Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chapter no. 13: The Plan (II)

Qandeel was looking at the proceedings silently. She couldn’t bring herself to ask or say anything to Baba.

It was a Monday morning. She had informed at her work that she’ll be late. Yusuf Mairaj had gone to a bank first and transferred all the money in his account to Qandeel’s. She was astounded and angry at the same time. She didn’t understand why Baba was doing all this. He had already handed Qandeel her Islamabad account documents which he had opened many years back with her Shamma aunt’s consent when they went there to stay with her. Qandeel was not told any details about it and she never tried to know about it herself.

When she saw the papers, she was surprised to know that a large amount was present in it and it kept on increasing with each passing year. She asked Baba about it but he told her that Shamma aunty will be able to explain it better and left the matter.

They went to barrister Asif’s office next. This time Qandeel knew why they had come. Yusuf Mairaj had decided to transfer house in her name, in his life. Now he needed her to sign a few papers and also so she could meet the barrister for future matters.

Qandeel was complying with all of it but was at a loss that what made Baba to take these measures suddenly. What in the world had happened that he was compelled to be done with these undertaking. She wanted to ask him, to show her displeasure over it because she felt that with each proceeding she was slipping away from Baba and this feeling has always been painful for her.

They came out of barrister’s office and walked silently. She needed to talk to him but this was not the right time. Also, she was getting late for office. And she didn’t want to discuss it in haste anyway. She wanted to dispel all her confusions.

“You should now go to your work, Qandeel. I will walk a little more then will go hospital to Hamza Shahid to ask after Sabeeha bhabhi.”

She looked at him and something happened then that made her stop.


He too stopped and looked at her.

“What do you want to say Qandeel?”

“Baba I love you very much. I want you always by my side. I cannot even imagine being away from you.”

She didn’t know why she had said those words. May be some fear came forth inside her.

“Promise me you will not go anywhere. I cannot live without you. I have nobody in this world but you.”

She took a step toward him and held his hands. He was looking at her, taken aback.

“When did I say I am leaving you, Qandeel?” He asked.

“Then why are you going through all of these measures? Account transfer, house transfer, etc. what is this?”

He smiled and pushed her hair back from her forehead softly and said, “I had to do all of this one day so I felt why not today. You don’t need to worry yourself over these trivial things.”

March’s hot sun was having no effect over her but the place where Baba touched was heated too much.

“I am always near you Qandeel, even if I am out of your sight.”

His soft hand was like a cool flake on a burning heart. Suddenly he stepped back and signaled the passing empty rickshaw quickly.

“Go Qandeel. You are getting late for your office.”

She nodded and moved ahead but then stopped. She had a strange impulse. She wanted to run and hide in Baba’s arms. Hidden from this world and its inhabitants. This impulse was like when a baby deer is left among wolves and it wishes to be with its mother. She looked back to him that may be he’d take pity on her and will not ask her to go away.
But he was smiling.

“Allah hafiz.”

Now it was not possible for Qandeel to return to him. Baba had given her into Allah’s protection and nothing could be done now. So she settled in rickshaw silently and when it lurched forward she felt like she has lost her Baba forever.

This fear inside her was killing her every second and she had no way to know the reason. He had talked about his death many times before, had soothed her heart, had talked about all the transactions he had carried out today but still she was weak inside. And she couldn’t name this feeling.

Office proved to be a distraction. She was instructing Sajid for left over work when she was informed that Asghar Sahib was asking for her.

“Sir were you asking for me?” she inquired in intercom.

“I just needed to confirm when you will be in your office.”

Qandeel was surprised. He hadn’t checked on her before.

“And yes I need to talk to you but a little later when I am free. Until then kindly remain in your office as I will have difficulty in tracing you.”
She put down intercom. She was perturbed by it.

