THE END!

“THE END!” he yelled. “that’s it? How can you just walk out on me like that?” he still wasn’t sure if she was in her senses. “I told you, I won’t let my family down. I gave you many chances to figure out what you wanted from life, but you were never serious!” She wasn’t expecting this reaction from him. He looked away, teary eyed. She was the most precious thing he had and he wasn’t ready to let go……
she was all set to cut the ties and fly away. How could she be so cold. He remembered how they both had dreamed of a house together. Him and her! Now she was ruining it. He can’t let her go…. “tell me what should I do?” he begged her. His whole world was collapsing in front of his eyes. “well, find someone else… ummm… but first… find a job!” she smiled pitifully.

The next fifteen days were hellish as he knew she was getting married and moving to England for good. Their common friends had supported him but had also attended the wedding, giving him minute by minute details.

He lay in bed the night of her rukhsati…. thinking, if only….

Five years had gone by, she was super excited to return to her home country. It was her younger sister’s wedding and she has so much planned… she couldn’t believe that her sister was old enough to be married, that too to a businessman. She had been warned about the strict purdah the groom’s family followed and so, no pictures were shared from both sides.

Their car took them to straight to the hotel as her husband didn’t want to live at the in-law’s house. She told the driver to wait while she quickly dropped off her husband and their luggage at the hotel.

As she stepped into her childhood home, a familiar feeling and aroma surrounded her. She missed home and her mum’s home cooked food. Everyone was super excited to see her. They went over the wedding and events. Her mum had already ordered her dresses from a designer and she was so happy with her mum’s choice. There was no mehndi or dholkis but her sister was over the moon and that’s what mattered. She asked her husband about the groom and he said that he was devilishly handsome. Her sister had told her they had met at a café and things got serious after a few dates.

On the day of the wedding, she couldn’t wait to meet her brother inlaw. She asked her dad to let her take a glimpse of the groom from the corner of the banquet hall. He wasn’t sure as he knew how strict his younger son inlaw was, but he finally gave in.

All dressed up and looking shinier than the bride as she stepped into the banquet hall and stood behind the door to sneak peak, there he was, in an off – white sherwani, looking devilishly handsome. People had surrounded him to congratulate for the nikkah. As a few moved away, she saw…… HIM!

THE END!

THE RED LIPSTICK

“RED!!!!!!”

“Yup…. Red!!!”

“Are you serious?” Sarah wasn’t sure so she asked again. Anaya wasn’t a red lipstick kind of person.

“Yes, pretty much……” affirmed Anaya, trying to think of a good reason.

“I think it will make me feel better. It will bring colour into my dull life!” she added.

“Listen, why are you so ungrateful?” complained Sarah. “You have everything in life. You have a house, a loving husband, three adorable children and everyone loves you….,” argued Sarah…. She wasn’t going to give up so easily.

Anaya wasn’t sure if Sarah was listening to her… but was Anaya actually telling her????!!! Anaya wasn’t going to tell anyone about the sleepless nights and the long praying hours. She was going to figure it out herself. The world was too judgmental and she wasn’t going to let some nobody to expose her! But Sarah was her best friend and she didn’t want to hide anything from her either…… but then Sarah had her own set of problems. Anaya felt she will be burdening Sarah with unnecessary things. Her husband wasn’t ready to listen either. He had too much on his plate…. Anaya knew it was her battle to fight……

“Listen, I’m going to the mall…. In the morning and you’re picking me up!” Anaya somewhat ordered her friend. She knew she could count on her….

Sarah set the alarm for 11am. It was going to be fun!

The next morning, she reached Anaya’s house at 12:30 sharp. She turned off the radio and got down the car, feeling optimistic about meeting her friend and talking to her……. she knew the door will be unlocked as the children were at the summer camp.

“Anaya! Anaya!” shouted Sarah at the top of her lungs. The servants were on leave due to the pandemic. She climbed the stairs, two at a time.

As she turned the door knob to Anaya’s room, she fell to the ground…. The world crashing down in front of her own eyes…. What she saw will probably haunt her all her life!

There……. she hung……. Her best friend…. Who wanted to buy a red lipstick……

THE MEET UP!

