“Not another triangle”, her mother scowled. The old woman was trying hard to control her anger but was clearly failing at it.
“It tastes perfectly alright”, Zebo protested in a small voice.
“Perfectly?”, her mother’s tone was extremely sarcastic, “Don’t you dare defend this misshapen piece of bread in front of me.” She exhaled and added somewhat sadly, “Girl you are not going to get married easily.”
Zebo knew there was no point in arguing anymore. Her mother’s honey-brown eyes were flashing with anger. She glanced at the grandfather clock that stood in the kitchen. It was 1:30 P.M. Abba would be here any minute, she thought. She grabbed her dupatta, which was hanging on the knob of the kitchen door, and covered herself. She left for her room as Amma stood up from her favorite chair. She would make a new one for Abba, she thought, it would be a perfect sphere.
Zoobia Shahid was among the brightest students in her class. The 14-year-old had only recently learned that world was elliptical. Copernicus and Galileo had faced quite a handful of troubles before the perfectionists finally came to terms with the fact that their beloved earth was not a perfect circle. She didn’t know what kind of sacrifice she would have to make for her parents to appreciate her truly.
“The girl has exceptional talent with words”, her language teachers would tell her parents on every parent-teacher meeting at school. While her Abba looked proud about it, Amman would only frown.
“Let’s go talk to her Home Economics teacher”, she would tell him. Zebo dreaded that very moment since she knew that teacher Zulaikhan would tell her parents about all her mischiefs.
“She shouldn’t be called a girl”, Ms. Zulaikhan would start. Her Abba would look annoyed about it but her Amma would only nod her head in a gesture of understanding and sympathy.
“She is the perfect definition of the word disaster”, her teacher would resume the chiding, “She had cut herself more times while peeling vegetables in the class than politicians tell lies in their entire lifetimes. Recently, she reached new heights after she accidentally set fire to the tablecloth on which she was working. You have no idea what a nightmare it was!”
Her mother would add snippets of her sins too. “She broke a dozen eggs before coming here…”, “You should see what a mess her room is…” and “One day she was playing with her younger brother. This girl had the nerve of using the cover of my new hot pot as a shield while she pretended to safeguard some imaginary kingdom with the rolling pin…”
“Oh, I can totally imagine the horror”, her teacher would gasp in a dramatic way. After a while, they would get bored of talking about Zebo. Then one of them would comment on some fine stitch on the other’s dress and they would enter a fantasy world of their own.
“Women”, Zebo and her father would sigh simultaneously.
Then there was the Rishta parade. Zebo was 100% successful in crushing yet another dream of her mother. The girl had effectively been rejected by a dozen rishrawalas. She deserved bonus points for being rejected for different reasons every single time. Her most popular tactics included revealing to the guests that the amazingly delicious delicacies were not prepared by her as opposed to the claims made by her Amman, sitting improperly, laughing too loudly, and bragging that she could twist her left thumb into an abnormal position. Once she had even told the potential groom’s mother that she might be at the risk of developing breast cancer because of family history. Her Amman had only one breast.
“What’s in the other cup then”, the aunty had asked her jokingly. Zebo had looked at her mother who was glaring at her from the adjacent sofa. “Probably some weapon of mass destruction to destroy my existence”, she had replied.
“There is no way to domesticate this wildflower”, her mother would often say and smile. Apparently, she was wrong because her death did the trick. Her Amman’s other breast had cancerous cells too. However, they were incurable being at the last stage.
Zebo is now a mother of two. You would never find a sphere more perfect in the world than the Rotis she cooks.
Originally published on Medium
Category ‘Young Adult’, Story 2