“He is Family”

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The sun rays peaked through the slits of the curtains falling over Aayun’s lonesome face. Hopeless and helpless endeavors surrounded the base of her fragile existence. Tears slowly made their way from her hazel eyes to her broadly visible cheekbones and finally fell from her jaw line on the pale skin of her lower neck. Lying in that dimly lighted room she could feel her life crashing into minute pieces. Her monstrous fears had appeared after all this time haunting her just as she lay between countless failures breaking her apart into a mere pile of bitterness. In that moment, she was at the epitome of her vulnerability. One single hug, one single tap on the shoulder could make her break into endless hours of crying with horrendous screams, that reflected her inner pain in the most crystal clear manner. 
All the colors nobody ever saw in her emptiness, the orange skies and the amber autumn leaves, elevated her miseries a lot more than any other thing could in that moment. The house of dreams she had built with care, joining every little brick of hope to another with sparkling eyes and sincere skill had fallen to the floor. Her rainbows and butterflies story had reached its end after falling off from the same bridge that led her to its completion and she had been bitten by bitter poisonous realities of a single parent’s life.
As tears slowly made their way out of her eyes, the sky changed its color from blue to yellow ochre and eventually to pale indigo. The room darkened yet the air of gloominess did not move an inch. Closing her eye lids in a painful manner, she recalled that plight full sight once again.
***
Sitting on the floor of her dimly lighted room, unlike her mother, Ayla held a very straight face. Her gaze was fixed. Her reflexes strong. Her body stiff. Her legs trembling. Her face shocked.
Lined with painful streaks, it told a story unlike any other. No matter how much she tried, that night, that moment couldn’t escape her glance. She loved him; the holding hands and running on the jogging track type, the sitting all through the night and playing board games type, the imitating their mother while telling childhood stories type. So emotional yet so innocent and pure; just as any sister would love her brother, she loved Musa as well. All this love and yet he had failed to protect her, failed to let her cherish her existence by her will.
Her eyes went wet. Even then no tears were seen on her pale white face.
After she had lost her father to death in an attack on the company of journalists visiting Afghanistan at the hands of the Talibanisation, Ayla had always seen her voice of truth and her hand of protection in the face of Musa. Aayun and Musa had been her whole world in a shell, a beautifully carved and precious shell. Aayun’s job as a teacher in a renowned private school of Lahore fed her beautifully carved and precious shell and made them earn for themselves the little wonders that enhanced the happiness captured inside it. From Ayla’s favorite Kinder Joy eggs to Musa’s favorite ice cream, Aayun, being a thoughtful mother, saved enough to fulfill their little joys every once in a while.

It had been eight years.

