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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)

TITLE: I Am Mysha
By Amy Michelle Wiley


I am wicked. I pull the edge of my burqa further over my face, wincing at the movement. The pain is just. I deserved every blow I received. Only through punishment will I learn to be a good wife. My hands tremble as I stir the falafel. Tonight I will not burn the evening meal. Tonight I will not serve it late.

My husband Qaseem enters the kitchen suddenly. He hardly looks at me. “We have new foreign neighbors coming for dinner. It will be good to learn of America.” Qaseem values education, knowledge.

I nod. I will serve the food and stay quiet. Excitement tingles in my heart. I have never met an American. Worry mixes with the anticipation. I want to run after my husband like a child, to ask questions, receive assurances. Instead, I focus on frying the falafel. Qaseem will tell me all I need to know.

When our guests arrive I hesitate, not sure what to expect. I’m surprised to see the western woman dressed in the traditional modest hijab. We welcome them in, then I hurry to bring out the food, filling the low table with dishes.

The woman, Sarah, giggles as she tries to get comfortable on the floor cushions. I watch her from the slit in my head covering, gaining courage to whisper some simple tips in my broken English. The men discuss the husband James’ new job as an English teacher.

After the meal, I gather the dirty dishes. I am surprised to find Sarah following me into the kitchen. She ignores my protests and plunges her pale hands into the sudsy dish water.

We chat, growing comfortable with one another. But as I reach for a dish, my burqa catches on the cupboard and jerks crooked. I yank it back in place, holding my breath, wondering if Sarah saw the purple welt.

She had. Her eyes cloud with concern. “Are you all right, Mysha?”

I turn away. “Yes, I fine. I walk into door.” I give a laugh. “I clumsy.”

She isn’t deceived. Her hands reach for my shoulders. “Mysha.” That’s all she says, but my young heart breaks with loneliness.

“Sarah,” I whisper. “I do nothing right. I not good wife.”

“Oh, honey.” Her warmth fills me. “You try to follow all Allah’s rules, all your husband’s rules, but you can’t. Everyday you do wrong.”

For a moment I feel fear, wondering if my husband sent her to scold me. I manage a weak nod.

“You are human, Mysha. You can’t be perfect.”

I look at her. “What I do then?”

“Ah,” she smiles. “You see, God knows we are bad and loves us anyway. He sent His son, Jesus, to take our punishment for us. He offers forgiveness, and if we ask, He’ll come live in our hearts and help us to be good.”

I consider this, a part of me longing to let go of my constant struggle, longing to be free of degrading thoughts. “Qaseem enjoy learn. Tell him.” He will know what to think.

Sarah hesitates, obviously fearing the danger of talking of religions other than Islam. I reassure her; Qaseem will accept it simply as education of another culture.

We rejoin the men and Sarah speaks politely to my husband. “I have mentioned our religion to Mysha and she believed you would value hearing about it, enlarging your knowledge.”

Qaseem perks up, and he and James engage in a lively discussion. I lie back and soak in the words.

When our guests leave, I look at Qaseem. “Will you allow them to come teach us more?” I wait for his permission to think on these new ideas.

He shrugs. “Perhaps.”

Weeks pass. I dare not bring up the subject, but I wonder if this God brings as much freedom as the foreigners indicated. My beatings intensify, and doubt about the justness of them creeps in.

I struggle with guilt for my unsubmissive thoughts. Yet I long for love, acceptance. Sarah is right next door, filled with answers. I remember something she whispered to me, as they left that night. “God loves you, Mysha. He created you for Himself. Only you can decide whether to answer His call.”

When Qaseem leaves for work one day, I pick up the telephone. My knees shake beneath my long abaya as I ask for Sarah.

And I, Mysha, make a decision for myself. A decision for truth.

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This article has been read 1538 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 09/06/07
Oh wow ... this WOULD take some boldness! You captured the whole progression well and put us in a different country and culture while including another. WELL DONE!
Joanne Sher 09/06/07
I'm especially impressed with your dialog - not sure I'd even know how to start doing effective "broken English."
Perfect for the topic, and you did an amazing job immersing us in the culture, and Mysha's mind.
Ruth Neilson09/07/07
wow, that is powerful! Loved the story...but I think I found a small typo.