After several rings, Sarim answered the phone. It was Haris.

“Hey, how have you been?” Sarim asked.

“I’m good. How are you?’ replied Haris.

“I’m good. The usual. Life’s a bit slow due to this pandemic,” confessed Sarim. “Listen, I have finally figured out why did Sushant Singh commit suicide?”

“Really? Why?” asked Sarim.

“Because he had no one to talk to…… you know it is one of those days when you have not talked to a close friend about your fears. You badly want a shoulder to cry or someone to confide in, but all you see around you is bodies, no humans. You’re not going out; you’re not braving the world on a day to day basis. So, you start giving up. You start feeling lonely…… when you reach out and find a void around you, it freaks you out, man,” cautioned Haris.

Sarim had an uneasy feeling about the whole conversation. He didn’t know how to console his friend. He thought for a few seconds and assured his friend, “Listen, we all are sailing in the same boat. Plus, you’re not alone. Your family is there with you. I’m here too!  I know we haven’t met for a week now, but let’s meet for coffee!!??”

Silence……

“You’re not getting it. It is like you have everyone around you yet you’re the only one in that crowd. No one is there!” Haris whispered. Sarim wasn’t sure what else to say but he was now worried about his friend. He decided to meet that evening at the nearby mall.

“Listen, I’m going to the mall to get some stuff for myself, today in the evening around 5. I will wait for you at the coffee shop. Ok?” demanded Sarim.

“Ok,” mumbled Haris.

6pm. The coffee shop.

No one came. Haris’ phone was switched off forever.

THE LAST GOODBYE

Chapter 4

“Aunty called, they want to take you shopping in the evening,” Minnah’s mother announced at the breakfast table. It was more of an order! She could not eat after that. She excused herself and went to her room. Texted him.

‘CAN WE MEET? TODAY FOR LUNCH?’

Taimur was at work, when his phone vibrated on the table. It was her! He read her message and started to think, what should he do? He replied,

‘YES, I WILL PICK YOU UP AT 2PM.’

Her heart raced as she read his message. It was different now, unsure, doubtful, so hauntingly painful.

She got dressed and gathered the courage to go to her mum and ask, “Amma, I am meeting my friends for lunch, then we will check out a few parlours. Is it ok if I go now and then I will join you guys at the mall?” Her mum was already too busy with the invites and preps that she gladly allowed Minnah to take care of her appointments herself. Minnah left for a friend’s house, went upstairs told her about her meeting with Taimur and went downstairs to wait for him. He arrived on time. She knew they had said their goodbyes yesterday but she had to see him. As she sat in the car, she turned and looked at him as if trying hard not to cry again but savour these precious moments. He didn’t look at her. Though he felt something break inside him, when he saw her standing there but what could he do?

“Where to?” he asked. “The usual,” she replied. For the next thirty minutes, both of them didn’t say anything. The only sound in the car was of the engine. She had so much to say but didn’t know where to start. He didn’t know how to tell her he wasn’t ready to let go but he had to.

At their favourite Chinese restaurant, they both ordered their favourite dishes and ate in silence. From time to time, each one of them could feel the other looking at one’s face. But silence spoke a thousand words for them. As they were leaving the restaurant, he asked her if she wanted to be dropped back home and she declined. She wanted to be with him.

He took her to the beach, their favourite place. She loved the water and he loved it cause she loved it. They sat their looking at the waves and the sunset. It was beautiful.

Time flew by so quickly. Her phone rang after an hour. It was amma.

“Where are you?” she could sense restlessness in amma’s voice. “I told you, you have to go shopping,” Amma was getting upset. “I’m on my way,” she looked at him and replied. “Well no point. Abba, me and your sister are going to get the groom’s outfit and his presents. Do you think you can meet them directly at the mall?” amma wasn’t asking, she was telling her.

“Ji, ok…” she wanted to tell amma that she wasn’t ready but it was too late now. He looked at her, wanting to hold her again, feel her again, but he didn’t.

She asked him to drop her off at the mall.

Once more, it was a long, quiet journey. This time, he turned on the radio, fearing she might hear his heart’s cries.

She got off, turned to say goodbye but he was already gone. She entered the mall and spotted her fiance’s entire family waiting for her outside the designer’s outlet.

