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Prologue:

It is not a fictional story and it doesnt have any action like that in
movies. It is a book about my insanity in the path of love. It is
about the paths that my life crossed, that molded me into what I am
today. After reading my story, you may find it hard to decide
whether it was a romance novel, a history book or if it was written
to show a way to those who are crazily in love. None of it is true
though. I have written it to grant some strength to my broken
courage, to make myself believe that there is still something to live
for.

Its a tale that will keep you captivated in it from its first sentence
to the last. I have spent 16 years writhing in this insanity of love.
You will get an idea of much love can hurt after reading this book,
but the pleasure of bearing that pain can only be understood by
those who have felt it. It is an open book, just like me. I have
written everything that was buried in my heart.

Its a unique story from an empty and dry desert of Registan that
started with the innocent desire of a physical relationship and
reached the heights of sheer love. It is a distinctive story with such
suspense embedded into it that will force you to flip page after
page. Despite its individuality and suspense, this story is close to
reality. None of the events described in it are fictional. Every
single thing is based on truth.

This story will take you to those dark, hidden secrets of rural areas
that you may have heard of but could never have seen while living
in a city. This story will tell you that it doesnt matter if a person
belongs to a developed country of west or to a backward Asian
village, since the emotion of love is implanted in every humans
nature. In this story, you will see love blooming in a world filled
with terror and you will learn this reality that the never-ending
sentiment of love doesnt see any boundaries.

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Just the way God is the last destiny of a person, the last destiny of
a book is a movie or drama based on it. Please share the reference
of this book with your friends if you like it. My book may find its
last destiny that way. Thank you for your precious feedback.

Rizwan Ali Ghuman (Germany)


Whatsapp: 0049-152-11229099
Facebook: Rizwan Ali Ghuman

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The heavy wooden door opened with slight acridity and Tarzan
appeared in the doorway. His real name was probably Lakhwindar
but with a height of 6 feet and weight of about 90kg, that
traditional Sikh primate was no less than a Tarzan.

Heavy rain descended upon earth and silence filled the air. Even
the slight acridity of the door hit my brain like sharp pinching
needles. I sat in a street behind the restaurant with my back against
the wall, like a gambler who had lost all his treasures. The heavy
rain of winter had soaked me from head to toe. My cell phone lay
abandoned a few inches away from me, having almost lost its
battle of survival against the rain, but my shivering body still had a
few signs of life left in it.

For a moment, it did feel like my heart had stopped beating, but
then life slowly made its way back to me. A few steps away from
me, life flowed with all its glory in the restaurant. A little while
ago, I was also a part of it with a fake smile on my face.

It was a beautiful evening that adorned that restaurant named


Karlsruhe, in which I work along with all other Indian staff.

Originally, I belong to a deserted area in Pakistan: Bahawalpur, but


I live in Germany and work in a restaurant. If you decide to visit
this Indian restaurant, youll find a simple, nave boy at your
service. A 30 years old, clean shaved boy with hair nicely combed
to one side. I am that boy. Its been fifteen months that I came to
Germany and I have been working as a waiter since one year.
Since then I have been serving from one table to another with a
smile on my face. Perchance this is life. Love cannot provide you
with food, and this hunger is the biggest possible truth of life.

Today was a weekend of December and the restaurant was more


crowded than usual. I was picking up empty plates after the
departure of customers when my cell rung for the third time.

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Razi, pick up the phone. It can be an emergency call. My owner
said while putting a hand on my shoulder.

I hurriedly picked up rest of the glasses and attended the constantly


ringing video call. It was a call from my father.

Yes dad. I opened the kitchen door and stepped out.

Aslam is dead son. He spoke in a shaky voice.

When? I placed my back against the wall, while the memories


from my past begun to race in my mind.

Aslam, whose full name was Mohammad Aslam was a four feet
tall man, who had a little limp in one of his legs. It was the person
that I hated with a passion. It was the same Aslam whom I had
tried to kill at the age of 13. I cant say if it was his fortune or mine
that the bullet meant for his heart hit his shoulder instead, and he
survived. But I dont know why his death hurt so much today.

Are you okay, son? It was the voice of my mother, who stood
beside my father. It brought me back from the past.

Yes mom. Im fine. I said while looking at the face of my


mother which had become expressionless.

She looked old with huge dark circles under her eyes and white
hair on display without a scarf. Time had mercilessly aged her way
before her time. In fact, it wasnt time that had aged her. It was me.
I am that ill fated person who made his mother suffer.

Here in Germany, I still pray for Angela Merkel who helped me in


finding a home and a job here. Now I earn and send the money
home which helps them immensely. I feel that German nation is
the most loving and caring nation in the world, who welcome us in
their houses and feed us their food. But it hurts my heart whenever

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I see some extremists protesting against the immigrants. I do not
have enough courage to tell you about the difficulties of life
outside Germany.

Some people in Germany eat warm breakfast in their warm rooms,


wear their warm clothes and come out on roads to protest. While
shouting with all their might against immigrants, they should try to
have a peek at feelings of those immigrants as well. God chose
Germany for you and Pakistan for me. I dont see my fault here.
You people probably have no idea how hunger feels like. Death
consumes you only once. A big blast and boom everything
collapsed, but this hunger can do much worse to a person. Perhaps
I could teach you a thing or two about life if you try to contact me
before protesting against immigrants.

I do not blame God for anything. I have spent sixteen years in


search of love: a love that was sold for 300 only, a love that was
sold at the age of eight, to a short, lame old man.

My father used to say that life isnt anything like the dreams shown
in movies, but its a hollow that swallows you down.

I dont think my writing is fluent enough to teach you the meaning


of life. All I can say is that my life is like that of a dog whose
videos are uploaded of Facebook and YouTube. The dog that does
stupid things and wiggles his tail when he sees his master but his
eyes are always on the food that is to be given to him after the
video is done.

Son, please come back home. My fathers eyes were filled with
tears.

Yes dad. Im trying. I will try to visit Pakistan once the


paperwork is done. I said slowly.

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Son, please come back soon. I am too tired now. My mother said
while holding my fathers shoulder for support.

I know, mom. Im trying. I moved my cell a little away from my


face. My eyes were also beginning to water. The rain was getting
louder but I didnt even feel that I was soaking beneath it.

Buddy, come back to Pakistan at least once. I want to ask for your
forgiveness. Maybe you will forgive me if ask for it while holding
you in my embrace. My fathers voice trembled as he cried.

My patience slipped. It was the first time that my father had cried.
It felt like everything had finished all of a sudden. I looked at
mother. Those strange empty eyes, that carried lots of unfulfilled
desires, were fixed on my face. My legs became numb. My brain
suddenly stopped working while looking in my mothers eyes, and
I felt myself falling down on the floor. My cell phone fell a few
feet away from me and got consumed by darkness. The last thing I
felt was the door being opened by Tarzan before I fell unconscious.

The empty desert beautifully covered its part of land. Chill wind
blew at a snail's pace. The moon shone at the sky in all its glory.
The musical sound of anklets filled my ears.

Eman I called in a weak voice. She stopped walking and turned


to look at me.

I instantly felt stronger. She was still just as beautiful as before.


With a stunning, tender face and huge light green eyes shining on
it. She was innocent enough to put angels on shame.

I picked my head up from the sand and tried to stand up. But my
legs refused to carry the weight of my body, making me fall again.

Razi, have you still not forgotten me? She asked while slipping
her fingers through my hair.
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She came closer to me. She sat on her knees and placed my head
on her lap.

Love is cruel, Razi. It seizes everything that a person has to


offer. She lightly caressed my cheeks.

Love hurts so much, Razi. We humans cannot endure that. It hurts


so much. Tears shone in her eyes.

I raised my eyes to look into her green ones which let a stray tear
fall onto my dry lips, and I swallowed it. That singles tear was no
less than the fountain of life for me in that desert. That one drop
was my life worth of savings. That one drop ended the thirst of my
whole life. It revived me.

Razi, this pain will kill me. I am unable to bear it any longer.
She cried uncontrollably and her tears fell on my face like
dribbling rain. Perchance this is love.

It is the love that makes a person fight even God. It was always
love that made me fight all the rules created by God and society. It
was always love that made me experience hardships in Greece and
Germany for past ten years, for a married women with two
children.

Yes! She is married and a mother of two kids, who goes to sleep
on her husbands bed every night like a lifeless statue.

Razi, America ended the slavery of this world. Then why was I
fated for this slavery? Why was I sold in for 300? Razi, dont you
ever hate America. She loved America a lot.

Razi, if God gave me a choice between heaven and America, I


would choose to go to America. I find it more beautiful the heaven
created by God.

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She was illiterate, couldnt speak English at all. But whenever I
brought a Hollywood movie, she would sit on floor and watch it
with such respect. She didnt care about the story of movie. All she
wanted was to fill herself up with the beauty of America.

Perhaps it was her madness to visit America that made me fall in


love with this country as well. I still like every rule made by
America, even if its against Muslims. I only see goodness in every
decision America makes.

Razi! Razi! someone was calling me. I woke up from my deep


slumber of unconsciousness. He was the owner of restaurant.

What happened to you? Are you okay? He asked when he saw


me opening my eyes. The rain had slowed down.

Yes, I am fine. I hastily tried to manage the emotions flowing


within me.

The rain had completely drenched my clothes. Even my master got


soaked while trying to provide me with support.

Im sorry brother. My foot slipped in the rain. Probably I became


unconscious because of the fall. I will come back in a moment
after changing my clothes. I said while getting up.

The restaurant was crowded at that time. The voices of customers


eating their food could be heard inside the kitchen.

Leave it buddy! Work isnt so important. You are not feeling


well, you must rest. Go downstairs and rest for a while. We will
manage everything. He said while patting my head affectionately.
I nodded and walked towards the basement.

Such selfless people also exist in this world and one of its
examples was the owner of that Indian restaurant.

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I think I should have started my story from the beginning. You
people may have become bored by reading my story. Because it
isnt a typical story that always ends on a happy note.

Every ounce of my life is covered in slavery, which carries the


bitter reality of life in it. A strange story makes an interesting read.
My story isnt strange and it doesnt have any action like that in
Hollywood movies. Its a simple story that revolves around love.
Its a tale of love that ends at utter heights of love.

My full name is Rizwan Ali. My family calls me Nano. All


stupid names start from your home and then slowly spread in the
whole town. So everyone used to call me Nano.

Then Eman came into my life and begun to call me Razi. She
never liked the nick name Nano, so she always called me Razi.
Then, just like that my family members and other people begun
calling me Razi and forgot that they ever used to call me Nano.
Razi, the name given by Eman is still connected to my
personality. Even today, whenever someone calls me Razi, I feel
her near me.

I was born in a small village in Registan but my early childhood


was spent in Sialkot. It was because my parents took me to Sialkot
to attend the wedding of my uncle when I was one year old. My
grandpa liked me a lot and took me to his home. So at the age of
one, I was given to my grandparents and my parents went back to
Bahawalpur without me. I began to grow up in Sialkot. My
grandfather had a five acre land in village which had guava trees
planted at its sides. You can find an abundance of guava, jamun
and pomegranate trees in every village in Sialkot.

My grandpa used to go out to work early in the morning and came


back at night. I also used to go out with him. He worked in the

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fields and I spent my day climbing the trees. It felt like I was flying
whenever I sat on the top branch.

Even now, at the age of thirty, I still like to climb trees. Ive
climbed all the walnut trees that surround our camp. Even now I
climb a tree to sit on its highest branch whenever I feel sad, and it
comforts me a lot. I climb back down when the sadness decreases a
little.

Grandpa loved me a lot, because he had specially asked his


daughter to let me stay with him. The house contained two of my
aunts and two uncles other than my grandparents. I was the
youngest in house and everyone loved me. My laughter kept
erupting throughout the house.

There was a little pool of water near our home. It was used to
supply water to the whole village. Green grass surrounded that
pool. Hundreds of fireflies used to appear there out of nowhere
every time the darkness set in. I would always go out after having
my dinner and try to catch them. Whenever I got hold of one of the
fireflies, I brought it home to enclose in a glass jar then I would
place the jar near my pillow and go to sleep watching the fireflies.
My grandpa always prohibited me from doing so but I never
listened to him.

I had everything at my grandfathers home but for some reason, I


could never make a friend there. Perhaps I had to go to
Bahawalpur. My fate was written down in the tiny village of
Registan, where sand ruled everything, which had no fireflies
which had no rain.

It took my mother four years to come back. When she came to


Sialkot again to attend the wedding of my other uncle, she had my
three years old sister with her. My sister looked like a Chinese doll
when I laid my eyes on her for the first time.

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I still remember that day. I woke up early that morning. My
grandmother was following her routine of making butter out of
curd and I was sat near her, playing with little stones. Suddenly the
door opened and a woman walked in with her little daughter.

Samina! My daughter came. My grandma left everything and


embraced the woman. It didnt take long for all the residents of
house to surround the woman.

Rehana, place some tea on stove quickly. My grandma said


while patting my aunt who had that little girl in her arms and was
trying to play with her.

Sure mom, I will do that. She placed the child down and my
other aunt took the chance to swiftly pick her up.

Mom, look how beautiful she is! My younger aunt said to my


grandma. She sat down on floor with the little girls in her arms.

Yes! Samina, your daughter is so beautiful. My grandma still


didnt let go of that womans hand.

Hey, Nano, come here. See your mother has arrived. Grandma
decided to call me all of a sudden. I threw my stones to the ground
and came to my grandma.

Samina, look our Nano has grown so much. Grandma took hold
of my hand and placed it in the hand of that woman.

Nano baby, its your mother.

Mom Thats all I had to say for her to sit down and hug me.

This was the woman who had carried me inside her belly for nine
months and fed me for one year. Those twenty one months were
much more than the four years that I spent with my grandparents.

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My mother cried hysterically while holding me to her. I had
hugged my grandparents and aunts uncountable times in those past
years. I had hugged my grandma while smiling with joy and crying
with sorrow and it had always soothed me. But now that I hugged
my mother, I felt unexplainable comfort. Perhaps this is why God
has created mothers. My mother cried and kissed my face
relentlessly.

Samina, get a hold of yourself! The child is not going anywhere.


At least let him take a breath. Grandma scolded my mother.

Yes mom. My mother grudgingly separated me from her. She


still didnt look satisfied.

Irum, Come here daughter.

Its your little sister. She took Irum from my aunt and placed her
in front of me.

Irum, baby its your elder brother. She said while putting a hand
on Irums shoulder. That little girl perked up and started blinking
her large eyes repeatedly.

I held both of her little hands in one of mine and caressed her
cheeks with my other hand. God has blessed me with three
brothers and one sister, but I loved my little sister the most.

Sisters are always ready to sacrifice for their brothers. She also
loved me the most out of all four of her brothers. Whenever I
wavered in life, it was Irum who supported me. She had her own
hands bloodied while trying to provide me with support. They say
that an elder sister is like a mother but this little sister of mine
helped me like a mother. She broke herself while trying to help his
brother in every aspect of life.

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Today she is happy in her home with two kids, but this painful
journey has aged her before her time. Her hair has turned white at
the age of 28, but she says that she is happy. I hope thats true.

If life allows, I will surely seek her forgiveness one day. She has
forgiven me a long time ago but I still want to ask for her
forgiveness. Maybe it will make my life a bit better. Maybe it will
reduce my pain and grant me comfort.

Nano baby, take her inside. See if your aunt has made the tea.
Grandma said while pointing towards the inside of house.

And there are biscuits inside, feed them to your sister. Grandma
said again, so I nodded, held my sisters hand and led her towards
the kitchen.

Three days were left to the wedding of my uncle. Mom took hold
of everything in house once she arrived. The house was filled with
guests by the evening. Irum got scared when she saw so many
people but I stayed with her the whole day.

The next three days after wedding were busy for everyone. Mom
and grandma both kept themselves busy but I didnt leave Irum
even for a single moment. She also became attached to me and
followed me everywhere.

Mom, I will go along with you. Please take me with you.

The wedding was over. Mom was packing her belongings and
preparing to leave. It had been a total of seven days since my
mother had arrived. She was going back after finishing everything
up when I said that.

Awe Nano baby, we will go together later on along with your


uncle and aunt. Grandma picked me up in her arms.

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No, I will go with mom and I will go now. I wiggled out of her
grip and ran to my mother, sticking with her legs like glue.

Mom I want to go with you. I cried.

Its fine dad. I will take him with me. You can take him back
when you visit Bahawalpur after a month or two. That way he will
bond with his other siblings as well. My mother said to my
grandfather and he nodded.

Alright, you can take him with you. I will bring him back after a
month or two. Grandpa placed a hand on my mothers head.

I quickly went back inside the room to pack my belongings. Both


of my aunts helped me in packing. Meanwhile the Tonga arrived,
so we hurriedly embraced everyone at home and sat in it, which
took us out of the village.

It was a little village in Sialkot where I had spent some part of my


childhood. I had left this village for three months, but I never
returned to it. Later in life, I once visited this village with Eman
but then it refused to accept me. I cried to leave this house at the
age of four and I cried when I visited with Eman but this village
threw me out without any mercy.

We reached Peeroo chak in the Tonga, took a coach to Sialkot and


then a bus to Bahawalpur. The bus took ten hours to reach our
destination.

There is a world of difference between Sialkot and Bahawalpur.


Sialkot is a fertile city full of greenery and it rains there the whole
year. Worlds best rice is grown there. On the contrary,
Bahawalpur is a deserted city. It would rain once or twice in a year
there and rest of the year was spent it drought. Greenery was found
nowhere. The gigantic mountains of sand ruled the area and the
wind blowing there was sharp enough to hurt our skin.
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Now government of Pakistan has managed to supply water there
and electricity is also available, which has brought some foliage to
the area. With the supply of water and electricity, this area has
progressed a bit. Cotton is cultivated here because it doesnt need
much water to nurture.

We reached Bahawalpur early in the morning, and then we


travelled through coach which led us to a station two kilometers
away from the village. We walked along the railway tracks that
passed near our village and reached home.

Mom knocked at the small wooden door. It was locked from


inside. A minute later we heard the sound of door being unlocked
and a young boy came into view. He shouted mom happily and
hugged my mom. He was my elder brother.

We opened the door and walked inside. Inside, the whole family
sat around a stove made of mud in the yard. They were dipping
biscuits in their tea and eating them.

It was a tiny house that consisted of two rooms, stairs made of


cement that led to the roof and a small verandah beside them. I
looked around the whole house. This house was much smaller than
my house in Sialkot and it didnt even have a bathroom. We used
the fields for that purpose for next five years. Later on, my dad had
a drawing room and a bathroom built in the house for our use.

When the residents of that house saw us, they placed their cups on
the floor and surrounded us. All my siblings were happy to see me.
Both of my brothers took me inside to show their books. I adjusted
with them pretty quickly. In the upcoming days, my father decided
to send me to school and I started my new life. I began to make
new friends and new relations.

At that time our village wasnt supplied with electricity. We would


keep the leftovers of flatbread made in the morning in a basket
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under a tree. It stayed soft during the day because of being
saturated in ghee. We used to eat the same flatbread along with
pickle, milk and cream in the afternoon.

My father had a land of four acres. He used to sell animal food on


two acres of his land and vegetables on the other two. They
werent prosper like my grandparents but werent so poor either.
Dad owned a cow and some goats and made good money with
their milk and meat. We also had some hens in our house.

My dad would go to the camp early in the morning where he


would milk the animals first then take his basket to get fresh
vegetables. He would collect vegetables till noon then take the
vegetables and milk to the market in order to sell them.

He would come back from market any time between 3pm to 4pm.
After arriving home, he would separate the donkey from its cart,
water him, feed all the animals and return home before it got dark.
We used to try to help him after returning from school but he
always refused. He was illiterate. He couldnt read or write but he
knew so much about vegetables and animals. He kept telling us
about different types of vegetables and ways to take care of them.

Because I had stayed away from home for first five years of my
life, my dad loved me more than my other siblings. Whenever I
tried to him after school he would always stop me. He would teach
me how to work but not let me linger at the camp for long. He
would pick me up in his arms when I would insist.

My father used to say;

I am illiterate. I never went to school but I still know how to run


the house. Son, I want you to go to school and study hard so you
can lead a prosperous life. This is my job and I know how to feed
my kids. You also learn it and learn to love animals and vegetables
as well. You will never starve if you love them.
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I was too young to understand his words at that time. But I learnt
to love animals and vegetables as I grew up. You will never starve
if you know about them no matter where you are. I have done this
kind of work in Turkey and Greece as well. I came to Germany
after collecting money by this job.

I work as a waiter in Germany and although its a much easier than


working in the fields and I make more money through it, Im
content with the knowledge that even if I have to leave it someday,
I can easily go back to working in the fields. At least I will never
have to beg someone for money.

Our village didnt have the facilities of electricity or television at


that time so all of us boys kept playing outside all the time. I wont
go into details of those games because each country has different
kind of games and the story will prolong too much if I discussed
them.

A young boy was accepted in Army from our village. I dont


remember his name now but everyone in the village used to call
him Foji. He brought a bat and some balls with him when he came
to village on a holiday for two months. He, uncle Foji, was person
who introduced cricket in our village. Now we kids had a new and
modern game to play.

Cricket progressed quickly in our village and four to five teams of


players were formed. I also gathered two of my brothers and some
boys from the village and formed a team in my captaincy. All of us
collected some money and bought everything we needed to play.

I stayed the captain of my team for a year before my brother took it


from me. They say that authority is authority, whether its over a
country or a team of ten boys. People even sacrifice their blood
relations for it but we didnt fight at all. He was older and a better

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player than me, so when he asked for captaincy, I silently backed
away.

I played in his captaincy for next two years and then a boy in our
neighborhood took the captaincy from him. I and my brother
played as captains for first three years but after that none of my
brothers or I could ever get it back.

My younger brother and little nephews also play cricket. My


younger brother is an incredible player but we could never rule that
game again. The current captain of the cricket team of our area is a
20 years old boy Ahsan Ullah, who plays very well.

My childhood days passed joyfully and quickly. I passed primary


and got accepted in a high school two kilometers away from the
village. Dad had brought me a cycle which I used to go to school. I
was around 10 years old at that time.

The life in high school was much more romantic than that in
primary school. It had students from twenty to thirty villages in it.
It was a big school and boys came to study there from far away
villages as well. The school had more than thousand students. I
also felt like I had dived into a sea after a lifetime of living in a
well.

I was getting older, leaving my childhood behind. You start getting


attracted by the other gender as you grow young. I also liked to
love and the feeling of being loved.

They say that a person never forgets his first love. I spent two
years in the search of love. Our village changed a lot in those two
years. Electricity brought TV and VCR along with it. My father
also brought TV and VCR home just like other people. Our family
had prospered a little. Dad had a bathroom and a drawing room
built after collecting some money.

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There was an empty house in front of ours which belonged to the
lambardars. A servant of lambardars came to live there with his old
mother. The lambardars had sympathized with him since the house
was free. He was 4 feet tall and older than fifty years. He had a
little limp in one of his feet since birth. His name was Aslam but
the whole village used to call him Langra (lame).

It was the same Aslam who left eternal marks on my life. He was
the man that I hated infinitely. He was the man who had both me
and Eman roam around him. He was the center of both our lives.
He was the one who married Eman.

It had been four months since he arrived in the house in front of


ours, when his mother died one night. For four months, he had
managed household along with his mother but he became
depressed after her death because there was nobody to cook for
him anymore.

A poor and old man The villagers took pity on him, collected
some money and made around 30000pkr which is equal to around
300 German Euros. The village head took this money and married
Aslam to a girl from Gujrat. Her father took the 30k rupees and
gave his daughter up to the old man. She came to our village in
exchange for 300 Euros.

You can still find such areas in Pakistan where daughters are sold.
I dont know what compels fathers to sell their daughters but they
still do it. TV and media have controlled the situation a lot now,
but Im talking about 20 years back.

I still remember that day clearly. It was a beautiful evening of


August when I waited for the guests to arrive while standing at the
roof of my house.

Brother, why hasnt the Baraat arrived yet? My little sister Irum
asked.
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It wont take long buddy! See Im also here waiting with you. I
glared at my sister. She was irritating me for past half an hour.

The marriage has been done so long ago. I wonder why they
wont come out of the mosque. As soon as I said it, children
begun shouting below that the Baraat has arrived.

Nano, Im going downstairs. I will see the bride from there. Irum
hurriedly climbed down the roof and I was left there alone.

Baraat had stopped in front of our house. He was standing


surrounded by people, wearing a white suit and a necklace made of
money around his neck. A ten to eleven years old girl stood beside
him wearing a red dress with her head bent down. She had a red
scarf on her head which hid her face as well. She stood below in
front of me with her head bowed. Brother Tariq had a qawali by
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan playing on an amplifier.

O my moon, I relished the moment your eyes met mine for the
first time. That qawali by Nusrat had created a strange
atmosphere.

A woman accidently thrashed her hand at the brides scarf and it


slipped from her head. The bride hastily grabbed it and placed it
back up on her head. She raised her eyes towards our roof while
holding her scarf. Just for a second, her eyes met mine. It was her
first gaze that met mine. Just one moment, and it felt like I had
lived my whole life in that single moment.

Love had started its course. My search had come to an end. That
bride was Eman my Eman, whom I had loved tremendously. I
liked that beautiful ten years old girl in the firsts glance. She was
even younger than my sister Irum.

She wasnt old enough to be married but she was wedded anyway.
She was sold in exchange for 300 euro and she silently came to our
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village. She wasnt even old enough to fall in love, but she still fell
deeply in love with someone. She had learnt to dissolve in love in
her childhood. She had matured way before her time.

The guests stayed in front of our door for a bit before they went
inside the house. Only a kid or two were left in the street. I also
came back downstairs.

Come on, mate. Lets go to the wedding house to drink juice.


They have really good juice. My friend Waheed said, even though
we had drowned two glasses each already.

In Pakistan, a feast is given to relatives and friends on weddings


but because Aslam was a poor man and all his savings were spent
on buying the girl, so he just bought lots of sugar and mixed it in
water to make juice. There was a big lemon tree on the lambardars
camp. The drink became tasty after he mixed lemon juice in it. He
served it to all the guests.

Waheed took me inside the house again. A fat man sat there to
serve the drinks. We took our glasses and went to him nervously.
Since we already had our drinks, we were scared that he would
recognize us and refuse to give more, but it didnt happen. He
served us the drinks again and I sipped it while standing there with
Waheed.

Hey mate, lets go see the bride. I felt like looking at the bride
again. She looked so pretty in the first glance.

Mate you arent a girl, why are you so excited to see the bride?
Waheed glared at me. Its true that only girls are excited about
seeing the bride. The reason I had stood on the roof was Irum
because she loved seeing the brides.

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Oh come on! Lets just have a glance inside and we will go back.
I held his arm but he didnt listen. He snatched his arm away and
left the house.

I thought about going inside for a moment but then decided against
it and stepped out as well. Darkness was beginning to set in. I
wandered around for a few minutes before I returned home.

Rizwan, son Irum still hasnt come back. That idiot must still be
in the wedding house. You go quickly and get her back. Its late
night; your father may get angry. Mom was worried. I rashly went
back to the wedding house.

Irum, you are still sitting here? Mom is worried at home. Come
on, I am here to take you back. Irum sat beside the bride in her
room and kept whispering in her ears.

Some other women were sat in the room. Irum had adjusted with
her because she was the same age as her. Irum was an exuberant
and playful girl. She was the only sister of three brothers and we
fulfilled all her wishes, so she had become too mischievous.

Yes brother, Im coming. Wait a moment. She took a break


between her whispers and the bride raised he eyes to look at me. It
was the second glance which prolonged. She stared at my face for
a while.

Her eyes were fixed on mine. Those eyes held a strange kind of
grief in them, like that of an unfortunate tree which has lost all its
leaves to the cold wind, which is tired of fighting back against the
cruel cold weather. She had the same grief in her eyes like a tree
that is just about to go down. She was a phenomenon beauty with
those stunningly sad eyes.

God grants some people with treasures of beauty. She was an


infinite sea of charm. Aslam had bought her whole world in 300
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euro and I sacrificed my whole life for that world. I sacrificed my
parents and siblings for it but I was still left empty-handed. I was
begging for a sea while holding a little pot in my hands.

Brother Rizwan, lets go! What are you thinking about? Dont
you want to go home? Irum shook my arm, making me remove
my gaze from hers. She bowed her head again.

Yeah lets go. Mom is worried at home. I held Irums hand.

Okay then Eman, I will come back tomorrow morning and we


will talk again. Irum caressed Emans cheek with one of her
hands.

Yes. Eman picked her head up for a moment before bending it


down again. A stray tear left her eyes, slipped on her cheek and
disappeared in her lap.

The fear of upcoming night was evident on her face. That dark
night was going to change a convert into a married woman. The
world calls it the wedding night. I reluctantly took Irums hand and
walked towards my house.

Brother, please wake up. Its late now. We have to go to Emans


place. They have woken up as well. Irum had tried to wake me up
a few times by now.

In European countries, a woman is free to go out without a man.


Some people may find it strange but I belong to the part of
Pakistan where a woman doesnt leave her house alone even in this
era. Emans house was in front of ours but still Irum used to go
there along with me.

It was a holiday and all three of my brothers were gone to play


cricket. Dad had gone to the camp. The only people at home were
me, my mother and Irum. Dad never forbade us from sleeping for
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longer than usual on holidays. I had watched a movie last night and
now sleep was consuming me. Irum tried to wake me up again and
again so I finally sat up.

Now make some breakfast for me. We will go there after having
breakfast. I said while walking towards bathroom.

Brother, mom has prepared the breakfast already. You just


freshen up fast. Irum called behind me, making me want to play
with her a little.

No, I only want my little Chinese doll to make breakfast for me.
I teased her and she begun blinking. Everyone called her Irum in
the house. Only I called her Chinese doll sometimes. She loved
this name but never let anyone else call her that. She would get
angry if someone else called her that.

Only my brother Rizwan has the right to call me a Chinese doll.


She used to say and got in fights with people who said it.

Brother please, we are getting late. I promise I will make a good


meal for you in the afternoon. She made an innocent face and I
couldnt hold my laughter.

I had my breakfast after coming out of bathroom and took Irum to


Emans house. The wedding celebrations still lingered there but
certain insanity surrounded everything. Maybe this insanity
actually resided in my eyes that I saw in that house.

Here brother, she must be sitting in the room. Irum held me arm
and led me inside the room.

Only three women were present in the room. Eman sat on a cot in
front of us. She had changed her red dress from last night and now
sat wearing a light green dress. She had a same colored scarf on
her head and minimal makeup on her face.
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There wasnt much makeup to be used at that time. They just
applied Tibbat cream then whitened the face with powder, applied
Kajal in eyes and red lipstick on lips, and that was all.

Eman wore the same makeup. Her face was naturally white and
powder had enhanced it. Wearing a red lipstick sat the most
beautiful girl of this world there.

Eman how are you? You look so pretty. Irum went to sit with
her.

Your dress is beautiful. She looked at her clothes.

Eman your bangles are also pretty. Irum grabbed her hand to
place on her own lap and begun playing with her bangles. She
spoke a lot, kept annoying everyone in our house as well.

Eman seriously you look gorgeous. She suddenly stopped


talking. Eman had placed her hand on her mouth.

Irum Eman removed her hand from Irums face, held both her
hands in hers and stood up. She looked straight into Irums eyes.

Im not happy. Her voice trembled.

Im not happy. She let go of Irums hands and sat back on the
cot.

Im not happy. She raised her head and said it again, but this
time she wasnt addressing my sister she was addressing me
who was standing behind her.

She had said it while looking at me. Tears once again slipped down
from her eyes. She cried. An apocalypse had passed. Nobody else
felt it but that apocalypse had drained me. Although I was only
twelve years old, I understood everything.

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The pain of past night was written all over her face, a cruel night
which took away the innocence of childhood from her. What kind
of wedding night was that in which an innocent girl lost her
childhood?

Eman, what happened? Are you okay? Irum hastily moved


forward and embraced her.

Its nothing. She is a young child, she must miss her parents. She
will stay sad for a few days and recover. The other women
present in the room took part in the conversation and begun
consoling Eman as well.