In this sentence, "My husband Qaseem enters the kitchen suddenly." I think you're missing a comma.

But other than that, its amazing! Great job!
Betty Castleberry09/07/07
This is awesome. Very powerful, and very well written. It makes me glad I am an American woman and do not have to live like your MC. Five stars for this one.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/08/07
Your story kept me on the edge of my seat. The cross-cultural descriptions and broken English infuse it with authenticity.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/08/07
This is masterful writing from beginning to end. A great story.
Sherry Wendling09/08/07
I'm breathless with admiration for such powerful storytelling, and heartbroken for Mysha, all at once! There are so many like her...It felt as though every single word here was crafted with Abba's love...Thank you for allowing Him to use your awesome writing gift to stir me to prayer!
Dee Yoder 09/09/07
I can't think of a situation that would need boldness more than this one. I was so caught up in the story, it just made me angry that the poor woman was being so mistreated! Great writing on a topic that's truly relevant today.
Esther Gellert09/11/07
Oh, wow. Talk about being caught into the story. I shudder for what Mysha will face in the future when her husband and family discover her decision. This is definetely a story of boldness.
Jan Ackerson 09/11/07
I love the way that her narrator's voice is articulate, but her spoken voice is broken English--gives the reader the impression that we are hearing her thoughts in her naitve tongue. Very good!
Sandra Petersen 09/11/07
A very good story and one that is true for many women in the 10/40 window of the world. Her choice at the end is truly a bold one. If she became a Christian convert, in many parts of the world that act would cause her to be either cast out of her family or killed. Good telling of this dilemma.
Catrina Bradley 09/11/07
I love this! I could picture this woman, and her fear and hope and all other emotions were so clear. The ending left me with a huge grin of happiness. Good, no- GREAT job!! :-)
Linda Watson Owen09/11/07
Oh, my! What a wonderful telling of this BOLD story! I find myself wanting to hear more about these lovely young women and Mysha's new decision. A truly fascinating story! Great job!
Sherrie Jackson09/12/07

I want so much for this to be expanded. If you ever do, you have an audience right here. Bravo!
Brenda Welc09/12/07
I think you broke my heart. This situation is awful. You are a very good writer and depicted the scenes and characters with much finesse! Great job. Excellent writing--now I have to find a dictionary and look up a few things:) God Blesses your writing!
David Butler09/12/07
This is so inspiring. So well done, capturing the culture, pain and yearning of the heart that Mysha was trapped in. Have you ever read that book "I Dared to Call Him Father" by Bilquis Sheikh? This story reminds me of the oppression Christian women often have to endure in such a culture.
Loren T. Lowery09/12/07
Wow! Extrodinary. A tangible slice of life. If an unbeliever were to read this, I'm certain they would be intrigued to want to know more. What else can I say, but well done!
Pam Carlson-Hetland09/12/07
Ditto all the above comments, Amy. Absolutely excellent in all aspects.
Sara Harricharan 09/12/07
WOW! I think that sums up this brilliant piece. It takes courage, boldness and tons more to do what Mysha did. Very vivid with the descriptions, like Sarah helping with the dishes and the dialouge between the husband/wife. This was so real! Excellent writing, Amy!
Laury Hubrich 09/12/07
Amy, this is very good. Makes me appreciate that I'm a Christian! We take so much for granted. Thank you for the reminder of other cultures.
Patty Wysong09/12/07
Oh, wow! This is boldness on a whole different level than what we, as Americans (or similar), know. Excellent.
Kristen Hester09/12/07
This is great. Bravo. Two thumbs up.
Michael Aubrecht09/14/07
WOW. I 'felt' that. For real.
Joshua Janoski03/24/08
Based on your descriptions in the beginning, I was able to determine right away that this story was about a Muslim couple. You setup the environment very well.

You definitely did your homework here, and I like how you emphasized the truth - that no one is perfect.

I was happy to see that Mysha was determined to get the answers she was looking for, no matter the cost.