- 20 Jul - 26 Jul, 2019
- 10 Feb - 16 Feb, 2018
My life had no meaning. It had no purpose. I was successful enough to enjoy a lavish living but I was alone. Never had many friends. My family lived quite far from here. I wanted love. I wanted compassion. But living alone brought a lot of emptiness.
On my way home from work, I had managed to find my purpose. Something that would keep me occupied and make my life more enjoyable. But as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever.
A lot of you would be surprised to know what this purpose really was. Well, it was something boring but it brought some spark to my life.
At four o’clock in the afternoon, I’d prepare to leave the bank and head home. On my way, I’d pass a bungalow where a woman lived. I would often spend a couple of hours outside her house. Hina Khan, the woman who lived inside would stand in her balcony for hours. Because her balcony didn’t have much space to wander around, she’d often stand fixed to one spot, resting her arms on the railing.
Hina Khan was extremely beautiful, so much that I can’t even put to words. She was something different and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. When she blinked, one could see her beautiful, long lashes. Her long, black hair enhanced her beauty. Everything from the shape of her upper lip to her nose was bewitching.
I am forty years old and have been around many women but have never come across somebody as beautiful as her.
My story is about an ordinary person who found peace, somehow winded up losing that peace, and turned into an evil human being. This is the story of a man who has been emotionally tortured.
As usual, I prepared to leave work and quickly drove my car to see that woman. I stopped outside her house and took out a pair of binoculars from my briefcase. She wasn’t there at the moment so I waited.
Oh here she comes.
She had her hair tied up in a bun today. This was new. She looked slightly different with this hairstyle, but beautiful nonetheless. In fact, I was happy to see her new look. Watching her every day somehow brought meaning to my life. It felt as though praising her beauty had become the purpose of my life but who knew this would lead to a path of emotional torment.
My eyes never grew tired of staring at her. I could continue watching her without blinking. It was surprising how she never noticed my existence. I mean how could she be so oblivious? Was she too busy to acknowledge me? Or was she least bothered? I had no idea.
But something about her boggled my mind. I couldn’t decide whether I was in love with her or not. You would probably think I was, because why else would I spend so much time watching her? But I believe I wasn’t. Why? Because I knew nothing about her and didn’t care for her. The only thing that mattered to me was her beauty. Her face, that’s it.
Although, I must admit that seeing her with her husband was a bit unpleasant for me. There was also the fact that I couldn’t go a day without seeing her. An hour had passed, and it was time for me to go home. I kept away my binoculars and turned on the car’s engine. Before leaving, I took one, final glimpse at her and thought, I’ll come again. Please don’t go away.
At home, I sat alone in the lounge. The air conditioner and yellow lights were switched on. It was a relaxing atmosphere but somehow, I felt empty. I picked up my laptop and logged into Facebook.
For the second time, I was searching for Hina Khan. I tried multiple spellings with different locations but was never able to find her Facebook ID. Was she not on Facebook? Or had she created her ID with a different name?
Finding out her name by asking around her neighbours wasn’t very difficult. But hunting for her Facebook ID was challenging. So, what could I possibly do now? I needed to find her Facebook ID so I could at least have a picture of her.
Besides work, I didn’t have much to keep myself busy. Which is probably why I wanted her picture, so that I could watch her all day.
Having lost hope, I kept my laptop aside and reached for my cellphone. I browsed the pictures in my gallery and finally opened an image. It was a blur picture that I had taken some time ago. It was a photo of Hina standing inside her balcony. The image had been taken after zooming in so her face appeared blur. While looking at the vague image, I thought to myself. Why can’t I ever get a clear image of her?
The thought frustrated me so l got up, took my things and walked helplessly around the room. My doorbell rang. I knew who it was so I went to answer it. It was my neighbour – a good-looking woman of about my age. As usual, she was here to bring me dinner. I took it and thanked her politely. She, however wanted to come inside for a chat but I didn’t let her, putting her off with an excuse.
“Can I say something Mr Shahid?” she said, noticing my rude behaviour, “You should be more kind to me, considering the fact that I bring you meals every day.”
“You’re right,” I answered with the least bit of concern.
“It’s not polite,” she replied.
“I’ll work on it,” I said, trying to shut the door.
She was surprised by my behaviour.
I might appear rude to people but why would I bring someone in my life who I can easily replace. It’s a waste of time. I already have a woman in my life. At the moment, I don’t want to replace her with someone new, even if she might turn out to better for me than Hina.
Next day, I was signing some documents at my office. After I was done with this, I looked at the label on my desk that read, Senior Manager.
I wish I could appreciate what I was. But sadly I could only see the emptiness in my life. My loneliness was more than frustrating. I felt like destroying everything and then escape, like a prisoner destroys his cell after escaping it for ever.
“You should get married”, “Why don’t you keep a pet?” or “You need to socialise and make new friends.” These are the kinds of advices I get from my colleagues but I pass them on and instead pay attention to other advice like, “You should take a vacation and travel somewhere outside”, “Why don’t you take some days off and make a list of things you really enjoy?”, “Read books on different subjects you will get distracted” or “Do some charity to feel better.”
