He had gone. The courtyard had the silence like a graveyard. Yousuf Mairaj like he was so tired went and sat on a chair in courtyard. Maryam very silently was looking both of them one by one. And Qandeel…..she was standing where she was, couldn’t move an inch from her place.
She hadn’t expected that Ilaaf Laashari will simply leave without saying anything, without threatening or defending himself. Perhaps, in order to prove himself righteous and his lies the truth in front of Baba, it was another drama, otherwise how could it possible that the proud and arrogant son of Qaiser Laashari who didn’t even talk to Wali Daad, just threatened him, had tolerated so many words of an ordinary girl like Qandeel Yousuf very silently and didn’t get angry even a little. She couldn’t believe or perhaps she hadn’t known what is right and what is wrong, what need she had to know when she had no concern with Ilaaf Laashari.
Qandeel moved ahead and shut the door then turned back and sat in front of Baba silently; took her bag from the shoulder and put it on the table.
Then she looked towards Baba. He was sitting quietly with his head down. Embarrassment, guilt, sadness didn’t know what else Qandeel had seen on his face at that moment.
“Baba” Very difficultly she had said this word.
He raised his head and gazed Qandeel.
“At least I could never expect it from you, Qandeel. I always felt like I have taught you much, but today I feel as I could never be able to teach you anything.” Somebody had given a slap on Qandeel’s face, perhaps she would haven’t felt the pain with a slap what pain she felt that moment because of these words of Baba.
“Even if the enemy visits the home then man gives him respect, shows hospitality, listens what he wants to say and you…..do you know how you have insulted him, in what a disrespective way you have treated him? You have kicked him out from your house, Qandeel. I still can not believe that even my daughter can fall down from a level of morality. My daughter who never sent back a beggar empty handed from her door, who never gave a single word in reply to her arrogant Phuppo, who always taken everyone’s pain like her own pain, who never hated anyone in her life, and today the same daughter of mine has sent back a gentleman empty handed, she cursed a man who was standing quiet, she even didn’t feel the need to hear or understand him, and showed so much hatred for the man that I feel hatred for myself.”
She was hearing him like a statue. Were they words or cutters which were cutting her body and she even wasn’t able to cry. With empty eyes she kept looking Yousuf Mairaj.
“He is either gentle or not I don’t know, true or false I don’t know it too. I just know one thing that he had visited my home and if he would be my enemy even then to give him respect was my job. He didn’t misbehave with me; I didn’t find any lies, falsehood, pride or arrogance in him. He told me everything and that he had right to do so, asked forgiveness for his wrong act of that day which is the proof of his magnitude, but the truth is that even if he would haven’t said all this even then being my guest, it was important for me to take care of his dignity and honor and I expected the same from my daughter as well but you spilled the water over my each and every expectation, Qandeel. You knocked me down in my own eyes.” The eyes of Qandeel were misted; the reflection of Baba was blurred. She felt her cheeks, her eye lashes were wetting.
“Just leave, go into your room. Right now neither I want to say anything to you nor want to hear. Neither you are in your senses nor I am emotionless at the moment, that’s why it’s better that we talk on this topic some other time.”
Qandeel rose like a machine. Then she turned and moved inside with lifeless steps. Maryam came behind her.
“Qandeel.” She stopped when Maryam called but didn’t turn back.
“Just leave, Maryam. I can’t talk to you right now.” She said hardly while having a sob.
Maryam had stopped there. Qandeel came inside her room, shut the door and with a jerk sat on the floor over her knees. Her feet hadn’t enough courage so that she could reach the bed. The next moment lying down on the floor and face downwords she was sobbing like a child, and then she was crying with convulsive sobbing like she had lost everything.
And this was true, whatever she had got in twenty two years, she lost everything in a single moment just because of her anger. The trust of her father, the confidence, the pride, the credit, she had lost everything. Her father, who always declared Qandeel the light of his eyes, today he asked her to leave, to go away. The man in whose presence she never felt the need to wipe her tears herself, today despite of his presence the tears of Qandeel were wiped by the floor on which she was lying by resting her cheeks over it.
