Darkness, silence and loneliness; she felt like she is standing in a dark congested street.
“Ilaaf.” She called softly, “Where are you? Don’t go away leaving me alone. I am scared from this darkness.” And then perhaps Ilaaf had heard. Qandeel had seen a light.
He was just Ilaaf who came near walking, and with the light of the earthern lamp he was holding in his hand, the entire darkness of that street just vanished.
Qandeel looked in the light of the lamp, he was smiling. Qandeel smiled, and her fear just broken. But just that moment she heard somebody was crying. She turned her head to the right side and looked, at the end of that congested street along with the wall there were sitting Arsheen and Rukhsana Aunty and they were crying, and ahead of both of them exactly at the mid of the street she was Nausheen who was lying down on the earth injured, her head was bleeding.
Qandeel got worried for all three of them. She wanted to help them. She wanted to console Arsheen and Rukhsana Aunty and make them stop crying, wanted to know the reason of their crying and wanted to dress Nausheen's wounds.
She looked Ilaaf turning back. He was standing so close to Qandeel, so close that Qandeel’s head was touching his arm bit low down to shoulder.
“I am just coming back.” She said shortly and moved ahead to the right side but Ilaaf had stopped her holding her hand.
Qandeel looked Ilaaf turning back. In his other hand there was the lamp, Qandeel could see everything clear in that light.
“Don’t go there, Qandeel. Whatever you are looking is not real.” Ilaaf said, “That is just a ruse, not the reality. Just I am the truth and reality, and this lamp, the lamp of our love.”
Qandeel tried to get free her hand. “I am just coming back. They are in pain. Let me go, Ilaaf. They need me.” Ilaaf didn’t leave her hand.
“I need you more than them, Qandeel. Don’t go, stay with me.”
Qandeel wanted to go. She couldn’t understand why Ilaaf wasn’t letting her go to them just for a while.
“Leave my hand.” She spoke in bit irritated way, and then with her full power tried to get her hand free from his hold, and just then during that contention Qandeel’s hand hit the left hand of Ilaaf, and the lamp he was holding in his hand……had fallen down on the ground.
Qandeel looked, as soon as lamp fell down and broken darkness came and spread all around. Qandeel moved her hand in that darkness, Ilaaf wasn’t there. The crying sounds were nowhere and once again, there was the furious silence everywhere.
“Ilaaf.” She yelled, but this time Ilaaf hadn’t come even on her calling.
She opened her eyes very slowly, and looked the ceiling in front, then looked the ceiling fan hanging there whose three wings were moving with a low speed, and looking that view there was another scene just revolved in front of her eyes.
The collision of three cars, and loss of three lives. Qandeel suddenly got up.
The room had some darkness; Baba was sitting on a chair in front of her. Qandeel looked at her white stole kept on the bed, and looking the white color she remembered the white land cruiser which was of Ilaaf Laashari.
“He is murderer.” She muttered, and just then she looked Baba raising his head. Leaving the chair he came towards her.
“Qandeel, my daughter. Thanks God you have waked up.” He sat near her on the bed. Qandeel looked him.
“He is murderer. He killed all three of them.” She felt her eyes were misted. “He killed Arsheen, Nausheen and Rukhsana Aunty, Baba.” She yelled. Baba held her arms.
“Everything will be alright, Qandeel.” She cried.
“He is a liar, he is a cheater. He is a murderer and you asked me to trust him. You asked me, Baba. Everything happened because of you, just because of you.” She hugged him while crying, and felt bit safe in his soft arms.
“Everythig will be alright, Qandeel.” He was patting her head.
“He is a murderer. He killed them.” She kept sobbing.
Then Baba moved her away from him and laid her down on the bed again. Keeping her head on the pillow Qandeel looked Baba.
“He is a murderer.” Baba started patting her forehead with his warm hands.
“Take rest, everything will be alright.”
For a while she kept crying then felt like drowsiness.
“He is a murderer.” These were the last words and then once again darkness spread everywhere.
