Qandeel had come out of that state of quietness, but even then was still entangled with some confusion. Sometimes she used to think that Baba is right, and in this whole case more than Ilaaf, his family was rather involved, and sometimes again like earlier she used to believe that how it was possible to happen without the consent of Ilaaf, and Ilaaf himself had given the same statement in the court what the witnesses had given, so how it was possible that this was happpned without Ilaaf’s consent.
It was extremely difficult for her to decide anything that she herself wanted to fly away from this confusion and to get some peace; this continuous agitation had made her life very difficult; had told her decision to Baba but even then didn’t know why there was something missing, something was left behind; she used to feel burden of some responsibility on her fragile shoulders, but which responsibility, she couldn’t understand yet. The heart was still bearing some load, some strange idea, some unheard thought, some unsaid words, what it was, she was still confused.
Anyhow, she was much better now, and had come out of that silence, and it was pretty good for her because she used to live very busy life, and with that quietness it had become quite difficult for her to accomplish her daily responsibilities with full concentration.
That day, before leaving for the office she told Baba that after office she has an intention to visit Nauman Hassan’s home in order to see Nausheen. Baba went happy with this decision of her as she hadn’t visited Nausheen once during last whole month.
Finishing her daily tasks as soon as she could and left the office sometime before time; had already told Maryam and so directly hired a rickshaw and went straight to the home of Nauman Hassan. The gatekeeper opened the gate looking her; she gave her Salam to the gatekeeper and entered the gate. Despite of the reality that in last few years she had visited this place rarely, even then the gatekeeper knew her very well, and the reason was again Yousuf Mairaj; his goodness was always proved to be a blessing for Qandeel.
Crossing the vast porch she came towards inside and just then met Saqib at the enterance door. He met warmheartedly; perhaps he went happy to see Qandeel like this.
“So good that you came, I have much to talk to you what I couldn’t that day.” Qandeel didn’t get confused with those mysterious words of Saqib unlike the previous meeting, she wanted to hear him. It was necessary to reach some final decision and in real, Qandeel wanted to get rid of this confusion and to follow the path of justice, and what was that path, how it was attainable, this, she souldnt decide yet, but now she intended to.
“I want to see Nausheen, and then will hear you as well.” Qandeel answered in a quite peaceful tone.
Saqib lead her inside.
“How is Nausheen now?”
“Much better, in the opinion of Doctors, she would take some time to come out of this state; her psychotherapy has been started.” Qandeel shook her head.
“This Wednesday is the hearing in the court, Qandeel, and if we couldn’t be able to provide any witness then we will lose.” Passing through the lounge, Saqib suddenly said and just then Qandeel stopped and looked him.
He was looking her, and there was some strange shine in his eyes.
“You will not lose, Saqib Bhai.” Perhaps the voice came somewhere from inside otherwise Qandeel not intended to say so.
“How can you say that?”
“Because I trust Allah, He will bring some means for your help.” Qandeel was unable to decide, who was inside that made her to say like this.
“Why can’t you be that means, Qandeel?” This time she gazed Saqib squeezing her eyes.
“What do you mean?” Stopping near the stairs she said.
Saqib stopped too and stood in front of her.
“It means that you were also present on foodstreet, that day the moment this accident happened, and you are an eyewitness of whole incident then, why can’t you become that means sent by Allah for our help.” His tone was meaningful.
She couldn’t answer for a while.
Perhaps on the unveiling of some secret, one goes in such a state in which Qandeel suddenly went that moment, she just looked Saqib’s face for a moment.
“How can you say that I was present there the moment accident occurred?” She asked in strange tone.
“I got the information, some people had seen you there, and the waiter who brought water and gave to Maryam for you, he told me about you; he had seen you earlier that day, sitting with us on our table. I went last week to foodstreet in order to gather some evidences then, the waiter told me about you during the conversation, he didn’t know your name but whatever he told me, I was sure that he is talking about you, I showed him your picture and he recognized you.”
Having a deep breath, Qandeel bent her head down, like Saqib had caught her stealing.
