Way back home, she always looked forward for this time of the evening, her space, her time, freedom.
Every day after school, after she parted from Sana and Razia at the Rustom circle, she still had to cover a distance of half a kilometer towards her colony. A narrow lane that lead to city market, across cinema city, and the few more steps from the Marwadi Godown, it takes her around half hour reach her place every day from school.
She used this time to handle homework session, guess ammi's mood, if she will get to taste something delicious, or if she will have to finish the vessels before the evening namaaz, all daily chores and everyday stories.
Her world shrunk into a small one that can aptly fit into one like the globe on Principal’s desk. The world around her hardly occupied her family, ammi, abbu ,sana , Razia, Rahman chachu at the ice cream shop, her school, her books, her new burkha, the new frock, Roza, the madrassa etc.
It doesn't bother her if the nation's economy is drowning, or some corrupt politicians are getting arrested, or some airline crashed, she used the newspapers to wrap the small Channa packets from Abu kakas shop for Razia and Sana at school.
So that was her life, nothing much, a small Muslim girl, in her mid-teens, excited about the first public exam she’s going to attend this year, and the high school, college, a lot of dreams, lot of work.
So back to today's scene, unlike everyday she took the long route home, she sang all the way, for she topped the class in midterms. She expected ammi to hug her and abbu to praise her for her achievements.
She calculated the cost of textbooks for the next semester, looked at the setting sun , bid him bye, her mind drew imaginary designs that she wanted embroidered on her new veil, and she giggled when she imagined the jealous faces of her friends.
Today would be a great day, for everything went well since morning. She picked up some raw mangoes that were left unpicked by the ones who threw stones at the old monk tree, she would ask ammi to prepare a halwa for her.
Lot of blots and thoughts in her mind at this mid dusk time, she neared home before she could stop her thoughts.
The car poach suggested lot of guests today.
Sad, she can’t tell abbu to take her for the new kids puppet show at the Mela.
At the kitchen side, Ammi waited patiently for her to arrive home.
As soon as she stepped in, Ammi wrapped a Shawl across her, passed her a new veil to cover her face. Before she could decide what was happening around, she was there in front of the guests with all their eyes stationed on her.
Some smiled, whereas some stayed expressionless. Fortunately they didn't ask her to speak up.
Ammi, who are they?
She took a piece of kaju barfi from one among the packets that the guests brought.
The one in the middle will be marrying you. They have scheduled the nikah for next month.
But Ammi, he is the one who married Tasneem Didi,
So? He is very rich, they can marry more than twice
But ammi, next month I have my public examination, then what about college?
This time ammi didn't reply, for she had heard abbu's footsteps towards the kitchen.
She knew arguing more with ammi would least help. Across the hall room she picked up the phone.
"Razia, don't wait for me at Rustom circle tomorrow, I may not attend school henceforth... They have fixed my nikkah"