Didn’t know how many centuries passed, and when she waked up again the room was still dark, but Baba wasn’t there. She got up and just then felt that she was hungry and at the peak of hunger was feeling her heart was drowning.
She took her stole from the bed and rose. Her feet were just lifeless, in a very slow motion taking steps she came outside and moved to the kitchen. Didn’t know what part of night it was, she couldn’t see the time before leaving the room.
She opened the fridge; there was nothing inside which she could have eaten immediately. So, she fried an egg, toasted the bread, made tea and poured in a mug, and then sitting on the table had her meal. Just after taking few morsels she felt her throat was aching due to thirst. She got up again and came to fridge. Opening the door took out the water bottle and just then there was a flash in her mind.
Closing the door she kept standing where she was.
A film was just being played inside her mind. Each and everything, each and every face, she remembered everything. Didn’t know how she dragged herself and came towards table, and then keeping the bottle over the table she sat on the chair.
“Arsheen, Nausheen and Rukhsana Aunty.” She muttered. “And Ilaaf…..” Her mind wasn’t able to think anything after that. She was feeling her senses were freezing, brain was senseless, and nothing was understandable.
She rose like a machine and came to Baba’s room.
Door was opened, Baba was sleeping. She came inside and reaching near the bed stopped.
“Baba.” She called Yousuf Mairaj.
Yousuf Mairaj opened his eyes then looking her immediately got up.
“Qandeel, when did you wake up? And how are you feeling now?” He made Qandeel to sit near him on the bed.
“I am fine.” She answered in a plane tone.
“Thanks God.” He smiled.
“How are Arsheen, Nausheen and Rukhsana Aunty, Baba?” This time the smile from his face was disappeared.
He bent his head down.
“Baba…..?” Qandeel had question in her tone.
“Arsheen and Rukhsana Bhabhi are not among us now.” Qandeel couldn’t breathe. “Nausheen is in hospital. Doctors are trying to save her life. InshAllah she will be alright.”
Qandeel wanted to cry but didn’t know why she didn’t feel crying.
“I want to go there, Baba. I want to see them.” She spoke in the same expressionless tone.
“Alright, but you have to promise me, Qandeel.” Yousuf Mairaj said in a serious tone.
“What?” She asked.
“You won’t let that to affect you much and you will behave courageously.”
“Nothing can happen to me, Baba. Nothing can happen now.” Didn’t know why saying this sentence she had felt something had broken inside her. What had broken she couldn’t know.
“Calls for Fajar prayer will be raised in a while. The funeral of Arsheen and Rukhsana Bhabhi is after Fajar prayer. Kaleem Sahib and Zehra Bhabhi will go as well, so we will accompany them. And then back from the graveyard will visit the hospital to see Nausheen.” Qandeel shook her head like a robot.
“You can get yourself fresh. Eat something; you haven’t eaten anything since night. We will leave in a while; I call Kaleem Sahib to ask when to leave.”
“I have eaten, now I am not hungry. Call me when you leave. I am in my room.” She came back to her room silently.
Shutting the door she came to bed and sat silently.
Body, soul and her mind were totally empty, and heart…..perhaps it was broken into countless piece, each of which was prickling in her breath.
If somebody’s life can be changed in minimum time then, for the first time in life the entire universe of Qandeel Yousuf was changed just in four days in such a way that now on thinking she was surprised that was her life totally different four days ago?
She looked time in the clock; it was nearly five in the morning. Sunday was on his way, and if this accident wouldn’t have occurred then perhaps after few hours she would have started preparations to go out with Ilaaf, but nothing was like that now.
She rose then came near the dressing table and saw herself in mirror. The shining of her eyes had been disappeared, and now was just emptiness.
“What have you done, Ilaaf? If you had to do all this then why did you flame the lamp of love in my heart? You devastated everything; you ruined the world of my heart.” A drop of water flew over her cheek from the corner of her eye. “But why am I crying? Not you, Ilaaf Laashari, I am myself responsible for this devastation, that I trust you without thinking about anything.” She rubbed that tear on her cheek first and then her eyes with so much cruelty.
