Joined: 23 July 2015
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Joined: 15 July 2010
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Joined: 25 June 2015
Hi!! It's been a month since your last update... really waiting for your update buddy ... How is your mum?? I hope the surgery went well...
The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:
Joined: 15 July 2010
Hi!! It's been a month since your last update... really
waiting for your update buddy ... How is your mum?? I hope the surgery went well...
The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:
Joined: 15 July 2010
Chapter 8: No Light
are the hole in my head . . .
You are the space in my bed . . .
You are the silence in between . . .
What I thought and what I said.
He followed her closely, keeping only inches between their bodies. It was as if he was a lion, stalking his prey.
She shivered slightly, feeling hunted. Looking up into his eyes, she had to admit that she weirdly enjoyed the sensation. Was this a new kinky side of her?
His hand came out to rest over her head, palm flat against the wall, the action pulling her back from her thoughts and bringing her attention back to where he thought it belonged.
He was so close . . . that she could reach out and kiss his tempting lips. And the thought came into her mind . . . she hadn't had the chance to touch those lips yet. Her heart began to pound rapidly at the thought of touching him so intimately. She breathed in deeply to calm herself, but he was crowding her even more with his proximity.
He stepped even closer, settling his body flush against hers . . . his lower half coming to rest in the V her legs formed.
She gasped at the sensations aroused deep within her. Her eyes moved compulsively over his features. She was mesmerized by the manly beauty in front of her. She admitted it. She had been captivated from the first moment she had touched him. Before seeing him . . . his scent . .. his warmth . . . his hold had left its mark on her. But now he had an indelible hold of her heart. And nothing would remove him from there.
He reached out with a finger and gently caressed her lips. He tilted her chin up, so that her lips moved dangerously closer to his. He leaned in, decreasing the distance by heart-pounding proportions.
She blinked up at him, so tempted to close that distance between the two of them so she could taste him. "Why won't you admit it?" she demanded in exasperation. "Stop hiding it!"
He pulled back, the mood broken. Grimacing at her stubbornness, he stated in exasperation, "Okay! I'm Aahil. Happy?"
Sanam eyes burst open, her mind disconcerted by that dream. What was that? Why was she dreaming such a thing again? How could she dream of another man's name when it was Rehan who had so completely taken over her every waking thought?
'What is wrong with you?' she silently scolded herself. Running a distracted hand through her hair, she tugged at the ends of it, hoping that the sensation would awaken her mind. It didn't work. The dream still lingered. Shaking loose the final dregs of sleep, if not the effects of the dream, she blinked at the clock. It was mere minutes before her alarm would have gone off. Time for morning prayers. Rubbing at her swollen eyes, she carefully got up off the bed and turned the alarm off.
She yawned, stretching her arms above her body and moving towards the bathroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she frowned at the marks yesterday's events had left on her face. Last night's conversation with Seher played on in her mind like a broken record.
"Isn't it enough that we know him? He's a good man, Sanam. Why should we ask third parties when we can ask Aahil directly?" Seher demanded angrily. "I'm sure it's a misunderstanding. What gets me is that dad didn't ask him anything before making his decision. How can he be so . . . ?" she stopped, unable to find the words to express her disappointment in their father.
"But what if it's not a mistake?"Sanam asked, a sinking feeling growing inside of her. "What if he was in jail? What if he did kill someone? What if Abu is right to say what he is saying?"
"There has to be a reason!" Seher insisted stubbornly.
"Knowing what we know about what happened when we were young," Sanam said with difficulty, "Because of which the concept of violence is so abhorrent to our entire family, how can you just say that?" Sanam asked. "You have to understand Abu's side of things. He . . ."
"Don't you get it?" Seher bit out stiffly. "It doesn't matter to me. Unless he tells me that he did kill someone, those rumors do not matter." She paused for a moment, her rapid breaths the only sound in the room. "And maybe not even then," she admitted shakily.
Frowning again, Sanam began to perform her ablutions. She didn't want her sister to repudiate her love, but she did want Seher to think about this with a cooler head. Sanam silently admitted to herself that if this had been Rehan they were talking about, she might have reacted in the exact same way. Love had changed her view on a lot of things.
She sighed deeply, beginning to wrap a dupatta over her head. She knew that whatever happened next, it would be an uphill battle for Seher. But Seher wouldn't be alone. Sanam would be there to support her sister.
"Allah miyah, please bestow your mercy upon us," she silently prayed.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
are the night time fear
You are the morning when it's clear
When it's over, you're the start
You're my head, you're my heart
"As Salam Alaikum wa. . ." Head turned to the right shoulder. "As Salam Alaikum wa. . ." And to the left.
