further Ahmad

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This time when Zeest woke, her eyes opened normally but the pain was background noise. Looking around the room, she saw that it kept dim by the opaque shades at the windows, but that the day outside was probably pretty sunny. Aariz was still asleep on the sofa in the room. She sat up slowly, stretching her shoulders and blinking away the sleep in her eyes. She had heard her mother-in-law’s voice calling her.

As the sleep faded away, her mind filled with the memory of the night before. Aariz’s words again ran in her ears: “I don’t strike women, Miss. Wife. There are other methods of punishment.”

How could he rattle her so badly with a few words and a disturbing glance? No one had ever affected her like this before.

She was still completely silent when they all sat down to lunch that afternoon. The tension at the table was unmistakable. Sparks flew every-time she looked at Aariz.

“Do you need anything else, daughter?” Aariz’s father had asked.

“No, thank you, father.” She smiled soberly.

“Aariz, I think she is being shy, ask her if she would like to eat anything else.” His father threw a brief glance at him.

“Who cares.” He couldn’t stop himself from saying and swallowed hard. This magician woman was controlling and taking everyone into her trance. First his mother, and now his father too, looked clearly impressed by her.

Impulsively, he turned his face toward her. Fire burned in the look he gave her.

“Father, I’ve already had enough.” She said, feeling guilty and ashamed.

She couldn’t help feeling sorry for him despite what he had done with her.

Hours later at dinner, Aariz and his parents sat in silence, each enduring the spicy Biryani and chicken Karhaai in his or her own way. Aariz was stirring his spoon into his rice and chicken, eating very little.

“Zeest!” Mrs. Ali called her. “We are waiting for you, dear.”

“I’m coming, mother.” They heard her voice from the kitchen. “Just giving a final touch to the custard.”

“She’s not supposed to work so soon.” Aariz’s father protested. “She’s a new bride.”

“I did tell her many times, but she doesn’t agree.” Mrs. Ali told him.

Mr. Ali shook his head in disagreement and ran his eyes from one end of the table to the other.

“Where’s my favorite mango pickle?” He asked.

“Umm” Mrs. Ali replied between bites. “If it’s not here, it should be in the kitchen.”

“Aariz, go and get it.” His father said, staring at him.

Without a word, Aariz left his chair and walked toward the kitchen.

There she was, working thoroughly, trying do to so many things at a time. One of her hands was busy with the grinder while the other was working with the juicer.

Apparently unaffected by her presence and without showing any external sign of his inner feelings, he entered the kitchen, and began to open different shelves and drawers in search of the mango pickle. Although each of them were standing side-by-side and adjacent to each other, they had their backs toward each other.

When he stood beside her, there didn’t seem to be as much room as she remembered. It took her a second to realize she was feeling the effect of his nearness, the breath of his shoulders.

Zeest’s face felt hot, and she found out her body was oversensitive to Aariz’s proximity. It had taken superhuman effort to pretend his presence hadn’t affected her. She shivered suddenly, and then edged away. Her eyes darkened, and her lips stretched into a tighter line as her mind came across with a flood of thoughts. Thoughts that said she found the idea of being close to him repulsive. But that wasn’t the reason of her withdrawal. She didn’t find him repulsive, that was what upset her.

He searched and searched but didn’t find the object he needed. Frustrated, he muttered a curse under his tongue, which broke the deep, heavy silence between them.

“May I help you?” She offered, not looking at him.

“Where’s that damn mango pickle?” He asked in a tight, crushing voice.

Without answering him, she open the right most shelf and brought the mango pickle out, handing it to him.


Aariz was transfixed at his place. How could she get so familiar with each and everything of his home in such a short time? She even knew where these small food items were placed and, here he was living in the same house all his life and yet he couldn’t find them.

Very quietly he collected the jar. That was when his hard, masculine hand accidentally brushed her soft, feminine wrist.

The contact was electrifying. A tremor swept through her and she experienced a strange, sweet torture at the contact. His scent filled her brain, fogging her mind.

Without even caring to say a formal thanks, he turned back and left.

A few minutes later, she finally joined them at the table.

She was about to sit on the chair present at the far end of the table when her father-in-law interrupted.

“Why there?” He eyed her deeply. “Your husband is here, you’re supposed to sit beside him.”

Feeling uncomfortable, she obeyed him silently although she took her seat far away from his, avoiding the possibility of his touch.

His father cleared his throat as he gazed up at Aariz, then back at Zeest.

“Aariz, you and Zeest have been awfully quiet this evening.” He smiled first at Aariz then at Zeest.

A shadow of annoyance darkened Aariz’s features for an instant but he didn’t comment.

“Anything we can help you with?” His father asked again. “Maybe if you tell us about it.”

Wow, how simple and plain they are, Ignorant, like they don’t know what is going on through his heart.

“No!” God, the last thing he wanted to do was to discuss Komal with them.

“Anything wrong?” This time Mr. Ali turned to Zeest.

His father’s question made him laugh. His mother raised her brow, frowning, staring angrily at her laughing son.

“What’s so funny in his question?” She asked.

“His words ‘anything wrong’ made me laugh.” He replied, still smiling down at her.

“So? What’s wrong?” His father asked again.

He swallowed hard, trying to control his anger.

“This.” He said sharply, pointing out toward Zeest.

Open-mouthed his parents stared at the newly weds, sadly shocked on his sudden remark.

He reddened more. “I hate this girl mother. I want to go out of this terrible house of yours and live with my love.”

“What?” His mother threw her spoon, dinner forgotten. “How dare you……”

“I am going to make her my wife. Whether you agree or not, and this is not me asking for your permission. It’s me, announcing my decision.

“Since when have you started deciding about our family matters?” Mrs. Ali glared at him with clear disinterest.

“Komal is my personal matter…….”

“Shut up!” Fury flashed in his mother’s eyes, and she abruptly stood. “I don’t want to hear her name again. I don’t intend to discuss her with you, Aariz. The matter is settled.” Her sudden departure was followed by a difficult stillness.

Zeest felt bad for Aariz, but didn’t know what to say. His face screwed up in an effort not to shout or cry.

“Why…?” He began brokenly, and then clearing his throat, he tried again.

“Why can’t my mother love me? What else does she want?” He almost sobbed. “She’s already ruined my life. She destroyed my hopes and spoiled my dreams.”

His unhappiness was so acute, it was like a slap to Zeest.

“Son….” His father put his arm around him.

“She hates me!’ He choked. “I know she hates me!” When he lunged away, his chair fell backward. It’s clattering impact was followed speedily by the slamming of the front door.

With a heavy sigh, his father got up too. “I’d better go to him.”

Zeest wasn’t close enough to make out what they were saying, but she knew an argument was going on, as she heard their voices from outside. As she neared, she could hear.

“But father, she still thinks of me as some child.”

“No, she thinks you are a mature, sensible man. That’s why she got you married to your cousin.” His father said sternly.

“Okay, I didn’t go against her wish. Now, why don’t she respect mine?”

“If she respects your wish, she’ll be losing her respect and our family values.” His father tried to explain.

“I don’t give a damn to what values you say if these values don’t care about my happiness.” Aariz said irritably.

Tension was continuously increasing day by day and Mrs. Ali hopes that Aariz could think about doing compromise with Zeest were beginning to fade away. Their behavior toward each other was still very formal and strange, and although she didn’t know how they behaved in privacy, she could guess very well that both were untouched by each other.

It is going to be a hopeless marriage, due to Aariz’s stubbornness. She thought painfully. Well if he thinks he is stubborn, then I’m his mother, more stubborn than him. She thought and made her mind.

To Be Continued…



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