"Agonizing Harmony" by Tanjin Abulrahat

-- Tanjin is a student at Brooklyn Collaborative Studies. Special mention to his teacher, P-hill Grubler, for helping him with his story. 


 

March 24, 2025…
It was a chilly Saturday morning.
I was wide awake. I looked at the clock… 4:30 AM, I prayed and made breakfast for my family.
“Good morning sweetie! Happy 8 year Anniversary! I love you” I texted my girlfriend Ameera.
“Awwwww thank you! I love you too Happy Anniversary!” Ameera texted me at 8 am. She’s not an early bird but she tries to wake up for me.
Okay, wait… hold on let me tell you all how this happened.
Ameera and I met on Instagram.
We started talking and talking and we fell madly in love with each other. I remember it went something like this…
“To be honest… I don’t know you, But you look Bengali so we’re family already! Anyway, you’re cute, definitely hit me up sometime” I said.
That’s when she and I started talking more and more each day.
We met up for the first time on a warm but breezy day in March, at her high school.
“Ugh Thomas Edison High School is so damn far from Brooklyn,” I said to myself.
I pulled out my phone after I got off the smelly F train from Carroll street station to 169 street Jamaica, Queens.
“Okayyyyy… so she said to walk up the hill until I find a School” I said to myself.
I walked up the hill and got lost, Ameera called…
“Hey where you at?”
“I’m lost hehehehe,” I said.
“Oh, Adam” Ameera chuckles.
“Oh wait I see you… I’m the one waving”
I looked at her… stunned. I could feel the sweat go down the side of my face. I was literally drooling because of how amazing she looks… or because I was hungry… no, it was her beauty.
Ever since that day, we’ve been inseparable. I asked her out that day at Dunkin Donuts.

Before I continue with the story, let me tell you a little bit about myself, My name is Adam Mohammed Abulrahat, I know what you’re thinking, “why does he have a weird name like that?”, I’ve been thinking the same thing myself trust me. My mother told me they named me Adam after the prophet Adam’s name. She said… and I quote “I could tell you were gonna be a person who listens to Shaytan at times”. It took me a while but Shaytan means Devil. Anyway, I just graduated from Adelphi University about a year ago. And I recently took my DAT (Dental Admissions Test). I was extremely stressed about it because I needed a high grade to get into dental school, I had a lot of pressure on me by my family. However, my girlfriend, Ameera has been helping me through thick and thin, and now because of her I am a student and I am making money at a dental office. Now back to the story…
“Good morning Adam, Have a great first day at work I love you!” Ameera texted my phone.
I couldn’t help but smile, it was finally time for me to work.
“Thanks, Ameera! I love you too! Have fun with your interview! I can’t believe my princess is going to become a medical coder.” I texted back.
Things seemed to be going great.  Ameera and I kept on growing closer.  We started making plans for marriage and kids.  Even though we were struggling financially…


Another a year went by in the blink of an eye.
“Wake up Mr. Abulrahat!” Siri alarm clock yelled.
“I don’t know why Apple decided to make an alarm clock after so many years of creating iPhones,” I said.
I checked the clock to see that Today is March 24, our 9th anniversary...
I am finally ready to ask Ameera to marry me.
I made her think that it wasn’t our anniversary, just to piss her off till the time to propose came.
I heard my phone ding at 5:00 am...
“Good morning babe!” Ameera said.
“Good morning,” I said.
“That’s it? Just good morning?”
“Yeah, it’s a beautiful morning. Is something Wrong?” I said, Making her think that I forgot about our anniversary.
A couple of hours passed and I did not get any messages from her. My phone was as dry as the Sahara desert.
It was alright though I wasn’t mad. Her best friend Alia was with her for the day. I added Alia to my plan.
“How could he forget Alia? He never forgets anything, especially our anniversaries!” an upset Ameera screamed.
“Don’t worry Ameera, you’re the one that always says… ‘Everything happens for a reason’. Right?” Alia said.
“I guess so” Ameera continued, “But this is Adam we’re talking about… should I call him?”
“No!” Alia yelled.
If she calls him then she’ll figure out the plan, I can’t let that happen Alia thought.
“How about you and I go make pancakes?” Alia said.
“Okay I’m down” Ameera replied.

