What could she say when you are not allowed to have an opinion and if you do it is forbidden to voice it? But this voice would rise rather loud inside her head, so much that it deafened her ears. It was hard to silence it. From behind her nakaab she would watch the world pass her by like she doesn’t exist. It was exhausting to live like furniture, you are just there to be admired or used maybe, but not to speak or feel or even have emotions.
She finally found a way to vent out this energy into painting. She could paint because it was innocuous or so they thought. Her paintings were filled with rebellion, contempt and the naked truth. Only nobody looked at them with much intent. Nobody cared. Anida started to live in it. She smiled at the fact that her paintings could now shout at the top of her voice in the middle of the household what she can’t even whisper.
They thought she has become a worthless artist who knows nothing but colours and contours and canvases. They would sometimes look at the painted canvases with doubts but they were far beyond their comprehension and a waste of time; something to keep the girl busy and silence her for some time. The girl has found a hobby! Good to keep her engaged till we find a suitable match. Her hands would move in frenzy she looked like she was having a fit. Vibrant colours represented the anger which she was filled with, bold strokes of her brush talked about freedom. The red was blood, the grey was smoke, and the black was the binding burqa.
In one of them there was a small little girl writing in blood a huge manuscript. She was petite as her, long hair and black eyes like any other girl in the village, only that it was her. Anida could write her name but she wished she could write more. She wished she could write a constitution where people could stand up and say what they wanted to do or how they wanted to live.
The paintings have become too bold now and started grabbing attention of the wise old people from the family. What does she keep on drawing? They are weird…so much use of red colour. Is she possessed by the demon? She should now spend more time in the kitchen learn how to cook and take care of her younger siblings. Teach her duties. We are looking for a match for god’s sake.
The colours were taken away; the sheets were rolled up and locked in a trunk. What could Anida say? Her secret rebellion was crushed. Her only escape was closed. She sat near the stove with her infant brother in her lap who was inconsolable but so was she. Her eyes were red with anger or the smoke she can’t decide.
He looked like the old man who worked at a shop nearby. His teeth coloured and his clothes reeked of cigarettes. It was difficult to see through the mesh of her burqa but she can see that her whole family was seated in a circle her two mothers her father, uncles, aunts and the old man with the smoky smell. He looked at her and smiled. Then said “Does Anida have anything to say about this alliance?” before he could finish her father jumped in “Oh what could anida say? She is an obedient daughter, never defied her family. She will prove to be an excellent wife don’t you worry.” Anida sat there with pursed lips like fighting away the words which were adamant to escape her mouth. It would bring upon shame to the family if she spoke.
And the room erupted with the sounds of congratulating gestures and claps and hugs and kisses exchanged with sweets. She sat there still. What could she say?