“Escape to Revolve” by Jeanny Gering, Lahore

New Frontiers July 21, 2011 18:57

topic: NEW FRONTIERS medium: TEXT

With her feet bare and the street steaming, I imagine Vera standing outside the railway station, on the day she turned her fate around. Her departure was not about going somewhere, it was about leaving behind what was hers. It was a typical day for the summer rains to burst the clouds open. I remember distant, rolling thunder in an otherwise blue sky that hot morning on my way to school.

Vera’s day must have begun like most days with an early morning prayer, together with her mother and older sisters. I can imagine her, trying to avoid crossing paths with any of the men in the household before leaving for school in order to not be lectured about how to behave, how to speak, how to look how to be dutiful. I know how those comments would make her clench her teeth and bite her tongue. Sometimes she would arrive at school and sit next to me,  silently with tears in her eyes but she never looked sad. Those tears were all the words of defiance, she didn’t dare to utter in response to her father’s suffocating rules and regulations.

That day we started school with tedious two hours of science. Nothing but a chore to me, Vera sat in those lessons completely focused, she would follow every word of the lecture with absolute concentration. Usually Vera would leave those classes with a spring in her step, a glow in her eyes, I guess she felt closest to her dream then. Only sometimes they made her even more restless and agitated, usually when the teacher had not been able to answer one of her questions.

I could hear her swearing under her breath and feel her body tense up beside me in class. If I tried to calm her she got angry. Sometimes she tried to make me understand her frustration and her fear of not becoming a good enough doctor at university if she didn’t have teachers who would answer her questions. I didn’t know what to say, never would i have wanted to hurt her by voicing a doubt that she may not ever be allowed to go to university, let alone become a doctor.

The last time I actually saw her was when we stepped out of the school building, everyone was huddling under plastic bags or makeshift umbrellas on their way home. Thick raindrops were falling to explode on dusty earth, like water bombs. Vera and I hugged to say good bye, our eyes met but she didn’t see me, I could tell by the way her gaze was fixed on something far away, only she could see.

I don’t know what triggered it, maybe another argument with her father, a final confinement. But she must have left her home just after the evening prayer as she was still barefoot. People who saw her heading to the railway station say so, and the summer rains had left everything damp and steaming.

 

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