“Oh my God, you look stunning!” her sister inlaw ssquealed. Zarar wasn’t sure but she looked worn out. And so uninterested! “Let’s go in,” he whispered.

After checking out countless dresses, they all agreed that she should try on three of them. She felt so detached from the whole thing that she couldn’t care less. Her whole world was crashing down on her and she couldn’t do anything about it. She took the Emerald green dress to the changing room and tried it on. Nothing felt exciting. She came out to show everyone. As she stopped out, there behind her sister inlaw, were two familiar brown eyes. The world stopped for a few minutes! He was standing right there! Just a few feet away! This was a dream. Why was he there? Or was she going crazy? Is she now going to see him at every corner of every street! This wasn’t a Shahrukh Khan movie!!! Oh stop it! She shushed her mind.

Zarar was looking at her and was not sure what to say. She looked pretty in green. But the other pair of eyes said no. She hesitated before she told her sister in law, she wanted to try other dresses and went back in.

“Why?? Why was he here? Why was he making it so hard? Is he taking revenge because she called him in the afternoon??” she asked herself. Then she changed into a royal blue dress, took a deep breath, hoping it was just hallucination, she stepped out. There! Still there! He was there in front of her, looking with his intense brown eyes.

Her inlaws, to be, asked her to try the third one.

She went back in, changed into her third wedding outfit and stepped out!

Taimur looked up! He had never seen anyone look so pretty in a maroon dress, the way she did. She had no makeup on her but she looked so beautiful and elegant, he nodded, just as their eyes met.

“So, what do you think, Zarar?” his sister asked him. “I think she looks absolutely stunning!” Zarar couldn’t take his eyes off her.

But Minnah was directly looking at Taimur, this could have been us! Her eyes begged, he looked away, but then looked at her again, their gaze locked and she knew this was the dress she should wear on her big day!

THE DISRESPECTFUL RESPECT

“Because you don’t have a dick!!” he said sarcastically. “Excuse me?” she wasn’t sure what he meant, and prayed silently that he didn’t mean what he had just said. “You have a hole! You can’t think sensibly or take a decision sensibly! Even Islam has placed women beneath men!” his tone had more sarcasm than ever. She cringed in her place. What was wrong with telling him how to run his media platforms? She was only trying to help!
Though she knew, he loved her dearly, Ashir’s sarcastic side had always brought hurt and tears to her eyes. His forever comparison of men and women and men being superior sometimes made her doubt his educational and moral values.
For days she had been asking him to let her run his social media platforms so that he could gain more followers and clients, something which was crucial for his business. But like always he had made her look so little in her own eyes that she cursed herself under her breath for even suggesting it.
This wasn’t the first time Ashir had mocked her for having a hole or suggested she was only good for one thing! It had happened before. Once at the dinner table, she had suggested that he should take advice from his dad and his brother for some business problem and he had given a derisive laugh telling her she should mind her own business as she was not fit to give advise. At that time, her daughter, Zahrah, was also there and had laughed along! Her children also had a disrespectful attitude towards her at times 
After the argument, he went to his room and slept. She started clearing the dinner table when she felt a huge lump in her throat and quickly ran to the washroom. She quickly bolted the door and cried. All she could do was cry silently in the washrooms.
Even after so many years, his words made her feel like garbage. Even after so many years, he could still crush her self esteem with just a few words. She was highly educated and talented but had chosen to be a housewife after they tied the knot. But all these years, she stood by him like a rock, through thick and thin. But everytime, she gave advice, he gave her a shut up call.
The pain she felt wasn’t new to her but it seemed that confiding in him at the time of their marriage about her childhood insecurities had given him a chance to do it whenever he could. He thought she was used to it. She wanted to scream and say, no, I still am not! But each time, after his sarcastic, superior remarks, she would store it somewhere in a deep corner in her heart. She couldn’t take it out! How? Where? She had no one to go to.
A few days back, she had asked him if she could start an online business of her own and he had ridiculed her endlessly. He called his children to the room, and said, “Your mother thinks she can start an online business. She wants to be famous. She thinks it’s just so easy,” he mocked her. Their three children stood there unsure how to react. They had seen this before and now it wasn’t out of the ordinary for them. Their mum was silly. She always made their dad angry or upset. She left the room trying to hide the shame she felt in front of her children.
Armeen was a strong woman but she was a weak wife and mother. She didn’t want her children to see them fight and so gave up everytime something like this happened.
Slowly and gradually, Armeen was losing confidence. She was so unsure of herself now that if anyone said anything noce to her, she had doubts about that person’s intentions. Everyone seemed to be mocking her directly or indirectly. The only one who didn’t was her youngest daughter, Maseerah, who loved her mum dearly. A five year old who thought her mama was the best in the world. Ashir wasn’t like this all the time, but everyday there was something or the other which he used to remind her that she wasn’t good at anything. Armeen had to live with this for as long as she lived.

