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It all started with the awkward silence that filled the room as I entered. Both of my parents accompanied me with a grim look on their face telling me to take a seat, and from there on I knew that there was going to be a discussion of some sort. Living in Makhachkala Dagestan, life was very tough. I came from a strict family, and I have two older siblings, Muna and Lila who both got married and left the house. I’m the youngest still living with my parents at the moment, and life is pretty tough.
“Samira, do you remember Ali?” my mom said. Ugh, mom what does Ali have to do with anything? Dad and I thought that he would make a really good husband for you.” But mom, I don’t even know him…..and I don’t want to get to know him. “I want you to marry him, she said. “He will be a good husband for you.”
I gave my mom a very vexed look and rolled my eyes. Mom I’m not going to marry a guy that I don’t know, and haven’t met!
“Samira you will learn to love, this is part of our life as Dagestani Muslims you learn to love with time.”
I DON’T WANT TO MARRY A COMPLETE STRANGER, THAT’S RAPE! How is it that I am expected to have kids from a man that I don’t love?
“Samira you will do as we say, we are parents we know better for you.”
I was very upset about the whole situation so I ran upstairs, shut the door and sat near my bed and started to cry. My parents had no idea that I was dating someone. I desperately wanted my parent’s blessing for me to be able to marry the man that I love. His name is Adam; he had gone to the same university as me studying to become a mechanical engineer. Although, meeting up after school was difficult as it was, I prayed that someday my parents would accept him somehow..
The very next day I managed to see Adam during lunch at my university, and I had opened up to him about the whole situation. I wanted him to understand me, and tell me what to do… I desperately needed some sort of advice. Babe, I want to run away from all of this bullshit, please lets go somewhere far away from Makhachkala, please.
“Samira, sweetie you know how much you mean to me I’ll do anything for you and I will be there for you..even if that means I’ll end up sacrificing my career “I love you.” I love you too babe, I told Adam in a soft voice.
I had already packed my bags ahead of time, and during the night I managed to escape while my parents were sleeping, Adam was in the car waiting for me to come out.
“Is everything ok, were they sleeping when you left?” said Adam. Yea, everything’s fine don’t worry, let’s just drive I can’t be near this area no more, it makes me sick to my stomach.
After eight hours of driving, we ended up stopping at a village in Dagestan known as “Hasayourt”. There were probably somewhere around ten to thirty different families that lived there. It was a very small village.
It was one of the best moments of my life, knowing that I had Adam by my side, the love of my life, my protector. I wasn’t scared of anything when I was with him. He gave motivation, that fear didn’t even cross my mind.
Adam, thanks for everything I truly love you.. I felt the heat off of my face as he came closer to kiss me on my forehead. Those beautiful pink lips of his gently kissing my forehead made me tingle.
“I’ll always love you Samira.” he whispered softly in my right ear. “I don’t regret running away with you, you make me want to be a better man.”
A year had passed we were still living in the same little house that we bought, except this time something didn’t feel right. Someone knocked on our door at 2:00 a.m. and it was very unusual.
Hello? Um.. may I ask whose knocking? What do you want? What do you need? My palms began to sweat as the person said loudly “gapne ocher” which meant, “open the door”. I was feeling a bunch of mixed emotions and my heart kept racing. The person who knocked had a very deep voice.. but it sounded so familiar..
Adam got out of bed, and made an effort to open the door.
A second after Adam had opened the door a big dark figure stormed into our house and had picked up Adam by the throat.
“Let go of me you son of a gun!” Adam yelled. “You snake that’s my cousin!”
I figured out that the black figure had been my cousin Rasul that I hardly talked to. I felt very sick, I wanted to hide in a corner and slowly die away.
“Why the hell did you run away with my cousin?!?” Rasul yelled at Adam. “Look, I love her do you get that? I love her to death and her parents would have never understood that. They were going to arrange her marriage for Gods sake!” Adam was frustrated; he wanted Rasul to understand how much he cared for me.
“I don’t give a damn about who you love, you son of a b**** you deserve to die to bastard!” Rasul was pissed off, and my heart was beating so fast I thought it would come out of place.
“Rasul please, don’t do this right now, please don’t. I am begging you don’t kill me it’s haram to kill someone don’t please.” Adam’s face had turned blue, and I was in deep shock.. I felt as if someone had poured hot boiling water over my head.
Rasul was acting very strange, and before I was able to realize what was going on, he had stuck a knife deep into Adams throat.
I hate you! What the hell have you done?!? I dropped to the ground where Adam was lying, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I grabbed Adam, and tears started pouring down my cheeks endlessly. I couldn’t find words to describe how much hate I had towards my cousin. He was the love of my life! My Adam.. and now he’s gone.
“You worthless slut, so you like running away with guys and screwing with them?” said Rasul with a dirty look.
“You deserved it you piece of dirty, worthless trash, you don’t deserve to carry the last name Nabiyev after everything that you’ve done.” Rasul neglected to make eye contact with me and before he stormed out of the house, he had thrown a letter at my feet.