“I have talked to so many people, all of them know that the brakes of Ilaaf’s car were not failed and both of the cars were running on the road violating the traffic rules, they admit it as well, but among so many eyewitnesses no one is ready to give a statement against Ilaaf Laashari in the court. All of them are afraid from political influence of Qaiser Laashari, they are scared from his power, everybody cares about his own life, no one is ready to take any risk, nobody is ready to stand with the truth, nobody is ready to do justice with two innocent lives, with Arsheen and Ammi.” Speaking like this, the voice of Saqib finally quenched in his throat. “Nobody is ready to help me, because no one has any such relationship with Arsheen and Ammi due to which they could take risk on their lives.”
Qandeel gazed Saqib, it’s not necessary to have some relationship with someone in order to do justice, but perhaps now this was the only principle of justice in the world, justice with loved ones, and not with others.
“But you…..Qandeel, you were a very good friend of Arsheen and you just treated Ammi like your mother. When you were a child, at Eid and all other events you were used to be pampered by Ammi just like Arsheen and Nausheen, you used to ask Ammi for Achar and Kachori and Ammi herself used to fulfill your little wishes happily. How can you forget Qandeel, how can you forget that love, how can you just neglect that precious relationship, unique to any other relationship, you had a relationship of care, and unselfish love with the people living in this home, even then will not you help me and Abbu in this difficult phase, will you leave us alone to see the show of our powerlessness, will not even you do justice, Qandeel, are you even afraid from that cheaply shown power of those feudals?” He was getting emotional while usually was cool minded man.
What could Qandeel have told him that in her veins the poison of love is flowing rather than the blood, how could she have told Saqib that a man who is just hate worthy, the love of that man made Qandeel to forget every other form of love in the world. She kept standing like a deadbody with her head down.
“Give me the answer, Qandeel.” This time Saqib jerked her arms and just that moment the uproar and screaming coming from upstairs had startled both of them.
Nausheen was screaming, perhaps she again had an attack of depression; both Saqib and Qandeel were able to hear her crying.
Without saying anything, Saqib left her arms, and then jumping over the steps went upstairs.
Qandeel couldn’t understand anything and decide what to do, go upstairs or towards the enterance, to move ahead or to step back.
Perhaps she had become a stony figure, but whether it was easy to become a stone, if it would be then perhaps, she would have made herself unmoved and motionless then and there.
She held the railing and then tried to breathe.
The screaming of Nausheen was playing bugle of death in her ears like a trumpet; she wished either to become deaf or to put the burning coals inside her ears.
Didn’t know what had happened, she wanted to move away from that sound but after stepping she knew that she was moving towards the direction of that sound. She didn’t understand why her nerves were not in her control. A flame of guilt and embarrassment had blazed a fire in the river of the love flowing inside. Her heart, soul and body were burning in that fire like a coal.
Holding the railing, she kept moving upstairs, and then steps were ended and she had seen Nauman Hassan from the opened door of the room at some distance.
She moved ahead and kept walking, finally stopped near the door.
The sob, cries and screaming, she felt as the tumult of Ilaaf’s love inside her just quenched in those cries.
She saw, three women were holding Nausheen, but she was slithering like a fish without water, and was crying so badly like a beloved just died in front of her eyes, and on her tongue were just the names of Arsheen and Ammi, she was calling their names and crying, was striking her head in air here and there like want to hit something. Pieces of glass and milk were dispersed on the floor; perhaps Nausheen had broken that glass, because her own fingers were bleeding. The pillows and cushions were randomly thrown away to the corners of the room and the bedsheet was slipped and hanging to one side.
Saqib was holding the wounded hand of Nausheen, and now perhaps he was trying to clean her wound and bandage the hand, but Nausheen was not letting him to do so.
Nauman Hassan sitting aside had given his head into his hands. Saqib holding Nausheen’s hand turned his head to the right and just then his eyes came to the door.
Qandeel had seen him, there was a question in Saqib’s misty eyes, a request or appeal, Qandeel couldn’t understand. He then looked Nauman Hassan and asked him to call the doctor. Nauman Hassan moving besides Qandeel came out of the room, in the crying and screaming of Nausheen it wasn’t possible for him to talk on phone.
Qandeel saw, Nausheen was losing her nerves and in just a while, she was being unconscious, slipped into the arms of the women like a cut beam. Saqib rubbed his eyes with powerlessness and started dressing her wound.
