Monthly Archives: October 2013

Running Away (Chapter 5)

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“So what did you decide Durre?” that was the first thing he asked as he gave me a peck on my forehead like he always did when he came.

“I’m going to come.” I said and saw how bright his face lit up, he smiled at me and his eyes sparkled.

“I’m so happy! I can’t express what I feel right now, you and the baby! I promise I’ll work as hard as I can to provide for you. Don’t worry and I’ll make sure……” I interrupted him there

“How do you plan on taking me from here Fakhir?” and his face that glowed like a star dimmed again.

“I’ll talk to Jahaan Arra when I leave.”

And the time we spent together that day was anticipated to be the beginning of my new life.

The next day when Fakhir came, I knew he had talked to Jahaan arra the previous night. He had a look on his face that was hard to read, it is said that the face communicates half of the things but what I saw in Fakhir’s face was not hope or joy but a look of dismay and worry.

“What did Jahaan Arra say? Did you talk to her? Are we leaving this place?” I exploded with questions as he stayed quiet and sat right next to me, his eyes showed no joy no happiness but a sadness that reflected a fresh wound placed on his heart.

“Durre I did talk to her, she said I can come meet you but it’s against the rules to sell new girls off and she’s demanding millions for you. I don’t have that sort of money Durre, my father will never pay me to buy you from here.” and with that it all went numb for me, my heart that had started to learn how to live again died. Like someone suffocating you, killing you with a dagger slowly and with every hit the wound gets deeper and more lethal till the blood runs out and the pulse dies out.

I sat in the corner and started to cry, Fakhir kept consoling me, hugged me all through the night but I was right, no hope for my soul was better than any hope at all. At least that way I knew I wasn’t going to be broken and built up only to be broken again. It is funny how we don’t know how far we can tolerate unless we test ourselves but still we try surviving and fighting regardless of the results. Never in my wildest imagination had I ever thought about being here but I was, never had I thought I would be placed in a situation as such but I was, my life had burnt like a cigarette and the ash was now crumbling, gently decaying to the end. The ember, fading away as I dropped my life onto the dirt. Hearing the sizzling of heat in the end. I was more numb than disappointed because hope abandoned me. That light at the end of the tunnel was out now and I was to stray and die in this darkness. Fakhir left the morning and I lay in bed all day long thinking about the life I had in me, this child was mine and I would be the sole person to bring it in this world to be responsible for whatever this child faces. No father and mother a prostitute- born with the worst luck possible.

I could now feel Akram dragging me through then van by my hair but the pain of this dead child was far worse than that, my life and my sole reason to be alive was dead. He kicked me more and so did a couple of other men, spat on me, kicked my face and my jaw cracked but all I could grieve about right now was my child.

I remember the day when it all happened, followed like a storm and my last memories played a bitter cruel symphony. After some days, I remember Fakhir coming to me and the first thing he said was “let’s run away Durre. Let’s just get out of here.” I was now determined not to give this child the environment the kids here faced, the status that harami children were given by the society yet it was this society who made them in the first place. Men who buy love and pleasure and then disposed the outcomes of it like tissue paper. Humans who prayed and feared God in the eyes of others but denounced him in the core of their hearts. Sinners, all of them, pretending to be saints in the eyes of others. Betraying people and themselves. The world works in different ways and bends accordingly to people and there are no rigid rules for it. Akram, Fakhir, Jahaan araa and me all part of the puzzle pieces fitting into a picture that presented not so jolly view but a scene that reflected misery, sorrow, and despair.

 

Days passed and my belly started to swell, I started to grow fond of the little life inside me. I started to feel the baby kick me and that spread a life in me that made me want to survive this all. I didn’t take clients after my first trimester and Fakhir used to come only now and bring me all kinds of things, he really took care of me. We even decided names of the baby. If it were a girl, we were going to name her Fatima and if it were a boy, we were going to name him Shahraiz. The only light in my dark life was the holes made by this tiny individual in me and for once I felt what my mother would’ve felt with me. It made me think how my running away from home had hurt her. I imagined and cried as much as I could. I wanted to talk to her, to say that I’m sorry for hurting her. I know I wasn’t a good daughter ever but now about to be a mother myself I felt what my mother felt like. Moreover, that day when Fakhir came early andI told him what I was feeling “do you have a phone?” I asked

To which he cheekily replied “want to talk to my other girlfriends eh? And yes I do!”

“No! I need to talk back home, just to hear my Ama’s voice. Please let me call her?”

It had been ages since I said the word Ama out loud and openly confessed to Fakhir that there hasn’t been a day in my life that I missed the warm embrace of my mother, her smell, the touch she had and the songs she hummed while I rested my head on her lap-I began to cry.

