It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe. Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment, or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism or war to grasp what is happening. The victims cannot believe that the descent into barbarity is real, that the relative security and sanity of the past are about to be obliterated. They fail to see that once rights become privileges, once any segment of a society is excluded from the law, rights can instantly be revoked for everyone.
My daughter and I were driving home from dance class. She had just learned the shuffle ball change and we were both proud. We were deep inside the maze of our neighborhood when I noticed a car creeping behind me. We were being followed. I pulled into my driveway and he pulled in front of my house. I held my breath, hoping he would drive away.
The man fell out of his car, picked himself up and started lumbering towards the passenger side of my car, the side my daughter was on. He had a cell phone in his hand and appeared to be filming my car and my daughter. I told myself to be cool, but my insides were blistering.
I got out of my car and quickly walked around the front, towards the door where my daughter sat. He held his cell phone like a shield. He was standing a few feet behind my car, not getting any closer.
He shouted, “Go back to where you came from. You don’t belong here. You are ruining our country!”
Back to where I came from? He didn’t make sense. They never did. I was from here, idiot. And just what would you do without me?
I opened the passenger side door. I looked at my daughter and sighed. She looked at me, frightened. I said, “Don’t worry, sweetheart, it’ll be okay.” I took her hand as she got out of the car. “Go on inside,” I said, standing between her and the irate man.
I didn’t know she would be okay, I didn’t know I would be okay.
“You’re ungodly, you shouldn’t be driving, you shouldn’t even be out.” I heard click, click, click as he took pictures from his phone. “I live here!” He paused as if he couldn’t make any more words. “Harlot. You’ve been warned.” I heard the front door open, relieved that my daughter had made it. As the front door slammed shut, he looked toward the house.
I kept my eyes on him, fingering the stun gun in my coat pocket. “I’m calling the police,” I said. Sadly, I knew what they would say. “Guys will be guys” or “He doesn’t mean anything by it.” Because that’s what they said.
He turned toward his car, mumbling what sounded like “you’ll see” under his breath and shaking his head in disgust. I backed up slowly, watching him as he got back into his car and drove off.
He had my car plates, he had pictures of me, I wondered how long it would take before they came for me. I still had the law on my side, but how long would that last? The police in my town were men after all. The judges? The lawyers? Where any of them women anymore? The news was lousy with women taken away and never heard from again. I wondered how the female newscasters could report it without screaming or jumping out of their skin.
My daughter was waiting at the front door when I got inside. “Mama, did someone steal his happiness? Is that why he’s so mean?”
“I think so honey.”
“Should I get a string?”
“Yes, baby, you should get a string.”
My daughter went into the kitchen and got the spool of string we kept in the drawer for these moments. She cut a piece about 20 inches long and joined me in the living room.
“Mama, do you want to start the chant?”
“You can baby, do you want me to tie the knots? How many should we tie today?”
“Lets tie three. I’ll start.
Kirkvesh, Kirkvesh, let go the man’s humanity.
Give it back, give it back, let go of your vanity.
Kirkvesh, Kirkvesh we tie one,
We will keep you, you won’t run.
Kirkvesh, Kirkvesh, we tie two,
We collect you round the noodle and will review.
Kirkvesh, Kirkvesh we tie three,
When you give up your loot, we let you be.”
She chanted our familial evolution of the old Turkish “Tying of the Devil” I learned from my great-grandmother. I tied the knots, picturing a man’s pale penis, with the string wrapped around it. I pulled tight on the string, fixing him, wanting this devil to feel the constriction. I hoped it would take the stupidity and malevolence out of the man, but it seemed nothing would do that. There were knots tied for the monsters set upon Muslims, Hindus, people of color and now for me, for us, for all women. Would they succeed? I fear this monster was already in too deep.
“Mama, we do this so that it ties up the monster, right? And we will untie the knots when the monster goes away, right?”
“Yes, my Beloved.”
She looked at me and smiled. I handed her the string, and she put it in the bowl on the bookshelf, where it joined the hundreds of other knotted strings.