It was around 5 o’clock the following morning. The sun had not yet risen. It was a cloudy morning. Birds were chirping at a distance. Mehroon was covered in one of her mother’s abaya and still sitting outside in the courtyard. Fatima was sitting on the veranda. Both of them had their eyes on the ground and neither spoke a word.
Both kept waiting… but for what… no one knew… when all of a sudden they heard footsteps come from the unpaved path in front of their home. Mehroon looked up… It was her father. He was not drunk. In fact he was walking as steadily as a gentleman. This was the first time Mehroon had seen her father so sober.
But then Mehroon’s eyes fell on her father’s face and she saw a deep scratch mark that ran from near his eyes and halfway down his cheeks.
Mehroon kept staring at her father with eyes wide open but her father did not look right or left and walked straight past the little girl and her mother and went inside the house.
Fatima followed her husband in and shut the door behind them. Mehroon could only sit there and imagine what was happening within those closed doors.
But only after a couple of minutes, the door dashed open and Fatima almost came flying out and fell on the ground. Obviously it had to do with her husband.
Mehroon’s father then came out and while still avoiding eye contact with Mehroon, shouted at Fatima, “Take your whore girl with you and go to the village headman. Let him decide whatever has to be done with her. I want to have nothing to do with this.”
Mehroon kept staring at her abbu and the scratch mark on his face but her abbu never even gave a glance at her.
Saying what he had to, Mehroon’s father once again went inside the house and closed the door behind him.
Mehroon got up from her place slowly and walked up to her mother. She approached to help her mother up but her mother dodged her daughter’s touch and signaled her to move away.
Mehroon stepped back and Fatima got up.
“Come.” Those were the first words Fatima spoke to Mehroon since the previous evening. Saying this she started to walk out of the gate. Mehroon followed her… still limping and struggling to walk.
Soon they reached the village headman’s house. Fatima stopped at the gate and Mehroon a few steps behind her mother. The headman’s servant was brooming their courtyard.
Fatima called the servant and made her request to meet the headman. The servant asked them to wait and went inside. He then came out and asked Fatima regarding what she wished to speak to the headman. Fatima told the servant the core matter. The servant stared at Mehroon for a while and went in again and came out after a few minutes. He told Fatima to come into the courtyard and sit on the veranda while Mehroon was asked to sit under the mango tree outside the gate.
Almost after half an hour, the headman came out. He took a chair on the veranda and while sipping on a hot cup of tea, heard the whole story from Fatima. Well, at least whatever was the whole story according to Fatima. Mehroon’s father did not come up in any part of the story, nor did Fatima’s injury. It was mostly about how Mehroon went out for unknown reasons at night and got raped.
After hearing everything, the headman told Fatima to take her daughter and come to the Panchayat meeting in the afternoon where decision would be taken as to what should be done.
Fatima got up and thanked the headman and came out of his gate and continued her walk home. She never looked at Mehroon nor did she say a word to the girl. Mehroon suddenly looked up and saw her mother leaving. She struggled to get up quickly and once again limping and stumbling followed her mother back home.