On the dining table, in the lounge of the farm house, every person who had the right to take the most important decision of Ilaaf’s life, was present, except Ilaaf Laashari himself. Qaiser Laashari and his lawyer Muazzam Rana, Mujahid Baloch and Adnan, all four of them were discussing and exchanging their ideas and before to plan anything for future, they wanted to see all aspects of this case. He was the only one who was sitting silently near the railing on the stairs going upwards, unconcerned from all of them and starring in the air.
Adnan had sent Shaiq to Malakand very early that morning, now Adnan and Rohail were there with Ilaaf. Qaiser Laashari along with Muazzam Rana and Mujahid Baloch had reached there just a while earlier, and now all four of them sitting close on the dining table were deciding the future of Ilaaf.
Ilaaf just tried to see, but he was unable to see anything clear. The world was empty, life was deserted and hopes….were buried in the grave dug by his arrogance.
Didn’t know since when he was sitting there in this way, even on arrival of Baba and Naana Saaiyen neither he raised his head nor did he say anything, and the truth was that they had not come to console him, just came to make a line of action to free Ilaaf from this case. What was the condition of Ilaaf that moment, in which pain his heart, mind, soul and body were, it was not important for both Baba and Naana Saaiyen. What was important for them, it was the respectful discharge of Ilaaf which was associated with their own dignity and honor. Either Ilaaf is feeling himself dead or alive while breathing, and his soul was hanged to death, it was not important for those politicians. Ilaaf was alive and fine, was physically healthy and extremely protected; it was enough for their satisfaction. To be worried for intellectual or spiritual death of Ilaaf was not at all important for them.
“Ilaaf, eat something.” He turned his head and gazed Rohail who was sitting besides him.
“Am not hungry.” The tone was plane.
“Then have some juice.” Rohail said again.
“I have already drunk the blood of two women, and perhaps will have to drink the blood of third one as well. What else you want me to drink now?” He had extreme hatred for himself in his tone.
Rohail couldn’t answer for a while then he said.
“Why don’t you admit, Ilaaf? It’s true that it was your mistake, but whatever has to happen it happens in any case, perhaps their death was written in this way. Blame yourself as much as it was your fault, and not more than that. It is better for you and others as well; cursing yourself continuously in this way will not make any difference to solve this problem.”
“Is there still anything which can be resolved being considered as a problem, Rohail? Everything just has been finished, there is nothing left which is needed to be solved out.” He kept starring in the air. “You can satisfy yourself with these weightless explanations not me.” He turned his head and looked Rohail. “I have enough courage to confess the criminal act that I have committed, in front of entire world and to accept the penalty I get as punishment of this crime without any argument.”
Rohail didn’t answer.
Ilaaf kept thinking. His heart was so heavy with the burden of this feeling that he was feeling it difficult to breathe, and this burden could be got off just at one condition.
A thought had suddenly surged current in his whole body.
He rose and came downstairs in the lounge, and then reaching dining table stopped. No one among them got attentive towards him.
“Baba Saaiyen, I have decided something.” Silence spread in the lounge. All four of them gazed Ilaaf whose eyes were just on Qaiser Laashari.
“I don’t think do, Ilaaf, that right now you are able to make a right decision.” Mujahid Baloch answered instead of Qaiser Laashari.
“I am in my complete senses and enough able to make a right decision.” Ilaaf replied with seriousness. When everything has already been destroyed then perhaps man becomes peaceful and calm while moving ahead, in the same way how Ilaaf was calm that moment.
“Say, what do you want to say?” Qaiser Laashari said.
“I want to get the punishment for my crime, I want to be arrested.” He saw, the color of faces of people sitting there were suddenly changed.
“You are gone out of your mind, Ilaaf.” He neglected the reply of Mujahid Baloch and looked Baba Saaiyen.
“Your Naana Saaiyen is quite right, Ilaaf. You are still under the shock of that accident, and that’s why talking about like this.” He saw Baba with surprise.
Should he have forgotten that accident in such a short span of time and was it so easy? Twenty four hours hadn’t been passed yet and according to Baba Saaiyen Ilaaf should have come out of that shock.