There was so much work so she couldn’t know how much time had passed. Sajid went for lunch and she continued discussing a project with Tanveer on phone, then she checked emails. Her intercom buzzed. Mr. Asghar had called her in his office.
Qandeel checked time. 02:30 pm, lunch time. She was hungry so ate two biscuits hurriedly, instructed Sajid, who had come by then, to write today’s report and went for Asghar sahib’s office. She knocked and entered. She was asked to be seated.

“I tried to convince you many times to take back your decision about being a witness, Qandeel, but I think you are not only stupid and emotional but also dangerously compassionate which is poison for a journalist.

Qandeel was perplexed at his speech. He had never been this clear about any matter.

“I thought for about two days and came to decision that we cannot work together anymore.” He stopped and looked at her.

Qandeel was calm and remained passive.

“I too had guessed sir that sooner or later you will ask me to leave this office. And so I had prepared myself for termination letter.” She replied coolly.

“I don’t want to terminate you.” That surprised her. “I want you to submit resignation letter. That will be better.”

She was unable to calculate the difference between resigning and being terminated and anyway, she had decided to comply. She also couldn’t think of a reason for not submitting her resignation letter.

“When do you need it Sir?”

“Now. And tell everyone that you resigned on your own accord. Don’t worry about work. Tanveer will handle all of it. You have half an hour to submit your resignation letter.” He added dryly.

Qandeel came to her desk and started writing it. She didn’t think of typing it. She wasn’t worried least bit. In fact she was so calm and organized.

She finished writing, signed it and started collecting her stuff. Tanveer and Sajid were busy working on computer so they didn’t notice her actions.

She saw Asghar Sahib coming towards her when she was leaving her cabin. Qandeel handed him her resignation. He looked at it and smiled enigmatically. Qandeel couldn’t fathom his reaction and decided she needn’t to.

“Thank you, Qandeel. Now come and bid farewell to your colleagues or else they will certainly be sad not to meet you for last time.” He went to the main hall quickly and Qandeel couldn’t understand why he wanted to go through these rituals. He praised her work in few sentences and informed them that she had resigned because of some personal matters.

She stood silently while he was talking.

Sajid and Tanveer had also come there and she noticed they were taken aback. They didn’t, like everybody else, believe that Qandeel could decide to leave work suddenly. 

Qandeel saw deceit in Asghar Sahib’s face and in his eyes but she didn’t care. She needed to leave that place. She felt like being choked.

She thanked every one with typical words after Asghar Sahib and took her leave. She felt like being released from a prison after coming out of there.
Sajid came running after her when she was in hallway. He had come from another door. Tanveer was standing a little farther.

“Miss, how can you leave your job like this?” He asked at once.
“Just like everybody else go.” She replied lightly.
“But you weren’t inclined a little while ago.”
“It takes an instant to take decision.”
“I don’t believe it. I know its Asghar Sahib’s deceitfulness.” He was always angry with him.

“Whatever it is, I have to go now.”
“I too will leave here if you go.” He said like an obstinate child.
“No Sajid, don’t leave your job. Your sister is going to get married and you need it. And I will be fine. I was here for a little while anyway, you don’t need to bother yourself for me or else I will also be sad for you.” Sajid bowed his head. May be he was crying.

“Listen, Sajid. I have always treated you like my younger brother and you also respected me which I will never forget. Everything will be alright, don’t worry. You are not thinking straight.” He nodded.

Qandeel said bye to him and looked at Tanveer, he smiled and waved at her.

Taking small steps she came out of building and took a long breath. There was something that had changed in her life. Now she didn’t get worried over little things like she used to. In fact she always remained calm even in the face of difficulties. Baba was right, when Allah chooses someone for responsibility, He also gives them patience, perseverance and courage. 

When she thought of Baba, she wished she had wings so she could reach him at once. Now that she was free from her job she could spend more time with Baba.

There was much time left in office hours to finish and so entire road was empty of any traffic. She had to walk that long road to the point where she could get a rickshaw easily.

