The day had finally come. I was going to tie my knot with Subah. The knot in which we would be stuck with each other for the rest of our lives. It was Friday. The smell of the peerless combination of biriyani and Mezbani Beef had encompassed the whole place. I was in my white and red Kurta with a Pagri covering my head. As the photographers kept on taking my photos with the guests, my mind diverted elsewhere. I looked at the far end my eyes could reach out to. Encircled with a few beautiful ladies, Subah was there. Never had I ever seen a more attractive lady in Red Lehenga.

After a warm welcome by everyone, Subah slowly sat beside me on the stage chair.

“You look gorgeous.” I told her.

“So do you.”

“Remember when we danced at holud (turmeric) ceremony of my uncle? I was so into you back then!”

“Aren’t you, now?” she said with a smile.

“Let fate decide that.”

 

It was so exasperating to pose like moronic models for the photographers. As if they were going to hang our pictures on their own wall. The crowd was waiting for the Hujur to come and do all the necessary steps to officially announce us as husband and wife.

I was holding Subah’s hands while taking a photo, and that’s when she let go of me. Getting down from the stage in a hurried state, she kept running across the hallway till the guests noticed. The lights of the place had gone off due to electricity issues. The palaver of people and the noises of pure frustration made the environment even more eerie. Within a minute or two, the lights came back on. Subah wasn’t here anymore. She had run away.

 

4 Months Ago

I had come to Bangladesh after a long time. With the desire to stay here with my family for a few months, I was excited. Then happened what every Bangladeshi parent more or less forces us to be involved with. Marriage.

“The bride and their family will be coming here this evening. Get a haircut.” Mom told me.

Well I was not good looking, to be precise. And I was not delighted with the idea of getting a new life with a new person. But come on, losing your celibacy with a total stranger is interesting. Don’t call me deviant.

The bride was Subah. The girl I had become friends with a long time back. I remembered how we met for the first time, while playing game online. She became really close to me, and then I fell for her. Perks of being an introvert number one- You don’t say stuff when you are supposed to. Slow claps, please.

Subah didn’t look happy. She had turned quieter. As she lifted up her achal to show her face with her eyes down, I became surprised.

“Do you two know each other?” her father asked after taking a glimpse at my facial expression.

No. I knew a beautiful girl. She is an angel. I should get a kick on my back for being so filmy.

“No we don’t.” I replied.

 

3 months ago

The sky was overcast. Nobody wants to get up from the bed with the yonder turning darker and droplets of water falling from the sky.

“Ayaan.  Look who’s here to meet you.” My mom told me as she opened the door. It was Subah. I got up quickly from the bed and removed the books from the sofa so she could seat.

“Be seated.”

Subah still hadn’t broken her silence ever since I came back to Bangladesh. I closed the door and sat on my bed, to keep distance from her. No that’s because I tried to be polite, of course I wanted to caress her.

“I had to tell you something.”

“Sure. Go ahead.”

“When you went to Canada, I was giving my SAT’s. Breaking my parent’s dreams of going abroad due to not being eligible, I stayed here, for undergraduate.”

“Go on. I’m listening.”

“You remember Murshed?”

“The guitarist?”

“Yeah. We fell in love with each other.”

Girl, wasn’t my silence tranquil enough to make me seem gentler than a hairy pothead playing in a band along with a bunch of drunkards?

She continued, “We are still in love with each other. I know that you had some feelings for me earlier. But I am being forced to marry you. Even if this happens, I want you to know that I will never approve it from my heart. I don’t think I will be able to marry you. Do something, I request you.”

 

And this conversation went on for a long time as I dug deeper into it. All of it was just ridiculous. Her so called mother was forcing her to marry me because of my status. She was forcing her daughter to tie knots with someone Subah didn’t know would be familiar with. She was forcing her to marry me because I lived in Canada, and she’d get the VISA too. I am a Chartered Accountant, and that’s what made her think I was suitable for her daughter.

Society here doesn’t care about the groom’s looks, or smartness. If you have a job with which you can satisfy your wife with regular gifts, and if you live abroad, you’re the one for my daughter. I felt insulted that I was going to marry someone not because of who I am, but because of what I do. That was going to destroy a girl’s heart. That was going to destroy a girl’s life. That was going to destroy a happy family that could be built.

I really liked Subah. Now that she trusted me as a friend and made me realize how I was ignoring the fact that my job is my identity, I was puzzled. I don’t want to use swear words, but her mother really is the word that rhymes with witch. How can one not care about her daughter’s happiness?

 

The Night before the Wedding

I met Subah and Murshed at a café. I know I said stuff about Murshed earlier, but that funky piece of shit really did love her.

“Tomorrow, I will bribe the waiters to turn off the electricity. That’s when you escape. Come down from the stage to signal the waiters. Murshed will be waiting for you outside the venue.” I told her.

“Wait, what? Are you out of your mind?” she was astonished.

“Do you have a better plan?”

“But not this. They will eventually find out where I am living and I can’t be like a missing person.”

“For a mother like yours who doesn’t give a damn about her daughter, she will disown you. Just like her brain disowned her.” Wow. She didn’t even ask me to stop talking about her mother.

“What if the Hujur comes earlier?”

“He won’t. Have faith in me.”

They both were excited as well as scared. Maybe I had saved more than just a life turning into hell. With that work, I would at least be able to face myself in the mirror and tell myself that I didn’t use my occupation title to get myself a beautiful life partner.

“Take care of her. Or I’ll smash your guitar on your head.” I joked as I shook hands with Murshed.

“You, Mr. Handsome, will get someone more attractive. Thank you so much. I can’t ever pay you back.” Subah told me with tears of joy flowing down her cheeks.

“You actually can. Just help out anyone who faced the same difficulty as you did. Society can go to hell.”

 

And that’s how we three planned to make her escape. She won’t probably have relatives asking about her well-being anymore. That’s because her satanic mother will tell them about how she is such a betrayer to follow her happiness. She would tell them about how Subah committed a sin that can’t be forgiven by society for listening to her heart. I wish I could jump with joy after she escaped. The gossiping has already started. And that’s how lots of girls over the world are treated. Despite being respected as a creature who can be a mother, they are called by names because of marrying their love of their life. Murshed wasn’t even a criminal. He had enough respect and love for Subah to keep her heart beating. I forgot to mention that some girls even don’t get a friend like me to save them. They marry someone of their parent’s choice and break up with their lovers. That’s how a fake family is broken. After the child is born, he/she has to bear all the arguments by his/her parents who were never in love.

Subah will lead a happy life hopefully. She will be respected as a wife, as a friend, and probably as a mother. But the society will address her as a betrayer, as a disgrace. But in my heart, I will address her as a friend who opened up to me for help. In my heart, I will address her as my first love, the most charming. In my heart, I will always address her as a happy fugitive.

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Rafeed Elahi is a football lover, a movie adherent, and a writer by passion.

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