Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chapter no. 9: The Unknown Fragrance (III)

Ilaaf had no intention to stay more than a week, but due to insistence of Daadi he had to stay two more days. Baba and Daada Saaiyen were back from Nawab Shah and Ilaaf had passed the whole week in their company most of the time as usual. Lands, Datepalm gardens, political bondings, relatives, and some friends, as usual these were the only things for him in the village.

In datepalm gardens he met with Hussain Bakhsh as well, but this time he had just behaved in a very normal way, Ilaaf hadn’t felt any unusual thing in his attitude what he had seen during the last meeting. He was surprised; he was totally different Hussain Bakhsh this time to what he was in Karachi.

Whole day he used to be with Baba and Daada Saaiyen, however in evening he used to give his horse some time. There was only night time which was left for Maa and Daadi and even that was not enough because most of the time he used to feel himself too much tired that wished to go to bed immediately after dinner. Both of those patient women even then never complained to him and took good care for his convenience.

His time was passing very quickly in village, but it was true that even then he couldn’t forget Qandeel for a single moment. Like a dream which is seen with open eyes, she had become the part of his vision, she was hidden inside Ilaaf like a desire, like the passion for the destiny she was slipped inside him. On looking into mirror he used to find her reflection on his eye pupil every time, on breathing he used to smell her fragrance in the air, before going into the valley of slumber and on waking in the morning he used to hear her name on his heartbeats. Like a feeling she was with him every moment, although in real she was very far; so far that if he would have called her name then she could never heve heard it.

Love is perhaps just the name of a feeling, which forms an enclosure around man. Neither to look something outside that enclosure is possible nor to hear anything and inside this enclosure is just found the face of the beloved and voice of the beloved. Coming out of that enclosure is never in man’s own hands, that’s why by trying to leave that enclosure one should not waste his energies.

Ilaaf didn’t want to come out of that enclosure now, he wanted to remain imprisoned inside with his own wish. The central axis of his life was now Qandeel Yousuf; she was the only desire of life and purpose of living for him.

That was his last day in the village; he was leaving for Karachi the next day.

In evening, when he was just taking out his horse from stable just then Baba Saaiyen had called him thorugh a housekeeper in Bethak.

Handing over the reins to Shahnawaz and asking him to wait for a while, he came towards Bethak. Baba and Daada Saaiyen both were there. Their intentions were seemed suspicious to Ilaaf, he got an idea that he has to hear the same typical perceptions. He had no intention to argue worthlessly once again on the same topic, so he decided to hear everything quietly and keep approving everything they would say.

“The overall political situation is changing very quickly throughout the country due to the current conditions, and parliament can be resolved any moment. And therefore me and Baba Saaiyen have decided that you should fully take part in political activities now.” Qaiser Laashari like had said the final word.

Ilaaf looked Baba Saaiyen but didn’t say anything.

“You have to take out some time from your personal activities now onwards and will have to visit village regularly. We both want you to be with us everywhere so you could be able to understand the system well. Beside this, you have to allow media to reach you as well and have to be in news all the time, each and every political activity whether it is related to some social work or our political party, you have to be ahead everywhere. This year in August, you are going to be twenty five, Ilaaf, and thus you are eligible to participate in the next election and that’s why Baba Saaiyen wants you to participate in the election from his own seat. And for that it is very necessary for you to be known among people and to be well aware with our political allies and rivals. I admit and praise your abilities but somehow there are some political tricks and traps which are only understandable after experiencing politics. Politics is just like a profession, and like all other professions in the world it has its own principles of success without learning which, nobody can take a single step forward.” Ilaaf looked Baba Saaiyen.

He had considered politics a profession, and perhaps the main reason of all issues existing in the country was that all politicians had considered politics a profession, not a responsibility. And what were the principles of this profession with which Baba Saaiyen wanted him to be aware, he knew very well. Lies, fraud, hypocrisy, procrastination, profit seeking, personal needs, were the only principles on which the politics of his family and many of other political families of Pakistan was proceeding.