Aahil's hands shook slightly as he raised them before him. "This is the first time I'm praying to You after years of silence . . .," he finally began. He cleared his throat. "And I am praying with hope in my heart." His eyes moved to the window, staring unseeing out the window. The sun hadn't come out yet . . . wouldn't come out for awhile. All was dark, except for the small light that had been lit near his prayer mat. And in that near darkness, he sat, his hands raised in dua. Just him and his Khuda.
A part of him wondered cynically at himself, wondering what he would achieve. That same part of him ached when he remembered the years he had spent in Bhopal as a child, and the loneliness he'd suffered in America. That part of him balked at this dua.
But there was another part of him. It was that part of him that felt joy, his mind remembering the conversation he had had with Sanam days ago. It was that same part of him that had moved him to ask Rehan about praying, his memory hazy about the actual steps. And it was that same part of him that hoped his prayers would be heard by the Almighty above today because he finally had something he wanted to protect.
"I have always wondered what was the use of talking to a God who had abandoned me to the life that I had to live?" he said, his eyes now raised to the heavens above. "I always felt that I had nothing to be thankful for. But it is only now, I have realized so many things. I see that you gave me Suleiman Chacha in my darkest hours. You gave me Lateef as a friend when I thought I had no playmates. You gave me my sisters . . . a reason to continue living. You gave me Rehan . . . a brother to call my own."
He smiled slowly. "And now . . . you have given me Sanam." He dropped his head, unable to go on. His heart swelled with joy, washing away the wounds of the past. Her laughter and loving words drowned out his own cries of pain.
"I bow my head in supplication to You, Allah miyah. I have heard that making dua . . . asking from You . . . is an important part of performing prayers. So I ask you today . . . for the woman who has entered my life. Please give her to me. Allow me to cherish her for the rest of my days."
His voice shook slightly, and he stopped. He took a deep breath, hoping that it would calm the furious beat of his heart.
"Let me live a life of peace. Let me live my life with her. Let nothing from my past come to stand in our way. If you do . . . if you do, I will be a good man. I will do only good. I will share the wealth that I have been blessed with those who are vulnerable and those who are weak." He twisted his mouth at that word, a little of his cynicism bleeding through. "I will forget the past and I will forget the pain that I have suffered. I will start anew."
He buried his face in his trembling hands. The need inside of him to attain her was so strong that it gnawed at him, making a beggar out of the man who was the Nawab of Bhopal. And he wasn't one bit sorry for it. She was a priceless treasure. Why wouldn't he give everything up to gain that treasure?
"Please make her my destiny. After You, I only want to be hers. Amin. . ."
He needed her to be the light in his life. Without her . . . all would be lost.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
light, no light in your bright blue eyes
I never knew daylight could be so violent
A revelation in the light of day
You can't choose what stays and what fades away
Sanam stared down at her paperwork, the print blurring before her eyes. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get her mind to focus. Sighing heavily, she put the file away. It was a good thing that she had no trials to prepare for and no pending work. She got up, planning to go outside.
It had been two days since Seher burst into her room with the news. There had been a tense atmosphere at home. Her father had been adamant that what he had heard was true. The Nawab had been in jail, and Asad Ahmed Khan did not want his precious daughters near an ex-convict or anyone who had anything to do with that ex-convict. That included Rehan, who was best friends with the Nawab.
Sanam had never gone against her father in the past, but this blanket prohibition even made her angry. All the women of the household had argued vociferously, pointing out that they knew these men. They urged her father to ask before making any judgments.
Sanam had tried calling Rehan, but there had been no answer. Nothing. And it seemed that the possibility of the Nawab's innocence was decreasing day by day. Her mind turned back to the newspapers headlines that had appeared like a slap to her face this morning.
The Nawab of Bhopal . . . Tall, Dark and Deadly!
Aahil Raza Ibrahim's Scandalous Past
The headlines this morning had been numerous and hurtful. It seemed that Abu had only heard days ahead of the news spreading through all of Bhopal's society. Sanam wiped a hand across her eyes, wondering how she could help Seher deal with this. Wondering how all of them would deal with this.
According to the newspapers, which had been full of the salacious details, the Nawab had been in an American jail for five years. Sanam's mouth twisted, the turmoil inside of her coming to the surface despite all attempts to control it. He had been convicted of murder.
And the worst thing of all? Sanam flinched at remembering that final headline. It was that headline that had caused Seher to leave them at breakfast and lock herself in her room.
The Nawab of Bhopal . . . the Nawab Killer
Aahil Raza Ibrahim, if the newspapers were to believed, had been found guilty of murdering his own father.
Sanam shuddered slightly as she remembering that bit of news. How could people sink that low? It couldn't be true, and yet the newspapers were blasting that news on repeat as a fact.