“Do you have a contact number Durre? Let’s call her.”

We didn’t really have a phone back home in the village but there was this shop where every relative of the people who lived in the called and I had it memorized. I remembered it and immediately Fakhir called home. My pulse raced and I was anxious, a man picked up and Fakhir explained that he’d like to talk to Malik Munir’s wife and then handed me the phone, after a while I heard a woman’s voice “asalamualikum! Who is it?” I wanted to speak but I couldn’t, it was ama-my ama. Her face began to come in my mind and tears filled my eyes. “Ama it’s me, Ama your Durr e Shahwar.” I said in a shaky voice. I heard Ama’s voice in tremble and then I heard crying “Meri Bachi! Are you okay? Where are you? Where did you go? Come back! We forgive you but please come back.” Ama went on and on and I stayed quiet, I wish I could tell her where I was now and what I was facing but it was way late and I had already disappointed and broken her heart once, if I told her my condition now I knew my mother would die of sorrow. “I’m okay ama, I’m happy! Don’t worry” that’s all what I managed to say when I broke up crying and I heard ama “don’t lie! Where are you come back? Don’t lie to your mother, I gave you birth I know you.” And I disconnected the phone; I could not talk to her anymore. I got to know that no matter what your parents forgive you because you are a part of them and nobody can stay mad at their own child forever. I felt happy in a sad kind of way after talking to her.

“Durre please don’t cry. I’m here and one day I shall take you with me.” Said Fakhir

“WHEN!?! I know I cannot get out of here so stop with the lies, there is no hope for me ever getting out of here. I’m an insect here just like all of these girls here and one day eventually you’ll get tired of me and leave like everyone does. In the end I will have nobody but myself and that’s the truth that I have come to face. Stop with the fake lies and building hope.” I screamed at him

“How about we run away from here? Escape?” said Fakhir but his tone of voice was calm

“How Fakhir? That’s not possible! How will “we” escape and you take me away from here?”

“I have been thinking about it, and made a plan. I smuggle you out of the Kotha during the working hours and when we get away from this place we’ll go to the mountain area for a while because I know Jahaan Arra will look for you.”

I was determined to take this baby away from this place or if I do give it birth here I planned on killing it to meet a future so devastating and I was to take any risk possible to save my child.

“What do you have in mind?” I asked

“Well only if you’re willing, I can take you out of here. During the mujra’s all the kotha is busy so in that time I get you out of here through the back side, we’ll cross the grass fields and the gate and go straight to the road that links to the railway tracks. I’ll park my car on the side and we can leave. I hope you can move that fast, but I have it figured out with precision.”

“When do we leave?” I had made up my mind that this was a plan worth trying

“On Thursday, two days from now. I need to make certain arrangements.”

And with that I was on a new journey that was only to be made by me and my child.

There was a knock on the door but Jahaan Arra knew when Fakhir’s in my room I don’t take any clients but then the door opened and I saw his face, the man responsible for bringing me here was in the room. Akram! That bastard with the same aura was there, that sinister grin and the same style of a cigarette in hand.  Where did WE go Akram? Why did you leave me this way to suffer? I called out for you, why didn’t you? You do know we traveled a long way before you left me. I used to find meaning in those unspoken words of yours and now even in this silence I don’t understand a thing. WE had a world planned together Akram. In those silent nights we had a world planned out. Why did you do this to me Akram? Where did WE go Akram?” as I asked these questions an infinite time in my mind when I saw his face. My face reflected terror, love, confusion and so many emotions at the same time. I glanced at Fakhir sitting next to me and then at Akram by the door, my head started to spin and it all faded out…

Running Away (Chapter 4)

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Fakhir? Him? I was guilty of betraying a man who loved me, but I was betrayed by the love of my life too. Isn’t that how the world works? Fake promises and empty words? Not revealing the true motives behind anything and not being sincere to anyone? I questioned God’s existence when I abandoned him. Did I kill God in that moment or was he already dead when I became what Akram was by betraying Fakhir?

Betrayal? I betrayed and got betrayed and I know how it cripples you. Trusting someone so much that in the end, you forget how to feel anymore. Being at the top of the world and someone pushes you. Speed, darkness and coldness embracing you. Gravity calling you back to your roots such that when you fall, you don’t fall on the surface where you once started the journey from, but instead, you sink 10 inches deeper into the core with no way of escape.

 It was my 6th month in Jahaan ara’s kotha and by now I was devoid of any emotion and my identity was no more than of an insect in the bitter dirty pit of the earth. I had by now admitted the fact that I was to die in the kotha and my coffin was to be carried out from here. Ironic how it was all true but instead of being in a coffin I was going to be dumped in the sewers.