“Hundreds of accidents occur daily on the roads, people die as well and behind each and every accident there is someone who is solely responsible most of the time, but does that mean that every such man should present himself to be arrested and penalized?” Ilaaf looked him.
“Indeed yes. Every such man who is responsible for anyone’s death pointlessly, he should present himself to be arrested.”
“You didn’t kill them, Ilaaf. It was just an accident that happened because of a tiny error you made and due to which those women lost their lives. This doesn’t appear a murder in any case.”
“A tiny error.” He just had seen Baba Saaiyen’s face. “Having a contest at such a crowded road, is it a tiny error? Being angry without any significant reason and due to which bringing the lives of so many people at risk, is it a tiny error, Baba Saaiyen?”
“You are getting emotional, Ilaaf, and nothing else is the reason.”
“I am not getting emotional. Yes I was emotional when I hit my car to Jawwad’s jeep without thinking about the consequences. Right now I am thinking being emotionless.”
“After some time you will feel that we were right.”
“You are just presenting false explanations in order to avoid the truth. Whatever is felt right to me today, it would be the same later on as well.” For the first time his tone had hardness and criticism. Qaiser Laashari squeezing his eyes gazed him, Ilaaf had never talked to him in such a way before this.
“Say whatever you want to say, think whatever you want to. Take as right whatever you want to and take as wrong whatever you want to, but one thing that you have to listen carefully. Whatever we have decided and wished will happen. Neither your mistake will be proven in the court nor would we let you to get punishment.” This time like a typical feudal he had ordered Ilaaf.
“Then you have to listen one thing too, Baba Saaiyen. Me, Ilaaf Laashari son of Qaiser Laashari will confess in the court myself that I am the only one responsible for the death of those two women and this state of that girl Nausheen. And then, no one not even you would be able to prevent me getting penalty for that.” His tone had the same determination which was needed.
There was a grave silence in the lounge; nobody could say anything for a while. Ilaaf saw each and every face. Baba and Naana Saaiyen were starring each other, Muazzam Rana had no expression on his face like he is totally unconcerned with entire matter, and Adnan…..he had a grief on his face. Ilaaf knew, if anyone was really hurt with this decision of his then it was Adnan. No one else was there who just was hurt with this decision of Ilaaf in his love, rest of all were traders who had cared for Ilaaf but along with they were extremely concerned about their so called honor. He couldn’t see the reaction of Rohail because Rohail was standing at his back.
He turned back and came to stairs, but then he had to stop hearing Baba Saaiyen.
“You are forcing us to use the other way, Ilaaf.” Turning back he gazed Baba Saaiyen.
All four of them had been standing.
“What do you mean?” He said while unable to understand.
Qaiser Laashari came near him walking.
“We have already decided about it. Your Naana Saaiyen had an idea that perhaps you wouldn’t follow our instructions therefore we discussed about another option as well, which now we would have to use looking this unnecessary stubbornness of you.”
Ilaaf had a sight at Naana Saaiyen, didn’t know why he got extremely angry.
“Which option you are talking about?” He asked.
“As soon as the hearing starts in the court, it will be proven through your medical reports that due to the intense shock of this accident you are mentally not well, and therefore there wouldn’t be any importance of the statement that you would give in the court.” His eyes had such a shine which a tiger has whenever he looks at his prey.
Ilaaf hadn’t believed his ears, he understood that day that why it is so hard sometimes to believe. He kept looking him with surprise.
“My medical reports?” He said in a resisted tone.
“Which medical reports you are talking about? I am mentally perfectly fine.” Perhaps he wanted to make it clear.
“Either you are mentally fine or not, this can not be decided by you but doctors, and doctor would write whatever they will be asked to write in the report.” Somebody had kicked Ilaaf from sky on the ground; he had felt his bones were cracked.
“And not only this, you know that if we can prove in the court that your mental state is not well after this accident then even it is not difficult for us to prevent you attending the hearings by sending you to the hospital. Just a letter of a psychiatry hospital will be required, and if needed then you will stay in the hospital for few days as well.”