That was a close one Alia thought.
“You need to do what you need to do fast Ameera might find out” Alia texted me.
I didn’t reply, I was just rushing more.
I was driving all over New York City finding the things I needed.
I called my best friends…
“Yo Landon and Rey!!!” I screamed into my self-driving car.
“What up broski” Landon replied.
“YEAH, facts wassup bro” Rey replied.
“Today is the day… I’m gonna ask her to marry me,” I said.
There was a scream of happiness from my best friends. These guys have been here for me since high school. They were the first two people to know about Ameera and me.
I remember it like it was yesterday…
“Yeo,” I said to my friends in the boy's locker room.
“What up bro,” said Landon and Rey unanimously.
“I met this girl online, her name is Ameera… connect the dot guys” I said waiting for them to react.
“Yeah boyyyyyyy” they replied.
“I know I’m finally not a single pringle anymore! I’m a whole can!” I said regretting every word I said after their reply…
The light turned green and there was a car behind me honking at me.
“I need you guys to do me a favor tho… so let me break down the plan. Ameera is mad at me right now because I made her think that I forgot our anniversary. So she’s not answering my calls or my texts. She’s with Alia her best friend. Back to the main point… I told Alia to take Ameera to her apartment, I’m gonna be there at around 5 and take her somewhere. The big thing she doesn’t know is that her mother and her family members know who I am, and I asked them if I could marry her and they agreed.  But Ameera’s father said NO.  I will convince him though”. I said until Landon said,
“WAIT, How did you convince Ameera’s family? And what about your family?”
“Good question bro,” I said.
“One of my cousins' Husband speaks Arabic, him and I went to her house while Ameera wasn’t home. I told them my background, and I told them that I am a Dentist at Sunnyside Dental care, one of the biggest offices in NY. And I told them how much I make yearly… cough A LOT cough.
“Damn what the fuck? Buy me a new robot servant, my model from last year hasn’t been cleaning the house properly!” Rey replied.
We all had a loud laugh.
“Anyway, I also told my mother how much I love Ameera and she understood my point that I will always do my best to make her happy, and she agreed. My dad, like her dad, on the other hand, he didn’t”. I said.
“I also called Ameera’s mother and I called my mother last week and asked them to cook because I will ask her to marry me on the 24th, which is today. I’m gonna go to Alia’s house, and pick up Ameera, while YOU GUY’s, my family, and Ameera’s friends all drive to Ameera’s house where everything will go down… GOT IT?” I exclaimed.
“Alright bro,” they said unanimously like a church choir on a Sunday morning.
They hung up the phone and I got closer to the jewelers.
I parked my car.
I walked in the store.
“Adam!” Humberto said.
“Hey, Humberto … today’s the day!” I said.
He took out the ring. It was an exact replica of the ring I gave Ameera back when I was in Junior year of high school. The ring belonged to my grandma, she told me to give it to the person I love. I asked Humberto to make a replica of it.
I went home and showered and changed. I told my family to go to Ameera’s house.
“Oh lord, it’s already 4:05…” I said to myself as I checked the clock on the wall.
I ran to my car and drove as fast as possible… under the state speed limit.
I was stopped by an officer, but the officer was clearly in a good mood so he let me off with a warning. I finally made it to Alia’s house. I ran up the steps, knocked on the door, and Ameera answered.
She said nothing, I grabbed her, picked her up, and ran to the car.
It was basically a hostage situation, but I love her and she loves me so it was fine.
“What are you doing? Put me down!” she screamed.
I opened the door and said, “Baby, trust me, and don’t say anything.” I said.
“Tesla, what time is it,” I asked my car.
“It is 5:30 pm sir” my Tesla responded with her British accent.
There was traffic, she said nothing and I tried my best not to say anything. I wanted her to think I forgot our anniversary.
It was 6 o'clock. It was warm, there were birds chirping under the sound of the car horns. Good old New York. I asked her to put a blindfold on. She agreed.
“Okay babe please trust me,” I said.
“Alright Adam”.
I took her up the stairs. I made her stand while everyone was watching, I was on one knee.
“Okay… Take off the blindfold.”
“...”
“Will you marry me Ameera?” I said.
“YES!” she replied.
Everyone was cheering, Ameera’s whole family minus her father, and all of my family minus my father.
*Knock Knock Knock*
One of Ameera’s cousins opened the door.
There was a pause.
“قلت لك أنا لا أريد هذا الرجل أن يتزوج ابنتها”
Ameera’s father shouted.
Ameera told me he said, “I don’t want this man marrying our daughter”.
A few seconds past; those seconds felt like an eternity.
“Why do you want to marry my daughter?” he continued “for money??”
I was baffled.
Does he think I’m not good for her? Am I good enough for her? I mean I’m a mess, why is she with me? Because she loves me. And I love her?
“Sir, I want to marry Ameera because I love her and I respect her. I’m not here for the money. I have my own, I bought a house just last week because I want to live with Ameera and make her happy my whole life. I’ve had many missions in my life. Now my main mission is to make Ameera happy for the rest of our lives, hopefully, have kids as well. Respectfully, I don’t need your money.” I said.
