The Man Behind The Star

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: August 02, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 02, 2017

A A A

A A A


Preview

If there was a way to project memories.. I’d project mine right in front of my eyes and probably get rid of them. the sad ones and more importantly the happy ones.. because those give greater pain that sometimes I can’t overcome.

He was a man that wasn’t supposed to be noticed, he stood behind a star that everyone loved and appreciated.. but that man behind the star grabbed my attention so much that I don’t know how I landed here wishing for his memories to fade away.. wishing for this pain to fade away.. wishing for this life to fade away.

 

Chapter 1

“Naina..”

“it’s Raina!”

“whatever, get me the finalized report and please use Word!”

I blinked at my stupid boss, he keeps forgetting what I am here for “eh.. Bob, I do the designs for the magazine.. not the reports”

He stood there looking at me like I’m some kind of an idiot, when he should feel that way about himself “you are the graphic designer? What happened to Sarah?!” but I can’t reply.. this man was probably drunk when he hired me “never mind, who’s doing the report on the X Files?”

Now he wants me to do his job “that’s Kevin” I pointed at where Kevin sat.. more like napped then sat down on my chair.. I sighed heavily closing my eyes while my hands where on my forehead covering my face.. where the hell did I end up at?! First, I didn’t want to move to New York.. second, I was FORCED to move to New York when I was 14 years old.. third, I hate my mom for forcing me to move to New York. It isn’t as perfect as everyone described it in India.. my friends were excited, no actually they were flying with happiness when I told them I’m moving to USA.. I don’t know if they were that happy cause its USA or cause I won’t be there anymore? Oh well.. I can only admit one thing, I miss those saalas. I smiled as I remembered them, I didn’t see them in a while.. actually, since I moved here.. which means, I haven’t seen them in 8 years. My mom never wanted us to go back to India to visit anyone.. I can understand why, she was paranoid that my dad would kidnap me from her.. see, they are divorced, my dad couldn’t handle mom anymore and I have to agree with him.. she’s hard to handle. So she moved us to the US cause she thought it would be a better place for me.. no, don’t get me wrong.. I didn’t want to move here, I told her that I didn’t want to.. but my dad told me to go with her because he didn’t want her to live alone.. he said and I quote “I don’t want her to experience loneliness, something I have lived  for the past 14  years” that made me shut up and get on the plane with her.

“NAINA”

“ITS RAINA!” I yelled at my stupid boss

“WHATEVER where the hell is the report?!” I groaned, I don’t want to do some taekwondo on his sorry ass

It was a long way back home, the magazine is a bit far and I have to use the train to get home. I know mom is already there, cooking dinner for us.. the usual routine is as following, we sit, we eat, we clean, we sleep. That is it, and boy am I excited or what? Totally not. I heard my phone ringing and I got excited for that at least, it’s an Indian ringtone which means “PAPA!” I yelled and I annoyed the old lady sitting next to me “kaise ho?”

“oh Raina, meri rani! Main belkul teek ho.. aur tum?”

I lowered my head smiling, he keeps calling me that.. I’m 22 years old but he still treats me as if I’m just 2 “I’m good papa..”

“and on the way home na?” he giggled and I laughed “bolo, how was work?”

“urgh! That boss of mine.. I might have to kill him one day” the old lady next to me gasped “he is so annoying papa!”

Dad was laughing “all bosses are annoying, Raina”

“haan but he keeps forgetting WHY he hired me! He keeps asking me to do reports papa and I don’t know why he keeps calling me NAINA!”

Yep, dad was still laughing “oh meri bachchi, he mixes up with that because he thinks you can do a perfect job other than his other employees” ah.. dad knows how to make things lighter than they already are “listen, if he asks you next time to do a report then give him one of your beautiful designs.. and he will never forget what you really do”

I grinned “that sounds like a good idea papa” shit, I’m getting emotional “I miss you by the way” I giggled wiping my tears, and the old lady just offered a tissue

“I miss you too meri rani” he paused and I didn’t say anything more.. we don’t have to, the silence can speak it all.

For the past 8 years, the only time I could talk to my dad was on this train.. whether going to school or to work, he had set an alarm to wake up at this time and call me.. mom doesn’t know of course, she’d literally freak out and she won’t understand that I am only trying to get a normal relationship with dad.. no she won’t.

“alright dad, I’ve arrived home.. better hang up”

“haan, hug your mama for me ok?”

I laughed, such a joker! “good night dad”

“good night rani”

I opened the door and the smell of lasagna just hit me “I’m home” I yelled

“I’m in the kitchen!”

Mom with her fake American accent! “hey, how are you?” I asked putting my bag on the counter

“I’m good, how was work?”

“tiring” I kept it short then tried to get a glass “ma, do you have to put them ALL the way back?!”

She giggled then got it for me “I keep forgetting how short you are”

Eh? I poured water for myself and drank it “I’m going to change”

“alright” I grabbed my bag when I heard her say “I cooked your favorite! Don’t be late now”

I was already going upstairs when I mumbled “my favorite is tandoori chicken ma.. but you forgot that..”

The routine was the same as expected, neither one of us was talking.. just eating in um, peace? Yeah.. peace. I was lying down in my bed just thinking of the same thing, how to run away from here? It was the only way that would help me sleep, I would imagine stories.. I would design posters.. I would direct movies and I am the heroine.. the hero though, he never got a clear face.. but he is there, physically.. falling madly in love with me then we’d get married and live happily ever after with our kids away from mom and I don’t know why, but the hero is always alone.. no family to bug us.. peaceful right? wrong, it’s the way I am brought up, if there isn’t a family.. it’s for the best.

 

Chapter 2

I woke up the next day, freshen up then put on my trousers that I absolutely hate and a shirt.. my hair is up like this twisted cake with no flavor of course and no makeup.. my businesswoman look! Always perfect to buzz guys off me.. always works. I had a silent breakfast with mom then rushed to catch my train, my phone rang and me and dad had a funny conversation.. see, there is this one neighbor who keeps hitting on dad! She literally wants to marry him, and hey.. I don’t mind him getting married again but I have to get to know her first and dad would laugh at me for that.

I got inside the building, straight to my department when I came to a halt.. why the hell is it crowded? “what’s going on?” I asked Sarah

“oh Raina!” she is probably the only one who can actually call me by my name “I was so waiting for you, oh my God! You didn’t tell me you guys had some hot actors!”

My eyebrows knotted “us guys who?”

“well doh! India!”

I made a face “I don’t understand, what’s going on?”

“this hot handsome Indian actor is visiting our magazine to promote his latest movie that he shot in New York” she sounded very excited but my face was about to explode.. I’m trying to remember the hot handsome actors that we have in India and my heart was thundering as I only remembered one name only “are you ok?”

“who is it?” I finally asked

“oh his name is tough but ends with Kan for sure”

“Khan”

“uh hm” she said smiling looking ahead

“is it Farrukh Khan?”

“ah! That’s it! he’s damn hot!”

Ok, ok.. breathe, breathe.. no I can’t breathe.. ITS FARRUKH KHAN! My freakin favorite ALL time actor! Oh my GOD! I didn’t meet him in India and I’m meeting him HERE in my LOUSY work place! So not fair, not fair at all “I’m going to the bathroom” I didn’t hear what Sarah said but she sounded confused. I ran to the bathroom and looked at my reflection “ugly! Ugly” that’s what  the mirror shouted, I started looking around my bag but there is NO MAKE UP what so ever! “ok, ok breathe Raina.. I can do this!” I let my hair open but regretted it, its so long! Why the hell didn’t I get a haircut like mom always told me? I started pinching my cheeks “ow ow ow” it was freakin painful but when I remembered Farrukh hot six packs “worth it, totally worth it!”

I ran outside the bathroom holding my perfume bottle when I noticed, no crowd “Raina, where did you go!?”

“where is Farrukh?” I asked Sarah like I just heard bad news

“he.. left..” she hesitated to tell me that

“WHAT!” I yelled “but he just got here!”

“ye.. he had some work to do..” Sarah looked at me in a weird way then left

I sighed heavily, just my luck.. he had to go! God I hate myself now “Naina”

“oh shut up” I mumbled looking at Bob

“how is the Help The Environment report going?”

I was about to snap, literally snap when I remembered dad’s words.. I put a smile on my face and told the saala “coming now, Bob”

“good”

I had to giggle at his happy face.. he wants a report, I’m going to give him a report. I sat on my chair and turned on my computer, opened Photoshop and started working on his report.. how to help the environment.. hmm, kill Bob first? Ah, I need to focus.. but how can I focus when I just missed my chance in meeting my damn favorite actor!? I minimized Photoshop and went to Google, uncle Google, then searched for Farrukh Khan.. Images of course and sighed as I looked at his imperfect face that made him look so perfect.. oh, there he is with his family.. that’ s a reason why I don’t want to get married I mean, if he is taken.. who is left? I smiled looking at this picture of him holding an award.. how this man manages to give me happiness just by looking at him so happy… wait.. who is that behind him? I enlarged that picture, that must be his bodyguard right? I lowered my gaze.. why is my heart beating so fast.. why do I want to look at his face again? I can’t believe I just zoomed on his face.. he is.. taking my breath away..

“I THOUGHT..” I jumped and yelled as I heard Bob shouting behind me “I asked for a DAMN REPORT!”

I exhaled heavily “its coming!” Bob rolled his eyes and walked away “asshole” I mumbled then looked at the computer screen.. slowly moving the mouse towards the X sign on the top.. slowly clicking on it.. alright, I need to focus on the report.. no, the design.. oh God.

 

Chapter 3

Well, Bob liked the design.. he did really, but then he again asked for a report.. dad laughed so hard at that and I didn’t find it funny.. actually, I was in such a mess that I didn’t feel anything.. I was walking around like a blind person.. why am I giving that bodyguard so much importance? I mean he is handsome don’t get me wrong but its not that.. he makes me blush and I have no idea why.. how come I never noticed him before? I sighed as I lied down on my bed, ok.. lets try and direct a movie to help me sleep… I frowned, why am I imagining him as the hero now? And why is he in the poster I’m designing? And why the hell is he in my story? I opened my eyes “shit this is not happening!” but it was.. and I felt helpless towards it..

I wasn’t planning on waking up with a headache, it was ruining my mood and I knew just by getting it that this was not going to be a good day. I walked into the magazine building and just sat down on my chair.. whats on the list? Ah, they need a design for the kids section.. boho, how boring. I was working on the design when I heard stupid Bob shouting “Naina”

“Raina” I replied still working on the computer

“get in my office now”

Oh uh.. no this did not sound good. I sighed and walked towards his office “you’re Asian right?” he asked as he was sitting on his chair

“Indian” I smiled at him

“don’t act smart” wait, YOU don’t act stupid! “this guy here is speaking a language that I don’t understand”

What guy? I frowned looking at the chair “ok?” I said looking at Bob but soon my eyes were set on the guy.. why am I getting weird vibes from him?

“can you ask him why he is here?”

I had to laugh “I’m sorry” I cleared my throat as Bob just glared at me “ehm, bhai saab” the man stood up and turned.. my heart stopped.. it’s him.. it’s the bodyguard and I can’t feel anything else but this weird energy that was dragging me towards him.. he was tall alright, so tall I reached his stomach!

“ji?”

Oh the butterflies are dancing in my stomach.. his voice is like a song to my ears and I am not kidding at all! “he wants to know why you are here”

“ah God, Naina he doesn’t speak English!” Bob yelled, I glared at him.. woke me up really

“right” I sighed then looked back at the guy.. he’s smiling.. he understands English! “aap yahan kya kar rahe ho?” I asked

He kept on smiling “I don’t think there is a problem in understanding English..” oh my face is red “I think there is a problem with your boss though” he whispered leaning towards me

I smiled shyly then looked at him, he had a sweet smile.. I realized I don’t want to see anything else but that smile “he does” I nodded then looked at Bob “just because he’s Indian doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand English Bob” I complained

“he was speaking in another language!” Bob looked shocked, I guess cause this bodyguard spoke good English

“right..” I sighed lowering my head, so embarrassed of my saala boss

“I only said shukrya.. which means thank you” I slowly looked up to see him speaking to the saala so calmly and politely “the reason why I am here is because my boss has dropped his mobile somewhere around here.. very unusual thing to happen”

“we did not steal your boss’s mobile!”

I groaned “he said DROPPED! When are you going to get your ears fixed man!” I was angry

“watch your tongue young lady!”

“hey, no need to get tough with her” oh oh oh my heart is pounding as I looked at his eyebrows knotting speaking in a firm way to the saala oh oh my heart! “I will look around for it my..”

“no, don’t worry about it, I will ask around” i interrupted him

He looked at me then nodded “shukrya” kill me now please..

“no problem” I walked outside the office and just winced, suddenly today is going to be a good day after all!

I started asking around if anyone has seen a mobile and if they did I was asking if they had maybe took it away thinking its theirs. Finally I found it with Lisa, she’s a good old woman who have been working around here ever since this magazine was opened. I thanked her and went over to the bodyguard who was waiting for me next to my desk smiling “found it with Lisa” I smiled as I gave it to him

“thank you and sorry for the trouble”

Hug me and I’ll forgive you “no problem” I nodded “how did your boss function without the mobile?”

He giggled “he got another one, this one is for work so he was happy that he lost it” I laughed “but I better give it back to him..”

Pouted, frowned, sad puppy face! “ok” I looked away, I don’t want him to leave!

“Allah Hafiz” he said then he walked away

“Allah Hafiz” I whispered looking at him leaving, my heart ached.. I should do something “wait!” I ran towards the elevators to see him standing there waiting “how.. how long are you guys staying here?” I think my face has turned red

But not his.. I think he was waiting for me looking at the elevators buttons, he didn’t press any “I think for 2 days..”

Shit “only.. 2.. days..” I sound like someone just stole my dish of pasta

“haan..” he sounded sad too

2 days.. and he obviously going to be busy too, God.. I was hoping for a week “teek hai” I whispered then smiled sadly at him “take care”

“wait”

I stopped and turned, he was still standing on his spot but his face was looking nervous and his eyes was focused on mine “you..” I think he just swallowed hard “you have a phone number?”

He was whispering and lowered his head fast.. God he’s blushing, hell.. I’m blushing too! “ji..” I whispered, he quickly moved his head up and his eyes met mine “I wanted to offer that actually but since you only got 2 days..” I’m mumbling

“my number works globally” I giggled looking at him “should I take yours or..”

“oh” move your butt stupid! “let me dial mine..” he was about to give me Farrukh’s mobile when I chuckled “no.. yours” I said looking at him.. wait, was he testing me? Cause he just smiled putting that in his pocket and giving me a mobile.. Nokia.. like the black and white one, I smiled just thinking this man is full of surprises and dialed my number.. so happy my phone is silent otherwise Udit Naryan would be singing Main Yahaan Ho! “there..” I gave him back his Nokia

He took his mobile and just started pressing on the buttons I guess saving my number but to look at him.. so focused and how the Nokia seemed so small in his big hands that I bet is warm in this damn cold weather.. my heart is beating faster.. I slowly lowered my head “Raina right?”

I just heard my heart thunder “yes” I smiled “what’s yours?”

“Yaser..”

“Yaser..” I repeated smiling at him.. God.. saying his name made me shiver and he was standing there.. looking at me, I think he knows what kind of an effect he got on me.. but looking into his eyes.. why do I feel like I have the same effect too?

He blinked and looked at the elevators “I better get back..” he got another mobile out of his pocket and started to speak in Hindi then pressed the button of the elevators… and I am just standing there looking at him with my angry eyes because that is NOT a Nokia! That is a damn BLACKBERRY! Ok, he’s looking at me still talking on the phone then hang up, his smile is tight as he waved the BB and said “it’s my work mobile..”

What? “the Nokia?”

There was a sound, the elevator door opened but we were still looking at each other “my personal number..” he seemed confused about something but his eyes were telling something else, the elevator door was about to close when he put his hand on it “Allah Hafiz” he nodded then got in

 

Chapter 4

I don’t think I’ve been walking right.. I think I was literally flying, just looking at my mobile every 5 minutes.. just to look at his name and smile like an idiot! But I can’t help it.. I don’t know what has happened to me that I can’t wait for him to call or to send me a message.. I was thinking of calling but always put the mobile down ordering myself to just CALM THE HELL DOWN! I literally felt like a kid who was about to get a candy.. but then I’d ask myself what if I send a message, that’s not bad right? he can look at it and reply.. easier than a phone call “Raina!”

I flinched in my seat, damn I’m still in the train and dad just shouted my name “ji papa?”

“well?”

I blinked few times, what was he saying? “aaahhh…” I opened my mouth “ji?”

“I knew you weren’t listening to me!” he sighed “bolo, kya hua? What’s on your mind?”

The last thing I’d share with dad is this! “kuch nahi.. I’m just tired that’s all” I lowered my head

“is your eye twitching? I can see it all the way here”

Damn I’m busted.. and to make it worse I laughed “nothing papa.. really im just tired”

“you are hiding something from me, Raina and I know.. but, won’t force you on telling me.. whenever you want to, I’m here na?”

I smiled, I do want to tell him but I’m scared.. what if he doesn’t approve or thinks I’m crazy? Not that he doesn’t think that I am crazy “I love you papa”

“I love you too rani”

I hang up as I reached home and got in “hello” I yelled walking towards the kitchen but ma isn’t there “that’s weird” I mumbled then noticed a paper on the fridge, I looked at it and sighed.. it says that she has to work late. I know she’s dating and its so obvious but I don’t know why she doesn’t want to tell me though.. oh well, I ran upstairs, put on my comfy pajamas then ran downstairs again to cook something for myself.. I am damn starving.

I wanted to cook something Indian.. maybe briyani, yum yum or murgh masala haye! I was literally drooling but all that was vanished when I looked around this damn kitchen and didn’t find anything I need to cook an Indian dish! God ma.. I don’t know why she’s doing this.. just erasing out our identity, it really hurt and I can’t say anything about it cause that will only start a fight that will never end and the end will be her winning cause at the end of the day, I hate making her angry with me.

I guess since she isn’t around, I can order something Indian.. I grinned as I picked up the phone and started ordering for 5 persons.. yes, I was that hungry. I sat down on the sofa and turned on the TV.. flipped over the channels but nothing grabbed my attention, all boring American shows.. I sighed as I lied down when I heard my mobile ringing, my eyebrows knotted cause it was an Indian ringtone “why is papa calling me now? Did something happen?!” I got the mobile out of my pjs pocket and pressed the green button “papa, are you ok?” I asked in worry sitting down

There was silence and I got more worried, why isn’t he saying anything?! “it’s Yaser..”

What.. I moved the mobile away and looked at the screen, oh my God.. it says Yaser! I blushed badly as I put it back on my ear “oh..” shit! Calling him papa!! Urgh! “I’m sorry” I said biting my lip

I think he’s smiling “it’s ok.. but.. I’m not that old”

I giggled “I didn’t look who was calling.. thought it was papa” ah my heart is beating fast, he is giggling too “how are you?” I had to lay down, I need to breathe normally too

“alhamdulilAllah.. a bit tired cause of working” I nodded, I can’t understand how his work is like.. but I bet its nothing like mine, sitting my ass down in front of a computer for hours “how are you?”

“hungry” I gasped, he didn’t have to know that, idiot!! Oh God, take me now!

He was laughing and I just giggled, it didn’t sound like he was laughing at me.. I don’t know, cant explain what I’m feeling now “me too actually.. what are you having for dinner?”

Should I tell him about the whole list of food I ordered? It doesn’t show anyway right? no.. play safe Raina “ehm tandoori chicken”

“achcha?”

I’m melting “haan..”

“did you cook it?”

“ah, wanted to.. but no just ordered it”

“hm” he got quiet for a moment “you know Raina..” he paused “I don’t really have many friends.. the ones I thought were my friends.. weren’t.. they only befriended me because of whom I work for” ok, now I am getting angry.. where is this going?! “and I am used to being alone..”

“the last thing I’d do now is to use you to get to Farrukh..” I was sitting on the sofa now “I wanted to know you not because of your job but because I thought you are someone special..” I’m shaking.. I should stop talking now.. God, my heart is pounding, I just told him what I have been feeling the day I noticed him

He was silent.. it scared me, maybe I was early saying these kind of feelings.. ah, say something “Raina..” he whispered “I’m nothing..” the pain in his voice is already taking over me “I am no one..” there is still a smile I hear in his voice “what special thing do you find in me?”

I smiled “everything..” I whispered “I can’t put words to it” I shook my head still blushing

He took a deep breath then spoke softly “I ah.. have to sleep, tomorrow is a big day for boss”

I giggled, he calls FRK boss.. that’s just sweet! “alright.. good night”

“good night, Allah Hafiz”

“Allah Hafiz” he hang up and I looked at my mobile.. oh I am still melting “AHHHHHH!!” I shouted but soon jumped as I heard the door bell, laughing my ass off at myself I ran to open it.. YES! The food is here!! I took the bag, paid the short guy then sat on the dinging table.. where is my apetite?!

 

Chapter 5

Day One;

 Where is he supposed to be? I was searching on Uncle Google about where Farrukh Khan would be and God! He will be everywhere in one day! No wonder Yaser slept early last night.. not me though, I couldn’t sleep at all and yet again woke up with a damn headache. I don’t know why I keep seeing him as the hero in my stories and movies, could it be a sign? I smile like a crazy person thinking about that… haan what if it was a sign? What.. “NAINA!!”

I jumped in my chair “WHAT?!” I yelled as I looked behind me.. oh.. I can’t stand up.. I am actually shaking and tears are forming in my eyes as I looked at the person in front of me “pa.. papa?”

“good morning meri rani”

But I can’t believe it.. am I day dreaming? Maybe I am.. I looked around, everyone is looking at us with big smiles.. wait, someone is laughing.. yes cause my face is funny.. I look back at dad, he is here.. I’m not really dreaming “papa” I jump off the chair and hug him tightly, hide my face in his shoulder and start to have tears.. I think I heard few people clapping and going “aww” but that’s about it.. I am now in my dad’s arms.. nothing else matters “what are you doing here?” well, I have to ask

He giggled “you want me to go ba..”

“NO” I clinched into him “don’t please” I closed my eyes.. his smell is taking me back to India.. taking me back to our small cozy house.. taking me back to my friends “I missed you papa” I bit my lip having more tears

“beti..” he kissed my head then tapped my back “do you have a place where we can be alone?”

I nodded then moved back and looked around, Bob is staring at me “this is my dad” I said indifferently “I’m taking the day off” I grabbed my bag and held dad’s hand, Bob was shouting but I could give a damn about anything now

“that wasn’t right”

Uh, well I think dad does “he won’t remember what happened later” I smiled as I put my arm in his and rested my head on his shoulder as we were sitting on a bench in a park “kaise ho?” I grinned asking

“teek ho” he paused “got worried over the phone the other day though..”

My smile faded as I looked at him “kyon?”

“the way you sounded..” oops.. I lowered my gaze “haan.. I know you are hiding something from me and I just couldn’t function at work nor at..” he stopped talking and I looked at him, DAD IS BLUSHING!

“at?!” I frowned, where has he been going!?

“Shublee’s..”

My God!! Dad sounded SO INNOCENT! And I mean like a kid!! “the neighbor?” trying to stay under control

“hm” he nodded looking ahead, with a smile on his face.. memories?

“so you have been visiting her?” ok.. I am not angry.. just upset

He looked at me and I quickly looked forward “haan, I have”

I folded my arms around my chest “ok..”

He giggled, what’s funny?! “she has been there for me.. for the past 14 years, Raina”

“jaanti ho” ye, I do know about aunty Shublee.. she has been my dad’s friend for THAT long.. maybe longer.. and I know he has feelings for her.. who am I to stand in his way na? “she is a nice person” I shrugged

“haan she is” I looked at him “are you upset cause I hid it from you?” I nodded, he leaned down “do you know how I feel?”

Shit.. I was tricked! “PAPA!” I huffed and he laughed “SO NOT FUNNY!! You can’t do this!”

“what do you mean I can?! I am your father!”

GAH!! “do you even visit aunt Shublee?!”

“haan, Raina.. but that’s not why I am here” I bit my lip and lowered my head “is everything ok with your mother?”

“ji” no, don’t ask anything further!

