It is the month of October and I am sitting alone here in front of Taj Mahal , the monument of love..the symbol of remembrance. I told you there are three places I would love to go with you…Venice, Paris and Taj Mahal. Now I am here. Few months ago I never thought I would come here without you. Even though I have come here, I do not have the courage to raise my eyes and look at it with more than a passing glance. Each glance on the white marble structure takes me to you. Reminds me of everything that can be called our history…yes…history…..yours and mine.

It reminds me of the short chat when I gave you my number…
It reminds me of the morning a month later when you called me up for the first time from across the oceans. I looked at my clock, it was showing 4am on sunday morning
” Hello ” I picked up my phone.
Hi, its me “ you introduced yourself.
” heyyy, how are you?! ” I recognized you.

You were amazed by the way I greeted you but I was just being myself even at that hour of the day.

We talked for a bit. You seemed to be a very nice girl, an honest and open, nothing superficial…everything genuine.
Since then we talked to each other so many times again and again. It was a blessing that I was waiting for.

I am looking at a couple holding hands. The girl says something in man’s ears and he turns , looks at me and holds the girl in his arms as they slowly walk away.

Do you remember my birthday when you told me you wrote a poem on ‘someone’ you were always looking for.
You said ” in the beginning I got scared because it felt so right! “ and yes you were right… it really did.
I thanked Allah so much that HE has sent a person in my life who is as passionate as I am and who expresses herself and communicates her feelings as much as I do. I couldn’t have asked for more.

I remember few weeks later it was your birthday and Eid too…you were born on that day 100s of miles away from where I spent my life. Your parents celebrated birth of their only child in real tribal fashion. Years later I , a man who had never met or known them , was celebrating the same day 1000s of miles away.
Days went by…we both talking daily…knowing each other more…you asking questions..wording your concerns..and I trying to clarify. You wanted my family to communicate with your family. I had not even met you but I was eager too to start the process.

Do you remember the day when my family was visiting your home? It was the first time my family was going to see and propose a girl for my marriage. I woke up early just waiting to pass time so that I could call home and ask them how did it go. Response from them was ” she looks younger and prettier than the pictures”. I was so happy as well as relaxed and when I teased you that my mom said ” the girl is just ok in looks”, you were losing your voice but then I told you the truth and you could not stop smiling. Everything seemed to go smoothly.

A french couple passes by ” Bonjour!”
“Bonjour!” I replied, though I did not like them disrupting my thoughts.

You remember when I was traveling to Pakistan to meet you. I called you from the airport. You were angry due to a misunderstanding and I did not have any idea. But I said sorry and told you ” if something happens to the flight, I may not make it to Pakistan but I want you to know that you are the ONE!”
You were surprised but I told you it was true.

It was mid November. Finally the day had come. I was supposed to visit your house and meet you and your dad. I was calm and confident but still there was some uneasiness as this was the first time in my life that I was going to a girl’s house to meet her and family for marriage purposes.
When we got there I could see the anxious and probing eyes of your friend and father. Discussion started and questions started flowing in making me feel more at ease, more confident. Your dad could see the honesty and sincerity in my words and eyes.
Then THE moment came. There you were, stepping into the room with a tray of ‘Chai’ . The girl was quite different from the one I saw in pictures. I stood up and with usual smile said “Salam Alaikum, how are you”. You were nervous but I was at ease and confident. I looked at you and thought ‘she is the person I am going to spend my life with’. I thanked and praised Allah. You sat down in front of me. I was trying to gaze at you while answering questions from your dad.
I remember your dad said ” Please don’t mind, she is the only precious thing I have and I want to know things about you. You know she is the first one in our family for whom we are considering a proposal from outside our tribe.”

” I understand and if I were marrying off my daughter I would have done the same thing. You don’t know me but my words are the only thing that I can give you with full confidence. And my words are one of the most important things for me. I can lie to you but I can not lie to my creator” my feelings gave me confidence.
Time passed by. We were ready to leave.
I could see the relaxed face of your sister and satisfied face of your father. I could see in their eyes that though none of us knew what Allah holds for us yet they got the idea that I would try to keep their girl happy. On the way back I called you up to know your reaction on first meeting and what I heard made me real happy person. The feeling was definitely mutual.

You know I am laughing when I remember meeting your aunt and uncle two days later. When I reached their house you were there at the door. You looked more confident and relaxed. While talking to your aunt I looked at you in the mirror. My heart seemed to skip a beat. You were as pretty as I had imagined. I was sure once again that this was the girl I wanted to spend my whole life with. After a nice chat with your uncle, a grueling interview by your aunt started
” How can I believe you were not married before? “ She asked aggressively.
” I am not even getting one and you are talking of the second !” I could not supress my humor streak. ” But why do you think I would come all the way from Detroit to destroy some innocent’s life”
Later on she left two of us alone to talk about things. Then I had to leave though I did not want to leave your company. That was the companionship I so much wanted. That was the person I wanted to share my life with..forever.

You told me your aunt liked me very much and had told your dad to go ahead. Nothing concrete was decided on your dads part and I got ready to fly back. It was a very short trip and I was ready to leave monday morning. Sunday night I called your dad and told him that I was leaving early morning and thanked him. I still remember he said ” You are my son, I am calling you my son and you know what does it mean!”
I said ” yes sir, I know and I am thankful for the confidence you have shown in me and inshAllah you will never regret”. I was so happy that I could not explain yet I was disappointed to leave alone without any commitment.
I left Pakistan…disappointed yet hopeful. I did not win but did not lose either.