Forcing herself to turn off her thoughts, she marched outside. Her eyes moved over the area. She was at one of LSB's satellite offices, far away from her own office and home. This office was near one of the shelters, and was used as a last minute staging area before DV victims were moved to the shelter for their stay. The office was in an isolated area, their building the only one in the area for miles around. She was here with one other LSB co-worker, Malik, to take care of some administrative and housekeeping tasks. Part of those tasks were cleaning up the area, watering the grass, and throwing the trash away. Due to the need of keeping this office location confidential, outside cleaning staff would not be hired. Therefore, it fell to trusted office staff to take care of such tasks.
It was nearing the end of the day, and almost all of the work was done. She'd already sorted through the mail, helped her coworker with the grass and cleaning up. She'd inventoried the equipment and did some of her own work. Even knowing this, she was out here trying to look for work because she really, really needed something to keep her mind busy.
With determined steps, she strode to the side of the building. Her steps slowed and then stopped completely when she saw him helping to unload a van along with Malik.
Rehan Imran Qureshi.
She shivered slightly when she saw his beloved figure standing there. It was a hot summer day, but his mere presence caused chills to run down her spine.
He wasn't as impeccably dressed as usual, wearing only a simple black T-shirt and jeans. A five o'clock shadow covered his jaw, making him seem sexily unkempt. His eyes were covered by those sunglasses that he always seemed to have with him.
She couldn't read his eyes . . . not even when he was clearly looking her way. But she read his body language. He wasn't happy to see her here. She could see it in the small frown tugging at his lips. She could see it in the way his arms fell to his sides. She could see it and it made her heart ache. He clearly hadn't expect to see her here. And why would he have? She certainly hadn't.
Malik nodded at her cheerfully before going towards the front of the building.
Sanam stared at Rehan in confusion. What was he doing here? They didn't even trust cleaning staff to this site, but someone had clearly told Rehan where to come with the donations. She smiled tremulously. Up until now he had been making the donations for the shelters at one of the main LSB offices, where they interviewed the individuals and families before bringing them here for some last minute paperwork. It was those children's hearts that Rehan had stolen on his previous visits. The fact that he now knew of this location spoke of how much the LSB staff had come to trust him.
She began to move towards him, ready to confront him. To ask him where he had been. To ask him why he hadn't answered her calls. To just . . . talk to him and hear his voice. Her breath came out in an almost sob. She had missed him so much!
"Where is she?! Where are my kids?" an angry male voice suddenly shouted from the other side of the building.
Sanam froze, her eyes going towards the source of the yelling. Malik was there. She looked around, but there was no help. There was no one else on site. Sanam's eyes flitted over to Rehan, but he wasn't even looking at her. She turned away, intent on handling this situation on her own.
Sanam raced around the building, her eyes taking in a big bear of a man towering over Malik. His hands were on Malik's collar, and he was shaking her co-worker back and forth with each spoken word. "Tell me where they are! They are my family. Where is she?"
"Sir," Malik said, trying to placate the obviously angry man, "I don't know who you are talking about. We are only a small business. Look," he said, pointing to the items that had fallen at his feet. "We sell blankets and sheets."
"You think I don't know?" the man roared, swinging back one hand, which had already formed into a fist.
Sanam knew that he was going to start hitting Malik. She had to do something. Clenching her hands into fists, she took a deep breath for courage and moved forward. She hoped that her presence would be enough of a distraction, giving Malik precious time to call the police.
"Stop!" she yelled, throwing herself in front of Malik. She shoved the man away, putting some distance between the two of them. "Just what do you think you're doing? We don't know what you're ranting about!"
The man's face darkened in fury at seeing her standing there, and he swung forward with his fist, unfazed by the fact that he would be hitting her instead.
She raised her hands, ready to protect herself. She had taken self-defense classes. It was another thing that she had never had to use her self-defense skills in a situation like this, but her body was ready. She was ready to defend herself.
There was a grunt and the sound of flesh meeting flesh. She blinked. A strong whoosh of air, and someone lightly brushing by her. It all happened so quickly that she wasn't sure what had happened. She blinked again. She then heard cries of pain and other assorted thuds from the side. Turning her face, she saw that brute now pinned against the wall.
And Rehan stood there, his hands around the man's throat. "How dare you try to hit my Sanam?!" He pulled a hand back and began to punch him, his anger white hot. He knew nothing except for the fact that this man had thought to lay violent hands on her. The fire burned inside him . . . he didn't even notice when the man became limp in his hold. Nothing was getting through the haze of anger except for the need to punish this man.
