By: Muhammad Kamran Rifat
Haadiyah was looking dazzling in the maroon wedding dress having shades of black and skillfully done hand work in Sequins and the makeup was gracefully done. Although Absar was a little overshadowed by the exquisitely dressed Haadiyah but he was looking handsome in this own right in the black sherwani, with Rajhastani style embroidery, and maroon turban. Both of them were complimenting each other to perfection and everyone in the ceremony was noticing and raving about it.
The stage for the wedding ceremony was looking crafty and beautiful. The flowering of the area was aesthetically done using colorful floras and the sofas and center piece gave it a contemporary look. Absar was sitting on the stage with his lady love Haadiyah busy in accepting congratulations and best wishes from family member and friends on their marriage. He was relishing every minute of the ceremony; his dream became reality – the dream to marry Haadiyah. The cameras were clicking here and there capturing the blissful moments; he was pleasurably lost in the state of disbelief. The Absar was thrilled to see Haadiyah sitting next to him – the girl he has loved so much and for whom he waited for years.
Haadiyah was Absar’s cousin, the youngest daughter of his paternal aunt who lived in Karachi. They used to visit Lahore once or twice a year during summer vacations and at times in winter holidays, apart from the family functions and weddings, and this is when both Haadiyah and Absar used to hang together. Both Haadiyah and Absar were best of friends and best of enemies since their early childhood. Both of them enjoyed the childhood together and became best buddies as they grew up. Later on, Absar developed fondness for her which was nothing more than an emotional attachment at that time.
Absar was an ordinary person in his outer appearance. He had very average facial features apart from the small yet expressive brown eyes. But from inside he was a genuinely caring and loving personality, sincere, a bit shy, timid, introvert (rarely expressive and vocal) and a laid back person. Overall he had a very sweet, calm and composed personality.
Haadiyah was good-looking and charming. She had long brownish black hair which flowed in waves to adorn her glowing, porcelain-like skin. Her intriguing and twinkling eyes were black - as dark as ink, framed by long lashes and seemed to brighten the world. A straight nose, full lips - she seemed the picture of perfection. Her infectious smile would lighten up the world. She was temperamental and aggressive, caring, outspoken, talkative, a bit coy and agile person.
Both of them were as different as chalk and cheese, perhaps this disparity in nature brought them close as friends. The beauty of their friendship was that they understood and complimented each other to perfection. Absar listened to her for as long as she speak, he calmed her down while she is in rage, always willing to go to any extent to make her happy and defend her whenever the need arises.
With the passage of time he developed a soft spot for her and started liking her company more and more - her mere presence used to bring a thousand smiles on his face and brightens up his heart; he seldom missed an opportunity to be with her - he actually made excuses for it. Whenever he visited her house, the first and foremost task would be to look around for her. They talked and laughed together, teased each other and at times were inseparable. Overtime, without him realizing, his infatuation turned in to love. And when Haadiyah said to him, “Absar, I like you the most amongst all other cousins” her admission left him mystified as he himself was struggling to comprehend his own feelings. For that very reason, he couldn’t understand the spirit in which she expressed her desire. He gave it a thought and concluded that it was an emotional statement and acknowledgement of his unconditional concern for her. Deep inside these words ignited his love for her – the love he was yet to realize. That day onwards although nothing really changed but Absar unconsciously started to give her more importance, irrespective of the perplexity. He reminded himself time and again that she was just a cousin and a friend, so much, that ultimately it formed a shell on his heart and mind – which would not accept anything but this.
Months went by. He finished his studies and found a reasonable good job in a multinational company. On the other side, marriage proposals were coming in for Haadiyah and it was pretty obvious that her parents would not wait that longer. After few months the inevitable happened and her parents finally said ‘YES’ to a proposal. She got married soon after that. Absar remained the same; he didn’t realize the voice in his heart. But he certainly felt the absence of a friend as contact between broke after Haadiyah’s marriage.
Four years passed since Haadiyah got married and Absar in the following years continued his job and got promoted. He got involved with a girl, Ayesha, who was his colleague. The romance was mutual. All went well for about two years; and suddenly the relationship was on the rocks, reason being, that Absar, for some strange reason, started to run away from commitment. He enjoyed his relationship with her until one day, out of the blue; he felt that a force pulled him towards Haadiyah – something very strange and different. It turned his entire world upside down. He tried his utmost to ignore that particular force – thinking it was just an illusion. But all his efforts were in vain. The force took control of his heart. After few days of constant deliberation he realized that the force in fact is love – love for his cousin and best friend Haadiyah. Love that makes the world go round, love which is not barred by time and the most precious and sanctimonious emotion. He broke in to tears and even got mad with himself. How can this happen to him now that he was in a steady relationship and Haadiyah was happily married – he wondered. Nailed by the unearthing of his love for Haadiyah; he, at first, started to avoid Ayesha and her questions regarding marriage and then finally broke the relationship knowing that he won’t be able to continue it and do justice with her. He felt helpless, the love was unsettling him; and he for sure didn’t have the remedy - the understanding of the fact came rather too late in the day. He knew that he had already lost the opportunity to express his love, and people seldom get a second chance in love. In his case it was next to impossible and this reality was killing him.
Absar’s agony and dilemma was that he will have to live with it for the rest of his life. And the question whether Haadiyah was also interested in him will forever remain an enigma. To add to his misery, his parents started to push him for marriage. They pressed him about what kind of girl he likes, so that they can start searching for a proper match. He told them he was not yet ready for it yet. He wanted to take some time to overcome his thoughts for Haadiyah and then decide about marriage. He kept trying but with very little success.
He was still struggling to forget Haadiyah when, after a few months, he heard the distressing news of Haadiyah’s divorce. He was upset as he knew her for long and the person she was, it was very unlikely to happen to her. Absar wanted to talk to her and share her grievances but he was hesitant because there was no notable contact between them for the past four years. While he contemplated meeting her, she called him up by chance. He expressed his distress over the unfortunate incident and tried to cajole and console her. He then started to call her regularly, listened to all her woes, tried to raise her spirit and cheer her up. He tried his best to counsel her. While doing this, the giant called love, roared again in his heart. His dilemma was the love he thought he had lost long ago and the love he was trying to get rid of. It became alive – a second chance in love.
This time round he just wanted to blow his emotions out. Tell her how he felt about her for long time and how much he love her. He was forced to hold his sentiments for few months and she was in her Iddat period after divorce (Iddat is the period a woman must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man. The period, three months after a divorce) and it was a norm to wait for it to end before talking about remarriage. So in respect of her Iddat period he camouflaged his feelings and continued to chat with her. The care, the importance and the love all were showered on her by him – and yet untold.
Absar was impatiently counting days and praying for the three months to end. Engulfed in love, he could not wait any longer and each day seemed like a thousand years. For him each day passed at snail’s pace. One fine day while he was bequeathing her with the usual care; she bluntly asked him, “Why do you care for me so much?” Stumped by this sudden question, he thought, this was the moment for which he had waited for years. Absar wanted to tell Haadiyah how much she meant to him - that how dearly he wanted her to be a part of his life - that the time stops when he talk with her because no matter how many hours they talked it seemed like a moment - that how her smile made his world lighten up and her tears tore him apart - that the letter ‘H’ reminds him of Her only; but he could not do so, as there was still one month of Iddat period to go.
Two months later, they met in Lahore. This time round Absar had made up his mind to propose to her, come what way. His plan was to take her out on lunch or dinner to her favorite eatery and then rousingly propose to her. But he could not find her free, to take her out – she had a busy schedule. He was very angered by this situation; it was becoming more and more difficult for him to control his feelings. Eventually, he got some time in seclusion and it happened so suddenly that he could not make it special – no chocolates, no flowers and no surprises. He took a few deep breaths, his heart was pounding heavily as he popped out the question, “Haadiyah, will you marry me?” For a while there was a pin drop silence and the she shrieked, “Absar, I really wish I could slap you. How can you even imagine that? We are friends – just friends – do you understand that. If I have been nice and caring to you it was because you are good person and I respect you a lot as a cousin.” Absar was flabbergasted and shocked to hear this, her words, like a thousand bullets fired, wounded him deep inside. It was painful. He wanted to say something, but she stopped him and just said, “You have ruined our friendship” and went away. From that day to the day she left for Karachi, there was no communication between them. She avoided him so much that if Absar moved right she moved left, such was the level of her anguish.
