My name is Lori, and I have a story to share with you. It is one I think you should hear, because it might open your eyes to some of the terrible things that happen in this world. My parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was sixteen years old. I was left heartbroken, and so were my younger sisters, Angela and Sandy who were fourteen and twelve when it happened. I hoped that our grandmother would get custody of us, but she was very old and in poor health. She was our only living relative, but I prayed that she could be our legal guardian for at least the next two years, until I was old enough to care for my sisters myself. Sadly my prayers were not answered.
The state ruled my grandmother was unfit to be our guardian due to her age and health, and as a result we were to be signed over to a foster family of the state's choosing.
It was the worst thing I ever had to explain to my sisters, but they seemed to understand. Sandy asked me if we were getting a new mom and dad. I told her that no one would ever replace mom and dad, but some new people would be taking care of us.
The people the state chose were Danel and Monik Maguloos. They had just recently been made American citizens. They moved here from Sudan and were hoping to start a family.
Monik was infertile, so they elected to adopt. I will never forget the first time we met them. After a state worker dropped off Angela, Sandy and myself, they welcomed us with open arms. Their home was modest, but Danel made a good living as a businessman and was able to provide for us quite well.
I was given my own bedroom, while Angela and Sandy shared theirs just down the hall from me. Danel and Monik were very sensitive about our loss, and were very consoling during our first days living in their home. I learned Monik understood our grief; her mother had died during childbirth, and had lost her sister when she was seven, so Monik understood loss and what it meant to go through life without a parent.
Danel and Monik seemed to be the perfect foster parents for us. I began to believe that our lives could finally start over. That happiness might find us once again. But what happened in the few months following our adoption could only be described as a nightmare.
It all began the night the bathtub started to leak. Sandy was bathing as she did every night, when water began leaking onto the floor. Monik noticed the carpet outside the bathroom was wet, and she came in to investigate.
"Danel! Danel! Help me!" she shouted. Monik shut the water off and then began to lay towels onto the floor to soak up the water.
Danel came into the bathroom, examined the problem, and left. He returned with a tool kit and proceeded to lay putty around the crack in the tub, and sealed the problem for good. A simple remedy, but as he worked, Monik glanced over at Sandy, who sat idly in the tub.
Monik glanced at Sandy, once and then twice, and something seemed to concern her quite a bit. I was watching from the hall, helping soak up some of the flooding water, when I heard Monik order Sandy to open her legs.
Sandy wasn't comfortable with this, but she obeyed. Monik examined Sandy's private parts and was shocked by what she saw.
"Danel!" she whispered. Danel looked up from his work. Monik muttered something to Danel in Sudanese, and he looked concerned as well. Sandy was deeply upset at the way Danel and Monik were reacting to her body, and she covered herself with her arms and looked to be on the verge of tears. Danel and Monik were no longer looking at her, and they began to have a heated discussion. I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying, but they were upsetting Sandy, so I approached them and asked what was the matter.
"Get back to work, girl," Monik said. "This is important."
I was insulted by her tone, which was unusual since they were normally very friendly. Something was terribly wrong.
Danel fixed the tub and Sandy finished her bath, but Danel and Monik did not speak the rest of the evening.
It wasn't until after we were all in bed that I could hear the two of them arguing again. They went on for about a half-hour before I heard Monik going into Angela and Sandy's bedroom. I heard her sternly telling something to Angela. A few minutes later she came into my room.
"What is it?" I muttered, pretending to be sleepier than I was.
"Take off your dress," she said to me.
"What?" I muttered.
"Take off your dress!"
I was frightened. I did as she asked, and pulled my nightdress over my head. I was wearing only my bra and panties, but Monik demanded I remove those as well.
"What's going on, Mama?" I asked timidly
Monik pulled my panties down and told me to spread my legs apart. I was too shocked by her command to disobey her. I did as she asked, and she peered between my legs and looked just as distraught as she did when she inspected Sandy.