Like always she shouldered her hand bag and walked on the pavement.
She passed two streets. There were one or two persons on the road. When she was passing the third street she heard some footsteps behind her and before she could react to it she felt something hard touched her back.

It took just one second to surround her. She looked around her to take in the situation. There were total five. Two on her right and three on left completing a circle around her. They were all strangers. They had arms, their faces hard and ferocious and still she wasn’t afraid of them. She studied their faces silently then an ache in her back reminded the person behind who had his pistol to her back. Without thinking she turned to face him and she exhaled involuntarily.

Now she understood everything.

Adnan had that same ash grey pistol which he had taken out in store that day.

Qandeel noticed he was looking at her closely. May be he was looking for the signs of fear. Qandeel wasn’t afraid at that moment which astonished her but then so was Adnan.

“Why have you come? What do you want?” She asked calmly. She knew they would come to threaten her sooner or later and so she had prepared herself unconsciously.

“We’ll tell you later what we want. Right now you are to come with us silently.” Adnan was serious.  

“Where and why are you taking me?”

“I don’t think that’s necessary to tell you. Do whatever you are ordered. You can ask questions later.” He came around to her back again.

Qandeel was surprised that he adhered to manners.

“And if I refuse---?” She could hear alarm bells ringing at full volume in her head but her mind was working furiously as well.

“Then we’ll have to forcefully take you which I don’t want to do.” His men were waiting for his orders.

“Qandeel Yusuf is not an easy fish whom you can take easily.” She had decided she will not go no matter what.

She had calculated that they will not harm her and that brought odds in her favor. If for once she could lose them she will be safe.

Her retort angered Adnan. He twisted her arm and brought it on her back. A sob left her mouth. Her anger also flared. Her wrist was in Adnan’s hold and inevitably she decided to act.

“Adnan Bhatti has dealt with haughtiness before. An ordinary girl like you is nothing as compared to those big shots. I can pick you against your will but I don’t intend any displeasure so you better do as I say.”

Qandeel’s badly aching arm turned her anger into melting volcano. She looked above, in the sky and prayed to God.

“You have dealt with hot shots before but this ordinary girl will deal with your haughtiness far better.” She rammed her elbow in his ribs as soon as she finished her sentence. Adnan doubled up not because of pain but shocked because he wasn’t expecting any such action. His hold slackened for an instant and that was what Qandeel wanted. She flurried away from his hold and stopped after running few steps. She looked back at all of them. Nobody could understand anything for a while. Then Adnan took control of himself and of the situation. 

“Stop Qandeel or else I will not be responsible.” He belched like a buffalo. All of his men were at ready.

“Come with us. If you think you’ll be able to leave unhurt then you are at mistake.”
Qandeel knew it was a mere threat. They couldn’t even afford her to get scratched.

“You have arms and you can kill me. You are at liberty to carry on.” She smiled a poisoned smile. And may be this time her fearlessness astounded Adnan. She too was perplexed at her behavior. She was utterly fearless.

“Remember Adnan Bhatti that nobody can take away Qandeel Yusuf without her permission. If you don’t believe me then be my guest.”

That response hurt his ego.

Qandeel rolled her bag’s handle around her wrist and looked at her shoes. Her feet were ready to take the toll.

“You can only take away my dead body.” Saying this in firm voice, she hurried into an alley.

She didn’t stop. They were behind her. She was familiar with this area and she wanted to lose them in the labyrinth. That was a long alley and at the end of it there was an old ward which had numerous small alleys. She soon went out of breath. She was running like this after a very long time so she was tired before the alley ended. She knew they would be able to catch her soon because they were men, they wouldn’t get tired soon. She had to cover this distance anyhow. She looked back. There were four now. She couldn’t guess where would Adnan and his companion would be. And she fell, face down. She had hit something when she wasn’t looking. She had put her hands forward and that had saved her face. There were smudges and a little blood on her palms. She steadied herself quickly and then she saw her dupatta had fallen at some distance. She looked again for them. They weren’t far now. She had to think fast. If she went to pick her dupatta she will be caught. She decided to leave it. She took quick breaths, gathered her courage and started running again. She was careful and faster this time.

