A single decision in life sometimes changes everything, the same had happened with Qandeel, this single decision had changed everything in her life, her style of looking and analyzing things, her habit to take advices from Baba in each and every matter of her life, her identity in the society, and the attitudes of other people with her, everything had been changed much in a moment. She was feeling herself much peaceful, fearless and unconcerned about the outcome than before, despite of the fact that whatever she had to see, hear and bear due to this decision of her in last three days, apparently Qandeel should have lost her courage due to this reason, but unknowingly her spirits were high than before, the courage to stand with the truth was firm than before.
An anonymous girl, who was an ordinary journalist working in a famous newspaper, within a single day everybody had her name on their tongue, everybody wanted to know that why did she get agreed to be a witness against Ilaaf Laashari, each one of them was curious and Qandeel…..she didn’t want to answer any of their questions.
Newsreporters from each and every newspaper of the city were trying to contact her. In last two days many news channels requested her to brief them about her point of view regarding the case, but her lips were once again sealed after the statement she had given in the court. There was only refusal on her tongue. She had turned off her cell phone permanently, was going to office along with Maryam, from home to office and then straight back to home, she never tried to stay anywhere on her way, wanted to avoid media and was cautious too as advised by Baba and Saqib, in any case she had to be careful.
She could expect anything from Qaiser Laashari, she knew that in order to save Ilaaf from punishment he could do anything, that’s why she had to protect herself on her own, what had Ilaaf wanted in this whole time, she couldn’t have any idea about that.
She was entangled in some strange feeling that day when she had seen him in the court, like he was only a viewer, and whatever was happening he wasn’t the part of it, she had felt like he wanted to say something to her, wanted to tell her something, or perhaps wanted to present some reasons to defend himself, the truth was that Qandeel wanted to hear him too, his words, his clarification, his reasons to defend him, and wanted to believe that the man whom her heart had chosen for love, he had really deserved that. But nothing could happen, neither she could stay in the court for a while nor could say or listen anything to Ilaaf, which she wanted to. In between so many people and especially in presence of Saqib she couldn’t take risk to move forward and talk to Ilaaf.
Everything was unchanged in home even after this event. Baba was exactly alright with everything that happened, Maryam had some issues on this decision of Qandeel but when she saw Yousuf Mairaj was supporting Qandeel then she couldn’t argue with her. Hamza Shahid and Kamran Ali had called her and assured her that they are going to be with her, and will support them at any cost. On the other hand the world outside home had totally been changed. Neighbors, relatives, office colleagues and many of her friends were avoiding her, and didn’t treat her in the old manner. Cold attitudes, whisperings in the low tones, taunts in the code words, suspicious sights, disgusted looks, everything was very surprising and painful for Qandeel. She was hiding that pain to Baba and Maryam, but inside, those attitudes of people around were cutting her like a sharp edged knife, and she had an idea that why it is difficult to take the way of truth and then to remain firm to it.
Many colleagues in office and even Asghar Sahib had asked the reason for giving statement against Ilaaf in the court. “When I am the eyewitness of the accident then it’s my duty to speak up the truth, and to inform people what is the real picture.” She just had answered, this was another thing that most of them were not satisfied with this answer of her, and personally they perceived that either Qandeel wanted to get a big amount through blackmailing Qaiser Laashari or wanted to get cheap popularity. Qandeel hadn’t cared whatever they used to think about her. Some sincere colleagues tried to convince her, and by telling her about the power of Qaiser Laashari clarified that she had put herself into a big trouble. Asghar Siddiqui was among them, and Qandeel knew it very well that why did he try to prevent her to be firmed with her decision by informing her about the worse consequences which she was going to face. He was among the best friends of Qaiser Laashari, and didn’t want to see an ordinary girl working in his office making trouble for his friend. So, he did kept trying, and the very second day he got a clear idea that he is unable to convince Qandeel to step back from her decision. That day and the whole next day there was complete silence from his side, Qandeel knew that the silence is going to be end at some uproar, and therefore she had prepared herself in advance for the termination letter. She had put her life and respect at risk for the truth, and it was just a job. She was surprised, why she was behaving so courageously, perhaps she was now fully grown up, because this decision had changed much of her outside and inside.
