I slammed the diary shut, could I read anymore? It was slowly unraveling my little heart. Who was this Saleem? My father’s name was not Saleem, why was his name on most of the pages that I flipped through? Was this why my mother was always cold to my father? Didn’t she know meeting and talking to boys was completely haraam? How could she willfully go and meet a ghair mahram? Who was this person,captured in the tone of the diary, who seemed so full of colour, yet the one sitting infront of me,seemed lifeless and cold? – I couldn’t imagine her as this vibrant young girl.
And like an accident that horrifies you,yet you can’t draw your eyes away from, I slowly opened my mother’s diary.
“What are you looking at?” Dadi asked and I nearly leap out of my skin in fear and shock. “I err,am looking at the stars.” She pierced me with her wise eyes and I cast my gaze downwards. When you do something wrong, you will always be on edge. “Where.were.you.Seema?” She asked in a steel edged voice, I flinched. The words were stuck in my throat between the temporary escape of lies and the freedom of speaking the truth.
“Whatever it was,that is making you look so guilty,just never do it again.” I nodded earnestly. Almost collapsing with relief. In the gratitude I felt,I made a promise to myself never to meet Saleem again.
I closed my mother’s diary with some relief. At least my mother never met him again. I thought innocently. Perhaps she married my father after this?
I smiled at my mother. She was teasing me about me getting married so I’d be someone else’s headache. Ever since my father passed away,my mother and I were even closer and I admired her pushing me going to battle,knowing if I passed away,she would not have anyone. Except my Khala,but Seema Khala wasn’t someone you could count on. I wondered if she was looking after little Johara. When I got the first chance, I would go to see them inshaaAllah. And this time,I wouldn’t listen to my mother’s excuses. I wanted her to come with and patch up with her sister. We always were chasing barakah, a simple way to capture and keep it was to maintain family ties which at times could be the bitterest pill to swallow.
“Zulfikr. See who is at the door?” I wondered who it could be at this hour,it was almost midnight.