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With trembling fingers, she dialed his number.
On third ring, someone picked the reciever on the other side.
“Yes?” It was a deep, inspiring masculine sound.
“Hello, this is Deeva Rizvi. Can I please talk to Mr. Aariz Ali?”
There was a breif pause on the other side, and then the same voice spoke again.
“I’m Aariz. What can I do for you?”
“Oh hi sir. How are you?”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“We met last week in All-Pakistan poetry function. Do you remember?”
“I’m sorry miss. I don’t really remember, there were thousands of people there.”
His expression tone bathed her in the rain of disappointment.
“Oh, well, I’m from an all-women magazine ‘truecelebmedia. I wanted to contact you for an interview.”
“Oh, I see.” He sighed deeply. “Then I hope you have not forgotten what I’ve explained to everyone earlier. I don’t really give interviews to anyone.”
“Can I ask why?” Deeba asked back.
There was a brief silence on the other side, then he stated.
“I don’t do poetry for media or to get famous. I do it for myself.”
“Sir, this interview won’t make you more famous than you already are.”
“Then?” His voice felt expressionless. “What’s the purpose of this interview then?”
She wanted to say ‘just to know more about you’ but caught her lip just in time.
“Just to ask your comments about other poets and to know your views for advancement of modern poetry in Pakistan. It will help us a lot sir.”
“Help for what?”
” As you sure know, the ground where the young Pakistani generation stands right now, only crazy about music, movies and stuff. Most of them have no interest for literature and poetry. However, you do represent young generation and your opinions and views might invoke some good interest in young people.” Deeba tried her best to convince him.
“I avoid people from media like plague.”
“Still sir, I would say don’t say ‘no’.” She pleaded.
“Where’re you from?” He asked.
“Sir please, I request, I beg you. This would be the first and last time. I came from Dubai only for this interview……
“Listen lady, whoever you’re, I just don’t……..
“Please, don’t disappoint me. I am sincere, I am honest, and it’s not something for commercial purposes. And believe me, it would be something totally confidential. We do care about people’s rights.”
Deeba didn’t know what gave her so much confidence and courage to argue with him so strongly.
“And if you’d want, I will keep most things ‘off the record’. What else do you need?” She tried her last weapon.
“Then I’d like to know why a young lady journalist from a new magazine is so much interested in this ‘off the record’ interview?” His voice was very sensational.
“I’ve told you the reason sir. But I won’t insist again mow. I’m sorry if I took your precious time.” Deeba said disappointingly.
He took a long, tired breath then agreed.
“Alright. We’ll meet today, six p.m. sharp. My address is……” He told her his address.
“Thank you so much sir. You don’t know how happy I am.”
“But lady, you’d be disappointed.”
“Worry not sir.” Deeba smiled and added.
“I’ll be privileged.”
Deeba put down the receiver and breathed a sigh of relief. Aariz Ali had agreed to see her at six today, and if she was lucky, it was now time for her dream to come true.
At first she had rejected Sheeba’s idea about meeting him. But after long careful.thinking, she concluded that this was the only possible option available. After all, what else could she do?
She knew she was lying for the first time and it was not a very ethical thing to do, but she thought this was her first and last chance to meet him.
She looked at her watch. It was too early to leave. With a cursory glance at a mirror, she left her room for lunch.
An hour later she was back in her room, looking through her cloths and trying to decide what to wear for her meeting with Aariz.
What sort of man was Aariz Ali?
Of-course he’s supposed to like modern kind of girls, who are brave, out-going and capable of moving in the society. Her hand stopped at a mauve silk shilwar suit and taking it out, she held it against herself and looked in the mirror. Smiling at her own choice, she left to take a quick shower.
Once she was ready and prepared to leave, thoughts of him emerged again like an unwanted rain.
How would he behave and reach? Would he allow her to ask some personal questions?
Stop thinking of it, she once again admired her reflection in the mirror. Armed with every weapon of female beauty, it was just an appropriate time for her ‘attack’.
Giving final touches to her lipstick, she took her purse and moved forward.
But she was not prepared for the sight she came across when she finally reached near his house. Of-course from the address he’d given her, she knew unlike other Pakistani poets, he belonged to financially well off class but she’d not thought that he’d be a super rich man.
His house was a sprawling mansion perched on a cliff overlooking the Arabian sea, and it was too damned big for one single, solitary man, as she’d heard of him.
Upon introducing herself, the guard let her go inside and a servant guided her toward the dinning room.
Nervous as a school girl being summoned to the head, Deeba walked into a beautiful and luxurious dinning room.
Two minutes later, she was waiting for him. A smile on her beautifully curved mouth couldn’t hide the nervousness in her.
With dark make-up and lipstick, she had tried her best to appear elder and mature, but her features seemed to reveal the secret.
She was nervous, really nervous. To relax herself, she threw a glance around to see her surroundings.
The dinning room was formal, lit by two shimmering crystal chandeliers, and there were french doors opening into a garden filled with pink, white scarlet and lavender rhododendrons and English roses. The walls of the massive library were lines with handcrafted shelves and the fireplaces on the first floor were all large and traditional. Thick wall-to-wall Persian carpets covered all floors.
