Hope – A short story

Amin. She knew that hope was a good feeling. She had all the hopes. She had all the dreams…
The society won’t let her do what she wanted. She had fought with her loved one for her love towards art. She had been ‘given permission’ to continue her art only after a lot of convincing to Abbu. Hence, every day she used to go by the dargah that was by the beautiful Indus. She used to sit there with her canvas. She used to just get lost in her art, for hours together. Sometimes for so long that she completely forgot about the fact that all that she was doing was probably going to go down the drain. The reason: her Abbu had planned her nikkah. She felt awful and miserable about the fact she knew that she was good at it but she had to let go. It had been her lifelong dream to get into the University of Kabul, now that she had completed her graduation with flying colours. But she knew she just couldn’t. The one person that supported her through all this was her bhaijaan- Aamir. He always believed in her abilities and he was the one who got her all her paints and other material. He had fought Abbu too and had helped her achieve what she had today.
Unfortunately, because of the constant firing on Kabul, Aamir had to go and defend his country in the fight. So that was the last time Amin saw her bhaijaan.
Soon the house was decorated in veils and flowers. The day of the nikkah had fallen upon Amin like a boulder. She hadn’t even met her future husband until the day before. Abbu had called her to the door and there he was – not looking much older than her – whom she was a complete stranger to. Abbu was talking about him doing something in Urdu, but her mind was racing at such a speed that she didn’t pay attention to it. All she caught was that his name was Aadil. She somehow managed to stretch a smile on her face. That time on she knew that, all her dreams-all her hopes – were just dreams after all. They had gone down the Indus into the great Arabian sea. But as we say, things always have a way of coming back to us at the end.
Soon, Amin forced her hands and her body to wear the wedding dress that her Khala had got her. Ammi came into the room with a sad kind of a smile on her face. She knew about the sacrifices that Amin had to make for this marriage. She knew what she had been through. She forcefully had to accept that Amin’s future husband, Aadil, was the son of her husband’s boss. Only to get in good relations with the boss for the ‘greater good’, her Abbu’jaan’ was getting Amin married to an unknown man. She went to her daughter to take her down for the nikkah. But she couldn’t control all the tears that were rolling down her face as she saw the sadness in Amin’s eyes. Having already lost hope for her Aamir to come back from war, she was now losing her Amin also. The thought troubled her a lot.  She hugged her daughter and told her to be strong no matter what, even though she herself was shattered from within.
They went down and saw the fakir, Aadil and Abbu waiting down. The fakir started performing the rituals and soon the question was asked. It hit Amin like a bullet. A bullet that she had no option but to get hit by. A bullet that couldn’t be dodged.
“Manzoor hai”, she said in a trembling voice. Two more times. Two more bullets.
She felt as if her voice had gone sore just by those two words.
Soon Aadil and Amin, were on their way to Kabul – her new home.
On the way Aadil kept on asking her questions about herself. She answered them with no extra words.
It’s really funny, she thought, that she had been told not to talk to strangers since her childhood, but was married to one now!
Almost a week or so had passed since the nikkah, and surprisingly Aadil had been very good to her. They started talking on a daily basis now. While talking to him, Amin came to know that Aadil was only three years older to her. He was doing a degree in Urdu now. She now came to know what Abbu was talking about him, the first time she met him.
One such day, as they were sipping a cup of chai, Aadil said, “I have seen your paintings and sketches Amin and I love them. You are really good at it!”  she thought that if Aadil really appreciated her work, why not let her follow her dreams?
***
Aadil had been gone for almost five days now. He was going to an army relief camp to offer help to the injured soldiers of the Kabul war. A picture of Aamir bhaijaan just went past her mind. Taking good advantage of the opportunity, she quickly snuck her art material and canvas, and started painting. She felt happy after a long time now. She just drowned into her work. A small smile had slowly crept up her face. But she knew that this happiness, this joy was not going to last for much longer.
Sketch by Chaitanya Mategaonkar
Just then, she suddenly heard a car come into the driveway. And then footsteps. It was Aadil. But Aadil was going to arrive the day after… She started panicking and thinking about what Aadil would say about her painting behind his back. He came into the door with nothing but an envelope in his hand. His face portrayed an expression of some kind of satisfaction, and that he was hiding something. Amin even caught a bit of guilt on his face. He saw the painting that Amin was trying to hide, and took it from her. He let out a big grin and a tear found its way into his eyes. All he said was, “Mahshallah! May Allah forgive me for what I did, until now.” He handed Amin the envelope and she hastily opened it.
Inside was something that she couldn’t believe. It was the acceptance letter to the University of Kabul! She was jumping as high as the sky from inside. With that was a letter too.
Aadil told her that he had met Aamir in the relief camp. There he told him how Amin had sacrificed all her dreams and aspirations for this marriage. He wanted to come and meet his little sister, Abbu and Ammi, but he couldn’t make it. He requested Aadil to fulfil his Amin’s dream, it was his last wish. Aadil then went to Amin’s parents to break the news to them. Saying that they were devastated is an understatement. But, they got ready to do anything for Amin’s happiness now. Even Abbu. So Aadil had mailed the University her resume and had received the acceptance letter the day before. Amin knew now, how wrong she had been about Aadil. She knew that a boat had just come sailing back from the Arabian Sea to the Indus and to Kabul. Although she felt like something inside her went missing, now knowing that Aamir bhaijaan was no more, the other part of her was thankful to Allah. She knew who the letter was from.
As for Aadil, the tear that just came rolling down his cheek and the smile on his face said it all!
***

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