If you missed Episode 8 Click HERE
What is poetry?”
“Poetry?” He closed his eyes for a brief interval, opening them again after few seconds. “It’s the job of jobless people. One who has nothing to do can try poetry.”
As he spoke, she saw that there was a brief, faint smile on his lips. His faint smile held a trace of sadness.
He crossed fingers of both hands together to straigthen them. He had long, artistic fingers she noted, as he pulled out a golden case and took a cigarette out. He placed it between his lips.
She couldn’t resist stealing another glance at him; he was certainly attractive.
He called her, straigthening his fine glasses as he peered at his gold watch.
“Yeah, oh.” She rapidly moved her eyes from his handa and straightened herself up.
“I am waiting for your next question.”
“Sure, I was infact, thinking about it.” She made her mind.
“So, how do you see your life as a poet?”
His tortured gaze slid back to her, only for a second, then he moved his eyes away.
“My life?” He repeated her question. “It has become like a wet paper now!”
He brought the lighter and with a fine ‘click’ he showed the long flame to the fore-end of his cigarette.
“Yes, wet paper.” He said, pulling deeply on the cigarette. “No one can burn it, no one can write on it.”
“But I deserved this.” He added in a low murmur.
Deeba watched for a second. He seemed so calm and so uncaring but his response clearly showed her that he didn’t want to explain what he had just said.
“Any recent change in your life or has it been uniform all over?”
“What do you mean?” He asked soberly.
“I….I mean things do change. Life can not be like a wet paper through all of its courses.” She explained.
Aariz ran a hand through his dark hair and worked up a grin. “Things don’t change.” He said philisophically.
“Time moves on.”
Changing her sitting position, she asked her next question.
“Your poetry mostly revolves around love, romance and pain. Why?”
He rose from his chair. Going near the big glass window, he opened it to let the the sea air come inside. The salt breeze rippled gently through his dark black hair and the sound of incoming tide, far below, was a soothing song.
Deeba held her breath.
“Love is the most persistant and undeniable reality of life.” He said, taking a deep drag on his cigarette, then exhaling the whole smoke through his nose. There was a wealth of patience in his voice.
Flicking Deeba a meaningful glance, he shook his head.
Against her will, Deeba scanned his profile, and then hurriedly glanced away again. His mouth was tight and grim, yet it was still the most handsome mouth she could recall seeing on any man.
“Why was he not staring at her at all? Thinking, Deeba couldn’t help herself asking this question.
“Why do you talk like this?” She asked absently. “I mean, always keeping your eyes away, not looking at me.”
“I often wonder,” He paused, clearly ignoring her question “That, what has happened to our so called ‘Muslim society’?”
“I could only see you only if you were in proper covering and Hijaab. I don’t like to put a second glance on those women who don’t cover themselves properly.”
Deeba felt like her cheeks were throbbing with embarrassment.
“Muslims girls now try to attract and impress others through their bodies.” He returned to sit on his easy chair, still keeping his eyes away. “Don’t they feel any shame or disgust while showing their curves?”
On his remarks, she felt so ashamed that she wished she could die right there with shyness. She felt like someone had suddenly made herself bare in front of thousands of eyes.
A servant came quietly with a trolley full of snacks, biscuits, cold drinks and coffee.
“Please” He offered her to take something.
With shaking fingers, she raised the steaming mug of coffee.
“You were talking of something about love?” He asked, perhaps he’d sensed her condition.
“Can you define what love is?” She questioned.
“Love……” A cold sigh escaped from his lungs and intermingled with an equally cold air of December evening.
“Love is ……. Perhaps, the most meaningful word of all languages of the world. Just see in Urdu language, how manyh words people use for this feeling; Mohabbat, Pyaar, Chaahat, Ulfat, Dil ki Lagi, Lagaao, Ishq!” He brought the coffee mug to his lips, while keeping the cigarette in this other hand.
“But I wanted to ask its definition, and how does it happen?” Propping her chin on her hands, she stared at him with deep interest.
He turned to face her, his features hardening.
“Well, love is a house made up of glass, where stones strike everyday in the form of rain, got it?”
He laughed softly.
But even in this little laughter, she didn’t miss the chance to see wetness in his eyes.
“Some people say it happens automatically” He added, gazing at the ceiling above. “And some say it is done voluntarily and some say……..” His voicd became husky.
“Yes?” She looked into the eyes of the most weird and mysterious man she had ever met.
“Some people say it’s an inborn matter, a grip and bond between souls, who have met even before they come to earth. Once they’re in the world, they just have to search and find each other. As soon as eyes meet, it seems that both were familiar to each other for thousands of centuries.” He said gracefully.
“Well…..now I want to ask a very typical and popular question…..can I?” She smiled.
“Go on” He closed his eyes.
“What’s the difference between love and lust?”
“Hmmm. Lust is like trying on clothes and love is finding an outfit to keep.” His shiny black eyes twinkled brightly from behind the gleam of his spectacles.
“Wow….. And when does love end?”
