From This Prison Cell Of Mine

I didn't quite understand it. Any of it.

Why did, in the baking sun, we women have to drape ourselves head to toe in cloaks and veils, while the men were allowed to strut about, often even topless, if they wanted?

I did think of it to myself, more than usual. But I never questioned. I couldn't question. That's how things were in the region.

I carefully flipped the page over, adjusting the book slightly, to catch the rays of the moonlight that streamed in through the window. But, no matter how much I tried, most of it didn't make sense. Especially because almost all of it was English. I bet my brother could have read it, eyes closed. Only because he got to go to school, just like every other boy in the village.

In fact, he was extra lucky: sons of the elite (such as himself) went to a prestigious English medium school, while all the less abled ones went to a local institute that only taught the Quran with a bit of

Karim issued a snort, just then, in his sleep. I looked round at him, as he lay curled up in bed. I could swear his beard had grown a fraction of an inch longer since the last time I saw it across his face.

My back hurt as the realisation of what he had done to me that morning rolled into my head. Bruises stained my thigh as the fabric of my dress bit into it, making it sore. Why did he mistake it for a wicket, I don't know. Perhaps, because he could.

He could treat any part of me at his own unbound discretion without any fear of punishment.

And what was I to do in return? Be a good elder sister, and overlook his childish misdemeanors.

The cold seeped through the floormat, making my back stiff. Yet, I persisted the read, quietly, silently. In the dead of night. The next few pages had photographs printed on them. Of women, from the eastern and southern part of the country. I recognised one of the models.
Reema. Her name always had a ring to it, which I quite liked.

She was posing in a bright green sleeveless
shalwar kameez, bordered with a shiny silver lace. I imagined myself wearing it, with a few alterations, nevertheless, to avoid revealing as much as she had.

My thigh continued to throb. As a matter of fact, the pang only got more intolerable with every passing moment. I decided to pull up my
shalwar, carefully, ensuring Karim was sound asleep. The throbbing, immediately, ceded. I made a mental note to myself to pull it down before I slept; didn't want to get into trouble with Jaani, in case he strolled by (as he did every morning) to wake me up for the prayer.

Sometimes I wished I could ask him the reason behind letting Karim skip the prayers. After all, he was only a year younger than I was, and as far as I could rememeber, I was strictly told to adhere to my religious duties...well since forever, really.

More pictures. Beautiful hair. Dresses. Make up.

I remembered how
Razia once said that all women outside our world look like this. Everyday. And how all the girls, including myself, laughed at her for being utopic. It was only these women who dressed in such clothes...

A stray draught caught my naked thigh; an involuntary shiver ran through my body. I liked it. It felt...
free. My mind pictured myself flying out of the window, in the form of a pigeon, soaring the heights, watching the world from above, with the wind in its face...flying higher...and higher...and farther...and farther...till it was nothing more than a mere speck on the horizon...a tiny blemish...


It was the loud bang that stirred me awake. I jolted up from the floor, my book landing to one side with a foreboding
thud. Jaani's furious eyes stared back at mine. The vein in his temple was throbbing.

My thigh was still uncovered. I hastened to pull the
shalwar down.

Reema stood out from the open book, looking everything other than admirable. At least, for the moment.

Bacham, is this what you do in the shadows of the night?" Jaani whispered, looking at me, the book and the open window, one after the other. "Secretly disobeying the word of the Almighty? Letting Satan drive you astray?"

Karim stared at us from between the covers, grinning his face out.

I knew what was going to follow.

The scars on my body came to life, all of a sudden; fear enveloped me, as Jaani advanced...


  1. Really intense, with quite the touch of Khaled Husein. I think you write better fiction than non fiction =D Really like to read more.

  2. Oh my God and since when did YOU start writing like Khalid Hosseini?!
    The plot seemed a bit overdone, especially on the point of treatment of women, but :O I am a fan of your diction. :O

  3. I will take that as a compliment! ;)

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  5. Omg. This is good!
    It is like that Khaled guy's style!
    I half thought you cpoied this off a book or something. No I didn't, but it seemed like.

    But lol at the shalwar thingy. At first I thought up and down was referring to the waistline, not ankles. Lmao!