Alley had ended and the men were also close behind. Qandeel entered old ward and saw children playing with marbles. The men were now very near and she needed to distract them. She was tired and wanted some time to rest a while.

She stopped and looked around her. Marbles were in a plate placed at some height. Those four men saw her standing and assumed she gave in. Children too were looking at her. She wasn’t afraid of them being so close. She knew they wouldn’t harm her and that was encouraging for her. This game had now become like any hide&seek game. She started enjoying it.

They came closer and at this very moment she snatched at that plate, scattered the marbles on the road and ran. They ran after her without looking on the way and slipped over those marbles. Qandeel looked back and laughed automatically. Adnan has these useless foolish men as thugs, she thought to herself. She lost herself in this labyrinth while they took hold of themselves.

She was carefully changing alleys. She was sure that it will not be so easy to lose Adnan like this and that is why she felt the need of a place where she could stay till they stop following her. She stopped to take a breath and started thinking about her next move. She knew it will be dangerous to roam here like this. She looked at her wrist where the bag had made marks. She opened it and looked for mobile. She could ask Baba what she could do. She couldn’t find her mobile in it. Her mind was crippled. She tried to remember when she had last used her mobile; she had texted Maryam while coming out of office that she has left her job, and then she put it in her bag. It was stolen may be. She didn’t know when and where. She worked to calm herself. She concluded that Asghar Siddiqui had conspired with Qaiser Lashari and Adnan to kidnap her. She couldn’t decide what to do next. Now she will not be able to inform Baba at least what was going on. Then she looked at herself. Her appearance was untidy due to constant running and she didn’t have her dupatta. Her problems were increasing as minutes passed. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She saw Baba’s face. She wanted to hide in his arms. She was compelled to come back to her surroundings. She looked around; this alley went into three more alleys. She came forward a few steps and tried to remember the exact alley, that home where she had come with her Baba once to ask after Din Muhammad’s ill wife. The same Din Muhammad who sold vegetables in his barrow in this very place. But still he used to come to their ward often just to meet Qandeel and Yusuf Mairaj. And whenever he came, he brought fresh vegetables from his barrow. She couldn’t remember anybody else who lived here and could provide her a hide out.

She walked to another alley and went to three elderly persons who were engaged in a discussion. She tried to tidy her face and hands as best as she could. They were surprised to see her.

“This is Dawood Colony, no?” She asked them, keeping her voice steady.
This old ward was divided into many areas.

“Dawood Colony comes after second alley.” One of them replied.

“Actually a relative lives here and I cannot remember exactly where he lives. I have come after a long time” This time she ignored their looks and concentrated on her task.

“What is the name of your relative?” Second person asked.

“His name is Din Muhammad. He has a shop in Hussein Market. Many people know him in Dawood Colony.”

“Oh she is inquiring about our Din Muhammad who is our bosom friend.” Third person said.

She was a little relieved. They could take her to Din Muhammad.
One of them gave her directions and also told her sign of that street and that of his home. She was now hopeful that she’ll be able to reach to the correct place and people will not bother her anymore. She hurriedly went inside an alley but she was unlucky because Adnan was there with his two men. He saw her before she could disappear silently.

“There she is!”

Qandeel traced her steps back and went into another alley. Now she was running hard on this path which will lead her to Din Muhammad’s home. She looked back; Adnan was a little far away. May be they had gone into wrong alley before.

Qandeel had memorized Din Muhammad’s address. She continued to run, reciting his address animatedly. Enter into a large alley from round about, then third alley on right hand, then fourth alley on left then second home at left. She remembered.

They couldn’t decide in which alley she had gone to because of distance.