Ilaaf was still in lock-up, the bail for his release wasn’t approved as he was alleged to be the responsible for the accident and also for lying and cheating. The statements of Rohail and others were also recorded and Qandeel was extremely surprised, not even Rohail had enough courage to speak the truth. According to the news update, Rohail, Adnan, Shaiq and Sahil had recorded the same statement which Jawwad had recorded earlier, even then the statement of Qandeel was still important, and now the situation was very odd. Nobody knew what was going to happen on the next hearing, she didn’t want to know because she had done her job, and was ready to do the same on the next hearing, what would be the outcome she hadn’t cared; she had just cared about one thing that why doesn’t Ilaaf speak the truth, what had prevented him to say so, while he had a clear idea that Qandeel wanted him to speak the truth, even then he was quiet, Qandeel couldn’t know the reason for that.
She had recorded her statement in the court on Wednesday and only till Saturday she had faced bitter realities of life, disgust and criticism in the soft and harsh tones had made her to realize that somehow whatever Baba had always tried to tell her about the behaviors and attitudes of society, each and every word of him was absolutely right.
Saturday evening when she returned back to home then looking Sami and Saleha Phupho sitting in the courtyard with Baba she got surprised for a while. Phupho had visited after quite a long time and Sami…..he never had visited along with Phupho without informing her, whenever had to come along with Phupho he always used to inform her earlier.
Coming inside she gave her Salam to Phupho. She kept sitting with her head down, and didn’t feel to answer her Salam. It hadn’t happened with Qandeel for the first time, and therefore she was not amazed on this attitude of her, Phupho used to remain in worse mood most of the time whenever had faced her.
Sami on the other hand had stared her with an odd look.
Following Baba’s instruction she came straight into her room, was very tired. Putting off her shoes she got to change her clothing, then having Wuzu she first offered Asar prayer and finally putting off her stole from her head when she came out of her room then found Phupho talking to Baba in a loud tone.
“You never followed my advice throughout your life, Yousuf, always did what you wanted to. I kept forbidding you, but you married that woman who brought misfortune along with her in your house, in your life. And this girl is the daughter of the same woman, then how can she be different from her. Saima never gave you a single moment of joy while she was alive and then even on her death she left her misfortune with you in the form of her daughter. And here is my stupid son, I kept telling him that Qandeel will never be lucky for you but he didn’t get it, and now when just because of this girl we are facing insult and disgust, now he understood that his mother was always right.”
Qandeel rested with the pillar in the viranda, and felt the poisoned arrows of words prickling her heart that were spilled by Phupho.
“Aapa, please, curse me and Qandeel how much you want to, but you have no right to curse Saima. Cursing a woman who is not alive, you are not hurting anyone else but your own younger brother.” Yousuf Mairaj had the same pain in his tone which he alwys had whenever Phupho had accused Saima Yousuf. “As far as the relationship between Qandeel and Sami concerned, Sami himself had more part regarding this engagement more than me and Qandeel, and now if Sami somehow feels that this relationship can not move forward then this will too be his own wish.”
Qandeel kept hearing silently standing near the pillar.
“Qandeel has gone out of her mind, but I am surprised on you Mamoo, how did you allow Qandeel to record her statement in the court? How could you do this? Do you know what insult and disgust we are facing in the society, everybody is making comments, everybody has the same opinion that either Qandeel has done this to be rich or popular. I am not able to go out, neighbors, friends, relatives; everybody is asking the same question to me that what amount Qandeel has received from Saqib in order to record her statement in the court against Ilaaf Laashari, and even according to some of them the reason was that…….” Sami suddenly went quiet; perhaps whatever he was going to deliver was so cheap that he didn’t want to do so.
Pindrop silence was spread over the courtyard.
Qandeel left the pillar and came into veranda. What if Sami didn’t want to complete the sentence, Qandeel wanted to hear. Perhaps he hadn’t enough courage to say so however, Qandeel had enough courage to hear and she wanted to, wanted to see how cheap somebody can be?
