She entered into the street and with each step, was feeling like there is something that has been changed inside her. She had never felt that so narrow street of her locality, so beautiful before this in her entire life, just after the dusk the lightning street bulbs and their dimmed light out there, everything was very different as compare to what it used to be every day. And why it was like that, she couldn’t know.
“You are my life, Qandeel.” Somebody had whispered into her ear, and she felt like circulation of blood flowing inside her body suddenly was stopped. A mysterious, a beautiful feeling it was, what it was, she didn’t know but whatever it was, Qandeel had never experienced it before.
“You are the dream of my eyes, I sleep to see that dream.” She smiled unwillingly. “You are the view of my sight which keeps my world of imagination beautiful.” She felt like some energy is penetrating inside her tired and fatigued body. “You are the tune on which my soul starts dancing.” She felt, every gust of air in that dark street is dancing with joy. Her feet went lazy. She didn’t want to go home, wanted to stay there for a while and live with that beautiful feeling.
“You are the mirror in which each and every reflection is very clear for me.” She had seen a face in front of her eyes, that was the face of Ilaaf Laashari and his enchanting eyes, Qandeel had never felt before that what charm his eyes do possess, and today…..she wasn’t able to have an eye contact with him, because his intoxicated enchanting eyes were taking her under some magical spell. And now, those eyes were just tucked on her veil of imagination.
Walking, unintentionally, she turned her head towards left and just then she felt that she has come somewhat ahead from home. She felt laughing, it never had happened before. Then didn’t know what happened, she had got a serious attack of laughing. She turned back towards home laughing and kept laughing till reaching home.
While knocking the door, involuntarily she went serious. She knew that if she would keep smiling or laughing like this then, Baba would ask and make her to tell the reason for that in any case and right now, she didn’t want to tell him anything. Why didn’t she want to tell, she didn’t know it herself.
Unexpectedly, door wasn’t opened by Baba. She was a graceful woman whom Qandeel had never seen in her home before. She didn’t know who she was, so went unable to say anything.
“How are you, Qandeel?” The woman asked smiling.
“I am fine…..but who are you?” She asked unwillingly.
“I will tell you, first come inside.” Qandeel came inside then standing near the door started to move her eyes in search of Baba, but he was not there.
The woman came after shutting the door, and then looking Qandeel, who was moving her eyes in search, had said.
“Your Baba is offering Maghrib prayer inside, will come in a while.” Then she came near Qandeel and started looking her.
Qandeel looked; she was looking her very keenly. She got puzzled; no woman had stared her like this before.
“How much you are grown and how pretty you are.” She had taken Qandeel’s face into her hands. Qandeel couldn’t stop her doing this.
The woman was tall and extremely beautiful. Even in this age, her features were well capable of enchanting the viewers. She had love in her eyes and kindness on her face.
Qandeel didn’t know, who she was, but whoever she was, Qandeel had felt strange sense of familiarity to her.
Now she was moving her hands over Qandeel’s face. Over her eyes, her cheeks and her lips, she had moved her soft hands with kindness. Then she bowed a little and kissed the forehead of Qandeel.
Qandeel kept looking her with surprise on this touch of love. No woman had loved her like this before.
Now she had taken Qandeel’s hands into her own hands. Her hands were cold; Qandeel felt chilliness was penetrating into her own warm hands.
“Come, sit here.” She made Qandeel to sit besides her on stairs.
“You are just like your mother.” She was still holding her hand.
“How do you know Ammi?” She asked. She was still captured in the enclosure of her soft touch.
“She was a very good friend of mine. After her death, I used to keep visiting you sometimes but you were a baby that time. Then I went abroad, and just came back few years ago. I wished to meet you, so came here today. You made me to wait long; I was looking your way since evening.” Qandeel smiled. She now knew the reason of that familiarity. She was a friend of her mother, Qandeel should have felt a sense of familiarity to her.
“Your each and every feature resembles your mother, for a moment I couldn’t recognize that either you are Saima Yousuf or Qandeel Yousuf.” She started laughing. Qandeel felt good about her frankness.
“And how soft your hands are, just like the cotton wool.” She was just playing with the hands of Qandeel. This time Qandeel laughed.
It was true that her hands were very much soft that people after shaking hands with her, used to get surprised. Maryam had said that her hands only contain flesh and there was no bone existed. In real, it was not like that, but then why her hands were so soft, she could never know the reason.
Looking Qandeel, laughing like this, the woman started laughing too. And just then Baba came out of the room. Qandeel looked him; he was coming towards them smiling.
