Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
“Johara?” I looked up from the letter with a shock,so lost in thought I had been. “Jee ?” “I’m going for taleem, are you coming,we’re leaving in the next hour?” “Yes, I’ll be ready.” I smiled at her,the lady I once thought would become my mother in law…
After she left the room, I opened my mother’s diary to where she had chronicled everything that had happened since Saleem’s letter reached her and he offered his ultimatum of either marrying him in secrecy or forgetting him.
The wind whipped around me, I pulled my shawl closer. I didn’t want anyone to recognise me. For the first time in my life,I had to pack my own bag,carry my own things. As I reached the bend in the road,I turned for the last time and looked back for the last time at my home. Where I grew up. The only home I knew.
I saw my parents silhouette in the distance and my granny’s slow shuffle to the balcony where she would read Qur’an and enjoy the early sunlight before it got too strong. There was never a day that she didn’t lay the foundations of,except with the reciting of the Qur’an.
What was I doing? I felt my legs tremble and it nearly give in. How could I leave my home? My family? I never had a chance to properly say goodbye, all I did was try to be extra nice since his letter came,I hugged them for longer,spoke sweeter,was more helpful and I hoped that their last memories of me would ease their shock and pain when they discovered my disappearance. I felt my legs become lead, if I didnt move in the next five minutes, I would miss the train. I heard the chatter of the workers as they came in.
Tears silently poured down and I took a step towards my home, when I heard a voice behind me and I nearly jump out of my skin. “What are you doing? Saleem sent me to help you,the station is this way bhaji.” It wa Aslam,my foster brother, just all of sixteen, he was easily persuaded by Saleem to help us and give me away in nikah,excited by the secrecy and forbideness of it all and lured by Saleem’s promise to take him hunting,he agreed and was sworn to silence till we were gone. It was a small solace for me that at least one family member was involved. “Have you changed your mind and want to go back home?” Aslam asked me sympathetically. I was suprised by his sudden adult like understanding. I nodded. We went a few steps. “Let’s go from the back Seema bhaji or it will be tough to explain what you were doing out at sunrise. So you’re ready for your engagement,I guess since Saleem is out, your engagement with Ismail is planned for next Sunday right?”
I stopped dead. That would be my fate. I would have to spend all the tomorrows I dreamt of with someone I didn’t like at all. Someone who hadn’t stolen my heart. “Aslam,let’s go to the station,now,hurry!” Home was with Saleem now, wherever he was,was my harbour.
The train station was busy and my heart thudded in anxiety,had we missed him? Would he leave without me?? And then suddenly, my heart tripped, infront of us,was Saleem with an old man. His uncle. He pulled us to the little shade under the office roof. And like that,my nikah was made by Saleem’s uncle. I felt a little deflated. Although I felt heady when Saleem took my hand and pulled me on board, I was now a wife,imagine that! But as we pulled out of the station… I couldn’t help but yearn that my parents were there,giving me away,with sweet sorrow.,that my nikah was made in the musjid with those that loved me,present. With some decorum. What would Dadima say? I trembled as I waved to Aslam, growing smaller in the distance. Saleem drew me closer, and as if reading my mind. “Don’t worry, one day they will accept us together, everything will be okay.” And I held onto that hope like a drowning man clings to a rope.
I glanced around and saw Saleem’s uncle bent over his Qur’an. It was amazing how that attachment grew with the older people,perhaps Saleem and I would also change and make the Qur’an such an intertwined part of our lives when we were older? I felt comforted by that thought.
Ah ,but no one promises us tomorrow Ammi, I wish you had known that… all we have is today… we can’t wait to become pious when whiteness seeps into our hair and wrinkles begin to crease our youth… change is for today. Today. Today, open the Qur’an. Wipe away the darkness of sin and uncertainity,with the conviction of the words of Allah. A mountain of yaqeen will grow.