I was born on the streets, literally.
On a thunderous, stormy night, my mother gave birth to me under a worn out shed of a local shop. From what she could recall, it was past midnight and she was all alone. Through tears and pain, she fought and suffered for my existence. She saw my birth as a miracle, she saw me as a marvel of happiness born into the night, and she named me Layla, beauty of the dark.
My earliest childhood memories included running with my friends in a grimy street, through the puddles of mud after a running car, happy just to be able to chase it. I remember shouting at a dog while it teared at my favorite frock, the only dress that was not bad enough for me to feel glum over. The most beautiful of all memories was being carried in my mother’s arms as she pleaded around for money, with a dejected face. It was a face that I knew well. It carried a sad, troubled look, it was unwelcoming to me, but it had been imprinted in my brain. It only appeared under a certain circumstance, whenever she spread her hands while begging to everyone how I had been hungry for quite a while. I remember thinking how that was not always necessarily true, but i felt very special because she was asking for food to fulfill my needs. I also remember trying to look extra sad and innocent for my mother, which helped sometimes and people make a sorrowful face while handing over some money.
When I was old enough to understand the basics of the job, I decided to become a breadwinner myself. The rules of the job were simple, all one had to do was look extra sad and murmur the most senti and emotional duas repeatedly and they worked fairly well most of the time. Every time they saw a little girl with big eyes full of innocence and purity, they would pay me. Sometimes, however, annoyingly enough, they would give me a lecture on how it is so important that I get some education instead of asking people for money. I listened to them but at the same time, I completely ignored their lecture. Some people were not hesitant to pass comments but slowly, I became immune to all this. My goal was to make my mother happy and only for her, I made the scorching hot weather and the coldhearted people my habitat.
My mom had a good sense of responsibility and she took to the streets at 6 am every day. When I reached the peak of my teenage, a car hit her and took her life away before most of the city had even woken up. Nobody cared to carry her to the hospital, and she was long gone when one of my 'khalajees’ discovered her. The Khalajees were my mother's co-workers, and we were all like one family. I ran through the streets and cried when I discovered the news of grief. And i remember constantly wishing for her to suddenly reappear somehow. Everything felt empty without her, and even the loaded streets started to feel empty.
I carried on with my life, following my mother’s footsteps every morning, earning money solely for myself this time. The hated looks, the cruel comments, and sometimes, a total blind eye towards the girl at the window of their car, the cycle continued.
The calamity of my life came when one day i was forcefully carried away in a car, and forced into the acts of sinning. It felt like all hell has broken loose upon me. I was destroyed and i was left alone. I begged to God as i gathered myself to punish the ruthless menace. I cried, and wished for the torturing incident to excise from my memory, but it was no use. I was marked with the impurity , when I discovered that I was expecting a child.
I was shunned from my family. The khalajees shook their heads in disgust and despite my constant pleading, I was labeled a disgrace. I was told to depart from their society, from my family, probably away from the only people who called me Layla. I left everyone to become a part of another family. It was not easy, because they found it hard to trust a girl, who claimed to be a widow and was expecting a child. In my search for someone trustworthy, I met a KhalaJee who was caring enough to offer her help. I expressed my gratitude to her, as i started living with her family. When knowledge of my sins reached my new family, they were revolted. I left them before they could have a chance to banish me.
I was alone, like my mother, when I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. From the moment she was born, I knew I loved every bit of her. I saw her as a ray of happiness, I saw her as a mystical glow in the darkness of my life, I saw her as a ray of light and hope in the darkness inside of Layla, I named her Noor