“My foolish heart who considered your lies the truth without testing or analyzing, it deserved that you just trample it under the tyres of your car on the crowded road and go away. My mindless brain who favored you without examining your false claims, it deserves that now won’t let me face myself standing in front of the mirror rest of the life. And I myself, who fell in your trick considering her the most fortunate woman in this world, I deserved that you kill my trust in front of so many people and take your way.” She didn’t want to cry, not at least for a man like Ilaaf Laashari, then why was she feeling crying, why her tears were not stopped at the border of her eyelashes?
Baba had called her name, he was calling to leave.
Coming in the washroom she sprinkled some water on her face, and then rubbing her face with the towel came outside.
She had not to cry now, not to show anything to anyone, not even to Baba. It was perhaps good that she hadn’t talked to Baba about Ilaaf yet, because now it was not needed.
Covering her head with her stole she came out. Kaleem Sahib and his wife were waiting for her in the courtyard along with Baba.
Then they left for Nauman Hassan’s home. Kaleem Sahib, while on the way kept telling the details of events that occurred in the hospital the whole night. Qandeel felt, neither he or Zehra Aunty knew that at the time of the accident Qandeel was there at the foodstreet and that she had seen them dying in front of her eyes.
Zehra Aunty was saying something, but Qandeel couldn’t hear, just shook her head.
For her, everything around was now totally different, she just could see smoke everywhere, nothing was visible and clear.
The house of Nauman Hassan was in posh area of the city. The gigantic house situated on a large area was jam packed with men and women that moment. Yousuf Mairaj and Kaleem Sahib stayed outside among other men, Qandeel came inside with Zehra Aunty.
There were women everywhere, cries and mourns all around. She wasn’t able to understand anything, holding the hand of Zehra Kaleem she kept moving ahead following her making space between women. Finally they had to stop in a big room. Sisters and sisters in laws of Nauman Hassan were sitting around those two dead bodies.
Qandeel wanted to inhale but suffocation was so high that she was feeling irritation. She went ahead with Zehra Aunty. The faces of both of the bodies were covered with shroud. Qandeel wanted to see them but she hadn’t the enough courage to remove the clothing with her hand and could see their faces.
Then standing ahead her, Zehra Kaleem moved her hand and removed the veil from the faces of both of them one by one to have a final look.
Didn’t know which window of the room was left open, through which a blow of wind came inside and the stole of Qandeel was slipped from her head. She kept looking them without blinking her eyes.
There was a grievance at the silent faces of Arsheen and Rukhsana Nauman, some complain which was only visible for Qandeel because that complain was to Qandeel.
Their faces were once again covered with the clothing of the shroud. Zehra Aunty made her to sit at a place there holding her hand. She sat very silently, and her mind was just entangled with the complaint on their faces. She kept sitting. The women were crying, were speaking, were mourning, but she didn’t remember to hear or see anything. She wished to cry but didn’t know why despite of trying she couldn’t cry. Perhaps the griefs one after the other had made her broken heart a stone.
Then she saw, the women were diverged and few men came inside; Nauman Hassan, Saqib, Baba, Kaleem Sahib and some other men. Qandeel had seen the grieved and tired face of Nauman Hassan, had seen the wet and swollen eyes of Saqib. She felt like somebody has imprisoned her in a cage where no fresh air passed thorugh for years. They were about to carry the bodies, were taking them for the funeral. The countdown had been started and Qandeel……that moment she felt extreme hatred for herself. But why was she feeling hatred for herself? She should have felt hatred for Ilaaf Laashari, not to her. Ilaaf only was responsible for everything that happened; she was totally faultless and unconcerned from the entire matter then, why hatred for her….she couldn’t understand anything.
They had taken Arsheen and Rukhsana Aunty for having a long and peaceful sleep.
Even in such noises, Qandeel felt the silence of a graveyard all around.
Then she heard the call of Fajar prayer. Darkness wasn’t gone astray, even then the calls of prayer were the indication that darkness would go away after sometime, but Qandeel….the darkness that was spread over her life, perhaps couldn’t be vanished till the day of resurrection.
