Somewhere in the year 2002, during the holy month of Ramadan, Hussain went to his native place Patna Sahib. His house was in the closer vicinity to the railway station. The market appeared exactly the same like he left it four years back. Shops were laden with the delicacy of thin rice noodles which is prepared with milk like pious on the auspicious day of Eid) and immaculate Balusahi(a particular kind of sweet mostly sold in Bihar and Bengal). The tempting aroma was there in the every corner of the market.
He decided to walk along the market area rather than taking a rickshaw to home. Old habit of walking all the way to home that saved 5 rupees given for rickshaw during the school time was still intact in him. In those days, rickshaw puller use to charge two and half Rupees from station till his house, which was approximately 6 km in distance. With his savings, he did manage to host treat to his friends once in a month. Around four years back in the same market, he was having his favorite lassi(a kind of shake made out of churning yogurt) with Rizwan and Gurmeet at Ibrahim Chacha’s shop.
That was the first time he saw her. She came at the shop with her mother and younger brother. Everyone at the shop were engaged in sipping their glass of lassi, and that was the time when she took off her hijab. For a moment he was at the glimpse of her beautiful eyes which were green in color. Such was the resplendence over her face. He promptly took his eyes off her before anyone could observe him gaping at her. But, the magic had already began.
That entire night, he kept on thinking about her. Who was she? How can he get seeing her once again? May be he will never get to have a glimpse of her again!!
Next day, he woke up early in the morning and started sweeping the floor, gave food to cattle and bathed little earlier than usual. Somehow, he wanted to get rid of the thoughts about her. His father came back from the mosque and surprisingly looked at him.
“Is everything alright? Where is your mother?”
Hussain was unprepared for it and as a result he stammered. “Ammi was complaining about backache yesterday. So, thought of assisting her.“
“How are your studies going on? Did you figure out anything to pursue after passing class 12th? I will need to arrange things accordingly for you.“
“Don’t worry about that Abbu. I will appear for NDA(National Defense Academy) next year after board exams. I truly want to join the armed forces.“
Abbu was not at all delighted to hear that like any other father having one son out of four children.But, he never wanted to sound like a discouraging father to a hardworking son like Hussain. He said, “I am not sure that your mother would really be glad to hear that. You know it very clearly that she can’t live without you even for a day. Think wisely about your career. For me it is somehow tolerable, but do think about your mother before getting absolutely decisive about it.“
His father went inside to have his breakfast. He worked at the Railway Station as a ticket collector and was famous throughout the zone for his honesty.
Hussain joined his mother to prepare some tea for his father, which he seldom used to do. Ammi gazed at him while pouring the milk into kettle.
“Are you okay beta? Do you need something?“
He did not reply to her and continued making tea. Ammi went closer to look at his face. His eyes were tearful. “Allah!! Sab thik toa hai na(Is everything alright)?“
“Haan Ammi!! Sab thik hai(Yes Mother!! Everything is okay indeed)“
“So, why are you crying then?”
“Bash aise hi(Just like that)“
“Arrey aise kaise(How come you cry just like that)?Did your father scold you? Let me have a word with him. It seems like he is loosing his mind these days.“
Hussain begged her not to do so and said,’ You know Abbu never scolds me. He is undoubtedly a great father and we all are privileged to have him in our lives. I am just disturbed thinking about the future after completing intermediate.‘
Ammi kissed his forehead and said, “Allah will take care of you my son. Don’t worry too much about the future. Jo hoga woh achcha hi hoga(Whatever happens is for our good only). Now, please go and sit in the hall. I will serve you the breakfast over there.“
With heavy heart, he exited the kitchen. Wanted to disclose everything to mother, but somehow managed to keep that secret. He was unable to recognize the kind of restlessness he was facing. More than being restless, he felt remorseful about loosing his entire focus.
The food did not go down very well, but like Ammi always said not to waste the food under any circumstances. He finished his breakfast and left for college. Ammi gave 10 Rupees and recited some prayer for him.
“Have some Badam(Nut) Milk while returning back. You are developing lean day by day. Sometimes it is clever to take care of your own health as well unlike your Abbu who is least bothered to even have his lunch on time.“
“Yes Ammi, I will have some.”