Her pounding heart came to normal speed when she saw Din Muhammad. She ran madly to him. He turned around and looked at her. Before he had time to even show surprise she started,

“Uncle I was searching your home. Some thugs are looking for me nearby.”

She was breathless and her sentences were disconnected but she continued, “Please save me and hide me in your house for some time.”

Din Muhammad tried to speak but then thought better of it. He realized there is no time. He grabbed her hand and went inside. His small house consisted of only three rooms. He explained the situation to his wife in fewer words and instructed her to hide Qandeel. She took her inside without questioning. They could be asked later.

There was a loud knock when they were talking. Qandeel knew it was them because it was unusual. She could feel danger. She didn’t know they would reach to her that soon.
Din Muhammad first looked at the door then at Qandeel. Her heart was beating fast.

“Nothing will happen, dear. Go inside with Naseema.”

Door was pounded hard.

She couldn’t decide anything.

She came inside with Naseema who made her sit in a corner behind lumber. She couldn’t be seen from here. This room was like a store. Then she covered her with a large piece of cloth.

Now the door rattled. Qandeel’s heart was beating in her throat. She thought all went useless. Now she couldn’t be saved.

She cuddled like a rabbit.

Now Uncle Din Muhammad had opened the door.

The loud voices and hammering of shoes made her realize that she’ll be found now except if Allah wills. And she couldn’t know what His will was at the moment.  

“Where is that girl? Quick, tell me where is she?” That wasn’t Adnan, may be his compliance.

“There is no girl. Only me and my wife lives here.” Uncle Din Muhammad’s voice was calm.

“We know she came here.”

“You are mistaken sahib.”

“Rishi search this place, he will not tell where he hid Qandeel.” Qandeel’s remaining courage seeped away on hearing Adnan’s voice.

And then his compliances started searching his house even though he tried to stop them.
Qandeel’s heart stopped for a moment. If she could stop breathing, she could. Her whole body had become a prayer. She sat with her back to the wall.

They had stopped Uncle Din Muhammad outside and started roaming the house to pick on her odor like a dog.

Then Qandeel heard footsteps near to her hiding place. She knew then she cannot be saved. She sat with her head between her knees. She wasn’t scared of anything now because she had tried everything in her power.

She heard footsteps fading away. She couldn’t believe her luck. They hadn’t seen her. She was safe. She thanked God silently.

“Girl is not inside. May be this old man has provided her an escape from another door.”
 That was Rishi, she thought.

Tell me where THE GIRL IS?” Adnan barked the words so loud, even Qandeel was shaken badly.

“We know she came to your home. Tell me where have you hidden her?” She couldn’t know what else Adnan was doing besides roaring at poor uncle. The way he was screaming, she felt either he had grabbed his collar or had him at gunpoint. Din Muhammad was continuously denying him. He didn’t even accept the fact that she came to his home.

Adnan repeated his order a few times and when he realized he is not going to comply, he went crazy with anger.

“She cannot get away this easily. My men have this place covered, tell me where is she. And if you will refuse to tell then I will shoot you.”
His thundering style was enough to convince that he’d do whatever he was saying.

Qandeel came out of her place on the spur of the moment. Her instincts were warning her that something bad is going to happen and she couldn’t let it be. She didn’t know herself what she was going to do, she was shaking badly.

She came out from behind the sofa to the door. She had seconds to decide what she wanted. She peeped out from the door. Nobody was attentive to her. Adnan had grabbed Din Muhammad by his collar. He looked like a hungry lion that had lost his prey and now he was insane with anger.  

“I don’t know anything.” Din Muhammad kept on repeating. Naseema was begging for her husband’s life.

Qandeel was dazed by their passion. This couple looked like out of this world. They had no relation with Qandeel, and yet they were guarding her without even realizing what is going to happen next to them. She felt ashamed of herself, of her selfishness. She’d never be able to forgive herself if something happened to them, she thought to herself.
She couldn’t endanger their lives like this.

