Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chapter 8d: Could anything be harder?

Good girls don't work. Girls from good families shouldn't work - shouldn't need to work. Maybe when we move to Canada, my sisters will get a professional qualification and then work in their field of expertise: I hear it's normal there. But not here. Here, there are horror stories of girls being mistreated in their workplace. I wouldn't want to subject my sisters to that. Plus, girls who work don't have a good reputation. Our family doesn't need to deal with that.

But between sleeping on the streets and sending my sisters to work... Of course, if I asked my sisters, they would jump at the opportunity. They'd want to help out. It was better for them not to know about the idea - or the need behind the idea - at all. All things considered, though, I was interested in the thought that what my landlord was suggesting was a job where their boss would be a woman. That's something. And that they could go to work together. Marwa and Nour would look out for each other.

So, standing there in the hallway, I decided to consider it.

"What kind of a job is it?" I asked him.

He crossed his arms on his puffed-out chest and leaned back against the doorframe. "Well, let's see. You're a good young man and I don't want to mislead you. It is a hard job, not easy work for a young girl. But there's a huge demand for girls like your sisters these days, and I know they would be able to take in a good salary."

"That's good, I guess," I said, not at all suspicious. "But what exactly would they be doing?"

"Boy!" he exclaimed in a very quiet voice, arms still crossed. "Think about it. What can young women do that pays well?"

I thought for a moment, then felt like a complete idiot. But the anger was stronger. How could this man think I would stoop so low?

My body started pulling me back up the stairs to our little flat, but I kept my feet rooted as I said, "Honourable Mister, I guess we'll be moving out in a few days. Can we have to the end of the week?"

"Think about it," he replied smugly as he turned and knocked on his own door. His wife quickly opened it and he slipped in, leaving me to trudge slowly back up the stairs.

I couldn't think of how to break the news that we'd be moving out to the women sitting around the coil heater watching some soap opera. So I just walked in silently. Mama moved over an inch or two to make room for me to hold my hands up to the heater.

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