The hot controversy continues to rage, and I become lost in the details. My initial fright had dimmed my memory of why I had requested Jean Sasson to write my story in the first place. Now, I stop listening to the accusations and force myself to remember the drowning death of my friend Nada. I was a teenager at the time, and religious authorities had discovered my good friends Nada and Wafa in the company of men to whom they were not wed nor related. Because both girls were still virgins, they were not punished by the State for their crime against morality; instead they were released to their fathers for punishment. Wafa was wed to a man many years her senior. Nada was drowned. Nada's own father called for the cruel punishment, saying that the honor of his family name had been ruined by the sexual misconduct of his youngest daughter. With Nada's execution, he dubiously reclaimed the honor he had lost.
My thoughts then drifted to the crushing imprisonment of the best friend of my sister Tahani. Sameera was a young woman whose parents had died in an automobile accident. She fled to the United States with her lover when she felt threatened by her uncle, who had become her legal guardian at the death of her parents. A great tragedy occurred when Sameera's uncle tricked her into returning to Saudi Arabia. In a rage over her love affair, he married his niece to a man not of her choice. When it was discovered Sameera was no longer a virgin, she was confined to the "woman's room," where she was still locked away even as my own crisis unfolded.
Even before the book was published, I had realized that neither tale seemed credible, unless the book's readers would con- sider the barbarities that men inflict upon women. Yet, something was telling me that those with genuine knowledge of my land its customs and traditions would recognize the truth of my words. Now, I wonder if Nada's and Sameera's tragic lives have yet touched readers' hearts.
The memory of my unfortunate friends and their sad fate renews my strength.
With mounting exasperation I think that those who desire freedom must be willing to pay for it with their lives. The worst has happened. I have been discovered. Now what?
It was a pivotal moment. Feeling my strength return, I stand up and face my foes. I feel the warrior's blood of my grandfather, Abdul Aziz, surge through my body. From the time I was a child, I have been most to be feared when I stand in real danger.