Chapter One

In a country, within a state, nestled in a neighborhood, there stood a grand house. Inside its spacious living room, a woman named Nadiya sat, her gaze fixed on a large glass tank containing a miniature sea inhabited by small fish called Sisara. These fish were alive, not mere automatons. Strangely, while it appeared as if Nadiya was observing the little sea creatures in front of her, she herself wasn’t entirely sure what she was looking at. Likewise, her friend sitting beside her couldn’t fathom the source of her distress. Nadiya’s heart was shrouded in darkness, concealing the self-blame she felt for not investigating further when the opportunity had presented itself.

“Hey Nadiya, what’s bothering you? You’ve been lost in thought since childhood with this sort of thinking,” her friend inquired.

Nadiya rose from her seat, worry etched on her face. She walked over to a small refrigerator near the Tangaran beach, opened it, and retrieved a small cup filled with Tangaran and something else. After placing the cup back in the fridge and closing it, she approached the large glass window overlooking the garden behind the house, shaking her head in frustration.

“Oh, Amira, you’re still so young, at only thirty-three,” Nadiya began.

Amira looked at her with surprise and asked, “Are you suggesting that I’m old?”

Nadiya shook her head. “No, Amira, what I mean is that at our age, we can be considered both young girls and mothers of thirty-three-year-old women. Our children are old enough to get married, but we…”

Nadiya’s words trailed off as she left the statement incomplete.

“It’s better for you, Amira. You’re fortunate to have found a husband last year.”

“Yes, it’s better than being alone, but what’s the joy in marrying an old man?” Amira lamented.

“You’re lucky you married Amira’s ex,” Nadiya teased her with a chuckle.

“I don’t fancy older men, Nadiya. What’s the point in marrying an old man? Knowing oneself and enjoying wealth and worldly comforts like you, there’s nothing that would make me marry an old man.”

“Come on, Nadiya, it’s not that difficult. Your worries are small. Look at how well you’re doing in your life – money from your job, money from your relatives, money from your mother, money from your late father’s inheritance. Besides all that, Nadiya, what do you have left to lose? You should just go ahead and follow your heart without making excuses.”

“All I want is a husband,” Nadiya admitted. “I lost Amira. That’s all I have left to achieve. Thirty-three years without a husband.”

Amira shook her head and took out a small mirror from her bag, examining her own face.

“The years are starting to show,” she thought to herself as she gazed at her reflection. The window of opportunity was slowly closing, causing her to worry. She placed the mirror down, still looking at Nadiya, and asked, “What’s the use of wealth if you’re lonely, Nadiya?”

Nadiya considered her friend’s words and moved closer to where Amira was seated. She took a chair and sat down, speaking softly.

“You’re right, Amira. Everything you’re saying makes sense. If I truly want to get married, I can do so now. There’s even a man at the hospital where I work who has expressed interest. But I already know he’s only after my wealth; he doesn’t love me.”

“Then why don’t you marry him, whether he’s young or old? Is it worth it to be alone because he’s not a good person?” Amira asked, looking at Nadiya’s face for a reaction.

Nadiya shook her head. “Amira, he’s quite charming. I’m convinced that if he didn’t know about my wealth, there’s nothing preventing him from having a relationship with a woman like me.”

Amira considered Nadiya’s words for a moment. “Nadiya, if you truly want to find love, you shouldn’t let your wealth be the barrier. By God, Nadiya, you’re beautiful enough to attract any man, whether he’s young or old.”

Nadiya sighed. “Oh, Amira, look at me. My beauty is fading, my body is changing. Honestly, I’m ashamed to look in the mirror because it reveals the secrets of aging that I’ve been trying to hide.”

Tears welled up in Nadiya’s eyes as she continued, “I just want to find someone who loves me for who I am, without considering my wealth. And I’d like to believe that he’s a young man. No, he shouldn’t be old, Amira. By God, I’ve always dreamt of marrying a wonderful man. But the world is so cruel to me.”

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