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The Rafiq Family

Once upon a time, a young girl named Momo in her twenties got admitted to BA classes at a reputable college in the city after much pampering and encouragement from all her relatives. Her mother had passed on, and she was staying at her eldest sister’s home.

The sister had four children, all school and college going. There was no reason why Momo wouldn’t continue her BA classes. After she attended classes, she started working as an assistant registrar at a singsong-dance school on the weekend, which was a mile away from her sister's place, and she communicated the distance by traveling on a rickshaw.

Life was going well until she started preparing for her first BA exam. It was hard work, not particularly enjoyed by Momo. There was a gap after the first exam; so, Momo took up work as assistant registrar at the singsong-dance school on her free days as well. When she was unable to work on the job, one of her sister’s children took up the job and carried on.

It was on one of these days, two ladies came upfront to her office and started asking her questions regarding where she was staying, what she was studying, whether she was single, and so on. Then they gave her their number, and they requested Momo to ask her sister to contact them.

That evening when Momo returned to her sister’s place, she told her about the encounter with the two ladies and gave her the phone number.

Momo’s sister was puzzled but kept the phone number in a safe place and decided to call the number the next morning.

Accordingly, the next morning after breakfast, when her husband and children left home, she got the contact number from the safe place and dialed the number on their analog phone. After chatting for some time, she smilingly put down the receiver. She called Momo who was reading the newspaper and enjoying the break after her first BA exam. She broke the news to Momo that the ladies who had been at the singsong-dance school had a marriage proposal for her. They would like to meet somewhere where Momo could talk to their younger bachelor brother, Rumman Rafiq.

Immediately, Momo’s sister thought of inviting them to her place and having a meet-up. Momo nodded. Momo’s sister advised, “Be sure to be gentle to them.” Momo nodded again.

After Momo’s sister’s husband and children returned home, she told them of the marriage proposal she had for Momo. All were excited to hear the good news.

Soon the two ladies, along with their brother, Rumman came to Momo’s sister’s place. They were chatting with the hosts when Momo came in dressed in a dark maroon dress and dark maroon lipstick. It took Rumman’s breath away. He talked with Momo and made her smile. He was handsome and charismatic. It looked like they were a perfect match. The guests left happily, fixing an engagement date.

The hostess's children gathered around Momo, listening to her in awe. They asked if she liked the guy and if she agreed to the proposal. Momo was clever to say, "Time will tell." But deep inside, she agreed to the proposal. She had talked and looked at the guy, and definitely, she had a good impression of him. After all, he was a businessman. And it was okay for Momo.

The engagement day came. All watched how the couple exchanged rings and got engaged.

The marriage day was soon to follow. The bridegroom’s side seemed to like the color, maroon a lot. They gave her a gorgeous maroon saree and blouse to wear at the wedding. Momo’s two nieces decorated her face and placed henna designs on her hands and feet. Later on, she wore the high heels that were gifted to her.

The marriage took place at a beautifully decorated community center. All the relatives on both the bride and bridegroom’s sides attended the ceremony eagerly. The in-laws for the bride considered her beautiful, while the bridegroom looked handsome to the bride's relatives. It was a marriage that took place with great pomp and show.

A Kazi came and married them together. Dates were distributed as a sign that the marriage had taken place.

There were mouth-watering menus to choose from. Everyone was eager to taste them, and they weren’t disappointed.

After dining and snapping lots of photographs, the bride and bridegroom were taken to the joint family home of the bridegroom. There, they had fun talking and cutting jokes until it was time to sleep.

As the days followed, the new couple went on sight-seeing and took lots of photos. They had the time of their life.

Pic: The Happy Couple, Momo With Her Husband

Pic: The Happy Couple, Momo With Her Husband

Living in a joint family was hard as Momo realized. You had to stay in harmony with so many in-laws and keep them satisfied and pleased so that no aggressive arguments would turn up.

Soon the joint family was breaking up to go and live in apartments in different locations.

By this time, Momo was expecting her first child. After bearing her in her tummy for nine months, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl whom Momo and her husband nicknamed to be Shapla. But the doctor at the hospital soon realized the baby was experiencing some discomfort adjusting to the surroundings. He ordered the nurses to give the baby some special rays in closed confinement. After three days, the baby was released. The mother was happy to take her home with the father.

A year went by. And soon it was time to celebrate Shapla’s first birthday. Momo was happy and uncomfortable at the same time, expecting her second girl child.

After the birthday was done, and the guests left, Momo quickly went to bed to rest. A few days later she gave birth to her second girl. Both the little ones started growing together.

It was time for school for Shapla. She went to kindergarten while her sister, Shaila stayed at home. Years rolled by, and both were schooling. They had gone up to grades 6 and 5 respectively when their mother was expecting a third girl child, Shimul. After being born, Shimul trod her years along and gradually grew up.

Pic: The Three Sisters, Shapla, Shaila, and Shimul

Pic: The Three Sisters, Shapla, Shaila, and Shimul

Shapla and Shaila were studying at the university when Shimul was still in secondary school.

Shapla applied abroad for higher studies in the UK. She got accepted at her chosen university and soon left for abroad. After a year, Shaila also left for higher studies. Meanwhile, Shimul was scampering by at the university at home.

Shapla found her life partner and came home to marry. After a great marriage ceremony, Shapla left for her destination in the UK where she and her husband had found work.

Shaila was still going through her higher studies and had got married also while Shimul decided to go for undergraduate studies in the UK because her heart was pulling her towards her sisters who were getting established there. After finishing her undergraduate studies, Shimul came home with her would-be life partner to get married.

Shapla, Shaila, and Shimul- all of them gradually got settled with jobs in the UK. Their parents visited them from time to time.

Shapla had her firstborn. The other sisters were happy for her. So were the parents who were visiting them.

The parents returned home. Soon the father was diagnosed with liver problems. Momo accompanied her husband to India for his good and ideal treatment.

The daughters visited the parents in India at the hospital by turns. After a prolonged stay at the hospital, the family man gradually recuperated, much to the relief of the family.

The Rafiq family, despite their ups and downs, were indeed happy.

Momo, the once shy and withdrawn girl, had covered a long journey, growing out to be a responsible wife and mother, who stood by her husband and gave good moral values and ethics to her daughters. The father also had a lot to contribute to the well-being of the daughters and their settlement in the UK. Together they stood out as a family bold, upright, and united with many good memories and more to make.

© 2022 Rosina S Khan