“She weaved her magic around me like a web and left me tangled forever.”
“Humare yaha to betiyon ko kunbey Se bahar dene ki reet hi nahi hy, Nazi. Na bahar detey and na bahar wali krtey hy. Ab Sarah ki Jor siway Samad ke koi nahi, aur mard ki Umar kaha dekhi jati hey phir? Waise bhi 10,12 baras aise koi bhot toh nahi hotey?” (Marrying our girls outside our family is definitely not a practice amongst our people Nazi. Neither do we give our girls outside the family, nor bring in girls from outside. Now there is no one suitable for Sarah except Samad in the family. And, where is the age of the groom considered anywhere? 10, 12 years is not that big a difference anyway.) The old woman tried to justify her actions in her low, strained voice. It took up all her strength to utter those lines. Shoeb softly pressed his large hand over his mother’s fragile weak one.
Saba looked at Nawaaz, who seemed a bit frustrated because of his aunt’s simple and straight declination over the matter.
“I know khala, but I am also your nephew, so Bilal also is your grandson. You should consider him as an option also. Besides, Bilal is younger than Samad; in my opinion he is more suitable for Sarah. I am not against anyone. You know Shahab bhai is no less than Shoeb to me; and his son is as dear to me as Adeel (Sarah’s brother). All I want is you to consider Bilal for Sarah as well. Bilal has completed his education and is already working alongside Shahzeb.” Nawaaz held his aunts fragile hand and softly spoke for his son. He personally loved Sarah a lot, so when Saba told him about Bilal’s fondness and interest in Sarah, he happily agreed on his son’s demand.
“For me, Samad and Bilal are both my kids Nazi. Teri bat bhi sahi hy. Bilal aur meri Sarah ki umaron me zara kam fark hy. To meri taraf se toh dono ke liye hi han hy, lekin faisla toh larki k baap ko hi karna hy. Akhir uski aulad ki puri zindagi ka sawal hy.” (You are also correct. There is a smaller difference in the ages of Bilal and Sarah. So from my side, there is a yes to the question of their marriage, but in the end it is the girl’s father who has to decide. After all it is a question of his daughter’s entire life.) The old woman gave the green light to Nawaaz’s proposal of Bilal while at the same time giving the power of the final say to her son Shoeb, who seemed a little tense over his mother’s declaration. Shoeb heaved a sigh and looked toward his cousin who was looking at him with pleading eyes.
Nawaaz had never been disrespectful towards Shoeb, but he had never actually asked for any favors from him either; not even when he was penniless and desperate for funds to start his own business. Even though during those toughest times of his life, when he was struggling in a remote country, his sister and Shoeb were his only supporters, apart from his Rub. This was the first time Nawaaz had actually asked for anything to his cousin and brother-in-law.
Shoeb looked at his wife’s hopeful gaze, which was fixed upon him. Then he glanced towards his elder brother and his nephew Samad, whose foreheads were creased with fury.
“Ahmm, I want to ask Sarah before taking any decision, after all it’s her life.” Shoeb cleared his throat and declared.
“Do not bother chacha; I know your daughter will never choose me over her rich cousin. And you also don’t have to cover up your decision under the facade of liberalism.” Samad, who was sitting beside his father, stood abruptly and retorted with utter hatred towards his uncle.
Saba and Nawaaz looked at each other. Their gaze then fell upon Shoeb, whose face had turned stony on his nephew’s insulting outburst. Shoeb was looking towards his elder brother, who was silently listening to his son’s disrespectful banter.
“I think I have made my decision. I no longer find it important to ask my daughter, because she has no other option except Bilal.” Shoeb spoke; his heavy voice boomed with finality.
“You c***.” Samad roared like a wounded animal, but his father’s tight grip on his hand halted his outburst. He looked around at the audience occupying the small bedroom of his grandmother, and then towards his father. Giving him a final glare, he snatched his hand from his father’s grip and left the room.
“He is hurt Shoeb, because he grew up listening to his name being linked with Sarah. But I can understand your position and your decision. Bilal is a more suitable choice for Sarah considering their age difference, their upbringing, and the social and financial status of the two families. My son is no match to Bilal Nawaaz Meer.” Shahab (Samad’s father) spoke gruffly and also left the room.
Shoeb palmed his face in frustration. He didn’t want to damage his relationship with his only elder brother. That was the only reason behind his acquiescence to Sarah and Samad’s alliance. But Samad’s rude and repulsive behavior had pricked Shoeb’s ego, prompting him to take such an important decision immediately.
“Ammi, are you happy with my arrangement?” He asked for his mother’s approval.