Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hated One

On October 30, 2011, some young people I had met at the NDTV media institute became one:

""One year," the old man almost growled as he wagged a gnarly finger at his daughter. His son, his younger more menacing version, darkly looked on. "One year, and then you are back."

The young woman stood looking down at the ground with her arms crossed over her chest. She had been leaning against the wall, and if she had had eyes at the back of her head, she would have noticed the chalky whitewash stains that now ran down her back. Her armpits burned, her forehead had been knotted for a few days.

The old man put his finger away and eyed the Sphinx before him. He didn't trust women, particularly silent ones, even if it were his daughter, especially if it were his daughter. She never listened. Well, she'd hear what he'd tell her, she had no choice, but she never listened. She never confided. She always held back. He could tell. It's when those knots would appear above her black eyes, and when a shadow would pass over those eyes, like as if a dark curtain had been drawn between him and her mind. He knew this about his firstborn. He could never break in. She wouldn't let him. She wouldn't let him reach in and touch her thoughts, guide her thoughts. How he hated the woman she was growing up to be, it disgusted him. He didn't like those kind of women. They were ungodly, sickening. They had too much will, they could never be possessed because they'd just lock you out. It didn't matter if you pushed or bought them things. It was like forcing someone to acknowledge that you existed. It was more like pleading. Pleading with someone who was supposed to be obeying you instead. It was insulting. Humiliating. It made him feel like the tempestuous child, it made her the one with the power. She would have the power to deny him an audience. Him. The father. Repeated humiliations from this child since the day she had been born. Her mother, Allah bless her departed spirit, had not been like this. She would listen to him. She would protest but at the end of the day he was the head of the family, and she knew her place. She never questioned his judgment. She did what he told her, what he knew was good for her. She was a good woman. But this daughter of his, how he hated her. If only she would just listen before she ruined herself, ruined herself, and shamed them all. It was only a matter of time before she did, whether she knew it or not.

"If Zafar knew better, he would not permit this. You must keep your honour, or what shame, what shame you shall bring upon yourself."

Shame. Zafar. The things that had been planned for her. The things she wanted to do. All the things she wanted to do, all the thoughts, all the possibilities that were always in her mind. She could never share them, there was no one here to receive them. No one listened to her. No one had ever listened to her. Zafar?  Would he listen to her, would he see her? She remembered the first time she had stopped herself from telling her father the things that had been on her mind. She felt the same about Zafar. And her brother? They were all the same. There was no one here. No, she would have to do this. She would have to step out and see if there were others like her out there."

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