- 17 Feb - 23 Feb, 2018
THAT FATEFUL DAY
- 30 Sep - 06 Oct, 2017
She was scared as the past took the better of her. Were there any novel ways to escape from reality? She feigned inertia to replace her excruciating pain with numbness. Nothing worked. There was no sign of his lingering presence, as the remarkable degree of pain only grew over time. He had rejected her love. What was left to bet on? Her death instinct had come to life.
It was happening again, her heart missing beats, followed by her shivering and sweating. Zarminay was too clouded to think straight. She was recently diagnosed with anxiety disorder. This time she was not going to let others come to her rescue. It was ok to let go of life. She was resolved to die. She had succumbed to the agonising realisation of his absence. Life meant nothing without him. "So this is how dying feels like," she mumbled.
It was seven in the evening, when Zarminay had fixated her gaze at her computer screen. She usually never stayed this late at work. Everyone could guess something was seriously wrong. Her cabin was dark and the screen was the only source of light. Noman was seriously concerned.
Wasting no time, he came to inquire if she was going through another episode of panic attack in the week. To Noman's surprise, regardless of Zarminay's uneven breaths, she had not put her hands off the mouse.
"‘Easy ways to die’? What are you browsing, Zarminay?" Noman was aware of her failed love life but never knew she had become suicidal. On hearing this, she jumped in her chair and stared at his face.
"Yeah... this… is… an assignment I am working on..." she paused to breathe, looked right at his petrified face and said, "relax, your eyeballs will pop out."
"Do you know you are going crazy, lady? Let’s go – we are going to the doctor."
Zarminay liked Noman for his amiable disposition but he did have the nerve to agitate her; a girl who was easily repulsed by anything.
"Noman, I’m not crazy. Just go."
"You know I can drag you all the way to the hospital. Why do you resist help?
"No, I am fine; I have my meds. I will be ok. Noman please!" she paused to get some air and took a long breath. "Please..."
Zarminay knew nothing ever worked if Noman made his mind. "I am waiting in the car, Zarri and taking your bag with me," he said and left her cabin.
Five minutes later she found herself in the front seat of his car. She could not be saved; she knew it, but she did not like despair on her friend's face.
"You used to call me Zeera? What happened to that?" Noman chuckled at the reminder.
“Yeah, Zarri does not have the same panache as Zeera... I… I have missed you, crackpot."
Zarminay had lately isolated herself to her cabin from three consecutive weeks. He knew what triggered the sudden change of attitude.
"I miss myself too, Nomi," now she was looking outside at the speeding cars, buzzing sounds and maddening traffic.
"Hey, he will come back... and it his loss if he does not. Hang in there, buddy." Noman wanted to help but he did not know the doorway to her heart.
"It is not about him. He is... he is..." she did not even like the mention of his name from Noman’s mouth.
He devoured me and left me to die, she said to herself. I am despondent, DON’T TRY TO SAVE ME.
Zarri finally put words into her mouth. Noman was exasperated by her stay-out-of-my-business demeanour.
The past and its painful memories were coming to life again.
‘I am sorry, Zarminay’ were the last words he had said to her. It seemed like the demons from the past were rehashing her deepest memories. Looking outside the window, she saw flashes of red light hanging like chandeliers outside shops. The colour red brought back with itself flushing memories.
The devil inside her asked for acquiescence and she let herself slip in the dark alley of memories.
She remembered she had draped herself in her favourite brands. From her red silken top to her high heels, the game was on point. She knew he loved her wearing bold lip colours. She had adopted all the likings to his suitability. Waiting for him at the side table of their favourite restaurant, she kept looking at her cell phone to check on his arrival status. He was going to be here any minute. She looked at the bunch of red roses she had bought from a local vendor. They were still fresh waiting for their recipient. After making her wait for a good 10 minutes, he finally arrived.
He looked at her with utter delight. He had a particular way of looking at her, as if he studied her features and loved every bit of it. She loved him for that and for everything else.
"Oh my! You look a sight," his husky voice always kept her excited. "You are late, but I will spare you this time," Zarminay said as she was going to make the move, and wanted to keep her cool.
"Sweetheart, what is going on in your head? Should I be worried?" he gazed at the bouquet. Zarminay knew her heart would pounce if she delayed any further. The monologue she had prepared was now fumbling into a jargon.
"Omer... you know I really like you…"
"The feelings are mutual... and? " he could sense her shaking. A waiter came towards them but she shunned him away. She stood up and walked towards Omer. They had been together for three years now. She thought she was aptly taking her relationship forward. She was on her knees now. To that Omer puzzlingly looked at her.
She was smitten by him. It was not just likeness; it was more than that. He caved the idea of her proposing to him. He wanted to stop her but he could not.
"It is just not likeness, it is a place where the heart meets the soul, it’s a companionship. Our feelings need a constant effort from both sides. It is going to be hard on you sometimes. I may not be the prettiest or the smartest girl but my love is infinite and I will love you to the end of times. Omer... you are my first thought when I wake up, and the last one before I put my head to sleep. You are the centre of my dreams and the hero of my reality. I have imagined my entire life with you for a million times and every time you are mad at me, I come back running at you. I have come to realise that love grows with time and I want more time... with you... I want you... all to myself. I want us to grow old together. Omer, will you marry me?"
He was taken aback, for he had not planned for this. He liked her very much. He was accustomed to her good and bad habits. But he always believed their relationship was still in a juvenile state – not very delectable. He knew what he was going to do. It was going to be hard for both of them. He stood up and stepped backwards.
She was still waiting for his answer. She could sense the tension piling up. That was the first time she realised irregular heartbeat, palpitation, sweating and shivering – her first anxiety attack was en route – after all silence is the most intolerable of answers.
He finally gathered his courage. "I am sorry, Zarminay. I know it is difficult for you to understand. I am also speechless but am not ready to take the bold step," his words struck her like a whip of lightening.
The heart reached a crescendo of emotions. He never saw her despaired before. Her smile had gone and the face turned into a rock solid like the refuse of a sad picnic. He rejected her emotional outpour. Her infinite love was not enough to curb his wretched heart. She was shaking now. She tried wearing a calm facade but it was nearly impossible for her.
Standing on her feet she could feel hot blood gushing into the back of her nape. The sensation was uncomfortable. Without further ado, she pulled herself together and walked out on him. Her prompt reaction was her manifestation of grievance.
It had been three weeks, 21 days, 508 hours and he still had not contacted her.
Despair flooded again. Noman saw her grovelling to her sorrows.
"You know what is wrong with you? If help drifts towards you, you have a tendency to swim the other way."
Zarri knew, with her growing irregular heartbeat and anxiety, she could still punch him in the face.
"Oh yeah, you knight in shining armour!"
"Zarrri! You bury your head in the sand as if he will come back to you if you harm yourself and Google easy methods to die. I am sure even he would want to kill you with that defeatist attitude... "
"Watch out!" Zarri exclaimed cutting him in the middle.
The car came to a sudden jolt when it was forcefully stopped in the middle of the road.
A nefarious curse had been cast. The stream of blood became a cesspool of shattered dreams, abandoned hopes and broken promises. The death knell announced the expiry of many lives. A few minutes ago, everyone had different destinations to reach, goals to achieve. The busy road was now a bleak memory of savage killing. It was a carnival of death and only the gatekeepers of life were to celebrate such a horror.
A man came running from the other side of the road towards the alpha. He was also dressed the same and whispered in his ear. To which the alpha gestured others to leave. A fainting sound of police mobile was heard.
Four men ran towards a building on the right side and the other four towards the left. It was a commercial area confronted by buildings running parallel to the road on both sides. There were banks, retail stores and bakeries. The alpha had not moved an inch and blatantly opened fire again before the police could reach him. Was there any point of killing the dead again?
Police had finally reached the spot. There were two mobiles fully loaded with armed men packed like sardines. It seemed like everyone was assigned a task already, there was no need for further drilling.
A pack of them ran inside the buildings while the two of them came near the mound of dead bodies to check if anyone could be saved.
Noman lay still with eyes wide open, facing the ground. There were holes all over his body.
Zarminay lay next to him. But she was not dead. She was unhurt but refused to move. Her eyes were fixated on her friend's dead body. Hot tears trickled down her cheeks. So this was it. Even death had rejected her now. Rejection had become her course of life. Even death had refused to claim her life. God did not want her in the heavens or hell.
Zarminay looked around to see if other cars had stopped as well. The road merely led to a single destination. It was usually jam packed at peak hours but today it was surprisingly blocked. It could be another episode of political riots or an accident. But the ear-deafening chaotic feel was missing to sustain the thought.
A few figures appeared before them. She saw Noman's eyes which appeared to be horror-stricken. Zarminay noticed all the figures wore similar outfits, just like the ones she had frequently seen in the news, Facebook memes and mostly in the morning paper she used to read to her ailing grandpa. There were a bunch of shadows drawing closer towards the cars. They were not some ill-equipped bandits but the ones who had put the world on the run.
Noman could not believe his fate, and had no time to embrace what had just happened. They were ambushed by the infamous barbarians, blood thirsty monsters, the self-proclaimed rightists of the highest order. They were loaded with weapons wrapped around their bodies.
Nothing humane could be expected at this point. This time the desperados had come for them. Noman regained his senses and frantically looked at Zarminay. He thought his friend was in utter disbelief. He held her by the arm. Zarminay was talking under her breath, but he could hardly understand what was coming out of her mouth. They could die.
Noman saw himself going numb at the very thought of dying... Zarri's panic was completely justified at this point, her indistinct utterance. In Zarminay's version, she saw her friend turning pale and almost lifeless. She felt sorry for having him dragged into her death wish.
One of the rogues, who looked older than the rest, was now moving his lips. His mannerisms registered him as the Alpha of his group. The faint voice had now turned into shrill echoes.
The members stepped forward and banged on the doors, instructing them to come out.
By their infliction, it seemed like fate had been rewritten, but this time humans took charge. Doors opened and slammed behind, every passenger was now standing next to their vehicle wary of their fates. Noman and Zarminay also got out regardless of their temptation to resist the command.
She had prayed often to God to take her life away but she never knew her prayers were answered incessantly. She was emotionally distraught with grief. But Noman had dreams to accomplish, many experiences to live through.
to be continued...