Eight years of living without their father when Musa started his university at a renowned business institution of Lahore, after receiving single parent financial aid. Like every other Asian son, he was the basis of his mother’s dreams and plans. With his strikingly beautiful brown eyes from birth along with his appearance fitting the universal standards of tall, dark and handsome and those of beauty with brains for a young man, Musa in himself held a complete world of desirable beauty and foreseen success. Standing alongside the white swings with scraped off paint, Aayun silently moved her faintly pink wrinkled lips reading a prayer on her fingers one by one just as Musa obediently stood in front of her in his black shalwar kameez. The leaves sparkled with the dew drops. The black crows koww-ed and the blue sky stood above them all witnessing a mother showering endless love over her son with tears slowly making their way through her small nut-brown eyes.
As Musa stepped out of the black faintly carved metal gate of the old house to start his university life, so did the luck from their book of life. Even when Musa progressed brilliantly from the start of his academic year and managed to grab a minor job at an academic consultancy, his behavior deteriorated day after day.
His silence started to pinch Ayla. Whenever she complained, Aayun would brush her off by saying:
“Ayla, Bhai has to manage job and studies together. Not everybody has a share of childhood left in them like you do even when you’re sixteen. Grow up!” 
Only after six months into university life, Musa brought his friend, Mahd, to spend the weekend at their house and that was when Ayla’s little mind saw some part of the broad painful image. Mahd, with his charming ways, soon made his way into the house as Aayun’s second son and it was his entrance into Musa’s life that changed the latter’s life perspectives. Rather than cherishing his little house and all the blessings granted to them despite being raised by a single parent, Musa started complaining for all he had not been given, all the money, all the luxuries he had seen at Mahd’s landlord family’s house. To him and to even Aayun, Mahd came as a blessing. He spread laughter in their little house whenever he came and often brought gifts despite Aayun’s insistence not to. His famous dialogue: “Aunty, you are just like my mother to me.” soon earned him Aayun’s complete favor.
Mahd was still not welcome into Ayla’s shell, a beautifully carved and precious shell. why would he be anyway?
His saccharine personality and lustful glance disturbed her from the moment he had stepped into their house. To her, he was an unwelcomed guest turned into an unwanted member of the house. Like an old television that with some of its channels entertains some but always remains a source of nuisance for someone at least.
Sitting on the floor of her dimly lighted room, Ayla opened her diary lying at an arm’s length. Flipping through pages blankly, her fingers stopped on a page and her controlled tears uncontrollably made their way to her pale cheeks turning scarlet.
With blurred eyes, she started reading:
September 3rd 2015:
“I am just utterly disgusted. How dare he? Ugh. We were sitting on the dining table today for Dinner. After a whole year, Bhai and I were talking just like old times. He was patting my head and he looked so relaxed after so long. It seemed as if he was escaping his inferiority complex slowly and the thought of it made me so happy when the bell rang and guess who came? Yes, he did. Mahd did. I don’t even know what is wrong with him. He just keeps disturbing our family life with his existence; Bhai and Amma don’t even complain. It is like I am an outsider and adopted whenever I complain. They always think I am being unthankful because it is HIM apparently who has lightened the mood of our house. Ugh. Anyways, he came and sat next to me as usual and Amma as usual did not object.
“He is family, how would he feel if he comes to know that you think like this about him? Have you ever thought of his reputation and Musa’s respect in his circle. Don’t you dare say anything about Mahd again.” She firmly said the first time, I had complained.
So today “He is family” slowly placed his hand over my thighs and moved his fingers all over them, from under the table while I was eating while he kept talking to Amma. When I, disturbed, looked at him and shrunk away, he gave me THE SAME GLANCE. His eyes, his ways creep me out. They run a disgusted chill throughout my body. Remember how he held my hand last week and Amma thought it was normal. How will I tell her this?
Oh God, please help me.”
Ayla slowly placed both her hands over her face. She tightened her grasp over her face as she folded her legs and the diary fell to the floor beside her. The pages started to flip as the fan’s warm air fell on them.
***
“But, Amma…”. Ayla’s voice echoed through Aayun’s mind.
“What had she done?” She wanted to ask herself but words failed to make their way through her throat. So many times Ayla had tried to tell me and but I had always swept her stories under the rug using a broom of what will the society say. How could I be so near yet so distant from my own children? Am I the same woman who taught other people’s children to keep safe and run to their elders every time somebody made them feel uncomfortable?
So many questions flooded her mind just like tears had flooded her eyes.
In the room, across the wall, the story started to repeat itself in Ayla’s mind.
It was 23rd September 2015. Twenty days after Mahd had placed his hands over Ayla’s thighs for the first time when he came to spend the weekend at their place. Ayla had her first monthly test on the next day. She was busy burning the midnight oil to outstand this semester as well when she went to the kitchen to get some water. Surprised, on her way back to her room, unlike other times, nor could she hear Mahd and Musa talking neither was the light switched on.
“Surprising how ‘He is family’ let Bhai go to bed early today considering the latter works all day long”. Giddy with surprise, as she entered her room and took a step back to close the door, the door had already been closed. Standing at a five feet distance was the man she had never wanted to see in her house let alone her room. He had his famous lustful smile over his face as his lustrous eyes absorbed her shock.
“Till what point will you run away, till what point will I catch you”, he mumbled sensuously as his hand rested itself on her arm, “Ayla”. The glass of water in her hand fell to the floor as she ran away towards the window but before the window came the bed and that was where Mahd pushed her with all his effort.
“Bhai” She mumbled as her throat went dry. Mahd broke into a fit of laughter. “Musa won’t disturb us tonight. He is fast asleep”, He emphasized on the word fast just as his hand approached her yet again but this time it was not her arm. It was her face. He slowly rubbed one of his hands against her cheeks while his other hand rested itself on her mouth. No voice came out. Just ample tears and enough resistance. He touched her and kissed her just as she moved him away with her hands until he mumbled:
“It is just me and you, dear. Don’t do this at least. Enjoy!” The sensuality in his voice disgusted her just as he swiftly tied her hands to the back of the bed frame with her own dupatta. Then he took a napkin out of his pocket and with a lustful smile on his face stuffed it in her mouth. There. He had it all to himself. No resistance. Just Ayla’s painful tears and his lustful smiles were witnessed by the moon, that night. Every time his fingers touched her here and there, the phrase, “He is family”, echoed throughout her mind. His hands, his lips moved all over her and inside her. He took so much more than the eyes could see and the ears could hear. She was battered and bruised. All through the night, he kept saying: “You were made for me, Ayla and good girls don’t resist pleasure. Aren’t you a good girl?” Each time he laughed, she cried some more tears just as he licked them away. She moved her head in disgust but she was as helpless as a newborn baby. Just when he had his face right over hers, his fingers moving themselves over her bare waist line, he pulled out the napkin. “Now tell me how much you enjoyed”. He said while washing off her tears with his hands.
The room’s door opened before Ayla could utter another word. In came less of Aayun and more of her screams and that was when Musa entered the room. By then Mahd had moved aside but Ayla was lying, helpless and naked on the bed. Her ripped clothes were spread all around the room. Mahd, much to Musa’s surprise, released himself from the latter’s grasp by pushing him away and ran towards his car outside.
He, who was ‘family’ never came back. Musa couldn’t do anything against him, against his landlord father. He closed his face just as his painful glance fell on Ayla’s tear stained face and ran out of the room.
In a matter of seconds, Aayun heard a gunshot. She had lost both her children. She had lost both her children, Musa to a guilty death but Ayla to her dialogue: “He is family”.

