I know where paradise is. I remember it each time I recall my childhood.
I also know the address of the Hell. It’s where I live now.
I was a cute, fat, smart little girl who wore short dresses, nice shoes; I had a colorful umbrella decorated with cartoons and it was adorable, like my face.
In winter, I loved snow and snowballs. I wore scarves with a hot coat, trousers, and mittens. I looked like a lion but my father called me Tiger.
As a child, I was in love with funny things . . . For example, I loved to eat all the time. Whatever I came across—even if it was inedible—was worthy of putting in my mouth. I loved my mom’s cooking, especially her soups—their scent was to die for. And rice and manto and ashak. I loved my mom’s kind and delicious hands; they tasted of the spices she used. I also loved pen caps but I don’t know why I didn’t like pens!
I loved to use my mom jan’s lipsticks. When she wasn’t looking, I would paint my face with them. One time, I slid the lipstick across my neck and broke it, so I hid it under the dressing table. Right before my mom jan walked in and punished me, I was thinking how great it was that I was behaving like an adult; I looked at the sky and asked God to hurry me into adulthood so that I would no longer have to steal and hide my mom jan’s lipsticks. I prayed for the day I would have my own.
I have them now—many pretty lipsticks—but I almost never wear them.
I was in love with long hair. I dreamed I grew my hair for the moon and thought the moon—because it would like my long and golden hair—would become my friend.
I put long yarn in my hair and shook my head, pretending it was all mine. My hair was brown, the yarn was black, but that made no difference because I decided that when I got old, both colors would change.
I also liked wearing high heels. Oh my goodness, I loved watching myself walk in them. The teck! teck! teck!—the voice of those shoes—transported me into a dream world that for a while came true. I wore beautiful shoes for a long time but now their teck! teck! teck! voice has been silenced and I wear only comfortable shoes.
I had three dolls: Nazo, Farida and Fatima. Every day I threw a wedding party for them and they had more than one hundred husbands. I didn’t dream a husband for myself but I liked to advise them on life and relationships. Whatever was new and interesting to me, I shared with them. I wanted my dolls to be happy but they remained silent. I decided that they couldn’t tell me their dreams because it was time for them to sleep.
I remember my mom’s voice. “Lunch is ready, baby. Wash your hands and come!” I hated having to pause to wash my hands before enjoying her delicious food.
I loved the song of my cat. Mew mew! every morning.
I loved to kill flies or put them in jail! The jail was made of paper and thin wood with a narrow door. I was the guard and I think I was cruel to them. My cat was my boss. I reported to him what crimes the flies committed and I hung them on the wall.
Life was sweet, like chocolates.
But in adulthood, things changed. Freedoms went away. When I laughed, people said I was crazy. When I cried, they said I was a child. When I spoke truth, they claimed it was a lie, and when I said right, they thought me wrong. When I loved, they said it was a sin.
This is why life is hell for me.
I miss my childhood; I touched the stars in my dreams. But did I think the flies were criminals simply because they were flies?