The VirginArranged unions of any kind must be shunned. Nothing beats consent.

It’s blistering hot in Dubai on Miriam’s last night as a virgin.

She can’t sleep.

It will hurt like hell when he enters me. That’s the only thing she can think of. He’ll pay little consideration to her fears when he takes her for the first time.

With little mercy, he will ride her for hours on end, with the sole purpose of satisfying his deep, primordial needs. Sure, he may rest for a while but he’ll keep coming back at her. She’s young and soft and fine smelling.

He will surely be decades older than her, she grimaced at the thought. They’re always old and needy, the men who covet someone like her. Probably insatiable as well. He’ll devour her, as if her youth could rekindle his. As if her innocence could render him less jaded, less cynical. And as if her virginity would ignite his virility.

It’s all been prearranged by the men.

Other than her assumptions about his age, Miriam had no idea who her chosen man was or what he looked like. But she’s conjured up many images in her mind. When she is euphoric and hopeful, she imagines him as a handsome, dark-haired Arabian prince with kohl around his eyes. A gentle soul who would break her in with compassion.

But when she is feeling trapped with nowhere to go, the image would be of a decrepit, hairy, ogre with lizard-like skin, yellow teeth and hazy eyes.

In the past, when other friends were taken, they’d come back for brief visits and recount some lore from the battlefield, while the men chitchatted and went about their business. Not once did Miriam hear of a painless first time. The range went from dreadful to inhuman.

“Eventually everything becomes bearable, Miriam. Sometimes even enjoyable. You will force yourself or figure out a way to love him,” her friends would add, as if to soften the truth.

Force myself to love him?

Miriam tried hard to lull herself to sleep.

Her thoughts drifted to her life before being brought to the Middle East against her will. She misses the natural crisp air of a European morning touching her skin. The green landscapes and the natural terrains crafted by random acts of nature, rather than multimillion dollar architectural contracts.

Dubai was an inferno of concrete monstrosities on the outside, and an air-conditioned purgatory on the inside.

The sun cracked through the sky and the fateful day Miriam had been dreading arrived. She woke up drained from a night of tormenting thoughts.

Did I even sleep?

If she did, the nightmares were so vivid, she might as well have been awake. Like a cow at an abattoir or a death-row prisoner about to be hung, the nervous energy of the people around her, cognizant of what is about to transpire, buzzed on her skin. No one seemed able to look her in the eye.

The prepping began. They bathed and perfumed her, then dolled her up so she’s mildly seductive but not vulgar. Still Miriam is obsessed with the pain, and how inevitable it would be.

She waited until he finally arrived.

Her heart started drumming at a frenetic pace.

The men gravitated around him, like he was a planet and they but subordinate moons. He’s rich and he’s powerful, and he needs this sort of attention.

There were too many people around him for her to get a  full impression, but when the crowd finally thinned, she stole a few glimpses, and what she saw set her heart ablaze.

Horrific is an understatement.

Obese like a grizzly bear with long oily hair slicked back and tied in a ponytail. He wasn’t just old, but certifiably ancient. The ponytail was an ominous sign, confirming he was desperate to stay youthful. Miriam made out whiffs of something truly stomach-churning coming from his direction. Not a terrible body odor, but the stench of a man who’s sense of mercy and compassion have withered away a long time ago.

The thought of this savage inside her suddenly seemed equal to or worse than a tragic death.

With little thought, she made a snap decision. But she needed to act quickly and decisively. She had one chance, and one chance alone, to escape. If she died trying or perished in the journey that ensues, well at least she took matters in her own hands. Maybe she’ll set an example for others to stand up against their inevitable bondage. Even start a revolution.

As the men continued with the symbolic niceties and final arrangements, Miriam made her move.

It was fast, it was drastic, and by God it worked.

She made a run for it on the hot asphalt of the Sheikh Zayed Road. Never before had she felt more alive. The essence of liberty pumped through her, powering her to accelerate faster.

Through her rear-view mirror, she caught one final image of the men she had freed herself from, the three brothers who own Dubai’s premiere BMW dealership, surrounded by their army of staff and minders, and the man who had come to deflower her. All gathered outside exposed to the million degrees of a scorching sun, their jaws almost touching the ground.

As her old life disappeared to a mere blur, Miriam was certain she’d given these jerks the show of their lives.

When again will these circle of idiots witness a brand new convertible BMW 7 series crashing through the showroom window and driving away, unmanned?


Artwork courtesy of Ramy Orfaly.