If it would have possible in the world to transform a man into a stone then, perhaps Ilaaf would have transformed himself into a stone in real so that whatever was happening around could never have affected him, he had to see everything happening in front of his eyes which he could never wish to see happily with his will. He had seen many wrong acts happening in front of him in the life before, but never had thought that he would have to become a part of some wrong act one day. With every passing day, this sense of guilt was increasing, he used to feel hatred for him whenever had seen mirror and wasn’t able even to face himself. Till now, he had kept perceiving that nothing in this world is able to force him to do something against his wish, and now he used to feel that he was always buried in the marsh of misunderstandings before, the reality was that he had just the right to make a wish, and actually had to happen whatever his elders had decided.
In last few days, Ilaaf had considered all possible options through which he could be able to isolate himself from this corrupt system, but he couldn’t decide anything. There was just one single solution for him to get rid of this strange imprisonment of Baba Saaiyen and that option was unattainable without being withdrawn from this wealth, property and heritage. Not a single thing among them was important for Ilaaf to be considered, if something was important then it was only the love of Maa and Daadi and to withdraw himself from that love was difficult for Ilaaf, and he knew that if he decides to isolate from this heritage of Daada Saaiyen then at first, he will be sent away to Daadi and Maa. He could have managed to live somehow far from them, but knew that Maa and Daadi wouldn’t be able to live without him. Their love kept preventing him to take some serious step in this regard, Daadi was even a courageous woman but Maa….Ilaaf knew that the day he will be sent out of his mother’s life, that would be the last day of that woman’s life. Ilaaf knew very well that how happily, the only daughter of Mujahid Baloch, Zainab Qaiser Laashari, had spent last thrity two years in Laashari Mension. And he always wanted to do something for Maa, wanted to give her the happiness she could never get from Baba Saaiyen. He could never forget all those moments when, Zainab Laashari was forced to perform certain duties against her will, just by threatening her that she will be sent away from Ilaaf, sometimes to preside a political gathering, sometimes to become a claimant for a case, sometimes to give certain false statements for some newspapers, everytime she was offended with a single threat because perhaps Qaiser Laashari was aware of the only weakness of his wife. It was hard for her even to imagine Ilaaf’s departing, and therefore this threat used to affect immediately and Zainab Laashari used to do silently whatever she was asked to.
Ilaaf used to observe this since his childhood and on all those occasions, used to feel disliking for Baba Saaiyen in his heart and he had always decided that someday he would free his mother from this fear of separation from him and hence would prevent her to be blackmailed by Baba Saaiyen, but whatever man thinks not necessarily it happens forever.
Ilaaf was being blackmailed by his own father, how he could be able to prevent his mother. He knew that Maa and Daadi would have known everything about the accident, and therefore he couldn’t dare to talk to them on phone.
Three women were most dear to him in his life, Maa and Daadi somehow were aware of his problems and he was sure they would never be angry with him, but Qandeel…..his soul used to feel dying whenever he used to think about her. The woman whom he wanted to see every moment, he used to pray not to face her in these circumstances. Everything was the same, he used to miss Qandeel in the same way, he used to think about her every moment, used to feel himself restless and anxious for her, but even then in these so many days he couldn’t gather enough courage to call her once.
He didn’t have the need to go farm house after he got bail, so he came home back. Baba Saaiyen also was residing in his home those days, he intented to stay here till the decision of the case, Adnan used to spend most of the time of the day at Ilaaf’s home as well. Ilaaf had restricted himself to home, he didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to see the questioning sight of people. According to the order of Baba Saaiyen, he used to ask his lawyer to answer the questions of newsreporters, and didn’t know why on all those occasions he never used to forget to put on deep black glasses. It was a strange fear inside him, he used to feel that like behind any camera there was Qandeel standing and looking into his eyes, and trying to find out the truth.
The day Ilaaf had presented him in police station, and then afterwards he had got the bail, the same day Rohail had left farm house and went to his home, however, he used to visit Ilaaf once everyday. Ilaaf was so hopeless that couldn’t ask well being of Qandeel to him, the formal few sentences were always exchanged and nothing else was among them to be discussed.
