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So, excited?” Sheeba shifted her car into reverse gear.
“Obviously, and not just me, I guess there will be thousands of other poeple out there who must be as excited as I’m.” Deeba saw her own image in the small mirror present in her makeup kit, giving a final shade of maroon lipstick to her already pink lips.
“I know that girls must be calling him day and night.” Sheeba said with disinterest. “But know what…..I think he’s nothing. He just poses and that’s all.”
But Deeba didn’t pay much attention to her last comment; perhaps she was too busy in giving final touches to her makeup.
“There’re rumors about him. Some say he’s a play boy. Some say he has a dark part. Many think he’s a womanizer.” Sheeba commented with much interest.
“I don’t agree.”
Sheeba grinned, and looked at her sister sitting on the passenger seat beside her but said nothing.
“As far as I have observed him, he looks like a dry lost-in-himself man.” Turning the steering wheel to the left, Sheeba made a big bubble of the chewing gum she was continously chewing for the last half an hour.
“For God sake Sheeba. Would you stop babbling?” Deeba joined her hands in front of her sister in an ancient gesture of asking for forgiveness.
“Nobody has actually explored him. No body knows him.” Deeba added thickly. ” What he really is, only I can tell”. She closed her eyes.
“I think you’re just euphoric about him and that’s all.” Sheeba made a bad mouth. “I have heard a lot about him, especially from the female gender.” She winked naughtily.
“Oh really? Like what?” Deeba gave her a challenging look.
“He’s psycho” She smiled.
He’s weird.” She giggled.
“He’s ice. Solid and cold.” She laughed.
“Aha. What else have you heard about him?” Deeba turned her face away to look at the row of palm trees that grew along the narrow service road.
“A lot.” Sheeba increased the speed of her car. “You’ll find out soon.”
Deeba took a short breath and took her hairbrush out of her purse.
“When did you last attend a poetry gathering?” Sheeba inquired.
“Umm, I guess it’s been more than two years.” Deeba combed finely through her black hair.
“I see.” Sheeba put the car on the ling, smooth road. “By the way, don’t you think these poetry gatherings are getting fairly common nowadays in Pakistan?”
“Yes, and some of these poetry functions are fairly big and thousands of people gather to attend such meetings from all around Pakistan to enjoy and have appropriate fun. But that’s something positive and healthy.” Deeba told her thoughtfully. “At-least I’d personally prefer going to such poetry contests instead of attending some musical concert” She added.
“I love concerts. I love music. It’s my soul, my life.” Sheeba said aloud, smiling.
“Come on Sheeba! What else is there expect some cheap hooting, vulgar comments, out of control dance and stuff?” Deeba questioned.
It’s our age and time to enjoy Deeba. Don’t you see how much frustrated, materialistic and mechanical our lives have become? And yet you don’t want to give us some right to enjoy and have fun?” Sheeba asked emotionally, glancing over to the passenger side where Deeba sat.
“I feel sorry for those who think that ‘this’ is the way to have fun and enjoy.” Deeba shook her head in disbelief.
“Everyone has his own views and preferences.” Sheeba said in a way like she didn’t want to continue her talk on the topic.
Getting her message, Deeba didn’t say anything then. They finished the rest of their journey in complete silence.
As they reached the main event area, Sheeba slowed the car to search for a parking space. There were literally hundred of cara. Easing the car into a suitable place, she brought the vehicle to stop.
The place had already been filled with a lot of public; majority of them was, of course, female. Families, married ladies, young teenage girls, everyone was there.
The place presented an excellent view of some huge, big festival. Colorful cloths, royal curtains, thick printed red carpets on the floor, all presented an ideal, fantastic look for such a traditional gathering.
Even the cutlery and the sittings were purely eastern. Big traditional Indian pillows were neatly placed on the floor for the people to tap their backs. Fine crystal chandeliers, shiny lamps and colorful bulbs were throwing light on every part of the place.
By the time both sisters entered the main event, the function was about to start. The surroundings around the big, high stage were fully loaded with thousands of people, including students of various universities and colleges, press photographers, and important government officials were also there, waiting anxiously for this awaited and interesting poetry function to begin. Every seat was occupied, and even the galleries and concrete borders were jammed with chattering youths, their spirits lifted by the thought of upcoming, thrilling event.