“So, the part of introduction has been done between Khala and Bhanji.” Yousuf Mairaj said in a flourishing tone.
“What do you mean, Yousuf Bhai? Do we need your support for our introduction?” The woman said laughing.
Yousuf Mairaj laughed. “I didn’t mean it.”
Qandeel kept smiling silently.
Then the woman suddenly got up.
“I am getting late, should leave now. Will come again, instead, now, it is the turn of you two to visit me.” Then she looked towards Qandeel. “I am going to start a school, hope that you will help me for that. I have heard lot about your qualities; will you help your Khala?” Qandeel unable to understand anything just shook her head. Then she remembered something.
“You didn’t tell me your name and that how you and Ammi became friends?” She had smiled.
“Leave rest of the things for our next meeting, when will meet then will discuss it in detail. And my name is Ayesha Omer; you can call me either Ayesha Khala or Ayesha Chachii.” Qandeel couldn’t understand, why had she given her two references, even then she smiled.
She hugged Qandeel with love, and then kissed her cheek. It was a kind touch just like the love of a mother. For a moment, Qandeel felt like instead of Ayesha Omer, Ammi had taken her into her arms, and this feeling was so beautiful.
Then she moved towards the door. Yousuf Mairaj looked Qandeel.
“I am going to see off Ayesha. You would be tired, take some rest.” Qandeel came into her room smiling.
Just in one single day, two different and amazing experiences. She laughed while thinking. The sense of touch of Ayesha Omer was over her cheeks, and thoughts were grasped by Ilaaf Laashari’s eyes.
Keeping her bag aside, she put off her sandals, and then while she was unraveling the silver chain from her neck, just then looking into mirror she became unmoved. Keeping the chain over the dressing table, she went close to the mirror, and then stared herself.
Who she was? A very ordinary girl, what else she had except this ordinary face and features with which she could be able to impress anyone, even then people were usually impressed to her, she could never know the reason.
And Ilaaf……what he had seen in Qandeel so that, had become a lunatic behind her. What was he lacking, he was beautiful, handsome; wealth, respect, fame, education, confident character, he had everything with which he could have attracted any beautiful and charming girl towards him, why then he only had chosen Qandeel?
Qandeel saw into mirror, she had nothing like freshness on her face and there was tiredness everywhere. There were dark circles around her eyes as well, whom she never tried to remove, because in order to remove them, first she had to work out on the pricnciple of full length sleeping time and she had left doing this years ago. During last few years, due to Baba’s illness when she had got the extra responsibility of household works along with her studies then, the first thing that she implied, was this. In order to complete her incomplete tasks, she oftenly used to decrease number of sleeping hours for her, as a result, she had got the habit of insomnia and these dark circles had become the obligatory part of her face.
Her cheeks were not very stuffed and during Ramzan, due to fasting, they used to become skinny. And her nose….she often felt laughing looking that. Short straight nose, whose tip was round, the other thing was that this nose was well fitting over her face. The only thing which she felt was worth observing, was her eyes. Her black eyes that used to shine every moment, and Baba used to say that Allah has blessed her with speaking eyes, even if she is silent, her eyes used to say everything, perhaps this was the reason due to which Baba always knew what was lying in her heart, just by looking into her eyes. She had liked her eyes, and the faint mole just below her right eye, over her cheek, that was pretty as well.
Then she looked her untied, dry hairs dispersed on her shoulders.
Perhaps no one else in the world had these dry damaged hairs, and she was always bothered by them. No matter how they were tied, used to take just few minutes in order to disperse here and there, now it was winter so she used to keep them untied, but in summers these hairs had made life very difficult. In that case, she used to tie them up in the form of a pony tail so that, she could not be bothered.
She stepped back, and then sat on the bed thinking something.
For a while, she kept thinking about the events occurred the whole day; the time that she had passed with Ilaaf, whatever happened during this, whatever Ilaaf had said and whatever she heard.
She wanted to believe that this was not a dream and Ilaaf Laashari……had loved her truly. Then she remembered everything that Ilaaf had said; his tone full of love, his assurance, his promises, and……that song.
“Naa dil ki khabar, na apna pata
Tujhey chor ker, men jaoon kahan
Ho manzil koi, koi raasta
Teri raahguzar, hai mera jahan ”
Unwillingly, once again a smile was spread on her face.
Standing in front of wash basin, she filled water into her palms, just then her sight went on the mirror of wash basin.