Life was suddenly going in a strange manner. He had left reading newspaper or watching T.V. completely, never got anything except restlessness and agitation with those news. Everyday after waking in the morning, he used to get instructions that what he has to do today, whom he has to meet, what he has to say at which place, and where he just has to remain silent. Like a machine he used to follow, neither used to ask nor to say anything, even he had left talking to Adnan. He wondered, perhaps there was nothing left to be talked among Adnan and him. Even Adnan had taken it as temporary anger of Ilaaf and neglected completely.
Everything had been changed so much, he used to feel like a supportless grain which was flowing with the flow of the water and didn’t know anything about his destiny.
The day he came back to home from farm house, all those dreams came back as well, which he used to have while sleeping on his bed, in his room. Some of his routine things were same as previously they were; once again it was his habit to see all those pictures of Qandeel which were hanging on the walls of his room. Ilaaf used to feel like those pictures are trying to comfort him that one day everything will be alright, but at night, when he used to take out the picture that was kept beneath his pillow then, the picture was felt to make some complains to him, and in reply to that complain Ilaaf used to defend himself, used to try to give explanation but giving explanation was not easy at all. Then he used to keep that picture over his chest and shut his eyes and just then the goddess of sleep used to feel mercy for him. And while sleeping, sometimes he used to see him with Qandeel, and sometimes just following the Alchemist on the entrance roads of that strange city.
Due to the presence of Baba Saaiyen, Ilaaf used to lock his room everytime he used to leave his room, Fazal had the key of his room, and Ilaaf had taken back from him. He didn’t want that at any case Baba could see a single glimpse of any picture of Qandeel, and a new chaos would be ready for him in this way. He had experienced the stubbornness and arrogance of Baba once, and wasn’t ready to experience anything further.
That was the first hearing in the court. When he woke up in the morning then didn’t know why, he wished to imprison himself inside his room and never to go out, never to see the truth being proven as lie and lie as truth in the court, but nothing was possible, he had to become the part of this sin in any case.
Like a quiet viewer, he kept looking the whole proceeding in the court. The report of the investigation team was presented in the court, and after that Jawwad was presented as a witness. And Ilaaf was just surprised; Jawwad had assured the court by giving a false statement with an art of telling lies that the brakes of Ilaaf’s car were failed, and in this way not only he had defended Ilaaf instead saved himself to be included as the part of the crime. Baba Saaiyen had agreed Jawwad to give this statement, and if Jawwad would haven’t agreed to become a witness then, Qaiser Laashari knew the other means as well, he had some good communication with Jawwad’s father and Jawwad had to prove himself faultless as well, so he had to become an eyewitness. After Jawwad’s statement and the report, it was very difficult for Saqib and his lawyer to prove whatever they had claimed about the accident.
Ilaaf was more surprised that why Saqib couldn’t get any evidence or eyewitness. There were huge number of people on the road of foodstreet, who had witnessed that Ilaaf and Jawwad had violated the traffic rules, and Ilaaf had hit his car with Jawwad’s jeep without thinking about the consequences. Among those so many people, even if anyone would have stated against Ilaaf then the case could have gone into favor of Saqib, but it hadn’t happened and it was hard to guess for Ilaaf.
Ilaaf was called in the witness-box, and he was asked that were the brakes of his car gone failed, and does he approves Jawwad’s statement. And for the first time in life, Ilaaf was telling lies, was becoming a part of this wrong act.
Muazzam Rana was asking the questions.
“Had the brakes of your car gone failed while you were turning around the roundabout?”
Ilaaf nodded his head.
“Is that correct that you and Jawwad went to have dinner on foodstreet?”
“Yes.” Something was dying inside him.
“Did you try your level best to save Arsheen Nauman’s car?”
“Yeah.” When soul is buried in the grave of lies then one feels his own voice as dreadful as Ilaaf felt that moment.
Now the lawyer of Saqib tried to cross questioning, and he was trying to bring out something from Ilaaf’s statement through which he could have proved that Ilaaf and Jawwad hadn’t intended to have dinner on foodstreet instead they were competing, but the lesson that was taught to Ilaaf last night, that moment just that lesson was on his tongue and his blank mind had perhaps considered the same lesson a truth in real.
