Their first night together following the wedding, Maha asked Kabir to use protection.
“I don’t want to get pregnant,” she said to him, rummaging through his drawers to find what she needed.
“You don’t want to have children?” he asked, his tone slightly accusatory.
“I want to know you better before we start a family,” she responded.
The two had been on a few outings before the wedding, but Maha wondered how much you could really know a person from just spending a couple of hours at a time together.
He immediately left the bedroom, visibly upset. She plopped down on the bed, confused as to what had caused this change in his composure. A few minutes later, her mother-in-law entered. She did not knock or announce herself. She walked in with the authority of being the last word in each nook of the house.
“Why don’t you want children?” she stated more than inquired, her voice brimming with rebuke.
“Where’s Kabir?” Maha asked.
“My son is frustrated that you would ruin his first night of marriage with your ridiculous demand.”
Maha looked up from the bed at her mother-in-law, who, despite her short stature, was evidently attempting to tower over the new bride. “This isn’t how I wanted my wedding night to go either.”
“I am not ready to be a mother.” Maha relented to the interrogation, wanting it to end as quickly as possible.
“It is your duty to become a mother, and it is a privilege. What kind of nonsense is this? I’ll tell you what it is.” She then shouted for her son, who walked into the room in a huff.
As Kabir fumed, his mother began lecturing him. “See!” She pointed at Maha as if the bride was a mess Kabir had made. “Here is the reason why we urged you not to marry such an educated girl. It always causes problems. They have too many thoughts, and they do not respect their elders or our traditions. They think they know better.” This last sentence she spat at Maha.
Maha stood up. Though she had only known Kabir for a few months before marriage, she never expected him to behave in such a juvenile manner. “Kabir, is this how you plan to treat me? You didn’t even think to talk to me once before running to your mother?” Her voice began to shake.
For a moment, his eyes softened, but his ego kicked in faster than his humanity. “I shouldn’t have to explain the obligations of a wife to you,” he answered sharply.
Maha looked at her mother-in-law’s angry face to see a wicked smile carefully contained within pursed lips.
She turned around and began rummaging once again.
“Did you not hear me?” Kabir roared.
She faced him again, this time holding her handbag and her phone.
“I did.” She stepped closer to him. “See, Kabir. This is why I wanted us to become familiar with each other. You would have gotten to know the lines you may not cross with me. You do not have the right to impose obligations on me, especially when you are such a child yourself. I don’t want to be your wife.”
The jaws of both mother and son dropped from surprise as Maha walked past them.
As she opened the front door, she heard his mother yell, “Stop performing your drama and come back here. The world will laugh at a divorced woman. You will become nothing but a shameful joke. ”
Maha paused, strategically giving them false hope that they had stopped her.
“I’ll take my chances,” she yelled back, before slamming the door behind her.