Ilaaf had seen the man standing opposite to him and who used to call him father of Ilaaf, but that moment he was only a renowned player of chess and who was making his moves one after the other, and Ilaaf…..his own position was perhaps nothing more than just like an ordinary chessman. How he always used to rank himself there, but today he had a better idea of his status. He had thought that he can conquer the world, but the reality was that he wasn’t able even to move with his own wish. The man, who is held by others like a puppet and who never stood on his own feet, he should rather not dream about conquering the world, instead should mourn on his fortune.
“And you know Ilaaf, that I would not be haapy doing all this, but you yourself are forcing me to do it.” Ilaaf held the railing of the stairs otherwise his tired body would have fallen down. Rohail standing besides had supported him and then made him to sit on the stairs.
“Now you have to decide, Ilaaf, that how you want it to happen? Either you will have to follow whatever will be instructed to you, without any argument or objection, and will have to give a statement in the court we want you to. In other way, I am supposed to take such a step which I don’t want to.” Ilaaf didn’t try to raise his head and see him, kept sitting silently with his head down.
“We are leaving, staying here long is not possible. You have time, think about it peacefully and whatever you decide, just inform Adnan. In both cases, Adnan knows what he has to do. But one thing that you have to remind carefully, Ilaaf, we will neither let you to be proved as guilty in any case nor will leave you to get penalty and imprisoned. You are still a child, and not enough old to do something against our will.” Qaiser Laashari kept his hand over his shoulder. “Everything will be alright, my son. This feeling of guilt will bother you for a while but slowly and gradually everything will be alright.” Ilaaf had felt extremely awful about that weight of his hand.
He pushed away Qaiser Laashari’s hand from his shoulder in an unkind manner, and couldn’t see that on this act either Qaiser Laashari had anger on his face or not, because he didn’t want to look Baba Saaiyen’s face that moment.
“You are rightly angry, but our decision is quite right. Sooner or later you will know.” All of them went out one by one, Adnan perhaps had accompanied them.
Ilaaf felt aversion to him, and felt extreme hatred for his life. He wished by heart either to burn the world or to kill himself burning in some fire.
Rohail squeezed his arm to console him.
“Have courage, Ilaaf. It had to happen. Control yourself and think that what you have to do now.” Ilaaf looked Rohail turning his head.
Didn’t know what happened he felt a mist was overwhelming his eyes.
“How much unaware I was, Rohail. And could never know that the life which I have to live is not the life of a human instead of an animal, but no…..perhaps animals and insects even live a better life than me. They have a better life to live; they are free to move on this earth of God wherever they want to, and me…...I even can not breathe on my own. My each and every vein is linked with the wishes of my father and grandfather. What I am, a chessman standing on a chessboard, or a bird imprisoned in a cage, who can flutter his wings but can not fly.” He was crying, had never cried like this before but it was true that he had never an idea about his real status before that day. “Who am I, a colorless leaf dropped from a tree or a stone kept in the way, which doesn’t hurt anyone with its own wish instead people use it to hurt others.” Rohail hugged him and consoled.
Keeping his chin on Rohail’s shoulder, embracing him, Ilaaf had taken out his grief, and just then for the first time he had an idea about the importance of Rohail in his life. He was a faithful and loving friend, and Ilaaf had always given Adnan priority over Rohail, and today when including Adnan everyone was the cause of pain for him then it was just Rohail who had satisfactory words to say for Ilaaf.
He kept patting his back, like a kind friend kept consoling him. Then he moved Ilaaf back and wiped his tears with his own hands. Ilaaf remained silent. Rohail held Ilaaf’s hand and made him to stand and then taken him upstairs to his room. Ilaaf followed his each and every instruction silently. His mind was so empty that he was unable to think or decide anything, and kept following whatever Rohail was asking for.
