I woke up to Akram’s voice as he was talking to Jahaan Arra “So who is the guy who made her pregnant? Is he going to give money?”
I guess Fakhir had left after I fainted seeing Akram. Jahaan Arra proudly replied “It’s a young lad, senator’s son. I forgot his name…errrm..Fahad? No No Fakhir! Fakhir is the lad’s name.”
“So is the business good? How much have you made off her till now?” again Akram inquired
“The business is just splendid. This little flower is in huge demand. The market flourishes on girls aged between 16 to 20 and you know? I made a few lacs on her. Have your share later. This is by far Akram the most beautiful piece you have brought me.” As she laughed her cruel mocking laugh.
I pretended to be asleep but heard every word of it. So this is who Akram was? A pimp who forced girls into prostitution? I fell in love with someone who didn’t even exist but was instead a façade for someone much more evil beneath. Everything he ever said was a lie and that very moment, my resolve about running away from here turned into steel.
“Ohh! I see you’re up.” Said Akram as I sat up in bed.
“What are you doing here now after leaving me at the mercy of these vultures?” I said as my voice broke crying.
“Vultures? I am one of these vultures honey, the moment I first saw you I knew that you would be a juicy piece, I wanted you and so I did whatever I had to in order to bring you to your knees. But, isn’t it nice here? Aren’t you having more fun than you did back in your stupid little village?”
The words and the way Akram said them hit me like a bullet. This was my fault, I deserved this for trusting someone so blindly. Akram than came towards me and placed his hand on my stomach “I see good news is coming. Hope it’s a girl.”
The thought disgusted me and in my disgust I screamed at the top of my lungs
“Never! This is my child and I own it, get your filthy hands off of it.”
While I was screaming, Akram grabbed me by my head and pulled me towards him “Such fire in you still, no wonder your majnu is having a good time.” I felt repulsed by the way he thought about me and Fakhir. Our relationship was so much more than just based on physical grounds. There was no lust but a bliss of innocence. But, perhaps a vulture like Akram can never truly understand this what it is like to love someone from the core of your spirit.
Akram left after that and I lay in bed adjusting my heavy stomach. I became even more aware of the fact that I should try escaping soon from here because now I have a life to save, and if time passes this it will become more difficult to pull such an act off.
At night Fakhir came
“Durre! We leave tomorrow, I have it all perfectly planned. At 1 during the mujras I sneak you out the back and once you are out go towards the grassland, past that you’ll find a car waiting.”
My heart beat jumped and I could feel the adrenaline pulsating through my veins just by thinking about getting out from here. I was excited the whole night. Him and I dreamt about the future and what it had in store for us, I did have second thoughts about it but Fakhir assured me that I need not worry. It was the most beautiful night we both ever shared. Fakhir then left earlier than usual saying that he had to make arrangements.
I walked in the balcony viewing the rush of people down below. Lights- yellow, red and green all glittering, fading and dazzling. Rickshaws waiting outside on the street to take girls to their customers. Children hiding in corners and women dressed in heavy make up to hide their true age standing outside their doors and passing comments at men who passed by leering them in. At night Lahore transformed into a different world. A world that shone on the outside but on the inside held a dark core, numerous stories untold. A dark core that engulfs you like quicksand with no way out but to only drown; but here I was, a survivor. A person who was getting out of this dark hell and going to the lights above. I saw the sun sneak a peek from behind the tall buildings and apartments. My last day here and it felt nice knowing that. I spent the entire day roaming the kotha seeing all the girls there and knowing that I shall be out of here soon.
“You seem awfully active today? Rest you’re carrying our future dancer.” I ignored such remarks and went straight to my room and prayed. It had been long since I knelt on the ground before a God but this somehow gave me hope. I found it ironic for a heart as dead as mine to hope and pray like this. Begging to a God that I had nearly rejected for a while. My tragedy had changed me. It felt time had adapted the pace of a turtle as I waited anxiously for Fakhir. I passed out and woke up to a knock on the door. Fakhir appeared with his face calm, but I could see the excited storm in his eyes that dreamed of better times ahead.
“We are leaving tonight Durre.” And with that he kissed me and assured that these are my last moments here. It was about 1:20 a.m when Fakhir got up and I saw a nervous twinkle in his eyes.
“Let me see if the path is clear, you then sneak out through the back balcony and make your way across the fields, okay?” I shook my head suddenly afraid, but he grabbed my hand and said with total sincerity “No matter what, I’m always with you.”