“That…….” She gazed Sami coming ahead. “What was the reason according to some of them……tell me Sami, I want to know. Why you went quiet, say it completely.”
Sami looked her, he had complains in his eyes. Qandeel wasn’t concerned about the complaint rather she was concerned about the burning coals spilling out of Sami’s tongue.
“According to some of them you are taking revenge of personal tussle from Ilaaf Laashari.” He replied in a lower tone.
“Personal tussle….?” Qandeel stared him with a blunt look.
“Yes, he had visited your office for discussing about some interview, and then both of you were seen together somewhere outside. Meanwhile, you were already familiar to him as a friend of Rohail.” Qandeel was surprised, how much Sami and his associates had worked hard in order to get so much information.
“So….?” She gazed him with a questioning sight.
“Everybody thinks that you had an affair with Ilaaf, both of you came very closed, and…..”
“And….?” She wanted to see the garbage inside him altogether.
“You wanted to marry him, but Ilaaf wanted you to be just his girlfriend, and when he refused to marry you then came the break up, which Rohail tried to reconcile after this accident but you simply refused.”
She never had faced so much insult and disgust in her life, and the most worst part was that she was catching this because of a loved one.
“This is absolutely incorrect, there was no such affair between Ilaaf and Qandeel. Ilaaf wanted to marry her but Qandeel hadn’t decided anything yet and then this accident….” Yousuf Mairaj tried to explain but Qandeel made him silent, and asked him to remain quiet.
“You don’t need to say anything to defend me, and by the way I have no intention to give explanations. I have full authority to make my decisions on my own, I am independent and free to do so, and not supposed to be answerable in front of you, Sami.”
“It is quite simple to claim for someone’s love, Sami Mutahir Ali, but it is quite complicated to give someone the trust, belief and respect. If I was engaged with you then the only reason was my false perception that you love me, and now I know that you don’t, infact you had never loved me, and so there is no point to take this relationship ahead.”
Sami was looking anguish and irritated.
“You see, Sami, I had told you about this, about this proud and arrogant behavior. You are telling us that you are not interested in this relationship, well that’s fine even we are not interested to continue with you, who would wish to marry such arrogant, misbehaving, and lose character girl.” Phupho was again emitting poison, and this time even Sami didn’t try to prevent her to say such things, he just kept staring Qandeel with a look full of hatred and disgust. Qandeel was feeling wounded inside, but she didn’t want to lose her patience that moment. Yousuf Mairaj was seeing his sister and nephew disgusting his daughter like this powerlessly, he wasn’t able to stop them.
“Let’s go, Ammi. Now there is no reason to stay here anymore.” Sami held the hand of Saleha Mutahir Ali.
“Wait.” Qandeel spoke in a flat tone.
Sami stopped and gazed her.
“Take engagement ring with you, or you will have a lifetime grief for leaving that expensive ring to a lose character girl.” Her expressionless tone had made Sami’s expression furious, or even Yousuf Mairaj had felt some pain, she had seen his face with a crimson fog.
She came back inside her room. And then took out the ring from the drawer of dressing table, stared that ring for a moment. Five years back, Sami had put on this ring in her finger while expressing his love for her, and Qandeel had told him that she couldn’t put on the ring all the time.
“Come on, at least you can put on occasionally for my happiness. I can not present you diamond or platinum, you know I can’t afford.” Qandeel had got embarrassed on this answer because she had no intention to give Sami such feeling. And then during last five years, whenever she used to go out with Sami, always had that ring on her finger. To make him happy, she used to have that ring with her oftenly despite of the fact that she never liked gold.
She saw herself in mirror, and felt like if she kept looking her in mirror then wouldn’t be able to prevent her tears coming out of her eyes. She didn’t want to cry, for the sake of her, for the sake of Baba, and for the sake of the truth she spoke which had made the whole world around her furious.
Asking for the courage to God, she returned to the courtyard and then moved her hand towards Sami, looking the ring over her palm Saleha Phupho gave a contented look, Sami was unable to be read that moment.
