Abe was a nervous wreck.
He paced back and forth in his room, unconsciously chewing on his fingernails. Despite the cold of his room, partially because of the open windows, sweat shone on his forehead. He trembled from head to toe, and with each passing interval, he became closer to experiencing a full-blown panic attack.
He had never felt a fear so immense, especially because not just one life was at stake, but three.
The first life was his, but he would accept any punishment that came his way if it meant he could then go on as he pleased. He knew, however, that he’d never be able to choose his own path anymore, never enjoy the little moments of rebelliousness and freedom that he occasionally exercised, and felt a secret thrill in experiencing. Some part of him was still in denial; maybe if he tried hard enough things would go back to normal, but if effort was all that was required, he would have escaped his father’s control a long time ago.
The second life was his mother’s. She would be the first one to suffer the consequences of his action because his father believed she was the one who was too lenient with their son. She would feel the brunt of his anger, always had. He had remained an obedient little boy for most of his life, because he knew it was his mother that would suffer due to his mistakes, and the lovely woman did not deserve that. His father had to be furious, but from what he could hear, the house was silent.
The third life was of his beloved. The only woman he had ever bared his heart to apart from his mother, and he had put her in jeopardy because of his stupidity, and sentiment.
To quote Edgar Allen Poe, he had loved her with a love that was more than love.
He could be on his knees in church, confessing to a Man of the Cloth about the purity, the chastity of their love. They had never even kissed, let alone do anything of the horizontal variety. And now because of him, her reputation would be put to the test; her family would sneer at her and shun her. He had ruined her.
He was a sentimental idiot, and he liked memoirs. Instead of deleting all their emails, he had saved them in an external hard drive. They preferred to email because they both would pursue literature and language, and it was less suspicious to be typing away at their laptops rather than their smartphones. His father had needed the added space, and without asking him, had taken it to save his documents. It had all gone downhill. He had found his father in the study, with the projector turned on to display those emails. On the chair next to him was his mother, pale faced and ashen with the realization of what this would mean.
What really got him, however, were the two other people sitting opposite his parents; his beloved, and what was no doubt her elder brother, the head of her family ever since their father had run out on them and their mother, for a younger woman. She was sobbing as her brother shook her. It was as if someone had punctured his heart, and left him to die, his blood spilling out all over him. He could barely say a word but he stepped forward.
“Dad, please,” he whispered, a plea that would never stand in his father’s court, especially since he had broken one of his laws.
“You’re never going to see this girl again. I will not allow such debauchery under my roof,” he said calmly, but with conviction, “and you sir, remove yourself from my property, and take this wayward girl with you too. I hope you’ll knock some sense into her.”
Her brother mumbled something underneath his breath about pesky Christians trying to have their way with Muslim females, as he began to drag the still crying girl with him. Her tear streaked face rose to meet his, and his eyes began to sting. He forced his tears back, and whispered to her.
“I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry,” he pleaded, again.
“Haven’t you caused her enough shame? Is this ruination not enough for you?” her brother hissed at him. “I’m telling you to leave her be. She will never be allowed to be with someone like you, not even over my dead body. I’d rather she die, than flaunt her shame like this in society!”
“I-we, we never did,” he struggled to choke out the words, but he knew he had to do some damage control before it was too late; “We never did anything. I never touched her. We never did anything to compromise her…dignity. Nothing happened.”
The brother snarled at him, and left with the hysterical girl.
The belt came first, followed by his father – literally – kicking him when he was down. A particularly hard kick to his kidneys had him gasping for breath as he rolled on the ground. He didn’t try to shield himself, this pain preferable to the one that had its hands wrapped around his heart, digging its nails into the valves every now and then, as it squeezed the little organ. Besides, his father had to spend his energy on beating him up, or his mother would be next.
The blows and expletives were nowhere close to stopping when he stopped feeling the pain, and slipped into a dangerous numb. He knew he shouldn’t be feeling numb, that there had to be something wrong but he didn’t put up a fight.
Before he went out like a light, he thought to himself.
What kind of a God would force people to hate each other based on religions that he himself had forced upon them? Which God wanted them to suffer for committing the crime of love?