What if you found yourself in a society where only the voice of men are heard?
Or a society where what you say is judged by your skin colour? Or a society where your future is already programmed by your family?
Would you give up on situations just like that and let it slide?
For Amira Aman-khan, This is not the time to give up on the future. Despite new situations and challenges kept rising up and everything seemed like impossibility. It wasn’t her fault that she was born with a brown skin, it wasn’t her fault that she was born a girl, it’s still not her fault now that she’s married to a man who is old enough to birth her.
That her father’s business associate and friend showed up in their muqadimat one day and asked that she be betrothed to him.
She of all people in the house, that people think suitors would reject her for her skin colour and the fact that her mother was a slave. Who ever thought that Amira would become the third wife of a rich sheikh at fourteen? She’d never thought of it herself.
It was a mixed feeling the day her betrothal was announced. Her half-sisters and stepmothers were surprised and filled with resentment that lowly Amira was getting married to a sheikh and at the same time they were glad that she was leaving the house alas! with all the trouble she caused them taking sides with slaves and black people in the muqadimat.
She’s gotten into a thousand fight with a lot of people in the house. sometimes she ends up being lashed by her stepmothers or aunties and made to apologize whether or not she’s wrong. After then, she would go back to cook up a bigger trouble.
The night her betrothal was announced, Amira scurried away in the front of the whole family and ran into her mother’s cottage. she found her mother sitting on a wooden stool with the dress she was making in her hands
She laid her head on her mother’s thighs with the rest of her body sitting on the floor, cried like a little puppy.
“I don’t want to get married Umi ” Amira whimpered tearfully, she buried her head deep in her mother’s thighs clenching to her dress.
“Umi please tell papa I don’t want to marry that man” she cried
Amira’s mother was astonished by her daughter’s attitude, she felt pity that the young teenager would leave the house soon to experience marriage as the third wife of a sheikh
She felt weakness in her soul, all she could do was put aside the dress she was stitching and pat her daughter on the back
“Umi!” Amira cried out aloud
The sight of her little girl crying. helplessly was one of the most painful scenes to watch, there was nothing she would do than caress the little girl’s head
“Amira, if there’s one thing I’ve ever taught you in being a woman is that you should always search for the silver lining in every dark cloud, I might be your mother but I’m just a slave too, i’m not even permitted to enter the master’s house”
“Amira dear, you know that I would do anything to make you pleased… but marriage is a very crucial matter that I’m not worthy to give opinions, Papa knows what’s best for you”
“Umi please… I’m begging you, don’t send me away like this”
Amira’s mother already felt her daughter’s warm tears soaking through her skirt
“Papa loves you Amira”
She never said anything after that, all she did was stroked her hair till she fell asleep right on the floor.
Over the years, Amira had learned to live life anyway it plays out. Life has taught her how to adapt whether the season is dry or bountiful.
It’s been long since she last saw her parents, and the only thing that reaches her eyes every moment is Hussein and Jibril, her sons.
It’s been four years and eleven months now since she got married. Just like her mother had taught her, she has learnt to locate the Silver linings in the dark clouds . If nothing seemed to make her happy, she’d look at the eyes of her sons.
Being a mother of two at nineteen wasn’t an easy task, even though she does nothing rather than make dresses all day in the small store her husband gifted to her, He pampered her so much as his last wife and would never let her do strenuous tasks. He even bought her a personal slave.
“Everyone wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain”
Those were the thoughts Amira woke up with. The only house chores she does is cook for her husband when it’s her turn and her servant would do the rest chores.
She stayed in her store making dress, Jubril, her last child is just a year and few months and is already walking gradually by himself, she’d let him play in her shop even if it ends up in a mess
Hussein, her first child who was four years old had gone to play with his older half-brothers.
Amira sprawled on the floor beading a blue veil, she shrugged her shoulder a little a sighed tiredly.
From where she sat, she could hear a tiny voice calling ‘mother’ but it was faint. she ignored and continued beading the scarf, the voice became persistent and she could hear anguish in that voice
It sounded familiar, was it Hussein crying? was it his half-brothers intimidating him again?
She stood up and went outside the shop, she saw them from afar, her doubts were true, it was Abdulhafiz and his two younger brothers bullying Hussein,
Hussein cried louder as Hafiz who seemed to be the leader of the gang pulling Hussein’s ear.
Amira walked to the scene angrily, The children tried to pretend that nothing was going on but unfortunately, it was too late to act, Amira was already in the scene and Hussein’s face were streaming with tears
“What’s going on here!” Amira asked fuming
“Teach your child good morals, Aunt” Hafiz said and beckoned to the rest of the gang that he was leaving
Amira yanked the little boy’s collar aback angrily and pulled his ear
“Didn’t your mother teach you how to respect elders?” Amira questioned Hafiz
Hafiz groaned a little before Amira let go of his ear.
