Sunday, July 31, 2005

12. The ‘slut’ from Lahore


Once again, as the sun rose behind the clouds spread across the November sky, its cloaked light cascading down to the valley sheathed in snow found Nida making her way down to the little tea shop in the market.

It was quieter today. Less people out on the streets. The first snow of the season had a way of sapping the desperation for waking up into empty lives. Some shop keepers had been lonely enough to find greater comfort in the cold recesses of their shops than the warm embraces of their spouse under woven quilts.

She walked on past the grocery merchant, leering at her from his door way. She came clad in her mother’s over coat… 4 sizes too big, and yet unable to keep contained her magnetic allure for the opposite sex.

The little girl came running to her as she saw her approaching, almost afraid that she might forget and move to some one else’s dhabba. She stopped a few feet ahead of her, smiled, tilted her head, and turned around to lead her towards her usual charpoy. Nida patted her head as she sat down with a smile, hands tucked inside her pockets, shivering slightly from the icy breeze caressing her face with stinging cold.

She missed Lahore. It never got this cold there. It never snowed. It never hurt. She could trust Lahore, the city of a billion people who all seemed to know each other somehow. She knew the roads, the streets, the monuments and the restaurants, the people and the intentions. Here, nothing really made sense. It was a confused jigsaw puzzle of breathtaking beauty and heart breaking sorrow. Of beautiful blue flowers and ugly secrets. Of uncaring strangers and a dead sister.

She longed for Aamir. For his friendship… more than anything else. She had classified her feelings for him as a senseless teenage infatuation. Ever since she had seen him, always in the capacity of her older sister’s beloved, she had carried her own torch for him. Even when she helped Rida plan her escapades into the musty summer nights of Lahore with him, even when she lied to their parents for her, she did it more for Aamir’s approval than Rida’s.

She loved her sister, there was no denying that. She had loved her and respected her more than any one else that she was related to by blood. And then there was Aamir… infatuation, perhaps… but one that had lasted well over six years now. And with her on the verge of leaving teenage behind, she was still infatuated. She knew nothing could ever come of it, he loved her sister too much, and her none at all. She had no reason to hope for him to ever see her as anything other than Rida’s younger, precocious sister and yet there was nothing she could do about seeing him, now more than ever, as everything but her sister’s husband. It was a strange melancholy of spirit. Circumstances had come to abet her intentions but her guilt wouldn’t allow for her to even conceive of having what she desired. And so. torn between pursuing her own love and honoring her sister’s she decided to drown herself in the mystery surrounding Rida’s death.

She sat sipping at the tea, watching the steam rising from it mingle with the frosty breath emanating from her mouth, forcing her mind to focus away from how Aamir alone was still the one who could calm her soul.

She saw the jeep come to a stop at the edge of her field of vision. As soon as the man stepped out, she recognized him. She knew he was perhaps her only chance at getting any kind of closure. She knew what he was after. She smiled to herself, and began to unbutton her over coat.

Just as he strode languidly in front of her and sat down, Nida slipped the coat off.

When Ayaz looked up after settling himself in the charpoy amidst the creaks of protests from the taut maze of rope spread across a wooden frame, he saw her stretched before him, leaning back on her arms, breasts pushing against fitted white cotton, two buttons undone to hint seductively at the dark recess between two perfectly round breasts rising with a firmness endowed by unadulterated youth. The cold stroking the nipples to erection, pressing lovingly against the fabric stretched snug across them, and a thick over coat lying in a puddle of rejected modesty around plump thighs covered by jeans that fit as if sown over skin instead of adorned.

He found himself unable to speak. For an instant he thought he saw Rida. The resemblance was remarkable. From the thickness of the chestnut hair to nature’s precision in granting equally gracious endowment of sensuality, the two sisters were astonishingly similar. And astonishingly attractive.

She knew he couldn’t get his eyes past the inviting swell beneath her shirt and sneered at the predictability of his kind. She knew she had him cornered. Hook line and sinker, an inch of cleavage and he couldn’t help strip her naked in his mind. Some men need even less, she thought. But they all want the same thing. And they all pay for it whether they know it or not. All he would have to give, was information.

“Hey” She breathed, turning the sneer on her lips into a tantalizing smile.