But I only listened to a good piece of advice. “Invest your time in doing something you enjoy the most.”
So I did what I enjoyed doing the most -– watch Hina. I decided to spend more time outside her house and watch her for as long as she stands at the balcony.
And while I was giving this a thought, someone gave me another good idea. “Why don’t you go and spend some time with your family in Dubai?”
Why not? This instantly sounded like a great idea but not as good as watching Hina.
From today onwards, I was anticipating watching Hina. I was obviously excited about it. I was in my car and watched her using the binoculars. She was smiling and looked more gorgeous than ever. It was her smile that made her look better. The smile accentuated the cute little dimple on her face that shined like the moon.
As she stood there and kept smiling, her face suddenly turned upset. Her husband stood behind her, which left me really annoyed. I kept watching them. Hina didn’t seem happy with him. They probably had a quarrel or something. Her husband said something to her. I could see her arguing with him and then leaving the balcony.
This was really surprising. It’s usual for any ordinary couple to engage in a fight but Hina’s anger was different and it shook me. Even though I couldn’t see her face but the way she angrily turned around was something I hadn’t witnessed before.
I was still looking towards the empty balcony. The whole situation made me happy and I felt good after what I saw. It was probably because I didn’t wish to see her happy with her husband. I wished them to be separated and wanted Hina to be with me, which meant I was falling in love with her.
Even though this was when I should have controlled my feelings for Hina, which I did not and it eventually cost me a lot. This is what’s wrong about love. At first, it gives you a sense of hope, making you feel as if you are doing the right thing; then it convinces you that all would be fine after you enter this ship. But once you’re trapped in this ship of love, you have nowhere to escape. Love is a ship, surrounded with water from all sides. You can’t escape from it and if you do, you’ll have to swim your way to reach the shore, which means that you have to struggle with your emotions to get out of it.
Next evening, I was at home and called up a friend.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Hi, how are you?”
“I’m good, how are you Shahid?”
“I’m also good. I need a little favour from you.”
“Ok, what do you need?”
“I need you to book my flight for Dubai.”
“Oh, I see. Alright I’ll do it,” he said.
“What time do you need me to book the flight for?”
“Anytime after five o’clock in the afternoon.”
“Ok, I think it’ll be available.”
“Good… I’ll send you other details through text.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“Bye.” I said and disconnected the call.
Considering that I’m hardly busy these days, I couldn’t think of anything but Hina. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about her beautiful face. What crossed my mind, while being lost in Hina’s thoughts, was the prospect of her separation with her husband, which might eventually lead me to meet her and make her mine. I knew nothing about her character but was deeply in love with her.
I agree that there’s no point in expecting her to be mine, for a regular quarrel between husband and wife wouldn’t necessarily lead to their separation. But these thoughts consumed my subconscious mind the whole time.
A few days later, I was ready to leave for Dubai. To be honest, I wasn’t excited at all. As my hopes for winning Hina were getting higher, which is why I didn’t want to leave Pakistan and the more I was away from her, the more I would feel alone.
My luggage was in the taxi’s trunk and I asked the taxi driver to stop outside Hina’s house for a while. I had given him the address and my plan was to see a glimpse of Hina before leaving. I did this so I could have one last memory of her and no regrets in case I never get to see her again. This time, however, I was planning to take a clear photograph of Hina as a souvenir for myself.
I asked the driver to stop the vehicle at a distance and there, I could see two traffic police officers standing for some reason. The driver panicked a little and said: “Look sir, I don’t have the license and papers of this vehicle. We must leave before these two officers spot the taxi and come here.”
“Ok, just give me a minute,” I asked him to wait.
Hina was not standing on the balcony today, instead it was her cruel husband whom I saw there. I saw him holding a bottle behind his back. Something in the bottle was producing smoke fumes. As I closely paid attention to this situation, I spotted him raising his free hand and showing off a cellphone to someone, while still keeping his other hand at the back holding the bottle.
“Sir, we need to leave,” the driver insisted again, after he saw the two cops approaching us.
I didn’t respond to him. Instead I was busy paying close attention to what was going on in the balcony. Hina appeared at the scene and was trying to snatch the cell phone from her husband. It probably belonged to her. As I paid close attention to the bottle, I realised it was acid. As the beautiful woman, Hina, came closer to get her cellphone, her evil and wicked husband lifted the bottle and threw its contents on her face, and it was indeed acid that he tossed on her. This was when Hina screamed out loud.
“Sir, we have to go,” the driver insisted and started his vehicle’s engine.
“One moment!” I asked him to stop, while anxiously witnessing the scene.
Hina was crying piercingly and incessantly while holding her face and her hands also started burning, as she touched her face in pain.
The coward driver accelerated his vehicle and drove away from the place quickly. Whereas, I was left in shock. The most beautiful face I’d known had been destroyed by acid.
to be continued...