In the following days Absar pondered over the course of events but what he was unable to comprehend was Haadiyah’s outrageous response and actions later on. He proposed to her and she dumped him – seemingly not interested. That been alright, they should have remained friends – he thought. Still he was unfazed by all of this and wanted to give it another shot to prove her that he really meant it and the proposal was a well thought decision, not an emotional one. After few days, he tried his luck again, but her response was the same - he felt dejected. He knew just one thing that she’s the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Motivated by this, he was unwilling to let it go immediately. He decided to give it some time. He could wait happily for her ‘positive answer’ till eternity.
The next few months, Haadiyah simply avoided Absar. Her ignorance frustrated him, what the hell is wrong with her – he wondered, but he didn’t get desperate.
Time is the best healer. Gradually the ice started to melt and finally, one day the spell of muteness ended and things started to get back to normal. It was only the beginning.
Two months later, Absar decided to propose her again. He decided to take a big risk - there’s no point in sitting back and hoping that she will make the first move. For him, the reconnect, after a hiatus of seven months, has happened for a reason. He called her, after a little deliberation, and asked her once again, “Haadiyah, will you marry?” There was silence for a while the she said, “OK, I will. Send a formal proposal through your parents. He could sense her smile as she said that.” Hearing this Absar screamed with joy and hung up the phone. He was elated and ecstatic, finally his persistence, sincerity and resolve had the last laugh; he went in to Prostration to thank Almighty Allah. The next step for Absar was to talk to his parents and send them to his aunt’s place with the formal proposal of his and Haadiyah’s wedding.
The very next day Absar broke the news to his parents and told them he wants to marry Haadiyah. He was shocked when his father said, “it is not possible, I am not in favor of cousin marriages and she is not a suitable match for you.” Barely few hours after conquering, what he thought was the biggest hurdle in the completion of his objective; here he was again facing another uphill task. He presented various arguments to support his decision but none of them really moved his father and this left him stranded. The argument was closed and in a spit of fury he went to his room to sleep – although sleep seemed to be far away. Somehow he passed that night and went to the office in the morning. While away from home he thought about the ways to convince his father. When he returned home, straightaway he went to his mother to and said to her, “first you who were pressing me for marriage and now that I have made a decision and chosen a girl, you are opposing it. Try to understand, I cannot marry anyone else, I love her. If you are still against it, I would prefer to stay single and if you want me to get married, accept Haadiyah as your daughter in law.” Absar’s emotional outburst did the trick and his father reluctantly agreed to it, his mother was already in favor of this match – problem solved. Absar gleefully hugged his parents and thanked them.
The following week, Absar’s parents went to Karachi to ask for Haadiyah’s hand for their son. After little discussion, her parents also agreed and the date of marriage was set. It was a sigh of relief for him, as he was a bit apprehensive this time and kept praying for smooth sailing of the marriage proposal – no more melodrama please, he wished. He was sure that Haadiyah had a word with her mother before his parents arrived and this helped a great deal in getting the approval from her parents. The wedding was planned to be held three months later.
Three months passed as quickly as the blink of eye. Finally the big day came. The day Absar will tie nuptial bond with Haadiyah. The day he had yearned for so long – the day his dreams came true. It was one heck of journey for him, from the day he discovered the love for Haadiyah to this day. Most importantly the struggle paid off at the end of the day.
The Wedding Day…..
As they reached the venue, Absar was greeted to the stage where he sat; anxiously waiting for the arrival of Haadiyah, who arrived after few minutes. The dinner was served and after a brief photo session, he left the venue with Haadiyah, his wife, in a decently decorated car, amidst prayers from the elders.
It wasn’t a joyride, he whispered to himself.