“I really need to talk to your mother concerning this” she said bedore pulling Hussein’s hand and walked to her shop.
Hussein stood in his mother’s shop facing the wall, He pulled his brown kaftan up to his thigh, revealing his dusty feet.
He closed his eyes tightly, knowing what to expect.
Amira striked the whip behind his legs, he clenched on his kaftan whining painfully, with his eyes closed.
The lashes landed continuously on his light brown skin until they reddened and he burst into tears.
Amira stopped for a second to take a breathe,
“How many more times do I have to warn you to stay away from Abdulhafiz?”
Hussein wanted to speak but his lips were wobbling.
“How many times huh?” Amira howled
“I’m sorry umi” he cried
“Don’t sorry me, you never listened to me”
Hussein faced the wall as tears trickle down his cheek to his mouth
Amira looked at him pitifully, she knelt to suit his height.
“I don’t want to see you close to him from today”
Hussein nodded his head consciously
“come on” She said pulling him into an embrace
The evening was quiet, it was almost sunset. Hussein and Jibril had fallen asleep, Hajara her personal servant had taken them to bed.
Amira fixed the last bead on the scarf, she admired it for a while, it was a masterpiece. She wouldn’t sell it even though.
She never sold any of the dresses she made. It’s either for the children or for the servants.
This particular scarf she thought of giving it to Rukayya, Hafiz mother and her co-wife before reporting Hafiz bad attitude and how he bullied Hussein earlier. While staring at the scarf, someone snatched it from her and flung it on the floor. Amira gasped, she raised her head to see that it was Rukayya, she came with two hefty men.
Rukayya doesn’t seem friendly at all,
“You! irreverent ape” She growled
“you dare lift your filthy fingers on my son”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Amira stood up to her face
” Your son bullied Hussein first”
“So? if I had sons like yours, I would throw them in an ocean, I thought they would be light skinned but unfortunately, you gave them your filthy complexion”
“Rukayya it hasn’t gotten to that point”
“Shhh shhh!” Rukayya raised her index finger
“Next time, teach your son morals, Hafiz did nothing wrong”
“Make sure there’s nothing left” She snapped her fingers
The men pushed the shelves, threw her cloths and sewing tools before her eyes
“Rukayya, you can’t do this over a minor misunderstanding!” Amira squealed
“you should have thought about that when you bullied by son” Rukayya snapped back
” That’s enough!” Rukayya told the men.
She walked away with a smiling face feeling fulfilled as the men followed her
Amira stood there frozen for a moment, she wouldn’t let this slide so easily
“Rukayya, you’re going to pay dearly for this” she growled
“…..You know it comes down to this, Amira – We can’t change our circumstances but we can choose our attitude, we can’t control others but we can control ourselves,” Khalid Aman-Khan said quietly as he flipped through the pages of a book in his hand
The night was hazy, the sound of crickets could be heard from inside the room, Beautiful candle sticks on the candles stand which illuminated the room, it was warm inside.
He was wearing a white kaftan, standing close to the bookshelf, gray hair stuck at the corner of his hair
Amira stood timidly near the door, she hadn’t entered her husband’s room for over six months now. she’s afraid of what would happen next if she dares to move a step away from the door into the room.
“it’s our son who got bullied, ” Amira said facing the floor, her throat was dry and she found it difficult to swallow. She held on to the red scarf wrapped around her head and shoulders.
“come closer,” Khalid said keeping the book on the shelf, he stroked his beard slowly
Amira shook in fear with every step that she took. She stopped in the middle of the room
“Closer” Khalid said with his eyes fixed on her
Amira wanted to move but her legs were too heavy to carry her. she stood still facing the ground, The only thing racing were her heartbeats.
Khalid grinned seductively, He walked slowly to her in the middle of the room.
“I would help you get back at Ruqayya, if only you would let me redeem myself tonight” he said as he stood behind her, only half a foot shorter than her
Amira shook in fear, the memory of how he forced himself on her on their wedding night kept recurring and those sores she sustained felt as if they were fresh again
“You’re beautiful, my love” Khalid said as he pressed his lips on her shoulder, Amira shut her eyes tightly, the urge to push him away kept coming. she wanted to scream for help but her lips were sealed as if a spell was cast on her
He held her shoulders, pressing his torso against her back, she could feel his heated breath on her neck and her scarf moving slowly away from her shoulders. He was too close, she could perceive his smell. she felt like nauseating all of a sudden.
