It was 7 am. The Army Welfare Housing Complex was only waking up to a pleasant Sunday morning. Fatima held onto her three kids, the eldest was only 8 years old and the youngest, 3. She walked hurriedly along the Army Welfare Association road. She walked past some familiar faces, but tactfully avoided all their questions and refused to look their way, dragged her kids along and rushed through the flight of stairs that led to flat number 39 C, the residence of the retired Subedar, Ahmed Khan.
Mrs Ahmed Khan was surprised and ecstatic to see her daughter and her grand kids, but all her happiness wore off when she saw her daughter’s woefully dull face, and swollen red eyes.
Fatima then handed over a white sheet of paper to her mother. It had three words written on it.
TALAQ. TALAQ. TALAQ.
And just like that, Fatima Begum Khan’s 14 year long marriage had come to an end.
Her mother stood there, staring at that piece of paper for some time, not knowing how to react or what to do.
She slowly turned around to look at her husband who was now standing at the hallway, peering at them.
Her father, Mr Ahmed Khan, walked towards them.
Mr Khan, was a decorated man, respected and highly revered by many of his peers for his unparalleled virtues. You will know it if you set foot in the Khan residence, which showcased his achievements in the form of numerous newspaper cuttings, photographs and awards that are neatly put up on the walls, framed.
He took the sheet of paper, opened it, read it and flung it to the floor. He was angry. He was evidently overcome with grief. And Fatima had never, not once seen her father react like that.
Ahmed Khan had served his motherland for a long 25 years. He had maintained his calm and composure even during the toughest of national emergencies. He was a man so valiant, that he never cried when his brother, his mentor and father figure, had to die for his country. And Khan was only 15 then.
Everything he has become, he became because he has always looked fate in the eye. But today, he seemed lost and helpless.
The Khans were a very devout muslim family. Ahmed Khan was a patron of Islamic culture. He was proficient in Arabic. And he was very particular that all of them lived by the parameters that the ideologies of Islam had set. The family literally breathed Quran, which must have been why, 14 years back Ahmed found the right suitor for his little daughter, who was then 18, in a young and enthusiastic, Jehangir Shah, also a very devout muslim and a lieutenant in the army. ‘Devout muslim’.
That night, the Khan residence went to sleep with a heavy heart. For the first time in his life, Ahmed’s lungs experienced labored breathing. For the first time in hers, Mrs Ahmed Khan saw her brave, esteemed husband in his most vulnerable state. Vulnerable and powerless, like a muslim woman, who lives in the constant fear of being divorced, unilaterally, inspite of loving her husband unto death.
Because,her NO’s were never important enough to be heard.