On his way to station, he did not utter a single word to Gurmeet, who kept on talking about the last night Kirtan(prayer in group usually) at Patna Sahib Gurudwara. Usually, Hussain was very keen in listening to those religious stuffs. He loved to explore more about Guru Nanak and his preaching from Gurmeet and his mother. But, today he was absorbed to the cuckoo’s nest.
“Miyan, I am blabbering like a buffoon from half an hour and you seems to be lost somewhere else. What’s wrong with you buddy? Is it about that girl, who came at Ibrahim chacha’s shop yesterday?” Gurmeet said that comfortably without even knowing that he has actually stirred an entire ocean.
“No” Hussain screamed out. At this people who were crossing near by started looking at both of them. Gurmeet looked exclaimed at him.
“I mean how come you be so sure that I am thinking about her. Can’t I have other problems in my life? Why you always have to be so certain about things related to me? Did I ever interfere that much in your life?”
“Come on yaar. Why are you getting pissed off? I am not at all aware about your sadness. I just asked because yesterday I saw you looking at her and that was very unusual. You never look at any other girl like that. Forgive me brother for my foolishness in case I have offended you in any way.”
“You don’t need to be apologetic. I simply overreacted and unnecessarily yelled at you. Actually, I am little disturbed from yesterday itself about something, which I may or may not be comfortable sharing with you guys.” Hussain said apologetically.
“I completely understand.”
At college gate, Rizwan was waiting for them. They all studied together in class 12th(Math section) and they all were running shorter with time as the board exams was round the corner in coming two months. Hussain was a meritorious guy and was admired by all the faculties in his college. Even Principal was aware of his mathematical abilities and firmly believed that he will do something great in his life.
In between the physics class, he came out for a glass of water. Near the water cabin he saw her once again standing there with few girls from junior Biology section. She looked stunning in blue salwar kameej. His heartbeat raised exponentially when she looked at him. It appeared like she was trying to recall when was the last time she saw him. Hussain found himself lost and floating in the holy water once again.
“Assallam wale kum bhaijaan” suddenly a known voice brought him back to the reality. It was Rizwan’s younger sister “Julie”. She studied in the first year Biology section.
“Waale kum salam baabu. What are you doing here during the class hour?” Hussain asked her cynically. She said that her faculty did not turn up that day and so the class was cancelled.
“Why don’t you come with me and meet some of my friends? They all know a lot about you, but never get to talk to you.”
He was bit hesitant initially, but then gathered some courage after she insisted. She was taking him towards her. His heart started to pound badly as he reached closer to them.
“Hey girls!! Please meet Hussain Bhaijaan. He is a very close friend of my brother Rizwan and a known mathematician. Last year it was him who represented our school and won the Math’s Olympiad at state level. Apart from being a genius, he is a great human being as well. He helps his friends and their families like his own family. So, please reach out to him for any sort of help.”
Girls seemed to be impressed. They all together greeted Hussain, who was standing silently with a generous smile over his face. He said, ” Don’t trust her. I am not a genius or great. I just try to be honest with whatever I am doing. Okay, I will take a leave now. Enjoy your free time girls.”
“I guess I have seen you before. That day you were having lassi at Ibrahim chacha’s shop with your friends.” It was her. Nervously, he looked at her. “Yes, it was me and I guess you came with your Ammi there.”
“So, you guys have already met before.” Julie interrupted the conversation.
“Come on. I just saw her in market yesterday.” Hussain said irritably.
“Okay. I got it. Well, her name is Sazia. She is the eldest daughter of Neem chacha, our Urdu teacher. You must be knowing him.”
“Of course I know him. He is a great teacher. I must say I was very weak in that subject. It was my fear for his punishments that I was able to get some respectable marks in Urdu in board exams.”
She smiled listening to his honest admiration for her father and said,” I know he is a great man and cares a lot for his students. Okay, Julie let’s go. We may get late for zoology class. Bye Hussain!!”
Listening his name from her made Hussain shiver from inside. A cold breeze ran down through his spine. He watched her go in the state of shock and stood there for sometime. “Allah!! No one has ever called my name so beautifully apart from Ammi.”
Slowly he walked towards the class room. The class was about to get over and so the faculty was not very pleased over Hussain’s prolonged absence from the class. He said,” You missed such an important lesson today on Thermodynamics.”
“I am extremely sorry sir. Was really not feeling well, that is why sat under the tree for sometime. I will come back to you with lot of questions on the topic tomorrow.” Hussain said defensively.