The last goodbye

Chapter 3

“Taimur, wake up. Go and get some snacks for your sisters and their children. I must serve tea before it’s late,” he heard his mum from a distance. Was he dreaming or she was really asking him to go and get something. He turned to the other side and tried to get back to sleep when he heard his sister’s voice. “He won’t go! He always does that… locks himself in his room when ever we come to visit you,” she said with a sarcastic tone. “Get him married off to someone so she will look after us,” she added. “Shhh, don’t go there! He is still not over her!” he heard his mum whisper something to both his sisters and they replied back with even more secrecy.

He got up and went to the bathroom to freshen up. As soon as he came out, he could hear his brother and other cousins playing cricket in the patio. Then he saw his mum, she was looking at him with concern but didn’t say anything. He sometimes smiled at his own fate, two women so important in his life and both had the same traits. They both thought alike, felt alike, loved alike, and had the same passion for the humanity. Yet here he was battling with himself to not to let go anyone of them. But priority had always defeated love in these situations. He loved his sisters too but they loved in a world of their own. “I am going!” he said as he stepped out of the door and sat in his car. Before he started the engine, he looked at his cell phone again. No messages. What was wrong, she hadn’t messaged him all day, he was annoyed.

Minnah wanted to go home. She wasn’t interested in anything. Zarar called his sister to ask her if she wanted to join them at the Designer’s or she wanted him to pick her up.

Minnah didn’t know what the conversation was about but suddenly Zarar seemed a little worried after the call so he excused himself and told Minnah that he will have to drop her off as there was some emergency and he had to rush back home.

A feeling of relief swept through her, but soon guilt took over and she felt bad. She badly wanted to go home and hide under the bed forever. She smiled and assured him it was ok. The first smile through out the meeting.

Zarar felt as if she was grateful that this meeting was ending. But he quickly shrugged the thought off his mind. He knew she wasn’t forced to marry him, or was she?

The last goodbye

Chapter 2

Not an introvert, but Minnah had always been a very submissive girl. She was a smart young mind, a dreamer, an ambitious entrepreneur and a lot more. A petite girl with soft black eyes and a smile that was heart melting. Someone who was made out of the softest clay and a heart that believed everything sent it’s way. A girl who never gave up dreaming, amidst all the negativity around her.

Her ambitions had landed her in his life. Taimur, with his thick, curly black hair and deep thoughtful eyes that were guarded by a row of thick long lashes, was the heart and soul of every occasion. With Greek like looks and a manly appearance, he would stand towering her at times. His smiles and friendliness melted many hearts around him.

The day he saw her standing in a crowd, he felt his heart skip a beat. She was nothing out of this world but she seemed so familiar, he felt the connection! It was love at first sight!

At first, he didn’t want to approach her like any other guy. He just wanted to know her. He had seen hurt and unanswered questions in her eyes. He wanted to read those eyes but rushing might have scared her as she seemed extremely reticent. Her friends kept ogling at him, but she didn’t seem to care. In a matter of days, she had also become everyone’s darling. Her intellectual approach towards everything had gained her many friends.

Zarar ordered a Caffe Latte for himself and a Cappuccino for her. She looked nervous and lost. She was there physically but something in her eyes showed she wasn’t there with him mentally. Maybe girls acted like that before their wedding.