Why was it happening? Why was she feeling dark everywhere inside and outside? She had never felt so much darkness inside her before then, what had happened now that this darkness was not going away.
What had happened? Just that she had believed someone and that man had broken her trust. No doubt heart feels pain and misery when trust is broken, but world doesn’t end like this. Light doesn’t go away from life then, why Qandeel was feeling like she would never get light again in her life.
She didn’t know how long she kept sitting there, who was coming, who was leaving, nothing was recognizable for her. Like she has left her brain for roaming into the space, where no voice or view could be able to reach, and in that emptiness her brain was in a useless search in such a way like it has nothing else to do in this world.
When the hope dies then perhaps it happens like this. Each and every hope that she beheld with Ilaaf Laashari were killed in a single moment, so what was left with her now for the sake of which she could have tried to come into the previous environment.
Didn’t know how much time had been passed and she just raised her head when Baba came and called her name.
“Let’s go, we are getting late. Have to go to the hospital to visit Nausheen, and then will go home.”
Kaleem Sahib and Zehra Kaleem were leaving for home. They had spent whole night in the hospital, now intented to go home.
Qandeel came out along with Baba. The sky was clear but the air wasn’t blowing. Even at the mid of the February why the morning in
Unusually Baba was quiet as well, throughout the way they didn’t talk much to each other.
There wasn’t much crowd in the hospital at this hour. Nauman Hassan and Saqib were already there; perhaps they had reached there straight from the graveyard.
Nausheen was still in I.C.U. Following Baba when Qandeel entered the long corridor with tiring steps then few other people were there along with Nauman Hassan and Saqib, who they were, Qandeel didn’t try to see, she just wanted to see Nausheen for a moment.
Reaching near Yousuf Mairaj had asked about Nausheen to Nauman Hassan and Saqib.
Nauman Hassan hadn’t any courage even to speak. Saqib hardly said.
“She is not well. Doctors are saying that Nausheen should wake up in next twenty four hours, otherwise…..” He stopped saying. His tone was wet.
Qandeel had very few times seen men shedding tears, and today looking Saqib crying like this she had felt that some griefs are able to make men cry and that grief was undoubtedly a great pain both for Saqib and Nauman Hassan.
“Otherwise she would go in coma.” Somebody had put Qandeel on gibbet.
Yousuf Mairaj consoled Nauman Hassan and Saqib one by one.
Saqib looked at Qandeel, perhaps he had hoped that Qandeel would console him too but Qandeel hadn’t anything to give to anyone now.
“I want to see Nausheen.” She just could say.
“Come.” Saqib moved ahead saying.
Both of them turned to right from the corridor. Yousuf Mairaj stopped there with Nauman Hassan, didn’t accompany them.
Then reaching the I.C.U. Saqib stopped there. Qandeel looked, he was getting puzzled, perhaps hadn’t enough courage to go inside. He asked Qandeel to go inside.
Didn’t know what happened, Qandeel wished to run away. She didn’t bear the courage to see innocent Nausheen fighting the war of life and death, but she couldn’t go back from that place. Pushing the door hard she entered inside. At both sides there were high glass walls. She kept moving, and then at the very end of that lane she had seen Nausheen across the glass. Entering the room was prohibited, Qandeel stopped reaching near the glass door and kept looking.
She was Nausheen who was fighting against death with the support of machines. Her breathing, which was connected with the ventilator hadn’t chosen yet one among the eternal sleep and temporary waking. She got the bandage on her head. There were blue marks on her face and hands, and her left arm was totally hidden under white bandages. She was unconscious and according to doctors, it was necessary for her to wake up in next twenty four hours.
Keeping both hands on the glass, Qandeel hardly controlled herself and then rubbing her wet eyes requested to God.
“Oh Allah, give back life to Nausheen. Save her life. We already are guilty for the death of Arsheen and Rukhsana Aunty. Giving life to Nausheen please prevent us to be guilty for another sin.” Whatever had to come out during pray was delivered, but then she thought about the word “we”.
