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She clearly noticed that he’d stopped himself from saying something really important. But she didn’t insist.
“Do you cry?” She asked, observing him very closely.
“What do you do when the only person who can make you stop crying is the person who made you cry?’ As usual, he asked bavk, instead of giving her proper answer. “Of course you won’t prefer crying in such circumtances. Will you?”
“What does it take to make you happy?”
“Are you writing my biography, Deeba?” He asked evenly. He looked somewhat impressed by the way she was asking questions today, very fluently and confidently. She didn’t look like the girl who had met him before.
She smiled in answer. “No,” She said decently. “The purpose of asking all these questions is different.”
“Why do you give a damn anyway?” He asked as his lips twisted into a parody of smile.
She swallowed, shaking her head. “You’d know the purpose later.”
“So,” She carried on, ” You became so popular in such a short time. How does it feel to be famous?”
“I never wanted popularity. I got it without my will.” He said firmly, sliding his glasses slightly up on his nose with a delicate touch of his index finger.
“You look like you’re in pain Sir. Like someone has really hurt you, wounded you, more than you can bear.” She said with sympathetic honesty.
No one has hurt me.” He told her. ” I hurt myself.”
He turned his gaze to the ceiling.
“Hatred is like acid. It destroys the vassel that holds it.”
“I’m sure that’s very deep, but I’m afraid you’ve lost me.” She leaned toward him. “That’s one of the things that drive me crazy about you. You can never simply say yes or no. Why do you always answer a question with a cryptic remark or, worse, another question?”
“Do I do that?” Turning to face her, he shot her a crooked smile, but his eyes gleamed like cool metal.
Her eyes couldn’t rise up.
“I sometimes wonder how calm you sound!” Deeba said, amazed.
“It’s one thing I learned from her……” He wanted to stop himself, but it was too late. He regretted this very moment. It occured to him that, today; someone wanted him to break all of his rules and principles.
He then slid a knowing glance at Deeba.
“Probably you’re now thinking what happened to me, right?” He said quietly. “Perhaps, you’re thinking that I was a failure in love or something like that.” He laughed emptily.
She praised his fine, telepathic mind.
He released a long weary breath, “I guess there isn’t anything else I can say, is there?”
“Tell me about her.”
She said anxiously.
He met her gaze squarely, though the lamplight glinting on his lenses made it impossible to see his eyes. But then, she thought she could almost see a tear trickling down his cheek.
He leaned back in his chair, one leg crossed over the other, looking more tired and hurt than ever, his eyes were half lidded, hiding the waters underneath, shading them.
Pulling her lips between her teeth, she scanned the persian carpet at her feet, nodding jerkily. “I…..I’m sorry,” She whispered after a taut minute.
Although she had guessed it, but suddenly it made her more uncomfortable than ever.
And then, she was hit by a horrible truth. She wanted very badly to have this man to tell his story to her. There was something about him that touched her deep inside, something unnamable, risky, considering the fact that he’d recently admitted there was some woman who had……
He looked up at her, his expression serious but not angry. “What else do you want to know now?”
“Each and every thing sir.” She whispered, her voicr full of curiosity. “Right from the beginning.”
“Who was she?” She asked automatically. But seeing his reaction, she hated herself for asking such a stupid question. It was all very much obvious.
He groaned. His eyes grew cold and he cast her a heavy-lidded glance.
“I…I can’t.” He said huskily, his throat tear clotted.
“Just try to relax.” She said. “I think you need to talk about that sir.”
“Something’s been eating at you for a long time.” She added softly.
He darted a mutinous look her way, and in it, Deeba witnessed the shadow of his sadness and its vile complexity, raw and very close on the surface. Somehow she knew that, today, he was going to tell her things he’d kept bottled for years. Nothing to help him on his difficult journey.
His eyes blazed into hers.
“That’s true,” He agreed straightly, unexpectedly.
Her breathing became rapid, short and fast, and her heart began to beat so loudly that she immediately began to fear that perhaps Aariz would hear it.
“Talk to me, Sir!” She heard herself again and again.
He leaned forward, propping his chin on his other hand. His eyes were closed, his lips drawn in a fierce line. After nerve-racking moment, he faced her.
Deeba forced herself not to ask question this time. He had to tell the story in his own way.
Aariz dropped his gaze and seemed to go inward.
Let him say it! Her mind warmed. Let him get it out. The pain of doing that will cauterize the wound.
He paused for a moment before he said,
“Her name was……..”
Her name was…..”
He repeated slowly, his eyes closed, his face showing an unpredictable expression.
“I suppose…..” He murmured, his voice low. “There will be no use of telling her name now as I can’t give her a sole, single name. I’d tell you the whole story anyway.”
She didn’t interrupt at this stage; just sat othere stunned and curious about what to come.
“But it’s a long story.” He told her. “I’m afraid you won’t be able to hear all in just one sitting.”
