It was the chilly night of January 16, 2006. It was silent, as anyone would expect a winter night to be. One would rather enjoy a hot mug of coffee while reading, sitting in front of their fireplace. But the scenario for Ali was different, quite different. While other students were preparing their bags and ironing their dresses for the next working day, Ali just saw his school bag being thrown by his father. He remembered the time when he had begged his father to buy it to him, because he liked it the moment he had seen it. While other families were chatting after dinner, Ali was crying as his mother just threw the expensive vase placed on the table. While other children were enjoying the warmth of their cosy quilts, Ali was pleading his parents to stop, stop for the sake of him. His father replied quickly, while his face turning as red as a tomato, "I am tolerating this b**ch because of you!" Before his mother would show any reaction, he begged her to remain quite. After a minute or two, his father stormed towards his bedroom and slammed the door. His mother went into the kitchen to get some water for both of them.

Ali was gaping at his lounge, observing the shattered vase, the scattered utensils, the dismantled chair, just like a warrior who has lost the war and looks at the destruction around him. It was silent now. He then saw his favourite bag on the floor. He rushed towards it, and saw that that its wheels had broken, meaning the bag was of no use anymore. The six-year-old boy did not know what was more depressing, the dispute between his parents or the breaking of his favourite bag. At the same moment, his mother came out with a glass of water. As soon as Ali mentioned his bag, his mother harshly shut him by saying she has better things to think about. "Enough is enough. I cannot live your father anymore. We'll have to think of something now." Ali was unable to comprehend his mother’s words. She then left the lounge and headed upstairs furiously.

Ali had to go to school the next day. Scared, he went to his father's bedroom to get his old bag. He opened the door and moved straight towards the cupboard. As he was searching for his bag, his father said, "That's it! I have decided that we will get a divorce, and you will live with each of us for six months. No wait. I am your father. You will live with me for 8 months. That's it. It’s final now." Now Ali understood what his mother was saying to him in the lounge. To prevent any further argument, he left the room immediately after finding his school bag. In all this hassle, he almost forgot that he was hungry. His mother was preparing the dinner, but she abandoned her work as the argument erupted. Ali did not want to disturb his parents, so he went in the kitchen and ate whatever he could grab, such as chips, chocolate and juice. He then got sleepy and therefore went straight to his bedroom upstairs. He remembered that his mother was there, but then a thought occurred to him that sleeping with her would be more appropriate in a situation like this.

As Ali entered the room, he saw his mother already sleeping. He then laid his body on the little space his mother had left for him on his small bed. His father's words constantly echoed in his mind, "I have decided that we will get a divorce." Will they actually get divorced? thought Ali. His parents had fought so many times before, but it had never been serious to this extent. Yes, they used to live in separate rooms for a few days, his father would not eat at home until they had resolved the issue, and they would not utter a word to each other until Ali insisted, but never had their fight reached this level.

Ali got worried. How will his family react? What will his cousins say? What will his friends think? Will they mock him? And most importantly, how will he live? How could he even imagine a house without the absence of one of his parents? If he lived with his father for one half of the year, then who would make him his favourite dishes? Who would make sure he did all his work on time? Who would nurture him with selfless and unconditional love and care? On the contrary, if he lived with his mother for the other half of the year, who would wrestle with him before sleeping? Who would make sure that all his needs were fulfilled? He cried. He cried so much that his pillow got wet with tears, and it started to feel cold on his face. He was thinking so much that his forehead started to hurt owing to a constant frown. Ali needed both of them. Then, he remembered his grandfather telling him that Allah listens to children very quickly. He immediately raised his shaking hands and recited all the passages of the Quran he had memorised. He prayed to Allah that his parents stay together. He slowly sobbed himself to sleep.

Almost a decade later, Ali was sitting in his room, and his parents were fighting again. But this time, it did not bother him. He did not run towards them worryingly, he did not plead them to stop, he did not care how much decoration pieces they were going to break, and he deafened himself to the foul words they hurled at each other. He recalled the time when he prayed as a child that his parents would not leave him. But now, he wished that they did. It would have been much better for them as well as Ali. All his life, he was busy doing their counselling, but it was of no benefit. His parents had too many of their own problems that they could not spare even a single second to hear Ali’s. Ali had been in a constant search of a confidant, a friend, a person who he could share his problems with. He had no siblings, his parents did not have any time for him, and who would become friends with a kid who would sit alone in school, usually traumatised and sometimes would even cry? His parents always demanded exceptional academic results and extraordinary extracurricular activities from him, but did they provide him with a healthy and calm atmosphere in the house? Were his parents ever able to give him confidence and encouragement? He would get scolded by everyone in his family whenever he uttered an abuse to one of his cousins, but did his parents realise that this was the way they were raising their child?

But then, he cannot blame his parents entirely for this. They made his life dreary, but their lives were miserable too. They were not compatible, they had no similar interests, but they were still tolerating each other for Ali. Their marriage was more of a nightmare to themselves than Ali. He knew that despite their altercations and hassles, they would stay together. His parents would still threat to leave each other, but he knew they would not. They could not. But why? Because of the stigma the society would inflict upon his parents and Ali. Because of the torments Ali would have to face as a child of a divorced couple. Because of the taunts of failed marriage his parents would have to listen for the rest of their lives by the babbling mouths of the society. But why does somebody’s personal life concern other people so much? Do they even think before passing remarks on someone? If they do not know what somebody is going through then who gave them the right to judge his or her character based on their narrow mindedness? Why does our society consider a deed which is totally acceptable, both religiously and legally, so dishonourable and shameful? Ali cannot deny that he loved both of them and wanted them to have a happy marital life, but one of the reasons he wanted them to stay together was the fear of how people would react. It was the society which made Ali’s and his parents’ life torturous. It was the fear of comments that the pea-sized brains would pass that made Ali’s life a physical and emotional hell. He wishes that either he was not even born in the first place, or maybe he was raised in a humane society.