*See Krishno - I
Asma was born to a wealthy family in Dhaka. Those were days of plenty. Her mother came with land, and her father with a temper. The in-laws mistook his temper for ambition and fussed little, marrying their daughter off.
Asma was besotted with cinema for as long as she could recall. She had an uncle on the seas, Shahadat, who went shore to shore collecting films for his niece. She'd write him about how her interest in the craft had shifted from curiosity to obsession, and he'd gladly ship back new movies and lamps for her projector. She had dog-eared American cinema, and had dissected all that Europe had to offer, from Hitchcock's works to Rene Clair's movies with music. She loved mainstream with a passion and had written several screenplays of her own, ones she hoped to someday direct.
It wasn't an understood thing, this passion for cinema, among girls, less among the aristocracy Asma belonged to. And who'd believe her if she said she was simply interested in the process, in the storytelling, not in fluttering her lids in front of the camera.. "She's just got stars in her eyes.."
When she turned eighteen, the wheel had come full circle for her mother who began preparations for a wedding. Any of the suitors, young lawyers who'd studied across the oceans, would be blessed to have her. Asma was a delicate thing, she'd say. A porcelain constitution, an unhurried disposition, just so used to the good life, you know..Your son looks like he'd take good care of
Asma was distraught. She had known the day would come, but there was something crushing about its momentum, the product of its consequences and the suddenness of its happening, that trapped her. She was scared for the first time in her life. All her conceptions of the world, of cinema and people, were suddenly reduced to a marriage she'd seen innumerable times, where young aunts and cousins were shipped off to foreign lands, only to be heard from in letters when they delivered babies.
The uncle returned to Dhaka for the wedding, wondering how Asma was coping with all of it. Shahadat had always been a romantic, hoped that Asma would do a dream turn someday and join India's burgeoning film industry. He entered her room and saw her in front of the mirror. She had never looked more beautiful. He recognised his sister's jewelry on Asma, still as golden as all those years ago when he had prayed for her happiness at the nikaah. Asma's reflection though was prayerless. It stared back at him, blankly, with a soullessness that frightened him.
Shahadat had seen this beauty before. It was fragile, fleeting, but it had fossilized in his brain. Thirty years ago, his mother's sister had visited them at home. Shahadat was a young lad, but not much younger than this aunt. She had dazzled him then, her skin whiter than he remembered, her eyes deep wells. She hugged her sister, Shahadat's mother, and gently shut a door behind them. The sisters talked for hours. The voices never rose enough to slip under the door. Later that evening, the doors opened, and the young lady stepped out. Her shoulders were stiff and jaw firm, her eyes newly cold, but her stride strong. She carried the weight of her beauty purposefully out the house without so much as a glance back. After the last handfuls of earth had been poured on her grave, the family issued an obituary, mourning the accident.
Shahadat saw this beauty and all its spite in Asma, as she looked at him unblinkingly. He knew then what needed to happen. He smuggled her out to the railway station that night and onward to the Chittagong port. The families searched her friends' houses through the night, while Asma and Shahadat set course for England at dawn.