Adnan’s patience was giving way. The time to decide had passed. She couldn’t afford to expect anything from a crazy person like Adnan. She had to safe Din Muhammad’s life.

“Wait. Do not do anything to uncle.” It had taken an instant. She was at the door.

Everybody looked at her. She had her eyes on Adnan and his pistol.

“Put it away. I am ready to go with you.” She said gravely.

Adnan was relieved.
“Nothing would have happened if you had complied before.”

“I didn’t know you were low men or else I would have come.” Her retort made his go face hard again.

She helped Din Muhammad up. “You took too much hardship on my behalf. But I couldn’t be selfish.” Din Muhammad was in tears.

“Angel, I couldn’t protect you. I couldn’t help my daughter.”

“It’s not your fault. May be I am not lucky today.” She wiped his tears. “You don’t worry. They can’t even lay a finger on me. I will be back soon, unharmed.”

“I will pray for you.”

“Hurry up Qandeel. I don’t have time for this.” Adnan said.

“Just coming.” She looked at din Muhammad again.

“Do one thing for me please.” She handed him her bag and said, “Give this to Baba and tell him not to worry. I am alright and will be back soon, unharmed.”

“I cannot carry this chore out. How will I face your father, my angel?”

“Baba knows you did so much for me. Nobody could have done it.” Din Muhammad took her bag.

Qandeel felt it weird that Adnan hadn’t objected on this exchange.

“Let’s go.” Qandeel said. Her calm attitude disconcerted Adnan.

He grabbed her arm but she snatched it back from him at once.

“Don’t touch me. I have given you my word and that should be enough for you. I do what I say.”

Displeasure was written over Adnan’s face.

They were covering the distance hastily. Adnan was walking along Qandeel with some distance. His men were around Qandeel.

“If I hadn’t cared about Ilaaf, I would have taught you a lesson.” Adnan said scornfully.

“I can expect this from a brave person like you.” She taunted him, her tone poisonous.

Adnan was furious but he controlled and became silent. Their cars were parked in a long street.
Qandeel was blindfolded. They were tying her hands also but she absolutely refused and Adnan had to comply to save himself from more trouble. She was seated in the back. They were fully attentive to her.
Adnan was driving.
Qandeel was sitting among them without her dupatta. She was thinking what will happen next. She couldn’t even have imagined in the morning what her day was going to be like.

They came to a halt after a full hour driving. Adnan asked her to remove the blindfold and come out. She acquiesced and looked around her. The structure was standing among trees. It was a farmhouse. Adnan told her to move forward. A middle aged woman, probably a maid, came to her when she started walking. Adnan called her back and held out her dupatta to her.


A fire went up inside her. They were worried about her dupatta but not about kidnapping her on gunpoint in broad daylight.

“You and your men need this dupatta more than me Adnan Bhatti.” Adnan’s face went scarlet.

“I would have given my bangles to you also if I would have them on.”

Without waiting for his response she turned around and took long strides towards house. The maid and Rishi followed her. They took her to first floor; Rishi stopped in front of a room, opened it with a key and told her to go inside respectfully.
His tone startled her. She came inside without any comment. One thing was apparent, none of Adnan’s men had been disrespecting towards her.

Door was locked from outside.

She looked around the room. It was well decorated. She sat on a sofa and started guessing their motive. She wasn’t sure whether they had kidnapped her to stop her from presenting herself to court as a witness or was there any other reason. Suddenly she had a thought. She leaped towards the door and made sure it’s locked from outside.

She was in their control entirely and she wasn’t sure what their actions might be. She couldn’t afford to expect any good from them so she decided to protect herself. She bolted the door from inside, and looked around. One of the many windows was open. She locked it as well. Now she was sure nobody could enter this room without her knowing it. She had also thought of extreme measures in case someone tried to enter forcefully. She took a blade from wash basin cabinet and hid it in bedside drawer.

She was thirsty. She filled half glass with water but stopped. She didn’t want to drink this water.