Writer’s note: I sent this one for a competition recently; although this did not win me anything but it still stays a lot close to my heart considering the time it took me to touch upon a topic so less talked about in our society. Looking forward to feedback always. :’)

An Escape gone Wrong. 

She looked at him one last time and her face went blank. All emotions were drained and her eyes peacefully chose to close themselves with a silent yet screaming curve of her red stained lips.Tears fell from her black eyes just as he strengthened his grasp at her long silky hair as if trying to absorb the storm of her internal fears into himself. 

It was their last night together and you know the sin she had committed? She had fallen in love with the monsters that lived inside Salar’s amber coloured eyes; she had fallen in love with the words and with the touch of a man who paid for every hour, every second his fingers had crawled over her perfectly contoured curves and for every night, every minute she had sat up and listened to his monsters coming to life. 

Just as he laid beside her mildly snoring in his slumber, Samar sat up, pulling the sheets over her exposed body as if trying to prevent the fear of the unknown from staring at her. Her fingers slowly traced the edges of the hair on his jawline as her eyes were busy finding her reflection in his existence. Remembering the day the first time she was sent to his room, her face beamed a little just as her sorrowful past built a lump in her throat. 

How could she forget that day? That day when a man had chosen her based on anything but her face unlike so many others who had bought her body for a one night stand year after year; that day when a man had marked her as his, silently making her feel like his enough, holding her in place to never be free to go through the pain of being touched by anybody else.

He was the one that she had missed down in her joints, where love and hope fused together to hold her up from the day she had been brought to the red light district of Lahore. 

“Poverty and social stigmatisation has the ability to do wonders to the life of women in the subcontinental setup”, she thought just as her life started to play like a film in front of her eyes. Growing up in a family where poverty joined hands with molestation in her case, the only escape she could think of was to run away in darkness of the night. Rambling over the derelict roads of Old Lahore, Samar had been led by a rickshaw driver to the place that became her recognition despite her resistance. How could she forget the night when she was dragged to the top of the building through stairs that smelled of bad breath, lined with the crimson of betel spits? The night when she had received bruises that when healed took all her emotions and dreams of a pure and happy life with them. 

Many men had held her hands, some with utter disgust only to wash off their past, others with utter lack of affection reflecting from their animal desires. Many men and yet one came. Distraught and dejected, with a face that talked of God’s miraculous beauty given to man, and chose her on the basis of her name. “Samar”, he had mumbled, “more like my night companion”. He laughed huskily and then fell to the bed. He stared at her standing in her flashy yellow ghagra but this time Samar failed to find animal desires in that look. His fingers moved, weaved, stroked and penetrated leaving her in a breathless preclude with mingled desires. She had found a man whose eyes spoke of internal pain but whose words moved her to the point of no return. 

They had met everyday over cups of coffee and talks about his broken family setup; everyday for words that gave life to her dead emotions once again. Everyday until today when his eyes couldn’t meet hers and his words couldn’t support his gestures just as he had said:

“I’m getting married, Samar.”

He went onto explain the girl and his family but these four words had silenced her world forever a few minutes back. 