“is everything ok with work? I mean other than crazy bob?”

I smiled at him “everything is ok papa” I paused holding his hand “you are here now.. everything is ok” I sniffed.. I want to tell him about Yaser.. but scared of his reaction still

He kissed my head “I will be here for a while” that just set my heart alert! I looked at him with excitement, he nodded “I have a mission to accomplish..”

I giggled “papa you sound like Tom Cruize..”

He laughed “I am nowhere near him.. I am here for my daughter so I think I am better” he put his arm around me

I looked at him “haan.. you are” he kissed my forehead and I rested my head on his shoulder looking ahead at the lake.. it feels good to be with dad again.. I just don’t know how to open my heart to him, even though that’s what I have been doing ever since I moved here but this issue is so sensitive to me.. or maybe I am making it like that. I bit my lip feeling like crying, dad is here.. I know I can count on him on everything.. hai na?

 

I went back home and dad left to his apartment that he said very far away from where we live.. which is good, I don’t want mom to bump into him.. the idea alone scares me! “I’m home!” I yelled and mom replied that she is in her room, I walked upstairs towards my room and closed the door. Dad said that he is here for work, because his company is getting bigger and he is now reaching the US market! He started talking about his manager back in India and how he thinks he is the best man in the world.. but I disagree, I think papa is the best man in the world.. I froze in the middle of my room as I had an image of Yaser when I said that sentence.. why?! I don’t even know the man and I’m already thinking like that.. in fact, he is in my head ALL DAY/NIGHT long! And he causes me to do stupid things like now, hitting my toe against my nightstand “OW!” I yelled lifting my leg up

“Raina, are you alright?” mom opened my room’s door

“haan just hit my toe” I looked at her, she’s dressed up.. “where are you going?”

“shopping” she grinned “would you like to come?” I glared at her, shopping aur main?! “I thought so” she smiled then walked away

Wait! “mom” I yelled walking outside the room “what’s for lunch?” praying she cooked her famous curry dish

“oh Raina, I didn’t cook today” she bit her lip acting like a teenager “but you know how to cook right?” I blinked at her “I won’t be long”

She started walking down the stairs when it hit me “what about you?” she stopped in the middle of the stairs “aren’t you going to have lunch?” she is out on a date again.. shesh, wish I can tell her how OBVIOUS she is!

She looked back at me “I had late breakfast so, not really hungry” she smiled nervously at me “bye”

I sighed heavily, that’s mom living the American Dream! I went back to my room to put on my summer short red dress and my three quarter jeans then ran downstairs putting my bag across my body.. I know for sure, I won’t cook the steak nor the pasta.. I want to have something Indian! I grinned walking towards the nearest grocery shop when I stopped hearing an Indian ringtone, it’s not dad for sure.. I looked at my mobile and cursed myself.. why does my heart beat fast seeing his name?! “hello..” ah I’m shaking!!

“alsalam aalikom”

I am smiling like crazy hearing his sweet voice “wa aalikom alsalam” I think I need to walk.. “how are you?” I took a step forward, yes I think I can walk

“teek ho.. boss asked me to have 2 hours off..” my heart dropped and I stopped again, someone cussed me passing by but I was just having one idea in my head that made me have this weird feeling in my stomach “i.. ah”

“that’s really nice of boss” I whispered “wh.. what will you do?” I want to ask him out but i’m too shy to do so!

He sighed “I don’t know, I don’t know the country” he giggled softly and I inhaled heavily “what are you doing?”

“nothing..” I’m so not going to the grocery shop “do.. do you want to meet?” there I asked!

He was quiet for a moment “haan..” uff.. the way he said it made me melt within.. he told me where he was at and I got on the next cab.. shaking slightly but smiling still like an idiot, I can’t wait to meet him.

 

The cab stopped not far away from the café Yaser said he will be at, I got out and just took a deep breath.. just control your emotions, Raina! I shook my head cause my head wasn’t being heard. I walked towards the café and my steps were getting smaller.. slower as I saw Yaser standing outside, he was wearing a black shirt and dark jeans.. looking down at his Blackberry, yes even that seems so small in his hands. My heart was beating fast as I saw him smiling, he got the sweetest smile in the world. I stood in front of him and he looked up at me.. his smile faded and his mouth just opened “salam” I whispered.

But he was still staring at me, I looked down at myself.. haan, it’s a sleeveless dress.. shit! It’s a sleeveless RED short dress!! My face is burning me now, why didn’t I just put on some shirt instead “salam” I looked at him, he has a smile on “how are you?”

“teek ho” I am still blushing and my hands are sweating not cause of the heat but cause of my stupidity! “you don’t want to get in?” I pointed at the café

He looked at it then back at me “well, I don’t really know it” God his eyes are piercing “do you?” I shrugged trying to act indifferent but then, my stomach growled and I gasped lowering my gaze! EMBARRASSING! He is giggling, I looked at him with my eyes tearful.. I’m beyond embarrassed.. his face turned serious then slowly smiled as he leaned down making an eye contact with me “I am hungry too” he whispered “and I don’t think this café can offer something to fulfill our hunger.. hai na?” but I couldn’t even blink.. his eyes.. I really feel dizzy looking into them.. as if I can see his soul, as if he is allowing me to see his soul just like I am allowing him to touch mine “Raina..” he whispered and I don’t know why I smiled hearing him saying my name.. as if he had woke me up from a long sleep.. God, what is happening to me?

“ji..” I replied as he stood straight, he is looking nervous now.. did I scare him? “I mean, haan I don’t think a sandwich will do now” I smiled nervously “there is an Indian restaurant not far away from here.. do you want to go?”

He nodded and we started walking, it really wasn’t that far away but the way to it is crowded. A group of guys were walking towards us, one of them moved to my right and before his shoulder hits mine, I felt Yaser’s arm around me.. tighten on my shoulder and pushing me gently towards him.. my heart stopped for a moment yet I was still walking.. I looked up at him; his eyebrows were knotted looking forward as if it was a natural thing to hold me closer to him like that.

We reached the restaurant, were seated in a nice table inside.. I smiled at the waitress as she brought us the menus then looked at him, he met my eyes and my heart was off “so..” yes, just change the subject and save yourself Raina “what do you want to have?” oh oh! I miss having Kurma and Hyderabadi Briyani.. God, I swallowed hard.. I am damn hungry!  “they ha..” I stopped talking as I looked at Yaser.. he is looking at me, it made me blush badly “kya hua?” I asked

He smiled shaking his head then looked at the menu, more like flipped it then put it away “whatever you order for me, I’ll have it”

Oh, I think I just fainted and came back to life.. I smiled “anything?” I teased, he giggled nodding “you asked for it” I grinned calling for the waitress and ordered for us both.

We were waiting for the order to arrive when I heard a phone ringing, it’s Yaser’s.. it’s the Blackberry so it means work is calling him.. its not even 2 hours yet, is it?! I looked at my watch as he was speaking in Hindi.. oh God, I slowly looked at him.. why does Hindi sound so sexy now? Raina!!! I looked away helping my face from exploding “teek hai, Allah Hafiz” I looked at him quickly “boss is sick..” he frowned sounding sad as if talking about a family member “he said I can have the day off”

“I hope its not serious?” wait, did he just say the whole day OFF?! I am doing a happy dance beneath the table

He shook his head “no, fever”

I nodded “I thought he always worked no matter how sick he gets..”

“yes but today it was nothing.. only shopping..” I smiled “he knows how much I dislike it”

“so he gave you 2 hours off?” Yaser giggled nodding “how sweet of him” I grinned

“hm” suddenly Yaser doesn’t sound so interested in talking about his boss.. oh God, I hope he doesn’t think that.. “I have been working with him for 10 years and I know when he asks me to take a day off, it means that he doesn’t really need me”

“that’s strange..” ok, I need to talk about something else.. he is giving me a weird look or should I just be straight forward and ask “kya?”

He shrugged looking down “you like him, don’t you?”

“haan.. toh?” where is this going?

“I don’t know, Raina” he said it sweetly not looking at me.. as if he was talking about something else “I like him too” he grinned suddenly “he’s a good man”

I smiled “you are better..” I’m breathing heavily.. uff, his eyes are reflecting so many emotions.. they are getting teary as well “and I won’t take that back, haan!” I said looking away from him

“you are..” my smile faded as he started talking, I slowly looked at him “you are special..” he whispered and I melted into his eyes.. his sweet smile appeared “you are becoming special to me, Raina” the waitress came.. she put the plates on the table and left but we didn’t break the eyes contact..

I could breathe normally now, I guess it was lack of food that was making me act weird.. or maybe simply because Yasir is an amazing man. Everything he did was amazing, the way he was serving me food, the way he was eating, the way he asked me to taste whatever he mixed in his dish, the way he fed me.. God, I am a lost case, aren't I? it's so strange how I am reacting like this towards a man I only started to know. But I do feel like I already know him.. ever since I saw his face behind Farrukh and I can't stop the feeling that I know him and I'm not scared of his feelings about me because I know, somehow, he feels the same. He seems so comfortable with me, talking right now nonstop about his family..

"so I am the younger one, and.. my parents are my everything" he smiled looking forward as we were sitting in a nice park

"hm" I only replied with that, I guess when I imagined him as the hero of my story last night, I should have added his parents but I don't know why I saw him without ones.. am I going crazy?

"what about you?" he asked looking at me now

I smiled, should I be as honest as he is or should I hide the painful truth? "I am an only child.. and my parents are divorced" I nodded, simple.

I was looking ahead at some family that were sitting, their two kids were running around and one just landed on the father. He held his daughter tight and hugged her and that just reminded me of the fake happy times I used to have with my parents.. it was all fake.. "Raina.." I blinked and looked at Yasir, his face showed pain and worry, I let out a heavy sigh as I felt his warm hands cupping my face, his  thumbs wiping my cheeks.. wait, was I crying? "I'm sorry.. I didn't know this would be hurtful to you"

I smiled at his honesty, don't know how I lifted my hand up and rested it on his hand "it stopped hurting me long time ago, Yasir.. you don't have to apologize"

His face softened, his eyes started twinkling and I was lost again. I keep asking myself this question, what is happening to me but now looking into his eyes I know what is happening to me.. I was afraid that it might happen one day but it is now and I can't stop it, I don’t want to stop it, I don’t want to hide it and I don’t want to feel anything but it. He leaned down.. I bit my lip hard as I felt his soft lips kissing my forehead. I shivered badly and I think he felt it, he moved back and looked at me smiling "you won't give me my hand back, kya?"

"nahi" I replied like a kid, he lowered his hand still holding mine tight "I don't think I want to ever give it back to you" I lowered my gaze blushing when he giggled, hearing myself now.. I did sound like a psycho person.. Give the man his hand back, Raina!

I wanted to take my hand away but he held it tight, I looked up at him.. he seems serious now "don't" he ordered, my heart thundered as I saw the fear in his eyes.. the same fear I have now, what if one day our hands never get to be hold together again? I shouldn’t think that way.. no, I shouldn’t.. it won't happen so I should just enjoy the moment and not worry about the future.. belkul.

 

"salaam"

"Raina?" my mom came running towards the door "oh God, are you alright? Are you hurt?!"

I blinked at her "um.. yes I'm fine.." why does she look so worried? Its not the first time I come back home at 6 pm!

"God" she pulled me to her and hugged me tight but I just froze in my place trying to get what's happening "I was so worried, tried calling you but you switched your mobile off"

I did not .. and I know she did not call me for sure! "is she back?"

Wha.. mom was looking at me now, I moved away and looked behind her to see a man standing.. American man that is "who is he?" I asked looking at mom angrily

She smiled nervously, then moved back to stand next to the man "Raina.. this is Michael" she said putting her arm in his

"we got so worried about you" he smiled at me, he seems old.. older than mom "glad you are home safe"

I looked at mom, how fake is that? She never got worried about me! Sometimes I got back home at 10.. 10 freaking pm and I'd find her sleeping! She is acting like the perfect mom, isn't she? "I'm fine" I said behind closed teeth "you never told me about a Michael.. ma"

She giggled, dramatically "yes, I didn’t.. I thought.. well, I thought you should meet him first.." I narrowed my eyes at her, that sounded idiotic! "I know you judge people before meeting them" I gasped, WTF "and I wanted you to meet Miky first then judge him"

MIKY?! I feel like throwing up!! "right" I only nodded "is he going to spend the night here?"

"Raina!" mom looked at me angrily, getting back to herself I guess "apologize now!"

I laughed at her "oh ma, I am 22 now.. or did you forget that?" I looked at puzzled Michael "it was nice meeting you, her room is upstairs.. the first on your right" I smiled but mom had her furious face on.. I didn't care, I am not staying in this house with this man here!

I walked towards the stairs when mom held my arm and pulled me back "how dare you talk like that to me!?"

"no ma, how dare YOU bring a stranger into the house without me knowing first!"

"I am your MOTHE.."

"and I am your DAUGHTER" I shouted at her, pushing her arm away "you forgot that! You keep forgetting that you have a daughter, that your daughter have FEELINGS" I shouted, and my tears fell "you forgot that we are INDIANS and we have our own traditions, ma! Bringing a stranger, woh bhi angrezi ho, back home is WRON.." I was interrupted by a hard slap from mom.. so hard my face turned, so hard it rung in my ears. I looked at her, haan.. that's the mother I know, that's the reason why I avoid arguing with her, she always thought when she slaps me the conversation would end and we'd agree on whatever she says but not anymore.. no, I can't stay here anymore.

I ran upstairs and started packing my clothes and whatever was important and walked downstairs. Mom and that man were standing in the same spot, discussing something but she stopped when she saw me "where do you think you're going?!"

"hell" I reached the door when she, again, held my arm to stop me

"you are not leaving this house!" she yelled

"oh ma" I smiled at her "yelling won't do, slapping me won't do and stopping me.." I pushed her hand away "definitely won't do!" I looked at her for the last time, then opened the house door and walked outside. My tears were dropping and I couldn’t wipe them, my heart was shattering for what I just saw. She really doesn’t know how to deal with someone who happens to be her daughter.. she never did but I was hoping she would change, at least for herself not for me.

I didn’t know where I was going but when I got in the train I remembered.. "Raina, kya hua? You called a bit late today, is everything ok?" but I couldn't talk, I started crying bending down in my seat "Raina!! Tell me where are you? Beti please, stop crying and talk to me, kya hua? Are you hurt?"

"haan papa" I whispered "I'm very hurt.. I can't live with ma anymore"

He sighed "teek hai.. lets meet and ta.."

"ive left the house, papa.. I want to come over.." I stuttered "can I?"

Without hesitation, papa gave me his address.. it wasn't far from the last stop of the train. I got inside his building and went straight to his apartment, before finishing the first knock, the door was open.. looking at dad.. I started sobbing again like a little kid "shhh" he said rubbing my back while hugging "lets sit, chal.." I sat down with him on his sofa, rested my head on his chest while hugging "tell me.. what happened?" he asked

I blinked, my tears never seems to want to stop tonight "she brought a man back home" dad's hand stopped moving and I felt him getting stiff "he was her.. boyfriend" I paused "I knew about him long time ago, I knew she was dating but I never knew he was American" I sniffed "and I thought she'd sit down with me and talk to me about him but.. she just brought him home and introduced us like.. like it was normal for her to do that"

Dad was quiet, I slowly moved back and looked at him "did he.. did he hurt you?" dad asked in worry yet he seemed angry

I shook my head "nahi papa.." I sniffed "but I was hurt from ma, na?" I wiped a tear lowering my head "she shouldn’t have done that"

Dad kissed my head "you're right, beti.. she shouldn't" he sighed as I looked at him "I always knew, you'd grow up to be more mature than her" he bit his lip "oops.."

I giggled with him "I always knew that I was" I frowned "I wanted her to change.." I shook my head "but I guess that’s too much to ask for na?"

He nodded "chal, I'll show you your room.."

He was about to get up when I stopped him "I don't want to go back to her, papa" my lips started to tremble and I was begging him with my eyes "please let me live with you from now on.. forever" I held his hand tight "I'll go back to India with you.. I'll quit my job and go back to India with you, aur.. aur if you want to stay in the US toh I'll stay with you" his eyes started to get teary "please papa.. don’t say no, please"

He put his hand on my head "we'll talk about this tomorrow, teek hai" I smiled at him "chal.." he got up holding my hand and we walked towards where I was going to stay.. probably live for the next days.

 

Chapter 6

Day Two;

"Raina.. wake up"

I slowly opened my eyes to look up at dad "papa, are you ok?" I sat on the bed looking at him with one eye hardly opening

He giggled "yes, its time to pray.. chal"

I sat there looking at him with that one eye "pray what?"

That’s when dad's smile faded "fajar"

My eyes slowly started to open.. ma never did this.. she never told me to pray "j.. ji"

I wanted to leave the bed but dad didn't move "you pray.. don't you?" he asked in disbelief, but I couldn't reply.. what shall I reply with "Raina!" he yelled and I jumped in my place "you don't pray?!"

"woh.. papa.." I mumbled "ma.. never.." I swallowed hard

"your mother never what?! I left you praying your five prayers.. now you stopped?!" he huffed getting up

"I'm sorr.. sorry papa"

"don’t apologize to me" he looked back at me.. did I just hurt papa? "apologize for yourself, Raina.. may.. may Allah forgive me for.." he paused, and my heart stopped as I saw him wiping a tear "just get up and pray"

He slammed the door behind him.. and I shivered, this never happened with me. Ma never got angry with me when I didn’t pray, she stopped asking me that question long time ago. But papa is so angry with me now for not praying, I was worried that when he finds out what he will do.. well, now I know. I prayed then went back to bed, but couldn’t sleep.. I guess I'm restless about whatever is happening in my life now. Yasir then ma.. then papa.. wow. I rested my head against the wall thinking how messed my life seem now. First time I ever like a man and on the same day of my realization, my life takes a totally different turn from what I expected. 

"Raina" he knocked the door "are you up?"

"ji, papa" I got off the bed and went to open the door.. what to say? "good morning" I tried smiling

"breakfast is ready" he only said that then left

I sighed heavily, I guess this is going to be one bad day. I walked towards the dining table and my heart started to beat fast as I smelled "paratha.." I whispered, that made me run towards the table and just look at it with my jaw down "WOW" alu paratha, eggs, chai.. I think I'm going to cry

"kya hua?"

Dad stood next to me "you didn't cook this na?" I asked in disbelief, he can't be this good!

"haan" he looked at the table "is it the eggs?" he took the plate of eggs and sniffed it "I just bought those yesterday.." I just hugged him tightly "Raina!" I think he almost fell

"I can't believe you cooked paratha for me!"

He moved me back, a smile I think he was trying to hide "I cook this breakfast daily for myself" oh.. "sit before it gets cold" well, someone is cold

Breakfast went by very quietly, hated it. We were never like this whenever we sat down.. but I guess.. "papa"

"hm" he answered reading the newspaper, angrezi one

"are you angry with me?"

He slowly looked at me "no, I shouldn't be angry with you, Raina" he paused putting the newspaper down on the table and I lowered my head "you should be angry with yourself! You are a grown up woman now.. how could you lose your identity so easily?"

"I never los.."

"I'm not talking about Hindustani one, I'm talking about the Islamic identity" I swallowed hard "I still can't adjust that you could leave something as important as this" I slowly looked up at him "I don't know how you lived like that.. I didn’t force you to wear hijab nor modest clothes" he said that pointing at what I'm wearing.. short pjs, I bit my lip feeling embarrassed again "and I never thought I should force you to pray.. but I guess things will change now"

"ji.."

He rolled his eyes "ji.. sirf ji?!"

I looked at him frustrated "kya papa?"

"aren't you going to explain yourself now?" I sighed "why did you stop praying?"

I swallowed hard, no one ever asked me that question but papa seems serious and wants answers now "ma stopped" I whispered "she stopped praying.. stopped asking me to pray.. stopped waking me up to pray"

Dad looks shocked.. then his face turned red with anger, something I've never seen before "how dare she?!" he banged on the table and I jumped with fear. He got up and walked towards the living room, I followed him only to see him holding his phone "you lied to me!" he yelled "no, no.. you listen… she won't live with you anymore, do you hear me? SHE WON'T.. I agreed that you take her away from me before because I thought she'd.. she'd need a mother more than she'd need a father but I was wrong.. how twisted are you, Safiya? How can you let our daughter go through all of this..?" he paused "oh shut up, you won't see her face until you fix yourself.. which means the rest of your life" he hang up then threw his mobile on the sofa. I was only standing, looking at him.. in tears. He finally turned and looked at me "you will live with me according to my rules from now on, I won't stay here for too long and will take you back to India with me" I nodded rapidly "I won't force you to wear Hijab but prayer haan I will and you have no say in this, samje?"

I sniffed "ji papa" I let out a cry as I saw him walking towards me, he hugged me tight then kissed my head

"I'm doing this for you, beti.."

"I know papa.. I'm sorry"

"nahi" he kissed my forehead "its my  fault, I should've been more careful with you.. I should've at least asked you to pray whenever we talked on the phone but I left that to your mother.. she lied to me" he sighed heavily then looked into my eyes "I will only stay here for two more weeks.. then leave back to India" I grinned and he giggled "excited kya?"

"bahut" I sniffed "I miss India"

He smiled "I know.. and.." he sniffed "you will have to resign from your job na? start searching online for jobs in India.."

I nodded "ji"

He hugged me again "I love you, beti"

"I love you too papa"

 

Chapter 7

Dad wanted to cook lunch for us that day but couldn’t as he got a call to go to the company he's going to deal with. I had to act that I was sad and told dad that I was going to do some modest clothes shopping. He laughed at me and agreed.. I felt bad though for lying.. I mean, haan I will go and do shopping but I wasn’t planning on going alone, not at all. It’s the last day for Farrukh Khan in this city and it will be the last day for Yasir here as well, something made me feel uncomfortable. I dialed his number and waited for him to pick up but he didn’t. I frowned sitting on the sofa, he's probably busy.. that made my heart stop for a second, what if he is going to be busy the whole day? What if I won't see him today? What if he travels and I.. I never get to meet him ever again? I got off the sofa and started pacing as I started writing a text message to him:

"hey Yasir, how are you? Are you…" erase that "hey Yasir, hope you're having a goo.." erase that "salaam Yasir, what's up?" double erase that! "salaam Yasir, kaise ho?" I looked at the screen, well.. he mig.. "AH!" I shouted as my mobile rang.. that scared me! I took a deep breath before answering "salaam" I said smiling like an idiot

"wa aalikom alsalam.. I'm sorry I couldn't reply, I was with boss"

"oh its ok" I grinned, he sounds so sweet its tickling me! "how are you?"

"alhamdulilAllah, I'm well.. how are you, dear Raina?"

Dear.. did he just call me dear?! I need to sit down "I'm fine.." I'm shaking!

"good.. ah.. I have to be at the airport in about 3 hours" I gasped loudly "haan.. its an early flight because we will have to go to Dubai for the movie premier na?"

"oh" I feel like crying "I didn't know that.." I frowned

He giggled "you told me you were a fan of my boss.. how come you didn’t know that?" I blinked at what he said, its true.. I have been following the news about Farrukh Khan ever since I could remember. I've loved him for ages but now.. I don't know why, I'm not interested in knowing anything about him. I only want to know where Yasir is, I only want to see Yasir in pictures and I only want to lo.. I stopped that thought, making my heart poke me hard "Raina..?"

"ji.." I cleared my throat and wiped stupid tears "I'm not following his news anymore" I paused "but I guess.." I sighed heavily "I guess I will talk to you later na? you must be busy packing.."

He was quiet for a moment that seemed like forever then he spoke "I'm not leaving without seeing you" he said it with determination that made my stomach have those butterflies dancing within me, it made me heart beat faster than usual, it made my face go red and it made me helplessly smile "I'll see you at the part in 10 minutes, teek hai?"

I was nodding "ji"

"Allah Hafiz"

HAYE!!! I jumped off the sofa and ran towards my room, what to wear? Hmm.. I started going through the small bag that I brought with me. Frowned as I only saw pjs and jeans and shirts "stupid Raina!!" I looked at my mobile, 8 minutes left.. abh kya?! I grabbed my bag and ran outside the apartment, I started walking in this weird street that I have never seen before in my life when I came to a halt.. oh my God.. this is EXACTLY what I want!! An Indian shop in this weird street. I got inside and grinned as I heard Sonu Nigam singing Kal Ho Na Ho, I looked around and had an devilish smile.. I know exactly what I'm going to wear.

