Part One It was a cloudy day in July and Mango Season was almost over.

There was a cold breeze flowing and the air of ‘something significant happening soon’ was lurking about. Aida Khan knocked the door three times and waited. She was a short girl in her early twenties, recently out of her teenage years. Her dark brown hair hung loose and her impatience was being reflected in her large brown doe eyes. Aida wasn’t the kind of a girl who cared of how she looked and anyone who looked at her could probably tell. She was in her pyjamas wearing a large black t-shirt with a shawl draped around her which ruffled as the breeze went by. She looked around the shabby floor but thought nothing of it. A man spoke from the machine, ‘Who is it?’ She rapped the door two times for a reply. ‘Take it from below’ There were two slits on the apartment door, one was narrow and the other was broad. She heard the familiar husky voice speak, ‘Put the money through the slit and at the same time I’ll give you the bag’ Aida got what she wanted and left the broken building. She always wondered about the true identity of that man and wondered why the man in the building, who happened to be the main drug supplier in all of Karachi, chose such a shabby place for his dealings. She supposed he had to remain inconspicuous so he wouldn’t get in trouble with the authorities. She laughed. ‘What authorities?’, she smiled to herself while waving her hand to dismissing the thought from her head. That night Aida caused a car crash where she nearly killed someone and her dealer got caught by the police. Police found Aida in her car, stoned on marijuana while the victim was bleeding profusely at the side of the curb. The dealer was busted in a raid.

an imposing figure to say the least. not me and not even your own husband. Her hands were tied to the bars and the stone walls of the prison were cold to touch despite the hot weather.Part Two Aida woke up the following day. she exasperated He sighed and replied. He was the one who was never around and had the eloquence of a pig!’ ‘Afzal said you kicked him out. Since you already chose not to live with your husba-‘ ‘Husband? You can’t be serious! The man married me for my money. all but shadow. Apparently you can’t be controlled by anyone. Surprised she was in such a contact form. after all no woman and no man could ever get out or be in the jails of this country without sustaining heavy injuries or harm.. ‘I agree with you’. Not your mother. ‘Well personally I’m happy this amuses you. He stood there in the doorway. she deliberately hit her head on the wall. ‘Sorry but it so happens that you will stay here.. standing in front of the blinding light flooded in. Ghulam Ishtiaq Khan. She wondered why her dear father hadn’t pulled her out of jail yet. Otherwise the cell was dark and cold. ‘What do you mean exactly?’. Mad at herself to be in a position such as this. that I can not have you running around spoiling the family name. ‘It means my dear. The air was seen to be dusty from the few bright tones of light that shot down above her head from the small minute cracks in the walls. get stoned and rely on me to take you out of every situation you get yourself into’- . ‘Finally Baba you decided to show up. finding herself in a jail cell. I was beginning to get worried you forgot about your only daughter’. The only thing that made her distinct was the cat he wore draped over his shoulders and distinct combing pattern of his hair. till I decide what to do with you’. He held up his hand and leered. The air in her chest seemed to have become stagnant. You stay from house to house. ‘I’m glad to see this. Maybe they know who my father is… In walked her father. I had to do what I had to’‘Yes and now I will do what I have to. she thought.. Aida couldn’t believe what she was hearing. ‘He beat up one of my dogs with a whip. A fine reminder of the glorious British rule. That you set your band of dogs at him and who chased him out of the house’.’ he motioned his hands. Will you tell the man to let me out now? I have a party to go to at lunch and I don’t want to be late’. He crossed the line. She couldn’t breathe and locked her eyes onto her father.