“Alright, I have no conflict with any of your decisions, if you people want me to take part in political activities then I have no objection, but I want liberty for one thing.” Speaking very seriously he looked both of them one by one.

“What’s that? We will respect your wish anyway.” Adil Laashari had asked smiling, it was pleasing news for him that Ilaaf who was showing carelessness towards this issue for a long time, now was suddenly agreed. He knew that how much strength his party would get with this move.

“My political life will be going on with the advices of you people, but in my personal life the right to take each and every decision will only be mine, and both of you will have to give me assurance that you will not have any objection regarding my decision and won’t stop me taking any step.” Ilaaf had to play this wager someday, then why not today? Thinking this he had presented his only condition in front of them. When trading is a must then why not it should be settled earlier, why to be late and for what? He could bear the interruption of those politicians in all other matters of his life but it was unbearable for him in his personal life. His personal life had just been revolving around Qandeel and he didn’t want to lose the hope to reach Qandeel just because of those traders. Who were Baba and Daada Saaiyen, they were just traders who had considered every relation, every emotion, every individual just the resources of trading, like the playcards one after the other they were ready to sacrifice everyone for their benefit.

For a while both of them couldn’t answer, and then Daada Saaiyen said.

“You will have the full right to take each and every decision of your personal life independently, Ilaaf. This is my promise, and you know that Adil Laashari is not among people who go back from their words.” He looked Daada Saaiyen, he knew very well that how determine he was in case of his words. Hearing such sayings from a politician he was no doubt surprised but that moment those words were very important for him. Even if Daada Saaiyen would forget his words then Ilaaf was not going to forget, and he knew very well how to remind people their promises.

“With personal life, I mean each and everything related to my personal life, Daada Saaiyen. Where and how I have to spend the money that I own, how I have to continue my personal activities, this will only be decided by me. Where and when I have to go, whom I have to meet, whom I have to make friend, and whom I have to marry, I will decide each and everything myself.” This time Qaiser Laashari stared him with a strange look, he couldn’t know how that impression was?

For a while there was complete silence in the room.

“Would you even don’t like to take our advice in case of marriage, Ilaaf?” He was not surprised hearing the grave tone of Adil Laashari, he knew that it would not be easily acceptable for them.

“The most important decision of one’s personal life in this period of age is marriage, Daada Saaiyen. And without giving me the freedom for this decision, how can you claim that you are allowing me to take the decisions related to my personal life independently?” Adil Laashari had squeezed his lips, he was thinking.

Qaiser Laashari was quiet; he had an expressionless face that moment.

“Alright, we accept your condition.” Adil Laashari was extremely serious. The agreement of trade was settled with difficulty but Adil Laashari was still towards profit.

“By the way, have you chosen any girl to be married?” The question was asked suddenly but Ilaaf was ready for this attack so didn’t get puzzled.

“No, but someday I will, and that’s why I want this liberty to marry a girl whom I would chose myself.” He answered with satisfaction. This time both of them had a feeling of relaxation on their faces.

“My horse is waiting for me outside, can I go now?” Ilaaf asked smiling.

Qaiser Laashari smiled.

“Yes, you can. I just have to inform you that reaching Karachi you have to meet Asghar at his office immediately.”

“Asghar….who?” Ilaaf asked.

“Asghar Siddqui, my friend whom you had met last time in Sukkur.” Ilaaf had suddenly looked him surprisingly. “He is insisting for a long time, he wants to take your interview for his newspaper and I want you to give your first interview for his newspaper, it will provide a flourishing start to your political career, after this you will be allowed to see these things yourself, which paper or channel you would want to give your interview and which not, it would be your own choice.” Ilaaf remembered, Qandeel was doing internship in Asghar Siddiqui’s paper. But she would not be found there now, that internship had ended even before her exams; Rohail had told him.