He picked the ring from her palm silently and passed onto Phupho, and then they left silently.
Qandeel shut the door behind them, and then turning back gazed Baba and for a moment she couldn’t stop herself looking at his face.
She had never felt Baba so ill, weak and old ever before in her life. He was grieved; she knew that, nobody could have had the courage to hear all what was spoken few minutes ago in the courtyard. Qandeel had an idea that perhaps he was hearing all this even before this happening, and she tried to feel what he would have felt on hearing this rubbish, but remained unable to feel much. How quietly he kept her unaware and misinformed about the events that were occurring in the world outside her home. Then she remembered all those attitudes which she had faced during last three days, and felt pity for Baba who was her father for bearing all this for her daughter.
She came close to him, he was sitting on the chair like someone who have lost everything he had. Qandeel got down and sat near his legs on the floor then she kept her head over his knees.
“Forgive me if you can, Baba. This happened because of me, because of my unnecessary stubborn nature, I know whatever you are bearing, it is very painful even for me to see you in so much pain, you don’t complain, but I know you are suffering for my sake. Forgive me Baba, I don’t deserve to be called a nice daughter, instead of guarding your honor and respect I am a source of disgust for you. Please forgive
“Who said you don’t deserve to be called a nice daughter Qandeel? You are such a nice daughter I could ever had expected, the obedient child is not the only standard for nice child, or a child who cared for the selfish people around and providing so called respect, no, not at all my dear. The nice daughter is one who doesn’t act like a hypocrite, whose ethics are strong, who doesn’t need people advices for every decision she takes, who has the courage to speak the truth, who can stand with the right, fearless, brave, who can do anything for the sake of God, who is not just loving to one person instead to the entire humanity, Qandeel, a daughter just like you. We, who think that obedient daughters are nice daughters are not less than pharaoh and perceive ourself their god, setting standards for our benefits calling obedient daughters the nice ones. For me, you are the most nice daughter in the world, Qandeel, and I am the most fortunate father.” He was crying but didn’t stop and kept saying.
Qandeel was now wiping off his tears.
“If I am a nice daughter Baba, then please for my sake, you won’t cry. Leave everyone, don’t take anything serious, whatever they say, no matter how they accuse me, don’t care about anything, you just have to care about me, and if you do so then please stop crying.” Yousuf Mairaj suddenly kissed her both hands.
“I am not crying, just letting this pain out which was collected inside for last three days and today it became a volcano due to the attitude of Saleha Aapa and Sami, now let it come out.”
“Ilaaf is responsible for whatever is happening. I could never expect such a cheap act from his side. The only pleasant meeting that occurred between both of us that day we met in the park and now he is trying to blackmail me by publicizing that event.”
“Do you think Ilaaf did all this?” He asked the question in a determined tone.
For a moment she couldn’t decide how to answer him, and kept thinking.
“What diiference does it make, what do I think and what not? Whatever is going on, I am not able to deicde whom to believe and whom not.” She answered in irritated manner.
“Believe what your heart says, Qandeel.” She gazed him.
“Heart never blames him.”
“And that’s what the truth is.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because that’s what my heart says too.”
“Nobody knew about our meeting that day in the park, except me and Ilaaf, then how is this possible to spread these rumors without his consent.”
“Where were you been?” He asked with a creased forehead.
Qandeel told the name of the park.
“How long did you stay?”
“Almost two to three hours.”
Then he asked few more questions. Qandeel answered short and formally without letting him know the reason behind that meeting and the change that meeting had brought in Qandeel’s life.
“As far as my brains works, you are inrecognizable among public but Ilaaf is not. It is quite possible that everybody would have noticed both of you in that park, in the restaurant and on your way, so this idea is not thoughtful that nobody knew about that meeting except you and Ilaaf. People at least would have recognized you as soon as you appeared as the witness in the court, so the rumors are not a big deal to spread especially in this situation. Second most important reason can be the interest of Qaiser Laashari with this event and he would have encouraged this idea to promote the propaganda against you and hence preventing you to give the same statement next time by socially and emotionally stressing you with these kind of burdens. It is very easy for him to imply such cheap ideas to reach his goal.” The last sentence was delivered while he was deeply thinking, and that made Qandeel surprised for a moment.
