It’s not that she was always being physically restrained, so to say. But even so, she could always feel the chains tightening around her soul- her very being.

The rules they set for her weren’t unreasonable. She could easily follow them and keep being the wonderful girl she’d always been.

But lately, she’d wanted more.

The first time she’d dared to lie to her parents was when she experienced the bitter-sweet ache of love. An affair was to her a forbidden thing, shameful and polluting. But every time she let her fingers entwine with his, she thought it the most beautiful feeling in the world. It didn’t seem bad or wrong. It just seemed natural.

The relationship failed to work out, as most first loves tend to do. All of a sudden, she was playing host to a wide variety of feelings and emotions. She couldn’t stop the tears and the pain, and wanted nothing more than to go back to when she was still an obedient girl who followed their words without question.

What was the point of taking this huge risk, breaking all the rules, if the reward wasn’t delivered as promised?

But then the day came when she moved on. The pain had burned, like fire in a smithy, and now her heart had been forged anew. Not quite as innocent as what it had been before, but a curious mixture of soft and strong that was needed to survive in the world.

The rules suddenly became more and more unreasonable.

When she asked for an evening out with friends and they refused, she began to dare to ask questions. Their answers were vague and easily thwarted, so she won a couple of times. But mostly, they faced her with naked aggression and desire to dominate. Their money, their choices. Unknowingly, they gave her more ideas and made the rules seem worse than ever.

She’d never liked her hair long. It was thick and unruly and the cause of many a headache. They’d never agreed to her pleas to cut some off, because to them it meant she was ungrateful to the ‘gift’ God had blessed her with.

When she snipped off her locks with some scissors, she thought to herself that she’d never actually believed in God- at least, not the kind of ‘God’ they prayed to.

She refused to wear the overly feminine clothes she’d been forced to wear and had hated. Instead, she used the money she had won from competitions and procured from birthday gifts to buy the apparel she was most comfortable in. They began to leave her out of family outings and other social events, but she liked it that way. She’d never really liked her relatives and their judgmental eyes.

They’d wanted her to be a doctor or an engineer. Instead, she became a writer. She struggled a lot, and got hurt over and over. They laughed at her, scolded her and said ‘This wouldn’t have ever happened if you’d only listened to our rules’.

They were right.

If she’d stuck to what she’d been taught, she would never have been able to enjoy her life to the fullest. If she’d never begun to question them, she wouldn’t have graduated from a puppet to an individual. She would never have found the kind of joy that can only be experienced if one knows the bitterness of sorrow first.

When she married a man from another religion, it broke the last rule they’d laid on her. But she didn’t rejoice at that. Rather, she was euphoric because she’d managed to marry out of love, not necessity as they had.

She knows they don’t like who she has become. She has grown up too much and gone too far.

But she loves who she is now. And that’s all that matters.

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