“Qandeel, you will never learn how to dress yourself formally?” Seema said in a teased manner.
Both of them were standing in Qandeel’s room in front of the dressing table.
“Oh yes, like this is the only thing in this world for me to learn.” Qandeel replied laughing.
Ameen and Humaira were outside.
“Ok, just apply something on your face.” Seema insisted.
“Already have lipstick.” Her satisfaction was still the same.
“That has been on lips; apply some blush-on to your face.”
“Come on Seema, I am going into Rohail’s birthday not in his wedding.” Qandeel said very carelessly.
“Fine, then let me apply the kajal in your eyes; will look beautiful.”
“No gain at all. I am used to rub my eyes; kajal will spread and will be looking odd.” Qandeel had answer for each and everything.
Perhaps Seema had wished to beat her head. Qandeel had felt like this by looking her facial expressions.
“Do whatever you want, to argue with you is like striking one’s head to the stone.” Qandeel smiled.
“Ok please don’t be angry. Let’s go, Ameen and Humaira are waiting outside.” Qandeel had put on her sandel and they came outside the room.
Ameen and Humaira were standing in the courtyard.
“Good that you have come otherwise I was thinking that perhaps now I will have to call you. Rohail just called; was asking that when we are going to reach. I think we should leave now, we are already late.”
Qandeel took the keys and put into her shoulder bag then they came towards the door.
“Qandeel, black color always suits you very much.” She was locking the door when heard Humaira saying.
“Yeah, and that’s why the lady doesn’t feel the need to do any other preparations. Wherever she has to go; just puts on the black color dress and goes. I have said hundred times that at least apply kajal in your eyes; thunders would have fallen on everyone today.” Qandeel smiled.
“I don’t have to drop the thunders on anyone.” Saying very carelessly she moved ahead besides Ameen.
There was a place for parking at the road in front of Rohail’s house. Ameen parked the car and all four of them got down.
Qandeel held her stole and settled it on her shoulders once again.
Ameen was taking out the gifts from the car.
Qandeel suddenly looked on her left side. At some distance the white land cruiser had just been parked. Then she looked Ilaaf getting down from the car.
An unpleasant feeling grasped her.
Ilaaf took out the guitar and gift from the car; then he closed the door and turned back and then had stopped. Perhaps he had also seen them.
Qandeel looked; he was looking her.
Even in the dimmed light of street bulbs, Qandeel was able to see a strange impression in his eyes.
Ameen waved his hand looking Ilaaf. He was now coming towards them.
He shook his hand with Ameen coming near and then they moved towards the gate.
Qandeel wished to run away; to go somewhere else, anywhere but not the place where that person was going.
“Was it necessary for him to come here today? Could not be any problem come in his way? Couldn’t he be busy today somewhere else?” With strange thoughts she kept standing at her place.
“Qandeel, let’s go. Why are you standing there? Won’t you go inside?” Humaira called her and she moved slowly unwillingly.
Ilaaf and Ameen were ahead.
She was not feeling good but once they went inside everything was fine. Ilaaf was lost among so many people around and she started talking with her friends sitting aside.
Rohail was very happy; he paid special thanks to Qandeel for coming; Qandeel was embarrassed. He was her friend and their paying thanks always had made her embarrassed.
Everything was excellent. Rohail introduced them with his convent friends. She started feeling better in a while. In a crowd like this, the presence of Ilaaf Laashari was not bothering her. And what need she had to give importance to a person like him or to consider his presence bothering for her.
And then Qandeel was just attentive towards Ilaaf when some friends of Rohail asked him to sing a song but Ilaaf didn’t give importance to their request.
He was sitting on a chair at some distance to the piano that was kept in the hall and was making random tunes on guitar. He kept making tunes on a note for sometime and as soon as people were attracted towards the melody, he stopped his hand; he kept doing this.
Qandeel was listening those haphazard tunes of guitar. She just surprised how a person like Ilaaf Laashari can make so soft and beautiful tunes like this?
“Everything is possible in this world.” The last thought that came into her mind was this.
“It’s enough. Now stop playing with guitar and sing a song for us.” Everybody was attentive hearing Rohail’s words.
