken with the beautiful New York skyline behind us. After that we went to the reception and I couldn’t believe how packed it was. After we did our little dance/ program we were allowed to sit down and enjoy our food. My mom didn’t let me do that she dragged me from table to table taking pictures and having conversations with her friends. There as this guy named Elmer (yes, elmers glue been down that road) he was 3 years older than me, he was Salvadoran and my mom loved him because he had green eyes. He was a good looking guy but he had nothing going for him. Seeing as my mom approved of him and he came over to ask me to dance I accepted. We dance salsa and didn’t dance provocatively or anything but after we were done he took me back to my table and my mom descended on me. She called me a whore and to just shut up and look pretty at the table. After that anyone who came I would reject.

It was horrible. I mean my mom would pass by and verbally assault me every so often and I wanted to cry. But dang it I couldn’t because of all the make up. I hated the event. I felt trapped while everyone around me looked at me like I was the luckiest girl in the world and my mom was the best mother in the world. The whole shebang cost my mom a couple of grands I got $15,000+ in cash and more in gifts (none of which I remember) my mom kept the money and I don’t know what happened to the gifts.

*I really would love to show you the pictures they were beautifully done, the church was beautifully decorated, the reception was flawless and despite the hell I want through with my mom doing the whole affair I do love those pics.


Sarah said...

yikes tuttie! must have been tough to be humiliated like that, hopefully none of the guests noticed.

AlabasterMuslim said...

I would love to see those pictures! But don't worry i totally understand why you don't post them.

I hate being in situations like you were. A lot of times thats how it was when i would go to 'church' with my dad. my bros and i would be all dressed up and HAVE to act happy, when we knew later we were going to have the crap knocked out of us. *yikes*

Oh, and i'm with you on going back to look at old pics and being like woww damn i looked GOOD loll! Whats pretty bad though is when someone tells me i looked better then than now.

hispanic muslimah said...

I'm sorry that you couldn't enjoy it all. The way you described it the event, I'm sure you looked gorgeous and you still are.
I sometimes think back to my childhood and feel like I was cheated from so much I could have experienced. I didn't get a quinceanera because so much bull was going on...including daily abuse. But you know what? None of that matters now, you're mom was mean to you & probably gave you the party for the wrong reasons (i'm assuming). but she can't make every day miserable for you anymore. you can celebrate every day of your life now.
on a funny note, i swear i've heard of & met a lot of Salvadoran 'Elmers'. In fact, my youngest 1/2 related (lol) uncle's name is Wilmer hahaha! I think Salvadorans like William a lot too.
I was pretty much forced to dance w/ a coveted green eyed light skin Salvadoran at a wedding once. His aunt was a friend of my sister. The aunt liked that my family and hers are from the same department of chalatenango....some of us tend to have very fair skin and European features. i didn't inherit so much of that except pale skin but nevertheless, we had to dance and then the dude thought it was a sign that i liked him. wth, a few weeks after the wedding, his aunt was harassing my sister saying she doesn't like us anymore because i will not talk to her nephew or see him. and then that led to the dude stalking me so i had to change my cell number.

.::Tuttie::. said...

@Al NO! my hubs loves both the old me and specially NOW for reasons I can't share ;) I was just looking back and realizing how we are rarely happy with our self image in the moment, we only appreciate it later. SO I was appreciating how I looked THEN and realizing that I look good right now so appreciate it dang it.

@ hispanic OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG YOU ARE FROM CHALATENANGO??? subhanaAllah small world. I am from Morazan! my moms previous husband was from chalatenango and he looked just as you described. My mom and I don't look European but we do look "Spanish" white. OMG OMG OMG OMG!

Rubber said...

you are like really loving despite whatever you have gone thru
and i find it amazing
MashAllah to that.