“Don’t worry.” Deeba tried to smile. “I’d come tomorrow too, if you don’t mind.”
Her statement made him chane his gesture, he looked suprised, somewhat disturbed too.
“Don’t you have any other thing to do?”
“First things first,” She didn’t break her smile. “I’m on vacation these days.”
Aariz was a constant suprise for her; just when she expected him to be furious, he was quiet. Or was this just the calm before the storm.
He uncurled himself, stood and reached near his room window. Extending his hand, he openeed the glass shield. Sea-scented salty breeze began to flow inside the room quickly, and so did those memories, which were not less salty anyway.
“Yes. It…..it still feels like yesterday. It still seem like today.” He whispered, like he was talking to himself.
I’m so bad at tying knots.” He said helplessly.
“Especially of these satin ties.” He added.
“Hurry up buddy, we’re about to leave.” Shaheryaar’s voice was urgent, as he glanced at the wall clock.
“But this damn thing will not let me leave early.” He replied, frustrated, his hands doing their best to set the knot around his shirt collar.
“And only now you realized this, huh?” Shaheryaar said, turning his friend toward himself so that he could help him.
“Wait, let me help you with that.” Shaheryaar reached out, and with great skill in a minute he had fixed his friend’s tie up. He then stepped a feet behind a have a look at him.
“My goodness, very handsome, you look wonderful!” Shaheryaar’s eyes were sparkling with a real glimpse of praise for his closest friend’s smartness.
He had smooth, whitish complexion and the cloths he wore made him more attractive than ever. He was wearing dark black pants and an expensive crisp, royal blue shirt with a finely tailored black jacket and pure red tie. In his mid-twenties, he was a prime specimen of manhood, decent in the typical way of a man of the East. He was not very tall, but his height was definitely above average.
“I only hope that they’re carrying some ambulances with Baaraat!” Shaheryaar smiled and winked.
“Ambulance?” His hands suddenly left his jet black, shiny hairs, as he kept the hairbrush on the mirrored table. “What for?”
“You’re going to hurt so many girls out there. So much beauty really hurts sometimes.” Shaheryaar smiled and winked.
“So do you think twenty six is too early to get married?” He asked casually, ignoring Shaheryaar’s remark.
“Umm, I don’t think so.” He told him. “I actually believe Daniyal has taken the right step. I mean he is established, shaped and ready. Why wait then?”
“So funny,” Shaheryaar laughed. “Actually you’re not getting me, friend.”
“Not getting what?”
“I meant if he’s taken the right step by following his parents’ suggestion blindly. I mean it would be purely an arranged kind of marriage. They didn’t even meet before.” He threw a critical glance at himself in the mirror.
“So what? That happens everyday in our society.” Shaheryaar commented.
“But happening everyday doesn’t justify it.” He grinned sarcastically, and turned toward the mirror once again to spray the rich ‘eterny’ on his expensive, well-cut suit.
“I think that’s the best way of preserving your roots and family values and to keep everyone happy.” Shaheryaar placed his hands behind his nap and looked at him.
“Other’s happiness….?” One of his eyebrows rose up. “Even if you have to kill your own happiness for that?”
“That’s my motto.” Shaheryaar smiled. “Live for others. One should not be so selfish that, in the end, he might find himself all alone and lonely.”
“I don’t agree.” He picked up the keys from his table amd motioned him to stand up.
“Do others live for us?” He asked harshly. “I can’t even imagine myself.spending life with someone who won’t match my mind and heart.”
“That certainly needs understanding.” Shaheryaar said, as he followed him toward the main gate of his big house.
“Yeah, and understanding comes with meetings and gatherings. You have to pass time with each other to develop some understanding.”
He had never met a woman he couldn’t live without, and he wasn’t going to settle for less. One day he would probably marry, but she had to be tight; he was looking for a special woman, a very special woman, and he hadn’t found her yet.
As they climed into their car, Aariz put it into fast speed. They didn’t have much time.
Once on the main road, he took a long breath and put a quick glance on the passenger seat which Shaheryaar sat, smiling continuously.
“Anything funny?” He raised his brows.
“Not really.” Shaheryaar sighed, I was just remembering some marriage jokes. Those funny things always come to myind automatically whenever I attend some wedding.”
“Mind telling me some of those?” He asked with pure interest.
“Sure, why not.” Shaheryaar chuckled.
“They say, marriage is a three-ring circle: Engagement ring, wedding ring and ‘suffering’.”
He smiled wonderfully as Shaheryaar finished his sentence.
“Very well.” He appreciated.
“And like.” Shaheryaar continued. “When a man opens the door of his car of his wife, you can sure of one thing. Either the car is new or the wife is new….”
This time he couldn’t stop the natural laughter.
“Do you know what does it take to be happy with your wife?”
“You tell me.” He gazed at him, grinning.
“Well,” Shaheryaar smiled back. “To be happy with a husband, you must understand him a lot and love him a little, but to be happy with a wife, you must love her a lot and try not to understand her at all.”
