She had knocked the door. Baba had opened the door.
Qandeel looked Yousuf Mairaj.
“Where were you, Qandeel? I was so worried. If you had to be late then at least you could inform me with a single phone call.” Perhaps he was so worried that had asked all questions in a single breath.
“I had not the idea.” Qandeel had tried to keep her tone normal.
Yousuf Mairaj stepped aside to let her come inside. She came inside and just then perhaps in the tubelight of the courtyard he had seen her face with a closer look.
“What happened, Qandeel? Why your face is so pale?” He had asked looking her pale face.
Each and every effort of Qandeel was gone in vain. How much she had tried that Baba could not know anything with her face expression but it had not worked. He was Yousuf Mairaj who was able to know each and every feeling of her from her face.
“Nothing, Baba. Nothing has happened.” Her tone was weak.
“I can not admit that everything is alright. Something has happened so that your face is so pale and your red eyes…..have you cried, Qandeel?” Speaking with a surprise he came near to her.
Didn’t know what had happened, she just felt; she couldn’t face Baba.
She took a side and came inside in a fast pace.
“Qandeel, stop. Where are you going?” She had neglected his words completely. Passing the courtyard she crossed the veranda and came in her room almost running.
Yousuf Mairaj had followed her and still calling, but before he could reach her room she had closed the door and fastened its bolt.
“Qandeel, what happened? Open the door. Tell me what has happened.” Throwing her bag on the bed she sat on the floor near the door and keeping both hands on the floor started controlling her breath. She could still hear Baba’s voice behind the door but she couldn’t face him right now. The insult that she had faced today due to Ilaaf Laashari, after that she didn’t know how would she react in front of Baba, therefore wanted to be alone for a while. Her body was trembling due to the extreme anger and she had wished by her heart to call Ilaaf Laashari with abuses, to do something that could lessen her anger.
But Baba was still calling her standing with the door outside. She knew he was worried; Qandeel had never done anything like this before.
“Qandeel, for God’s sake open the door. I am really worried. What has happened that you even can’t talk to me? My heart is drowning, Qandeel. Don’t test my patience, my child. I don’t have enough courage to bear the burden of a heavy pain.” Qandeel couldn’t test his patience more. She knew that Baba is very sensitive in her case; didn’t want to give him any pain.
She kept thinking for a while sitting there then stood and opened the door.
Yousuf Mairaj had gazed her. Qandeel looked him.
His restless eyes had the same questions, the questions that he was asking to her initially and now his silence even had the same questions hidden in it.
Qandeel’s heart, her eyes started filling with waters.
“Baba.” She said just one word and then keeping her head on his chest she started crying; like an innocent kid.
Yousuf Mairaj had taken her into his arms and kissed her head. “What happened, Qandeel? Tell me something.”
Qandeel raised her head while crying then allowed her anger to come out like her tears.
“Zaleel, Kamina. What he thinks he is and what he thinks I am?” Yousuf Mairaj had looked her with a surprise. For the first time in life, she was calling someone with an abuse.
“Who you are talking about, Qandeel?”
“Ilaaf Laashari, the spoiled richman who wants to buy me like a motionless thing, but he doesn’t know that neither a market has ever set in this world where Qandeel Yousuf can be sold out nor any buyer has yet been born who can buy Qandeel Yousuf.”
She was not in her senses so could feel what does that mean that she was saying; just wanted to bring her anger out. Yousuf Mairaj held her shoulders and let her to sit on a chair in veranda. Her tears were not shedding with the same speed now.
“What did Ilaaf do?” His tone had a surprise, “Tell me, Qandeel. What did Ilaaf do?”
“Was following me and then by stopping me in the super market was claiming that he loves me and thinking that perhaps I will believe that his acting was a truth and like a stupid girl would start believing that he has fallen in love with me in real, but I set his mind on the position. Woman is not a thing, whenever desired, claimed for her love and got her. I am just surprised on his stubbornness, how much I keep accusing him, his persistence increases to the same extent.” She had now controlled herself a bit.
“I thought he is a mature and decent boy, but I could never expect such an act from him.” She heard Baba saying.
“I am surprised Baba that now you have started making mistakes to understand people. I could never feel that he is good in anyway; the first number wicked guy and his eyes…..the madness that is always present in his eyes, makes me to feel angry.” Yousuf Mairaj didn’t answer her just kept thinking.
“If he ever came in front of me after today then I will make a mess of him so that he will remember it forever. What pride he has so that without thinking about anything, he came to have a false claim of love to me and put me on a show in front of so many people. What a single thing is found in Ilaaf Laashari due to which Qandeel Yousuf should trust him, which quality, which ability he has of his own, whatever he has is provided by others, what excellence is his own that he has, so that on the basis of which he had come to claim for love to a girl who is already engaged to someone else.” As she was talking, slowly and gradually feeling herself light.
And then didn’t know for how long she kept sitting there and kept accusing Ilaaf Laashari. Yousuf Mairaj commented very little on whatever she had said, he had kept hearing silently.
And at last when she went quiet then by kissing her forehead Yousuf Mairaj just said.