“And in the stars that fill the sky

In the sun that shines so bright

In our stars that have aligned

I would say a million times

That

I LOVE YOU”

 

This poem of his echoed in my mind, crashing and tumbling across the barriers of pain and I realized that even in agony, I was smiling. My naive poetic lover and his magical words, the sole person who made me smile till the end. It’s strange how sometimes when a stranger meets another stranger, they fall into the pit of attachment so deeply that even the risks seem of no danger.

“Hi! You seem awfully down”, I remembered he said to me when he first came to me in the kotha.

I looked up from my bed at the shadow of a boy in his 20’s, neatly dressed, resembling those rich lads I sometimes saw in Lahore’s posh malls on my visit with Akram. On our first encounter I was rude.

”Don’t be nice, just get it over with and leave!” I was angry but amused at the same time because up till now none of my clients had ever talked to me that way.

“I’m not being nice. Anyways, my name is Fakhir! And you are?”

I was astonished, since nobody had asked me my name here before.

“Dur-e-Shahwaar” I responded. I remember a certain feeling, as if something in me was blooming from the decay again and I switched on the lights to get a good view of this “Fakhir”.

A tall young man with small eyes and a bit of plump cheeks and a button nose was standing in front of me. This was odd since boys like him don’t ever come to places such as these, unless they belong to the blue collar community.

“Nice! I’ll call you Durre! Mind if I sit?” he asked me.

“Sure, sit. You paid for it and I owe you.”

He sat in the front chair and I noticed that he had a charming yet sinful grin on his face. Something awfully attractive and devilishly charming in his ways. He ran his hand through his puff every now and then.

“Relax! I’m not going to do anything so you better calm down that anger. I paid for the night, don’t worry. I may stay or leave, don’t know about that.” And he lit a smoke.

“You don’t know? That’s a first.” I replied because this was all confusingly amusing and then he told me.

Fakhir’s father was the senator and his mother a human rights activist. His parents were divorced and since Fakhir was the sole child, one can imagine how spoiled he was. His parents wanted him to become a civil servant but since he was more into arts and poetry, he had made a plan on how to make his parents succumb to what he wanted. His “bachi”, inferring that he had a lover, had left him for another man ever since he denounced being in the government service and, caught with a broken heart, some friends recommended him to come at the kotha.

“To heal a broken heart, you replace the void a person created with a new someone”, he said.

“But I’m a whore, there should be a difference. No?” I replied.

“Does it matter? I just want to talk. I’m not going to touch you; I respect women. Besides, I have a lot on my heart and mind that I want to talk about and you’re the perfect person to listen to my rant.” he said, laughing cheekily.

A typical line that some men used on me before. Well, many did and asked me about myself and how I ended up in the trade, but I always remained quiet since I knew how strict Jahaan ara was towards females who interacted with the customers, beating them up and taking their food away for days.

That first night he talked and talked about himself, which was sweet in a way because he gave my opinions the same importance. This was all sparingly strange but nice, because it had been long since I was given importance or in the true sense of the word, respect.

“It was nice meeting you Durre. I had fun talking. I’ll come again.”

To which I nodded, since all the men who came here said the same thing and left. It was 6 am when he left the first day, that too when someone knocked on the door since the business was now closing and the police was here to collect their share of the income.

The next night I heard loud music playing from outside the kotha; some woman had given birth to two twin girls and all the pimps in the muhala were celebrating. I learnt here that girls carry more importance than men in the trade. Someone knocked on the door and I sat up for my first customer of the night, anticipating that it was Fakhir for some reason. But to my dismay it was a man wanting his 20 minutes of pleasure.

After he left, I remained in bed for a while. My head was aching badly. Suddenly, there was another knock on the door. I didn’t have the strength to look up and I buried my head in the pillow. 

“Hi there Durre!” and with that sound I sat up straight. It was him. Involuntarily, I replied “you’re late!” and he laughed.

 “You were waiting for me?” responded he with a smirk.

Realizing that I had shown emotional leakage, I responded “No! What was your name again mister?”

He gave out a loud laugh “Yeah! Right, tell me am I not your heart’s beat now? A familiar stranger to you? You met me yesterday but why is it hard to not expect a light to shine in your heart’s dark halls.” Said he.

“Come ‘on, your poetic charms shall not work here mister Ghalib.” I replied and he laughed again.

