I felt bad as I knew she liked me and yet I teased her but that was not something that I could not make up for. I thought of sending an email.

“ Leila,

I think I know why you just disappeared abruptly. I was just kidding and teasing you. I will talk to you soon, till then take it easy and write me back.


I kept on thinking about the situation. Is she really so much into me? Or is she just playing around? In the morning her mail was there.

“ Dear Ayaz,

I am really sorry for my behaviour but I don’t know what happened to me. I have to admit when you told me about the girl, something was broken inside me. Suddenly I felt I have lost the most valuable man I have ever come across. I just could not control myself. I did not realize you have become so much important for me that I can not imagine myself living without you. I never felt like this before Ayaz. I did not have to work hard to overcome my ego and let you know all this.
I still don’t know clearly how you feel about me but please Ayaz, don’t joke like this again. You know from inside I am scared…scared of losing you . I don’t know how I got the courage to write all this to you but I know that you will understand. I do count you as one of the best friends too.
I don’t know how to hide my feelings for you…yesterday grandpa asked me “ why are you so pale. Looks like you have failed in final exams “. But I did not answer and went to sleep. I just wanted to be alone.
Tell me what to do, Ayaz!. Am I going crazy?

I will come online same time tonight.


Sharmeena “

I logged on to the chat and there she was, waiting.

“ How are you today? “ I started
“ ok, I guess and you?”
“ I am good, thanks “
“ Did you get my mail?”
“Yes I did and I read it couple of times”
“and.. I am sorry that I did that. I will try not to do that again”
“ Thanks Ayaz, but what I meant was, what do you think about the mail?”
“well…I am lucky that you like me, I like you too Leila…but “
“ but…”?? she did not want to wait
“..but why are you scared?”
“ I am scared because we have lot of differences Ayaz. 
 I am more scared by the thought that I may not be a complete girl for your family Ayaz. “
“ why?..I told you how I feel”
“ I know Ayaz but our differences are something that can not be easily overlooked”
“ I understand, but I hope some way will come out…somehow this issue will be resolved but before that we have long way to go”
I did not want her to weave her dreams blindly. I did not want her to be hurt if it were not to happen for any reason.
“ and by then if they choose a nice Pakistani muslim girl for you? Tell me …what will you do?. tell me..what will I do Ayaz…this thought scares me to death….I go numb “
“ Now stop thinking negatively!. “
“ I can not…I just can not”
“ so??? “
“ don’t know”
“ ok listen…you have my words…this will not happen. I am being honest with you. Till you are in my life, no girl will step into my life. My family can not pressurize me. So now please trust me and relax. Ok?”
” do you really mean it?”
” do you have any doubts?..yes silly I do mean it”
“ Ok…thanks Ayaz. I trust every word you say”
“Good! Now can we talk positively?”

She smiled.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

“ yes?”
“do you like India”
“ as much as a common Pakistani does“
I laughed.
“ that means you don’t like India, right?”
“ seriously, I don’t like or dislike India or Indians but I do respect them. As long as they are not against Pakistan , I don’t have any problem”
“ anyways, so now you know story of my parents “
“ yes and I am impressed by both of them”

“ yes Ayaz, the way they love each other even now is remarkable”
“ I can imagine. How do they manage the differences, specially coming from two different religions? Has your mom converted to Islam?”

“ No, my mom has not converted to Islam. I don’t know how do they manage but they do it easily. My dad takes my mom to Gurdawara and arranges for any religious ceremony that mom is interested in. On the other hand, my mom goes to masjid with dad and prays there too. She observes the fasting in Ramadan and presses on us too.“

“and you , what do you and your siblings follow ?”