There was another long pause. I could feel Mr. Moqbel eyes touch my soul. I know how upsetting this could be for him. For his Arab daughter to marry a Bengali guy. The reality for Muslim people from different countries is that they can’t marry outside of their religion and their culture. We don’t have the freedom like other people do.
“If you leave this house… you’ll never step foot in it again,” he said staring at a shocked Ameera.
She was shocked.
“Baba…” she continued?, “You always want the best for me. I always want to make you happy. But if you are gonna keep me from my happiness? Then I’m done”.
I saw her go to her room and pack her bags.
Her mother and I followed her into her room.
“Ameera… I have been a terrible mother to you for years. I always make you do things and never appreciate it. You deserve happiness. And if your happiness is with this man. Then I approve”, Ameera’s mother replied.
She could not hold it in any longer, she fell to the floor in a disheveled heap as her grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears.
“Amma, you are a great mother. Look at me, I’m a medical coder! It’s all thanks to you and Adam”. She said as she held her mother’s feet.
“I will take care of Ameera, I promise I will respect her and love her for the rest of my life”. I said.
Ameera got her bags, she said goodbye to her family, and we both walked out loud and proud. I could tell she was really upset so I took her to her most favorite place on planet earth. Dunkin Donuts, I got her two double chocolate donuts with a small hot chocolate. She was happy once again. We pulled out the drive-through, she was getting comfortable in her seat. Then she realized something,
“We’re finally going to live together!!”. She said.
“I know right? It’s finally happening”. I said.
We got to the new house I bought in South Richmond Hill NY.
“Wow, this is the house?? Damn. It’s so… beautiful”,  she said.
“I didn’t tell you I wanted to surprise you. It has 6 bedrooms, 5 of which are guests rooms, two living rooms, one in the basement and one on the main floor, 7 bathrooms, 2 walk-in closets, a kitchen, patio, backyard, driveway, and a mosque in the attic. I remember when we were in high school you told me you wanted a small personal mosque where we can go and pray in”. I said.
“Oh my god this is so amazing! I love you!” she replied.
I felt accomplished.
I’m going to marry this woman, and I have everything set up for the rest of our lives.
The next day Alia and her sister Anila, Brandon, Landon, Rey, and Elias came to the house. They were helping us plan the wedding.
We chose to have the wedding on May 24, 2026.
“Okay so who’s doing what?” said Anila.
“Well, Ameera and I will be there on time… does that count?” I said.
Everyone laughed but then got back into the business.
“No for real she’s not joking,” said Alia.
“Okay so let’s split into teams, we’ll cover more ground, the wedding is in two months, we need to get wedding vendors lined up”. I said.
“Team 1: Ameera, Adam, Landon, Alia. Team 2: Brandon, Rey, Elias, and Anila. When the ladies need to do lady things, then we’ll switch teams and I’ll be with the guys and Ameera will be with the girls. Got it?”. I exclaimed.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. I opened it.
It was my father…
He stared me down, then slapped me.
“আমি এই আরব মেয়েকে বিয়ে করার কথা বলেছি। এবং এখন আপনি আমার শব্দ অতীত যেতে এবং এটি যাই হোক না কেন?” he said in bengali.
He looked at everyone then said it in English so everyone could hear my pride hungry father.
“I told you not to marry this Arab girl. And now you're going to go past my word and do it anyway?” he said in English with a very loud voice.
It sounded like thunder in my ears the more he talked.
I was puzzled. I mean what can I do at this point.
He barged in and knocked all of our planning to the ground.
He asked Ameera where she’s from.
They spoke in Arabic because my father is fluent in Arabic.
My father started working at the age of 12 when he had to leave Bangladesh with his brothers so his family could be fed. The three brother bought fake visas and moved to Saudi Arabia where he started work as a truck driver. He married my mother when he was 24 and she was 14. My dad was coming to America for the first time with a fake passport. They arrested him, and the only way he could prove that he’s not guilty is by showing that he has a wife with a U.S citizenship. So he called one of his brothers from Bangladesh and arranged for my mother to get married to him on the phone. My mother came from a poor family, so she was mandated to marry my father. My mother lived a very hard life with him. When I was 10 my mother filed for divorce. When I turned 16 that's when their divorce was finalized.
“Answer me!” he shouted.
I guess I dozed off. He asked the question again,
“Is she marrying you for your money? She’s just like your mother Adam!” he replied.
I was triggered. I just wanted to beat him to a pulp when he said that.
However, I used all the mental power I had in my body to stop myself.
“Get… Out” I said.
He tried to slap me again like he was about to swat a fly.
I grabbed his hand that he tried to slap me with…
“I said… get out”.
He said nothing. He grabbed his things then he left.
Everyone around me patted my shoulder and said everything will be okay.
Ameera hugged me and said, “It’s just you and me now babe”.
“Okay, Billy open wide…” I said to my last patient of the day.
I checked the clock near me after I finished packing my things to go home.