"Rehan! Rehan! What are you doing? Stop!" Sanam cried, pulling at his arm urgently. She couldn't bear to see him like this. So crazed . . . so violent. "I'm okay! He didn't touch me. I'm okay. Please! Let him go," she urged.
He turned to her, his eyes dazed. Sweat ran down his face. Slowly the anger cleared away so that he could hear that man's moans. He could see the worry and fear in Sanam's face.
"What are you doing?" she asked softly, holding his face between her hands. When he tried to turn his face away, she brought it back towards her, making sure that his eyes would only focus on her. "Let him go."
His hands slowly uncurled, letting the other man fall away.
"Malik, please call the police. They can take care of him," Sanam ordered. Grabbing hold of Rehan's hand, she tugged him away from the scene and the man groaning on the floor.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"How can you not have any security here?" he burst out angrily, making her jump. "How can you endanger yourselves like this by being so irresponsible? This is an isolated place with nothing nearby. You two are the only staff on site today!"
Those were the first words he had spoken in the past half hour. The two were sitting in the office, the only light coming in from a single window. The open window had allowed them to hear the police come and go off with the man. LSB's contacts in the police force had ensured their speedy arrival and hassle-free arrest.
She sighed deeply and then went back to the task of cleaning the scrapes on his knuckles. "This was the first time something like this happened, Rehan," she softly explained. "People usually don't know about this location. I'm surprised that someone told you about it." Her words hinted at a desire to know.
"And so, now what?" he demanded, ignoring her final words. "Trash like him will continue to come here and harass and physically threaten the staff? You don't think the word will get out? He'll open his mouth and someone like him will come here every day!"
"No," Sanam said, looking at him admonishingly before turning to the task of putting bandages on his knuckles. "We're going to close this location. End our lease. And find somewhere else."
"It's that easy?" he asked angrily, aghast at her naivete.
"It's not that easy," she said as she began to pack up the first aid kit. "It's something that has to be done. Why complain about it? Having people like him come here . . . and maybe one day show up at the shelters, that is not something our staff is willing to risk."
"So?" he asked.
"We have contingencies in place, Rehan. DV survivors already suffer from having everything taken away from them. Their sense of safety. Their ability to trust others or to even trust their own judgment. They lose their homes. They lose the lives they know. They face this, and, more often than not, they blame themselves and are blamed by some in our society for not bearing with it," she said solemnly. "They are made to feel as if it is them that did something wrong. And having trash like him show up at the shelters and endanger their safety and the first sense of security they may have felt in some time? It's not going to happen," she said with determination. "Like I said. We'll take care of it."
Aahil stared at her, captivated by the passion he could see burning inside of her. This woman cared deeply about her clients . . . she cared deeply about their families.
He turned his eyes away, his mind going obsessively back to the newspapers he had seen this morning. He should have expected something like this. Why had he let his guard down? Why had he begun to hope? She must have seen them. She must know . . . not everything . . . but enough. It was enough to make him realize that she would never be his.
He turned his eyes back to her, unable to be in the same room as her and not look at her. He gazed into her eyes, taking the time to soak up this moment. While it hurt to know that her passion . . . her love could never be his, he would have this picture of her in his mind and heart to cherish.
She cleared her throat, feeling the change in the atmosphere. His eyes were telling her something, but she couldn't read them. All she knew was that he was hiding something from her. "What was that?" she finally asked softly, seeing him stiffen in front of her.
"What was what?" he asked brusquely, getting up and moving towards the open window suddenly needing that air to breathe.
"The violence," she whispered, getting up to stand next to him. She stared at his face, noticing how his jaw tightened at her words. "You just beat up a man so horribly that he passed out, but you didn't stop. When you let him go, he fell to your feet. What was that?"
"He was about to hurt you," he said through gritted teeth, surprised that she couldn't understand that basic fact.
"But . . . violence like that is not okay," she said firmly. "It is not the answer. You didn't have to--"
"I did," he interrupted her. "Some people only understand that. Did you want me to just stand there and allow him to beat the answer out of you? Did you want him to go after his wife and child and hurt them again?"
She stared at him, surprised by the anger she could hear in this voice. She'd never thought that Rehan would be so defensive. "The rumors . . . about Aahil," she began delicately, feeling her way around this topic. "Is it because of that? Because of what he might have done? Is that why you're being so defensive? Rehan, why can't you understand? Violence is not the answer! At least not like that! You could've just incapacitated him, but you . . ."
"Sometimes it is the only answer!" he shot back.
"Is any of it true?" she asked with difficulty, staring down at the clenched hands that gripped the windowsill. "Rehan, you can't think this way. If what they're saying is the truth . . . if it is . . ." Her voice trailed off, unable to go any further.