It was impossible for Qandeel to stay there further, if she would have stayed there then perhaps would never be able to go back. The energy was lost from her body, and she wanted to reach home as soon as possible.
The weight of the shoulder bag hanging onto her shoulder was suddenly heavy like tons. With the support of the wall she turned back, shoulder bag just slipped and came down and Qandeel held it in her hands. Just then her feet got agreed to support her. She moved ahead in a fast pace, and then started running, coming downstairs she crossed the lounge running and just then she felt as her cheeks were getting wet, it was a hot spring which bursted out from the infertile land.
She came out crying, without caring about anything crossed the porch running and came towards the gate, left the home running and kept running in the wide street without looking here and there, she didn’t try to wipe her tears, either her tears were falling down on the ground or slipping over her neck were absorbed in her collar, she even didn’t try to see. She kept running, and kept crying, and then her legs were getting fatigued, feet were tired, breathe was haphazard. She stopped and breathing very deeply just sat over the pavement. The main road was near, and she could hear the sirons of the cars.
Raising her head she gazed the road, life was moving, everybody was going ahead, and she…..Qandeel Yousuf was standing at the same place, at the same position, in the same congested street.
She cried like a child, keeping both hands over her face looking at the sky and then the fast road, cried on her powerlessness.
“I will never forgive you, Ilaaf Laashari. You snatched everything that I had. My credibility, my pride, my courage, my passion, you took everything, you made me powerless, I will never forgive you.” She kept crying while muttering. “But never ever think, Ilaaf Laashari, that Qandeel Yousuf can not get rid of this powerlessness. Qandeel Yousuf is not enough biased that couldn’t be able to differentiate right and wrong, if love makes one weak and fragile then Qandeel Yousuf doesn’t need that love, and if love strengthens one’s self then this love will give me the courage to take the right decision, even if that decision would go against you.”
Rubbing her eyes, she rose and looked for the rickshaw.
Reaching home, she got normal, because she knew that would be able to take some decision.
Entering the home, looking Rohail sitting in the courtyard along with Baba, didn’t know why a fire just blazed inside her body.
She moved ahead without saying anything and went to veranda; just then Yousuf Mairaj stopped her calling her name.
She stopped, turned back and gazed both of them.
“Rohail is waiting for you for quite some time, and you are going inside without meeting him.” Qandeel looked Rohail when Yousuf Mairaj said.
“How are you Qandeel?” Rohail asked in a soft tone.
“Still alive and have no intention to die right now.” Her poisonous tone had surprised both of them.
“What are you talking, Qandeel?” Yousuf Mairaj said surprisingly, while Rohail was standing silently.
“I am talking in the same tone, in which I should talk to these so called friends.” Yousuf Mairaj wanted to say something but Rohail didnt let him speak.
“You are rightly angry to me, Qandeel, but just once let me say everything that I want to; I at least have the right to do so.”
“Right……go and use this right on your friend, Rohail Faizan Quraishi, whom you favor in his each good or bad act and standing on his back always supports him, who ruined the lives of so many people in one single moment and now keeps a mask of innocence over his face everywhere.”
“Qandeel…..” She prevented him to say anything by raising her hand, and then looked Yousuf Mairaj.
“Ask him Baba, just go away, and until and unless the case concludes to a decision, and Ilaaf Laashari gets punishment, he shouldn’t show his face to me otherwise, keeping all lessons of ethics aside, I will behave very badly to him.”
Turning back she moved towards inside and just then stopped again hearing Rohail.
“I am not trying to say anything to defend either me or Ilaaf, because I know you won’t believe anything, I have just come to convey a message given by Ilaaf, for you, and certainly I will never show my face again to you until you believe that I was faultless.”
“Mr. Rohail, first of all I am not at all interested in hearing any such message sent by your cheater and liar friend, which he sent by wrapping it in costumes of lies, and secondly, soon very soon I will be facing Ilaaf Laashari, and then I will see that what can he say and what does he have to say now, that’s why you don’t need to perform the duty of a messenger.” Without looking any face, didn’t wait for any word, she came inside her room with long steps and shut the door behind her.
And just after a while she again left the room, because unlike the earlier state she wasn’t feeling herself weak. She didn’t want to hide, had kept sitting hiding her face for many days, now wanted to face each and every fact which was cruel but a truth without facing that, life was impossible to move forward and Qandeel wanted to move forward now, wanted to come out from that congested street in which she was roaming for last one month.
