Joined: 05 June 2006
"Mr. Khan?" She whispered.
He lowered his eyes on her face but instead of withdrawing, smiled at her and held her chin with his finger. Tenderly, he lifted her face and bent down gently. His self erected wall crashed; defenses relented. His lips drew her in. The fragrance from the musty air, smog from the cars, his cologne and her hair all melted into one as their lips brushed against each other, tenderly at first and then passionately.
The horse and the horseman, oblivious of their backseat activities, trotted lazily through the Mumbai streets. It had been a long day; the horse was tired and in no mood to hurry home and neither were the duo engaged in lip-to-lip communication.
"SAHIB! AAPKA GHAR KAUNSA HAI?" Apparently, the horseman had been trying to get Asad's attention for quite sometime but the backseat passengers were totally oblivious of the fact that the carriage had come to a halt, the horse had been neighing with hunger and they were two houses away from Asad's house. Even though he felt bad about breaking their trance, he had mouths to feed and therefore had to yell at his customer. "SAHIB! SAHIB! MAIN AAPKO YAHIN CHHOD DOON?"
Just like an astronaut is jolted into the atmosphere by earth's gravitational pull, Asad's brief and heavenly journey in celestial space came to an abrupt halt when he heard someone yell SAHIB! He yanked himself, panting and hopped off the carriage. Zoya hit the back of her head against the frame of the carriage as she recoiled backwards. Her head spun for a few seconds but she quickly gathered herself and got off the Victoria. From a distance, she saw Asad settling the bill with the horseman.
Dazed and achy, she held the back of her head and then touched her lips with her fingers. The remnants of that sweet, sensuous tingle were still there.
"What was that?" She had a vague recollection of the moments right before she had sustained the mild concussion against the metallic frame. Was she dreaming? She could taste his cologne on her tongue. She walked closer and was stunned to see the red smudge above his right upper lip. It was not a dream. Yes, he had kissed her. He had kissed her in the Victoria. Her first kiss. Their first kiss.
"ZOYA!" He yelled, "let's go home. It's very late." Dreamily and absent-mindedly, she followed him back to the house. Asad kept a distance from her and after unlocking the front door, dashed upstairs to his room, without waiting or looking back at her.
Despite the throb in her head, she felt as if she were walking on a bed of feathers. Zoya walked into the bathroom to tend to the knot on the back of her head. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks as she saw her reflection in the mirror. That red smudge of lipstick around her lips was not an illusion. It was the same color she saw above his upper lip. She touched the reflection of her lips on the mirror and smiled, "Mr. Khan, yeh aapne kya kiya? Itni jaldi dosti ka pehla rule thod diya?"
Asad slammed the door behind him and stood in the middle of his room with his hands on his hips. He was flabbergasted; stunned and dumbfounded.
"Yeh maine kya kar diya?" He hung his head and shut his eyes, "I am such a fool! Zoya kya soch rahi hogi? Why did I do that? Jab is raaste par chalna hi nahin chaahta main, tho kyun maine yeh kadam uthaya?" His body and mind were on different wavelengths. The buzz that he had just felt moments ago was still alive in his veins but his mind refused to acknowledge the sensation.
"It's all hormones!" He kicked the trash bin next to his desk and headed for the shower. As the cold water dripped down his shoulders and chest, he ran his fingers through his hair and then gradually moved down to his lips. He could still taste the sweetness of her petals. The familiar tingle came back with a rush. He couldn't take it anymore.
After turning the faucet off, he buried his face in his towel and reflected on how and what had happened in the last leg of their journey in the Victoria. It wasn't an impulse; it wasn't just the rush of hormones; it wasn't just pure physical attraction- it was all of that and a lot more. It was a desire as pure as the kiss, a desire to be with her, a desire to stamp his right on her and a desire to make her his own forever.
"I should go and talk to her. I was a little rude to her too. Unhein aise hi bahar darwaaze par chhod aaya. Kya soch rahi hongi wo?" He put his white kurta pajama on and brushed his wet hair with his fingers. "Hope she hasn't misunderstood me. I am not a coward. Agar maine yek kadam badhaya hai, tho mujhey hi unse baat karni hogi."
"Asad beta?" Dilshaad surprised him at his door.
"Jee ammi. Aap? Aap abhi soyi nahin? It's late now."
"Mujhey fikr ho gayi thi tum dono ki. Kahan chale gaye the?"
"Wo-wo-actually, Ms Farooqui wanted to see Mumbai. Tho bas, thodi der ho gayi. A-aap so jaaiye ammi." He was desperate to go downstairs and talk with Zoya.
