The preceding of the court had been started for ten minutes and Saqib hadn’t reached yet.
The lawyer of Saqib had stated that he is on the way and got late due to traffic jam, but he looked worried.
Ilaaf standing in the witness box was looking silently the precedings heading to a decisive phase. Muazzam Rana while arguing in a peaceful tone then requested to the Magistrate that court now should announce the verdict of the case as soon as possible, as Saqib and his lawyer couldn’t present any evidences or witness.
Everybody believed that certainly now the decision would be in the favor of Ilaaf, and this accident will be declared as an incidental accident. Ilaaf himself was waiting for those few formal words from Magistrate’s side for which this drama had been created.
There was the grave silence in the court room, and in that silence bending his head down Ilaaf was just feeling his heavy breathing, but this feeling vanished after a while when he heard the heavy footfalls.
Like a deadbody he raised his head and looked at the enterance door, and just then everything around him went motionless.
He was Saqib who entered court room almost running, and just behind him…….either it was a ruse or just a thought he couldn’t decide, but it mingled the elixir of life in the dead breath of Ilaaf.
He saw Qandeel without blinking his eyes. In black clothing, covering her head with black stole, she was just Qandeel who entered the court room following Saqib, and her eyes were just on Magistrate or towards Saqib, and didn’t feel the need to look at any other face.
Ilaaf felt like his heart will come out of his chest, he had never felt his heartbeat so irregular. He couldn’t understand it was a dream or reality……but how could it be a reality, why would Qandeel come to court, what she would have to do here? He kept looking her, and didn’t move his eyelashes, so that Qandeel couldn’t be vanished or dissipated into the air.
Saqib was now excusing to Magistrate for reaching late.
Ilaaf looked; Qandeel was seated on a chair at the corner.
Accepting his apology, Magistrate asked the same question to Saqib what he had asked to his lawyer earlier.
“Sir, I want to present a witness, who is an eye witness of this accident and who would prove that it was not just an incidental accident, infact it was the result of recklessness of Ilaaf.” Ilaaf was surprised. So, finally Saqib succeeded to get a witness, but who was that witness Ilaaf hadn’t any idea about that, because even then his complete attention was towards Qandeel.
Ilaaf had seen, the rough hairs were probably tied up firmly because not for a single time they tried to come out of her stole. In black clothing with black sandel, her feet were shining like golden sand, her face had an eternal peace, keeping both hands in her lap she was looking the entire preceding silently.
Magistrate asked the name of the witness.
“Qandeel Yousuf.” The sky was fallen over his head; he felt a hammer just hit his brains.
The lawyer of Saqib asked Qandeel to come into witness box.
Ilaaf saw Qandeel standing.
So, Qandeel had decided, to support Saqib Nauman Hassan and not him, to stand with the truth, to give statement against Ilaaf.
Ilaaf was surprised, why he couldn’t have an idea before that what could be the purpose of Qandeel coming into the court, he should have understood immediately. Whoelse other than Qandeel Yousuf had enough courage to stand with the truth, without caring about the power of Qaiser Laashari and caring about her life.
She came to the witness box like was walking in the park, and once she stood in the witness box exactly opposite to him then, for the first time Qandeel raised her eyes and looked Ilaaf.
In these so many days, for the first time Ilaaf felt like he was alive and even now, a pleasant moment is still there in his life. Hatred, disgust and anger, whatever he was expecting, nothing was there in that sight, just was quietness and a nameless impression, giving name to that impression was not possible for Ilaaf.
Now she was attentive towards the lawyer, who was asking questions.
“Had you been to foodstreet that evening on 6th February?”
“What would be the time?”
“Three quarter past five.”
“Who was accompanying you?”
“My friend, Maryam Bari.”
“Which restaurant you people were in?”
Qandeel had told the name of the restaurant.
“Any evidence related to your presence there?”
“Yes.” Qandeel had confidently given the payement slip to the lawyer, which she was holding in her hand, and which had order number, date, time and name of restaurant printed on it. Showing slip to the Magistrate, lawyer gave that slip to Saqib, and once again asked question.
“Where were you, the moment accident occurred?”
“Outside the restaurant, few yards to the enterance door, just near the parking area.”
“What was the exact time of the accident, you remember?”
“Thirteen past seven.” Turning his head Ilaaf looked Adnan sitting in front of him, and he could have idea with the changing color of his face that what would he be feeling, looking Qandeel telling the truth; he already hadn’t a good opinion about Qandeel. The peace of Muazzam Rana’s face was also transforming into agitation.