“You are the light of my eyes, Qandeel.” For the first time in life, she had felt as there was some light on her face that was unusual.
She sprinkled that water over her face, then second time, third and forth time, and then keeping her hands over her face, she looked herself. The tiny drops of water were shining like the morning dew at her face.
“Her ik saans men, teri khushboo hai
Ye zindagi, ik arzoo hai
Ye zindagi, ik justuju hai ”
She looked, in her black eyes it was not the reflection of her, then whose reflection it was…..reflection of Ilaaf Laashari.
Her heart had just stopped beating.
Whatever Ilaaf had said a while ago, was that true?
Had the stone that was kept over the heart of Qandeel Yousuf, melted because of Ilaaf Laashari’s love?
What was happening, why she was thinking like this? She had to think about this issue from each and every perspective and just then she could be able to take some decision.
“My each and every way comes towards you.”
She rubbed her face with the towel.
Had any decision left, which she had to take? Was she hiding something to her own?
Was not that true that in some weak moments of this evening, she had taken decision in favor of Ilaaf Laashari? Then was it a way to satisfy her?
She came in the room. Shutting the door she turned off the light and got onto bed.
Changing her side she closed her eyes.
She was not present there; was sitting on the same bench in the park besides Ilaaf Laashari.
He was looking her and to look in his attractive eyes, to make an eye contact with him was so difficult for her.
“You have kept your feet on the dry earth of my heart, like the first drop of the rain, Qandeel. Now my each breath and desire to take breath is only associated to you.”
Qandeel opened her eyes suddenly.
It was not a dream; it was a reality which had become the part of the beautiful memories of her life now.
She hid her face with the pillow. She didn’t want to face the eyes of Ilaaf. She didn’t want to sink in those deep deep eyes; the other thing was that in real, her heart was already drowned in the deep eyes of Ilaaf, many hours ago.
How deep and sweet sleep it was, and even in that sleep he was with her. Not on the bench of that park instead at the bank of a beautiful lake, and then she looked, Ilaaf held her hand and how happy she was, while looking the beautiful lake holding his hand, and the thicky trees that were around and the sunlight sizzling in between the trees, how beautiful everything was, how peaceful. Then Ilaaf touched her hands with his eyes and she smiled, she moved little ahead, close to Ilaaf…..and everything ended.
She opened her eyes and looked by changing her side; there was daylight in her room. In the time piece of the side table, she looked the time and stars whirled around her eyes. It was eight in the morning and she was already late for the office.
She got up quickly and got ready as soon as she could. And after that when she came out of her room, Baba was in kitchen.
Yousuf Mairaj was preparing the breakfast. And smiled looking her when she came inside.
“Baba, why didn’t you wake me up, kept sleeping the whole night and even couldn’t offer Fajar prayer.”
“I came into your room, you were having a very deep sleep that I couldn’t try to wake you up. Were you very tired yesterday, so that even didn’t feel hungry and and kept sleeping? I am worried for you, Qandeel. You don’t take good care of your diet.” She was literally surprised. And she even wasn’t feeling hungry now, and her whole body was bound in some magic spell which had taken away her hunger and thirst.
“Does this feeling of hunger and thirst ends in the same way during love?” Then she shrugged her head. What stupid things she had started to think about, how could she fell in love with Ilaaf Laashari so early? But if it was not like that then why since last evening till now, not for a single moment she could have succeded to take him out of her mind. Why the eyes of Ilaaf Laashari, his smile, each and every feature of his face, like the proof of an unseen, unheard emotion was stamped on her heart and mind.
Baba had set the breakfast, she was having breakfast silently. And during the breakfast they talked about Ayesha Omer. Baba had told her the same details that Ayesha Omer had already told her last evening, however Baba had given her the information about Ayesha Omer’s school as well and due to which Qandeel’s interest was increased. Yousuf Mairaj asked her to take out some time next week so that, they could be able to meet Ayesha and visit her school. Qandeel got agreed.
Then she left for the office.
She remained extremely busy the whole day in the office; even then thoughts of that man were not leaving her. And it had happened first time that since last evening, how many times she had thought about Ilaaf, she was not getting angry, instead it was a very different feeling. She was happy, why was she, couldn’t know. In these so many days, for the first time neither she was irritated to Sajid for something nor had reproached him on his lazyness and carelessness.
