Tuesday, 16 February 2021

part 1 : Escaping the hell- story of a young British Pakistani girl

 -what if that hell is your own family?

I never saw my dad this furious; he looked like he's going to kill her, my big sister. Damn she just refused to marry a guy double her age. I mean like what the hell? How could they even expect her to marry at the first place, she's just 16 and that too with some uncle who is 40 years old. Are my parents blind or what? Just because a few aunties said that my sister has turned out to be a beautiful woman and a few guys are eyeing her in a bad way, my parents thought to get her married. I mean like hello we're living in 21st century but no one cares in Pakistan. Now I know why my parents were so keen to go on a holiday to Pakistan. Crap I feel trapped. I shouldn't have left Britain; now I can't even do anything. My British passport will get treated like trash in this village of Pakistan. But right now I feel sorry for my big sister who is expected to marry a 40 year old widower uncle. But I trust the feisty blood of my sister; I know she'll never sacrifice her life like this.

________________________________________

'Oh Allah help her', I prayed clutching my religious locket around my throat. My heartbeat increased with time. I just couldn't see my sister surrounded by my uncles and dad who are threatening her.

"MEIN AAKHRI BAAR POOCH RAHA HOON, KAR RAHI HAI SHAADI YA NAHI?" my dad screamed while towering her. Using his male figure to intimidate her to the core, but my sister was also a British born and us British are not the kind of people who can get intimidate like that by any Pakistani dad.

"NOOO I WON'T DO IT. YOU CAN'T MAKE ME MARRY A MAN WHO IS MUM'S AGE. WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?" she screamed back and her tone matching my dad's. Volcano in her eyes and tears prickling like lava, but she wasn't going to back off.

Whispers spread around the front yard as the so called bystanders heard a daughter "disrespecting" her father by refusing to marry a guy her father chose for her and not only that but she also raised her voiced in front of him.

My dad's nostrils flared as he heard people raising fingers at his upbringing.

"dekho to sahi, agar beti to aaj sahi seekh dee hoti to aaj vo uske baap ki baat na taalti. Arey agar mein aaj apni 10 saal ki beti to bhi shaadi karne to bolu na, to abhi shaadi karle aur uff tak na bole. Huh yeh England shingland jaakar bacche angrezo ki tarah ho jaate hai. Muje to sheikh sahib ke liye bura lag raha hai. Sola saal ki larki haath se nikal gayi."

"haan haan kitni batameez hai"

"agar meri beti hoti to abhi tak usse goli maar deta, sheikh sahib to kayar aur buzdil ho gaye hai, angrezo ke beech reh kar."

My dad couldn't take it anymore. How dare his daughter disrespect him like that? How could she refuse to him? I gave her birth so it's my decision what happens in her life.

"SHUT UP YOU PEOPLE. STOP ADDING FUEL TO THE FIRE" my sister tried to stop the bystanders to pass anymore comments.

"dekho yeh taalim di hai sheikh sahib ne unki beti ko, ki baro ke saamne unchi awaz se baat kare", an aunty whispered to the person standing next to her and they blindly agreed.

I don't know how but I had a feeling that if my sister doesn't shut up now then my dad will do something terrible to her. I could just see the intention in his eyes. And before I could think anymore, I saw dad picking up an axe lying nearby and drived it straight into my sister's throat in front of my eyes.

"AAAHHH" that was my first reaction as I felt blood splashing on my face. I closed my eyes as a reflex; didn't want to see what happened to my sister. I just couldn't see her in the state I was expecting her to see. Even while writing this my hands shake just thinking about my sister's body lying on the ground with her chopped head on her left.

"AAA AALIYAAH AALIYAAAHHH", I cried her name out and touched her body. I can still feel that shivers I got when I first touched the dead body of my sister. My tears weren't coming out, I was just too scared. I thought that if I cried and fought for my sister that moment, they will kill me as well. I never felt so powerless and helpless like that before. Suddenly I felt a jerk at my arm and saw my dad pushing me aside and away from aliyah.

"dur reh iss batameez se warna kahi tu bhi iske jaise na ban jaaye aur muje tera bhi sar kaatna pare." I got so scared that I just hugged my knees and nodded to whatever he said. I swear, if he would have told me to get married to that 40 year old man that time in front of aaliyah's dead body, I would have gotten to married to him without saying a word. I have never felt that kind of fear before. I wasn't that upset about aliyaah's death that I was scared of my family that time. I could see some of the eyes on me but I just looked down. Too scared to even look up. My dad marched proudly upto my big sister's dead body and spat on her beheaded face. I couldn't believe what I saw next. I saw the crowd cheering and clapping their hands at what my dad just did.

"hame aapse yahi ummeed thi sheikh sahib. Aaj bhi kisi larki ki himmat nahi ki vo apne baap ki baat taale. Yeh beti to ganda khoon tha. Acha hua maar dala. Ab kal uthke koi bhi beti apne baap ki baat nahi talegi."

