After finishing college, I wanted to stay in the city a bit longer, to look for a job, read more books, hang out with my friends. But most importantly, I wanted to find out whether Daniel was ready to take the next step.
I could do nothing. I was called back home.
My parents informed me that they had fixed my wedding. As they had said they would do as soon as I finished my studies. Now it was my turn to fulfill the promise. I met the boy of their choice: Akram, an electronic engineer from a well-reputed family. Twenty-four years old, average height, dark, lean, went to prayer every Friday. What else to wish for? They asked.
I wanted to tell them about the boy of my choice: Daniel, a Christian, eighteen years old, tall, fair, funny, loves going to parties, hates going for prayers. I had little idea about his family. Things I could never tell them. I wouldn’t dare.
What should I do? I asked myself again and again. I felt like screaming out and every time one name would throb in my mind: Daniel.
At night, I went to the backyard of our house where hundreds of trees greeted me. When I was young, I often came here to hide, to play the part of a captive princess, waiting for someone to come and save me.
Should I tell my parents about Daniel? They would never agree. Marrying a boy of another religion would be a sin in their eyes. I needed to talk to Daniel. I needed to ask him how far he was willing to go for the sake of our love. I needed to know if he loved me enough to go against his family. I knew that I would.
A cool wind blew, and the scent of some unknown flower drifted in and I suddenly felt calm, happy. Yes, I knew what Daniel would do. In a game of truth or dare, he had always chosen to dare. He was the most daring person I had ever known.
The next morning, I sneaked out of the house and took a bus to the city. To ask Daniel to choose—truth, or dare.
I knocked on the door of house 13, flat A, Southern Street. It was like knocking at the door of freedom. Daniel opened the door and the moment I saw his smile, I knew everything would be fine. We would live happily ever after. The fairy tale world was not all silly and fake.
“Where have you been? I was looking for you like a madman,” he said with a look of concern.
I felt joyous. He truly loved me. I couldn’t stop grinning, blushing. “Can I come in?” I mumbled.
“Oh, yes, of course. My parents are out.”
“Let’s go to your room.”
He looked at me, amused. I had never been to his room before, he had never asked me to. We always hung out with other friends in the living room.
He escorted me to his room, upstairs. It was a big room with posters of football players, a few actors all over the walls, a reading table by the window, and a single bed with books and magazines on it. It was not tidy at all, but looked vibrant, colourful. I couldn’t help but think it would soon be my room, too. The thought made me blush again.
“I have some good news to tell you,” he said. He looked happy.
“No, you go first? Why did you come here again?”
“I left my home,” I said abruptly and now as I uttered it, it sounded foolish to my own ears.
“You did what?” he almost shouted.
I felt nervous, unsure. “My parents fixed my marriage. I could do…” I couldn’t say the rest. My eyes filled with tears, my voice choked.
“Calm down. Tell me again what happened.”
I sat on the chair, he on his bed, facing me. I told him everything. He laughed and said, “You are quite a rebel. But what would you do now?”
I looked at him. Wasn’t he supposed to tell me that?
“Shouldn’t you go to one of your relatives?”
I stared at him blankly. Was it a prank? He would laugh at any moment, saying he was just kidding. I waited and waited. He stayed silent.
After a while, I said, “I don’t want to marry that boy. I want to…”
He cut in and said, “Go and tell your parents that. You shouldn’t have run away.”
Why was he missing the point? Why didn’t he get it? Or, was there nothing to grasp? Was it all in my head only?
“My application has been accepted, I am going to Brown,” he said suddenly, proudly.
“Wow! Congratulations! I am happy for you,” I said. “When are you going?”
He said this fall, it’d take some time, to complete all the paperwork. He went on but I had stopped listening. What would I do now? Where would I go?
After a while, I stood up, taking the bag in my hand.
“What will you do now?” he asked casually.
“That’s the right thing to do,” he said, patting my shoulder.
“Will you miss me?” I asked, looking into his eyes.
“Of course, I’ll miss you. You are one of my best friends,” he said, smiling.
Coming out of his house, I stood on the road for a while. Which way was the bus station? I could barely remember. I felt so scared suddenly. I even thought of going back to his house, knocking on the closed door, once again.
In a game of truth or dare, the person who chooses dare is not necessarily the winner. That is the truth I realised that day on my way back home.
Marzia Rahman is a fiction writer and translator based in Dhaka