“Would you like some tea?” Nusrat idly stirred the pot on the stove.
“Tea?” Zabin adjusted her hijab, “I couldn’t drink anything right now.” She stared at Nusrat, “you do realize what they are discussing in your living room right now, right? Or have you completely lost it already?”
Nusrat looked up from the pot, “ I know what they are discussing…” she continued stirring it.
“You already know what they will decide. We all do. I don’t even know what the point of this meeting is.” Zabin shivered despite the warm day.
“The decision is already made. They are just hashing out the details…the where and how of it…” Nusrat gave the pot a violent stir and some of the milk spilled out if it.
“Khuda…how has it come to this? What will they do?”
“Well, of course, the punishment will be harsher for my Ali…electrocution seems to be in fashion this season. They will probably strap him to his bed and tie a naked wire to him. Remember when they did that to Rahman a few months back…the transformer blew up…we didn’t have electricity that night..” Nusrat stared into the distance.
“He is your son, he is hardly seventeen. How can you be so calm about this?” Zabin shook with stifled sobs.
“What else can we do? I am making him his favorite mutton biryani for his final meal…” Nusrat pointed to another pot as tears streamed down her face.
“Where is he right now?” Zabin said.
“Upstairs in his room…” Nusrat said, “ I am sure they will be kinder to Noor. She is the girl and younger. They will probably shoot her…it will be painless.” She smiled at Zabin.
“She cried herself to sleep again. She hasn’t had anything to eat ever since they brought her back. She keeps repeating Ali’s name like a kalma.” Zabin said, “ foolish children! Why did they ever do it? They knew what would happen if they got caught.”
Nusrat added tea powder to the milk, “what does it say about us, that they would rather risk running away than talk to us.”
“What good would talking have done? When does talking help anyway” Zabin stared at the men in the living room.
“Why is anyone surprised that they eloped. They have always liked each other. Sometimes adults are more childish than the kids.” Nusrat added sugar to the tea.
A fragment of conversation drifted in from the living room, “let’s do it today. No point in delaying it.”
Zabin covered her mouth and cried. She held Nusrat’s hand, “There must be something we can do. Let’s talk to them. Plead with them. Maybe they will let the kids go.”
“Let them go? Hah!” Nusrat’s hollow laughter rang in the kitchen, “why will they let the kids go? Where is the honor in that?”
“Where is the honor in killing our own children?” Zabin shook as tears poured down her face.
“Perhaps there is more honor in letting them die, then asking them to live like this…” Nusrat pushed away her own tears.
“Then we shall not say anything to the men?”
“I already spoke to Ali’s father…” Nusrat said.
“ What did he say?
Nusrat lifter her burqa to reveal a large bruise that ran down the front of her body.
Zabin gasped, “there really is no use talking to them then…”
“We already knew that…” Nusrat said.
Zabin pulled out a pouch from her burqa and put it in Nusrat’s hand, “This is all my jewelry. Let us help the kids run away. We can smuggle them out of the house. There is a bus that leaves in a couple of hours.”
Nusrat placed the pouch back into Zabin’s hand, “Idle hope. Our husbands have already sent people to the bus station. The kids will never make it out of town. They will be dragged back right here and we will be back making more tea.”
“There really isn’t anything we can do, can we?” Zabin shuddered.
“Nothing honorable anyway…” Nusrat said, she rummaged around the bottom of the kitchen sink and pulled out an old frayed packet of rat poison.
Zabin covered her mouth as her eyes widened. She nodded to Nusrat. Nusrat slowly added the white powder to the tea like it was sugar.
“Should we drink a cup of this tea ourselves too? This will not end well for us.” Zabin said as Nusrat poured the tea into cups for all the men of both their families.
“No,” Nusrat said, she smiled as she lifted the cups on a tray, “where is the honor in that?”