"Then what?" he said through gritted teeth. "Are you asking me if Aahil Raza Ibrahim did kill someone?" He grabbed her by the shoulders, his hold unknowingly tight on those fragile bones. "If he did, then what?"
"It's not just someone. It's not just anyone," she said softly, her hands coming up to grip his wrists. "He might have killed his father," she said, tears beginning to fall from her eyes. "Murder in any way or shape is a sin. Why am I having to explain this to you?"
"Even if he did kill his father. There has to be a reason. Why aren't you trying to understand?" he asked desperately. "Do you have any idea what it is to be weak . . . vulnerable? To be afraid and backed into a corner? Where you must act to protect yourself and others. Sanam, you have to see this. Sometimes you don't have any other option."
She pulled away, moving across the office to put some distance between them. She reached up, pulling at her hair, unable to think of any way to make this beloved man understand the most basic of things.
"I wish that we could all live in a world where people didn't have to make these hard choices," he said from behind her, his voice as broken as crushed glass. "I wish we all lived in a world where parents loved their kids . . . husbands loved their wives." He stopped and she could hear him swallow, and then clearing his throat. "I wish that we all lived in a world where violence wasn't necessary, but we don't. There are a lot of wishes that we make that don't come true. Sometimes people have to make those hard choices." He paused and was silent. "It isn't fair for someone like you . . . living in your ivory tower . . . to judge others."
She turned around, astonished by those words, but he was gone. He'd left. She stared after him, her heart incredibly hurt by those words. He didn't really think that, did he?
"Rehan!" she called out after him. There was no answer. He was gone.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
the crowd, I was crying out
And in your place there were a thousand other faces
I was disappearing in plain sight
Heaven help me, I need to make it right
Sanam moved towards her car, her steps dejected. Her mind was still running through the words that he had thrown at her before leaving. They ate at her, but there was nothing she could do. He had gone before she could defend herself. She had worked through the next hour, and now she was going home. She cringed at the idea that she would be thinking about him and his bitterness all night.
Slipping into the car, she shut the door slowly behind her. She waved goodbye to Malik, watching him ride off on his motorcycle. And then jumped at the sound of thunder.
"It's raining," she noted with a sigh, staring at the rain as it began to pour down from a gray sky. This sudden storm . . . and the long drive home. It had been such a long day, and then Rehan coming . . . What must he think of her? Her face twisted with emotions, but she took a deep breath, forcing herself to control herself. She needed to drive home.
She turned the key, but nothing happened. Her eyes narrowed in worry. Turning the key once more, she tried again. But besides a couple of clicks, there was nothing. The car wouldn't start.
"Seriously?!" she cried out, banging her head against the steering wheel. She winced as her head accidentally honked the horn. "Dam* car," she muttered to herself. "I knew I should've gotten you checked the last time you stopped on me. But Abu said that he'd fixed you! What do I do?" she muttered to herself.
Pulling out her phone, she thought about who to call. She froze as a sudden thought came to mind. What if that man came back? She knew it wasn't a rational thought . . . she knew that he had been arrested. It would be impossible for him to be here, but she was all alone. There was no one else. What if . . . not him . . . but what if someone else showed up?
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Allah miyah!" Sanam shrieked, reaching for the pepper spray in her purse. Her hands were trembling, but she had the spray in hand and was aiming it at the dark figure standing by her window.
"Unbelievable. What is wrong with you?"
She heard the man muttering as she rolled down the window, her pepper spray still aimed at his face. "I have pepper spray, and I'm not afraid to use it," she threatened. "Don't even think about breaking my window to grab me." Her eyes widened when she saw who it was. "What are you doing here?" she growled, her heart still beating furiously. "You scared the daylights out of me!"
He sighed heavily. "You wouldn't understand," he said morosely, ignoring the fact that the rain was now falling heavily on him.
"My car won't start," she said, pointing out the obvious.
He nodded, seemingly in deep thought for a moment. " You won't get a tow truck all the way out here at this time. Let's go," he suddenly ordered.
"Where?" she asked, wrinkling her brow in confusion.
"Home," he said dryly. "Unless you wanted to go clubbing instead?"
She shook her head at his sarcasm, making a face at him. Grabbing her purse, she stepped out, landing against his wet body when he didn't step back in time. She stared up at him, the rain falling on her face and making it hard to see. He was wet . . . the rain having soaked through even his T-shirt. Wet tendrils of hair fell across his eyes, and she wanted to reach up and brush them away. She clenched her fingers into fists instead. The T-shirt was plastered to his chest . . . delineating his abs. Her fingers burned, but no. Control. She needed to control herself.
