“Hamza got a PS3! His dad just came back from America and he bought it for him!” Ahmed gushed as we rolled into the garage.
“The graphics and games are so cool! I wish papa would get us one.”
Zahra rolled her dark eyes at him.
“Do you ever think before you speak? Papa didn’t even get you the PS2 you have, mamu Raza did.”
“But still, maybe if I begged him enough……….”
“Be serious loser, there’s no way in hell papas gonna buy it. You get addicted too much.”
I opened the car door and slouched towards the door.
“What do you think Maria? Do you think I have a chance?”
I looked at my younger brother glumly. Ahmed was twelve and had brown tousled hair that grew long, with a fringe over his forehead. He had black eyes and a small pointed noise. He was pouting slightly, miffed by Zahra’s words. I forced a smile.
“I say there’s no harm in asking is there kid?”
Ahmed’s face burst into a smile.
“Yeah! I’ll call him tonight.”
He ran inside, sticking his tongue out to Zahra as he passed by. The door slammed shut behind him. Zahra looked at me disapprovingly.
“You shouldn’t give him false hope like that.”
“And you shouldn’t discourage him so much. He’s just a kid, let him hope. Who knows, papa might even get it for him.”
“Fat chance. You know how he is.”
Our dad worked usually worked late at his factories. He said he was needed there, and that everything went wrong when he was away. We knew better than to buy that. Zahra and I had realized early on that our father spent most of his days going out with his friends. He had a capable manager running the factories and his presence was rarely required.
We went inside and I headed for my room, annoyed. I hated Zahra’s know-it-all attitude. She was so dark, I didn’t understand it. I hadn’t met them, but I chalked it up to her friends. I mean me and Ahmed were hardly ever that negative. Or maybe I was.
I threw my bag on my study table, turned the fan on and sighed. My bed was strewn with books and the floor was cluttered with shoes. The wardrobe door hung open and various clothes jutted out at odd angles. I made my way over to the bed and shoving some books aside, lay down, staring at the plain white ceiling.
“Maria! Zahra! Ahmed! Come eat!”
“I’m not hungry!”
I just felt tired and empty. I took a white sheet and snuggled into the bed. Might as well sleep I thought sullenly, closing my eyes. A good nap made most problems better. They were much more distant, not as scary…….more manageable…………….
“Maria. Maria! Wake up! Do you know what time it is?”
My mother’s words barely registered in my head and I instinctively pulled the covers over my head.
“I’m really sleepy…..”
“You’ve been sleeping for the past four hours. It’s almost 6’o clock. If you don’t wake up now, you won’t be able to sleep at night.”
My eyelids drooped as I tried to open them half-heartedly. My mother was standing over me, picking up books from the bed. Her straight black hair was in a hurried bun, and her perfect lips were set in an angry line.
“How can you sleep in such a mess? Even a dog cleans the place he’s going to sleep on. You’re worse than an animal.”
I groaned. Here we go.
“What would people say if they knew you slept all day? Girls have to do so much work, you’re mother-in-law will skin you alive if you did this at your in-laws. Get up and clean this room immediately.”
“I’m not even married yet.” I complained.
“Well lots of girls your age are and they’ve done all the house work by the time you get out of bed. You shouldn’t be so lazy. Starting tomorrow I’m going to make you clean Ahmed’s room too so that you get the hang of working.”
I closed my eyes and wished I could go back to sleep.
“I don’t even want to get married.”
“Don’t say that.” My mum was horrified.
“Well that’s not for you to decide.”
I raised an eyebrow at her and she laughed. That was one of the things I loved about my mother. She could be angry one second, and be laughing with me the next. I grinned up at her and she hauled me off the bed.
“I want this room clean.” She ordered as sternly as she could manage before leaving the room.
I’d clean it, eventually. My smile faded as I thought of my prospects. My parents would definitely marry me off in a couple of years. I wasn’t studying to become a doctor. My passion was writing and here in Pakistan, that wasn’t even considered a profession. I loathed this weird backward society with its restrictive norms and narrow minds.
Yes, I accepted the fact that becoming a lawyer was somewhat difficult for a girl since a majority of the population drooled at the slightest sight of a one. It was like they had no control over their eyes; they just stared and stared and stared. Heck even if you noticed them staring it wouldn’t bother them. Nope, not at all. There’s no shame in being a oggler here. It was almost a tradition passed on from man to son over generations. Men have such sick minds, then they blamed us for tempting them. What boggled me was how even a girl clad in an ubayya and scarf wasn’t safe from the perverted looks. These people conveniently overlooked the order for men to turn their gaze down when a women walks by.
Even so, I believed there was some good in everyone, with exceptions of course. We mustn’t forget Jannat exists. I smiled but I knew she had to have some redeeming quality, I was just too biased to see.
I turned my laptop on and as I waited for it to start up, began picking up some of the shoes off the floor. I put them in the rack and opened my Facebook account. I didn’t have many notifications. Most were from my neighbour, Noor. I didn’t feel up to going through my news feed. Everyone’s happy go lucky statuses with their friends would just distract me. I had a writing competition lined up for tonight. I loved participating in competitions, I lived for them. I never really won, unless you count this one time last month when I tied as a runner-up with a guy from Japan. That feeling of accomplishment lasted a couple of days.
I flexed my fingers and waited in anticipation for the one word prompt. The word limit for the story was 5000 words, and you had to finish it within six hours. It started at 7:30pm. The world receded into the shadows; it was just me, my imagination and my laptop.
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