In a plane tone, he kept answering each and every question and just then he had seen a deep satisfaction on faces of Muazzam Rana and Adnan.
The Magistrate of the session court at the end of the hearing, kept the next hearing after one week, and asked Saqib that if he has any witness or evidences against Ilaaf then should present in the next hearing, otherwise the decision will be announced in next hearing.
With lifeless steps, Ilaaf came out of the court room along with Adnan, and immediately coming out he put on the black glasses on his eyes. Like a crowd, media people attacked him but Muazzam Rana and Adnan controlled everything, both of them were answering their questions which were thrown from all directions. Ilaaf wanted to leave as soon as possible, he turned his head to the right side and just then had seen Saqib Hassan stepping down, some newsreporters also went to Saqib, but his mouth was locked, he refused to comment and dissecting the crowd moved forward. Moving few steps ahead he stopped then didn’t know why he turned back and gazed Ilaaf.
Ilaaf saw in the dark shade of glasses, he had powerlessness on his face and extreme hatred in his eyes.
The stony heart of Ilaaf suddenly shuddered unknowingly, there was a shooting pain, and was a stinge which got penetrated straight inside Ilaaf’s heart with a sight full of hatred.
Holding his hand Adnan took him to the car. Throughout the way didn’t know what he kept saying, and he was happy on this success. Ilaaf was completely silent, his mind was entangled in the powerlessness and hatred of Saqib, why was he feeling so much pain while he could never have expected anything except hatred from Saqib then, why was the pain was severe, he couldn’t know.
The car was stopped in the porch and he came out of the car along with Adnan and just then, looking the white land cruiser parked there didn’t know why Ilaaf suddenly got extremely angry. Fazal and Mahi were giving a wash to Ilaaf’s white fairy. He came ahead.
“Why is this car parked here?” Ilaaf barked.
Fazal straightened suddenly.
“I told you Fazal, that I don’t want to see this car in my home, then why is it standing here?” He felt his face was getting hot at the peak of anger.
“Actually Saaiyen, Mechanic just sent it back. Barey Saaiyen asked to wash it and park in garage, that’s why I asked Mahi to…..” Saying in scared tone he left his answer incomplete and looked Ilaaf.
“This is my car, and only I have authority to give commands regarding it, and I have told that this car wouldn’t enter my home again.” He didn’t know why he was getting angry on Fazal and on his car in such manner.
Adnan kept his hand over Ilaaf’s shoulder coming near.
“What happened to you, Ilaaf? What is your car’s fault in this whole matter, and why are you getting angry on the poor man Fazal without any reason? He is just a housemaid, and would do whatever he will be asked to do.” Didn’t know what happened, Ilaaf displaced away Adnan’s hand rudely and moved ahead few steps.
“Ilaaf, don’t be angry buddy.” He heard Adnan behind him.
He stopped, and then turning back gazed Adnan.
“Celebrate for this success as much as you want to. If you and Baba Saaiyen think it is a success then celebrate it, but don’t expect that I would participate in your celebration.” His tone was so harsh that the smile on Adnan’a face was immediately disappeared. Ilaaf hadn’t cared, he called Fazal.
“Whether you park it in the garage or burn it out over the road, but after this day, this car should never be seen in this porch otherwise I will burn it myself.” Fazal nodded his head and Ilaaf came inside.
He didn’t leave his room till the evening. Windows were closed and curtains were pulled on, in semidarkness, tilting his back with the bed crown, in one position, he kept smoking without any gap.
The room was packed with smoke, but who cared. When, there is fog inside then one can not feel the outside smoke.
He felt little slumber in evening and he just closed his eyes when the door was knocked.
Opening his eyes, Ilaaf looked the door with an unpleasant look.
“I don’t want to eat anything, Fazal. Why don’t you understand? Just get lost.” He barked in slumbered voice.
“Open the door, Ilaaf. It’s me, and wants to meet you.” Hearing the voice of Rohail his mind waked up little.
He hardly got up and unlocking the door, came back and got onto bed once again.