He looked up at her face flustered, to say the least. She could almost see the drool forming behind his slightly parted lips. He swallowed, and focused on her eyes. The same pale brown he had witnessed expressing every emotion ranging from unbridled joy to unimaginable horror. Even the shape of her eyes was just like Rida’s. Only tilting upwards a little more at the outer edges, making them seem more seductive and her more willing. He didn’t know whether it was this girl seducing the animal inside him or Rida come back from the dead to haunt his longing, but he knew he wanted her as desperately as he had wanted her sister. Even more so, knowing how her body was capable of satiating his hunger. He couldn’t believe his luck. Just last night he had pleasured himself with the remembered visions of his feeding on Rida’s flesh, and fallen asleep unfulfilled, almost in tears at having lost the woman who had brought him the most gratification of all his conquests.

Her screams, her cries, her pleading and begging, never registered on his deluded mind. All he remembered was the taste of her tongue in his mouth and the warmth of her breasts in his hands.

Then he remembered that composure in the face of distress is what wins battles. Thus he wiped the lust of his face and replaced it with the smile that no woman he had ever come across had been able to resist.

Nida realizing what he wanted to accomplish, saw the smile, and lowered her eyes feigning bashfulness and broadened her smile.

Neither one of them knew exactly what they were up against, but they soldiered on for victory.

“You never came last night” he began, fighting hard to keep his eyes on her face.

“I wish I could have… but” She began, sitting up, allowing the neck-line of her shirt to dip lower, just to see if he was weak enough to abandon his act for one quick gaze at further exposed cleavage.

He did. In a flash, she saw his pupils dart downwards, linger, and shoot back up to her face to find her smiling with excitement. Or what he thought was excitement, but was actually pity.

“I really“ He stammered “was looking forward to continuing our discussion from the morning..”

“Really? What discussion?” She knew what discussion it was, but she had to test his caliber. Seduction was easy, but it had to be done right to achieve the desired benefits.

“Aah,… Umm… . “ He stalled racking his brain for any memory of what had been said. “God!” He exclaimed, finding traces of memory fleeing his brain at the onslaught of lust.

So he remembered. But not soon enough to fool me.

“You were saying how you had lost God… and and I just found it remarkable how I sometimes feel that way… and I was wondering how you felt about it… but you never came, and I must admit, that left the night a little empty for me.” He went on with the fervor of a soldier who has finally found his weapon. “All my guests kept wondering why… I was such… sullen company. But what could I tell them? A beautiful young girl had reached into her own soul and found the fear in mine?” He waited for the effect of his words… Nida complied with a look of bamboozled sympathy in her eyes, biting her lower lip as if in a silent apology. “They would’ve laughed… and said Ayaz, life is not a fairytale. People don’t expect that life can be a fairy tale at times and when it is, we must accept it and thank God for his gift and reaffirm our belief in his kindness.” There was some truth in this; it was god he thanked for bringing to him the closest possible facsimile of his last victim, as soon as he had started to long for. No, Major Ayaz really had no reason to doubt God’s kindness.

“But I agree with the people, na” She replied, pouting, letting her hands fall helplessly in her lap causing a tremor to ring through her body that only worked towards further fueling the lust she had already triggered in the Major “Life isn’t a fairy tale… not right now anyway.”

He was almost disappointed. But had to pursue remembering his old school motto: Perseverance Commands Success… the school he had only managed to get into when it itself had sunk into perversion in the hands of a money hungry administration and could be bought into. He reached across the table and grabbed her hands in his.

“Tell me what it is.” He said looking into her eyes. “What is it that can bring such sadness on such a pretty face? What is it that can steal the love for fantasy from a young girl’s heart.. .that blinds you to the feelings you have invoked in my heart just by knowing what I feel without even knowing me?”

She almost rolled her eyes, but resisted. She slowly, pulled her hands out of his grasp. Making the movement seem reluctant. Combed a hand through her fingers, pretended to just realize what her careless shirt had laid exposed to him all this while, buttoned it up to the top. Looked up with tears bubbling in her eyes, stared at him for a second, smiled, and looked away.

He waited for her to answer, utilizing the precious moments of her divided attention to stare hungrily at her breasts still tantalizing him, even without the added benefit of cleavage, pushing as if in protest against the scarce modesty enforced by the tight fitting shirt.

She looked back at him and he was just a breath of a second late in raising his eyes from where they fed on visions of her naked flesh. The delay drew an unwitting sigh from Nida, exasperated by the uniformity in lechery she found to exist in almost every man she had ever come to know. But the sigh worked well to prep him for what was to follow, indicating her helplessness in the presence of his charm.