It was a wedding house but the sorrow enveloping everything


made it look like someone had died there. Maybe someones
wishes had died. Irum was too young to understand it, and that was
why everyone in this room except her knew that it wasnt the pain
of leaving her parents, it was something else.

Some people may not understand that grief. Some people may not
be able to get the depth of my words but changing the words
doesnt change depth of the sorrow. Only those people really get it
who have been through it themselves. We understood the pain of
Eman but we were powerless. There was nothing that we could do
no matter how much we wanted to.

My father used to say;

Son, everyone has their own constraints. Each person is right in


his own circle. We think everything else outside that circle is
wrong, but trust me, my son; everyone is right in their point of
view. Its these constraints that force us to make certain decisions.

I didnt understand his words at that time, but now after all these
years I find them true. I, Eman, her old husband, all three of us
were right in our own way. God mingled our lives with each other.
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Maybe Aslam had fallen in love as well because love doesnt see
religion or wealth. Love doesnt see if the other is Muslim or not,
then why cant an old man love a young girl? He had loved her
too. God had mingled mine and Emans lives too much. I loved
Eman with everything I had. Both I and Eman loved each other a
lot. God placed a little love of Aslam in between ours. Aslam had
loved her as well. Both of us were crazy for that green eyed girl.
He had also fallen in love while walking on this path of decay.

Irum cried in Emans embrace. Girls have fragile hearts. All they
take is a light blow to break into pieces. Eman had cried so much
for Irum to stand.

Look, our daughter Irum is here. Now who made her cry? Aslam
entered the room.

He wore a white shirt with a black trouser and his black hair was
drenched in oil. He had colored his white hair black. With gigantic
black moustache, he looked no less than the devil himself. He
lightly grabbed Irums arm and separated her from Eman.

What happened to my daughter Irum? He asked Irum.

I saw a wolfs face on his. I hated him in that moment. What kind
of man he was to make a ten years old girl the target of his lust?
What kind of a man he was to use a ten years old child the whole
night? And he called another girl her age his daughter. God hasnt
possibly made anything crueler than man. I was Irums brother.
Brothers are protectors of their sisters. I went to stand between
Irum and Aslam.

What happened son? He asked while placing his hand on my


head. He was my fathers age, so he used to call me son and I
called him uncle.

Nothing uncle, we just have to go home.


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Come on Irum, brother Tariq has gone and I have to go play
cricket as well. I addressed Irum.

Yes brother, we will leave in a minute. She embraced Eman


again. She had also stopped crying by that time.

I will come back in the afternoon. You love pancakes, right? You
will eat, wont you? She offered her pancakes.

Oh yes, she will eat a pancake. Why not? Actually if you want,
you can take her to your home. That way she will see your house
and it will make it easier for her to adjust here. Aslam told Irum
and she became happy.

Uncle youre amazing. She happily went towards him but I


stopped her in the way.

Lets go home. I have to play cricket. For some reason I didnt


want Irum to go near him.

Alright, lets go. I also have to boil the potatoes. Ill make potato
pancakes. Okay Eman I will leave now. We live in that house in
front of yours. I will show it to you later. She told Eman and we
returned home.

I hastily wore my track suit once we were home. After getting


ready, I wore my shoes and stood up. Irum was there once again.

Brother, we dont have potatoes at home. You get them for me.

You dont have any potatoes now? Just make some pancakes
without potatoes. I said unhappily.

Brining potatoes meant destroying my holiday. Our camp was a


little away from the main village. It took an hour in getting
anything from there. I knew that my father wouldnt take potatoes

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out of the field for me and I would have to do it by myself.
Digging earth for potatoes was quite a task.

Brother, please! It will be the first time of Eman visiting us. Get
me some potatoes please. Irum begged innocently but I hated the
idea of getting the potatoes.

Son Rizwan, come on get the potatoes. Look how your sister is
begging you. My mother took Irums side.

Mom, cant you make something else? Just make a sweet dish. I
tried one last time.

No son, your sister is persisting, just listen to her. Eman is coming


to our home for the first time. You sister badly wants it so bring it
for her. Mom begun to force me once again so I relented.

I silently changed my track suit to work clothes and walked


towards the camp. I came back two hours later. I gave Irum the
potatoes and went to take a shower. My other brothers still hadnt
come back after playing cricket. When I came out of shower, Irum
had placed the potatoes on stove to boil them and was preparing
the sauce. Mom had made some rice pudding by mixing some rice
in milk.

Mom, why dont you make some puff pastries as well? Irum said
while peeling the onions and my mother nodded.

Brother can you bring me flour from the inside? I will knead the
dough for pastries. Irum called me.

It felt like a feast at my home. I brought the flour and sat with Irum
to help her. We had everything ready in the next hour.

Brother, you go get Eman. Irum said to me so I stood up.

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Wait a minute son! Take some food for Aslam as well. Mom
handed me a few pancakes and some rice pudding.

Sure mom, I will take it. I took the food from my mother and
walked out. Their house was in front of mine. I crossed the street
and knocked on their door.

Come in, the door isnt locked. Someone called from the inside
so I opened the door and stepped in.

Aslam sat on a cot in the yard, wearing an undershirt. A stove


made of mud was there beside a wall. Eman had the teapot on
stove and was making tea. Perhaps the wood was wet so fire
wasnt good enough so she tried to make it spark by blowing in the
stove. Her green eyes had turned red because of the smoke.

Uncle, mom has sent meal for you. She is calling Eman. I placed
the packet of food on the cot.

Alright, let her make the tea and then you can take her with you.
He picked up the packet of food.

Eman, quickly make the tea and go with Rizwan after that. Irum
must be waiting for you. He said to Eman and she begun blowing
faster. The wood still didnt spark correctly.

Uncle, let me help Eman. Everyone is waiting at home. I told


Aslam and moved towards the stove.

Eman give me the blower, I will spark the fire. You can check the
tea meanwhile. I sat at the other side of stove. Eman silently
offered me the blower.

Aslam sat on the cot, taking out pancakes from the packet. I
touched my finger to Emans hand while taking the blower. She
nervously looked at me and bowed her head. I was scared to touch

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her hand. My heart was tremulous. If Eman had screamed, I would
have gotten a beating and that beating wouldnt be anything
compared to what I would receive at my house by the hand of my
father.

Such things are common in European countries. Men and women


meet each other and shake hands, but in our Pakistan, there is a
certain distance between both genders. There is no concept of
friendship between a male and a female there.

Eman was Aslams wife. If I was caught hitting on her, I would


have gotten a beating from the whole village and my father might
have thrown me out of his house. But youth has its own charm, and
a woman is something like that. A man takes on every kind of
danger for a woman. I was also taking on dangers for that girl.

I was scared for a whole minute that followed but nothing


happened. Eman had contracted some more into herself. I
immediately started to blow into the stove. Tea was ready in a few
minutes so Eman took it out in a cup and gave it to Aslam.
Meanwhile I washed the tea pot and placed it in place, Eman
looked at me in surprise at that action.

In a Pakistani society, all household work is done by females. The


male earns money and females cook at homes and do other
household activities. A male never does house chores even if he is
a small boy. Our mothers and sisters manage everything on their
own. This is taught to us since birth. Now our society has
improved a lot, even men take interest in household activities. But
in the past, it was considered awful. But I never followed such
rules. My brothers never did any of the house chores but I always
helped mother and sisters in different chores. It made me happy

Eman, try to come back in an hour, you have to make dinner as


well. I will start working tomorrow. He was a servant of the

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lambardars and worked in fields. He had a leave of two days for
the wedding and had to go back to work from the next day.

Uncle, mom said that we will make the dinner and send it with
Eman. You can start making food at your home from tomorrow. I
lied.

I just wanted to keep Eman at my home for a long time. Her being
silent at me touching her hands had raised my hopes. She didnt
mind me touching her hands. I would have covered the next stage
once I became friends with her. My rising youth needed someone
and I was trying to get that.

Okay, I will come to get her at night. I have to go visit the camp
and I may return at night. He agreed so I decided to try once
again.

Uncle, I will get Eman back myself. I wanted to try once more
on Eman.

I could hold her hand in the darkness of night. I felt that I could
succeed this time, but Aslam eradicated all my hopes.

No son, you dont have to do that. I will come to get her myself.
He said authoritatively.

Come on Eman, mom must be waiting for us. I told Eman and
walked towards the front door. She followed me silently.

Gosh you people took so long. I have been waiting for an hour.
Irum ran towards us when she saw us entering the home.

She took Eman to sit beside the stove with her and begun talking to
her. They ate the puff pastries while talking to each other.

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Look at you! Ive been working since morning and now that
Eman has arrived, you shunned me! Im hungry too. I got angry
when I saw myself being ignored.

Sure brother, let me give you a pancake as well. Do you want


some puff pastries? Irum hurriedly placed a pancake in a plate
and three puff pastries on top of it.

I took the plate from Irums hand and sat down there to eat. I
enjoyed sitting with Eman. She had adjusted with Irum and both of
them had become best friends in no time. Eman told Irum about
her village. She had come here from Gujrat which was so far away
from Bahawalpur. We lived in a desert but it rained a lot in Gujrat.
That was a fertile place where rice and sugarcanes were cultivated.

Rizwan, you get up from here. Why are you sitting with the girls
and listening to their gossip? Mom scolded me.

Daughter Eman, how are you? Mom patted Emans head fondly.

Yes aunty, Im fine. Eman stood up when she saw my mother.

You get out if you have eaten already. Let the girls talk freely.
Mom reprimanded me once again so I decided it was best to get
up.

You have to make dinner for her as well; I made an excuse for her
there. Uncle will come at night to get this aunty of ours. I didnt
want to get up so I made a sarcastic remark towards Eman, who
seemed to mind it a lot.

Irum, some people are such cowards that they shake in fear just
with the idea of touching their finger to someone. Eman lightly
said to Irum, making me scared for real now.

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If she had told them about what I did earlier, nobody could have
saved me from the wrath of my mother. I didnt want to ruin all the
respect that I had at home.

Irum, tell me if you want me to get something from the market.


Ask your friend if there is something that I can get for her. My
eyes begged Eman to stay silent. I had decided never to touch her
again. I was too scared.

Brother Rizwan, you can leave. We dont need anything. The


moment Irum and mom diverted their attention towards me, Eman
winked at me.

The smile still hadnt left her face. I was petrified by now. Eman
might have spilled everything had I stayed there for a minute
longer. So I just left them and walked towards my room. I lay
down on my cot in the room. A little while later, my brothers
returned after playing cricket. Irum came in a few times to take me
out but I refused. I didnt want to go out.

I was scared that everything would mess up if Eman decided to


open her mouth, but Eman did no such thing. She was a lively and
friendly girl. God had blessed her with limitless treasures of beauty
and she could quickly adjust with people. She had become a part of
our family by that evening. My dad was also happy to meet Eman
when he arrived in the evening. He also liked Eman.

Brother, get up. The meal is ready. Irum came to call me to eat
with them.

Im not hungry and I have headache. You guys enjoy.

I still didnt want to go out. Irum stared at me for a whole minute


before she turned to walk away. I dont know what she said out
there that in a few minutes the whole family had gathered around
my cot.
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What happened to the hero? Eman said mischievously and the
whole family erupted into laughter.

Did someone say that the hero has headache? Eman once again
wanted to make fun of me.

Im fine. I got up, put my slippers on and went to the tap to wash
my hands.

Our daughter Eman is no less than a doctor. She cured Rizwan in


no time. Dad placed his hand on Emans head affectionately.

Irum and Eman had the meal ready on a sheet in the yard. Our
family used to eat on floor after placing a sheet on it. I washed my
hands and sat on the sheet. We finished the meal with light gossip
and then Eman picked up the pots along with Irum.

Such a pretty child she is! Just like our Irum. I wonder why God
didnt write a good fortune for her.

My father was a wise man. He was also sad at this wedding of


Eman and Aslam, but no matter what he thought, he was still a part
of the same society. We were poor and there wasnt much that we
could do for Eman.

Eman and Irum washed the pots together before they came to sit on
either side of my father. Eman had my whole family come to adore
her in a single day.

Uncle, do you want some tea? I make really good tea. Eman said
while placing her arms around my fathers neck.

Sure daughter, please make a cup for me. Dad lightly caressed
her cheeks.

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Dad, when did you start having tea? Irum asked my dad in
surprise. Our whole family was astonished.

Dad never had tea in his whole life. He never drank tea. In fact he
even forbade us from drinking tea. Only our mom used to drink tea
in our house. Sometimes we siblings would have some tea with
mother but our dad never did so.

My dear father will drink tea today, made by sister Eman. Amir
announced proudly. He was youngest of us all and had declared
Eman his sister the moment she had arrived.

Eman showed up with tea after a while and we all began to sip it.
My mother used to make good tea. Children always like the food
made by their mothers but I found this tea made by Eman tastier.
Eman was totally a tea expert.

Dad, uncle Aslam is at our door to get Eman. Amir said who had
gone to check the door after hearing the sound of knocking.

Son, tell Aslam to go back. I will take Eman back after packing
the food. Dad said to Amir and Irum got up to pack food for
Aslam. All the vivacity had suddenly left Eman and she looked
scared like a deer caught in headlights. She shivered lightly.

Come on daughter, let me take you home. Dad said while


placing his hand on Emans head after the meal was packed.

Daughter Eman Dad embraced Eman.

Daughter Eman, I dont know what compelled your father to sell


you like that but trust me youre just like my daughter Irum. Im
like your father. God puts difficulties on all His slaves. Stay strong
my daughter, God will make a way. He lightly patted her back to
console her. Eman slowly got back into her regular mood.

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Daughter, never think that youre alone. Irum is your sister and
these four are your brothers. This is your own house which you can
visit whenever you want. Emans face glowed when dad consoled
her. Her eyes shone with mischief once again,

Uncle, I have one sister and three brothers. This hero isnt my
brother. She pointed a finger towards me. Everyone smiled while
I look around guiltily.

Oh and why? Why isnt he your brother? Irum was enjoying the
whole conversation.

Im not ordinary enough to just make any passerby my brother.


Only lucky people get to have that title. What do you say, Mr.
Razi? I cant make everyone my brother. She shortened my name
while saying it.

Yes brother Razi, Eman doesnt make about anyone her brother.
Irum sided with Eman.

Come on daughter, lets go. Its getting late. Dad took Eman
back to her home and we kept talking about her for a long time
after her departure.

Because it was school the next day, all of us prepared our bags and
went to sleep. When I woke up the next day, I saw Eman sitting
beside my mother, helping her to make the breakfast. Because
Aslam had to leave early in the morning and Eman would have
been all alone in that house, so he left her at our home.

Mom, why do you have this witch sitting with you so early in the
morning? My night had passed in peace. I felt more confident
since Eman hadnt revealed my secret.

Aunty, are you sure this is your son? Dont you think you should
ask the people of Sialkot if they have given you the right boy?
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Neither his face nor his accent resembles yours. She asked my
mother comically.

My accent had become similar to those in Sialkot because of


staying there. And my complexion was fairer than the rest of my
family, thanks to the climate of Sialkot.

Son, quickly freshen up. The breakfast is ready. Have your


breakfast and go to school in peace. Mom said to me so I went to
wash my face.

A little while later, we brothers were done with the breakfast. We


took Irum and left for school. We came back at 3 in the evening
after school. Eman was still there in our house. Mom had given her
one of Irums dresses and she still wore it.

Oh my god, Eman is looking so beautiful. Irum ran to hug Eman


when she saw her.

Mom, do something so she doesnt catch the evil eye. Irum


continuously looked at Eman.

I wont catch the evil eye Irum, dont worry. Oh but dont forget
to save me from the people of Sialkot. I have heard they have evil
eyes. She looked at me from the corner of her eyes. I glared at her
and went to my room to change.

My brothers went to play cricket after having meal and mom went
to the fields. She had to collect the vegetables for dinner. Only
three of us were left in the house. I decided to talk to Eman again,
but Irum stuck to her like glue and my anger grew with each
passing second. I couldnt find a way to separate them. They were
talking in the verandah as I wandered from the verandah to my
room and back.

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Brother, whats the matter? Come here, sit with us. Irum didnt
understand my discomfort. I sat near them.

How are you, Mr. Razi? Eman looked straight into my eyes.

Razi I like this name. From now I will also call my brother
Razi. Irum placed her hand on Emans shoulder.

It was the start of my new name. Eman had named me Razi with
love. She always called me Razi and slowly this name became a
part of my personality. Now the whole village calls me Razi.

Irum at least change your uniform. You are still wearing it. I told
Irum so she went to change her clothes.

I was left with Eman in the verandah. I had finally found her alone.
Everything that I had planned in the school today vanished from
my mind. My brain stopped working. I had gotten only five
minutes. I couldnt find this chance again once Irum returned. I
had to do something in those five minutes but I couldnt gather any
nerve for it.

Eman I said with great difficulty. My legs began to shake.

Yes She looked down.

Why dont you call me brother? I managed to find some


courage.

Actually I I dont like calling you brother. She said shyly,


raising my morale.

She sat in front of me with her head bowed down and Irum could
come out any minute. If she didnt consider me a brother than it
clearly meant that she wanted to be friends with me. I decided to
do something immediately, whatever may happen.

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Come on Rizwan, you have to do something. The devil
whispered in my ears and I placed my hand on her cheek. My
fingers were pressed into that ivory, soft cheek of hers.

What are you doing? She said loudly and slapped my hand away.

What happened brother? Why did you stand up? Please sit down.
Irum had come out after she was done changing.

No, no, its nothing Im going to the camp. Lock the door from
the inside. I tried to hide my nervousness and got out of the
house.

I couldnt understand Eman. I dont know what made her so angry.


But what could I do now? I kept wandering the streets instead of
going to the camp. I returned home once it had gotten dark. I knew
that Eman would have gone home by then, but I was wrong. She
was still there at our house. I got angry when I looked at her face.

There, Razi just came. Dad saw me entering the house. He had
also begun to call me Razi like Eman.

Where did you go Razi? Mom caught my arm and tried to sit me
down beside her but I snatched my arm away.

Mom, my name is not Razi. Call me either Rizwan or Nano, but


nobody will call me Razi now. I said irritably and went inside my
room.

What happened to him? He looks mad. Dad asked Irum who just
shrugged in response.

Go, get him back here and then we will eat. I have to sleep early
so I can go to work early in the morning. It got late yesterday as
well and I couldnt sleep properly. When dad had taken Eman to

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her home, he had sat with uncle Aslam there and came back late at
night. That is why he couldnt sleep properly.

I will go get that prince from Sialkot. Eman said loudly and
walked towards my room. I covered my face with blanket.

It looks like our prince is angry. Eman removed the blanket from
my face. She had come to my room alone. Everyone else was
sitting in the yard.

Come on! They are calling you. She picked my blanket up and
set it aside.

I wont come, and you can leave. I dont want to talk to you
either. I said crossly.

Come on, leave the anger now. See I am here to get you. She
tried to convince me.

Why did you come to get me? You go to your home and I will
come out by myself. I told her arrogantly.

As you wish, I came to be friends with you but perhaps you dont
want it. She said in a lovely tone and my anger dissipated.

No no, Ill come. Just wait a minute. I hurriedly said and sat up
on the cot.

So now we are friends right? I said happily and she nodded.

Yes Razi, you are my friend now. She said it with a smile that
made my heart flutter.

Lets go! Everyone is waiting outside. That beauty queen turned


and walked away. I followed her outside.

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Son, Razi, take Eman back to her home. Dad said to me once we
were done eating.

Yes dad. I got up. The street was dark at that time and I wanted
to do something in that darkness.

Lets go Razi. Eman said to me, so I took her outside.

She walked behind me in the street. We crossed the street silently


and I stood with her at the door of her house.

Razi, have you heard the story in which a giant takes a princess
away and then a prince comes to rescue her after crossing seven
seas? She opened the door of her house.

Have you heard this story? I placed my hand on the door to


prevent it from closing.

Yes, I have heard that story. My grandma used to tell me that


story when I was a child. Why do you ask? I asked her.

Razi, maybe you can cross this street some day. Eman held my
hand tightly.

A princess lives across this street Razi. She slowly left my hand
and walked in her house.

The door closed automatically once I removed my hand from it. I


was left alone in the street which turned into a huge sea in front of
my eyes. I began to struggle in that infinite sea helplessly.

Nano, buddy that new girl is very pretty. Aslam is an old man, he
could never attract her. You should try on her; she will definitely
fall for you. Waheed advised me.

We studied in the same class. He had more experience with girls


than me. There was a 5 Marla housing scheme in our village. It had
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small houses sized 5 Marla each. He used to stay there the whole
day after coming back from school. He had befriended a girl there
and he followed her around everywhere. She really liked Waheed.

Then Waheed left that girl and became friends with another. He
was my true friend.

I had been rejected my two girls and I was still a virgin. I got
another chance in form of Eman.

Some people must be thinking that why is Razi talking like this
now? Some people may feel anger towards me. But the truth is that
80% of the boys have the same callous emotion within them when
they reach out to a girl for friendship or love. Girls think in many
ways but boys always think in just one way.

I dont mean to degrade Eman by writing such things. I love Eman


with my soul. A person crumbling in love could never defame his
lover. I still live in the name of her love.

I just want to write the truth here and the truth is that I am a boy
and I had paid attention to Eman just to fulfill my desires at first. I
wanted a girl and I didnt even have to struggle much for Eman.

So what do you say Nano? Are you going to fight for Eman?
Seriously she is stunning. Its like youve won a lottery. He said
blatantly.

No mate, she is a good girl a very decent one. You should stay
away from her if you dont want to get a beating. We used to
share all the secrets but for some reason I couldnt tell him about
Eman.

When a woman enters a mans life his friends become distant.


Waheed was also becoming distant to me. I bought peanuts worth

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5pkr on my way back from school and walked towards my home. I
knew Eman would be there and I took the peanuts for her.

I entered the house after lightly knocking on the door. Mom sat on
a cot in the yard and cleaned the rice. Slow music played inside the
room. Brother Tariq had bought a new cassette of songs by Mehdi
Hassan. The same music played in the room. I had come back from
school earlier that day.

Today i again found Eman alone in the room and my fingertips


were again lit on fire. My hands were burning like if they were on
fire and the only way they could have felt comfortable was through
contact with Emans soft cheeks.

Who is inside the room, mom? I figured that it would be Eman


because of the music that was playing.

Eman is listening to music there. Now you put your bag inside
and come back to eat. Ive made a dish with potatoes and
cauliflower. Mom told me affectionately and I walked towards the
room with my bag.

Hey Eman, how are you? I threw my bag in a corner and stood
in front of the door.

You How did you come so early? Eman hastily stood up when
she saw me in the room.

Has everyone returned or just you? She came near the door to
find a way out, but she couldnt leave because I was standing in
front of the door.

Razi, aunty will walk in any moment get a side. I have to go


outside. She had an idea of my cheap thoughts so she wanted to
get out by scaring me of my mother.

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Mom is outside in the yard. If you want to go there, you will have
to pay the tax. I said shamelessly. How could I waste such a
chance?

Please Razi, aunty will walk in. I will do whatever you say in the
night. Just let me go now! she begged me. She was scared that my
mother would walk in.

No. Just let me touch your cheeks once and then you can leave.
Please, just once. I will not do anything after that. I will silently
move to the side. I said miserably.

My face looked like I would start crying any moment. Finally, she
pitied me. She took a deep breath then held both of my hands
before placing them on her cheeks.

Both of my hands were on her face as I felt the softness of her


cheeks. I had touched one of her cheeks yesterday and now all of
her face was in my hands. She was 3 inches shorter than me. She
looked down at the ground. I could see her silky hair. I held her
face a bit strongly and picked it up.

Eman you are so beautiful. I said slowly but she didnt respond.
She just looked at me silently.

Eman She closed her eyes when I called her.

She was shaking slightly. Mom was sitting outside and could walk
in any moment. If she saw us like that, I would have gotten a
beating and Eman could have never step foot in our house again.
Both of us were scared.

But we were fearless like that in the childhood. Running away


from school, stealing mangoes from trees, playing cards, smoking
etc, all such stupid things are done in the childhood. If such silly

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things werent a part of childhood then what would be left in it? I
also felt fearless at that time.

I kept on caressing her face, slowly and slowly, and she kept
standing in front of me with her eyes closed. While caressing her
cheeks I placed my finger over her lips. Red hot lips over an ice
cold faceSometimes God does wonders. Eman opened her eyes
to look at me for a moment before closing them again. My fingers
wandered around everywhere on her face. Her whole face was in
my reach. My eyes were glued to her face.

Her face, white as snow, with thin red lips. Her face, was
shining like a moon, in my hands. She was confounded by the
contact of my hands and was shivering mildly. Her lips were
trembling.

It is the nature of human beings to never be satisfied with what


they have. They begin wanting something else the minute one of
their wishes is granted.

Her face was in my hand an in my heart I was wish to kiss her on


the lips. Wanting to kiss her on her rosy cheeks but it wasnt
possible. I knew she wouldnt have let me kiss on her lips. Infact
lips apart she wouldnt have let me kiss her on her cheeks. So I
went along with what was given. I had, for the first in my life,
touched a girls cheeks and lips. It was enough for me and I kept
on enjoying that moment.

Eman I lightly called her but she kept standing with her eyes
closed. Her face was in my hands when I moved my fingers on her
lips.

Rizwan baby! Would you live your whole life limited to the
face? The devil whispered in my heart and incited me to do more.

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Rizwan! Ignore the face, it is a world settled down to face.
Rizwan! Dare do more otherwise you would be disappointed for
the whole life.

I had one hand on Emans face and the other hand on her chest. It
was really a wonderful world. I placed my hand on her chest and
gently began to crush it.

With a loud echo, her hand left its marks on my cheek. I almost fell
down on the floor.

Eman scowled at me. She had slapped me with all her might. That
was why her fingers left their marks on my cheek. She seethed in
anger.

You were better off in Sialkot. Maybe you were born in the
wrong place. I cant believe a shameless boy like you could be a
part of such a beautiful family. She pushed me to a side, opened
the door and walked out.

My face now had the marks of her fingers. Mom couldnt hear the
sound of slap because of the music that played in the room.
Everything happened for the first time in my life. I wasnt sad
about the slap that she gave me. I received such slaps in the school
daily.

Twenty years ago teachers used to beat the students a lot in


schools. Even parents and elder siblings used to hit the younger
ones on smallest of mistakes. The time has changed now. Parents
still scold their children a little but they dont hit them anymore.

The government is trying to control it but there are still some areas
in Pakistan where children are beaten with a stick in schools. We
have grown up with all that beating in the schools but even I know
that torturing children isnt right, whether its physical or mental. It
makes the upcoming life difficult for a child.
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Eman went to sit with my mother. I had let such an amazing girl
slip through my fingers.

I changed my uniform and came out in simple clothes. My other


siblings had also arrived home and were eating while sitting
around the stove. I looked at Eman who was talking to Irum while
totally ignoring me. I silently went to sit with them.

Brother Razi, did you get a beating in the school again? Irum
couldnt keep her mouth shut when she looked at my red cheek.

Yes, the math teacher hit me because I didnt finish the


homework. I said normally and took my food from mom.

I didnt want to wrangle by speaking some nonsense. Eman hadnt


told on me in the past so I hoped that she would not do it this time.
She had slapped me to get her fill anyway. But it was true that I
would never catch her again.

You should have finished your homework. Look how badly the
teacher hit you. Your whole cheek has become red. Mom caressed
my cheeks.

She was a mother and that was the reason why my red cheeks
saddened her. I looked at Eman from the corner of my eyes. She
was lost in her own world, making crisscross lines on the floor.
Her face still displayed signs of anger.

Razi, wont you eat onions with it? Eman, pass the plate of onions
to Razi. Mom asked me before addressing Eman. The plate of
onions lay near her.

Yes aunty. She looked at mom and then passed me the plate. But
my gaze was stuck on her hand and not on the plate. No doubt that
she was sold in 30k rupees.

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Barter of people is illegal according to the Pakistani law, so people
found a way around in the form of marriage. Eman had that red
color of marriage on her hands. I looked at her hands that were
adorned with Henna. The devil once again came to whisper in my
ears. My heart told me to try once again to not accept defeat
to be a man. And I became a man.

I touched my hand to Emans while taking the plate from her


hands. She anxiously looked at me and the plate slipped from her
hands. The little plate broke into pieces the moment it touched the
ground.

Im sorry aunty! I broke the plate. It it slipped from my hands.


She looked guilty. All the anger on her face had evaporated.

Thats the thing about poverty. Mental and physical torment is


nothing compared to financial loss. She was in a severe state of
metal anguish. She was like an innocent deer which ran from a
pack of lions and escaped in a house, only to be confronted with a
wolf inside. Neither could she go out and nor was she safe in her
home.

She faced torture every night on the bed of her old husband. She
came to our home in search of comfort but a wolf was here for her
as well. That delicate girl fought two battles at once. She was an
innocent girl in that patriarchal society who was gloomy over a
broken plate.

Mom, I am the one who broke the plate. I took the plate from
Emans hand.

For the first time in my life I took the blame upon myself. Eman
looked at me weakly. Her eyes were too heavy. It looked like the
sorrows of this whole world had taken residence in her eyes. She
was a courageous little girl. When God gives pain, He gives the
ability to endure it as well. If she had cried and let her tears spill,
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perhaps the whole world would have drowned in them. But she
endured silently. She swallowed all her tears in depths where they
couldnt be found.

Thats okay! So what if a plate broke we can always buy a new


one. You shouldnt be so sad over broken things. Mom said and
hugged her affectionately.

Its true that we shouldnt be sad over broken things but it was her
heart that was broken. Her soul had injured. I still looked at her
with a sly smile on my face. I still formed new plans in my head.
My brain was thinking of unusual ways. She had to break one day.
A ten years old wife of an aged man she had to fall into
someones arms once she was broken, so why shouldnt I try? I
was also alone. I also needed a girl.

The devil danced at our roof in happiness. Eman used to come to


our house. She used to eat and drink in our home, so I had the first
right on this forbidden fruit. I looked at her with eyes of a predator.
A terrified deer looked back at the wolf in front of her. After the
meal, my brothers went to play cricket and Irum took Eman inside.
They began to watch an English movie on VCR.

Hindi dubbed English movies were available in market those days.


Pakistani film industry hadnt grown at that time. People liked
Indian movies because our language resembles theirs. India had a
big film industry and they made good movies. Indian movies were
banned in Pakistan so they were smuggled here in the form of
video cassettes and were sold across the whole country.

Im not a politician. Im a poor man who earns money here in


Germany. Im writing what the video shop owners used to tell me.
The video shop owners told me that the movies were smuggled
from India. I dont know if they were brought to Pakistan legally

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or not. Even English movies came from India after being dubbed in
Hindi.

Most people in Pakistan watched Indian movies, others liked the


local Pakistani movies and then there were some eccentrics who
liked English movies, which included me and my sister Irum. Both
of us only liked English movies. Many large markets of English
movies have been formed in both Pakistan and India nowadays.
English movies make good business there. But in our era, most
people were illiterate. They liked simple movies which
demonstrated love and animosity. They couldnt understand
English action and adventure.

Eman and Irum went inside the room to watch a movie. I couldn't
watch the movie with them. So I lay down on a cot under the shade
of a neem tree in the yard and tried to get some sleep.

My heart beat rose in a strange manner. Emans soft cheeks were


like a drug. I had gotten a slap from her already. The marks from
that slap still lingered on my face. She was compelled to slap me.
She had approached me because she thought I was a good boy, but
I didn't want to be a good boy. I needed Eman to fulfill my desires.

If predators start feeling the pain of their prey then they will no
longer be called predators. I had to be the bad guy. I knew that
Eman would have no choice but to befriend me if I kept going after
her for a few more days.

In our house, whenever we wanted to catch a sparrow, we would


scatter wheat grains for it on the floor of our room and leave the
door open. When a sparrow would come to eat, we would shut the
door and make it fly by scaring it with a sheet. The sparrow would
fly from one corner of the room to another and we would continue
to scare her till it got too tired to fly and fell on the floor. We

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would easily grab it once it fell down. All the fight would leave it
at that moment.

I also wanted to make Eman fly. I wanted to exhaust her, and wait
for the time when she got tired enough to be deprived of her will to
fight back. I kept thinking about Eman then fell into sleep under
the tree, and because I had gotten a beating from school, mom
didn't try to wake me up. I kept sleeping till the evening.

My father woke me up when he came back in the evening. He


talked with me about school for a little while. In the meantime,
Irum came out in the yard along with Eman. Mom had the dinner
prepared. When my other brothers came back after playing cricket,
we all ate together. Irum packed the food for uncle Aslam and gave
it to Eman.

We had started to provide Aslam's food by that time. He used to


have his tea in the morning before dropping Eman at our house and
leaving for work. The lambardars provided him with lunch there in
the fields. Eman would come to our house early in the morning.
She would help my mother with house chores throughout the day.
Mom also felt at peace with Eman. She cared for her just like her
own daughter. Irum's books from the last year were there in the
house. Eman used to go to school in Gujrat. She knew how to read
and write. Mom had started to teach Eman at home with the help of
Irum's books.

I liked reading stories a lot. I used to spend most of my pocket


money on books. Eman also started to enjoy reading. Whenever I
bought a new book from the market, Eman would read it first
while I and Irum would follow behind.

"Razi son, take Eman back to her home." Dad said to me after
Irum had given the packed meal to Eman.

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"Yes dad." I got up. It was another chance for me to get benefit
from the darkness of night.

"Let's go Eman." I said with a devilish smile.

"Not at all, I won't go with you today; I will go with my cute


brother Amir." Eman said while ruffling Amir's hair fondly.

"Yes sister, I will go with sister Eman today." Amir beamed with
joy so I just sat down.

Things lose their charm if they are given too easily. God has
strange ways. If I had gotten Eman easily, our story would have
ended right there. I would have stayed with Eman for five to six
months, before leaving this girl made of beauty of innocence. She
would have held no more appeal to me than that of a black and
white picture. Eman would have lost all the attraction I felt for her
and I would have begin searching for a new flower, just like my
friend Waheed. He had also left a girl in the past and now he was
with another one. In a few upcoming days, he left that new girl as
well. And Eman would still have been waiting for that prince who
would save her from that monster across the street, after getting
deceived by me.

Love isn't easy to conquer. God had the love of Eman written in
my fate. A true love that is far above anything the world could
offer. The one, who suffers the most in this world, is the closest to
God. Eman had suffered and I was the prince that she had prayed
for to cross the street. She was a generous person. She forgave all
my mistakes.

"Let's go sister." Amir held her hand and walked out. My day was
wasted. Eman went to her house and I became a little sad.

Eman made the breakfast for us the next day but her anger was still
there. After coming back from school in the afternoon, I sat with
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Irum and began to find excuses to talk to Eman, but she kept
ignoring me. She would give a simple answer to my questions
before diverting her attention back to Irum. They kept talking to
each other about school, work, home and I stared at them like a
fool.

I had failed to make my place in Emans heart. She didnt want me


anymore. Perhaps I had lost Eman because of my awful actions.
What if she fell for another guy? What if she wants to be friends
with someone else? Or what if she is a bad girl herself? Strange
negative thoughts surrounded my mind. I walked out with all those
thoughts in my mind.

I wandered purposelessly in the streets till evening. I came back


home in the evening and went out again after having my dinner. I
stood in the dark street, waiting for Eman to come out. I had a note
worth one rupee in my hand. I knew that Eman would never step
out with me. She would take Amir with her instead again. So I
came out before her and waited there for her.

I had that one rupee for the sake of Amir. I knew that he would go
to eat ice cream if I gave him that rupee and Eman would be left
alone in the street. I had decided to force Eman that day. Because I
knew that no matter how brave a girl is, she would never make a
noise if you grasp her hand at night. Girls are scared of
denigration. I tried to grow some courage. It had been half an hour
of me waiting in the street when the door to our house opened and
Amir stepped out with Eman.

Brother Razi, why are you standing here? The street was
completely vacant. Eman got scared when she saw me outside.

Buddy it was hot in the house so I came out to get some fresh air.
Here take a rupee and go eat ice cream, I will take Eman to her
house. I placed the rupee on his hand.

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Okay brother, I will go to the shop but first I have to take sister
Eman home. He took the rupee.

No, you can leave. I will take your sister Eman. I said with slight
anger.

But brother, she just Eman interrupted before Amir could


complete his sentence.

Amir, you can go to the shop. I will go with him. She avoided
saying my name.

As you wish, sister. Amir left us there and ran towards the shop.

Lets go. Eman said to me and walked forward.

She walked in front of me and I followed her quietly. We crossed


the street in silence and reached the door of her house.

Eman I reached forward and clasped her wrist.

She silently turned and stood in front of me. Her wrist was still in
my hand which she didnt try to snatch away at all.

Yes, whats the matter? She inquired.

Eman, I want to be friends with you. I like you a lot please! Be


friends with me. I cant live without you Eman. I rambled without
taking a breath.

I looked at her face quietly afterwards. It was the same face that
was in my approach yesterday, which I had held in my hands. My
fingers had traced every single feature of this face. Today it felt so
far away. Her pink lips were in front of me but I couldnt touch
them. I had lost my right on them because of my greed.

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Please Eman! Be friends with me. I said miserably. My head
bent with remorse. I couldnt face those eyes.

Razi, I had made you my friend the first day we met. You have
been my friend since then, but it looks I chose the wrong guy for
friendship. Yes Razi, you are not the right guy. You are a very bad
guy but trust me, Im not a bad girl. Im not that kind of a girl. I
dont think I will be able to fulfill your wishes. Please, Razi! Her
wrist slipped from my hand. We stood in front of each other in
front of Emans home, in the darkness of night.

Razi She stroked my cheeks. The scene had reversed. Today, it


was her who had her hands on my face as she caressed it.

Razi She lightly called me so I looked at her face.

The same ivory face, the green eyes that had plagued me in those
past days were flooded with tears.

Razi She looked into my eyes.

Razi, Im so tormented. You cannot even fathom the pain and


torture that I have endured in these past days. You cant understand
my agony because you are still a child. Im also a child, Razi, but
Im suffering with all that distress. Im so tired of withstanding this
pain; I will die while enduring it. Please, have mercy on me. I
dont have anything that I can offer you. I come to your home in
search of peace. I lay at the bed of that old man every night like a
lifeless statue. I would have been dead by now if it wasnt for the
love and sincerity of your family. Please Razi, Im already injured
badly. Dont wound me anymore. Forgive me, mate! Im not
strong enough to fight two battles at once. Forgive me, Razi. She
cried in front of me.

That innocent, green eyed girl shed tears in front of me. A person
cries when pain breaks him. That girl also cried.
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Kudus to you Rizwan Ali! You made a little angel cry. I had done
many bad things in my life but I had never hurt anyone before. It
was the first time that I had hurt a girl. I had submerged so deep in
my own desires that this girl had to beg to me for her honor. All
she wanted was to live.

Wow Rizwan! You couldnt be more shameless. I silently cursed


myself and held both of her hands.

My brain and eyes were filled with lust few minutes ago, but now
those emotions were replaced by guilt and remorse. I had woken
up from that nightmare; I had made an unforgivable blunder.

Im sorry Eman! It was a mistake. I mistook you for a wrong


person Forgive me Eman! Im not a bad guy. My voice
strangled in my throat. Her hands were still in mine. She still cried.

Eman I didnt know that you would be so hurt because of me. But
I promise you today, I will never ever tease you again. I choked
on my words.

I took Emans hands to my eyes and cried hard. My mom used to


say,

Nano, you have a rock in place of your heart. You never cry.

It was true that I never cried even on the biggest of injuries.


Perhaps I didnt even know how to cry. But today, while asking
Eman for forgiveness and while trying to halt her cries, I had
begun to cry myself.

Eman, forgive me. I released her hands. She moved forward and
hugged me. Both of us cried in that street in each others embrace.

Razi, it hurts so much, buddy. Each night is like a nightmare to


me. You will not understand I dont think that you can

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understand. Grow up fast buddy! Grow up while your princess is
still alive.

She cried relentlessly. My shirt was wet with her tears. I held her
to my chest and patted her back to comfort her.

Eman, Stay strong! Everything will be fine. I consoled her and


her crying ceased a little as a result.

She stopped crying after a while. Maybe my warmth had


eliminated some of her pain. That was why she became relaxed.

Razi, mate, never deceive me. She separated herself from me


and wiped her tears.

Eman, forgive me. I was so wrong. I shouldnt have done such


things. I started apologizing to her once again.

Maybe Im so bad, Eman. I was guilty.

No Razi, you are so good. If there was any other boy in your
place, he would also have done the same and he would never
understand my feelings. You are good enough to understand my
feelings. I am lucky to have a friend like you. She warmly stroked
my hair and returned to her regular mood.

So have you made me your friend? Are we friends now? I


beamed with happiness.

Yes mate. You are my best friend now. She still played with my
hair.

Now Im standing in front of you, Ill never mind if you want to


touch my chest. She stood in front of me.

I gazed over her, from head to toe, for a moment. I got slapped
once for touching her chest. I was dying for it till yesterday but
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today when she, on her own, was standing in front of me, I had no
interest in her chest.

No Eman! I dont want anything. I just want to have a friendship


with you a true and long-lasting friendship. I dont want
anything else. My finalized tone made her eyes glow with joy.

I knew it Razi, that the people of Sialkot arent so bad. She


winked at me.

Oh! So it means that we are bad but not so bad. I said with
annoyance and she smiled. The atmosphere had lifted suddenly.

Okay mate, I have to leave now. Its been late. Aslam must be
waiting inside. She placed a hand on the door.

Eman, Im sorry, friend. I called her from behind so she turned


and hugged me. We held each other for a few minutes before she
opened the door and walked inside.

Our friendship stayed like this for the next two years. I was
promoted to high school from the middle school. Eman had grown
to be a twelve years old and I became a fourteen years old young
boy. Both of us had grown up. Eman had become even more
beautiful.

Our friendship was still limited to hugging each other. I was


beginning to forget my promise that I made with Eman two years
ago while befriending her. We had spent a good time together for
two years. We were good friends but I wanted to be more than
friends. I wanted something else from Eman as well.

The way I looked at her changed along with my thoughts process. I


began to find excuses to touch her, to make her ready for my plans.
Eman had noticed my actions but she wasnt ready to let go of our

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two years worth of friendship, so she acted as if she was oblivious
to everything.

Some thieves were active in our village those days. After a few
homes were robed, the people of village decided to guard it
together. Every day, five people from different houses would do
the guard duty. There were a total of 400 houses in our village. So
each person had to guard once in three months. Those people
guarded the village the whole night. That was how the thefts were
controlled.

That day it was the lambardars turn to guard, so they transferred


the task to Aslam. Eman was alone in the house after he had left.
My father sent me to her home.

Son, you stay with Eman. Come back in the morning after Aslam
has returned. I took Eman to her home. Aslam was guarding that
day and both of us were alone in the house.

Eman, Come here to me. Lets sit together and talk. I said to
Eman who had lain down on the other cot.

No mate, go to sleep. I am also sleepy and you have to go to


school in the morning. We will talk after you return from school.
Eman made an excuse because she didnt want to come near me.
God has granted women with sensitivity, they can tell whats going
to happen before time.

Mate, Eman! Just come here. You can go to sleep after ten
minutes. I called her again but she didnt answer. She silently lay
on her cot.

Eman, alright if you dont want to come, I will come to your cot.
I got up from my cot and sat on hers.

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Eman, whats the matter? Why wont you talk to me? I placed
her head in my lap and slipped my fingers though her hair. She
swiftly slapped my hand away and stood up from the cot.

She kept laid in my lap, with eyes closed and silent. While playing
with her hair, I slowly moved to her face and started caressing her
cheeks with love. Playing with her hair with one hand, I rubbed her
face and neck with the other. Now my fingers were over rosy lips.

I remembered the time, two years ago. At that time the beginning
was also from the face and then I moved to breasts. My todays
intentions were also to go far, all the way from the breasts. At that
time she stopped me with a slap but today she was not in that
position. Today she was willing to save the friendship. The strong
friendship lasting for two years was going to end in a moment.

While rubbing her face I placed my hand over her breasts and kept
on squeezing it. For a moment Eman was terrified and she stared at
me with anger.

Razi! Please leave me!! I cant do this. There was fire in her
pleading eyes.

I kept on doing my work. It was only one thing occupying my


mind and I was working on it. My hands were on Emansbreasts
and I was squeezing them with love.

When lust preoccupies the mind of human being, the beauty of a


face becomes irrelevant. Emans face also faded away from my
sight. My hand moved from her breasts to her belly. She started
shivering. Suddenly she removed my hand from her belly, got out
of the bed and stood there in front of me.

Rizwan, you should return to your home. She used to call me by


my real name when she was angry.

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No, I will not leave. I became obstinate.

Listen, if you dont leave my house now, I will shout and gather
the whole village here. She became the same Eman from two
years ago.

Do whatever you want. I wont leave this house without getting


what I want.

I knew that I would never be able to catch Eman if I left that house.
I wanted Eman in any circumstance and I wasnt going to leave
before having everything decided.

You are still the same Rizwan! My friendship worth of two years
couldnt change you. I dont understand how you can be so
stubborn. Do you have a rock in place of your heart? Nothing
affects you What do you get by playing with someones
feelings?

She yelled at full volume. Her voice could be heard outside the
room. I was scared. If she had kept talking loudly, someone would
have gotten up and come to the house.

Eman, Wait a minute listen to me. I held her arms and shook
her but nothing affected her.

Get lost from my house! I dont want to see your face! Dont you
dare cross my path again! She was going mad with rage.

Eman please, Just once! Im leaving, just you be silent. I put my


shoes on quickly.

Get out you pervert! You are not worth my friendship. You can
only think of women in a single way. She picked up the jug from
beneath the cot and threw it towards me.

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I had put on one shoe. I picked up the other and ran out of her
house. I wore the other shoe in the street and went back to my
home in silence.

I had lost Eman again that day. I had made a mistake again. I was a
son of Adam and the Satan had managed to get me out of the
heaven named Eman. I made mistake over mistake. The monster
inside me came out again and again. I had become the thief of her
innocence and virtue.

The friendship had come to an end. I had made her hate me before
but it hurt more today. I had become accustomed to her in the past
two years. I couldnt get any sleep that night.

They say that sleep can consume a person even on a bed of thorns,
but you cant go to sleep when your heart is broken. Both mine and
Emans hearts were broken. Both of us fought sleep that night in
our homes. Both of us cried. Again, I was the one who did wrong.

Eman, Forgive me. I kept asking for her forgiveness the whole
night in my heart.

Eman was younger than me but she had become brave after
bearing all the hurt that people threw her way. She endured this
mountain of pain as well but I was weak. I lost after fighting the
whole night. I seared with fever by that morning. My whole body
hurt and my brain constantly tried to seek solace in
unconsciousness. But I didnt want to fall unconscious. I had to
bear that pain while staying conscious and thats what I did.

Irum got scared when she came to wake me up in the morning and
saw my condition. The fever had broken me. The whole family
gathered around me in no time.

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God forbid! He is has a bad fever he is so warm that I cant
even touch his forehead. Dad said while placing a hand on my
forehead.

Thermometers werent common at that time so people checked the


severity of fever by touching the sick persons forehead.

Tariq, son, go and get the donkey cart from the camp. Lets take
him to the doctor.

The hospital was almost 100meters away from our village, in the
city of Bahawalpur. But there was a small private clinic two
kilometers away from the village where a poor doctor sold the
medicines for headache or fever at cheap rates.

Hurry, son Tariq, get the donkey cart. Razis fever has risen up.
Dad said to brother Tariq so he turned to leave but I caught his
wrist.

No dad, you can go to work. I dont want to go to the doctor. I


will get better by the evening. I looked at my father.

I knew that the doctor didnt have any cure for my illness. Dads
money would have gone to waste and he would have had to face
loss at the camp because of taking a leave.

Are you sure son? If you dont feel well, I will take you to the
doctor. Dad placed his hand on my forehead again.

My forehead still burnt. Thats the thing about poverty. Something


crossed my dads face. If I had gone to the doctor, the whole
budget of our house would have messed up for the upcoming
week. My dad had to feed five kids. He couldnt afford the luxury
of doctors. He was more concerned about feeding us than my
illness.

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Amir, son you go and get your sister Eman. She wont come by
herself today because Aslam is home. You tell her that I asked her
to come. Tell her that Razi is ill, and thats why I have called her.
She can place cloths soaked in cold water on his forehead for a few
hours and go back after Razi feels better. Amir ran out and came
back with Eman a few minutes later.

Yes uncle! What happened to Razi? Is he okay? She placed her


hand on my forehead.

Her hand was cold like ice, chilling the depths of my soul. I felt
better, so I opened my eyes to look at her face. She looked back at
me.

Her eyes were red after crying the whole night. The light green
color of her eyes had been disappeared and red had replaced it. She
must have stayed awake the whole night as well. She sat in front of
me after being wounded by me. I couldnt bear the fact that I had
hurt her while she had endured all the hurt I put her through. I
dont know if God has granted all women with this strength, or if
He simply made Eman stronger.

Daughter Eman, you should place cloths soaked in ice on his


forehead. That way he will feel better. My other siblings were
already late for school so they left.

Today we have a lot of work in the camp so your aunt will have
to go with me. You can go back to you home after a few hours. I
will send you aunt back by then.

No uncle, you dont have to worry. Aslam just left for the city
he will be back by tonight. Im here with Razi till tonight. You can
finish your work at ease. She called me Razi.

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Her anger had dissipated when she saw me scorching in fever. That
was how Eman was like; she forgave all my mistakes every time,
everywhere.

Alright daughter, you can have your meal and feed some to Razi
as well. Mom caressed my face.

Yes aunty, I will feed him. You dont worry.

Sure daughter, but I have no choice but to worry. I am the mother


after all. Mom told Eman before leaving for the camp with dad.

I and Eman were left alone in the house. Eman brought some ice
and cloth strips for me from the other room. She placed a small
wooden table by my side and put the bowl of ice on it. She sat with
me on the cot and placed a cloth soaked in icy water on my
forehead.

I dont know if it was the cool ice or Eman sitting beside me which
soothed me. She kept replacing the cloth on my forehead for ten
minutes. My fever was gone. She worked in silence. A storm had
passed us the previous night, but it still lingered in Emans heart.
That tender girl hid a lot of storms inside her.

Eman, Im fine now. You can stop. I told Eman so she stopped.
She removed her scarf from her head and patted my forehead with
it.

Can you try to sit up? I will get you some food. She said in a
shivering voice.

Yeah, I do feel a little hungry. When I tried to get up, she placed
a hand behind my head and held my wrist with the other to help me
up.

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You sit here. I will get the food for you. She sat me up and went
out to get the food.

I was left alone in the room with my regrets. I was embarrassed


because I knew what I had done to her was wrong, but the feeling
didnt stay for long. I came out of my reverie when Eman appeared
with the food. She sat on my cot in front of me. She placed the
plate of food on her lap and raised a small bite towards my mouth.

No Eman! Im fine now. I can eat by myself. I tried to take the


bite from her in my hand but she took it away.

Let me feed you today, Razi. She said while looking at me.

There was something in those green eyes that I couldnt look into
them for long. I lowered my gaze.

Let me feed you, Razi. She raised the bite towards my mouth
again and I silently complied this time.

She kept feeding me little bites of food and I kept eating. She
didnt say a word. My heart screamed for her to say something,
even if it meant bashing on me. At least it would have lightened
her heart, but she didnt try to talk at all. She could have died if she
kept enduring everything silently.

I wanted to apologize to her. But I had made so many mistakes that


I was too embarrassed to do that. But I had to ask for her
forgiveness in the end anyway. I could have died if I didnt seek
her forgiveness. I had to apologize.

Eman I took the bite and held her hand in mine.

You could eat some more. She said normally. Her hand was in
mine which she didnt try to take away.

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Eman My voice became heavy with the tears I swallowed. I
couldnt speak anymore.

Wont you eat more? She asked me and I shook my head. I


didnt want to eat anymore.

Okay then, I will take the food back. I left her hand when she
stood up.

I had lost my right to hold her hand anyway. I wasnt strong


enough. I called her when she walked towards the door with the
plate in her hand.

Yes, tell me if you want something and I will get it. She turned
her head to look at me and I silently shook my head.

She went out to wash the pots. After that, she cut the vegetables for
dinner so she would easily make the dinner with mom once she
arrived. She came back with a glass of milk after a while.

Razi, drink some milk! Look how weak you have become in one
night of illness. She handed me the glass.

I took the glass from her hand and placed in on the table beside my
bed. She stood by the head of my cot.

Eman, can you sit with me for a minute? She looked into my
eyes. She stared at me for a straight minute.

Eman I called her once again, so she took a deep breath and sat
beside me. Her hand was in mine. I began to caress it.

Eman, I am too ashamed to ask for your forgiveness but I will still
do so. Perhaps you will forgive me this time. Eman, I will never
cross the boundaries of friendship again. I have always respected
you with my heart and I know that sometimes I go astray but I also

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know that you have a generous heart. Maybe you still have a little
respect, a little trust for me left in your heart. Maybe our friendship
is still there. My eyes were wet and my hands were shaking.

Please Eman! Just forgive me this time. I left her hand and
looked at her with pleading eyes.

Razi She looked back at me.

She uttered my name for the second time while slipping her fingers
through my hair but after that she was silent again. Perhaps she
was trying to gain some courage to speak further. The silence
stretched. She silently caressed my hair with her fingers.

Eman say something. My heart quivered when I saw tears in her


eyes.

Eman say something! Bash on me, call me names but just dont
stay silent like this. Please Eman! At least I couldnt finish my
sentence as I cried.

Razi She wiped my tears with the palm of her hand.

Razi She was quite for a moment before she said,

I will keep the front door open tonight. You can sneak into my
home half an hour after I leave. There is a hole in the door of our
room. You can see me and Aslam through that hole. If you
managed to do it tonight, I will do whatever you say from
tomorrow. I will allow you to mould this friendship of ours in
whatever way you like. Razi! I dont know about virtue and sin. If
I can sleep with a fifty years old who bought me and is called my
husband, then I shouldnt have any problem with sleeping with
you. If you managed to pass this night then I am ready to sleep
with you. She removed her hand from my hair and left the house.

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The same qawali O my moon played on tape recorder in the
voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan that cut into my heart to cleanse it.
Eman was long gone. The cassette had ended but in my mind
played that first glance of Eman that she had thrown my way when
I was standing on the roof.

Eman only came back to our house to make dinner after that. Amir
had gone to call her for lunch but she refused to come. Irum went
to her home with Amir. They stayed at Emans home the whole
day and took her back to our home at night.

"Razi, how do you feel now? The fever has dissipated right?" She
asked as if nothing had happened and I nodded.

"Yes daughter, Razi is fine now. Your help has cured him." Mom
patted her head affectionately.

"Aunty, can you give me the food for Aslam? He has returned
from the city. He will have to go to sleep after having dinner so he
can go to work early in the morning." Eman said to mom so she
started packing dinner for him.

"Come on Razi, take me home now." Eman said while taking the
packet from my mom.

"Yeah of course, I will take you." I put on my shoes.

"Eman think once again I don't think we should do it." Both of


us stood outside in the street. It was too big a risk to sneak into her
room at night. That was why I was scared on the inside.

"No Razi, it is the time. You have grown up now. I think it's the
right time to do it." She opened her arms and embraced me. Both
of us forgot the whole world in each others arms at that time of
the night. We were lost in each other. I don't know for how long
we stood like this.
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"Fine Eman, go to your home now. It will be a problem if someone
saw us in the street." I separated myself from her so she stepped
back.

"I will eat with Aslam in the yard. After that when we go to sleep
in our room, I will come back with the excuse of having to drink
water and open the door for you. You will wait for five minutes
before walking in. There is a hole in the door. You will just silently
look at us through that hole and after that you will leave in silence.
I will lock the door again at night. Can you do that?" She stroked
my cheeks.

"Yes Eman I can do that. Don't worry." I was scared on the inside
but I had to comfort Eman. I had to do this for Eman and I did it
for her.

"Razi, this night is going to be no less than an apocalypse. Please


pass this apocalypse for me." She pressed her lips to my cheek
before walking in. I was left standing in the street with my hand on
my cheek.

It had been more than half an hour after Eman had walked inside.
She ate with Aslam and I stood outside, waiting for them to leave.
They went inside after they were done eating.

Eman came out with the excuse to drink water after a while. She
drank some water from the pitcher in the yard then came to the
front door and called me in a slow voice. When I whispered back,
she opened the door and walked inside. I waited quietly in the
street for a good ten minutes before I carefully opened the door and
entered the house. There was a small room made of bare bricks at
the end of the yard. Besides it there was a wooden roof with mud
on it, which stood there with the help of two pillars. It is called
Tara in Punjabi.

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Light bulb was shining inside. Its light made its way out through
the creaks in the door. I silently crossed the yard and peaked
through the hole in the door.

Today it's been sixteen years of that incident. I am 30 years old


now. I was a playful fourteen years old boy when I had peaked
through that door, but that night took away my playfulness.

Eman was right, that night was apocalyptic. The room did have an
apocalypse inside it. I shouldn't have seen it. I shouldn't have been
there. But God had already written it in my fate. I peeked into that
apocalypse that took place in that room. Eman suffered that
apocalypse every night, but I couldn't bear it. This is the truth.

I still can't sleep properly at night. It was a scene that I couldn't


bear looking at.

Aslam lay on his back on the cot. He didn't have his shirt on. He
wore a dirty dhoti. Eman sat beside his cot as she massaged his
legs.

"Why did you take so long in getting the food? Do you have any
idea of how long I have been waiting for you?" He said angrily
while stroking her back. Eman silently pressed on his feet.

"Can't you hear what I am saying? You keep wandering around the
whole day and now you have gone dumb?" He kicked Eman,
making her fall on the floor.

"Why don't you answer, huh?" He shouted in anger and I moved


away from the door in fear.

"Come here. Sit on the cot. Why did you stand up now?" His angry
voice could be heard outside.

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For a moment I wanted to run away. But I gathered some courage
and peeked inside again. Eman still stood away from the cot.

"Come here." Eman came to sit on the cot when he picked up a


slipper from under it.

"Massage my legs." He hit her head hard with the slipper. She
screamed and cried.

"Press harder! Stop this crying act now. I get tired by working the
whole day and you can't even massage my legs properly?" He hit
her with the slipper again and Eman hurriedly pressed on his feet
while controlling her urge to scream again.

"Yes, it's fine now. Now you are doing fine."

Eman kept massaging his feet for some minutes. Whenever her
hand lost its strength, she received a slap on her back, which made
her press harder.

My courage diminished slowly. It was the first time that I saw


Eman getting beaten like that. She would take a slap, scream and
press on his feet again.

Ok. Now leave it! Come here lay with me he pulled Eman from
her arm and laid her over himself.

Eman was lying on him he was forcefully crushing her in his arms.
Approximately more than a hundred kilogram mound of meat was
depluming a twelve years old girl with extreme brutality

Now remove your clothes! Remove all of your clothes! Come on!
Be quick! Your husband has to relax now

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No! No! I will not take of my clothes! I will not do it! Eman
started weeping bitterly. She wanted to run away but Aslamhad
held her the arm.

Eman cried hysterically. She wanted to run but couldn't do so


because Aslam held her hand.

"Listen, I am your husband and good wives listen to everything


their husbands say. They never deny anything to them." He said
nicely to make her happy with him. Her face resembled the devil's
face.

"No! Let me go! I don't want to do anything." She constantly cried.


Her whole body shook in fear.

Aslam slapped her face hard. She was about to fall on ground but
he held her up and slapped her again before she could recover.

Eman fell on the floor then. Her hand left Aslam's. She shivered
while lying on the floor. Maybe she had cried too much that her
throat didn't support her anymore. I could only hear the sound of
her hiccups.

Why are you not taking off the clothes? He seethed in anger. He
grabbed Eman and made her stand in front of him.

"I bought you for 30 thousands from your father! I didn't give him
30 thousand so I could look at your face. Do you realize that 30
thousands is a huge amount? The people like you and me could
work their whole lives and not be able to collect 30 thousands. It
was the mercy of the villagers that they collected the money for
me." He started squeezing Emansbreasts with anger.

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"I want to go home. I don't want to do this. Just send me back
home." Eman still shivered.

"Send you home? Have you seen that knife in the kitchen? I will
cut your father's throat with it if you uttered those words again."
Aslam slapped her again.

Now remove your clothes! It is now getting every nights drama!


he removed her shirt with a single brisk.

Emans back was towards the door. I could see her bear back. I
could see a lot of wounds and scars on her white loin. Her entire
back was made red due to canning and spanking from Aslam.
Before this moment I had only seen one side of Aslamand now I
could see him turning into a monster.

I had only seen Aslam as his regular self before. That night I saw
him turning into a wolf.

Aslam took Eman to the cot. She cried and screamed but he had
turned into an animal. At 11pm that night, there was no sacred
relationship of husband and wife in the house of the lambardars,
but a devilish game was being played there. Eman yelled in pain
but her screams had no effect on him. That monster was busy in his
devilish task. Suddenly Eman shouted piercingly and looked at the
door with painful eyes.

She knew that I was watching everything from other side of the
door. Her eyes tried to tell me something. She had told me to
watch it all in silence. But the helplessness and misery in her gaze
made me lose my mind. The despair in those green eyes made me
forget everything.

I kicked the door of their room hard and cursed loudly on Aslam.
The fear of sneaking into someone's home at night suddenly

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disappeared. I was free of all my fears. All I could hear were
Emans screams.

"Open the door! She will die, you heinous man. Open the door and
let go of Eman or else I will break the door." I tried to break the
door. But that was a heavy wooden door that opened on the
outside. I couldn't break it no matter how hard I tried.

"Eman I'm here. Don't be scared. I will kill I will kill everyone."
I marched to and fro in the yard in my madness.

I threw at the door whatever came in my view in the pale


moonlight. My voice could be heard in the street. Brother Tariq
stood in the street for me. He ran inside when he heard my shouts
but he got scared when he saw me and ran to tell my father.

Aslam and Eman were dressed inside but he didn't dare open the
door. This was the same man who threatened Eman that he would
cut her father's throat. He felt like a lion while making a little girl
the target of his atrocity but my madness had turned him into a
sheep.

My family arrived after some time. When dad saw me cursing and
throwing different objects at the door, he ran to me and caught me.

"Let me go dad. Let me go! Eman! Eman will die in that room. He
is beating her. Leave me dad. I have to save Eman." I tried to get
out of my father's hold. When brother Tariq saw it, he moved
forward and both of them held me.

"Dad he is beating Eman! Eman..." My eyes were still glued to the


door and I slipped out of my father and brother Tariq's hold every
now and then.

"Samina, hold him. I will have a look inside." Dad told mom so
mom and my other brothers held me.
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I was tired of trying by now but a little fight was still there in me.
Dad left me and knocked the door of Aslam's room.

"Open the door Aslam. What has happened?"

"I am Riaz. Open the door." When dad called him after telling his
name, he came out with Eman.

"He... He was beating Eman. This wretch was beating my Eman


dad." My blood boiled when I saw Aslam. My tiredness vanished.
I tried to break their hold once again.

"Let me go! I will kill everyone! I will kill everyone."

"What happened? Why has the boy gone so mad?" Dad asked
Aslam once he came out.

"I don't know Mr. Chaudary. We were lying inside when suddenly
it happened. We had locked the door on the inside so he couldn't
come in and began to make a noise outside. Aslam felt brave
when he saw my dad.

"Let me go! I'm telling you to let me go! He was beating Eman I
will kill him today. Dad he is a wolf A wolf" I shouted with
all my power.

The whole family tried to hold me back. Dad still talked to him. I
breathed heavily with all the effort I put on. All three brothers and
mom held me.

Chaudary, control your son. He has gone mad. I dont know why
he is getting so angry and what the hell is he doing in our house?
He asked my father to get me in control. Dad didnt understand a
thing.

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It hasnt been long that I took Eman here then how did it all
happen so abruptly? Aslam, something must have happened. My
son is very sensitive, are you sure you werent hitting Eman?

Tell me daughter Eman, did he hit you? Dad held Eman to him.

She wasnt scared of my insanity. Perhaps she was the only one in
that house that wasnt scared at that time. Yes it was Eman
whose courage had increased. Perhaps the prince had finally
crossed the seven seas to save his princess.

No uncle, nothing happened. We were just talking inside. Razi


must have misunderstood things. She looked at me for a moment
before speaking to dad.

As you say daughter, but do tell me if anything happens. I have


called you my daughter and I will do everything that Im capable
of for my daughter. He placed his hand on Emans head.

He could fight his whole life against those fanatical customs of that
village in Cholistan and still not be able to rectify it. It was a
patriarchal society. Women were sold there and only death could
release a sold woman.

Eman, why do you lie? He was about to slaughter you with a


knife. Dont be scared. He is going to be the one to be
slaughtered. I struggled to get out of their grip when Amirs neck
came in my hands. I grabbed his neck in both my hands and
strangled him.

Let me go! Let me go! I screamed loudly and pressed his throat
hard.

Amir made soft suppressed sounds when he couldnt breathe any


longer. He fell on the ground, making us all go down as well.

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Leave him you brute! He will die.

Riaz! Save Amir from him! He will kill him. When mom saw
Amirs body becoming lifeless, she began slapping me hard on the
face.

Riaz save my son! She called my dad loudly. Mom slapped me


with all her strength but I had gone insane and that insanity made
me smother Amir.

Dad reached me swiftly, placed him arms between my hands and


jerked which caused Amirs throat to slip from my hands. He
picked me up from the floor and hugged me tight. I kept struggling
against his chest but his hold was strong. I couldnt slip out and
cried frantically.

Dad, Eman wont die, right? He wont kill her, will he? I was
slowly getting my senses back.

I stopped my struggle and cried in my fathers chest. Dad


affectionately patted my back while holding me to him. I separated
myself from him after I felt a little relaxed.

No son, all of us are with Eman, we will not let anything to


happen to her. Dont you worry, she is our family member. Dad
comforted me and I looked at Eman.

The light in her green eyes had increased.

Aslam Dad turned to him after being satisfied by me.

I dont know what conspired here neither do I want to know. But


remember one thing Aslam! You will only live with respect if you
respect women. Although you bought her, she is still your wife.
But she is also a little child and you are going to spend your whole
life with her. Try to make her life easier and that way you will also

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stay happy Aslam, or if she faced any difficulties, then trust me
you dont know what Im capable of. I will make your life a living
hell. I have called her my daughter. Im only supporting you and
your house because of Eman and if I came to know that you hit
her, I will forget everything. God has blessed me with four sons.
My whole family lives in the village, but youre alone. For how
long could you fight Aslam? Your fight will leave you one day, so
dont be cruel. The real lion is the one who is a lion outside his
home, inside their home even sheep feel like lions. So dont try to
be a lion in your house. Make Emans and your own life easier so
you can live in peace. Dad had placed a hand on Aslams
shoulder and looked daringly into his eyes. His speech was
reassuring to both me and Eman.

Lets go daughter Eman. You will sleep in our house tonight. I


will send you here tomorrow after having a talk with the
lambardars. Dad held Emans hand and we took her to our home.

Tell me what happened daughter Eman? Did Aslam hit you?


Dad asked Eman again.

We all sat on the cots in a room when dad tried to get Eman to spill
something but she just laughed it off.

Nothing happened, uncle. This idiot got mad for thing.

Emans liveliness had returned once she stepped foot in our house
and she began to joke with me. I silently sat on the couch and
looked down. All my insanity had vanished.

Yes sister Eman, he must have gone mad. If dad hadnt saved me
today, I would have been having tea with the houries of heaven by
this time. Amir said while swinging in Emans arms and everyone
laughed.

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Oh you can meet the houries in heaven but first you will have to
get rid of the houri in front of you. She threw him on the cot and
began kissing his face.

She tickled him and rubbed her chin on his face in between the
kisses. She left him after he had laughed hard for a while. Amir ran
to the other cot the moment her hold loosened on him. His cheeks
were red with Emans kisses.

Now tell me if Im less than a houri. She winked at Amir.

Houri? You are witch who sucks the blood out of little children.
Amir made a face at her and ran to hide behind me. When I tried to
turn around to look at him he ran again to my mother.

Sorry brother, Im not ready to visit the heaven yet.

We kept joking around and then Eman slept with Irum on her cot
and all of us went to sleep on our own cots.

The next morning dad took Eman to the house of lambardars.


Aslam already sat there on the floor beside a cot. The lambardar
sat on the cot with his hookah.

In Pakistani villages, most of the times, servants dont sit on the


same cot as their master, but they sit on the floor in front of them.
The master thinks of it as an insult to let a servant sit with him on
the cot. You people may be surprised by it but this is what happens
in Pakistan. Its not Germany. There is a lot of difference between
Pakistan and Germany. Aslam was also a servant of the
lambardars. He made crisscross lines on the floor while sitting in
front of the lambardar.

Welcome, Riaz. When the lambardar saw my father, he got up


from his cot to greet him then had him sit beside him.

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Although we were much poor compared to the lambardars but my
father was no ones servant. He cultivated on his own land. The
lambardars had a land of 200 acres and ten to twelve servants who
worked for them. My father used to visit their home often because
he was friends with them since his childhood.

Brother Riaz, what happened at night that he has been


apologizing since morning? The lambardar looked at Aslam
angrily.

Eman tried to sit with Aslam on the floor but dad made her sit with
him instead.

So, brother Riaz, now tell me what happened in the night? The
lambardar asked my dad again and he told him everything.

Eman, did Aslam beat you at night? The lambardar asked Eman
after listening to the whole story by my dad and she nodded.

Yes uncle. Aslam was beating me at night. Razi came in our


house when he heard my screams and he probably heard
everything through the door. Eman had denied it the whole night
but then she admitted it in front of the lambardar.

Daughter, why did you lie when I had asked you at night? Dad
was astonished.

Uncle, I didnt want to say it in front of the family. I was ashamed


of what had happened. Eman told everything to dad after that.

He had been trying to resolve the issue the whole night but now he
had come to know what really happened.

Daughter, never lie with the fear of embarrassment. He placed


his hand on Emans head.

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Listen Aslam, now Riaz has come with Eman to complain about
you. Eman is your wife. Its true that its your family matter but
dont forget that she is still a child. Dont hit her. It wont be good
for you if you hit her again. Now say sorry to Eman. She is a child,
treat her with care. The lambardar said, finishing the whole
matter. Aslam apologized to her.

Eman, you can forgive him. He will not do such a thing again.
The lambardar told Eman when he saw Aslam asking for
forgiveness. Eman nodded and the whole matter ended there.

Come on Aslam, you should go to the fields now. Its been late
already. Riaz also has to go to work. Eman will go to Riazs home
right? You can take her back at night after work and dont make
her complain again. The lambardar stood up and everyone stood
with him.

See Mr. lambardar, Im finishing this matter for now. I came to


you this time because you are my friend but if he made Eman
suffer again, I will take the matter to the Panchayat.

In small far away villages of Pakistan, where police doesnt


involve much practically, there are parties of ten to twelve rich and
respectable people, which are called Panchayat.

You can think of it like a parliament of a village. This parliament


gives verdict on all the quarrels that happen in a village. The police
interfere only when a situation gets out of control and thats how
some matters reach the real court. It was that Panchayat that my
father talked about.

No Riaz, no such thing will happen. He will not misbehave again,


and if he does, then you will not have to consult the Panchayat
because I will punish him myself. Lambardar hit Aslams
shoulder hard and he immediately started to beg.

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No Mr. Chaudary, please forgive me! I will never raise my hand
on Eman again.

Aslam was a slave and he knew his worth, so he decided that it


was better to concede.

Okay buddy, I trust you. Dad shook hands with the lambardar
and came home with Eman.

Irum and Amir had gone to school. Both of my elder brothers had
finished school already. The college was in Yezman, almost 50km
away from our village and my father couldnt afford the travel
expenses. So brother Tariq joined dad in his camp while my other
brother joined an electricians shop to learn from him. The shop
owner used to give him around 500pkr monthly.

We had finished our meal when dad returned with Eman.

Razi, you didnt go to school? Dad asked when he saw that I was
still at home.

No dad, I dont want to go to school today. I have a slight


headache. I made an excuse. I really didnt want to go to school
that day.

Alright, you can stay at home with Eman. Samina, are you
coming with me to the camp? Dad asked mom and she nodded.
Mom went to the camp with my brother and dad.

Only I and Eman were left in the house. I was mad on Eman. She
had lied at night. The whole night my family kept scolding me. I
listened to it all the whole night but she didnt try to stop them at
all. She knew everything and yet she kept silent. I got up from
beside the stove and went to sit on my cot in the room.

Razi, are you angry with me? Eman followed me into the room.

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No, I dont have a reason to be angry. I should be really happy
because I got scolded the whole night and you didnt stop them at
all. Why? I tossed her hand away. She was sitting on my cot and
trying to hold my hand.

Mate, I am saying sorry. Do you want to kill me now? She tried


to talk me round.

He was the one who was going to kill you. Was it good that he
beat you? Were you happy with it? I changed my side and lain
with my face turned away from her.

Do you think you can get rid of me just like that?

I will not leave you so easily! before I could have thought of


something, in a split of a second moment, she was lying over me.

She placed her hands on back of my head and lifted it slightly and
started coloring my cheeks, forehead and lips from her lipstick she
wore. For next several minutes she kept me kissing on my face and
neck. She spread all of her lipstick from her lips over my face.

As I regained some sense, I grabbed her from her arms and threw
her down and got myself laid over her. This time I was kissing her.
Her eyes,lips,cheeks and neck, I was kissing her all over the place.
My hands were hovering all over breasts. I went below her face
and neck.

She was lying straight, on the bed, in front of me. As I lifted her
shirt over the view of her scar less white belly was a delight to my
sight. I placed both my hands over her breasts and squeezed them,
placed my lips over her bare belly. As there came out a sight out of
her mouth, so I lifted my gaze and started seeing her face.

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Her eyes were closed but she was shivering a little bit. She tried
very hard to hold her tears but still they came out of her closed
eyes and ran over cheeks. Perhaps she was crying.

Eman I slowly called her but she kept lying with her eyes
closed.

Eman I called her again which made her open her eyes and look
at me.

What happened, Razi? Why did you stop? You wanted it, didnt
you? Today I am in front of you. Eman is in your approach today,
then why stop Razi? I looked at her in silence. She looked more
beautiful than the houries of heaven. The stars of this whole
universe shone in her green eyes.

Eman, have you ever been in love? I covered her bare belly with
shirt and started moving my fingers through her hair.

No Razi, I am not old enough to fall in love. She looked at me


with a content face.

Love doesnt see age, Eman. It can happen to anyone at any time.
Maybe even you fell in love with someone? I caressed her cheeks.

Razi, only fortunate people get to fall in love but I am very


unfortunate. There is no love written in my fate. God only grants
some special and lucky people with love. No Razi, I have never
been in love. I never loved anyone. She wiped the redness on my
cheeks with her hand. I removed her hand from my face.

Eman I have been in love. I think I have fallen in love with


someone. I got up from the cot and walked out of the room.

There was cot under the neem tree in the yard. I went to sit on it. I
felt a strange ache in my heart. I couldnt find comfort anywhere. I

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sat on the cot for a while but couldnt find any solace. My chest
burned. It felt like something was cutting me from the inside. I got
up from the cot and went to the roof. The sun had raised and its
heat had increased. I walked to and fro on the roof. My heart
couldnt find any peace no matter what I did.

Razi, come down, its too hot up there. You will get sick this
way. Eman called me from downstairs.

I looked down at Eman standing in the yard. She stood in the


sunlight to call me. I dont know if it was heat from the sun or my
heart that I was sweating instantly. I silently came down and sat
near the stove.

Razi, dont do it mate. You can get sick. She came to sit beside
me.

Eman, dont you miss your parents? She was putting pieces of
wood in the stove to spark the fire.

Eman, your parents, siblings there has to be someone in


Gujrat dont you miss them? I helped her with the fire. She
began to make tea for both of us.

No Razi, I dont have any siblings. Mom is dead. All I have is a


father. I have nobody back in Gujrat. I was worthless trash for my
father so he took 30k rupees in exchange of me. I dont miss
anyone from Gujrat. I have no one. She sparked the fire with her
head bent down. The ache in my chest returned. I anxiously held
her hand. She stopped working the fire and looked at me.

Razi, does it hurt a lot? She asked and I nodded.

Have you fallen in love? She asked again.

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Yes, Eman, I fell in love. Maybe its the ache of love thats
burning my chest. Tears slipped down from my eyes.

Razi She took her hand away.

Razi, I didnt fall in love. I dont love anyone.

The tea was ready. She poured it out in two cups and we sipped it.
I kept looking at her face but she was busy in sipping her tea with
her eyes downcast.

Lets go to the camp Eman. There is nothing to do at home. I


didnt want to stay at home anymore.

Just wait a bit. Let me make the flatbread and then we can take it
to the camp. It will make uncle and aunty happy. Eman told me
and quickly made the flatbreads.

When she was done, I took some pickle and packed it with the
flatbreads then I went towards the camp with Eman.

It was an around 45 minute walk to the camp from our village.


When we reached the camp, mom and brother Tariq were watering
the animals while dad was softening the soil (which makes plants
grow faster and nourish better) in the cucumbers field.

Dad, I brought the meal. You eat and I will soften the soil for
you. I took the tool from my dad and got to work.

Leave it son, its gotten too hot. We do this every day for a few
hours; the field will be ready in a week. You leave it. We will go
home after having the meal and we will finish it up tomorrow.
Dad tried to stop me.

No dad, you can go and eat. I just want to help you a little. Dad
left when he saw me working.

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He washed his hands with the help of a tap and then sat under the
rosewood tree to eat. I stopped feeling the heat of summer once I
began working. That field was bigger than one acre.

There were hundreds of small plants I started from a corner and


worked from there. The family finished the meal and called me but
I kept on working.

Come on son, leave it now Lets go home. We can do it


tomorrow. Dad came to take me home.

No dad, you guys can leave. I will work for a few more hours and
then come back on my own. You can leave. Irum and Amir must
have been back from school by now. Dad used to let us brothers
work a little in the fields.

Alright son, dont work for more than half an hour. We are
leaving here.

Lets go Samina! Daughter Eman, lets go home. Dad said to


mom and Eman. Mom got up to walk with him but Eman didnt
move from her spot.

Uncle, you guys can leave. I came here with Razi and I will go
back with him. Eman refused so my father, mother and brother
Tariq left.

I kept on working without thinking about the heat or my sweat.


Eman sat on one side of field under the sunlight.

Eman, why did you sit in the sunlight? Go to the camp You can
sit in the shade of trees there. I said when I saw her sitting in the
sunlight.

Thats okay I feel comfortable here. You can continue your


work. It looks like someone really fell in love today. So come on,

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you have the whole field to show your love. Lets see how big a
lover you are. Eman said sarcastically. She still didnt believe me
completely.

Iron turns to pure gold when its exposed to fire in a furnace. The
past night had turned me into gold but it wasnt the fire of furnace
that did the task, it was the fire in that room. The little fire of
furnace couldnt affect me anymore. I picked up the tool and got
back to work.

Time passed as I moved from one plant to another. I had finished


the whole field except the remaining few plants. I had completed
the work of a week in one day.

Dad came to milk the animals when sun was about to set. He ran to
me when he saw that I was still working.

Buddy, you have dug the whole field. Hasnt the madness from
last night left you yet? He tried to take the tool from my hand but
I stopped him.

Only a few plants are left dad. You milk the animals; I will finish
it up quickly.

Daughter Eman, you should have stopped him. You kept


watching him work incessantly? Dad said to Eman.

Uncle, he never listens to me. The people of Sialkot are super


strong anyway. Dont you see? He has finished your work of a full
week. Now you can do something else. Eman said joyfully. She
held my dads arm and took him back to the camp. I finished my
work in a few minutes and came to the camp.

Eman and dad kept milking the animals. I left them like that and
came home. Dad and Eman also returned after an hour. We ate the

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dinner together. After that, dad took Eman to Aslams home. I
followed them behind.

Aslam was there in the house. He got scared when he saw me. My
anger rose again. My blood boiled when I looked at him. Somehow
Eman understood. She stepped back from my father and began to
walk beside me. Before I could do something in my rage, she held
my hand. My anger suddenly reduced. She held my hand for just a
moment before stepping forward and walking with my father. She
held my dads big hands with her little ones.

I looked at Emans face and saw the silence of an ocean there. For
the first time, I saw a ring of light around her face.

Wow Rizwan Ali Ghumman, where has your heart been stuck? It
was too early to fall in love. You werent old enough to cross this
river of love still you jumped in it? Lets hope you find its bank
some day.

I had a look at Aslams face and returned home. Dad talked to


Aslam and left Eman there. Aslam had promised that he would
never raise his hand on Eman again. He was scared of the threat
my dad posed on him so he began to take care of Eman. Eman was
happy those days. She rejoiced in our house all the time. Life had
become easier.

One night when Aslam came to get Eman, dad brought him inside.
Mom made tea for him. When the tea was ready, we all sat on our
cots and sipped it.

Lets go home Eman. Aslam said to Eman when he had finished


his tea. Eman took the packet of food and was about to leave with
Aslam.

Aslam Dad called him and he stopped.

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Listen Aslam, Eman looks happy now. I know that you take care
of her now. I am older than you and she is like my daughter. I will
give you an advice as an elder.

We afford all your food. You dont smoke. All of your pay must
be saved. I think you should look for a house outside this village. If
you keep saving the money, you will be able to buy a house in four
to five years. Try to save the money! You have spent your whole
life as a slave. Dont force the same fate upon Eman and her
children Try to get out of it.

A land of 2 acres beside my land is open for rent. I can take it on


rent. If you want to work in it, you can do that. Think about it and
tell me later. If I have made a relation with Eman, I will never
think of anything that can cause her loss. Dad placed his hand on
Emans head and led them outside.

Dad, are you taking those two acres on rent? I asked curiously.

Yes son, I want to improve my work. Tariq works with me now


and if Aslam decides the same then I will need to have more land.
Dad explained.

Yes dad I nodded obediently and went to lie on my cot.

Samina, our son has become too silent. He has grown so serious
ever since that night happened. He doesnt crack jokes anymore
and even keeps a distance from Eman. I had fallen asleep
oblivious of their talk.

It was a holiday the next day so Eman came to our house early in
the morning.

Samina, hurry up. The children have to go to play cricket. We can


also go to camp after they finish their meal. Mom made flatbreads
and we siblings sat around the stove and enjoyed the hot pancakes.
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Razi, will you go to play cricket or will you stay at home? Mom
said while placing a pancake in my plate. She hoped for me to get
back to normal life.

No mom, I will stay at home. I have headache. I made an excuse.


I didnt want to go anywhere.

Son, you should go out. You stay at house all the time. Your
consistent sadness is affecting the atmosphere of the whole house.
Look at your siblings! We used to be so happy Your
mischievous nature kept everyone happy. Now see! This house
feels like a graveyard. Come back son! If you dont care about
yourself, at least care about us. Be happy buddy. Dad tried to
make me understand.

Dad I am happy. What do you want from me? Do you want me


dance to cheer them up now? I got angry without a reason.

Really, all of us will leave this house if you started your dance.
Who could bear such a bad dance? Eman winked at me.

I was true that I was a bad dancer. I moved my limbs so violently


that everyone would run away from me. Eman and Irum were hit a
handful of times when they tried to see me dance. Now they left
the room whenever the saw me dancing.

Why will they leave? Why dont you leave? You stay in our
house all the time. The whole atmosphere of our house has been
ruined because of you. What she said had angered me.

Rizwan, What the hell are you talking about? She is a part of our
family. Dad said while looking at Eman who looked down.

Now say sorry to Eman! You have hurt her by saying that. Dad
said angrily so I dropped the flatbread in my hand on my plate and
stood up.
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Why? Dad, why me? Why am I the only one to apologize every
time? I always have to apologize no matter if I am guilty or not. I
replied crossly and climbed the stairs to go to the roof.

Oh man! He got angry and went upstairs again. What am I going


to do with this boy? Go Irum; go get your brother down. He listens
to you. He didnt even have his breakfast. Mom said to Irum with
worry so she stood up.

I will go with you. Eman also stood up with Irum.

Daughter, you dont have to! Irum will get him back. He listens to
her. Dad stopped Eman but she came to the roof with Irum
anyway.

Brother, now you have come to stand here! Come on, lets go
downstairs. You shouldnt get angry like that. See all of us care for
you. Others wont eat if you dont eat. Irum held my hand.

Irum, you guys can have your breakfast. I really dont want to
eat. I took my hand out of her hold.

I didnt want to eat. Eman was in my mind all the time. I was in
love with her. I would think about her throughout the day. My
tranquility and peace was destroyed. I spend my days in confusion
while Eman looked completely content in front of me. She didnt
love me. She didnt love anyone and that fact was making me
insane. I was breaking in front of her as she silently watched the
show.

Romeo, lets go downstairs. Everyone is waiting. They are all


hungry downstairs and you are resting in the sunlight here. Eman
started with her sarcasm again.

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Am I resting now? I have been dying this past month. Did you
ever see me smile? After destroying my whole life you say that I
am resting in the sunlight? You know everything, dont you?

Just pass this night, Razi.

Look at how many nights I have passed. And you say I am


resting? I am dying Maam Eman. I am dying. I left Irums hand
and stood in front of Eman.

Brother, what happened? Why did you get so angry? Irum


couldnt understand anything.

Irum, you keep quite. You dont know anything. I made her
silent.

Eman, why dont you speak now? Can you see my face? I havent
even washed it properly in the past month. I dont care if I eat or
not. I have been trying to live just by looking at your beautiful face
but I think you cant tolerate even that. Do one thing, Push me
down this roof. You will get rid of me once I die and my life will
also become easier. My parents have three more sons and a
daughter. They will get over me in a few days.

Brother, dont talk like that. I am scared. Irum walked towards


me again.

Irum, I have told you to stay there. Its between me and Eman.
Let this issue be resolved today. I am tired now. I will find the
bank of this sea or I will drown.

Say something Eman. You are not a little child. You know
everything but still you act as if you are clueless. You know that I
am in love with you right? I caught her collar and made her stand
in front of me. Both of us stood at the corner of roof.

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Yes, I know that you are in love with me. You have been
suffering because of your love for me but its not my fault. I am
not in love with you. I am a married slave. I cant even breathe
without someones permission and you talk about love! Such
things are meant for independent individuals Mr. Rizwan. You are
independent, so you can fall in love. Slaves dont have any love
written in their fate. The only thing written about them is that they
will be sold, and I have been sold in 30k. She talked while
looking at me.

Eman, you know me. Just say once that you love me! I will
surpass everyone who crossed our ways. Just admit your love for
me once. I left her collar and held both of her shoulders.

Eman, I am dying. I am burning in this fire of love. I cant bear


this fire alone anymore. Just respond to my love with love for once
and I will fight this whole world for you. Eman! Test me and you
will see that Razi will give up his life for you. I shook her
shoulders.

No, Razi, giving your life for someone isnt easy. People talk like
that but nobody gives their life for anyone in this world. Razi, you
are not strong enough yet. Dont disrespect love by talking about
giving your life for it. Everyone is self-obsessed here. She
removed my hands from her shoulders and stroked my cheeks
fondly.

Eman, you misunderstood me. I have learnt to love and I have


learnt to give my life for it. I touched her cheeks and jumped from
the roof.

My face was towards Eman as I fell. My hand reached out to her


unconsciously when she suddenly jumped after me. She fell
straight on me. Both of us looked at each other. Our hands were
joined as we fell down together.

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I heard Irums screams. My head hit a brick on ground as my mind
submerged into darkness. Maybe I had given up on my life for
Eman. The last emotion I felt was concern for Eman.

Oh Allah, dont let her get hurt. Transfer all of her suffering and
pain to my fate today.

It was my concern for her that didnt let me stay unconscious for
long. My head bled because of being hit with a brick. I could feel
severe pain in the back of my head. Eman had fallen on my chest
before slipping to the other side.

Eman, are you okay? She had become unconscious because of


the shock of the fall.

I hastily shook her. She lay beside me. My head continuously bled
which had reddened both of our clothes.

Please Eman! Please dont leave me wake up Eman, wake up!


Dont die I need you. Dont die, Eman Razi needs you. Dont
die Eman Razi needs you. I shook her madly.

Perhaps God pitied me. Eman took a long breath and began to
cough. We had fallen into the street from the roof. The whole
family gathered around us quickly. I lay back down with
satisfaction when I saw her coughing. I felt weakness because of
the blood loss.

Oh man! They are bleeding a lot. Tariq, go to the lambardars


house Tell them to bring the tractor We need to take them to
the hospital. Go mate, run, be fast or else they will die. How did
they fall from the roof? Oh God, please forgive us. Dad picked
me up.

His hand touched the back of my head which had a 3 inches long
hole. My head continuously bled from there.
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Oh my God, He has a big cut in his head. Amir, quickly get a
cloth. I will tie his head with it. It is bleeding a lot. Razi Razi!
Stay conscious buddy! I wont let anything to happen to you. Dad
had me in his lap as he inspected me for other injuries.

Both of us werent hurt because we fell on the soft soil. My head


was injured only because it hit a brick.

Dad, check on Eman! See if she is hurt. Dad only remembered


that she was there when I mentioned her.

Eman had also fallen with me. So many villagers had gathered
around us. Dad had another man hold me as he went to see Eman.
Her dress was red from my blood.

Daughter Eman, are you okay? Dad inspected her.

Uncle, I am fine. I am not hurt. You should check up on Razi A


lot of his blood has been lost. Eman was conscious by then and
she became anxious when she saw all of my blood.

My mom couldnt even look at my condition. She sat right there


against the wall of our house. Her strength had left her. She just
watched us silently and prayed for us in her heart.

When Amir came back with a cloth, dad took it and tied it tightly
around my head. It didnt stop the blood flow but it did help in
slowing it down.

When the lambardars arrived with a tractor-trolley, dad and other


people placed a cot in the trolley and laid me on it.

Dad, she Eman is Eman alright? Take her along with us. She
is also hurt. I was still worried for Eman.

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Son, she is fine. Have some courage. Does it still hurt? I felt pain
when dad asked me about it. Little whimpers left my mouth.

I didnt scream with pain because screaming with pain is


disrespecting love. But yeah, whenever the pain became
unbearable, I sobbed lightly.

Daughter Eman, come up here. Razi will feel better if you stay
with him. Dad offered her a hand; she took it and climbed on the
trolley.

The trolley moved towards the clinic. The harsh movements of


trolley multiplied my pain. The lambardar drove carefully but the
path was broken at many points and the pain was getting
unbearable. Ah Ah My cries echoed with each jolt of the
trolley. Eman came to sit on my cot and held my hand in hers.

Razi, just bear a little more We are about to reach the hospital.
You will be fine Nothing will happen to you Razi. Everything
will be alright. I will pray for you Just tolerate the pain for a
little while You will be fine. Eman held my hands in hers and
cried.

My pain stopped. The heat of her hands had healed me before


reaching the hospital. Just the blood flow from my head was left to
be cured. The doctor was supposed to put the stitches there. The
one who gives a wound can heal it as well. I believed that if Eman
placed her hand on my head with love, the bleeding would have
stopped as well.

Razi, does it still hurt? She asked when she saw that I was silent.

No I shook my head to satisfy her.

Eman She gave me her attention when I called her.

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Eman, am I still not strong enough? Do I still not know how to
love? Eman, I have learnt to die for someone. I looked at Eman.

Dad stood on the other side of the cot. Before Eman could answer
me, he caught up on gravity of the situation. He understood the
matter a bit because of what I had said. He had a doubt that we
didnt fall by accident but it was something else. Because there
were many other people on trolley that took us to the hospital, dad
said to me;

Rizwan son, you shouldnt talk. Just stay quite. Your head moves
when you talk and it causes the bleeding to increase. He
interrupted me.

He knew that everyone would get to know the reality if I kept on


talking. It was a fragile situation. If the villagers had come to know
that I had fallen in love with Eman then both I and Eman would
have been punished and my familys life would have been made a
living hell. It was true. Eman was a married girl. She was brought
to that house in exchange of 30k rupees.

Everything was allowed there but if a married woman was caught


in love with another man then the villagers would blacken both of
their faces before hanging them upside down from a tree and
beating them without any mercy. The villagers made sure to make
an example out of that couple for everyone else. Others learnt their
lesson by watching them.

Both I and Eman knew what would happen if we were caught


loving each other. The position of Eman was so bad that my
parents couldnt do anything for her no matter how much they
wanted to. That is why dad stopped me from talking anymore. He
wanted to advice us privately.

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Eman, go to the other end of the cot and hold Rizwans feet. I can
hold him from here. He will get lesser blows this way. Dad took
Emans place after sending her away.

He refrained from calling her daughter. Maybe he wanted to show


his displeasure. I felt the pain in my head being transferred to my
feet. Eman silently went to the other side and held my feet. The
love emitting from her soft hands made me sleepy. I was
unconscious the next moment.

The next time I woke up, I was on a bed in the hospital. The doctor
had stitched and bandaged my head. Maybe they had kept me
unconscious with the help of chloroform to do the stitches. That
was why I stayed unconscious for about 12 hours. It was getting
dark when I woke up.

Mom, where is Eman? Is she okay? She didnt get hurt, right? I
looked around the moment I gained my senses back. Everyone was
there at hospital at that time except Eman. Irum sat on a chair
beside my bed and sliced some apples. Mom mumbled a prayer.
She went inside to say a thankful prayer when she saw me opening
my eyes.

Irum, where is Eman? I cant see her. Irum passed me the plate
of sliced apples and I just placed on my bed.

Irum, where is Eman?I looked at her irritably which made her


leave in silence.

Irum had seen me and Eman falling from the roof. She had
understood everything. She had learnt that I loved her friend Eman.
She loved both I and Eman. I had kept her oblivious of everything
and that made her angry.

I have sent Eman back home. She will not come back here. Dad
answered my question.
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Alright dad, when will we go home? My head is fine now. I
slipped on my foot from the roof. When Eman came to save me,
she fell as well. I was desperate to meet Eman, for whom I had
jumped from the roof. I had become a superman for her but what
was benefit of it if she still wasnt around?

Dad, are we going home? I asked my dad.

No, son Rizwan, you have gotten ten stitches in your head. The
wound is still fresh which is why we will stay here tonight. We
will go home tomorrow if the doctor allows it. Dad was broken on
the inside because of my condition.

He was also scared for our future. He had felt doubts in the trolley
and because Irum was there on the roof with us, he had asked her
about everything later on.

Son Razi, Dad sat on the bed beside me and took my hand in his.

Son Razi, the path that you are following, the path that you are
walking on holds nothing but pain and denigration. Son, you have
a family. You have siblings, your parents She is a married girl.
Your love will destroy the whole family. You are too young son
you wont understand it yet.

It is not a movie where you can fight and get the girl in the end. It
will not happen here. The people of this village will never let you
two to be together. She is a wife who was bought for 30k. The
villagers will kill both of you and I will get killed while trying to
save you. Son! Our society doesnt accept love. I and your brothers
will be killed for this forbidden love. Come back son! Love isnt
meant for us poor people. He tried to clean the invisible dirt on
my clothes.

Razi, I am your father. I will not be able to see you die. He stood
up.
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Samina, I will go see the doctor. He went out to hide the tears in
his eyes.

I understood what dad had told me. We came home the next day
after spending a night in the hospital. We hadnt cooked anything
in our home for the past two days. The lambardars sent us the food
in those days. They had sent a servant to our camp as well who fed
the animals in the absence of my father. Amir and Irum hadnt
gone to school in those days. Mom lit the stove the minute we
reached home and placed the teapot on it. I was a little weak
because of my injury but I could walk by myself. Dad helped me
sit on a cot in the yard.

Dad, I will go and get sister Eman here. I will tell her that brother
Razi is back from hospital. Amir was about to leave but dad
stopped him.

No Amir, nobody will call Eman. Eman will not step foot in this
house again. If you want to meet her, you can go to her home but
she will not come here. I will go and prohibit her myself. And yes,
another thing Razi if I came to know that you met Eman or have
tried to meet her then people wont have to beat you because I will
break your legs with my own hands. The four men of this house
can feed a single man his whole life without needing him to work.
He said furiously before opening the door and walking out.

