I was 19 when I was forced into marrying a 26 years old fierce looking man, Zaigham Hassan Ali. I then was too young to probe the depths of personalities and handle kinship affairs, but old enough to understand that marriage would only mean a bar to my freedom. It turned out to be a useless fear, soon after the ceremony was over, I realized that he was the most charming person I would ever meet, who’d love me enough to make living a surreal fairytale for me, where he was the King and I – the queen.
And I loved him back, with my blood, flesh, bones, heart and everything else. He bore me with two bundles of joy, Munir, and when he was five Maheen.
He completed my life, painting it with colors of joy, tints of love and the laughs. Ours was one of the happiest families but sadly, there is nothing as perfect. 10 years of companionship and bliss, when Munir was 9 and Maheen was 4, ended with a sudden wreck; he went out fishing with his friend and the boat drowned in the lake, it was November 15. We only received his lifeless, swollen, worm-ridden and wrinkled body three days later. The meaning of every joy ended within days. My life collapsed and my smiles drowned with him in the lake. And no one would ever receive its lifeless body. Yet my children’s eyes had the spark, of life, of dreams, of joys! I decided, I would always make sure it be there. I knew it would be hard living alone, when all I and Zaigham always dreamt of was togetherness. But he had bought some shops and left behind an adequate bank statement, we could live decently for years.
Some three months after his death, a tribal war broke out in our city and to save my family I had to flee from there and to settle at Hill-view. Where, amid the sea of people, sandeep and his wife Richa were the only friends I got. Richa, when Andrian was in high school, died of malignant tumor in her abdomen. In her last days she took my hand and asked if I would take care of sandeep and Andi and I promised I would. Since then, two broken families were bonded as one; we share our joys and grieve together. And after when Munir left for England to complete his education and research there, Andi vowed to compensate his absence and to my delight he always did and still doing.
In the hectic routine of raising kids, taking care of other affairs and living alone, years flowed and I didn’t realize that I grew old earlier than normal person would. Zaigham lived in my memories, and when I saw Rashid Amin I felt as if Zaigham had revived all of a sudden, both of them were extraordinary similar, sometimes he even looked like him too, so it was this striking similarity that made me look for him, wanted to wipe away his problems, cherish him and love him. To me he was my son, Munir; to me he was a memory of my lover, Zaigham. It was a strange feeling I could never explain.
My baby, Maheen, had green eyes, love and intellect of her father and wheat-ish skin, sensitivity, creativity and humbleness from me. I thought what better could I get for her? I knew somewhere in my heart that Rashid and Maheen would make an amazing couple. I just knew it.
When I told this to sandeep he was very excited and seconded me. Later on he and Andi devised a wonderful idea, we had noticed that after Crystal’s death Rashid had been very dejected, he had stop being social and prefers to stay home alone, the plan was that Andi would be friends with him and would persuade him to meet us. And maybe one day he would choose Maheen.
It seemed a nice plan but we could not predict future, a little less than two months after I returned home I received an invitation which said ‘Rashid Amin weds Aania Haseeb’ and this time Sandeep was also invited.
May be the Divine Entity didn’t want what I desire, may be what was happening was for the best of everyone – may be. The wedding was a simple one arranged in a local Masjid. Aania was his mother’s choice. I attended it with Sandeep and Andi, and wished the couple a happily ever after.
But fate plays wild moves, few weeks passed like that, one day when I and Sandeep was sitting in his home’s balcony and discussing Andi’s wedding, He came back home escorting Rashid, apprehension was vividly painted on their faces, when we encouraged him into speaking he revealed that Aania was also a schizophrenic and had been threatening him that she would suicide if he would not divorce him.
Rashid was very afraid of what had happened previously, he divorced her. That marriage lasted only for 2 months. Lately we discovered that Aania was actually in love with someone else and was coerced to marry Rashid, instead of accepting it as her fate and finding what an amazing person Rashid had been, she decided to deceit him into divorcing her, pretending that she was ill, playing with Rashid’s fear of mentally unstable people. She in fact, was very healthy physically and mentally and clever as a perq.
Rashid was heartbroken; he lost faith in women as wives and ended up stereotyping women as untrustworthy and deceitful. I wanted to tell him that it is not real, he needed to know more, it took us long to correct his perception about marriage and women, and finally a long dream was realized. He consented in marrying Maheen.
A couple of days and I saw my princess clad in maroon lehnga sitting next with Rashid Amin. The air was filled with joy, I was so happy that words would never explain it. The same day Sandeep also announced Andi’s engagement. And in giggles and laughs and singing songs, that night ended. Now I look back to it and realize that it was one of the most charismatic nights for me, I giggled and I cried at the same time. My emotions then, was unexplainable. One year passed so quick as in minutes, and when the nurse told me of the birth of my Grandson, Maheen’s baby, I cried! It was a weird feeling, and when I hold him in my hands and touched his cheek I could barely discern between what was what and who was who he was so much a part of me. He was my baby’s baby. Rashid was overjoyed, we named him Qasim. He was a kind of baby who would steal people’s attention; we were so bound to love him.
My days and nights were back to lonely again, I would help Sandeep in Andi’s wedding preparation and would knit sweaters for Qasim, it was getting colder then, one of such nights, when I was almost retiring to sleep the call bell rang wildly, my heart pounded so violently in my ribs I thought it would break away. Maheen was on the door crying, she told me that Rahid’s mother was severely ill and there was little hope of her survival, He was planning to go there right then, Maheen insisted to accompany him. They left Qasim with me and rushed away so quick, I wanted to tell them to wait till morning, I wanted to tell them that it might rain that night and it was risky driving uphill in rain. I wanted to tell them a lot more too. I couldn’t. Eye witnesses tell that the driver was trying to save someone but the car slipped and fell in the abyss. When rain slowed down, people gathered and somehow managed to take them out of the car, Maheen, my princess had lost her life. Rashid was badly wounded but breathing, they took him to the hospital. The one time and for the last, he died there and the next morning his mother died in his native place at the same fateful day. It was November then, the 22nd.
I live with Qasim now and wonder if happy ends are only in fairytales? Mine sure was not one.
10 chr: Alaena, sandeep, Andrian, Rashid, Richa, Crystal, Zaigham, Munir, Maheen, Aania.
Although I couldnt stick to 1000 words, edited a lot to cut it short, if i will do it further I’ll lose it i am sure 🙂
and I know that one week streched for so long, I apologies for that.