Blessing Awaits You

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

This story is written against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic. Feelings of uncertainty, grief, trepidation, and despair have overwhelmed the world completely.In tough times like these, we need to do things that would help us and our fellow human beings feel better and hopeful. I did my part and wrote a story that might elevate your spirits, you do your part, enjoy the story with a cup of coffee, stay home, stay safe!

“Blessing Awaits You”

Shameen shut down the laptop after video calling his family in Pakistan, and started scrolling through the phone. After a while, he got up to search the fridge for some food. It was his fourth week staying at home. He was studying in one of the renowned institutes of New York. But like all other citizens, he was also abiding by the government’s instructions of social distancing. The malignant COVID-19 epidemic had inundated the world with coffins including USA. There was a haunting silence in the deserted streets of New York.

He wore his face-mask and ambled towards the balcony to take a breath of fresh air. Simba followed him, wagging his tale.  He smiled amicably at the soft coral impatiens flowers, swaying gently on the wall of balcony. The sun was drowning, leaving a crimson blush on the western horizon. Shameen was immersed in the dazzling scenic beauty when the strip of his mask broke. While fixing the mask, he caught sight of the young woman wearing earphones, standing in the window of the opposite building. Half of her face was covered with a black face-mask. Shameen forgot about the mask and started observing her attentively. Somehow, the woman’s face appeared familiar to him. He tried to recall her, but the mask on her face and the distance between the buildings were the two flies in the ointment. His phone rang and the consistency of his thoughts broke. He received the call and looked back towards the window but it was closed.

He went back inside, patted his cat on the head and started reading a book absent-mindedly. The woman in the window kept coming back to his mind. He visited the balcony again, pretending to water-spray the plants and sometimes hugging his cat, feigning being fascinated by the desolated streets. Though, the window remained shut and there was no sign of the woman.

The next morning, Shameen got up, took shower, and made himself a quick breakfast. Later, he came outside, to sit on the balcony stool where he usually used to eat his morning meals while reading e-newspaper on the laptop. The woman, he saw standing in the window, had slipped his mind. Half an hour before his online class, he got up to get dressed. At the precise moment, he heard the sound of opening a window.  His head turned back quick as a wink. The next moment, he was thunderstruck to see Aabish standing in the window. She looked him in the eyes. Her face reflected the mixed feelings of disgust, anger, bewilderment, pain and, fear. She slammed the window in his face. Shameen’s hands were shivering and he put the coffee mug back on the table, while taking support of the wall. His hand accidently touched the impatiens pot and it fell down in the street. Thanks to the lockdown, there were no pedestrians down there. He wiped the sweat off his forehead, gathered up courage and went inside without looking back.

Shameen had never contemplated the possibility of this encounter under such circumstances. Plenty of questions bombarded his sensitive brain cells. He took lift to the ground floor to clear up the aftermath of the disaster. Shameen collected the broken pieces of the pot while thinking about Aabish. She was his best friend from school to college. They used to spend most of their time together. They were clearly in love when Shameen changed into a different person without any warning. One day, Aabish visited his home and saw him packing the suitcase. She left without saying anything. Shameen texted her to inform that he was leaving for USA, for a new future awaits him there, and being with her could impede his progress in studies. Aabish never replied to his text, nor did she tell him goodbye. She had never left her special place in Shameen’s heart. Before leaving her back in Pakistan, he had cried his eyes out when he was alone. After all, shedding tears is a sine qua non of having a broken heart. Two years passed and now out of the blue, there she was, standing in the window, like the pandemic alone was not enough. Aabish was visiting a friend in New York when the pandemic peaked in USA and the flights were grounded. She was left stranded in her friend’s apartment.

Few more weeks passed, the window remained closed. Shameen kept noticing the window impatiently; he did not want to miss any chances. The epidemic was close to its end in USA. The government had announced the end of lockdown. Life was slowly turning back to normal. People were seen in the streets, their faces still covered with masks. The life after the pandemic was a new normal.

There was a sense of relief in the air yet, Shameen grew overanxious. He wanted to talk to Aabish, hug her, and look at her face for a long time.  The next day, he got dressed up to visit the flower shops. He had to buy a new impatiens pot for his balcony. He looked up towards the window and surprisingly found her standing there. He smiled and waved at her warmheartedly, but she shut the window with a bang. Shameen felt scared and downhearted. He was walking reluctantly towards the car, when he heard a tender voice behind him, “hey”. His heart skipped a beat when he turned around. She was standing there, her face beaming with an alluring smile. There was a pot of impatiens flowers in her hands. He ran into her arms, smiling and crying at the same time. He could feel her nervous heartbeat against his chest. The epidemic was a bitter pill but it also had the blessed effects. Shameen’s heart was softly humming the lyrics of Phil Wickham’s song:

“How great the chasm that lay between us, how high the mountain I could not climb, in desperation, I turned to heaven, and spoke your name into the night…!”

Submitted: April 21, 2020

© Copyright 2022 NaQeeba Zafar. All rights reserved.

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