Sajid was her assistant, when she had got the loads of work then Asghar Sahib, for her convenience, sent Sajid to assist her so that he could see some paper work and outdoor tasks and Qandeel’s load could be lessened. But for Qandeel, Sajid ws proved to be a mess instead of convenience, he used to work correctly but was extremely careless and Qandeel could never bear carelessness in case of work. It had become her routine, she didn’t use to scold Sajid, just used to reproach him in an irritated tone, this was another thing that Sajid had not considered that reproaching less than scolding, and on which he always had asked Qandeel, “Miss Qandeel, are you angry all the time like this?” And on this Qandeel used to answer with surprise, “I am not angry.” Hearing this answer the poor guy used to answer in a terrible tone, “If this is not the anger then, oh Allah, have mercy, don’t know, how that anger would be?” Qandeel used to laugh hearing this reply and had answered, “Just pray that you never could see my anger, otherwise you will run away from this office in such a way that would not be seen here again.” He used to answer making his face very pitiable, “Why you are behind my bread and butter?” Qandeel used to laugh aloud on this answer and he had to be silent with an odd look.
Sajid was a lively boy aged twenty one, Qandeel used to treat him like his elder sister. And today for the first time, it had happened that she was passing the orders in a very kind way, Sajid was showing carelessness as usual but during this, Qandeel hadn’t reproached him for a single time. Perhaps he was surprised, for a while kept bearing her soft tone then became irritated and said, “What has happened to you today? Why are you showing this kindness to me?” Qandeel started looking him with surprise. “Since morning neither you scolded me for a single time nor reproached for not working properly.” Qandeel smiled, “I never scold you, but however, you always feel my reproaching is scolding.”
“What have you eaten today in the morning?” He just made an all-out bid.
“What I eat daily in the morning.”
“Then you would have seen a beautiful face early in the morning, that’s why speaking in a sweet tone.” She started laughing, but it was true, she was thinking about that man since morning and his face…….didn’t know how many times came in front of her eyes.
“Don’t talk rubbish, go and do your work.” Sajid went away laughing.
Qandeel was once again busy in her work.
She came home on time in the evening, and than had a conversation with Baba on evening tea. Then as soon as prayer calls for Maghrib rose, Baba went to mosque. Qandeel set the prayer-carpet in the courtyard and offered prayer, and then after finishing prayer when she rasied her hands for pray then her eyes went on sky immediately.
How beautiful that time was, and what a silence and peace that moment had.
“Allah.” Bringing this word on tongue, her heart and soul suddenly felt intuition.
“Ilaaf.” This time Qandeel looked her hands with surprise, and then observed her hearing, thought about the word that came out of his tongue a moment before.
She didn’t want to call Ilaaf’s name then how this name came on her tongue, she didn’t know it.
Like a statue with surprise, she kept looking at her palms.
Had that man got the place in her prays now?
Folding the prayer-carpet, she came inside.
She took her mobile from her room, and then tilting her back with the pillar of veranda sat down and kept mobile in her lap.
Why was she sitting like this, she didn’t know. It was some restlessness, some agitation, a sweet pain which was not letting her to sit calmly. Taking mobile into her hands, she started thinking.
She wanted to talk to him, although she had forbidened Ilaaf herself, not to call or message her unnecessarily, and just after one day she was in such a state that wanted to hear his voice, wanted to talk to him and perhaps wanted to meet him as well. It had never happened with her before that her heart wished to meet someone like this and with such an instinct.
The strange war it was between her heart and mind. Heart was saying, send him at least a message, he would be happy and you will get some peace as well. Mind used to advice that its not better to be hurry, let some further time to be passed, what he would think that you were waiting for his proposal.
She couldn’t decide anything, keeping mobile aside she hid her face into her knees. For a while kept sitting like this, and then raised her head on some sound. Baba hadn’t reached, she turned her head and looked at mobile, and it was the message tone.
She took mobile into her hand, and then looking the name of Ilaaf Laashari shining on the screen her heart suddenly stopped beating.
She felt, like suddenly a peace was penetrated inside her soul, she read the message smiling.
“Sorry, I didn’t want to bother you, but I was missing you, couldn’t decide what to do so messaging you.”
This time Qandeel wished to laugh aloud and too much, so that the happiness with which her heart was filled could come out and spread all around her.
Qandeel replied. “It is alright, I didn’t mind it.”