She put the glass down and came to washroom. She looked at mirror. There was a wound on her forehead; she couldn’t remember when it was inflicted. She had been busy with more important things lately. Then she looked at her palms which were badly bruised. They had stopped bleeding but were covered with dirt and were sore. There were deep marks on her wrist as well due to holding the bag with handle. She would have gotten it bruised if she had held it for more time.
She splashed water on her face; cool water hurt the bruised palms, she drank some of it too and came out of washroom. She saw her form in dressing table mirror; her dress was covered with dirt and she was without dupatta. She had been without it for last two hours and she realized it just yet. Strange.

She turned around and looked at the master bed. She hadn’t run this much in her entire life and every joint was screaming for rest, but she didn’t want to sleep. She was far away from her home, among dangerous men. She couldn’t afford to sleep carelessly in these circumstances. Thought of home reminded her of Baba. It was painful. She looked at wall clock; it was 6 pm. Din Muhammad surely had informed him of the incident by this time.

Then suddenly she broke down. She couldn’t hold it any longer. Sitting on the floor, her head resting on her forearm on the bed she let the tears come.

Then she thought of Ilaaf. Did he know that his father and Adnan had kidnapped her like this? So what if he is in lock-up. He must be aware of their plan. What if he’s not aware of any of it? She didn’t have courage to think anything after that. She felt like a last ray of hope was slumbering. With streaming tears she couldn’t know when she fell asleep.

Someone was rapping on the door and that brought her back to senses.

She looked at clock; 9:30 pm. It was dark outside. Lights were on in the room.
She was afraid suddenly; away from her home, among these beasts. She felt the need to be protected.

The maid on other side asked her to open the door.

“I will not open it. Go away.”

“Bibi, open the door. Please take your meal. We are ordered to take care of you.” It was Rishi.

“I don’t want to eat anything. Go away now. And I will be compelled to go to extreme measure if anybody will try to enter forcefully.”

Rishi begged her for some time but left when she remained obstinate.

Qandeel came back to her place. She was feeling weak due to hunger but she was afraid of unknown, couldn’t trust anybody at this moment so decided to keep the door lock till morning.

She wasn’t even able to go to washroom. She tried to drink water but it hurt her empty stomach so she managed to take just few sips.

Weakness made her lie down again. She prayed to God for help.

Rishi had tried thrice during this time but she remained resolute.

At around 11 o’ clock she heard a light knock on the door. She burst with anger.

“What is wrong with you? When I have said that I don’t want to eat then why don’t you keep to yourself?”

“Qandeel, open the door. It’s me Ilaaf, nobody else is around. I need to talk to you, please don’t persist, and open the door. You are absolutely safe here, believe me.”

Qandeel’s mind exploded, her heart started thundering in her throat and she sat still.

She could recognize this voice among million voices. It belonged to a person whose name her heartbeats sang all the time. But how can Ilaaf come here? Was he released on bail or is he playing a part in this plan?

All these thoughts were battering over her mind mercilessly.

“Qandeel please listen to me once, then you can decide whatever you want, you can treat me whichever way you would like but please open the door for once.”

She had lost her appetite and her strength to take decision too.

She came closer to the door.

“You haven’t had anything since evening. Have your dinner and then you can refuse to see my face.”

It was the person whose face had stuck in her mind

“I deserve your hatred for me, I don’t have a right to talk to you but you can’t take it out on yourself this way. This is senseless.”

It was the same person whom she loved unequivocally. Ah, how unaware he was of this fact! But she needed to keep him in dark about it. She didn’t have the strength to tell him how she felt for him.

“I am the reason for everything that is happening to you but I wasn’t told this plan. For God’s sake believe me Qandeel.”

She wanted to believe him, to listen to him and decide which was right; her love or anger.

She unlocked the door, and stood back.

(Note: Special thanks to Noor-e-hira Shamim for translating this post)

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