After all, who was she? A temporary bandage to a bruise? A woman who had no right over her own body? A prostitute whose life had been written by men in black smoking weed and pouring money into their pockets out of the lost emotions of many women? 

Just as he laid beside her mildly snoring in his slumber, Samar sat up from the sheets and longingly stared at the rising sun from the corner of the curtain. Minutes and seconds passed by just like that. A woman painting the canvas of her heart with intense colours of love.

She took a step back and glanced at her bronze body in the wall sized mirror. Unknown scars and utter disgust made her eyes water. With mild waterfalls tracing her cheek bones, Samar swallowed the contents of the bottle while placing her head over his throbbing chest. 

  Samar looked at Salar one last time and her face went blank. All emotions were drained and her eyes peacefully chose to close themselves with a silent yet screaming curve of her red stained lips. If living with him wasn’t an option, dying so close to him with love in her eyes and respect in his breath was surely one. With curved red stained lips and tears rolling down her eyes, she had sealed her deed, for animal desires and wild scars weren’t her lifestyle anymore.

Writer’s note: Sent this one for a writing competition. Although this one did not win me anything but it still stays a lot close to my heart for being an ignored social issue and a suppressed voice. (This article is also found on Chai Chalk: http://chaichalk.com/an-escape-gone-wrong/)

Flames of hopeless Hope. 

To guilt trips and lingering love, she chanted just as she raised her glass to the mirror on the wall. Her coarse laughter echoed throughout that place. There was something in the soil there which intensified her urges, made her think of him a lot more as she stood in front of the mirror with tears trickling down her perfectly contoured cheek bones through her amber eyes. 

Salty tears. 
Shattered dreams and salty tears. 
Shattered dreams, salty tears and a scarred body.

While tracing her jawline with her finger tips, she slowly fell to the floor. With every word she uttered, she felt his non existent touch silencing her a little more. Wanting him wasn’t a sin but it had become one. One that killed all her dreams and made him the only one she saw. Like dreams lost between a world of nightmares. 

Sitting in front of her thunder struck life reflected through the mirror in her blur eyes, she needed him more than ever before. Like the stars need to embrace the sky to form a night or just like the birds chirp with the dawn to make a day. Loving him wasn’t a sin but it had become one. One that had killed her heart and ripped apart her soul. Like humanity lost between the search for forever and always. 

There are so many times when we make decisions not for ourselves but for those around us. Sacrifices and sacred vows and a world torn apart between them. Such was hers as well. 

They said the loudest break the hardest and they said it right; she mumbled as she walked over the wet mud leaving her footprints engraved in the heart of the soil where once were embedded the stories of their late night walks with his subtle love confessions and her constant rebuttal. She didn’t believe in love at first sight. What was it again? A beginner’s glance. A sweet smile’s shot and a heart stun. That wasn’t her kind of charm. She believed in soothing morning walks, silent late night niches exchanged between entwined fingers, big and bold signs that told her that he was the one. She believed in fearful fantasies and crazy coincidences that screamed out loud that they were meant to be and despite all her dreams and beliefs, she chose to let him go. 

To let him go wasn’t a choice but it had become one to killing expectations and fearless fears.

Yet a hopeless hope ignited the flames of his heart as he stood through the stormy rain and prayed for her to be his, once more, like always.

Two. 

Seeing the dark dreamy night changing to the oil pastel orange sky made her cringe a little inside herself. From every orange twilight to every orange morning sky, she ran away from the glimmer of hope, from the chirping of the birds and from the heated hassle life came out with each morning. She smiled a little, sighed a little more as a breeze walked past her face while her eyes were busy staring around at those imperfect perfections. A world of perfections hidden behind the shade of mere imperfections more like the first smile on a newly born baby’s face ignorant towards what sorrows await, the joy of getting a balloon on your birthday not knowing how easy it could be for the world to burst it apart. 

In the bright sunshine of the summer mornings, sometimes she sat out and wondered what her choices had brought her to. A year had passed by and even now it was as fresh in her memory as it was on the first day of the incident, as if not a single day had passed by without his feel, not a single tear had flowed down those cheeks without being cleared off by his touch; it was just a new world wrapped in the old shell. At night, the sky would turn to a mess of black clouds and a million stars sparkling and lighting up its dull and shady gloominess but in the morning, in the bright daylight was where the problem had lied. She had been shipwrecked for so long; she didn’t even realise when she had lost her ability to act on dry land. The war that waged inside her heart, in the infinite yet transient beginnings and endings had painted the canvas of her life with colours so dull that vibrance ran a chill down her entire self each day.

