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T h e  V e i l

Published : Saturday, 10 September, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 398
Ariful Abir

T h e  V e i l

T h e  V e i l

When I was young, I saw my dad beating my mother every now and then. The reason is that my mother wasn't very careful about her clothing. She sometimes forgot to pull the veil over her forehead. Whenever it came to fathers notice, he beat her.

One day uncle Jamil came to visit us. He was my father's eldest brother. He stayed with us for two days and bought us many gifts. We were expecting a newborn baby in our family at that time. My mother was two months due back then.

When uncle Jamil left our house, he gave a good amount of money to my mother for the baby. Mother nodded and greeted him touching his knees. Father went to escort my uncle to the station. When he came back, he locked my mom in a room and beat her badly.

Father once noticed that my mom didn't cover her bloated belly while serving dinner to my uncle.

I became so scared that day. I was standing on the veranda like a sculpture waiting for the storm to end. There was no one to stop my father.
Our neighbors' houses were some distance from ours. When my grandma was alive, she used to protect my mother. But she died last year.

When Maghreb Azan was heard, father came out of the room and stared at me. He said, "Remember son, beating is the only way you control a woman." Saying it, he left for the mosque.

That thrashing affected my unborn sibling. One month later my mother gave birth to a stillborn baby. She had a premature birth and the newborn was pale, fragile, and tiny, and every vein in its body was visible.

My mother knew what caused her baby to die. Three days later, she went to the lake for a bath and never came back. The lake was called "Tarabubur Pukur." Every year this reservoir devours a person. People said it took my mother this year. But deep inside I knew, the lake didn't take my mother. Mom drowned herself.

Since then I swore I would never be like my father. When I grew up, I left my village as I got admitted to a prominent university in town. I hardly went to visit my father. After four years or so, I completed my graduation and got a corporate job. Several months later, I fell in love with one of my colleagues.

Her name was Safia. She was somewhat capable of understanding every bit of me. I felt like we had a metaphysical connection that bonded our souls to an invisible tie. So, one day I shared my deepest agony with her. I told her how my mother died, and how I'm determined not to be my father. She confided in me that I'll never be like my father. She said she will always be a supportive source of mine.

We got married two years later. Safia was a girl of this generation. She loved to wear westerns and I haven't created any issues regarding her clothes.

One day, we were having lunch in a restaurant and Safia found one of her childhood friends, Adib. The man has a beard all over his cheek and is as tall as a mountain. Safia invited him the next day to our house. And I too permitted and accepted him gladly. But one thing that gave me a bit of rage was the guy gazing at my wife's breast every so often.

The next day when the guy came to our house, Safia was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. The man was invited for dinner and again he gave a stern look to Safia's breast every time Safia lifted her arm to serve rice. It broke my tolerance that night and when the guy left, I told Safia not to wear such dresses.

Safia was surprised to hear me.

"Why?" She asked.

"This guy was looking at your chest frequently," I said.

Safia laughed and said, "He is my childhood friend."

"So what?" I replied harshly.  

"You are acting like your father", Safia said in a bit of a rough tone. And that blew me out with an enraged temper.

A few days later, after returning from the office, I saw the guy again in my house. I saw Safia laugh as she was playing Uno with him wearing her comfortable T-shirt and shorts. The scene reminds me of my father's saying, 'beating is the only way to control a woman.' When the guy left after dinner, I strictly grabbed Safia's wrist and yelled at her to be careful about her dressing. Safia said nothing that day. Instead, she just stared at me with shock in her eyes.

The very next day, I saw no one in my home after returning from the office. But there was a divorce paper on the table. A few hours later, a divorce lawyer came to my home and said I have to sign that paper. He also mentioned that when my daughter is born, I can visit her once a week. I didn't know Safia was three months pregnant back then. The words from the lawyer remind me of my mother when she was beaten during her pregnancy. The incident hurt me badly.

At that time, Safia got scared of me. She thought I would become harmful to our family. She felt insecure about her unborn child and decided to divorce me.

I fought in court to take full responsibility for my daughter. But it was stated that the girl will remain with her mother until she becomes capable of making decisions of her own. When my girl grew up, she decided to live with her mother.

Despite everything, my daughter kept coming to visit me in my office when she grew up. We started to spend a good time together. I used to get overwhelmed with heartfelt joy when I saw the slightest respect for me in my daughter's eyes. But things changed when we went for lunch in a restaurant one day.

There was a waiter who was gazing at my daughter with ancient lust. He kept coming to us every few minutes and asking if we needed anything. But his purpose was to see my daughter's breast from the closest distance possible. My daughter Ani was just like her mother. She loves wearing short dresses and has a great sense of dressing. I didn't say anything about her clothes because of the fear of losing her.

I warned the boy not to come to us and told if we needed anything we would let him know. Looking at my firing eyes the boy got frightened and never came back. We finished our lunch and went outside for a rickshaw.

Meanwhile, a few local boys from a tea stall teased my daughter for wandering with an old man. They thought I'm her husband even though I looked aged with my white hair. Ani was wearing a sleeveless cloth. A few seconds later, I heard those bastards saying something about her arm.

I approached them with a vile temper and hit one of them as hard as I could. I punched right in the middle of the man's nose which dislocated one of the phalange bones in my hand. The guy fell holding his nose and kept gasping for air for a couple of seconds. Soon, he lay down on the road and stopped moving. He died right there grasping for breath.

It was an unusual scene for all of them surrounding there. Everyone escaped in a fraction of a second. When I turned back to see my daughter, I saw fear in her eyes. But she came to me, put her hand on my shoulder, and took my bleeding hand to hers. She wrapped it with her handkerchief and tried to stop the bleeding.

Now I'm in jail with a lifetime sentence just like my father who had the same fate after my mother's death. But the only difference between him and me is I've got a realization. My daughter keeps coming back to visit me every now and then and she loves me now more than before. And this got me the realization that it's not women to beat. Those who make girls diminutive over clothing are the ones who need a wild punch to senseless.

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