HUMA 1970 Lecture 2: AuetoEthnogrpahy
Khadija Ali Autoethnography
214230270 Vanessa Reimer
To be a child can mean many things in today’s society, to have innocence, to
be vulnerable, to be rich in experiences. Being a child means being youthful and full of
hope; but none of these were apart of my reality, until I insisted it. Every child has the
right to be taken cared of by loving parents who adhere to their needs and stand by their
decisions that help them broaden their horizons, grow as individuals and to be able to
function correctly as a productive member of society. There are many cases in which
children are not receiving these rights and are being deprived of childhood. I submerge
myself in nostalgic memories of my past. I, myself remember an instance where I felt as
though I was watching my childhood slip away from me.
I was 13 years old, when I finally realized the value of having a childhood. The
warm wind hits my face in mid- July as I try and balance myself with one hand on a
bicycle, while the other is keeping my Popsicle from hitting the ground. As I stop to catch
my breath quickly I notice a group of teenage girls from my neighborhood on rollerblades
headed to the park, before I could move my lips I hear the lock from my complex home
unlock. I turn my head towards the door ready to hear my mothers voice telling me to
come in, three of my brother’s storm out with excitement in their eyes as though they just
found out that they won the lottery. I wanted to be apart of that excitement too. “What are
you guys so happy for?” I said curiously as I pedaled my way towards them. “We got the
car keys’’ he said changing the tone of his voice. Making it obvious that he was not going
to tell me anything else.
As the excitement fell from my face pushing my bike towards them, I stormed
into the house as if the answer I was looking for remained in these quarters. As I roamed
around the house looking for my mother I found her in the one place I should’ve entered
first, the kitchen. The aroma of chicken biryani elevated my senses making me lose touch
of what I came inside for. As I was standing in front of her she pushed my bangs away
from my face and told me to sit down on the kitchen counter.
“Ma- can I go out tonight with the boys?” I asked smiling from ear to ear hopeful
that she would say yes. “No Khadija” she said in her sweet yet assertive voice.
“Everyone in the neighborhood goes out! I never do anything wrong. Its not like I’m by
myself” I said looking down, scared to see my mother’s reaction. She finally broke the
silence after several minutes. “Its not that I don’t trust you, its simply because you’re a
girl! Back home I was not worried about having fun.” She said walking past my
The evening dragged on as I went to bed confused by my mother’s words,
replaying the situation over and over again. I had many female friends my age, and they
all had one thing in common they were all being reckless, but reckless with experience.
At a young age I knew I did not need to break the rules in order to have fun, I simply
wanted to find myself as a young individual. I was ready for that journey even if that
meant going against my mothers wishes in the mean time. A couple days later I waited
for the atmosphere in my home to go back to normal, waiting for the perfect time to
explain to my mother that I can respect her old traditions if she can respect me enough to
loosen the leash she has on me. “I’ll be back I’m going to the park” my older brother by
only one year said. “Hmm, okay don’t fight with anyone” she said while giggling.
Seeing the whole situation happen in front to my eyes I had to speak on it or id be
a prisoner in my own home. “I’m going to the park too!” She replied saying “N-n-no!
You’re staying in and helping me with dinner” I grabbed my mother’s hand and gave her
a hug looking up at her I said everything that was on my mind. “It makes me sad when I
see that you say yes to the boys and say no to me, we’re all around the same age and they
come back home with stories to tell I want to come home and tell stories too” I said
holding back the tears in my eyes. My mothers expression said everything, it seemed as
though it was going through one ear and out the other. “Mom, I know back home they
Khadija Ali Autoethnography
214230270 Vanessa Reimer
want the girls to do everything but how am I going to know what I’m good at if all I’m
doing is cooking and cleaning, I want to do more, to be more”
She was shocked hearing this come out of her youngest daughters mouth. I simply
didn’t understand why I had to explain to her why I wanted to have a childhood. “Do
whatever you want” she said unbothered. As the hours started to go by, I ended up sitting
on my porch noticing the same girls down the block from my neighborhood walking
towards me. “Your mom finally let you out huh?” one of the girls called out. “Don’t
start!” I said with no reaction on my face. “Come with us, were going to go down to
Scooters” “No its okay, I’m good” I replied. “Actually, lets go” I said correcting myself
quickly. The girls looked at me as if I spoke a different language. I kept rethinking about
the conversation with my mom; it almost felt like this was some kind of test. I let my
friend lead the way; the night was filled with laughter, falls and more laughter I finally
felt like a kid. Like I was living. My friends dropped me off home as we exchanged our
goodbyes; I opened the door ready to hear my mom lecture me.
She was relaxed on the sofa chair, and patted it down signaling me to take a seat.
“You know anything about tough love? What I’m doing to you is exactly what your
grandmother did to me, I cant tell you what to do and what not to do’ but we can
compromise” she said elegantly in our native language. “I just want you to treat me
equally,” I said “We’ll talk about this tomorrow, don’t worry, Goodnight” I said kissing
her cheek before I called it a night.
Months went by and it felt like I was back to square one, but during those months
it felt as though my childhood was being restored. I had the different experiences that I
wanted to experience for the first time, stories that I could tell, getting into situations that
helped me figure out right from wrong all in a short time frame. Although equality was
still lacking in my household I was willing to do whatever it took to fight for it.