Everloving Baba was so much angry to her that even didn’t want to look her face and she…..how she had forgotten the lesson of ethics and morality that Yousuf Mairaj used to give her since childhood and which she never forgot even in the most difficult phases of her life. How she had forgotten that Ilaaf Laashari, whether he was so wicked, was standing in her home like a guest that moment. She had every right not to believe him, to declare his love false, but she hadn’t any right in real, to disrespect him in such a way and kick him out of the house.
Didn’t know how long she kept lying on the floor and kept crying. Yousuf Mairaj had never been angry to Qandeel before this, the truth was that Qandeel had never imagined that someday she would have to face Baba’s anger like this, it was the reason so that a strange burden was put over her heart, and how much she was crying, and how much she was thinking the load was increasing. And then her eyes started burning, head started aching due to crying too much. Somehow she got the courage to stand and went to bed; was tired, the eyelids were swollen and due to burning, to keep the eyes open seeming difficult. Didn’t know what happened, she didn’t want to sleep, wanted to gather some courage, in order to ask forgiveness to Baba but she hadn’t the courage even to face him, how could she ask forgiveness she couldn’t understand. And then how her eyes were shut she couldn’t know.
That was a narrow street in which there was darkness everywhere and Qandeel was walking continuously in the darkness. It was felt that on this way where she kept walking only by the idea, would fell down by striking any moment and no hand would come to hold her. Then she stopped, it was a strange fear which didn’t let her to move ahead. By stopping she looked all around as she is waiting for a lamp. And then, her wait wasn’t disappointed, she had seen shining a light and kindling far a distance. And then slowly and gradually the light came near. She looked, that was an earthen lamp whose kindling was so intense and the earthen lamp……the woman who was holding that lamp was Qandeel’s own mother.
She gazed the lightning face of Saima Yousuf in the light of the earthen lamp.
“Ammi.” She yelled involuntarily.
Saima Yousuf smiled. Qandeel went near to her. She wanted to see her, wanted to talk to her, wanted to feel the touch of motherhood by touching her, but then suddenly she stopped being shocked. She looked in the light of earthen lamp, just besides Ammi he was standing, and was holding the other hand of Saima Yousuf in his hand. The man whom she had extremely hated, Ilaaf Laashari, was standing near her mother, with so much credit like he would have a strong relationship to Saima Yousuf as compare to Qandeel.
She got angry, wished to displace the man from there, to send him far from her mother and to get all rights of her mother’s love herself. She anxiously desired for her mother’s love the entire life, and now she could not share her love with anyone else.
She gazed Ilaaf Laashari with a sight full of hatred then moving ahead tried to hold her mother’s hand so that she could bring her mother close to herself and away from Ilaaf Laashari, but she couldn’t do this.
As soon as she tried to hold her mother’s hand, everything was disappeared, that lamp, Ammi, Ilaaf Laashari, everyone went away and Qandeel was once again standing in the eternal darkness.
“Ammi.” She exclaimed. No answer at all; she yelled and started calling Ammi but there was no one to hear her in that darkness. She was alone in the darkness, extremely alone…….
She woke up in the morning very late, and she was surprised. She had kept sleeping in the same condition on the same place, and even didn’t feel hungry or thursty and the dream…..why even that strange and mysterious dream wasn’t successful to wake her up. And what she had seen in the dream? She had seen her mother, for the first time in life she had seen her mother in her dream, and that man jumped even in her dream.
Why didn’t he stop following her? Why was he behind her all the time? Why he had made her peaceful life a mess just in few days? What did he really want?
She kept thinking for a while, and then she thought about Baba. Opening the door of her room, when she came outside, Baba was reading a book sitting in the courtyard. Hearing the screaching of the door, he looked Qandeel for a moment then moving his head down started reading book once again, didn’t say anything. Qandeel felt to cry; had she done such a bad thing so that he even didn’t want to talk to her?
