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As I walked through the blossoming trees, I closed my eyes while the blossoms with its featherlike texture gently touched my cheeks and flew down, to cover the whole floor with its light pink colour. I loved the way the blossoms fell, the way they move with the gentle breeze of the wind, like beautiful butterflies dancing in the air. As I walked pass the family Leif’s house, I watched the cows graze quietly, quiet as ever. It must be because the leader of the group, Lulu, had passed away, after being bitten by a venomous snake. I strolled down the elongated narrow path where other paths were connected to it. Soon I had arrived in the Lake Gangal, a lake which sparkled in the light. It was known in our village to have the clearest water, so clear that you could see the world under water. I observed closely at a group of small, sapphire fishes which had canary yellow fins. They were slender as well as delicate, and as I gently picked one up, it jumped around in my hand, one side to the next until it fell back into the lake. These fishes made the lake famous since it was the only lake where you would find this marvellous fish.
As I skipped next to the lake, I saw a thin but long boat which people in my village used when fishing. It was my Uncle’s, so I jumped in. As we travelled around the lake I watched the trees which bends forward around the lake, giving the lake a magical, sensational feeling. I loved how the lake was surrounded by trees, it made the scenery picturesque. When the boat trip finished, I jumped out and ran back to the elongated narrow path. I observed the landscape of my village. The horizon beamed with light from the sun, which made me feel as if the village was enchanted by the sun’s beauty. I loved my village, the Kaila village, found in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.
* * *
It was 7:30pm now. I was finishing off cutting the vegetables in the old kitchen, situated in the darkest corner of the house. I didn’t like the kitchen because of the eerie feeling it gave. It had two large doors to allow us to go to the fields. The corner of the walls, including the ceiling was damped and the atmosphere was defile, particularly because of the fuel being burnt for cooking. I heard my Baba exclaim that it was the Maghrib prayer, so I rinsed and dried my hands and headed towards my bedroom.
To enter my bedroom, you would have to go through a serious of dangerous paths, as I’m locked up in my bedroom like Repunzel.
No, I am joking.
To enter my room you had to go up a narrow, stretched stair which seemed to me to stretch for ages. This stair was found in the North-East of our house. I entered my bedroom and had seen my room spotless as I kept it. No one entered my room; it was rare for even Mama to enter my room. I guess, in some aspect, I got the privacy I needed. I glared into the vintage-look mirror which my Mama had brought off some old man in the streets, selling his belongings in order to make money for his family.
I entered my bathroom, which I hated so much because it was filthy and unhygienic, even when I cleaned it everyday it seemed to stay hostile and grimy. I purified myself for the prayer, by doing the ablution according to the Wudu rule. After I finished, I dried my body and pour some olive oil over my arms and legs, including my hair. Mama has once told me that oil was food for the hair, and in order to have rich hair filled with volume, you had to put on oil. I had nothing against wearing oil, however, it made my hair look greasy that at times it made me feel uneasy as well. I wore my large blue scarf, to cover my hair to my chest. I got the prayer mat out and positioned it on the floor towards the holy place. I stood on the mat and began my prayer.
As I finished my prayer for Maghrib, I heard my mama call me from downstairs.
“Alisha! Have you finished with your prayer?”
“Yes Mama”, I yelled back.
“Come down quickly, we have a surprise for you.”
Maybe my family have kept me a surprise party to celebrate my sixteenth birthday. That would be really nice since I never have parties. I fixed my bedroom as I didn’t like my bedroom to be in a disarray state. I combed through my jet black, mellifluous, long hair, which came up to my bottom. As I fixed my hair into a tight ponytail and coiled my hair to the back of my head I stared intently into the mirror. I admired how my body was with its curves and how my bust as well as my bottom stood out. However, these were meaningless as I would have to cover them with a burkha. I had no grudge against wearing burkha, but I felt at times abit relieved when I took of my burkha.
Mama would scold me and say that it is the devil trying to manipulate me into not wearing the burkha; so I moved away the thoughts and prepared myself. I covered my hair and my chest with the large blue scarf. I opened the door to my room and tiptoed moderately down the narrow stairs, trying my best not to make a sound.
I reached the bedroom of my Baba and Mama, and carefully peered into the bedroom. However, I found nothing in the room what I had imagined it would be, but my parents sitting at the centre of their double sized bed with a family I have never seen before. There was an old woman, maybe twice my Mama’s age, who was dark complexioned and obese. She wore a bright yellow and green sari, with embroidery all over it. There was also an old man who I figured to be the obese woman’s husband. He looked emaciated with his chin protruding out, as if a weapon about to strike. The old man had a luxuriant mane of grey curly hair, which reminded me of a mop. Between the old man and the obese woman was a young man. He seemed to be sweating horribly due to his face looking incredibly oily and his shirt seeming to look wet. Like the obese woman, he was enormously large with his enormously large stomach looking bloated. “Yuck”, I whispered. Out of nowhere my older brother Hassid came behind me and tapped me at my back.
