Breaking Point

Chapter One. Packing.

I packed. My movements were deliberate and measured as I picked up a shirt, a pair of sweats, socks that had too many holes in them to say they were really useful. I packed and folded one thing and then another, all the while my mother in the background, fluttering around, murmuring nervously in Arabic.

"Are you sure about this, Hosna?" Despite my Therapist's encouragement that this was the best thing for me, my mother still couldn't believe that going off to school on my own was going to do me any good. I stayed silent, knowing that if I opened my mouth she'd just call up the Therapist and start off with a frightening mix of sobs and Arabic cursing. Then the Therapist would ask to speak with me, and try to make me understand that this was the best thing for me and not to let my mom frighten me out of it. I hated when the Therapist did that: made my parents seem to be obsessed, Muslim, control freaks. I'd give Her that my parents were Muslim – but they weren't obsessed and they weren't control freaks. Not entirely anyway.

But this was hard on them – finding out that their oldest child was an asylum case waiting to happen. No parent wants to believe their child's mentally unstable. And while I had seen it a long time coming – thanks to the Therapist – all my parents had seen was an angry, rebellious teenager who couldn't stand either of her parents – they had a habit of blaming western society for that.

I suppose they still did blame it – for its Therapists and contemporary solutions – but most of all for alienating them from their oldest daughter.

I moved past my mother and to my dresser, pulling out the few valuables I'd left inside – six sketch pads, a pack of charcoal and graphite pencils and a bottle of sleeping pills. My mom stiffened when she saw those – yet another contemporary solution designed by western society. My mom didn't understand that my insomnia couldn't be cured with warm milk and honey – she didn't understand a lot of things.

I put a few more things in my duffle bag, zipped it up and hauled it to the door. My mother handed me my coat and scarf and watched anxiously as I put them on, trying to catch my eye. I hated when people got that look on their face while they watched me – the look that said 'Well, she looks sane.' A year ago I would have glared back, screamed angrily, done anything to make them look away. Now I just let them finish with their examination, scared to encourage the idea that I wasn't, in fact, a sane minded individual.

A horn honked impatiently outside and I looked out the window to see the taxi I'd called sitting outside. I gave my mom a quick kiss, telling her I'd call her as soon as I landed and to give my younger sisters and brothers my salaams, then picked up my bag and went downstairs. I gave my father a kiss on his bearded cheek and the same message I'd given my mother. He grunted, not bothering to look up from his newspaper.

The driver helped me with my suitcases while I got into the taxi. I stared straight ahead, gazing longingly at the clock, counting down the seconds until he'd get back inside and drive me away to the airport.

I appreciated the Therapist for this at least: getting me out of a situation that would have really driven me insane – my family.