“Yes…good question….. To love and be loved is like ocean tide…. They keep going out and coming in but yes sometimes it does end in front of the world…..it does end in the world with the last breaths…..but speaking of age factor…. Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.”
“Why do people consider first love as the most romantic one?” she asked with sheer curiosity.
“Because they’re very pure when they love for the first time, don’t know the bad part of it.” He laughed wonderfully. The action gave her a good view to see his neat, uniform white teeth.
“Why is love supposed to be a hurting experience?” She asked, now looking deeply into his watery depths.
“One aspect of love is…..is to feel pain.” He told her seriously. “You always feel pain in love. Whether it is failure or success in love, you feel pain in your heart…..right from the beginning…….sometimes this pain is pleasurable but many times…..it hurts.” He paused briefly, only to take a fine sip of his coffee and then continued his discussion.
“People have expectations, dreams, wishes, fantasies and when one does not get fulfillment of all these things, obviously it hurts. As they say ‘love is like a knife, it can stab the heart or it can carve wonderful images into the soul that will last a lifetime.”
Observing his interest and knowledge in the topic, she extended the discussion on the same topic.
“Is love something constructive too? I mean, can we get something positive out of it?”
“Love can make you bear any kind of pain and any kind of sacrifice. It can also make you feel stupid and act stupidly. Sometimes when you love and end up giving so much of yourself, subconsciously you only discover how much you’ve given when the person you love hurts you or has to say goodbye.” He kept the mug of his coffee back to the table but did not stop talking.
“Then you realize, an important part of yourself is already with that part person. It goes away when he leaves and you are left with a sickening, empty feeling inside. Tears are bound to shed from your eyes, no matter how you force yourself to keep them in. Well, that’s what you get for caring so much about someone. But how can you regret it? To give yourself freely and lovingly is the most beautiful thing you can do.”
She nodded, speechless at his vast knowledge and unique philosophy about the subject.
“What’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom?” She managed to ask.
“To acquire knowledge, one has to study but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.” His answer was short and spontaneous and yet it satisfied her.
“But still, you didn’t tell me your definition of love.” She stared at his face, confused.
“All the problem is about definition of love.” He said thickly. “It’s a mystery…….no one can define it satisfactorily. Everyone defines, percieves and experiences it from different perspective.”
“But atleast you can say just few words?” She begged.
“Alright.” He released a long, shattering breath. “Then lsiten……..
“Love is the reflection of his joy in her eyes. Love is an eruption of feelings buried within a heart longing to break free. True love is like life, a gift of God to Man, which he finds only once…..so when you find true love, hold on to it and never let go for a good love is hard to find and it comes only once.”
“But where do we find it?” She asked.
“You can’t find it. Love finds you, or you can say that love is like wild flowers. It’s often found in the most unlikely places.” He grinned adequately. ” Actually, you do not fall in love, you grow to love, and then love grows in your beloved.”
“But what’s the basis and foundation of love?” She was taking full interest in the topic.
“Respect.” His answer was quick and short this time.
Behind his thin-rimmed spectacles, his eyes glittered cold as the winter sky.
“Could I ask a different question?” Deeba asked.
“I’ll understand if I’m going over the line here,” She went on, “but there’s something that I used to wonder about.”
“I’ve never been offended by any question.” Aariz said, “but I always reserve the right not to answer them.”
“That’s fair,” Deeba said and paused, thinking about how best to phrase her question.
“Seems like you had some really bad personal experience of it.” Deeba couldn’t help herself saying. She wanted to explore this man, search this man, who has been lost in his own world.
“Have you ever been in love?” Before she couls stop herself, words left her mouth. She held her breath.
She watched with interest and fear as his eyes narrowed at some distant point.
Some thoughts are better left unsaid, some feelings are better left kept to you, but love has its way of expressing itseld despite the silence.
Deeba didn’t know how to fill the silence that followed her question.
After what seemed like an hour of strained silence, he shook his head, conceding flatly.
“I told you there would be no personal questions.”
She nodded in understanding. Yes, he had made it quite clear that there will be no personal questions.
He glanced at his wristwatch and said,
“You may go now.”
“But sir…..still I need to ask you much.” She said in a rush, getting on her feet.
On her remark, he put a detailed look on her for the first time. Her eyes were pleading for something more than what he’d told her.
He couldn’t refuse her then. “Alright, we’ll think about it next time. Call me again next week and I’d see if I could tell you something more about myself.”
“Thank you so much sir.” She was glad that she almost yelled with happiness.
“I told you, you’d be disappointed.” He accompanied her to the main door.
She didn’t reply right then, instead took few steps forward, finally moving out of his house.
And then she turned back.
He was just about to close the main door.
“Yes sir, I am disappointed. Today I really felt disappointed. But not because of you, I’m disappointed because of myself.
He smiled wonderfully this time and said.
“Next time you don’t have to play this interview drama to meet me. If I have the time, I’d definitely give you some of it.”
Stunned and paralyzed, she stood there, watching him go inside the house.
To Be Continued…