“Why don’t you go in?” He asked.
“Why should I? I don’t even know them…”
“There here for you dumbo.”
“For me? Since when did people started to realize that there is a girl in this family.”
“Since you became sixteen.”
I didn’t understood what he meant by that. Since you became sixteen he said. I didn’t want to go in there; I felt a sense of uneasiness.
“You are not going to go in there that easily are you…?” And then Hassid pushed me into the room.
Everyone was looking at me now, Hassid, including my other two brothers Mahmud and Tawhid who stood next to Baba, with their heads looking down. I felt a drop of sweat trickling down my back. Suddenly, I started to feel hot, immensely hot, and I started to fidget.
“Ah! Alisha, come in and salaam our guests,” Baba told me. And as always I obeyed him.
After I salaamed them I sat next to my Mama. There was a minute of silence where I felt the old obese woman was interrogating me, perceiving me from head to toe. I must admit I felt rather unusual. The silence broke by Baba introducing me to the family and they introduced themselves to me. The obese young man name was Omar Ali, and the old man and obese woman were his parents, Abdi Ali and Ruska Ali. My mother told me to touch Omar’s parent’s feets. Bowed down, with my head facing their face, and touched their feet. Their feet was dreadful. They were desiccated, with pitch-black hairs protruding out of each toes; and their toe-nails looked as if half-bitten, which was surrounded by green mould. I picked my head up abruptly, and gasped for air. No one seemed to have seen my suffocation, so I sat down.
My Baba spoke about what I had achieved in my previous years, about the dance classes I went to. I didn’t even believe that Baba knew so much of me, when most of the time I was a stranger to him. But I realized that Mama was telling him what to say about me. To think, Baba knowing me that well.
What was going on today?
I had never seen these people ever in my life, and why was dad acting so sweet with me today? Suddenly I see Mama along with the obese woman walk to the room next door and shut the door, leaving me, Baba, the grotesque old man, and the repulsive looking, and obese young man. Soon Baba left the room with the old man, saying they had to go to the market.
That left me and Omar.
The silence broke in for about five minutes, until Omar had said something which I didn’t hear.
“Sorry?” I asked politely.
“I asked, how old are you now?”
“Oh sixteen! How lovely.” How is that lovely I wondered?
“And I guess you haven’t got any presents yet, am I right?”
“Actually, I got a lot of presents, especially from Baba”. I lied. Baba never brought me any presents, only Mama did.
“But your Baba just said he hadn’t brought you anything…” Oops busted!
“…And because of that I had brought you a present.” You, brought me a present? Hang on! Firstly I don’t even know this person and suddenly this man who I abhorred is giving me a present. I wonder what it would be…
He passed me a box which was wrapped up neatly, with a red ribbon wrapped around it. As I slowly unwrapped the box, I could feel suspense rising. Oh Lord! I observed the gold bracelet which had my name written on it.
“Thank you, but you shouldn’t have…”
“Just think of this present from your ….erm…loving guest.”
Suddenly I jumped when Omar had came closer to me, so close that I felt for a moment his hand was on my back, going around my waist.
“Let me put it on for you.” He said in a rather seducing way. Mind you, I didn’t find it any seducing.
“No thanks, it’s all right. I don’t want to ruin it yet.” Yet? Did I just say yet?
“Oh well…” I thought that he was going to move back, but instead he stayed next to me. One moment we were quiet and the next I see Omar literally on top of me.
“Excuse me!!! Would you mind to get of me this instance!!!”
“Yes I would mind.” He said, while trying to find an entrance below my clothes. I jumped and ran into the room Mama and the woman was occupying.
“What’s wrong Alisha?”
Before I could say anything, something just hit me, not physically but mentally. I couldn’t just say that an obese man was touching me, trying to seduce me in front of his mother; Oh no!
“Oh, nothings wrong Mama…” I lied.
I saw Omar looking in to see me.
What a filthy, sullied, unscrupulous man he is.
Mama gestured to me to make tea for them. As I stood up I could immediately feel eyes staring at my back, the old woman interrogating me again, and Omar smiling unusually at me. As I passed the old woman to enter to the kitchen I heard her say, “She will make a nice bride for my son.”