Why did she use this word? Had unknowingly she considered Ilaaf and herself one during pray, but she wasn’t the part of this crime. She wasn’t responsible for death of Arsheen and Rukhsana Nauman and this state of Nausheen then, why this word came out from her tongue.
What was happening with her? What strange confusion was inside her, what a question it was whose answer wasn’t possible?
“Pray for Nausheen, Qandeel. It may happen that God accepts your pray.” Qandeel looked turning her head, Saqib was standing besides her.
Qandeel shook her head rubbing her eyes.
“Have faith on Allah, Saqib bhai. Everything will be alright.” Consoling him Qandeel felt her words were extremely hollow, because inside she knew nothing will be alright now, whatever will happen would be worse.
“I left them smiling laughing in front of you, then how all this happened? Everything destructed Qandeel, our home ruined in a single moment. I can not see Abbu in such a state, first the grief of Arsheen and Ammi leaving us, has made him so much enervated, and now if something happens to Nausheen then…..” Perhaps Saqib had lost the courage to say something further.
Qandeel remained silent for a while. So, even Saqib didn’t know that she was present there at the site of incident and had seen everything.
She kept her hand over his shoulder.
“Have courage, Saqib bhai. If you lost the courage then, who will take care of Nauman Uncle.” Saqib shook his head and rubbed his eyes.
“Thank you, Qandeel. Both you and Yousuf Uncle are a great support for us. You always helped us in every difficult phase of our lives.”
“We are still with you, Saqib bhai.” Saying this sentence didn’t know why Qandeel felt like she is lying.
If Saqib came to know that the man who is responsible for this accident, Qandeel already knows him then……what could be his reaction, it was hard to guess for Qandeel.
Both of them came out of the I.C.U. very silently, and just then somebody called Saqib on his cell phone.
Saqib asked her to stop, and then receiving the call moved bit ahead while talking on phone.
“Yes Khawar, what is the news? Did police get some success in search of Ilaaf?” Qandeel was little far but could hear his voice very clearly.
Then hearing the conversation of Saqib she knew the entire situation.
Finally arrest warrants were being released against Ilaaf Laashari and police was searching Ilaaf, but he was still fugitive and they were unsuccessful to find him.
Qandeel felt, somebody stabbed a knife in her chest.
“I will find out him even if he escapes to the hell. He destructed my home; I will not sit peacefully until I see him at the execution.” There was so much hatred, disgust, and determination in the tone of Saqib that Qandeel was shaken inside out.
For a while Saqib kept cursing Ilaaf and his family. Qandeel hardly was standing controlling her fragile body in a storm.
If Saqib would know that what was her relationship to Ilaaf and that just one day ago she had decided to award Ilaaf the highest rank in her life then……no perhaps for sure he would have hated Qandeel as much as he hated Ilaaf.
The journey way back was difficult. Even in the daylight Qandeel felt darkness everywhere. World suddenly had gone so dark, sun suddenly had become angry to the earth.
She kept walking behind Baba like a mchine. Where he stopped, where he turned, where he moved, she remembered nothing, just could recognize the door of her home.
Coming inside Yousuf Mairaj shut the door then looked her.
“You are very tired, have some rest. I will take rest too. This is Sunday, so we will have breakfast bit late.” Shaking her head like a lifeless object, and carrying the load of her body she came towards the room. Shutting the door, bolted it and then got onto bed.
Lying down on the bed she hid her face with the pillow and then……there was a flood inside her eyes which took everything with its flow breaking the belts of her eyelashes.
Everything was wrecked, everything; her world, aspiration, faith, hope and she herself….everything just wrecked. She wished to spend her rest of the life in that bolted room, lying on this bed, hiding her face in this pillow; never to go outside, never to face anyone, never to answer anyone’s questions, never to make an eye contact with anyone.
She was not hypocrite, she couldn’t tell lies, couldn’t stop the state of her heart being expressed with her eyes and face, couldn’t act to be happy and living.
And it was just true. When the heart dies and desire is being killed then how long one can act to be living?