” well our parents taught us both and left it up to us. My elder sister follows only Islam strictly while my brother and I follow both.”
“ you know, it is really interesting and its admirable the way they care for each other”
“ yes sometimes I envy both of them. I wonder if I will ever get that kind of love in my life. I am not even sure of myself whether I will be able to do that kind of thing. It amazes me the way she does it.”
“ don’t worry Leila, I think you will be fine. you too will find a very good man”
“ Thanks Ayaz, I hope so too but so far all of experiences with love have been a serendipty. I have lost faith in love…well true love, but seeing my parents always restores my faith in it.”

“True, as I said I admire the way your parents prove their love in life. I would definitely like to meet them one day“

“If you come to the US of course you may meet them and if not i can tell them as well. You know they want me to marry a Indo or Paki man because they want me to preserve our cultures…which i want to do too. I want someone who will somehow relate to my belifes and love and respect me. I can probably find that in a non-desi man as well. But i would like to stay with a desi man.“

“what kind of qualities you looking for?”
“ I thought i had told u all of this. I want a man who is honest, trustworthy, caring, loving, passionate, intelligent, has a great sense of humor, open minded, respectful, my best friend as well as my lover, romantic,spontaneous, laid back, down to earth, has a nice smile, not obessive or possesive, strong yet a little sensitive, ummmmm..what else…..that’s all i can think of for now…off the top of my head.”
“such a short list…is that all!!?”

“oh yeah and a man who will respect my religious choices. I know for desis that can be hard, whether indian or pakistani.” she paused and then asked
“ Ayaz, tell me what do you want for yourself?”
“Just a girl! “
my response was instantaneous.
She laughed out loudly and kept laughing for next couple of minutes.

“you are hillarious Ayaz!. You know the way to a girl’s heart is to make her laugh. I know with your personality you can easily find a girl you want”
“ what if I already have found one? “ I tried to tease.
“ really?!”
“ you never know “
“ but you said there is no girl in your life”

“ yea but that was a while ago” I started to enjoy.
“ is she Pakistani?,”
“why you asking ?”

“ tell me , did your family select her for you?”
“ c’mon Leila, I was just joking”
“ Ayaz!”

“nothing, I need to go now “
“ you sure?”
“ yes I have to, I will write to you later”
“ alright, bye”
“ bye“
she logged off.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

That one hour seemed too long. I felt somewhat disappointed. I did not expect her to be from a non-muslim background. I asked myself “why not?” and response was ‘ because I had started thinking of her and I together. In the back of my mind I had envisioned the complete love story…getting married, a home, family’ but now it seemed slipping away. I was pretty sure that her mother must have converted else how can her father marry her but then the realization struck me. I was not thinking like her father but these thoughts were of Ayaz. Now what should I do?. Step back and go back to my world or still cling to the hope that she may be a muslim. How could a non-muslim have a name like Sharmeena? Even if her mother is not a muslim, she is muslim from father’s side and she can learn more with me and adopt Islam completely. I kept on thinking while nibbling the salty crackers. The text appeared on my screen

“ hey Ayaz, I am back “
“ Leila, you are late!”
I teased her trying to shed off my own thoughts.
“ am I?…sorry if I am, I got stuck in the traffic”
“ ok now start with the story”
“ you are so eager to hear about my parents”
she smiled
“ no I am interested in the story of love” I responded in the same way.

“ ok, so yes, my father is from Peshawar and belongs to Yusuf Zai tribe. He did his MBA in finance and after few months he was offered a good job in Dubai so he moved there. After a year or so he went to an Indian concert where he saw my mom. He fell in love the moment he saw her. He was handsome too and his stares did not go unnoticed. They both started talking to each other and the cupid worked his way. My mom was visiting Dubai and was staying in a hotel nearby with her parents. Next day my father somehow managed to put a large bouquet of roses in her room like bollywood hero style.”

“ I guess your dad was watching too many Indian movies”
“ I think so too”
she laughed.
“ ok, continue..what happened then?”

