I put on another veil, watching myself disappear into the black folds of this confining fabric I hate so much. Knowing that this is another day when I have to pretend to be something I am not. My mother walks into the room, sporting a bruise on her back. It is not the first time. She silently gives me the analgesic and antibiotic creams to apply for her. I ask her calmly what happened again. She said he found some of the obscene lingerie she bought. It was time to throw them away and he did the right thing because if he had not done that she would not have realized she was getting addicted to something so terrible. I hold my tongue, my cheek still remembering the stinging slap she gave me on my 15th birthday as I questioned things I should not have. I had shared them with my mother and she slapped me. Looking back now, I know it is fear that made her react that way. The same fear that now makes me hold my tongue.
My cousin came to visit 3 months ago and brought with her a friend she wanted me to meet. We stayed awake the whole week she was here. We talked about everything, finding kindred spirits in each other. And finding much more. The day I walked in on her naked was the day that changed my life forever. She did not rush to cover herself like other women do. Instead she let me look my fill. It was the most amazing sight! I could not look away. Not even if a sword had been at my throat. I could not have looked away. I understood why we are told to hide our bodies even as I got more resentful as to why such beauty should be hidden away from the world.
That night, we became lovers. My parents and hers were surprised as we became even more religious. Both families applauded and praised my cousin for bringing us together. But I know the truth and my hands tremble every time I imagine my parents finding out. But the happiness we have found is such that we hope our show of religious fervor will help us when we tell our parents we would rather stay unmarried to serve Allah and family. We can not live without each other now. We would do anything, anything to be together. But death is something we both shy from. We wonder sometimes if it is better to die by our hands or the hands of our families. We have considered running away but we know no other life. How do two 20 year olds survive in this terrible world that we see on TV?
I would love to tell my mother whom I love so dearly that I have found love. I know she is a victim herself and would like to believe that she would be happy, no matter what form that love takes. But I cannot. So, we wait, we hide. Hoping against hope that we will survive even our family.