A pair of bright red stilettos came flying near the bedroom door and after it followed the swift footsteps of Arham. Entering her room she headed straight towards the dresser. Unpinning her shawl she threw it on the bed and vigorously removed her accessories, placing them on the dresser one after the other. Staring at herself in the mirror, her red tearful eyes and her swollen pink cheeks reminded her of her incapability.
She washed off her make-up, performed ablution and sat on the prayer mat with her cupped hands. Tears kept rolling down her cheeks while her lips gently moved. It was only when the clock struck two and her cell phone rang she realized that she had been sitting in the same position for the past one hour. She folded the prayer mat and picked up her cell phone the screen of which was still blinking. She swiped her fingers on the screen and there was a text by her sister in Lahore, ‘Hey! If you’re free come on Skype,’ it read.
She typed the eight digit password on her cell phone and her Skype profile sprang to life. In a few minutes the call had been connected and she could see her sister sitting in the veranda with the jet black sky behind her. Arham looked at Samina wondering there had been some mistake in their birth order. Samina was younger than Arham but she always managed to remain calm. It was like as if nature had exchanged their roles. Samina was more mature, always up with a good advice and was always very thoughtful about others. On the hand, Arham always remained impulsive. She reacted to every situation without giving a second thought. She was straightforward and outspoken.
Today once again Arham had reacted in a very impulsive manner and her face was prominent enough for Samina to guess her mood.
Samina took a deep breath before asking, “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” Arham started scratching off the nail paint.
“C’mon tell me,” Samina came closer to the screen.
“You won’t understand.”
“Really?” Samina looked at her with wide eyes.
After a moment of pause Arham finally said, “Fine, I will tell you.”
“Good for us,” Samina smirked.
“You do know that it was Javed Bhai’s engagement today?”
“Of course I do!” Samina shifted her position to further bend towards the screen. “How did it go?”
“It was well organized, better than our expectation. Junaid Bhai’s fiancée was also looking very gorgeous.”
“Mmhmm. So what’s bothering you big sister?”
“Don’t laugh but Sonia’s engagement has been fixed for next month,” Arham said, still engaged in scratching off her nail paint.
“Oh my God, that is wonderful. Who is the lucky guy? I’m so not going to miss this occasion, after all it’s our Sonia who will be getting engaged. Oh my gosh baji! I can’t believe we are all growing up so fast.” Samina clapped her hands like a little girl.
Arham remained silent. As much as she was happy for her cousin she felt sad for herself. She was the eldest in her family and was yet to receive a proposal. Almost all her younger cousins were engaged and some were even married. It made her feel so insecure and she was losing confidence in herself each day. She felt like she was not good enough or that she was not very pretty like the other girls in her family. Recently she had started to doubt her abilities.
“Don’t you find it funny despite being the eldest I’m yet to get engaged? In fact I should have been married by now,” Arham spoke after a long pause.
“Baji how come you have this thought? Weren’t you the one, who said it doesn’t matter when you get married, what matters is that you are married to the right guy.”
“I don’t know Samina. I feel so embarrassed. Like maybe I am incomplete. Samina tell me if there is anything missing in me? Why aren’t my prayers getting accepted?” Samina looked at her sister quizzically. This girl was so different from her strong and bold sister. “You know I pray all my prayers, I supplicate all the time and I also pray Tahajjud every night,” Arham went on talking. “What am I missing Samina?”
“Baji don’t get so disheartened. I am sure Allah has something really awesome for you. You just have to wait for the right time.”
“And when will be the right time? When I will be old and grey?” Arham was irritated knowing that no one had answers to her questions.
“Only Allah knows the right time baji,” Samina sighed. “But I am sure it will be very soon.”
“Let’s see!” Arham looked hopeless.
“By the way don’t you think you should be sleeping? It’s quite late,” Samina checked the time on her cell phone.
“You go and sleep. I sleep after Fajr,” her nail paint had almost come off except for a few stains here and there. She now picked the bottle of Cutex from her dresser to clean the remaining nail paint from her nails.
“Why not? How do you get the energy to work all day?” Samina asked curiously.
“I wake up around two in the afternoon so that there isn’t any work left and I remain fresh for my evening class as well.”
“But baji, what about the house chores?”
“Oh that! The maid does all the cleaning. The clothes get washed in the washing machine. Ammi does the cooking,” Arham answered uninterestedly.
“And don’t you want to take up any responsibility? Maybe learning to cook so ammi can rest?”
“I have to study and complete assignments,” Arham was now getting annoyed by Samina’s interrogation.
“Baji, you said you are praying to get married but this is where you are missing, the ‘responsibility.’ You do know that marriage is not a bed of roses. It is not just a celebration which comprises of ceremonies, beautiful dresses and romantic getaways with the hubby. It comes in a package of hardships as well. How can you even expect your prayers to be fulfilled if you are not preparing for the situation? Allah only helps those who help themselves.”
“But…” Arham went lost in her own thoughts.
But…but…but…I know you too must be like but I know a friend/cousin/relative who did nothing before her marriage but still got the best proposal and is now living a happy life. Maybe you might know someone who was trained perfectly with house chores but still had an unsuccessful marriage. Well, we cannot compare ourselves or even our lives with others. Each one of us is different and Allah has created each one of us with different natures and capabilities. So maybe, that girl who wasn’t prepared before her marriage still had the capability to learn everything quickly after her marriage. Also, you may not know that how many sarcastic comments she might have to go through before she actually perfected herself. The prepared girl whose marriage was unsuccessful, maybe Allah wanted to test her through marriage hence He made marriage difficult for her.
This situation can be applied in not only for marriage purpose but for any other. If you are praying hard but still your prayers are not getting accepted then you ought to look within yourself. Maybe there is room for more improvement. Allah knows best! May He give us patience and strength to accept what He has in store for us. Aameen.