As the waiter arrived with the coffee, she gazed up and looked at him. He was older, that one was younger. He was mature, that one was so spontaneous. His warm face popped out of nowhere in front of her eyes. She quickly shrugged the thought. She looked at Zarar and thought, how do you change the main character in a family photo that you had painted in your head??

“After we finish here, I would like to take you around to some designers to select a dress,” Zarar said casually, sipping his coffee. He looked at her, she nodded half heartedly. He glanced at his watch. It was past 5pm. He had to drop her off by 8pm. The curfew was set by both their families.

Taimur threw the keys on the side table and slumped into his bed. He picked up his cell phone, hoping she had messaged him saying she was fine. He knew she was shattered to the core so was he. How long will they stay at the coffee shop? He tried to sleep away his hurting soul, the wrecked heart and a tired brain. Everything was going against him.

The last goodbye

Chapter 1

He dropped her off at the nearest coffee shop so she could meet her fiance for a cup of coffee and later they would go for wedding outfit shopping. The salty tears still trickling down his cheeks. It was one of the hardest goodbyes of his life.

He looked at her charming face, it was so composed though she had been weeping bitterly at the thought of going away, her eyes still red. He wanted to reach out and beg her for one last embrace, one last touch or just a brief moment that would stay with him for eternity. But she had to go…. she had to look calm and poised.

As she stepped out of the car, she knew too that she won’t be seeing him again, ever. Maybe this was their ever after.

She won’t be able to hear his voice over the phone or across the lobby. She won’t be able to hold his hands and feel protected. She won’t be able to find a shoulder like his where she could cry all day long and feel content. She will lose her best friend forever, her confidante!

She wanted him to call her back. She wanted him to stop her from entering the coffee shop. She wanted him to tell her that he will handle this….. she wanted so many things from him. But she respected his priorities, and sadly she wasn’t one on his list.

The moment she entered the coffee shop, he started his car and sped off.

How will he ever live without her? She was a part of his soul. She was like the blood that ran through his veins. He felt like he had left a piece of him at the coffee shop. He didn’t want to dry the tears off of his face…… They were a reminder for him for the rest of the day that he had lost the most precious being of his life.

As she entered the shop, smell of freshly brewed coffee and cinnamon cookies filled her nostrils. Her heart was racing as she looked around for her future husband. The dimly lit room felt alien to her. She had been here before but this time it was different.

She spotted him sitting on a sofa next to the confectionery display. Their eyes met, there was no connection, no intimate feeling. He smiled and waved, she nodded. If only she could turn back and run out of this horrid place and get back into that black Corolla, she would……

With slow, dragging steps, she approached him and sat on the opposite sofa.

I live in a box!



I live in a box,
Where I have some unwanted and some precious things,
I have kept a few memories,
Love notes, dry roses, damp letters,
I’m a hoarder,
I hoard hatred,
Some grievances and some grudges,
I keep cold stares and cold shoulders in a corner,
I live in a box,
I have my childhood keepsakes,
I still look at my first report card,
My mum’s birthday card,
And my dad’s thumbs up,
I’m a collector,
I collect rare smiles and precious tears,
I collect prayers and long life friends,
I collect blessings and long tight hugs,
I live in a box,
My box has a lot,
Some precious and some lessons!

AND HE SWT IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU ARE…

The connection

Chapter 1

She looked intensely at her typewriter, And He swt is with you wherever you are. She just couldn’t understand why this Quranic verse kept coming to her mind. She looked around her. The room was dark and quiet, the only light effusing from the near by lamp and a little from the lamp posts outside from the street. She looked outside the window, all she could see was a row of parked cars and an empty street. Her room was her own space. A queen sized bed with a black headboard and mirror work on the sides. Two cozy looking black chairs with a coffee table. A few books on the table were set in a corner. A bookshelf with her awe-inspiring books was on the other side of the room and there she had set up her writing table with her vintage typewriter.
This was her time to write and reflect on a lot of things around her. She was a high fantasy Internationally renowned author and had published nine novels so far. Her tenth was taking a lot of time.

She stretched her fingers and tried to release the stiffness caused by typing endlessly at times. She looked around in the dim light of the lamp for her tennis ball to squeeze. Her doctor had suggested that she give her hands a break after every fifteen minutes to avoid stiff fingers. That she often forgot! So He swt is with me… all the time… that’s tried and tested!

