Travel and Strangers:
Some stories are travel guides; they bring the world closer to you and make strangers seem familiar and close to the heart. To escape the city clamor and to connect with nature, a man takes his mom on a trip to India, where they meet a French lady seeking a similar connection. This lady does not want a house to limit her free spirit, so she’s been living in a yacht for years. Despite not speaking the same language, his mom and the lady connect, and today they are best friends. He concludes wondering: how have we complicated life on ourselves like this?
The girl is 24, and today is the first time she hugs her mother to calm her down. Her mother had tried several ways to get close to her, to connect with her, but every attempt failed. Today, as the girl rests in her bed waiting for her mother impatiently to bring her the medication, she hears her mother crying. She gets out of her bed and rushes to the living room. She couldn’t but hug her, feel her, and connect.
School & Career Choices:
Some stories teach us about the expectations we have of certain events and lifestyles, and how they end up tasting differently once we try them. This girl thought college would add a thrill to her life, so she fought to study in the States. She thought that would make her independent and free, but after 5 years of being away from Jeddah, she had come to realize: No one could add a thrill to your life but your own self. Today’s ups and downs, life’s challenges and beauty, and the new and old people bring fire to her life, and that is what she will always fight for.
One short but strikingly powerful story rests in a question: “She was my best friend. She backstabbed me. She’s still my best friend. Do you think I’m crazy?” This habit of lack of confrontation is so embedded in this culture that it takes place not only amongst hierarchal relationships, (teacher/student and father/daughter), but also among peers. This aside, could this just be the manifestation of the power of forgiveness?
Love and Relationships:
One of my favorite stories about love is among the shortest in this collection, but the most impactful. A boy finds his love, his perfect match, his soul mate, but it could not work out because of the girl’s parents. This is a recurring theme among the culture of contributors that many share and experience, but only a few express.
Loss, Grief, and Resilience:
It’s been one year since she lost her cousin, her best friend. Her cousin sends her a Happy Birthday message, and tells her she’s bringing her a cake. She asks her to act surprised. Suddenly, her mom comes in with the tragic news of her cousin’s death. She is so surprised that she could not stop crying. It’s been a year, and as they say: “time heals all wounds.” She now makes her cousin the subject to all her letters to the sky.
Self-Growth and Reflection:
The story of this young boy’s life is that his life was normal, until his classmates started laughing at him, calling him names, and making him feel bad about himself. This lasted for seven years, until he met some amazing people whom he couldn’t have survived without. They respected him for who he was, and he began making friends. Today, he is a very popular boy, and he concludes by reminding the readers of his story: “I am not saying this to make you feel bad about me, but because this is who I am.” The handwriting of this story indicates that it is a child behind those words, probably not older than 12 years old.
Events & Happenings:
Every time this girl made trouble at school, her parents locked her in her room without TV or any sort of entertainment. They had always threatened to send her to a boarding school, but in her mind, that was always hard to believe. In 2005, when she got expelled for two weeks, her parents told her they were sending her to a boarding school, but that was still too hard to believe. A family member drove her to the mountains in Lebanon, and when she opened her eyes, she says: “My parents sent me to a boarding school for nuns, and I lived there for two and a half months as a punishment!”