She lay with her eyes shut in the snugly warm and comfortable bed which gave her all the love and affection that she always required from her loved ones, like her mother, her relatives and her friends. But how could she achieve happiness in a society where people judged her because she did not come close to the pinnacle of beauty and charm like her mother, as her mother’s friends would often say behind her back,
‘Amna does not even come close to the loveliness and attractiveness of Fakhra. Pata nahi kis pae chali gae hae?’ *Laughter*
She sighed and slid from the bed. Within moments she could feel the cold, marble floor beneath her feet. She sat quietly for a moment with her head down and could finally hear people chattering. The hysterical laughter increased her nervousness and made her feel timid. It was the first time she was going to meet her relatives after coming from London because the last time she was only five years old before going abroad.
All of them had gathered on this auspicious occasion as her elder sister, Alizey, was getting married. She could hear her mother’s friends flattering Alizey by effusively complimenting her beautiful wedding gown and incredible hairstyle as her loose curls draped over her shoulders with small glittering white beads attached to her elegant braided hair. She sat on a golden chair which made her look like a fairy godmother and indeed she was nothing less. Amna peeked into the room and saw all this with her timorous eyes. She was happy for her sister, but secretly envied what God gave Alizey and her mother; Beauty.
Since childhood, Amna has always been pressurized and let down by her mother because of her dark complexion. Though Amna was beautiful in her own way, but due to her dark complexion she always called her the Ugly Swan. Many times, when her mother used to call her friends for a get together, Amna was told that she should not come out of her room as she made her mother feel ashamed. Alizey did not like her mother’s attitude towards Amna either and she did once try to talk about this to her, but her one silent deadly stare made her do what she would say. Alizey in many ways was a mother figure for Amna as she would prepare her lunch, wake her up for school and even tell her bedtime stories. They shared a bond since childhood up till now that is not easily describable.
With a heavy heart, she went upstairs and closed the door behind her. She gently draped the graceful curtains to stop the sunlight from pouring in through the half-opened window of her cozy bedroom. The thoughts of her mother’s expectations lingered in her brain and made her feel embarrassed. She did not want to disappoint  or embarrass her mother, but she did not even know how can she make her happy after all. She switched on the lamps and the floral decoration in her room somehow made her feel gracious. She opened her large, dark brown cupboard and took out her bright red dress and wore it immediately, hoping that she might look good. She sat in front of the mirror and looked at herself. She moved her hand towards the mirror and touched it, feeling sorrowful. She opened her jewelry box and wore her favourite gold pendant which suited and made her dark skin glow. After doing a little makeup and putting on a red lipstick, she went downstairs.
The moment she went downstairs and entered the room where the bride and the groom have been sitting everyone turned around and looked intently at her with great interest, pleasure and wonder. Amna instantly became self-conscious and immediately thought that maybe her dark circles are getting notified or maybe the gold pendant does not look that good or maybe the freckles on her cheeks are getting visible. Beads of sweat started appearing on her forehead as people greeted her by shaking her hand passionately and others hugged and kissed her.
Within moments she became comfortable in her own skin, which filled her with sudden and overpowering surprise and wonder. Her cousins greeted her with enthusiasm and started asking about her college life and what subjects she was studying. Amna easily managed to go with the flow and engaged with the same compelling emotion of love and kindness. For the first time, she felt comfortable while communicating with others and laughed her heart out while chatting with others.
That night she realized that there wasn’t any problem with her complexion or her skin. She realized that no one except for her mother and her friends ever judged her negatively on her looks but unfortunately the truth was that if there has been one person who discouraged her thoroughly, made her feel inferior to her sister and friends and who let her down consistently,  then that was her very own mother who became the cause of her tangled thoughts and anxieties.
Amna was standing in her lawn and for the first time she felt like she was communicating with the depths of her unknown, mysterious soul, with her higher-self and even with God. She stood there with her eyes closed, her smile gradually widened as the wind blew across her shoulder. Standing there barefooted and could feel the grass under her feet. She felt the air rush through her skin as if embracing her evergreen dark beauty. Amna raised her arms up in the air and felt like a bird born to soaring the wonderful skies and rejoicing in the heavens.
Suddenly she felt someone was standing behind her and as she turned she found her mother, looking at her pleasantly. She walked towards Amna and she moved a step back which made her mother stop at once. Amna knew what was coming, but she maintained her adamant disposition until her mother finally broke the walls of silence by saying,
‘I know I have never been a mother who should have loved you. I know I have made mistakes that have distanced us from each other and have built the walls of hatred stronger than ever before. I admit that I am a shameful mother, but sweetheart, I think we can change things now. We can improve our relationship and I want you to know that I do love…”,
“It has always been you, mother. YOU!”, Amna yelled at her angrily. “You were the one who degraded me, discouraged me and disheartened me all the time. It was never my friends or family, it was neither my relatives nor it was God who let me down. IT WAS YOU!”, she screamed with tears of grief welled up in her eyes. She wanted to say something more as a few lines did not do justice with her grieved emotions that jumbled up in her dark, gloomy and lonely soul but as she opened her mouth, words failed to come out at that moment. She was infuriated and started to walk towards the door when her mother called out desperately,
“Amna please listen dear,” Amna instantly paused and turned around as she looked directly into her mother’s wet eyes.
“Please forgive me dear, I am your mother. Please don’t abandon this relationship dear, we share the same blood…”.
Amna snapped her while she was about to complete her statement and said,
“We share the same blood, but not the same soul, Mother!”
For some this was fate or luck and others might call it destiny for her mother, but for Amna it was nothing but Karma.

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