Friday, June 24, 2011

Chapter no. 9: The Unknown Fragrance (I)

It was a soft and kind touch which was bringing him from darkness towards light slowly and gradually. He turned his side then started looking exactly straight above his head. The blurred image of Daadi now went clear. She was combing his hairs with her soft hands smiling.

“When did you reach Daadi Maa?” He rubbed his eyes smiling.

“Just a little while.” Fatima Laashari kissed his forehead, “You were sleeping Ilaaf, so I didn’t want to wake you up therefore kept looking you sitting here.” For a moment Ilaaf wished by his heart to spend his whole life in the shade of her love and kindness. Her love always raised the desires like a little child inside him. “I made all arrangements, and would have welcomed you myself if had not been to Ziarat. Have you had your proper meal last night?” She was now moving her hand over his face and his eyes.

“Hmmmm” With closed eyes while taking in her love, he just had to say this.

“And have you had the proper sleep?” He remembered the dream, perhaps had seen earlier at night but didn’t feel the agitation this time. Perhaps he now used to have these dreams.

“I and your mother miss you so much, but you always have limited time for us, Ilaaf.” She was complaining as usual.

Without answering her, he changed his side and kept his head in her lap. She kept her head over his head smiling.

What a peace is there in a mother’s lap. How a man suffering with pains and miseries, when keeps his head in his mother’s lap then feels himself so light and easy and becomes unconcerned from each and every grief for a while; Ilaaf had felt this reality intensilvely that day.

For a moment he thought to tell Daadi about Qandeel and ask her to go and talk to Qandeel then thinking something he postponed this idea; wanted to find out a solution himself first.

“Whenever Omer had been on leave and come home, used to keep his head in my lap in the same way. You are just like my Omer, Ilaaf.” He hadn’t answered.

Daadi had always compared his each and every habit with Omer Chachaa and he used to hear it silently; never felt the need to ask or know anything more than this. In this mansion, except Daadi and Maa very few times someone had taken Omer Chachaa’s name in front of him; not even Baba and Daada Saaiyen, both of them never used to talk about Omer Chachaa to him. Perhaps talking about a person who is not in this world now, was not important for both of them and that’s why even Ilaaf never felt that curiousity due to which he could have tried to know about the personality of Omer Chachaa. He just had known one thing very well and was that he highly resembled Omer Chachaa in features and looks.

After taking shower when he came downstairs, went straight into the kitchen; knew that Maa would be present there. Zainab Laashari most of the time was found in kitchen especially when Ilaaf used to be here.

She was instructing the maids when Ilaaf entered the kitchen.

She looked towards Ilaaf. Ilaaf didn’t say anything just looked her smiling. She smiled in reply and looking her smiling like this, Ilaaf as usual felt a strange happiness inside him. She used to smile very few times despite of the fact that her smile was beautiful.

He moved towards the dining table when heard Maa saying.

“Ilaaf, first come this side. I have to make the counter influence of evil.” Ilaaf in a bizarre manner went towards her; till then she had got the red chillies from Sakeena.

Ilaaf went and stood in front of her and kept looking her making the counter influence of evil for him. Then Zainab Laashari handed over the chillies to Sakeena.

“Burn them outside; Ilaaf would have sneezing due to the smell.”

Ilaaf sat on the dining table quietly. Zainab Laashari set the breakfast then sat on a chair in front of him and started looking him having his breakfast.

He always had seen Maa speaking very little compare to Daadi, although she had the same peace on her face which he always seen on Daadi’s face.

“How long you will stay, Ilaaf?” After a while she suddenly remembered a question.

“I will stay a week, Maa.” Her eyes had a strange shining that moment. Ilaaf knew very well that which shining is this; whenever he had called her “Maa”, her eyes had the same shining every time.

When he came outside after breakfast then noticed the unusual hustle bustle of maids and servants. Daadi and Maa both were in lounge. He came inside the lounge. Daadi was instructing Sakeena about something sitting at her specific place as usual. He came and sat besides Maa on couch.

Zainab Laashari turned her head and looked him, and then she kept looking him for a while like, on looking him after so many days would be providing the contentment to her eyes. Then she turned towards him and had taken Ilaaf’s hands into her own hands.

Ilaaf knew that what she is going to do now that’s why kept looking her actions quietly.

At first, Zainab Laashari touched his both hands to her eyes and then kissed them. Then she had taken Ilaaf’s face into her hands. Ilaaf bowed a little involuntarily; was used to this routine since childhood. Zainab Laashari had kissed his forehead, his eyes and his cheeks one by one. She used to show her love like this.

Ilaaf smiled; knew that now it is his turn to show his love for his mother.

In exactly the same way, holding both hands of Maa he touched them with his eyes and then kissed them.

Fatima Laashari had smiled by looking the typical way of loving of both son and mother.

Ilaaf now slipped from the couch and sat down near the feet of his mother, and then he kept his head over the knees of Maa. Zainab Laashari started combing his hairs with her hands.

There was silence for a while then he heard Maa saying.

“Ilaaf, you don’t oil your hairs. Look, you have got dandruff.” With a bizarre smile he raised his head and looked her.

She called a maid to bring the oil.

Ilaaf had extremely disliked the mustard oil and nearly felt like dying due to its smell but couldn’t say anything in front of Maa.

In a while the oiling and massage of his hairs had been started.

There was some magic in the hands of Maa. He was feeling a strange peace and this activity was also felt interesting by him; knew that he will have to shampoo his hairs again but it was not a big deal in front of the love of his mother.