“ right, so when my mom came back to her room, she was totally surprised. She tells us that there she knew this was the man. She thanked my father and then they met few more times and made all those promises though they knew that was too difficult to happen specially in those days when Pakistan and India were just recovering from war. My mom told my grandma about it who tried to explain it to my grandfather. My grandfather did not like Pakistanis at all and he got infuriated. He booked the next available flight back to Delhi and before my dad could know of this, they were gone. But fortunately my mom left a message for him giving her contact number and telling him what had happened.”

“ your father must have gone crazy?”

“ yes he did but he could not do anything except trying to contact her, which he did. It went on for ten months and when my grandfather’s anger subsided, my mom took off to Dubai to visit one of her aunt. When my dad met her again they decided to get married. My dad talked to his family and narrated the story. The response was as expected. They were very opposed to it but my dad told them he is marrying the girl anyway.”

“against his parents will?”

“yes..my mom told the same thing to her parents. Both the families flew in to stop them . My dad’s mother was dead set against it and told him she would not accept it but his father realized that his son would do what he had said and, wisely, he agreed to his wishes. On the other side my mom’s mother wanted her daughter to be happy but her father was not willing to accept it. My dad’s father talked to him and told him to be happy in what children have decided. His mother then wanted my mom to convert but my dad told her that he would not force anything. If later in life she would decide to do so , she could do that with her own choice and will.”

“and they got married?”

“yes..then they got married in Dubai in a simple ceremony. My mom and dad stayed in Dubai for one more year and then they moved to US. In the beginning it was difficult for them to settle in an entirely different society and culture but with passing days and good jobs they together built a home. We were born here in US”

“ and your grandparents?”

“ they have accepted the reality and have come to terms with it. My mom tried very hard on both sides. She makes it a point to take us to India as well as Pakistan every couple of years so that we meet and live with our grandparents for some time and see our origins.”

“ so you have been to Pakistan. Do you like it?”

“ who does not like her country , Ayaz?…Pakistan is my country, so is India. I love Pakistan and India alike , they are part of me…and sometimes when I see Pakistanis and Indians here fighting against each other I fail to understand why. Each of the group tries to pull me to its side but I can not do that. For me it is impossible to love half of me and hate the other half.”

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

“ Ayaz”
“you sure?”
“ I am scared ”
“scared? of what?”
“ you know it feels so good talking to you and it scares me if tomorrow I wake up and you are gone like a nice dream”
“ and why do you think I will be gone suddenly?”
“ I don’t know”
“ Listen leila, do not think about future with fear. If you think negatively, negative things are likely to happen.”
“ ok, I will try not to “
“ thats like a good girl. If you are still worried I can call you?”
“I would love to Ayaz, but….”
“ but you don’t trust me..right?”
“ no its not like that but you know my father does not like it. Guys are allowed to call me but I find it better if they don’t.”
“ and why is it so”
“ well he was brought up in a strict Pakistani household “
“ I think I can understand now, I come from similar background “
“ but he lived in Dubai for some time where he met my mother”
“ interesting!, and there he fell in love with her ?”
“ yes but their’s is a long tale. I will tell you someday”
“ I guess your mom is not Pakistani”
“ she is not, she belongs to an Indian Sikh family”
“ you sounded surprised Ayaz”
“ I am surprised because I have not come across any couple like this and may be I was not expecting this”
“ I know it is not very common thing specially in Pakistan or India..and for them too it was very hard to overcome the resistance from their families”
“ and they overcame that”
“yes they did because they were deeply in love”
“ your mom must be very beautiful “
“yes she is, am not saying just because she is my mother but she is really beautiful. Green eyes, honey complexion, long black hair, tall, slim, elegant like a dream princess.”
“ I imagined so “
“how ”
“ simple logic…your dad must have some real reason that he stood against his family and norms”
“intelligent Mr. Programmer”
“ thanks Leila, won’t you tell me their story?”
“ now?”
“ if you can”
“ ok, I will be back in one hour , ok?”
“ no problem, I will wait “.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

The following day Khalid asked me to join them as they were going out for dinner but I told him I wanted to be at home and try to read something.
“ Now a days you don’t seem to be normal, everything ok?” he asked
“ Yes , why? Why did you ask ?”
“ no reason, but you don’t even go out in the evenings and I don’t even see you playing like you used to do”
“ Yes, I was not feeling like it. I will join you guys next week “ I wanted to finish the conversation.
“ Ok, then will talk to you , Khuda Hafiz “ he finished the call.