“How do you know him this much?” she asked.
“One doesn’t need much time to understand these feudals and politicians; everybody has almost same state of mind.” Yousuf Mairaj had replied satisfactorily.
“Ilaaf is part of the same family, has the same blood in his veins, then what has made you think that he is faultless during this whole progression?” Qandeel wanted to believe but there was something inside bothering her again and again.
“He is not among them.” Bowing down a little he held her face into his hands. “You would haven’t loved him if he was among them.” She wished to turn her face away but couldn’t do so as Baba was holding her face.
“I never said I love him, Baba.”
“You even never refused that you don’t love him, Qandeel.”
“I don’t know about this, how can I confess or refuse?”
He asked him to get up and take the chair next to him. Qandeel followed and then stared him.
“Can I say something to you, my child?”
“Yes, why not.”
“It is possible that you won’t think this is a true statement, but I am sure after few years when you would be familiar with more realities of life then you would realize that the oldman who was your father and breathed in dreams, he knew the life more than you do.”
“Say whatever it is, I am listening.”
“There is no better life partner for you than Ilaaf Laashari in this entire world; he is the only one who loves you with complete purity and sincerity, Qandeel. One can make mistakes and somehow criminal acts are also performed by him, but this doesn’t mean that one is either not lovable or doesn’t deserve to love and to be loved.” She felt his face was illuminating that moment. Semidarkness was in the courtyard and still she could see a lamp was lightening inside his eyes.
“I am not in a right state of mind to decide anything, Baba. I need some time or perhaps until the court concludes the case, it is not possible for me to decide anything about Ilaaf. Although, I don’t think that I will ever marry him after facing so much disgust and insult due to him. If I did so, it would mean I confess all false statements about me given by others. Now it doesn’t matter that how much he loves me, because I would never marry him.” Not listening to her heart that moment she only thought of one thing, her respect and honor.
“People keep saying, Qandeel, and then they forget everything. You have to decide everything on your own by just looking at your wish at your happiness and prosperity. Do what your heart asks to do, don’t think about anybody, this is your life, and you have every right to live it in your own way. As far as the respect and insult are concerned, I don’t think that any human being has authority to insult or respect anybody, man can try but God commands the world Himself. You don’t worry about anything at all.” She was amused and perhaps surprised as well.
She had many advantages for being the daughter of such an amazing father who had cared for her daughter and not for the society, and the most important thing was that she had always had peace in her life no matter what had life brought for her, it was only him who was always standing at her back.
She smiled and kept her head on his shoulder.
“Shama called this afternoon, was asking about you, you were at office.” She raised her head and gazed him.
“Was her reaction the similar like others, did she too disappoint you?” She asked.
Yousuf Mairaj smiled.
“She was worried for you, but she trusts you like me, and didn’t comment much about this entire matter. She just wants you to be more cautious than before.” Qandeel nodded her head.
They had their dinner together as usual, and after that they were watching television for a while, but everything that was telecasted made both of them awkward. Yousuf Mairaj had to turn off the television just after few minutes.
Qandeel was silently sitting with her head down.
“Don’t worry, everything will be alright.” He tried to comfort her.
She gazed him with an odd look and then spoke.
“Once you said, journalism is not a profession for people like me. I didn’t understand then, and did what was seen best according to me, denying your statement, but now I know why did you say so. You were right, because you knew my nature, and perhaps you had an idea too about the dual standards of journalism in our society. A person like me can only be disappointed again and again.” He remained silent and didn’t comment.
“Whatever I faced during last three days, this has made me believe that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to continue with this profession. I began to feel this difference in last three months while I worked with professional journalists, but these three days has made me furious. It seems like I have done an unforgivable crime by recording my statement in the court against Ilaaf, they have made my truth doubtful even for me. They look me like they want to tear me apart with their sighta, they ask questions to me like I am guilty instead of witness.” Yousuf Mairaj held her hand and patted to calm down her.
