- Food & Drink
- Creative Writing
- Say’s Who?
This extract is from the end of chapter one, where the reader learns more about Farah’s personality and about her close family and friends.
The day she was told about her impending marriage, had began bleak and grey; dark clouds gathered as if readying for battle with the sun and the wind hissed loudly, forming the soundtrack to the rest of the day, together with the rain that waited in anticipation. Farah had woken up to a dull headache, which seemed to gain momentum as the day went on. Maliha had called to say she wouldn’t be visiting her after all, because her witch of a boss had invited her to a soiree, and it would be madness to not go; that it would a perfect opportunity to network and further her career. Farah had been up earlier than usual, in expectation of her friend’s visit. The dining table had been laid with an array of her entire morning’s labour; samoosas, pani puree and other savouries and Maliha’s favourite coffee and walnut cake. And when Maliha had phoned to tell her she wouldn’t be visiting, Farah had smiled and gritted her teeth, while she’d enthused with her best friend over the potential opportunities that awaited her if she were to find the right contacts at said party.
“I’ll call you and we’ll arrange something for another time,” Maliha had said, before hanging up. Of course, that’s what she’d said the last time.
So Farah had taken the time she now had, to make a trip to the town’s central library. It was the third time she had been to the library that week. Could there be such a thing as ‘too much reading’, she wondered. As she approached the checkout, Farah rummaged in her bag for her library card, but did not find it there. She swore under her breath, but the librarian’s pixie like ears had no difficult picking up on her words of frustration, and shook his head in disappointment.
Her bookless bag in hand, Farah made her way out of the library. The clouds appeared to be even darker than before, she observed as she stepped outside. It looked like rain, and as if on cue, the clouds gushed down upon her. She was completely drenched by the time she returned home.
“Where have you been?” Asked Farah’s mother, as she shut the door behind her.
“Did you forget your phone? I called you at lease three times.”
“Ma, calm down,” Farah insisted. “I’ve only been to the library – I left you a note. You were sleeping and I didn’t want to wake you.”
“What? Why are you –“ but her mother interrupted. “Look at you. You’re soaked. You must go upstairs and get changed.”
“Yes, but –“
“And wear something decent. One of your pretty salwar kameez, ok?”
Farah was about to ask her mother why she should wear one of her salwar kameez, when she heard laughter, and the voices of strangers emanating from the lounge.
“Who’s here?” She asked her mother, sotto voice.
“Go upstairs. Get changed. I’ll explain when you come downstairs,” her mother had told her. “And hurry.”
Nothing could have prepared her for what her mother had to say. They had stood in the kitchen arguing. Farah insisting that she would most certainly not parade herself in front of a couple who were in search of a wife for their nephew and her mother trying to convince her that it wasn’t such a bad idea, and that he could be, the one.
What she hadn’t told her was that Farah really had no choice in the matter, at all. Her father had made the decision and had already accepted the proposal. The aunt and uncle visiting was just a formality, to seal the engagement. They had brought with them, sweet meats, jewellery and beaded fabrics as gifts for the new bride to be. Farah was stunned by the realisation of exactly what was going on, and tried to protest. Her mother tried feebly to support her.
“But Farah will need some time to think about it of course,” she said.
“What is there to think about?” asked the father. “We’ve discussed this already.”
He smiled apologetically at the guests, and gestured to his wife to offer the couple, some more tea, and the pastries and cake that Farah had made for Maliha. The Aunt laughed nervously.
“Well, I’m sure your Farah will feel happier about it later. You know girls don’t like to appear eager, so they play the reluctant card at first. You’ll see, she’ll be calling all her friends tonight.”
She laughed again and winked at Farah. Farah’s fingers clenched into a ball in the palms of her hands, and she bit her lip hard. How dare she, she thought. How dare she assume, that this is what I want.
The guests had left soon after, and as Farah turned to her father to question the absurdity of the evening’s events, he quietened her by lifting his hand up. And without looking at her, said,
“I don’t want to hear it Farah. It is done. You’re going to marry Nadeem.”
“Nadeem – Papa, I don’t even know who this guy is.”
As soon as she’d said the words, Farah knew she shouldn’t have. Her father was known as a charismatic man, but only his wife and daughter knew of his intolerance and violence. She heard her mother let out a gasp, and looked back at her father who was now staring at her with angry eyes. Farah’s mother grabbed her daughter’s wrist, in an urgent attempt to silence her.
“She didn’t mean to be rude Ferauz,” she said to her husband, in an effort to reassure him. “She’s just confused, you know? Maybe we should give her time, to get use to the idea… perhaps we can arrange for Farah to meet the boy?”
Farah’s father did not reply, but walked over to his daughter, and sat down beside her. He didn’t squeeze her hand or hold her. He had never been a man of displayed affections. When he spoke again, his voice was moderate, almost pleading.
“You’ll only understand… when you’re older. I’m doing this only for you – for your benefit. I’m your father. I know what is best for you.”
“But Papa… he’s from India… he’s a… a freshie,” Farah muttered, the disdain in her tone was apparent, as she used the derogatory term. Her father stood again, and began pacing the floor.
“A freshie?” he asked. But it wasn’t a question. He had heard the term many times, since he and his family had immigrated to the west. “And what are you, beita?” he asked, addressing her affectionately as his child, but it was juxtaposed with the sarcasm in his voice.
“Are you not the same? You may have lived here for the past fourteen years, but that changes nothing.” Farah shrank into the couch, as her father’s voice grew louder. “You will never be English – nobody will ever really accept you as being British. No – no, you’ll always be seen as a paki-” He shook his head, as if trying to shake off troubling memories. “-And don’t you forget that my child – don’t you forget that.”
“Ferauz… A meeting wouldn’t do any harm.,” her mother added once more. But her husband was not happy with her intervention.
“It is you that is confusing her, Nasima, “ he said, shaking his index finger at his wife, as though she were a child.
“I – I’m sorry Ferauz-“ she offered as she stared at the patterned rug on the floor. Her husband appeared not to hear her.
“Are you questioning my authority? My decisions?” he suddenly growled. Farah knew what was coming next. She reached out to take her mother’s arm, but her father grabbed her wrist, clenching it with his icy hand. Farah whimpered in pain as her father’s grip tightened. And then, just as suddenly as he had grabbed her, he let go and moving at full speed, struck her mother across her face. Her father turned away and Farah held her mother tight. She looked across at her father, her face filled with contempt. Her father wasn’t always like this, but when he was, he terrified her. But she knew he scared her mother far more.
“See what you made me do now?” he accused Farah. “After all we have done for you-“ How dare he include her mother in this, Farah thought. Her father continued. “I have worked night and day – sacrificed so much-“ he drew his right hand into a fist and pounded it against his left palm, as he spoke. “All for you… and your mother – and my parents and siblings in India. And what do I get in exchange? Disobedience! That is what,” he spat out, wielding his hand through the air, like a sword.
“You will marry this boy.” “You will marry him and you will show a happy face and everything will be fine.” He hesitated for a second, then said, almost apologetically “and one day, you will be thankful to me.”
Farah cowered away from her father. Her mother sat up slowly and put her arms around her daughter.
“He’s right, “ her mother assured her, her eyes threatening a cloud of tears. “It will be fine.”
“Come Nasima,” her father ordered. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.” Farah pulled away from her mother. Her mother stood and walked out of the door, her husband following closely behind her.
- May 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010