Baba was in his room. Qandeel prepared the dinner, then had her dinner but couldn’t dare to go to Baba’s room and to ask him for the dinner, because after this misbehave with Rohail, she had an idea that Baba would be little angry.
She offered Isha prayer after her dinner, and then finishing some necessary tasks finally, having the coffee mug went in the courtyard and sat over stairs.
That night of March wasn’t hot but pleasant. Qandeel wasn’t thinking about Ilaaf that moment instead, was thinking about the decision she had taken inside and just was waiting to act accordingly. She was bit peaceful, love for Ilaaf was still living inside her like a feeling, but not that agitation which she had for more than one month.
Love is just like the soothing shade, and it doesn’t leave anyone to be burnt in scorching sunlight. She loved Ilaaf, and the very first demand of that love was justice, and justice was just that she neither should leave Saqib, Nauman Hassan and Nausheen to be burnt in the scorching sunlight of pain and powerlessness, nor should leave Ilaaf to blacken himself burning in the sunlight of sin. For Saqib, Nauman Hassan, Nausheen and Ilaaf himself, it was better that the punishment that he deserved according to the law, he should have it, so that he could be saved and come out of the darkness of lies, cheating and betraying into the light of the truth and could be able to see everything clear.
Sipping the coffee, she was deeply thinking that couldn’t see when Baba came out of his room into the courtyard, and just when he sat besides Qandeel over the stairs then she straightened herself and kept looking him, but he was silent.
Qandeel couldn’t say anything. There was silence for a while.
“You should haven’t talked to Rohail like this. He would have felt pain.”
“Just don’t know what should do and what not.” She had a deep breath.
“You did wrong.”
“You will have to compensate.”
“There is entire life to compensate this mistake; right now there are other things which are more important.”
There was silence for a while, and then turning her head she looked Yousuf Mairaj.
“Baba, you had said that you will be with me no matter what I decide.”
“Yes, I had said and I still say the same thing.”
“I have taken a decision.”
“That is good.”
“Would you accept that?”
“I have accepted.” Qandeel gazed him with a surprising look turning her head. He was accepting her decision without even knowing about it. Qandeel was pretty sure that if he would know her decision then could never be able to remain firm on his words.”
She couldn’t say anything after that.
Next two days were passed very silently; she was restless inside even then couldn’t gather enough courage to inform Baba about her decision. Third day the restlessness was at the peak because now it was too close, next day was Wednesday, and the hearing in the court, and still neither she told anything to Baba nor could have talked to Saqib.
That day she didn’t go to the office, and stayed the whole day in home, kept thinking about the days coming ahead, and didn’t know what was going to change after this decision of her, and what would be the reaction of people around her on this decision.
She wanted to inform Baba in the evening about her decision, but when he came back home he wasn’t alone infact, Kamran Ali and Hamza Shahid were with him. If they would have come some other time like this then Qandeel would have felt happy for sure, but right now them coming home with Baba was not likable for Qandeel, and her restlessness was getting height. She wanted to inform Baba as soon as possible, but the time was slipping away.
Unusually, looking her extremely quiet, Hamza Shahid and Kamran Ali both were surprised, but they neither asked the reason nor insisted her to sit with them and have her tea. All three of them were sitting in the courtyard. Qandeel served the tea and then having her tea mug came straight upstairs at the house top.
At this time of the evening the breeze was extremely pleasant. Qandeel kept the mug over the parapet and tilting her back with the wall started looking the sky.
Downstairs from the courtyard, she could easily hear the laughters of Hamza Shahid, if it would be some other time then she would have heard the humorous sayings of Hamza Shahid and laughing, but right now she was confused in a very strange manner, so kept starring into the air while having tea and kept thinking that what would happen next.
Then she heard the knock on the door downstairs, she thought that somebody would have come to meet Baba that’s why didn’t try to move forward and see who have come.
Keeping the empty mug over the parapet, she fixed her arms over the parapet as well and then looking down into the street tried to see the kids, who perhaps now were taking back their bats and balls to their homes as sun was about to set. And just then she heard a familiar voice.