 

I know I'm late, about 30 minutes late.. but this is worth it, I know! Yasir had already called 10 times and when I reached the park I called him and he sounded angry yet was polite, something made my heart jump up and down, if that’s possible. I found him walking back and forth and I stood right behin him.. I looked down at myself one last time then looked at his back "salaam" I said sounding nervous

Yasir turned to see me, his angry face softened and he just stood there staring at me. I lowered down my gaze as I felt my face was about to explode "Raina" I bit my lip hearing him say my name like that, I slowly looked up to see that he had stood right in front of me.. looking straight into my eyes, into my heart.. making it stop every once in a while "aap.. bahut.. khubsurat lage rahe ho" he whispered

I held the duppata tight "thank you" I looked down at my white kamez salwar, my colored duppata and my, well, khussa. I never wore bangles nor did I ever wore something like this.. I mean, back in India I did but that seemed like forever. I slowly looked at Yasir, he is still staring at me which made me blush even more "I'm sorry for being late.. I just ha.." he put his finger on my lips and I looked at him surprised

He slowly put his hand down "I don’t mind waiting my whole life for you" he paused the whole world around me, only him exists now "I don’t want to leave today.. I don’t want to leave you" I wanted to speak but I couldn’t  "but.. my job" he lowered his head "it has always kept me away from important things.. important people" he paused then looked into my eyes "I am scared" he whispered "scared of starting something with you that might.. might hurt you"

"Yasir" I took a step forward and caressed his cheek, he sighed to my touch "don’t say that.. don’t pretend that nothing has started yet" he smiled holding my other hand "I know how I feel about you.. I see what you feel about me in your eyes" I blushed after saying that, when did I get this bold? "your job is not going to be a problem for me, Yasir.. I am willing to be with you even when.. when you travel to the moon with Farrukh" he giggled softly and I smiled at him "are you willing to be with me too?" I asked sounding afraid

His brown eyes became teary.. he let go of my hand and cupped my face, bending down a little to make a straight eye contact with me.. I'm melting "I'll never let you go, Raina" he whispered and those butterflies started flying again "and I won't let my job come between us.. I will try to be there for you whenever you need me.."

"I'll always need you" I whispered

He bit his lip then held me up, hugging me tightly "I am truly deeply madly in love with you Raina"

I was overwhelmed with this that I clung into him, holding him tight to me "I love you too"

 

Yasir had to leave and I had to leave as well, modest clothes shopping na? but I hated saying goodbye to Yasir so I told him I'll see him in India in two weeks. He got more excited than I was when dad told me I'm going back with him to India. We hugged one last time then separated but I believe not for so long. I went back to that Indian shop and bought few kamez-salwars just for the next two weeks. They seemed modest and I'm sure they will make papa happy once he sees me in them. I was standing at the apartment door when I heard my mobile beeping, a text message received

"we are in the plane now, I love you"

My heart was pounding and I was having the biggest smile on my face "ji, have a safe flight.. I love you"

"Raina?"

I jumped then looked to my right, its papa and he looks shocked.. oh God, he didn't see my mobile na?! "ji.. papa?" im shaking slightly

His shocked face turned into a happy one with a grin "ya Allah.." he walked towards me "you are looking so beautiful"

I blushed, inside I'm sighing with relief! "thank you, papa"

"wow" he said examining my kamez-salwar, God papa.. its long and modest! "I always wanted to see you wearing our clothes.. not those.. jeans and shirts" he made a face and I had to laugh at him

"haan, I always wanted to wear these too" I brought the bags up for him to see "I bought so many more, see"

He laughed then opened the apartment door "give me those"

"nahi papa its ok!"

But he already took the bags from my hands and we walked in "you didn't buy sares now did you?"

I blinked at him "why would I buy sares?"

He shrugged, already looking in the bags.. my dad has gone… "I'm just asking"

"oh papa" I laughed tapping his shoulder, he looked at me "all the clothes I bought today are long and baggy ones.. you don’t have to worry anymore" he smiled at me "now please" I took the bags off his hands "I'm going to my room to throw my old clothes away, teek hai?"

Before leaving he held my arm, then kissed my forehead "I know this will be a big step for you, Raina.. I just hope that.. you.." he paused "that you are able to adjust with it"

I smiled at my sweet father "I've been dreaming about India ever since we arrived here, papa.. I know I will adjust just fine in my country.. you don't have to worry" I kissed his cheek then walked towards my room.. closed the door behind me and sat on the bed. Why did Yasir pop in my head when papa told me that? Was it because of what happened with Yasir today? Telling him that I love him is a huge step forward na? and even asking to be with him.. that means I'm in a relationship with Yasir. A Haram one.. but will only lead to a Halal one.. I gasped slightly "marriage" I whispered to myself and soon feeling my face all red but of course this will lead to marriage one  day. Should I tell my father now? "nahi Raina" I whispered to myself getting up "when everything settles then I will tell papa" haan.. at least when Yasir is back to India as well. God, can't believe Farrukh is promoting his movie even in Dubai. And I can't believe mom bought me this shirt "urgh" I said throwing it away and putting in another kamez in the small closet "ew.." I said looking at a pjs shirt

"who.." I yelled and jumped looking back "are you talking to?"

Dad, laughing at my scared face "koi nahi.. you scared me papa!" I sighed heavily

Soon his laughter stopped as he looked ahead, I followed his gaze.. he's looking at the pjs shirt that had big letters saying "kiss me". I quickly threw it in the trash and stood there, another embarrassing moment with papa! "did you buy that?"

"nahi!" I looked at his upset face "ma.. did.." I mumbled

He shook his head "I can't believe this.." he said sounding annoyed, I lowered my head "dinner is ready.. finish fast"

I slowly looked up at papa "what's for dinner?" I mean.. he cooked paratha this morning but dinner would probably be..

"Dal Makhani" my jaw dropped "we have paratha from this morning na? and that’s easy to cook so" he smiled at me

DAD CAN COOK INDIAN FOOD! "oh" I swallowed, I'm so hungry "haan"

"you.. don't like that?"

"I do! I just.. never thought.. you could cook.." I mumbled, stupid Raina!

He laughed and I looked at him "I had to learn how to cook, na?" aw, papa! "didn’t your mother teach you how to cook, kya?" he said that sarcastically.. stopped smiling when I shook my head "you don’t know how to cook?"

"nahi" I mumbled again

"nothing?!"

"woh.. eggs.. and.. pasta.." I slowly smiled but dad didn't, he was just looking at me in shock

"tandoori chicken pasta?"

"no, magi wala pasta" I didn't realize he was being sarcastic until he just rolled his eyes

"magi wala pasta!"

"ji"

"ji kya?!" I lowered my head "what was your mother thinking?! Ya Allah" he sighed heavily "are you going to cook magi wala pasta for your husband, Raina?" my eyes popped out, how can he talk about that when I was just thinking about… "I mean.. you will get married one day, you won’t be cooking those canned things for sure!"

"ji.. magi isn't cann.."

"chup!" I lowered my head again "most Americans live on canned and microwaved food and that’s not healthy.. that’s not Indian!" he paused "I should've asked you about this.. but I thought.."

I slowly looked at papa, I'm hurting him a lot these days na? I hugged him tightly "I'll learn, papa.. I promise! I will learn and I will cook for you"

He tapped my back "hm" he said then I moved back, no smile! "chal.. diner will get cold" he was about to leave when he looked at me "did you pray?" I nodded "kahan?"

"woh.. I was at the shop when it was Aser time na.. toh, I asked the man working there if I can pray in the fitting room.." I smiled as papa started smiling

"hm.. chal" he said then left the room

QUICKLY I closed the door behind him, put on the duppata and started praying.. I totally forgot! 

 

Chapter 8

It wasn’t easy to leave the US, as much as I hated it.. I found it hard to say goodbye to ma. She didn’t want to see me first but I went to her office and she couldn’t throw me out from there. I hugged her but she was as cold as an ice cube. I told her that I will call her or visit her and she simple said "no need, have fun in India". I guess I understand her feelings but its all mixed up now, was she always this cold or is she acting it? I don’t know.. I just prayed for her and left. Papa explained that she is trying to hide her feelings and that she will miss me, oh well. I have applied for jobs in India, interviews will be in the next three weeks. Bob didn’t believe that I was leaving, he shocked me when he said "but you are the best around here, Raina" my eyes popped out when he said my name rightly for the FIRST time. I explained to him and he understood, he tried hugging me but I just moved back.. not that friendly Bob! I said goodbye to my colleagues and Sarah cried the most.. such a sweetheart. Yasir was so busy the past two weeks that he didn’t return most of my calls nor messages. And he was always apologizing whenever we talked for about five minutes only, oh I love him.

We landed in Mumbai airport on time, the heat wave almost killed me! Dad laughed at my red face and said "you're not suppose to sweat like that" I don’t know why he found it amusing that I was suffering. We reached papa's house, I have seen the pictures of it but never been to it. It looks so beautiful from the outside

"papa! I can't believe I'm going to live here!" I sounded like a kid looking around the house

"not forever for sure" he said kissing my head and I looked at him, why is he repeating that topic? "lets get you to your room, remember I showed sent you pictures of it last year?" I grinned nodding, he had told me that he had a gut  feeling I will live with him again and that always made me cry on the phone.. can't believe its actually happening "there.." he said opening a door. The color of the walls was light purple, my favorite color.. the bed sheet and blanket matched the walls and the closet was big, bigger than the closet I had in the US. There was a desk and shelves that had book.. I looked closer and started to have tears in my eyes.. books about graphic design, my major in college and my major in life. I looked back at dad and started to cry "Raina, kya hua? You don't like it?" he said putting his arm around me but I hugged him tight

"I love you papa"

He giggled tapping my back "I love you too, rani" he kissed my head "but crying about it makes me feel sad"

I looked up at him, he was pouting.. looked so fake that I giggled at him "happy tears papa not sad ones"

He cupped my face "may Allah never give you any sad tears in life, rani" he kissed my forehead and I thought about that, how can I ever get sad tears when I have papa and Yasir in my life? I smiled at him "I'll leave you to unpack, will go do that myself as well" I nodded, he was about to leave when he looked at me

"I will pray, papa.. don't worry"

He laughed "no, I was going to ask you what do you want for lunch?"

"whatever you cook, papa.. I know I will like it" my stomach making sounds and commands right now!

"teek hai" he smiled then left

I closed the door behind him, grabbed my mobile and dialed Yasir's number with the hope he would reply.. he did tell me to call when I reach Mumbai! "hello"

Oh, his voice! I sat on the bed "hey.. kaise ho?"

"salam Raina.. alhamdulilAllah, I'm well.. how are you? Are you in Mumbai?"

"ji, I just reached home.. took us about an hour" I sighed "its so hot in here"

He laughed "haan, you're not used to that, na?"

"nahi" I mumbled "but I will have to get used to it" I smiled

"hm, how's your father?"

Whenever he asks about dad or ma, I just get SO HAPPY and have a BIG GRIN on my face "he's good, making us lunch now"

"oh" he paused "you don't cook?"

I rolled my eyes "no, I told you.."

"but you have to learn na? you won't let your husband cook for you.."

"why not? Its not only a woman's job to do the cooking in the house" I frowned, haan I do want to learn how to cook but that’s not fair to say that!

He was quiet for a while "teek hai.. I will have to get back to work, boss is calling me"

"I didn’t hear anyone"

He giggled "my phone, he's calling me on my Blackberry, Raina "

"I didn’t hear it ring" I'm teasing him now

He sighed "I want to sit and talk to your for the rest of my life but kya karon? I can't.."

Thud.. thud.. thud.. "its ok, one day we will be able to do that" I blushed whispering that

"uff.." that made me blush even more "en sha'a Allah.. one day"

"haan"

"I love you"

"I won't let you hang up"

He laughed "please!"

I sighed "promise you'll meet me once you get back in Mumbai"

"I promise.. please?"

"fine" I looked away "Allah Hafiz"

"no, not this fast.. tell me"

I frowned "kya?"

"that you love me!"

I giggled at his seriousness "I love you"

We hang up and I looked at my mobile.. he did have a weird kind of thinking, women should cook for their husbands "pfft" that will change when we get married "haan, I won't be his maid to only cook for him.. he will have to cook for me too" I mumbled unpacking

 

 

"RAINA"

I jumped as I heard dad shouting, yawned then shook my head as I heard him shouting again "ji, papa?"

"LUNCH IS READY"

"coming" I mumbled closing my eyes again, so tired..

"Raina!" I gasped then looked at the door "oh.. you're sleeping" he sat on the bed

"haan.. sorry.." I slowly sat down

"why say sorry?" I looked at him "I'll wake you up for Maghrib, then we'll have late lunch, ok?"

"nahi, If I sleep now I won't sleep at night"

He giggled "I'm not sure you will sleep at night, Raina.. now its night for your body"

I blinked at dad then it hit me "time difference!" I made a face and dad laughed "that didn't come to my mind!"

"hm" he kissed my head "go back to sleep"

"no, I want to have lunch.. I'm hungry" I mumbled getting off the bed, I looked back at him "chaloooo" I grabbed his arm and he started giggling, I guess at my face.. haan, I do look funny when I wake up.. sort of.

Lunch was great as expected "that was so good"

"alhamdulilAllah" I looked at papa "you should say that after you eat, I've noticed that you don’t"

I blushed "alhamdulilAllah.."

"good" embarrassment continues "we will go out today, so help me with this" he got up holding his plate

"out? Kahan?" I said getting up as well

But he just smiled and started taking plates to the kitchen and I just followed doing the same. I wore my black kamez-salwar and we both left. He didn’t take a cab and decided to walk. I was worried about the weather but I was surprised because the weather was actually nice. Papa said after 3 the weather changes in Mumbai.. especially that we are heading towards monsoon season. We stopped in front of the beach, and I just smiled at the ocean.. the view was breath taking, sunset is my favorite time of the day "Raina"

I looked at papa "ji?"

He giggled "look behind you!"

I frowned at him then slowly looked behind me.. my jaw literally dropped "no.. way!"

He laughed "I'm surprised you didn’t notice while we were walking!"

"OH MY GOD!" I looked at papa "how.. how did you know?!"

"Raina" he hit my shoulder playfully "who had to keep up with your non stop blabing about how handsome and awesome Farrukh Khan is??"

"aap" I blushed giggling

"haan main" he looked at Farrukh Khan's house then looked at me "kya hua?" I looked at him confused "you don’t seem so excited"

Oh, well how can I tell him this? I'm actually in love with Farrukh's bodyguard more than him now? Or that Farrukh is not in his house and EVEN if he was, I wouldn't be excited to meet him more than to meet his bodyguard "nahi, I am excited" I lied

"your eye is twitching" stupid eye! He stood straight looking right into my eyes "are you hiding something from me?"

Busted! "um no.."

"you're lying!" he sounded shocked

"woh.. papa.. i.." I bit my lip, how can I tell him this? Right in front of Farrukh's house!

"you kya?" he walked a step towards me, then put his hand on shoulder "don't worry.. I won't get angry" I looked at him with tearful eyes "ya Allah" he whispered "you love someone.." 

We sat down, dad was staring at me.. waiting for my answer to his realization. He seemed shocked yet he is so calm, something that is scaring me. Its not that he will start hitting me once I tell him about Yasir but its his reaction to what I am going to say about Yasir. Bringing me here in front of Farrukh's house isn't a good idea too, just imagine telling my father that I'm in love with Farrukh's bodyguard right in front of Farrukh's house.. I don't like that image "papa, why don’t we go back home? I'll tell.."

"no" he interrupted me "you will say everything now, Raina"

Well, he sounds annoyed. I took deep breath "ji, I love someone" I whispered lowering my head

"who is he?" dad asked after a moment

I blushed "I knew him in the US.."

"I asked who is he, Raina"

Dad is getting angry "ji.. he.. well.." I pointed at Farrukh's house looking at dad, as if asking him to understand what I want to say

He looked at Farrukh's house then back at me "are you joking?"

"no.. I mean, no I didn't mean HIM I meant his bo.. bodygurad.." I stuttered

Dad blinked at me for a while, his face softened and he held my hand "beti.." he started "I know.. that you.. love Farrukh so much but.." he paused looking at me "imagining him as a bodyguard that you love is not right" the honesty in his voice made me burst out laughing "you were joking na?"

"nahi" I coughed "nahi, I'm sorry papa" I cleared my throat, be serious! "I am not imagining Farrukh as a bodyguard.. I'm not crazy!" he narrowed his eyes at me "haan I am crazy but not THAT crazy, ok?" I sighed when he rolled his eyes "his name is Yasir"

"Muslim?"

"doh.."

"Raina!"

"sorry.."

He sighed "how did you meet him in the US?"

"well.. Farrukh came to our magazine na? promoting his new movie but I couldn’t meet him, I was busy in the bathroom getting myself ready to meet him na? but he left early.. and I just logged on the net to look at his pictures to feel a bit better but then I noticed a face that I've never noticed before.. a face that.. made me have those butterflies that I've never had with anyone before.. made me feel something that.. that I've never felt before, papa" I looked at him, he was smiling at me then put an arm around me. I started to have tears yet I was smiling too "you're not angry?"

He giggled "oh rani.." he kissed my head "I wish I can be angry but I can't.. I've heard the same speech before"

"really?" I sniffed

"yes"

"where?"

He sighed heavily "it was long time ago.. in my room" I moved back and looked at him confused "it was me, beti.."

I grinned "you were in love with ma before marriage?"

His smile faded as he looked at me, he lowered his gaze and my heart poked "lets not talk about that now, lets focus on you and Yasir" he put on his smile so quickly that I knew he was faking it

"you were in love with someone else, papa?" I asked not sounding too shocked, I always wondered how ma and papa got married

He lowered his head, he seemed so sad "haan.. I was" then he looked up at me "you.. don’t really ha.."

"who was it?" I got closer to him and held his hand "I do want to know"

He smiled "you don't.. it was long time ago" he looked at the sea "really long time.. she's married now and have three girls"

How does he know about her until now? "does it hurt?" I found myself asking that question

He was quiet for a moment, his eyes started to twinkle and that made my heart stab me really bad. Papa still loves her.. but why did he marry ma? Uff, it was arranged marriage of course "no, beti" he said sounding heavy "it stopped hurting long time ago" he smiled at me

His eyes spoke the truth and I couldn’t ask any questions anymore "ji" I lowered my head, now I want to marry Yasir.. I don’t want to go through what papa went through.. never.

"now, did Yasir set a date to propose to you?"

I giggled blushing "no, we.. haven’t talked about this openly.."

"excuse me?"

Ehm "well, we didn’t talk about it directly like this"

He looked at me, back to the upset mode "how long have you known him?"

I cleared my throat "2 weeks.." and 4 days..

"2 weeks?! And you are already in love?! Yeh kya mazak hai!!"

"mazak nahi papa, I really love him and he really loves me and we want to get married haan!" oops..

He blinked at me then I don’t know what I said that sounded funny to him that now he is laughing "oh ya Allah"

"its not funny!!"

"you should've seen your face" he is still laughing

"uffu papa!" I cant help but smile with him "stop it!!" ok.. can't help but laugh with him

 

Chapter 9

"you talked to your father about us..?"

I didn’t like how Yasir sounded when he asked me that "yes, was it wrong?"

"no! not at all.. but.. a brave move" I'm trying to understand what that means but I can't "how did he react?"

I shrugged "he asked if we have put a date for you to come and propose to me" I'm smiling just thinking of what he might reply or simply what he is thinking about now

"wow.."

Ok, not what I expected.. "kya wow?"

He giggled "your father is.. very open minded"

"what did you think he was going to say?"

"not say, I thought he might have slapped you.. but alhamdulilAllah I guess it went well"

That made me think, and think and think "Yasir did you talk to your parents about me?"

He was quiet for a moment "nahi.." but I couldn’t reply, why didn't he? "I haven't seen them in two years Raina.. calling them to say that I'm in love with someone would.. be disrespectful to them"

"two years?"

"haan.. work.. going around the world.." he sighed "I will see them in few days.. boss given me a week off to see them so.."

I smiled "so then you will tell them?"

"belkul" butterflies, Kshitij Tarey singing Tose Naina Lage in the background and love.. so much love I could hear in that one word

"ji.." I whispered

"ah.. Raina.." he sighed "I'm really tired of work.. I want to take months off it"

"haan.. I'm starting to hate Farrukh to be honest" he giggled "really! Can't believe he didn't let you see your family for two years"

"aise nahi.." he is so defensive when it comes to Farrukh "boss is a good man.. don't hate him"

"are you really asking me not to hate your boss??"

"um.." he made sounds of not very understandable words "I didn’t mean it that way.."

"what way?" I'm smiling, I could hear jealousy in his voice! Haye!!

He groaned "forget it ok?" I started to laugh "he's a good man baas.." uff! He's going to kill me one day with that angry tone of voice "stop laughing"

Ehm "ji.. not laughing"

I can hear him smile.. how crazy is that? "tell me.. what are your plans for tomorrow?"

"papa wants to teach me how to make curry.." I mumbled

He giggled "good, I like chicken khorma the most.. so please learn how to cook that"

"if you learn how to cook tikka malai, toh.. I will" I grinned

"Raina!" I swallowed my tongue! "when we get married, I wouldn't want to eat from anyone's hands but you so you better starte learning or else.."

Dhak dhak.. I need to breathe.. how hot does he sound now? All angry.. oh I want to see him looking angry, how I wish I can see him now to just melt and whisper "I love you" to him

He was silent then said "hm" he paused then sighed "I love you too, Raina"

I smiled "I have to sleep now, tomorrow is going to be a long day" I yawned

He giggled "teek hai.. Allah Hafiz"

"Allah Hafiz"

I hang up, looked at my phone then sighed heavily.. can't believe I forgot to pray Isha'a, again.. guess will pray it tomorrow.. so tired.

 

Chapter 10

Cutting chicken and boiling rice?! Not my daily routines!! Man, how does dad do it? He seemed so relaxed cooking butter chicken, asking me to pay attention cause, according to his rules, this week will be chicken week. Ew, I'm starting to hate chicken.. but can't deny that they taste so good when they're cooked and served. Two days have passed and Yasir already left to his hometown, that last phone call was deadly, I was excited yet in tears.. he said he will try to find time to call or text me and that made me hate his family already. Not that I didn't before, why do families exist! I sound evil na? but that’s me, raised without one, believe that living with one is hell.. that’s why i've been living with one parent and now living with the other parent probably not for long. The only thing I like about Yasir's family is that they live in the south, happy dance!

I woke up at 7:30 with my heart thundering "INTERVIEW!!" I jumped off the bed, took the fastest shower in my whole life and put on kamez-salwar, another rule that I should only wear those in India, and ran outside the room 

"oye! Breakfast!" 

"papa I'm so late! The interview in.." I looked at my mobile and gasped "45 minutes!"

"wait, take this" he followed me to the door with a..

"tiffin?"

"haan, eat while you're in the cab" he kissed my head "jao!" 

But I guess, my emotions weren't in control. I looked at papa and hugged him tightly "I love you, papa" 

He giggled "I love you too" 

"bye!" I yelled running

"ALLA HAFIZ" Uff, I forgot, I should say that instead. I got into the first cab I saw and told him the company's name, then opened the tiffin and grinned "parathaa!" I started eating and offered the driver a piece, he said that I can cook very well and I giggled "thank you" he doesn't have to know those were cooked by dad. I got inside the company and went straight to the right floor "hello, um.. I'm here for the interview" 

"what's your name?"

"Raina Siddiqi" 

She went through files, literally files, then looked at me "have a seat" I sighed as I sat down, started to look around the floor that I was in. hmm, maybe this company is old.. or the decoration are supposed to give the impres.. "Ms. Siddiqi" 

"ji?" I got up

"please follow me" 

I followed her, she opened a door and asked me to sit. There was a man behind a desk, looked nearly 60 and he had huge eye glasses on "hello, Raina" 

"hello" the accent! Shush, Raina!! 

He coughed as he started going through my CV "you are from USA?" 