Ilaaf rose.

“Alright, ask Asghar Sahib to contact me once I reach Karachi and then will decide rest of the things.” Qaiser Laashari smiled; perhaps he was not expecting such flexibility from Ilaaf’s side. Ilaaf was always very determined in case of decisions, he wanted to see fulfilling his condition and that’s why he was ready to fulfill all conditions of Baba and Daada Saaiyen. In order to reach Qandeel, he wanted to get rid of every hindrance somehow that could block his way.

How strange it was, the newspaper whose editor was very desparate to take his interview and for that he made an especial request through Baba Saaiyen, outside the office of the same newspaper many days he used to wait several hours like a beggar just to look Qandeel once.

After dinner when he came in his room then he was feeling very strange, since evening the thoughts about Qandeel were grasping his heart and mind in such a way that he was feeling a lunacy penetrating inside him once again. The silence, the quietness which was holding him inside out for many days, suddenly broke up and the ice of senselessness was melting.

He wished, to go outside and leave himself on the current of air, may then that air take him to Qandeel’s home and at this hour of night when she would be visiting the valley of dreams in arms of goddess of sleep then could see her just for a moment through the air passing from her window; could provide some contentment to his eyes somehow, could provide peace to his heart somehow, but he couldn’t do anything, except having that harmless wish, that priceless desire what else he could do that moment.

In the mirror of dressing table, he had seen the same redness, the same deep slumber, the same reflection penetrating in his eyes; had felt the lunacy of her love and her desire stabbing inside him in the form of some intoxication.

And just that moment Sakeena came and told him that Zainab Laashari is calling him in her room. Ilaaf remembered, he always used to be in the room of Maa during his last night at village, he used to lie on her bed keeping his head in her lap like a little child and used to talk to her a lot all the time. And it never had happened before that Maa would have called him in her room, he always remembered that himself and sometimes in a wish to talk to Maa he used to spend his whole night in chatting before leaving for the city, and now for the first time he even didn’t remember it, perhaps thoughts and remeberance of Qandeel had snatched his memory.

His eyes suddenly started burning too much.

Somehow controlling his nerves he came towards the room of Maa.

Sitting on the bed, Zainab Laashari was waiting for him. Ilaaf entered the room quietly and came towards bed, and then without saying anything sat down on the carpet near the bed and kept his head over the knees of Maa.

Zainab Laashari kissed his head then holding into her hands raised his head and looked him.

Ilaaf smiled looking her, but the same moment he had seen the smile on face of Maa was disappeared.

For a while she kept observing his face and eyes, and then like in a stony voice she asked Ilaaf.

“Have you started drinking, Ilaaf?” Her tone had disbelief.

“No.” Ilaaf answered in extreme surprise.

“Any other drugs….?” She left the question incomplete.

“No, Maa, not at all.” Ilaaf hadn’t believed that in so many years for the first time she had doubt in her tone.

“Then why are your eyes so red? What is this intoxication in your eyes? This type of intoxication is only visible when someone has drunk too much or………” While saying suddenly like a thought or idea made her to stop.

Ilaaf looked Maa like he didn’t understand anything. She was thinking, and then she looked Ilaaf. She had a very strange impression in her eyes.

“Ilaaf, are you in love with someone?” Ilaaf could never expect such a question by Maa.

He kept looking her with surprise.

“Give me the answer.” This time her tone had some satisfaction.

Ilaaf nodded.

She smiled and this time her smile had spread a light over her face so that Ilaaf couldn’t move his eyes from her face.

“Who is she? Do I know her?”

“Someone, a girl only one of its kind. You don’t know her Maa; I just met her few months ago.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier, Ilaaf? You are here for one week and you are going back tomorrow and you didn’t feel any need to tell me during the whole week.”

“I am embarrassed, Maa. I should have told you, but the problem is……” He couldn’t decide what to tell Maa.

“What happened? Is there any problem?” She asked taking his face into her hands.