With her head down she came back in her room.
Next two days were passed in the same way. Yousuf Mairaj had talked to her very little, and whenever talked; shortly and seriously. This was very strange for Qandeel; Baba never did like this before. And she herself…..wanted to apologize to him, wanted to talk to him but didn’t know why she wasn’t feeling herself courageous to do so because of this cold attitude of Baba.
Third day it was the death anniversary of Ammi. Qandeel and Yousuf Mairaj both of them used to spend that day in different ways. Yousuf Mairaj used to remain in his room the whole day of the death anniversary of Saima, just used to come out of his room at night. What he used to do in his room the whole day, Qandeel could never know. Whenever she had asked, Yousuf Mairaj used to change the topic easily. While she used to keep the doors of her home opened that day and always waited so that any beggar could come and ask something, and she fulfill his need. She was always very open handed in this case, somebody spread his hand in front of her, and she refuse to fulfill his need it was very difficult for her to do. Baba used to say that even this habit of hers was just like her mother, and that’s why on death anniversary of Ammi she always waited that somebody could ask for everything that she has she could be able to see that what she had to give to someone, but nobody ever asked such a thing to her which could be difficult for her to give.
As usual, Yousuf Mairaj remained in his room from morning till evening and she kept fulfilling the needs of the beggars coming at her door. Then after the sunset, when she was sure that now nobody will come to ask anything then shutting the door she came inside. The night of Seventeen December was very cold. The dry and cool breezes were moving across her body; strange sadness was in the atmosphere.
For a while, sitting outside she kept looking the dark sky then came inside her room. And just then she picked up her chain from the dressing table. The silver chain and the locket with it which had Allah’s name written on it, she used to wear it since childhood, had kept at the dressing in the morning and now looking it she suddenly thought something.
The chain and the locket was her mother’s; of Saima Yousuf. The woman who gave birth to her, but Qandeel never could see her face in front of her eyes, never could touch her, never could get her love. She could never know that what a mother is? And what is the love of a mother? Why there is no parallel of a mother in this world? She didn’t know anything. For her, whoever it could be Baba was, whatever love she got, got from Baba and today……Baba was angry to her.
She was exhausted, felt suffocation inside the room. She wished by heart, to run outside and raising both hands in the air to scream loudly, to call God, to call her mother, to make a complain, to do something so that this strange emptiness could wash out.
In a mechanical way she opened the door and came outside. And keeping her steps in veranda, a cold breeze suddenly striked to her body with the full power, involuntarily she covered herself with the shawl all around and just then unintentionally her eyes went towards Baba’s room.
The door was opened; Yousuf Mairaj was not in his room. Qandeel looked all around, but couldn’t see him anywhere.
Out of the veranda she came in the courtyard and just then she knew where he was. She was able to hear his beautiful voice even from so much distance; sitting on the stairs he was reciting Quran.
Walking in a slow motion she came towards stairs. On the third step from down to up he was sitting by folding his legs and had kept Quran in his lap.
She went near but Yousuf Mairaj neither stopped for a moment nor looked towards her. Unconcerned from everything around him, he was reciting with full concentration and his enchanting voice was grasping Qandeel in some strange feelings.
Didn’t know what happened, she couldn’t stop herself. Covering her head with her shawl she went and sat a step below exactly near to the feet of Yousuf Mairaj and moving her head down looked at the page of Quran which he was reciting. Yousuf Mairaj gazed her for a moment, but continued his activity.
He was reciting the last rukoo of Surah-e-Yaseen. Qandeel kept listening silently.
Her heart was filling with waters, she wanted to cry.
Then he came on last ayaat.
Qandeel looked, from her downwords eyes a waterfall was falling over the Open Book.
Her tears were shedding and wetting the pages of Quran. Perhaps Yousuf Mairaj finished recitation, because she wasn’t hearing his voice now.
Then Qandeel felt the kind touch of his hand over her head.