She was like a church that had only opened her doors for him, like a temple whose walls were only engraved by his hieroglyphics, like a mosque whose pillars only told the stories God had written for them. So sacred yet so far.

Like a soft, shadowed, surrendering soul, she found beauty in the dull rain, in nightmares, in paper cuts, in lost dreams and falling amber leaves, in broken souls, in thudding windows and piercing storms. She hid her pain behind her queer loud love yet nobody saw. Anaya was a world in herself yet a world so distant. From an insufferable pessimist to a blooming one, her walk through the forest hole lined with thorns and algae said a lot about her journey. Dreams and plans. Plans and dreams and a sheet of shimmering darkness wrapping it all up. 

Walking across the road Anaya distinctly saw a girl: Surrounded by clouds of smoke escaping her mouth, with a cigarette burning between her two fingers, she looked like a broken piece of glass. So fragile; so shattered with swollen eyes and a heart wrenching smile. She smiled at the thought of the pain she saw around her behind the colourful facades. 

She wasn’t the only one, Anaya thought.

In her face, Anaya mapped, so many 3 ams yet his face still ruled her nights. 

It takes a lifetime to build a story, a second to live it and a lifetime to get over of it. 

In loving him she had loved herself and she didn’t know what was greater, losing him or losing herself. In the red flowers the girl didn’t get anymore; red symbolic for love, passion, danger and even blood, he had taken away her smiles. 

A heart so filled with sorrow that the eyes became its mirror. 
A life so empty that with every judgemental glare falling at the cigarette entwined between her fingers, it made her laugh a little inside. A hollow horrid laugh that said more than words could. 

Two different girls; two different boys; two different reactions but two common things, a broken heart and a rejected existence. 

Writer’s note: Today I complete my second year here. What a journey it has been. A journey that can be best wrapped up into this quote:

The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

Mapless Melancholy

Wilting flowers in withering nights held her up in their petals trying to absorb her sorrows into themselves. The enchanting ability of a starry night to give her a beaming smile died the day he left. Those shining lanterns on the night sky lost their sparkle to the heart wrenching crystals on her cheeks. She could feel her tormented soul making its way through her eyes. The dim street lights and the shining dew drops were oblivious to her mental suffering just as they had been. The art to love was shredded the night her warmth lost its worth. There was blood steaming from an unseen wound; a mapless melancholy it was. A world held in her eyes of dreams and plans, of shattered dreams and painful plans yet a world so excruciating. Melancholy seared her sinking heart into an emotional battle. Living in her bittersweet reverie, she counted her years from the day he came to the day he left.

“He was the right amount of eccentric mess she needed in her life; the only man she could stand up to be happy with at every 7 am unwanted job run. He was indeed the right amount of magic to her madness. The star that lighted up her mornings brighter than the sun could, the pleasure that moved every minute and every second of pain out of her life. He was the man who made long everlasting assignments endurable, the man who made every block fall into place for her dream lego house. He was her love and he would stay her love forever. Always and forever.”


She speculated as the rain drenched her body yet the soul remained in pain. As she drowned herself in the miseries brought by life, words entered her soul yet failed to make their way out.
“Perhaps we fall short of words the day we fall apart.” She thought, as her feet made their way under the shelter. To the world, she was a vulnerable liability, after all, she lost him on her wedding night to a living happily ever after dream, to a typical Karachi night where he was gunned down ignoring how he still had to turn that purple sky to an orange one.
Target killing.
Her crimson red dress matching his blood red death.
His frozen eyes complementing her sobbing ones.
The slumber of the night taking him in its folds with an unquenched thirst for love.

Such was the wretchedness, such was her faded story.

Take my past, take my sins.

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Walking over the red bricked pavement lined with rustling leaves, she quietly stared at the huge glass windows of the white washed hotel. She could hear a group of men standing outside the main entrance door laughing over their cigarette smoke as she strolled silently. With every step she took, her thoughts started to wander back to him.

For the world to see, they were two people stuck between odds; however, in reality, they were two sinful stories trapped inside the four walls of a cubicle.