That man had loved her in real, otherwise how could it possible that the restlessness of her heart moving into air and had reached Ilaaf, and transforming into the agitation of Ilaaf forced him to send the message. And undoubtedly, he was proved to be very bold in case of love, Qandeel was a girl, could never have behaved in such a daring manner, and that moment she had decided that she would never show such boldness in case of expressing her love, instead she would keep gathering the love of that man very silently. She had liked, when he used to look her being gallant, while telling her what lies in his heart, with his each and every facial expression, with his intoxicated eyes and with his each word, how he used to show and express his love, she had liked everything.
She had replied his message or Ilaaf had just got his wish to be fulfilled.
“So, what have you thought?” He asked.
“What about?” Qandeel became unaware intentionally. She was enjoying this impatience of Ilaaf.
“About my proposal…..” He answered immediately.
“I am thinking.” She felt good by irritating Ilaaf like this, otherwise the truth was that she had taken the decision.
Rejecting the love of that man, refusing him, to send him back empty handed, it was not in her control now. Everything was changed just in a single day. Qandeel Yousuf, who had never given importance to any man in her life except Baba, for the first time, was supposed to give a man the highest rank in her heart, in her life, and that man was no one but…..Ilaaf Laashari.
“How much time you will take in thinking? Every single moment of this wait is like centuries for me.”
“Few more days……” She replied.
“When we can meet?” She knew it would be the next question.
“When do you want to meet?” This time she felt mercy for both Ilaaf and her heart.
“Don’t ask this question to me, I don’t want you to go away from my sight. You tell, when we can meet?” Qandeel had compressed her lips smiling.
“We can meet on Sunday.” She answered.
“This Sunday……you mean day after tomorrow?” Perhaps Ilaaf hadn’t believed.
“Really? Are not you kidding, Qandeel?” He was still surprised.
“I don’t lie even when kidding.” She said.
“Then should I pick you from your home on Sunday?” Ilaaf asked.
“Yes, you can. And I want you to meet Baba on Sunday as well.” She wanted to tell Baba everything on Sunday and to tell her decision to Ilaaf in front of Baba.
She hadn’t thought anything about Sami, she knew that Baba would handle this matter very conveniently and Qandeel wouldn’t have to face any problems for that.
“Alright. Can you give me another favor?” Perhaps he wanted something more.
“What it is now?” Qandeel typed laughing.
“Can I call you? Will just talk few minutes……” Perhaps the wish was presented with some fear.
“Why…..?” She didn’t want to ask, wanted to get agreed but had asked.
“I want to hear your voice; this restless heart will get some peace.”
“Not now, call at night. Baba would come in a while; I wouldn’t be able to talk to you in front of Baba.”
“Alright, will call you at night. At eleven O’clock, would you go to sleep till then?” Ilaaf asked.
“No, I don’t sleep so early usually.”
“Alright, will talk to you at night then, thank you so much.”
Qandeel kept mobile aside. Baba hadn’t reached yet, perhaps as usual had met with some friend on the way.
She looked towards the sky. It was dark and no signs of Moon anywhere, even then Qandeel felt like there was light everywhere, and perhaps it was just light……the light of Ilaaf Laashari’s love.
Baba had come, she kept talking to him for a while. Then prepared dinner, and had her dinner with Baba, watched the news sitting with Baba for a while, commented on them as well, even then didn’t know why Qandeel was feeling like time is not passing today. Every day during the same routine, time used to pass so quickly and today…..didn’t know what had happened so that eleven o’clock seemed so far to come.
At half past ten, when she was in the kitchen then mobile started ringing. Her hands trembled and the plate that she was holding was about to fall down. Qandeel kept the plate aside and came out running. And when she picked the mobile from the stand in veranda, the number was of Maryam.
Taking a deep breath, she received the call.
Maryam was asking to go for outing next day. Qandeel didn’t want to go, she had to go with Ilaaf on Sunday and therefore she wanted to take a rest on Saturday evening coming back from office, but Maryam was not ready to leave her so easily. And she was right in her saying, both of them had not gone anywhere out together for many days. Finally Maryam won that argument and Qandeel had to be agreed. It was decided that they will go out after office, where they will go, neither Maryam told her nor she asked herself.
After keeping the mobile aside she started laughing.
What would happen, when her all friends especially Rohail and Maryam will come to know that Qandeel and Ilaaf……it would be an enjoyment as well when this news will drop mountains of surprises over their heads.
How many surprises were ready for how many people, Baba, Rohail, Maryam and her rest of the friends who would take it as surprising but joyable. Sami and Phuppo…..Qandeel couldn’t have any idea about their reaction, and Ilaaf’s grandfather, father and his rest of the family…….she was sure, they will never appreciate this decision of Ilaaf marrying a so ordinary girl, than how Illaf would make all of them to be agreed? This was the question which she wanted to ask at first in the next meeting.