He always surprised. His mother, Zainab Laashari was a gold medalist in sociology and was the daughter of his Naana who was very concerned about so called standards, even then she used to perform every little duty for his son; and while doing this neither she cared that she was the daughter of Mujahid Baloch nor that she was the wife of Qaiser Laashari. That moment she just was like his mother, and Ilaaf had always felt pride that he is the son of a mother like Zainab Laashari; unique in her own way, she was a different woman.

The women that were highly ranked in Ilaaf’s life were all very strange and used to surprise him always. At first Daadi, then Maa and now Qandeel was added in the list.

He later came to know that the arrangements that were being made since morning in the mansion were actually arranged due to Quran Khwani for Eisaal-e-sawaab of Omer Chachaa; in evening a free public kitchen was also set. Everything was done well even in the absence of Baba and Daada Saaiyen; asked by Daadi, he looked after all arrangements for a while. And so, his time was passed quickly till evening and he had not to search a new activity in order to pass his time.

After dusk when the mansion was not crowded then he seated himself on a chair in veranda in order to rest for a while. Housekeepers were finishing the remaining tasks around quickly. The charming lights of different kinds that were held in veranda always had made the time of dusk beautiful there. Ilaaf used to see that view. It was January, winters were having their last days in the village and that’s why the weather was bit cold at the moment.

There was a mysterious silence everywhere, which was perhaps only felt by him and in this silence he had felt a strange fragrance there. It was an enchanting smell which was spread around him. Expanding his nostrils he confirmed the presence of that smell. A fragrance was really present there, unknown, and heart captivating fragrance, which could neither be of aloe stick nor of frankincense, even this enchanting smell was not of any branded perfume, Ilaaf was sure because he had a great information in this case.

He looked his left and right. Veranda was almost desolated now.

“Saaiyen.” He shuddered for a moment.

Sakeena was standing behind him.

“What happened?” He controlled his breath and then sat straight.

“Bari Bibi has sent this; was saying that there is cold outside, you should put it on.” She was holding a grey color shawl which she gave to Ilaaf.

Ilaaf had taken that shawl into his hand. Sakeena went back.

Shawl was made up of a soft and warm fabric. Ilaaf moved his hand over the folded shawl and just then he had a feeling that the enchanting fragrance was emitting from that shawl. Bringing shawl near his face he tried to identify the fragrance but remained unsuccessful to know that of which thing this fragrance is?

Then he unfolded the shawl, stood and put on by covering his body. A warm sensation was penetrated inside the freezing arms and shoulders suddenly, and besides this the breath scenting fragrance was also providing him some peace.

He was again seated but still was thinking about the shawl. He had never seen this shawl before in his wardrobe, probably Maa or Daadi had bought it for him. He started making guess. But how was that fragrance, he still couldn’t understand.

“It is looking nice with you, Ilaaf.” He turned his head hearing Daadi. She sat besides him on a chair smiling.

“Where from this shawl has come, Daadi? I have never seen it before.” He asked involuntarily.

“It is Omer’s.” This time he had a deep breath. “Your mother gifted him on his birthday. Both devar and bhabi had a relationship like brother and sister.”

Ilaaf smiled but couldn’t say anything.

“Today is Omer’s birthday.” This was new information for Ilaaf. “It was the same day when I got him from God, then at the same day next twenty six years his birthday was celebrated. And then he was martyred and now for last twenty four years I used to celebrate his birthday like this.” She kept saying under an impression.

Ilaaf kept looking her. She really had loved Omer Chachaa very much.

“On his twenty fourth birthday, Zainab gifted him this shawl. Next two years he kept using it and after his martyrdom like his rest of the things this shawl became your property as well, Ilaaf.” He was well aware that immediately after the martyrdom of Omer Chachaa according to his will, his each and everything was Ilaaf’s. The property that he owned, each and everything of his room, of his use including his all books were transferred to Ilaaf. This is another thing that neither Ilaaf ever went into his room nor got time to have a look on his books.

Ilaaf had a sight over the shawl covering his arms. It didn’t look that it has been already used before.

“Would you accept a request of mine, Ilaaf?” She asked in a sad tone.

“Sure.” That moment in order to vanish her sadness he could do anything.

“When you will back to Karachi then visit Omer’s grave this time. Pray from my side and your mother’s separately and go with flowers. Omer likes flowers very much and if you will visit then he will be pleased for sure.” Ilaaf felt love for her innocence.

“What difference does it make for the dead ones that who visited their grave and who not?” He thought.

“Alright, I will visit Omer Chachaa’s grave. You don’t worry.” He satisfied her.

“Have to make promise.” Perhaps Fatima Laashari didn’t believe his words.

“Promise.” He smiled.

There was a satisfactory smile on Fatima Laashari’s face.

“I am going inside, have to look after few things.” She rose and turned to go.

“Daadi.” He suddenly remembered something. Fatima Laashari looked him.

“Yes, my child.”

“Which perfume Omer Chachaa had used?”

This time Fatima Laashari didn’t smile.

“Omer never used any perfume, any scent.” She had a strange expression on her face Ilaaf couldn’t name that.

She turned and went back inside.

Ilaaf was puzzled and confused.

He again looked the shawl then tilting his back with chair closed his eyes. That fragrance was still scenting his breath and mind.


  1. We are told that good company makes us as good, like when something is kept with flowers automatically get perfumed. The smell of fragrance from a shawl of a person dead long ago and who never used perfumed is startling but in a way reminiscent that good people, good deeds, and martyrs never die and so the scent that their lives provided also remain, only to be smelled and sensed by those who have the capacity for goodness and virtue.

  2. Salam! I need to ask something from you. How can I contact you? :)

  3. You can email me, Noor.