18. Half Hearted Acceptance

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Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Whoever amongst you may live (for long) will see many differences. I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly guided Khaleefaas who come after me. Hold on to it firmly. Beware of innovation for every newly invented matter is going astray.”

–Abu Dawood; at-Tirmidhi graded it as hasan saheeh

 
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The preparations around her proceeded with full gusto, causing heaviness to settle within her chest. Her throat felt tight. There was a constant pang inside her heart. Inexplicable emotions made it difficult to swallow the anxiety and pain ripping her insides.

She felt like a scared little kitten stuck atop a tree. She felt like a bird whose wings had been chopped off before being shut inside a cage. Despite being surrounded by relatives who had travelled from all across the country for this day, she felt terribly alone. It was as though she spoke a language no one around her understood. No one really took a moment to hear what she had to relay.

There were people everywhere she turned, and yet she was utterly and despicably alone.

With the realisation of the thought had come sorrow taking a firm grip over her heart—tightening its hold until she could take it no more and mounting its pressure until she could feel no more. The vestiges of her feelings were deprived of any outlets, for her tears—the only way she could have let it all out—were no longer at liberty to flow. Her eyes were not allowed to water. Tears were not even allowed to show up at the corner of her eyes. In their stead, she was forced to keep her lips curled in a smile. A mere twitch of those muscles, honest to Allaah, took so much effort that particular day. She surmised it was because their ends were tied to her heavy heart.

A shuddering breath escaped her lips. She thought of her feelings that had been neatly discarded to the side. Regardless of what she was feeling, she was being forced—forced to smile at the people who came in to look at her, forced to smile for the sake of people who enquired after her. Her emotions had to take a back seat that day for the sake of those who graced the occasion. She was compelled to smile and pretend to be happy for all those who had come together in the place. In truth, however, her soul was being butchered; and they had all gathered, unaware, to watch the play unfold.

Farce.

Overall, she had become a puppet whose strings others pulled according to their own fancies and whims and in order to get something done. Her actions were not her own. Her reactions were not her own. Her words, too, were borrowed. When it came down to dissecting it all, she realised that she owned a mind she could not use, a right she cannot exercise, and an emotion she could not express. She had become, at the end of the day, something she immensely disliked—a being with no words nor choice.

She was being controlled and forced to be someone she cannot recognise.

Façade.

What other option did she have? She was bound by circumstances and restricted by the so-called family honour. Emotional blackmails and tears held her hostage. Multitude of things, including her family, hovered over her; and, for the first time in her twenty-two years of life on earth, she had become mute. For the first time in her twenty-two years of experience in the world, her extensive vocabulary could not be of any aid to her; and, as for her lips—they stayed glued, refusing to part for all the words that she could have uttered to escape were cruelly snatched away from her. When it came down to the borrowed words that were available in plenty, she preferred staying mum to using them. She, at least, had a choice in that—a choice she could exercise.

Her words.

Her loss.

Her engagement.

Manha cringed at the undesired reminder. Her engagement! The ceremony that would officially let people know she was reserved for someone—she wasn’t sure who—was about to commence in an hour, and her attempts of keeping her miserable thoughts at bay were proving to be futile. A sob rose in her chest, and she rubbed a hand over it to keep it contained. Her eyes rolled up on their own accord to suppress the tears that threatened to show. She swallowed.

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