Chapter 3 – On a Dark & Stormy Night
Hiba fluffed the pillow, looked around one last time and picked up her bag. She quickly checked the contents crossing a mental checklist.
Alright, it’s time!
She found her mother in the kitchen, preparing for dinner. Hiba stood in the doorway. “I am going to Naina’s house for some time,” she said.
“You are going there too often these days. I do not like girls roaming about on the streets.” Shireen said disapprovingly. It was a routine statement every time Hiba went to Naina’s house.
“I am not roaming about. I will be at her house.” Hiba also repeated her staple answer. For good measure, she added, “I need to talk to her about the college selection.”
“Didn’t you apply already? You were selected in that Pune college… what’s the name?” Shireen asked. Pale and fragile, simple, and sober, Shireen was a strict mother even though she talked little.
Damn! Ammi remembers every little detail. “I did but I want a better college,” Hiba lied.
“What good would that do?”
“A degree from a renowned college gets more weightage when I apply for a job.”
“Forget about college and job,” Shireen said. “Your father wants you to get married as soon as possible. Didn’t I tell you?”
“I’ve applied for masters, Ammi, you know it. You should have stopped me when I was submitting the form.” Hiba complained.
“Talk to your father,” Shireen said. Hiba quickly glanced at her mobile’s screen. Naina was calling her. She was running out of time.
“I will be back,” she said and instinctively hugged her mother before setting out. Shireen stood dumbfounded at this unusual behaviour. She shrugged and focused her attention on the boiling pot of rice.
Hiba walked briskly to Naina’s house. Naina was anxiously waiting for her.
“Is everything ready?” Hiba asked.
Naina nodded and brought a bag to from her room. her parents were out and that gave them the much-needed freedom. Hesitantly, she asked. “Are you sure about this, Hiba?”
“I think so. This is my only chance. My parents do not allow me to lead my life that way I want. Getting away is the only choice,” Hiba responded.
“I think uncle and aunty are we, considerate parents. If you tell them about Tayyab, I am sure they will agree.”
“They do not want me to pursue masters. They want me to get married now, to a boy of their choice. Do you think they will accept Tayyab?”
“Forget about them,” Naina said. “Even I do not accept Tayyab for you and I am only your friend.”
Hiba checked the bag quickly. “What do you have against him?”
“Are you forgetting? You made fun of him, laughed at him for his looks and his social status. I do not know what you see in Tayyab now.”
“That was a long time ago,” Hiba replied sheepishly.
“I do not have a good feeling about this, but I am obliged to my duty as your best friend,” Naina pouted. “Here,” she handed a shopper. “Your abaya!”