Blast from the Past
Alright, Zuni it’s enough. Calm down and kick his idiotic face outta your brain. Concentrate on discovering this place, you have to spend the next four years here.
This wasn’t enough to calm my raging temper.
While imagining different methods to kill that jerk a delicious aroma greeted me. I wrinkled my nose and looked around. I spotted a canteen.
Yayy. It’s time to eat. I’ll contemplate different methods to kill him while eating.
The canteen was buzzing with activity. Black plastic chairs, screaming ‘uncomfortable’ were clustered around wooden, probably multiple decades old tables with capitalized alphabets, which I assumed to be group names or students’ initials carved on them. The counter was at the far end of the canteen and I sighed in exasperation at the thought of manoeuvring through the sea of students, occupied in ravishing local Pakistani, breakfast cuisine. As I strolled towards my destination ‘food’, I noticed that many eyes were fixated on me.
Why the hell is everyone staring at me?! I know I am pretty but this much attention is creepy.
While deciphering that why is everyone staring at me, I placed an order for halwa puri. The chubby, almost bald, and bearded man at the counter yelled my order to someone behind a semi-closed door.
I turned around and spotted an abaya-clad girl pointing towards me. Her head was covered with a pink floral scarf. She was pointing towards me and said something to her friends. A scowl was plastered on her face. I concentrated hard to eavesdrop.
“She’s the bitch who had a verbal battle with Aisha’s brother.” Her scowl deepened.
Oh so now I knew why I was the centre of attention.
“Hey! You! The one in the abaya, yes I had a verbal battle with that bastard so what?!!”
I turned back to others.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for all the attention. Please concentrate on your food, this much negativity will rot it.” I smiled mockingly.
The whole crowd was paralyzed. Slowly they turned towards their food and stopped staring. I ate the halwa puri in peace.
Rest of my day also went in battling stares.
I sped out of the university premises. I shouted in rage
“THIS BITCH IS GOING TO PAY FOR MESSING WITH ME!!” I punched the steering wheel.
“Calm down brother. It wasn’t her fault. She was just completing a dare.” My sister tried to calm my rage.
“SHE COULD HAVE REJECTED TO COMPLETE THE DARE OR AT LEAST APOLOGIZED BUT NO! INSTEAD, SHE MISBEHAVED. SHE MISBEHAVED WITH ME! UMAIR SHAH!”
“Keep shouting and spoil my mood as well.” Aisha turned away her head.
I couldn’t let my sister get upset so I tried to calm down.
“Play Eminem so I can calm myself.”
“Right away brother.” Aisha sweetly replied.
“Love the Way You Lie” started playing in the car. I turned up the volume. I parked outside a nice dhaba type restaurant.
“Let’s explore something new today.”
“Whatever you say, brother.” She shrugged.
I turned off the engine and stepped out. We went inside the restaurant and selected a charpai. A waiter came running with the menu.
“So what does my lovely sister want to eat today?” I smiled affectionately.
“Cheese paratha. Yummm.” She licked her lips and I smiled at her childish behaviour.
“Okay. Tell the waiter whatever you want to eat.”
A waiter started taking our order.
There was a tap on my shoulder. I turned back.
“Why aren’t you picking up my calls?”
Her face looked familiar but I wasn’t able to recognize her.
“Sorry?” I asked with a blank tone.
“I am Malia. You even forgot my name?!” Her eyes bulged with surprise.
I tried to remember all the girls that have been in my life for a bit.
Ohh! Now I remember, she was one of my ex-girlfriends from Italy. no wait, not exactly a girlfriend, in fact, ‘one night stand’ was a better word for our relationship.
“Nice to see you in Pakistan.” I replied, devoid of any emotion.
“I came to Pakistan in search of you. You weren’t picking up my calls and your secretary said that you were in Pakistan.” She explained.
I took her by arm.
“Wait Aisha I’ll be back in five.”
And almost dragged her to a corner of the restaurant.
“What do you want? Why are you following me?” I squinted my eyes at her in anger as my grip on her arm tightened.
“What do you mean what I want? I thought you would be happy to see me. I thought I was important to you.” Her eyes welled up.
“Wait! what?! Important?! Hon faces like yours are too common in my life” I scoffed.
A tear rolled down her cheek.
“Anyways, I won’t repeat again. What do you want?” I asked in a bored tone.
“I am pregnant and you are asking me what I want.” He voice broke and a whimper escaped her lips.
“So?” I deadpanned.
“So? You are saying ‘so’?” Her voice slightly rose.
“Get lost. I have important stuff to take care of.” I left her arm and turned around to walk back.
“Listen, Shah, take responsibility for this child otherwise I’ll make your secret activities public in both Italy and Pakistan. What will happen of your business darling? You should know very well that how much reputation matters. Hmmm, love?” She tried to threaten me but her voice was not strong.
“Meet me tonight at PC.” I spat out the words without turning and walked back to my sister.
She stormed out of the restaurant.
Shah, eliminate her or she’ll become a problem for you.
My brain registered.
Halwa puri: Traditional breakfast consisting of a deep-fried bread (puri), served with and curries mixed of (known locally as ‘choley’) and potato.
Abaya: a full-length, full sleeved outer garment worn by Muslim women.
Charpai: a light bedstead used in the subcontinent, consisting of a web of rope or tape netting.
Dhaba is the name given to roadside restaurants in India and Pakistan. They are situated on highways and generally serve local cuisine.