"ji nahi.. I'm from Mumbai" he looked at me behind those thick glasses "mera matlab, I'm not American.." 

"I know that" he looked back at my file "it says here you worked there?" 

I nodded, don't laugh Raina "ji.. that's right" 

"as.. g.. g.. raaapic.. dejainar" 

I blinked  at him few times then it hit me "graphic designer? Haan.. haan that’s what I am.." 

He put the file away "but we don't need that" 

"ji?" 

"beti, we need secretaries only" I can't believe this "if you have expariance in that area toh I will hire you" 

"your ad online said that you needed graphic designers.." 

He giggled "I am sure you did not read it right" he coughed again "or you are in the wrong company" 

I frowned as I got up "ji, thank you for your time" but he was too busy coughing to reply to me. I left the company dragging my legs, how can I get the name of the company wrong? I got my mobile and started looking for the email I sent for the company "it clearly says.." I looked back at the company's building then sighed heavily "STUPID!" I yelled at myself, made people around me scared but I should kick my butt right now! I looked at the clock in my mobile "9 am.. too late" God! 

"salaam" I walked inside the house but there was no reply, I walked towards the kitchen to find a small note from papa, he got an emergency call from his company and he had to leave "and I am the daughter of the company's owner who doesn't have emergency calls from her work place because she is too stupid to read the name of the company right!" I put the tiffin on the kitchen table along with my bag and took out the chicken, I need to use my power on something and it sure won't be myself. 

"Salaam" 

I walked towards the door, dad came at the right time for lunch "salaam, papa.. I'll set the table" 

He blinked at me "wait, set it for what?" he asked as he followed me all the way to the kitchen 

"lunch papa, aur kya?" I am still in a bad mode 

"you.. you cooked?" 

I sighed as I started taking plates towards the dining table "yes, papa" 

He followed me back to the kitchen "what?" 

"I don't know, I just used whatever you taught me and made up a new dish I guess" I am not joking, that's how angry I was 

He sat down as I brought the last dish and sat down. He looked at the plates then grabbed the one with the chicken and sniffed it "well, it smells good.." 

I rolled my eyes "I'm hungry, papa.. can we eat?" 

He looked at me "what’s wrong? Why do you seem upset?" 

"I am upset papa, so lets just eat please" I said putting for him rice and chicken.. and I don’t know what else that I cooked then I did the same for me 

"wow" he said after having his first bite "which restaurant is this from?" 

I groaned "I went all the way to the wrong company and got interviewed by a stupid old man that doesn’t know how to even pronounce graphic design the right way and came all the way here walking on my feet cause cabs wouldn't stop for me and cooked these three dishes that I have no idea what they are only to hear that from you?!" I banged on the table "I COOKED THEM!!" I was breathing heavily looking at dad

He got up and put his arms around me, I started crying hard holding his arms "I'm sorry.. I thought your interview went well" 

"nahi" I sniffed "I got the name of the company wrong, and that stupid driver didn’t even correct me.. he took me to a lousy building and I was too nervous to even look up at the name of it" 

"aw, rani" he kissed my head "I'm sure this is good for you.. maybe the company you were meant to go to wasn't that good na? you should be thankful" 

"haan, I am thankful.. walking around Mumbai is healthy for sure" I mumbled 

He giggled at me "and cooking this food too" I sniffed looking at him as he sat down "I still can't believe you cooked this" he started eating 

I slowly smiled, he seemed to be enjoying whatever I cooked and here I was yelling at him "I'm sorry, papa.. I shouldn't have shouted like that" 

"koi baat nahi, chal eat.." he said chewing 

After lunch that day, 

"when is your interview?"

"next Wednesday"

"achcha? That's next week" I grinned nodding "I pray that you get to be interviewed by someone who is not as old and stupid as the one you met today" 

"papa!" he's laughing 

"what, you don't want that?" 

I sighed "I just want to get this over with.." I looked at him "why can't I work with you, in your company?" 

He smiled "because I don't want you to get a job the easy way" 

"papa, I have been through this before in the US" 

"true, but that doesn’t mean you have the right not to go through again" he said then had a sip of his tea

I guess papa has his own rules about everything in life "what do you do anyway?" I asked looking at my cup

I know he's looking at me now "what, you forgot already?" 

I smiled as he giggled "you only told me that you were the boss of a big company here in Mumbai" I paused "never really said what it was about" 

"Raina.. are you serious? I told you that I import and export domestic accessories.. plates, pots, spoons etc.. didn't I?" 

"no.."

He frowned, trying to remember probably any conversation that we had together but I'm sure he never told me "I must have told you at some point"

"well, now I know" I put the cup on the table "what I don't know is, why you don't want me to work for you" I blinked at him innocently

He narrowed his eyes me "you know what, Raina? It has been a while since.." he put his cup down "I tickled you" 

"ha?" 

He literally started tickling me, asking him to stop wasn’t working and I had to say I'm sorry for joking but that didn't stop him, its only when I yelled that I need to use the bathroom that he stopped and we looked at each other and we both started laughing again. He hugged me tight and kissed my head "I love you, beti" 

 

Chapter 11

"Raina! After that day, I never thought you'd even CUT your finger!! How could this happen?!" dad was yelling, he grabbed my finger and let the water run on it.. I really wasn’t paying attention today to whatever he was saying, and I wasn’t focusing as well, hence, my bloody finger. Dad looked at me "kya hua, Raina?" I blinked then looked at him, he seems worried "are you feeling dizzy, beti?" he put his arm around me 

But I shook my head, I wasn’t feeling anything "nahi.. main teek ho" 

"you don't seem fine, what happened?" 

I sighed putting my head on his chest "kuch nahi, papa" 

"hm" he paused "Yasir, na?" I blushed "I know its about him.. what did he do?" 

I smiled at his protective tone of voice "nothing.. haven't talked to him in a while" five days exactly.. 

"you call him?" 

Oops.. did I just get busted?! I bit my lip hard, then looked at papa "nahi.. woh.. baas, texting.." I was so nervous  

He smiled "you are so much like me.. I never knew" he giggled "that one day I'd feel what ma once felt before!" he shook his head getting back to the chicken

I frowned "matlab?" 

"matlab you talk to him on the phone, Raina" he said cutting the chicken "we never had those smart phones so.. telling ma I used to write letters to her was.. a bit.. dramatic" he giggled "just like saying only texting him, is dramatic" he took a deep breath "I don’t like it though, and I know now why ma was angry when I told her that" he shook his head frowning "it's wrong, Raina" he said looking at me "its very wrong"

I sighed "I don't think its wrong papa" I paused as he looked shocked "he will be my husband one day, we are not doing anything wrong.." I lowered my gaze "its like, now he is my fiancé na?"

He put the knife down "he isn't! not until I see his face in here with his parents asking your hand in marriage!" he yelled angrily 

I was looking at my finger that stopped bleeding "but I will marry him and you know that already" I frowned "how can you say its wrong?" 

"because you will get attached so fast just by listening to his voice.. Shaytan will make the whole situation seem beautiful and give you hopes that everything will be fine.. that you are doing the right thing but then and only then once you wake up from your dream and face reality, you will know, no, you will wish someone had told you that life is not this easy!" he banged on the chicken table and jumped looking at him "those hopes are like bubbles, they get bigger everytime you talk to Yasir.. everytime you hear a promise from him.. everytime you hear him say that… that he loves you, Raina" dad's voice broke 

I was looking straight into his eyes when I whispered "but I will marry him papa"

He walked towards me and cupped my face "don't give those feelings any chance to take over you, beti" he kissed my forehead "I don't want to see you hurt" 

I nodded "but I know we will get married, papa" I am ignoring whatever he is saying, those words weren't getting into my brain and my heart refused to believe them "he went back to his hometown to talk to his parents about me.." 

"Raina.." papa moved back sounding frustrated 

"no, papa listen to me" I paused "he hasn't replied to my calls nor messages because he's busy with his family" I sniffed "that's all" 

He sighed "were you listening to what I just said?" I nodded "liar.." he huffed then went back to the chicken, cutting it randomly.. he seems annoyed 

"I know you're worried about me, papa.. but.. but don’t break my heart and tell me nothing will work out for us" papa looked at me "that I don’t have the right to have this hope for me and Yasir" 

"I never said that beti, all wha.."

"papa, please" I held his arm "I need your support.. I need you to hold me when he knocks on the door and walks in with his parents" I smiled at him "I need your love when his mother starts making faces because she probably wouldn’t think I'm as beautiful as those Bollywood actresses that Yasir have seen the past 10 years" papa smiled shaking his head "and.. I want your protection.." he looked at me "from everything.. I won't ask Yasir for that, even though he's a bodyguard" I smiled "but I'll always ask you to protect me from everything papa.." 

His eyes started to drop tears that I wiped for him, he hugged me tightly "en sha'a Allah things will happen the way Allah wants them to happen" he kissed my head "He knows the best for you, beti" 

I know that, and I know that Yasir is the best for me.. for that, I believe he is right now with his parents talking about the possibilities of how he'd bring them to Mumbai so they propose to me the official way.. that made me smile and hug dad even tighter, I know things will happen just the way I imagined them to happen everytime before I close my eyes to sleep. 

 

Chapter 13

"YASIR!"

"alsalam aalikom"

"oh my God!" I started to have tears "where have you been??" I sat on my bed, looking at the door.. I hope I didn't shout loud enough for my dad to wake up

"busy with family.. I just arrived Mumbai"

"I missed you so much" I whispered "how was the meeting with your family?"

He was quiet "Raina.. we.. we have to meet.."

I grinned "teek hai, today?"

"yes.. its 9 in the morning, why don’t we meet at 10?"

My heart is beating fast "ji, where at?"

I got ready, wearing my favorite black kamez-salwar.. made me look thinner than I really am. I grabbed my bag and went outside my room, only 30 minutes to meeting Yasir! "where are you going?"

I did not think about dad and how I am going to excuse myself from leaving the house this early.. abh?! "out.." I smiled nervously

He narrowed his eyes at me "is Yasir back?!"

HOW DOES HE KNOW!? I sighed heavily "haan"

"teek hai" he said putting his cup on the table "chal, I'll go with you"

"KYA?" I looked at him in disbelief "but.."

"its either I go with you and meet this Yasir, or you are NOT leaving this house, Raina!" God, I should be angry not him! "chalo!"

I'm thinking of ways to get rid of dad, maybe tell him Yasir canceled the meeting and then.. escape for 10 minutes? I can't.. I'm too coward to do something like that. I'm imagining the meeting and how it will be with dad around, God.. I won't be able to even HUG Yasir, which is something I seriously want to do! I haven't hugged him in ages. I sniffed and wiped a tear while we were in the cab which stopped and dad started giggling, I looked at him "kya?"

"typical" he mumbled giggling. I ignored that, already angry with him. We got off the cab and I looked at where I'm supposed to meet Yasir. It looked like an isolated park, yet I could hear people's voices and car horns from far away. I walked inside, I don't know why I shivered as we started walking towards an area that didn't have sunshine.. that’s where Yasir stood, my heart started beating fast and my smile started to get bigger "is that him?" dad asked "wow.. he is tall"

But I started running towards him, feeling tears falling on my cheeks that I wiped once I stood right in front of him. I couldn't hug him, I can't hug him now "you brought your dad with you?"

I blushed "no.. he knew I was coming to meet you so.. he didn't let me leave alone" he sighed looking behind me "I m.."

"alsalam aalikom" Yasir smiled, I stopped talking.. guess dad is right behind me

"wa aalikom alsalam" he exhaled heavily "couldn't you wait, Raina?"

"sorry, papa"

Papa sighed then looked at Yasir "nice place"

I rolled my eyes "thank you, sir"

"you know, they call this place Lovers Area"

"God!" I whispered covering my face

"no I didn't, sir"

Sir? I looked at Yasir.. why isn't he calling him uncle? "no? thought you picked this place for you two lovers to meet"

I groaned and Yasir chuckled "that wasn't the reason.."

"hm.." there was silence "its been a while since I've been here" he paused "25 years exactly.."

Me and Yasir looked at dad confused, what is he talking about? "sir.." Yasir walked towards dad, wow.. dad is short! "I'm sorry.. I know ki.. its wrong to have a relationship before marriage.." he paused "and I know what me and Raina did was wrong but.." my heart stopped, he think its wrong? "can I please talk to your daughter privately.. sir?"

Dad only looked into Yasir's eye for a moment that seemed forever "if you hurt my daughter" he hissed "I swear to Allah" I can't see Yasir's reaction to that but his silence is making me restless. Dad looked at me "I will be around, not so far" I nodded slowly and watched him leaving

Yasir turned to look at me, and my heart started beating normally again. I smiled as I hugged him tightly "I missed you so much, Yasir"

He put his arm around me for a moment then moved me back "we have to talk, Raina"

I frowned at his coldness "kya hua?"

His eyes were cold as well, something I never thought I'd see "my mother hasn't approved our relationship.. nor .. the marriage proposal"

I can't.. seem.. to.. understand "ji?"

He folded his arms around his chest "she doesn’t like the idea that I want to get married to a city girl"

"city girl?"

"ji.. pardesi.. Mumbai girl" he looked away "she was always worried about that.. telling her one day that I want to marry someone from Mumbai.."

I started coughing as I moved back away from him, but he didn't budge. I needed air and he didn't say anything.. something like he's joking.. like this is a prank, nothing. He was standing there, watching me trying to breathe "are you saying..  that we're over?" I stuttered

His eyes are cheating that stiff body of his, they're getting tearful "ji, we are"

I shook my head "did you even try with your mother? Did you even tell her that.. no, how can you tell her that you love me? Do you even love me, Yasir?"

"WE’RE OVER, RAINA!"

"DID YOU EVER LOVE ME!?"

"YES!" he yelled "I did.. I do love you" he whispered and a tear fell off his eyes "but I love my mother more.. and I can't say no to her"

"what.. what does that mean?" I'm shaking

He swallowed hard "she's already looking for a girl for me" my heart poked me.. and I started feeling numb "I can't say n.."

"you will get married to someone else? You.. you can do that, Yasir?" my lips trembled

"I will have to" he said after a moment of silence

My blood started boiling with anger, I was closing my teeth so hard I thought I was going to break them any minute "is this the real you?" I asked angrily, he knotted his eyebrows in confusion "is this who you really are, Yasir? One cold son of a bi.." I couldn’t finish when I felt his hand slap me, so hard that I almost lost my balance. My ear was ringing a loud sound and I had to close my eyes to be able to gain my balance back.

"BASTARD!" I heard dad shouting, I slowly opened my eyes as I heard a slap sound. I was getting back to whatever was happening around me, looking at dad yelling at Yasir who had his head down, not looking at any of us. I looked at him, who was he? How could he change overnight? I thought.. I thought he would always stay the sweet, soft, kind Yasir.. how can he prove me wrong? How can I be so wrong? I started walking backwards with my eyes focused on him just thinking, who am I and how did I let this happen to me? "RAINA"

Dad yelled my name but I kept on running, running towards the unknown. I couldn't stay there any longer, I was choking.. coughing, sobbing in the streets of Mumbai.. streets that I have never seen before. Did I love Yasir so much that I forgot myself? Did I love him so much that I forgot such love doesn't exist? But he made me believe that it does.. he promised me laughter my whole life.. he promised me a life that wasn't inseparable from him.. he promised me love that would never end. But he just ended our love, he simply just ended our love.

A sound stopped me, no it wasn’t the sound of people in the streets asking me what's wrong. It was a powerful sound that made me shiver.. that gave me goosebumps. I looked to my right, it was a gate that led to a Masjid.. the Athan was loud and clear and it was going through my body moving every cell in it. I closed my eyes tight as I heard "Allahu Akbar" then opened them to find myself walking inside the Masjid. Right in the middle of it, I put the duppata around my head, covering my hair.. I started praying. My Sujud was longer than before, I was sobbing asking Allah to where to go from here. When I finished praying, I lifelessly fell on my right. With my tears falling non-stop, I closed my eyes feeling energy leaving me. I can't imagine any story, movie nor a design. I can only see myself wearing Hijab, standing in the middle of a beautiful garden.. with true happiness filling my heart.

 

Chapter 14

I walked inside the house and saw papa pacing in the living room "ji, she's wearing black kamez-salwar.." I closed the main door and he looked at me "Raina!" he threw the mobile away and came running hugging me "oh alhamdulilAllah" I held him tightly "kaise ho, beti? Teek ho na?" he moved back, his sight fell on my cheek and he looked at me worried

 

I swallowed hard "haan papa.. main teek ho" he caressed my cheek "it doesn't hurt" I smiled at him.. soon that smile faded as I looked at him, remembering what he told just a day before.. remembering how wrong I was and how right he was.. remembering my stupid heart and how it wouldn't allow me to listen to papa "I'm sorry for not listening to you" I started crying "I'm sorry for living in a bubble"

He hugged me tight "nahi, beti.. don’t apologize for that" he paused rubbing my back "you can't apologize for feeling something like love towards someone.. someone who might have hurt you and taken that feeling away from you" he kissed my head "I just hope you now realize that Allah plans the best for us.. na, Raina?"

I nodded "I don't want to leave Allah, papa" I felt my tears falling again "I don't want Allah to leave me" I hugged papa tightly

"Raina.. Allah will never leave you.. He will hold on to you as much as you will hold on to Him.. He will be there for you when I'm not there.. He will lift you, just like He's doing right now, when you need Him the most"

That's true, I have felt that today.. I don't know how to explain it but I have felt Him today. He held my hand and walked me inside the Masjid. He stayed with me through the day and gave me peace within me that I've never felt. I don't think after today I can imagine my life without Allah.. yet the burn in my heart remains, maybe not as hard as it was when Yasir slapped me but its still there and I don't know for how long it will stay.

"don't you want to go to the doctor?"

I moved back looking at dad, he sounded worried "nahi, papa.. its just a scar now"

"doesn't hurt, hai na beti?" he put his warm hand on my cheek. I smiled holding his hand tight, shaking my head "teek hai" he took a deep breath "have you eaten?"

"haan.." he looked at me confused "woh.. I was at a Masjid and.." I paused "an old lady came and she seemed worried.. she offered me food and water and even asked if I wanted to go back home with her" I giggled yet my tears fell "I don’t know where she came from papa but I felt that Allah has sent her to me.. she sat with me until now and made sure I arrive home safely" my lips started to tremble as my tears started to fall "Allah brought her to me, hai na papa?"

He nodded kissing my forehead "belkul" he smiled at me then exhaled heavily and wiped his tears "alhamdulilAllah"

I nodded "alhamdulilAllah" the burn in my heart increased as I said that and I hugged papa tightly, crying

"baas.. its all over now" he rubbed my back "tomorrow is going to be a new day for you.. a new beginning.. a new Raina is created" he rested his cheek on my head "and I know this new Raina is better than the old one.. because Allah is in her heart now.."

I didn’t think I'd sleep that night. I asked papa to stay with me until I fall asleep. My eyes would close then open to see papa sitting in front of me reciting Qura'an. That made me feel calm a bit, crying wasn't doing me any good anyway. Remembering Yasir and that meeting wasn't going to help me sleep, so I closed my eyes and slept peacefully.

My dream was blank, so blank that I woke up feeling light. I sat on my bed and looked at my mobile, it was 5 in the morning. I looked ahead to see dad is sleeping on the chair, I sighed as I walked towards him "papa"

"ha, Raina! Kya hua?" he looked at me scared

"kuch nahi, papa.. its time to pray Fajar"

He sighed heavily "you're ok na?" I nodded "good" he got off the chair and moved a bit "ya Allah" he said moving his neck

"why didn't you sleep in your bed? Now you will have backache!"

"I'm fine, don't worry" he walked towards the door then stopped and looked back at me "who woke you up for Fajar?"

I shrugged "I don't know.. I just did" dad smiled at me then left the room.

It was a cold Wednesday and I couldn't get back to sleep. Dad was in his bedroom when I went to the kitchen and started making us breakfast "Raina"

"ji, papa?" I looked at the hallway when he walked towards me "good morning" I smiled at him

"good morning, beti" he kissed my head then looked at the table "wah" he giggled "someone is in the cooking mode"

"belkul, I won't let you cook for me anymore" I sat down as he did

He had a bite from his paratha "mmmm, if you are going to cook this good.. I won't cook for you anymore" we both giggled and I poured tea for him "ready for the interview?"

I nodded "ji"

"did you memorize the name of the company?" I glared at him and he stared laughing "sorry" I sighed then had a sip of the tea "I'm sure you did though"

"papa!"

"haan teek hai, teek hai.. no more teasing"

Well, its making him laugh so I guess its ok to tease me. But I don't know why I'm in no mode for that, just thinking about how to tell my dad what I want to do makes me nervous.. actually, this decision is giving me goosebumps and, I think papa will agree but "ehm.. papa"

"hm?" he's reading the newspapers now

"papa.. woh.." he looked at me "I'm thinking.. about something"

He held my hand, and turned his chair to look at me "kya hua, rani?"

"nahi.. not that thing" I smiled at him "I mean.. its related to it"

"ji, bolo.."

I took a deep breath "I want to wear Hijab.." I whispered almost

Dad was staring at me, then he grinned, got off his chair and hugged me tightly "are you taking my opinion on this?"

"no" I sniffed as he giggled "I'm telling you"

He kissed my head "and I won't stop you"

I inhaled heavily "well.. I want to say something else as well.."

"ji?" he sat on his chair holding my hand

"can.. can we move to a house that is near a Masjid?"

He blinked at me "ah.. now?"

I giggled "nahi papa, I have an interview in 2 hours na?"

He smiled "then I'll start looking for a house that is next to a Masjid.. and en sha'a Allah we will find one" I smiled looking at my plate "can I ask why?"

"I.. I want to hear the Athan five times a day.. for the rest of my life.." my eyes started to get teary, the Athan will always have this effect on me I guess

Papa held my hand tighter and I looked at him "He is there.." he said smiling "He will help us"

 

Chapter 15

I wore a long sleeved kamez-salwar, wrapped the duppata around my head and looked at myself in the mirror. It’s a blue kamez-salwar.. something I didn't want to wear but I will shop for something to go with the Hijab.. haan.. I smiled as I looked at the duppata around my head.. this is how I looked like in the garden and now, I feel at peace.

I walked towards the living room and papa looked up at me. He hugged me tightly and kissed my head, wished me luck as I left the house. I got inside the cab and gave him the company's name, it wasn't hard to memorize like dad suggested.. and the cab driver seemed to know it anyway. I searched on it online and found a website for the company as well, its really popular here in India and that made me scared about the interview. But something within me was telling me to calm down and I did.. am I possessed? I don't know but I am smiling anyway. I got off the cab after 30 minutes and stood there.. looked up at the very long building "haan.. it says AK" I took a deep breath then walked inside, hm.. its modern.. actually more modern than the company I worked in the US.. and its not even new! Wow. I got to the right and was asked to wait for a moment then the lady came back and took me towards an office

"Mr. Aslam, Ms. Raina is here"

I walked inside the office to see a man standing, giving me his back and talking on the phone. The lady left and I just stood there waiting for him to finish "yes, that's what I said.. uh hm.. that's great, we'll meet on Tuesday then.. Allah Hafiz" he turned and looked at me, holding a file in his hand "have a seat" he pointed at the chair in front of him and I sat down. I figured later that its my file, he smiled then looked at me "you've been the employee of the month for 3 months?" I nodded "nice" he said and kept on reading

I swallowed hard "I don’t want you to see me as that" he slowly looked up at me "I want to work here as a new employee with no experience.." I paused feeling my heart beat fast "working in the US isn't going to be the same as working here"

"of course, what's us to the US?"

"I didn't mean that, this company is far much better than the one I worked in"

He narrowed his eyes at me then giggled "you're a good actress"

I smiled "I don't like acting" he sat back on his chair "I'm sorry if I made you feel this way"

"so you memorized your answers before coming here?" he took a small packet of cigarettes and got one out

"how can I memorize answers for questions that I don’t know about?" he was nodding placing the cigarette between his lips "can you please not smoke?"

He glared at me "excuse me?"

"I have.. asthma.." I blushed, I can't believe I just asked the boss of the company that I might never work in to not smoke! But the smoke would've killed me..

He was only staring at me, I held the edge of my kamez tight, is he going to fire me already?! "fine" he put the cigarette away "its says in your file that you were the best graphic designer back in your company"

"I'm sure I wasn't.."

He nodded "are you always this humble, Ms. Raina?"

I smiled at him "no, I just found out that I was.. Mr. Aslam"

He looked away from me then picked up his phone "Mohan, get in here" That's it.. I'm fired. I sighed then got up "where are you going?" I looked at him confused, the door was open and his eyes went behind me "Mohan, take her to her office" he said then got up and gave us his back

What? I looked behind me to see a man in his thirties smiling at me "please, follow me"

I couldn't "am I hired?" I asked looking at Mr. Aslam's back

He turned and looked at me, the cigarette was between his lips "can you leave? I need to smoke"

"ji.." I moved back but.. I have to "thank you, Mr. Aslam" he rolled his eyes and I smiled and followed Mr. Mohan who hated me calling him Mohan and told me to call him Mohan Bhai.. that’s what everyone around here calls him.

He showed me around the department where I'm going to work in, then got me back to an office that was empty "this is your office"

Every office in this company was separated by partitions "thank you" I smiled at him

"my office is right next to Aslam ji one.. if you need anything, just come by teek hai?" I nodded and he left

I sighed as I sat down, wow.. this happened so fast! I still can't absorb the idea that I am going to work in this company.. alhamdulilAllah.. haan, I should be thankful "hello"

I looked behind me to see a woman standing wearing short red dress. Her make up was too much but I loved her long healthy hair "salaam" I smiled standing up

"oh, sorry.. salaam" she gestured her hand with Adab and I giggled at her "you're the new employee?"

"haan.. Mr. Aslam just hired me" I grinned, even when saying that I can't believe it!

She walked towards me in a very dramatic way "that's great" she whispered looking at me from head to toe, then back into my eyes "I like your outfit" now I'm getting weird vibes from her "it makes your eyes glow more" kya? I blinked at her "anyone told you before that you have beautiful eyes?" but I just kept blinking at her, she giggled "I'll see you around, Raina" she walked away and I just stood there blinking.. huh? What did just happen? I shook my head sitting down.. I'm very sure it’s a woman.. but she acted like a man..

"salaam!"

I looked up to see someone wearing kamez-salwar grinning at me "salaam" I stood up and she shook my hand

"kaise ho? I'm Samira"

"I'm Raina" she grabbed a chair and we both sat down

"I'm so glad there is another person who wear kamez-salwar in this company" she giggled "I was actually praying that the new employee would be like me and viola! There you are"

She seemed really hyper and bubbly "thank you" I smiled at her

She cleared her throat then looked behind her, got closer to me and motioned her hand for me to get closer to her. I leaned my head towards her and she whispered in my ear "do not trust, Mira"

I moved back and asked her "who's Mi.."

"shhh"

"who's Mira?" I whispered

"that woman who was with you"

"oh!"

 "haan.. she is not fully a woman" she whispered "she's lesbian"

I gasped loudly and covered my mouth, that explains it! "how do you know?"

"its all over the company, she had a girlfriend that was in finance department.. one day I walked inside the w.c. and che! I saw them all over each other"

"no way!"

"haan way! she asked me not to complain to Aslam ji but nahi, I had to do it! And Alsam ji was very angry.. he suspended them for one week and cut that off their salary and warned them to ever do this again they will get fired"

"why didn’t he fire them?!"

"nahi, Mira is a great graphic designer.. she's been in the company ever since it started 5 years ago.. he didn’t want to let her go that easily" she paused "but that day he was furious!"

I shook my head "I would've just fired them so they become a lesson to everyone"

Samira sighed "khair.. I just wanted to warn you" I smiled at her "oh, did you get your test yet?"

"what test?"

"oh" she huffed "you're not really hired yet.. I'll pray that you pass the test, en sha'a Allah!"

"but wha.."

"Samira, get back to your office!" Mohan bhai almost yelled, she jumped and nodded then left "here, this is your assignment" he gave two papers "read then start working and submit on time, teek hai?"

I looked at the first page "is this my.." I looked behind me but I was alone, I guess.. this is my test.

The theme was so silly.. I actually thought this was a trick! Maybe Mr. Aslam wants to fire me but doing it the classical way? Tricking me to fire myself from this job. Well, I am done with the drafts and that’s what I should submit. I got up and walked towards Mohan bhai's office "ehm.. Mohan bhai?"

"ha?" he is busy staring at the computer screen

"I'm done with the drafts"

He looked at his watch then at me "why so early?"

"ji?" I looked at him confused, am I really early? I looked at the clock behind him and bit my lip "haan woh.. I don't know.. I just finished"

He sighed "teek hai, go to Aslam ji and show them to him"

I nodded and went to his office, I knocked on his door then opened it "sir?"

"get out!" he yelled

And I quickly closed the door, my heart beating fast but then started coughing as I smelled smoke.. I think he wants to kill himself but he doesn’t know how, smoking that much is too dangerous! He opened the door and closed it quickly and I cleared my throat "sorry, sir.. but I wanted to show you my drafts"

He looked at his watch "you're 15 minutes early"

I swallowed hard "ji.. I was.. done early.." is that wrong? Was I suppose to wait until the exact time to submit them? Oh God! I'm shaking already..

He grabbed the papers so harshly "was the theme too silly for you? Or do you really want to show me that our company is no.." he stopped as he looked at a paper, he was just staring at it "you did this?"

I nodded "ji.."

He stood straight "get me Mohan"

I looked at him walking inside his office and I just froze in my place, is he going to fire me now?! I didn’t pass the test na? why would he want to talk to Mohan bhai then? Uff!! I turned to see Mohan bhai walking towards me.. I guess I was a standing for too long "kya hua?" he asked me

"I don't know!" he got inside and I started praying, I don’t want to lose the job now! I just got it! "ya Allah" I whispered

Mohan bhai came out after a while and I was just pacing outside Mr. Aslam's office, I looked at him worried.. his face showed defeat and I'm the one who's defeated. I sighed, well.. I tried my best. I was about to leave when I heard Mohan bhai laughing, I looked at him confused "God, Raina.. you're easy to fool" kya? "you're hired! Aslam ji loved the drafts"

Ok.. "are you.. serious?"

"yes I am! Congratulations!"

"alhamdulilAllah" the first word I said and that made my heart calm down a bit. I was smiling like crazy but then remembered "I have to thank Mr. Aslam"

Mohan bhai giggled "you thanked him enough already"

"nahi, I have to!" I was about to knock on his door when I looked at Mohan bhai "is he smoking?"

Mohan bhai sighed then showed me an empty cigarette packet "he asked me to get him another one"

"God" now I'm sure he wants to kill himself! I knocked on his door then opened it to peek in, hoping there is no smoke "sir.. can I come in?"

He was standing facing the window, turned to see me "you are half in, Raina" ehhm, true. I walked inside and started coughing, he mumbled something then opened the window.. at least some of the smoke is getting out "what do you want?" he looked at me annoyed

"I wanted to thank you" he rolled his eyes "for trusting me to wor.."

"I don't trust anyone" he said sounding cold and indifferent "I didn’t hire you because I trust you, I hired you for your talent.. big difference" he held his head high

I smiled at him "then thank you for hiring me, I'll try and earn your trust" his face softened and he seemed that he was about to be humble when he held his head high again and gave me his back "sadu" I mumbled as I closed the door leaving him, I'm going to work here.. for that sadu for the rest of my life I think.. hmm.

I walked towards my office when Samira came out of no where "did you get hired?!"

"haan" I smiled

"OH MY GOD" she hugged me tightly, I giggled at her reaction "YES! We HAVE to celebrate!"

"no one is going to celebrate anything in here"

We both looked back at Mohan bhai "who said we will celebrate here? We'll celebrate at your place" Samira literally winked at him and I started laughing at Mohan bhai's face

"Samira, stop acting childish and get back to your office"

She rolled her eyes "haan I will, I'm just happy that Raina di got this job.. finally someone is going to fill the empty office aft.."

"Samira!" Mohan bhai looked at her angrily, interrupting her

I looked at them both, something is fishy "what, after what?" I asked

"nothing" Mohan bhai smiled at me "well, since you're going to be with us for a long time now.. you can bring your mug, frames.. anything you want to decorate the office, ha?" I nodded, he looked at Samira.. gave her a warning look then left

I looked at her, she smiled at me "can't we have a small tiny party to celebrate this?"

I sighed "I really don't like parties, Samira" I felt bad already but I don’t want to have a party and invite people I don't know in my house 

She sighed "teek hai.. mubarak ho" she smiled sadly then left

I sat down and felt guilty but.. I won't have a party anywhere and that's final. I looked around the empty office that Samira described and started thinking, what was she going to say? Why did Mohan bhai sound so angry? What happened in here? Looking at the this office, I can't get any clue.. it is really empty with one computer and few papers that I borrowed from Samira to work on the drafts. I guess, working here, somehow, I will find the answers. 

 

Chapter 16

It was Dhuhur time when I asked Mohan bhai if there was a room I can pray in and he apologized for not showing me that one important place in this company for us "Muslims". He actually kept on apologizing as we were walking towards the elevator, inside the elevator and until the elevator door opened. I was looking ahead in amazement.. it looked like a small Masjid in there. I asked Mohan bhai about it and he said "this is women's prayer hall, the men's is a floor above" I was still amazed when he said "Aslam ji made sure that this company has those two halls for his Muslim employees".

I couldn't believe it until I walked in, and looked around.. there is a bathroom and a room for Wudu as well "wow" I whispered to myself "so he is religious.. sadu religious boss" I giggled, sounds better than Bob for sure! I smiled and started praying. The hall was quiet, it gave me even more peace to focus on what I was saying.. then Sujud.. crying.. asking for forgiveness.. asking to forget.. asking for a better heart and soul.. amen.

I went back home at 1:30pm, papa wasn't home and when I called him he said he was busy and will come in about an hour. I decided to cook lunch and then lied down on the sofa of our living room.. I was looking up at the ceiling.. my heart beating fast as I closed my eyes.. my mind started to play a video and I am reliving it right now..

"so I won't be able to talk to you for two days"

"I HATE your Farrukh!"

He giggled "stop saying that yaar"

"I'm serious, you are so attached to him.. I'm just scared one day you'll announce your engagement" I mumbled

He laughed "Raina!! Are you crazy?"

"haan! I'm crazy about you and you're crazy about your stupid boss"

"uffu" he sighed "you know who I'm crazy about na?" I blushed smiling "you're the only woman who I'll get married to, Raina"

"Raina?"

I opened my eyes to see dad's worried face, I smiled sitting down "salaam papa.. kaise ho?" I got up

"main aur tu?" I looked at him confused, he put his hand on my cheek and wiped my cheek.. teary cheek

"oh" I giggled nervously and rubbed my eyes "don't know what got into my eyes" I sniffed "I'll go set the table"

He held my arm "kya hua? Are you ok, beti?"

I nodded "ji papa.. don't worry" I kissed his hand and swallowed hard, no need to get weak now "I cooked pasta.. easy and fast" I grinned at him

He giggled "magi kya?"

I laughed walking towards the kitchen, I think dad is allergic to Magi! "nahi papa, real pasta"

"oh, there is real and fake one kya?" he followed me "by the way, what happened at your interview? You didn't say anything about it"

"there is only real but to you pasta is fake somehow" I raised an eyebrow at him and he seemed waiting for my answer to the other question "haan.. it went well" I said putting the bowl on the table

"baas? It went well..??" he was following me now "what happened!! Tell me"

I got two plates out and two forks and went back to the table, I heard papa mumble something and I giggled at him "first sit down, na?" we both sat and he looked at me impatiently, I put a spoonful of pasta in his dish then looked at him "eat na?"

"Raina!!"

I giggled at his childish act "teek hai.." I cleared my throat, maybe if there were drums behind us it would be so dramatic and dad is going to kill me now "I am now working in AK company" I grinned at him

"kya?" he slowly smiled "alhamdulilAllah! Mubarak ho beti!" I got up to hug him tightly "why are we sitting here?! We should celebrate this!"

I gasped sitting back on my chair "God, you sound like Samira!"

"kaun?"

"Samira, she is a co-worker in our department and she is so hyper and active" I giggled remembering her "I wonder how she got to be a graphic designer when she's only 20 years old" I started eating, mhmm this is delicious!

"you worked when you were 20, remember?" I didn’t answer and waited for him to eat the pasta first "oh" he said "this is good"

I smiled "told you na?" I had another bite, I really can cook! "well, I worked in the copy room for one whole year before anyone even noticed me.. then Bob realized his mistake and put me in the GD department.. asking me to do reports for him" I sighed "I really don’t miss him"

Papa laughed "I didn’t think otherwise" he paused "how's your new boss then?"

"saaaaaaaaaaadu" I swallowed my bite as papa giggled "really, the biggest arrogant man in this whole wide world"

"sadu better than unstable" I frowned then it hit me, and I started laughing with papa

The next morning I went to work early, walking towards my office with a small box that had.. "salaam"

"ah!" I jumped and looked back, Samira laughing at me "you scared me!" I sighed heavily sitting on my chair

"sorry di" but she was still laughing

I smiled "just don't do that again" she nodded and I got a frame out of the box

"yeh kaun hai di?"

She asked sitting next to me "that’s dad and me" I smiled at the picture "we took the picture yesterday.."

"oh"

I got another frame out and put it next to it, she giggled and I looked at her "aur who?" she pointed at the frame

"are you serious?" it was a picture of me.. I blinked at her but she started laughing again, ya Allah she is so hyper even at mornings!

"nahi, joke tha" she cleared her throat "tell me, what did your father say about you working here?"

I giggled "he got as excited as you and said we should celebrate!"

"HAYE!" she clapped her hands "such a sweet uncle he is" I had to laugh at that "but of course you ruined that moment na?"

"haan, he already knows I hate parties" I paused "but had to go shopping with him.. he wanted to buy me stuff"

"oh" she smiled at me "and your mother?" I looked at her sadly and her smile faded "I'm sorry di.. I didn.."

I giggled at her serious face that I've never seen before, to be honest doesn’t suit her! "no she's not dead" I sighed getting my mug out "I texted and called her but she refuses to reply toh.. I guess she is still angry with me" I bit my lip, Samira doesn’t know anything about this and here I am blabing over her head "sorry.."

"its ok" she smiled at me "at least you are contacting her"

I nodded, I wish she'd pick up the phone or reply to me.. but I guess she, well, maybe she's just busy with that Michael dude.. che! Ugliness "Samira!" Mohan bhai yelled and me and Samira jumped "get back to your office!  Aren't you tired of useless bak bak that you do?"

"no I'm not and stop yelling at me" she mumbled getting up

But he didn’t reply and only stared at her, she left the office and I felt bad for her "Raina, did you receive an email from Aslam ji?"

"oh um.." I switched the computer on "I just came.." I looked at him nervously

"teek hai, if you need any help let me know" he smiled then left

I sighed heavily, can't I at least have my coffee first? But I guess not. I logged on the email that was provided for me especially for this company and I didn't see any new mail "hmm" I got up and walked towards Mohan bhai's office "ehm, Mohan bhai"

"ha?" he is so glued to the computer screen, I leaned to peek in and he turned the screen away and looked at me annoyingly

I smiled nervously "woh.. I didn't get any new mail"

"go to Aslam ji!" he sounded upset but he quickly went back to the screen and seemed effected by whatever is happening

Now I am really curious but won't peek in. I walked towards the sadu's office, knocked the door and opened it to peek in "sir, can I come in?" he rolled his eyes and motioned for me to get in, thank God he is not smoking. I walked in and closed the door behind me "ji, I didn't receive an email for my.."

"I already sent it to you yesterday"

Idiot "no, I just checked.. I didn't get aything"

He sighed and started going through the pile of papers, don't know why he doesn’t have a secretary "is it this your email?"

I walked towards his desk and looked closely at the paper he was holding and just smiled "nahi, you wrote it wrong" oops, I think I just broke his ego "its rai.."

"here, write it down" he literally threw the pen and put the paper down then went back to whatever he was reading. I felt really angry with his attitude but reminded myself that he is one big arrogant bast.. no need, Raina.. just take a deep breath and write the email then walk away without saying a word.. haan, that's how you should deal with such people "hold on" I stopped and turned to see him reading what I wrote from the paper then he looked at me "I didn’t write it wrongly, it's just one letter that I missed"

WHAT?! "ok?" I looked at him indifferently, is he expecting to me apologize or something?

He held his head high, higher that it already is "you said that I wrote it wrong.. I'm telling you I didn’t"

"good" I smiled

I was about to leave when he stopped me, I took a long deep breath and turned to see he is standing up with his arms around his chest "I don’t think that was a good way to talk to your boss"

"I only said you didn’t write it right.. what's wrong with that?"

He frowned "do you like to talk back a lot? Its annoying"

I gasped "I am only answering your.."

"ok you can go now" he gave me his back

WHAT THE.. I feel my face is about to explode from anger "if you want your employees to respect you, you should show them some respect first!" I bit my lip hard, Raina!!! He turned looking at me angrily but I kept my cool

"respect? When did I disrespect you?"

"just now!" my heart is beating fast and I am already shaking, I have never done something like this before! "haan I told you that you wrote the email wrong but that doesn’t mean I am demeaning you.. sir" I lowered my gaze when he was just staring at me, uff..

I heard him sigh after a while of awkward silence "just leave, Raina.. you're talking nonsense"

And you are the SADU BOSS!! I shouted that in my head but decided to leave him now. The moment I walked outside his office I groaned loudly and walked towards my office "I HATE HIM!"

"kaun?"

I looked back at Samira "stop doing that!"

"kya?!"

"coming out of no where!" I almost broke the keyboard.. that’s how hard I'm pressing the buttons logging on my email again

"arre, kya hua? Aslam ji kya?"

I looked at her with anger fuming out of my eyes "do not talk about him in here!"

She giggled "di! I know how you feel.. I feel the same way about him.. he is such a sadu person"

"EXACTLY!" I yelled looking at her "he has no res.." oops.. ehm, I was loud wasn't I?

"Samira" Mohan bhai was standing behind her

"ji" she mumbled walking towards her office

He sat next to me "did something happen with Aslam ji?"

I sighed "nahi" I looked at the screen, finally a new email from the Devil

"look.." I looked at him "I know he can be a pain in the butt.. well, he is a pain in the butt" I smiled as he giggled "I've been his friends for 20 years and he still didn't change one bit"

"wow" my jaw dropped, 20 freakin years friends with that jerk! "how did you do it?" I bit my lip realizing that was really harsh but Mohan bhai was laughing "I'm sorry.." I lowered my gaze

"don’t be, everyone asked me that same question.. but you know what I answer them with?" I looked at him with big question mark on my face "that he has the biggest heart.. and I've never met anyone as kind as he is" he said that sincerely that he really.. no, wait..

"Aslam ji?" I had to double check we are talking about the same person

He giggled "haan, Aslam ji.."

Well, if they are friends for that long then "why do you call him Aslam ji then? He probably would never allow you to call him by his name without ji or sir na?" I said sarcastically

Mohan bhai looked down and I felt bad, did I hurt his feelings again? Me and my big mouth! "you see.. he is really my boss.." he looked at me with tearful eyes "he really is the only family that I have in this world and he.. always treated me like one but I can't just call him by his name like that" he smiled at me "I know you are irritated by him.. all of the employees are" he paused "but they decided to stay here because they know who he really is at heart" I sighed looking away, why am I getting emotional all of the sudden?! "and he would never ever disrespect any one of you.." oh my.. I looked at him shocked but he was calm and smiling "haan, we share things together"

"he told you.."

"more like complained.. he never speaks about his feelings directly but I knew what he wanted to tell me so I can come here and tell you" uff.. I kinda feel bad for the sadu "he really thinks you are a creative talente.."

"baas Mohan bhai please, I feel really bad already" I frowned

"don’t.. I'm only telling you what he told me"

"haan" I sighed "I should apologize to him na?"

He giggled "no, don’t.. and don’t worry.. he won't act with you differently.. he forgets easily"

"even when someone offends him?"

"I thought you didn’t mean it that way" he narrowed his eyes at me

I smiled shyly "no I didn’t"

"hmm" he got up "get back to work, Raina.. he wants to see your creativity in action"

I nodded and he left. What did I just do? God, Raina.. think before you talk.. but he really got on my nerves with his attitude.. can't believe Mohan bhai is his friend for 20 years "I'd die for sure" I mumbled clicking on his email.. oh, he wants me to design wedding cards.. nahi.. abhi nahi, Raina.. don't remember what you should forget.. you are at work, act professionally.. I sniffed and wiped the tear that fell on my cheek.. haan.. wedding cards for Pearl and Karan, sweet. 

 

Chapter 17

I tried working on drafts but I needed more information about the couple and the email had nothing "ehm, Mohan bhai" he is glued to his screen again!

"kya?" he answered sounding annoyed

I looked closer to the screen and gasped slightly, he is watching an Indian show! He quickly shut the screen off and looked at me impatiently. I stood straight trying to get back to normal but that was shocking to observe "um.."

"kya?!"

"do you know Pearl and Karan? They want wedding cards"

"haan what about them?"

"well, do you have information about them.. or did you even meet them?" I was hoping he wouldn’t send me to the sadu

"yes I did" he sighed annoyingly and started mumbling while searching for a file "here" he gave it to me "close the door behind you, please" he sat down and switched the screen on

I blinked at him, dad wasn’t lying when he used to tell me about how great those shows are.. I mean I tried watching one but it was damn boring. I closed the door behind me and started reading the file, I grinned when I read the information about Pearl, exactly what I thought.. a spoiled fashionaholic brat and she loves pink! I had to giggle at that, its exactly what I thought.. her name gave her away. Karan is the opposite of her, racing and cricket lover.. typical man.

It was 10 am when I heard someone behind me clearing his throat, I turned in my chair to see its Aslam ji. I literally jumped off the chair and lowered my gaze, uff.. I wish Mohan bhai didn’t talk to me about him earlier, now I feel so embarrassed! "are you done with the cards?"

I slowly looked up at him "ji"

"good, they are here"

I looked at my watch "but the meeting is in 30 minutes!"

He rolled his eyes "should I throw them out then?" I shook my head, shut your big mouth Raina! "move!"

I jumped again "ji!" I grabbed two papers of the drafts and followed Aslam ji. I had an idea in mind and I was hoping he won't kill me when I do what I want to do. He does want to see my creativity in action so this is it, mixed with reverse psychology.. I just hope it works.

We walked inside and the couple were seated.. God, Pearl is exactly how I imagined her! This is scary, but she looks like a Barbie doll, the Indian version, with her short sleevless pink dress and her long black silky her.. her make up is over.. and her dimonde ring is shining more than the sun rays that came through the big window behind her and Karan, well.. shirt and jeans.. typical man "hi" she smiled at me, a tight smile

"Salaam" I smiled back, Aslam ji is staring at me, I looked at him and he looked away.. not annoyed, phew

"oh salaam" Karan grinned at me and I just smiled at him

"this is your designer, Raina Siddiqi" ASLAM JI IS SMILING! He glared at me and I closed my mouth, felt it dry.. I guess I looked weird with my jaw almost on the floor but I cant believe he knows how to SMILE! "Raina, care to show your costumers what you made for their wedding cards?" he had a warning smile on, ye.. that’s the face that I know

"ji.. belkul" I sat in front of them, looked at the paper and kept a straight face then showed it to them. Without a word I noticed how Karan looked and how Pearl face just lit up and had a big smile.. YES! Its working!!

"I love it!" her voice got softer, she looked at Karan "don’t you?"

"are those pearls?" he asked me, annoyed.. YES YES YES!

"haan ji.. they are" I smiled at him

Karan sighed looking at Pearl "do you even think he can afford that many pearls for one card? Do you know how many we are inviting?!"

"we are paying, hai na?" fake Indian-British accent "I love love it, jaanu! It looks so classy"

But Karan wasn't buying it.. YES! He was shaking his head looking at the paper that I held up for them "its just pearls on a card paper.. what's there to love?"

She pouted, kido "ehm" I cleared my throat and they both looked at me "I have another option for you" Karan seems a bit relaxed as I put the paper down and held the other one.. ok, Raina.. they have to agree on this one so work on their psychology! "to be honest, the first one I worked on first and I was a bit in a hurry.." Pearl looked at me annoyed but she moved her hair here and there and held her head high, oh I'm laughing from within "and.. this card that I did.. I just.." I smiled at them "I really was thinking about you both when I did it" both are curious to see it and I slowly turned the paper to show them the design.. looking at their faces, I am doing a small happy dance beneath the table!

"aww!" Pearl sighed putting her hand on her chest "this is very beautiful.." she started to wipe fake tears "hai na, Jaanu?" she looked at Karan

He was smiling nodding as he looked at the paper, she softly put her head on his shoulder and he kissed her head "we both love it" he said smiling at me "thank you"

I nodded feeling a burn in my heart just looking at them "I guess we reached to an agreement then?"

Totally forgot about the sadu sitting with us "belkul! She is very talented" Karan said getting up with Pearl, I stood up too "we're glad that we worked with you" I nodded smiling at them

"haan, I'll have to come back for my shop invitation cards" Pearl, such a sweet show off

"en sha'a Allah" I smiled at them, but my voice broke and my hand formed into a fist.. I need to control myself

"we'll be happy to design for you again" they both shook Aslam ji's hand

I shook Pearl's soft hand, Karan reached his hand for me but I only replied motioning to him "adab" with my hand

He giggled "sorry, adab"

I smiled as they  walked outside, followed by Aslam ji.. I fell on the chair and closed my eyes and tears started to fall down. Why now, Raina? People get married everyday.. Yasir is probably one of them, hai na? my heart poked and I bit my lip hard.. how am I going to work professionally if I turn weak everytime I get a chance to do wedding cards or meeting newly wed couple? I can't.. I know I can't let him go that easily.. I know I'm walking around acting like he never existed in my life but my heart won't accept that, my heart won't let go of him.

"are you ok?"

I opened my eyes and quickly wiped the tears away, standing up.. he was standing next to me "yes" I sniffed "I'm fine" I grabbed the papers

"you're crying"

"no, I'm not" I replied not looking at him

Awkward silence .. "were you offended?" I frowned as I looked at him, his eyebrows were knotted looking at me "when.. he .. reached his hand for you.."

What is he talking about? "ji?"

He huffed "when Karan wanted to shake your hand, were you offended?!" he asked sounding irritated, as if he didn’t want to ask me that

"nahi.." I answered sounding more confused, why would he even care!? He's supposed to be the SADU BOSS "I'll go work on the cards.." I walked outside the meeting room and sighed heavily, told you Raina.. let go of that Yasir or you will lose your job easily.. ouch, my heart just slapped me! "kamina.." I mumbled walking towards my office

"kaun?"

I shouted putting my hand on my chest turning, its "SAMIRA!" but she was laughing at me "what did I say?!"

"you're the one who was talking to yourself!"

I sighed heavily sitting on my chair "sometimes I think you are just a ghost.. its really scary, Samira!"

She giggled "sorry di, maaf kardijiye na?"

"haan whatever" I started working on the design

She gasped "wow! You got a job already?!"

I blinked at her "a job? I thought I was already working in one" I smiled looking at the screen

"well.. not all of us does.."

I looked at her confused "what do you mean?"

She sighed "kuch nahi, I'm sure you are so talented isliye you got a job so fast!" she smiled at me

"you are talented as well.."

"nahi.. Aslam ji doesn’t think that way"

I felt bad for her.. I don’t know why she'd say that? Doesn’t he send her emails of her work? "well lets prove Aslam ji wrong then, what say?" she looked at me confused "here" I gave her a pencil and paper "design something for me"

She seemed so excited "about what?" she asked holding the pencil

"hmm" I need something easy but difficult.. oh, I giggled, thanks Bob! "the environment" 

"that's easy, di!"

"but.. I don’t want you to use any plant, even the earth.. just design something that would tell me Save The Environment" she had an evil kinda smile and I grinned at her, I guess she likes challenges.

We both were designing, I didn’t want to look at what she was doing.. I really wanted to get surprised by her. Sadu stupid boss, why wouldn’t he give her something to prove herself? Or is it because she's so young.. and maybe too hyper but she is a sweetheart! It was so quiet when we suddenly felt someone storming in my office "I've been calling you.." we both jumped off our chairs, it was the sadu man "for the past five minutes and you haven't picked up why? Because you are here having a chit chat in here!" he is so angry looking at Samira

"sorry, sir" she lowered her head

"take those papers and copy them, I need them in 2 minutes Samira!"

No.. she cant be the copy girl, I felt so hurt looking at her taking the papers from him.. I took a glance at what she designed and my heart dropped, she is talented! "wait!" I said stopping Aslam ji from leaving, he looked at me so did Samira

She gasped slightly "no di please don’t!"

But I was already holding her design paper "look at it" I gave it to him

"what’s this?" he grabbed the paper and looked at it.. I know what he is thinking, he was just staring at it.. I can tell that he liked it

"Samira did that" he looked at me shocked "just because she's young doesn’t mean she's not talented!" I'm shaking again "look at that design, look at the details!"

He held his head high "she is here to copy papers, not to design"

"why? Isn't that enough for you to let her work as a graphic designer? Isn't that what she studied in college??"

Samira lowered her head as Aslam ji had that sarcastic smile on his face "is that what she told you? That she studied this" he pointed the paper at me "in college?" I couldn’t reply, she is only 20.. didn’t she study at college? He looked at her "what did I say? 2 minutes Samira not the whole day!" she ran outside my office. Aslam ji walked a step towards me, looking straight into my eyes.. he was standing so close to me that now I know his eyes are hazel brown "don’t ever talk like that to me" he was whispering firmly, his eye fell on my cheek and I lowered my gaze "a scar?" I slowly looked up at him, he's smiling coldly "you got slapped, I suppose, for having such an atti.."

My heart stopped as I slapped him, my face straight yet my eyes were dropping tears. He looked at me with anger but he looked at my tears and his anger faded "don’t ever judged me" I whispered angrily "you don’t know me.. don’t pretend that you do" I shook my head "don’t judge me.." I bit my lip as I grabbed my bag and started running outside my office towards the stairs and just kept on running, crying my eyes out.. I reached the main door of the company and ran outside until I reached the beach.. standing on the sand.. my bag fell off my shoulder as I looked at the big waves. How could be so harsh? How could he even think about me like that? But no.. that wasn't what was hurting me.. that wasn’t what was killing me now, it was Yasir.. his scar.. his love.. his endless promises of never hurting me.. of never allowing anyone to hurt me "where are you now, Yasir?" I whispered biting my lip "where are you?" I covered my face as I started sobbing seeing his picture behind my closed eyes. 

 

Chapter 18

I got a lot of calls from Mohan bhai, about 15 but I didn’t answer any. I was just sitting on the sand looking ahead at the ocean. It was only papa's ringtone that I replied to, I told him where I was and he came pretty fast. He sat down next to me and I didn't look at him, I was too tired of crying and didn't want to cry anymore "serious problem kya?" I nodded "hm" I leaned my head and put it on his shoulder and just closed my eyes.. I feel like they have dried from all the tears. He kissed my head and put an arm around me "you know I used to come here a lot" he paused "whenever I felt.. like I couldn’t take it anymore" he sighed "life is hard, beti.. but Allah has made us strong to face it.. He gave us faith to be able to overcome it"

"how can I overcome my love, papa?" I whispered, can't feel any energy in me

"oh, beti" he tighten his arm around me "I can't tell you that.. it.. it just happens one day"

I sniffed "how did you overcome your love?" but there was no reply, only the ocean waves hitting hard was heard.

I slowly sat straight looking at him.. his eyes twinkling but he looked at me with a smile on his face "that’s long time ago, Raina"

Ya Allah.. "you didn’t.." I whispered fearing the positive answer from him

He looked ahead "long time ago, Raina.. we shouldn’t talk about it now"

"no we should" I demanded "how.. how do expect me to let go of the love of my life when you didn’t? you got married.. you have me.. and you didn’t.." I bit my lip when a tear fell "its not easy, hai na papa? Its not about how strong your faith is.. its not about how close you are to Allah or not.." I sniffed "that love will always be in your heart no matter what, papa.."

"baas, Raina" he looked away from me, rubbing his eyes "you don’t know what you're talking about"

"haan I do!" I almost yelled "I love him, papa" he looked at me "I LOVE him" I yelled "I LOVE HIM!!" he grabbed me and hugged me tightly as I start crying again

"baas" he said rubbing my back "baas… its only going to hurt everytime you admit that to yourself.. or to the world.. it wont do you any good, beti" he talked as an expert.. he sounded like one "that day will come when you find the right person who will love you more than he did.. who will respect you more than he did.. who will give you children.. that will make you forget him, Raina.. the love of your children will"

I was a bit calm now, holding him "then why didn’t you forget her?"

"I'm weak I guess.." I moved back to look at him "don’t see me as a man whose supposed to be strong" he giggled bitterly "love knows no strength" he whispered lowering his head

"you're telling me that now?"

He sighed "no, I'm not telling that to get weak like me! You are not weak, I was shattered when I .. when I got rejected by her family.. she was shattered as well.. but she moved on and I did.. and that’s what you should do"

I lowered my head "I cant get married now papa"

"oh no, I will never ask you to get married now" I looked at him "I got married exactly 5 years after I was rejected.. but she.. she had to get married straight away" he frowned

"kyon?" I wiped my tears

"her father was a monster you can say" he smiled sadly at me

"oh.. is that why you were rejected?"

"haan.." he paused "she didn’t know her marriage was being arranged when we fell in love.."

I smiled "can history repeat itself?"

He giggled "no, I don’t believe in that.. even if situations might be the same.. people are not, you are not me.. Yasir is not Shub.." I gasped when he stopped, looking at him shocked, his face was red

"Shublee aunty?!" he sighed "but.. but she.. I thought.." I cant think straight, I thought she was a joke.. I mean, I thought he was only teasing me "is she your neighbor.. that by the way, I never SAW!"

He blinked at me then started laughing "Raina! Are you serious?"

"haan I am very serious!!"

"ya Allah, we went from you to me.. how did that happen?"

"cause you said her name.. now I want to know everything!"

He sighed "no, now I want to have lunch.. I'm hungry" he got up

"papa!" I looked at him

"chalo!" he grabbed my arm and made me get up "did you even pray Dhuhur?" he acted angrily, I blushed.. well, I wish I can say that I can pray for the next few days.. "oh.." he cleared his throat "I guess it explains your mood swings" I gasped and he laughed at me again "chalooo, lets eat"

"I won't eat until you promise me you will tell me everything about this Shublee.. aunty" I mumbled walking inside the house with him

He sighed "fine, lets just have something now, ok?" I nodded.

I couldn’t wait until lunch was done, we sat in the living room on the floor and he looked at his plate "toh?" I was folding my arms around my chest

He smiled at me "haan, Raina.. I don’t have a neighbor named Shublee.. that was only teasing you"

"I knew it!" I whispered

He giggled at me "but the woman I loved name was Shublee.. she was beautiful.. in high school and I was in second year in college.. I saw her outside the school and I don’t know what happened" he smiled "she smiled at me but shyly.. that’s how she was, very shy" he looked forward "I wasn’t that confident anyway and had hard times telling her how I felt about her" I was smiling looking at him "but I thought, Karim, if you don’t tell her then she will be someone else's" he looked down "I gave her a letter one day only says, meet me at the park.. and she did" my heart started beating fast when I saw dad's tearful eyes "she came with fear in her eyes.. looking behind her back.. she was nervous but.. but I was amazed by her beauty" he smiled "she was wearing a white kamez salwar.. asking me please Karim, tell me why you want to meet me.. repeating that over and over again saying she's scared she might get caught.. and I told her.. just like that"

I sniffed "what did she say?"

He giggled softly "nothing.. she said nothing but her eyes.. those blue eyes said a lot.." he looked at me "you know, Raina.. sometimes she didn’t have to talk and I would understand whatever she wanted to say through those blue eyes" I smiled but my heart was hurting me seeing papa like that "haan.. I will never forget those eyes.." he shook his head lowering his gaze "after a year of meeting and being together I decided to propose to her.. we both were happy.. but our happiness crashed when her father told me that day, she's already engaged"

I looked down "phir.."

"phir kya.." he paused "phir I was invited to her wedding" I looked at him shocked "haan.. her father had said that day, don't worry beta.. you are invited to her wedding" papa giggled bitterly "and I went to see her getting married to someone else.. dancing for someone else.. being held by someone else" I sat next to papa and he swallowed hard "that was 25 years ago.." he looked at me "but here I am today with you" he smiled at me "and you know I'll never let go of you, na?" his eyes dropped tears and I couldn’t help it anymore

"oh papa" I hugged him tightly "I'll never let you go too, papa.. I promise"

 

Chapter 19

I was sitting on my bed looking outside the window, watching the sunrise, started to think of how I should tell papa that I am fired after just 2 days working in that company. Uff, I know I shouldn’t have slapped Aslam ji but he.. as usual, got on my nerves. I sighed as I heard knocks on my door "haan papa I'm awake"

He opened the door "good morning, beti" he smiled at me

"morning papa"

"arent you going to work today?" oops.. I wanted to avoid that question "Raina.." he sat next to me "you shouldn’t hide from the world after yesterday.. you really should go out and live your life"

"nahi, aise nahi papa.. main baas" I should stop my eye from twitching and give him a white lie "my.. stomach hurts a bit" I lowered my head

"oh!" he put his arm around me "do you want to go to the doctor?"

"nahi, I'll just lay down"

"haan.. I'll bring you painkillers ha? It will make you feel better" he kissed my head then left

I sighed heavily, HATE this but kya karo?! Mohan bhai will probably send me a message telling me don’t ever show your face in this company again and that’s what I will show papa.. come up with any excuse of why they fired me. I lied down and closed my eyes, I feel so tired yet I cant sleep which is so frustrated. Its all Yasir's fault, haan.. even when I get fired from this job I will tell papa its Yasir's fault.. I will tell my heart, abh dekh what his love has done for my life.. maybe then my heart will listen to me and forget about him.. kash.

"here you go"

I quickly wiped my tears as papa walked inside the room holding a tray "yeh kya hai papa?!" I thought he said he will only bring painkillers for me!

"paratha, eggs, butter and honey.. your favorite" he smiled putting the tray on my nightstand "and, your painkillers" he gave me a tablet

God, why cant there be more men like papa? "thank you, papa" I got off the bed and hugged him tightly

"rest now hm?" he kissed my head and I nodded

I looked at the tray when papa left closing the door behind him, and noticed there was a paper on it. I took it from beneath the paratha plate and read it "you are the best daughter in the world, I love you" great papa.. I started to have to tears when I read that "I hate you Yasir" I sniffed "I hate you Sadu idiot bastard kamina bos…" my mobile started ringing, I looked at it shocked as I saw the caller ID "Mohan bhai.." he wants to fire me through a phone call kya? I looked at the time and it was 7:30 "I am not coming to work, so stop calling me!" I threw the mobile away and wiped my tears then started to have breakfast. The background music was of course the ringtone of my phone but then, a text message ringtone made me look at it and grab it.. its Mohan bhai saying "pick up the damn phone, Raina!" I swallowed the paratha hard, he's not firing me kya? I called him and it didn’t even ring once before he picked up "he.."

"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?" he yelled "have been calling you since yesterday, Raina! This is not how a professional person works! Are you trying to prove me wrong?!"

Wow.. he is angry and not because.. "I.. well, I didn’t know what to say.." I put the rest of paratha on the plate

"you don’t know how to say, hello, when you pick up your phone?!" I just swallowed my tongue, he sounds furious! "get your butt in the company right now, Raina!"

"j..ji?"

"I want to see you in the company in les than 15 minutes, is that clear?!"

I swallowed hard "bu.." and he hang up on me.. ok.. I put the mobile away. Why does he want me to go to the company? Are they going to make it a Humiliate Raina day today? Fire me in front of everyone.. my heart is beating fast with fear. I stood up "why are you scared, Raina?" I walked towards the closet "I did not do anything wrong, Saduass boss was really disrespectful yesterday and he damn sure deserved that slap!" I mumbled wearing my clothes, grabbed my bag and left the house. It was already 8:15 so I am late to work, maybe my last day of work.. uff, Raina stop worrying!

I took a deep breath before knocking on Mohan bhai's office and he opened it without saying anything "get in" he said not looking at me, he looks really angry.. God, I'm shaking walking inside his office. He closed the door behind him "sit down" I slowly sat down, he grabbed a chair and sat next to me, I didn’t dare to look at him.. he probably hates being ignored "you slapped Aslam ji?" Oh.. my.. I looked at him with my eyes popped out, how did he.. shit! They are friends Raina!! But I didn’t know Aslam ji would say something like that to anyone "you did, na?"

"Moha.."

"no, don’t explain to me" he sat straight and I lowered my head "he came yesterday to me, acting so nervous.. I have never seen him that nervous in my whole life.. you know why? Do you?!" I shook my head looking at him "because he didn’t know what he has done to get slapped by you" he folded his arms around his chest "he was talking so fast, I have no idea until now what he said.. but he was hurt" he looked straight into my eyes "he was hurt, Raina" he said firmly sounding angry

"and you think I wasn’t hurt?" I replied "you think I slapped him cause of nothing?!"

"no matter what he said, Raina, you don’t just slap your bos.."

"if you believe your boss is an angel, I DON’T!" I yelled "he didn’t know what he said, right" I smiled sarcastically yet I really felt like punching that sadu man "well what he said was hurtful" I looked away from Mohan bhai

"you werent listening to me, na?" I looked at him confused "when I told you that.. he can be a pain but he.."

".. has a good heart, ye I heard that" I paused "I wanted to believe it but yesterday.." I shook my head "I stopped believing in that"

He sighed heavily "now I know why he doesn’t want to fire you" he mumbled looking away from me

That’s when I frowned "what do you mean?"

"I mean, he doesn’t want to let go of you "creativity".. my foot!" he got up and gave me his back and I just didn’t understand a word he was saying other than Sadu man doesn’t want to fire me "he wants to see you by the way, so just go"

I got up looking at Mohan bhai, I don’t know why I feel so bad for making him this angry and I don’t know how I made him this angry, I slapped his friend not him. I stopped at the door and turned to see he had his fingers on his forehead "Mohan bhai"

"what?" he answered not looking at me

"are you angry with me?"

He exhaled heavily "just leave, Raina"

Well, that answers it. I walked towards Sadu man office, stood there for two minutes before I had the courage to knock on his door. He allowed me to get in and I did.. my heart beating fast as I saw him. He was standing there giving me his back, looking outside the window. I cleared my throat and he turned to see me.. and just stood there.. both looking at each other for what seemed like ever. Awkwardness all over the atmosphere! "morning" he said walking towards his desk then sat down "have a seat, please"

"ji" I sat down, not looking at him.. finding hard to

Again, silence that made me wish earth would open and swallow me.. I know he was looking at me and that made me so nervous "did you check your email?"

I frowned as I looked at him "email?"

"haan" he held his head high as usual "I sent you an email an hour ago" oops.. "it didn’t arrive?"

"I don’t know" I answered "I just came.."

He looked at his watch "you're a bit late, na?" I nodded lowering my head "is there something wrong?"

"I thought.." I held my kamez tight "well, I thought you'd fire me so I didn’t want to come anyway"

He smiled "why would I want to do that?"

He really is freaking me out "woh.. yesterday.."

"oh" he got off his chair and walked towards the chair that was next to me "haan.. I have never been slapped before but that isn't a reason to fire you, Raina" I'm just staring at him "I.. ah.." he looked away "I really don’t know what I said that made you very angry.. and.. sometimes.. I say things that.. I don’t mean" he almost whispered  "so.. yes, what I want to say is.. you.. are still working with us" he nodded "I sent you an email.. check it and start worki.."

"I'm sorry" I interrupted him, and he looked at me "for.. slapping you" reverse psychology, I am waiting now for his turn

He is smiling! Saduass! "good" he said getting up walking back to his desk, and then started reading some files

I frowned "baas?" he nodded "no, you.. you should apologize as well!"

His smile got bigger "really?"

"haan! You probably don’t know what you said but it was really hurtful that you really did deserve the slap if not even more" I gasped and covered my mouth, you just apologized to this man, GOD!

He's giggling at me, of course he is.. I've made myself a clown today "psychology?" he asked, great, I'm busted "you used that yesterday with the couple, right?"

My jaw dropped but I recovered quickly "I don’t know what you're talking about" I looked at the window behind him, still holding my kamez tightly, nervously

"right" silence "please, get back to your office and start working on the cards.. I think you will need more time on those ones" without another word, I got up and walked towards the door "Raina" I stopped not looking at his sadu face, I heard him getting up.. standing right behind me, it made me shiver .. I heard him whisper something like "just apologize, she won't bite you" apologize?! he sighed heavily "be a man, damn it!" he whispered that. It wasn’t too long before he said "I am sorry too" we stood there for a moment, I am trying to get it through my head that my Saduass boss has apologized to me but it was too much to understand. Right when I was about to turn he started walking back to his desk and got one cigarette out of his packet.. I guess a nice way to throw me out.

I left his office with a big question mark on my head, Aslam ji.. the Sadu Man has apologized to me.. how did that happen? I really cant believe it. I looked at Mohan bhai's office and walked towards it "Mohan bhai?" I knocked on his door

"come in"

He isnt behind his computer screen, just sitting on his desk, seems deep in his thoughts "ji.. I went to Aslam ji"

"ok" upset with me still, ufff

"woh.. I apologized to him and he accepted it" he looked at me "sach.. he did"

"good.." he acted indifferently

"haan" I smiled at him "and he apologized as well.." that’s when Mohan bhai looked at me shocked "I swear!"

"no he didn’t!"

"yes he did! Go ask him!"

He stood up and walked towards me, looking straight into my eyes "are you joking with me, Raina?"

"nahi! Allah ki kasam he apologized"

"but how.."

"exactly! That’s what I also thought" I sighed "he doesn’t seem like the apologizing type of man"

"nahi, he's not"

"oh, I knew it"

He stood straight looking at me then cleared his thraot "go back to your office Raina"

I kinda pouted, he's still upset with me "ji.. I'm sorry Mohan bhai" I said it with sincere honesty

His face softened, he lowered his head "haan.. teek hai"

I grinned "you forgive me na?" he nodded "not angry with me anymore na?"

He smiled at me "I wasn’t angry at you, Raina.. but slapping Aslam ji.." he shook his head "khair, its all done now.. go back to work, hm?"

Yes! Everything is back to normal "ji" 

 

Chapter 20

I left Mohan bhai's office and looked behind me, where is Samira today? I looked at the offices and everyone was busy glued to their computer screen. I shrugged and walked towards my office, maybe she'll surprise me there na? haan. I sat on my chair and exhaled heavily, it was a long day "next time, apologize  to Mohan bhai before slapping Saduass" I giggled at my cheap joke but slowly stopped as I looked behind me, no Samira. That made me feel uncomfortable, but I had to check the email first before I go checking for her and it was hard to do that. Once I read the email, I huffed "a birthday card for a one year old kid in Hyatt Hotel?! WHAT?" spoiled brat.. "drafts should be submitted at 10 am" I don’t know why Aslam ji likes 10am so much. I grabbed the sketch board and started drawing, I am an expert to kids birthday cards thanks to Bob. God, why do I end up with retarded bosses? One unstable and the other… I guess unstable too. I put the pencil down and looked behind me again, I miss Samira scaring me to be honest.. but why isnt she here yet? Could it be that yesterday.. Aslam ji… I gasped.. he didn’t fire her na? "oh I hope he didn’t!" I looked at the 10 papers of drafts and took them with me straight to Aslam ji's office, knocked on his door and peeked in "sir?" but what I saw was scary, Aslam ji full with anger shouting at Mira.. he glared at me and I quickly closed the door. Wow.. I hope she gets fired.. I know bad but I hate her.. I mean, dislike her.

After 10 minutes she came out and looked at me, wearing that ugly yellow mini dress and her hair up in a ponytail "hey, sexy" I gasped "Aslam wants to see you" she winked at me and walked towards her office

I can not believe this.. she called him ASLAM without JI nor SIR?! And he just yelled at her but she seemed so calm and like nothing happened. I shook whatever just happened in front of me and knocked on his door "sir?"

"come in"

Oh uh, he's angry "ji" I walked in "I finished the drafts of the birthday cards"

He looked at his watch then at me "its 9:20, Raina!" I jumped, he looks scary. He sighed looking at the papers in my hand "give me those" I reached my hand for him and he grabbed them powerfully. I stood there looking at him going through the papers randomly, one paper he shook his head, second paper, shaking his head, third paper and I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked towards him, and held the papers

"give me back my drafts!" I said annoyingly

"kya?!"

"you are angry with Mira not with me!" I looked at him frowning "you won't like anything I've done anyway, I'll come back when you are a bit calm"

"let go of the papers, Raina" he warned "I am looking at them and trying.."

"no you aren't looking at them!" I paused "you will not like any of those and will only complain that just because it’s a birthday for one year old baby doesn’t mean you have to use milk bottles and cookies for the cards Raina and then you will shout at me that you want it as fancy as Hallmark!" I said that in one breath then I realized that I only repeated what Bob once told me. I bit my lip and slowly looked at Aslam ji, then we both burst out laughing. My god, what is wrong with me? "I'm sorry.."

"you apologized twice today, that’s not professional" I nodded "I was looking at your drafts, Raina" I looked up at him, he was honest I sighed and moved back. He started looking at the papers, five were on his desk and five were put away. I looked at the ones he picked and my hopes crashed! He didn’t pick the one that I know the mother of the spoiled brat would love, how come?!

He seemed focused looking at those designs "sir, I don’t think you've picked the right one" I know he's annoyed with that statement but I took the papers that he put away and got the paper that had the right design, pushed the five papers to the side and put the paper in front of him

He blinked at me "this is it?"

"ji"

He put his hands on the desk and leaned down to look closely at it and asked "kyon?"

"well.. he's a spoiled brat.." Aslam ji slowly looked at me, literally blinking with confusion all over his face "I mean who would throw a birthday party for a one year old in Hyatt hotel?!" I giggled "the mother is either obsessed with her kid or she wants to show off her money and.." I shrugged "I don’t know, but this card" I leaned down "that’s why I've used.." I stopped when I looked at his face, I am so close to him.. that I could see his face features. His eyes are lighter than I thought.. his nose is sharp and his lips.. his lips are full.. he has a beard that I didn’t notice before.. I looked at his cheek.. the one that I slapped yesterday when I felt one of his hands on my cheek.. his eyes on my scar.. he was caressing my cheek and I don’t know why.. my head leaned towards his hand that felt so warm. He was getting closer to me.. so close I felt his breathe on my face.. no.. no, Raina wake up! What is happening!? I moved back quickly looking at him shocked.. I don’t understand they way he's looking back at me.. but I cant stay in his office any longer

"Raina, wait!" he yelled and I stopped at the door, feeling my heart about to leave my chest.. that’s how hard it was pounding "don’t.. don’t misunderstand me" he's right behind me, again I'm shivering

"I shouldn’t have.." I lowered my head looking at my shaky hands "its my fault I shouldn.."

"no, don’t say that" he sighed "please its not your fault, I los.." he paused "I lost my control for a second.. it never happened before and I promise it will never happen again"

I nodded, I need to leave this office "do you need anything else, sir?"

"haan" God, now what? "work on this card" I looked to my left where his hand had reached for me holding a paper

I grabbed the paper and looked at it, I smiled.. it’s the card that I wanted to work on it anyway but then I frowned as I turned, his face is red and I ignored it "isn't the mother going to pick the card?"

He cleared his throat and moved a step backwards "no, she trust me so she asked me to pick it for her"

I nodded but then my eyes popped out "you um.. know her?" I said scratching the back of my head

He was trying to hide a smile as he said "she is my friend from college" My jaw dropped, stupid Raina.. STUPID RAINA! "don’t worry, I won't tell her what you said earlier.." he narrowed his eyes "what was it? Spoiled brat and..?"

I sighed heavily "God, its apologize Raina day I suppose" he giggled and I ignored that "I really am.."

"don't" he interrupted me "now go and work on it"

"ji"

I left the office and just stopped.. weird day indeed. Now where the hell is Samira!? I walked towards her office but didn’t find her in it "looking for someone?"

I turned to see its Mira, with her orange lipstick.. ew "where is Samira?"

"oh, she took the day off today" she's eyeing me and I am looking at her with patience

"do you know why?"

"no, we're not friends.." I looked at Samira's desk, feeling like I've lost a friend "you seem really sad" I looked at the witch standing next to me "I'll take the rest of the year off just to get that look from you for me" SHE WINKED AT ME FOR THE SECOND TIME TODAY, oh I feel sick!

"thank you, Mira" I almost ran back to my office "kamini" I mumbled as I worked on the card "weirdo, witch.." I groaned, took a deep breath "focus, Raina.. finish this damn card and then you can ask about Samira.. haan"

It wasn't that long that I finished the card and sent it to Saduass boss and while at it, I sent an email to Samira.. asking her where the hell she is but, I had another idea in mind in finding her. I got up and walked to "Mohan bhai" he's is glued to his screen

"kya?"

I giggled "can I ask you a question?"

"haan"

"do you know where Samira lives?" well, now he is looking at me like I asked a taboo question

"why?"

"I'm worried about her, she didn’t show up today"

"I'm not allowed to give out addresses of employees.."

"but she calls me di!"

"to anyone" he glared at me "she will be back tomorrow and you can talk to her then"

Hmm, something isnt right here "not even a phone number?"

He rolled his eyes "did you finish the card?"

I shook my head and left him. What's the big deal in getting her address? Its not like I will kidnap her! This is not right, I feel something is fishy and I cant even say what it is. I looked at Aslam ji's office and walked towards it, knocked, peeked and started coughing "leave!" he yelled and I did, that man does want to kill himself. He walked outside his office and looked at me as I covered my nose with my hijab. He walked and I followed, and smoke was hitting me from behind. He got inside my office and asked "kya?"

"I want to have the rest of the day off, sir" he narrowed his eyes at me, and I realized how funny I sounded because I was closing my nose "ehm" I put my hand down "I'd like to hav.."

"kyon?"

I cant tell him that I want to search for Samira na? "I'm not really feeling well" I coughed

He moved back "k.. kya hua? Sick?"

"I didn’t sleep las.." I stopped talking then looked at him, he looks worried "I just need to lay down"

He looked at me for a moment "teek hai, finished the card?"

"haan, I emailed it to you"

"ok" he said then left the office

YES! Now, how can I find Samira in this city? Well I don’t care. I grabbed my bag and walked outside the company, I think I heard Mira calling me but I pretended that I was deaf at that moment. I got my mobile out and logged into my email but there was no new notification

 

Chapter 21

"God, Samira! How the hell am I suppose to look for you now?!"

"look for me?"

I jumped and looked behind me "SAMIRA!" she bit her lip looking scared that I might shout at her for scaring but no, I am hugging her literally "oh my God!"

"aap teek ho na di?"

I sighed looking at her "I just left the company to look for you!"

She looked up at the company then back at me "sach?" she raised an eyebrow

"haan, I sent you an email but you didn’t reply"

"oh well" she put her bag back on her shoulder "I called Mohan bhai to tell him I wasn’t going to come na? cause of what happened yesterday.. I really felt bad" she pouted "but then, I got bored at home and decided to come anyway" she shrugged

I giggled "I really missed you! I don’t know why.."

"aww! Di" she put her arm around me "I know why"

"achcha?"

"haan, you cant live without my spooky peek a boo daily doses na?"

I just laughed with her "you can say that, haan" I paused "do you really want to go in the company?"

"I have no where else to go.. home is boring"

"you can come over to my home" I grinned but she looked scared "kya hua?"

"well.. woh.." she looked at her mobile in her hand

"its ok, you can tell your parents that you're coming home with me.."

She sighed "aise nahi.." she looked at the street "its just complicated.."

"oh.." I frowned "kaise?"

She shook her head "never mind" she smiled "lets go to your home, di" 

 

Me and Samira got inside a cab, she started texting someone and I kept my eyes away from it.. probably her mother or father. Then she got a call and I couldn’t shut my ears from hearing that na? "haan.. I won't be long.. nahi, she's friendly with me.." she looked at me then outside the window "just breakfast.. no I didn't.. because I got bored!" she huffed "ji.. haan.. ok" she hang up and sighed heavily

"your mom?"

She looked at me "nahi, b.. baba.. my father" she smiled nervously and looked outside the window again, ohkay.. weird.

We walked inside my house "you're hungry, Samira?"

She was looking around the house then at me "its so cozy" she grinned

"haan, papa had built this house long time.. that’s why I think.." I looked around as well "I think it’s a bit traditional" I smiled at her "so, breakfast?"

"haan, but.. I will help you"

I giggled at her "of course you will, consider this your home Samira"

We went to the kitchen and she looked around as well "um, di.."

"hm?" I said getting the pan out

"woh.. I.. well, don’t know how to cook"

I stopped opening the fridge and looked back at her "ok?"

"nahi baas.. telling you di" she smiled nervously

"I'll teach you" I said getting the eggs out "what papa taught me in the last few weeks"

She gasped "you didn’t know how to cook before that?"

"nope" I gave her an onion and a knife "are you safe with knives?" I narrowed my eyes at her

"shayed" she shrugged

I freaked out seeing the way she held the knife "ya Allah, you're worse than me!" I took the knife away from her "look how I hold and cut the onions, ok?" she nodded

It really was fun cooking with her, I taught her how to cut everything! She really was worse than me, at least I knew how to make a difference between sugar and salt. We sat on the floor in the living and she had breakfast, I just had a cup of tea "di, are you an only child?" she asked resting her back on the sofa

"haan" I looked at her "you?"

"hm" she nodded looking at her cup "I don’t have friends actually, I never had friends" she looked at me "ba.. baba would never allow me" she frowned

"over protective, I guess"

She shrugged "I don’t know.. but he never allowed me to have any friends.. aur toh aur no one ever liked me" she giggled "not in middle school.. high school.. no one did" she said sadly

"that’s not true" I sat next to her "I like you, you are social and so sweet.. idiots only who wouldn’t like you"

She looked at me "you're just saying that to make me feel better, na di?"

"oye stupid" I hit her head

"ow, di!"

"why do you think I invited you over to our house, ha? And why do you think I was missing you like crazy today!? I really felt like my day was incomplete without your daily doses of peek a boo"

We both laughed "I don’t have friends too, you know?" I sighed when I remembered "I mean, I used to have them before I went to the US but then.. when I came back they.. well, they disappeared"

"kaisa?"

"bata nahi" I shrugged "I called them but every one of them seemed busy and no one wanted to really meet me.." I looked at the cup

"its their loss, haan!"

I smiled at her defensive tone of voice "well I guess distant relationships don’t work out.."

"haan, that’s true"

I looked at her "kyon? Have you been in a distant relationship before?"

"nahi!" she shook her head looking at me

Innocent bachchi, I giggled at her face "good" even some close relationships don’t work

"but Mujhse Dosti Karoge na?"

I frowned "I thought we were already friends?"

She laughed "di! The movie!!" I blinked at her and she gasped "oh my God, you don’t watch movies?!"

"I do, but I never heard of that one"

"that was so popular, di!" she narrowed her eyes at me "are you the type of person who only watches Hollywood?!" she asked with a funny face

I laughed at her "no, I watch Bollywoord.. well, used to" I shrugged putting my cup on the table "if didn’t have Farrukh Khan, I wouldn’t kn.." I stopped as that name started ringing in my ear, not Farrukh.. Yasir

"HAYE!! FARRUKH!!" I looked back at her and she was in a dramatic pose "he is the only, ONLY, person that can make me go weak in the knees!! I love him"

"haan, teek hai.. can you get back to earth and help me with the dishes?" she giggled and nodded

"I cant believe you don’t know Mujhse Dosti Karoge, di.. you should watch it!"

I shook my head "just wash the dishes"

"no I'm serious, it’s a beautiful story of 3 friends.. one guy and two girls"

I raised an eyebrow "he loves one of them but ends up with the other?"

She blinked at me "you watched it?"

I laughed "no, typical Bollywood idea" I shrugged

"salaam"

Samira gasped and looked at the kitchen door "yeh kaun hai?"

"a thief" she really is scared "stupid, that’s dad!" I was laughing at her scared face

"oh!"

"sala.." papa stopped at the kitchen door "am.." he smiled nervously as he saw Samira, aw! So cute my shy papa

"salaam" Samira and I replied putting the dried dishes aside

"you must be Samira" he smiled at her

"haye! How did you know uncle?"

He giggled "Raina has been talking about you nonstop" he came and kissed my head "how are you now?"

I nodded "alhamdulilAlla, aur aap?"

He sighed "alhamdulilAllah, got bored with work so came back home" Samira giggled, he looked at her "staying home for lunch, hai na beti?"

Something happened to Samira right then when he called her beti, her eyes twinkled and her smile faded "ji.. woh.. I have to get back home.." she lowered her head

"kya hua?" papa whispered to me and I shrugged, have no idea what just happened to her

I put my hand on her arm "are you ok, Samira?"

"haan" she grinned at me "but I really have to go, b.. baba been messaging me asking me to get back" she sighed

"wow, your father is so much into texting.. papa would never text me when I'm out, hai na?" I looked at him

He hit my head playfully and I giggled at him "next time you will have to stay with us for lunch, ok?" he pointed his finger at Samira who nodded "teek hai.. I'll go change" he smiled at us "AllahHafiz beti"

Samira seemed really emotional when she replied "AllahHafiz uncle"

I looked at her as she was looking at my father.. once he was out of sight she looked at me "bahut handsome hai di!"

My jaw dropped and she started laughing at me "God, you did not just say that about my father!"

 

Chapter 22

I really didn’t want her to leave but she got a phone call from her father that made her literally shake. It made me sad to see her like that, she really is a sweetheart but her father seems like a monster. Reminded me of aunty Shublee's father and then there is my father who deserves to be happy.. something I want for him, its on my top of my To Do list. Well, half of that to do list got scratched when Yasir decided to get married to someone else. Haan.. I never had such list but with him I did that.. I built my whole life on him.. one second and everything changed, even my whole life.

"this tastes delicious" papa said eating the same biryani he taught me how to cook it

I smiled at him "papa.."

"hm"

I cleared my throat "do.. do you remember where your high school was?"

He giggled "I'm not that old, beti.. of course I rememeber"

I nodded "is it still there, kya?"

"no" he swallowed "a bank bought that land and built a branch there" he replied eating more

"oh, that’s bad" he nodded "do.. you remember.. where.. is aunty.. Shublee's school?"

That’s when he glared at me "kyon?"

I smiled innocently "baas, asking" I shrugged putting a spoonful of rice in my mouth, acting indifferent

"there is something alright" he put the spoon down "what are you thinking about?"

"papa I just asked you a question, you're making me sound like.. like I'm wanted by the FBI!"

He didn’t even smile! "what is on your mind, Raina?" guess papa knows me too well

"nothing, just asking" he took a deep breath then started eating again "they built on it another bank?"

"no, but whoever bought that land didn’t have enough money to finish that project"

"oh" I was playing with the rice when I asked "do you remember where she lives?"

"that’s it" he put the spoon down again and I giggled at his short temper "what do you want, Riana?"

I sat on my knees in front of him "papa, you will have to agree on what I want to do"

"no"

"papa!"

"I already feel the crazy ideas that are coming out of your brain!! No"

I pouted "cant you just listen to your daughter?"

He sighed heavily looking away from me "bolo"

I smiled "well, I just thought that.. we'd.. visit her today" he looked at me shocked "I mean, her house" I grinned

"why would you want to visit her house?"

"cause I want to see it"

"Raina" he rubbed his forehead

I held his hand "papa.. listen.." I paused when he didn’t even look at me, he seems really.. sad "I really want you to be happy"

"Raina.." he looked at me

"really, I want you to be with aunty Shublee and.."

"she is married Raina" he said bitterly "do you understand that?"

I nodded "but.. but at least.. for me.. I mean, I want to see her too na?"

He sighed "why? She probably lives somewhere else with her husband and kids!"

"haan I have an idea, when we go to her house I will ring the bell and then.."

"tell them what? You're an old friend?"

"exactly" I grinned

He giggled "do you know how old is Shublee?"

"ji, 42"

His eyebrows were up "you calculated her age?!" I nodded "why?"

"I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about you and her.. and I just.. I just want you to maybe.. live the old memories and be happy.. for a moment.." I sighed lowering my head

He held my hand tight "I am happy, beti.. if I see her with her husband and kids.. that’s when my happiness will shatter"

"you just said she probably is living in another house na?" I raised an eyebrow, he glared at me "papa please!!"

"ya Allah" he sighed "fine, teek hai.. I'll take you to her house.."

"YES!" I hugged him tightly and I heard him giggling at my childish reaction

 

It was 4 pm when I dragged papa out of the house. We got inside a cab and he told him an address. I really was excited about this, more than he was.. he seemed very nervous.. well, I cant blame him. I just hope that, aunty Shublee is in that house today and maybe, I don’t know.. sees papa and runs away with him? I wouldn’t mind at all.

"thank you"

We got outside the cab and stood outside a house.. well, whats left of that house "that’s it?" I looked at him shocked "that’s her house?!"

He giggled "no, that’s my house" he smiled looking at it "my whole childhood was in there.."

"papa! Why are we here?"

"uffu" he started walking "the only way I know to Shublee's house is through mine so chup and follow me"

I smiled, good. I thought he was going to prank me. We walked a lot I must say.. cant believe papa walked all that long just to see her for a second. He stopped once and looked around "all new houses" he mumbled "its around the corner" I nodded not making any comment.. I don’t want him to lose hope and I didn’t want that either.

He stopped at a house and I knew from his face its her's but something was wrong "is that it?" I asked "it looks very new.."

"haan.." he said sounding disappointed, he looked at the house next to it "that’s the Chopras.. so that.. must be hers.." he sighed "I guess not anymore" he smiled at me

"this is not happening.. how.. why would they leave?!"

He put his arm around me "they got a good buyer? Chal.."

He turned but I stopped looking at the house, I really felt like crying but I guess no love storie.. wait, I stopped and turned as I heard a woman yelling "Farah, roko!" I looked at papa.. he stopped too "you forgot your bag" the woman seemed old.. haan, belkul aunty Shublee's age. Whoever that Farah was, got inside a car and drove away and.. that woman stood at the gate waving at her. She turned to get back to her house when she stopped.. my heart started beating fast as she looked at us.. no.. she was looking at papa who was giving her his back

"papa.." I whispered looking at her "papa I think.."

"she's married" he interrupted me "she.. she's not mine anymore"

He started walking when that woman walked towards us.. so fast that she reached us in a heart beat.. blue eyes, ya Allah.. she is so beautiful in her black kamez-salwar "Karim.." she whispered placing her hand on his shoulder

I looked at papa, he closed his eyes and a tear fell.. I stepped back and looked at them. Papa turned back slowly, looking at her. She gasped slightly and her eyes started to drop tears, papa was staring at her.. I think her blue eyes are talking to him in a language that I don't understand "kaise ho.. Shublee?" he smiled

"ya Allah" she put her hand on her chest "main.. teek ho.. abh teek ho" she sniffed "aap kaise ho?"

Papa shook his head "maybe dreaming" papa said and she giggled "I cant believe that you're standing in front of me.."

"me neither" she paused "what brought you here?" she asked

"woh.." he looked at me "my daughter, Raina.. she.. wanted.."

Aunty Shublee looked at me then smiled "mashAllah" she whispered as she reached her hand for me "kaise ho, beti?"

God, she is so warm and sweet "teek ho.."

"she wanted to meet you.." papa finally finished his sentence

Shublee aunty looked at him "you told her?" he nodded "oh.." she knotted her eyebrows "her mother?" she asked

"oh.." papa moved a step back, I guess realizing again that she is married "we.. got divorced 8 years ago.."

She shook her head "achcha?" still not looking at papa

"hm" he replied "was that your daughter?" he asked wiping his tear away

"ji, Farah"

He giggled "you named her Farah, Shublee?" she nodded looking at him "you.. remembered.."

"I never forgot"

He shook his head looking at her "it.. it was nice seeing you.. again.." he looked at me "chal, Raina"

"I got divorced.." she almost yelled stopping papa and me "after Farah was born.." papa looked at her "I guess.. he couldn’t handle me anymore" she smiled

"what do you mean?" papa walked towards her "did he ever hurt you??" but she didn’t reply and only looked into his eyes "did he, Shublee?" he repeated his question firmly but aunty Shublee only caressed his cheek, papa closed his eyes and leaned his head towards her hand.. putting his other hand on it

"he didn’t.." she shook her head "he never did.. he.. he was in love with someone else too" she smiled "and understood me perfectly when I told him that I cant love him.." she paused "after I gave birth to Farah.. he decided to marry his love and.." she bit her lip "and I knew you were married toh.. never looked for you" she sniffed

"Shublee.." papa kissed her hand

"the only thing that made me sleep at night were your letters" they both giggled softly "I'd read one and hug it then sleep.." she smiled "I still have them all"

Papa put his arms around her waist and held her up, hugging her tightly "I never forgot you Shublee.." papa was saying, I don’t know what aunt Shublee told him that he giggled "haan.." he moved back and looked at me

"oh, don't mind me" I wiped my tears

"besharm!" papa said firmly and aunt Shublee giggled still not looking at me

"sach papa, I don’t mind"

"chup"

"Karim" aunt Shublee put her hand on his chest and wow, what an effect she has on him. She looked at me "I'm sorry beti, we got a bit emotional" aw! She's blushing

"really, aunty its ok" I smiled at her

Papa looked at her "well.. we um, should go.."

WHAT?! "abh?" aunt Shublee is pouting and is looking more beautiful, ya Allah imagine if she was my mother, I'd be the hottest girl in the world!

Papa, I can feel his heart melting.. that’s what his face is telling me "well.. its not right.. to stand here and we.. should be going.. Maghrib time about to start.."

"ji" she lowered her head and moved back

Papa wanted to hug her I could tell but then he moved back "chal, Raina.."

I cant let this happen, no.. it cant happen "papa!" papa stopped and looked at me so did aunt Shublee "don’t you think we should have tea with aunty Shublee?" dad's face fell "you havent seen her in a while.. don't you think we should sit and have tea with her?" I looked at aunt Shublee, she's smiling but her head was down and dad, well he seems angry

"Shublee must be busy.."

"I'm not" she looked at papa "I didn’t have my tea anyway.. would love to have it with you.."

Papa cant say no to aunt Shublee, a new thing I just learned about him "ok.." he sounded defeated and I loved it

Looking at them.. walking side by side.. I know that they deserve each other and they deserve a happy ending and I will make sure they do.

 

Chapter 23

We walked inside her house and it looked so beautiful! Papa was looking around and giggled "nothing is the same"

"haan, after papa passed away.. me and ma started working on the house" she smiled at him

"oh.." papa frowned "I'm sor.."

"don't be, Karim.. you didn't know" she walked ahead and we followed, papa's eyes never left her.. staring at her wherever she went

"your mom is.." papa said as we sat down in the comfy sofas of the living room

"she passed away four years ago" aunty Shublee sighed "but en sha'a Allah.. she's in a better place"

"belkul"

Wow, Aunty Shublee is religious.. I am liking her even more now "how old are you, Raina?"

God that smile of hers.. making this place light up literally "ji.. 22"

"mashAllah" she giggled "the age of my daughter"

"achcha?" now that’s weird!

She nodded but papa was chuckling, it made aunty Shublee blush.. I was lost of course.. they probably are doing some kind of telepathy "she's married and they visit me every Friday" she looked at the table and blushed even more "sorry.." she got up and started taking the plates off, I got up and started to help her "nahi, beti.. its ok.."

"aunty, you're calling me beti.. so let me help you!"

She smiled and put her hand on my head then looked at papa "we'll go make tea.. make yourself at home" I think she sounded so happy saying that last sentence, it made papa happy as well and of course I was dancing within. We went to the kitchen and I helped her with the empty plates that had some chocolate.. I suppose she ate chocolate cake with her daughter? Hmm "its really nice of you to want to meet me" she said while waiting for the water to boil

"I'm really happy that I've met you aunty" I smiled at her

She smiled at me "which I find strange"

"kyon?"

