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The tale of a young boy excited to see the face of a newly wedded bride and struggles to gather her masahni for years. The day finally arrives, but in a form, he never expected or hoped for.
Rahimbibi, the washerman’s newly wedded bride was the talk of the village. It was tradition to offer a gift – masahni to view the bride’s face. The women in the little boy’s family gifted Rahimbibi bangles, anklets and toe rings. They could not stop praising her after returning from their meet, in a sense, the boy’s mother and aunt were mesmerised by her beauty. However, the sister-in-law was not too happy with them praising her and would always seek an opportunity to point out Rahimbibi’s flaws. Their praises were enough to intrigue the children to see this new bride.
The boy’s home was not far from the well that Rahimbibi drew water from. Twice in the morning and once in the evening, she would visit the well. On his way to school one day, the youngster noticed her approaching from the other direction. As usual, she was covering her face right down to her throat. Being a young child, he asked if she would mind showing her face to him. Rahimbibi retorted that the youngster would need to offer masahni if he wanted to see her. The following day, he approached her once more and asked her what she would want as a gift so he could ask his mother for it.
Rahimbibi, however, asserted that she would only reveal her face once he had earned and given her the masahni. She would not remove her veil prior to that. Rahimbibi remained true to her word. She wore her veil for many years. The boy had to relocate to Jammu and then Srinagar for additional study over the course of the following three years. The child finally returned home after finishing his ninth grade on his third try. Once more, the lad assured her that he would pass his 10th grade and acquire a job when they met.
She would receive her masahni with his first paycheck. He was urged by the bhabhi to lay his first salary at his mother’s feet. She told him that the longer he waited, the stronger his yearning would get. The kid was eager to buy Rahim bhabhi the masahni after realising that seeing her face was more than just play. After a few years bhauji, the little boy who was now a man, got married but Rahim bhabhi did not lift her veil as he had still not given her the masahni. The month of Ramzan arrived and Muslims began their fasts.
Despite the fact that the boy and Rahimbibi belonged to different faiths, he respected her and thought of her husband, Ilamdin, as his own brother. Bhauji enquired of Rahimbibi when she would break her fast so that he could get her some sweets. But once again, she objected, claiming it wasn’t right for him to bring her sweets. Rahimbibi began experiencing fever after six months, which worsened to typhoid and eventually pneumonia. The doctor lost hope as further complications surfaced. In her last moments, she requested Bhauji’s presence and that was when he finally saw her without the veil. She requested him to come to the graveyard and place a handful of soil on her face as she is buried. That would be the masahni.
Rahimbibi and Bhauji’s relationship was lovely to watch grow. She thought of him even as she was dying and did not want to depart from this world without saying goodbye to him. Finally showing her face, she urged him to scatter sand on her grave so she might feel relieved that she had, at last, received her masahni.