"Asad, khaana khaoge?"
'Nahin ammi. Aap jaaiye. Please go to bed. I am okay." He shuffled across anxiously. Dilshaad nodded and was about to leave when she remembered something.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you," Dilshaad, "aaj bahut dino baad Anwar bhai ka phone aaya tha."
"A-An-Anwar maamu?" Asad's face fell, "wo-kyun-itne-saal-baad?"
"Tumne bataya nahin ki wo tumhein Istanbul mein miley the?"
The color drained from Asad's face, "Oh-wo-yeah-it was just a passing meeting. Kuch khaas baat nahin huyi thi. What did he say?"
"Kuch khaas nahin. Bas yahi ki tum miley the, bahut badhe ho gaye ho wagarah wagarah."
"Oh, I see," Asad was relieved, "ammi, ek baat poonchu?"
"I know is baat ko bahut saal ho gaye hain. Lekin kya aap abhi bhi ghar waalon se faasla rakhna chaahti hain? I mean with people like Anwar maamu, do you still have an issue with them?"
"Beta, sab rishte apne nahin hote. I have no problem with Anwar, lekin'"
"Lekin kya ammi?" Asad felt his muscles tightening as the 'lekin' had an ominous tone to it.
"Lekin tumney achcha kiya, Anwar se zyaada baat nahin ki."
"Kyun ammi?" Asad felt a dark shadow descend upon him.
"Beta, Anwar bhai bahut achche hain, lekin unka rishta ek aise ghar mein hua hai, jisne tumhari ammi aur hamare ghar ki saari khushiyaan cheen li thi."
"AMMI?" Asad was shell-shocked.
"Haan beta, Anwar's wife is Ghafoor Ahmed Siddiqui's older daughter!" Dilshaad replied sternly, "the same man who ruined our lives, who took your abbu away from all of us, the man whom I can never forgive till the last day of my life. Achcha kiya jo Anwar se zyada rishtedaari nahin badhayi. I don't know how he got our phone number."
Asad found himself standing amidst a pool of dark grey clouds. He clenched his fists and gnashed his teeth. He recalled how he had discovered Zoya's fake passport on the cruise. So, she was indeed Zoya Siddiqui- the daughter of their greatest nemesis. He kicked himself for letting her get away with the fake last name. He thanked Allah for sending ammi to his rescue; otherwise he would have committed the biggest treachery in his life. Ammi's happiness couldn't be compromised, even if that meant he would have to kick his NRI guest out of his house and his life. He would do that first thing next morning. He didn't have the heart to give her the news that late in the night.
"Ammi, aap please tension mat lee jiye. Please go to bed. I will be more careful next time. I will ask the telephone exchange to block any overseas calls from Istanbul. I don't want that man to trouble you again."
ZOYA IN THE BATHROOM:
Zoya didn't shower or wash her face. She kept staring at her reflection in the mirror. This was the best piece of artwork, she had ever created, or rather they had created together. Her mind wandered into a dream like state where Asad kissed her once again, proposed to her and then their nikaah, their kids, their married life all ran across like a movie scroll.
"I think I should go and talk to Mr. Khan. Yeh kya baat huyi? Sapne dikhaa kar, khud sone chale gaye?" She turned the lights off in the bathroom and walked away from her reflection. She tiptoed out of the bedroom as Najma had started tossing and turning in bed.
"Ammi phir aa gayi?" Asad answered his door, expecting to see his mother again but was shocked to see Zoya at the door.
"What are you doing here Ms FAROOQUI?" He asked sarcastically.
With her arms folded, she strode into the room authoritatively.
"Maine kaha, aap yahan kya kar rahi hain? Please go to bed. Aise raat ko ek paraaye aadmi ke kamre mein aana aapko shobha nahin deta."
"Mr. Khan, aap sab parayi ladkiyon ke saath aisa karte hain?" She taunted him.
"Aisa matlab? What do you mean?"
"Aap jaante hain main kya keh rahi hoon."
"I have no idea what you are talking about. Filhaal, aap mere kamre se bahar jaaiye."
"I want some answers first."
"Mere paas aapke kisi sawaal ka jawaab nahin hai. Please leave now!" He couldn't help noticing the smudged lipstick around her lips. He averted his gaze, selfconsciously.
She plunked on his bed and pulled her legs into a criss-crossed position.
"Mr. Khan, kal tak tho hum dost the na?"
"THE!" He replied sternly, "lekin ab nahin hain."
