As narrated by Zoheb
I had the widest, broadest grin across my face watching her being all grumpy, as she sat silently in Arshad’s lounge. She didn’t seem to be paying any attention to anything and mindlessly put the little tasbeehs into these cute organza pouches. We, ( Riza, Laeeka, Aara and I ) were helping Aunty Sawleha tonight, while the others were at Zainab’s. Since we were a group of friends getting married to someone in the group, the splitting thing was mandatory at every wedding.
Two days had passed since I had spoken to Aara’s parents. According to Sahal, she hadn’t touched any of the kunchas, she threw away all of the chocolates that I had anonymously sent her yesterday, she burnt the anonymously sent gummy bears, she was even more irritated because everyone acted totally oblivious to what was going on and instead, teased her that she was getting married next. She looked at me on more than one occasion with teary eyes and it broke my heart….Patience my darling…only a few more hours.
I discreetly pulled out the second phone,yep the one with the unknown number (Actually my nani’s old phone )and tapped away…
“Close your eyes, I will whisk you away…to a place where only love and happiness awaits”
Cheesy, I know, but I was waiting for a reaction.
Aara’s phone vibrated and she frowned as she read the message “Piss off ” , she said aloud , startling everyone
“Who???”, Riza asked
“Some idiot is messaging me from an unknown number “,she mumbled
“I really wanted you to be there when I asked for your hand in marriage but then it would have just spoiled the surprise “”..and another message
I swear there was smoke coming out of her ears!
“Who the hell is this guy and does he think that I’m dumb enough to marry him? ??”
“Woah Aara…hold it..what’s happening? “, Laeeka said as she put her hand over Aara’s
“Do my parents really think that I will say yes to this nonsense?? And how can all of you even be so happy about it? ?”
“Errrr.. because…We want to see you happy that’s all” , Riza said with a straight face
I didn’t say a word.
” You guys should know me better than this!” , she said angrily
“No its the truth..and you (now looking at me) you must be very happy right? ”
“I already told you Aara, I’m over the moon ” , I smiled
“How can you be like this? ”
“You didn’t specify what, you just asked me if I’m happy ” , I said as coolly as I could
“Don’t get cute with me!”
“I’m just being honest ”
She was about to open her mouth again when another delivery arrived ☺
“Aaroo this came for you “, Arshad smiled, holding a big bunch of multi colored balloons
“What…..to YOUR house? ?”, she asked in shock
“Aha and there’s a note too ”
“Thumse milke dil ka hai jo haal kya kahe. ..hogaya hai kaisa Yeh kamaal kya kahe ”
She stared at the note angrily, grabbed the bunch of balloons from Arshad and before any of us could react, she started popping all of them !!!
Riza and Arshoo burst out laughing! I had to contain myself. ..Laeeka on the other hand, gave the three of us a very disapproving look
“Aunty Aara , this is for you “, one of Arshad’s cousins kids said, with an even bigger bunch of balloons in his hand .This time, it was a bunch of yellow smileys, with a note “because I knew that you would do that…smile, all of the beauty of the heavens and earth smiles when you smile ”
I smiled softly at her as she looked at the new bunch of balloons .atleast she didn’t pop these ones, she told the kid that he could have it.
“What’s wrong?”, Arshad asked as he sat down beside her
“You know…you all know and no one will tell me ” , she said with teary eyes
“Your parents didn’t tell us anything “, Arshad lied
“I refuse to believe that! ”
And right on cue, the third bunch of balloons arrived. ..a bunch of red hearts.
Aara read the note aloud “All my love, always ”
Silence fell around the table as tears fell from Aara’s eyes
“I guess I’m doomed to be miserable for your wedding and well probably for the rest of my life “, she said as she lifted her eyes to meet mine
Awwww I wanted to wipe her tears right now….
I nodded to Arshad as my phone beeped and Immy’s message came through
“Maybe not “, Arshad said as he reached into his pocket “I have this note for you, instructions actually, for me to bring you somewhere ”
Aara stood up with Laeeka”s help and then looked at me with a mixture of anger and hurt in her eyes ” I just want you to know that it was always you and that it will probably always be you..even though you’re acting like such a jerk and I hate you for that. .but I can’t help myself saying this because it might just be the last time..I love you and I wish that you could have done something about it ”
“Aara it’s. .”
“What do you think..that I’m going to say yes to this stranger? ? No..but I will go where you will never find me again! ”
Riza put his head on the table and laughed to himself, but I felt really bad.
“Laugh carry on laughing “, she said as she walked away.
“That was very funny! She popped the balloons! “, Riza said ,clutching at his tummy
“You’re both very mean! But let’s get moving..and end this thing without my sister having to cry anymore “, Laeeka scowled
As narrated by Aara :
My heart was so broken right now, not because of this person who my parents have found for me to marry but because Zoheb seemed so candid about everything. Like it was all a big fat joke to him!