“No worries beta. I know you are a bright child. Do take proper rest at home.”
“Where had you been brother? We were so bored in the class without you. Did you really slept under the tree?” Rizwan fired so many questions all together.
“Oh. When did I say that slept under the tree? You over hear things or might be day dreaming. What’s wrong with you guys today?”
“Hey Rizwan!! Stop torturing him with your questions. It seems like he is suffering with periodical mood swing today.” Gurmeet came in rescue to Rizwan.
“Nothing as such guys. I did went out to have some water and got into conversation with Julie, who was also there with her friends. Now, shall we go for some tea?”
“Yes, we can. But in next ten minutes we do have English class as well. So, let’s go and have it quickly. I seriously don’t want to get late for that class.” Gurmeet said.
Hussain was in little peace with himself after exchanging some words with Sazia that day. He thought that Allah might have come himself to save him dying from depression and anxiety.
While returning to home, he took the Urdu Bazar road. “Hey!! Why are we taking that path of Urdu teacher’s home today? You know how much he hated me during class 10th.” Gurmeet was quite astonished.
“I have to buy some samosas from that very famous shop in the Urdu Bazar area. You know my sisters are very fond of it. So, thought of taking that road. It’s been very long that we took that road. And do not worry about Urdu teacher. He doesn’t teaches us anymore.” Hussain said patiently.
Just few meters before the Urdu teacher house, he saw her again. She did not greet him, but gave a generous smile at him. He too returned back the same with a smile, but was very careful of the surroundings. It was a typical Muslim colony with conservative people all around. Gurmeet was observing everything silently. He was quite scared to go into that locality knowing the kind of people resides there.
They went straight to the famous samosa’s shop and Hussain bought some for his sisters and some for Gurmeet. The moment they came out of the locality, Gurmeet shouted badly at Hussain. “What are you up to brother? Just don’t lie to me. I don’t want to get into personal matter of yours like you mentioned in the morning. But, going forward I am not going to get into that locality of goons.”
“Now, you are over reacting. Why do we even need to talk about those goons? What harm do you think they can do to us without any cause?”
“You are right. They can’t do any harm to us until and unless you provide them a reason by exchanging smile with a girl from their locality. Do you think that I am a fool? I may be blind folded by your friendship and not as intelligent as you, but stop considering me an ass just because I am a Sikh.”
“Enough. You are crossing the line now. How come you being a Sikh or me being Muslim came into discussion. And when did I treat you in that way.” Hussain was literally pissed off with those baseless allegations by his friend.
“You are hiding something important from me. I saw that girl giving a smile to you. Not sure about you, but I am very much scared in such matters. Being a Sikh, I am not supposed to get indulged in such things in a Muslim locality, which brings misfortune to my family.”
“What wrong have I done Gurmeet? Did I molest any girl or what? What are you talking about? That girls is a friend of Julie and studies at our college only. If she passed the smile to me then what’s the big deal.”
“So, you mean there is nothing going on between you and her.”
“Absolutely nothing as of now. It’s true that I am little inclined towards her, but really not sure how intense it is.”
Gurmeet was bit skeptical about it, but decided to end that discussion as he saw his mother coming from the other side holding two big polybags full of veggies. He ran quickly to help his mother and also to skip the argument that he was having with Hussain.
Hussain continued to walk towards his home. It was one more kilometer from there. He was feeling guilty of hurting an adorable friend like Gurmeet, who stood by his side in all his good and bad times for more than 10 years.
Next day, he saw her at the college gate. He tried to avoid looking at her and started to walk towards the class. Suddenly, she called his name from behind. “Excuse me Hussain. Can I have two minute of yours? I need to talk to you.”
“This girl has got lot of courage.” Hussain said to himself and turned to her. She started to walk towards him. Gurmeet and Rizwan left for the class and said, ” Will catch you up there in the class. Come fast.”
Hussain felt trapped and helplessly looked at his friends who deliberately left him alone.
“Yesterday, I saw you in my colony.”
“Yes, I had to buy some samosas for my sisters. They were asking for it from a long time.”
“It is okay if you went there only for samosas, but by any chance if you had been to that locality for me then please refrain yourself from doing so. My cousins are not at all civilized and they may cause harm to you and your friends. Please don’t misunderstand me. I have seen guys getting beaten mercilessly by them and I cannot take it anymore. Forgive me if any of my words has offended you in any way.” And she left.
Hussain felt very thundered. For the very first time, he felt very ordinary and small of himself. With mixed thoughts, he went into the class and sat beside his friends. Both of them were looking at him for little explanation. He did not say anything. Rizwan saw the tears in his eyes. “What the hell are you crying for Miyan? Who was that girl and what she did to you?”
After not getting answer from Hussain, he looked at Gurmeet and asked, “Who was she? I am pretty sure that you must be knowing about it.”
“Oh really!! Am I that important in his life that I know things more than you about him? Don’t irritate me now and keep your assumptions reserved with yourself only.” Gurmeet was frustrated from yesterday itself.
Hussain got in between their argument and made a hand folded request to both of them not to fight in class. He said, ” I will explain everything to you guys. Please stop fighting and do not insult me more.”
After attending three classes of Math, Physics and English, they decided to bunk the college that day. They went to their favorite tea shop nearby the railway station. Hussain explained everything to both his friends. After listening to his story, Rizwan patted his hand over Hussain’s back and said, “And you cried for all that. Seriously? I never thought that you will prove out to be such a weak person.”
“Don’t say that. Sometimes, we all fall prey of our own hearts. I can understand his situation, but what I am not able to understand is what next?” Gurmeet looked worried for Hussain.
“What next? Absolutely nothing. I am going back to my studies and preparation for NDA exams. These small infatuations are mere distractions from our ambitions. Please don’t worry about me. I will take care of myself and these small hiccups.”
“I know you are much more capable than anyone of us to handle any situation, but dealing with heart is the most difficult thing one ever come across. May peace be upon you my friend and as you know we both are always there for you.” Gurmeet said sadly.
Rizwan did not say anything. Something else was being cooked up in his mind. In the evening, he spoke to his sister Julie about it. She said that Sazia cried a lot that day in class. Rizwan clearly understood that love was for sure there from both the sides. He shared the situation of Hussain with Julie and took her in confidence. Julie promised to extend her helping hands for Hussain.
On the other side, Hussain was back to his routine. He confined himself into his room and got engrossed into his studies with intensity and kept himself away from any quest with heart. During college time also, he carried the same gravity over the face and generosity in heart for everyone. In next few days, he passed by her many times and responded to her greets, but never looked at her. One day, Julie came to him and handed over a letter. It was from Sazia. She was standing at a certain distance from them. Hussain returned the letter back to her without reading it and politely said to Julie,” Please tell her not to think about anything related to me. I am thankful to her that she saved me from any sort of distractions. Being a guy from a middle class family, I cannot afford to be inconsistent towards my education.”
And he left the place without saying anything further to that. She was standing right there witnessing everything. She understood that Hussain was not an ordinary guy and posses very high set of values for himself.
Next day, class 12th students were given preparation leave for a month and half as the board examination dates were declared. Hussain had decided to score a perfect 100/100 in math. He devoted himself completely into practicing the subjects day and night. Just couple of days before his first paper, his mother asked him to accompany to a marriage as his father was away on duty. She promised to him that she won’t take much of his time there and will return quickly.
It was his cousin’s marriage and the venue was full of close and distant relatives. Hussain took a plate of kebab and chose a place in the extreme corner of the marriage hall avoiding others. “Hi Hussain!!” It was Sazia, looking gorgeous in green dress.
“Yeah, Hi!!. What are you doing here mam?”
“It’s my cousin brother’s wedding. And what are you doing here in a marriage that too just couple of days before examinations. I heard that you really give a shit out to things that comes in between you and your ambitions.”
He was not prepared for that sarcasm, but was quite alert of something of that sort. He quickly said,” Well, I came here with my Ammi as my father is on duty right now. Since, I am well prepared for exams, so an hour or two will not impact the results.”
“Really!! Then I guess few minute of interaction with me will also not cause distraction to you with your ambitions.” Another sarcasm!! Now, Hussain was getting offended.
“Well, if it is really going to be an interaction rather than one sided sarcasm from your end. And why should I hear all that? It was you who came with a lot of assumptions and set a warning for me not to come to your locality.”
“Be true to yourself Hussain. Was my assumptions proved to be wrong? Look into my eyes and tell me honestly that you were not in love with me.”
