“Bhai, no!” She yelled struggling with my iron grip. “Bushra, shut up! How could you even think of going down that road? Love is forbidden. Its haram!” I screamed at her, pinning her down the floor. “Bhai please, I want to marry him.” She wailed beneath me. “It is either him or death.” I roared at her, pointing the shining blade at her throat maliciously. Moments what seemed like centuries later, I could see the pain in her eyes, but it was not the pain the slash at her throat had caused. It was the pain her brother had caused. She was dauntless for what she had decided and I was a coward for how I had acted. We like playing god at times. Not just me, you too. Not just you everyone else around you, too. We decide who sins bigger. People’s attire, language, personal relationships, scandals, problems even appearances are what feed our daily gossips. “Did you see her clothes; my maids wear better than that.” “She is in love for the third time this year; such a slut.” “She was caught with a guy; such an indecent character.” “She is not a marriage material; a mere time pass.” “He smokes weed; cheap.” “He doesn’t even earn; such a loser.” We don’t even bother to give it a thought that how cataclysmic our words can be. How destructive the omen in us can be. Hiding here in wilderness I am counting seconds. A slight movement around me lurches my heart. My entire frame starts vibrating as the thought of being caught tinge my nerves. What have I done? How would I learn to live with my guilt, my terrible grief, the price of my shame? Staring down at my blood stained kurta* reality seemed to close upon me, cruel and plain. I killed my own sister in the name of honor. Love in the Religion of love is regarded a sin. How ironic that is. What’s wrong in marrying the one you love? Well, ‘Khandan ki izzat*.’ This khandan* has actually destroyed millions of lives instead of uniting them up. We restrict our children for talking to opposite genders saying it is immoral. We initiate the concept of ‘love saves life’ by making them watch movies like Cinderella and Snow White, and then we ourselves prohibit them from even dreaming like that. And if some unlucky soul falls in love we kill them in the name of honor. And what does our pious side do? The mullahs out there who constantly preach the message of ‘Jihad’ and tell us how very sinful our lives are despite fulfilling the obligatory Islamic principles; why don’t they tell people that loving someone is not forbidden. They tell us to sublime. Why don’t they tell us to be a human first? So many beautiful girls who dreamt of marrying their prince charming have been murdered. Slaughtered. Brother, father, cousin showing their manhood doesn’t even feel disgusted for having such a thought. They keep on haranguing about what a source of shame she is for them. They grimace on their faces before playing god. Seconds after seeing her lifeless in front of me, with blood gushing from her neck I was paralyzed. In my head everything spun and was shifting, rearranging so that things that had meant one thing before, meant another. Hadn’t I just given her a chance to decide? She said she would rather chose death than to live without him. Wasn’t love to be blamed for my atrocious act? The scene was so bizarre that I had to close my eyes and reopen them before my mind could take it all in. The twitching had stopped. She was staring up at the roof. Nothing stirred. The last tear slid from the corner of her eye and that is when I yelled. How much time has passed since my sister died? I don’t know. Have they recovered her body in my room? I don’t know. Are they searching for me? I don’t know. What should I do? I don’t know. Has my life ended at 17? I don’t know. I started shaking her with immense pressure. “Speak!” I begged her lifeless attire. My voice sounded as if it was coming from a long empty tunnel. I stood up, and she landed on the floor with a thud. That is when I regained senses. I fled. The sudden blazing sirens dragged me back to reality. They were looking for me. My conscience was constantly urging me to step forward but I couldn’t muster up the courage. The little portion in my brain was provoking me to flee again. But for how long could I run before I finally got caught? I had to give up. The image of my little sister playing ludo* with me was burning right in front of my eyes. Her giggles were echoing all along. I could sense myself chasing her in the gardens. Us, playing. It was all gone now. No longer would she poke me to get her bangles on chand rat*. No longer would I get to tease her for her mustache. She was gone all because of me. That is the problem of us humans. We think that we are always right. We decide what the other person is fated to. We think that we know better of every other person. Where in reality: we are all ignorant of truth. I handed myself to the police. They hit me hard but I was so numb to feel a thing. My internal pain out did the outer one. Scars meant nothing for grief was at bay now. The dilemma my actions had caused could never be erased now. I don’t know what future awaits me now. I know my death too is inevitable. But I might die out of misery. The horror is too real now. I am rotting in the cellars now. Her voice constantly questions me asking what crime she committed for me being so ruthless. The police officer just told me the boy she was in love with hung himself with the ceiling fan. There, I killed two people. Only God knows how many else have been affected. No one from my family came for me. No one. That’s how I am doomed to die. In isolation. No matter how much I repent, my life is all done. I have to pay the price of acting god.

Kurta = Eastern Traditional Dress
Khandan = Family
Khandan Ki Izzat = Family's Respect
ludo = A kind of a Game
chand rat = The night prior to Eid Festival

Photo Courtesy = Saleha Adnan