On the day they were taking Ayerokh away, It was raining stones. People attributed it to a hailstorm, but it bore a striking resemblance to a shower of stones. Standing under it for even a moment felt like being pelted with rocks. Ayerokh had been dressed in her green wedding attire, but due to the intensity of the rain and the narrow timeframe, they had refrained from donning her white bridal dress. This decision was made for her by others, and no one asked Ayerokh if she wished to wear her white dress or not. It was customary for all brides to wear white, and some wouldn’t even take a step without it from the wedding gathering to the groom’s house. Yet, no one inquired about Ayerokh’s desires. She sat like a lifeless doll, neither having a will nor a breath to take, in the corner of the room. Her sisters-in-law and cousins were busy with the affairs of the elders, shuttling back and forth. In reality, it was no surprise that Ayerokh’s hopes and wishes were deemed unimportant, and she had no say in her destiny. She hadn’t even been asked if she wanted to marry the friend of her father or not. She hadn’t even reached an age where she could make decisions for herself. Her father had said, “Keeping a young girl at home is a sin, and allowing her to walk freely leads to shame.” But it wasn’t just that. Ayerokh hadn’t even seen the man who was supposed to be her husband. Although that man had visited their home many times, Ayerokh, still a child, was told to avoid unfamiliar men. She hadn’t even seen her cousins and uncles, as well.
Ayerokh (pseudonymous) becomes a bride, and her marriage is solemnized without the presence of the groom. This is because the groom had another “important business” to attend to in another province. He scoffed, “You see, women, it’s a simple deal: you just get a wife through nikah, while all the rest is your typical female fuss!” Ayerokh pays no attention and is even happier when time stretches her life without seeing him and makes it longer. Golden pendants dangled from the bride’s ears and neck. Her hands were adorned with red henna, and she smelled of jasmine flowers. It was as if the perfume that her cousin had once gifted her had permeated her body and clothes. She remained silent and didn’t speak. She didn’t even respond to other people’s questions and sometimes just nodded. But the fragrance that clung to her and filled the room spoke a lot, many words. The unspoken and the screams of Ayerokh’s heart reached people’s hearts and minds with that scent. Perhaps, she had applied this perfume for the same reason, to convey her message, or maybe she had wanted to feel his presence, the person she loved, beside her one last time. She did the same thing, sometimes she inhaled the air of the room into her lungs and breathed in and out loudly.
Months have passed since Ayerokh’s marriage. She seldom leaves her husband’s home except for her father’s home. It’s not her choice, just as she hadn’t chosen her life partner, and others have decided for her. The decision to leave her home is made by someone else, her husband. Sometimes, when she stays at her mother’s house for a night or two, her husband calls her via her mobile phone every moment to check on her, tell her what to do, and dictate that she shouldn’t go elsewhere. Ayerokh has no authority in her own house. The food she cooks is chosen by her husband, and she’s forced to share a plate with him, despite her reluctance. Several of Ayerokh’s childhood friends have also been deprived of seeing her. Her husband doesn’t allow them to visit, saying, “You won’t allow those unwed girls inside my house.” Ayerokh neither invites them to her house nor goes to their homes. It’s worth noting that Ayerokh’s friends are not married; one of them is studying online, and the other works as a teacher in a private school.
Ayerokh, when she hadn’t been given to her husband, was fresh and vibrant. They used to say, “She is now young and beautiful.” But that color had not yet settled on her cheeks when they turned her pale and entrusted her to a man who was only gentle with her under the sheets. Ayerokh loved her cousin, and sometimes, in her handwriting, she wrote to him with the delicacy of her pen. All those writings, which were the memories of her teenage love, she kept in her diary. She continued to keep that diary even after her marriage.
After about a year of her marriage, when she returned to her father’s home for the first time, they called it “Paie Bazee.” When she wished to return to her own home, she took the diary with her. It is over a year since her heartless husband stumbled upon the diary. When he read the first few pages, he discovered her teenage love. However, as he flipped through the final pages, he came face to face with a deep darkness, one caused by his presence and the injustice he had inflicted upon Ayerokh. He knitted his eyebrows together and, with the torn diary in hand, stormed Ayerokh, who was in the middle of cooking food.
He angrily sets fire to each page of the diary through Ayerokh, one by one. Then, he beats her as much as he can, leaving her with a bruised and battered body, before taking her back to her father’s house.
The effects of the beating hadn’t entirely disappeared from Ayerokh’s body, and she was taken back to her husband’s house. This time, her husband had found all the justifications for himself, unleashing all the anger and brutality he had concealed within him on Ayerokh. There was nothing left of Ayerokh except the spark of life that clung to her battered body. Now, Ayerokh, who was not yet twenty, had a face that resembled women twice her age. She saw my surprise and, with a forced smile, said, “Didn’t you recognize me?” She continued in a teasing tone, “I’ve grown old, and no one can recognize me anymore.” Indeed, she had aged; it was as though she had lived decades longer than her actual age, as if a thousand women had lived and died within her, and she was now the fragile half-life among those thousand women.
This time, contrary to usual, her husband had happily parked the car and walked Ayerokh to her father’s house. It had been a week since Ayerokh returned to her mother’s home, and her husband hadn’t made any calls except once. She says, “My husband is pleased to take a new wife. He brought me to my father’s house so that it doesn’t affect me much.” Ayerokh hadn’t told anyone yet that her husband had become engaged to another woman. He had frightened her with threats and taken away her right to speak. When you see Ayerokh, her face reveals her innermost feelings, as if she has opened a book with legible lines. She lets her gaze pierce through to her thoughts, and you can sense the range of pain and hidden agony in her heart. Now, she remains silent, much like when she wore the green wedding dress for the first time, and it appears she no longer has the right to express the hidden wounds in her heart.