He knew her. She couldn’t hold herself together anymore so she wept and wept hard. Your mother would turn in her grave if she could see you right now. What’s wrong Ishtiaq did I say something wrong?’ Ghulam Ishtiaq had flinched at the sight of his first wife’s name. she shouted. She wept as she remembered the way her father had spoken to her and what he was eight years ago. ‘This conversation just enforces my decision and here it is. Though I must admit when they told me it was the police who had called I prayed to God that you died. She remembered that voice but couldn’t place it. ‘Gladly my dear. some sort of relief but there was none. This was for the first time after eight years of her mother’s death and she screamed for her Mariam. ‘Harami!’ He shook his head and spoke into the wall. Knowing you. ‘Get out’. When he had heard someone’s footsteps coming in he promptly acted as if he was knocked out. he smoothed over his dinner jacket and started speaking again. so I would be rid of you forever but it seems Fortune wasn’t on my side’. Goodbye’. Though Aban was considered a haughty and arrogant man he felt sorry for Aidan. ‘Princess. Instead they just reminded her how the hard chill that she periodically found this world to be. Aida screamed. you might want to keep it down. Recovering. Prisoners who would just like to die in peace’ Aida’s eyes flickered. Aban heard a loud thud and then Aidan’s low cry. You will have no visitors.‘Well you haven’t taken the role of the ideal father have you? Ever since my real mother. You will be in this prison till the day you change your mind and decide not to soil the family name anymore. His head was resting on the stone wall. When the sounds of her father’s footsteps faded away. Sooner or later Aidan fell asleep. Her grief was incontrollable and twisted in her like snakes hissing and snapping at her soul. She clutched the black iron bars for some sort of comfort. right now I feel like this great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. without Aidan’s own knowledge. ‘Who are you?’ ‘Aban’ . His knuckles had turned white when he heard the coldness in Ishtiaq’s voice. you wont be getting any ‘special treatments’ or ‘services’. When I got the call about your new incident I was horrified. There are other prisoners in here too. I doubt that will happen anytime soon. He had heard the conversation between Aidan and her father. Mariam died and you’ve never been there for me. My Baba died with my Ami.

Not when her life was over. She was trying to place that voice. when hell freezes over’. ‘Well then. So there. was taken away. she didn’t want to be made a spectacle of. She asked him how old he was. Aban’s brow furrowed. Don’t you think?’ ‘Well yes but if you go according to your religion then forgiveness will also be granted if you repent’ Aida became quiet. it would be impossible for them to die in peace. then according to our religion. but you aren’t. ‘I heard the conversation between you and your father. rather slowly?’ ‘Actually I am. She didn’t want anyone’s pity. I know I shouldn’t have been eavesdropping but I was. she snapped scornfully She didn’t feel like arguing with a complete stranger. . Your father will take you into his bosom like the Prodigal Son returned.‘Well Aban. ‘Trying to place my voice are we?’ ‘Get lost’. worth dying for’. her freedom. seeing the people in prison are generally the ones who do no good and cause pain to the world. ‘Are you feeling sorry for me?’ ‘No. ‘If that’s the case then aren’t we waiting for our deaths. I feel sorry that you have to deal with a man like that though.’ Aida started laughing. He decided honesty was the only approach he could take for now. we are in the same boat’. The one thing that she valued above all. ‘Thirty five’ ‘Are you rich?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Then why are you here?’ ‘I guess if you start making a lot of money there comes a point when you have no friends left and everyone looks at you only to think of ways to use you’ ‘Do you have anything in this world that you would die for?’ ‘Why would you ask me that?’ ‘Because I don’t have anything in this world. when you decide to conform’ ‘I will.’ Her brown eyes clouded.

are you familiar with it?’ She laughed. ‘Poor chap. ‘Yes. calm and serene. . but there was no hint of merriment in her eyes.Both the prisoners were quiet from then on. ‘Stevie Smith. tasteless daal that was brought in and drank the water but Aida didn’t even glance at her plate. Aban lying on the floor. Ghulam Ishtiaq Khan was an imposing sight indeed. right?’ Aban turned over and dragged himself to the corner of the wall where the hole was. he put his head on the stone wall yet again to eavesdrop. he always loved larking And now he's dead It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way. the dead man But still he lay moaning I was much further out than you thought And not waving but drowning’. He looked at his daughter and wasn’t shocked to see that he felt nothing for her. Aban was an insomniac. The jail keeper came in regularly and brought in food. you look very pale’ ‘Take it away’ The jail keeper saw the empty look in Aida’s eyes and saw nothing but grief. The next day Ishtiaq Khan came to the jail to see his daughter but first making sure she was asleep. ‘Please have some bajji. ‘Nobody heard him. He started to recite the lines of his favorite poem. stretched out like a great big black panther. Aban had a few bites of the watery. ‘Die quickly would you? Afzal is getting restless. Aida’ And then he abruptly left. It was the afternoon time and he was thinking of days past. Faking a slumber. Dressed in a black suit.