Eman had heard the sound of tractor and she was coming towards
our home. Dad stopped her in the middle of street and took her
back to her house.

Daughter Eman, its been more than two years since you came to
this village. He made Eman sit on a cot and sat in front of her.

Daughter, you have been visiting our home for years. I have
always thought of you as my own daughter. Have I ever treated

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you and Irum differently? Dad asked Eman and she shook her
head.

Daughter, we have always loved you, but today I was compelled


to come to your house.

Uncle, whats the matter? Please talk clearly! I am scared. Eman


got anxious when she heard what my father had said.

Daughter, do you know that Razi loves you?

Yes uncle, I know that Razi loves me. He jumped from the roof
for me. Eman told him the truth.

Do you love him as well? Dad looked at her face.

Uncle, please talk clearly. Eman avoided answering that so my


father didnt push it.

Daughter, you are a married girl. How will you fight this society
if you love Razi? I know that your love will destroy both of our
families. Dad held both of her hands and explained to her.

Uncle, love can make its way. Eman tried to convince my father.

No, daughter, love never makes a way in fact it destroys all the
ways. I am a feeble and helpless father. I cannot fight these
villagers and that is why I have come to beg to you. I have called
you my daughter for more than two years. Please respect those
words. Dont let me return empty-handed today. Dad got up from
the cot and sat near her feet.

Uncle, what are you doing? You are just like my father. I will do
whatever you say but please dont do this. Eman quickly stood
up. She held my dads hand, made him sit on the cot and sat near
his feet herself.

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Daughter, I have no other choice. Dad patted her head.

Uncle, say what you want to say. Eman bent her head.

Daughter, you will not come to our home again and you will
never meet Razi. Eman hesitated for a second when dad said it.

Okay uncle, I will neither come to your house nor will I meet
Razi again. she answered my dad then got up from his feet and
walked inside her room. Dad came back home.

It took a week for my wound to be healed completely. The family


members helped me a lot during that period. Eman had made a
promise to my father so she didnt come after that. I kept watching
the main door all the time but she never visited us again. Maybe
love is so weak that she got scared by the little threat of my father.
That was what I thought. It was in that moment that a beggar came
to beg on our door.

Give me something in the name of Allah! In the name of


Allah He called loudly.

Son Razi, take some floor from the basket and give it to the
beggar. God listens to the prayers of those vagrants. Mom called
me from inside the room so I took some floor and opened the door
to greet the beggar.

Salam, take this flour and pray to God to fix everything.

Yes son, He fixes everything. Thats what He does. The beggar


said in a strange philosophical manner and returned the empty
plate to me after emptying its contents into his pocket.

Son, love isnt as weak as you think Love is hard. Love means
decaying ones soul and its only given to those who are

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auspicious. He stepped back, turned and walked towards another
home.

Give me something in the name of Allah! Give me something in


the name of Allah! He stood in the front of Emans door and
called.

Give me something in the name of Allah The door was


unlocked at his third call.

My eyes had longed for her for a week. God had sent that beggar
as a catalyst for our meeting. I heard a slight sound of the door
being opened. Eman walked out with a plate of flour in her hand.
Her fair, beautiful face glowed like the moon in her white dress
She looked like a houri of heaven. She held felt my presence but
avoided looking at me.

Eman I called her in a low voice.

Uncle, take the flour quickly. I have to go back to work at home.


Her voice trembled.

Daughter, love doesnt even listen to God It defies even Him.


Then how did you let a promise stop you? Dad had made her
promise that she should never meet me. That promise didnt let her
meet me.

Daughter, love doesnt see promises. Love only sees love. The
beggar took the flour from Eman and walked away.

Eman I called her loudly this time which made her raise her head
to look at me.

Eman I stopped near her.

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Eman, I still love you. It was so hard to spend these past days
without seeing you. My life is meaningless without you. I love you
so much Eman! Do you love me as well? My eyes pleaded before
her.

I felt like a criminal who could be sentenced to death any minute.

Eman, do you love me as well? I asked her again and tears filled
her eyes.

Yes Razi, I love you too. Not from today but from the moment I
arrived in this village. Razi! I used to go to your home just for you.
I had fallen in love with you at first sight. I always lied to you that
I didnt love anyone because I was scared of people. I am still
scared. Razi, God is unjust a lot of times. I dont know how both of
us will end up. I fear that this love will destroy our family. She
hugged me and cried.

I also felt like crying and I was also scared. The upcoming days
were about to bring more pain to our lives. But I dared to keep
standing. I patted Emans shoulder. I had to console her.

Both of us loved each other and we were going to collide with the
villagers. Irrespective of the end of it all Whether we killed or
were killed Love was going to win.

Dad, Eman was bought in 30k, right? Dad ate his food while
sitting beside the stove, when I questioned him.

Yes, but why? What happened? Did you meet Eman today? Dad
backfired. The piece of flatbread had fallen from his hand.

Yes dad, I met Eman. I decided to tell him the truth.

Son, I prohibited you and made a promise with Eman but you
guys still didnt stop.

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I thought that dad would be so angry and hit me but I turned out to
be wrong. He remained normal. But his face told the story of his
worries.

Dad, cant we give Aslam 30k rupees and take Eman from him?
You can give him 30k rupees and get Eman for me. Dad I will
work hard to earn 30 thousands. I will go to the factory from
tomorrow. I will give you all the money, you just get me Eman. I
dont want anything else. Dad, just buy Eman and keep her with
you. I will make money and give it to you and once I have made
30k, you can give me Eman. You just buy her and keep her here. I
cried while sitting on the ground. The words left my mouth without
my consent.

Dad, I will die. A bile formed in my throat and halted my


speech.

Oh my poor son Dad came to me and embraced me.

Son Razi, do you think that I have not tried? I couldnt sleep at
night either after separating the two of you. I have been trying to
work it out this past week. You talk about 30k, I tried to give 1
lakh rupees to Aslam but he didnt relent. Son, you father even
held his feet in the lambardars house.

Dad, you can do so much Please dad, do something. I still


couldnt accept it.

Son, it is not so easy. We cant do anything unless he divorces


her. This is what the law of this country states, because she is his
wife. Its true that we villagers collected 30k for him but she is his
property now. He is refusing even 1 lakh.

Dad, I will die. Do something. I held my father and cried. The


Rizwan who had never cried in his life now wept at smallest of
things.
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Stay strong son! I will do something. You just dont commit a
mistake. I will try to buy Eman once more before the word of your
love can spread. You just dont commit a mistake. Dont commit a
mistake Razi! Dad patted my shoulder and stood up.

Tariq, go to your uncles house and ask him to come along with
the other brothers and family to the lambardars home. I am also
going to his house. I will try to talk to him along with my family to
make it work, and if it doesnt, I will take the family to the
Panchayat tomorrow. Dad called brother Tariq.

Yes dad. Brother Tariq got up and went towards my uncle


Fiazs house.

Samina, do pray God listens to the prayers of mothers. Dad


asked my mom to pray and walked out.

I went with my father. Dad made his way to Emans door. She
came out when he knocked.

Daughter Eman, where is Aslam? Tell him that he has to go to the


lambardars house with me.

Yes uncle. She went inside to call him. Aslam came out in a
minute while putting his slippers on.

Yes Mr. Chaudary, what business do we have at the lambardars


home? Aslam used to call my father Chaudary.

Come on! We need to talk to you.

Daughter Eman, you can go to our home. There is a chance that


we will be late. Dad permitted her to go to our home.

She was happy to hear that as she quickly left for my home and we
took Aslam to the lambardars house.

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The lambardars had made salty drinks. They gave us one glass
each. Dad and Aslam finished their drinks but I couldnt do that. I
placed the full glass back.

After some time, when brother Tariq came with all the relatives,
my father started talking. The whole family forced Aslam to leave
Eman and take 1 lakh rupees to start a business instead. 1 lakh was
a big amount at that time. A big general store could have been
formed by that amount. If he had made a shop, he could easily feed
himself for the rest of his life and he wouldnt have had to work for
the lambardars. But Aslam didnt give in; he was stuck at his point.

Mr. Lambardar He addressed the lambardar.

Its true that I am poor, that I am your servant, but poor people
have some self respect as well. Eman is my wife. You cant take
my wife from me by gathering a family like this. He stood up and
walked out.

Dad thanked everyone who had come and we returned to our


houses in disappointment. The next day dad tried to convince
Aslam in front of the Panchayat but he stood his ground. Panchayat
couldnt do anything for us because Eman was his wife.

Aslam was planning to leave the village with Eman. He had learnt
that someone will take Eman away from him if he stayed in that
village. Because he had no relatives in that village, he simply
decided to leave it. But my dad interfered. Since the villagers had
collected money for Eman, the Panchayat didnt let him leave the
village.

If Aslam wants to leave the village, he can do so but Eman will


stay here. The Panchayat gave its verdict and dad came back
home with a partial victory.

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I and Eman didnt know where to turn then. Aslam never agreed to
leave her and I could never get her in that village. That was why
both I and Eman decided to run away from the village. Dad had
told me not to commit a mistake but love isnt love till you make
mistakes for it.

Eman, are you sure that we arent making a blunder? I asked


Eman in the street when I took her back to her home at night. We
had decided to run away the next morning.

Dad had taken around 2k rupees from the butcher that day. He had
sold a calf to him. He was going to buy seed for the field by that
money the next evening. He had given the money to mom and
mom had placed it in a trunk without a lock. I had planned to get
that money and run away with Eman. I was going to take that
money out and then we were going to run to Karachi.

Two thousand rupees was a big amount. We could have spent a


month in Karachi with it. After that I would have found a job in
factory to run the house. My life would have been spent away from
my family. It was a bit difficult but those difficulties were nothing
compared to my love for Eman. All is well when your lover is by
your side and you are holding her hand.

Eman, what we are doing isnt too bad, right? I am a boy who
loves you. I will bear all the trouble for you but I am worried about
you more than I am worried about myself. What if this mistake of
ours resulted in your loss? Eman, I will not be able to see you in
pain. I held her hand tightly.

No Razi, its not a mistake. We cannot stay away from each other
for our whole lives in this village. I have been facing loss over loss
for past three years, what difficulty is left after it all? She
consoled me so I reached forward and kissed her forehead.

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Razi, we have to try! Whatever life brings for us, at least we will
not have this burden on our hearts when we get old that we never
tried, that we might have succeeded had we tried. At least we will
not have this regret in the future. We will fight till our last breath.
Success or failure is in the hands of God. God will make
everything better. She opened the door and walked inside while I
was left thinking in the street.

The next day was hard on both of us. The family had their
breakfast in the morning but I kept resting with the excuse of
headache. I was not going to school that day. The family members
went to their respective jobs after having their breakfast. Mom also
went to the camp with dad.

After everyone had left home except me and Eman, I went to the
room, took out the money from the box and counted it. They were
2300 rupees. I carefully counted once again then kept half of the
money to myself and handed the rest to Eman. Both of us took
some of our clothes and walked out.

I locked the front door on the inside, climbed over it and jumped in
the street. Eman covered her face completely with one of my
mothers big shawls. I looked at my home one last time before
holding Emans hand and walking down the path that led outside
the village.

We walked for half an hour to reach the bus station. There we took
a coach to the city of Bahawalpur. We were going to take the bus
to Karachi from Bahawalpur. We bought a bottle of water and a
packet of biscuits from Bahawalpur and climbed in bus that led to
Karachi.

Razi, are you sure that everything will be fine? Eman placed her
head on my shoulder. We were sitting inside the bus.

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Yes Eman, stay strong. God is with us because we love each
other. We managed to step out of our homes so theres nothing to
fear anymore. Whatever the life may throw at us, we will go
through it together. I patted her shoulder to comfort her.

When the bus was full of passengers, it left the station slowly.
Because the station was in the middle of the city, it took the bus
half an hour to get out of it. Once we were out of city, the bus
moved at full speed towards Karachi.

The worries of running from the house along with the worries of
new city and new people had surrounded us throughout the past
night. Eman probably hadnt slept last night. When she got the
support of my shoulder, she let go of all her worries and fell
asleep.

Eman I called her lightly but she was sleeping.

I carefully separated her head from my shoulder and placed it on


my lap. She slept with her head in my lap as I watched her.

Bravo, dear God. You make a girl more beautiful than the houries
of heaven and then get her sold to an old man. It is still acceptable
but why do you put the love of another boy in that girls heart and
then watch the show? I fell asleep while silently complaining to
God.

All of a sudden we heard a screeching sound as the bus came to a


halt. My head hit the seat in front of me. Eman almost fell down
but I saved her.

Razi, what happened? Thats all she could say before the air was
filled with sounds of gunshots.

Hey driver, why did you stop the bus? The passengers cursed the
driver loudly.
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Shut up! All of you sit quietly in your seats. We will shoot anyone
who misbehaved. Some robbers opened the bus door and climbed
in.

They got the driver and both of the conductors out of the bus.
When I looked down from the window, I saw four more robbers on
the road. They had modern machine guns in their hands and bags
full of magazines on their shoulders.

Our bus stood in an undeveloped area at the border of Punjab and


Sindh. That area is one of the most dangerous areas in Pakistan. No
laws are followed there. The riverside and deep forests make a safe
and sound ambience for the robbers. It was usual for the armed
robbers to sit on their horses, stop any bus that passes that area,
search all the passengers, seize the money and jewelry from people
and get disappeared into the forest. They knew of every single
corner in the forest which was why even the police was scared to
follow them in. Those robbers of Sindh were the ones who had
entered our bus.

The bus driver had tried to get the bus away from them but they
had burst a tire by shooting on it. So the driver had to stop the bus
to prevent it from getting upside down.

The punched and hit some people with the handles of their guns
which made everyone else become silent in fear. After everyone
was quite, one of the thieves stood in the front of the seats while
another went to the backside. The rest of them searched each and
every passenger to acquire all the precious things they had on
them.

I and Eman had more than two thousand rupees. That was all that
we had. We had planned to start our new life with that money but
now it was about to go to the pockets of those thieves.

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I helplessly looked around but couldnt think of anything. I would
have done something stupid if I was alone but Eman was there
with me and I was scared for her life. Money was temporary. The
life would have become some more difficult but I was a
hardworking person; I could feed Eman twice a day. I could never
forgive myself my whole life if something had happened to Eman.

So children, how much money do you have? Come on, stand up


and let me search you. A robber took our packet of clothes and
inspected all of them closely.

They were completely professional. They checked below the seats


and inside the seat covers. It was their profession and they were
experts at what they did.

So, how much money do you have, girl? A robber stepped


forward to search Eman and she handed him 1200 rupees.

Brother, thats all I have. Because Eman had called him


brother, the robber decided against searching her and turned his
attention towards me.

And how much do you have? He said to me.

Razi, give all the money to brother. God will give us more.
Eman said to me so I decided not to do anything clever and silently
handed him all the money.

Before he could put the money in his pouch, the other robber, who
checked the packet of our clothes, saw it. The first robber had the
money collected from me and Eman in his hands. They were notes
worth 50 rupees each.

How much money did you get from them? The other robber took
the money from him.

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He had an idea that its more than 2k when he held it in his hand. It
was the first time that they had gotten such a huge amount from
two teenagers.

Where are your parents? He asked while feeling the weight of


our money. His eyes were stuck on Emans body.

They are sitting in the front. I lied.

Where in the front? Stand up and get out of your seats. Check
their parents because these children had more than 2k on them. If
the children have such a big amount then their parents must have
even more, which they hid somewhere. That thief called the
robber standing on the front and he immediately came to us.

Yes, where are your parents sitting?

Our parents arent here. We were going to Karachi alone. Eman


answered him this time.

Oh so you are travelling alone and I dont think that both of you
are siblings. Is it true? The head of the robbers looked into her
eyes and she nodded.

Good, now I understand Both of you ran from your houses and
now youre going to Karachi. Wow! Kudus to this lover! You ran
with a girl and now you are taking her to Karachi? He slapped my
face.

Uncle, please dont hit him. You have taken all of our money. Let
us go now! Eman came in front of me but the thief who had
checked the packet of our clothes caught her arm, making her fall
on the seat.

Where to, princess? Its been a long time since we last found a
couple of lovers. What do you say dear friends? Should we

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celebrate it tonight? The robber said in a despicable tone and all
others began to shout happily.

Come on, you will spend some days as our guest, after that we
will take you to Karachi. Their leader caught my arm and threw
me out of the bus.

The couples who run from their houses have nobody to support
them, which was why those robbers used to take benefit of such a
chance. They would use the girl for some days and then throw both
of them out in the forest. They couldnt tell anyone anything
because they had run away from their homes. The boy would leave
his girl alone once they reached the city because he couldnt think
of marrying her after watching her getting raped for days. So he
would leave the girl and the girl would finally turn into a prostitute
after being rejected from everywhere.

The reality is bitter, but this is reality and this is what I will write.
It runs in our Rajhistani blood. We only claim our love for a girl
till she is virtuous and once the same girl loses her virtue in an
accident, all the love disappears like it was never there and we
name it honor.

The truth was that Eman was much more to me than such things. I
loved Eman with my soul. I was not interested in her body
anymore. Eman thought of her body as my endowment as she tried
to save it from those robbers.

Come on driver! Change the tire and get out of here. These lovers
will go with us. The leader slapped the driver which made him
quickly change the tire.

Ah! You bit me, bitch. The robber screamed and slapped Emans
face when she suddenly bit his hand.

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Eman was a little girl. She fell on the ground with the force of his
slap. She got up immediately and stood in front of the leader this
time.

Uncle, let us go! We are not the lovers who ran from our homes.
Let us go, uncle!

Shut up, you bitch. Are you siblings if not lovers? What can go
wrong if you spend a night with us? We will not let you or your
devotee die! The same robber who had slapped her caught her
hair and pulled her backward.

You, let us go. You are making a big mistake by taking us. I will
get my revenge from each and every one of you if something
happened to my Eman. Shoot us right now because if I survive, all
of you will die. I shouted.

Three of the robbers held me in my place so I couldnt move an


inch. One of them placed his hand on my mouth to silent me.

Eman once again caught his wrist between her teeth and bit hard. It
didnt take more than a moment for her teeth to tear his flesh.

Ah, boss it hurt. He left Emans hair and pushed her which made
her fall down on the ground.

Emans teeth had pierced his flesh. The nerve in his wrist was cut
so the blood flowed freely from it.

Uncle, you are trying to take the wrong people with you. Eman
got up again and stood before their leader. Her face was red with
blood.

The leader had a look at the robber writhing on the floor before he
diverted his attention towards Eman. Another robber hastily tied a
cloth on his wrist which stopped the blood flow.

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Boss, dont let her go. I will make her bleed just as much as she
made me bleed. That robber still cursed Eman but didnt dare to
come near her again.

Where are you guys from? The leader ignored him and asked
Eman.

We are from Bahawalpur, uncle. She had her hands clasped in


front of her.

But your language isnt Rajhistani. You speak in the tone of those
from upper Punjab. He was still undecided.

I was bought from Gujrat and taken to Bahawalpur. I am a


married woman who was sold for 30k, uncle. Eman matched his
gaze.

Are you married? The leader was surprised.

Yes uncle, a 50 years old man bought me from Gujrat in 30k and
this boy didnt run away with me. He saved me. Let us go uncle! I
dont know what compelled you to become a thief but you will
learn that your suffering was nothing compared to mine if you hear
my story. If I can endure all the hardships of this world at the age
of thirteen then I can also endure the pain that you have in store for
me, uncle. She opened her hands and held both of the leaders.
Tears flowed from her eyes as she sat on the floor.

I dont know what compelled those people to become robbers but


in end, they were humans. Emans speech had made them a little
compassionate. They were all still when they saw her crying on the
ground. The bus driver had forgotten about the tire. He was also
gloomy because of what Eman had said.

Come on uncle, where are we going? I am ready to go with you.


Eman stood up once she felt a little better after crying.
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Lets go, uncle. Tonight you will learn of what a woman becomes
capable of when she falls in love. Show us your infinite brutality
and we will show you our infinite love. Lets go, uncle. Eman
held the leaders arm to lead him towards his horse but he didnt
budge. He stood still at his place with watery eyes.

Rajoo, return them all of the money that you took from them.
The leader told Rajoo in a shaky voice so Rajoo quickly took out
our money and returned it to us.

They had taken around two thousand rupees from us but Rajoo
gave us more than that. I didnt pay attention at that time but when
I counted them later on, they were more than three thousand.

Daughter, I am a thief. The police of this country are after me.


There is nothing that I can do for you. I apologize for what both of
you just went through because of me. Daughter! Nobody becomes
a thief out of their own will. There are things that force people to
choose this fate. I also became a thief because of the hardships this
life threw my way. I know that someday a bullet will end my life
just like that.

I apologize to you. Forgive me and pray for me! God listens


closely to the prayers of those who love. I must have done
something good in my life that stopped me from making both of
you the target of my cruelty. I dont know what would have
happened had I learnt it after doing bad things to you. God stopped
me from interrupting the path of two lovers. Forgive me!

Lets go Rajoo! Police should be here any minute. All of them


got onto their horses and disappeared into the forest.

The driver got back on changing the tire. The moment he was
done, four police mobiles were there for us. They must have come
to know that the robbers were gone. The police of our country

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mostly reach the crime place after everything in done and dealt
with.

Hey, where did the robbers go? How many were they? All of
those police mobiles stopped in front of us.

A fat inspector got out of one of the vehicles and began to question
the passengers. An old woman pointed towards the forest to tell
them where they went. The inspector said something to them and
three of the police mobiles went that way. Only his own vehicle
was left standing there.

Come on every one! Get into the bus. And you just follow my
mobile to the police station. The inspector told the driver.

We will write down your personal information and about


whatever was taken from you. After that you people can continue
towards Karachi.

Sure sir, I will follow you to the police station. Those robbers
robbed everything we had. He helplessly told the inspector who
just turned to get back into his mobile.

The next moment they started the car and moved towards the
police station. Our bus driver followed his car. Both of the cars
moved towards the police station on a small road away from the
main one. I and Eman were back to our seats. I took out the money
from my pocket and counted it.

Oh! These are more than three thousand. Eman looked at my


surprised expression.

What happened, Razi? Is there a problem? Eman was out of her


previous state of shock by then.

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Eman, these are more than 3k. It will be a problem if the police
asked us about it. Worry was evident on my face.

Eman, you should hide these 2k. We will tell the police about one
thousand only. I held out the money for her to take.

But Razi, what issues can the policemen have with us? Eman
said while taking the money from my hand.

Listen Eman, these policemen are government servants. They


dont have hearts like those of robbers. They are answerable to the
headquarters. If they learnt that we have 3k rupees, it will be so
hard for us to explain that where we got it from. They can accuse
us of theft. I dont want our destiny to get affected because of this
money. I explained to her.

If this money can cause issues for us then I will just throw it out
of the window. Eman was sitting beside the window. She opened
it.

No, dont throw it out. Instead, just hide it somewhere. I know


that they will not search us. This money will help us in the future. I
dont know when I will find work in Karachi. This money will
help us till then. Just keep praying! If God saved us from the
robbers, He will save us here as well and we will go to Karachi in
peace. I said to Eman so she conceded. She closed the window
and hid the money in her dress.

The bus entered the police station after some time. It was a fort-
like building which had barbed wires attached on its exalted walls.
They let the current flow in those wires at the time of night. There
was a cell for prisoners on one side of the yard and separate toilets
for men and women beside it. The cell was used for both genders
because the prisoners were kept there for no more than a night or
two before they were transferred to the big city jail.

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Little to none crimes were committed by females as compared to
males in Pakistan anyway. That was why they must not have felt
the need for a separate cell for woman. A small room beside the
cell served as the office of the police station in charge. There were
four other rooms as well, dedicated to different official tasks. The
diver and conductors got out of the bus once it was inside the
station while the other passengers kept sitting.

Yes Shere, get inside the bus and start from the first seat. Send the
passengers to my office one by one and if there are any families,
send them all together. Come on.

Rafeeq, go to your office and write down their details. The fat
inspector addressed constable Bashir and head report writer Rafiq
respectively and walked towards his office.

All passengers should keep their identity cards in their hands. I


will send you all to the office one by one. You will tell us the
address of your house and the amount that was seized from you.
We will get your belongings back to you if we catch the robbers.
The families travelling together should go down together for their
report. Constable Bashir announced loudly in the bus and then
sent people out one by one.

Hey kids, get up. Where are your parents? Take them and go
down there.

I was around 15 and Eman was 13 at that time. The ID card is


made at the age of 18 in Pakistan. I was three years younger than
that and Eman just looked like a little child. That constable thought
of us as siblings.

We are travelling alone. Our uncles wedding is going to take


place in Karachi. Dad helped us get into the bus and our uncle will
receive us in Karachi. We were out of the bus as we told the head
writer.
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Are you going from Bahawalpur to Karachi alone? The inspector
asked us this time.

Yes sir, we have gone twice before as well. Our uncle lives near
the station.

Eman silently stood holding my arm while I kept on lying. I knew


that they will be suspicious if I hesitated for even a moment and I
couldnt afford it.

Fine, tell us your address and tell us about the money that you
lost. The inspector was satisfied now.

Sure, we didnt lose any money and both of us are fine. You can
write our address from Bahawalpur if you want. I finished my
sentence and looked at the report writer.

Alright, give us your address. Its not needed but sometimes it


helps so tell me. The inspector looked at me. He wanted to finish
it all up now.

I gave him a fake address of Bahawalpur. I didnt want to give


away my location.

Alright, now go and sit there. We will send you to Karachi after
we are done with everyone. The writer wrote our address then
pointed to a corner for us to sit.

The other passengers also sat there. I and Eman also went there
and sat with our backs against the wall.

Razi, I am scared. Everything is right but for some reason I feel


that something bad is going to happen. Eman held my hand
tightly. Her body slightly shook in panic.

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Its nothing. Be strong Eman! Just wait a little more. After that we
will make our way to Karachi. God is with us and He will help us.
I consoled her.

Razi, God is not with us. In fact, God is not with me. He wouldnt
have let me get sold to an old man for 30k if that was the case, He
wouldnt have made my father a drug addict and He wouldnt have
taken my childhood away from me. No Razi! God is not with me.
Tears betrayed her eyes and slipped down on her cheeks. She
lowered her eyes.

Suddenly the front gate of the police station opened and a police
jeep with a government tag on it came in. The inspector rose from
his seat, wore his cap and came out of his room. A young,
handsome SP got out of the jeep. With slick clothes and a well-
maintained body, he looked like the son of a rich man who had
probably joined police force after clearing the direct exam.

The whole station was alert at once. Thuds of boots were heard as
everyone saluted him, including the inspector.

Mr. Inspector, what happened? Is there any update about the


robbers? He asked the inspector.

No sir, there is no update yet. We are writing down the addresses


of these people. If the robbers are caught and we find their
belongings, we will inform them.

Alright is there anything else? Is everything fine? He stopped


near us.

You people shouldnt worry. We will try our best and inform you
if any progress is made.

Is that fine? He asked us and many other passengers nodded.

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Daughter, where are you from and how much of your money is
lost? The SP stood in front of Eman so both of us stood up as
well.

Sir, they are going from Bahawalpur to Karachi. They were


saved. None of their money was seized. The inspector told him in
detail.

Its good that you didnt have to face any loss. Where are your
parents? He looked around.

Sir, they are travelling alone. They are going to attend their
uncles wedding in Karachi. The inspector answered once again.

Good. So where did you come from? The SP asked me.

Sir, we are from Bahawalpur. We are going to Karachi in order to


attend our uncles wedding. He lives near the bus station. We go to
his house on foot from the station. I looked down.

Are you siblings? He looked at me pointedly.

Sir, are you from Punjab or Sindh? Eman quickly stood up.

She tried to divert his attention and succeeded. The SP forgot his
question and turned towards her.

How could your parents send you to Karachi all alone? What if
you got into an accident? How careless your parents are!

No sir, we have travelled before as well. Nothing bad happens to


us. I tried to satisfy him.

How much of your money did the robbers take? His questioning
didnt cease.

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No sir, none of their money was taken. Would you like a drink,
sir? The inspector interrupted again.

Alright sister, take care. My sister is the same age as you. He


placed a hand on Emans head before diverting his attention
towards the inspector.

Where is the driver? Call him here. I want to ask all details about
the robbery from him. The SP sat on a chair outside the office.

A constable brought a table and placed it in front on him before


placing a small tablecloth on it, making it his little office.

When the driver came, the SP had him sit on the chair in front of
him and listened to everything he had to say. I and Eman sat back
against the wall. Eman placed her head on my shoulder and
sniveled. I consoled her. This time even I felt the signs of danger
because the SP looked at us again and again while listening to the
driver.

Eman, he is telling everything about us to the SP. I dont know


what he will decide for us now. I told Eman as she also looked at
the SP in fear.

I began to pray silently. After the SP and driver were done talking,
the SP gestured something to a constable who then came to us.

Mr. SP has called the both of you. The constable came to stand
near us.

Come on Eman. I held her hand to help her stand up. Both of us
went to stand in front of the SP.

So you arent siblings. He stared at us for a few moments before


he began talking.

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You ran from your home to go to Karachi, is it true? The SP
asked and we nodded.

Im sorry to call you my sister but you people arent worth any
relation. Inspector, please have the both of them sit in your mobile
and get them back to their village. The SP stood up from his chair
and said to the inspector.

I dont understand whats happened to this generation.


Considering your age, you must not even be able to wash your face
properly and you are running with this lowlife simply because
sweet-talked you.

Sir, what you think is

He was talking to Eman when I tried to tell him about us. He didnt
even listen to me and slapped me hard. I staggered back but didnt
fall on the ground.

Dont give me any explanations you scoundrel. You were about


to ruin this poor girls life for your temporary enjoyment. The SP
was about to walk out when Eman held his hand to stop him.

Please brother, we dont want to go to Bahawalpur! You dont


know anything about us! Eman begged to him.

Oh, but I do. I know everything. You are married, you were sold
for 30k, he is taking you away to save your life and you bit that
robbers wrist. Is that enough?

Maam, I didnt buy all these stars from market to decorate my


uniform but I earned them with hard work. Neither is the word
stupid is written on my face not am I ignorant like those robbers to
believe this self-created story of yours. You dare to call me
brother? If I had a sister like you, I would have throttled her by

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now. He snatched his hand away from hers and walked towards
his car.

If you have called me your sister, you should throttle me as well.

His driver had opened the jeeps door for him when Eman called
loudly. He shut the door and came to stand before her.

You have called me a sister, might as well throttle me. Eman


held his eyes with hers.

Her fear had vanished. She stood like a brave lioness in front of
him. He kept staring at her for a few minutes that followed.

Inspector, get them in the mobile and go hand them over to the
lambardar of their village. I need the ID card of that lambardar
along with the receipt that he has received them with his sign on it.
Tell that lambardar that I have called this girl my sister. If I learnt
that anyone has laid a hand on them, I will put the whole village in
jail. Now leave! He told the inspector who immediately asked his
people to get his vehicle ready.

Eman, I dont know what I am doing is right or not. But yes, I am


trying to do what I think is right. Karachi is a big city and both of
you are still kids. That city will eat you alive. You will be separate
from each other in your village but at least you will stay alive. You
are not old enough to run yet. My name is SP Irfan Ahmed. If you
face any kind of problem in the future, all you will have to do is
ask for me in this police station. I will surely help you out. He
tried to make her understand. The inspector had his vehicle ready
by then.

Sir, we are ready to go. The inspector came and saluted the SP.
Both of us went to sit in the mobile.

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Eman, I am trying to make this right but forgive me if I made a
mistake somewhere.

That superior officer of Sindh police, whose monthly income must


have been more than 30k, apologized to Eman, whose father had
decided that her whole life was worth 30k. The SP of Sindh police
apologized to a woman who was sold in 30k.

Wow dear God, it isnt possible for us humans to decipher your


wisdom. I thought as our car moved in the deserts of Bahawalpur.

Razi, what will happen now? The villagers will shoot us the
moment they see us. Eman cried and hugged me.

Mr. Inspector, can you help us? I tried one last time.

No, Mr. Razi. I am just a servant of the government of Pakistan. I


dont have control over anything. All we are taught is to fulfill the
orders. If the SP has told me to take you back to your village then
thats all that I can do. I have been asked to get a receipt from the
lambardar to refrain me from doing anything else. He turned to
address me.