“Oh God, you have messed up your room, Ilaaf. And this smell of cigarette and smoke, at least you should have opened a window if you wanted to smoke.” Ilaaf didn’t answer.
Shutting the door, Rohail turned on the lights then, pulling off the curtains opened all windows, and then coming near to bed he jerked Ilaaf and this time Ilaaf had to get up unwillingly.
“Just look yourself, see your face in the mirror, and how red you eyes are. Does one smoke like this, why have you become enemy of your life?” Ilaaf didn’t reply, just kept sitting with his head down.
Holding his hand, Rohail got him up and asked to wash his face.
Washing his face when Ilaaf came out of the washroom then was feeling himself much better, till then Rohail had called Fazal and the cleaning of his room was in process.
He silently sat on the couch.
Rohail bringing the glass of juice gave it to Ilaaf then taking a chair was seated in front of him.
“You should take care of yourself, you are getting weak day by day.” Rohail said.
“I hate my life.”
“Life is not to be hated, but to be loved.”
“My life is just to be hated.”
“Don’t think like that, everything will be alright.”
“Nothing will be alright.”
Rohail remained silent for a while, and then Ilaaf asked.
“You were not in the court today, didn’t you have the courage to see me going down into marsh of sin?”
“No, I wanted to come but…..had to go to office along with Papa.” Ilaaf felt like he was trying to hide something.
“Did well that you haven’t come, you would have felt laughing on the powerlessness of a powerful man.”
“It had to happen, Ilaaf. Qaiser Uncle will never let you getting penalty, whether for that he would have to provide more false evidences.”
Ilaaf and Rohail kept sitting silently again, like a routine they didn’t have anything special to be discussed, and then a strange agitation grasped Ilaaf.
“Have you met Qandeel?” Being powerless by his heart, finally he asked.
Rohail looked him; Ilaaf changed the direction of his eyes.
“She neither receives my call nor does she reply my messages. Perhaps she is angry to me as well, as I was with you at the time of accident, and may be she would have considered me guilty as well.”
Ilaaf didn’t reply.
“I talked to Yousuf Uncle on phone.”
“Then…?” Ilaaf gazed him with a questioning sight.
“He has an idea about your problems and he is not dubious about you.”
“He is a great man.”
“But he says that perhaps he wouldn’t be able to help us to clearify your position in front of Qandeel because….”
“Saqib Hassan and his family have close family terms with Yousuf Uncle and Qandeel, and Qandeel has taken great effect by this traumatic death of Arsheen and her mother.” Ilaaf hid his face into his hands, didn’t know why these all thunders had to fall over him.
“Yousuf Uncle has said that he will try to clearify your position to Qandeel, but didn’t promise because he is already very worried for Qandeel. He says that Qandeel is deeply affected by this grief. I haven’t met Qandeel yet, and now I am planning to have a visit at her home, but I came to know through Yousuf Uncle that she is extremely silent and lost these days, looks to be in some contention from inside, like she is trying to take some decision, and that’s why Yousuf Uncle didn’t want to impose his thoughts over her and perhaps this decision of his is quite right.”
Ilaaf knew, what could be that intention, his heart was not cursing him without any reason. Qandeel would have tried to see the difference among his truth and lies, the man who showing his love for her, that day in the park, had claimed extraordinaryily that he has been greatly changed in love of Qandeel, she probably would have taken some time to consider those claims as false.
“When would you visit her?” Ilaaf asked.
“Any day, this week.”
“Can you give her a message of mine?”
For a while, Ilaaf didn’t say anything, and then finally he said.
“Tell her, Ilaaf Laashari is not only accountable in front of Saqib, Nausheen and Nauman Hassan but also in front of her, he is not able to confess his mistake in front of the world but, in front of her, he not only can confess his guilt but bending his head down, is ready to be penalized. Whatever punishment Qandeel Yousuf would decide for Ilaaf Laashari, in the court of her heart, he would accept that smiling.” Rohail had seen that lunatic with a strange look, perhaps he couldn’t understand well his words, he wasn’t able to understand, the meaning of these words could only be understood by she, who was the only desire of that lunatic in this world.