Ilaaf once again looked Qandeel; she was undoubtedly an amazing girl whose every attribute was entirely different from the other one, and that astonishing girl used to rule his heart with her each and every characteristic.
“Now you tell the court each and every detail of the incident that you know as an eyewitness of this accident.”
Qandeel started telling the details of the incident.
Ilaaf was surprised; she remembered each and every minute detail related to the accident, certainly she had a spectacular memory.
She told the number and color of Jawwad’s jeep, she told about the attire and features of Jawwad while she hadn’t seen Jawwad once after that day, and then she told the color of Ilaaf’s shirt he was wearing that day, the features and attires of boys sitting in the car along with Ilaaf; Adnan, Shariq, and Rohail, she didn’t show sympathy for anyone. After that she briefly described that how Ilaaf and Jawwad turned their cars from roundabout and u-turn violating the traffic rules, and then she told the distance that was between Arsheen’s fourseater and Jawwad’s jeep, and between Jawwad’s jeep and Ilaaf’s car, almost exactly what it was.
Ilaaf was unable to feel anything that moment, he was just hearing her voice, the voice which his ears couldn’t hear for last one month, and it had made no difference whatever that voice was saying for him that moment.
She was proving Ilaaf a liar, cheater, and a fraud, but anyhow she wasn’t wrong and was telling the truth, her each single word was true, she was true like her pure and illuminating soul.
Now Qandeel was telling the details of the accident. How Ilaaf hit his car to Jawwad’s jeep, how the jeep losing its balance and speed had hit the fourseater driven by Arsheen and as a result how Arsheen’s car had hit the fence outside the restaurant and its windscrren was smashed, the front door was dented, and behind Jawwad’s jeep Ilaaf’s car stopped too that is the proof that the brakes of Ilaaf’s car were not failed. Then she repeated the entire situation after the accident, and then told the colors of the dresses Arsheen, Nausheen and Rukhsana Nauman were wearing, she had told everything that could be helpful to make her statement valid and strong.
Ilaaf had seen a fog over Adnan’s face.
Qandeel went quiet. The lawyer of Saqib asked few more questions and then went to his original position.
Magistrate asked Muazzam Rana to ask questions from Qandeel.
Ilaaf saw, Muazzam Rana had asked few questions as well out of which some were sensible while some were highly stupid questions, but Qandeel answered his each and every question fearlessly. A clever man like Muazzam Rana even couldn’t entangle Qandeel in cross questioning, because at that moment he was bit puzzled and confused himself, and then he went quiet as well.
Qandeel was aked to go back at her seat.
There was complete silence in the court for few minutes.
Ilaaf hadn’t cared, what was going to happen, it hadn’t made any difference for him, he just wanted to see Qandeel for few more minutes, he wanted to surround her face with his eyes by pausing those moments.
Qandeel wasn’t looking him; she was sitting with her sight downward. Saqib who was looking extremely excited and hopeful as compare to last hearing, now was whispering in her ear and, on which Qandeel had gazed Saqib smiling, and didn’t know why that moment Ilaaf’s heart was just incised out.
Saqib sitting near her like this, and whispering in her ear, Ilaaf had felt very bad about it. Totally unconcerned from the decision of his future life, that moment he was just feeling jealousy for Saqib in his heart. Then he heard Magistrate saying something.
The bail of Ilaaf was going to be cancelled then and there, and he was ordered to be kept in lock-up till the further precedings. Jawwad, Sahil, Adnan, Rohail and Shaiq were being included for investigation in the case as co-defendants, and court ordered to gather some more evidences from site of accident and to present in the next hearing. The next hearing was after eight days.
The court was adjourned.
Ilaaf had seen people rising from their seats. Magistrate had left, and now he was being handcuffed. Ilaaf had seen Qandeel leaving the court room along with Saqib; he wasn’t concerned about the handcuffs getting hold of his hands, even that moment he wanted to just see Qandeel one more time.
Adnan and Muazzam Rana came near him, and now were consoling him that they will soon restore bail for him.
He didn’t want to get bail, he wanted penalty, the punishment that Qandeel Yousuf decided for him to get. Walking with policemen silently he came out of the court room, and just then his searching eyes got some peace. Standing besides Saqib on the stairs of court she was in the enclosure of journalists and reporters, and was avoiding giving the answers of their questions. Saqib was trying to cope up with the situation and all of them. Ilaaf looked, in that constricted enclosure she was standing so close to Saqib that her shoulder was almost touching Saqib’s arm.