It’s now May 15, 2031.
I walked in the house. And I was greeted by my son Zayn, following him was my second son Maleek.
I remember when I was in high school, my father used to tell me these stories of how my kids are gonna like him better.
“Hey, kids!” I said while I held them.
“Hey sweetie,” I said to Ameera.
She has been working so hard, balancing the kids, and her job as a medical coder.
I try and help as much as I can.
“Hey honey how was work?” she said.
“Another root canal on Billy, his parents just don’t stop feeding him all these kit kats,” I said.
“I remember a time when my husband used to eat a lot of kit kats,” she said.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
The bell rang, it rang like the liberty bell in Philadelphia back in 1835.
“Abbu some men are here,” said Zayn.
I looked at the door… I could feel how wide my eyes were.
“Hello son,” said my father.
“Hi Ameera,” said Ameera’s father.
They came inside, I couldn’t help but ask…
“Why are you here? Who gave you our address?” I said.
“Don’t be stupid, we both have been keeping tabs on you from our wives. We thought it was time to set our cultural differences aside and unite as one family.” My father said.
We started laughing and talking and part of me was so happy that I had to step outside for some fresh air.
I saw my dad waving for me to come to the kitchen.
“So are you happy now?” he said.
“I’m ecstatic abbu thank you,” I said.
“That’s good… I need a favor, You are a doctor, is it possible for you to give me one hundred thousand dollars?” he said.
At that point, I knew he did all this just to get money from me. My father is a sleazeball.
I asked, “Why do you need that much money?”.
“Well your stepmother and I wanted to go on vacation,” he said.
Once again I replied, “Get out.”
And once again he grabbed his things and drove away with Ameera’s father.
That was the last time I saw my father.

-- Tanjin is a student at Brooklyn Collaborative Studies. Special mention to his teacher, P-hill Grubler, for helping him with his story.