The chill surrounded her as she wrapped her arms around her body as if letting her thoughts captivate her soul in the slightest of instants. She could hear his words echo throughout her soul, oblivious to the sounds of laughter around her:
“I’m living it by keeping all of you and especially you a part of it. I’m not gonna drift apart.”
A painful smile crossed her face. He did keep all of her after all.
“How difficult is it to love back?”
She wondered.
“Is it so profoundly pinching that people prefer breaking hearts and souls over trying or is it just simply wrecking to even try?”
All these questions haunted her mind as she stared at those lifeless leaves on that dark scary night under that starless sky. Tears trickled down her cold red cheeks. With every drop on her cheek, with every step she took, with every unwanted breath, she wanted to scream. In that instant her eyes told stories centuries old as words crossed her lips yet the voice box failed them:

“Take my past, take my sins”

Dejectedly she went and sat on the stairs leading to the parking lot. She could feel something cringe inside her as his words hit her hard, time and again. He wasn’t the best of people but he was hers even for the shortest of times. She had loved him. She still did. Through the thick and thin, she had cherished the memories they had made; the good ones more than the bad ones. With trickling tears and tarnished years, she still pictured his face in front of her eyes. That smile, she’d give away a life for. With that sparkling longing, she looked aside to see Farhan heading towards her. She knew he loved her, she could see it in his eyes but she also knew that she loved somebody else and she couldn’t help it.
He came near her as she stood up while moving her palms over her face.
***
Looking at the gorgeous chaos she was, he stared into her lonely eyes and asked:
“Do you miss him?”
Walking over those rustling autumn leaves in the dark night overshadowed by the starless sky, she could sense the fear in his voice as she mumbled;
“When did I ever forget him to miss him, he lives inside me, inside every single breath I take, every single word I say, he died in my life only for the world to see but he lives inside me more than he has ever lived there.”
As if sensing the urge to express in her voice, with hidden emotions and unsaid feelings he gathered up the courage to question her intimacy as Farhan once again said:
“And do you still love him after all he did to you, after all he did to leave you, after all he did to make you a wreck?”
Just as Farhan’s words came out, she sighed and said,
“Do you know why I’m here walking under the dark fearless sky? Oh of course you don’t! It’s because whenever the stars come out I realise that if they can shine brightly despite the monotony, why can’t I love him despite all the pain that he gave me. I know I sound crazy to you. You might just think whenever it comes to loving him, I lose my mature approach towards life but it isn’t that. It’s just that I’ve loved him so much with each passing day and each passing second that I can’t live without loving him. The day I stop loving him, I would cease to exist. He’s a part of this soul, he lives right here”, she said as she pointed where her heart lied, “and here and everywhere. From the early morning breakfasts to the late night reading ventures, he is everywhere in my life and it is him that makes me live, makes me want to take a step forward each day and the day he ceases to exist so will Falak. You won’t see her. You won’t feel her presence anymore. She wakes up each day to his thoughts and sleeps everybody to praying for him. She can’t let him go.”
She choked over her last words as she ran inside as fast as she could as Farhan was left to think why life was so unfair.
***
Feeling like a drapetomaniac, she ran as fast as she could as if trying to rub the bitter truths of her existence against her feet until she came to a standstill. Tears flowed down her red cheeks as she looked at the sides with a perplexed look on her face. It had been one whole year, one whole year of trying to live and failing at every step, one whole year of trying to suppress what had happened to change her from the cheerful Falak to the cheerless Falak. She still didn’t hate him or even dislike him. How could she?
Thinking with tears running over her face, she slowly and gradually reached her bedroom and fell flat on the bed like a bleeding corpse or a defeated animal waiting for support. She was that vulnerable like a little child, so so emotional in that one instant as thoughts hit her once again.
What is it with people that they fail to realise the worth of somebody’s smiles? She had always wondered that, always wanted to question people on that. Why were her smiles taken away? Was it because she tried not to whine about things like normal people and rather solved her problems herself or was it because she was everything he didn’t want in his life? It was one complex question. From the moment they had first talked to the moment when they first met, she remembered everything. She remembered how when they met they had argued over things as little as who smiled better and laughed at each other’s craziness. She smiled through her tears as the thought crossed her mind. She remembered how when they first talked he, like so many other people, failed to realise how sweet she could be. They had loved, she held a firm believe in that. Nobody survives for a year and a half together without love in between them; it’s humanly impossible to laugh with somebody and even cry with them for that long but not once feel love building up its tension between them but then they had lost. It’s such a cliche expression to say that but it really is the truth. They had lost smiles and trust to misunderstandings and more and more people in their lives, like water evaporates under the burning sun.

It was that quick. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and they were gone. Gone with the wind.

