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The bare, blue-tinged waves licked my pedicured feet, reminding me of my puppy dog, Charlie Brown. It was a pleasant, warm, breezy day in December and being on holiday, I officially had nothing to do. I glanced around. My mother and her sister were seated by the benches, comfortably engaged in conversation. Daddy and Uncle Paul were busy setting up the grill, readying the skewers to barbeque camel-meat.
I yawned and stretched, my black burqa failing its purpose by obstinately gathering at my knees. The best thing about hitting a private beach in Saudi Arabia is that you don’t have to worry about obstinate burqas.

All of a sudden, an empty glass Pepsi bottle on the table caught my attention. I was filled with an unfathomable urge to throw that bottle into the sea. Even better, to put a message in and throw it into the sea. Inspired, I pulled out my purple Uniball pen, some extra scraps of neon-yellow paper and began to write. I wrote a letter to Rajaa Al-Sanea [my favorite Saudi writer], chronicling all the insignificant happenings of my life. I told her about my obsession with literary geniuses like Garcia Marquez and Neruda, my irrational dislike of Spanish cheeses and my vision of a Saudi Arabia where women can drive. I told her everything she’d ever want to know about me, everything that mattered to me at that moment…

Finally finished with my soulful scribbling, I stuffed my paper scraps in and proceeded to set my precious bottle adrift. And, it was then that the significance of my action hit me. In that glass Pepsi bottle, I had enclosed a part of myself. Every aspect of my life that I had penned in that letter, no matter how mundane, was genuine; and more importantly, was a part of me. By letting my bottle chart its course on the murky waters of KFUPM beach, I was revealing a very real part of myself to a complete stranger, and thus, making myself very vulnerable.

Yet, the catharsis that came with letting all my life’s paltry details and lofty aspirations saunter into the wide, blue sea was overwhelming. Watching my glass bottle make its way around the rocks and stones that slowed it down and still persevering to make it to the far end of the ocean was to me, a premonition of what my own life would be: I would be slowed down by rocks and stones, but they wouldn’t stop me from reaching the other shore. Without my knowledge, two salty teardrops slid down my cheeks before mingling with the salty sea. I smiled. Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

Once again unemployed, I busied myself by rubbing the camel-meat with an amalgam of spices - oregano, thyme, anise and red chili pepper. Two hours later, my brother and his friends came bounding up to me, beach-towels on their puny shoulders and hair speckled with salt. “Glani, you won’t believe what we found!”

In my younger brother’s hand, was a glass Pepsi bottle, with yellow scraps of paper securely tucked inside.



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