I washed my feet to remove the sand grains stuck on them, I loved walking on beaches barefoot, just listening to the sound of waves splashing. It works as a stress buster for me, and today I have been feeling awful.
Imaad had been acting weird in the past few weeks, always trying to get close to me. Caressing my hands or my face, made me feel sick to my stomach. I don't know why I felt like that but his touch made me uncomfortable in a bad way.
I even googled for signs of being in love and how I should feel when my partner touches me, they also showed the same symptoms which Rania had told me earlier. I was freaking out, was something wrong with me? Was I abused sexually in my childhood that I was feeling like this? But as far as I can remember nothing of such sort ever happened, instead, I was blessed with the perfect childhood.
Today when he picked me up for lunch he looked normal, but when we were a little far from my home he tried to kiss me again after he had parked the car to get a call.
I snapped, I rushed out of the car and hired a cab to go to Daniyal's house. I couldn't go back to my home because then everyone would ask questions, hence I went to Daani. And luckily enough those two were just leaving for lunch. I told them Imaad had to go for some emergency meeting and he had dropped me here so I could go with them.
My mind was occupied by Imaad's changed behavior, we have been engaged for more than a year and why did he start acting like this out of the blue when our wedding was in just one week.
Something was wrong, and I couldn't figure out what it was. There was a reason why Imaad was behaving like this and I was not able to understand what, unless he was taking some drugs and was horny.
I washed my hands, splashed some water on my face, dried myself with tissue, and walked out of the bathroom.
Waleed was waiting for me, as soon as he saw me he stood up from the couch. I had met him for the first time after he insulted me after the meeting. I couldn't understand this guy either, he looked so impressed with me before the meeting and was really warming up to me and suddenly he started behaving like a dickhead.
Daniyal knew about my wedding and still, he insisted me to work on this project. I was not ready to take this in the first place because of my history with Waleed. But Daniyal had forced me and here I was working my butt off on this project when I should have been busy with my wedding preparations.
And this guy had the audacity to call me unprofessional and insult me, I so hated him.
We walked out of the cabin and Waleed locked it after him, he guided me to his car and opened the door for me, he was being a perfect gentleman today.
I was feeling hungry, I had barely eaten lunch and had wandered off to the beach, and sat there in an isolated place hidden from the view from the spot where the luncheon was arranged.
I knew Daani would look for me before they left, and I didn't care about how much time I sat there thinking about my upcoming wedding.
I wanted to talk to Imaad about his changed behavior, or maybe he was trying to make me comfortable before our wedding, for the deed. I blushed even thinking about it, I like Imaad. I like him very much, it's just that I couldn't figure out my feelings, and why I didn't feel any excitement from his touch.
"You okay?" Waleed asked me after some time while driving.
"Yeah, I am fine", I replied.
I didn't have anything to say further, so I just kept quiet and stared out of the window looking at the passing scenery.
" So, is yours a love marriage?" Waleed asked me not to ask me any personal question.
"Imaad and I had known each other since as long as I remember", I replied.
" Childhood Sweethearts then", He muttered under his breath but I heard him.
"Not exactly, we were just friends, actually I always considered him as a friend. But I didn't know he had other plans", I said remembering the day he had proposed to me, I had never expected anything like that.
" You didn't love him?" He asked.
I don't know why he was suddenly interested in me and Imaad.
"I don't believe in love, but I believe in commitment and relationship. I think trust is more important in a relationship than love ever can be" I replied.
"So you mean, you don't love your fiance", He said looking at me astonished.
" I don't know, I like him and I have feelings about him but how can I know it's love", I said looking at him annoyed.
I didn't like to discuss personals with anyone, yet here I was discussing with Waleed Kamal from all the people in the world, about my love life and relationship.
"Have you ever loved someone?" I asked him, as I was done with answering his questions about my life.
" No, I have liked many girls but it was never close to love", He replied honestly.
"How many girlfriends did you have till now?" I asked him after his comment about liking many girls.
