Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
I awoke with a start as the car shuddered over a dusty pothole. I glanced down, the diary! I slipped it quietly away,back in my little bag, we were almost home. I could see the sunset spangled chinaar trees glimmer in the distance.
What these pages held,turned my world on it’s head. I had stopped reading because the words seemed to have lifted off the pages and slowly choked my very heart. I tried to push that loopy, romantic font out of my head. It haunted me. Perhaps that was why I heard my father numerous times tell the boys, never to be in a haraam relationship, “Zulfikaar, Ilyaas, don’t mess up someone’s life and your own by this love marriage story. Nikah or nothing. If you don’t end up with the one you fell for, when you do get married, you’ll pine for someone else and see a shortage in your spouse but that’s Your fault because you stole from your halaal relationship the day you got involved in haraam.” “What if you marry the one you love?” “You’re still stealing away the excitement of all the firsts. The electric spark that’s there in the first touch already happened before nikah,those shy glances and the bonding and falling,all done,so whats left? Allah forgive us, these films and songs from India have destroyed our expectations of genuine romance.” “What is genuine Uncle,how would we know?” Genuine is when our Nabi SAW came back to Makkah Mukarramah as a conqueror and he could have done anything,anything, he had the whole city waiting for him,he could have destroyed his oppressors,he left all ,and goes to the grave of his beloved Khadijah RA because he had been deprived of visiting it for so many years. That’s love.”
I recalled that as clear as if it was yesterday and my thoughts floated to the diary.
The scream that tore from my throat echoed in the forest.
Sorry diary, I’ve been so busy with Rumana’s wedding, I longed to escape and confide what just happened. Remember that strange sense of destiny I felt the other day? as I walked I through the forest ? Yes, I was so right. So, as I came out of the house , dressed in my pretty pink chiffon anarkali, to receive the ‘jaan wala’ , that is the groom’s family, I heard a voice drawl close to me; “So where should I place these boxes?”
I moved away, how dare a worker come so close to me! I turned around to tongue lash him, and saw a smiling, confident face. He smiled. The cheek. Such a confident person couldn’t be one of our naukars,right?
“Kaun ho tum?” I asked sharply.
“Nobody that will matter to you, so where do these boxes go?”
“Over there.” And I stalked off. Trying to shake off the image of that smile.
The gaze is an arrow, from the arrows of shaitan.
Where the eyes go, the heart will follow and it cannot have what it always holds.
The one who lowers his or her gaze for the sake of Allah, will taste the sweetness of Imaan.
The day flew by in a whirlwind and soon I heard my sister accept to marry her stranger, I felt a lump grow in my throat as I saw my father and uncles go off to the Mosque to be her witness in an act that always amazed me. To leave everything familiar and dear and move to a completely new environment. My granny says this is how the dunya will continue, in a love without nikah, there will be no real happiness, she says. She says that it’s easy to love someone without living with them but only when you see them at their worst and can still die for them, that’s real love and only in nikah. I can’t imagine it.
The worst moment that broke my heart was when my mother and father held my sister for the last time and put her into her in laws car. I saw her look around for me but I ran off because I couldn’t handle it. Life will never be the same again. Everything was going to change. I slumped against a tree and cried as if all the pain would escape with my tears.
“Sorry. I also felt like that when my sister got married.”
I jumped a mile. “ How,how dare you!!” It was him again,that naukar. “How dare you creep up on me!”
“I didn’t, you came here,I’ve been resting here. Here.” He handed me something to wipe away my tears.
“Shukran” I murmured grudgingly. He gazed up at me and then laughed. What was wrong with him?? Did he think that we had no feelings just because we had class?! I let him know my thoughts!
“No I’m laughing because you’re so embarrassed about showing your feelings,that you’re human. You’re what? 16? 17? But already brainwashed that you have to act a certain way and people like us are sub human. You carry on like your workers are ghair-dil, they don’t feel hurt when you look through them like they don’t exist, do you even know the full names of some of the people that have worked in your house since you were a child,no right? Because that doesn’t matter, we only exist to serve you’ll. Nameless is better because there’s no attachment, but we should have loyalty for those whose filth we clean and eat from the broken and chipped plates you’ll give because the plates we wash with our hands, isn’t fit for us to eat from.”
There was only silence as I looked at him, wide eyed and shocked. No one ever spoke to me like this ever. He got up, I numbly handed over his handkerchief to him.
“ Keep it. I don’t want to wash something with your snot all over it” he smirked. I was mortified. “At least today you’re not mistaking me for a creature that you need to run off screaming from.”
“That..that was you??” I stammered.
He laughed “yes, I was carrying the blankets and rugs for your guests.”
A silence fell, and I looked up, the gap between us seemed so wide. Like the rich and poor could live only like this. The ruling and the ruled. But there was something about him that refused to be subservient,his attitude,his smile,that infectious laugh.
“Aap ka naam kya hain?” I asked so softly. What’s your name.