Rohail took him to the washroom. Standing in front of the wash basin, he washed Ilaaf’s face with his own hands, then dried his face with the towel and bringing him back into the room asked him to sit on the bed then went out. When he came back after a while then he had Ilaaf's lunch with him. He ate and asked Ilaaf to eat too. Ilaaf ate a little on his instruction. After their meal, Rohail played soft music on stereo and asked Ilaaf to take rest. Before leaving the room he turned off the lights and pulled on the curtains over the windows.
The room was pretty dark now. Gloomy evening to be set, silence and a sad song of Stephen Marx; Ilaaf shut his grave eyes and then didn’t know why he couldn’t open his eyes because closing his eyes, the shiny eyes of Qandeel came and were set over the veil of his imagination and he was feeling intoxicated. Even in this little slumber she was so close to Ilaaf, he felt like she is sitting besides him holding his hand.
He woke up at an hour of late night. Rubbing his eyes he got up and turned on the lights then pulling off the curtains from the backside windows he opened them.
The flowing water in the river, in the light of the half moon, and cool breeze; there was enough stuff to get peace and tranquility.
Ilaaf thought about Qandeel. Just few days ago when he had proposed Qandeel then he had thought that once they will be married, he will take Qandeel to the farm house and standing in the window of his room and holding her hand at midnight would show her this beautiful view. But everything had been changed just in four days. Now perhaps Qandeel even would not like to see his face, how she could think about marrying him. He felt crying on his fate, on his misfortune but he didn’t want to cry. He had already cried a lot due to this odd behavior of Baba Saaiyen and now didn’t want to shed any further tears from his burning eyes.
Then he had thought about Baba Saaiyen; thought about whatever he had said. Didn’t know how long he kept standing there and kept thinking that which option he can prefer, in both cases he had to be ashamed in the court of his own heart.
Next morning he was preety much better than the previous day, he wanted to face the situation and didn’t want to avoid anything like a coward. Both Rohail and Adnan tried to convince him one by one that in such a critical situation standing against Baba Saaiyen was not a good choice to apt and looking the complexity of this case he should follow whatever Qaiser Laashari asked him to.
Sitting in the lounge he kept arguing with Rohail and Adnan, but then he felt, they were quite right in their sayings. He was tied up with such a system that if he would have taken a decision with his own will, even then it was not possible for him to act accordingly. Therefore due to the fault that he was born in a political and feudal family, he had deserved this punishment to live with a feeling of guilt and embarrassment rest of the life and being considered as faultless in the eyes of world.
Getting his approval Adnan informed Qaiser Laashari on phone that Ilaaf is ready to follow his instructions. Qaiser Laashari instructed Adnan about what he has to do next, Adnan kept hearing everything silently and kept aggreing that he would do the same.
Rohail had got a call on his cell phone; he went out to attend the call.
Sitting on the couch there, Ilaaf felt he was standing in a deep deep ditch and there was no way possible to come out. For the first time in life his all misunderstandings were smashed with a single knock and the dark side of the real world came in front of him. The point where he was guilty, preparations were made to prove him faultless there, and the point at which he was faultless, nobody could present any evidence in his defence there.
He was declared as a criminal in the court of Qandeel, although he wasn’t guilty there, and including Baba Saaiyen nobody was able to prove him faultless in that court. Which penalty Qandeel was going to or had set over him, he didn’t know but he knew one thing that nobody in the world perhaps would be extremely unlucky in such a way that he was declared as guilty in the court of the beloved when he was faultless.
For the first time in life he complained to God that why He made him the son of Qaiser Laashari, why He made him the only heir in the family of Aadil Laashari, why He sent him in such a family where he was apparently free but in real he wasn’t able to breathe freely. What would have gone wrong if God would have sent him in an ordinary family, this wealth, fame, so called respect and this heritage, Ilaaf never needed all these things then why God didn’t make him the son of an ordinary man?
“Qandeel, I wish you could know that how I am troubled? I wish that for a single time you could feel my pain, have an idea about my problems and I wish that just once I could be able to tell you that despite of all my meanness, my love for you, is the biggest truth of this universe.” Muttering in an empty tone he had felt himself weaker, perhaps the shocks one after the other had intensively wounded his soul.