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