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By the time the family had left, it had become 11:00pm. Baba went on about how educated Omar was, and what a good personality he had.
“Yeah right”, I heard myself say. But luckily no one heard. Even if they heard that, it wouldn’t have mattered because what ever Baba said was always right, and since I was his daughter and not his son, he wouldn’t have listen to me. Unlike Baba who was so pleased with his choice, Mama seen me looking dismayed and stood beside me and whispered,
“Did you like Omar?”
“No Mama, I didn’t like him, I thought he was a big gorilla who had a horrible smell. And do you what else he done Mama, he harassed me.”
“Now Alisha, I know you don’t like him Alisha, and I don’t to. But you can’t say something as horrible as that. And besides, I can’t do anything because it’s your Baba’s choice, and you know I can’t disobey him.”
“I know Mama, I know.”
“Just know that all girls have to get married off one day, and Omar may not look like one to adore, but feelings change after marriage. Who knows, maybe you will start to love Omar like how I started to love your Baba.”
I couldn’t bear it any longer and so walked into the kitchen. I could hear my Baba saying,
“Looking after a daughter is hard work.”
As I sobbed, the old woman who worked in our house came towards me and gave a gently tapped on my right shoulder. I looked at her, through the eyes filled with tears of sadness.
“I don’t want to get married to that disgusting man.”
“But Alisha, you have no other choice. Every girl has to be married of some day.”
“But why couldn’t it be one who looks like a man and doesn’t resemble a gorilla?”
“But there’s nothing you can do now. All you can do is praying for the well being of yourself and your to-be husband.”
“How would you know anything?” I didn’t mean to speak like that to her. I didn’t know what came over me.
“Actually I do know…I got married to a man I didn’t love. At that time, I loved someone else. However, I couldn’t tell my father because it would bring shame on my family. I couldn’t allow myself to marry this person who I barely knew, who was atleast twice my age. So, I ran away from home with my love. After a couple of years with my husband, he started to work in other villages to make money. Soon, he found another woman who, in his eyes, was better than me; and so left me. So you see, I do know how it feels. And what I am trying to say to now is that…just don’t make the same mistake I did and marry to the man of your family’s choice. Because I didn’t, my life was ruined. Don’t let yours get ruined too…” I could sense the tears about to emerge from her eyes and so I gave her a hug.
“I guess I have to listen to them.”
“It is for the betterment.”
I shot pass my parents in the room and headed towards my bedroom. It was the only place which I felt at rest and happy.
* * *
I wept in my bedroom. I was only sixteen and my parents…correction…Baba wants me to get married. Baba never loved me like his sons; he always thought that daughters were just a heavy load which the parents had to carry until they marry them off. That is what he is doing to me: marrying me off so he could not have to look after me any longer. As I looked out of the window I saw my neighbours father Wahid Abdulla, who had six daughters and four sons. He always treated his daughters and sons the same. Sometimes when I danced with his daughters, he praised me for my dancing.
At first I use to think that maybe, just maybe Baba would treat me like that; but he didn’t. All he thought about was how to educate his sons and how to make his son have a better life; but what about me? Didn’t I deserve a better life? Father never agreed in educating me. It was mother who told him to let me go to school. Father just said,
“Atleast I’m not going to have her on my back asking for this and that.” I never understood Baba, why he hated me so much. Until that very day, when I was thirteen years old and had broken Baba’s old guitar. I heard my father argue with my mother and suddenly burst out saying,
“If only you killed her, left her in the mountains, then my life would not have became as bad as this but would have been better for me as I would had four sons.” From then on, I didn’t ask for anything from my father as I knew he would start an argument with my Mama, and I didn’t want that.
I stayed up in my bed until my second brother Mahmud came and told me to have dinner.
“I don’t want to have dinner, I don’t feel hungry.”
“Alisha, are you all right with the marriage?” Of course I wasn’t I wanted to say, but I know I couldn’t say it to him because he would tell my Baba and then Baba Would be angry with me.
“That’s good. Omar is an awfully good man and he would treat you will respect.” Awfully good? And would treat me with respect? I don’t think so brother; you should have seen him giving me the eye. That man looked filthy and also may be filthy in the inside too. But of course I didn’t tell him.
“So come on then, come down stairs.”
As I went downstairs I saw Baba getting ready to go out, while my Mama gave him his shoes.
“Baba, where are you going?” I asked him. No reply.
“Baba, where are you going?” Hassid repeated my question.
“Oh son, I’m just going to see Mr Alif. His wife is seriously ill and wants me to check up on her.” Another thing about Baba is that because he is a doctor, he never has time for his family. In a way, I understand Baba but not once did he take a day off for his family.
“Is she going to become well?” I asked. No reply.
“Alisha just asked you a question.” Mother told Baba. “Oh she did, did she? So what did she ask me?”
“I asked is she going to become…..”
“Oh, look at the time! I got to go. See, speaking to you has made me be late for my next appointment. Khudafiz sons.”
“Khudafiz.” They all said together. I glanced down to the floor and walked into the sitting room.