Eventually, his frequent visits at the kotha became regular, and after some months, I realized that I used to wait for him to come. He used to read me poetry of Rumi and Hafez, bring me gifts every now and then and talk about his life- family, friends and the struggle of becoming something big. Days passed, months went by and now I was habitual to see him. Even if I had customers, I would somehow make time for “him”. This wasn’t love, but a certain attachment, a fondness for this man.

Then one day, sitting on my bed, he was reciting the poem “The Joy That Wounds” by Rumi, and his hand touched my face to put the strand of hair I had on my cheek behind my ear. His hand stopped for a moment and in that eye contact, I felt my pulse racing. We were eternal in that moment with his lips against mine, his hands sealed in mine, skin to skin and bone to bone. His exhale was my inhale and the eternal bliss made time stop….

 I didn’t see him for 2 days after that, and in his remoteness I felt my heart dying again. Maybe he wanted his “20 minutes” after all. I could hear my heart calling out for its beloved and it involuntarily cried, the ruined land bloomed once again only to be ruined again, and then he came. Our intimacy carried its form every now and then. I really didn’t mind because pleasure is what I owed him and he paid for. This continued for several months, him and me, till one evening, I felt I was awfully sick. My stomach was upset and I vomited every now and then and my head felt heavy. Jahaan ara took me to the doctor who had a clinic nearby and then the news struck me like thunder. I was pregnant. I knew whose child it was, it belonged to Fakhir. Jahaan ara was happy all the way. She even brought me fruits on my way back and eagerly revealed that she prayed it was a girl, but to me, this news was like a bullet in my dead heart. How could I give birth to a child where I am now? I would be its culprit, bringing it in this world to be called only a “harami”, with no father at all. Would Fakhir even own this child? Who would treat this child with respect? The society shuns us and our illegitimate children behind the walls of religion and morals. What if it was a girl? Would she see the same fate as I did in this place? Would she earn for Jahaan ara too and never see daylight? Millions of questions came to my mind and I planned on breaking the news to Fakhir when he came.

I remember breaking the news to him and how a pulse of joy spread over his face, like those kids in the candy shop. He kissed my temple and took full charge of it all. He was excited and ready to take full responsibility of the child’s expenses but I stopped him for now and told him not to talk to Jahaan Ara about it. Day by day I started to notice a change in him. He used to hate it if he came and I had customers, and suddenly became possessive till one day, the possessiveness hit its peak and he didn’t look the same. He looked like a man suddenly grown up and with an aim.

“I want you to come with me Durre. Leave this, I’ll accept you for who you are. Just come with me, please” Said he.

My heart had been slaughtered once by the hands of a cruel butcher, and I wasn’t going to fall for the lies again. The less hope for my soul, the better it is.

“I can’t come with you. You were a customer and that’s that. My husband sold me here, why should I even trust you? Now leave! I have other people waiting.”

“Let me just take you away! I’m not Akram and we’ll run away. You’re having my child Durre and I love you!”

“RUN AWAY? You love me?” I laughed. The wound on my heart bled again. “Running away?? I’ve been butchered once, not again. Go! Run! Don’t you ever come back. I don’t want this child. I don’t want this baby to grow up and meet an atrocious future.” I realized that I was screaming.

“I’ll be back tomorrow, think about it Durre. Please?” He said and went away.

 I lurched to my bed, thinking about it all. Customers came and went. The whole night I regretted and pondered over how I treated Fakhir, and then it hit me. I can use Fakhir to escape now, can’t I? I don’t want this child, but this is the only way he’ll accept me. I could get away from this place once and for all. He loved me and I didn’t, but it’s not necessary to love back when loved. Why not just escape and give him the baby when it’s born? Then I could be free. Thoughts clustered in my mind and by the next morning, I had made up my mind to go with him. Plans for leaving him when I was out of this place or maybe staying were all for the future, and my focus was on the present, on running away from the kotha. I thought over it again and again being dual minded and, at night, Fakhir came again……

TO BE CONTINUED

here are the previous parts

http://wp.me/p2DY5k-4P part 1
http://wp.me/p2DY5k-4Z part 2
http://wp.me/p2DY5k-5z Part 3

Let it breathe

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Sometimes don’t you feel like the world is suffocating you? You have everything you ever wanted yet you still feel empty? Your hearts beating, you’re exhaling and inhaling and body functions are being performed like always but still heavy pressure inside your chest; above you lungs. A heat inside that burns.  Feeling empty and devoid of something that you know is in the inner corner of your soul but you refuse to search and look for it on the outside.

Sometimes don’t you feel like ripping your chest open? Letting the flame inside catch fire and engulf you in it, letting your soul breathe. Come out and burn everything around you. Maybe in that fire and its ravenous lust of destruction, maybe in the beauty of those golden flames and maybe in the heat that cooks you raw, you will find peace.

