It seems I forgot one small aspect of my early life-in my weakened state I was somewhat susceptible to seizures.
The first 'episode' was on one of the Eids, when I'd accidentally gotten one of the thin glass bangles to cut me and, coming home, wandered towards the table and suddenly collapsed.
The Eids are the two main celebrations in the religion of Islam. One is Eid-ul-Fitr, or the celebration after the month of fasting, Ramadan. The second is Eid-ul-adha, or the remembrance of Abraham's sacrifice of the ram in place of his son, and recognizing the importance of sacrifice and following the will of God.
But the seizure was quite an odd experience. One second I was toying around with something, the next I'm briefly in a dreamless sleep, and then I wake up on the couch. My dad carried me there. Naturally everyone looked horrified and I was just left wondering what on Earth it was that had happened to me.
An ambulance arrived at the apartment and they carried me out on a stretcher. I distinctly remember the thumb clip monitor and how odd it'd been on my hand. The ride was quite fascinating, what with all of the equipment and things inside.
Turned out I'd been convulsing on the floor and started to turn blue. That did explain the shock I'd awoken to. There was no definite reason for what had occurred, but I think it had to do with a low blood pressure.
The second time I was in an old book shop in Pakistan, where the only fan was behind the clerk. I managed to stumble to my mother and tell her I felt like I was about to fall, before doing just that into her arms.
That was the last time, thank goodness. The sensation that came before I fell was comparable to having your insides being squeezed through the pin of a needle. Not fun.
But it did teach me that my body had very clearly defined limits and that passing them was a very bad idea.
Now that I covered that bit, we can move back to my new life in the suburbs.
My dad chose the house without even bothering to hear our opinions, obviously. We never let him forget it, either.
The property is tiny, to say the least. The kitchen can't fit more than two people and is impenetrable with the dishwasher open. Bedrooms are no bigger than walk-in closets. Toilets have a knack for getting clogged and most of the appliances are artifacts that belong in a museum. Worst of all, there is way too much furniture and most of it is so tacky we can't even get rid of it.
But, anyhoo, it was somewhat bearable and all too exciting for a kid my age. I got my own room at first, even if it immediately lacked a bed.
I then proceeded to enter grade four in a school much less habitable.
Turned out that some family friends we'd known in Riyadh happened to live on the same street. They had a daughter who was only a month older than me, and she's probably become one of my longest-lasting friends.
But before my first day, I'd somehow gotten affixed to the idea of wearing a headscarf or hijab, a sign of modesty and respect. I didn't understand anything about it, obviously, but I was ever-eager to please my parents and wanted to be that 'great kid' they bragged about to other folks.
Call it the attention needs of someone who now pretends that they don't need any.
And so I took the veil, though not very well at first, what with my hair poking out all over the place. It took some time to get used to, that is sure enough.
School went pretty alright. I had a certain Ms. M. in grade four, who was a good teacher to say the least. One of the few that understood that my silence didn't mean I was stupid.
I was suddenly a 'gifted' student. It felt good. Though, I have to admit, the Enhanced Learning Classes were boring. I think the teacher thought I was some kind of fluke who didn't deserve to be there.
And then I was suddenly going to grade five and had a new teacher, Ms. Brown (the second). She went on maternity leave and we had a supply for a while.
I spent most of my breaks with myself. The new environment had turned me into somewhat of a recluse, and I managed to mess up whatever chances I had to make new friends.
That never left me. I was unfortunate enough not to have moved again, and ended up having to spend more time with the group of kids who thought I was probably some weird hermit.
My mom started to work sometimes as one of the lunch supervisors. It seemed that her foreign credentials were unrecognized, and she was now stuck working a menial job. She did like being near the kids though, and her occasional presence made me feel much more comfortable.
As the year progressed I eventually had to experience my first full 'health' class and finally started to understand some of the facts that had eluded me in childhood.
Now I knew why my female relatives 'couldn't pray' sometimes.
The process of Islamic prayer is as follows; there are five mandatory prayers each day, as I have already said, and various other prayers that can be prayed with them that are not compulsory.
Mandatory prayers are called farz, those that were prayed by the final prophet are sunnah, those that are optional but have to be prayed within certain time frames are nafl, and (when a prayer is missed) replacement prayers are called kadha, to put things simply.
Each prayer is made up of a certain number of rak'ah, which are almost like rounds of a certain process. The individual praying raises their hands and says 'god is great' in Arabic to start the prayer, and proceeds to recite surahs (divisions of the Qur'an) with their hands folded at their chest. They place their hands on their knees and bend slightly at the waist in ruk'uh, and recite a certain line thrice. The final step in a rak'ah is to kneel and go into sajda, almost like bowing in front of God, twice, reciting another line thrice as they do.
And that is what one rak'ah is essentially made up of, but any one prayer is made up of various rak'ah.
Confusing? Probably just my inability to explain. But before you can pray you have to achieve a certain state of cleanliness, through a process called wudhu (washing your face, hands, neck, feet, etc.). This state can be broken by various things; using the toilet, vomiting, and...bleeding.
Let's just leave it at that.
Grade five drew slowly to a close, with a trip to a bowling alley and one to some ski slopes.
Both were experiences I never had before and, because of how they didn't fit with my cultural background, never had again.
And then, suddenly, I would face the threat of middle school.