For a while Saqib kept answering them, and then he held Qandeel’s wrist with one hand and started moving forward incising the circle.
A shooting pain just penetrated inside Ilaaf’s heart.
While moving ahead, Qandeel suddenly turned her head and had seen Ilaaf, and that was just one single moment when Ilaaf felt like Qandeel wanted to stay there, wanted to talk to Ilaaf, something that she couldn’t say to Ilaaf in the court in the presence of so many people and now wanted to say, but perhaps this was just a mere thought. Saqib had opened the front door of the car and made her to sit inside.
The journalists and reporters were now heading to Ilaaf, but before that they could attack him with questions, in the form of a crowd, Ilaaf went into the police mobile,outside Adnan and Muazzam Rana were answering the questions of media, and his own mind was just drowned in that one sight of Qandeel.
The mobile was now moving, everything was in motion but inside him were only those two eyes and that view which was just paused and wasn’t going forward.
When did he reach in lock-up, when did the daylight turn into dark night he couldn’t know anything. In that narrow and dark room, sitting on hard surface of the floor didn’t know how long he kept thinking about Qandeel, neither he felt that ground uncomfortable nor did he feel any difficulty breathing inside that congested dark room.
Qandeel wanted him to be penalized, to be punished. She had decided, and Ilaaf had to accept her decision at any cost. Nothing else was important for him, just what Qandeel wanted, and her decision. As much as he was thinking, finding himself changed inside out.
Then he thought. What if he couldn’t confess his mistake in the court earlier, he could do it now, and now that confession could have more importance than before, because initially if he would have confessed and given true statement then, it would be easier for Baba Saaiyen to declare and prove him mentally ill and thus making that statement meaningless, but now in current situation when he already had attended two hearings and everybody knew that he was perfectly fine physically as well as mentally, now the false medical reports even would be unable to prove that statement weak and unreliable.
Yes, that was true, now he could be able to give his true statement in the court, could confess his wrong act, and after that even if Qaiser Laashari would have tried to prove that Ilaaf’s is mentally disturbed then this trick couldn’t be as useful as it was in previous situation.
Night was passing, he neither felt hunger nor thirst, he just remembered Qandeel, he wanted to see her, wanted to talk to her, and wanted to tell her that the punishment that she had decided for Ilaaf, he is ready to accept thay by heart.
In that grave silence, with drowsy eyes he had seen a light far away, and then the heavy door was opened with a cracky noise. Ilaaf kept sitting with his head down, and he didn’t try to raise his head and see who has come.
“Ilaaf, get up. I have come to take you.” It was Adnan’s voice. He was surprised, why Adnan had come there?
Ilaaf looked him raising his head then said in expressionless tone.
“I don’t want to get bail. Why have you got bail for me?”
Adnan sat down over his tiptoes, and then said like a lost gambler.
“Couldn’t get the bail, Ilaaf. I am sorry for that.” Ilaaf gazed him with an astonishing look. If they hadn’t got the bail then what the hell Adnan was doing there.
“But I can’t leave you here to spend your night here. Let’s go home with me right now; you haven’t eaten anything since morning. Take you dinner at home, have some rest, and then I will drop you here before morning. Nobody will know that where were you the whole night; everybody would think you were in lock-up.” Ilaaf gazed him.
Was it so easy in real for his father and Adnan to make a mockery of the law, did none of the policemen present outside could remember their duty, is that so easy to be sold for just some money? These were questions whose answers were not possible even for Ilaaf.
“I don’t have to go anywhere, I am perfectly fine here. Just leave.” Ilaaf replied in a plane tone changing the direction of his face.
“Don’t be mad, Ilaaf. I am already really worried for you; an ordinary girl just turned the entire theme. But anyhow, we will see her, what does she think she is, a so called witness.” The disgust that was hidden in the tone of Adnan for Qandeel had blazed a fire inside Ilaaf.
He pushed back Adnan with his full power.
“Mind your language, Adnan. I will blow your face if you said a single word against her.”
Adnan gazed him surprisingly, and couldn’t answer him for a while then said.
“You would make me quiet, but how would you force others to be quiet.”
“Whoever said anything against her, I will force everyone to be quiet, and those who will not keep their mouth shut, I won’t leave them in position to say anything.”
“How would you keep your father’s mouth shut, Ilaaf, who is extremely angry at the moment and can take some strict decision.”
