I had talked to my mom a few days before. I wanted her to ask my dad whether he would allow me to go abroad for studies. She had told me firmly that I wasn’t going anywhere until I was married. After which she gave me the concession of studying what I liked wherever my older, salaried, sensible husband resided.
I clenched my fist and bit down on the straw as I sucked the coke.
I broke up with him a few weeks later. I did it via text message. He called me on my mobile immediately after. He wanted to hear me say it. I told him through a dry mouth and with a shaky voice. I could hear him crying. I ended the call.
He harassed me for several days over the phone, until I finally blocked him. When I saw him again, it was a few months later at a mutual friend’s place. He was unshaven and spent the whole time giving me mournful looks and making things awkward for everybody.
I have heard in confidence that he has begun cutting himself. And now I am sure I have made the right decision in leaving him. At first I thought he was a romantic but now I realise that he is not sure whether he lives in real life or is a character from a movie.
I pray more often nowadays. In the quietness of my unlit room, while sitting on the Musallah I feel the vastness of the universe that Amir talked about that night. I feel so lonely. My life is all my own to live and I don’t know if I can. All alone I, Sisyphus, have to roll a terrible boulder up the hill in inane, ruthless repetition. And all for what? So I am praying. Do I believe that prayer will cause the dark waters before me to part? I don’t know. I am scared. Sometimes I just go through the motions. Most times actually. It’s become just a comforting habit.
But tonight is one of the times I realise that a prayer isn’t a favour to be granted. A prayer is a lonely call I make in the dark caverns of my heart: worn by emotion, broken and put together. Floundering and living, a blind, pulsating thing.
Now for a while I will walk the earth. Till tiredness comes upon me once more: My parents hurt me again, I fall in love again, I do something stupid or selfish or my future, dark and stormy overwhelms my vision of life. And the call will tremble upon my lips once more. And in this way till the grave.
Faisal Pakkali is a twenty-year-old residing in Dubai, where he studies accountancy. He comes from a Tamil Muslim household. He reads and writes in his spare time. He loves Flannery O’ Connor and Alice Munro.