Authors: Umera Ahmed
Tags: #Romance, #Religion
'Very well...let me think,' Imama conceded defeat. 'My life's dearest desire...' she mumbled to herself.
'Well, one wish is to live long...very long,' she said.
'Why?' laughed Javeria.
'Fifty or sixty years are too short for me. One should live to be at least a hundred. And then there is so much I wish to do. Should I die early, all my wishes would remain unfulfilled.' She popped a peanut into her mouth.
'What else?' said Javeria.
'I want to be the most outstanding doctor in the country—the best eye specialist, so that when the history of eye surgery in Pakistan is compiled, my name will be at the very top of the list.' She looked up with a smile.
'And what if you cannot become a doctor? After all, that depends both on merit and luck,' Javeria stated.
'That is out of the question. I am working so hard to make it to the merit list. Besides my parents can afford to send me abroad if I don't get into a medical college here.'
'But still, what if you cannot be a doctor?'
'That's impossible. It's my life's dearest desire: I can sacrifice everything for it. This has been my lifelong dream, and how can one just ignore or forget one's dreams? Impossible!' Imama shook her head decisively as she picked another peanut off her palm and nibbled on it.
'Nothing is impossible in life—anything can happen at any time.
Suppose your wish does not come true, how would you react?'
Imama fell into thought again. 'To begin with, I'll weep a lot... a great deal... for many days—and then I'll die.'
Javeria burst out laughing. 'You just said you wanted a very long life, and now you want to die.'
'Obviously. What's the point of living then? All my plans are built around my career in medicine and if that is not to be a part of my life, then what remains?'
'So you mean this one dream of your life will wipe out all other dreams?'
'Yes, think of it that way.'
'Your most important desire is to be a doctor, not to live long?'
'You could say so.'
'Very well—so, if you can't become a doctor, then how would you choose to die? Would you choose: suicide or a natural death?'
'A natural death of course. I can't kill myself,' Imama replied casually.
'And if you do not die naturally, then what? I mean, if you do not die soon, despite not being a doctor, you would go on living.'
'No. I know that I'll die very soon if I can't be a doctor. I will be so heart-broken that I will not survive,' she replied decisively.
'It is difficult to believe that a cheerful person like you can be so despairing as to cry yourself to death. And that too just because you were unable to pursue a medical career. Sounds funny,' mocked Javeria.
'Stop talking about me. Tell me about yourself. What is your heart's greatest desire?' Imama changed the subject.
'Let it go...'
'Why let it go? Come on tell me...'
'You will be offended if I say it.' Javeria spoke hesitatingly.
Imama turned around in surprise to look at her. 'Why would I be offended?'
Javeria was quiet.
'What is it that I will mind?' Imama repeated her question.
'You will...' Javeria murmured.
'Why should your life's greatest wish so affect my life that I would get upset?' Imama was quite irritated. 'Is it your wish that I not become a doctor?' Imama seemed to suddenly remember.
'Oh, no!' laughed Javeria. 'There is more to life than being a doctor,' she stated philosophically.
'Stop talking in riddles and answer me,' Imama said firmly. 'I promise I will not mind anything you say.' She held out her hand in a gesture of peace.
'Regardless of your promise you are going to be very angry when you hear what I have to say. Let's talk of something else,' Javeria replied.
'All right—let me guess. Your decision is linked to something of great value to me, right?' queried Imama after a thoughtful pause.
Javeria nodded her head.
'The question is: what is so important to me that I should...' she stopped in mid-sentence. 'But unless I know the nature of your wish, I cannot come to a conclusion. Javeria, tell me please. The suspense is too much for me,' she pleaded.
Javeria was lost in thought. Imama studied her face. Javeria looked up at her after a while.
'Other than my career, there is only one thing I value most in my life,' Imama addressed her, 'and if you want to say something in that context, then say so. I won't mind.' Imama was serious.
Javeria was taken aback. Imama was looking at the ring on her hand. A smile crossed Javeria's face.
'My life's dearest wish is that you....' Javeria revealed her thoughts.
Imama's face went white with shock. Javeria could not guess the impact her words had on Imama, but the expression on her face showed that the reaction was much more intense than she had expected.
'I did tell you that you would be offended,' Javeria tried to redeem the situation, but Imama stared back without a word.
Moiz was howling with pain, doubled up and holding on to his stomach.
The twelve-year-old boy facing him wiped the blood off his nose on the sleeve of his torn shirt, and swung the tennis racquet in his hand to hit Moiz on the leg.
Moiz let out another scream and straightened up. With disbelief he looked at his brother—younger by two years—who was hitting him with the same racquet that Moiz had brought there.
This was the third time they had fought this week, and every time it was his younger brother who started the fight. He and Moiz had never had a good relationship and had fought since childhood. But their quarrels had been mostly verbal and included threats, but of late they had become physical.
This is what happened today. They had come back from school together. When they got down from the car, the younger brother roughly dragged his bag out of the boot as Moiz was picking up his school bag. In the process, he bruised Moiz's hand, making him wince with pain.
'Have you gone blind?' Moiz cried out as his brother walked off nonchalantly. He heard Moiz, turned round, looked at him, then opened the front door, and walked into the lounge. Incensed, Moiz followed on his heels.
'The next time you do anything like that I'll break your hand!' Moiz shouted.
The younger boy took his bag off his shoulder, put it down, and with hands on his hips, defiantly faced Moiz.
'I will—so what will you do? Break my hand? Have you the guts?'
'You'll find out if you repeat what you did today.' Moiz headed toward his room.
But his brother stopped him, grabbing his bag with all his strength.
'No—tell me now.' He flung Moiz's bag down. Flushed with anger, Moiz picked up his brother's bag and hurled it away. Without a pause, his brother landed a sharp blow on Moiz's leg. Moiz lunged at him, punching his face, and his nose began to bleed. Despite that, there was no sound from the younger boy. He grabbed Moiz's tie and tried to choke him. Moiz retaliated by grabbing his collar—there was a tearing sound as the shirt ripped. With all his force, Moiz hit his brother on his midriff so as to make him lose his grip on him.
'Now I'll show you! I'll break your hand!' Shouting and abusing, Moiz picked up the tennis racquet that was lying in corner of the lounge. The next thing he knew was that the racquet was in his brother's hand and was swung with such force that Moiz could not save himself. Blows rained down on him, on his back and legs.
Their older brother came into the lounge in a fit of rage
'What is your problem? You create an upheaval as soon as you get home!' At the sound of his voice, the younger brother first lowered and then raised the racquet again.
'And you—aren't you ashamed of yourself for raising your hand at your older brother?' The eldest brother looked at the hand holding the racquet.
'No,' he retorted without any remorse. He threw the racquet down, picked up his bag and walked away.
'You will have to pay for this,' Moiz called out after him, rubbing his sore leg.
'Sure, why not!' He gave Moiz a weird smile. 'Get a bat the next time. It was no fun hitting you with a tennis racquet—no bones are broken.'
'Check out your nose—it's broken for sure.' Furious, Moiz looked towards the staircase where his brother had been standing just a while ago.
For the fourth time, Mrs. Samantha Richards stared at the boy sitting on the first chair in the second row by the window. With complete disregard for the class, he was busy staring out of the window. From time to time he would look at Mrs. Richards, and then turn back to the view from the window.
This was her first day as biology teacher at one of the international schools in Islamabad. She was a diplomat's wife and a teacher by profession. They had recently arrived in Islamabad. At all her husband's postings, she had taken up teaching assignments in the schools attached to the embassy.
Continuing the syllabus and teaching schedule of her predecessor Ms. Mariam, after a brief introduction to the class Mrs Richards began explaining the function of the heart and the circulation system and drew a diagram on the board.
She looked at the student who was looking distractedly out of the window and, using a time-worn technique, she fixed her gaze on him and stopped speaking. A hush fell over the class. The boy turned back to the class. Meeting his gaze, Mrs. Richards smiled and resumed her lecture. For a while she continued to keep her gaze on the boy who was now busy writing in his notebook. Then she turned her attention to the class.
