A week later, I was engaged to a complete stranger. He happened to be my father’s business partner’s son who just came back to Pakistan a month ago after graduating. We were both complete strangers. I didn’t know what I was doing. Trust me, I didn’t. A part of me was scared too. I didn’t even slightly have the same feelings as a girl soon getting married. No joy. No smiles.
I remember this ceremony taking place a few days before my wedding. I was completely covered in yellow. My hair all oiled up. No makeup. I was supposed to stay that way for 3 days. According to our people, this is a ritual taken place a few days before a girl’s wedding to ‘enhance’ her beauty. I was not allowed to go out for those 3 days. Especially, not meet my husband-to-be, Asad. Jeez, the term even sounded strange to me. But who cared about him. I was worried about my man. And when I say my man, I don’t mean Asad. My cousins basically found it ‘funny’ to hide my cellphone too so I can’t contact their ‘brother-in-law.’ I hated this stunt but I was too tired and exhausted to argue about it with a bunch of teenage girls who thought they were teasing me and making me blush about it all.
I just sat their, staring at all my cousins and aunties cracking jokes, laughing and singing songs. I just stared. But I wasn’t there. I was in a whole another world.
He was sleeping. On the ground near some bushes. I lay there next to him, half naked, brushing his hair away from his forehead, taking in his face entirely to somehow imprint it in my memory. He suddenly opened his eyes and asked me, ‘what are you doing?’
I’ll tell you a secret, it scared me. I quickly pulled my hand away and closed my eyes and gently whispered, ‘nothing. I was doing nothing.’ That’s when I felt his arm wrap around me. His bony fingers ran across my waist under my shirt.
‘We are nothing.’
‘You know that, right?’
‘Yes, I know we are nothing.’
‘Good girl,’ he kissed the side of my forehead.
I started laughing. That’s when I noticed everyone had stopped singing. My eyes burned. I was crying too. I blinked and looked at everyone staring at me. I had to run away. I had to. I ran towards my room. A panic attack was on its way and I knew it.
It was the last time anyone sung love songs and laughed around me before I got married.
26th July 2028. I happen to remember this date, not because it was the day I got married. But because from this day, I wasn’t legally ‘his’ anymore. And just the thought of it made me want to drop at my knees.
I sat there on my bed. There was a speaker and mic next to me and then I saw my mom walk in with the ‘nikah’ documents and a few other cousins entered in my room. She smiled at me. Again, there it was. The sad smile. I was a hyperventilating but in that moment, all of a sudden, I was numb. I felt nothing. She came next to me to hold my hand and that’s when I heard the Molvi Sahib and his words.
‘Do you accept Asad Farhan Khan as your husband?’
I, for the first time, got to know my caste was changing. I didn’t blame my parents as I wasn’t interested to talk about anything related to my marriage. You were supposed to say ‘qubool hai’ (I do) 3 times at the molvi sahib’s question. Everyone was expecting the same from me. I instead turned towards my mom, held her shoulders and looked her in the eyes.
‘Amma, will I not be his anymore if I say these two words?’ Tears beginning to form in my eyes.
My auntie slapped my arm playfully, ‘you will be his IF you say them’ and laughed.
But my mom knew who I was talking about. Not the others. My mom sternly told me, ‘Bolo, Sarah.’ (Say it, Sarah)
That’s when the tears began to fall. And I don’t know when the words left my mouth. Every time I heard the molvi sahib ask me that question, my mom would nudge my arm and I would simply say ‘Qubool hai.’ Then it was Asad’s turn. I heard him say it. All 3 times. Without any hesitation. By that time I couldn’t stop crying like a baby. Everyone around me was crying so nobody asked me questions. And that slightly relieved me.
But they were crying with joy. Another burden of an unmarried girl, lifted off from the family. Must be some joy. I, on the other hand, was crying because I felt like someone had tied a knot around my neck and was choking me. They weren’t letting me live nor die.
Later that night, I was sent with Asad, to his house. I was sent to his room. I knew I was supposed to wait for him. But I was scared. Not shy. Just scared. To be looked at or touched.
As soon as I heard the door knob turn, I pretended to sleep. I heard him walk in. I was scared he would be angry on me for not waiting. I heard silence for a while and then some footsteps walking towards me. My heartbeat started to rise. No, he can not touch me. He can not. But then the footsteps became faint and stopped. I, being curious, slightly opened one eye to look, and there he stood in front of an open wardrobe. And I wanted to look a little more at the man I might possibly be spending the rest of my life with. He was tall, had really black hair that were slightly longer than my liking and seemed to have a really nice built by looking at his firm and broad shoulders flexing under his white shirt. He also seemed to be rich considering how well furnished and huge his room was.
I heard him turn around and quickly shut my eyes. He came over and covered me up with a sheet and walked away. After a while I opened my eyes upon hearing some snores that most definitely weren’t coming from the opposite side of the bed. I looked around and caught him sleeping on the couch in a position which seemed to be very uncomfortable for his tall body. A part of me was relieved. Very relieved. The other part of me wondered, out of all the girls this good looking and rich lad could have gotten, why did he end up marrying a girl who wouldn’t even look towards him and is so in love with another man for eternity? Wondering the same thing, I fell asleep in that bed, with all the makeup and my bridal dress on.
The sun rays falling on me woke me up from my deep slumber. I looked up at the clock to find out it had been 11 am.
I walked over towards the massive mirror to finally look at myself as a bride. But all I saw was a sad married girl, dried black tear stains over her face because of all the overloaded mascara and red lipstick smeared all over her mouth. The dress was particularly beautiful but dear lord, did it itch. I right then stripped down, just to find out scratches all over my legs and back because of all the sequins. Next, I removed my heavy jewellery to find red marks around my neck. Wasn’t really the brightest idea to sleep in these clothes and jewellery sigh.
I suddenly heard someone’s heavy footsteps walk up the stairs. Jesus, definitely Asad. His parents wanted him to have his own house for his personal life but I wasn’t really a huge fan of being alone in a huge house all day with this man. I rushed to lock the door.
And soon, I heard a knock. Knock? He was knocking at his own room’s door?
I gulped. I didn’t have the courage to speak a word at that moment.
‘I just wanted to tell you, you can sleep as long as you please.’
I nodded but later realised how he couldn’t really see me.
I sighed with peace when I heard him walking away. After failing to look around for a while for my luggage, I started checking the wardrobes just to find my clothes neatly piled up and hanged in one of them. This was indeed a sweet gesture. I know how you are supposed to dress up and look nice for your husband at least in the first few days of your marriage, but there was only one man I would have done this for and that was most definitely not the man I was married to at the moment.
I took out a worn t-shirt and sweatpants and turned towards the bathroom for a much needed warm shower. And later, find out how much more miserable my life is really gonna be.
Author’s note: Okay, so I don’t know how but this is getting really long so there will be a part 3 too. Or who knows, a part 4 too. Just keep reading because I’m just really new at writing something other than philosophical and this is a new topic too but I’m liking it. I’m loving the feeling of writing again after so long. Love you guys x