Another Happy Anniversary?bydarthewriter©
Author's note: This is not a sex story. I thank my friend Parke for making me feel I can do so much more with my writing...
The story is set in Pakistan and involves a Pakistani woman and her life. It could however be any woman anywhere at any point in time. Don't let geography limit your vision.
The metallic silver, Toyota Corolla sedan sped quickly and almost silently down the 6-lane Shah Fasiel highway towards Karachi airport.
It was 4 am on a cold January morning as the three occupants of the car sat in silence.
The driver concentrated on the road, aware that a stray dog, or early morning jay walker might at any moment appear from the darkness along the highway and try to run across it just in front of him. At the high speed he was going, his brakes might not work in time.
He was in a hurry because his boss was catching a flight to Islamabad and also because the silence from the back seat was chilling.
The man and woman in the back of the car each contemplated the sleeping city around them as they almost flew past darkened houses, lanes, schools and all manner of urban structure. Karachi at night seemed an empty lonely place. Only the occasional blue flashing lights of a police patrol car, or Para-military Ranger pick-up was sign of life.
Fazana thought about her husband, sitting beside her yet a million miles away lost in thoughts of...what? Work? His journey? Her? She couldn't tell and was even scared to ask. This man she was married to for ten years was almost a stranger to her. It had not always been that way.
The Beginning ...
Fazana and Khurram had known each other since college days. Actually since before then really; Karachi is like that, big and yet so small in many ways Their families were both upper middle class and moved in the same circles, belonged to the same club and ate at the same night spots.
Romance did not suddenly burst upon them one starry night it had slowly worked its spell over many countless casual meetings at social gatherings and chance meetings at the bazaars or restaurants their families frequented.
It was almost natural to one day say to herself "I love him."
Being a sober and steady type of person she had not 'flipped-out' and gone crazy for him. She had simply and slowly found herself wishing he were around her.
Their paths it seemed always crossed. When he went to the States for further studies, she ended up in a school half an hours drive away from his. They met as compatriots abroad do, and soon Fazana saw that 'Crew', as Khurram was affectionately called, was interested in her.
Well, things as they say in Pakistan, Go as ALLAH wills it, so things moved almost with a will of there own. Families were sounded out, links strengthened and finally a proposal correctly and elegantly carried with quiet class and traditional sweat meats by Crew's family to Fazana's parents.
They after a respectable few moments of consideration accepted. Refusal was not really an option; the decision had already been made after thorough background checks by both sides.
Marriage in Pakistan is like two nations negotiating a treaty. They feel each other out, weigh the pros and cons and set their agents to work. After all, marriage binds two families together, not just two people, it is deadly serious. Each family then becomes duty bound to honor and aid the other. A man may lose a son or daughter but he gains a lot of extra unspoken but still important obligations to honor.
The marriage was a society event. It was universally accepted and said that it was a perfect match. Both families on an equal footing both families respected and well thought of in the circles they moved in. Naturally too, both bride and groom were intelligent, good looking and level headed. No wild parties to live down, no scandalous liaisons to hush up, and no threatened suicides by jilted lovers.
Since both were poised for take off career wise, they delayed starting a family by mutual consent for two years. They had time, they reasoned.
A silent goodbye...
They were just clearing the last security check post before heading up the slightly inclined gracefully curved ramp that led to the "Departures Domestic" gate. (Well, that is what you get when you hire a French engineering company).
The driver parked and hurried to get his bosses small overnight bag from the car boot.
Crew said nothing as he checked his ticket and wallet one last time before the driver opened his door.
"No, don't get out" He said to her managing a small smile "See you in 2 days."
"InShallah" (IF GOD wills) She said smiling softly back at him.
She just stopped herself from reaching out to touch his hand as he turned away to go, her mind thinking 'Tell me you love me like you used to tell me"
"Yes" He said walking away towards the departure gate luggage in hand unaware of that thought "InShallah." She heard him say.
The Traffic policeman was already blowing his whistle, passenger dropped, move! the shrill blasts seem to say.
"Tell me you love me...even if you don't mean it Crew" she thought sadly as they exited the down ramp and sped home.
On the way home , slower this time, no plane to catch, her mind took up where it had left off
"AS ALLAH WILLS."
Time moved by so fast it seemed after they married. He was a tender and considerate lover. He was her first and only lover. She probably was not his first and maybe not his last ...men were like that.
She naturally knew the mechanics of sex. Girly chat, soft porn movies and first hand accounts from friends filled in the blanks and enlightened her. Nature did the rest.
The embarrassed heart-to-heart talk her mother gave her before her wedding night was perhaps one of the defining moments in their relationship. The mother-daughter bond made stronger by a blushing, hesitant middle-aged mother educating her naïve daughter. Her chat was frequently interrupted by her mother asking her half pleadingly "But you must have watched movies surely...in The States...on video or DVD...surely you must have?"