He slowly brought up his hands, placing them above her head as an umbrella. She blinked up at him, his hands protecting her from the raindrops. She smiled at him slowly, beginning to lean in. Maybe it was the right moment to touch.
"Let's go," he repeated, stepping back. "Lock up your car. You can come back and get it later."
She nodded her head at him and locked the car, smiling inwardly when she saw that he'd placed his jacket over their heads to shield her from the rain. It was another thing that she was already soaking wet. It was the thought that counted. They raced over to his car and quickly got inside. She began to shiver lightly.
Glancing over, he quickly turned on the car and then the heater. Turning the vents towards her, he reached back and grabbed a blanket and carefully placed it around her.
"Thank you," she said through chattering teeth. "I don't know why I'm feeling so cold," she muttered apologetically. "It's not even that cold."
There was no answer from his side of the car. He started the car and began to drive.
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, and noticed that his features were still so grim. He was still angry. But . . . he had walked off more than an hour ago. The fact that he was still here . . . "You stayed," she noted softly, her heart so moved by his actions. "You stayed so that you could make sure I got home safely."
But he didn't respond. There was only silence between the two as they got closer to her home. She began to panic, wondering what would happen when they arrived. He wasn't talking. There had been some sort of disconnect since they'd begun speaking this morning. Or even last night . . . Or since the rumors spread. He hadn't spoken to her at all since the rumors began. Not on the phone. Not face to face. There had been no communication. She still didn't know the truth about any of this. He didn't trust her, and that didn't make her feel good at all. She was abruptly pulled from her thoughts by the sudden braking of the vehicle.
"Sh**," he muttered, glaring in front of him.
Sanam turned her head, following his gaze and saw the flooded street 10 meters down the road.
"Should we just drive through it?" he mused aloud. "I'm sure it'll be fine."
"No!" Sanam protested, reaching out to clutch at his hand on the steering wheel. "I've heard you're never supposed to cross water where you can't see the bottom. You have no idea how deep it is."
"Fine," he said through gritted teeth and reversed the car and began to drive in another direction. The rain fell hard. The sky darkened into full night. They encountered other flooded streets on other possible routes. Before long the multiple detours they had taken got him hopelessly lost. He stopped suddenly on a broken road in what seemed the middle of the forest.
She looked around, her brow wrinkled. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"I'm . . . lost," he admitted reluctantly.
Her eyes widened in surprise.
"Don't look so surprised," he ordered sulkily. "It's just that I haven't been back for long and haven't had the chance to familiarize myself with the area," he admitted with difficulty.
"Go that way," she instructed, trying to hold back her smile.
He grunted in acknowledgement and started the car up. When he put it into drive, nothing happened. He tried once more. Nothing. The car wasn't moving. Sighing heavily, with one dark look at Sanam, he got out and looked at the vehicle. Getting back in, he thumped a hand against the steering wheel.
At least his hand didn't honk the horn the way her big head had, she thought to herself. "What's wrong?" she asked, surprised at how . . . not worried she was. They were alone in the jungle, it was pouring rain, and it was night time, but she wasn't worried at all.
"The tire's flat," he muttered. "I have no spare. A tow truck definitely wouldn't come now. But we could maybe call Aahil or someone from your home to come pick us up. I have no cell reception. What about you?"
She blinked at him, taking in what he was saying, but behind the scenes her mind was working feverishly. They were on high ground, so no danger of flooding waters. The area seemed familiar, and she was pretty sure there were homes nearby. They could go to them in the morning, in the light of day. She glanced down at her phone and breathed a sigh of relief. No signal. "Nothing," she said, trying to control her glee. "We'll just have to wait it out," she murmured. "The storm will end soon and we can go to any nearby homes, if there are any, for help. It doesn't look like this road gets used that much, so there shouldn't be much danger from any cars driving by. Don't worry."
He froze at that, a smile seeming to flicker across his face. "I feel like I should be saying that," he finally explained.
She flashed a smile at him in return, but that soon fell away when she saw his eyes turn away from her. Their earlier argument came to her mind. How could she convince him to see her side of things? How could she . . . she realized that she had never told him about her own past. She'd never shared the darkest part of her life . . . even before she had discovered what darkness really meant.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Aahil stared at the rain falling against the windshield, but it was mere background noise. The lightening a show and the thunder a mere echo of the rapid beat of his heart. They were safe. They could wait it out. The storm outside could not beat the turmoil inside of his heart. He heard a soft rustling beside him, but he refused to turn his head. Tonight was going to be a test of his fortitude.
"Rehan," she called softly.
He resolutely kept his eyes turned away from her delectable form.
And then he felt her touch.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sanam took a deep breath and reached out and grasped his hand in hers, refusing to let go even when he tugged at her hold.