“She is not agreed to marry me.”

“Why?” She was surprised.

“She doesn’t like me, infact she hates me.” He replied in odd tone.

“Why does she hate you?”

“She thinks I am a wicked guy; perhaps just a corrupt richman and nothing more than this.” His tone was weak.

“You would have done something, Ilaaf, so that she thinks like this otherwise without a reason why would she have not a good opinion about you?”

Ilaaf didn’t answer. If there would be some place in that room or mansion where Ilaaf could have hidden in order to prevent that questioning sight of Maa then probably he would have hidden that moment. What he could tell her that why she doesn’t want to even look his face?

“I have made few mistakes, Maa.” He replied moving his head down.

“For those mistakes you can apologize, Ilaaf. And those mistakes can be overcomed. And even then if the problem doesn’t solve then just tell me, I will explain it to that girl myself with your Daadi, would tell her that my son is bit silly but not wicked.”

Ilaaf smiled unwillingly.

“First let me try it myself, Maa.” Zainab Laashari nodded her head. What an astonishing reality it was that totally opposite to Baba and Daada Saaiyen, Maa had no concerns that the girl whom Ilaaf had chosen, who is she and from which background; her status, her family nothing was important for Zainab Laashari, perhaps this was the only reason that Ilaaf felt peace sharing everything to her.

“By the way, I had chosen a girl for you myself and thought that will tell you about her on right time. But now as you have already chosen a girl for you then it is of no worth to talk to you about that girl.” She told Ilaaf after a while.

“You never told me this before, Maa.”

“Didn’t feel the need, thought to talk to you at some suitable time. And now I think that I did right not to talk about that girl before. I trust your choice, Ilaaf, and now I am very eager to meet the girl whom my son has chosen for him.” He smiled.

What a different woman his mother was who just had given importance to her son’s choice. Ego, arrogance, stubbornness, nothing was inside her so that she could ever be able to behave like a common woman coming down from motherhood’s height. She was a mother, a mother who was a complete woman in her love.

It was just coincidence that Ilaaf and Zainab Laashari kept talking to each other long after that but neither Ilaaf thought to tell Maa the name of Qandeel nor did Zainab Laashari remember at least to ask the name of the girl about whom Ilaaf was talking to her.

That night he slept in the room of Maa, and what a peaceful sleep that was he could never learn to describe that one in words.

Next morning when he was leaving for Karachi, Maa sent him with lots of prays. And for the first time in life he felt that how unfortunate are those who don’t have their mothers with them. Then he thought about Qandeel, she hadn’t her mother with her even then how lucky she was perhaps because she had a father like Yousuf Mairaj with her. Ilaaf was envious to her, despite of being a girl her father gave her full independence to take her decisions and he….despite of the fact that he was a boy, was supposed to do trade with his father for each and every decision of his life.

Perhaps people say truth; when God takes away something to someone then He gives much to counter the effect.

Qandeel hadn’t the blessing of mother but, in the form of Yousuf Mairaj she was blessed with the most precious relationship in this world; the relationship of love, trust, and purity which was not associated with any kind of selfishness, ego or benefit.

He reached Karachi by night. He had met with Adnan and Rohail on the way to home. He didn’t talk to Rohail about Qandeel intentionally, Rohail perhaps also didn’t remember to talk anything about Qandeel and so that he kept asking the details of Ilaaf’s visit.

Next day in the evening he decided to visit Omer Chachaa’s grave. He couldn’t break the vow he gave to Daadi; he had learned from Maa and Daadi to be firm about his words.

That was a military graveyard in the cantonment area where Omer Chachaa was burried. Few years back Ilaaf had visited his grave along with Daadi, he had not remembered the exact location of the grave but he had decided to search or to ask someone to help him.