Yes, the place was too big and fancy.
The sound of door opening brought her back to her senses, and she looked up as he emerged.
She rose like an automatic robot to greet him.
“Oh, hi…..hi sir.” Her nervousness increased.
“Please.” He waved her to a sofa and sat down at his easy chair.
He first raised his eyes and then turned his face to see a tall, willowy girl with long, black hair and a Miss World body. He had not actually thrown a “detailed” look at her, but the way she was exposing herself told the whole story at first sight.
“So?” He asked.
She tried to say something but her voice completely failed. Clearing her throat, she tried again.
“I….I called you this afternoon for an interview.” Gaining her courage, she looked at him finally.
He looked more attractive and impressive than before. Wearing simple, plain white shirt, with sleeves rolled up to his elbows and dark grey pants, he didn’t look formal but yet so different. He was wearing those glasses which gave him that brainy intellectual look. He reminded her of those mature librarians that look absolutely beautiful when they have their glasses on.
She never really liked men with glasses but this man. Well, he truly was an exception in every department. Glasses suited him and matched his personality, giving him a genuine intellectual look and sophisticated, noble touch.
With a mind-shattering fragrance emitting from his body, he was capable of attracting females through their nostrils.
She instantly liked him with all her might.
No doubt, he was a man to inspire poetry.
“So, you have started this magazine or what!” He said, contrary amusement glimmering his eyes.
She noted, he had eyes with hypothesizing powers.
“Not me” She replied as her breaths turned to normal. “I just work there as a journalist. I am not the owner.”
“I see.” He folded his arms across his chest. While sitting, he did not look very tall, but he sure had an above-average height. His jaw was square and his face looked clean and neat with nicely cut black hair.
“May I ask your magazine’s name?”
“Oh sure, why not. Actually, I came from the monthly female magazine ‘truecelebmedia!”
“Interesting!” He sighed. His facial features relaxed some more. “Never heard of it though.”
“Actually, we publish it from Dubai, and it’s been only a couple of months since we started it.”
“Aha. Sounds good!” Mild amusement flickered in his eyes.
“So what do you want to ask?”
Oh yes. That is why she was here. What did she want to ask? Had she thought about it? She was supposed to take his ‘detailed’ interview here and yet her mind seemed totally blank at the moment.
She thought and thought but unfortunately, no appropriate question came to her mind.
“Well?” He asked abruptly, his deep-set dark eyes narrowing as he regarded her.
“Okay, for the starters, let me ask you something while you think about your ‘interview’ questions.” He said.
“S….sure.” She stammered.
“Who’s your favorite English or American movie star?”
She thought she didn’t hear him correctly.
It was her, who had to take his interviews, but the first question came from his side.
“Well…..Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt and Kevin Costner. Why?”
“Good.” He said without much expression and asked his next question. “And your favorite Indian actors?”
“Oh yes, Shahrukh is cool, and Salman Khan too. He is quite a hunk I think.”
“Sorry I have this bad memory.” He continued. “Would you mind telling me the name of Shahrukh’s last movie?”
“Yes why not, it was Great.” She answered evenly.
“And the last war in which our Holy Prophet fought himself?” He inquired again.
She couldn’t believe if she’d heard him correctly.
“Tough one? Ok. Leave it. Tell me any four essential principles of islam.”
And then it occurred to her that, perhaps all the rumors she heard about him being mentally abnormal were true.
She opened her purse, and with trembling fingers, she brought a tissue out and wiped off the sweat from her forehead.
“Which are the longest and shortest soorah of Quran?” Perhaps, he was determined to make her feel ashamed of herself.
On his last question she felt like she was going to be buried alive at any second.
He gave her few minutes to gather her mind and waited for her response.
But when no answer came from her, he shrugged his shoulders.
“Disappointed, I am.”
He said, and gave a long sigh before going on.
“Now it’s your turn to ask questions.”
“Sir……I…..I was not prepared for all this.” Words took great effort to come out of her mouth finally.
“Are these question some kind of examination questions so you’d need preparatiin for them?” He said, looking at her with some hint of grief in his eyes.
“Do you pray?” Perhaps he was determined to go to the final extent today.
‘No….no. I mean not regularly.” She .replied thickly.
“But you do eat regularly, right? You do sleep regularly; you do watch TV regularly.” He smiled slowly but sarcastically.
“Anyway. It’s your personal matter, I’m not supposed to ask such questions.” He breath then said. “So have you made your mind to ask some questions now?”
Deeba nearly sighed aloud with relief.
She looked at him with pure shame in her eyes and brought out a small tape-recorder out of her purse and kept it on the nearby table.
After pressing its ‘record’ button, she turned to face him once again.
“Before you begin…..” He raised his hand, although he kept his voice low.
“I want to make it clear that I won’t answer any questions related to my personal, private life.”
“I’d start from poetry. If you don’t mind?” She asked as if she wanted his permission to proceed.
He was silent. Taking his silence as his permission, she asked her first question.
To Be Continued…