Qandeel heard this time keenly, if she wasn’t wrong then it was Saqib’s voice. So, the one who knocked the door was Saqib.
The heartbeat of Qandeel suddenly got faster without any reason; perhaps she was feeling some unhappneing to be occurred.
She turned and walking in a slow motion came to stairs and just then she had seen all four of them talking in the courtyard. Saqib was standing, and perhaps was arguing about something to them.
“Yousuf Uncle, what’s wrong if it happens. Please, just let me see and talk to Qandeel once, if she refuses then it’s my promise that I won’t insist. If we couldn’t present any witness in the court tomorrow then we will lose the case. Ilaaf Laashari will be released, and we will never get justice.” Qandeel saw, Saqib who always remained well-dressed, this time was looking in a messy condition.
“Qandeel is a girl, Saqib, and just like your sister. And you better know that how dangerous it could be for her, how can you put her life and honor on risk like this, even when you are well aware with the situation yourself. I am just surprised that how could you think about it, tell me if it would be your own sister then, would have you permitted Arsheen or Nausheen to put their lives on risk and be a witness in the court, would even then justice had the same meaning in your eyes, which is now?” Yousuf Mairaj and Hamza Shahid were quiet, just Kamran Ali was arguing with Saqib and presenting reasons.
Didn’t know why, despite of the fact that Kamran Ali was right in his saying, that moment Qandeel felt sympathy for Saqib and thought right whatever he was saying.
“Just to get justice for yourself, don’t put any other innocent life at danger, Saqib. How can you behave in such a selfish manner, I could never expect it from you. I thought you were fearless and brave, but no brave man uses others in his own fight in such a way, you want to use Qandeel.” The straightforwardness of Kamran Ali wasn’t appreciated by Saqib.
“I have to meet Qandeel, Yousuf Uncle.” Totally neglecting Kamran Ali and Hamza Shahid, he had seen Yousuf Mairaj.
“I have no objection with you meeting Qandeel, but she is the only daughter of mine Saqib, and remember that I don’t bear enough courage so that could be able to agree her to help you.” The tone of Yousuf Mairaj was weak.
“This is enough for me, I just want to see her once.” This time Saqib was looking pretty satisfied.
“No sir, you can not allow Saqib to meet Qandeel. We all know that how sensitive and emotional Qandeel is and therefore I think that due to this weakness of her, Saqib would agree her to give statement in the court.” Kamran Ali couldn’t see this softness of Yousuf Mairaj.
“I am not as sensitive and emotional sir, as you are thinking I am, so that I would get agree to do anything without thinking.” She said involuntarily and this time all of them looked her turning their heads.
She was moving downstairs and each next step was like heading her towards a new destiny.
They were looking her silently.
Coming downstairs she came near to them, and then stopping somewhat near she gazed each and every face. Somewhere the lightning quenching lamps and somewhere curious sights, neglecting everyone else she saw Baba.
“You had said Baba that you won’t have any objection on my decision, and you have already accepted my decision without knowing what it is.” On this sentence, for a moment Qandeel saw the shade of fear waved in the eyes of Yousuf Mairaj.
“Yes, I had said my child, but…….” Qandeel interrupted him.
“When you have said yes then, how is this ‘but’ Baba? This I have learned from you that when you are satisfied with your heart taking some decision then one should act accordingly, and therefore I have decided after thinking so much, and I have contentment in my heart with this decision Baba, why then your heart is not satisfied?”
For a while Yousuf Mairaj couldn’t answer her, and then showing extreme patience he controlled him.
“Your every decision is still acceptable for me with my heart and soul, Qandeel.” The tiredness of his tone went high.
Moving forward, Qandeel held his face into her hands.
“Do you trust Allah?” she asked.
“Do you have faith on your love and pray?”
“Are you confident about my belief?”
“More than myself.”
“Then why is this fear inside you, why does this tiredness and weakness exist in your tone Baba? I am going to support the truth, to be a witness on the name of Allah, going to wave high the flag of the justice without any benefit, going to do what my Prophet (S.A.W) liked.” Unwillingly her tone got heavy and wet, and a drop of dew just slipped from her eyes.
Yousuf Mairaj, who was looking her without blinking his eyes, his own eyes misted as well and he displaced her hands from his cheeks then touched with his lips, and then he started kissing her hands like he was kissing a very sacred thing.