"haan haan sheikh sahib aapne bilkul sahi kiya. Maan na parega, aaj bhi aapke haath nahi kaape apni beti ka gala kaat te waqt. Aisi himmat sab mein nahi hoti. Wah wah"

My dad's head proudly went up as he cleaned his blood stained hands with my mum's dupatta. Oh my god, I didn't even feel the presence of my mum all this time. Not even when her elder daughter got beheaded in public by her own husband and she is letting her husband clean his blood stained hands with her duppatta. She didn't even spoke a single word. I am ashamed to call her a women, I thought she'd understand my sister's pain, but I guess all women here are brought up that way.

"shanno chai banade zara. Bari thakan mehsoos ho rahi hai. Aur haan iss kamini ki laash ko bhi kahi gutter mein daal dena. Isse to kabar bhi naseeb nahi honi chahiye." My dad said to my mum who was listening to his commands with her head bowed down. Soon all the bystanders chacha and chachis dispersed away and I was left alone with my mum and my other younger 4 sisters who were also too shocked to react just like me.

My mum came up to me and harshly pulled me up while brushing her tears away which were flowing continuously. I felt really bad for her, she saw her own husband killing her daughter and she couldn't utter a word as women aren't allowed to speak here in front of men.

"chal ab bethi bethi uska muh mat dekh. Mar gayi vo. Bohot chapar chapar zabaan chalti thi na uski, dekh tere abbu ne uska sar hi kaat diya. Agar tum logo ne bhi apne ammi abbu ki baat nahi suni to aisa hi hoga.", she said with a glassed face.

___________________________________________________________

1 week has passed since that incident and the house seemed unfazed. My mum buried my sister secretly as my dad was against it. At least she has a bit of guts. Mum pretends as if she forgot she ever had a 16 year old daughter, but I have seen her crying under her pillows. I couldn't even imagine how helpless she must be feeling at that time.

One afternoon, I was sitting in my small bedroom staring into space which I have started to do a lot since we came on a holiday to Pakistan. I was reflecting on my 15 year old life when suddenly, my mum came in the room with her expressionless face and kept red salwar kameez on my bed for me. She kept her hand on my shoulder and I knew something bad is coming because in this one week, my mum didn't even looked at my face properly, never mind keeping a friendly hand on my shoulder. I shrugged her hand off me and stood up.

"is something wrong?" I asked her unsurely. Nowadays I don't even know what is happening around me. I just want to go back to England.

"beta yeh kapre pehenle. Kal teri sagai hai." I just felt as if someone woke me up from me sleep by splashing ice cold water on my face.

"Kal meri kya hai?" I still couldn't believe they could stoop this low. Damn I didn't think this was coming. I am just 15.

"Engagement" all my doubts got clear. Now even I will get married to some old guy who will rape me every day of my life and I won't be allowed to take a sigh of pain as well. And if I speak out a word, then I will be beheaded like my sister as well.

"With who?", that's all I could muster up. I was picking my words carefully. I didn't want to die like my sister, but I don't want to marry at the age of 15 as well.

"the same guy your sister was suppose to marry. He's more than happy to marry you and you have to think about your family's reputation as well right?" I have never met more selfish people than them before.

"huh h..haan" words just weren't coming out of my mouth. The fear of getting killed started overpowering my brain again. I was just agreeing to whatever they were saying. By the way mum he's not a guy, he's a 40 year old Buddha. I need to run man before I either get killed by my dad or I marry a man who's nearly triple my age. Ya allah ab tu hi rasta dikha.

"yeh lo jamai raja aa gaye", my mum sounded pathetically sweet. Oh my god the man looks like my dad. I feel sick.

I saw my supposedly would be husband entering the room with my 3 uncles laughing over some joke and he was blushing. Eeww gross.

"acha mein chalti hu, aap log baate karo. Ab yeh aapki hi bahu hai" my mum excused herself and went out of the room leaving me alone with all these people I have never met like this before.

"naam kya hai tera?", he asked me with such a manner that showed his male domination.

"r..rihana." I stammered with nervousness and fear. He looked so gross to be a husband. He was really fat with stomach flab's falling out. He was stinking of stale body oder and he reeked of fag. He was really old and uh uhm ugh UGLY. I know I sounded harsh but it was like seeing my dad.

"bhabhi to abhi se Sharma rahi hai. Suhaagraat mein kya hoga. Hahahaha", his old friends cracked a sick joke and he started to eye me in that bad way. When I looked at him he licked his lips. I wanted to puke right there. There was no way in hell, I am marrying this beast. No wonder my sister rebelled in such a way. I would have as well if hadn't seen my sister dying like that. My eyes got foggy and mind went blank. The only thing I knew was that I have run. Run for my life.

Suddenly he kept his dark hairy hands on my thighs and I flinched and pushed his hands off which infuriated him.