That time when her mum had an operation and her dad was away, she remember how much she used to pray all night to Allah swt to give health to her mum.

It was a miracle that her mum recovered quickly but she couldn’t get pregnant after that…. it was sadly accepted by her bother and her that they won’t have another sibling to play with. Their mother’s health and wellbeing was more important. Plus the thought of living with any of the paternal or maternal relatives was out of question. Those were the toughest days for both of them.

WRITE NO EVIL…..

She stayed there in prostration for a very long time, crying…. but her silent sobs dying a silent death in her throat. “I shouldn’t make noise or the children will know I’m crying,” she told herself…. hushing any sound from leaving her praying lips. This was the only place where all her troubles seemed so unworthy. But today it was different… she cried for herself, her peace of mind… she cried till her eyes had no more tears to shed.

It was so hurtful when a few minutes ago, he had roared at her at the top of his lungs. “What the hell is this?” he yelled, as he flung her writing book at her. It fell just a few inches away from her. Her heart skipped a beat. She dreaded the minute, she had left it by the side table. She was getting ready to pray and forgot it was the time he got back from work.

He hated her writings! He just couldn’t stand her stories or her poetry. For him it was a waste of time….. so this was expected.

She bent down and picked it up, the book mark torn, the pen fell out and landed on the marble floor. Another sound!!! He turned and looked at her, “What are you trying to prove? What is the purpose of writing this bullshit?” he was getting louder and impatient. She shuddered. She didn’t like his angry side.

“I’m sorry, I was just bored so I thought I will write something,” she murmured. “Bored!” another angry look…. She could feel his steely gaze on her face, but didn’t look up…. “You have nothing to do around the house??!!!” sarcasm…

She looked up, “I was done so……” “So, you decided to go back to your Lala land??!! Get real! Be practical! This HOBBY of yours will give you NOTHING!!!” He bawled out. “Do you get paid?” “No!” “Then why are you giving the world something useless to talk about with your name attached to it??!!”

She didn’t know what to say and frankly she was so drained after the whole argument that she felt it was best to stay quiet.

This was her favourite thing in the world. She loved the way she played with words. The beautiful people she placed in her stories. The awesome scenery. The lala lands! Yes, her fantasy world, where everyone had a dream and not all dreams gave profit…. but that was her point of view. He never agreed with her! He believed that everything had a price… Every skill had a market value.

She got up from her sajdah but kept sitting on the prayer mat, her only solace… She silently asked, “Why can’t I just do this one little thing I love the most?” “Give me a sign, and I will stop,” she pleaded. The saddest part was that her children had heard each and every word their father had said before he stormed out of the house. She knew they will ask her a million questions when she will go to check on them. She sighed….. it was a long day and it will be a long, painful night.

She slowly got up and folded her prayer mat. She looked at the wooden handmade clock on the wall, it was past midnight and he hadn’t returned…. She got a little upset. He hadn’t eaten and left without a word. She knew he must have gone for a long drive but it was too late. Should she call him or text him? Usually he wouldn’t receive her calls or reply to her messages. But she still wanted to know if he had eaten. So she called… the bell rang but no one answered! So typical of him….

“Get rid of this habit and let me know. I will come home!” A message appeared on her screen. It was obvious he didn’t want to let her carry on with her writing.

“Please come home. It’s too late and you haven’t eaten,” she begged in her reply, sitting at the edge of the bed. “To what??? A sad person who thinks she is the only human suffering! Give me one good reason why I should let you write!! Haven’t I given you everything that a woman dreams of?” She sighed. EVERYTHING BUT THE FREEDOM TO LIVE!

She slowly got up from the bed, picked up her writing journal, went to the kitchen and burned it!

With it, she burned her characters, her stories, her fantasy, her people, her words, her dreams…. her lala lands…. she burned a part of herself…

ME……

She was extremely exhausted. She didn’t want to talk or indulge in any kind of activity besides breathing and looking out at the dark skies. Was it the skies or her own demons that the world seemed so dark? She felt lost, yes, lost in a black hole and suffocated!

