Written by: Arshad R Shaikh Edited by: Daze J, Praisy H, Mukul S and Deepak D
‘But I….love….y..you!’ Alina said.
Her voice was breaking. Her eyes were filled with tears. They were waiting to roll down.
‘I love you too.’ Shah said steadily. ‘But my parents, and I want more and you can’t give that. Everything has a limit, so does our love.’
‘Then, what do we do?’ She asked.
She knew the answer, but she was hoping for the best. Her life was going to take a new turn. She wasn’t ready for that. She gave her everything to be with him.
‘Divorce.’ He just said.
The tears collected in her eyes were now rolling down.
Eight years had passed. This conversation had always been somewhere inside Alina. In her opinion, it wasn’t Shah’s fault. She had done something similar to someone who she once loved.
Alina Aziz, a thirty years old divorcee, had come to her mom after the divorce and became a high school teacher.
She was preparing for her lecture on her desktop and an email popped. It was from her coaching institute. She was in the middle of it when her phone buzzed. It was Anjali, her best friend from the coaching institute.
‘Hi, how are you? Are you coming to the reunion?’ Anjali asked.
Anjali was excited because they hadn’t met in a long time.
‘I am good. How are you? Anjali, I am sorry, but I don’t think that I can make it.’ Alina said.
Life after her divorce was entirely different for Alina. Her relatives and neighbours never missed a chance to humiliate her. She was living in a typical society.
‘You are coming with me. If you don’t then, don’t talk to me ever. You have a life. So, what you are divorced? Many people are divorced. And don’t tell me that you care about what your relatives would say? You are kind, beautiful and a wonderful person. You are the person I’d like to be, but right now, you are just scared of happiness.’ Anjali said in a raised voice.
Anjali knew that she needed a push. She knew that Alina would never be ready if she wasn’t ready at that time.
‘Okay, I will come. Now calm down.’
‘Alright then, I will get my car and we will go together.’
They started their journey. Alina wasn’t still sure. She was afraid, not about the world, but about Zubaid whom she loved twelve years ago.
‘Do you think he will be there?’ Anjali asked.
‘Who? Zubaid? I don’t know.’ Alina answered.
Alina’s mind was asking her questions: is he married? What if he doesn’t recognize me? She wanted to answer, but she didn’t know either. And there was only one question in her heart, “what if he is not there?” She couldn’t decide between yes and no, wishing him to be there and afraid of facing him.
After a five-hour drive, they finally reached there. The function was already started and they were a little bit late. As soon as they entered the hall, Alina started looking around for him. She was wishing to see him. She was ready to face him.
A huge applause deviated her attention. Anjali was saying something to her, but she wasn’t listening. She was looking at him. He was on the stage. He was going to say something, but he stopped when he saw her. A few seconds later, he started.
‘I am thankful to our director and every member of this institute who helped to organize this reunion. I am thankful to all who came here to help me, to help us. Today, the reason I am here is to ask you to help me to make this world a better place and this is happening only because of my son, Aman. The love he gave me made me a better person. I realized that the only way to change our generation is to make a better next generation. Here, I am announcing our NGO “Hope of Love.” A place where education will be given to those who need; where a new life will be planned for those who need our love; where the world will be better with your help. Thank you.’ He said.
The hall was filled with applaud. But Alina was the only one who knew that he is fulfilling his dreams; that he is achieving their dreams. She remembered when they planned their future together. In it, there was a son named Aman and there was an NGO. She was thinking about it when her heartbeat increased as she saw him walking towards her. Her heart was telling her to go twelve years back when everything was beautiful; when everything was theirs; when everything was filled with love; when everything was musical.
(the boy is singing)
Teri najar jo, dekhe mujhe to, jaage hai mujhme khwaishein,
ude jo julfien in hawao me teri, to dhun sunaye mujhe dhadkane,
Awara man khone laga hai.
Kuch bewajah sa hone laga hai.
Tere ishq me, ho raha hu main khud se juda,
Tere ishq me, awara man khone laga.