I ate my dinner gulping down whatever was on the plate and then sat down at my computer staring at my screen and there she was.
“ Hi Leila, how are you “ I did not waste a single moment to message her.
“ Hey Ayaz! I am fine and you?” She seemed to bring positive energy.
“ Al-hamdolillah, am good as ever”
“ You are not mad at me, are you” she still had that thing in mind
“ Not at all, I wouldn’t have written to you if I were. I am quite an open person. When I feel good or really bad because of other person, I let her know” I clarified.
“ Thats good. I am relaxed now” She smiled.
“ I loved reading your mail and I read it again and again. I wanted more and more . I wanted to know more about your passions and likes/ dislikes “ She was curious like any other woman.
“ I told you whatever came to my mind. Now what do you wanna know? Ask me and I will tell you if I could”
“ Do you have any girl in your life?”
“ No, else I wouldn’t be talking to you”
“ Are you romantic ?”

“ I am a romantic in the sense that I love being in and with nature. I can walk miles alone at the bank of the river, being happy and thoughtful. . But if you are talking as in romantic with girl? Then I don’t know, never been with one to that stage”
“Have you ever thought about it?”
“ Well, yes, I always think if I have that girl in my life I would like to spend hours with her in presence of mother nature. Looking into her soul through her eyes, not saying any word “
“ O my gosh!…tell me what else?”
“ Walking with her in the trees during autumn, holding her hands and she leaning on my shoulders and we both talking about our past, present and future”
“ o gosh.!..stop..you will kill me with these talks. Ayaz!!, where were you till now!! Where were you hiding!! “ she shouted.
“ What do you mean?” I laughed out.
“ You know what I mean. How come you are still single?!” she was energized like the toy with energizer battery.
“ I don’t know, for sure , why I am still single. First it is fate, second I was not ready to think about it because of my financial commitments, and third , girls of today do not marry because of words or just the feelings you have for them. They have evolved into more practical beings now” I was trying to convey my personal observations and experiences.
“ But you seem to be an honest guy, a professional, a man with feelings and a great sense of humor. How come girls have left you alone?”
“ You should ask this question to the girls. By the way, just to clarify I am no Richard Gere nor do I own a Ferrari. My bank balance is hardly enough to buy me an air ticket to Pakistan”
“ I am not looking for Gere or Ferrari” She sounded annoyed.
“ I am happy that you are not otherwise I would have you redirected. Are you sure you are a girl of today?..or a ghost from the medieval times” I laughed with sarcastic touch.
She did not respond.
“ Ok now don’t get mad at me because I speak the naked truth. Tell me about your passions and what do you wanna do in life?” I tried to switch the role.
“ You got scared, didn’t you” she was amused.
“ Yes I did, I don’t want to sound offensive but truth always offends someone. Anyways, lets go back to you. Answer my question”
“ My passions…I want to fall deeply in love with the guy who loves me. I am very romantic by nature”
“ Now I can understand those ‘gosh’ remarks “ I chuckled.
“ yea, this is why I could not control. I was happily surprised that you think the same way. Hmmm… so my other passion is dance. I love to dance”
“ and I want to be a doctor so that I can help people”
“ I am impressed”
“ Do you think I will be able to carry on these things in life” she wanted my confirmation.
“ If you are passionate about these things then you will. But be clear about your priorities. In life what we say is different than what we do and then we look for excuses.”
“ I will try to keep this in mind Ayaz, Thankyou”
“ You welcome!”.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

I sat down to write the response but my heart was reluctant.
“ You should also make her wait the way she did to you”
I laughed at it “ I did not know I am so egoistic at heart”
“Lets start writing, she must be waiting “ my mind won again.

“ Leila,

Your mail made my day. I can not tell you how happy I am, and relaxed too. I think I can understand your feelings. Though some people may think it is too soon to express these feelings specially if you are a girl but I think life is too short, if we like someone we should, at the least, give that person an idea as tomorrow can be too late.I am happy that you did. I would love to share things with you and I am sure we will be such close friends may be more than friends. I am moving forward step by step, knowing that I am honest and sincere and I do not have any reason to doubt that you are not. I think we can always feel if the person is sincere or not..right?

You know it is surprising that neither of us talked about each others looks. Doesn’t it tell you something?
I can imagine guys must be after you and I wonder why not one of them and why me?.

Anyways, now coming to passions, likes and dislikes; my passion in life is to make a difference in this world. I think even if I am able to make a difference in one life I will think I have achieved something. My priorities in life are my religion, my family and my country. Likes; I like many things , pretty girls being on top of the list. I dislike hypocrisy and am expressive about it, that tells you why I do not have many friends. I think this should be enough for now, I don’t want you to sleep while reading this mail. Read it carefully, I will ask questions when we will chat next time, tomorrow may be?..same time?

And yes, I feel the same way and inshAllah you will not regret that you expressed your feelings to someone who is physically very far from you .

Take care of yourself….and know that someone has started thinking about you.


– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

Next morning after Fajr I checked my mail again with a fading hope. This time my inbox looked different with a glow. Out of tens of mails my eyes were focused on only one “ Sharmeena Khan”. I thanked Allah and started reading

Dear Ayaz,

I am so sorry I could not write back to you. Due to long weekend we went to our aunt in L.A. and there I got really sick . Then I tried to use my cousin’s computer but it started acting up. I have just come back home. I hope you are not mad at me.

All these days I kept thinking about you. Why is it so Ayaz?. I have just talked to you only once. I don’t know anything about you. I don’t even know how do you look like yet I feel a connection that is hard to explain. I want to learn more about you, rather everything about you. Your likes and dislikes. Your passions and what are you dispassionate about. I want to know each and everything that is on your mind. Do you think we can be such friends, Ayaz, may be more than friends? Or do you think it is too soon for me to know you?

You know I have never encouraged any guy who came after me but here I am expressing my feelings to a man who I have never met and who is sitting thousands of miles away . Do you feel the same way, Ayaz?

I have to go now. I am sorry again for replying late. I hope you will understand.

I will wait for your response.

take care of yourself

Sharmeena “

“Patience is really a virtue and it does pay off ” I thought with a smile spreading from east to west on my face.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

I came back after a long day at work, or so it seemed at that time, and went directly to my computer to check my email. There were few in my inbox but not the one I was waiting for. Disappointment set in. Whole of the evening was spent in clicking the “ send/ receive” button. Time difference of 10 hours appeared as a logical reason.
The following morning I hurriedly went through my Fajr prayers and checked my mails. No signs of what I was waiting for. I went on with my day. At 4, I was the first to rush out of the office heading home. I repeated the actions from previous day and the result was the same; no mail.

“why am I disappointed!?” I asked myself. “ She is just a girl from online world. She comes to chat to kill the time. Why would she care if someone is waiting?”

“ but why would she write such a nice email if she was just killing time. Why would she play with someone’s emotions when she does not even know him” came the justification from my mind

These arguments went on for few minutes and finally my positive nature gave her the benefit of doubt. I decided to wait.

“ How long are you going to wait!?” my heart did not want to give up.

“ why does it matter?!! I am not running out of time!.” I ignored the opposition within me.

It is really strange that we may not have anyone for 30 years but when someone comes for few hours , says few nice words and we start losing our patience. We do not want that person to go away from us even for a short time. It was hard for me to understand that if I have lived without her being in my life for 29 years then why was I so impatient that I could not wait for few hours or days. Psychology books must have an answer but I did not.

