For five years, Massachusetts native Alyssa Lindley Kilzer received facials from Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the mother of the alleged Boston bombers, Dzhokar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. On her Tumblr page, Fides, she reveals a look inside the family’s home.
Between 2008 and 2012 I got to know her pretty well. During those 2-3 hours I spent a lot of time asking her about her personal life, background and her family. (I’m a writer and tend to ask people exhaustive questions about their personal lives, especially as interesting a character as this.) The hijab shouldn’t have surprised me so much, because she had become increasingly religious while I was in college. She often mentioned Allah, and the lessons of the Koran. “Allah will reward him,” she said once about my brother, when I told her that my brother and mom were close, and that I thought my brother would take care of my mom later in life. She started to refuse to see boys that had gone through puberty, as she had consulted a religious figure and he had told her it was sacrilegious. She was often fasting. She told me that she had cried for days when her oldest son, Tamerlan, told her that he wanted to move out, going against her culture’s tradition of the son staying in the house with the mother until marriage. She started saying things like, “Don’t worry, there aren’t men in the house today,” when I asked if I could use the bathroom, which I thought was kind of funny at the time, since I didn’t mind if there were men in the apartment or not.
In my last year of college I was getting a facial from her, and asking her about why she had originally come to the United States with her family about eight or ten years previously. She told me that she and her husband had been lawyers and political activists in Russia. They had fled the country after “something that her husband did.” Her daughter had recently been divorced at this time, and her daughter’s ex-husband had taken their child to Russia, refusing to return him. Finally the child was returned. When my mom asked Zubeidat how they had gotten the child back, she told her that “my [Zubeidat’s] husband is crazy” and everyone knew it. When he threatened the daughter’s ex-husband’s family, they returned the child. During this facial session she started quoting a conspiracy theory, telling me that she thought 9-11 was purposefully created by the American government to make America hate Muslims. “It’s real,” she said, “My son knows all about it. You can read on the internet.” I have to say I felt kind of scared and vulnerable when she said this, as I am distinctly American, and was lying practically naked in her living room.
Read Alyssa Lindley Kilzer’s entire piece at Fides.
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