Sunday, July 31, 2005

3. In the middle of a million questions…


I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

This has to end.

I’m so sorry Aamir. I love you so much. I’m so fucking sorry.

It was almost hard to make these words out; her usually immaculate script was as haphazardly strewn across this page as if she was trying to hide her words more than to record them.

Aamir read them over and over. A million and one questions popping into his head. What are you sorry for Rida, what can’t you do, I love you Baby, why why why why why why why why.

The cacophony of whys reverberating in his head, he turns another page over, hoping that perhaps the answers to his question, to his wife’s sudden decision to kill herself would finally be revealed.

But the mystery only deepens and the pages unfurl. Recorded on the second of November, in almost just as illegible a hand, he finds the following:

I can’t. How can I tell him? He won’t. He might. But he will be so hurt. I can’t. I can’t hurt him. I can’t tell him. He can never know. Never ever know. Never ever never never never. There’s nothing he can do. Nothing at all. Only I can do anything about this now. About us. I can’t tell him. I just can’t.

Tell me what? Aamir asks out loud. Almost exasperated now as he turns back over a week’s worth of entries and finds nothing but a record of this same inner battle that Rida seems to be waging. The battle that led her off the edge of a cliff.

He’s more desperate than mournful now. More angry than guilty. He can tell something went wrong. Terribly wrong. Rida was strong, she would never ever give in unless… unless she really didn’t know what else to do. But kill herself? God… God?

And then it struck him. She had always been so strong in her faith. So ritualistic about her beliefs… she always wrote one of Allah’s names somewhere in her letters. In her term papers. In everything she ever wrote. Sometime she would settle for the common place 786 people often use. But always there would be some sign of her trying to communicate with the Almighty. As if seeking his permission, his blessing for her words. But nowhere could he find any sign of God in any of these angst ridden entries about the last week of her life.

Did she forget? How could she just forget god? No she left it out. She left him out… because?





What the hell happened Rida?

He flipped back a dozen or so pages just to confirm his theory. The nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe she had never even let god in on her secret diaries.

But the first page he stopped at, right by the date, in big black flowing Arabic she had penned Ar-Rahim (the merciful)

And he knew then that she had abandoned God. Whatever led her to kill herself had even stripped her off her faith. In the last few days of her life, in the last one week that she breathed, she was more alone than she ever had been.

He started crying again. He could see her face, smell her skin… she lived within him. Inside his senses. And now, face to face with so much fear, so much trepidation in the women he had sworn he’d never allow to be hurt, inflicted upon him a pain that nothing in his life had prepared him for.

Slowly the crying turned into dry sobs. Into hiccups. Into a now familiar emptiness inside that follows on the heels of too much pain being registered again and again on a heart quickly breaking into pieces.

He began to read.

13/9/05 Ar-rahim

Sahil. I don’t know why but that seems like the most beautiful name ever. I know now what we will name our son. Sahil is such a beautiful boy too. It’s almost unbelievable. He’s almost translucent of skin. With eyes so blue it’s hard to imagine a truer shade of blue after you have seen his eyes. And his smile, oh god. He will grow up to be such a heart breaker. Once he’s cured, I will try to have him sent to Lahore, enroll him at Aitchison. I’m sure Abu will be happy about that. He never got over not being able to send anyone to his old Alma matter. Aamir helped a little, being from there but I just know he’s dying to go to that stupid founder’s day thing again. But Sahil’s in such bad shape. His legs are almost paralyzed. He can’t even stand without support. And yet he’s always smiling. I could almost swear he made me blush with the way he looked at me, head bent, eyes bright and eager, and that devilish smile. He’s worse even than Captain Ayaz… prettier then him too. But that’s another of the species that I’m in complete awe of. What a man. I never thought men could be this caring, this giving, this… considerate. Not to say that Aamir isn’t. But Ayaz is like a different breed all together. He’s just so, compassionate.

Anyway I don’t know why I always end up comparing Aamir and Ayaz. If it has anything to do with attraction, I should be comparing Sahil and Aamir. Uff that boy is something else. That’s so wrong. I’m so desperate I’m fawning over a 16 year old.

Where’s that bloody husband when you need him.

He remembers Sahil, she had mentioned him so often in her letters. Her favorite patient, how she had went on and on about how brilliant he was, how beautiful. He had liked the name too. And the boy. It was hard for him to not like anything or anyone Rida liked. But this Captain Ayaz, came out of nowhere. She had never mentioned him in her letters. Never even alluded to the presence of a man that she thought so highly off. Maybe, he could shed some light on her. Was it a patient she lost that just destroyed her? Captain Ayaz would know. He made a mental note of asking for him at the army base as soon as he could.

There’s a knock on the door. He knows its Nida. She has come to collect the pieces of her sister’s life her parents don’t want him to have. He shoves the book into a drawer and walks towards the door. Opens it and finds a haggard old man, still reeking of surrendered dignity leaning on a metal cane at the steps.

“Uncle?” Rida’s father? He’s taken aback.

“Aamir.” He says in a tone that is more strained than hostile.

Aamir ushers him in.

“I’m sorry about this, son.” He says settling down into a chair. “But you know your auntie; she is convinced that you’re responsible.”

“And you are not?” There’s hostility in his voice that he himself finds surprising. It’s not borne of resentment for how he knows the old man feels, but for being disturbed now of all times that he had finally found something that could unravel the mystery surrounding the tragedy that is equally brutal for both men.

“Did you love her?” The old man asks.

“You know the answer to that question, Sir.”

“I don’t anymore… I don’t even know if she loved you. She got everything she wanted. The education, the man, the job… and still something like this happens and a man all set to dive into his own grave is left questioning everything he has ever done. It’s just not right for a father to bury his child. It’s just not right.”

“Or for a husband to bury his wife. I was supposed to go first.”

“I wish you had. Bring her things out to the car” He stands up and limps his way out the door.

Aamir grabs the box he has filled of things he thinks her parents would cherish the most and walks behind the old man.

At the car, he carefully places the box into the trunk, lowers the cover and is suddenly reminded of the sand being shoveled into a grave with nothing but a few strands of hair in it. His heart constricts and he knows the tears will come flooding again. But he clenches his fists and keeps himself from crying as his father in law without uttering a word gets into the car and drives off.


Rolls down the window.

“I never want to see you again. You owe us that much.” He shouts and without waiting for a reply drives off.

Aamir watches the car grow smaller and smaller in the distance. He thinks of a time when this man’s approval was the one thing that mattered to him more than anything else.

It doesn’t anymore. The only things that matter now are one leather bound journal inside a dresser drawer and a certain Captain Ayaz who might be able to explain what had happened to make his wife take her own life.

And his.

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