Something inside her was breaking…. no…. not breaking…. something inside her was slowly eating her alive! As if the pains had taken a parasitic form and was feeding on her very soul. She leaned back on the wooden chair, playing with the creamish white coffee mug. It was her ME time, or was it? Wasn’t she just hiding away from more responsibilities? She didn’t even want to sigh, fearing the demons would show from the insides of her mouth. These demons didn’t let her shine or soar higher or dream bigger. They kept plucking her wings…. chaining her soul to gratitude and giving her sleepless nights…

Every now and then, she felt this parasite would take her heart into it’s dark claws and mash it so hard that all the blood would just squirt out from all the small openings. Her heart was another planet in the galaxy of her body……… a lonely planet, just there all by itself, with nothing to look up to or nothing to be merry about. It was indeed empty!! What was it craving? A connection? But with whom? She wanted to be left alone, but with these demons inside her mind she didn’t trust her own self. She craved an unselfish love, or maybe for once she really craved to be better than today. The world had been hauntingly cruel to her…. like a vulture devouring a soul but bit by bit.

This one question had been haunting her since years, the connection! She had no connection, with anyone, not even her Lord…. sad, yes, such a sorrowful moment! Sometimes, she felt that some of the people, around her, knew her a little but no. It wasn’t like that. Did they know her? Did they know that she was drowning in this deep, deep ocean of regret or acceptance? Did they know that very little time was left? Acceptance?? Accept what? The next door girl looks or the heart of gold? That they didn’t see. Even if they felt it was there, they ignored it or thought it was a pretence….

Why would anyone pretend to be good? Was everyone pretending? She was often confused…. was her family pretending to be nice? Was it pity? Ughhhh… more pity!

She looked out of the window again. A strange silence had engulfed the world around her. But the silence was more noisy inside her. She could hear the blood through her veins, the blinking of her eyes, even the pumping of her heart…. it was so loud and clear.

She slowly got up from the chair, picked up her mug and walked towards the kitchen. As she washed the mug, she washed her tears, her exhaustion, her dreams, her desires, she washed the ME from her soul.

MAMA’S BOY

He switched off the TV and threw the remote control on the bed. The room was suddenly quiet! He could hear his own thoughts, loud and clear. Mama was right,the TV was always too loud. He looked out the window and saw some of his friends skateboarding on the street, doing ollies or kick flips. He wanted to run downstairs and join them but he knew he couldn’t or he didn’t want to….

It was almost 6pm and he knew his dad would be home soon. He thought of waiting for his dad and make tea for both of them. Dad was coming home early now. He wanted to spend more time with him than before. This was good, they both were learning new things about each other.

He looked around the pile of dirty laundry on the couch, thinking he should at least start the laundry. He picked it up and walked towards the laundryroom. “Mama, how do I operate this?” “I told you so many times, put some sirf here, a little fabric softener and set the timer to 30 mins,” she smiled. “Oh yeah!” he looked lovingly at her, which he wanted to do so much more now….. He came back to his room and started putting his books in order in the wooden shelf next to his study table. “Don’t forget to keep them in alphabetical order!” he heard her remind him.

Bit by bit, he was able to clean up his room. He knew she would be proud of him. He looked out of the window again. His best friend, Mikael, suddenly looked up and saw him standing there. Their eyes met for a moment, a thousand words exchanged, they nodded at each other and he moved away from the window. They didn’t expect him to come down.

He looked at the clock again, 5:45pm. Dad will be here. He thought of making tea. He headed towards the kitchen, looked around for the tea pot and found it in the exact same place where she kept it. “Mama, how do you operate this stove?” “Use the last one from the right,” he heard her repeating. “Tea? Sugar? Milk?” he was still fumbling through the shelves. “Everything is there in the top shelf, just look!”

He found what he was looking for and followed her instructions. The door bell rang and he quickly went out to get it.

It was dad. Dad looked tired…… and suddenly…. very old. He smiled wearily at his handsome teenage boy! Just like his mum! “What are you doing in the kitchen?” Dad asked. “Just thought I will make tea for us,” he smiled. “I will change and join you in a bit.”

Tea was ready. He took it to the living room, “Coasters!!!! Where were the coasters!” he murmured. He found them next to the couch on a side table. Dad came out and sat next to him on the couch. The tea looked fine and there were some cookies too.

