The one who pays the price…

By Fatima Khaliq She cut a handful of lush green grass whose color was a strong reflection of the green eyeballs of the reaper. She always accompanied her loneliness in those huge planted fields by the noisy river where she will reap the grass for her cattle with a tiny, sharp melody murmur which will leave the listener with a slash in the heart. This melody was perhaps the only connection between her native past and the foreign present. On that foreign soil which provided life and shelter to her animals and in-laws, there was something that will tickle a non-relieving pain of her past years leaving her with an ugly yearn for the times that she could not forget. A golden sunset, an ever concerned neighborhood, two times meal a day and a mechanic cycle of day and night was all that she treasured in her blessings that were bestowed upon her so generously but her heart was adamant enough not to speak out of the gratitude. People called her a harmless lamb but only she knew how lethal she could be when it will be demanded of her. Only she will witness the transformation of that lamb into a werewolf sucking the blood from the throat of the invader on her honor and pride. Her eyes were the windows to her soul that will hypnotize any beholder. She was known among her playmates as the beauty with green eyes, the three green dots pinned in her chin in a triangular shape which she painfully accepted as an embellishment, earned her the name of Sheen Khaalay. Laws for getting married in her land were simple and not to be bothered about, if a girl is liked by a man and the two families agree that’s set, she has to plunge into this commitment with eyes closed, being an obedient child and an honorable woman. She has nothing to worry for they told her that a man is a man and a woman is supposed to be his unquestionably devoted loyal – he the bread earner, he the demi-god, he the first and final word. She would wonder and wonder whether God meant the same or is it the people who made the man so glorious and dignified? When she fell in her first love she was being warned by her friends by saying that for a man it doesn’t matter if it fails to work out, for a girl it really does. She will inquisitively ask them “Why?” They never could validate their statements but they somehow knew. When she got the experience of age she came to know that it was because a woman can conceive and a man cannot. Conception not in the sense of a child but also in the sense of memories, that a man lives, sows and reaps in the present. A woman awaits the future because she conceives memories, moments and is tortured in the whole happening that’s why she awaits the time yet to come and the pain to abate. “Don’t waste many words for admiration, they lose their importance then and become more lethal when in memories elaborated on …,” she would usually cut him short when he would break into a rivulet of admiral rush. This was what she told to her first and perhaps the only love of her life. She was very specific in the way somebody like him would admire her, as if she could not trust the words any more, the whole language thing that itself stands on the shaky ground was more of a phobia that she then had that’s why her eyes did the seeing and saying – the rest silence. As if she had a pre-knowledge of the route that her fortune will take. “I was right and I knew that things will fall apart in the end and so in the morning I woke up, my hands reddened with the blood red of henna, feet in green plastic sandals and garbed in thick burning velvet frock. I shook my head thrice in affirmative as the acceptance ritual of Nikah demanded and my parents sent me off across the mountains with my man who was all a good man, my future caretaker and from that day my husband. I then knew that why my parents were so happy for the last couple of days, my father said it was because he got a new successful contract in his business and I rejoiced too, not knowing that I was a part of the deal. At my in-laws, I was welcomed by the hovering circle of four small children and a young man sitting and staring at me from the far corner of that house. Something went cold down my spine when I met the gaze of that strange man. On the charpoy there was an invalid mother-in-law welcoming me and awaiting me to take hold of the charge, the charge of chores the pure womanly duty. On the wedding night my first surprise gift was the knowledge of my husband to be a widower which he himself proudly broke to me and the hovering children to be his children from the late wife. The young man with the strange gaze was his stepbrother who was a bachelor and assisted my husband in his truck driving that transported the containers between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The narration of a whole conduct – manual and warnings about repercussions just in case I failed – was neatly done. I was asked like an army head (as I saw in a movie which I watched with my friend Raheela at her home when our parents were away for a wedding and we had to be together to take care of each other till they come back), if I had any questions and I shook my head in negative. And perhaps that was my new life’s first and biggest mistake that I didn’t ask when I was supposed to ask… Days went by and I got busy with my husband’s children and my mother-in-law caretaking. But something lurked in the corner of my feelings that made me intensely aware and insecure.” All of a sudden sheen khaalay shrieked and fell into convulsions, her mouth foaming and the room where she narrated the story a boom of hysteric shrieks. Advocate Shyla thought she was epileptic till she resumed another session of her narration. Her mates said that it’s her past that makes her break into hysteria and gives her upsetting night mares. After three days resuming her story, she continued “when my husband would be away for some business, my step brother-in-law would make advances on me. It started off with advances and then took shape of black mailing, I tried with my life to tell all this to my husband but the blackmailer tortured me that my husband’s life will be on stake if I ever dared to bring it in my husband’s or anybody else’s knowledge. When this persecution became physical I couldn’t take it and slain the blackmailer right in the heart. On the crime scene I was caught red-handed by my husband and was divorced instantly for I was the murderess of his dear stepbrother, I was the ungrateful brute who did not question the wedding gift of the sudden knowledge of my husband being a widower, a ruthless woman who shattered the whole of my parents’ image and poise.” Now she is in jail waiting possibly for nothing. She is too fed up with the idea of something which they call Life. Her deep lovely aqua – green eyes which won her the appraisal of everyone now made her a green-eyed monster in the eyes of the society of humans. Her parents disowned her as the murdered before dying shot his last fatal verbal blow that it was Sheen Khaalay who was after him and deliberately pushing him into seduction and coercing him for establishing illicit relationship. What a surprise that a dying man’s possible lie weighed more than a living woman’s probable truth. Who was the real victim and who was being tortured to death? Whether it was the one who killed or the one who made the hell of her life just with one vague statement? Will some justice be given to this prisoner or like so many other cases she will be on records in the official registers and then dumped as a case which mattered no more? All these are the questions yet to be answered. Advocate Shyla held the prisoner’s hand in hers and gave an assured smile of hope but the prisoner didn’t respond for at times the most difficult thing is to smile back… (All the characters in this story are fictitious and this is purely a work of fiction, resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental). The writer teaches at the Department of English and Applied Linguistics,  University of Peshawar.]]>

One Reply to “The one who pays the price…”

  1. might be fictional…however having worked at DarulAman I know this story. Happens over and over again. Men get away with all sorts of crimes….their word is more than the poor victim woman. How sad that women are traded ad commodities into marriage, forced to work like paid labourors, cook, clean, farm duties, caretakers of the in laws and not even worth the sweat on a mans brow. The ultimate insult is that their word is worth NOTHING. What a sad, cruel and unfair fate for women. The worst thing is for a persoon to be born a WOMAn and then to have good looks. What a scourge!! Poor Women. Like I said this may be fiction however I have worked with several women inthe sam situation as this fictional character.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *