The Unexpected Surprise

  • 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
  • Ayesha Adil
  • Fiction

Ping! A text message. Making a mental note to read it later, I continued lecturing my students and only checked my phone after the class.

“I have a surprise for you tonight.” the text read.

My colleague cum friend Saman was with me, since we always ate together during lunch time. There was still some time left, so we thought of working on next year’s syllabus for English Literature. With weekend around the corner, we didn’t want to work during our holidays at home, specially when we had a deadline to meet.

“Just got a text from Fawad. Look what he’s saying.” I showed it to Saman. She was a good friend and I often shared my life’s instances with her.

“Ooo… I wonder what he has in store for you tonight!” She sounded just like a teenager, all soppy and mushy.

“Don’t be silly, Saman. It’s probably nothing.” I replied, secretly loving the prospect of a surprise from my husband.

“Well whatever it is, I’m just so glad that you both still have the flame alight in your relationship.”

I had never really thought of it like that. Fawad and I had an equation based on mutual respect and care but we had our problems nonetheless. There had been times when I couldn’t bear being in the same room as him. And then there were times when being away from him made me completely dysfunctional.

Putting aside my thoughts, I got down to work with Saman. I didn’t want to admit it before my friend but I was awfully curious about the surprise.

I thought about the last time I received a text message like this from him. It was when Fawad had gotten his promotion and wanted to move to England. It was a surprise, but definitely not a pleasant one. I didn’t want to think about that episode again. We had not behaved maturely as a couple that time. It was a complete nightmare that paved way for a lot of misunderstandings between us.

I hoped this surprise doesn’t end up like that.

The spring break was near so I guessed that Fawad might have made plans for a vacation. Well, I could only guess…

The day finally ended. I hastily packed my bag to rush home and called a cabbie.

I had begun using this service quite often now. With the city’s jammed roads and its terrible infrastructure, the ride actually provided me comfort and relaxation. I got my work done on the way, listened to some nice music or merely just stretched lazily. It was much refreshing than arriving home tired and frustrated in rickshaws. I enjoyed it so much that I had plans of switching to this service permanently. I could return from work all fresh and light and take on my house chores with renewed energy.

As I sat in the car, I suddenly felt my mood become nostalgic. I reminisced about all the happy and not-so-happy moments that Fawad and I had spent together.

I couldn’t forget the most recent time when he miffed me: I was returning home from an event at school in a cabbie with a female driver. I was so excited about the ride and wanted to share all about it with Fawad but he was so insensitive.

He was back from work early that day and was lounging in the family room when I walked in.

“Fawad!” I had exclaimed excitedly.

“Yeah?” he had pulled his lazy self up to focus on what I was going to say.

“You know Cabbie has female captains now? Well, guess who brought me home today?” I had asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hmmm, a female captain?” Fawad had replied monotonously.

Ignoring, I continued in the same beat, “YES!!! Isn’t that exciting?”

“I don’t know really. You took the ride so you’d know.”

“But Fawad, she was so nice!”

“Well, that goes without saying. Aren’t all captains supposed to be nice? I mean, why else would anyone want to travel with them?”

Why was he being so difficult?! Did I touch a raw nerve? Sometimes I wondered if I even understood this man at all.

“How can you not see it?”

Was it a guy thing? Fawad seemed so unaffected by the entire incident while my excitement knew no bounds. I didn’t mind though. Maybe he was just a feminist who believed in the equality of genders and didn’t see anything out of place with women driving. He always maintained that in a country like ours women were in fact privileged, given a great deal of respect in work places and provided with opportunities.

“I got to talk to her, you know?”

“Seriously? I never really thought she would be mute and deaf. Or wearing a DO NOT DISTURB sign around her neck. Besides, you talk to every other Cabbie captain, so what’s so special about her?”

“Oh my god, Fawad! You are impossible. Here I am dying, almost dying to tell you what happened and you’re not showing the remotest bit of interest in what I’m saying.” Then I sat there frowning, ignoring him completely. Why was he like this? Why couldn’t he look at it from my point of view and just hear me out. What was worse? I didn’t know what was bothering him.

“Ok, ok. I’m sorry. It’s just that I missed you when you were away and now that you’re back, all you want to talk about is Auntie Cabbie. But I get it, it’s important to you, so fire away, I’m listening!”

“Don’t mock her Fawad, please.”

to be continued...