“I am out of my mood.” Ilaaf replied without moving his head up.
“Will be in mood; just try to begin.”
Qandeel having the glass of juice in her hand sat aside.
“What would you like to listen?” She heard Ilaaf saying.
“Some wonderful tunes and a beautiful song.” A friend of Rohail asked.
“Beautiful song.” Ilaaf repeated the words, “Beauty, charm, magnificence, what are these all words?” He was like talking to himself. Qandeel gazed him with strange look.
“Which is the most beautiful thing of the world?” Ilaaf looked all of them with a questioning sight.
Nobody could say anything.
“We have asked you to sing a song and you are asking the question.” Somebody remarked.
“You have made a request and in order to make me fulfilling the request you have to answer my question.” His determined tone was the proof that he won’t sing without knowing the answer.
There was silence for a while.
Ilaaf moved his head up and looked them again.
“Which is the most beautiful thing of the world?”
“Woman.” Perhaps the first answer that Ameen could have was this.
“You consider woman as a thing, Ameen.” Qandeel said while looking Ameen.
The laughs were echoed in the hall.
“At least I couldn’t expect it from you.” Qandeel came somewhat ahead.
“Then answer this question, Qandeel. Only you can answer this very strange question.” Ameen replied with an embarrassing smile.
Qandeel didn’t reply; she didn’t want to talk to Ilaaf.
Ilaaf kept the guitar aside and stood. “Among so many intelligent people, not a single one has the answer for my question.” Saying in a very strange manner his moving eyes were stopped on Qandeel.
“Qandeel Yousuf, Don’t you have answer for my question too?” He came ahead.
This time Qandeel couldn’t control her tongue.
“I have; I have answers for your each and every question.” Her tone was contented as usual.
“Which is the most beautiful thing of the world?” His eyes were still at her face.
“Love.” Ilaaf couldn’t say anything in reply; even he could not because Qandeel knew he can’t refuse the answer; nobody can.
Rohail appreciated Qandeel with clapping and applause.
“If you wanna ask any other question then you can. I can answer each and every question.” Don’t know why Qandeel said looking into his eyes being so fearless that moment.
Both of them were standing in the middle of the hall.
“Which is the ugliest thing of the world?”
“Haughtiness.” She was having some fun playing this game; was feeling good while giving the exam of her knowledge and awareness and that’s why for a while she had forgotten that who is asking those questions.
“The most precious blessing of the world?”
“The most worthless thing?”
“What is life?”
“The mirror of reality.”
“The other name of life.”
“The difference between these two?”
“A single breath.”
“If death is the other name of life then why man runs away from death?”
“Whoever runs away from death is the one who doesn’t know the skill to remain faithful with the life.”
“To whom one Loves?”
“One he should Love”
“Does it happen once?”
“And if this heart is dying for every flower like a beetle, what’s this then?”
“The sign of heart disorder.”
“How Love happens?”
“By having desire, one who finds the desire, reaches to Love as well.”
“One who doesn’t love?”
“He should wish to love.”
“And one who doesn’t want to wish to love?”
“He has no right to call himself alive.”
There was silence for few moments. The questions were finished.
Ilaaf moved few steps back.
“You really have answer for each and every question.” He looked Qandeel smiling.
Qandeel didn’t try to smile.
Ilaaf went and sat on his previous place; took the guitar into his hands and then looked towards Qandeel.
“Rohail had told me that you play keyboard very well.”
“You too play the guitar very well.” She knew her tone was expressionless.
“Yes, but today tunes and words both have been lost. Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to sing anything. Why don’t you sing something today? Their request will also be fulfilled in this way.” With so much brilliance, he had pitched the ball into her court.
“Yes Qandeel, please sing something. Don’t know what is happened to Ilaaf today?” Rohail said and she smiled.
“To grasp tunes and words, one has to lose himself, Ilaaf Laashari.” The smile was vanished from the face of Ilaaf. “Today is Rohail’s birthday and I will fulfill Rohail’s request.” She was Qandeel Yousuf who knew the skill to play the each ball pitched into her court very well.
She came and sat with the piano kept at the left side of Ilaaf.