"teri to. Shaadi ho jaane de phir dekh ta hu kaisa haath hatati hai. Suhaag raat ko nichod dunga tujhe. Haath hatati hai", he spat and stormed off leaving me alone. I could still feel his presence in the room. His stinking smell was still lingering around. I wanted to die, but only tears came out. Suddenly my stomach churned and puked everything out next to my bed. I just vomited thinking about what he just said.

I took my bag pack and shoved in all my clothes and essential stuff and hid the bag under my bag. I decided to run away as soon as I get the first opportunity. There is no point arguing. I put some oil on the front door to prevent it from creaking when I'll open it. When I run, I want no sound and the creaking door was bound to make a lot of noise.

As soon as everyone went to bed at night, I got up and checked around the house.  Seeing that everyone's asleep and my way's clear, I opened the front door and thankfully it didn't creak, so without wasting a single second  I closed the door behind me and ran out of the house. I didn't knew I could run this fast. I remembered that I had my passport with me. Now I just somehow have to reach Lahore and let the British embassy know about my situation. Then no one can tie me down to marry this old man. I will be free and never see Pakistan's face ever again.

I ran for about 2 hours without stopping for a single second. In school I couldn't even run 100 metres without coming last in the race and here am running like an athlete from the past 2 hours. I guess when you have to run for your life, you can even win an Olympic race. Soon my all my energy got drained out of me and I just fell on the dusty ground of my village. The dust told me that I am still in my village and if I do any delay, I will be caught and will either get killed or get married to that old man. Suddenly thinking about him, I got my energy back and I started to run. But I knew that if I don't stop or take a break then I am more likely to pass out and faint. So I sat under a tree and started to breath heavily. I couldn't even catch up with my own breath, that fast I was breathing. I looked around to check that I wasn't getting followed or anything.  I took my water bottle out and emptied the whole bottle. I was that thirsty. I rested my head on the tree trunk and decided to rest for 5 more minutes. I didn't even had the energy to keep my eye lids open. So I closed them and I guess I fell asleep '''''.

*SPLASH*

I jerked out from my sleep as I felt cold water on my face.

"HUH! Wh..who is it?" my mind went blank for a second.

My first thoughts were that I got caught. Shit why did I fall asleep. I blinked furiously to see whether my fears came true or not but to my utter shock, I saw a stranger kneeling down in front of me. He had a water bottle in his hands and looked really worried. Oh my god I didn't get caught. YET. So I quickly got up wiping my face with my sleeves and gave him a dirty look for splashing cold water on me. I was about to run off when he held my hand. The fear of came back. Did I get caught?

"I thought you were dead", that was his first words. I turned around and looked at him strangely.

"is that why you threw cold water at me?" I asked looking angry. Here I don't even have a bathroom to change my clothes.

"No I mean I am really sorry about that but when I tapped you a few times, you didn't respond. So I thought uh you were dead and anyways who sleeps under a tree at this time?" he defended himself and I guess after running like maniacs I did fall into quite a deep slumber. And then suddenly I realised something.

 He had British accent. Oh my god, he doesn't look like he is from this village. He could save me.

"Who are you? Are you from this village?" I cleared my doubts first. I didn't want to make a single mistake. I didn't even know for how long I'd been sleeping. He even said something about time, so quickly checked my watch and saw that I wasted my one hour sleeping. Shit!

"hi am armaan. Hey you've got British accent. Are you British as well?" he asked looking genuinely happy. But what was he doing here? Is he lost or what?

"yeah. are you? Uh are you lost or something?", I didn't had time to waste. But I couldn't tell this boy everything or else I might just scare him away. I had to be carefully and QUICK, so I started walking and he followed me.

"yeah I am. Actually I came Pakistan with some mates to enjoy summer holidays and stuff. U know parents were like now you're old enough so you can go and chill. But then I wanted to look around the village we stayed, so I started wandering around and soon lost my way" He went on and on. gosh this guy talks a lot. And I need to run man. My parents might come any moment if they find me missing.

"okay okay. Uhmm I need to go. Can you tell me how can I reach Lahore?"

"hey I finally found someone and you're leaving me it's not like I live here or something that i know where Lahore is seriously girl, I just told you that I am lost and you are asking me. Like how am I supposed to know? But we both can look for Lahore together." Gosh can't this guy like talk in one sentence or something, he's wasting my time.

So quickened my pace.

"look I don't have time to waste so please help me reach Lahore. You don't know I am in a mess right now and I NEED to get out of here as soon as possible. Why don't you understand'"  I never felt so sorry for myself before.

"did you run away from your house?" d'uh genius. Why would a 15 year old be running for Lahore at night 2 o clock.

"yeah. But don't ask more questions. I don't have time. My family will kill me if they find me."

"look running away from house is not the only option. You don't even look old enough. How old are you?" and that just blasted my inner tolerance wall.

sania 


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