“Haha.” He was truly enjoying what Shaheryaar was saying.
I’d never understand one thing.” Shaheryaar said, now a little more serious.
“And what’s that?” He inquired, turning the steering wheel to right.
“Why the married men live longer than single men?”
In answer he laughed softly and said. “But didn’t you realize that married men are a lot more willing to die?”
“Well.said.” Shaheryaar smiled and then asked.
“By the way, what do you think, what are the qualities of a good husband?”
“Umm,” He thought for a second then replied, “I think he should be an archeologist.”
“Yeah, an archeologist is the best husband a woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested.he is in her.”
This time, Shaheryaar’s laughter was louder than ever.
For the next few moments, they both remained silent, perhaps gathering their nerves again.
“Does marriage change one’s life?” His question was sudden and spontaneous.
Shaheryaar turned his face toward him, wondering what had made him ask this question, totally out of the topic.
“Well yes. It does.” Shaheryaar told him.
“How much?” He asked again.
“Om circumstances, natures, characters and…… on your fate.” Shaheryaar said soberly.
Suprisingly, he didn’t ask another question then. There was a silence of few moments then.
“Sometimes I really wonder,” He said, breaking the silence. “That who would be my life partner? How would ahe look like and how would she behave and all that…..”
“That’s natural.” Shaheryaar said philosophically. “Every one of us does that. Ofcourse it’s the question of your whole life.”
“But it’s not just that.” He argued. “I think even more.”
“Like I am twenty six now, amd how long will it take for me to get married finally.”
“I think I’d have to talk to your mother about that now.” Shaheryaar suggested naughtily.
“Come on, Shaheryaar. You know very well that I don’t believe in arranged marriages. It’s a watse of your life, a big gamble.”
“So you’re waiting for the moment when you fall in love with someone, righr?” Shaheryaar asked.
“From the present scenario, it looks like that it will never happen.” He sighed. “Never meet the princess of my dreams, didn’t even see her anywhere.”
“Okay, what about a bet then?” Shaheryaar challenged, smiling.
“Bet for what?”
“You’re going to fall in love tonight.”
“Aha. Funny, isn’t it?” He laughed.
“Trust me, you will.”
“Right, and with whom?” He smiled sarcastically.
“With the girl who won’t smile at you.”
“Just what the heck does that mean?” He cut in sharply, having no idea of what his friend was talking about.
“I’ve seen many girls giving you a typical ‘take-me’ smile. But this girl will be different. She will be proud, not rude though.” Shaheryaar told him dreamily.
“Know what?” You can write some goos romance poems.” He criticized his imagination. “It doesn’t happen even in movies now.”
“Yes but it does happen in real life sometimees.” Shaheryaar was very much determined.
From his serious expression, even he couldn’t guess whether his friend was really serious or was just having fun.
Dr. Shahper’s house was in Gulshan, a few miles away from his own in Clifton. He was Shaheryaar’s favorite uncle, youngest brother of his father. It was suprising even for himself that, at times, he felt more close to sixty-year-old Shahper uncle than he did with his son, his cousin, Daniyal who was twenty-six.
He slowed the car as they approached their destination. Swinging off the main road, the black Honda accord rolles past the long row of pine trees to stop in front of the huge building, which was completely drowned in sparkling lights and bulbs at the moment.
With the gear shifted to park, he switched off the ignition key and opened the door for Shaheryaar. The house itself was large, a duplex, was tastefully decorated with all the necessary wedding items.
Big colorful bulbs hung from the walls, setting off gallaries and room with shades and glows of bright color.
Moments later he and Shaheryaar entered the spacious two-storied house. It was a beautiful place with polished oak floors and beamed ceilings. They notices that the interior of the house was equally sparkling. Everything was arranged in a neat and well-styled manner supported by heavy beautiful, colored bulbs and glamarous electric fancy lights. The furniture was modern and elegant and was organized on the grass lawn in an elegant way to accomodate all the guests. The whole place was crowded with people.
There were girls already present on the reception, lining up together to welcome the guests with beautiful flower vases and bouquet in their hands.
As they neared the reception are, the tantalizing aroma of different fragrances of male and female perfumes greeted them, mixed with delicious smells emmitting from several wedding dishes.
While passing thorugh the main reception gate, they stopped for a while for introduction and exchange of greetings. As he paused in front of young girls and bent his head to take the large rose chaplet in his neck, he heard a musical feminine laughter nearby. He lifted his gaze to inspect her as his glance touched the person who was offerung him the chaplet.
His eyes blazed into hers as her forearms circled his neck to set the chaplet properly.
Shaheryaar gave her a warm smile and paused in front of her to introduce.
“Meet my best friend,” Smiling, Shaheryaar introduced him to her. “Aariz Ali from Karachi.”
“And Aariz……this is Komal from London.” Shaheryaar introduced. “She is Daniyal’s cousin.”
To Be Continued…