From then on I got closer and closer to you. With every passing day I tried to know you better so that I could keep you happy. I tried to take care of small things for you… I wanted to give you more than what you could have imagined. I would call you daily before you would go to office to wish you a nice day. I would wake up early to know the details of the day after you had come back from there. I had lost the sense of time difference. My clock was you!.

A child selling flowers comes near me. ” Rose for your lover, Sir?…only 25 rupees” he insists even though he knows I am sitting here for last two hours alone looking in the air. I buy the red rose and give him hundred rupee bill and tell him to keep the change.

Red rose…yes…does it not remind you of the valentines day?. . It was snow storm in Detroit and I was stuck in the traffic for 3 hours. I so much wanted to send flowers to you but you stopped me as you thought it was not right till your dad gives the verdict. On the way I bought a long stem red rose. My neighbour Dave met me in the elevator
” Hey , so you are in time with the roses…I am also done with it “ he laughed.
” Yea, but she is in Pakistan and I have to take a picture and send it to her.”
” Wow man!..she is lucky! “ he said .
” Well I think I am more lucky” I smiled.

With my camera I took picture of the rose with your picture frame on the side. I kept thinking what else could I do to surprise you…and then I wrote a poem for you

بتا اے جانِ تمنا کیا تیرے نام لکھوں
وفائیں، خواب، خوشی، اپنی صبح و شام لکھوں

[My love what should I dedicate to you
My loyality, dreams, joy , every day & night ]

And I wrote everything that happened between us …with all dates…and put up a blog. Then I sent the email to you. I called you up in your morning, as I did daily since we met, and told you casually that I have sent you an email. I knew you would check it later in the office.

At 2:30am my phone rang

” You know this is sooo beautiful!!!….sooo romantic!…Thankyou!!! ” I could feel the tears of happiness in your voice as you went on ” …I could not hold my tears when I was reading it and I had to come out of the office and call you….Thankyou for making my life beautiful! “

” Thankyou! for coming into my life “ I felt satisfied for making you happy.
Days turned into weeks. People here started coming out of hibernation but you started having second thoughts. You said “ America is so far, how can I leave my father here alone…how many times will I be able to visit Pakistan”

“your father is not alone there, his relatives are there in the neighbourhood. You will be able to visit him as many times as we could afford…may be twice a year “ I tried to convince you.
“But…….”
” well you can come here for 3 months and spend 3 months there …how about this?”
” do you really mean it?…why??” You were surprised.
” Yes you have my words….if it is important to you, it is important for me…I will try to move closer to Pakistan but I can not just pack my bags and move the next day”
” I will think about it….I ll talk to my father…I think it is nice idea….I want to be with you! “ you sounded happy.

” brother, are you serious?!…I have only read about these things in books” I remember when I told your friend, she was amazed.
” men like me can only be found in the books “ I laughed.

” what would have you done if you were at my place” I asked you
” I would have left and moved on…..why didn’t you?”
” because I am not you”
I smiled.
April brought the smell of the springs. It was April 4. I was preparing for my citizenship oath next morning. I called you up to wish you a nice day.
” I have a bad news for you” you said at once.
” what!?”
” my dad has decided against us and has told your family” you broke the news.
” why! why did you do this to me!!” I lost my mind. It was a real shock for me…my hands were trying hard to hold the sand of hope but all invain.
” I have to go “ You said with plain voice.
I banged the phone without even saying bye.
My mom and family had come to know. They were sad…and worried that I was alone here. I told them that I was fine…it was ok…if it is in fate then no one could change it.

I called you again and again but you did not pick up but instead sent a short mail.
” I know you must be mad and I am not going to say sorry as I know you are really hurt. It was hard for me too but I am not like any other girl who can leave her father alone in this age and goes to far off place just for her own happiness. I know I will not find anyone who will love me like you did. Thankyou so much for showing me that life can be so beautiful. I wish we had different outcome but I do wish you a girl who can love you more than you have loved anyone. Please do not hate me and please forgive me”

I did not know how to respond but then I wrote
” I can understand. I got mad and rude as I was shocked and hurt. It is painful. I wish I could change the life for you but I guess that was destined. I am proud that my choice was right..a girl who could sacrifice her own happiness for her father and family. With time I hope I will be able to forgive you but I may not be able to forget you. I wish you peace “

The next day I took the oath of citizenship. I did not know who to share it with.
My mom and family knew how much important you were for my life. One day my mom asked me ” why don’t you talk to her..may be she wants you to wait for her”
My mom is so innocent!. I told her that it was over.

I wanted to test my courage…to live without you..

Two months passed by, I went to Paris…alone. I missed you every moment…every place…at Champs Elysee…at Eiffel Tower…at the banks of Seine… I wish you were there….but….

Three months later, I went to Venice….alone. I wish you had traveled with me on the boat. It was exactly like what you had imagined… but to me it was exactly what it should not have been.

Now I am sitting here….I don’t know why people come here…some try to renew their love, some try to remember theirs and some try to bury and forget theirs …I don’t know why am I here….but I know one thing… I have become more courageous.

More than a year has passed and I still think of that beautiful first week … It really ‘felt so right’..
I hope someday you will think of me as someone who really cared for your happiness…
One of your friends told me you are getting married soon…to a rich Pakistani guy and moving to Syria…
I don’t know I am happy or not …but I want to see you happy..
I hope…

Do you know …that company I was negotiating with has offered me VP Engineering position in Pakistan…I am moving to Karachi next week…in November…

Now shadows are getting longer….its almost sunset. Taj Mahal looks even more beautiful…even more sad….just like my love.
I have a bad habit of forgetting things…before I forget…let me open this box…do you remember what date is it today?…

next year who knows what happens…but today I have brought your favorite chocolate cake…let me …put a candle and light it….

……Happy Birthday

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