“Sometimes, many things happen in life, Qandeel. Many things which on thinking apparently, seem unusual but we have to accept that they happened. Whatever happened wasn’t good at all, and I hope that Ilaaf would also have learned a lesson from this and he wouldn’t do anything like this in future. You also shouldn’t get this incident on your nerves instead to try to forget this unpleasant event so that you could be able to give your full attention to your exams.” Saying in an eternal peaceful tone he had stood. Qandeel raised her head and looked him; there was tiredness on his face. She couldn’t know that what was the reason of that tiredness, of the reaction of that incident or of anything else?
“You had taken out my soul for a while, Qandeel. Acha I am going into my room, want to have a little rest then we will have dinner together.” He had gone into his room.
She had not any chat to Baba on this topic after that, she herself didn’t want to make him further upset by talking about this.
For next few days, she had kept thinking about the incident in short intervals and each time she got angry on Ilaaf and then on Rohail. Despite of the fact that Rohail wasn’t involved in the whole inceident anyway, didn’t know why she thought it was Rohail’s fault as well.
Just because of Rohail, she had met Ilaaf Laashari; neither she would have met him nor would had happened whatever had happened now.
Exams were started from the next week. Qandeel and her all friends used to have a combined study in the last week before the exams, Seema and Ameen had called her this time too. They had called Qandeel thrice in one week for the combined study but this time she had not gone to University even on their call intentionally, and kept refusing by making some excuses, while it was always difficult for her to study at the individual level; she had liked combined study, but she didn’t want to face Rohail. She was extremely angry to him and didn’t want to even look his face at the moment and due to which she would remember the face of Ilaaf Laashari. Right now she just wanted to concentrate on her studies and she had the idea that anything related to that incident can affect her studies badly, so it was a precautionary measure for Qandeel.
Even she had kept trying during the exams that could talk to Rohail as minimum as possible, and during the frist three papers she used to leave immediately after finishing her paper. All four of them even hadn’t come out of the lecture hall when she had left silently for home and later when had talked to someone on phone then had made some false excuses. Papers were also going alright but not that much excellent as always had.
Then that day when they had the paper of Dr. Kamal then Qandeel got late collecting her belongings. Handing over the paper and the answer script to Dr. Kamal when she came out from the lecture hall, all four of them were completely ready to reproach her.
“Listen, we acknowledge that you have done an internship in a well reputed newspaper and Dr. Saeed has liked your project so much that he has highly exaggerated praising you in the whole department, but that doesn’t mean that you should become proud enough so that you don’t even want to look our faces.” Ameen had said without caring about anything, Qandeel had involuntarily laughed on his criticism.
“And if we hadn’t planned already to catch you at any case then perhaps you would have run away today as well.” Humaira had said, and then Seema had also said something and she just kept laughing on their critical comments. Rohail at the other hand had neither taunted her nor had asked the reason for avoiding them; just smiled to see Qandeel laughing and his smile had the same friendly gesture that always had. But then didn’t know why, looking Rohail smiling she had remembered Ilaaf Laashari. The man whom she had hated most was the friend of Rohail and just because of Rohail Qandeel had to face so much disgust that day.
She kept talking for a long to all four of them standing there. They were not ready to forgive her at any condition and then Rohail had reminded them that Qandeel’s birthday is coming in the next week. As soon as he reminded them, Seema and Ameen started to shout and asking Qandeel for a treat. At last she had to be agreed for that, it was just a coincidence that they have their last paper on the same day Qandeel’s birthday was that’s why the plan of treat was after the exam. After the end of the paper, Qandeel had to give them a treat at a place of their own choice, it was decided that Qandeel will also call Maryam at University after the paper because she couldn’t be able to give two treats in one single day, and from there all of them would go to a restaurant to celebrate Qandeel’s birthday.
“Now, let me go. Baba will be waiting for me. May Allah never give friends like you people even to an enemy; just are satisfied if the other has the same opinion and the problem of friend has no means to you people.” At last she spoke laughing.
All of them came out talking. Ameen used to drop Seema, that day Humaira was also going with him.
“Let’s go. I will drop you at home.” Rohail said and for the first time Qandeel had an uneasy feeling; she didn’t want to go with Rohail.
“No, I will go myself.” She had replied in an expressionless tone.
All four of them were surprised on her answer.
“But you normally use to go with Rohail. Then what happened today?” Seema asked surprisingly.
Rohail was quiet; he just had observed the gestures of Qandeel’s face. Qandeel changed the direction of her eyes. She wanted to avoid Rohail.
“Yes, but today I have to go at Maryam’s place. Rohail’s route is different and I will go myself. You drop me at the gate two; I will take a rickshaw from there.”
“Then let die. Come with us.” Ameen replied with an odd look and she smiled.
This false excuse of Qandeel wasn’t caught because there wasn’t any rumple in her lie. She oftenly used to go with Ameen to the gate two whenever she had to go Maryam’s home as Rohail used to go through gate three.
Rohail hadn’t commented. She moved ahead with three of them. However, she had felt as Rohail wasn’t satisfied with her attitude. He was still standing at his place.
She didn’t want to think about anything at the moment because she didn’t want to think about Ilaaf Laashari.