If you missed Episode 33 Click HERE
The same evening, Zeest received a call from Sarah, Shaheryaar’s sister.
“Bhabi, tomorrow is my birthday and you have to come. I won’t accept any excuse.” Sarah was telling her.
Zeest hesitated for a fraction of a moment. She shouldn’t accept the invitation.
“No ulterior motives. No dance, no music, it will be an all-girl party.” Sarah hastened to assure her.
“Alright, I will ask him. If he allows, I’d definitely come.” Zeest managed to say, she didn’t want to disappoint this cute girl who happened to be so nice and supportive.
“What? You will ask Aariz Bhai for permission? Oh well….” Sarah was startled. (Bhai: brother).
“Yes, why are you so astonished?” Zeest asked back. “As a Muslim wife, I’m not supposed to go out of my house without his permission.”
“But……Bhabi, I don’t know whether you know it or not but there’ve been rumors about your marriage.” Sarah said with an odd seriousness to her voice.
“I see. Like what?”
“Like…..like it’s just a formal marriage and he doesn’t like you. Also, everyone knows that he loves someone else and that is an open secret now.” Sarah told her in a weak voice. “His behavior and attitude towards you has been very evident and people don’t like him for that.”
“Yes. But, if he hates me it doesn’t necassarily mean that I hate him too, does it?” Zeest asked in a gentle voice.
“Are you saying you like him?” Sarah was still shocked. All she expected to hear from Zeest was Aariz’s faults, weaknesses and bad aspects but what she heard was a totally different story.
“Yes, I like your Aariz bhai a lot.” Zeest’s heart had silently whispered. “In-fact, the thing I feared most has happened. I’ve fallen in love with him.” But naturally she couldn’t say such things to Sarah.
“That’s not the question. If someone’s actions are bad for certain reasons, we’re not supposed to react in the same way.” Zeest explained. “Because, by doing so, we’d be putting ourselves on the same level.”
Sarah kept herself silent.
“Don’t worry, if Allah is willing, I’d definitely attend your birthday, happy?” Zeest said in a sweet voice.
“Thank you, I’d wait.” Sarah replied in a happy tone.
As expected, Aariz raised no objection when she told him about Sarah’s invitation.
“Do whatever you like. You’re free as long as you don’t interfere in my personal matters.” Shrugging his shoulders, he had said in his casual ‘I-don’t-care’ tone.
The next day, thinking it would be the first function she was attending after her marriage, she decided to wear something fancy. After a careful observation of her wardrobe, she selected a maroon saarhi with a matching full sleeves blouse. She remembered what Sarah had told her about the function being an all-girl party so there was no harm in wearing it. Still, she didn’t forget to wear a light gray silky Abaaya and a jet-black scarf over her saarhi. As, after all, she had to go with the driver, because Aariz had never cared to drop her anywhere.
Once she was ready, she looked at him and said, ” I’m leaving.”
He was busy doing some office work, his face hidden behind a thick file.
“Very well, Miss Wife. Goodnight.” He hardly glanced up at her. His cool un politeness was worse than a slap.
Dejected, she was about to turn away when she heard his voice again.
“Oh, you are going to Sarah’s birthday, right?”
“Yes.” She replied in a confused tone. She had already told him that yesterday, why was he asking again?.
“Damn!” He dropped the file. “I forgot. Shaheryaar invited me too. I am supposed to be there by now.” He put a glance at his wristwatch and opened one of his cupboards in search of cloths to wear.
“But…..” She said. “Sarah told me, it would be an all-girl party.”
His searching hands stopped for a moment and he threw a rough and harsh look at her. “I do know that, Miss. Wife. He said there will be a separate arrangement for men.”
She let out a long breath and then sat down on the nearby chair.
She had to wait, she thought as she saw Aariz disappearing into the bathroom to change.
When they arrived, Sarah was more than happy to see her.
“Bhabhi, I’m so glad you came.” She exclaimed happily, hugging her lovingly. “By the way, you’re looking very smart tonight.” Sarah said as she stared at her from head to toe.
“But now, you can take this Abaaya and scarf off.” Sarah told her as she led her toward the hall where all the guest ladies sat.
Nodding, Zeest looked around her, checking and making sure that no male was there. Satisfied, she slowly took off her Abaaya, revealing her dark maroon saarhi.
“Oh, my God.” Sarah said aloud. “What an outfit, and what a figure.”
Blushing, Zeest gave her a warming glance, telling her through her eyes to keep her mouth shut.
She also received intent female glances, as her beauty was assessed and sighed over.
“So what are doing these days?” Sarah asked with interest.
“I have started teaching.” Zeest gave a short answer.
“Yes, it’s my old hobby.” She smiled soberly. “When I was in my village. I used to teach a lot of children.”
“But how did you get the children here?”
“There are plenty of them in our neighborhood. Plus, my mother-in-law has been very co-operative and supportive.” As Zeest talked about her mother-in-law, Sarah could see her eyes were filled with respect and love for Aariz’s mother. “She advertised in several newspapers.”
“That’s nice. What do you teach?”