Monik stormed out of my bedroom and proceeded to yell at Danel. I was too scared to get dressed, and I spent the rest of the night frozen in my bed, naked.
I eventually learned what was wrong with my sisters' and my bodies, but far too late. The answer was: nothing. We were perfectly healthy young women, but the Sudanese-bred Danel and Monik saw it differently. In their culture, all young girls undergo a procedure called infibulation. It is basically a circumcision for girls. The practice is done to make girls more marriageable, as a Sudan man would be unwilling to marry a woman who wasn't assured to be a virgin and completely faithful.
To ease their future son-in-law's concerns, parents of young girls would make sure their daughters were infibulated at a young age, preferable before puberty. The process involved cutting off the girl's clitoris and labia, and sewing shut the vulva tightly enough to make intercourse impossible. Her vulva would remain sealed until her wedding night when her husband would cut the stitches and consummate the marriage.
A prospective husband could be certain that his bride to be was a virgin and unlikely to ever stray from his bedside if she lacked the anatomy to ever make intercourse enjoyable. This was the norm in Sudan. And apparently, Danel and Monik were unaware that this practice is not performed in the United States.
The days following Danel and Monik's discovery that my sisters and I were uncircumcised, they severely restricted our freedoms. None of us were allowed any time with friends. I was forbidden from dating, though I hadn't done any since losing my parents anyway. Our cell phones were revoked, so we had to make all calls through the house phone which Monik or Danel monitored. And while before we took the school bus to school, now Monik would drive us to and from school and was very agitated if we were not waiting by the school doors when she arrived to drive us home in the afternoon. I couldn't understand Monik's reasoning for her sudden phase of over-protectiveness, but I knew it had something to do with the night the bathtub leaked. All I could do was hope that somehow, something would make Danel and Monik scale back their strict rules and allow us to live our lives like normal American parents would. Unfortunately, something did.
A few weeks later, Monik informed me that we would be having an important visitor in a few days. She did not give us any details, but she demanded that my sisters and I be on our best behavior. Danel had paid quite a price to have the visitor flown in from Sudan, and he demanded that we give her a warm welcome.
Her flight arrived late one night, so Danel left to pick her up from the airport and would bring her home after we were in bed. Monik sent us to bed early that night and told us to get good rest, because we had a big day for us tomorrow. She would not tell us what that was, but if I had known, I would have taken my sisters and myself out of that house the first chance I got.
Sadly, I was completely unaware of what Danel and Monik had in store for my sisters and me. I went to sleep in my sisters' bedroom because they planned to give my room to our visitor. She would spend the night in my room, and early the next morning, she would perform an important ceremony for my sisters and me. We were anxious and apprehensive about what would happen.
"Are we in trouble?" Sandy asked me, as we lay awake in bed.
"No," I said. "Don't be silly."
"I think something bad is going to happen," Sandy said.
"Don't be stupid," Angela said. "Everything will be fine. Won't it, Lori?"
I didn't answer right away.
"Yes," I said, though I was not sure if I truly believed it.
It was past midnight when we heard the car pull into the driveway. Sandy was asleep, but Angela and I heard the front door open as Danel carried several suitcases into the house. We heard an old woman's voice; it sounded terrible, like she was dying. Her footsteps were soft and quiet, which contrasted with Danel's, whose steps were louder and more distinctive.
I heard him lead her into my bedroom, and listened to her sit down on my bed.
"Where are the girls?" I heard the woman say.
"In that room. We mustn't wake them," Danel said.
There was only hushed muttering as the woman got settled into my bed and Danel retired to his bedroom with Monik.
The crack of light that peered under our bedroom door went out, and for the next hour, all I could hear was a faint noise coming from my bedroom, where this strange old woman was spending the night. The noise frightened me. It sounded like a blade being sharpened.
Then there was only silence. Angela fell asleep, but I lay awake for what seemed like hours.
.... There is more of this story ...