‘I still can’t believe you agreed to come,’ Minahil admitted for the tenth time. Fariha smiled at her and sipped her drink. Her day out with friends wasn’t going the way she wanted it to. Not that she had any high expectations but she hoped it would prove to be a distraction. Looking at people around her, observing them always made her forget her own life. She imagined their lives, told herself stories about them, derived conclusions from their actions. Today however…everything around her was hazy and voices sounded far off. Only one face and voice was clear and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t shake it out of her mind.
The only reason she had decided to join her classmates for a movie and dinner later was because she thought the noise would drown the memory. Home was so silent these days and despite all her efforts to keep busy, the voice kept booming in her head and all around her.
Mom’s reaction was, as usual, out of place. She was shocked at first but then she grew angry. At Fariha. As if it were her fault they were being in danger of becoming homeless. Nauhil was quiet as always. It was times like these when Fariha wished they had some relatives that she could turn to. There was no one who could understand her pain, her fear.
She decided to walk home after dinner. Minahil insisted on dropping her home as it was late but human company was least desirable right now. Tears soaked her cheeks as she watched her feet padding the sidewalk but she did nothing to stem the flow. She wished she could walk on this pavement alone forever, letting the hot tears drown her worries. What good were people anyway? All they expected was strength and she had run out of it. She was sick of her mother’s ineptitude and her habit of blaming others for everything that went wrong. She was sick of Nauhil’s silence. She was sick of trying to take responsibility for everything because no one else did. All she wanted right now was to run away, but where? She had nowhere to go.
People streamed out of stores, pushing past her, their faces lit up with happy smiles. Why couldn’t I be like them? What did they do to deserve this happy life while I live in fear and misery? These were questions she had asked a million times but never got an answer. They only made her feel bitter.
She was almost home. Their house was situated in one of the city’s most posh society. Dad had left them a lot of money along with this house and Mom was a Marketing manager in a multinational firm. They would have been rich but Mom liked to splurge money on lawyers who loved to earn and hated fighting for justice. Their lawsuit was a simple one. Had their lawyer been competent, the case would have been wrapped up in their favour in a matter of months. But his retainer was far from full and so the prospect of solving this dispute was not on his list of priorities. Grinding her teeth at the sight his car outside, Fariha sat out on the porch, inevitably thinking of all those times she went high in the swing Dad placed here.
At times like these she wondered how different everything would have been had her father been alive. The thought of him made her heart ache. Those six years of her life never knew turmoil. She remembered the long Sunday afternoons they spent in the lawn, as he told her about different plants while planting new seeds. All those plants were dead now. No one had the time or will to take care of them after him. He would draw sceneries and landscapes for her to paint and even though she was clumsy, he still framed each one of them and hung them in the living room. Their house was full of her ‘art’. She could still hear his laughter, feel his hands messing up her hair, his arms hugging her every day when he came back from whatever work he did. Nothing could harm her then. His smallest of gestures oozed protection. But he wasn’t here anymore. Good riddance, her mind told her. He got what he deserved.
‘Are you sure?’ a small voice echoed in her head once more.
Read previous chapters here: Grudge and Pain
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