“The poison that Sami poured out this evening, now every channel is telecasting the same rubbish. Will I have to pay this much as the cost of the truth I spoke, who the hell they are to accuse me like this convict, do they have any proof? Then why there is nobody to stop their tongues?”
“This step was taken after you thought about all the outcomes that were possible, and now you have to remain firm on your decision, Qandeel. Qaiser Laashari can cross any limit to meet his ugly goal, may be he will try to frighten you, to pressurize you, to accuse you like this just to prevent you be a witness. You have to face everything fearlessly and with bravery. Don’t be scared, if u stepped back in any case, it will be exactly equal to stamp their accusation. You are the daughter of Saima Yousuf, the woman whose very short life is a gleaming lamp for your father’s entire life. She was a woman who fought at every step of life on her own, without any help or support. Nobody was there to stand with her, to advice her to support her, to share her pain, nobody was there, she was alone everywhere in life, but she never gave up, never lost the faith and courage. And finally, she was the one who succeeded, while all of them who built the towers of hatred, they remained unsuccessful.” All except that hope she got with his words was curiousity that had made her to ask the same question everytime.
“Baba, tell me, what were the problems in her life, which pain and grief? Do not try to avoid, please tell me. I want to know.”
“This is not the right time to know that, Qandeel. You will know as soon as the time will be up.”
“When this time will come? You repeat the same sentence everytime.” She answered like a stubborn child.
“Soon, but not now.”
She went quiet unwillingly.
“Can you get some spare time early morning on Monday if you don’t have workload in the office? I have some urgent tasks to finish.” Qandeel gazed him surprisingly.
“What kind of tasks are these for which I have to be with you?” She felt he was unusually serious.
“I have to take you to the bank for some money transfer, and then have to see my lawyer. Your signatures are needed for some important documents and nothing else. Don’t be worry.”
“But why you came up so suddenly and what is the need to see the lawyer?” She asked in a surprise.
“Not any specific reason for that, just was showing lazyness and carelessness since long now thinking to finish things that are delayed.”
“But….” She was still worried.
“Nothing to be worry about, my dear.”
She rested her head over his chest.
“I think its time to sleep, you need rest. Just keep these unnecessary thoughts away from your brain and leave everything to God.” She raised her head then picked her stole when he suddenly remembered.
“Oh, I forgot to tell you. What has gone wrong to my brain?”
Qandeel gazed him.
“Sabiha Bhabhi was slipped from stairs this afternoon. Hamza took her to the hospital. Doctor told that she had got fracture and adviced the operation.” Qandeel got worried for a while.
“Sabiha Aunty was already not well, and now this fracture.”
“Everything will be alright. I will visit her tomorrow, if you wanna come then tell me.”
“Yes, I will.”
Back to her room she was surrounded by strange thoughts and feelings.
Turning off the lights she kept her stole aside and got onto bed, and when shut her eyes, a face came and settled down in front.
She opened her eyes and changed her side, and then in that darkness wiped off the water that was flowing over her cheeks.
“Can’t you see, whatever I am facing and how silently, just because of you.” She was muttering due to pain.
“You don’t speak even a single word and looking me being insulted and accused like this, how can you do this to me? And if you are so selfish and senseless then why there doesn’t exist any hatred for you in my heart? Why does it worship you, why can’t I stop myself loving you?” She could only hear her own sobs in that room.
“Just few years imprisonment, and it will save the pride of our love. Why don’t you understand this reality, why don’t you care about my wish? How did you forget your own words, you told me you care about me more than any other person in this world.” She shut her eyes once again but tears were still coming out, just this time she had seen Ilaaf coming near to her.
She felt her brain overloaded with many thoughts, and thus the slumber was occupying everything inside her brain except that only feeling, the man who was now so close to her.
Ilaaf held her hand, she could feel his touch even in that deep sleep.
And then he bowed down, so close to her face and eyes. Qandeel had seen an ocean of love waving in his enchanting eyes.
“I do love you, Qandeel, and it is the biggest truth of my life.”
He kissed her forehead and that had brought tranquility to her sleep.