Paas se gujre tu mere to, lage ki Jannat ki khoosboo hai,
Chhule jo halka sa tu mujhe to, hota hawa me jadoo hai.
Neendein khwabo se judne lagi hai,
Nami aankho se udne lagi hai.
Tere ishq me, ho raha hu main khud se juda,
Tere ishq me, awara man khone laga.
(the girl is singing)
Isharo- isharo me batein hai, kahne me akhir kyun dar hai,
Dhadkan hai gaati tere geet, zubaan pe aane me kyun dar hai
Khokar teri bahon me, shamein apni saja lu main
Hath agar tu tham le, us pal me sadiya bita lu main.
Tere ishq me, ho rahi hu main khud se juda,
Tere ishq me, awara man khone laga.
(12 years ago)
Every day, Alina and Zubaid crossed each other in the street. Their eyes met. They talked through them. And finally, one day, Zubaid came to her and said.
‘Hi, I’m Zubaid. Would you like to have a cup of coffee?'
‘Hi, I’m Alina. Yes, sure.'
The silent love story was turning into a romantic story. They began their love by going to a nearby café.
‘Are you here for PMT or IIT?’ He asked.
‘PMT.’ She answered. ‘And you?’
‘IIT.’ He said.
Days went by, and they started to meet every day at the same café. They began to know each other. After a few days, Anjali was also coming to the café with Alina. They three became best friends.
‘Come on, Alina. We are getting late for the class. And you, Zubaid go to your class.’ Anjali said.
‘Just a few more minutes.’ Alina said.
‘I hate you, Anjali. You talk like our mother.’ Zubaid said and smiled at Anjali. Then, Alina and Zubaid looked at each other and laughed.
‘You go, Anjali. I will come to the next class.’ Alina said.
Anjali left the café.
What about your parents? What do they do?’ Zubaid asked.
‘My mother is a school teacher, and my father is always at home because he is very sick.’ She said. ‘ What about yours?’
‘My father owns a computer center, and my mother is a housewife.’ He answered.
‘Enough about parents, what about us?’ Zubaid asked.
‘Okay, I want to be a doctor, and I want to marry you, and I want to have only one kid, a son. We will name him Aman.’ She said.
‘That’s a good plan. I want to be a teacher, and then, I want to open an NGO to educate the needy.’ He said.
Four months passed away. They were very busy studying as their exams were near. Alina wasn’t able to focus because his father’s condition was getting worse. A few days before the exam, Zubaid went to the café to meet Alina, but she wasn’t there.
‘Hey, Anjali. Where is Alina?’ Zubaid asked.
‘Can you please sit down? I need to tell you something important.’ Anajli said.
‘What happened? You are freaking me out. Is everything alright?’ Zubaid asked.
‘Alina is gone, and she is not coming back. She is getting married because it is her father’s last wish to see her as a bride.’ Anjali said.
‘No, no. It can’t be possible. Alina was here two days ago. We planned everything. This is wrong.’ Zubaid said in shock.
‘This isn’t wrong. Yeah, this is also not right. There is a thin line between right and wrong which is complicated to understand. It is what it is.’ Anjali tried to convince him.
‘She can’t marry someone. She loves me. I will go to her home, and talk to her.’ Zubaid said and stood up.
‘It’s not a good idea, Zubaid. Listen, you have to let her go.’ Anjali said and caught his hand.
‘I hate you Anjali. Now go away.’ He said with anger.
‘I was hoping to see you. It is good that you came here.’ Zubaid said.
‘Me too, how are you?’ Alina asked.
Alina wanted to ask him all the questions she had in her mind. But she was scared of her truth also.
‘If you don’t mind, can we go on a small walk to the café? Zubaid asked.
‘Okay, that will be fine.’ She answered.
They went out of the hall and walked towards the café. The silence was making everything awkward.
‘What do you do?’ Zubaid asked and broke the silence.
‘I’m a teacher. I didn’t give my PMT exam, so I didn’t become a doctor. What about you? Did you qualify for IIT? She asked.
