By Umar Lateef Misgar and Khalid Fayaz
She called her friend, Sahil, and told him about the chemist who had slid his phone number into her packet of potions. Her eyes closed but a vestige of hope bloomed in her.“You should have informed your mother so she could have taken a mature reaction against the chemist”, replied the friend. He added, “Women are naturally weak and their best protectors are their parents, not friends, because society is negative and friends take decisions based on impulse, which usually proves to be counterproductive. But if you insist, I will batter him down after the exams”. This unaccustomed answer convinced her a little and she calmed down.Some days later, while she was sitting in the porch with her grandfather, who in his late sixties hosted a white blanket-like beard, pale, wrinkled skin and grey eyes, someone shouted, “Shazia! Shazia!” The moment she responded to the call, she felt an unsolicited slap on her face. Shazia was startled and her cheek grew so red and hot that butter could have melted on it. After ten seconds, her grandfather mumbled to himself that it is not the proper etiquette for an adult girl to answer loudly.
Again, she complained to Sahil about the matter. His prompt reply was that old people have their inherited unavoidable principles, so try to behave before them as they wish you to. Shazia calmed down but this time she was only half satisfied. She began to think that if her brother would have done the same, he would not have been slapped. Moreover, the mistake was not hers but the callers inside the house who had shouted loudly. During the call, her phone beeped signaling low balance and the conversation was cut off mid-way. Sahil too had no balance because in college hostels, everyone remains hungry all the time. Shazia dared to ask her little brother to lend her his phone for a while. He was ill- tempered and speculative about his sisters. Provoked, he became violent and yelled, “Who the hell do you have to call? How many boyfriends do you have? Damn it!” This allegation devastated her. She left the room and burst out in tears. She was always weeping but this time her friend could not console her either.
After an hour of weeping, poor Shazia was immensely tired. Her mother, oblivious about the on goings because she was engrossed in her cooking announced that dinner was ready. Shazia quietly gulped down her food, pretending to be okay. Her mother saw her red eyes and enquired whether she had a headache? Shazia nodded but didn’t even arch her eyebrows. Her brother, watching all of this didn’t thaw even a bit. Shazia didn’t have any boyfriend, as her brother alleged, but she was an extrovert with all her female and male friends. This accusation was spinning in her mind.
On the other hand, consistent complaining had made her a bit of a burden for Sahil. He sometimes eluded her. The mental disturbance was perturbing Sahil but he tackled it with his virtuous character. He proved his friendship even during exams. Shazia’s affliction continued gradually, but she realized that Sahil was the only sensible and compassionate person in her life.
Shazia joined college as she wished, but her parents wanted her to qualify for a professional course because of the demonstration effect of her cousins. Shazia met her old school mates in college and their company gave her an after-paracetamol relief. Her mother was contemplating only about the professional course. As she stayed idle at home, new thoughts swirled her mind about convincing Shazia. Shazia was respectfully refusing every offer and leaving the aisle briskly to and fro college. Shazia had remained isolated from family matters throughout her life and whenever something happened she evacuated herself to her room and shed her ample tears. Shazia was regularly conferring with Sahil about all her matters. This consort, bit by bit, made her smitten of him. She had found a shoulder to rest her head on.
Sahil was a kind and polite person, always preoccupied in thinking about others. Shazia, bored with sleepless nights, manipulated his kindness by calling him late night and then apologizing, as every girl does – commits an act intentionally and then confesses non-seriously. Boys are buffoons, who still forgive them with a grinning face. This constant adherence to Sahil and his careful reactions made Shazia write him a note:
“Hi Sahil! How are you? Hope you are fine. I don’t know how you will react but I think you are the only person who knows me and takes care of me. I love you and want to live the rest of my life with you. Take care.
She folded the note and promised herself that if Sahil refuses the proposal, she had no reason to live anymore.