When I ran and told my mother she laughed and brushed me off. He wondered whether she was feeling better or worse today. Would pity suffice? ‘Why?’ ‘Well my parents were rich people but parents were evil people. But from then on I viewed the world warily.They said’ Aban nodded in approval. I was sick of everything. ‘What do you think?’ Aban was surprised. . When I didn’t stop screaming. it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning) I was much too far out all my life And not waving but drowning’. she grabbed my arm and took me to the same place where they all got together and killed the victim. I would see them in me. ‘What do I think? Well I think it’s the story of our lives’ ‘Why are you including me with you on this? And why do you consider yourself to be drowning?’ ‘I bet you’ve been feeling like that since the day your mother died’. An unforgivable act with his mates. Aida didn’t know what to say to Aban.the victim was chained and in pain. ‘Oh. I killed them all in their beds that night’. Even looking at myself in the mirror reminded me of them. What exactly was making her ask these questions. ‘That was uncalled for!’ she shrieked breathlessly ‘Was it? I’m sorry if it seemed so’ ‘But what has happened in your life that made you feel like you were drowning?’ ‘I killed my parents’. When I was ten I saw him doing something. Nothing made me truly happy. Nothing excited me or pleased me. ‘I suppose they deserved it’ ‘Yes well they were my parents and I was on my own after that. no no no. I guess that’s why I had all the mirrors removed in my house’.

Aban laughed.‘Is it me or do you seem more calm and relaxed than I am? You seem to be waiting for something’. What?!’ ‘You don’t believe me?’ ‘Be serious’ . ‘I am waiting for Shinigami to come and deliver a package’ ‘Wait.

Aida became quiet and then made a decision. you had nothing to lose. seven people got out of prison. But I wanted to ask you something’. ‘What is it?’ ‘Do you want to get out of prison?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘I mean that I’ve paid of ten guys who will make sure that I get out of prison tomorrow night. Then I will agree to go on your suicide mission’. ‘You will answer two of my questions.Part Three Later on that day Aban had a visitor. All of them were filthy murderers. Aban knew what was coming but he didn’t want to say no to her. I expected you to jump at this’. The government decided to pass a law which allows the guards us to shoot us point blank if they catch us trying to run away’. Aida was straining to hear the conversation but heard nothing. ‘What did you mean by the Shinigami delivering something?’ . Nothing to live for’. Next!’ Aida was shocked but continued. She thought about what he had said about a Shinigami delivering a package. ‘I expected more from you Aida. Do you want to get out?’ ‘I’m sorry but are you aware of what happened in this prison a month ago?’ ‘Yes I am. Wait was it a pun on death? Since Shinigamis are Death Gods or did he just overdose on Japanese cartoons? ‘I’m back’ ‘Well?’ ‘Well what?’ ‘If you don’t want to say anything don’t’ ‘I’m surprised to see you in such spirit that’s all. ‘Precisely’ Aban sighed heavily and said. ‘Why would you assume something like that?’ ‘I thought. my dear. ‘Who are you? Have I met you before?’ ‘I was your dealer.

and certainly not Ghulam Ishtiaq Khan’s daughter’ Aida’s attention came back to the man who was talking to Aban. hate and questions in their eyes. He had a slight beard and looked like a miscreant. That night she dreamt that she was ten again. ‘Put a cork on it’.. Aida who hadn’t eaten in two days saw the effects when she started walking. The man started leading the way and Aban motioned Aida to walk ahead of him. Aban was tall. ‘Is there a problem?’ she asked Aban. Aban talked to the man in Siraiki while Aida took some time to absorb her surroundings. he said. Her mother turned to her and ruffled her hair. she thought. There were no guards in sight and the few that were spotted had their backs to the escapees. She quickened her pace but by this time her breath was coming out like jagged edges. I’m assuming you have no place safe to go right now so you wouldn’t mind coming along with me?’ She was quiet and didn’t respond to his question. got up and followed Aban out the cell. The other prisoners in the cell were looking like animals caged inside their cells. She felt cold and clammy but ignored it. with jet black hair with streaks of grey in it. To Aida they looked like hungry wolves. ‘Shut yourself out to them and look ahead’ said Aban. Aban woke her up gently the next day. His eyes however were grey and deep. ‘Saieen Aban when you said an another cell mate I thought you meant a man. but what will happen if I do get out in the end? I don’t have anywhere to go without Ishtiaq finding me and I don’t have any money either’. they were enjoying the night together and listening to Frank Sinatra. ‘Aida. The three went down the flight of stairs and finally reached the end. Aida smiled. The familiar feeling of comfort and security had kicked in and it was intoxicating.. replied Aban and addressed the man in front of him. ‘Put a cork in it’.are we done now?’ She chose not to respond and promptly went to sleep. she replied. ‘Very well saab’ replied Nadeem. Aban thought about helping her but decided against it. She was in the backseat of her parent’s car and they were driving back open. Instead she quickened her pace. . There is nothing left after all. Some of them started banging the bars and screaming.‘I’m a Bleach fan.I named one of my liaisons Shinigami. ‘It’s time’. A short dark complexioned man in white shalwar kameez was waiting outside. The top was rolled down. ‘Since there isn’t much left I might as well go on. She mused over the possibility of her dying and decided that she didn’t care. He looked very impatient and unsure of himself. looking at them with anger. The one who takes care of all my shady businesses. Aida was surprised to see him in her jail cell. Aida was on her back looking up at the purple sky and the cool breeze was on her face. ‘Just do as I say Nadeem’. He asked her if she was ready.