"Not those kind Mummy' She had teased.
Crew's career in marketing took off and he climbed rapidly up the corporate ladder of success. Her career as a textile designer also progressed well.
They bought some land, designed and built their dream home and furnished it with style and grace.
By their second anniversary they had come so far so fast that many envied them.
Was that where it all went wrong? Had they, as her grand mother mournfully said, been struck by nazar (the evil eye)?
Things were going so well that they decided to postpone starting a family one more year. A year in Australia for Crew's company; While she busied herself with a course or two at a local college of Art and literature, and relished 'roughing it', without servants. like being back at school only now married; enjoying being young alive and in love and being loved in return...
Australia was great! Wonderful climate, lots to do lots to see and most of all they were happy.
On their way back to Pakistan they took a detour to The Maldives and ended their three year plan with a third wedding anniversary, week of love making (and hopefully baby making) in a ocean front, hotel with a brilliant white sand beach, lined with coconut palm trees., to add to the perfection of it all.
The return home was so happy. Home at last, plans to make, baby plans ...
Fazana climbed slowly into bed and nuzzled under the blanket to get warm. Karachi was so cold this year.
As she drifted to sleep her heart sank with that old familiar feeling...plans after all were silent prayers that man made for castles in the air . What man proposes...GOD disposes.
Cold morning light...
The next morning, she woke late. She had slept a dreamless sleep and woken neither refreshed nor hopeful. The house, the beautiful house with traditional and modern furnishings and beauty almost oozing from every inch was empty without Crew. Then again, as so often she realized sadly...it was empty with him...
The maid brought a letter into Fazana as she sat drinking her tea and reading the newspaper.
The letter had come by courier and that made Fazana think... She thought harder when she saw that the envelope bore the name and address of Crew's family Advocate's Firm (Attorney) . Her hand started to shake as she read it was addressed not to Mr. Khurram Ibrahimi, but to her Ms. Fazana Khurram Ibrahimi.
She put the thick, official looking envelope down and slowly closed her eyes and sighed deeply. The Maid had gone, she was alone once more . It had finally come. The divorce papers...
The mysterious phone calls, the unexplained absences from his office or late returns home suddenly made sense. There was another woman, and she was being cast aside.
If only ALLAH had given them children...
Fazana had not worried too much when her monthlies came on time after there Maldives holiday. Even when three months had elapsed and they came regular as clockwork, she was unconcerned. Well, a little surprised really. She and Crew were seldom off each other when alone . Lovemaking was joyfully and repeatedly engaged in, they acted like teenagers.
She had confided in her mother who almost terrified had taken her to be checked. Her mother-in-law was confided in, and supportive, and scheduled more tests and checks at an different hospital ...when both gave the same report...Nothing wrong, normal 28 year old woman capable of bearing children, her heart leapt with joy then crashed headfirst into the fear she saw in her mother-in-laws eyes.
If it wasn't Fazana it was Khurram. The two mothers seemed to grow closer as that realization sank in. Fazana's mother relived but sad for Khurram's mother; Khurram's mother sad and defeated by the very idea that Khurram could not father a child...
At this stage, the men folk were brought in, Khurram's father had a fatherly, man to man chat and quietly arranged tests at a fertility clinic to get Crew tested.
A few weeks later, Fazana and Crew, so sad since his talk with his father, sat in the cheerfully bright yet homely consultancy room at the fertility clinic and waited for the results.
Three doctors came in. An attractive woman Gynecologist, a handsome male doctor, a sex therapist and a senior fatherly looking Professor, sat down with a tray of tea and biscuits; smiles and cheerful encouragement.
No problem. They talked cheerfully about how the couple was worrying too much about it. They were both healthy and normal and pregnancy would come, INSHALLAH in it's own time.
"You can't hurry ALLAH, my dears" The Fatherly looking professor had said smiling benevolently.
As they had gotten up to leave, the attractive female doctor handed Fazana a plain brown envelope and said "I don't imagine you will be able to do all of these but, have fun trying"
Fazana had opened the enveloped in some confusion and then laughed nervously as she saw the book inside and showed it to Crew in the car home.
Their spirits were lifted, they looked over the book with its drawings, and Mughal-era oil painted figures intermixed with modern photographs of attractive couples experimenting various positions ,and did some experimenting of their own.
By the fifth year of their marriage, things had not changed,
The lovemaking became sex, The Sex became mechanical and emotionless, then it became almost desperate before finally becoming something animals do in a field, then at last the rutting (that was all it could be called by then) had stopped.
By the sixth year, Crew was a changed man. He seemed so tired and depressed all the time. His eyes always looked at her with a haunted beaten look.
They went for more tests and went even to Europe, Australia and The States for fertility treatment and returned always a little poorer in both spirit and wealth. She didn't conceive. No one could tell them why. Everyone one said it would take time but nothing, no treatment, and no procedure no counseling worked. It was a mystery that would not ever be solved it seemed.
