Trigger warnings ⚠️ FGM
She understood immediately what was happening in the hut. The village girls were being circumcised. Kimina still remembered the pain. Her mother had promised that she was never going to allow anyone to lay fingers on her daughter. Our creator makes no mistakes her mother would say when people asked her why she hasn’t circumcised Kimina. But when her mother, passed away Kimina went through the same thing the little girls laying under the tree had just experienced.
It was her stepmother, who had put it upon herself to make sure to see to that Kimina was pure and wed ready.; “No man will marry her and her thing will grow and touch the ground” her stepmother was sure. Just like the little girl screaming inside the hut, Kimina was held down by four women each holding a part of her nine years old limp down. While an old Lady removed bits and parts of Kimina’s lady parts Then sewing her together, leaving a small hole for natures call and the menstrual cycle.
Kimina was restless and wanted to go inside the hut to make them stop. But she knew that she would only cause distress.
She stopped by the girls waiting in line. All crying and anxious for when it’s their turn. Except for one girl. She was sitting separately from the other girls. Kimina approached the little girl.
“Aslamu aleikum, se tahay gabartey?” How are you, my child? By this, the little girl looked around then looked back at Kimina. She seemed surprised to see someone speak to her. “Ani ani waxna” the little girl stuttered. I, I ddd didn’t steal any the thing.” Kimina felt a fist twisting her inside. She sat on the ground next to the girl. is your name my child? She asked. Kimina wondered why a sweet baby would assume she was accusing her of stealing. after a long pause the girl replayed; “A a li Ali yy yah, my nn ame is. ” Aliyah kimina said with a smile. “That is such a pretty name,” Kimina said to the girl. The little girl smiled wide reviling two huge dimple holes one on each chin. Kimina’s heart melted by the spark in the girl’s eyes. She felt the urge to protect her from the hideous act of “purifying” girls by circumcizing them then sewing them together.
“Aliyah” someone yelled by that sound the little girl’s eyes widened when she stood up. Kimina got herself up and stood in front of the girl shielding her from the man who’s voice terrified the life out of the poor child.
The man ignored Kimina and proceeded to call out for Aliyah.
Kimina asked the man how he was related to Aliyah, but she didn’t get any response. Aliyah held tight to Kimina’s dress. Kimina looked back at her and said; my child, either we both leave together or we both stay.
Dunia couldn’t stop laughing, the ladies of the house had gone mad. They were all standing in the rain. Riyaq was to blame for it all. Riyaq the nanny, Riyaq the Hindi film-star wannabe. Dunia and Riyaq met in the primary school where Dunia started to teach. One day as Dunia was walking past the school principals office Dunia stopped at the office door captivated by a girl’s talk. “I can cook, I can clean wash laundry,” said the girl. The principal was telling her that there was no need for her service at the school. The girl didn’t mind him she kept on telling all the different work she could do.
At last, she said “please sir, I have no place to go, my uncle gave me away to an old man to be his third wife. His children are older than me. And everyone knows that he beats his wives. I can’t go back to mt Village. They Will k..” Dunia barged in the office “How are you with kids? I have twins and would love to have a nanny” the girl stopped crying and gave Dunia a big hug and kissed her on both her cheeks. “thank you” said the girl. My name is Rekha she added. Dunia raised an eyebrow the girl giggled and said that Rekha the Indian actress was her most favourite person in the world. After her parents of course. Which she had never met as they both died of natural causes when she was very little. “my name is Riyaq” said the girl.
Dunia paid Riyaq the same amount any nanny was given. But she also gave Riyaq her own room in the main house. She became one of the ladies of the house and everyone felt comfortable and cherished in her presence. Dunia started to grow fond of Hindi films. And so when it started to rain in a very hot day it was only right to go out and stand in the rain. Riyaq was in her own world humming to her favourite song. “dil cheez kiia hai” while she attempted to dance like the actress does in the film. Dunia was laughing. How can someone be so careless and free? She wondered.
Ali-Asbro knew it was a bad idea, but he convinced himself that it was only right since it was raining and he was in the area. If he had taken the car it wouldn’t have rained on him. But the car would have attracted attention, therefore, he chose to walk. The house looked Just as he remembered. The light pink terrace painting had faded. The gate was left open to his surprise. Ali-Asbro felt shakey he stood in front of the gate for a moment and turned around. He walked away. Suddenly he heard a familiar sound. He felt Sharp arrows piercing through his chest. His feet started walking towards the gate before his mind could intervene. He went in.
He couldn’t see through the tears mixed with rain running down his face. There were at least four women standing in the rain and that voluntarily as one of them was dancing. On the terrace soaked in the rain, she was laughing, Dunia. She was just as beautiful as he remembered her.
Ala ba’ay he is watching me Dunia ran in the house. He properly thinks I am old and look hideous. Dunia was confused, furious, happy. She didn’t know what to make out of the mixed emotions. Did she just envision Ali-Asbro? Was? she? daydreaming again? She lifted carefully the window curtain. Oh, it is truly him. And he was being shoved into the living room. Her heart was pounding. She had to collect herself.
