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Chapter Three: what’s to lose but to gain

Chapter Three: what’s to lose but to gain

 “You need to stop fighting it damn it!” the man shouts pulling a shadow behind him. At first, there is a protest but then his arms become less tense. He keeps walking. The rustling of dead leaves, and the sounds of crickets and the beetles all mix together to form a disorganized melody as if the entire group had no idea how to be in harmony. No two sounds were in sync. The wind and the mountains quarreled like children, one getting more offensive than the other. The Sun and the moon were at different poles of the dark sky. Every being in the woods had a voice that was inconceivably begging to be heard while actively trying to monopolize the stage for itself. A house with an argument blown up over the dinner table, that was what it felt like to her. It seemed as if the awful misery of her own house had plagued the entire village, animal and woodland creatures alike. Her words and limbs jolt up as she makes sense of where it is that this man is taking her. “Stop!” she screamed, planting her feet in the mud. She jerked her arms, the man attempted to grapple her once more but failed. The woman, now catching her breath, stayed put. Shocking the man, and herself. Why couldn’t she run away? she thought as she gazed upon the lawn lights that shined in the distance. Suspended in the middle of that hill, she felt her heels turn cold just as her toes were warm. Where would she go if not back to the place she ran from? After all, she knew no one in the city, no one who would help her. Why would she ever be this deeply ungrateful to her parents? After all, they only wanted what was best for her. Maybe if she went back now, she would have to face less embarrassment, and in hindsight thank her parents for choosing the guy for her. So much was strange and unknown to her even in the place she lived her whole life. It looked the same but wasn’t. The people there could see her but not hear what lay underneath her words. This wasn’t home. This was a mockery of what it used to be. 

            Back at the Abbasi house, Badar makes his way through the galleries, inspecting the artworks ornamenting a house so broken, he pitied. What kind of a man does that to their own kin? Shackling the freedom of choosing how one wants to live their life is the most gruesome crime he thought. But who better suited to execute such tyranny than the one who birthed you? Women chatter endlessly in all corners of the house. Spectualing, accusing, and sympathizing in different intonations. What a show. The young drifter thought, What a waste. He finally made his way back into the back lawn. Such lavishness, such ease… He sets his eyes on a lawn swing that stands suspended in the sullen air that cast itself across miles of the Abbasi House, picturing the runaway bride swinging back and forth on the blackwood seat. He wondered if she did that often.

            “I won’t go back. I won’t.” the woman faintly shakes her hand in front of the man. The man looked at her for a solid minute, scanning her frame for signs of imbalance or miscalculation. He finally let go of her arm. “You are being a stubborn lady. If we do not return with you, your father will have our jobs. I have a daughter no less young than you are. Please, I beg you.” The man scruffled his beard and sat down in front of the woman. The two did not share a word for quite some time. Suddenly everything fell on her shoulders she thought. A massive plot was set against her. Every legal move she had was coupled with devastating openings for her parents. She really had no idea how much of a far-stretched web she had gotten caught in until that moment. How the assurance of a stranger’s livelihood and his obligations to his daughter had become her responsibility in that moment was an absolutely brilliant move. Her life wasn’t hers alone. It was never going to be. She was always linked to something or someone she barely knew. She looked at the man more closely, noticing the subtle cracks in his skin. The silver shining in his locks and his beard. “If I go back, everything that’s mine will be taken from me.” she faintly muffles her crying. The man inspects her in shock. “Silly girl! You are to be a bride! A bride of a man well suited to your status! What is there to lose but to gain?” He scoffs while fixing his gaze into the darkness. Picking the cue, she raised her head. The man dispenses thin air side to side by his hand, as if bringing something to a halt. “That man.” the girl bursts into a scoff. “He sees only my status, all men only see where they can be after stepping over my status and its shoulders.” The man’s face morphs into a frown, as he locks eyes with the young woman. “You can not smear your father’s name like this.” “Then what do I do to be free from it?” The woman’s tone grows frantic, her eyes bulging, swollen from the redness that gathered around them. 

            How can a woman hate the very idea of being married off when that’s all they’ve taught to anticipate their life? Thought the man, every now and then, the face of this stubborn girl would morph into his daughter’s, sending shudders down his spine. Terrified that they shared a conscious. For what else can a woman be made for? but to be protected and provided for? His trance is jolted when suddenly footsteps charged at the two of them. The man pulls the woman behind him while he grabs his lantern, pushing it
into the dark. Standing amidst the bushes and wines, stood a man. “Listen,” he called after the young woman, who crept over the old man’s shoulder to peak. “We need to talk.” the man stutters at the end, losing air in his mouth. “Who are you?” the old man pushes a finger into the man’s side, much smaller as he was than the older man, he does budge, in a whispering but aggressive tone, the young man gets the other to back down. Farah stares at the man’s hands. “What happened?” her eyes almost popping out of her skull in horror. The man tries to speak but loses his voice again. “You weren’t supposed to be here You were supposed to take her out of this place… no. no. NO.” the woman pulls her head to her knees. “Farah, We must leave now!” the man cries out pointing to the crowd of men approaching them. “You’re not going anywhere with her!” the old man charges the man into the tree, successfully subduing him. Farah kept her ears covered between her thighs, the throbbing of her heart and that of the footsteps of those men all in sync for her misery crept in through the cracks of hope that lay in the darkness, away from the glowing lights. “Farah, you need to come with me!” the man cries out once more regaining his senses. “No. Not without her. The man pulls her head up, locking sight with the trembling girl. “But you went to find her! You can help me find her! We must go back!” the woman stumbles to her feet, grabbing the young man’s arm. “Farah…She’s already on her way back…” the woman’s chest collapses. “You’re free.”


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