Parking his car he moved towards the gate of the graveyard. Exactly near the gate on a marble tablet there were written some Quranic verses and their Urdu translations, Ilaaf neglected these and came straight inside. And coming inside he had moved his eyes all around so that he can decide where from he had to start the search for the grave, incidently the graveyard was nearly desolated at that hour of the day. He could see neither any gravekeeper nor any other man who could provide some help to Ilaaf, so he was little disappointed. Few people were having prays on their loved ones’ graves around.

Ilaaf then moved ahead reading the inscription plates of graves. He felt it was a very difficult task to search out a grave in this way because graveyard was wide and there were graves all around. He moved somewhat ahead just then a woman coming from the opposite direction crossed him, Ilaaf was so busy in reading the inscription plates of graves that he couldn’t feel that the woman after crossing him suddenly was stopped and then came back towards him.

“Are you searching something, Ilaaf?” He stopped suddenly and looked the woman.

She was a middle age, good looking and graceful woman who had covered herself with a white shawl. She was tall with beautiful features especially her dark blue eyes were making her personality so attractive.

He kept looking her with surprise; hadn’t met her ever before that day.

“I am….searching a grave.” He answered while thinking.

“I think, I can help you for that.” She replied smiling.

“How do you know me?” Ilaaf asked immediately.

“Like many other people know you.” Her smile grew deeper.

“But I never met you before.”

“It’s not very surprising, you will meet lots of people who would have known you but you wouldn’t. And the very apparent reason is that you are not an ordinary man, Ilaaf, somehow everybody knows you, those whom you know and even those whom you don’t.” Didn’t know why Ilaaf felt like, she didn’t want to tell him the original reason.

“Whose grave you are searching?” She asked.

“My uncle, Omer Laashari’s grave.” Ilaaf saw the color of her face suddenly changed.

“I wonder, you even don’t know where your uncle’s grave is? Have you been here first time?” Ilaaf nodded with an embarrassment.

“Let’s search the grave.” Both of them started moving ahead between the graves.

Just in a while, the woman finally found out the garve. Ilaaf felt like she already knew where the grave of Omer Chachaa is, although she behaved like she is searching the grave with Ilaaf.

Both of them came near the grave and stopped.

Ilaaf looked the inscription plate of the grave; read Omer Chachaa’s name, his date of birth and date of martyrdom and then read the couplet written in Urdu there.

He knew Urdu very well but even then he had felt like those words just passed above his head.

“Ishq key mizraab sey naghma-e-taar-e-hayaat

Ishq sey noor-e-hayaat, Ishq sey naar-e-hayaat”

He just kept looking the inscription plate.

“You have fetched these flowers for the grave I think.” The woman indicated towards the flowers Ilaaf had in his hands then she moved ahead and had taken those flowers from Ilaaf, and kept over the grave. Then she raised her hands for the pray and just then Ilaaf thought to have pray as well. After pray he kept his hands over his face and then read those words on the plate again, perhaps he couldn’t understand the meanings of those words but there was something like a strange feeling like he had read those words before somewhere.

Then they got the way back.

“We should keep visiting our loved ones, Ilaaf. They always wait for us.” The woman said walking besides him.

Ilaaf looked her turning his head and then shaking his head had said.

“You helped me in finding the grave, thank you so much.”

“This is very pleasing for me that I have done something for you.”

“Who is burried here whose grave you came to visit?” Ilaaf asked unintentionally.

“There is someone, a beloved, who is resting here for many years and that’s why evertime I have to visit him.” She smiled.

Both of them reached the gate and Ilaaf was just about to say bye so could leave for home when the woman suddenly spoke.

“Can I ask something?”

“Yes” He couldn’t say anything else.

“Can you write with your both hands?” Ilaaf shrugged with surprise.

It was true that apparently despite of being a righty he had an exceptional quality that he could hold the pen exactly in the same way with both hands, due to which on the time of need he could have used his left hand for writing as well.

“Yes, I can write with my both hands; not much tidy writing with left one, but yes can write with it. But how do you know that?” Her smile grew deeper.