She looked down and saw her wet bare feet, stupid Riyaq forcing grown women to stand in the rain. Who does that? Dunia said to herself with a smile. It was fun. Yeah until he showed up. And who opened the gate for him. Dunia fussed while she looked through her dira dresses indecisive on what to wear. After all, she had to welcome a guest. Yes, a guest exactly she said to herself. It is customary to welcome visitors with whether a friend or a foe. Tea must be served and a hot meal.
Ali-Asbro sat down on a chair by the dining table refusing to sit in the sofa. He didn’t want to make it wet.
Dunia came out of a room. Ali-Asbro stood up. She didn’t look at his direction instead she went out and called for someone. Ali-Asbro stood still suddenly uncertain of himself. He was a successful young man, yet at that very moment, he felt like he had failed. A failure. What Was he doing in her house? Ninyow wad walatay he could hear his driver mocking him. “You have gone mad since we came to this city.” He had said to Ali.
”Rali noqo walalo, my apologies, you know that we can’t be communicating without a muhrim, a male present during our conversion.”Dunia was talking to him but he didn’t hear her. He was lost. She snapped her fingers in his face and chuckled. Life is funny she thought to herself. Not long ago I was there where you are right now. Lost in thoughts… But I was caught by surprise. But you approached me.
They stood face to face-silent and studying each other.
“Ehem Aslamu aleikum,”
The watchman knocked on the side of the door which was already wide open. He took off his wet sandals and came in.
“I heard there was chai here and biscuits haha” the old chubby watchman laughed loud.
Both Dunia and Ali-Asbro laughed while sitting down each on a chair looking at each other.
“How is your father?” Ali asked. Dunia knew he was just being polite. He must have heard about her Father’s illness. “he is stable alhamdulillah to God be the glory” she answered. The watchman was sipping on his tea and minding his business. He was there Just to bear witness in case Dunia was accused of being lawless and to make sure nothing disgraceful was being said or done.
Dunia and Ali-Asbro asked each other about each and everyone in their families. The answer was the same “he is fine, she is fine alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah”
They then would take a spit of the tea in their cups. The tea had gotten cold. “and how are You” said Ali softly. Dunia looked at him. She then shifted in her seat and said automatically that she too was fine. To which Ali asked, “How about your horse, is he a good horse?” Dunia’s eyes widened and her mouth fell open. what? what is he talking about I don‘t have a horse?
She then saw Ali’s mouth and hand gesture he was imitating a man who was singing. She remembered that she used to say that he sounded like a horse when he sang. Dunia chuckled. Covering her mouth. The watchman was helping himself with another handful of biscuits dipping them in the tea and then eating them.
Dunia shook her head No but said “yes, the horse is fine” he is a donkey, no a snake. I wish I had gone with you instead. She thought and lifted her cold cup of tea.
Ali-Asbro saw the sorrow in her face. Was he seeing things? Or did she look unhappy? He paid attention.
He noticed how delicately How cautiously how carefully she sat. She wore a dira dress that had a place for three more of her. She made sure that a side of her face always remained covered, by constantly dragging her scarf longer to that side so it rested on her one chin. He noticed how uncomfortable she was always when he watched her. Dunia was hiding something. He knew it just not what.
I will be going now, tell your brothers I have business proposals, let them send a messenger or a letter if they would want to discuss. I am sure they heard of my deals in the city. Ali said pressing his temple. Dunia saw the signs of his terrible headache and she knew what he needed. “uncle do you have some Aspirin left in your room?” she asked the watchman. Ali smiled at her, she remembers he thought to himself.
“yeah yeah sure,” said the watchman and stood up. He called for Riyaq.
Dunia smiled back seeing his smile. He smiled even more to which she responded by relaxing and smiling. She loosened the grip on her hair scarf reviling burned spots. His heart sunk. He was shocked, horrified and angry.
“who, what when How ?” Ali stood up. “Ali,” Dunia said with wide eyes. And jumped up from her seat. He Recognized the fear in her eyes. She had the same look the last time he saw her. Eight years ago. Only that time she was fearful for his life. It had never dawned to him all the years he spent feeling sorry for himself and at times even hating Dunia for not eloping with him, he never thought that she too might have been suffering. The fear in her eyes told him all he had to know. His Dunia, his nolol his life, was a tool to someone. When she should have been their world.
Ali looked at her and said. Waa khyr, all is well. “It was really good to see your house, all though some of the colour has faded. You have a very beautiful house. Even more beautiful than I can remember.” Dunia touched her throat. , “You know the city is growing and your house is in a much celebrated and wanted area. Priceless precious beautiful house. Nothing can ever disvalue your house.
Ali said looking Dunia in the eyes.
Dunia got teary eyed. She cleared her throat “I will tell my brothers you came by.” she said. Ali got up. “please you do that” he, said. Thanked her, the watchman and Riyaq who just came in the living room. And went out.
“why don’t you ask him to stay it is rude to send people out in the rain,” Riyaq asked.
Dunia still standing at the same spot said that it was for the best.
Ali, you have always been good with words...