"We have to talk," she said softly. "Something has changed since the last time we spoke when you . . . when I . . ." But she couldn't go any further. They had confessed their love to each other, but after that there had only been radio silence. She didn't know why Rehan had pulled away, but she wouldn't let that stop her from telling him her reasons. She just hoped that this would encourage him to open up, as well.
"When I was two years old," she finally began, after he had given in to her hold and allowed his hand to remain in hers. "My life changed completely. A woman . . . a psychotic woman, who thought herself in love with my father escaped from jail and came to our home. She had been in jail for killing my paternal grandfather."
She could feel Rehan shift in his seat, as if about he was about to say something. She paused for a moment, but he said nothing. She took that as a signal to move on.
"When she came to our home," Sanam continued with difficulty, "Seher, Haya and I were in the backyard, playing with our grandmother. We weren't even on her radar, but I'm sure that if she had known about us, she would have come after us, as well."
She felt Rehan's hand tighten around hers, his other hand coming to cover it with his warmth. That warmth seemed to spread through her body, calming her down so that she could continue on with her story.
"She killed my maternal grandfather . . . she killed my phuphi, and then she went after my parents. My Abu was able to fight back, but not before she had also hurt them, too. That . . . woman," she said, biting back the word that had come to her lips instead, "died. But that wasn't the end of it. How could that just be the end of such horrific acts of violence?"she asked musingly.
His fingers clenched on her hand, but she didn't notice the pressure, too focused on the telling.
"We had to deal with the deaths. She killed two of ours, and my family suffered, mourned and remembered. We had to deal with the funerals and the media frenzy. She was the murderer, but it felt as if our family had done something wrong." She took a deep breath. "My parents spent months . . . years recovering from their injuries. She stabbed my mother in the foot, in the back. And due to complications from her injuries, my mother couldn't have any more children. She walked with a limp for the longest time. They still carry the scars of the attach. And we all carry the psychological scars of that violence. And to top it off, my sister, Seher got loose during all of the hubbub. We didn't find her for days, and she wa--."
She stopped, unable to go on. Her eyes were wide open, but they saw nothing of the rain or lightening in front of her. She saw only the past . . . how overprotective her parents had been of the three of them, including Haya. How they kept them close to home and away from everything that might be dangerous. How sickly her mother had been for the longest time. How strict her father had been . . . and how sad her grandmother had always been. She remembered how timid she herself had been due to their overprotective tendencies or had been until Aahil came into her life one memorable night.
She took a shaken breath, awakening herself out of the gloom that had swept over her in the retelling. "You have to see . . . violence cannot be the answer. And murder . . . never. It touches every aspect of a person's life . . . it taints and corrupts. That one action . . . eats away at the perpetrator . . . the victim . . . and the victim's family. Do you understand me?" she asked softly.
He turned to gaze at her. "I understand," he whispered hoarsely.
The two turned to stare out into the rain, watching the raindrops splash against the windshield. Their hands were still clasped together, and she wouldn't let him free. And she didn't know how much later it was when she felt a weight fall softly against her shoulder.
Turning her head, she saw that Rehan Imran Qureshi had fallen asleep. She bit back a smile, unable to stop the happiness bubbling up inside of her. Her eyes lovingly moved over his face. He looked so innocent, so young when asleep. She wanted to protect him. She wanted to fill his life with so much love that he would never feel deprived.
She would love him so much that he wouldn't remember the years he had suffered in the orphanage with no one to love him or to call him theirs.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
you leave me,
If I told you what I've done?
And would you need me,
If I told you what I've become?
Sanam awakened with a gasp, her eyes looking around frantically. She calmed down when she felt the familiar weight against her shoulder. He was still resting against her. She blinked and looked outside, seeing that the rain had stopped. The sun was peeking over the horizon.
He began to move to anxiously, muttering something, but she couldn't understand. "Rehan?" she asked softly, reaching up to cup his cheek.
He suddenly grabbed at her, burying his face in her neck, his breath harsh against the soft skin of her throat. His hold was tight and desperate.
"Rehan! It's okay," she murmured reassuringly. "Everything is alright."
"--nt anything. Please. Get me out of here. Please." He sounded so young. So afraid.
She placed her hand on his thigh, shaking his leg gently. "Rehan!" she called out softly. Something was hurting him, and she couldn't bear to see him in pain. "Please, wake up."
He got up, straightening suddenly. His eyes were alert, and it was as if he hadn't slept at all.
"Rehan? Are you okay?"she asked, her eyes wide in inquiry. "It seemed as if you were having a bad dream."
