Amina looks out of the window. The golden glow of light bathes the ground, making the brown sand glisten and look precious. The setting sun comes with cool winds, cooling the sand on the ground making it just toasty enough to dig your feet deep inside and feel the small grains run down your feet, slip and slide and escape from right between your toes. Amina can see her brothers roll that tiny toy wheel that she helped build, but she can’t play with. With the sticks and fruits they had got for her, making the wheel was no big task for her at all. She had learnt from her mother how to make the strong glue out of the blue fruit and putting the sticks together for the wheel after that was the easiest thing.
Aahil looks at his sister through the meshed window. The golden light makes a beautiful pattern on Amina’s face through the mesh. He knows she’s smiling, right below those layers of Hijab, his little sister smiles, watching him and Aashif play. How he wished she could feel the warmth of the sand on her feet, the coarsness of their camel, Aazim’s hair, the wind blowing on her face with the tiny sand grains flying or outstretch her hands right out, into the sky, reaching for the purple and blue sky painted with drop of pink and sometimes you could catch a hint of yellow or orange. It was getting dark and everything was melting into blackness, into nothingness. The yellow, orange and pink were all swirling into black and their dreams were twinkling in the sky in the hearts of the little blinking stars.
Amina felt rather strong hands on her back, that weren’t her mother’s, and she knew it was him. It was that neighbourhood chacha, but he was here a week earlier? She didn’t want to hurt again and shut her eyes tighter when she heard a softer, firmer and more caring voice, one she’d grown up loving and trusting more than anything in this world. She sits up on her bed and finally turning to see Aahil and Aashif standing at the edge of her bed with Ammi’s handmade Kunafa. She’d forgotten, it was her birthday today, and the only two people who mattered were there.
It was still dark and Amina didn’t understand why she was being dragged from her bed and out of her room. She was half asleep and so tired from the dishes she did the entire evening. But the smell of the freshly baked kunafa was enough to keep her awake, enough for her to open her eyes and see Aashif and Aahil pushing her towards the forbidden and long lost ‘darwaza’ or door to their home and Amina’s world and as she took her first steps in the coarse warm sand and felt the cool wind and saw the thousand and millions of stars in the sky, she knew. It wasn’t the hijab that ever held her back, it was the door, the darwaza, not to their home, but to their minds. The darwaza that was now open wide enough for Amina to explore the entire world.
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