Next day saw the same thing. In the night I started writing and tried to control my frustrations

“ Leila,
I hope things are good at your end. I was wondering where have you disappeared. Drop me a line when you read this.


Two more days passed without any response. My life had entered in the ‘do don’t-do’ stage.

“You should write a final mail and get it over with” I got scared by the suggestion of my heart.

“ Wait, if you lose , you will lose anyway, why hurry? Don’t let your frustrations be a part of the reason” mind was calm like a sincere and mature friend.

I surrendered to its logics.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

Next day I woke up, switched on my computer and checked my mail. There was a new mail from Sharmeena Khan.

“ Dear Ayaz,
I enjoyed talking to u very much. You know how do I feel, normally I would get bored chatting with one person, but today…I didn’t want to leave. I just wanted to keep talking to u.What you said about friendships is very true, and though we have just met I hope we can have a real long lasting friendship. I want you tell me anything and everything that is on your mind. No hesitations.
Oh k…well it’s almost dinner time and I have to help my mom. My sister and brother are lazy.
Well, reply back to me soon…take care of yourself
Sharmeena ”

I sat down and started writing the reply right then.

Thanks for the email. After talking to you I have similar feelings. Friends are forever; It might sound like cliché but I do believe in it, infact I believe in everything I say. I’m lucky that somebody like yourself wants to know me and share things with me. I will not hesitate.
Hope you had enjoyed your dinner:)
Talk to you

I went to the office but whole of the day my mind was not at work rather it was wandering around somewhere in California. I felt a strange happiness; a feeling I had never experienced before.Something in my life was changed for sure. What and why, I had no idea.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

July 2, 1995. Amman, Jordon.

“hey stranger , how are you?” someone with id Leila messaged me as I entered the chat room.

I was feeling bored after a long tiring day at work. Feeling lonely and home sick I logged on to online chat to talk to fellow Pakistanis from around the world.
I grabbed my coffee and sat at the computer staring at screen.

“hey Leila, am good thanks and you?” I felt an unknown freshness within me.
“ I am tired, just returned from school”
“ poor kid”
“ I am not a kid!”
“ how old are you?”
“ I am 22 female from California and you?”

“ 29 male living in Jordon”
“hmmm…living in Jordon and originally from?”
“ Pakistan”
she responded “ My dad is from Pakistan too”
“ good to know”.

I came to Amman two years ago when the company hired me and two other software engineers from Pakistan. It was a lucrative offer and we three decided to take the opportunity. Khalid and Junaid, my colleagues were married with kids and had a good family life. That made me feel that being single in a strange land makes you more lonely than you already are.

“why have you chosen this id, stranger”
“ because I am a stranger, am I not?”
“ we all are”

“true, in our world we all start as strangers and end up being strange” I laughed.
“ you are funny too Mr. stranger, what do you do in Jordon?”
“ I am a software engineer”
“ why in Jordon?”
“so you run after money”

“no, but money is the main driving force in life and it drives my life too”
“ may be you are right”
“I always am!”
I retorted.
“do you believe in online friendship?” Her question took me with a surprise.
“ I only believe in friendship, doesn’t matter how we meet”
“do you think we can be friends?”
“ I know we will be”
“ people tell lies here on the net”
“people will lie even in person”
“ do you lie?”
“ no Leila, I don’t!.. …this is the first time I have ever”

She laughed out loudly.
“Stranger, I have to go now, would you like to keep in touch by email?”
“ fine with me, here is mine”
I gave her my email address.
Thanks stranger”
“I am Ayaz”
“ and I am Sharmeena ”
“ beautiful name”
“so am I”
she smiled .
“ I better be going Ayaz, will talk to you”
“ aright Sharmeena, bye for now”
I logged off and went to bed.
That was my first meeting with her. Thinking about our conversation I fell asleep.

– fromLeila – a love untold Copyrights Reserved

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