Five minutes before it was eleven, after saying goodnight to Baba, she came into her room. Shutting the door she came towards bed. Then threw her stole aside and kept mobile on the side table, and then started combing her hairs.
After so many days, today her hairs were bit silky; as usual she couldn’t know the reason. Her hairs had full freedom in this case, sometimes they were soft while sometimes so dry and dull that she used to get irritated touching them.
And just then mobile started ringing again. She kept brush on dressing table and came to bed. This time it was Ilaaf’s number.
Sitting on the bed tilting her back with crown she received the call.
Hearing the flourishing voice of Ilaaf, Qandeel had got a smile on her face.
“Your voice seems as beautiful on phone as it is in real.” She couldn’t know why Ilaaf had always seen so many qualities in her.
“Have you called to tell me this?” She said.
“I still feel, this is a beautiful dream, Qandeel.”
“Then I am keeping phone down, you keep dreaming.”
“No, No, for God’s sake don’t be so cruel.” He yelled like a moaner.
This time Qandeel started laughing. For a while Ilaaf went quiet, perhaps was hearing her laughter. Then when she stopped to take break then he said.
“Your laughter echoes in my ear and makes me lunatic.”
“Then I won’t laugh now, because I don’t want you to become lunatic.”
“Don’t do this, when you laugh, I feel world is beautiful.”
“Then make a promise, you won’t become a lunatic. I want you to be like normal people.”
“I won’t become.” He answered with obedience. “When you will come into my life then I will make myself normal like other people so that you couldn’t get any pain due to me, and we can live a normal life.” She kept hearing silently and he kept saying. “Baba has a construction company that he owns; I used to visit that sometime. Today I talked to its general manger. I want to join the company as a professional architect and will get the same salary what other architects get. He has taken sometime to think, perhaps he would take advice from Baba and then Baba would ask from me about it. I will satisfy him and tell the reason that sitting inoperatively, I don’t want to waste my abilities and that’s why I have presented my services for the company as a professional. He would argue I know, he argues everytime on my decisions like this but I will explain it to him, and in any case he should not have any objection because his only condition for me is to take part in politics which I will take now, to take decisions about my personal life, I am independent. Yes, he would have objection if I would present my services for some other company rather than his own, and therefore I felt it was right decision of mine. Some of my paintings are also kept like a mess in the studio, some are complete and some incomplete. I am thinking to take out some time, so that could be able to bring them in some presentable form and to keep them in some exhibition.” With a feeling, inside out the love of Ilaaf was strengthening its roots in the heart of Qandeel. What could she have wished more than this, a man was showering all his love with purity over her, how then she could be unconcerned and till when? It was not an incredible thing to fall in love with such a man, then if Qandeel fell in love with Ilaaf Laashari then what amazing thing it was?
“Why are you silent?” Ilaaf asked.
“Just, listening you.” Qandeel said.
“But say something.” Ilaaf insisted.
“Ok, then tell me something. If I accept your proposal then what would be your reaction?”
There was silence for a while then Qandeel heard Ilaaf saying.
“I will consider myself as the most fortunate man in this world and will ask from you that….”
“That……?” Qandeel asked.
“That when you can marry me?” Qandeel got surprised.
“When do you want to marry me?” In that state of surprise she asked unintentionally.
“Today, now, this moment.” Ilaaf said.
And this time Qandeel couldn’t control her heavy laughter. She kept laughing and couldn’t stop for a while.
“You are laughing, I thought, you would go quiet.”
“Why did you think that I would go quiet?”
“Usuall girls are not so bold, and I know I have said such thing without thinking anything.”
“You mean, I am bold?” She asked interestingly.
“No, you are neither bold nor shy, you belong to some third kind of girls which is rare and precious.”
“You have much knowledge about the girls.”
“Not very much. I always tried to observe and understand them from distance, didn’t let anyone of them to come close.”
“How will I know that you are telling the truth?” She was enjoying teasing Ilaaf like this.
“I have just one female friend, Aleeshah. Ask her when you meet. There was a time when she tried a lot to come close to me, even now sometimes she tries, but then I use to explain that I see her as a good friend and nothing else. She is a soft and kind nature girl, is a good friend of mine.” Ilaaf explained.
“Leaving so many girls around you, why did you come to me, Ilaaf?” Finally she asked this question from Ilaaf.
