Ayaz has got to be the nicest man on the face of this earth.
Suraiya, one of our nurses, has been in love with a guy from a near by village since childhood. She told me her story once and my god I just couldn’t stop crying. It turns out, that they were caught doing something or the other together when she was 15 and all hell broke loose. Her brothers beat the boy up so violently that he landed in a coma. She hasn’t heard from him since. It’s been 10 years almost and she still doesn’t know whether the love of her life is alive or dead. And she is still in love with him. Poor girl, so pretty and so bright… her brothers beat her with sticks almost every week as punishment for her ‘sin’. She showed me the welts on her back. I can’t believe that one human being can inflict such scars on another, let alone one’s own sister. They hate her because ever since that whole episode took place a decade ago she has been marked as a sinner and no one will marry her now. She is considered a burden on the family even when her brothers don’t do anything except smoke hash and beat her up and she is the one who earns for them as well as her parents. Sometimes our people can be so barbaric it’s unbelievable. Women are treated like so much garbage here, they are either sold off as teen-agers to horny old coots or if they dare to express a personality they are beaten and stifled to the point where suicide really does seem like the only answer. All I could do was comfort her. BUT… I told her story to Ayaz once, I don’t remember when exactly, but today, he comes and tells her that his people (ISI no doubt) have managed to locate her lover in
OH MY GOD! I’m just ecstatic!!! I mean… we’re always blaming the people with the power for being ignorant selfish assholes and here’s this guy, who no doubt as punishment for his self righteousness has been condemned to this shitty little corner of the country even though someone so brilliant should be running the freaking country… he still managed to pull whatever strings he could to bring two lost lovers together. I mean, my god. I had lost faith in the existence of such people. People who care just for the sake of caring. Out of the utter goodness of their hearts. When she told me, I hugged her and I wish I could’ve hugged him because she had tears running down her cheeks. She was almost afraid of leaving, she was trembling when she told me. But she must be so happy, after all this time, not only does she get to be free of her brutish brothers, but she gets to be with the guy she loves. I just hope he still remembers her. I hope they work it out. I must say a prayer for Ayaz. What a man.
Wow. What a human being.
Sahil is doing so well, he can eat now. Swallow and digest. The diuretic is working wonderfully against the poisoning. He just keeps getting stronger and stronger, soon enough he will be walking again. I can’t wait to see him run! I think he’s in love with me, he blushes when I touch him. He won’t let anyone else feed him. He’s such a lovely boy. There is nothing I want more than for him to get better. Not even Aamir. Okay fine, maybe I want Aamir more, but next up is to see Sahil conquer the world.
He had done nothing but read the journal ever since he got back after dropping Nida off.
Page after page after page, he read her life unfold. Her trials and tribulations and triumphs. And in between the people she had met and grown to care for. Her patients, her nurses, fellow doctors… even some of the hakeems who initially had shunned the whole HCP program but had now grown to praise her tenderness towards her patients that almost always managed to make them feel better. She had always had a certain aura around her. Of gentleness and of love. When Aamir had seen her for the first time he had thought this is what Aphrodite would be like. It was hard not to be affected by her, he knew this. And knowing this made him question her death more and more.
She couldn’t have just killed herself. Not for just any reason. She had mentioned losing patients in the journal. She had seemed distraught and disillusioned, but one life lost had been replaced by a dozen saved the next day and she was back on top of the world, quickly coming to terms with both life and death and constantly growing into a stronger, smarter much more powerful person then she already had been all her life. He could see it in her words. Just like the letters she wrote to him. He had always felt such pride for her every time she had mentioned defeating impending death for a starry-eyed child and had wept for her desperation when death had won.
Her entries in the journal were really not much different than the letters. Mostly her letters had been summarized accounts of the daily events she recorded here. Except for one glaring discrepancy. She had never mentioned Ayaz. Or anything even remotely related to him in the letters. Reading now this report of the forlorn Suraiya struck him as something that she would have been dying to share with him. But she hadn’t mentioned it. Not a word about it. Nor of Ayaz and his magnificent acts of kindness which found some kind of mention in almost each one of her journal entries.
He couldn’t even begin to grasp the reasons for this. He knew her too well, loved her too much to expect that she was hiding anything from him. Besides there was nothing outwardly romantic about her relationship with the man anyway. It seemed like they had found moral support with each other in a place where it was desperately sought. She couldn’t have thought he would be jealous. She couldn’t have thought he would mind. Or maybe she would have. I am jealous right now. If it wasn’t for the emptiness inside him and the desperate need to uncover the truth, the reality, he probably would have been jealous first and foremost.
He sat back with the book lying in his lap staring up at the roof, mulling over what he had so far come to understand about his wife’s life without him. He wasn’t even really sad anymore. He wasn’t in mourning. She had died and taken his capacity to feel along with her. Accept for anger. He was angry, he realized. More than anything else, he was angry. At her for ever coming here, at himself for ever letting her come, at god for letting her loose her faith and die… at all the people she had healed for their betrayal of her memory. But most of all, he realized he was angry at Captain Ayaz… this phantom who seemingly existed only in his wife’s journal. And existed in an air of majesty. It almost felt like she worshipped him, that she felt that he encompassed all the qualities that Aamir himself lacked. Sometimes, it seemed even that she was blatantly regretting her decision to marry him.
NO. I mustn’t think like that. This is just me being stupidly jealous. This is why she didn’t tell me about him in the letters I would have made her come back.
But… whatever her reasons. Whatever her justifications, the obvious fact through all of this was that Captain Ayaz had gotten to know his wife very well in the last 4 months. They had become friends… possibly more. But unlikely, he frantically hoped.
In any event, friend or lover, the closest Aamir could get to knowing what really happened was through him.
And he sat up as soon as this thought hit him. He had left 6 days before she killed herself. Was he leaving her? Did he tell her that he could not possibly live in sin with a married woman? The idea was so absurd that he burst out laughing. Louder than he should have perhaps. Loud enough to drown out the frightened whimpers of his soul.
He did not want to believe that she could cheat on him. He knew for a fact that she couldn’t. But the surprise was no less profound when she had killed herself. He had first to come to terms with the fact that his wife had changed while she had been here. But changed how much? Enough to cheat on me? Enough to kill herself?
Try as he might, he could not decide which assumption would have been more absurd just 3 days ago. Now, everything was possible.
Head swirling with doubt riding doubt to the apex of quickly spawning hatred, he started reading again.