“Baba Saaiyen won’t do anything like that, I won’t let him to do so, and I won’t let anybody to harm Qandeel even a bit.”
“No one else other than herself would be responsible for anything that happens with her and if she gets harmed. Giving a statement against you in the court, she not only made Qaiser Uncle her enemy but your whole family to stand against her, and you know very well that Qaiser Uncle wouldn’t let you to be charged for this mistake even if he has to take serious steps for that.” Adnan was looking bit worried; perhaps he had an idea about the severity of the situation, more than Ilaaf.
“If Qandeel gets just a single scratch even then I won’t forgive anyone, not even myself.” He kept thinking, and then something inside his mind forced him to stand.
He wanted to go with Adnan, wanted to have an idea about the situation. He wanted to prevent Baba Saaiyen to take any severe step.
Both of them left very silently.
In the darkness of that night, the car of Adnan was flying towards home.
They reached within twenty minutes. Ilaaf came inside but couldn’t see Baba Saaiyen anywhere. Jumping over the stairs he came up and just then his heartbeat went unmoved.
The door of his room was unlocked and opened, while he had locked the room himself before leaving in the morning. However, he had forgotten the key on the shelf leaving in rush, and now he was feeling very angry inside out.
Because of the silly mistakes he was committing, the situation was becoming worse with each passing day.
He came inside, as was expected Baba Saaiyen was in his room, and sitting on the couch was deeply thinking.
Fazal who was collecting the tea cup from the table, stopped while looking Ilaaf coming inside.
“Why did you unlock my room without my permission?” He barked.
Fazal kept standing with his head down silently.
“I asked Fazal to unlock your room, and by the way I had picked the key from shelf and gave to Fazal.” Ilaaf looked Baba Saaiyen when he said.
“Entering into someone’s bedroom without his permission is unethical, Baba Saaiyen.”
“Don’t teach me the lessons of ethics, Ilaaf.” Till then Fazal had left and Adnan had come inside.
“This is my bedroom, not a drawingroom. Both of you please leave my room right away.” He said in a dry tone.
There was silence for a while then, Qaiser Laashari rose and came near to him.
“We are waiting for you outside in the lounge. Get fresh yourself and come there.” His tone was very strange. “And by the way, put down all these pictures as soon as possible, otherwise I will ask someone myself to throw them in the store.” He said indicating towards the pictures of Qandeel hanging on the walls.
It was a spark which burnt a fire inside Ilaaf.
“This is my house and this room is mine, what would happen here and what not, this is to be decided by me and not you, and it is better for you not to touch these pictures. I hanged each and every picture here on these walls with my own hands, and these would be hanging there forever. Neither you nor any other one can displace these pictures from these walls.” Ilaaf said each and every word chewing in his mouth and then moving few steps forward stood there silently.
“I could never imagine that your choice would be so despicable, Ilaaf.”
Somebody had thrown acid over Ilaaf’s face, perhaps he could never have felt the pain with an acid what he felt due to this foul word by his father, the abusive that was given him and Qandeel both. He turned back and saw Qaiser Laashari, and that moment if he could have forgotten just for a moment, the reality that the man was his father, then certainly he would have taken revenge of this foul with that man.
“Despicable is not my choice, despicable is your thinking, Baba Saaiyen, which analyzes people not on their character and temperament instead on their wealth, status and power.” His tone was poisonous.
Having an idea about the severity of the moment, Adnan asked Qaiser Laashari to go out with him.
Both of them left his room.
Sitting on the bed Ilaaf took a deep breath.
The situation was becoming worse, and he was unable to find a way to escape out, he was unable to decide what to do, so that everything could go well. His brain was going to freeze, and he was sick of thinking.
He wasn’t concerned about any other thing that moment just was worried for Qandeel, and her safety. Now he could never be able to expect anything from his selfish father; the man who could call an innocent girl despicable without knowing her, the same man could cross any limit to take away that girl from his son’s life, and in any case the statement given by Qandeel in the court had already made the issue complicated.
He could tolerate anything, but it was unbearable for him that Qandeel gets even a little pain just because of him.
He wanted to keep Qandeel away from every storm, every difficulty and misery, and that’s why he had decided that he would protect Qandeel and save her no matter what price he would have to pay in return, and he would save her at any cost.
Getting fresh when he came out then Fazal had already set the dining table downstairs in the lounge.
Ilaaf had his dinner silently, and then he rested on the couch.
Qaiser Laashari and Adnan were already sitting there.
