The Devil's Apprentice

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Chapter 7- Nazir Jatoyi

Rain was heavily pouring down on Islamabad as locals were running left and right looking for shelter. August rain was expected from monsoon, but today it came rumbling down without any warning. Students and professors at NUST campus were quickly looking for shelter; some running with satchels on their heads while professors quickly jacketed their papers to keep them dry. The parking lot at NUST was not immune from the rain, many of the students staying in their cars waiting for the rain to lighten up so that they can go about getting to their classes. Many others then were thinking of parking immediately reversed and ran home, hoping that a rainy day was a good enough excuse to cut class.

One car in particular hadn’t budged regardless of the weather. A Mercedes-Benz C180 2007 model was parked quietly towards the end of the parking lot. It was partially covered with a large fern tree, and yet rain spattered on its windshield. The car’s tinted black windows gave nothing away of its contents inside. It sat peacefully, it would be easily ignored if it were not one of Pakistan’s most iconic symbols of wealth. Students rushing to and fro from campus did a double take as they reached their vehicles thinking who would bring a Merc out in this weather.

There was probably only one person in the entirety of Islamabad that would bring out his most prized possession out in this crazy storm that had engulfed the capital. He was laying in the back of the car’s black leather seats, legs stretched out to the fullest smoking his hashish laced Marlboro whites. The air was getting stingy; after all it was his third cigarette, and yet the one thought he needed out of his mind was not going away. With one hand outstretched he began rummaging underneath the seat hoping to find a bottle of his trusty Blue Sapphire hidden neatly away in his spare backpack. It wasn’t there; maybe he left it at home. Grunting, he tried his best to sit up straight but fell back hitting the interior of the door. He huffed trying to balance himself in the darkness of the car. The pitter-patter of the rain outside seemed to be drumming holes into his head. Everything seemed to be tilted towards an axis, trying to balance himself was like trying to walk on water. He puffed on his cigarette again, watching the smoke roll away towards the roof of the car slowly diminishing in thin air. He was moving side to side it seems but the smoke of his cigarette was straight, he pondered on this absurd observation.

You do realize that, that is not how gravity works, or any law of physics right?

He shot up from his slouched position, a voice, in his car? He heard it before, the same mellow tone, each word enunciated, slowly with perfection. It was followed by an intelligent laugh. A sense of fear shot through his spine. He thought rapidly, where was it coming from? Suddenly he glanced at the rear-view mirror only to find piercing green eyes staring back at him with a keen intensity. Staring into them made him dizzier, the air around him was getting thicker making it difficult to breathe.

What? You look like you’re about to throw up. Is everything okay?

No it wasn’t. Nothing was okay he thought. For the last few hours he remembered he was alone in this car smoking away his thoughts. Now all of a sudden these green golden eyes he so loved to stare at were staring back at him making a crater in his aching body.

She sighed, slowly gazing ahead of her. It seemed as if she was staring towards the university campus, watching the onslaught of the rain as it beat the ground again and again.

I never understood why you always stoop so low. Is this really how you want to live out your days? Getting drunk on cheap vodka and smoking away sorrows on weed bought from the grounds keeper.

Now, now he thought. Blue Sapphire isn’t all that cheap. Yes, it isn’t an imported brand. But it does the trick quite well.

Won’t you speak to me? Have you nothing to say about this behavior?

Speak to you he thought. You aren’t even here, how can I possibly speak to you.

Oh, but I am here. You can see me, you can hear me, and I’m willing to bet that you can feel me too.

The hair on his arms stood straight. There was indeed a presence in the car other than him. He could smell the light floral and citrus of Lady Blue perfume. Its musky smell was getting stronger the more he focused. Looking back at the rear view mirror those eyes were staring back at him. But this time he could see that her nose twitched a bit while her round full lips curved into a slight smile. The rosy pink of her cheeks were getting strong as he kept staring.

“You really are here, aren’t you”, he spoke out loud this time, still hesitant to hear his own voice.

“I am ... very much here”, she spoke softly and was fidgeting with something in her hands. Her fingers looked impeccable, clean with each nail smoothed down neatly.

“But why exactly are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be at your parent’s home? Getting ready to marry that ... that...“, he refused to say his name. She was going off to become someone else’s. Never had she ever given him the time of day.

“That’s not true, I always sat next to you during labs and we’ve been having lunch together for so many years”, she shifted in her seat, pushing a lock of her stray hair behind her ear.

“How did you... I was just thinking; I’m so confused now.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me what you felt for me? You could have said something, anything”, she looked away, looking out the passenger seat.

“What does it matter what I did or didn’t say.”

“You don’t know that”, she quickly turned to face him. Glaring at him with those piercing green eyes. They haunted him, made him squirm in his seat. He suddenly felt uneasy and looked down at his feet. His Reebok sneakers were muddied all around the sole. Stuck to the laces seemed to be all the ash from his cigarettes. This was hopeless he thought. Why can’t she just understand that he had not the courage to tell her what she meant to him. And now she was gone forever from his life.

His phone began to ring. It’s ringtone loud and metallic, the chorus to ‘Enter Sandman’ blasting away. The car was a mess, wrappers and papers all over the floor board of the car. There were cigarette butts everywhere, ash covering the black leather seats. He scampered his hands all over the seats and floor trying to locate his phone. He finally found it jammed between an empty Marlboro packet and some thesis papers between the car seats. The screen of the phone was pulsing and vibrating with the words “Crouching Tiger” blinking across. He took a deep breath, anticipating what the phone call was going to be. The same old nagging and whining, all about the same things.

“Hello”, that is all he had to say and the dam gates would flood open.

“Where are you? Where have you been all night? Do you understand how upset I am? This is not the way to go about living life! Enough is enough, I want you home immediately. I-M-M-E-D-I-A-T-E-L-Y, immediately! I don’t care if you have to pull yourself out of thin air. I want you home, N-O-W, NOW! Your brother wants to speak with you on something urgent. I need you home Nazir.”

Nazir had the phone away from his ear, his mother’s voice was loud enough to be heard across a cricket stadium. She was screaming through the phone as if the ground had split open and was plummeting to hell. Gosh, how he wished that was possible. If only the ground could swallow her alive. Then all his grievances and disappointments would vanish into thin air, if only. He sighed at the thought of relieving himself of his over complaining mother. This was too much, that was too little, that is wrong, this is right, blah, blah, blah Nazir thought.

“Yes Mother”, and with that Nazir ended the call. He looked up to speak with her again.

“Sorry it was my mom...” before he can go on any further, she was no longer sitting in the passenger seat. She’d vanished just as she came. After all, it was just his thoughts getting out of hand. She wouldn’t leave his mind, not after all the drinking, and the smoking. Not even after all the blood he split over the course of two weeks. Nothing was emptying her out of his soul. Nazir shook his head, finally realizing the present state he sat in. The rain was getting lighter, he needed to change his clothes and maybe even take a breath mint. On second thought, maybe a box of breath mints would do the job. And a shower, yeah, a shower would help he thought. With that Nazir looked for his satchel and books. Stepping out of the car he dusted off his shirt and rustled his hair. The sky was still grey and the air around him damp, it smelled like earth he thought, which was strange. The feeling of citrus fragrance still lingered around him, he headed for the male dormitories as he closed the back door.

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