“So, what difference does that make? There might be thousand guys in this town, who might be in love with you. I may be one of them. But, for me it was just an attraction like Abbu says that it happens quite normally in this age and we should not succumb to these things. Now, please stop torturing me and sit here peacefully.”
Sazia was quite impressed for his honest and brave answer. She too got a plate of kebab for herself and a glass of water for Hussain. In a very few moments of interaction , Sazia realized that how simple and grounded he was in spite of having good looks and academics. He also had an immense control over his language. She fell in love with his idea of joining army to serve the nation. She wished to continue talking to him all the night endlessly, but then Ammi came hurriedly. She was worried that Hussain may lose important hours to study during the board examinations.
“I am sorry beta for wasting your important time during crucial phase of your life. Let’s go home as I am done with all the formalities here.” Ammi said apologetically.
“No worries Ammi. Meeting relatives is also important. Let me introduce you to Sazia here. She studies in my college and is a close friend of Julie.”
Ammi was pleased to meet Sazia. She said, “Allah bestow all the happiness to you beta. You got such a beautiful face and I am thankful that finally Hussain is having a female friend. I thought that I will die seeing Gurmeet and Rizwan all my life.”
“Pleasure is mine to meet you aunty. By the way, you are looking beautiful.” Ammi blushed over those remarks. After a long time someone did notice her for her looks.
On their way back to home Ammi wanted to know more about Sazia from Hussain, but he kept diverting the topic.
By the end of March, all the students of the second year were having a relaxing time as the board exams were over. Bur, for Hussain it was not over. He was having his NDA exams in the month of April and he wanted to pass the exam at any cost. One evening, when he was finishing his practice set in his room, his younger sister came running and said, “Ammi has asked you to bring some sweets and namkeen from the market. Julie didi has come with her friend.”
“Which friend?” Hussain asked.
“Her name is Sazia and she looks very beautiful like Juhi Chawla.”
“Shut up and get the hell out of here. Looks like you have started watching movies more than reading your text books these days. Tell Ammi that I will get whatever she want in sometime.” Hussain got up from his chair to comb his hair.
In the courtyard his mother was waiting for him. Julie and Sazia were also sitting there with her. “Come Hussain!! See the kindness of Allah. Yesterday itself I was thinking about this pretty girl and today she is at my door. Why don’t you pull a chair and join us here?”
“Ammi, I will surely join you in sometime. Let me go to the market and I will quickly come back.”
Hussain came back in ten minutes with some famous Balusahi and Namkeen from the nearby shop in the market. He then asked his sister to fetch a chair for him and some plates to serve the guests. “I will come in few minutes. I have to give water to the cow otherwise she will start calling me in her own way.” Ammi went to give fodder and water to the cattle.
“Shall I go as well?” Julie said mockingly.
“Are you getting insane day by day? What so funny about it?” Hussain disliked the teasers by Julie and she quickly got that it was a bad idea to poke him. Even Rizwan and Gurmeet were scared to mock him. “I am sorry bhaijaan. I was just kidding.”
Hussain simply smiled at her and said, “You girls are getting naughty these days. My younger sister was also telling me sometime back that a girl has come to our house with Julie, who looks like Juhi Chawla.” And they all laughed out loudly all together. Soon, Ammi joined them and they shared some light moments.
During summer break, Hussain got an invitation letter from UPSC(Union Public Service Commission) to attend the 5 days of SSB(Staff Selection Board) at Allahabad Army Base. He had cleared the written examination of NDA. He quickly ran to inform about the same to his parents. His father was not very delighted, but like always he never discouraged his son from doing something that he was passionate for. He said, ” I was pretty sure about your positive result. You are a blessed child.”
His mother and sisters were extremely delighted to know about his result. For an instance they forgot that Hussain was actually heading towards serving Indian Army. Hussain was very motivated by his mother’s positive virtue towards life. She never looked at the negative side of anything. And that was the core reason for her eternal ecstasy.
All the friends of Hussain were at the Patna Sahib railway station along with his parents, when he was taking the train for Allahabad. Abbu said, “I heard somewhere that you have to pass through a lot of dangerous physical assignments. Lot of guys have met with severe injuries there. Please be careful my son.”
“Nothing will happen to him. Allah will be there to protect him and my blessings will accompany him wherever he goes.” Ammi gave a tight hug to her son before the train started to leave the platform slowly. Gurmeet came forward to wish him all the best and handed over a talisman without letting anyone know.