There was silence for a while and then he heard Adnan saying.
“I think both of you should handle this issue with a cool mind, without getting angry, and to find out a solution which would be acceptable for everyone.” Unexpectedly, Adnan was talking sensible stuff.
“I don’t have to try to handle anything, I have decided.” This time Ilaaf with his half opened eyes, saw Baba Saaiyen, he wanted to know what his decision was.
“Adnan, contact that girl and her father tomorrow, and ask them what their worth is, I will pay no matter how much they would ask.” Ilaaf got extremely angry hearing this from Baba Saaiyen but he controlled himself.
“The girl just created this drama to get money, ask her to tell her price, I will give whatever she would ask just for the sake of life and honor of Ilaaf.”
“She can not be sold, Baba Saaiyen.” He gazed Ilaaf. “If she could be sold then, perhaps low-minded son of a low-minded father would have given away everything he had and in return would have bought her just for a moment, but she can not be sold. One can not buy her even at the cost of entire universe; nobody can estimate her price, her worth, no one.”
There was complete silence for a while and then Qaiser Laashari said.
“If she can not be sold, then she will have to remain quiet, will have to shut her mouth, otherwise in any case she would herself be responsible for any outcome, because I can not take risk on my entire life earning, on life of my son, just because of that valueless girl.” Ilaaf was amazed; he was just like an earning for his father and nothing more than that.
“She is one among those who remain firm on their words, and she will never withdraw from her statement.” Ilaaf said.
“Ok, its fine. Then her death is better for all of us.” Qaiser Laashari had said this so peacefully like this has no meaning for him, and Ilaaf had just saw the dreadful face of his father that moment.
He rose and came close to him, and then kept looking him.
“I feel sorry for myself, that I am your son, the son of a man for whom, a human being, an innocent life doesn’t possess any importance or value. But one thing that you need to rememeber very clearly is that, if Qandeel gets a single scratch on her body, then whatever would be the outcome, you won’t be able to bear that.”
“If Qandeel gets a scratch then what would be the outcome?” Qaiser Laashari looked into Ilaaf’s eyes standing.
“Then I will give this statement in the court myself that I have committed a crime and my father tried to hide this crime by presenting the false evidences and witnesses, and you know very well that at that moment even those fasle medical reports that you would present to show my mental illness, would not be able to prove my statement wrong.”
A poisonous smile just appeared on Qaiser Laashari’s face.
“And if I eradicate Qandeel Yousuf’s presence in this world then……?”
For the first time, Ilaaf surely had an idea that Qaiser Laashari was extremely senseless; he just had cared and worshiped his desires, and wasn’t interested in anything else.
“If it happened then you will have to lose your son as well.” This time the smile was disappeared from Qaiser Laashari’s face. “Qandeel is my life, the day she wouldn’t live in this world then, I wouldn’t like to live here too.”
He turned back and came towards stairs.
“Alright, nothing will happen to Qandeel.” Hearing Baba Saaiyen he turned.
“She will live, but she will have to withdraw from her statement she has given in the court.”
“I don’t think so that expecting this from her would be sensible.”
“You don’t have to worry about that, leave that for us. I assure you that Qandeel will be secured and wouldn’t get harmed, but you won’t demand anything else. What we do to make her withdrawing from her statement, you won’t argue regarding that, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible for me to guarantee her safety, because this is for sure in any case, I am not going you to be proven as a criminal, this would be disgusting for us.” Ilaaf couldn’t answer for a while.
His brain was moving very fast, he was thinking, what he had to do. He wanted Qandeel’s happiness, and confessing his mistake in the court wanted to get rid of this load over his heart, but as a result he was going to put Qandeel’s life at risk in the hands of his own father.
The fate again had sent him on a strange two-way road. A new test, a new trial, and Ilaaf had no choice. Qandeels’ life was most important thing for him in the world, and he could not give priority to any other thing over Qandeel’s safety.
“I accept, but one thing I want to remind you, that if Qandeel gets harmed in any case then the outcome would be worst for everyone.”
“Nothing will happen to Qandeel, but we won’t let her to be a witness against you, and you will remain quiet, and won’t interfere in anything nor would speak about it.”
Ilaaf was standing at the peak of the mountain, at the back of which there was a deep ditch full of thorns and, ahead there was a burning sea, death was behind and the hell was ahead, but he hadn’t any third option, and he had to choose one among both of them.
He moved at the first step, and decided to jump in the fire of the hell.