They both sipped the tea quietly. “It’s good,” dad said. “How did you make it?” He wanted to know if his son had called his nanu again and asked her for the recipe. “Mama told me,” he said looking at her beautiful smile in the picture.

“Listen, I know it is hard on you, it’s difficult for me too. But we must move on. It has been three months. I miss her a lot everyday, but she is in a better place,” dad sighed. He tried not to let his own pain reflect in his voice. He missed her too. But their son wasn’t accepting it…. he knew it was hard on them but he was 16 years old now and should learn to move on.

“I’m always going to be here for you,” she smiled and walked away from him. He looked at his dad, he was trying very hard not to cry, but his eyes weren’t listening. Dad looked away. They both wanted to cry so badly, but they didn’t. He switched on the TV and tuned in to the news channel.

ABHI ISHQ KE IMTIHAN AUR BHI HAIN…..

“Bus haar maan li?” He looked at her with a broad smile as she entered newly decorated bridal room, and stood in front of the AC so she could dry her salty tears without spoiling her Mac mascara. The beautiful Indian henna on her beautiful hands was still bright and breathtaking. How long has it been? Ten days probably… they had gotten married ten days ago. It was a love marriage, purely love.

Like they say, IN LOVE MARRIAGES,YOU EAT THE DESSERT BEFORE THE MAIN COURSE…. So yeah, they had had their fair share of the dessert and now it was time to eat the chatpatta food with no drinks on the side. Mind you, you dare not ask for a cola!

They had been college sweethearts and madly in love… at first it seemed like a phase in their lives but once they got to know each other, they became soulmates and inseparable. Though, they were poles apart, he, the handsome, happy-go-lucky kinda guy and she, the bookworm and serious kinda girl… but it was a deadly combo.

But like every other love story, their story also had many squiggles…

Nevertheless, they got married and tried their best to keep away both sides from killing each other. So why was she crying? Because, she hadn’t anticipated things she was witnessing from the day she had set foot in the house. Her world was very simple and logical. No one taunted. No one spoke between the lines. No one belittled anyone. But it seemed that she was living in a fairytale before she tied the knot.

It was survival of the toughest kinda thing. An eye for an eye! But why? She was there to have a small, loving family, embrace love and grow old with everyone. She wasn’t in any race but now she felt, she had to run it, if she wanted to win it….

He looked at her again, the same champagne eyes that melted her heart, “Go out and face them! I will be there in a minute.” She stepped out, this time her head a little higher. She felt like an alien, that too purple in colour, “Dear earthlings, I come in peace!” She thought…. ufff…. so this is married life… she cursed herself and told her inner voice to shut up.

How long does it take to be accepted?? Ami said one year but she clearly remembered her elder cousin telling her, give and take 10 to 15 years! But then, he was the apple of their eyes and she had mistakenly taken a bite of that beautiful, juicy, red apple.

She looked around, everyone seemed normal as if nothing had happened. They were all busy with other things now. So, she quiwtly made her way to the kitchen to help with dinner preps. Henna, bangles and a bari ka jorah!

نہ میں موسی نہ فرعون۔۔۔۔۔۔

مری جھولی میں یہ ٹوٹے پھوٹے لفظ،

مرے لفظوں میں اک خالی پن،

میں لاوں بھی تو کہاں سے لاوں،

اپنی عبادت میں وہ اپنا پن،

میں دیر تک سجدے کرتا رہوں،

پر دل کو اس کی خبر نہیں،

میں پہروں رات کو روتا رہوں،

پر آنکھیں مری سوکھی رھیں،

مری عبادت مری گھڑی کی پابند،

پر خواہشیں مری بے لگام،

جلدی جلدی سجدے نمٹوں،

جب بن جائیں سارے کام،

اے رب تو کتنا سوھنا ہے،

نہ رکھے خالی ہاتھ مجھے،

میں دن رات کروں ترے حکم کی نفی،

تو پھر بھی جھولی بھرتا جائے،

بس ترے ہی در سے لپٹا رہوں،

نہ چھوڑنا مجھ کو تنہا،

نہ میں موسی نہ فرعون۔