Ripped apart ruthlessly by their desires, by overpowering characters in their lives and by the lapse of communication.
***
Helplessly, Farhan stared at Falak running towards the door and entering the lobby as she disappeared. Over the years he had seen Falak progressing in life like a shining star, strong and confident, yet whenever it came to the man she loved, she broke down. Her eyes went that certain colour of red very few could see; her hands started to shiver in the weirdest of manners. He had been working with her for the past three years in the same firm and it was work that had brought them to the luxurious life held between the gates of PC Bhurban. He had seen her grow distant. He had seen her lose smiles. He had seen her going quiet. It was an endless journey because somewhere in his heart, he envied that man, that man who held the power to give a woman like Falak her smiles, that man who was artsy enough to paint her life like it was a meadow holding the prettiest flowers. Roses. Jasmines. Chrysanthemums. Tulips. Gladiolus. Sunflowers. A world in itself yet a world so distant.
His thoughts had brought him despaired and dejected to the door of his room. Sitting on the bed he, weakly, switched on the television. Suddenly the entire room was filled with the sound of music and he felt as if somebody had given all his thoughts words.
“Kare to phir kya kare
Tere bin kaise jiye
Ankoon mein pyar liye
Bolo kahan kahan phire?”

With a tear stained face and a rotten existence, Falak could slightly hear the music playing across the wall in Farhan’s room. With every word, with every lyric, her eyes kept going blur:
“Sajni paas bulao na
Ke dil aaj tuta hai aaj tuta hai
Sajan maan jao na
Ke woh aaj rutha hai aaj rutha hai
Koi use manae na
Jaane jaan.
Dil tujhey hi chahe na”

For once she understood more of these cold and spiky words piercing her soul apart than the waterfall flowing down the curves of her jawline. The music disappeared in the blues of the night and the waterfall ceased to flow yet the eyes remained bloodshot and the mind wrecked. She had loved him to the point where she couldn’t think of love without thinking of him.Gazing at the fire alarm on the white coloured ceiling, she fell asleep in her moment of another memorial.
As the music faded away, Farhan switched off the television and lied down on his bed to recall what hadn’t been recalled by anybody but Falak in a long time, the life changing decision.Gazing at the fire alarm on the white coloured ceiling, he started recalling events from the past year. Her smiling face while looking at her phone. Her early evenings from the office. Her eyes reading ‘I’m committed and loved unlike any other.’…Her tears. Her pain. Her eye bags. Her suffering reflected through the excessive amount of medical prescriptions on her desk. He pictured the day she had first come to the office after a month’s leave, asked for on the phone and he had met her during the lunch break;
“FALAK? God! What just happened to you? The eyes…”
“Don’t ask”
“But…”
“Does it even matter.”
She said as if trying to engrave words on her mind more than his. “Really does it even matter if I have red eyes or glistening with happiness ones. It doesn’t. I died, Farhan, I died. In that little moment in which I thought I was the closest to Fadil; forehead to forehead, legs to legs, eyes to eyes; I lost him.” She bursted out crying and almost fell to the floor. He quietly sat next to her holding her hand as she continued painting all his fears in one single frame.“Can you believe it? CAN YOU? I lost him to a sin. I lost the person I love”, she hiccuped, “the person who claimed to love me the minute he heard of the responsibility this act had brought to our lives. A living, growing responsibility.”
Farhan felt as if somebody had taken his heart and stabbed it.
“I BLOODY LOST HIM…to responsibility. To desire powered by love? Ugh.”
They kept sitting silently for the rest of the lunch break; Farhan, brooding over his kismet and Falak, crying over hers.
He opened his eyes with a flash in an attempt to escape the misery the flashback brought with itself. Lost for words, he remembered the first time he had met Fadil outside the office over Falak’s wish.

Tall, dark and handsome; the phrase was surely made to fit his personality.

Unlike Farhan, he had an utterly charismatic personality, dark brown eyes and a beard that spoke for his sophistication. In his meaningful handshake and Falak’s glistening eyes he had read the ability he held to hurt her but he couldn’t say. What was Farhan Hashim, the son of a man who worked in a small pharmaceutical’s company, a LUMS graduate in front of Fadil Shehryar, the son a feudal lord, an Oxford graduate; a man whose family name spoke for him before his self did.
***
The clock ticked in the silence of the dark room as she opened her eyes sweating viciously. Reaching for her phone lying on the side, she saw the time and sat up straight. 3 ams still haunted her, developing insomniac tendencies in her already troubled life.
“It’s true I’ve loved you for all this time but I can’t afford to have this baby or you, as a matter of fact, as my wife. A doctor’s daughter won’t fit into our social class. I can’t marry a girl like you.” He said in a hideous tone and started to walk away but stopped in the middle and looked back at her fragile face staring at the lines on her hands, “and ONE more thing, don’t try to contact me. It’s better we don’t talk.”
His face.
His words.
His smile.