He sat on the front seat of jeep while we sat with two policemen in
the back. That was why he had to turn to talk to us.

Can you do something for us? Tell us the correct address of your
house so that we will not have to face much trouble in finding it.
The inspector said it lightly so I told him the name of my village.

We reached the city of Bahawalpur within an hour. After that the


driver turned the car towards our village. Tall dunes of sand were
there on both sides of the road. Hot wind made the sand flutter on
the road but each time a speedy car passed, it cleared the road from
sand. This game of hide and seek was usual for the road and sand.

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Sometimes the sand blocked the road so a trolley came from the
government which picked the sand and threw it away. Some cars
simply crossed those little mountains of sand. Our car ran on that
broken road covered in sand.

Eman, the village is here! I shook Eman by her arm and she
came out of her thoughts.

We entered the village and reached the lambardars house. The


villagers gathered around when they saw a police mobile.

Where is the lambardar? Call him. The inspector loudly ordered


a man standing there, so he went inside to call the lambardar.

Both of you come out. Dont be scared. I will talk to the


lambardar. He will not lay a hand on you. The inspector asked us
to get out of the vehicle.

I held Emans hand and got out. I looked around once I was
outside, almost the whole village had gathered there. It was a small
village and it didnt take long for the news to spread.

Razi Eman looked around with fearful eyes and held my hand
tightly.

I felt the pressure she was putting on my hand as I looked around


helplessly. I couldnt see my dad or brothers; they must have been
working in the fields.

Suddenly I saw my childhood friend Waheeds face in the crowd.


The misery on my face got him to understand the situation. He
consoled me with his eyes and walked out of the crowd. He ran
swiftly to give the news to my father.

Yes Mr. Inspector, where did you find these children of our
village? The lambardar came out of his house.

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He had seen me and Eman and was struggling to hide his fury. I
had committed a huge crime by running away with a girl of our
village and it had severe punishment.

Son, do you remember sister Nooran? I remembered what my


dad had told me two months back.

Yes, dad

I really liked sister Nooran. She lived in our colony when I used to
live in Sialkot. She would catch me whenever I passed her home
and give me delicious food to eat. She was friends with a guy from
another village and I used to pass their letters to each other.

Yes dad, I remember her. I told my father as he patted my head.

Do you know that she is dead, Razi?

How did she die? I asked in disbelief.

She was in love with a boy and she ran from her home with him,
but she was caught. And do you know what happened next? Her
brother threw her on the floor and choked her to death. The whole
village saw her thrash around. Even her own mother watched her
writhing and dying but she kept silent. This is a cruel world Razi.
Even a mother kills her daughter when it comes to honor. So what
importance do you think your little love holds? Razi, you have
fallen in love with a wrong girl at a wrong place.

Mr. Lambardar, these are children who committed a mistake. We


hope you will forgive them. The inspector placed a hand on the
lambardars shoulder.

Sure sir, we are thankful to you for getting our children back to
us. We will decide the rest. Dont worry, we will leave them alone.

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Please say if you want a drink. The lambardar said haughtily and
something crossed the inspectors face.

Listen Mr. Lambardar, we have promised these kids that you will
not do anything to them. Our SP called Eman his sister. That is
why it will not go in your favor if you touched Eman or this boy.
They are not some poor or weak kids but they have backing from
the SP himself. I will visit tomorrow again and if I come to know
that you have hit them, I will put all of you in jail. Eman is like my
daughter.

The inspector placed his hand on Emans head so she left my hand
and grabbed his. I also reached forward and grabbed his other
hand.

You dont have to worry, sir. We are not heartless. These are our
own children. We will not lay a hand on them. You can leave in
peace. The lambardar said cunningly. The inspector stared at him
for a full minute but his face remained expressionless.

Uncle, they will kill us. Please take us with you. Eman held the
inspectors hand as she cried.

Perhaps that inspector didnt have a choice but to fulfill his duty.
His duty demanded him to return the kids to their village and
leave. The inspector patted our heads, took a signed photocopy of
the lambardars ID card and left in his mobile.

So Rizwan Ali Ghumman, how do you feel? The lambardar


stood before me.

Mr. Lambardar, we made a mistake. Please forgive us. Eman


quickly walked forward and held his feet. The lambardar caught
her hair to make her stand up.

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Didnt you realize that you were making a mistake when you ran
with this boyfriend of yours, bitch?

He caught Emans hair in one hand and slapped her face hard with
the other. Her cheek was cut on the inside with the force of his slap
as her mouth filled with blood. The lambardar left her hair which
made her fall on the floor and spit her blood out.

Mr. lambardar, I was the one who took her away. If you want to
hit someone, hit me. But dont you dare touch Eman again or else
you still dont know what I and my family are capable of. I
shouted so he slapped my face as well.

The lambardar had heavy hands. His slap cut my cheek on the
inside as well which made me spit blood, even though I didnt fall
on the ground like Eman.

I know you and your father a little too well. Didnt you think of
your father when you decided to ruin the reputation of our village?
He will be the one to kill you today. Nobody else will dare to do
something like this when they see your filthy blood coloring this
soil of our village.

Rajoo, get the rope and tie the both of them upside down. We will
take out the madness of their love through their noses today. The
lambardar told Rajoo so he went inside and came out with a rope
in his hands.

The villagers tied our hand and feet together before hanging us
upside down to a heavy branch of a big tree in the main piazza.
Our legs were tied to the branch while our heads swung back and
forth.

So, do you understand now of how the villagers take revenge


when you try to take away their honor? The lambardar yanked my
hair hard as a scream almost slipped through my mouth.
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Rajoo, give me the stick. The lambardar asked for the stick so
Rajoo handed him a thick and long one.

That stick was oiled and used to hit the animals. The same stick
was about to be used on us. The lambardar caught my hair and
raised my face up.

What do you say, dear villagers? These two tried to go against the
traditions of our village. They have challenged our honor. The
lambardar asked loudly as if he was giving a speech. The whole
village bellowed with the voices that said, Kill them. Kill them.

Uncle, we made a mistake. Please forgive us. I was more


concerned for Eman then for my pain.

Forgive you? If I left you lowlifes alone today, you will run away
again with our daughters. The lambardar left my hair with a
violent jerk which left me wagging.

Have a look, villagers! See what happens to a boy who dares to


look at our females wickedly. The lambardar held the stick in
both of his hands and hit my back with all the power he could
muster.

A vicious wave of pain crossed my body but I pursed my lips


tightly. I was wearing a lose shirt. It flipped down because of me
being upside down so they took it out. Now half of my body was
bare. The oiled stick had cut through my skin. I had little time to
recover from the first hit before he hit me again. After that, he
began to hit me repeatedly.

With each hit of the stick I experienced a new level of pain. My


whole body bled from head to toe. The continuous hits had
managed to cut through the skin of my legs, chest and back. My
blood seeped out from everywhere.

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God has set a certain limit for each person to which he can bear the
pain. The human brain falls unconscious when that limit is crossed.
It becomes numb to pain after that.

And thats what happened to me. My brain tried to make me


unconscious but there was Eman drooped beside me who screamed
each time I was hit. It was what stopped me from falling
unconscious. The blood seeping from my skin entered my eyes.
My eyes were red with it. All I saw was blood. Eman screamed
and apologized for me over and over.

Uncle, have mercy. Uncle, have mercy. Her sobs reached my


ears.

Uncle, he will die. Uncle, he will die! Uncle, have mercy He


will die. Her sobs turned into cries.

The villagers shouted their curses at us and watched the show of


our death. The lambardar was furious when he saw Emans tears.
He looked at Eman with pure malice and hit the stick on my head
with all his force behind it. I dont know if it was the limit of his
hatred or my endurance that was crossed then. I had my teeth
clamped tightly but still a scream escaped my mouth. The sound of
my scream agonized Eman.

Razi Razi Forgive me! Forgive me! You are dying because
of me. Forgive me!

Lambardar, its my turn now. Try to put me on this scaffold of


love now! I need to die as well.

I was probably inhaling my last breathes when that excruciating


voice of Eman hit my ears, forcing me back towards life. Maybe it
wasnt my time to die yet. The lambardar left me alone and went
towards her.

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No uncle. No Dont hit Eman. She is innocent. I had come to
realize his intentions.

He was going to hit Eman. I had borne his beating but Eman was
too fragile. She wasnt strong enough to endure it, so I screamed at
him to stop.

Why, you prostitute? Werent you satisfied with one man that you
befriended him as well? Bitch, dont you think you are too young
to be doing such things? The lambardar caught her hair and
rubbed her cheeks in anger. He had given the stick to Rajoo.

Uncle, have mercy. No uncle, have mercy. She is still a child,


uncle. I cried loudly.

Bitch, this filth runs in the blood of you prostitutes. You get your
lovers died along with you.

The lambardar left her hair, took the stick from Rajoo and hit her
back with it. Because Eman was a girl, they had tied her shirt to
her legs with a small rope.

Her shirt was torn after a few hits from the lambardar which made
her back bare. But nature helped her there as the blood seeping out
of her wounds covered her back completely and so she was saved
from being exposed.

Eman was truly fragile. She couldnt bear the pain as screams left
her mouth. I forgot my affliction when I heard her screams. I was
outraged.

You coward! Dont hit her! She is a child too young.


Lambardar, she will die. I shouted at the top of my lungs.

Come here! Come to me try to hit me! Leave her. I swear on


Eman that if she dies, I will kill every single person in this village.

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I will not spare anybody. Kill me, lambardar. Kill me! I bellowed
but my screams fell deaf on his ears.

Listen, if my father and brother came here, they will revenge our
deaths. Leave her, lambardar, or this village will face a massacre.
I shouted even louder when the lambardar stopped.

Suddenly I found my fathers face in the crowd. All three of my


brothers were behind him.

Oh my God! You people were going to kill my children! Dad


hurriedly made his way over to me.

Listen Riaz, both of them are our culprits. The lambardar tried to
hold my fathers arm but he jerked it away.

Tariq, untie their limbs and get them down! My God they were
about to die. Dad grasped my face in his hands and kissed it
uncontrollably.

Dad, dad they were beating Eman. He he cursed on her. He


hit Eman.

I felt brave when I saw my dad so I complained to him. I didnt


feel my injuries. I couldnt feel anything after seeing Emans
exposed body.

Riaz, you shouldnt interfere. He ran with a girl and we will


punish both of them right here. Its what the law of our village
states. You are trying to save your son even when he turned out to
be a bad guy. They are the culprits of this village. We will not
leave them alone unless we kill them. A few people came forward
and pushed my father away from me.

Tariq and Farooq, both of you go home and get the ammo. Let me
see who is brave enough to hit my son. I will fight each and every

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one of them. God forbid these are little children and you have
beaten them like this? Tariq, both of you go and get the ammo.
Come near me if you have got enough nerve, and I swear that you
will not go back on your feet. Call me whatever you want. My
father roared and the villagers stepped back. He had become
furious when he saw us hanging from the tree.

Riaz, what youre doing is wrong! You cannot fight the whole
village. They have committed a crime so they will be punished.
You are breaking the rules now because your family is involved.
The lambardar stood his ground.

Brother Tariq ran towards our home to get the ammunition.

Listen, Mr. lambardar, its not about my home or your rules. Its
about my son! I dont give a damn about the rules of this village. I
want my son and I will take him back. Dad stood before the
lambardar with his head held high. His eyes had darkened with
rage.

Riaz, you are taking a stance against this whole village dont do
this! Or else we villagers will make your life a living hell. You
cannot take them away because the village is with me. For how
long could you fight? You will die! Go back! The lambardar
didnt budge from his point.

It all came down to honor. The lambardar was like a head of our
village. Nobody had ever raised their voice at him and there stood
my father, yelling at his face.

Suddenly the voice of a gunshot echoed in the air. It was brother


Tariq, who had shot a bullet towards the sky. All three of my
brothers were armed as they made their way to the piazza. A single
bullet had forced people to step away from their path. Brother
Tariq had two rifles. He handed a rifle to my father who made a

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shot towards the sky before looking around with blood-thirsty
eyes. The lambardar didnt move from his spot.

Listen, villagers! Although I am a poor man, all I have is a land


worth four acres but my cast is Jut and I have heart of a lion. I
swear to God if any of you even dared to touch my son, either I
will kill or get killed, but I will let you get near my son. He fired
again and emptied the magazine of his rifle.

Son Razi, be brave! Your father is here. Dont be scared. Nobody


can even lay a finger on you till your family is alive.

His magazine had finished. Brother Tariq handed him a full


magazine so he gave the empty magazine to Amir and attached the
full one to his rifle. The whole village had cleared the area and
stood in groups far away, except the lambardar. Nobody was
strong enough to stand in front of a loaded rifle. Only the
lambardar stood at the piazza for the sake of his reputation.

Go lambardar, go. My father placed the tip of rifle against the


lambardars chest.

Leave buddy! Dont cross the path of a father and a son. I dont
want you to lose your life while trying to save your reputation.
The lambardar took a step back from the rifle but kept standing
there.

Echoes of gunshots filled the air again. The sound had come from
somewhere outside the crowd this time. He was uncle Fiaz.

Stay strong brother Riaz! Dont leave the soil under your feet.
See, your brother is here. After a few moments, uncle Fiaz stood
beside my father with the tip of his rifle against the lambardars
chest.

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Both of my cousins also stood there with rifles in their hands. Even
my little ten years old brother Amir had a pistol in his hand. The
lambardars sons and some of his servants had come out with their
own rifles but they stood away from the scene. Probably they
waited for a command from the lambardar.

Dad, dont spare them today! Get me down and give me the rifle.
Dont let this lambardar go! I shouted.

Dad, you have to turn him into a corpse. I will kill him where he
spilled my Emans blood. My throat was sore because of my
constant yelling.

Go away mate you are my childhood friend. My father said


gently to the lambardar.

I swear to God, the love of young has enough power to turn a man
into a wolf. I may not be able to kill you today but my children will
do the task and I dont want to see you die. We are childhood
friends. Leave for the sake of this friendship, mate! Let these kids
go. Dad removed his rifle from the lambardars chest and my
uncle followed course. The lambardar had a look at my fathers
face, stepped back and walked towards his people.

Only my family was left in the piazza then. Dad hung the rifle on
his shoulder and reached for me to get me down. Brother Tariq and
other cousins helped my father. I went to Eman after my legs were
free. Dad had given her a big shawl to wrap around her body.

Eman, are you fine? Does it hurt so much? Im sorry that my


family was late and you had to face so many injuries. See, my
whole family is here now you dont be scared. I held her to me
in my emotional state.

Her back was split because of the strikes it had borne. Pain was
evident on her face when I shook her as she let out a little
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whimper. That little whimper served to turn me into an animal
again.

Dad, give me the rifle. I got up and tried to snatch the rifle away
from his hands but he held it tightly.

Brother Tariq, give me the rifle. I tried to take the rifle from
brother Tariq.

No son Razi, this matter is closed. Dont try to amplify it. Lets
go home. We shouldnt stay here for a long time. Dad hung the
rifle on his shoulder and caught me from behind.

No, dad, let me go. He hit my Eman. I told him to kill me but not
lay a hand on her but see how he beat her. Dad, he hit my Eman.
He hit my Eman. I cried in his chest.

Its okay, son. Im thankful to God that the both of you are still
alive. Dont worry for the wounds, they will heal with time. Dad
held me against his chest as he consoled me.

Suddenly Eman sobbed once again; maybe she was conscious by


then. My brain flipped again with her cry. I pushed my dad hard,
making him fall on the ground. The rifle slipped from his shoulder
so I picked it up.

No son Razi, dont make a mistake again!

Dad shouted while my cousins and brothers came forward to grab


me but I shot downwards at the ground. A loud boom was heard
and a cloud of dirt surrounded us.

Do not come any closer! If anyone tried to come forward then I


swear to God that I will not spare even my father or brothers. I
bawled which made everyone still in their places.

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I was going insane with my fury. The sons and servant of the
lambardar had run away already. The lambardar was also about to
run when my call stopped him.

No lambardar, no. You will not be able to run faster than the
bullet. Be a man and take the bullet in your chest. Dont be a
coward I faced you like a lion when you were powerful like one
a little while ago. Why are you running away like a dog now? The
lambardar stopped and stood straight.

Son Rizwan, I made a mistake. Forgive me. He quivered in fear


when faced by death. I placed the tip of my rifle against his chest.

No Razi, lovers dont take their revenge. We cannot kill anyone


Razi! I will kiss every stone that people throw my way because of
you. All my wounds that I got in your name are dearer to me than
my own soul then what is it that you want revenge for? Taking
revenge is like insulting us lovers. Eman placed her hand on my
shoulder as she reasoned with me.

My level of insanity slowly decreased. I took the rifle away from


the lambardars chest, gave it to Eman and dropped on my knees. I
had conceded against her love. Eman helped me to get up with one
hand, gave the rifle to the lambardar and placed its tip against her
own chest.

Mr. Lambardar, you must have seen many lovers but I dont think
that you have seen those who give up on their lives for love. Shoot
me. My death will teach you the art of giving up on life for love. I
swear to God, if any of us as much as whimpered while dying, I
will allow you to confront me for it on the day of resurrection.
Uncle, you are my fathers age, you are older than me but you still
have to see the real lovers. Come on, shoot me. Eman stood
bravely in front of him with tip of the rifle against her chest.

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The shawl that my father gave her lay abandoned at her feet. The
bloodied and torn clothes hung limply from her body but they still
successfully covered her. Perhaps her clothes were also in love
with her that they displayed by sticking to her body even in their
torn state.

Go! Leave Eman! I am not your enemy. I dont know if your love
is true or not. All I know that the reputation of my village is on
stake and I am trying to save it. I am the lambardar of this village
and I am simply fulfilling my duty. The lambardar threw the rifle
on ground and went towards his house. Dad took us home.

Mom had come to know about what had happened outside but she
couldnt step out of her house in presence of so many people
because she was a woman. Her heart trembled with the sound of
each gunshot and she tried to look outside over and over. She
couldnt get any concrete idea because of the crowd that had
gathered there.

How would a woman feel when her husband and all four sons
stand armed and ready to fight outside her home? I dont think you
can fathom her feelings and I do not have the words to explain
them.

She would come to the door and return back before repeating the
cycle. She ran towards me when dad brought us home. She cried as
she kissed my face repeatedly and caressed my wounds in hopes to
decrease the pain.

Samina, stop it. A little beating cannot kill this barefaced son of
ours. He will only die after killing all of us.

My dad, who had screamed because of my wounds outside,


transformed completely at home. He grasped my mothers arm to
separate her from me and slapped my face hard. I was already
wounded. I couldnt bear his slap and fell down on the floor.
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What are you doing Riaz? Havent they beaten him enough
already that even you are beating him? Mom tried to come
towards me but dad stopped her in the middle.

Dad got her away from me and kicked my stomach. I doubled over
in pain.

Dont anyone dare to sympathize with him! Today my whole


family was about to die because of this wretch. Lock him up in the
room. No food or drinks for him! The hunger of a few days will
get all his love vanished. And mark my words, if any of you tried
to talk to him or provided him with food, I will throw you out as
well. It is my house and if you dont want to live by my terms, you
are free to leave.

Dad picked me up by my collar, dragged me inside the room and


threw me there. He locked the door and put the keys in his pocket.
My whole family stood against the wall.

Tariq, get on the roof with your brother. Listen, you have to stay
armed the whole night and guard the house. The lambardar is a
nasty man. He will not sit in peace. He will definitely try to do
something tonight. Amir will guard while staying indoors.
Remember son, you will not sleep. We just have to pass this night.
Tomorrow I will go to the Panchayat for settlement. I will
apologize in front of the Panchayat and hopefully this matter will
be closed.

Son, dont try to go near front wall of the roof. Anybody could
make you a target if they see you standing at edge of the roof.
Dont try to show off your heroism and stay alive! All of us need
you. Dad patted brother Tariqs head and sent both of my brothers
to the roof.

Brother Fiaz, you can go back to your home now! Come back
after the Morning Prayer so we can go to the Panchayats head. It
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will be better for us if we can get the Panchayat ready soon. Dad
told my uncle but he refused to go back. He sent both of his sons
home and guarded our home with my father.

Dad gave a little pistol to Irum as well so everyone performed the


guard duty except Eman.

Uncle, should I make tea for you? Eman asked nervously and
that was when my dad realized that she was there. He had
forgotten about her in his worry.

No Eman, I dont drink tea anymore. I called you my daughter but


perhaps you didnt deserve it. You are not even worth our love.
The way you handed your rifle to lambardar and announced your
love that wasnt love. You are too young. You dont even know
the basic concept of love. Love is what I am doing for my family.
Love is how my sons are guarding us on the roof. We will spend
every moment of this night playing hide and seek with death for
that lowlife son of ours this is love.

There are people who are split in half and they dont even
complain, then why couldnt you bear an old and helpless man?
What could have gone wrong if you had spent a few more years of
your life with him? You couldnt even pass three years and you
talk about giving up on your life for love? Anybody could die for
love but only Ranjha could pasture animals for twelve years. You
lost your courage is mere three years.

No Eman, you never fell in love. You were simply self-obsessed.


Irum, come here to me. Dad called Irum so she went to stand near
him.

Daughter Irum, tell this liar sister of yours that you love her as
well. This Amir also loves her you can ask him. Dad pointed a
finger towards Amir.

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Yes Eman, I still love you. Irum caressed her cheeks. She
wanted to sit near Eman but dad didnt let her.

Eman, whats the fault of all these people who love you? My
whole family is on the verge of death because of you and you say
that we havent seen those who love? You ask me for tea I dont
want tea anymore. I enjoyed tea only when my daughter made it
and my daughter is no more.

Samina, bandage her wounds. She is a girl. She must not bear the
scars or her life will be ruined.

Dad told my mom to bandage her and went to sit on a cot in the
yard. An hour passed in peace. Our worry was starting to diminish
when we heard sound of a gunshot from outside before the
continuous firing begun. The lambardar had come out with his
people as he fired towards the sky. Dad had told brother Tariq
what to do already so he lay in the middle of roof. Nobody
returned the firing from our side which seemed to lift their courage
up. They continued their firing for about ten to fifteen minutes that
followed.

Riaz, Eman is the culprit of our village. Hand her over to us and
we will resolve your sons issue in the Panchayat. We will leave if
you give us Eman or else all of your peoples blood will be on our
hands. The lambardar yelled loudly outside in the market.

He knew that my father will never let his son die but because
Eman was a woman that was bought for his servant, he wanted to
kill her to instill his dread in peoples minds. He knew that nobody
would hold him accountable even if he killed her and that was why
all he talked about was taking Eman with him.

Eman was scared because of the changed behavior of my father.


She thought that he would give her up in order to save his family,

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so she tried in vain to hide in my mothers arms. Irum also held
Eman to her to let her know that she was not alone.

Samina, go inside with Irum and Eman and lock the door. Dad
told my mother so she stood up with both girls to leave the room.

Eman Dad called her from behind so she stopped and turned to
look at him.

Eman, its true that I will never think of you as my daughter


again. You are not my daughter but you are someones daughter!
And this father cannot get someones daughter killed in order to
save his own son. Those people will never reach you until I and my
sons are alive.

Dad told Eman and blasted a bullet towards the sky to let them
know that we were not afraid of them. They could only take Eman
after killing all of us. There was firing outside is response to ours.
We didnt have a lot of bullets in our house which was why my
dad used them carefully.

Those people outside probably had infinite stock of bullets that


their firing never ceased. The lambardar cursed loudly along with
the firing. Dad knew that it was only to provoke us. If we had done
something stupid in return then this issue would have been messed
up even more. Dad didnt want that because we were already at
fault.

Brother Tariq was a young man. He couldnt listen silently to the


curses thrown our way. His young blood refused that so he stood
up on the roof and shot at the main door of the lambardars house.

That was a heavy iron door. Sparks of fire fluttered everywhere


when bullets rained down on that door. It had been pierced with
the bullets. The sound of gunshots was so vicious that my ears
ached even while I lay in the room which had me wondering of
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how those people must have felt who stood near that door. The
people standing outside ran to save their lives. The whole market
had been emptied within a few moments.

In our villages, there are mostly two entrance doors for each home.
One of them is the main entrance that is used by family members.
That door is also used to get different vehicles inside, and then
there is another door to the drawing room thats used to get the
guests inside. A separate door in the drawing room opens into the
house. The lambardar and his sons used that door to get inside.

Helplessness makes a person turn into a violent beast. Brother


Tariq also shot violently in his madness. Anyone who crossed his
path must have been killed, which was why everyone ran away.
Brother Tariqs madness didnt diminish. He jumped from the
roof, stood in from of the lambardars door and opened fire. After
his magazine was empty, he took it out and threw it on the floor
before connecting another magazine and firing again. He stood
alone in that market and cursed the lambardars but was only
greeted by utter silence from their side.

The heavy iron door was strong but it eventually lost this battle of
survival against the bullets that rained down on it. It finally came
down with a thud. Brother Tariq crossed that door and entered the
house. Dad and uncle Fiaz had reached there by that time. Inside
the home, there were four rooms with light wooden doors
alongside each other on one side of the yard. The lambardar and
his family had locked those rooms on the inside. Brother Tariq
tried to shoot at one of the doors but his second magazine was also
empty by that time. He cursed at the lambardars and took out
another magazine to connect to his rifle. Dad and uncle reached
him. They caught brother Tariq from behind.

No son, dont commit such a mistake. This animosity would


have ruined our upcoming generations if any of them had died.
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No son Dad prohibited brother Tariq from doing it.

If they had taken even a little longer to reach there and brother
Tariq had attached the magazine, the light wooden doors couldnt
have been able to provide any protection to those who were inside
and considering the madness that enveloped my brother at that
time, none of them would have been left alive. But God wanted
them to live more, so they survived. Dad came back home with
brother Tariq. Brother Tariq had made it clear that he is one to be
feared. That heavy iron door was a proof of what we were capable
of. It was the second time that day that the lambardar saw death
before his eyes and it frightened him. That fear helped us in the
Panchayat the next morning.

When my dad took the both of us to Panchayat, he apologized to


the whole village. All rich people of the village sat on their cots in
front of him. Because our father had us released with the use of
force in front of the whole crowd yesterday, he apologized like a
culprit.

For the first time in my life, I saw my father on his knees in front
of those people. All three of my brothers and our relatives watched
him getting down on his knees and apologizing to the lambardar. It
was utter disgrace but my father endured it for his one shameless
son.

Uncle Fiaz gestured us so I and Eman also sat behind my father on


our knees. We clasped our hands in front of us and bent our necks.
It was a way to apologize. All three of us sat with our heads bent
towards the ground as we waited for the final verdict.

Riaz, I and the whole Panchayat has decided that these children
committed a mistake by running from their homes and this mistake
is unforgivable. Our females will try to run away in future if this
couple is not punished. That is why we have decided that this boy

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will be tied against a tree and lashed fifty times while this girl will
be stoned to death because she brainwashed your boy and
persuaded him to run away with her despite of her being married.
Her husband will be given 30k by Panchayat and the lambardar
will be responsible for handling the police. The Panchayats head
stood up and announced.

I picked my head up and looked at Eman. She was already looking


at me. Her face had blanched. She was as content with the verdict
of her death as the silent waves of sea. It is sheer love when a
person gives their life in the name of their lover. Eman was content
because she was about to die in my name. I unclasped my hands
and stood up.

Eman didnt persuade me to run away from my home but it was


me who did that to her. I was the one who took her away. Why are
you punishing Eman when I am the one at fault? Eman is a sold
wife, her husband is a servant of the lambardars and she doesnt
have anyone to support her so you want to spread your false dread
by killing her? I have backing from all my relatives so you cant do
that to me. Do you think that you can stone her because she is
alone? I am with her and I swear on each wound of Eman I will
turn this whole village into a graveyard. Kill me sir, or else I will
kill you all. I bellowed in anger.

Dad was standing near me. He slapped my face hard and made me
sit back on the ground. I silently sat because I had said what I
wanted to say. But I didnt bend my head this time; instead I stared
at the whole Panchayat in their eyes.

Sir, he is a child. Forgive him. I will teach him not to repeat such
a thing. These children committed a mistake by running away from
their homes and the lambardar punished them yesterday by beating
them in front of the whole village. That is why I request you to

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leave them alone and spare Emans life as well. I assure you that
no such thing will happen again. Dad apologized again.

The Panchayat was divided into two parts. Half of the judges were
in favor of forgiving us while the other half wanted us punished.
Every single passing moment was hard on us. Finally the
Panchayat agreed on one decision and the head stood up along
with the lambardar.

Alright, we will forgive Eman but Riaz will have to promise us


that such events will not be repeated. Eman will be sent back to her
husband. Because they committed a mistake, their faces will be
painted black and they will have a ride around the village on a
donkey so the villagers can learn a lesson from them. I dont want
any more disagreements. I relaxed when I heard the final verdict.

Painting ones face black and riding around the village on a


donkey may have been a huge punishment in eyes of the villagers
but for me it was nothing. Emans life was spared and I was ready
to die in exchange for her life. Painting my face black was nothing
compared to that. In the following minutes, Rajoo brought a black
pan (on which the flatbreads are made) from the lambardars
house. That pan had turned black because of burning timbers that
were used to spark a fire beneath it.

In cities, gas or electric stoves are used for cooking but in villages,
wood still does the task. Our village is still deprived of gas and is
only given electricity for 7 to 8 hours a day. We cannot use electric
stove because electricity is too expensive. Because there is an
abundance of wood in cotton fields, most people in the villages of
Bahawalpur use wood to make a fire.

Come on, now blacken each others faces with it and apologize to
the villagers. The lambardar placed the pan in front of us.

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Come on! Put it on each others faces. I held the pan in my hand
and looked at Eman with helpless eyes.

Suddenly she smiled secretly and placed her hand on the back of
the pan to make it black. She rubbed her hand on my face after it
had blackened enough. In a few moments, my whole face was
black. The villagers laughed at me. I looked at her black hand.

Eman, you hand has blackened. I tried to clean her hand with my
shirt.

Oh Romeo, dont clean hands of your Juliet. Blacken her face


instead. The lambardar slapped me hard in contempt.

Brother Tariq walked forward when he saw me getting beaten but


dad held his hand to stop him. The matter was finishing without
much loss and my father wanted to keep it that way. Brother Tariq
understood and stepped back.

Blacken this bitchs face. The lambardar slapped me once again


and handed me the pan.

He had called Eman a bitch and I was about to lose my sanity


again, but Eman held my hand in time to stop my outburst.

Razi, blacken my face, mate! Its the norm of women to beautify


themselves for their lovers. See, I am being adorned today for my
lover. Wont you be my lover, Razi? She caressed my cheeks so I
nodded and blacked my hand to rub it on her face.

Be quick. The lambardar shouted, so I rubbed that hand on her


ivory face.

Eman had closed her eyes. Her fair face slowly darkened. The
villagers laughed even louder. Dad placed a hand on my little
brother Amirs eyes and held him against his chest. He was crying.

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Amir loved Eman the most out of my family. Eman also cared for
her as if he was her younger brother. All of my family was
grieving but she wasnt whose face had blackened. Yes, Eman
wasnt sad at all. I removed my hand after her face was completely
black and she opened her eyes to look at me.

Razi, how do I look? I look pretty, right? They say that true love
adorns a womans face. Dont you think my love is true, Razi? See
I have the color of your name beautifying my face. Women apply
red Henna on their hands for their lovers. See, I have applied black
Henna for you. She showed me her hand.

Razi, I look beautiful, dont I? She asked me and I nodded.

Two donkeys were there by then. The people of Panchayat had us


sit on the donkeys and we rode around the village. After our
punishment ended in the evening, dad sent Eman to Aslam on one
condition that he will not do anything bad to her.

Listen Aslam, Eman has been punished for what she did. Now if
you hurt her, you will be the culprit and you will be hung by that
tree. That is why if you want to keep Eman, you can take her with
you. She is your wife and you have a right on her, but leave her
alone if your honor doesnt allow it.

Riaz is ready to give you 1k rupees for Eman. If you want, you
can take that money in exchange for Eman. The leader addressed
Aslam.

But Aslam chose Eman over 1k rupees and took her to his home.

Once we were home, dad locked me inside the room again and
went to have his dinner.

