CHAPTER 1 Fluffy Dreams

eloped about marriage, the act that completes half of my faith as per Islam.

For us underage girls living in a Muslim country, this was the highest definition of success. Marrying in a rich family and moving to a first world country where our offsprings could be born and become citizens. It didn matter that the groom of my friends sister was a man nearly a decade older than him, or that he was half bald, or even that he was almost an inch shorter in height than the naive seventeen year old who was to wed him. The child bride was just as unaware of the challenges that she would soon encounter in a strange country with an entirely new family escorting her to a completely different lifestyle than the one we were accustomed to in Pakistan.

However, all such outlandish ideas that I had in my mind, to fall in love and be taken away to a land of dreams and wishes in the clouds were soon dashed, when I agreed to make a solemn oath.

As teenagers I hung out with my four best friends. Our gang of five had a leader Mona. She was that type of a person who just directed everyone for everything wherever she went and wouldn take no for an answer. Hot headed and confident, she was a pretty picture i would seldom argue with. So, when she said that we all should make an oath to NEVER, EVER, fall in love, none of us said anything. With Mona, you didn argue, you followed suit if you didn prefer an ugly exchange of words. She believed love and romance was nothing but a facade. It was trash and for weaklings only! Her girl gang, she pressed, was smarter than people who drooled over boys and only felt complete when paired with the Y chromosome holder.

The oath was a sacred undertaking by us all, because boyfriends are prohibited in Islam too. Dear God, have mercy! I did not even think about holding hands with anyone, all the boys we played or rode bicycles with in our apartment complex, they were all divided into two simple categories. They were either our brothers or our enemies! NOTHING more or less!

Lying to loved ones was easier and simpler back then, because such an oath was certainly ridiculed when before my fourteenth birthday, on the afternoon of 20th Aug. there was a fateful phone call. It lasted for two hours, because I kept convincing the caller that girls and boys could play together and still be like siblings and he kept insisting that sisters are only blood related or they are NOT, there is nothing like-a-sister/friend whose a girl and it was only always mostly loosely translated to girlfriend.

One month and hour long frequent landline phone calls later, I had decided Umar was the guy whose hands I wanted to hold, whose arms I wanted to snug in, whose car I want to sit in (no he didn have a corolla, oh but his car was silver, even more royal!). By late August, I had conveniently forgotten the oath we had solemnly taken with Mona and I had decided, Umar was the one I wanted to get married to.

There was only one small problem. Umar was Monas elder brother!

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