Her sobbing got height, she kept crying.
“Qandeel, my dear daughter.” Qandeel felt like he was calling her name after years.
She didn’t raise her head, just kept crying.
Yousuf Mairaj had closed Quran; however he was still keeping the Book in his lap.
Without thinking anything, she kept her forehead and her head over Quran and kept sobbing. She thought that perhaps Baba would stop her to do this but she was surprised when she felt as he kept his head over her head. She could feel the touch of his head.
She could feel, whole body of Yousuf Mairaj was trembling. Following Qandeel, he also started crying. That silence, that sadness, that soundless moment, was very precious for both father and daughter. Both of them without saying anything were sharing their all pains with the Book of Truth.
Qandeel’s heart was getting light; burden was lessening. She was feeling herself careless and light like she always did.
Then she felt, Baba raised his head.
“Qandeel.” She heard his voice full of wet tears.
Qandeel raised her head and looked him.
That was a moment of Love, and that moment no anger, no complain, no curse could survive.
Yousuf Mairaj had an eternal love in his eyes, the love which was power of Qandeel.
He took Quran and folded It in his arm then slipped on the lower step besides her.
“Stupid girl, nobody becomes angry with daughters. I am not angry with you and you don’t need to apologize.” The shawl was slipped from her head and her hairs were unbound, but she hadn’t cared. She was still crying.
Yousuf Mairaj embraced her with his chest using his other arm.
Hiding her face into his chest, she was badly crying.
“Stop it, Qandeel. Why are you exhausting yourself by crying so much?” He was patting her head.
“You are lying, you were angry with me.”
“You know, I don’t tell lies.”
“If you were not angry, then why were not you talking to me?”
“Because I wanted you to get a chance to think with cool mind yourself and without the need of my advices, you could find a solution for the problem. For me, now you are enough capable so that you can judge your weaknesses yourself and correct them, and truly speaking I won’t live with you for the entire life. Someday I will have to go from your life, and that’s why it is better for you to make a habit to think each matter yourself and to take decisions.”
“Baba, you are not going anywhere. You have to live with me forever, I don’t know anything else.” She spoke in a stubborn manner like a child.
“I will be near you, Qandeel; would be with you or not what difference does it make? And I am not saying that I will die. I mean you will get married. And then you will have to leave me and go away.”
“Baba, why are you talking like this? You know, I don’t like these things for you to talk.”
“Ok, I don’t say it now. Sometimes, man despite of being aware from the truth, doesn’t like to hear the truth that’s why it is my duty to take care of your liking and disliking.” He laughed and unwillingly Qandeel had laughed too.
“Ok, leave everything. We haven’t a meal together for three days. Saima would feel bad if we won’t have a meal together even today.” Qandeel smiled, “Go, and set the dinner. I am just coming after having Duaa.” Qandeel rose.
She rolled up her hairs, set the shawl on her shoulders and just then Yousuf Mairaj held her hand.
Qandeel looked; he was keeping her right hand on his eyes. She smiled, Yousuf Mairaj used to show his love in such a way very rarely. Then he gazed Qandeel.
“Whatever you did with Ilaaf, you did wrong.”
“This is a good thing that you have an idea about your mistake.”
“But it doesn’t mean that I believe his words.”
“For, this can be thought later.”
“What is the need to think, I am sure he lies.”
“He is not a liar, Qandeel.”
“How can you say, Baba?”
“Because my heart witnesses that he is true in his words.” Yousuf Mairaj left her hand.
This time Qandeel couldn’t answer him, just kept looking a mysterious impression in his eyes.
“We will talk on this topic, later on. Just go inside. I am having Duaa, then I will come and we will have dinner together.”
She kept standing for few moments then turned and came inside. Before stepping into veranda, she turned back and looked Yousuf Mairaj. Once again keeping Quran in his lap, he had rasied his hands for Duaa.
She didn’t know, what was he praying for? She could not know because she was Qandeel Yousuf, could not be aware from her fate so early.