“My sister… she killed herself… here a few days back. “ She began. Keeping her gaze fixed on the cup lying on the table before her. Looking so distraught that Ayaz although somewhat shocked at having the miracle of their resemblance explained in one sentence felt the need to hold her in his arms.

So she went on to relate as much of the story as she thought was necessary to earn his interest. Keeping, thankfully for Aamir, any mention of Rida’s husband securely to herself.

Ayaz however, through her gut wrenching tirade of the loss of a sibling, had been formulating a plan.

When she was finished, he lowered his head.

“I…I knew your sister.” He began. “Rida wasn’t it?” He managed to infuse such sorrow in his voice that Nida was taken aback,

He then went to recount stories of Rida’s kindness and over all brilliance. Bringing himself nearly to tears with accounts of her heroic battles against death on behalf of her patients. And then he darkened his tone.

“I’m sorry…I can’t tell you more. I’ve already said so much.” He concluded still keeping his head held low.

Nida, so piqued with interest now with finding someone who not only knew her sister but also respected her, decided to abandon all pretense of seduction and hurtled back into her real self.

“No please you must, what happened? It’s been gnawing at my mind, at all of our minds… I can’t believe I actually ran into someone who can help uncover the details… I swear, I promise I will… no one else will ever know. But you must tell me… for my peace of mind… please; don’t you care about my peace of mind, about Rida’s peace of soul?” She couldn’t keep the desperation out of her voce, she felt on the verge of breaking apart… there was no way she was going to let him go now without telling her what she needed to know.

“Look... I… I do care. I swear I do. More about you somehow, than even the danger that lies in disclosing the secrets surrounding her death… but… I can’t. I… its not safe here...” And he sprung the trap.

Nida saw it, she knew what he was getting at… but she had to take a chance on him being sincere… at least in knowing what he claimed to know. He had described her so well… he did know her… maybe… maybe…

“Where then?” She asked dropping the volume of her voice to indicate her understanding of the peril he was putting himself in.

“Can you come by yourself? Can you get a car? It’s a little out of the way… but the only place that is safe from the prying eyes and ears of the fucking army spies.” Even his anger seemed genuine to Nida now.

“No… I don’t have a car.” She said almost disappointed. Wondering if he could get Aamir to lend her his…. Wondering if he would let her go alone.

Ayaz breathed a sigh of relief… a girl gone missing would be much harder to find than a car…It was working out well.

“That’s okay… here’s my card, use the fax number, ring once and hang up. When you ring back I will pick it up. It’s the only line that isn’t tapped by the ISI” He almost smiled at how well he could lie. ISI indeed.

“Okay” Nida went, taking the card from his hand, every minute finding herself more and more excited about her suspicions being true and being on the verge of unraveling the mystery. She knew what he would ask of her, and for the first time in her life, she felt like it wasn’t too high a price to pay. He would have earned something after all.

“I’ll try though to get my own car… when should I call you?” She said now totally unwilling and unable to muster guile into her words.

“Hmmm… give me a call around 4 in the evening, we will discuss then how to get where I want you to come if you get your own car… or else you can tell me where to pick you up from.”

“Okay… where… will we be going, waisay?” She said letting a little bit of fear creep into her voice suddenly aware of the danger she was putting herself in.

“The Postal rest house… off the road to Kalaam.. It’s not too far from here, but is closed during the winter months. It will be deserted, safe… no one thinks to snoop there during the winters” He said in almost an inaudible whisper. “We will be safe there… I hope” He added, indicating his own misgivings about the hazard that lay ahead.

“At 4 then?”

“At 4” He replied getting up. He slipped a hand under her chin and lifted her face up. Peered straight into her eyes and said “Don’t worry, I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise”

This time, when she shied away, she wasn’t pretending.

Ayaz climbed into his jeep, gave the girl sitting on a charpoy, sliding on her over coat one last look and a smile, and drove away.

Nida sat stock still, absent mindedly pulling the over coat back on, her lips almost blue form the cold she had braved for the last fifteen minutes. Stood up and took off for Aamir’s cabin.

The little girl slumped behind the counter, trembling with terror, tears trickling down her eyes without as much as a whimper from her mouth. This time she cried not for the torment she would suffer at the hands of her father for forgetting to ask the slut from Lahore to pay for the tea again, but for the fate she knew the slut from Lahore had condemned herself to at the hands of the Major.

1 comment:

disco papaya said...

noooo

nooooooooooo


DONT GO NIDA DONT DONT DONTTTTT