I Am A Naik Bibi…


During childhood, I loved to dress my dolls in colourful clothes. Nani amma would stitch beautiful lehengas for my dolls, and adorn them with sequences, ribbons and embroidery. I showed off the dresses to my friends and they used to love the colours I chose! Colours, my world was  incomplete without them! Wild and lively, like fluttering butterflies!

And when it was time to hold a wedding for any of my dolls, Nani amma would prepare the dowry for them. It was a family tradition, she said. But the dolls were always married off to my cousin’s dolls.

“That way, family wealth is not distributed, but stays in the family! Wouldn’t you like to see all the beautiful dresses, baskets and china-crockery more often?”

And I would vigorously nod my head, already in a sad state.

“One day, my pretty princess will get married as well! And I’ll make sure that she has the finest of lands in her dowry!” Nani amma would say. I used to blush and keep my head on her lap, allowing her to stroke my head, lovingly.

One day I was told that I was about to get married. To whom? How does he look? My head buzzed with questions, but I dare not ask! They dressed me up in red, a grand wedding was held. But where was the groom? My father asked me if I agreed to marry The Book? How can anyone marry The Book? And then understanding dawned upon me…

Today, my world is white, plain white! As if I were already dead and floating in the clouds. I longed to see the colours but I was confined in this room since the past 1 year. I was never taught what The Book says…

But I am not alone! I hear voices and shrieks of pain…

They talk to me, whisper in my ears…

I am new to their world!

The voices of all the Naik Bibis who occupied this room before me!

–¤–¤–¤–

© 2012. Habiba Danyal

Naik Bibi : Pious woman. 

Word Count:332

This post is in response to Trifecta’s Week Thirty Challenge. This week’s word-prompt was:

NEW (adjective)

1: having recently come into existence
2 a (1) : having been seen, used, or known for a short time (2) : unfamiliar
b : being other than the former or old
3: having been in a relationship or condition but a short time <new to the job> <a new wife>
And the third definition was to be used. Word limit : 33-333

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35 thoughts on “I Am A Naik Bibi…

  1. This story is heartbreaking. The idea of a young girl, vibrant and full of life, forced to be on the outside a ghost of her inner colorful self. I hope she was able to hang onto her internal color.
    Thanks for joining us. Please come back tomorrow for the new prompt.

  2. How interesting, that so many of the great religions have similar traditions. Catholic nuns are said to be the brides of Christ, if I remember correctly.

    Your piece actually reminded me somewhat of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” though hers was speculative fiction, not based in truth.

  3. This is well written and chilling. I googled naik bibis, but didn’t find much. It’s a tragedy that people’s lives are limited by other’s ignorance.

  4. oh that’s very cruel…. I never heard of such a thing… You have expressed it poignantly mate…

    1. Unfortunately, naik bibis are women who are married off to the Quran by illiterate Landlords in order to protect family wealth when there is no possible candidate in the family for their marriage! yes it is murder alright. But I would like to emphasize that Quran is not to be blamed for their illiteracy! They dont even know what the book says.

      1. hindus too had a tradition like this, devdasis, they were married off to Krishna I believe, i think this has been officially eradicated.

        well, i dont think religion is responsible for silly acts of its followers.

      2. well-said sharmishtha! I’ve heard about sati but not devdasis. But whatever these practices are named, doesnt matter. All symbolize illiteracy.

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