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Chapter one: The Runaway Bride

Chapter one: The Runaway Bride

The window to the bride’s room had popped open. A solemn breeze flew in and grazed Neal’s flushed cheeks. Farah, the bride had run away. Word got out quickly, and everyone now swayed past the bedroom door as if to find the bride and claim a prize. A search party of all the best men had been dispatched and scheduled to return no later than midnight, the women stayed back to console each other in such difficult times. Everyone in the house became a novelist in no time. Everyone had plots in their head and they ranged diversely from “She got cold feet and went out for a walk” to “She got pregnant with the boy she met at her bacherallete party and ran off with him” amongst all the screaming film scripts he so amusingly could see, Badar stood leaning by the kitchen counter with a sly smile on his face. The world was a never-ending maze for this twenty-one-year-old man. Everything had a purpose, everyone had a reason and every incident had a justification. Much like the situation in the Abbasi House one ironically beautiful evening. Pursing his lips shut the entire house crumbles under the ambiance of dispair. ‘Pity. Madam was a wild fire indeed.’ Badar overheared the other workers. “She had a brain. And a soul, unlike you fools.” he nudges his index finger into the man’s chest. “How do you know that? You scum!” the man growls as he expands his posture over Badar. “Because she didn’t approve of this awful match!” he whispers into the man’s ear. A young man suddenly sets off, straight in from the backyard and into the living room. As he pants, he pats his chest to feel something. Realising it was still with him, he sighs and carries on looking nervously at everyone and everything. “What are you looking for man?” Badar grabs the man by his shoulders. shaking him. “Nothing. I seek nothing from the likes of you.” The man’s eyes dart like that of an eagle. Party of ten! leaving at dawn! Party of Ten! Get ready by dawn! the man sets off in the announcement’s direction, never to be seen again by everyone except Badar. He saw him return that very night, later than everyone in the party. Holding hands with Farah, now covered in dust and dirt. He left the young woman under the praises he gathered on his way back to the mountains.

Twenty years later:

For a day, a week she had not come out of her room. Her sister was nowhere to be spotted as well. “Have you seen Tamazir?” and “Have you seen Noora?” were the most commotion made by house staff. Almost as if the sisters had vanished into thin air. Just like that, they would emerge out sometime. Although, only Noora came out of her room; the room in the attic. She held a canvas in her hands and had a smile on her face. “Father?” she calls after knocking at the door precisely three times. She took a deep breath. The door was opened, and a man almost the height of the door came out. “What is it child?” the man yawns. His expressions robbed the girl of hers. She stutters and grips tighter onto the canvas. “I-I did it father” she looks down. Dr. Wahaj replies in monotones. “Let’s see.” He takes the four-by-four canvas and examines it. The girl bites her lip and sways back and forth slightly. Looking down and away from the canvas, the man smiles. “Mashallah! Well done. I knew you had the artistic blood of our ancestors in your veins! Ten by ten! This goes into the guest room!” the location of her piece makes her smile stretch out. This was where Abu had all of his prized possessions… from the Sword he had gotten in the army, his uniform, his cigar collections, etc. A honor she thought. “Wash your hands chum chum. I’ll have Guddu prepare your favorite meal today.” The man rests his hand on the child’s head and then goes back into his room. Noora, stands outside for a moment, staring at the wooden door. She had done it! She had made him proud. Ten by ten.

“Is that an arse? Or are those just two bushes?” a plumy voice echoes in the hallways. Sighing Noora turns around. A bag of beans hits her nose… making her lose grip on her canvas. “Damn you Tamazir. Damn you a thousand times.” The girl in black chuckles almost pseudo-apologetically. “Too late sis just crawled out of hell. Your imaginary boyfriend says hi.” Noora picks up her canvas and wipes off the carpet lint. “It took me days to paint this. Abu is putting it in the guest room.” Tamazir scoffed half furious and half shocked. “You mean mom’s room. We have no guests to have a guest room dumbass… this is what’s wrong with this place! You can rename something and have its history remodeled! It’s not a fucking document in the laptop.” Tamar walks past her sister in rage… when something falls out of her pocket. Noora picks it up before she could. “Is this a joint?!” she exclaims disgustedly. “It’s none of your fucking business… back off.” Tamazir snatches the rolled strip and puts it back in its place. The doorknob turns causing both the girls to straighten up. “Ah! Tamazir! And what do you have for your Abu today?” the old man blesses the girl and then stands with his arms folded behind him. Tamazir smiles, “I got the position of Class representative. Now I have high prospects for Head girl next year!” she laughs a little in the end so she could alleviate the tension. A part of her was relieved she didn’t have something to satisfy her father’s pathological need to put things in her mother’s room. If she were here, she’d flip out. A Bedroom is a place that reflects the owner’s personality she would’ve said rather vocally to the servants. She was right. Her room had her personality. And she wasn’t going to participate in this “Sympathetic cleansing” like the rest of them.

Each day she felt farther from the sensation of her mother’s spirit in the house. As if even she had decided to move on. For Tamazir it had to be a two-way street. So there she was, like every other day at the door leading to her late mother’s room. She turned the knob and gently pushed the door open. Walking to the center of the room, staring at her mother’s portrait she pulled out the joint. “I hope you’re happy. I am happy for you. You got out at the right time… you know before everything went bat-shit crazy. A little confused though but I guess that’s normal. i guess it was us three that made you wanna blow your heads off. understandable. What I do not understand is why now?” She takes a puff of her joint. “Oh. The smell. Right. Sorry.” She quickly squishes the tip on her palm. She was not wincing at impact, just smiling. “Don’t worry! I’ll turn on the air purifier on my way out. Geez… calm down. I can practically feel your transparent glare at me. But you knew! Don’t pretend. You knew who I was. Even when you would allude to the smell of the guest bathrooms. You hid stuff pretty well. Everyone here does. All liars, stewing the filth of their lies. You don’t get to act surprised now that you get to stalk me around all day.” Uttering the words, that a year from today would’ve made her scared more than concerned. But then again, the time was now… never yesterday, never tomorrow. She pushes the boxy machine on, waits for its awful buzzing to start, and once again looks at the portrait. She feels the pinching spicy pain of the new burn on her palm, it intensifies as she stares into her mother’s grey eyes. Wincing she looks away. “Don’t. Don’t you dare, you couldn’t do it in this realm, you can’t in the other one. You forfieted that right when you decided to leave.” The pauses are what make her skin crawl, even more, the steadiness of this conversation. Nevertheless, the time was and is now. She turned her back on the portrait and stood in the dark room that now smelled of nothing, soaking in the coldness that engulfed the room. Nothing had changed in terms of the aura of the room since that night. On her way back, she sways the door behind her, stopping just when it is about to shut, looking back she decides to slam it as hard as she can. The entire room and the corridors shudder as the impact flows. A pale brown envelope thuds to the ground as the light inside the room consumes it.

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