The thick gray layer of cottony clouds was consuming the late afternoon sunlight in its grief, making the atmosphere more poignant and soulless. The final days of the humid summer seemed more restless and energy draining. There was an uneasiness permeating through his whole being, making his blood running cold in his veins. He was riding his friend’s bike from the University of Delhi to his destination on Gurgaon road, about 12 kilometers from his university. He had just returned from his hometown yesterday; and today had completed the submission of his final project. He couldn’t miss the last date of his submission and risk his future. After the submission, he left the University promptly; needing to be with someone with whom he could pour his heart out and relax. Someone whom he could hug and let his guard off for some time, be himself. Someone who could take his pain away and provide him the warmth he longed for.
An imperative desire to be with someone close to his heart inadvertently drew him to the road for Eastern Delhi, in search of his only closest relationship after his sister Asma. Extremely compelling circumstances had forced him to prepone Asma’s wedding and marry her off to his cousin. After the demise of their mother, their khala (aunt) had wanted to take Asma with her to her home; but being engaged with Shoeb, he wasn’t ready to send his only sister without the security of any legitimate relationship. So in a quick, small and very private gathering, he had given his sister’s hand in marriage to his cousin Shoeb. There was no point in delaying the inevitable. He knew he had to marry her off at the earliest possible time, before leaving the country for his Master’s degree. He couldn’t leave Asma alone.
His mind was occupied in the happenings of the last one month of his life. The past month had turned his life upside down. He had never realized before that his mother, the inspiration of his life, the person strong enough to take care of two young children after the death of his father, could have became so emotionally drained that she didn’t even try to save her life. She was his strength after his father’s demise. He now felt as if his grief would consume his identity and soul into ashes. He wanted to be strong again and stand on his roots without any support but…
He sighed harshly on the speedy motorbike and looked up at the fluffy grey clouds that had veiled the light orange early evening sky like a mourning widow wrapped in a black sheet. Blazing and thundering, they finally started pouring down in fat showers of indescribable pain, mirroring the grief he was feeling in his own self.
Determined to reach his destination as soon as possible, he exceeded the speed of his motorbike above the safe limit. As the lost Sun was setting down in the west under the thick layers of ash grey clouds and heavy rainfall, he stopped his motorbike in front of the closed iron gate of ‘Kashana-e-Sardar’, the renovated building of his love; the only person that gave him courage to live his life again and strengthened him to face his demons. An armed heavy-built guard stepped out from a small cabin, grabbing an umbrella in his one hand and an AK-47 in the other.
“Open the gate”, he commanded the guard with an irritable look plastered on his handsome wet face. This was the first time the guard hadn’t opened the gates for him beforehand. But this was also the first time he had arrived at Alie’s mansion almost after sunset.
The guard reluctantly opened the heavy iron gate for Nazi, and he proceeded on his motorbike through the drive way. Parking his bike on the side stand, he looked back at the guard, who had already locked the gate again and buried himself back into his cabin.
Nazi gazed at the gigantic white double doors of the entrance. The whole two-storied building, freshly painted in white oil paint, outlined with ceramic and marble and engraved with intricate antique blossomic designs on the borders, stood proudly on lush green grounds. This last month had changed everything in his life; definitely everything.
He let out an exhausted breath; and ran his fingers through his dripping dense locks. As soon as he reached the shelter of the high ceiling of the half-spherical front foyer supported with huge round pillars, he brushed the huge amount of water dispersed over his wet face and head. He then pressed the button of the doorbell. Waiting for the door to be opened for him, he looked down at his feet, where a small pool had formed because of the water from his drenched clothes. His washed-off blue jeans was looking a little muddy due to the rainwater; while his black low-quality sports shoes were smudged with dirt.
Standing on the marbled flooring of the plush exteriors of the villa, he suddenly became conscious of his attire. The contrast of his appearance with the lavish surroundings in which he was standing suddenly dawned on him. A small self-denigrating smile crept on his chiseled facial features.
The door opened after what seemed like ages; revealing the most beautiful creation of the Almighty standing in front of him. She was clad in the most exquisite piece of cotton-silk off-white knee length fitted kurta-salwar (Indian dress), embellished with multi-coloured fine fulkari thread work on top. A matching multi-coloured fulkari dupatta was hanging loosely on her slim neck, showing just the right amount of her clear creamy skin. Her face still held smudged scraps of sheer make-up, with light pink lipstick and dark thick lines of kohl outlining her almond shaped eyes, making them huger.