Things move into another gear...
Her in-laws started inviting Crew over, alone, to their home. It was as she suspected to introduce him to other hopefully childbearing women. He met many women but vetoed all of them. Fazana loved him the more for it but still wondered how long he could resist the need to be a father, and the family and cultural pressure to sire an heir.
Finally Fazana, remembering the story of the Patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) and his wife Sara, noting with some irony that Khurram's surname was after all Ibrahimi (Abraham's) urged him to find a wife a second wife and have children.
He had looked at her with surprise and pain but had said nothing.
The idea of adoption came up, floated for a while and was finally torpedoed by both sets of in-laws. It would, they said, be accepting defeat.
Perspective brides, blushing maidens, life hardened divorcee sand even a young widow with a child (proof of ability) were dangled before Crew's eyes by increasingly anxious parents.
He politely refused each approach.
The visits to faith healers, holy shrines and basically any person or place that held out any glimmer of hope started. She had drunk so many cups of holy water, worn so many tarveezey (Talismans) and prayed and prayed and wept from the pain of it all but still no children.
As time slowly passed (now so slow it seemed to pass that every second stretched into minutes ) they continued to share a house. They even shared a bed but he seldom if ever made advances and she gave up giving him encouraging smiles or gentle tugs towards her.
They had made the pilgrimage to MECCA and fasted and prayed and waited for their prayers to be answered.
After the Haj, as soon as religion permitted, Crew had made love to her, the way he used to and for a few months it seemed that thinks were improving but as she failed to conceive they sank back into the old ways.
Every prayer is answered but sometimes the answer is 'No', she thought.
He had it seemed, fallen out of love and even out of lust with her. It was the end of their marriage really. Now with their 10th wedding anniversary a few days away, (26 January) it seemed that the end had at last come.
"Not even 10 years ALLAH...as you will it" she thought sadly picking the envelope up slowly, reading her name carefully with sad eyes, and trying to work up the courage to actually open it.
So it ends...?
The first thing that she saw as she slowly opened the envelope and unfolded the neatly folded (finest quality) paper sheets inside was Khurram's signature so beautifully, elegantly and forcefully written just above his name at the bottom of a page.
Next to it was a space for her to sign above her name neatly printed.
The document, was witnessed by her father-in-law and even, with a stabbing pain in her heart she noted, her own father,
She stopped unfolding the document and summoned up the strength to read it all.
"ALLAH!?..." She pleaded softly in her heart, her soul and mind "ALLAH help me."
A small rectangular pinkish envelope fell out of the document as she finished opening it.
It seemed so strange and cheerfully out of place in the legal correspondence that she immediately picked it up and saw her name written in Crew's handwriting across it.
An apology? An explanation?
None was needed. He had succumbed at last to the weight of family pressing down on him from the distant dim past of family history.
She flipped it open and was surprised to see a card. A loving wife on our anniversary card.
Was he insane? He was never cruel before.
Anger raced up from deep inside her as she tossed the card down and stormed off in search of a pen.
"Divorce? I will sign your bloody divorce papers you bastard' she thought.
Finding a pen, she quickly flipped through the document signing at the spots indicated by her name.
Then she went and had a good long cry after pulling and hurling every piece of clothing he possessed out of the wardrobes dressing table etc and across the bedroom.
The servants cowered in fear unsure what to make of the sudden unexpected outburst of rage. Madam never lost her cool so badly..
"He's found another woman" the maid said with confidence.
That evening as the house lay under the heavy spell of Fazana's unexplained wrath, despair and gloom, Khurram came home.
He eyed the servant suspiciously as he entered the house. Asked what was wrong and received only a brief "Memsahib's unwell" from the maid who seemed terrified of him or for him, he was not sure.
He walked slowly to the master bedroom and opened it to see his cloths scattered about the usually neat and tidy room.
"Fazana...what the heck happened?" He asked looking in surprise at her as she sat cross-legged on the floor staring into space.
"Divorce happened" She answered soft and distant
"DIVORCE? Who got divorced?" He asked sitting down beside her "Not your parents surely"
She looked at him suddenly and stammered "US. we got divorced. didn't we? Aren't we?"
He looked at her puzzled for a moment and then laughed out loud like he used to, many anniversaries ago.
"Divorced?" He stood up, "Where are the documents you illiterate woman?"
His laughter ringing through the house, sweeping the gloom away, he went in search of the envelope and as Fazana stood up in confusion, he came back in to the bedroom and said "read it, you blind bat."
She took it off of him and read the heading "Application to Adopt ."
"Happy anniversary Fazana-banana" he said "I LOVE YOU."
* * * * *
For my wife who knows we have so much to be happy and thankful for. Happy Anniversary...
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