Nadia and Zana Muhsen (Yemen)
The sisters right before they left for their holiday-turned-nightmare
This is Nadia with her daughter, Tina
This is Zana with her mother, years after her escape
Spell bound! I had been searching for ages for 'SOLD: Zana Muhsen with Andrew Crofts' but eventually ordered it through Flipkart. I have never ever felt so moved after reading a book. I share some mystical bond with it for sure..! My previous relationship with the book was when I was 14, the same age as one of the protagonists, Nadia. The story in one line is about the tryst of two England born girls, Zana and Nadia, with their sudden change in destiny. It was a beautiful holiday trip that just went wrong. Horribly wrong. These young girls decided on going for a holiday to Yemen, the birth place of their father, for a month or so. What they didn't learn was that they were already sold and apparently "married" to their father's friends' sons. Zana, who seems to be the stronger one, describes her whole nightmare that lasted for around 8 years before she could escape to England for good. In fact the book was written by a ghostwriter, Andrew Crofts for getting Nadia out of Yemen. Zana was first to escape and wanted this book to be used as a tool to reach out to her sister who is by now mothering around 6 children with her Arab husband, Mohammed.
What were painful to acknowledge was the chores she was made to do. This is a real life story that happened during the early 80s. I don't think I can ever relate to the pain she went through. But having to learn that she was married on her 3rd day of so called vacation to being forced to lose her virginity with an unknown stranger who was then known as her husband that too for a few dollars is unimaginable! When I read it during my school days there was an anxiety to know more about Arab women and their lifestyle. There are few photos of Zana and Nadia in the book and also available on net. I used to stare at those photos for a long time and try to picture how they walked miles together to collect water to not even having a standard latrine for fulfilling nature's call. When Zana had to deliver her baby, which she says is a product of her rape by her alleged husband; she had to do it at her hut-like home without nurses, doctors or proper instruments required for the purpose.
Though I did try to empathize with her very action and reaction, what I couldn't do was shed a tear. Zana had such great conviction, the will to fulfill her plan, and to never lose hope that always kept me as a reader very sad but determined of that tiny ray of hope. The book ends with Zana's return back home which almost freed me from some kind of a dungeon, I felt I was in, while reading the book. I could just keep writing about her agony and struggle and eventual success but it is not worth spoiling the essence of this book through my blog. Somehow, many events from her life kept haunting me at one point or another and then I decided I must get this book. I remembered almost all the important events as though xeroxed into my memory. Just finished reading it today and feel so light, as if it were a task I had to accomplish from the day of my birth! A must read, people! I totally recommend this woman's true account on modern slavery.
I did my little research on this and the latest reports on Nadia is available on this site : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/01/gender.uk , where she states that she is apparently happy with her life.