And then, the function began. Poets and poetesses began to come on stage one by one. Some were getting more than they expected and some were facing intense hooting from the massive audience. In between the loud noise of whistles, clapping, hooting and applause, everyone was enjoying the gathering to its fullest. And then, after a couple of hours, the final moment came, one for which everyone had waited so long.
The anchor came on the stage for one last time, holding the wireless mic in his right hand.
“And now” His voice echoed loudly through the surroundings. “The moment for which all of us have been waiting so anxiously. I’d now like to invite a young poet, who has been unique in all aspects. Whether it’s poetry, or personality or nature or manners, he has been different. Within a short period of just two years, he has given us some real poetry masterpieces to enjoy. People say he rules on the heart of Pakistani youth but I’d say that he’s not limited. Too bad he doesn’t come in front too much but the wonderful thing is that each of us know him. We’ve read him, we’ve heard him but not many of us have seen him. Well, here’s the chance for those who wanted to see and meet him.” At this sentence, he paused to take a short breath and to look at the curious, thrilled people all around him.
“And last but not the least, your favorite poet has promised to read his latest poem to you.” Anchor announced excitedly, his own voice shaking with anticipation and emotion.
“Ladies and gentlemen please welcome, the one and only, AARIZ ALI.”
As his name was announced Sheeba released her breath, which she had held for so long but at the same time her sister forgot to respire. With ten thousand poeple and twenty thousand clapping hands, he emerged from somewhere. To many it all looked like a dream, as at first, no one was able to see from where he was rising or where he really was but suddenly, he was on stage in a flash, in seconds, swiftly and quickly.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s him.” Deeba could just say two words.
“He doesn’t look like a poet at all, although he is someone we can become poets for.” A middle-aged woman said, totally stunned.
“He looks like some model or some movie star.” Another girl gasped.
“So, how’s my suprise?” Sheeba asked proudly. “He’s really something, isn’t he?”
Deeba had formed picture of him in her mind: a dry looking, over-mature, bookworm kind of guy. But ahead of her was no such man.
Not very tall, but above-average in height, this strongly built man in his late twenties, with his dark black hair and piercing jet eyes, was far above the image she had formed of him earlier. She had seen many good-looking men, but never one quite so handsome and charismatic.
His built was impressive, his white Pakistani shilwar suit looked perfect on him. His styled, shiny black hair fit nicely into his boyish charm……smooth, acne free face. His eyes were mesmerizing, his mouth tempting. He wore thin, fine, neatly framed glasses, which looked very suitable in his face giving him a sober, intellectual touch.
“What a sweet guy.” A mature lady in her early thirties exclaimed with interest.
“He is revolutionary.” A middle-aged man said, stunned.
In a hushed voice, one woman said “How handsome.”
In an equally hushed voice, the other agreed, adding, “And how graceful.”
Getting into the middle of the huge stage, he took the mic in his hand and took a few breaths before the first few words came out of his mouth.
Finally, after few seconds, which seemed like hours, his lips trembled and so dis many of the hearts there. “Thanks so much for your applause, and your appreciation.” His voice was manly and masculine, his accent traditional and his tone smooth.
“I want to let you know that I don’t deserve all this attention and love. I’m very much sinner and lost-in-my-own-self kind of man.” He said in a deep, heavy voice.
“What’s he saying?” A girl asked, confused.
“That’s how he is.” Her companion replied.
“I’m sorry if you are not much pleased with what I’d say but it’s true that I live in my own world. A world I never want to climb out of. I have my own laws, rules and principles for myself and I don’t care what others would say or think of me.” His voice was even, very impressuve and effective at the same time.
“You may call me proud, you can say I’m rude, arrogant or whatever but it’s true that, that’s how I want to live and that’s what I am. I won’t take much of your expensive tine. So here is something, which I wrote recently. My promise, which I’m very much, obliged to fulfill. My latest poem….. The title is “My Ideal woman.”
He stopped for what seemed like an endless moment. He put a detailed stare at the massive audience all around him. There was a complete pin drop silence everywhere. Eyes were fully open; mouths completely closed, hearts beating in suspense, minds racing with anticipation.
Down to earth but is like sky
With a powerful sound system and echo equipment, his voice felt miraculous to everyone sitting there.