During the 5 days of SSB, Hussain was able to explore himself much more than earlier. He got a very insight about his physical, mental and psychological fitness. He saw many tall and handsome guys getting eliminated at day 1 due to lack of presence of mind. But, he survived all the 5 days in-spite of meeting several injuries like Abbu suspected. He had Band-Aid all over his face. During his interview at day 5, he realized the need of spontaneity in a person’s life. Finally, he got the provisional selection letter after medical examinations.
While coming back he decided to take the popular boat ride of Allahabad in river ganga. It was very serene all around and the boatman took him till the sangam(the point where the two holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna meets). The boatman told him that a person should visit the sangam twice in his life. Once alone and second time with his/her loved ones. Hussain gave 30 Rupees to him and thanked him for all the epics related to ganga that he shared with Hussain.
On his return to Patna Sahib, early morning he got to know that the results has been declared for the board exams. He quickly took the bath and finished his Namaz and ran towards the local newspaper shop, where his friends were eagerly waiting for him. They lifted Hussain on their shoulders and started to dance. Hussain was able to secure 81% of marks and was declared as the topper in his district. His score in mathematics was 92 out of 100. He too joined his friend to dance, but suddenly his eyes met with Abbu, who was coming to the newspaper shop.
They all touched the feet of Hussain’s Abbu, who quickly understood the reason for joy over there. He smiled at them and said, “Why did you guys stop? Please continue your celebration as I am leaving for my office. And after you are done with it, please go home. Ammi is all set to cook biryani today for all of you.”
They went whistling to Hussain’s house and Ammi gave a warm welcome to all of them. She went out to share the news to the neighborhoods along with the sweets that Hussain’s father bought early morning itself. He was pretty sure about his unprecedented success. In the very morning he told Hussain’s mother, “One day this guy will be an achiever. Today it’s going to be the beginning. All what he is destined to achieve is just because he truly understands the value of sacrifice for his family and country.”
In the night, when the celebration was at rest, Hussain went to his father and said, “As you are aware that I have got selected for National Defense Academy(NDA) and so sooner or later I will be leaving for my 4 years of training. I need you to be happy that I am one step closer to my dream and want your permission before I leave.”
“Will talk to you in the morning. You had a long tiring day today. Take some rest.”
Next day, his father woke up little earlier and went to mosque for morning prayer. He prayed for his son’s wellbeing. On his way back, he met the Urdu teacher Neem Hasan, who greeted him in the pure Urdu language. “Sorry, I did not recognize you.”
“Are you the father of Hussain?”
“Yes, I am. But, who are you gentleman?”
“My name is Neem Hasan. I use to give Urdu tuition to Hussain during his class 10th exams. I got to know that he has secured the topmost position in the district and also got selected for Armed Forces. So, was not able to resist myself from meeting him. Very innocent and honest chap.”
“Oh!! I am so sorry that I did not recognize you. Please come with me. I am also very happy to see his performance in board exams, but not sure what to say about his passion to join army. He is my only son I am having and finding it difficult to send him to such a risky job.”
“The reason for you to fear is quite obvious. Sometimes, its the wish of Allah whatever we choose to become in our lives.”
Hussain came running at the gate seeing his teacher along with his father. “Sir, I am extremely delighted to see you after such a long time. Please come inside.”
“Yes, it has been long. Every year fresh batch comes and the old one leaves. But, you can always make time for your old teacher son. You had been in the same city , but never came to see me. Anyways congratulations for your achievement. May almighty bestow everything you desire for.”
His mother came with a glass of water and some tea. ” I already had a meeting with your daughter Sazia. One day she came with one of my sweet child Julie, who is younger sister of Hussain’s friend Rizwan. Very beautiful girl and very cultured. I simply loved her voice.”
“Yeah, she told me about it. She only informed me about Hussain’ s result in the night and also about his selection for the Army. I couldn’t stop myself from seeing him. So, when are you planning to leave Hussain?”
“Not sure Sir!! I have not got the joining letter as of now. But, probably it will start somewhere in the month of July. so, I still have 2 more months to breath freely. I am sad because Abbu doesn’t seems to be very happy about it.”
