Days were passing quickly, keeping Veena very busy at her office work. More responsibilities and that many risks she was carrying in her job with ease.
And thus five years passed giving Veena enough opportunities to prove her merits to her superiors. She had paid up the loan that they took to buy the apartment. Veena had also cleared all her obligations towards Ibna; now she was free from any liability, could easily claim to be a truly successful woman by her own merits without any help from any man.
On that day, things were going to take up a different turn and that was about the contract between the Arab company and Veena's office. All work pertaining to the contract was accomplished successfully and that was a notice from the legal department to the office to give final notice of termination of the contract between the two companies. It was a wonderful event but at the same time event that was also making the two friends Veena and Ibna uncomfortable. Long cherished friendship of the two girls was on the anvil of time; as per the contract all Arab employees associated with the work are going back, that means, Ibna and Kamaal were to leave the country and that too permanently. There was no chance that they will be coming for the job in future and if at all their company wants to send somebody, they will not be in that as Kamaal was chartered to go to Europe to represent the company and Ibna was to marry away to somebody!
The formality of conclusion of the contract with very great success was completed in the office with much fun and frolic on that day. The Arab client company gave citation to Veena for her contribution and as a part of the citation she received a permanent invitation to visit that sheikdom at the cost of the sheik. That was a big honor for anybody. All were rejoicing and greeting Veena for her single handed achievements but while Veena was feeling happy for that, there was a feeling of loss and that was troubling her. She was to lose her best friend who gave her all the support when she needed it most. Ibna was by now a part of her life. She could not bear the idea that Ibna will not be by her side any more. On the other side story was not any different; Ibna sat in the corner of th hall contemplating on the events those passed by, a veritable cinema was moving in her mind and all the important events of their friendship were moving slowly giving her the feel that hereafter she will not have her best friend to guide and accompany her in her life. That feeling continuously kept on torturing her. That pain was so much more that the feel that she is going to her family did not give any consolation. She realized that she considers her more as a member of Mahaale family than member of her father's family. That was very peculiar but that was the fact. Ibna realized that she belongs to Mahaale family and must stay back. But how to do it? She had no reply to this pertinent question. Both friend looked sullen though at the same time they were also happy that all the efforts they put to deliver the results got success.
Both the friends were in this mixed mood of happiness and sadness throughout that day. As the day was over they sat in their car and drove to their home. Both were loaded with gifts and flowers. It was the day to celebrate but that was not the thing with them. While Veena was driving Ibna looked to the street that was passing fast with no particular interest. Occasionally they looked to each other but had no topic to talk on.
Finally Veena broke ice, she asked her friend, “how will you spend your time at your home town. You will do no job as there, they do not give employment to girls”.
Ibna looked to Veena without any expressions as if she was a dead woman already.
She murmured quietly, “There they are waiting for me to get me married away to a man much older and with already six wives. They say he is very rich. There is no appeal.”
Veena, “You cannot refuse to that, am I correct”? Ibna replies by a silent nod.
At that, the conversation stopped. Veena was shocked at that information; she knew of that custom but never felt that her friend will be going through that. Veena suggested intuitively again, how about if you refuse that and prefer to stay back here and continue your career. You say your family is progressive and that is why they sent you for the job, then how this is happening to you against your wishes. Ibna gave a very sad smile and exclaimed, “In Arabs woman had no right to have any opinion, our religion says woman must follow the dictates of men folk in the community. it is a dictate of the community and my father cannot refuse that”.
“There must be some way out and if you wish so we can find that”, Veena.
“What way out you want to suggest? Are you saying to me that I continue to stay back against the wishes of my people? And what reason can I give for that”. Ibna retorted.
By that time they reached their home, Veena and Ibna came out of the car and walked quietly with heavy foot to their apartment. Both girls seem to be in some sort of deep contemplation; probably to find solution to this upcoming problem.
This Story continues in the next posting.
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