Fat raindrops were pouring against the outer metal of the sedan. Pitter-patter sounds of the unwelcome shower of nature were making his already heavy head denser with vexation. The car was jumping on the muddy dimpled yet slippery road frequently. His hands were gripping the steering wheel with a deathly grip, turning his knuckles white. He was driving the car faster than ever this time. He was unable to understand his own restlessness. Something was going extremely wrong. He couldn’t name the frightening emotions he was feeling.
The person seated on the passenger seat of the sedan was also quite this time and looking at Nazi deeply, as if trying to read his mind. When he grasped the gear, Alie placed her soft palm on the back of his hand and squeezed it soothingly.
“Nazi, please relax and slow down the car. The rain is falling heavily; roads are becoming more blistered from the wetness.” She tried to console him. Nazi looked at her briefly and the next moment breathed heavily.
“I don’t know what is wrong with me Alie, but something is definitely not feeling right. Something is slipping from my hands like sand. I just want to be home Alie, as fast as possible.” He was looking stressed and tired. Alie took his hand in both her hands and kissed on his knuckles.
“We are halfway there. In-Sha-Allah, we will reach our destination in less than an hour. Just relax and drive safely.” Alie rubbed his tensed shoulders. He nodded his head in agreement.
“Alie, remember one thing.” He looked in her direction for a mere moment. “I love you and I will never leave you Alie.” Nazi announced in a hoarse voice. “But you have to promise me that you will never leave my side. Never. Alie, you are my strength. Without you I am nothing.” He adoringly kissed her knuckles.
Alie wasn’t sure why he was asking such questions at this time, but she had to promise him for his own security, to placate his unknown fears. Somehow, he seemed to be afraid of letting anyone or anything come between them. She took his hand and placed it on her chest. The warmth of his palm spread through her thumping heart. He looked in her big black pools. “You know this heart belongs to you Nazi. How can I live without you when my heart beats only for you? Nothing else matters Nazi, except that we are together. I pray to the Almighty that this togetherness prevails through death and the thereafter.”
He looked at her beautiful face and exhaled a tense breath.
“Nazi, uhmm, do you know Kuljeet?” she asked out of the blue. His hand was still in her hand, which he placed on the gear again.
“Kuljeet, that over-hormonal friend of you and Asmi?” he asked with a little frown appearing on his forehead.
“Well, she isn’t over-hormonal.” Alie told in duh tone, defending her friend for her flirty gestures towards Nazi whenever she had seen Kuljeet in the presence of Asmi. “She is just bubbly; besides you used to be so boring whenever you saw us with Asma.”
“My dear, corrections please; not when I used to see you, just her.” He kissed the back of her hand again. Nazi always became affected wherever he saw Alie before. She possessed some kind of unknown aura around her which had always made him weak. He had always been careful whenever he was near her.
“Yeah, yeah,” she mimicked, which made him stretch his lips slightly upwards for the first time in their ride to their pind (hometown).
“Accha suno to (okay listen at least),” she again seized his diligence towards the important subject.
“Yes janiye, I am listening.” Nazi lovingly paid heed to the special talk which his girl wanted to have with him.
“Kuljeet had a baby girl last week. Ohh Nazi, she is so beautiful. Khala was saying that she looks just like Kuljeet and Dharampaal veerji.” She excitedly delivered the news, which made him literally stop the vehicle for a moment to digest the stunning information.
“What, your friend Kuljeet had a baby? Kuljeet and you; aren’t both of you almost of the same age?” he asked, after starting the car again and slowing down the speed of the windshield wipers as the pouring showers of the unseasonal rain had decreased in intensity.
“Yes, she is also 17 now. She is the same age as me and Asma. We were friends from the beginning of our school-life. And why are you so surprised, by the way? Were you not aware that she got married last year after our Matric examinations?” she asked, as if he had missed the most important event of their village.
“But Alie, don’t you think she is still too young to be a mother? Surely, this is not a preferable age for giving birth to a child. I mean, don’t you think there could be health complications on bearing a child at such a young age?” Nazi asked with a shocked expression adorning his face.
“Hayo Rabba, she is 17. What age would be more preferable than this Nazi? And besides, why did you marry me if that’s not a preferable age for being urmm, I mean for starting a family?” She bit her tongue to put an end to her sentence in between. “And have you forgotten that Asma had been engaged at the age of 14, three years ago?” She was shocked by his thoughts. In their village, it was common practice for girls to get married at the age of 16; some even got married at the age of 15 if a perfect match became available.
“Asma is just engaged. I will not marry her at least for the next three years; surely not before she completes twenty. She is still very immature.”
“Duh, as if Shoeb veerji would wait,” Alie huffed.
“Why wouldn’t he? He just completed his B.Tech. Besides, he told me that he wants to go abroad for some years.” Nazi wasn’t ready to get his sister married at such a young age. He wasn’t even ready to start his own married life anytime soon. Albeit he loved being with Alie, there were still some limits between them; limits which he had no plans to cross anytime soon. He was adamant on getting approval from her baba for their association before commencing with a proper married life.