He shook his head at her, clearly not wanting to discuss the nightmare. When she opened her lips to protest, he shook his head adamantly at her. "I don't want to talk about it. Let's enjoy the sunrise," he suggested softly, staring out. If things had been different . . . if he had been different, he could have woken up to her every morning like this. They would have watched the sunrise together. They would have built lives together. They would have built a family together.
He would allow himself this moment of selfishness, and enjoy one sunrise with her. As the sun finally appeared over the horizon, he opened the car door.
"Let's go," he said.
"Where?" she asked automatically.
"Home," he said dryly. "Unless you wanted to go shopping instead?"
"Don't you have any other sarcastic words to throw at me?" she retorted, striding after him. She made a face at his departing back. It seemed with those words, they were back to where they had been before this night in the rain.
He kept the conversation determinedly impersonal as they walked to the nearest house for help. He spoke only platitudes while waiting for the mechanic to show up with the spare tire. He was nearly silent as they drove home.
What had happened? Why was there this distance between the two of them she asked herself over and over again. They had spoken of her past together. They had slept next to each other. She had felt so close to him, but now all of that was gone. He was gone. And there was this huge distance again. Her heart ached. Why was it so easy for him to just pull back? Why was it so easy for him, but not for her?
He had said he understood! Just what had he understood?
As they stood outside her doors, she waited for him to say something, but there was only silence. She turned to go, her shoulders drooping.
And he stopped her. Putting out an arm, he grasped her wrist and gently pulled her back.
She turned to look at him, unabashedly showing him the tears in her eyes that he had caused her to shed. Shaking his head at her, he reached up and gently brushed those tears away. "Don't."
"Why not?" she whispered to him. "When you find it so easy to pull away."
"I'm not worthy of those tears," he said softly. "Never shed them for me." Pulling away, he began walking backwards. With a final wave, he turned towards home. It had all been a dream. She had been a dream that he had allowed himself to hold onto for a moment. Their love had been like lightening . . it had been quick and just as inevitable. But like all dreams, you had to wake sometimes. It was his time to wake up.
"Khuda hafiz, Rehan!"
He turned with an admonishing glance. "Aren't you afraid your father will hear you?"
She shook her head. "Why would I be afraid? I know my father is wrong this time."
His eyes moved over her smiling face, his gaze almost like a caress against her skin as she stood in the doorway. She was an angel, her innocence shining brightly in the gray morning light. Her eyes were filled with love for him. But how real could it be when she knew nothing about him?
He flinched. Not even his name. It was time for her to wake up, too. And she would . . . soon. He was only sorry that he had pulled her into his world. That he had made her feel for him. That he had made promises that he had had no hope of keeping. "He's not wrong. I'm sorry," he said softly.
"Did you say something?" she called out with a questioning smile.
He shook his head in silent denial. Turning away, he began to walk toward his home.
"Rehan!" she called out from behind him. "We'll see each other soon, right?"
He stopped, but couldn't let himself turn around because if he did, he would want to stay . . . to hold her, to hug her, to say he loved her over and over and over.
"You'll call me, right?' she asked, trying to get a promise. "Rehan?"
Her calling him Rehan only made it easier to walk away. When she found out the truth, she would stop calling him on her own.
"Khuda hafiz, meri jaan."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
No light, no light . . . No light
Aahil sat by the pool, his back resting against a pillar. His eyes were trained on the sky light above. He'd set things in motion today that would not be easy to stop. Not that he wanted to stop anything. He couldn't do that to Rehan. Rehan might have his own reasons to keep away from Seher, but Aahil Raza Ibrahim would not be one of them.
He looked up at the night sky, his eyes careful in their search. There were no stars tonight. None at all in that night sky. He smirked bitterly.
All his life he'd told himself that if he only saw a falling star his wish would come true. His mother had told him so on her deathbed. She'd made that promise.
He'd held that promise close to his heart through all of his childhood days . . . through all the years he had spent in America . . . and after, he'd held onto that promise. When anything had gone wrong, he'd comforted himself with the thought that one day he would make a wish on a falling star and it would come true. Despite his age, and all that had happened, he'd believed. A part of him had believed.
He'd known that all these years the reason his wishes hadn't come true was because he hadn't seen a falling star. But then he'd seen one and made a wish. He had prayed and had dared to hope that Allah miyah would hear his dua.
But now . . . he knew the reason why his prayers . . . his wishes wouldn't come true.
He was the reason.
Raza Ibrahim didn't deserve any better than this.
A/N: Hi everybody! Sorry for the long wait between updates, but sometimes life gets in the way of what we want to do. Thank you for waiting patiently! Let me know what you think of this chapter. Definitely leave a comment, so I know all of you are out there and still reading.
Song Credit: No Light, No Light by Florence and the Machine
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