‘Yes, but I didn’t join. I joined our coaching and became a teacher.’ Zubaid said. ‘ So, how is your husband?’
He finally asked her, and all the awkwardness was gone.
‘Actually, I am divorced. He left me eight years ago. Since then I am living with my mom.’ She said. ‘What about you? You have both Aman and NGO, you have achieved your dreams.’ She said with a smile.
‘I’m divorced too.’ He said.
Life was giving them another chance. Love was again in the air. Everything was becoming the same as it was twelve years ago. They came back to the hall.
‘Where have you been?’ Anjali asked. ‘I was looking for you.’
‘Hey, Anjali.’ Zubaid said.
‘Oh hi, Zubaid. I am sorry, I couldn’t see you. That was a great speech you gave.’ Anjali said.
‘Thank you, Anjali. Look, I am sorry for earlier. At that time, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I hope you can forgive me.’ He asked.
‘It was a long time ago. You don’t have to do this.’ Anjali said.
Again, there were three of them. The wind was saying to them that nothing is changed, but in their heart, they know that everything is different; it is a different era; it is a different life.
‘I am planning a lunch party tomorrow at one with all of my close friends at my house. I’ll text you the address. I hope you can make it.’ He asked Alina. ‘Anjali, you can also come even though I hate you.’
They all smiled at each other and then laughed.
Alina knew that he is also divorced, but she wasn’t ready to tell him, “why was she divorced?” She was scared that the love he has for her will be gone if he knew her truth.
‘We will be there.’ Alina said.
Next day, Alina and Anjali went to Zubaid’s house. Aman was also there. Alina started to talk to Aman. Zubaid was looking at her in the same way he looked earlier. Alina was afraid that what if he will ask her to marry him? It wasn’t that simple for Alina. After lunch, Zubaid came to Alina and started saying.
‘It was my fault that I let you go before. We plan things, although we know that life does not give us what we want. I want you. I am glad today that you are here. The unexpected joy is better than the planned one. As we both are divorced, I want you….’
‘Just stop there. I can’t, I am sorry.’ Alina said.
‘Listen, Alina, I love you, and I want to marry you.’ Zubaid continued.
‘No, I can’t. Alina shouted. ‘I told you I can’t.’ Her voice went down as tears started to roll down.
She left his house. His joy, his happiness were all gone. He was again on the same page of the story where he was twelve years ago. Everyone was looking at Zubaid. Both Aman and Anjali followed her.
‘What’s the problem?’ Aman asked. ‘Look back; he said he loves you. He was telling me your story last night. You loved him. So what’s the problem? Aman asked very calmly.
‘You can’t understand, you are just a kid.’ Alina said.
‘Try me.’ Aman asked.
‘The problem is that I can’t birth a child. That is why my ex-husband left me. That is why I can’t be with Zubaid.’ Alina said.
Tears weren’t stopping. Her shoulders were bending a little bit. It was like she relieved the load of eight years. It was her truth, and she was still afraid of it.
‘My father adopted me when I was seven. He loves me. He gave me a name. He gave me a life. But my father’s wife couldn't love me. She wanted her own child, but he refused. It was not easy for him to choose between his wife and me. This problem you are saying, this is not your story. You are just afraid that he will abandon you as your ex-husband did. But remember, Everyone has a story, and every story has a hero. He is the hero of my story, and you are of yours.’ Aman said.
Alina stopped crying. Aman turned and started to walk towards his home, and then he turned back.
‘If you can’t birth a child, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a child.’ Aman said.
For Alina, everything was stopped as she listened to him. The wind was touching her ears but saying nothing. Her mind was showing her every moment of that time when she was with Zubaid. She closed her eyes. Her bent shoulders were trying to fall Alina on her knees. But Anjali came and hugged her.
‘We think we understand love, but we don’t. Love is beyond our understandings. Now, I think that love is an adventure, and we have to explore it throughout our whole life.’ She said to Anjali.
She opened her eyes. Zubaid was standing in front of her. Anjali left them alone. Alina looked into his eyes and said.
‘I will try to understand love, and yes, I will marry you one day.’