The Longest Walk

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
The longest walk for a man with a very important question.

Submitted: October 11, 2014

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Submitted: October 11, 2014

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~~The Longest Walk

My heart is thumping. Sweat oozes along my palms. A steady throb pounds throughout my head, a steady and painful constant thud. Walking, walking. All the way to Jabeen’s apartment. It’s a three kilometer walk from where I live, but I don’t care. The sun shines brightly, too bright, as if trying to burn me. There is no breeze, no life in the wind. Just stale air, choking me and preventing purest oxygen from revitalizing my exhausted lungs. The traffic goes by at high speed, but it’s all in the corner of my eyes.

I’m very close to soiling myself. My ears are on fire. I keep touching the tiny box in my left pocket, as if to make sure it’s still there and not in the hands of some sleazy pickpocket. It has a ring after all…

Who’s the girl? That would be Roya, a 23 year old Afghan woman. Jabeen is her father. Like me, Roya had been born here, in California USA, though I was 2 years older. Her father had arrived with her grandfather in 1982, escaping the Soviet control of Afghanistan. Roya never really spoke of her mother, but I had at least ascertained that she was not an Afghan. I, on the other hand, was an half-white, half Indian man whose parents had been arrived from what might as well been different planets. Father had been from Singapore, and mother from Spain. They had married in the US, and I had entered the world shortly after. They’re dead now, as presumably is Roya’s mother. Killed in a car accident.

My thoughts are straying. I crossed the junction, nearly faltering midway, before a brief honk by an impatient driver brought me back to reality. I focused on the proposal. Would she reject? After all, she was American, despite her heritage. Had that independent spirit and will to drive forward. Maybe she’d grab a frying pan and cave my head in. Roya could be impulsive, one of the many things I loved about her.

Marriage. The institution that would restrict her, clip her wings. She knew what it meant. It meant that whatever ambitious dreams would be doubly difficult to achieve, and could mean ultimately shelving said dreams. I would be her anchor, holding her down even when she wanted to fly. Perhaps the worst case was entirely possible. My breath quickens. I’ve crossed the intersection. 2 kilometres to finding out.

A new life, that’s what it’ll be like. Would it include Roya? If this had been in Afghanistan, and I was Afghan, I think this would have been much easier.  My father would have asked her father for Roya’s hand, and with things all honourable, I could have married her. I doubt Roya will would have been accounted for.

But this was the US, and we were not all Afghan. Nor Muslim either. Religious and ethnic divides permeate out society today I think. But I digress. I’m within the estate now, and I slowly make my way to their block’s elevator. My mind turns to the day I asked Roya’s father for permission…

7 days earlier

The door opens. A face appears. Jabeen’s face. His potato face looks quizzical expression turns to a smile upon recognising me. He swings open the door and greets me. After 5 minutes of small talk, I finally get to the matter at hand. I’m weirdly confident for some reason, as if I’m certain of his reply already.

“Jabeen sir, I…I must ask of you something important…and I…uhh…hope you will consent to it.”

I curse my shaky voice, and rebound my efforts to look confident. I puff my chest out and look him in the eye. But before I can say anything, he speaks.

“My daughter’s hand, yes?”

The mask slips and shock displays on my face. Jabeen chuckles, and I can tell that he is enjoying this. But still, how long had he suspected? And if he already thought that, what exactly did he assume of the more intimate aspects of my relationship with his daughter?

“Yes.” I force a reply.

“Yes, yes. Roya seems to be happy with you…but I am her father and know better. You are a family friend, as was your father, peace be upon his soul, and I would gladly accept your request as long as you give me reason to.”

My mind goes into overdrive, but my mouth grinds to a halt, saliva pools inside. I could lose this chance if I screw up. So I go into a long spiral of how great Roya is, and how I want to be with her and how I could provide for her and look after her. But I can see the subtle shake of Jabeen’s head; he is not satisfied. I’ve merely said the answer that he expects any boy to give him. The answer that makes sense.

So I decide to screw it, and speak my mind. I take a step back and sit at the doorway, look down and speak.

“None of that is true Jabeen. I’m 25 and have no certain way of providing for Roya. I can’t say that I’ll be the best husband, for I’ve never been one before. I can’t say that I will always be there for our children. But I can say this, and it is all I shall say. I love her.”

Jabeen sits next to me, and puts his hand on my knee.

“That’s the only sensible reason for you marrying my daughter Rishi. I accept your request, and God willing, so will Roya.”
I cried my eyes out, right next to him. Cried away my tension, my anxiety, my fear.

Back again…

I take the lift up. My heart is hammering against my ribcage. The lift is going too fast. The lights of the buttons dance, mocking my stupidity.  But there is calm again. The anxiety in my stomach again. I no longer feel like throwing up. My blood is cooled, as is my conscious. That memory gives me courage.

Why am I going to marry Roya? She is kind-hearted, independent, caring and beautiful. I love the quiet, the moments of intimate silence between us. But like Jabeen said, that doesn’t really matter. It is the illogical, emotional answers that really matter. Roya completes me, body and soul.

I’m at their door now. Paralysed by indecision, I wait by the door. Then I find my courage again and knock. A few seconds pass before the door opens, and a lithe figure appears.

Roya, looks at the sweat covered creature in front of her, wondering why Rishi came unannounced.

Seeing her face, the rest of the world fades away, and my face splits into a grin and I confidently say the first two words I told her when I first met her. 

“Hey beautiful.”

 

 

"Darling, if I cannot give you the sky, then I shall give you the world. And I cannot give you the world, then I shall give you my life." -R.V.Nayar 

 


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