The sitting room was authentic. The reason why I say this is because our room was not like other sitting room in the village. The floor had navy blue, thick carpet, which had floral designs on them. There was also a three seated sofa, a two seated sofa and one arm chair, specifically for Baba. There were satin blue pillows, which had silver sequins to decorate the pillows. The pillows were brought by my Uncle Takbir who is currently living in London. There was also a vintage large, clear vase, which had dried flowers in them. The dried flowers essence filled the atmosphere with a sweet aroma. I sat down on the sofa and looked at the walls. The walls were painted sky blue, with a plain border at the bottom and at the top. At one corner of the room was a small television. The whole sitting room was designed and decorated by my Uncle Takbir.
I knew I wasn’t allowed in the room, no one was. It was only used for important meetings. But still I came here because it was the only place which I would feel peaceful and feel like I was in another place. Uncle Takbir would come to the village once in a year, and always brought things. He would bring extravagant gifts for my family. For me, he would bring anything which would remind me of other places, instead of my village.
Humph! Tears started to appear in my eyes as I remembered six years ago how Uncle Takbir took me and my brothers to a puppet show, in another village. Baba found out and had exclaimed at Uncle Takbir and forbidden him to ever come to our house ever again. Baba didn’t like us to see the world outside our village. We asked him why, but he would never say. He was scared of losing us….well, only my brothers.
From then on, Uncle Takbir never came to our house, and I didn’t receive any presents. Soon my dream of being in another place vanished and I started to face the harsh reality of my life. My life was to live in my family until sixteen, get married off to another family and stay like that.
No fun and no enjoyment.
That’s how my life is. I stood up and gave one glance at the room and I went back to my bedroom.
Every night I would stare at my ceilings, take deep breaths and speak the name of my God Allah, and his messenger Muhammad (p.b.u.h), and then I would look back on how my day was. It wouldn’t last long, atleast five minutes. However, I would then take another two big breathes and wish to Allah that just once, just once I could do what I want and live my life how I want to. If only, I could meet new people and experience life outside of home…but then I would stop thinking about this.
I mean, how can any of these wishes come true?
(Five minutes later)
I’m a girl and I will always be a girl, and in my Baba’s eyes women can’t do this. Actually, come to think of it, women can’t do anything to have fun. (Sigh).
(Twenty minutes later)
Well it’s not my fault that I’m a girl, is it?
I mean, it’s not that I wanted to be a girl.
I would’ve loved to be a man, because they can do what they want…
I want to make Baba happy…
But I guess the only way he will be happy is by my getting married to obese gorilla.
I always dream of my husband to be handsome, like The Prince in Snow White, or the Prince in Cinderella. He would be rich and take me away from this evil home, where I always felt I suffocating, like as if I was captivated in a prison. I just then remembered about my small notebook, which was decorated with silver glitter, which I had when I was only ten. For some reason, I felt like to read my notebook again, and so shot right up from bed and started to look for it. I found it within a minute because I kept it in a safe place…under my bed.
I sat down and blew on the dust layered on the notebook. I opened it carefully; as if I was about to discover something amazing. This is what it said in the first page:
1) ALL ABOUT ME!!
2) MY FAMILY!!
3) WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!!
4) ABOUT MY PRINCE
5) PROBLEMS I CAUSED FOR MY PARENTS.
6) INFORMATION IN HOW TO BE A GOOD DAUGHTER
7) TARGETS FOR THE FUTURE
8) AN ISLAMIC POEM I LOVE
I went to the page where it said about ‘About my Prince’. This is what it said:
In every good fairy tale, there is a prince charming.
My Prince will be endowed with charming manners, as these men are the best enchanters.
He will wear big shinning armour and upon a white steed….
I heard Prince walk with stature and undeniable grace, but when with me he will be in undeniable pleasure and will dance with satisfaction.
My Prince will be a sweet talker; he’ll tell me what I want to hear.
He will whisper the very same words in my ear, which brings a smile on my face
He would be wonderful, romantic, spontaneous and great…
He will be there to catch me when I fall
Or to rush away the tears on my face
Or to bring me flowers when I’m blue
His lips would be juicy and red, ready for a woman’s kiss.
His lower body would be dying for a woman’s touch.
He may have imperfection, but I will still love him so. He is after all my prince charming and so I will love him even more.
My Prince will obviously get older, but will stay gorgeous for ever, he may get grey hair or lose it, but to me he will always look like how he did when he first kissed me.
Oh marvellous!! I didn’t know I can right that well, and even when I was only ten. All the credit went to my American teacher Mr Swan, who taught me when I was ten. Now, M Swan is in Italy, as he received a job of becoming a head teacher. In fact, I was the only girl in the village who spoke English fluently, and had good use of vocabulary. I tried to use them well, for who knows which situation I may be in, where only these words will help me. I look back at the present, and think about the situation I am in. I guess dreams don’t come true, do they? I mean, Omar is completely the opposite of what my dream husband would be like.
Omar is horrible.
In comparison, my dream love is sweet and innocent.
Omar is dirty…
…My dream Prince is untainted and pure…
…Omar is intimidating and hideous…
…and my Prince is simply gorgeous.
I had just realized that I had been going on continuously about my trouble life that I hadn’t realized it had been 1:00am in the morning. I told myself that I would continue to read my notebook. I snuggled in my bed, covered my body with a thin duvet and brought my sausage-like pillow next to me.
I closed my eyes and soon dozed off to sleep.