“He got his own reasons to worry son. You will realize it only when you will become a father. Okay, I will take a leave now. Need to go to the market. Someday, please visit my house beta with Ammi and sisters. Sazia and her Ammi will be more than happy.”
“Yes Sir, I will surely come on Sunday. I guess you take rest that day.”
“Right. In fact that’s a great idea. We all can have lunch together on Sunday. My wife cooks excellent mutton curry. Now, please allow me as I have to reach home before 10. Kids might be waiting.”
“It was an honor to have you at my door Sir.” Ammi said from behind the curtain.
“No, actually pleasure is mine. Thanks for the tea madam. I will be waiting for all of you on coming Sunday.” He then left for market. Hussain was called by his father in his room. He asked him to give a conscious thought about his ideas to join Army.
He said, “I am not against you or your decisions. But, the only thing I would like to say that you being a student of mathematics have a broad horizon of careers to choose. You can become whatever you wish in your life. Be it an engineer, an architect or even a scientist. There are hell lot of other ways also to serve this country.”
“I know Abbu that I can become whatever you want me to be. You have always given me the courage and assisted me in carrying high values in life. But, important thing is that what exactly I would love to become. And I do really admire men in uniforms. Anyways, I will be joining the army as a commissioned officer on higher rank after completing my four years of campus training. You will be a proud father of an army personal. The way we carried the pride in telling people that my father is an honest government employee. We were never very rich, but your high moral values kept our heads high. All I am trying is to be a small percentage of what you had been all your life.” For the first time Hussain was able to speak his heart out to his father. Abbu never imagined that Hussain was that sensible.
“You have actually left me speechless son. I give you my permission to go ahead with your passion and never look back and regret for anything in your life. And do carry this honesty with yourself for your entire life. Nothing matters more than our virtues in life. Go and chase your dream and keep on exploring yourself.”
Hussain was much relaxed after hearing those kind words from his father. He never thought that his father will give permission after seeing the marks of injuries all over his face after 5 days of SSB. On the other hand Hussain was excited about coming Sunday. Now, he felt little privileged to speak his heart out to Sazia without any fear. He shared that news with Gurmeet and Rizwan as well. Gurmeet was happy to see his acknowledgment about the love for Sazia.
On Sunday, it appeared like Eid at Hussain’s house. Hussain wore the pair of new cloths brought by his father from Kolkata during the new year. At 11 AM, they reached to Sazia’s house and they were taken aback by seeing the crowd in front of her house. Hussain pushed himself in between the crowd to reach the gate. There the body of Neem Sir was lying on the floor and her Ammi along with other women were beating their chests in sorrow. The heart rending cry was all around. He looked around for Sazia, but she was not there. Hussain’s father came forward and inquired about what has happened to the Urdu teacher from the neighborhood.
He met with cardiac arrest early morning and was declared dead by the time people took him to the hospital.
Hussain was in the state of shock. So, his father purposely told him to take his mother and sisters back to home. Somehow, he understood Hussain’s restlessness about Sazia. By his recent conversation, it was clear to him that Hussain was a sensitive child and he may not be able to show the kind of maturity required at that kind of situation. Hussain came back to home with Ammi.
“Allah, give all the strength to that family to see through the hard times. Hussain, please have some water.” She looked at his son, who doesn’t seemed to be fine.
“I think I should go there to assist the family.” And he left.
By that time Rizwan also reached there along with his family. That was the time when Hussain saw her standing silently behind the curtain with swollen eyes. Her cousins and uncles were preparing for the burial and last rites.
Hussain and Rizwan were among the first four guys to give shoulder to the Urdu teacher on his final journey towards the mighty. He looked at Sazia while walking with the procession and she was crying inconsolably covering her mouth.
That’s the unpredictability of life. It can change the very next moment. Hussain was experiencing something of similar sort. After few days of mourning, Sazia’s family shifted to Aligarh to stay with his father’s elder brother’s family.
And he was left all alone with his broken heart. In few days he got his joining letter from the Army headquarters and was supposed to join the NDA at Khadagwasla(Maharashtra) in next 10 days.
On 2nd of July,1998, Hussain left for his journey of four years. One day before leaving he asked Julie to please keep a track of Sazia and keep informing him about her whereabouts. “Tell her not to loose hope and wait for me to come back”.She nodded positively. He promised to give his address to his friends immediately after getting the accommodation at NDA and requested all of them to keep sending him mails.
To be continued….