“When I know you then knowing about your habits and qualities is not so surprising.” Ilaaf couldn’t say anything in reply. “I think it’s very late, I should leave now.”

“May I ask your name?” He felt that woman was interesting.

“Ayesha……” Perhaps she just stopped not to take her full name. “Ayesha is my name.”

Ilaaf felt like she didn’t want to tell him her full name.

“Allah hafiz.” She disappeared in the parking.

Ilaaf kept thinking for a while about that strange woman then went to home.

That night Asghar Siddiqui called him; Ilaaf didn’t want to give the interview immediately but he was insisting that he wants to take interview as soon as possible. For a while Ilaaf tried to make some explanations then finally being very irritated got agreed, Asghar Siddiqui asked him to visit his office next day in order to discuss further details.

How strange it was, previously when Qandeel was having internship in Asghar Siddiqui’s paper, during those days neither Baba Saaiyen thought that Ilaaf should give an interview for Asghar Siddiqui’s paper nor did Asghar Siddiqui. And now when he had no hope to meet or see Qandeel there then he was supposed to visit his office.

He didn’t know what Qandeel is doing now days, neither he asked from Rohail nor did Rohail tell. He was in complete darkness; wanted to meet her but there was no way that could be a better option for this pupose.

During last seven weeks he hadn’t seen Qandeel and didn’t know that when would be able to see her again.

Next morning as soon as he woke up, as usual he had prayed to God in his heart that may he could see Qandeel today, but he didn’t know that sometimes a moment can be of moment of fulfillment of pray when no pray is rejected and perhaps that was the same moment.

In the afternoon, he came to Asghar Siddiqui’s office. Calling his name on reception immediately he was sent to the office of Asghar Siddiqui.

Asghar Sahib was very happy to see him; perhaps to get such a success for his newspaper was very important for him.

For a while he kept telling him that what kind of an interview he was interested in and kept asking Ilaaf about his interests. Then he pressed a number on his intercom, but perhaps nobody received at the other side. He dropped the line and pressed another number.

“Qasim, where is Miss Qandeel? I am calling in her room continuously but she is not picking her phone.” Somebody had pulled out his soul. “Alright, wherever she is, just trace her out and immediately send in my room.” He kept looking Asghar Sahib with empty eyes. Dropping the line he looked towards Ilaaf.

“I have called my assistant coordinator; you both discuss and settle the remaining things for the interview.” He couldn’t say anything in reply, just kept thinking that would she be the same Qandeel, not necessary that she would be Qandeel Yousuf, might be any other girl with this name. But if this was the case then why with each and every passing moment his heartbeat was getting out of his control, why with each second his heart was saying she is Qandeel. Asghar Sahib was saying something but he was no more able to hear anything, and thus kept shaking his head in the answer of everything.

After few minutes the door was knocked. Somebody had grasped Ilaaf’s heart in his fist. He had felt the cold perspiration on his forehead.

The door was opened and somebody came in. Ilaaf had his back towards the door but his ears were hearing the footfalls.

“Yes, Qandeel, please have a seat. I had told you about an interview yesterday, and therefore called you to introduce you with my guest so that you can discuss all details with him and then communicate everything to Tanveer including the date and time of the interview, you have to manage all things.” Ilaaf turned his head. She had come and was seated on the chair next to him. His life was sitting besides him.

“He is Ilaaf Laashari and she is our assistant coordinator, Qandeel Yousuf.” This time Qandeel turned her head and looked him. His heart suddenly stopped beating, because like always looking him the smile on Qandeel’s face was disappeared.


  1. The unknown fragrance which was not narrated in this part somehow remained present during Illaf and Ayesha's meeting.

  2. Sir Akhtar, thank you for reading the post. The unknown fragrance is to be felt not just by Ilaaf but readers as well, if it is well sprinkled on the words written here. It was even hard for me to smell that fragrance here but you did smell well due to the sensitivity you have.