Riaz, the child hasnt eaten anything since yesterday. He was


about to die after riding that donkey the whole day. Forgive him
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now! My son will not make such a mistake again. Just give him a
flatbread to eat. My child has never spent a night without dinner
and now its the second day that he is hungry.

Mom begged to my dad but he refused to listen. He silently lay on


his cot after having dinner. The sparks of love in my eyes and
voice burned him. The upcoming days were about to increase our
difficulties. Nobody slept that night in my or Emans home.

Dad was right;

Love doesnt only burn the lovers but it burns everyone who
crosses its path. Love destroys all the paths.

Lets see who this love manages to burn which paths it


destroys Only the future will answer that.

I was awake that whole night in my room. I was more concerned


for Eman than for my hunger. I knocked the door repeatedly at the
midnight when my heart couldnt stand it any longer. The family
listened to my screams silently because of my father. Finally my
mother couldnt bear it, so she came to my door and asked me
about it.

Mom, please go to Emans home to check on her. Mom, please


visit her to make sure that she is alright. She is alone with Aslam
there. I said it all in a single breath from inside the room.

Eman was alone with Aslam. He was her husband. He was poor
but still honorable. He could have hurt Eman had his bruised ego
made itself known during the night.

Mom, ask dad to check up on her. Your son will die if something
happened to her.

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Shut up you wretch! She is with her husband. What relation do
we have with her that allows us to check up on her in the middle of
night? Dad had come near the door.

You need to stop with this lovers act now. Focus on your studies
instead.

No dad, just check up on her once. He will kill Eman I know,


dad. He will kill Eman and if she died, I will not live either. Dad,
please save Eman save me! I dont want to die yet. I screamed
and cried.

Dad pitied my condition so he went to her home with brother


Tariq. Dad knocked on Aslams door a few times but didnt
receive an answer. He waited for a response for a few minutes
outside before he finally gestured brother Tariq so he climbed a
wall to enter their house. He jumped inside their yard and unlocked
the door from inside.

Eman and Aslam were inside the room and Emans screams could
be heard. Dad ran swiftly towards the room when he heard her
voice. The room was unlocked. Aslam had made a noose out of a
rope which he was attaching to the roof. He wanted to kill Eman
by hanging her with it. He would have killed Eman had my father
been a little late. He would have easily hung her to his snare and
untied her limbs after she was dead. He was going to make it look
like a suicide.

All of the villagers had seen Emans condition in the day and they
hated her. They wouldnt have doubted Aslam and instead they
would have been happy on her suicide. But my heart told me about
it before time. I understood that she was in trouble the moment my
heart stopped beating. Its the spiritual connection of love that only
the most fortunate are blessed with.

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Dad entered the room and beat him furiously. Aslam fell down on
the ground after a few hits and began to apologize, but my dad kept
hitting him. Brother Tariq also began to beat him. Aslam asked for
forgiveness loudly when he couldnt see a way out.

The lambardars home was close to ours. A few of their servants


came out when they heard the noise and separated my dad from
Aslam. The lambardar also reached Aslams home. He understood
the situation when he saw the tied Eman. He gave Aslam a few
punches, untied Eman and took her to his house. Dad and brother
Tariq came back home.

Eman spent that night in the lambardars house. The next day,
Aslam asked for pardon in Panchayat and said that he wanted to
take Eman back, but my dad opposed it along with all his relatives.
Aslam didnt have any right to kill Eman because the Panchayat
had spared her life, but still he had tried to hang her, which was
why the Panchayat decided to send Eman to the lambardars house.
She worked in their house for a whole year that followed. The
lambardars had gotten a maid for free who never talked back no
matter how much they cursed on her. She simply worked quietly
all day.

All the liveliness and mischief had been drained out of Eman. The
fire of love was turning her into coal. Her large green eyes had
become a synonym to insanity. The other servants of the lambardar
were afraid to look into those eyes. The lambardars sons tried to
tease Eman when she was alone but backed away when confronted
with her anger.

I tried to meet her countless times in those six months but she
didnt want to meet me. She had understood it by mine and my
familys condition that we could never be together. We could
never become one in this world. Eman had learnt that this little
love of ours had the power to culminate our whole family, so she
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backed away. My family had showered her with love and respect
for three years and she gave up on her little love for their love.

The prince had crossed that river of fire to save his princess from
that giant but the princess refused to leave with him.

The insanity in her eyes only increased with each passing day.
Finally the lambardars wife surrendered before her and told the
lambardar to send her back to Aslam. Eman didnt want to leave
their house but the lambardars wife was afraid of her. She had
young boys and she wanted to save them from her evil spirit.

Aslam was happy when he got Eman back. God returned Eman to
the same person again and again who took her for granted every
time. God has strange ways. Sometimes, He grants you with
everything without asking while at other times, He lets you beg for
something for your whole life but doesnt let you have it. This is
what happened to me even when I needed Eman more than I
needed to breathe.

I spent more time in the villages mosque after Emans departure. I


had left my college a year ago. All of my day was spent in the
mosque. I had one more routine though: watching the door of the
lambardars house. I looked at it each day many times because I
knew my Eman was there behind it.

I had tried to climb their walls a few times at night without any
success. I was caught every time and returned after getting a
beating from the lambardars servants. I didnt care about my
clothes or my food. I ate whatever mom or Irum stuffed in my
mouth and wore whatever they gave me to wear. Dad thought that
I would recover after some time and he was waiting for it to
happen.

Light rain had dribbled down that day. The sky was covered in
clouds and chill wind blew. I stood at the roof of my home,
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watching the pigeons flying on sky. I watched those free birds
flying freely. I saw Eman when Aslam took her out of the
lambardars home. Eman had looked at our roof as well. Her eyes
met mine as our love refreshed.

Eman hadnt met me for a year. She had stayed away. She thought
that I wouldnt meet her again, that I must have moved on with my
life and forgotten her. She didnt have an idea of the depth of my
love for her, yet.

Both men and women can fall in love. A woman forgets her entire
being when she falls in love. Men dont love as much compared to
that. Most men only deceive in the name of love but when a man
really falls in love, he forgets even God.

I hadnt forgotten God by then but I had forgotten myself. I needed


God, so I could beg Him for Eman. I prayed to God in the mosque
so I could ask Eman from Him. It was true that Eman was too
young, too innocent. She didnt understand the depth of my love. I
looked at her face from the roof.

That ivory face with huge green eyes that cut through my chest
when they met my eyes. I couldnt bear those eyes for much
longer, my mind spun as I fell there on the roof. Eman reached for
my home when she saw me falling but Aslam held her hand
tightly. Eman had lost her composure for just a moment. She
pulled herself together and went to her home with Aslam.

My senses slowly came back to me so I got up and looked down at


the market but Eman was gone by then. I hurriedly got down from
the roof. Eman had been in the lambardars house for the whole
past year and I had tried everything to meet her but failed every
time. My little sister Irum took my messages to her every day but
she never reciprocated. I had apologized to her for so many times
that I lost count but she didnt want to see me.

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I forgot everything when I saw her before my eyes. She had
returned to Aslams home and she still loved me. I had seen the
reflection of that love in those green eyes of hers. That reflection
of love had made me lose my senses. The next moment, I was
knocking on Aslams door as I stood before it. I jumped and
climbed the door when nobody opened it.

You, Aslam, dont you dare touch Eman. Aslam began to hit
Eman when he saw me climbing the wall.

You prostitute! My whole life has been destroyed because of you!


It hasnt been ten minutes that you came here and your lovers are
already climbing the walls of my house. Aslam took out all of his
anger on Eman. I jumped from the wall and got inside.

Listen Aslam, dont touch her. I will break your hands if you lay
them on her! I came between him and Eman. Aslam left her and
targeted his attention on me.

Why? What will you do? She is my wife and I will do whatever
the hell I want to her! Who are you to stop me? Aslam grabbed
my collar.

You have jumped through the wall of my house. Its a house of


honorable people, not a brothel.

Aslam, say whatever you want. Do whatever you want but dont
do anything bad to Eman. I will lose my sanity if you touch her. I
shouted so he slapped me a few times and pushed me on the floor.
He caught Eman by her hair.

He cursed and beat Eman. I got up from the ground and tried to
stop him but he was much bigger than me. He left Eman and begun
to beat me. There was a big cane in his yard. He picked that cane
up and beat us with it. He cursed at us in anger and kept hitting us
with that cane. I tried to protect Eman by getting in front of her.
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After he was tired of beating us, he caught Emans hair and picked
her up. He violently pulled on her hair and slapped her. I couldnt
see her in pain, so I got up and ran towards my house. I unlocked
the door from the inside and walked out into the street.

I couldnt walk properly after all that beating but I got to my home
somehow. The family members sat in a corner and were busy in
chatting with each other. Nobody paid any heed to me so they
didnt see the limp in my walk. I silently walked inside the room.

Dad had ammunition in his suit case. I knew about it so I went


straight to that case. I took out a gun from it, checked its bullets
and came out after hiding it in my clothes. I crossed the street and
went back to Emans home.

The door was open and Aslam was still busy in beating Eman. She
was crying and screaming but none of it affected Aslam as he kept
on beating her.

Aslam, leave Eman! I boomed and loaded the pistol.

Why? Is this bitch your sister? Do you even know how to use this
weapon that you are handling? He still had her hair in his hand.

Aslam, I love this bitch. I am her dog Get out from between us
or I will cut you. You must have seen a lot of mad dogs. Look at
another one today! I growled.

No Razi, dont do anything. I am fine. For Gods sake, please


leave. Eman could see the embers in my eyes so she asked me to
go back.

No Eman, your dog will not leave you today! It will kill or get
killed but it will not leave you!

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Let her go Aslam. Face me if youre strong enough! I screamed
in rage but he wasnt affected. He still pulled at her hair.

Why? What will you do? Will you shoot me? Tell me if you want
to shoot me. Son, it takes a lot of courage to shoot someone. It
takes this much bravery to kill someone. He left her hair and
gestured with his hands.

No Razi, dont do anything. Just leave in silence. Eman had


fallen down on the floor but she quickly got up to stop me.

Aslam caught her and threw her back on the floor before kicking
her. He mercilessly kicked her ribs and Eman clamped her teeth to
shut her screams down. She knew that a single scream of hers
could make me shoot Aslam and spend the rest of my life in jail.
She endured the pain for me. My tolerance was getting thin
because of the scene unfolding before me.

Aslam I shouted loudly so he left Eman and looked at me.

What happened? Is the Romeo hurt? Hand me this gun, child. Its
not a plaything for kids. He left Eman and walked towards me.

Im sorry Eman. I have been bitten by a mad dog today. I


stepped back, pointed the gun at Aslams chest and pulled the
trigger.

Boom

Razi! I simultaneously heard the sound of gunshot and Emans


scream.

The bullet left my gun and cut through the flesh of Aslams arm
which made him fall on the floor.

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There is a lot of between toy gun and a real gun. A real gun is very
heavy and it jolts backwards after a bullet is shot. My gun jolted
back after the bullet left it and it fell from my hands.

Maybe nature had designed Newtons third law of motion just for
me. If the gun hadnt fallen from my hands, I would have shot a
second and third time and Aslam would have died right there.
Maybe he still had some years left to live. That single bullet had
forced him down on the ground. The bullet had cut through his arm
so he writhed on the floor in pain.

No Razi! Oh my God! What have you done? Eman lost it when


she saw Aslam writhing on the floor. She got up and caught my
collar.

Razi, what have you done you killed him. One of her hands
was on my collar as she slapped me with the other.

Razi, you have ruined both of our lives. She cried loudly while
continuously slapping my face and I simply stood there. Perhaps
God looked down at us with pity from his throne.

Shakespeare had said the truth;

All the worlds a stage and all the men and women merely
players.

That faraway deserted village of Bahawalpur had its own show


going on and three characters played their roles on its stage. One
writhed on floor in the agony of pain while the other two writhed
in the agony of love. Both I and Eman writhed but my agony was
much more than that of Aslams.

My family members reached there before anyone else when they


heard sound of the gunshot. They understood everything when they
saw Aslam on the floor and Eman slapping me. The lambardars
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servants and other people also reached in that time. They quickly
bandaged Aslams arm to stop the blood flow and handed him over
to the lambardars eldest son who took him to the clinic. The
lambardar was at his home so he came to know of everything that
had occurred. He took out his car and went towards the police
station to have the report written.

Whatever may happen in the village, the police never interfered


without the lambardars permission. All the issues were resolved
by the lambardar and Panchayat. Police only interfered if the
matter involved ammo or murder.

The lambardar went to the police station because Aslam was shot. I
was locked in a room of the lambardars palace. I sat in a corner of
that dark room with my back against the wall. I was scared of the
future but no regret clouded my vision.

He had hit my Eman, cursed on her and called her a bitch then
whats the use of such love that stays silent when a lover is getting
beaten. People die for love so I will also face death penalty for
Emans love.

I was only concerned about Eman. What would have happened to


her had I died? That worry didnt let me have any kind of solace.
The police arrived after a few hours and so I was taken out of the
room. Dad stood with his family outside in the piazza and looked
at me with hateful eyes. Almost all of the villagers had gathered
there.

So, Mr. Inspector, what do you think? You can see that he is a
child and Aslams life has been saved. You can make a better
decision after considering the facts. The lambardar called the ASI
an inspector which made him perk up a little.

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Mr. lambardar, Aslam has been saved but we still have to take the
matter to court. We have to arrest him. The report has been written
and we have to answer our seniors. The ASI said cunningly.

Sir, he is still a child. You know well that his life will be ruined if
this matter reached the court. I will take care of Aslam if you show
some sympathy. You can take some money and leave the child
alone. The lambardar said to inspector which had him thinking.

No Mr. lambardar, I do not have control of this matter. Yeah, it is


true that nobody has been marked guilty yet. So what I can do is
that I can take his father Riaz instead of the child. I will mark him
guilty officially. Riaz will come out of jail by tomorrow because
Aslam has been saved. We have to keep him for at least a night.

The inspector wanted to make some money. He could have any


amount of money that he wanted from us if he took my father. Its
the ugly face of our Pakistani society. Our rulers are busy in
making roads and bridges but nobody tries to fix those important
departments. I dont know about any Pakistani department other
than Army that works without bribery or intersession.

Thats fine, Mr. Inspector. I will go with you. You can arrest me
in place of my child. Dad came forward and the inspector agreed.

They took my dad to the police station in their mobile. I was free
so I came back to my home where everyone looked at me with
disgust. Mom sat near uncle Fiaz.

Brother, what are we supposed to do now? You should go to the


station with Tariq. Please try to get Riaz back home by tonight.
Worry lined my mothers face.

Sure sister, I will try my best. Rizwan shouldnt have tried to kill
Aslam and the lambardar is already against us. He will try his best
to not let brother Riaz come out of jail. For how long could we
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poor people fight him? I will try my best. I will take the Panchayat
leader to the police station with me. I hope that everything will be
fine. Please keep praying. Uncle said anxiously and stood up.

Brother, here is some gold jewelry. There are mine and Irums
earrings as well. You can sell them to collect some money. Mom
handed my uncle a small pouch.

Yes sister, we will need money you know about my financial


condition and we need money to give in the police station. Uncle
took the pouch from my mother and slipped it into his pocket.

Son Tariq, get more money from the room. Mom told brother
Tariq so he picked up the money and went out with uncle.

I felt an ache in my tummy. Perhaps hunger was the reason. I


silently got up and sat before my mother.

Mom, I am hungry. Give me something to eat. I said to my


mother with expressionless face which had her looking at me.

Mom, I am hungry

Irum, your brother is hungry. Give him some food. Mom said to
Irum and walked inside the room.

Brother, eat something. Irum gave me a flatbread along with


some curry in a little bowl.

I took the food from her hands and started eating. Irum got up and
went to my mother. I ate and went to rest on a cot inside the room.
My stomachache was a little better so I fell asleep quickly.

Razi, you have ruined both of our lives. I instantly got up when I
heard Emans scream.

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It was little dream but it made me restless once again. I quickly got
up from the cot and left the house. Aslams door was locked on the
outside. I saw it so I walked towards the lambardars house and
knocked on their door. A servant opened the door. I asked him to
call Eman but he completely refused. I tried to get inside the house
by force which resulted in more of his servants coming out. They
gave me some punches and pushed me out of the house. I got up
angrily cursing on them and walked towards my house.

I went to get a gun. If I could shoot one person for Eman, I could
shoot others as well. I entered the house and went straight to the
room that had the ammo. I opened the suitcase only to find it
empty. Dad had hid the ammo somewhere else in the morning. I
searched everywhere like a madman but couldnt find it.

I picked up a big knife and went to the lambardars home again.


The servants were nervous for just a second when they saw a knife
in my hand but then they jumped on me all together. They
snatched the knife away from my hand and began to beat me up
together.

I bore all the beating but didnt leave. I had decided to meet Eman
and I wasnt going to leave before seeing her. The servants were
tired of beating me and my clothes were wet with blood. My blood
had colored those servants clothes as well.

Leave, mate Rizwan! Why are you ruining yours and your
familys honor in vain for a married girl? The lambardars eldest
son stood there and saw me getting beaten. He came forward to
hold me after the servants were tired of beating me.

Rizwan, what kind of love is this? Your father is locked up in jail.


See, you are getting a beating alone today. Where are your brothers
and your relatives now? Nobody came to help you today. Go and
try to get your father out of jail. Why are you ruining your life for

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that girl? The lambardars son tried to reason with me which had
me in tears. I looked into his eyes for a long time.

Mate, this is love. Just let me see Emans face once. I just want to
look at Eman. Only once, please! I begged to him.

No Rizwan That was all he could say before I dropped on


ground and grasped his feet.

I cant live without her buddy! Just once! Just let me see her face
once.

I sat on ground holding his feet. He thought for a moment before


going inside his home. His feet left my hands but I couldnt move
from my spot. My forehead rested on the ground as I prayed to
God for Emans happiness.

Razi Emans weak voice reached my ears. I looked up at the


lambardars door.

She stood beside the lambardars son. He had brought Eman out
and now stood with his back against the door as he enjoyed the
little moment we had together.

Razi Eman walked slowly and stopped in front of me. She


slipped her fingers through my hair.

Razi, mate, I was crazy. I was stupid to fall in love with you. I
thought that love was easy but I dont think anyone could feel the
amount of pain that I have felt because of this love, but I still love
you. I know that we can never be together in this world but I will
ask God to let me have you on the day on resurrection.

Alright Eman, stop it go back inside. Dad will be angry if he


saw it. I will try to let you guys meet again. Now lets go inside.
The lambardars son grabbed her hand and led her inside.

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I had seen Eman so I came back to my home silently. Brother
Tariq and uncle Fiaz came back home empty-handed after some
time. The inspector had taken all of their money but didnt release
my father. He had to spend that night in jail. He didnt come back
the next day or the next. Days passed and all of our animals were
sold one by one.

The policemen used to hit my dad in the police station and my


family gave them money every day to not hit him. His case had
reached court and he had a case of murder attempt on him so it was
very difficult to get him out on bail. All of the animals in our camp
were sold but my dad was still locked up in jail for past ten days.

The whole family had come to hate me. They thought that I was
responsible for everything and it was true. Our honor and
reputation in village was ruined because of me. The villagers
mocked my brothers whenever they stepped out of our house.

The neighbors sent us some Lassi (a salty drink made with milk),
so mom added some salt in it and gave us one flatbread each to eat
with it. I silently dipped pieces of my flatbread in the Lassi and ate
them.

Mom, when will dad come back? Amir suddenly asked my


mother which seemed to break her as she hugged him and cried.

Son, I dont know whose evil eye we caught. How happy we used
to be! I wish I hadnt gone to Sialkot for my brothers wedding.
We would still be happy if this Rizwan had just stayed there at his
grandfathers home. Perhaps we never needed him. Mom looked
at me with revulsion and the piece of flatbread slipped from my
hand. I left the meal and went inside my room.

Wow Rizwan, what is the use of your life? Why were you even
born? I thought.

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Truly, nobody needed me in that house. My family was happy
when I was in Sialkot. They were content with three sons and a
daughter then what was my use? Maybe I was so worthless.
Nobody needed me then why was I alive? Whats the use of such a
life when nobody needed me and the whole village was annoyed
by me?

A wave of pain crossed my chest again. I pressed my hand on my


chest but the pain kept increasing. After the pain became
unbearable, I got up from my cot and lay down on the floor, but the
pain only increased. It felt like something sharp was cutting my
chest on the inside. I writhed on floor for a few minutes before the
pain stopped abruptly.

My whole body was drenched in sweat. I got up from the floor and
sat on a cot. I still couldnt find any peace. I came to the window
of my room and looked out into the yard. Amir still hugged my
mother. All of my brothers looked sad. My dad was in jail because
of me. The peace of our home had been destroyed. That once
heaven-like home had become worse than hell. I got away from the
window.

Different medicines and sprays were there in one corner of the


room. I went near them. I saw the tablets that were used to save
wheat from catching insects. I opened the tablets bottle, picked up
another one that had poison that was used in the fields and went
back to stand in front of the window. My siblings and mother still
sat beside the stove and ate their flatbreads. I looked at them for a
moment before I took out all the tablets for wheat in my hand. I
had already opened the bottle of poison.

Im sorry Eman. I couldnt bear this pain any longer. Perhaps


death is easier than the agony of your love. Oh Allah, grant all the
happiness and peace, that was left of my life, to Eman.

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I took all the tablets in my mouth at once. I swallowed them with
the help of poison. That poison was too bitter. It cut through my
throat and burned my stomach, but I didnt remove its bottle from
my mouth till I had swallowed every last drop of it. I threw the
bottle on floor once it was empty and went to sit on my cot again. I
didnt feel anything for next few minutes except a sore throat.

It looks like this poison was a sham. I thought and got up from
the cot. I reached for the other bottles of poison and that was when
I begun to feel its effects. I lost my balance and fell on the ground.
White froth bubbled out of my mouth.

Irum came into the room for something and screamed when she
saw my condition. My whole family gathered around me in a few
moments. Brother Tariq flipped me on my back as I gagged. Mom
sent Amir to the lambardars house to get a car.

Only the lambardars had a car in our village, no one else. Some
people had motorcycles though. That was why the lambardars car
helped whenever an emergency occurred in our village. The
lambardar came with his son after some minutes had passed. They
hastily put me in the car and took me to the doctor. Mom and
brother Tariq came along as well.

They admitted me in the I.C.U in hospital and the doctors washed


my stomach. After an hour, I was completely fine as I rested on the
hospital bed with a bottle of glucose attached to my arm. I had
reached hospital in time and my vomits had taken out all of the
poison from my system, so I survived. I helplessly watched people
move around in the hospital. Mom sat beside my pillow and
massaged my head.

Sister, here are some medicines. Give them to Rizwan in


mornings and evenings along with milk. He is a little weak right

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now but hopefully he will be fine in a few days. The lambardar
had bought some medicines from the store.

He handed the medicines packet to my mom. Mom stood up when


she saw the lambardar and took the packet from him.

Sister, please tell me if you need anything else that I can get for
you. The lambardar avoided looking in her eyes.

The lambardar was a close friend of my father. They were


childhood friends. The lambardar had called my mother his little
sister when she came to our village after getting married, and he
always thought of her as his little sister since then. The lambardar
had never visited our home without any gifts even though we lived
in the same market of same village. If he couldnt bring any gift,
he would give some money to my mother.

He would argue with her if she refused the gifts or money. He


would say;

Sisters have rights over their brothers. They get everything they
want from their brothers and they even fight for it, then how can I
visit you without bringing anything for you?

Mom also cared for him like an elder brother, but my little love
had damaged this beautiful relationship that they had.

Brother Mom called the lambardar when he was about to leave


and he stopped.

Yes sister. He still couldnt look into my mothers eyes.

Brother, I dont know whats going on in the village. I dont know


the severity of crime that my son has committed. You are the
lambardar of this village and you know better how to run it, but I
am just a mother who is trying to save her son. My husband has

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been locked up for past ten days but we are enduring it with
patience. All of our animals have been sold. We dont even have
enough money to buy food. My children have been eating flatbread
dipped in Lassi that the neighbors send for past three days but I
have endured it. Today I am scared because my son took poison!
My son will die if it continued like this. Brother, you have called
me your sister for past twenty years. Today this sister of yours
begs you to pardon her sons life. Please forgive us! Mom
removed her scarf for her head and placed it in the lambardars
feet.

Sister, what are you doing? He jumped and stepped back.

Brother, spare my sons life for me. Forgive my husband. We


have suffered enough. Please forgive us now! Mom cried as she
apologized.

The lambardar hastily picked up the scarf from his feet and placed
it on my mothers head. He placed his hand on my mothers head
as he spoke.

Sister, I have forgiven your husband and your son with my heart.
Brother Riaz will come back home by this evening. Its your
brothers promise to you. Now go to your home in peace and try to
forgive me as well. I am the leader of this village and I had
forgotten about my sister because of this leadership. I promise you
that I will only wish well for you in future. The lambardar placed
his hand on my mothers head before he left.

The doctor discharged me in evening so we came back home. Dad


also came home from the police station that night. The next
morning we ate flatbread with Lassi in presence of my father. Dad
had come back from jail but everything that we had in our house
was sold. The house becomes lifeless when its owner isnt there.
We didnt have a single animal in our camp by then. The vegetable

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plants werent watered in past ten days and all of them had dried
up.

Come on Rizwan, lets go to the camp. I went to the camp with


my father after finishing my breakfast.

That little land of four acres had been completely destroyed. Dad
fell on his knees when he saw the condition of camp. He cried
hysterically like a little child. This land was used to feed him and
his children and he couldnt bear seeing it like that. I filled a glass
with water from a tap on the camp, placed my hand on my fathers
shoulder and asked him to drink some.

Dad, drink some water. He looked at me with empty eyes when I


tried to give him the glass of water.

Dad, have some water. I couldnt looks into his eyes for long.

Rizwan buddy, whats happened to us? Whose evil eye did our
camp catch? This camp was the result of my lifes worth of hard
work. How did it destroy so quickly? No, Rizwan, its not
possible. He couldnt believe his eyes. He couldnt even talk
properly with his overwhelming grief.

The lambardar had come to see my father at home but didnt find
him there, so he came to the camp looking for him. Dad stood up
when he saw the lambardar and the Panchayats leader on a bike. I
set up a cot for them and gave them water after they had sat.

So brother Riaz, what do you plan for future now? The


lambardar placed his glass of water on ground.

I dont know mate. I will need a lot of money to make my land


like before. I think that I can make that money in a few months if
you keep me as your servant in your camp. Both of my sons work
as well. God is putting us through a trial and I think that we can
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survive a few months of hardship after leading a happy life for a
long time. I will be grateful to you if you can make me your
servant. Dad made random lines on the ground with a twig.

Dad, you dont have to. I will work for the lambardars. I said
quickly which had my father looking at me.

No son, its my job and it will be better if I do it. Your job is to


love. You have ruined this land, now you have to ruin our house as
well.

Dad, I love Eman and I cant live without her. It is out of my


control. I know that I am the one who destroyed everything, but
what choice do I have? I wouldnt have fallen in love with Eman if
I could control it. I sat in my fathers feet.

No son, a person can control everything. If you have enough will,


you can fight the seas and oceans then what importance does this
love hold? How is it so hard to forget about it? Dad patted my
hair.

Son, its idiocy to wish for something that you can never have.
Eman is married and Aslam is her husband. You could never have
Eman even if the whole village supported you. She is Aslams wife
and you are committing a sin by loving someone elses wife. It is a
sin, my son. It isnt love. Love is sacred and both of you arent.
Forget about Eman! Try to live your life and let her live hers. I
silently got up from my fathers feet and walked towards my home.

I saw the lambardars son while passing their house and my feet
carried me to him.

Brother Rizwan, are you alright? He asked and my eyes watered.

Let me meet Eman, mate. I looked at the ground.

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I miss her a lot. Just let me see her once. My words trembled.
The desire to look at her once again captured my heart.

Mate, let me see her face once. God will grant you with
everything you want. I begged like a vagrant in front of him for a
single glance of Eman. He patted my shoulder, opened the door
and walked inside.

Razi, how are you? He came out with Eman.

Eman I couldnt form any more words as I looked at her.

How are you, Razi? Why did you try to kill yourself? See, I am
also in pain but I am not trying to commit suicide, then why did
you try that? She stroked my cheeks lightly. I closed my eyes and
felt her touch in the depths of my heart.

Razi, how are you? I opened my eyes when she asked again.

Eman, lets leave this village. This village will never let us be
together. We need to leave it. Come on Eman, lets run away
again. Will you run away with me? I offered her my hand and she
took it.

Razi, you dont have to ask because Eman has given you the
ownership of her life. I will go wherever you want, no questions
asked. I will live with you and I will die for you, so you dont have
to ask any questions.

Where will the both of you go? The lambardars son asked and I
shook my head.

I dont know. We will go wherever God takes us. We can never


be together in this village but there may be a chance once we get
out of here. I said.

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Do you have any money on you? He asked and I shook my head
again. I didnt have a single penny in my pocket.

Wait. Let me check in the house. There may be some money of


my father. He went inside and came out with around 3k rupees
which he placed on my palm.

Mate, Rizwan, its all that was there in the house right now. I
know that the both of you are truly in love with each other and I
will be happy to help you guys out. I would have made a life for
you to lead together, if I could. I pray that God keep you happy.

I took the money from him and started my journey out of the
village with Eman. He watched us leaving for a long time before
walking back into his house. Both of us came to the Bahawalpur
city and I took a bus to Sialkot from there.

I wanted to go to Sialkot to take shelter in my grandfathers house


once again. I knew that my grandparents still loved me a lot and
they would keep us in their home. We travelled the whole night.
We stood before their door in the morning and knocked. My
grandpa opened the door. He jumped in happiness when he saw
me. Grandma was also happy to see us.

Son, didnt your father come with you? Where is he? Did he stop
at the camp? Grandpa asked me about my father. Their camp was
in the path from the station and my uncle worked there. So he
thought that dad stayed there with him and sent the both of us
home.

And how is our daughter Irum? Grandpa placed his hand on


Emans head. The last time he had seen Irum was around 5 years
ago so the mistook Eman for Irum.

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There is a phone call for Mehboob Ghumman. Please come and
receive your call. My grandpa stood up when he heard the
announcement.

The village houses didnt use to have a telephone in them at that


time, but there used to be a single telephone for everyone. The
phone operator would announce on the loud speaker whenever a
call arrived for someone. The person asked for on the call, would
go to receive it and give 5 rupees to the operator. They used the
same telephone to make the calls as well. Different call rates were
imposed in different cities and they were usually from 30pkr to
60pkr per minute. The calls to foreign countries were even more
expensive than 100 rupees.

Grandpa put on his slippers, took the money and went to listen to
the call. He came back after half an hour. My uncle came with him.

Rizwan, she isnt Irum, is she? Grandpa asked me angrily and I


nodded.

The call had come from my home. Dad had told him about me
running away. The whole village was under another shock. Eman
had run away with me again and the Panchayat wasnt ready to
forgive us this time. Police had come in the village to arrest my
father but the lambardar fulfilled his promise this time; the promise
that he had made to my mother. He did what a brother would do.
He stopped the police and promised that he would return the girl.
My grandpa told everything to my father and promised to send us
back to Bahawalpur with uncle.

Did you run away with this girl? Grandpa asked once again so I
stood up.

Yes grandpa, we love each other and we ran from our homes. I
have spent my childhood in this house and I hope that you will let
us stay in your house.
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Abrar, go and change quickly! We are taking them back to
Bahawalpur right now! Grandpa told my uncle so he went to
change.

No grandpa, we will not go back. If you dont want to keep us,


dont. We will leave here. Its a huge world; we will find a home
somewhere. Lets go Eman! I held Emans hand and tried to leave
when grandpa caught my hand and stopped me.

You are not going anywhere. You will go to Bahawalpur with


me.

Grandpa, its the second time that we ran from our house. Those
people will kill us and we are not ready to die yet. I looked
crossly at my grandpa which got me a hard slap from him.

Son, you are worried for your life and what about those who you
have left at home? Did you even think what will happen to them?
Police is there at your home. They will take your father and
brothers with them and Panchayat will take its revenge from your
mother and sister. You have a little sister, Irum. Have you ever
thought what will happen to her? Those villagers will cut her to
pieces. What kind of love is it thats earned by ruining your sisters
honor? If you had enough love, you would die at that piazza of
your village but would not let anybody take your honor away!