The floor was covered in blood, and it was so hard for me to keep it together. I was crying and hurt as if someone had ripped my heart out of place. I didn’t know what to do, or who to call I kept crying and yelling. One of my neighbors Elka and her husband heard me and immediately came to see what was going on. Elka hugged me and told me that she wanted me to be strong.
I knew that life would have still continued with or without Adam, It was all too much for me to cope with. In a few hours, they helped me bury the body of Adam..
I wouldn’t have never forgotten that face.. his beautiful deep blue eyes that matched the deep blue sky.
His warm smile that meant everything to me, warmer than the sun during a hot day in Dagestan.
I came back; I had to read that damn f-ing letter that came from the devil himself.
“Samira, we sent Rasul to kill your Adam, how could you go against your parents will? You are a disgrace to our family, we don’t want you anywhere near us. People that don’t even know us are labeling us”.
It didn’t say who it was from, but I recognized from the handwriting that it was from my mother. It was probably one of the worst nights of my life, I couldn’t deal with the fact that Adam was gone and that he was never going to come back. He was gone FOREVER. I didn’t manage to get some shuteye; I just kept staring endlessly at the walls of my home. I was thinking about what I was going to do the next day…
As the next day came, I told myself… Samira you can’t live your life in constant fear like this anymore. Life ultimately goes on regardless. I needed to get a job to be able to support myself and to become independent from anyone. I needed some self-pride of being a strong independent woman that was 23 years old living alone in a village with no helping hand.
Later on, as I picked up the daily newspaper near the piroshky stand where I bought some piroshky’s every morning for breakfast, I noticed that there had been an ad.
The ad read, “We are looking for beautiful young models.”
I needed the money desperately, and modeling was something that I thought I needed to do, because I lost all of my self-esteem, after everything that I’ve been through it was something that I needed to work on. In an effort, I managed to call and speak with the manager of the company, and the manager specifically told me what the job entailed. I asked for the location and when I could start.
The manager mentioned how he wanted to see me first thing in the morning. I responded with “thank you for the opportunity.”
I woke up early that morning, took a shower and went off to the studio, which hadn’t been that far away from Hasayourt. The manager’s name I learned later was Musa. I didn’t often judge people by their appearance, but Musa was just a straight up freaking weirdo. He had something very freaky about him; I just couldn’t wrap my finger around it.
“Da, so you’re Samira” Musa said. Yes… my name’s Samira Nabiyeva. “Where you from?” Musa said with his left eyebrow pointed up. I’m originally from Dagestan. “Hm.. good.. and you are virgin by chance?” Musa smiled.
I’m sorry? I responded offensively. “Answer the question, yes or no.” Musa looked very frustrated with me hesitating whether to answer the question or not. Yes, I am.. I said in a serious tone. I am a virgin.
“Ugh you wait here, I call the photographer he come take photo of you ok?” “Wait here”. Musa left, and I was sitting and eager to get my photos taken and getting the hell out of there. I was starting to get the chills for some odd reason.
I got into the dress that they gave me specifically for the photo shoot, and then came out two guys that wore sport shirts with dressy shoes.
“GET HER!” Musa yelled
Let me go! Leave me alone!!! I don’t want you! Let go of me. I was squirming, trying to get out of their tight grip.
One of the men dragged me by my hair, and the other stood behind me so that I wouldn’t escape. Little did I know that I was trapped in a brothel that was secretly hidden behind the studio.
That night, I was raped. I never could be the same again. I felt like I was worthless. They would beat me each time I tried to reject having sex with someone. They took off my clothes and put me in a baggy nightgown.
“You whore, I told you to have sex with him!” Musa was getting pissed off day after day that I wasn’t doing my job correctly. “You understand that you are now my property right? You don’t have a soul, I own you”. Musa laughed, but tears fell into my eyes. I felt hopeless,... and I thought that I was never gonna get out like a Catch-22 scenario.
I prayed to God and said to myself when will all of this torture be over? After two years of constant punishment, being beaten to death, I was nearly killed twice; I was stabbed once in my left arm. I knew that I didn’t want to die in a brothel, and I also knew that God had a plan for me.
No woman deserved to be treated that way. It wasn’t till one of the happiest days of my life arrived every since I met Adam. I realized that Musa and the other pimps had drove off settling in a new area as cops were in an effort to catch them. I was scared at first, because I didn’t know if I would get beaten or if I would get killed. Leaving was my biggest fear, because I didn’t know what was waiting for me out there in the real world.
I managed to get help. I left out of there, I went to a local mosque and I prayed five times a day to Allah. Telling him that I wanted to become a better person than what I was, and that I needed his guidance.
Nine months later, I gave birth to Kiah my daughter. Kiah meant “new beginning in Arabic”. I wanted Kiah to be able to not have to be scared to ever talk to me about anything. I was going to do whatever it took to make her the happiest little girl in the world.
All of those years where I’ve been neglected by my own parents.. now every minute of my life I want to dedicate to my little girl who means the world. I never wanted to arrange my child’s marriage and through this whole experience it has made me realize the true importance of developing a strong bond and to listen to what your children have to say. I didn’t want my daughter to go through the same hell that I’ve been through.