Friday, June 13, 2008

The Big Metal Door

By Farah El Alfy
Photo by Jasmin Bauomy

The big metal door closes behind us at midnight.

It’s Thursday night and we had an extension on our 10.30 curfew thanks to El Daktoora Sara our dear chaperon who told the supervisors we had a dinner we had to go to.

After a couple drinks around town, I'm starving. Sarah (the other one) and I go to sign-in, and ask the sweet woman at the desk if we can get anything to eat at this hour.

“Weren’t you guys at a dinner?” she asks naively.

“We were at the Indian, and we don’t eat that food,” I quickly say smoothly covering our tracks.

Sarah dwells in the lie, telling her how the food is way too spicy for her taste.

So yes, we can order chicken from a take-out place, but only tonight.

Sarah does the ordering as I laugh at her put-on khalidjy (Gulf) accent “dajaj.. dajaj…” (chicken)

We walk back to villa number 9, the house before last in the compound, change out of our dresses and high-heels, and walk back to the main building in more comfortable clothes to await our midnight snack.

We sit on the steps outside the main building, and the girl behind the desk comes out to sit with us. She’s Egyptian too, we realize. Shaimaa must be in her late 20’s, and has only lived in Doha for a few months. She wears a colorful scarf on her head, and has freckles on her nose.

The food comes, and the metal doors open once again - this time, only a tiny slit barely big enough for the food to pass through. The security guard brings it in for us.

Shaimaa smiles at us warmly and says, “I feel so safe here.”

At that point it hits me. This isn’t jail, or rehab. They are not out to get us, or trying to tear us away from the boys. They are simply trying to protect us, and keep us safe.

I’m not saying I’m going to stop complaining, but at least I get it now.

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