He is right, Razi. We should go back. We had become selfish for


our love. I love Irum too. She is my little sister and I cannot ruin
that little girls life for this love. No Razi, we have to go back.
What can possibly happen to us? At most, they will kill us. So we
will die its not like we are alive at the moment. Eman said in a
strong voice so I nodded.

Come on grandpa, lets go. I said to my grandfather and he


placed his hand on my head.

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Son Rizwan, its true that your grandpa is old now but he can still
protect you and your family. Nobody would be able to muster
enough courage to lay a hand on you.

Abrar, take some ammo with you! Grandpa told my uncle when
he came out after changing his clothes, so he went back inside to
get the ammo.

After some time, we made our way to station in a Tonga to get a


bus to Bahawalpur. We reached Bahawalpur that evening.

Panchayat was ready in the village, but the lambardar was with us
this time. My grandpa and uncle showed off their weapons and all
of our relatives had gathered there. So the Panchayat didnt try to
do anything bad this time. Eman was given to Aslam and I went
back to my home with my grandpa and uncle.

Grandpa couldnt stay with us for long because he had come in a


rush. He went back the next day. My family had stopped talking to
me altogether. Even dad never talked to me. I got up early in the
morning the next day and ate my food quietly.

Rizwan, can you go to the lambardars field in my place today?


You can come back in the afternoon and I will go for the evening. I
am too tired right now.

Dad asked me to go to work so I silently got up to change my


clothes. I went to work in the lambardars field but for some
reason, I felt anxious. I felt darkness covering my vision. I placed
my tool on the ground and sat down.

What happened, Rizwan? Are you okay? The lambardars son


came to ask me and I shook my head.

No mate, I feel too anxious. I feel this strange kind of fear in my


heart. I said feebly so he told me to go back home and rest.
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I walked towards my home in silence. I was about to reach the
door of my house when I heard Emans screams with my familys
screams following behind. I tried to open the door but it was
locked on the inside. I knocked loudly. Someone might have
opened the door had I knocked a little more but I couldnt wait for
it. I climbed a wall and jumped inside the house. My whole family
had gathered in the verandah as they yelled. Emans screams could
be heard from inside the room.

Eman, what happened? Who is inside? See, I am here now! I


pushed my family members aside and reached the door.

Eman, who is inside? I am here. I tried to open the door of room


but it was also locked.

Because it was an iron door that was strongly attached to its frame,
it was almost impossible to break it. There wasnt a way to get
inside the room except that door.

Razi Razi Save me! For Gods sake let me go! Eman
screamed.

Eman Eman! Who is there inside? Whats going on? I was


furious as I kicked the door a few times.

The door was too strong to be opened but I still tried to break it. I
could hear her screams continuously. She begged and cried but
probably there was a powerful man inside who tried to ruin her
honor.

I caught Amirs throat after I was tired of kicking the door. He was
the youngest in our house and he was the only one who I could
catch easily, so I caught his neck.

Who is trying to ruin Emans honor inside? I roared in anger.

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I had shouted so loudly that the whole family diverted their
attention from Eman to me. Amir squirmed in my grip.

Who is there with Eman? I shouted again and my mother


slapped my face.

You father is there with Eman! Leave my son alone! Why are you
set on killing him? Its your father inside who is trying to rape a
girl that he called his daughter for three years! Mom slapped me
once again. She took Amir away from me and hugged him.

I was in a shock. My father was there with Eman. I could still hear
her screams. She was putting up a fight against my father. That
little sparrow tried to break the hold of a hawk. I could still hear
her screams but I was numb after hearing what my mother had just
said.

My heart didnt want to believe it, but my mother had told the
truth. It was my own father who had called Eman his daughter for
three years. He knew that I loved Eman and he cared for her like
his own daughter. I trusted my father the most in this world. He
was a good man. I respected him with my heart and believed him
with my soul. That father had turned into a wolf that day. What
could hurt more than having your father rape the girl you love?

I got up silently, picked a kitchen knife from near the stove and cut
my wrist. A splash of blood hit my face, making it red.

Oh Riaz, your son has cut his wrist. Oh Riaz, you killed my son!
Mom screamed and door opened the next moment. I saw my
fathers face and Eman behind him. She pushed my father to a side
and ran towards me.

Razi Razi! What happened to you? She forgot her own pain.
She couldnt even feel her nudity after watching my bloodied arm
and face.
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Because the knife wasnt so sharp and I had only managed to make
a single cut, the blood flow stopped when brother Tariq tied a cloth
to it.

Eman, are you okay? I stood up and she stood up with me.

Her shirt was completely torn and had been removed by my father.
She realized her state of nakedness when she stood up. She wore a
torn trouser but she didnt have a shirt on. She looked ashamed as
she tried to hide her body. I swiftly snatched my mothers scarf
and placed it on Eman.

Dad silently stood up and attempted to leave when I stood before


him.

Where are you going? I tried to suppress my anger as he looked


down.

I am going to the camp.

Why did you rape Eman? You knew that I loved her, didnt you?
She is your future daughter-in-law! She was your daughter, then
why? It was getting hard to hold my anger back.

Tell me! Why did you do this? I yelled at his face.

Im sorry, son. It was a mistake. Forgive me. He placed his hand


on my shoulder.

I slapped his hand away and caught his collar. I raised my hand to
punch him but Eman caught my hand.

No, Razi he is your father. Forget whatever happened and try to


forgive him! Maybe he was compelled by something. She left my
hand and went to her home.

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Eman had been transferred to the lambardars home once again. I
kept trying to meet her for a few days but she refused. I couldnt
enter the lambardars home by force.

Nobody talked to my father in house. He would return at night


after work, my mother would give him his food; he would eat and
go to sleep. A few days passed like this. My chest burned
whenever I looked at him. One of his friends had suggested him
that Eman would never become his daughter-in-law if he locked
her up in a room and tore her clothes. He had suggested that Eman
would forget about her love that way and she would come to hate
this family. That was the reason that my father tore her clothes and
his mission had accomplished.

Eman still loved me but she couldnt marry me now. She


understood that we could never be together. Our house had become
silent like a graveyard after what my father did. Each member of
our family was cross.

Dad came home late that night. Mom placed his meal in front of
him but he refused to eat. Mom silently picked up the pots,
dropped the curry back in its pan and washed the pots. She had
totally stopped talking to my father.

The next morning we ate our breakfast while sitting beside the
stove. My father stopped brother Tariq when he was about to leave
for work after the breakfast.

Nobody will go to work today. I have called the Panchayat today.


I want to talk in Panchayat about Eman. Dad looked down.

Rizwan I was sitting near him so he placed a hand on my head.

Rizwan, mate, I know that you will never forgive me, but trust
me, my son, whatever I did, I did for this family. I still think of
Eman as my daughter. I was scared for them when you ran away
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the second time. I thought that Eman would hate me and this
family if I tore her clothes. I thought that she would leave you after
she stopped loving us, but I was wrong, my son. Perhaps I could
never understand you both. Perhaps I could never understand this
love. Forgive me! I was wrong. I made a mistake because of my
love for this family. Tears filled his eyes as he cried.

All family hugged him. They had forgiven him, but my heart was
broken. My Eman had become distant. How could I forgive him? I
stood up.

No dad, I dont have such a big heart. The family forgave you.
You have become their hero once again, but not mine. I dont think
I will ever be able to forgive you. Im sorry dad. You are my father
and I have the same blood running in my veins as yours. You gave
me everything but none of it could ever make up for Eman. You
took my Eman away from me. How can I forgive you for that? No,
father. I will never forgive you. I sat down again and continued
eating my food.

I had cried so much in my life that my eyes had become dry. No


tears filled them anymore. I didnt cry so easily anymore.

Son, Rizwan, I know that you will never forgive me, but I am
your father and I only want the best for you. I will talk about Eman
in Panchayat today. Do pray! Maybe God will make a way. I
placed the bite of food in my hand down on the plate and looked at
him.

Dad, Which God are you talking about? Who should I pray to? To
the God who silently watches the show of our love from the skies?
Or to the God who helps the lambardars against us? You know
what dad, try to look at Emans face once the Panchayat is set and
you will see what your God has put her through. I opened the
door and walked out.

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People had begun to gather in the piazza. Dad reached the piazza
after half an hour along with his relatives and Eman came after
that. I had a look at Eman and my gaze refused to move from her
face. I dont know for how long I stared at her. Someones arm hit
me from behind and brought me back on earth.

Yes, brother Riaz, say what you want to say. Why did you gather
us here? The Panchayats leader addressed my father after
everyone had gathered there.

Dad stood up when he heard his voice. He held the lambardars


hand so he also stood up with him.

Sir, first of all I want to apologize for everything that hurt you,
Aslam and rest of the village because of me or my son. All of you
know that my son loves Eman but she is married. I know that
Eman is Aslams wife and what my son is doing is wrong, but I am
still here for the happiness of my son and Eman. Eman and Rizwan
love each other and I want to marry them. About Emans husband
Aslam, I am ready to give him half of my property in exchange for
Eman. I have a land of 4 acres. If Aslam divorces Eman and she
marries my son, I will give 2 acres of my land to Aslam. Two acres
of land is worth 4 million rupees. Aslam had bought Eman in 30k
and I am ready to pay 4 million for my daughter. My dad finished
his speech and sat back on the cot.

The whole village had encompassed in a pin drop silence. There


were around 200 people in that piazza but none could utter a word.
4 million was a big amount. In our Punjab, we used to call the land
our mother. A Jut would die but not give up on his land. But there
my dad was ready to give his 4 million worth of land up to Aslam
for my and Emans happiness.

So, Aslam, what do you say? You can divorce Eman and take the
land worth 4 millions. The children are victims of love, let them be

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together. They have borne so much pain at this young age already.
Let them be together, mate. Love holds extreme power. Dont fight
them or you will be dissolved in dust. The lambardar placed his
hand on Aslams shoulder so he stood up.

That around 55 years old man looked around. He looked at Eman


and then the others. It was the first time that I had seen tears in his
eyes.

I dont accept it. I will not take divorce from Aslam as I want to
stay with him. Eman stood up before Aslam could speak.

Eman I made my way in the crowd to reach her.

Eman, my father will apologize to you. Please Eman, God has


given us a chance to be together today so let it happen! No Eman,
just say yes for once, everything will be fine after that. I tried to
hold her hand but she took it away. She didnt want me to hold her
hand.

Daughter Eman, Rizwan is right. I ask for your forgiveness. You


are like my daughter. I committed a mistake. Forgive me and come
with us to our home. I will take you as my daughter for the rest of
my life. The land isnt so important. We will work hard and buy it
again, but we will not get a daughter like you again. Dad begged
in front of her but she didnt relent.

No uncle, not now. Eman will not be sold this time. What is the
difference between you and Aslam? He bought me in 30k and you
are buying me in 4 million. I am still being sold with a little better
price. I am not something to barter and I dont have a price! He
bought a slave and you are also buying a servant for your son.
Eman said in a trembling voice and my father couldnt control his
emotions.

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No daughter, you are not a slave. I will take you to home as my
daughter and I will always keep it that way. Just forgive this father
of yours for once. Dad held Emans hands but she snatched them
away.

No uncle, I am too young. My brain is too small and it isnt ready


to forgive you. I dont think I will ever be able to forgive you and
about the land, well, it belongs to Rizwan and his brothers. How
can I give something that belongs to Rizwan to someone else?
Your sons have a right over that land and they will be its only
owners. Eman was about to leave the Panchayat when I reached
forward and grabbed her hand.

Eman, where is my fault? What have I done to deserve this


punishment? I still love you and you love me as well. Both of us
love each other, then why this punishment? Why are you refusing
today when the whole village is accepting our love? I said while
holding her hand.

Eman, I love you. She turned around and looked at me.

She looked at me for a while. Those were a few moments that felt
like centuries.

Rizwan Razi, Eman doesnt love anymore. Love isnt good for
us so Eman has stopped loving. She left my hand and ran to the
lambardars house.

No reason was left for anyone to stay in Panchayat after her


refusal, so everyone returned to their homes.

Eman never came to me after that. She had made friends with a
boy in our neighborhood. That boy had a shop in the camp and he
was around 30 years old. Eman began to go to his home at night
secretively. Aslam didnt say anything to her anymore, so she
would go to meet that guy at nights freely. I learnt it through some
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boys in our neighborhood. One night, I followed her and came to
know that it was the truth.

Maybe Eman had replaced me. The next day, I took a gun from
one of my friends and went to that guys shop. He sat there alone
on the other side of the counter. I took out the gun, loaded it and
placed it on to counter. That boy got scared by the weapon.

Naveed, do you know how much I love Eman? You have this gun
on your counter. Pick it up and kill me or else I will kill you.

Im sorry, brother Rizwan. I made a mistake. Please forgive me.


He began to apologize instead of picking up the weapon so I
picked it up and slipped into my pocket.

Naveed, stay away from Eman. I love her and if I saw her at your
house again then I swear to God that none of us will be left alive.
Just stay away from her. I walked out of his shop and returned to
my home.

That boy ended his friendship with Eman but maybe Eman wanted
to hurt herself that way. The whole village, that had come to
respect our love, now thought of Eman as a bad girl.

Eman made friends with another boy after that. Before I could do
something about that, she became friends with another boy and
then another. She would meet all those boys and talk to them. I
was burning on the inside with everything that she did but she
couldnt care less. All she wanted was to take revenge from
herself.

A few months passed like this. Eman had been defamed in the
village. Every single person of the village hated her and looked at
me with sympathy, because the girl for whom I had left my home,
my parents and my siblings, had turned out to be wrong.

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We had our own camp in the village and we used to run our own
business. All of our fields and animals were sold because of that
Eman and my father and brothers had to work for the lambardar
now. They had become someones servant, but the girl for whom
we did everything, had made friends with three boys just like that.
I dont know why but I and my family could never believe it. We
thought of Eman as a virtuous girl. I couldnt think of her as a
deceiver.

I sat at the bank of canal and threw little stones into it. It had
become my routine. I would go to the bank of that stream daily, sit
with my back against one of the trees and spend my days like that.
I would only return home after seeing the darkness setting it.
Someone from the family would come to get me if I got late. Life
had become numb.

Naveed was going to his home from the camp on his bike. He
stopped when he saw me sitting near the stream and came to sit
beside me.

Brother Rizwan, you had come to me with a gun and had


threatened to kill me.

Im sorry, Naveed. I wasnt thinking straight. I made a mistake.


Forgive me. I apologized to him.

No brother Rizwan, I dont want you to apologize. You know that


Eman meets us three boys at night, right? All three of us are best
friends, but have you ever wondered that why she only meets us
and nobody else? he asked me.

No, Naveed. Mate, I dont have a brain that thinks. All my brain
can think about is Eman. I dont know any other thing. I looked at
the ground.

Brother Rizwan He placed a hand on my shoulder.


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Your Eman is still as virtuous as the first day. She is not deceitful.
None of us friends have ever touched her body. Eman sits in front
of us on a cot all night but none of us is courageous enough to hold
her hand. She is not a deceiver. Eman loved you and only you. She
is trying to defame herself for that love so you can forget about her
and lead a happy life. He patted my shoulder and stood up.

Brother Naveed, can you get me to meet Eman? I hastily stood


up so he agreed and walked towards his home.

I had my dinner early that night and went to my cot. I got up


silently in the middle of night and went to Naveeds home. The
door was unlocked so I opened it and walked inside. Eman sat
there on a cot. She was anxious for a moment when she saw me
before she composed herself.

Come on Eman, lets go home. I raised my hand towards her but


she kept looking down.

I remembered that time from a few months back when I had raised
my hand towards her and she had given me her hand without a
question. She had said;

Razi, no questions are asked in love.

She still didnt ask a question but she refused to go with me.

Eman, leave everything. Lets go home. I know that you still love
me and you are doing everything to get me to hate you. You are
defaming yourself so I could forget about my love and start hating
you. You talk about defamation! Trust me that my love will not
reduce even if you slept with this Naveed. I never loved your body
then what does this fake defamation matter? Come on, my family
will respect you the same way they used to do before everything.
You are still a member of my family. I begged and begged but she
refused to come with me and I returned empty-handed.
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Eman never tried to see Naveed or the other boys at night again.
Naveed and his friends swore in the mosque that Eman was
virtuous so the villagers believed them and began to respect Eman
again.

Everyone in village praised our love. All of them asked Eman to


marry me but she never accepted it. Dad had committed an
unforgivable crime by tearing her clothes. She didnt want to visit
my home ever again. Everyone from my family, except my father,
would meet Eman and she would meet them gleefully. Dad also
tried to meet her and apologize to her a few times but she refused.

I spent my days sitting in a chair in the front of my home. Eman


lived in the house in front of ours and I kept looking at its door.

Razi, sleep in the drawing room tonight. I will come to see you.
Eman saw me when she came out of her house to throw the
garbage, so she came to me.

Sure I hastily stood up. She didnt say anything else as she
turned to go back.

And Razi, how much money do you have? She turned to ask me
and I shuffled my pockets. I had only ten rupees on me so I took
them out.

I have these ten rupees. She laughed when she saw it.

I want one thousand rupees. Can I get that? She asked and I
nodded.

She went back to her home and I went inside mine to ask my dad
for money. He had around 1200 on him so he gave me all of it.

Son, I made a mistake but I dont want to lose my son because of


it. Dont run away from home! The world outside this home is too

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cruel. Both of you are still children and this world can eat you
alive. Just give some time to your love. Time will heal everything.
Just have patience for a few more years and I will take you
wherever you want to go after that. Dont run away now! I know
that you will get the money from someone else if I didnt give it to
you. You may even run without any money! That is why I will not
refuse you the money. But listen to your poor father! Give us a
little more time. Everything will be alright. I silently took the
money and slipped it into my pocket.

After dinner, everyone went to sleep inside their rooms but I went
to the drawing room. The door opened after an hour and in walked
Eman. She locked the door on the inside and lay on the cot beside
me. She talked a lot that night. She talked about her childhood days
that she had spent in Gujrat and about the days she spent there in
Bahawalpur. We talked the whole night. I kept on listening to her.
Her melodic voice made the wounds in my heart leave in silence. I
enjoyed love for the first time.

Eman, cant we always be together like this? I slipped my


fingers through her hair.

Eman, even the villagers salute our love now then what is it that
doesnt let you come near me? Leave everything in the past. We
will lead a happy life together. Come back Eman. She picked up
her head from my chest and sat up.

Razi, my love for you has set in the depths of my soul and its this
love that doesnt let me come near you. Yes, Razi, my heart does
want me to leave everything and come to you, but how can I
destroy your life? How can I have your land given up to Aslam?
Your family is ready to give that land up now, but after a few
years, your brothers will hold you accountable for it. They also
have a right on your fathers land. Where will you eat from if that

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land is gone? I cannot ruin your life along with mine. She
explained.

Razi, I love you and this love keeps forcing me to leave you. I am
too tired. I cant come to your home forever. Yes Razi, I am tired
of walking beside you. I want to go somewhere far away now. I
want to go somewhere away from you. Its the best for you and for
me. Razi, a slaves life is the worst of lives. She stroked my hair.

Razi, I have spent these few years of my life as a slave and trust
me; nothing is more horrible than that. There is nothing more
painful than that. America ended the slavery of this world and
turned it into a heaven but many forms of slavery still exist in
Pakistan. Maybe God created his heaven in America or maybe
America doesnt have the same god as ours. Razi, have you seen
the American statue of liberty? Eman looked lost in her thoughts.
I nodded.

Yes Eman, I have seen it several times in movies.

Razi, I think that is the other god. That is so far away at the
other end of this world. I cant go there because I am a slave, but
you can, right? America can give you a better life. You go there
and start your new life from there. Go to that statue and tell it that a
poor slave girl in Pakistan worships it. That she loves it and the
separation from it is killing her. She began to cry.

Eman, I will not leave you. We will make our own heaven in this
village. I wiped her tears.

No Razi, I will leave in the morning. I am leaving this village


forever. I left this village with you twice but I am leaving alone
this time. I cant live with you and your family. It will be best if I
leave this village.

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No Eman, I will leave with you. We will go wherever you want. I
will take you to America. Both of us will go to America. She
laughed at my speech.

Wow Razi, America isnt so near. A person can have his bones
crushed in the search of America. Not everyone is fortunate
enough to go there, but you are. I am sure you will find your way
there because I am sacrificing my love so you can get a better life.

Eman, I want you, not America. All I have ever wanted is you,
nothing else. I cried. She placed her hand on my mouth.

Razi, slaves are not wanted. I am a slave and its all that has been
written in my fate.

I begged her the whole night but she had decided to leave. Our
family was facing a hard time. We would have starved if the land
was gone, and Eman couldnt allow that. She wanted to see me as
a successful man.

The next morning, I handed her 1200 rupees and had her sit in a
bus to the city.

Thats enough Razi, you can leave now. I will go by myself from
here. I stood beside her seat in the bus.

Eman, I will work hard. I could feed you twice a day, couldnt I?
Please, let me come with you. I pleaded in front of her.

No Razi, I have decided to leave so let me go with love, or else I


will have to leave covertly some day. Maybe we were never fated
to be together. She held both of my hands in hers.

Alright Eman, you can leave if you want to leave and please try to
forgive my father! You thought of him as your father. He was your
father but he tore your clothes and wounded your soul. Both of us

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hate that father of ours. Everyone is capable of doing something
wrong, and what my father did was wrong. Try to forgive him and
if you ever decide to come back, you will find me here, waiting for
you. I will wait for you for the rest of my life. I will come for you
from any corner of this world if you call me. My ears will always
strive for your voice. I dont care with whom I spend my life but I
want to die in your arms. So do return! No matter how much time
passes. My eyes will always be looking for you. I climbed down
from the bus and went to my house.

Eman never returned. She had left forever. I was left alone in the
village. I would talk to my father but there was always a hesitation
between us. Nobody talked to me in a bad way in my house
anymore. They all joked and tried to get me back towards life but I
didnt want to laugh anymore. I spent my days sitting in the same
spot. The family members tried everything that they could to cheer
me up but failed. Finally they left me to heal by myself.

Dad, I want to go to Gujrat. I said to my father early in the


morning which had him looking me in surprise.

Why? Son, why do you want to go to Gujrat? Dad asked and I


looked down.

Dad, I want to see Emans father. I want to see the man who sold
a gem for 30k. Dad, what kind of a man could he be? I said
painfully.

He must have some resemblance with Eman in his face. I want to


see that resemblance. I miss Eman a lot. I just want to look at her
some way. I looked down and cried.

Dad gave some money to brother Tariq and he took me to Gujrat.


Aslam knew about Emans village so we took him with us. Eman
was his wife and that old man was dying to see his wife.

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We caught a bus to Bahawalpur at night and we reached her village
in the morning. We asked people about her house and finally
reached a 4 marla house which had little walls made of mud and a
single room in it. There wasnt a main door for this house but a
curtain was draped at the entrance. Eman was born in that home.
Her little laughter must have echoed around here. She must have
spent her childhood playing in that yard.

We pushed the curtain to a side and walked inside. That single


room didnt have a door on it either and there was no furniture in
that house. Four bricks were placed over each other to be used as a
stove in one corner of the yard. There was a black pan beside the
stove which must have had stale curry in it. The stink of that curry
had diffused in the whole house.

An old and weak man smoked while sitting in the middle of that
house on a broken cot. He was Emans father. It looked like he
hadnt taken a bath in the past couple of months. He smiled a little
when he saw us and his yellow teeth made an appearance.

Come on Chaudary sahib, please sit. What made you visit me?
He stood up when he saw us.

I reached forward and hugged that feeble old man. Eman was the
daughter of that drug-addict and I could still smell her fragrance on
him. I held him to me and cried for a long time. Brother Tariq
separated me from him after I felt that no more tears were left in
my eyes. I stood aside silently and looked at him.

Uncle, are you Emans father? Is she your daughter? I asked that
person.

Yes, Eman is my daughter. How do you know Eman?

He had never seen Aslam before. Aslam knew about his village but
he had never met him in person. What kind of relation was it that
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he couldnt even recognize his son-in-law? He had sold his
daughter to someone else from our village and that person had her
married to Aslam.

Uncle, Eman came to our village after being married. I held


Emans fathers hand.

Oh, is Eman alright? He asked impatiently.

Uncle, Eman left her home and went somewhere. She doesnt live
in our village anymore. I looked at him as he looked down in
disappointment.

Come on brother Tariq, lets go back. I stood up after I felt that I


couldnt stay there any longer.

Alright uncle, we will leave now. I grabbed his hand.

Brother Tariq, give some money to Emans father as well. He is a


poor man; it may help him eat for a few days. I asked brother
Tariq so he gave him a couple hundred rupees.

Okay then, uncle, please pray to God to decrease my pain. I


shook hands with him and we returned to Bahawalpur that same
day.

Days passed just like that for three years. A marriage proposal
came for Irum from another village when she turned sixteen. He
was a 30 years old dark-toned man whose first wife was dead. He
had been alone for around five years after his wifes death. He had
seen Irum at a wedding ceremony. He liked her so he sent a
proposal for her.

Ten huge packets of sweets were placed in our yard that day. A
beautiful white cow also stood there. I got happy when I saw that

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cow after coming back from work. We hadnt been able to buy a
big animal despite working hard for three years.

Even after selling all our animals, we were forced to take a lot of
loan to get my father out of the jail. The police had let him go in
ten days but we had become bankrupt in those days. Now all the
money that we brothers earned was used to return that loan. We
had returned all the money after three years and had also managed
to buy some goats. Dad had begun cultivating in his fields and we
were finally becoming stable.

Mom, when did you people buy a cow? Dad sat on a cot in front
of me but I still avoided addressing him.

Son Rizwan, someone from another village has asked for Irums
hand have you heard about Chaudary Ahmad? Its his only son
Hamid. You know about Hamid. He is a decent boy and sole
owner of 30 acres of land. He doesnt have any siblings. He has a
good family and I am sure that our Irum will be happy there. They
have sent these sweets and this cow with the marriage proposal.
Dad placed his hand on my shoulder but I tossed it away.

Dad, he is a 30 years old fat, dark-colored man. The person that


you are calling a boy is married. He already has a wife. I yelled
in anger.

He is not married. His first wife died five years ago. So what if he
is 14 years older than Irum? Son, age or complexion doesnt matter
for a man. What matters is his income and decency. Hamid is
decent and an owner of 30 acres of land. Who else will marry your
sister if not him? He likes her so he will keep her happy. We cant
dream of a prince charming for her when we cant even feed her
properly.

Come on, Tariq. Lets take this cow to the camp.

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Brother Tariq caught the cows rope and went to the camp with my
father. They tied the cow at our camp at night and came back home
after setting up its food.

I stopped Irum when she came to ask me for dinner that night. I
had her sit on the cot beside me and patted her head fondly.

Irum, are you happy with this marriage? Things might have been
different had I not fallen in love with Eman. You might have
gotten a better proposal. The calamity of my love has destroyed
your life.

No brother, I am happy. I am very happy. Dad is right; a mans


age doesnt matter. A womens life is spent in peace if her husband
loves her and respects her. Age doesnt matter, brother Razi, love
matters, and not everyone has love written in their fate. You are
lucky. Not everyone is brave and loving like you. Irum stood up.

She was about to leave the room when she stopped and asked me
in a low voice;

Brother, do you still miss Eman? I nodded.

Yes, Irum, I miss her a lot.

Brother, I also miss her a lot. I pray that she be happy wherever
she is. She turned and left the room.

Irum was married within a month and she left our house to go to
her husbands in another village. They gave us four more cows.
Dad kept refusing but Chaudary Ahmed became cross so my dad
accepted those cows as well. Our family was in a much better
condition then. Irum was also happy in her house.

Hamid turned out to be a good husband. He kept Irum happy. He


loved her and respected her. I felt content whenever I saw her

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happy. I decided to go America after I was tired of living in that
village. We were having our breakfast that morning when I said it
while cutting my flatbread;

Dad, I want to go to America. If you can manage to get me an


American visa, please do so. Dad left his flatbread when he heard
me.

Son, do you even know where America is?

Yes, I know. I nodded and he laughed.

It takes millions to go there and people destroy their lives but still
cant reach there. Son, if going to America was that easy, the
whole world would have been sitting in America right now. Its on
the other end of this world and there is a huge sea in between. You
can never go to America no matter how hard you try.

But dad, I have decided to go to America and I will go there. I


stood up and dad stood up with me.

He caught my arm and took me inside the room. He opened the


suitcase which had around 10k rupees in it. He placed all that
money on my hand.

Its all the money that I have, son. It takes 4 millions to go to


America and I dont even have 40 thousands. So stop dreaming
about America and stay at your home in peace. People like us
dont go to America. I picked a note worth 500 from that money
and slipped it into my pocket.

All I need is 500 rupees dad. You will see that I will go to
America. I will make that land of Emans dreams shine with my
prayers. I will fulfill Emans dream. I walked into the yard. I
hugged everyone and apologized to them before walking out of my
house. I crossed the street and went to Aslams house.
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Uncle Aslam, I am going to America. I am leaving this house. I
dont know if we will ever meet again. Please try to forgive me. I
have hurt you a lot. Aslam hugged me and cried.

Razi! Yes, Razi! Eman used to call you Razi, right? So I will call
you Razi as well. Both of you loved each other. You were young
and you had climbed all those great levels of love. The villagers
still praise your love. Have you ever thought that this old Aslam
could also fall in love with Eman? Yes Razi, I also loved Eman. I
probably loved her more than you ever could but my love was
worthless since I was old and poor and Eman was in love with you.
But I had loved her and I will be there between your love and hers
on the day of resurrection. I will ask for her love from God and
then I will see who He grants her with. He cried so I patted his
shoulder, wiped his tears and consoled him.

Uncle Aslam, you talk about asking for Eman from God but I
have stopped asking anything from God. You talk about the
apocalypse uncle, this is the apocalypse. I dont care about heaven
or hell if Eman isnt there. Everything is meaningless without
Eman. I apologized to Aslam and began my journey out of that
village.

I walked towards the bus station once I was out of the village. I
had walked for about ten minutes when a bus came near me from
behind. I gestured that bus to stop and climbed on its roof once it
had stopped.

The bus continued its journey towards the city. I looked back at the
village and tears blurred my sight. I was looking at that deserted
village of Bahawalpur for the last time. It was the village that
displayed Emans love in its each element. I had spent each
moment of my life drowning in my love for Eman in that village.
That village, which was an enemy of my and Emans love in the

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past, now admired and valued our love, but it had become too
difficult to live there without Eman.

My father and brothers knew that I would have gone crazy had I
stayed in that village with Emans memories. That was why they
didnt try to stop me from leaving. I was going to turn Emans
dream into a reality. I was going to America. I was going to that
statue that Eman worshipped, which showed people the right way
with a book and a torch in its hands. I had started my search for it
with a 500pkr worth note in my pocket.

Come on sir, get down. The bus to Karachi stands there. After
hearing the conductors heavy voice, I climbed down from the roof
of bus and went to sit in the bus to Karachi.

I was going to Karachi, from where I was going to search for more
ways to go to America. I had begun this strange journey to turn
Emans dreams into a reality.

I reached Germany after walking through the paths of Iran, Turkey


and Greece. I will surely write a tale about that journey. A tale
about all the pain and hurt of that path a tale of chill black winter
nights

I dont think I will be able to do justice with that strange voyage


from Pakistan to Germany if I wrote about it here, so I am ending
this book here. I will write about my journey from Karachi in the
next book. Emans love was there with me in every moment of that
journey. Its a quest of love and Emans love will take me to
America one day. One day I will be standing before that statue and
telling it this story of Emans love. A tale of love a tale of
pain I will tell it about all the time that I spent in agony.

The bus reached Karachi after a long journey of twelve hours. I


silently got down from the bus and wandered in the streets of
Karachi. I only had rupees 200 left in my pocket after paying the
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fare and I dreamed of going to America with those two hundred
rupees.

Eman had prayed for me to go to America and I believe that God


would never reject her prayer. I had started my search for
something she worshipped. The real God watched us writhing in
pain from up in the skies. He was testing the love of two people by
putting them through new troubles, new sorrows each passing
moment.

To be continued

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