“If I would have controlled myself then perhaps would haven’t come to you, but you didn’t allow me to have this right with me, Qandeel. You won me with just one look, you conquer my heart with your one smile, what then I should have done? If not towards you then where else I should have gone?”
The promise was to talk five minutes, but when those so-called five minutes crossed fifty minutes on the clock, neither Qandeel could know nor did Ilaaf have idea. At half past twelve, perhaps Ilaaf had seen time and he got idea that its very late, just then he said.
“I have taken your so much time, now take rest; you will have to go office in the morning. See you on Sunday.”
Qandeel kept mobile aside and got to sleep.
The goddess of sleep was never felt so merciful to her before that. It took few moments and once again she was somewhere else.
Near to the waterfall that was falling from a high mountain, she was walking with her hands in Ilaaf’s hand. Ilaaf had that brown shade over ruling in his eyes and he was looking Qandeel. Qandeel wished to hide inside his beautiful eyes. Then the view was changed……..it was a dark deep forest. So deep and so dark, and in this darkness if Qandeel had hope of anything then it was only that hand of Ilaaf which she was holding sturdily. Then suddenly she heard the noise of many dogs barking fiercely, she got scared and in the darkness couldn’t have the idea that where from those barking thuds were coming. Her feet stucked with the ground, and then she turned her head and looked Ilaaf in that darkness. The barking of dogs had got intensity this time. Ilaaf had called her name and then asked her to run. Qandeel started running holding the hand of Ilaaf, but those barkings were still following her. For a while she kept running then her feet went slow and lazy, she was feeling herself very tired, she wanted to stop but Ilaaf wasn’t letting her to stay, he was continuously asking to run and Qandeel was just running on the support and courage of him being with her. Now, Qandeel was feeling and hearing those barkings very close to her, and for the first time she had an idea that the barkings had sounds of some wolves as well. Then she was out of her breath, feet were powerless, the very next moment she was knocked and then fell down on the ground face downwards. Ilaaf’s hand went out of her hold. She raised her head, looked and then called Ilaaf. He was somewhere close. In that darkness, Qandeel had seen the shadow of Ilaaf coming towards her. She tried to get up and just then she felt that her right ankle was hit and injured and the pain was so much that she wasn’t able to move her foot. Coming near to her Ilaaf held her hand. Qandeel looked, even in that darkness his face was illuminating. And just then she heard the trumpeting barkings of dogs and wolves very close to her. Ilaaf had taken her into his arms; Qandeel hid her face into his chest due to extreme fear. Then she felt like a dog just barked fiercely besides her ear, tears started shedding from her eyes. Qandeel raised her head and looked; they were not only dogs but few wolves as well. Ilaaf was trying to cope up with them, but they were hungry and saliva was dropping from their lips, and then……they had attacked Ilaaf from all sides. She screamed, the grip of Ilaaf’s arms around her got loosened, his hand got out of Qandeel’s hand. Qandeel looked; they were five out of which three had attacked Ilaaf. “Ilaaf.” She moved ahead towards him, but before she could be able to reach Ilaaf, rest of the two monsters had attacked her. Qandeel fell behind, both of them moved towards her. Qandeel hid her face with her hands and closed her eyes, and before closing her eyes, she had seen in semi darkness, both of them had some facial features just like humans, after that there was darkness everywhere.
In morning when she waked up then for a while she couldn’t understand where she was, and then rubbing her eyes she got up and sitting there had started thinking about the dream. Qandeel had never seen so fretful dream before this, and she was just surprised that why didn’t she wake up at night? Even after having so strange and terrifying dream she kept sleeping and this was very amazing for her. Why did it happen, otherwise normally she used to get up on very slight footfalls.
For a while she kept thinking then jerking her head, she rose and started preparations for the office.
In office, she was feeling very dull for a while, and then went busy into routine work, started feeling better. Together with Tanveer and Asghar Sahib she had finalized many tasks related to interview, and now just had to inform Ilaaf about that. After lunch, she got a call from Ilaaf and hearing his voice she had become unconcerned from every worry, and fret even from that dream.
“You don’t know, waiting till tomorrow is very difficult for me.” His tone had the same love.
Qandeel told him the day and time of the interview that was decided and then put the phone. Taking out the dream from her mind she was feeling light and started working again.
Before the end of the office time, Maryam had reached.
Finishing her remaining tasks, she went out with Maryam.
Maryam had to do some shopping. For a while they had some shopping then an hour ago from dusk, Maryam got hungry as well. Qandeel wanted to reach home as soon as possible but she knew that without wasting an hour or two in a restaurant Maryam wouldn’t be satisfied.
