He watches his bride as her calf-length skirt billows in the wind, catching against her legs. Her knees flash visible for a moment. They had reached the summit of a low hill and were enjoying the view of the veld. She turns around.
“We should head back,” she says. “Look.” She points towards dark clouds gathering.
Fat raindrops assault them before they reach the lodge. Her clothes cling to her chest, her hips. Her hair, slick against her face. Her eyes bright.
Back home in Riyadh, she fades amongst the other abaya-clad women: black holes of unlived lives.
UPDATE: 6 September 2018
So it’s been 5 years since I’ve posted this particular story and I have to be honest, I’m tempted to delete it.
But, I told myself, what if I didn’t delete it but perhaps explained why I should, as a way of educating others?
Okay. Let me try to explain.
What is making this story so cringe-worthy? It’s the fact that I have extrapolated the experience I had during a single week visiting Saudi Arabia into gross assumptions about what all the residents of Riyadh must feel like.
I don’t have any right to be making these extrapolations.
Rather, I could have written about my own experiences. Or I should have done a whole lot of research about the experiences of residents of Riyadh. Reading two lifestyle blogs by expatriates and spending a week there (or maybe even less, this was back in 2011 or 2010, I don’t even remember).
The lesson is: don’t. Don’t write about the experiences of others if you don’t have first-hand knowledge of those experiences, or if you haven’t done extensive research on those experiences.
Black holes of unlived lives? Bordering on poetic, but an absolutely unabashedly shameful statement to be making. Honestly, who do I think I am, to be making such extrapolations about a whole people?