By the time Razia reached home, she had very much forgotten about all the negative thoughts that had charged through her mind not long ago, and she smiled quietly to herself as she remembered Ahmed's soft touch and hypnotic voice. In a few days, a week at the most, she thought to herself, Ahmed's family would come over and seek the betrothal. Hopefully, her father would be agreeable, and even if her brother wasn’t keen, her father would have the final decision, and she was quietly confident that he would say yes. Then the sneaking around would all be over. She would marry the love of her life, and she would be in bliss. She was sure that she would be the happiest girl alive, for so very few women in these parts ever managed to marry for love. Mostly the girls in her village were given away in matrimony as part of arranged or forced marriages. Their opinion was never considered to be worthy or even relevant enough to be sought, let alone their consent ever obtained; they were simply told who they were to be married to, and when. It was all a matter of quiet acceptance to whatever fate had in store for them, for every single aspect of their lives was mapped out by the men; firstly, by their fathers and brothers, and then after their marriage, by their husbands and their fathers. Razia was grateful that the family that would be coming to seek her betrothal would be the family of the man that she loved fervently.
When Razia stepped into the courtyard, her mother, Nusrat, was sat on the peeriby the stove. When she wasn't at the brick kiln, her mother would usually be found here, sat on the near ground level handmade stool, preparing the food. However, today, she did not appear to be cooking. In fact, she had her face down in her chaddar. Her whole body was floppily drooped forwards. Her shoulders moved up and down rhythmically, and she looked as though she was crying, although if she was, she did so silently. Her asthmatic wheeze was the only audible sound, like a soft intermittent whistle.
I have had so much going on recently that I feel I must share it with you.
Firstly, the crowdfunding campaign for Razia is beginning to gain quite a lot of attention. I was on BBC Radio West MIdlands recently talking about it, and I will be on the Breakfast show on BBC Radio Leeds on Monday 17 July so listen in if you can. I have also filmed an interview with British Muslim TV (sky…
Today, it was scorching hot; the mid-afternoon sun was relentless in its pursuit to spread its iridescent light across the land as far as the eye could see.
Razia’s face shone as red as a bride’s freshly painted henna by the time she reached the stream. Once she was at the edge, she took off her sandals and carried them in one hand, and with the other she gently lifted her shalwar well above her…
I am really delighted to have received a 'Highly Commended' in the Arts & Culture category of the Nat West Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2017. Just to be shortlisted from amongst hundreds of candidates was amazing in itself, but this recognition is wonderful, and gives me even more confidence and energy in my quest for Razia to be published.
If you haven't already done so, please share…
These people are helping to fund Razia.