"I don't do girlfriends, I just go on dates with girls, once in a while, never have been in a relationship", He said looking at me curiously.
" You don't think you should have waited to fall in love with someone before getting married, I mean love can happen at any time", He turned the tables towards me.
"I don't think I am ever gonna fall in love, liking is the most anyone gonna get from me", I replied joking.
" Not even your husband?" He asked.
"I can't predict the future", I replied rolling my eyes.
He became silent again like he was thinking about something, I was grateful he didn't ask me any personal questions again.
We discussed lunch and our project, and thankfully he asked me if I would like to eat something. I was nearly starving, I just shook my head in agreement.
He took a diversion from the highway to a nearby village, then he stopped in front of a small roadside eatery. I looked at him in surprise this didn't look like a place where a billionaire would go.
" What?'' he asked, rolling his eyes.
I just looked at him questioningly.
"You will love the food", He said as he slid out of the car and walked towards my side, and opened the door for me.
A teenage boy came running out of the shed and greeted Waleed, I was shocked to find he was chatting with the boy like he had known him for ages.
" How is your school going Abdul? I hope you are going regularly", He asked the boy as he sat comfortably on the traditional woven cot.
" I have topped my class in the last exam", The boy replied grinning.
"Fantastic, keep up the good work", He said to the boy and started ordering the food.
I was looking at him with curiosity, he had taken off his jacket and folded his shirt-sleeves above his elbows, and removed his tie. This was a completely different side of Waleed that I was witnessing.
" This is my native place, my grandfather lives here in our ancestral home. He has started a school for the village children. I would have taken you to meet him, but it's getting late and your family would be worried about you", He said, sensing my curiosity.
"Ohh" I replied.
" I used to come to this Dhaba (roadside eatery or restaurant) with Dada, we still come here often on the weekends. I love desi food, honestly, I don't enjoy eating in fancy restaurants, as much as I love eating here" He continued.
I was looking at him with interest in my eyes, never have I thought, I could be sitting in a remote village in a Dhaba and enjoying a conversation with Waleed. If someone would have told me this a month ago, I would have advised them to get a life.
He shared with me some of the incidents of his childhood when he used to come here with his grandfather, I didn't realize but I was enjoying my time with him.
The food was really good, better than I had ever eaten in those fancy and expensive restaurants. He had ordered butter chicken and Daal Makhani ( a dish made from lentils) with naan ( a type of bread).
"I only ate a few rolls in lunch, I had planned to stop here on my way back", He said to me.
I looked and smiled at him, this was one new thing I discovered about him that he was a foodie.
" How do you manage to keep a fit body?" I asked, teasing.
" I work out", He replied smiling.
We finished the food pretty quickly, first it was mouth-watering, and second, we both were starving. He ordered two cups of tea, I was not in a mood but he insisted that it was really good.
I agreed with him about the tea. It was amazing. I asked him how come it's so good. He replied it was because of the fresh milk from the buffaloes, the owner of the Dhaba kept.
The drive back to the city was silent, I was so full that I was feeling sleepy and Waleed seemed like he was in deep thoughts.
I directed him to my house, and when he parked in front of the gate, I thanked him.
He was looking at me with his same intense gaze which made tingles erupt on my body then he lifted his arm and traced his finger from my cheek to my lips. My whole body was on fire, with just a trace of his finger making butterflies flutter in my stomach.
I was stunned, I could not even think properly, my heart was beating as if it would break out of my rib cage. I was looking at him dumbfounded, his finger halted for a second near the edge of my lips, and I leaned in his touch involuntarily. He then traced his thumb on my bottom lip slowly, real slowly, the tip of his thumb just touching the edge of my upper lip as it traveled on my lip, tugging it at the corner.
"Thanks, Mia, for the wonderful evening", He said as he retracted his hand from my face.
I was breathing heavily, my heart, breaking all records in beating and when I was able to gather my senses, I opened the door and nearly ran out of his car.