“You know it’s been a long time since I felt your…”
The scarf slide down her shoulder to the floor, she felt his hands on her hips whispering balderdash in her ear. That was the least she could bear, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“Please stop” she whispered under her breath
“Why? what if I don’t?” Khalid muttered
“I can’t take it, you make me feel sick, please stop touching me” Amira sobbed
All she heard in reply was a chuckle, a mischievous chuckle.
“hmmm, I’m your husband and I can do anything I wish to do with my wife,” Khalid said moving his hands up her torso. she suddenly broke his entanglement moving a few steps away from him
Amira could see the tremor in his eyes, she knew she was in for more trouble.
His mood looked like he would pounce on her and tear her down the next minute.
“Don’t do this with me Amira, I’m not in my best mood today” He said calmly but furiously.
He moved a step towards her only to see a pocket knife pointing at him, her hands were shaking even as she tried to hold the knife firmly.
Khalid grinned mischievously and walked to her boldly
She turned the pocket knife to her chest, her hands became shakier
“If you do anything crazy, I promise you that I won’t spare myself! ” Amira yelled, her eyes were widened and her heart was racing as they would burst out of her chest the next minute
Khalid smiled at her timidity, he held her hands with the knife, and yanked it off her hands,
Amira moved backward, scared for herself, Her back touched the wall, this time, she knew there was no way she could escape.
She couldn’t look at the eyes of her husband, she sensed danger as he walked close to her, he placed his hand on the wall next to her shoulder
He clasped her arms angrily and groan under his breath
“Look at me in the eyes!” he said calmly
“I didn’t mean to do anything my husband, I just thought it would be polite to report Hussein’s bully case and Rukayya’s harasment rather than taking reven….”
“Look at me in the eyes!” Khalid shrieked
Amira, griped with fear at once, raised her face up and stared at the door instead. Tears streamed down her cheek
“Please…” she muttered, her eyes were blinded by the tear drops
“I can’t do this with you, I’ve had enough pressure today”
“What do you think you are? a goddess who would threaten me with a knife and I’ll scurry away like a poor mouse? ”
“I apologize for my behavior”
Amira slide to the floor, her back against the wall and her knees folded.
Khalid shut the door and blew out the candle lights. The room was dark
Amira trembled where she was sitting, her dress were getting drained in tears.
And for the next moment, her scream could be heard outside the house
The premises was quite noisy the next morning, Amira was wearing a black dress with black hijab covering her shoulder. While walking alone to her shop, she heard the servants whispering to themselves while staring at her. A conversation that seemed to be directed at her.
Could they be talking about the incident that happened the previous night?
or could it be something else?
She faced the floor while walking till she got to the shop, she entered the shop and closed the door
She walked into her store quietly, The moment she entered the shop, she was appalled by what she saw.
Fine linen arranged in her shelves, expensive beads and pearls. she ran her fingers across the linens. The moment she realized who the person was, She sank to the floor, her head tilted aback to the wall.
She looked weary, she closed her eyes in distress and sighed lost in thoughts.
The sound of the door opening kicked her out of her thoughts
It was Hajara, her personal servant, Carrying Jibril in her arm
Jibril said excited almost jumping off Hajara’s arm
Seeing Jibril’s face brightened her up, She gave a small smile.
The little boy ran to his mother the moment Hajara put him on the floor.
“Umi” Jilbril called out
“Baby boy” Amira said lifting her off the ground to her thigh and kissed his fore head
Jibril caressed her cheeks with his little hands happily
she rubbed his nose on hers while humming
“Assalam malaikum” Hajara greeted before taking off her shoes at the door mouth.
She was around fourteen, a white skinned girl with black curly hair.
“wailaikum salam” Amira responded
“Have you had breakfast?”
“Yes mistress” Hajara answered
“Come, sit here” Amira said tapping the floor
Hajara entered the shop, her eyes took a tour around.
“Oh my!” she said
“Mistress How did this happen?”
“It happened overnight” Amira said, her eyes darted to the floor
Hajara sat beside her
“I heard it ” She said Quietly
“I heard you scream” she turned to face Amira
Amira sighed, stroking Jilbril’s hair
“I didn’t let him..”
Amira gasp immediately she felt Khalid’s hand on her shoulder.
“let me go” Amira said gliding her shoulder
Khalid clasped her shoulders struggling to push her to floor, Amira fought back, she tried to withstand him.
He ripped off her dress, she managed to turn over and push him to the floor.
Amira hover around the dark room hastily trying to find her way out, Khalid coming after her.
She finally got hold of the doorknob and twisted it open.
She ran haphazardly through the dark night.
This is what she has to suffer for the rest of her life. Now there’s no escape room for her😓