"Exactly! We can't be just friends after what happened tonight," she got off the bed and walked towards him.
"Nothing happened." He scoffed.
"Don't tell me it was just a figment of my imagination, or just a dream Mr. Khan."
"You were fast asleep in the Victoria. Koi sapna aaya hoga aapko."
"Mr. Khan, aapki zubaan chaahe sach na bole, lekin mera chehra aur aaine mein mera aks mujh se jhooth nahin bol rahe hain."
"What rubbish! What chehra? What aks are you talking about? Jinhein sapne dekhne ki aadat hoti hai, wo kahin bhi sapne dekh sakte hain." He averted his gaze from her face.
"Mr, Khan, aap hum dono se na-insaafi kar rahe hain. Tell me that kiss didn't mean anything to you?" She grabbed his hand and shook him vigorously, "you meant it, right? Main aapko jaanti hoon. You wouldn't do anything like that unless you meant it."
"It's an illusion of your mind Zoya." He pulled his hand away.
"I think you didn't study your vocabulary words in school Mr. Khan. There is a difference between an illusion and a reflection. I have seen my reflection in the mirror and that's not an illusion. Aap ek sach ko jhooth kyun saabit karna chaahte hain Mr. Khan?"
"SACH KYA HAI MS FAROOQUI?" He grabbed her shoulders and shook her forcefully, "aap kaun hain, kyun aayi hain meri zindagi mein, kya chupa rahi hain mujhsey? Can I have those answers?"
She shrugged his hand off her shoulder, "first of all Mr. Khan, a gentleman like you doesn't need to use force against a woman. Aapko shobha nahin deta. "
"I-I am sorry," he scratched his forehead and stepped back, "aapka asli naam kya hai?"
"Oh I see. So, it's not about me, but my name? Well, you are right, my abbu's name is Siddiqui but Farooqui is my ammi's last name. I know I had changed my name on my passport but aap tho jaante hain maine aisa kyun kiya tha. I didn't want abbu to track me down on the ship. Kya itni si baat par aap khafa hain mujhse? I didn't realize you had kissed Ms Farooqui and not Ms Siddiqui. I thought you had kissed just Zoya." She had tears in her eyes.
He didn't have an answer for her. Asad turned his back to her and stared at the floor, "anyways, I am leaving for my ship tomorrow morning. I want you out of my house as soon as you can get accommodation somewhere else in Mumbai. I know you have to complete the semester at the art college."
"Kya?" Her voice cracked into million pieces; she couldn't believe her ears.
"And please don't say anything to ammi. Aap unke liye Zoya Farooqui hi hain. If she finds out that you had lied, she would be very upset. Main nahin chaahta unki health par koi bura asar padhe."
"Can I ask you something Mr. Khan?" Her voice quivered.
"Kya mera naam aapke liye mujhse zyaada important hai?"
"Aap yahi samajh lee jiye. Now, I would like you to leave. I have to leave very early tomorrow morning. Good bye Ms---Zoya. Yeh hamari aakhiri mulaqat samajh lee jiye. Aapka aur mera saath shayad yahin tak likha tha."
With a shredded heart and tears in her eyes, Zoya swallowed her pride and ran out of his room.
He followed her to the door and watched her stagger down the stairs. With a heavy heart, he shut the door behind her and lay down in bed.
'Kya mera naam aapke liye mujhse zyaada important hai?'
Her words echoed in his mind. She had not only touched a sore chord, but also his heart. By shutting her out, he had shut the doors to his heart forever. He had no choice.
"Kuch faasle kabhie kam nahin ho sakte Zoya. I am sorry I broke your heart but hopefully, you will understand me one day and maybe, even forget me." Silent tears soaked his pillow. He knew he wouldn't be able to forget her; he would always cherish the memories of their time spent together and never be able to kiss another woman ever again.
Kashmakash kashmakash hai yahi?
Kya karoon kya nahi?
Kiski maanu kya yahan?Dil kahi man kahi
Rishte hasate hai kabhi kabhi?
Hum kya suru late?Hun
sapne dekhte hain kabhi kabhi?
In need se hai jagate?Chalte chalte jaago pe?
Thehera thehra aasmaan?Unchi unchi lehron mein?Gehra gehra karvaan..
Sach hai kya jhooth kya?Kya dawa kya yakeen
'to be contd'
ON THE SHIP:
Asad to his friend Arjun: I think I am in love'
AT THE HOSPITAL:
Doctor to Zoya: We will have to keep her here for a few days. She has developed a serious infection. It's a side effect of her chemotherapy.
Joined: 27 August 2010
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