The tank is full. Can’t you?’ She didn’t reply though she agreed. ‘Saieen Aban there is a white Corolla waiting outside and the keys are in the ignition. The guards will give you a twenty minute head start before they call the Police on you. I can feel it. ‘I’m taking you to my house in the outskirts of Hyderabad. . some food and in the briefcase is the money you told me to cash. Something she hadn’t felt in a long time. she was surprised she felt hopeful and content. The purple sky was speckled with stars and she breathed in the cold air of the A. She started watching the street lights of the Karachi Highway and the feeling of security came back.C. Which. She breathed in and realized she didn’t like the way she smelt.They came to an abrupt halt at the entrance gate. It did feel like it was that time. He opened her car door for her and slipped in the driver’s seat and then they drove off. taken at the flood. leads on to fortune…’ She laughed and said. ‘I suppose you think this refers to that time?’ ‘I do. May Allah be with you Saieen’ Aban nodded and led Aidan to the car. Aida was lost in thought. there is a change of clothes in the car. ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men. It’s in the middle of nowhere so we can stay there for a long time’ This time she smiled at Aban for an answer. They reached the highway in forty-five minutes. Aban spoke.

she had also cut her lip in the process. Aida’s head hit the car’s window hard.The Last Part After an hour and a half they reached Hyderabad’s toll plaza.we’ll see’. she laughed. ‘Or heaven. ‘It looks like we were tailed. woman I will see you in hell’. ‘Do you know how to swim?’ ‘No’ ‘Even I don’t’ ‘Goodbye’ The car fell in the river with a great splash! Water was slowly filling the car. She breathed heavily and spit some blood out. ‘Get us out of here now!!!’ Aban put his foot on the pedal and raced ahead‘I’m sorry but what if we don’t make it?’ At that precise moment an another traffic police car appeared out of nowhere from the front of a truck and thrust itself to the Corolla. ‘Goodbye? Hell no. They went on until the reached the Indus River. It was a half moon. Aida spotted the same old man who sat slightly away from the middle of the four arches. They got hit again. Aban watched from the rear view mirror. the car tires screeched ahead. The water seemed muddy purple and the moonlight was reflected on waters. The car on the right at the precise moment collided.as usual. She asked Aban for a twenty and handed the money to the old man. He put his foot at the accelerator and switched gears. Aban felt scared for a millisecond. it was falling into the river. ‘Well I’m sorry too but I thought we had nothing to live for?’ Aban laughed deeply and said to her. saalay kuttay’ Aida’s reaction however was a different one. Aban thought over quickly what to do. His arms were supporting a blue cooler and he was selling juices. ‘Nice knowing you’ . ‘Nice call’. Five armed policemen got out of their respective cars. Aban applied the brakes and parked the car to the side since two traffic police cars had signalled him to pull over. the two cars at the back had lunged at them.hard against the Corolla which went sideways and hit the bridge wall which collapsed.

Even Aban had a smile on his face. ‘You too’ They breathed out their air together and held each other’s hand. when he saw Aida in the car. ‘Mariam I’m sorry…’.The water had filled up till their necks and wasn’t stopping. No one approached him. He whispered. By the next morning the car had been taken out of the Indus. Ishtiaq fell to his knees by the river and cried like a man who had lost his soul. . Her gaunt face had a smile and her hands were clasped in Aban’s hands. Ishtiaq Khan was there frantic. He was dreaming about Mariam and Aida when they were returning from a social event when he got the phone call.

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