“Arabic, recitation of holy Quran, basic beliefs and essentials about Islam and our moral values.” Zeest told her soberly.
“That sounds wonderful.” Sarah was definitely impressed.
“Are you satisfied?” She gazed deeply into her eyes, searching for some complaint, some disappointment.
Zeest sighed and decorated her face with a decent smile. “I’m satisfied with my fate. I am hoping and praying for the best future, and I’m sure my Allah won’t disappointment me.”
“But he is too dry and rough, isn’t he?” Sarah asked.
“So what?” Zeest asked back in a soft, calm tone. “It’s actually better to be dry and rough. As smooth and wet things often slip out of your hand very easily.”
“You don’t deserve what he’s doing to you.” Sarah expressed her sympathy.
“He have his reasons, I’m sure.” Replied Zeest. Always the kind and forgiving woman, Zeest leaned back against the chair, rolling her eyes back in her head.
“You’re so forgiving, I wish it didn’t have to happen to good people like you.”
“Allah often examines his creatures by different methods. When you see the results, only then you can find out who’s good and who’s bad.”
“I know what you mean.” Sarah gave an understanding nod. “But you portray him like he has no faults, no dark aspects and that’s not true.”
“No. There’s already too much darkness in this world and in our society. Why don’t we just spread the brightness?” Zeest’s smile was as soft and gentle as ever as she presented her opinion. “So, whenever I think about him, I try my best to consider his positive aspects only.”
“Positive aspects?” Sarah asked sarcastically. “Could you tell me only one positive aspect of his personality?”
“Sure. Why not?” Zeest said with a firm determination. “He didn’t use me. I am legally married to him. He could have used my body. He could have played with me like a toy, but he didn’t. At-least he is honest with his feelings. He didn’t take advantage of the situation.”
“But….but he hates you.” Sarah watched her closely, waiting for a reply.
“If he does, then I love the way he hates me.”
Sarah felt like a dumb person on her remark. She never knew that women like Zeest still existed in this world.
“You…..you’re impossible.” Sarah breathed. “Everyone knows what he’s doing to you.” Sarah was not giving away an inch in her opinion about the man who’d treated this nice girl so badly.
“Even his bitter accent is more better than anyone’s sweet accent. While counting one’s faults and weaknesses, we often ignore the positive aspects and that makes the matter worse.” Zeest said. Her comments about him came in short, but wonderfully strong sentences. Sarah’s eyes widened in astonishment and surprise as she listened to Zeest.
“I accept he is rough but he is tough too. I admit, he is rude but he is protective. He is harsh but he is honest as well. I know he is arrogant but at the same time, he is decent too.”
Sarah opened her mouth to say something but Zeest was not finished yet.
“I have accepted him as a new challenge in my life.” She told her and it was true. Zeest saw her marriage as that new challenge she craved.
“I wish I could help you with this exam.” Sarah squeeze her hand in a warm gesture of affection. “If you ever need any help, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“That means so much, Sarah. Thanks……. I’ll be alright.” Said a much more relaxed Zeest.
“Now one more request.” She grinned.
“Would you mind taking off this scarf of urs? I’m sure you’d feel more comfortable.”
“Thanks Sarah.” Zeest shook her head gently. “I feel more comfortable with my hair covered.”
“I know Bhabhi.” Sarah nodded. “But there’s no single man around. It makes me uncomfortable to see you like this among all of us women.”
Zeest hesistated for a moment, not knowing what to do. But then she knew Sarah’s point did make sense. There was no adult male around.
“Alright.” Zeest slowly unclipped the corner of the silky black cloth and let it fall slowly, very slowly.
Inch by inch, the cloth revealed a generous expense of long, straight, silky black hair.
“Oh my God.” Sarah was shocked. Open mouthed she stared at her in pure fascination.
“Now I know why you hide it.”
“No.” Zeest said in a serious tone, unaffected by the big compliments she received. “I hide my hair because my Allah, and my dear prophet orders to do so. But I do it on my own free will because I know the logic behind it.”
Smiling, Sarah took her hand into hers and carried her toward her other friends. She introduced Zeest to them with pride in her eyes for having such a wonderful friend.
As dinner was served, Zeest felt like something was wrong. For some unknown reason she was not feeling well.
She put down the plate she was holding and secretly looked around her to see the cause of this mysterious disturbance.
For some reason, she felt awkward. The feeling was weird, just like as if someone was watching her secretly.
And then, she felt the heat of someone’s eyes on her face.
She had guessed right.
Jaazib, Sarah’s cousin had just come to the section where female guests sat to ask something from Sarah and then he saw her.
She was truly a breath-taking sight. He forgot to breath, forgot to take his eyes away.
“She’s married, don’t think about her.” Sarah slapped him playfully on the cheek.
“Really?” His heart stopped. “You sure?”
“You stupid!” Sarah threw an angry look at him. “She is one of my best friends, married to my brother’s best friend.” She looked toward Zeest. “Too bad her husband treats her very badly.” Sarah told him. “Now get out of here.” She pushed him with force, laughing.