Arshad was taking me somewhere, where, I didn’t even ask. I just wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.
“I promise you that everything will be okay A”, he smiled, “have a little faith ”
Faith. That would be easier said than done.
We drove in silence and finally reached our destination, which to my surprise turned out to be The Botanical Gardens which by the way looks magical at night ! But I wasn’t here to admire this beautiful garden as the moonlight wrapped it in its crystal shroud…As the flowers seemed to dance slowly with the wind..as the…I stopped. This was not appropriate, definitely beautiful, but not something that I was prepared to share with anything related to this stranger!
“Ready? “, Arshoo asked me
“No but I have my pepper spray on hand ”
“Oh Aara you don’t need pepper spray! “, he laughed
“So you DO know something ”
“Only that I am here with you and I’m more effective than pepper spray ”
I couldn’t help but chuckle!
“Come on Arshoo let’s go give this sucker a mouthful !”
Messages were coming in every few seconds from the unknown number, on which way to go. At the very end of the rose garden, there was a large dark purple tent.
“He’s a wizard? “, I asked aloud
“to the world I am nothing and nobody. My life is dark without you..step inside and you will know what is in my heart…”
I took a deep breath in and after Arshad assured me that he would wait right here , I stepped inside.
I didn’t get it….
It was beautiful but I didn’t get it..
I held onto my crutch firmly and looked around me…The ground was covered in red rose petals…tiny sparkling fairy lights were draped across the ceiling…twinkling like little stars..and the mirrors…I walked further in, it seemed to be a little mirror maze. Looking around, it almost felt as though I was standing in the night sky!!
…and another message came through…
“Don’t you see what is in my heart?”
What…All that I see is me! And then it sunk in…all that I see is me…all that I see is me…
I looked around at my own reflection looking back at me….just me, standing alone, on thousands of rose petals, my long black dress overlapping many of them…when a tall man (he wore a black pants and white shirt so I assumed that he was a man) walked towards me, a tall hat on his head ,his head lowered and I couldn’t see his face.
“Listen you’ve got it all wrong ” , I said quickly
But that didn’t seem to deter him at all as he dropped down on one knee and lifted his hand slowly, holding out the most beautiful and precious diamond ring. But he looked down and this big blerrry hat blocked his face!
“I can’t do this, I don’t even know you!”
“whatever my end may be,
this is how I want my beginning..With you and only you “…He said and the wheels in my head grinded to a silent halt.
I ran the palm of my hand across the diamond from the ring that he still held…and it all came tumbling back.
“whatever my end may be,
this is how I want my beginning..With you and only you “…I was lost somewhere that I didn’t know, perhaps I was roaming in one of my nightmares, all I knew was that I needed to get out and I didn’t know how. …when I heard those words, and his voice. Subconsciously, I could feel my hand being opened gently and the cold but somewhat comforting feeling of something metal being placed in it , and then my fingers were closed over it. I followed the sound of his voice, holding on to his words…As I struggled to come back. I wanted to come back..I wanted our story to have the happiness that it deserved. And holding on to his voice, his fingers over mine, I found my way back home.
“Zoheb “, I whispered, with tears streaming down my cheeks
He lifted his head and took off the hat, he was crying too.
“Be mine…” , he pleaded softly as his eyes met mine
Overwhelmed and overcome by a surge of undefined emotions…I looked at him and cried harder.
He stood up and wiped my tears…
” Please don’t cry Aara…”
I impulsively lifted my crutch and gave him a hard shot with it, and threw myself into his arms, both of us holding onto each other, crying the tears that we held back for too long , way too long.
“It was you”, I whispered as the realisation of the last few days hit me
“Just like you said. .”, he whispered as he held me closer and my words echoed in my head…the words that I had told him….”it was you and always you”
“You did it ” , I cried..warm, glorious tears of joy
“I did…your parents said yes ” I could feel him smiling against my hair , “I just want your yes Applepie ”
“I already told my father that I would marry whoever he chooses”, I laughed through my tears
” I really missed you…and I’m really sorry ” ,Zoheb whispered and kissed me on my forehead
“I’m sorry too…” , I whispered as I held onto his hands
“So..” , he asked as he touched my nose with his nose
“So…” , I said as I closed my eyes
“Will you marry me…”
” Wrong question….. ” , I smiled
“Will you give me the chance of a lifetime my angel…” , he asked as he wrapped his fingers around mine
“Only if you will give me the chance of a lifetime …”
I felt myself being lifted off the ground and onto Zoheb’s feet. An air of familiarity surrounded us as our sweetest moments seemed to play themselves out right in front of my eyes…as I looked at the sight of the two of us in all these mirrors…If this was the image of our hearts, then all that we needed was tucked safely inside of us.