“I feel proud,Qandeel, that I am your father, the father of a daughter whose faith and courage left behind the faith and courage of her father.” Qandeel wiped the tears from his cheeks smiling and then turning back looked Saqib.
“When is the hearing?”
“Tomorrow morning at eleven o’clock.”
“I will give my statement tomorrow in the court.” Saqib smiled.
“I will pick you at half past ten.”
“Alright, I will be ready.” Qandeel had contentment in her tone.
“Thank you, Qandeel.” There was complete silence once Saqib left.
Qandeel looked Kamran Ali, he was looking her silently.
“Are you angry with me, if you are then please tell me so that, I can make a cup of coffee for you to move away this anger.” He smiled.
“It’s not easy to be angry with you, Qandeel. You are so stubborn but righteous student that I can not be angry with you even on your disobedience.” Qandeel laughed and then while laughing collected all cups of tea and went into the kitchen.
Hamza Shahid and Kamran Ali left in a while. Qandeel had her dinner with Baba, and then after offering Isha prayer when she came into Baba’s room then looking Yousuf Mairaj offering prayer, sat on the floor somewhat near the prayer carpet.
Yousuf Mairaj finished his prayer then; he raised his hands for pray just then didn’t know what happaened, Qandeel slipped and went near to him, and started looking him praying.
She remembered when she was a child then at each prayer, used to sit near Baba like this, and after finishing his prayer when Baba used to raise his hands for pray then used to adjust Qandeel in his lap. Qandeel used to spread her little hands over the hands of Baba, and then both of them used to pray with closed eyes silently, and both of them never tried to know the other’s prays.
She wished to spread her palms over the hands of Baba in the same way and then to have lots of prays.
Without thinking about anything she moved forward her hands and kept her palms in a zigzag manner over the palms of Baba.
Yousuf Mairaj raised his head and looked her, and then moved back his palms smiling and took her into his arms. Qandeel gave herself into his arms like a child and tilted her head with his chest, and then she joined both palms of Baba and kept her own palms over his, and then closing her eyes started praying. How peaceful that prays, that moment and that state was, an eternal peace just penetrated inside her.
Next morning, at half past ten she was completely ready.
What her decision was going to result, what was going to happen with Qandeel after that day either good or bad, what change was going to occur regarding her status and position in the society, and in the behaviors of people, she didn’t try to think about anything. That moment she was just thinking about her job, and was repeating all those things which she had to mention while recording her statement in the court.
Covering her head with stole when she came out of the room then, Baba was waiting for her in veranda, looking her leaving the room he moved towards her.
Qandeel looked the watch, in her idea Saqib should have reached till that moment, she didn’t want to be late.
Yousuf Mairaj kept looking her silently for a while, and then Qandeel had seen his lips were moving, but he wasn’t saying anything to her infact, was reciting Ayat-ul-kursi. Qandeel kept standing silently, for the first time in life she had seen Baba holding her shoulders and reciting Ayat-ul-kursi like this, then he blew on her forehead and Qandeel just laughed.
The love of Qandeel had taught everything to him that usually mothers are supposed to do.
He kissed both of her cheeks one by one and just then Saqib entered the home.
“Let’s go, Qandeel. We have to reach on time otherwise would be in trouble.”
Qandeel said Khuda Hafiz to Baba and came out along with Saqib.
Throughout the way, they just talked about the case, and saqib was looking quite satisfied, he answered all questions of Qandeel with full contentment. They had left bit late, and got traffic jam at one or two places on the way, so despite of trying a lot they arrived ten minutes late. Saqib was little worried, but Qandeel tried to console him.
Leaving the car both of them moved towards the court room upstairs, and then didn’t know what happened, just few stepa away from the door, Qandeel’s feet suddenly stopped, and an idea just made her motionless.
She was going to face Ilaaf Laashari, the man whom she loved more than anyone else in this world, and that moment she had not to support Ilaaf but the truth. What a difficult task and how easily she had come to perform this, to give an examination which perhaps was not given by any other lover in this world.
Saqib turned back and looked her.
“Why have you stopped, Qandeel? Let’s move inside, we are already late.”
Shaking her head, Qandeel asked in her heart some more courage to Allah, and then moved forward to enter the room.