For a moment she gazed everyone standing in front of her. Before this she had never played the piano nor had sung any song in front of so many people but she had to do it that day.
She passed a look full of Love at piano and a smile was spread on her lips. She moved her fingers; it was a light and sweet melody which was penetrated into the hall coming out beneath her fingers.
“Merey dil men aur rooh men tum basey ban kr khushi,
Jaisey aankhon men khwaab hon, saans men ho taazgi,
Tum jo aye, na zindagi men rahi koi kami,
They andherey rahon men tum ban gaye meri roshni,
Tum hi ho deewangi, bekhudi ho meri,
Tum hi ho dil ki lagi, zindagi ho meri.”
Perhaps Ilaaf had grasped all tunes of the melody because now he was playing guitar on the same tune.
“Tum hi geeton ki khwahish, tum hi her dhun ki arzoo,
Tum hi ho dukh men rahat, tum mohabbat ki khushboo,
Ye koi Junoon hai kya,
Ye koi Fusoon hai kya,
Ye dhanak jo chahat ki hai, mujh pey ab chayi hui,
Saat rangon ki ye talab, dil men ab samayi hui,
Tum hi ho deewangi, bekhudi ho meri,
Tum hi ho dil ki lagi, zindagi ho meri.”
The song was ended; Qandeel left the piano; her effort was paid by the clapping and applause. Rohail had appreciated her especially.
She came back towards her friends.
After a while the cake was cut and then the dinner was ready.
She was having dinner sitting with Seema and Ameen and just then the heat of his eyesight had disturbed her completely. He was starring her continuously sitting aside.
Qandeel had felt herself angry very few times like how she was feeling now. She was feeling either to kick him out of the hall or to leave the hall herself.
After the dinner when she was talking to Rohail and Humaira just then Maryam called her on the cell phone.
Maryam had worries in her tone.
“What happened, Maryam? Why are you worried?” Ameen and Seema also had come there.
“What happened? Is everything alright? Tell me?” She was worried too.
“Yousuf Uncle has a heart attack, try to reach hospital as soon as possible.” For a moment Qandeel couldn’t understand anything.
“What are you saying, Maryam?” She felt her tone being quenched in the throat.
Perhaps all of them had an idea with her expressions that Maryam has told her some bad news.
“What happened, Qandeel?” Rohail had asked.
She couldn’t answer him just looked his face.
“He is much better now, just try to reach hospital.” Maryam said and just then Rohail had taken mobile from her hand.
She stood silently; was just thinking about Baba right now.
“I am Rohail, Maryam. What happened?” He was talking to Maryam on phone.
“Ok, don’t be worry. I am sending Qandeel to the hospital.” Rohail after asking the address of the hospital turned off the phone.
“Uncle is fine. Don’t be worry. Just be ready to go to the hospital.” Qandeel shook her head positively and went to take her bag.
“Ameen, I think you won’t be able to go defence right now.” Rohail looked Ameen. Ameen shook his head.
Ilaaf had come having his guitar and coat in his hand.
“I think I must go now.” He said to Rohail. Rohail had suddenly thought something by looking Ilaaf.
Qandeel came back having her bag on her shoulder.
“Ilaaf, you are going home naa.” Ilaaf shook his head like he didn’t understand anything.
“Qandeel’s father has a heart attack; hospital is in defence. Can you drop Qandeel there?” Rohail told him the name and address of the hospital.
“Ok, I will drop her.” Qandeel looked Rohail and shook her head negatively.
“I will go myself, Rohail. Don’t bother anyone.”
“There is nothing in it that can bother me; that hospital is on the way to my home.” Ilaaf replied Qandeel in a serious tone. Qandeel couldn’t say anything.
“I bring my car out of the parking, you come outside.” Saying in a decisive tone he went outside.
“I won’t go with Ilaaf.” She said to Rohail.
“This is not the right time to talk these things, Qandeel. I can’t drop you at the hospital myself, that’s why asked to Ilaaf. He is my friend; is a little bit crazy but overall he is a gentleman. I am sending you with him because I trust him otherwise I can never send you with an untrustworthy person.” Qandeel didn’t want to argue too. She was worried for Baba, so was now silent and thinking something.