So, following Maryam she came into the nearest food street. It was the biggest food street of the city where all kinds of restaurants were found. The place was always very crowded, Qandeel hadn’t liked that place much, and there was tumult everywhere. Road of the both sides were narrow, furthermore due to the swarm of cars parked in the parking area of that road made it so narrow, so that at one time one single car was able to move on the road.
Both of them came inside a fast food restaurant and coming inside Qandeel had seen Arsheen there, she got surprised. Standing near the counter, perhaps Arsheen had also seen her, because immediately she came to Qandeel.
“How are you, Qandee? You and uncle left visiting us, since we shifted we hadn’t looked your face much after that, Abbu meets uncle sometimes and just then tells about you as well, otherwise you never felt it necessary to come and meet us, just talk to on phone and get rid of the meeting.” Hugging her Arsheen started complaining. Qandeel smiled with an embarrassment, hearing complains from some old friends, she used to get embarrassed like this always.
“Just, busy a little. Baba keeps telling me whenever meets Nauman Uncle, and everytime I think to visit you people, but never got time.” Maryam was hearing both of them silently standing near. Then suddenly Arsheen remembered something.
“Let’s go, and meet Ammi and Nausheen as well, Saqib Bhai is also there, everybody will be pleased to see you like this.” Holding Qandeel’s hand she tried to take her aside.
She gave an indication to Maryam that will back soon and moved ahead with Arsheen. There on the corner table all three were sitting.
And it was true that all three were looking happy to meet her, all of them were very loving.
Rukhsana Aunty and Nausheen started talking to her immediately, Saqib also asked few things. Qandeel had passed many years of her childhood visiting their home regularly.
Nauman Hassan and his family initially lived in the same area. He was a very good friend of Yousuf Mairaj, and Qandeel was in the same school Arsheen, Nausheen and Saqib were. Arsheen was her class fellow many years, Nausheen was two years junior and Saqib was four years senior. She had a very good friendship with all three siblings in the school. When Qandeel was in grade eight, they were shifted to some other town, and after that slowly and gradually visiting and meeting them, became impossible. After so many years Qandeel felt good to see all of them like this, but she was worried about Maryam. She had a feeling that if she kept sitting there and talking to them then Maryam would be angry. She was already very bothered, due to those people who suddenly used to meet Qandeel coincidently anywhere and had ruined the plans of Maryam. Qandeel was powerless, could never do anything for that. With reference of Baba many people knew her and if coincidently a familiar face was seen then like an obedient daughter she had to perform her role and behave ethically with good manners.
For a while she kept talking to them then as sson as Saqib rose to leave, she got up too. Saqib had to reach somewhere urgent, therefore he was leaving early, and before leaving he instructed Arsheen to drive carefully, on which Arsheen answered satisfactorily that now she drives very well and that Saqib doesn’t need to be worry for that. Qandeel asked for leave as well and with so much difficulty, she got rid and came to Maryam. Maryam was sitting alone on the table with an odd look.
Qandeel tried to bring her back in previous mood then went and brought snacks for Maryam herself, they finished quickly and came out and just then Qandeel looked. At some distance Arsheen, Nausheen and Rukhsana Aunty were sitting in their car.
“Qandeel Aapi.” Nausheen waved her hand looking Qandeel, in reply Qandeel also waved her hand to say bye. Then she moved towards Maryam, her phone was continuously ringing and she was searching mobile in her bag, finally Maryam succeded and found the mobile. Call was from home and due to certain noises outside she couldn’t talk well, so giving an indication to Qandeel, talking on mobile and went inside restaurant.
Qandeel had no intention to go inside therefore she kept standing on the unoccupied place outside the gate and waited for Maryam.
Once again her sight went to parking. Arsheen was reversing the small four seater. Qandeel felt like she was not a good driver or perhaps she had learned driving recently, and therefore perhaps Saqib instructed her to be careful while driving. In a very slow motion, Arsheen took out her car from the parking and now she was bringing that on the road.
Air was no where around, the silence of that darkness after dusk had strange suffocation which was making her restless.
Then suddenly the noise of car horns startled her. She look at left side, at the other side of the road, at some distance the trumpeting horns of jumbo sized cars were audible and their stinging headlights were visible.
She looked at the right side; the car of Arsheen came on the road in the same slow motion.
Didn’t know what happened, without any reason the restlessness inside her reached at the peak.