Written by Fakhir Munir and Me!

Running Away (Chapter 3)

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With every touch of his I died infinite deaths. It lasted 20 minutes but those 20 minutes had wounded my heart and soul so badly that I knew that these scars will forever get deeper and lethal but never cease to bleed. I was Akram’s and the concept of one love was engraved in my mind like a carving on a stone that being touched by another man; being the object of his pleasure seemed not wrong but all together hateful. Being a woman I knew I was weak, what’s the point in fighting all these people now when my sole weapon, my knight had abandoned me. He left me at the pity of these vultures and all those promises of “dying together”; “living together” meant nothing but shallow words. The man who is dressing in front of me will be replaced by another soon or maybe tomorrow night. They will come and go and I shall be the object of their pleasure. I was completely dead of feelings, like a vessel that possessed not emotions but only a beat.

“Don’t you have a wife?” I asked the man as he was now wearing his shoes “I do, I have 3 kids too.”

“Why would you come here if you have a wife?”

He laughed a mocking laugh! “Because I’m a man pyaari, and a man’s appetite can never be satisfied.”

“Do you not feel like this is lying? Cheating her love?”

“Pyaari, what she doesn’t know is neither a lie nor cheating, and as for coming here, well! I can pleasure myself on any woman I like with no strings attached. Money will get you pleasure, that’s what I have learnt and pleasure is a woman’s body, why stick to the same old hag when I can have kaali’s (flower buds) like you.”

“But this is a sin, don’t you fear Allah?” I said, almost about to shed tears.

“Pyaari, sin is not what Allah decides it to be in this world, it’s what people decide it to be and most importantly what powerful men decide it to be.”

And with that he grabbed his wallet from the dresser and left. I realized that it’s a man’s world after all; denouncing all the chains that prevented me from progressing when I was home now I finally came to face the reality that it is men who decide a woman’s fate, men who can build them up and break them down. I burst into tears on the bed and after a while staggered to the bathroom in the right corner of the room. I could hear the rickshaws from outside, women flirting with men that passed by, children crying, loud Bollywood music playing from dance performances being held in this kotha, customers negotiating for 20 minutes of pleasure. I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair a mess and my kajal now parched under the eyes and cheeks. The woman I saw in the mirror wasn’t me! Couldn’t be! The woman I saw before me was an insult to the 16 year old Dur-e -shahwar…playing in the fields with her sister, helping ama jaan in the kitchen, those under the tree gossips with friends, those little half-witted jokes with siblings. That was the Dur-e-shahwar I was not the one I saw before me who was betrayed by her lover, deceived in the name of love and happily ever after and now just an object of contentment for white collar men working 9 to 5 jobs, presenting a noble and upright image in the society and being morally virtuous when in reality they were men who cheated, lied, faked their every move and every word just so they can earn and spend it on earthly pleasure. Fearing God in front of people and denouncing him in heart.

The blood trickling down my legs was his lone possession in me and now it was deceased, and soon I shall depart too from here. I heard Jahaan ara talking to Akram “better let her bleed it out and die, we’ll soon bury her. No use of women who betray the trade in my kotha.” It’s painful when the life inside you is dying and soon you know your time is near. To escape from this hell I took two lives with me but proved worthless. “AAAAAAAGH!!” I let out a painful cry as I knew that my unborn was now dead, my only hope died and drained running out through me..

Woman was created from a Man’s rib, to be protected and sheltered but then I wondered what caused men to trade her, to use her, to manipulate her like that? To deceive her, cheat her. He told me he loved me then why the suffering? I spent my days locked in the room. Girls in the house used to come and call me; tried talking to me but the dead don’t talk now do they? They don’t communicate that’s why they are called dead and so was I. At night men came and went, from businessmen to bureaucrats to lawyers and blue collar men. I became the substance of their bliss. I became what I was today by a man, they made love, talked and even complimented me but I know that during the daylight hours if I encountered anyone of my 20 minute lover they will refuse to recognize me. If society is what made girls like us then why shun us down? Why is it a taboo and refuse to acknowledge it when it was them who made us in the first place? But these are the questions that can never be answered nor will they ever be….

“Whores like you deserve to die! Running away with that lover boy of yours now eh? Remember those who join the trade never escape until death. What was his name again? Speak! Speak you dirty hoe” as Akram kicked my face and I could feel blood trickling down my nose. “Fakhir” as I managed to utter breathlessly. Akram grabbed my face and spitted on it. “No man can help you escape; my lads and I took care of your majnu!” And then memories of Fakhir came storming like waves against rocks in my mind…

To be continued….