I run my hands through my hair nervously as I fuss in the car which is taking me to a place I don’t want to be. The first day of Eid was coming to an end; we were going to the last dinner party of the night at a relative’s place. They were holding a lavish dinner to celebrate their daughter’s engagement. As they were faraway relatives who kept this party on a day where everyone had their own plans, the common reaction of any individual attending was a thumbs-down. Since they were elders in the family we had to oblige to their invite. I was neither interested nor excited to see another girl much younger than me getting the attention, but I went regardless to see the face of the girl who had decided to give up her freedom and her single life.
The daughter is merely eighteen. I feel sweat running through my fingers as I cross the long pathway to reach the segregated area for women. *Alayna is a confident and sensible girl. I was aware within myself that she must have thought over several times of her decision to settle down. I knew she was studying religiously to become a designer of some sort at a prestigious university.
My thoughts get interrupted as the long walk ends. As I observe and take in the setting of the place, flashbacks start coming in my mind as I remember when I was twelve and this girl would talk about things which were unknown to the kids of our age. She was only eight; my eyes would pop out with shock with the thought and admiration that this girl had more knowledge than me in these issues. Here we were, the children unaware regarding such things and she was well equipped with such valuable information. The girl, lady, woman or whatever you may call her had managed to find herself a suitor who didn’t find her creepy for knowing that she was perfect within herself and didn’t need anyone’s approval.
From what I heard, she was marrying him for his looks and money, well, who doesn’t. I took a deep breath and prepared myself for questions from the guests such as ‘konsi class mai ho?’, ‘parhai khatam nahi hui?’ and ‘Allah sab kuch theek karde ga’. I plastered a smile on my face and jumped into the battlefield as I knew the aunties of the family may not be happy in their own homes but are very much concerned about my happiness which I will only get after marriage. I greeted everyone with honest excitement, gave the mandatory air kisses and tried to enjoy. It wasn’t a complete disaster for me, only Alayna was full of herself. I don’t blame her. I envied her for a brief moment as she had found her life partner so quickly but nonetheless I congratulated her and moved on.
As I said Allah Hafiz to everyone, I realized the furious commitment issues I had. I knew it was all candy and flowers at first but the huge responsibility of being a committed woman would strain my delicate shoulders by a long way. I thanked with open arms that it wasn’t me out there having a metal weighing down on my finger. I sat in my car and as it started going forward, I gazed out of the window with a smile on my face with the idea that freedom is not a choice, it’s a privilege. I cleared my mind quickly and waved off any thoughts which would give me stress and thought, ‘The best days of my life are yet to come’.
*Name changed for privacy.