Down to earth but is like sky
He repeated the first sentence of his poem, creating a delicate yet intense effect of thrill and suspense.
That wax-soft girl is rock-like
His voice became a mere whisper as he completed he first stanza. With that, it felt like the place and event reached its climax. The ear-bursting and heart-shattering sounds of clapping, whistles and admiration didn’t give much chance to Deeba to exclaim the big ‘wow’ she wanted to convey to him.
Countless camera flashes and sparkling lights were on him as he read. No doubt, at the moment, he was the center of all the attention and every attraction.
Hidden within my heart for so long
She is like a host in my heart
As he read in his wonderful voice, it seemed like everyone there had turned to stone, frozeb at the place.
For many, nothing existed in this world but his impressive, attractive voice. For them, nothing else mattered at the moment but this man who was reading his poem so sensationally.
In the journey, step by step along with me
She is like a milestone towards the destinations
In the hot, thorny journey of my life
She is like shelter beneath the sunny sky
My hope is weak as a drowning boat in the sea
The presence of her being is like sail
Whenever hardships make me frustrated
Just one glance of hers make me content
Though she’s in front of me, breathing and alive
Still it feels like she’s a mirage
Throwing one last glance at the audiences, he finished his poem and slowly, left his place.
It took some moments for thousands of audiences to realize that he had finished reading, as they were still lost in trance of his voice and mesmerizing beauty of his words.
And then, they clapped their greetings and admiration in the most powerful way.
As expected, his most recent poem had become a ‘block buster.’
As soon as he got off the stage, press photographers and journalists raced behind him, each trying his best to catch him before anyone else could.
“Mr. Aariz Ali, no doubt you’re the most favorite poet of young generation at present. How do you feel about it?” A lady reporter asked quickly and desperately.
“A bilingual poet, we never saw anyone who can create such wonderful poetry both in Urdu and English. Where did you learn it from?” Another press reporter pushed the other to ask his question.
Ignoring all the lights and voices, he left them behind, never paying attention to anyone.
He was almost about to open the door of his car when something happened.
“Mr. Aariz, just a minute.” Came a distant feminine call.
There was something particular in this sound that made him stop his feet.
He turned and saw two young girls walking towards him with quick steps.
When they reached him, he saw that one of them was panting heavily.
“I am Deeba. Deeba Rizvi. This is my sister, Sheeba” One of them introduced, she looked older of the two.
Aariz looked from one to the other.
This teenage girl had a round face, black eyes and straight braid that hung over her shoulder, almost to her waist.
He just raised his head a little. She saw the corners of his lips spread slightly, like not giving permission to his lips to open in a complete smile.
His large, black eyes peered at the sisters through neat and well-finished wire-rimmed glasses perched on the middle of what could be called as a perfect male nose.
They couldn’t say a word, mouth agape; Deeba stared at him with fascination.
“Ummm?” He moved his head questioningly.
“It’s been so nice meeting you and listening to you.” She said with a tiny, wistful sigh, like she was still in a trance.
“Precious ladies,” He said with a sober smile, adding kindly, “the pleasure is all mine. Is there anything I can do for you girls?”
“So much!” Deeba said. Words left her mouth automatically. “Well….I mean, I have to ask so much!”
“I’m afraid, I don’t have much time right now.”
“Sir please, can’t you give us few minutes? We really need to talk to you.” Deeba asked with hopeful anticipation.
“Mr. Aariz, the thing is that my sister is really crazy about you, and believe me she thinks of nothing but you, day and night.
Shocked, pale, confused and annoyed at the embarrassing position Sheeba had put her in, Deeba glared at her just long enough to let her know that she’d deal with her once they are alone.
He wanted to refuse, he wished to ignore, but there was something in the eyes of this innocent-looking girl, which made him think twice before answering her.
“Alright, you may have my contact number. I’d see if I can talk to you on the phone.” He brought a fountain pen out of his pocket and wrote his phone number on a small piece of paper. “Call me between nine and ten a.m. weekdays.
“Thank you so much sir, we’re really thankful for that.” Deeba said with sheer joy and thankfulness. “And do remember us in your prayers,” She said formally.
“I’m sorry, that I cannot do.” He said without any expression, his words surprised both sisters.
“As my prayers are never answered.” He smiled one last time and turned back to have his way.
To Be Continued…