First Comes Friendship

Their wedding night, my parents bonded over the complicated
removal of the delicate, tennis ball-sized gold nath she wore in

her nose. Each was meeting the other for the first time.
In the coming days, he would tell her he didn’t care for

nail polish, and she never would wear any again. He bore her
early attempts at cooking with good humor, and became her

biggest fan when her meals improved. They concealed their
poverty from both families, both working hard and stretching

each rupee as far as it would go. After the girls came, they would joke
with each other about alternate lives; how past engagements and roads

not taken had led the other to so much better. It was an easy friendship
which morphed into love when they weren’t looking. A friendship that

began that first night. When they both shed something of themselves
to become a pair. She was a city girl; he was a village boy. He paid no

heed to his friends’ suggestions to tame her modern ways from the start,
crush her under the toe of his boot. Later, she would call herself lucky.

Fatima Malik (she/her) is a fundraiser and poet with work published or forthcoming in Breakwater ReviewDEAR Poetry JournalThe Marginssidereal magazineWhale Road Review, and others. She is currently working on her first full-length collection of poems, an excavation of grief after her father’s sudden death. She has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and a joint MA in Journalism and Near Eastern Studies from New York University. While she currently lives in New York City, her heart is forever in Lahore.

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