But it was too late for Jaazib to get out. His heart was here, how could he leave this place?
He hid himself behind a tree, just to take a closer view of her.
She had a body of some super model and her hair made her look like a graceful, ancient eastern queen. Her big, large eyes were set neatly on her glorious face. She had those typical, traditional Pakistani eyes, which look sleepy and have a dreamy touch in them.
Suddenly those black eyes moved toward him for a second, spreading a shock wave through his whole body.
Noticing a man who was continously staring at her, Zeeat turned from where she stood. Leaving her dinner unfinished, she quickly left her place in search of some suitable place where she could hide herself.
Enjoying her condition and the situation, he followed her and paused beside her, feeling excited.
As he drew nearer, Zeest saw him. He was a man in his late twenties, staring at her boldly.
He came closer, looking at her with interest. There was a sheer anger and pure astonishment in those feminine eyes. He enjoyed the sight alot. Infact loved it.
“Hey miss. Oops sorry. I mean Mrs. Can we talk for a while?”
Due to the intensity of her fury, Zeest began to shake like a fallen yellow leaf in a strong gale. Giving him one last look that told him exactly what she thought of him and his question, she made her way through the main door.
On the grass lawn just ahead of her, Sarah was chatting with her friends.
Trying her best to control her anger, Zeest reached near Sarah and shook her elbow. “This is bad, Sarah. You told me this would be an all-girl function.” She protested. “Who’s this man here?”
“Oh come on Bhabhi.” She tried to say. “It is a family function and he is my cousin, real cousin. Don’t be scared of him. She explained as she looked toward Jaazib.
“He is a stranger to me and I’m not in my Hijaab.” Zeest said in a dangerously serious tone.
“Okay, I’ll tell him to leave…..” Zarah stepped forward but Zeest grabbed her arm again, that surprised even Sarah. This was not the same soft, shy and gentle Zeest she knew. At the moment, she looked like an angry lioness, a brave courageous lady who could do anything to defend herself.
“Where is my scarf and Abaaya?” Zeest asked coldly, keeping her voice low.
Sarah stalled, seeking an adequate excuse. “I’m sorry. I told him not to…….well. You wait here, I’ll go and get your Abaaya in a second.
As Sarah left her alone, he got more courage and walked boldly toward her. He wanted to know more about this woman who was so different, so unique.
“A girl with your looks should be showing her charms, not hiding them.” He leered at her. “Ever considered modeling?”
She bit her lips but didn’t reply. He noted that all the blood of her body had been accumulated on her face then. Her breathing became rapid and her heart began to pound heavily.
“If you consider, I’m not such a bad man to talk to.” His voice was husky with emotions now.
Without answering him, she took quick steps forward.
He followed her, commenting continuously.
“I also know that your relations with your husband are not going so well these days. Don’t worry; he is such a fool to waste a beauty like……”
“Jaazib.” He bent his head slightly and threw a daring smile at her.
Her nose and cheeks became red due to the height of her extreme patience, her nostrils flaring in and out rapidly.
“Mister, whoever you are, I’m an adult Muslim girl and for all of your questions, I just have one answer.”
“Sure, sure……and what’s that” He folded his arms across his chest, a grin spreading across his face.
“THIS!” She slapped him with full force, leaving full print of her fingers on his cheek. It was something he could never forget.
The sound of her slap echoed loudly, making everyone startled at the place. Mouths agape, women stared at them. This was when Sarah returned. But she was not alone, she had Aariz and Shaheryaar with her. She had told them everything.
Aariz almost ran toward them, his anger far from concealed.
Zeest winced at the fire that smoldered in his eyes. At first, she thought he was going to hit her for what she had done, right here, in front of everyone. But this time, surprisingly, she was not the center of his fury.
Blood came into his eyes. Without wasting a second, he grabbed Jaazib by his collar and pulled him roughly, pinned him to the sidewall.
“I….. I.” Jaazib tried to say fearfully, but words wouldn’t come out of his mouth.
“How dare you talk to my wife like that?” Aariz yelled, getting out of control.
Aariz first slapped him hard across his face then punched him in his belly. He winched in pain and doubled over.
“Aariz, stop it.” Shaheryaar shouted and pulled Aariz away from the screaming guy’s body.
“It’s enough. I’m sorry it ever happened. Just leave him, I’ll take care of him.” Shaheryaar pulled Aariz’s hands away from Jaazib’s body who was almost about to cry due to his pain and fear.
She couldn’t believe her ears. Aariz had called her his ‘wife’ and the feeling was just so unbearably wonderful for her.
With fire burning in his eyes, Aariz threw one last look of disgust at Jaazib and then took Zeest’s hand in his.
“Let’s go.” He murmured in a strange voice. “We can’t stay here now.” Aariz said, leading her out of the place. He pulled her to his car, opened the passenger door for her and slammed the door with his foot when she sat.
Sometimes, some unpleasant experiences turn out to be pleasant in the end. Occasionally, some unexpected accidents and incidents bring people closer than before. Zeest thought.
To Be Continued…