She sighed as she put a spoonful of tea in the water "if Karim had told you everything about us.. I wouldn’t think that you would want to meet me.." she paused "you'd hate me, na?"

I smiled at her "do you mean because I'd think of my mother and how she would feel?" aunty Shublee blushed and just nodded not looking at me "nahi aunty.. I didn’t really think about my mother" she looked at me "well, I don’t really know what my own mother feels about me so let alone.. thinks about me or what I need" I lowered my gaze "they have been divorced for so long.. and.. ma never really, cared much about papa" I sighed "nor me.."

"beti.." she put her warm hand on my shoulder and I just held myself back from crying "there is no mother in this whole wide world that doesn’t care about her own daughter or son"

"I guess you havent met mine then" I mumbled

"no I havent.. but I know that she cares about you in her own way.." I looked at her, she was smiling "haan, she loves you in her own way.. maybe your mother isnt expressive but her feelings for you are nothing but love, care and protection"

But I shook my head "I never felt that, aunty" I whispered as a tear fell "if it wasn’t for papa.. talking to me on the phone everyday when I was in the US.. I really don’t know where I would have been now"

Aunty Shublee hugged me tight, rubbing my back without saying a word, I can feel already calm now "you father is the source of love on this earth.. he can even generate it if its lost anywhere, did you know that?" she said pouring the tea in the teapot

Haye! She's just SWEET! I giggled at her red face "haan, I do" I paused "but I'm sure.. you're saying that out of a different experiment with him" she gasped slightly looking at me surprised and I laughed at her "sorry, aunty"

She shook her head smiling as she put the cups in the tray "you got that teasing from your father, that’s for sure" she got three plates out with forks "hold those"

"nahi, I'll hold the tray and you hold those"

I grinned walking outside to the living room, papa was in his seat and his smile was back when he saw aunty Shublee sitting on the sofa "papa, aunty Shublee says I go the teasing from you"

She giggled and papa looked at me with eyes popped out "what did you tell her?!" he asked aunty Shublee and I started laughing at them.. there must have been other kind of teasing!

"nothing!" she sighed pouring tea, Papa glared at me and I swallowed my tongue, no one should make aunty Shublee sad, check. "here, no sugar.. na?" she smiled at him

God, I never seen papa smile like that before "hm.. you do remember.."

"I told you, I didn’t forget" ok.. they are now looking into each other's eyes.. probably doing that talk that I don’t understand.. now aunty Shublee is blushing, she looked at me "beti, you drink it with sugar?"

"nahi" I grinned

"oh, like father like daughter"

"haan" I feel proud!

"Karim"

Oh, I think papa just chocked with his tea, made me chuckle at his red face "ji?"

"remember this?" she said uncovering a cake plate

Papa gasped "you made it!"

She giggled "haan, I have been making it since that day" she cut a piece and gave him a plate "taste it, I want the chef's opinion"

Papa had a piece and shook his head "this is better than the chef's recipe"

She giggled "liar.. you're just saying that cause you know I cant bake as good as you.. nor cook" she sounded sad.. not because of what she said but as if remembering something

Papa put the plate on the table and sat next to her, he held her hand and I saw her tears "Allah has separated us for a reason, Shublee" he spoke so softly "He has joined us for a reason.. hai na?" she slowly looked up at him, he wiped her tears and looked into her eyes "I've let you go once.. I don't think.. I don’t think I can let you go again"

She's smiling now "me neither" she hugged papa tight and I grinned, that's what should happen.. haan.. that’s what every love story should end like.. haan.. even if there was a long wait… beautiful things happen after a long wait. I turned my face and wiped my tears, I hope.. I just hope.

"we should tell Farah" aunty Shublee said when they separeted "and Raina" she whispered

"I heard that" I smiled at them "and I agree"

Papa looked at me worried "Raina.. I know.."

"you don’t have to explain papa" he sighed "really, I want you both together and happy.. en sha'a Allah"

Aunty Shublee was staring at me then she looked at papa "something is wrong, na?" she asked

God, I quickly put the smile back on my face "nothing is wrong aunty, don’t worry about me.. you will just have to talk to Farah ji" I paused "and I hope she agrees.. well, she will have to!"

Papa looked at aunty Shublee, I need to have a course in that eyes language! "we'll talk more about this later when we go back home, Raina" he told me

"papa!" he gave me a warning look and I sighed looking away from him

"haan.. and I need time to talk to Farah too.." she lowered her head

Papa was still holding her hand when he asked her "does he.. um.. keep in touch?"

"ji" she replied "with Farah and sometimes asks about me.."

Papa nodded, his face showing disapproval.. I had to giggle at that "I know what Safiya would say" he shrugged and I nodded agreeing on that, she wouldn’t mind at all for sure!

Aunty Shublee looked at papa for a moment then I think she realized Safiya is mom's name "oh" she said after a moment "ji.. I don't think Kabir would say anything about it.."

I blinked at them and burst out laughing, they both looked at me confused "did you guys just listen to yourselves?"

"kya hua?" she asked so sweetly

"you were married to a K person.. papa was married to a S person.." they both looked funny trying to understand what I'm trying to say "hello! Karim, Shublee!! K & S"

Aunty Shublee gasped "OH!" she giggled looking at papa "that never clicked before"

He shook his head smiling "its Sh, Raina.."

"haan whatever, what I mean is you both are destined to get married and no one NOW is going to disapprove! I won't allow anyone to do that" I grinned at them but papa was looking at me with worry in his eyes and I didn’t like that, he should be happy!

"like I said, we'll talk about it when we're home" he looked at his watch "Maghrib time.." he said

"haan.. you can pray in that room" aunty Shublee pointed behind her

Papa got up and walked towards it "where is the Qibla?" he asked stopping at the door

"oh.. ek minute" she got up and followed him

Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho.. yes, that’s the song that came to my head.. besharm indeed! She's showing him the Qibla to pray and I am thinking about such song, che! "aren't you going to pray, beti?"

Well, they didn’t take that long "nahi woh.." and I'm finding hard to say why!

"oh" she smiled sitting next to me "me and you both.." she blushed badly and my eyebrows were raised up.. wow, aunty Shublee still gets it.. well, she does look younger than me if that’s possible "beti.."

"ji?"

"I want to ask you something and answer only if you want to, teek hai?" I nodded "I can feel how much you want me and your father to get married.. but when you were talking.. I felt that.. you were talking about something else.." no she didn’t! I lowered my head "hai na?"

She probably has sixth sense.. or I really was giving myself away "ji"

"oh.." she reached her hand for mine and held it, I looked at her "if you want to talk about it beti, I am here" she was smiling warmly at me "even if I didn’t become your.."

"no aunty, you will have to" I said firmly "you and papa have to get married and live together" my stupid tears that I cant control anymore "you should hold him, hug him.. love him more" I sniffed "you.. you should have kids too" I smiled but she wasn’t now "haan, I don’t mind having step brothers or sisters.. that will make you and him happy na?" I nodded "you both deserve to be together aunty.. you waited for each other for too long" I bit my lip feeling more tears falling on my cheeks "and now.. its over.. Allah has written you and papa for each other.. it was just a test aunty.. just a test and its over" I started crying "you both should get married, aunty.. please don’t leave papa.. please"

Aunty Shublee hugged me tightly "ya Allah.." she kissed my head and started to rub my back, not letting me go. I was holding her too, feeling a type of love that I've never felt before.. a motherly love in just one hug "Allah gives tests to his most beloved soldiers beti" she paused "He loves you so much.. that’s why you are going through pain now.." she sighed "I know that pain so well, beti.. I have lived it for so long.. when I lost hope of never seeing your father again.. I had Farah to make me smile but your father memories always made me smile from my heart" she sniffed "I would never wish such pain for anyone, beti.. especially you" she cupped my face then kissed my forehead "you are Karim's daughter.. that makes you my daughter as well" she smiled at me "I'm already loving you like I love Farah" I smiled at her "and whoever hurts you, I would fight them.. hunt them down and fight them for you" I bit my lip, how I wish ma said those words to me, how I wish she was her with me now "did.. did he propose to you?"

I wiped my tears "haan"

"your father refused, kya?!" she sounded angry

"nahi, aunty.. his mother refused me" I paused "aur.. he didn’t fight for me" I shook my head "I thought that he would.. I thought he would try to convince his mother about our love but he didn’t aunty.. he just accepted what his mother had told him" I shrugged "now he's about to get married to someone else.. or maybe already married.. I don’t know" that burn in my heart is increasing, I don’t want to even think about that now, I still have hope and I will never lose that hope

"oh" she sighed "budduh.." she mumbled

"ji?"

"kuch nahi" she held my hand "listen to me carefully.. you love this man but he seems that he.." she paused "I don’t want to hurt your feelings beti but he seems like a selfish man" she frowned "I know for sure, if the situation was reversed with your papa toh.. he would have tried harder and he wouldn’t get married to anyone but me" I nodded, I so agree with that "you have to let go, beti"

"I cant aunty" I whispered

"listen to me.."

"nahi aunty please" I smiled at her "I cant let go of him.. my heart wouldn’t allow me.. you should understand that na?"

"but.."

"I know.. I am hurting" I sighed "a lot but.. letting him go would probably.." I swallowed hard shaking my head "I can't.." I whispered

She lowered her head "if I see him, toh.."

I giggled at her "me too, aunty.. I swear me too"

"haan" she looked to her left when we both heard a door open, it was papa. I quickly wiped my tears away and lowered my head

But I guess it was too late "what happened?!" he sat next to me "Raina, are you ok?"

I sighed "ji"

"were you crying?" I nodded "kyon?!" he put his arm around me "are you feeling the pain again?"

"nahi" I pouted "I'm just telling aunty Shublee how much I want you guys to get married but she's saying it all depends on Farah now"

"KYA?!"

Papa looked at aunty Shublee "don’t get a heart attack now, Shublee.. she's teasing you and me" he glared at me as I started giggling "I guess you don’t want to tell me"

"its nothing really" I rested my head on his chest and he tighten his arm around me "did you pray for a happy wedding, papa?"

"hm" he kissed my head "I prayed for a happy life for you beti.."

A tear fell but I was smiling "and I'm praying for yours, papa" I whispered closing my eyes.. papa was rubbing my shoulder.. making me more sleepy.. I was tired.. and I can't open my eyes now. 

 

Chapter 24

I opened my eyes to see myself in a room that didn’t look like my bedroom I sat on the bed and looked around, I'm still in aunty Shublee's house.. God, I probably slept for too long. I got up and opened the door, putting my hair back in place, papa saw me and walked towards me followed by aunty Shublee

" kaise ho, Raina?"

I smiled at their worried faces "teek ho, but really hungry"

Papa sighed and aunty giggled "haan I have been telling your father to cook for us but.. he was worried about you" she caressed my cheek "tum teek ho na beti?"

I nodded " belkul but really hungry" I looked at papa blinking innocently at him, I don't want us to leave now!

"well.. Shublee must be tired and want to sleep"

Aunty and I rolled our eyes "I am not old, Karim! its 8:30 and I don't sleep at this time.. unless you don't want to.."

Papa interrupted her "I'm just 2 years older than you" he raised an eyebrow at her

"toh?" oh, aunty fighting back!

"its.. just not.. right.."

Aunty Shublee frowned at dad, looking upset "fine, that's the door if you want to leave"

Whoa! Aunty Shublee wanted to walk away but papa held her arm and pulled her to him so hard that her body hit his.. so Bollywoodish! He put an arm around her waist looking into her eyes and I was just standing holding my breath looking at them "you have no right in throwing me out like that"

Oh, oh that's papa's teasing voice she smiled shyly with her hand on his chest "your daughter is right here, Karim" he probably wasn't listening cause he still was looking into her eyes with so much love that she lowered her head.

Papa woke up then and looked at me, I was smiling like crazy and he blushed "ehm.." he moved back from aunty "I guess I'll cook dinner tonight"

"yay" i grinned

"do you need help?" aunty asked but he shook his head walking to the kitchen

"aunty, um where is the.. bathroom?" she showed me where it was and I washed my face, did my hair cause it looked really funny and went out to sit with her in the living room, she was having tea

"want a cup beti?"

"nahi, I wont sleep at night then"

She giggled "just like your father, no tea nor coffee at night"

"coffee?" I looked at her confused "he doesn't like coffee"

"hm" she frowned "he used to drink it.. it was the only thing that I did well.. he used to ask me to do that for him whenever we met" she still looked at me confused 

I raised my eyebrows at her up and down "he probably loved ONLY your coffee, aunty" 

She hit my shoulder playfully and I giggled at her "such a teaser!"

"haan" I smiled "did he do the cooking then?"

She nodded swallowing a sip of tea "haan, he used to come with a basket in his hands that I called basket of wonders" I giggled "sach! every time we met there was something new in it"

"wow"

"haan.. he told me after we get married.. you wont get in the kitchen and I'd do all the cooking" she was looking ahead "but I got married and.. had to learn how to cook" she lowered her gaze "not as good as your father though" she giggled wiping a tear and I kept silent not able to reply to that, imagining if I had to cook for someone else other than Yasir that I'd have to call my husband.. that idea made me shiver "am I.. disturbing you, beti? You can tell me.."

"no.. why would you ask that, aunty?" I smiled at her worried face "its ok, I don’t mind listening to your stories with papa.."

She held the cup tight looking down "I don’t know how you're so calm about it.." she paused "I feel like I am doing something wrong"

"please aunty, don’t" I put my hand on her's and she looked at me "I'm perfectly fine about this whole thing.. I don’t know how I am, but I am" I nodded to her to assure her and she smiled at me

Papa didn't spend long before he came with plates in his hands, he had cooked us a vegetarian dinner and we all loved it. Aunty Shublee complained saying she cant figure out papa's secret in getting better and better after all those years and he laughed at her.. I never saw papa laugh like that, like its from within.. and I know its all because aunty Shublee is next to him.. his love is next to him.

We helped her with the dishes, walked towards the main door but papa was dragging himself to the main door, he really didn’t want to leave "toh.. en sha'a Allah.. next Friday, we will meet again" she smiled at us

"haan.." papa sounded sad

I hugged her tightly "I hope everything goes well, aunty"

She blushed then kissed my forehead "take care, hm?" she caressed my cheek and I nodded

Papa looked at her, and I had to wait until their eyes did the talking "AllahHafiz" he smiled at her

"AllahHafiz" she said softly

 

Chapter 25

Home was different tonight, papa was quiet all the time in the cab and even now he is, he didn’t even say good night and just went to his bedroom. I guess its hard for him, still, to absorb what happened today. Its hard for me to be honest, I do feel like its all a dream and I might just wake up so imagine what papa is going through now. I was turning around in bed when I saw the time, and sighed heavily. I got up and went outside to get myself a glass of water when I saw papa sitting on the sofa of the living room, his hands on his forehead "papa?" I walked towards him "are you ok?" I sat looking at him worried

He moved his hands away and looked at me "are you?" he asked

"matlab?"

He sighed "I'm really worried about you, Raina.."

"kyon?"

He held my hand "I didn’t think something like this would ever happen.. me getting married before you" he giggled softly but I was just staring at him "you.. you have accepted Shublee in a way that I.. just don’t understand it, beti" he paused "I have waited for her for so long.. and I don’t mind waiting longer"

"but why, papa? Everything is going right.. only waiting for Farah ji's opinion about this na? why are you saying this now?"

He was looking into my eyes "I know what you are doing, Raina" I lowered my head "I can see it in your eyes even if you don’t tell me" he held my hand tight "but I don’t want you to get hurt"

"I'm not hurt papa" I smiled at him "and I don’t mind you getting married at all.. I don’t care what others think!"

"do you think I do?"

"nahi" I mumbled "but I don’t know why you are saying all of this.."

He smiled, as if catching me doing something wrong "you know you do.." I bit my lip and he put his arm around me "maybe we can delay this.."

"NO!" I looked at him shocked "papa.. if you do that then that’s what will really hurt me and make me angry, haan.." he shook his head and I sighed "I do love aunty Shublee.. but that doesn’t mean I don’t love ma, papa.." he looked at me "ma just never had the warmth that aunty Shublee gave me today" I smiled "she never gave me the love that aunty Shublee gave me today.. hell, she never hugged me" I lowered my head with my tears threatening to fall "this is not about me papa.. its all about you now.. forget whatever happened with me and.. and Yasir" I swallowed hard looking at him "just forget that.. and focus on you, teek hai?" he just hugged me and I took that as approval of it.

 

Working through the week was hard because I was waiting for Friday to come as soon as possible. I had a calendar just to rip the papers of days off and sometimes I'd count how many days left for Friday. Samira was calling me crazy but she doesn’t know WHY I was so impatient with everything.

"Raina"

"what?!" oops, ehm.. I got up and lowered my head, it was Aslam ji but I was irritated and he just came shouting at me

"what's wrong with you?!"

"I'm sorry, I didn’t mean to shou.."

"ok, leave it" God, Saduass man is back in action "I didn’t receive an email today" I blinked at him "did you even start working on the.."

"haan!" I grinned at him "I just sent them" I was going to go to his office but now..

He narrowed his eyes at me, then looked at what I was holding.. my bag "going somewhere?"

I looked at my bag then at him and quickly put my arms behind my back "woh.. ehm" I cleared my throat, he had made this harder for me "I want.. to.. leave.. early.. sir"

He raised an eyebrow "early?" he looked at his watch "its 12 now, how early do you want to leave?"

He said that sarcastically, and he's smiling at his own stupid joke but I wasn’t "as early as now, sir"  

Aslam ji was silent for a moment looking at me "no, I need you around here so you ca.."

"but I need to leave now!" STUPID ARROGANT BOSS!!

He walked towards me "who's the boss here?! I said no!"

"you are the boss alright but I am asking you to give me permission to leave! I am not leaving behind your back like half of your employees do!" his eyes popped out, I guess he doesn’t know that 

"they do not!"

"yes they do!" I was on my toes now looking straight into his eyes, God he's tall!

He was breathing heavily now, looking straight into my eyes.. I don’t know what happened that he looked away from me and I stood on my feet again.. lowering my head "why do you want to leave?"

"there is an important meeting that I have to attend at 1pm"

"its 12 now, Raina"

"I need to.." he looked at me "change.." I mumbled "and papa as well.. he's really nervous more than I am"

He looked at me shocked "som.. some.. ehm" he cleared his throat then looked away from me again, and I don’t know what he wanted to say "teek hai" he said

I grinned "thank you, sir!" but he just stormed out of my office and I took a deep breath, switched the computer off, put my papers away then walked towards the elevators

"Raina" I looked back to see Mohan bhai running towards me, the door of the elevator opened and we both got inside "leaving early?"

"haan" I smiled at him "you wanted something?" please no!

"nahi" he smiled back "um, anything important?"

I nodded "big meeting today" I grinned at him "so excited but so nervous"

"oh" he nodded and the elevator door open and I almost ran outside "a proposal for you kya?" he giggled

I looked behind me and laughed at him "haan!" I teased and ran outside, got inside a cab and gave him the address.. I'm thinking about wearing the kamez-salwar that papa bought for me. I grinned, God I hope Farah ji IS a nice person like aunty Shublee said.

"papa I'm home!"

He came out of the kitchen "so early?!"

"we only have like.." I looked at my watch and gasped "45 minutes!" I looked at him "are you going like that?!" he was wearing a house shirt and lousy jeans

"no! I was baking.." he blushed "I will change now.." he walked back towards the kitchen

I rolled my eyes walking to my room "don’t forget to wear what I got for you last Monday, please"

"haan haan"

Papa looked dashing in the beige sherwani and well, he said I looked beautiful in the blue suit that I was wearing. We were standing in front of aunty Shublee's house door.. "salaam"

Oops, its not aunty Shublee and we are guessing this is Farah ji "oh, salaam" papa is blushing badly! "kaise ho.. Farah?"

She smiled at him "teek ho, uncle.." she looked at me "Raina right?"

"haan" I nodded smiling back, she seems friendly!

She giggled nervously "please come in.."

We walked inside, she took the cake plate and walked towards the kitchen and we sat down. Papa exhaled heavily, man he seems really tensed. Oh.. I think papa is going to be more tensed when he sees aunty Shublee. She was walking down the stairs and my jaw is on the floor.. she is looking so hot! "ehm" I cleared my throat

Papa looked at me confused and I looked behind him, he followed my gaze and I think his neck didn’t want to move away from aunty Shublee.. wearing dark pink kamez-salwar.. what was she thinking? Knocking my father down! She is succeeding in it! "salaam.." she said softly standing in front of us

Papa recovered quickly when she lowered her head, blushing "salaam.." he cleared his throat, looking away from her I think to save himself

I got up and hugged her "salaam, aunty" I smiled at her "you look really beautiful"

She giggled softly then sat next to me "you are looking more beautiful, beti" she put her hand on my head.. I just found out that I love it when she does that "where is Farah?"

"here I am" Farah ji was the only one not wearing Indian clothes today "uncle brought a cake with him"

Aunty looked at papa who was already staring at her "you baked it?" she smiled

"ha..an" he cleared his throat

"carrot cake, kya?" he giggled and didn’t reply "I'm sure it is" aunty sounded excited

"you'll have to wait, Shublee"

She grinned "haan, and you will have to eat what I cooked" she said proudly

He shook his head "may Allah help us all"

We all laughed but aunty looked at him shocked "that’s harsh!" she sighed "when you eat it then you will want me to cook for you everyday!" oops.. aunty bit her lip and blushed badly, me and Farah ji giggled at her AND papa who was supporting her with his red face

"we'll talk about that later.." he said lowering his gaze

Silence, I hated it. It lasted for so long before Farah ji got up "I'll set the table"

"I'll help you" I got up

"me too" aunty got up as well

"and I'll sit here alone" papa mumbled

We looked back at him, me nad Farah looked at each other then started giggling "ma, why don't you sit with uncle? I know how to set a table and the two of us is enough for it, ok?"

"but.."

"don’t worry, we will take long time" I winked at her and she gasped, me and Farah ji laughed walking towards the kitchen "God, papa told me she was the Shyness Queen but aunty is breaking the record"

Farah ji got a tray out "haan, I told her that once and she got angry with me saying shyness makes a girl more beautiful"

"more than she is!? Ahhh"

Farah ji giggled then looked at me "you like ma, na?" I nodded "she told me that and I didn’t believe it" she shook her head putting biryani in a big bowl

I frowned "why not?"

"because.." she said pouring the curry in a bowl and my mouth started watering from the smell of it, so delicious this one is going to taste "you are supposed to hate her"

I raised my eyebrows at her "hate her? Is she bad?" I asked sarcastically

She giggled "no.. ma is harmless" she said looking down "she never.. complained about anything to anyone.." she paused "she really is a good woman who deserves someone.. who loves her truly" she looked at me "uncle told you na?"

I nodded "haan.. he told me.. did aunty.."

"ji" she smiled "few years ago actually, she told me everything.." she sighed "alright, I think we've given them enough time for privacy" I giggled and helped her to set the table

Dad was drooling over aunty's cooking but he wasn’t saying much, to be honest.. the atmosphere was tensed yet everyone seemed calm. We sat down in the living and started to have tea, and the silence fell again. Aunty Shublee cut the cake and gave each one of us a plate.. we sat eating in silence.. again. I wanted to get into the subject and decide already!

"so uncle.. do um" Farah ji smiled at papa "do you work?"

He blinked at her "haan.. I own a company.." he was confused

"oh" she nodded "and where do you plan in living after your shaadi?"

All of us looked at her surprised "beti.." aunty said "you.. didn’t.."

Farah ji held her hand "you know I wouldn’t stand between you and uncle.." she shook her head "I wont take away your happiness, ma"

God, I feel like crying right now.. aunty Shublee is in tears "you're not angry with me, na?" she asked her

"uff, ma" Farah ji kissed her head "you are always worried about others.. always thinking about others.. you've.. waited for so long for uncle Karim na?" aunty sniffed lowering her head "ma, you told me that you wouldn’t stop me from marrying Sajid because you told me you didn’t want my love story to stop.. hai na?" aunty nodded looking at her "I cant stop your love story, ma.. not after it was put on hold for so long.."

"Farah.." she hugged her tightly "I love you, beti"

"I love you too, ma"

I rested my head on papa's chest as he put his arm around me, kissing my head. Finally, papa and aunty's love story is going to move forward.. 


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