She came outside with Rohail.
Ilaaf had brought his car out of the parking. Very silently, she went and sat besides him on the front seat. Ilaaf moved the car ahead.
Qandeel was silent. She had come with Ilaaf because she had no choice but she was not feeling good right now. He was looking her again and again by turning his head in short intervals. Qandeel’s eyes were on windscreen but she was able to feel; the heat of his eyes, a very strange impression spilling from his eyes.
There was silence for a while then she heard Ilaaf saying.
“Nothing could be changed just being worried, so one should not be worried. Nothing will happen to your father, he will be alright.” Qandeel didn’t answer him; she was just thinking about Baba.
As soon as the car came on the main road, Ilaaf increased its speed. He was driving the car so fast even in the traffic load and this was very dangerous. Perhaps he would be used to drive always like this but right now Qandeel was sitting besides him and she couldn’t bear it. She could never like this way to put their and others’ lives in danger.
“Drive the car slow, Ilaaf.” Qandeel said.
This time Ilaaf like didn’t hear what she had said.
Qandeel got angry. “Didn’t you hear; what I have said, drive the car slow?” Her tone was raised this time.
Ilaaf turned his head and looked her.
“Can I ask a question?” He had not slowed down the speed; was showing extreme carelessness in the case of driving.
Qandeel looked him silently; she was feeling herself very angry.
“Do you fear from death?” The question was absolutely stupid for Qandeel.
“I don’t fear to die, Ilaaf Laashari but I have no intention to die with you right now.” She answered looking into his eyes.
Ilaaf had a smile on his face like he was expecting the same answer.
“You were worried and I thought that I should drop you at the hospital as soon as possible.” He was presenting the reason. Qandeel didn’t need his reason.
“Yes I am worried for Baba but that doesn’t mean that I should consider rest of the people of the world unimportant just due to my father. How many people are walking on the road and how many are sitting in other cars, all of them are human beings like us. So, I will never wish to put their lives in danger in order to reach hospital as soon as possible.” She squeezed her lips and tilted her back with the seat.
Ilaaf changed the gear and slowed down the speed.
Rest of the way was passed very silently.
Ilaaf stopped the car at the gate of the hospital then said to Qandeel.
“Give my regards to your father for his health.” Unwillingly Qandeel shook her head.
“Bye; will see you later.” Qandeel opened the door but then stopped hearing his words.
“To meet someone, there must be a reason, Ilaaf Laashari, and I think so that there is not any reason for us to meet again.” She looked the color of his face was changed.
Very few times in her life, she used to behave in such a straight forward manner but it was true that she didn’t want to meet Ilaaf Laashari and that’s why she had replied like this without caring about anything.
Before Ilaaf could say anything in reply, she got down and came inside the gate.
And coming inside just in a while she had totally forgotten Ilaaf Laashari; if was thinking about someone then he was Baba.
She was worried and her worries just were overcomed when she discussed Baba’s condition with Dr. Lodhi, otherwise before this she was not satisfied even on the explanation given by Maryam, Kawish, Hamza Shahid and Kamran Ali.
It was a minor heart attack. Yousuf Mairaj was now shifted in the room.
And when she came out of Dr. Lodhi’s room towards the room where Baba was shifted, Hamza Shahid patting her head had said.
“Now you are satisfied, good girl, that your father is perfectly fine.” She shook her head smiling.
It was very late in night. Qandeel asked everybody to go home decided to stay herself with Baba although Dr. Lodhi had said that she can go home as well and meet Yousuf Mairaj in the morning but she didn’t want to leave Baba.
Yousuf Mairaj was sleeping now due to the injection of sleep inducing drugs.
“We will come early in the morning; take good care of Uncle and whatever would be the situation call me without hesitation.” Maryam instructed her before leaving. Then in a while everbody left one by one.
She came inside the room. Yousuf Mairaj was sleeping.
Qandeel kept looking him for a while then she bent herself little and kissed his forehead.
Sitting on the sofa at some distance to the bed, she spread her legs and closed her eyes.
Worries were overcomed and now she was feeling herself tired although she didn’t want to sleep but she was fell asleep in a while.