They haunted her to the point of screaming out loud. But more than that, she was haunted by the scars that the timely abortion, over the insistence of her lamenting parents, gave her.
Their social standing.
Their respect.

But
Where was she?
Where was her baby?
Her love?
Her Fadil
…she choked over her thought and fell back over the pillow with the look that could turn tables with the sympathy it called for.

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Love is the strangest of emotions. It makes lives and it breaks them altogether as well. Standing in front of the mirror in her red attire, Falak smiled at her thought. The journey from trying to be Falak Fadil to being Falak Farhan was an adventurous one with its ups and downs alike but after all she had given in to his love for he accepted her with her sins at the lowest point of her life. She knew she wouldn’t ever love him as much as he loved her but she could try and trying was the first nail in a successful future’s wall, wasn’t it?
They always said that if you can’t marry somebody who you love then marry somebody who loves you, she thought looking at Farhan playing with their four year old son, and they said it right.
After all these years, she pitied a person like Fadil Shehryar. He had everything for the world to see; luxury, fame, a strong political career, lots of women and above all money but one thing he didn’t have was love, the one thing that along with the hope and happiness it brought enlightened her life and beautified her
scars to the point of fulfilment.

Writer’s note: Uh, really not my type of ending to write but miracles happen? Haha. Even when I initially thought of not posting it, I ended up doing so because otherwise I would’ve written an alternative sad ending. Don’t want to make this long because I know very few people would have read this to the end owing to its length but here’s a quote I think fits:
“My daddy said, that the first time you fall in love, it changes you forever and no matter how hard you try, that feeling just never goes away.”
Here’s to everybody’s first time which came or already has to come and here’s to the life which is yet to be enlightened.

We are sorry.

The pale moon hiding behind the morning fog with its chilly air moved something about her. Despite trying for hours she couldn’t sleep that morning. Images kept haunting her; it had been 43 years and somewhere she was still unable to forget his face, the last time she saw him before the soil of this nation embraced his body forever.

Had she ever imagined that she would be left to cry over the glowing yet quiet face of her son before he got a chance to cry over hers?

She had lost a son to a nation only to protect many others and still somewhere something died about her each time she thought of that day. He was a martyr and martyrs leave mothers proud despite the pain which their separation brings to the wounded soul. The same soul that walks all night only to put a little child to sleep, the same soul that breaks a little inside every time she sees a scar over his body.
She chocked over her thoughts as she heard the news flash on the television. Victim’s father, it quoted:

“When your child dies, you bury him in your heart. He only truly dies the day you die.”

She had lost a son as well, a son 24 years of age fighting to save his country from paralysis, she had lost a son 43 years back and today, more than any other day, she felt like she had lost a son again. Such was the pain, such was the heartbreaking sensation the darkness of that one attack on a school brought. The news channels kept reporting:

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Blood stained bodies.
Ruthless rascals burning a teacher alive.
Death toll increases to 130+.


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She was living her last and yet wondering what had really changed between December 16th 1971 and December 16th 2014.
The political parties were arguing back then, blaming each other, creating sympathy votes out of blood stricken bodies and heartbroken mothers.What had really changed?The children were suffering back then and they are suffering now because they have us as their elders; people lost between the desires of power and fame.

The smallest coffins are actually the heaviest; raised after 20 years of struggle, you lose them in 20 seconds to humanity crises?

Somewhere she couldn’t get past the painful pinching truth that somebody out there was congratulating each other with a “Good Job.”The suffering was endless. The torment overpowering as tears rolled down her cheeks for the last time in those 43 years; her gaze went still and her body cold. Silence prevailed as news kept flashing.

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Writer’s note: For a girl with nine exams in the next three days, somewhere I shouldn’t be sitting here and writing this but some words unsaid are some sentiments unexpressed and some bottles uncapped. This story might just be a fiction but sometimes realities are too harsh to be bound in words solely by themselves. Here’s to every mother, every father, every sister, every brother and every infant out there mourning today at the loss that we’ve incurred, here’s to the tears shedding from those eyes who had glistened in the morning while sending their children to school, here’s to each of us waking up to a hopeful sunrise without ever imagining the hopelessness the sunset brought.

(This article can also be found here: http://chaichalk.com/we-are-sorry/)