She believed the boy was embarrassed enough not to let his attention wander, but just a couple of minutes later she found him looking out of the window again. Once more, she stopped her lecture, and he turned to look at her. This time she did not smile. She continued addressing the class. As she turned to the writing board, the student again turned to the window. A look of annoyance crossed her face and as she fell silent again, the boy looked at her with a frown, and looked away—beyond the window.
His attitude was so insulting that Mrs. Samantha Richards's face flushed. 'Salar, what are you looking at?' she asked sternly. 'Nothing,' came the one word reply. He gave her a piercing look. 'Do you know what I am teaching?'
'Hope so.' His tone was so rude that Samantha Richards capped the marker she had in her hand and slapped it down on the table. 'If that is so, then come up here and draw and label this diagram.' She erased the figure on the board. The boy's face changed a myriad colors. She saw the students in the class exchange glances. The boy stared coldly at Samantha Richards. As she cleaned the last trace of her diagram from the board, he left his seat. Moving swiftly, he picked up the marker from the table and with lightning speed—in exactly two minutes and fifty-seven seconds—he had drawn and labeled the diagram. Replacing the cap on the marker, he slapped it down on the table just as Mrs. Richards had done, and, without looking at her, returned to his seat.
Mrs. Richards did not see him tossing down the marker or walking back to his seat. She was looking in disbelief at the diagram—which had taken her ten minutes to make—and which he had completed in less than three minutes. It was far better than her work: she could not find even a minor flaw in it. Somewhat embarrassed, she turned to look at the boy. Once again he was looking out of the window.
Waseem knocked on the door for the third time; this time he could hear Imama inside.
'Who is it?'
'Imama it's me. Open the door,' said Waseem standing back. There was silence on the other side.
A little later, the lock clicked and Waseem turned the door knob to enter. Imama moved towards her bed, with her back to Waseem.
'What brings you here at this time?'
'Why did you turn in so early? It's only ten now,' replied Waseem as he walked in.
'I was sleepy.' She sat down on the bed. Waseem was alarmed to see her.
'Have you been crying?' It was a spontaneous remark. Imama's eyes were red and swollen and she was trying to look away.
'No—no, I wasn't crying. Just a bad headache.' She tried to smile.
Waseem, sitting down beside her, held her hand, trying to check her temperature. 'Any fever?' he asked with some concern. Then he let go of her hand. 'You don't have fever. Perhaps you should take a tablet for your headache.'
'Good. Go to sleep then. I had come to talk to you but you're in no state...' Waseem turned to leave the room. Imama made no effort to stop him. She followed him to the door and shut it behind him.
Flinging herself on the bed, she buried her face in the pillow—she was sobbing again.
The thirteen-year-old boy was engrossed in a music show on TV when Tayyaba peeped in. She looked at her son somewhat uncertainly, and entered the room, irritated.
'What's going on?'
'I'm watching TV,' he replied without looking at her.
'Watching TV. For God's sake! Are you aware that your exams have started?' Tayyaba asked, standing in front of him.
'So what?' he said, annoyed.
'So what? You should be in your room with your books, not sitting here
watching this vulgar show,' Tayyaba scolded him.
'I have studied as much as I need to. Now please move out of my way.'
His tone reflected his irritation.
'All the same go in and study.' Tayyaba stood her ground.
'No. I will not get up, nor will I go in and study. My studies and my papers are my concern, not yours.'
'If you were concerned about your studies, would you be sitting here?'
'Step aside.' He ignored Tayyaba's comment and rudely shooed her away.
'I'm going to talk to your father today.' Tayyaba tried a threat.
'You can talk to him for all I care. What will happen? What is he going to do? I've told you that I've already prepared for my exams, so then what's your problem?'
'This is your final examination. You should be concerned about it.'
Tayyaba softened her tone.
'I am not a four-year-old who you need to nag. I have a better understanding of my responsibilities than you so don't pester me with your silly advice.'