These words and his sincerity made me feel like I wasn’t a lost soul anymore, that somehow from the depths of all the darkness I had been drowning in, a soul had emerged which would take care of me and love me and never let me go. And so, I let fear go.
He then went outside and I waited for his signal, then he appeared and waved for me to go. I grabbed my shawl and glanced back at the room. All those awful memories of Jahaan Arra and those men came back but in between those bitter memories came back the sweet ones spent with Fakhir and with this last look I headed out. Going to the back balcony, the kotha was roaring with music and the sounds of feet dancing but thankfully, nobody was in sight. I quietly made my way down to the stairs. I looked back because I felt someone was watching me but in the dark nothing was visible. I stepped outside the kotha and that single step felt as if a load of weight was lifted from my chest; the misery I had suffer was finally coming to an end, I was finally out. I then made my way through the small bazar and on to the way that led to the fields. I looked back at it all from the view point of a spectator. The whole community in lights and I in the dark, I laughed at the irony of this situation.
There was a tap on my shoulder and I looked back to see if it was Fakhir but instead I received a punch on the cerebral so hard that its density disoriented and I blacked out. I woke up to water on my face and a familiar voice. “You whore trying to run away huh?” as Akram shouted and lit his cigarette. My vision was a blur but I saw another dark figure lying at a distance, Fakhir. For a moment my breath stopped. I wasn’t going to let Akram get away with this! And so gathered up my strength to stand up and then grabbed his collar “You want me? Take me! But don’t touch him, do you understand?” hearing this, he grinned as I pleaded him not to hurt Fakhir. He kicked Fakhir to wake him up but even then I felt the pain of it. Some other men joined as well and by now Fakhir was fighting 5 men on his own as Akram held me by my hair. He kept shouting “Akram! Let her go” but Akram kept slapping my face to torture Fakhir.
“BE A MAN YOU BASTARD! LEAVE HER! COME TO ME!” screamed Fakhir
“I’ve had enough of you.” Replied Akram as he threw me on the ground and leapt towards Fakhir and what followed was, devastating. Akram was a cruel soul who cared for none and the way all 6 men attacked Fakhir was horrible. I screamed and shouted for him to be let go but they didn’t. They had turned into animals – cruel and insane! They punched him, beat him with bars, broke his tooth, broke his hands and still kept attacking him when he couldn’t even move. All I could do was scream and plead, but my words were falling on deaf ears, when Akram finally have had enough fun beating up Fakhir did I get a clear view of my poetic lover’s body. I saw Fakhir lying on the ground nearly unconscious with his body broken down and life going out of him with each passing breath, the view killed me from the inside and out. My poetic lover on dirt covered in blood and bruises, his clothes torn apart and broken bones. Seeing him in pain was like a stab in stomach a million needles in my heart till I saw Akram approaching me and give me an unexpected kick on the stomach. I heard Fakhir scream at a distance to what he witnessed; his final scream
and Akram kicked me once more and yelled “To hell with you and your baby. Die bitch”.
I wished to scream or to make a sound but the intensity of pain was so high that blackness gathered in my vision, I felt weak from my head to my toes and collapsed on the ground. I felt something wet on my clothes when I gained a bit consciousness and came to my senses that I realized that Akram had murdered my child. The child who was my only reason to escape in the first place now lay dead inside of me and I couldn’t protect it. Then came Akram’s abuse and more beatings till I saw Jahaan Arra was there too. I looked at Fakhir only to see him unconscious on the ground.
“Leave this majnu here! He’s a goner anyway, pick this whore up” as Akram grabbed me by the hair and dragged my body, I had my last look at him. My poetic lover. I cried not because I knew my time had ended, I didn’t had much to hope for anyway, but because I knew Fakhir was in this state because of me, the young man who could have been so much! I grieved the loss of my child, my only hope.
The world was made by a God and God planned this fate for me. My life flashed in front of me. Was I not the same as Gods other children to meet an end so cruel? What did Fakhir do to deserve this? Why did my child get killed this way? I felt Akram and another man grabbing me as they threw me in the pits of the sewer… As my body crashed against the wet floor of the sewer, I felt life oozing out of me as well.
My time is here,
I could not escape
A soul that was forever a slave
But maybe now when this earthly time has end
I shall be free in another world to truly live or
A very special thanks to Tayyab Tanvir for being so supportive all the way with this story and Fakhir Munir for helping me out when i got writer’s block.