Mia had just left my car, I was still looking at my hand. My fingers were twitching from her touch, I wanted more. She was driving me crazy, I had never lost control in my life. But she made me do things I had never imagined in my life.
She was fired and I wanted to burn myself in her heat. From the moment she entered my car I wanted to touch her, to experience how her skin felt below my fingers. And I couldn't fathom the sparks that traveled through my body when I touched her.
I wanted to crush my lips on hers, but I knew she would never allow it. I knew it wasn't just me who was affected, Mia felt the same. The way she leaned in my touch the way her eyes were fixed on me.
I knew I was treading dangerous waters, but I didn't care. She was different, from all the girls I have dated, she was never intimidated by me. She didn't care about my status or my money, she was wild and untamed. And I knew she was not mine, she could never be mine.
The more the truth dawned on me that I can never have her the more I wanted her. The more I got to know about her the more I fell for her.
She told me she didn't believe in love, and I wanted to accept her challenge and show her what she was missing in life.
I sat there in my car outside her house for a long time, expecting to get a glimpse of her from any window or balcony. Yes, I was officially a stalker now.
I told myself, I was feeling like this, just because I couldn't have her. I turned the key in the ignition and the engine roared to life. I reversed my car and left after giving up hope that I might see her again.
The next week was hell for me, I couldn't take my mind off her, as the day of her wedding approached my restlessness increased. I had never wanted anyone in my life as I wanted her. She had raised havoc in my life since the day she came into it.
I had ordered a gift for her, but I planned not to go to her wedding, I can't bear watching her with any other man.
Asjad and Saad were busy with Mia's wedding functions, so I was invited too. But I made excuses that I was busy with work as usual when they both insisted on me going with them.
I tried boxing, playing video games on my Xbox, and watching documentaries to keep my mind busy and not to think about her, but I was failing miserably. No matter how much I tried not to think about her I was thinking more and more about her.
Dada arrived a day before her wedding to my utter disbelief, I had been insisting him for months to come and stay with me for some time but he always made some excuses.
And when I asked him, how come he decided to come now, he replied he had to attend a wedding. I was upset because he came to attend a wedding and not for me. But still, I was grateful he came, at least my mind would get diverted from her thoughts.
I spent Saturday night talking to Dada till midnight until I was sure I would fall asleep the moment I hit my head on the pillow.
At least sleep was kinder to me than my fate, I slept peacefully through the night and woke up to a beautiful morning.
Dada was waiting for me for breakfast, he started asking about work while having breakfast then all of a sudden he said.
" Be ready by 4 in the evening we will be attending the Nikah (Marriage vows) Ceremony of my friend's granddaughter".
I was surprised why Dada wanted me to accompany him to the marriage of someone I didn't even know.
"Dada, what will I do there? It's better if you would go alone", I said.
Dada looked at me annoyed, I was not expecting this reaction from him, he usually listened to whatever I say and never insisted on anything.
" You are going with me, and I don't want any excuse", He said and walked out of the dining room.
This was a sign that he wanted no more tantrums from me and I have to abide by what he says. I took a deep breath and growled, a wedding was the last thing I wanted to attend.
I called the jeweler whom I had ordered Mia's gift after breakfast. He told me it was ready, I called the florist and told him to arrange a bouquet, exactly like the picture I sent him.
I called my driver to pick the bouquet and gift and then deliver it to Mia's home. I insisted he makes sure he handed it to Mia.
As ordered Dada knocked at my door at 4 O'Clock in the evening, I was already dressed as instructed by him. We got into the car and Dada gave the driver the name of the person whose house we were going to.
My heart stopped beating when our car halted in front of Mia's house.
I never thought Dada could be friends with Rameen's grandfather, how idiot I was. I knew she was getting married today, and I should have at least asked Dada whose wedding he was attending.
But now it was too late, I was here standing outside her house with my Dada. I wanted to run away, I tried to recall all my sins for which God was punishing me like this.