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At the end of the night, there's dawn by Maria Adnan

A dream: pitch-black darkness; brisk, biting frost; eerie quietness of the night; silence before a storm. Peace. Then, a scream. A heart-wre...



A dream: pitch-black darkness; brisk, biting frost; eerie quietness of the night; silence before a storm. Peace. Then, a scream. A heart-wrenching scream piercing through the mountains. A trembling feminine voice, embarking on its eternal journey,”kya iss liye keh mai aurat hun?” A question: just because I’m a woman? Once again, silence; the silence after the storm. 

*** 

She wakes up with a jolt in the middle of the night. Pearls of sweat appear on her forehead. The breathing pattern is nonrhythmic.

 ‘Another episode of the never-ending nightmare.’, she thinks as she calms herself. Getting up, she pours herself a glass of water and walks over to the window providing the pleasant view of fresh lilies and yawning evening primroses. As she waits for the call of morning prayers, she drifts all the way back to where her journey of strength and change-making began. 

*** 

The year was 1989. A pitch-black curtain was draped over the sky, and the stars made twisted, warped, shapes against the darkness. That night, there was an inch of snow on the rooftops. The mountains lurked high in the mysterious moonlight; the milky moon peeking out from behind the mountains. It was one of the peaceful nights in the mountains of Balochistan. Apparently. Almost everyone in the village was dozing off into a deep slumber, excluding the little girl with blazing ambition and sparkling eyes. She was busy playing with new words, trying to bead them together into a piece of poetry, when an argument erupted at the neighbor’s house; a young female voice and a loud one, perhaps of the father. Eventually, the beforehand argument turned into a full-fledged fight. By this time, everyone had left their sleeping spaces, forehead wrinkled and eyes focused, indicating worry. All of a sudden, a horrifying shriek pierced the air and that was probably the last thing the little girl heard before collapsing to the ground. 

She doesn’t remember much about what happened afterward, except a white-themed gathering with solemn faces, occasional whispers of grief, and words of condolence offered to the host family. Along with these bits and pieces, a conversation between two random aunties was engraved on her mind.

“Kya hua tha?” (what had happened?) 

“Suna hai izzat ki khatir baap nay qatal kia” (I’ve heard her father killed her to protect his honor) 

“Bechaari Saima” (poor Saima) 

And that was the moment she realized her beloved Saima Baji had become a prey of honor killings: a barbaric act, disguised in the name of religion, common enough to be acknowledged in Balochistan. 

As she ascended the stairs of maturity along the years, it dawned upon her that her father would never stand up for her, and how awfully wrong Islam—their one true religion of peace— was interpreted by the locals. Feeling the need for a change, she weighed her options. The only thing she’d inherited was art. The art of sewing of impactful words, and the art of turning her blessings into her weapon, her strength. After much thinking, a little amount of planning, and a higher amount of passion, she finally set on her everlasting journey of change.

“32 years,” she sighs, talking to herself. “This journey, it’s been a hard one.” 

From sewing aesthetically appealing pillowcases to successfully making her village the first-ever land of Balochistan where girls earned a good amount along with boys, she had come a long way. She’d inspired and educated women about their legal and religious rights by engraving touching poetry on the covers and then passing down the same arts. 

At times, she too wants to give up. End it all; sit back and find peace, because it gets too tough to handle— taking both religious duties and passion for betterment side by side. She sometimes thinks of dropping either one of them: religion, so she’d be free from all the restrictions and continue her work without limits, or work, so as to sit and fulfill her duties as a Muslim. But she does realize that limits are necessary. And so is a strong vision. She knows she’ll be nothing without her Allah— her God, and that restrictions are blessings in disguise. Along with this, Allah has chosen her for this particular work in the world. 

As the first light of dawn appears, and echoes of Fajr, the morning prayer, melt into her ears like a soothing melody, she knows she has to continue being an example of faith and passion working together to do wonders.