Thursday, 15 November 2012
Azaadi - Chapter 1
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and what it saw in a plain way. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion--all in one.”
Zoya’s stomach grumbled loudly. How is this possible? I just ate. Allah Miya. She chided her stomach and rolled over on her bed. Well not her bed. The guest bed at the Khan’s residence. Asad Ahmed Khan’s residence.
Zoya don’t. Don’t even think about that.
She had told her Apa and Api, that she will be fine. That once she finished what she had come for she would be back to New York. Back to her old life, the comfort and sanctity of her home. What she hadn’t plugged into this whole equation was that she would have to be staying with a strange a family and man who made her feel 600 different degrees of irritancy.
He stomach protested again, this time even louder than the last.
“Acha Baba. I’m going” She told her stomach. Her Api had always told her she was rather strange, it was what at times like this she couldn’t negate that undeniable fact.
She pulled off her covers , got out of bed and tip toed down the stairs to the kitchen. The house was so huge, every noise seemed amplified. Especially when Zoya wasn’t exactly a quiet person.
She wondered to herself, if they had pop tarts. Or Dorito’s. Mhmm. Her mouth watered at the thought of Doritos; that would pliantly crunch under her teeth, and the flavours would dance on her taste buds.
“Zoya” she muttered under her breath, and smacked herself lightly on the head. This isn’t New York, there isn’t Dorito’s around every corner. She tried to quickly dispel the homesickness that was threatening to rear it’s unruly head.
She got to the kitchen and opened the fridge door. Milk. No. Vegetables. No. Fruit. No. Achaar. No. She slammed the fridge door shut. What did she expect? This was Asad Khan’s fridge, the thief of joy. He could not possibly have chocolate or heaven forbid, ice cream.
She went through the cupboards systematically. Plates. No. Pots. No. Spices. No. Dishes. No. Bhuja. Hell no. Cans. Don’t care. Oh god this search was fruitless.
She opened the final cupboard.
“Allah Miya” she exclaimed. She blinked hard twice. Maybe her hunger was making her see things. But she could see it. She could see it. Doritos. Salsa flavoured Doritos’s on the top shelf. She steepled her fingers and looked up to the roof, and thanked god. Anyone who had ever doubted miracles, had substantial proof now.
Of course the thief of joy had put it on the upper most shelf. She tried to reach it on her tip toes and just missed. She gritted her teeth in frustration. She felt like a desert adventurer, being presented with an oasis only to find out it was a mirage. She tried to jump up and get it but her fingers wouldn’t reach.
The she felt something hard and warm on her back, and saw a very male hand, with ease she might add reach out and get the Doritos for her. As her mind registered whose hand it was, every hair on the back of neck stood on end. Every single one. His firm body pressed against hers as he reached for the bag. The heat that was emanating from him, gave her a very disconcerting feeling that Asad Khan was not wearing a shirt. Since she was only wearing a tank top herself, there was more skin on skin contact than she would have personally liked.
That… That… That incorrigible man. What the hell was he doing pressing himself, half naked, against random women at the wee hours of the morning?
She turned around to give him a piece of her mind but her face was met with a wall of chest. He was so close she could not even cock her head up. Why hadn’t he moved?
“Planning to stand here the whole night?” She bit off sharply.
He moved back ever so slightly, so that she could still feel the heat radiating from his body but her nose wasn’t pressed to his chest. She opened her mouth to say something but her words were caught in her throat. The finger that she was rising to point at him halted in mid-air as she gawked at Asad.
Allah Miya. The man was beautiful. The strip of moonlight that had slipped through the blinds illuminated his chest. A chest that was so defined and contoured, she had the urge to trace them right then and there. Those abs. They were toned to perfection. My god, she felt like dunking her body in ice water at the mere sight of it. His pectorals. His pectorals begged for attention. Begged to be held by her as she would use them to anchor herself when she leaned to kiss the edge of chin.
WHAT? ZOYA!! Have you lost it she told herself as she tried to snap out of her daze. When would she ever feel the need to kiss Asad Khan in any way! Not in this lifetime she could ascertain. She pressed her palm on her forehead she realised the extremity of the thoughts she had just had.
“Why, why, Allah Miya why?” She said as she repetitively smacked herself on the forehead.
“Who are talking to?” Asad said, in as much of a perplexed expression as the man’s face allowed him to portray.
“Myself? Who else.”
He just gave her look that told her, it’s way too late to deal with drama like this.
“Why are you here?” she screeched in a whisper.
“ Zoya, I think you suffer from chronic amnesia. This is my house remember?” Asad replied. His voice was devoid of inflection as it always, a less experienced person in the Fine Art of Asad would have not realised he was being sarcastic.
“I don’t suffer from amnesia. Thank you very much. It’s called hope. I’m hoping that if I think it enough, I will wake up from this nightmare, of being stuck in your house!”Zoya retorted pressing her finger into his chest.
She felt his chest move under her finger tip as expelled a sigh. She realised what she was touching, and quickly moved her finger.
“Why aren’t you wearing clothes?!?!”
He had that face on again, one that was the epitome of strained patience. The face that made her feel like an unruly child, who didn’t understand why her father could not buy her pony, because they lived in an apartment and there was simply nowhere to put it.
“Zoya. It’s really late. I think you should go to bed”
She didn’t know how he did it but he managed to succeed every time. He was four year’s older than her but the restrained patience he always used against her made her feel like a child. Every. Single. Time. She hated it. His opinion of her bothered her a lot more than she would care to admit.
Zoya decidedIf he was going to treat her like one she was going to act like one. So she stood there, her arms folded.
“Fine. Suit yourself.” Asad shoved the Dorito’s into Zoya’s hands. He moved towards the fridge, took out the milk carton, got out a glass, poured himself some. All with the refined ease that was Asad Khan.
Damn her zubaan. Her Api always told her, her mouth would land her in trouble. Here she was. In trouble. Standing like a statue just to prove to Asad that he could not boss her around, like he did every other person in his life. When all she wanted to be was in bed, with her lovely companion; Doritos.
Asad moved to turn on the light and perched himself on the stool (in his bare chested glory, her rebellious mind added), drinking his milk and using his laptop. So unaffected, as if the altercation that happened less than a minute ago had not occurred and was merely a figment of her imagination.
Well Mr Asad Khan,two can play at that game.
So she too perched herself on the countertop. This time taking no considerations with being quiet. She opened the bag of Doritos, popped a chip in her mouth and crunched on it as loudly as she could. Got to love corn chips.
The man did not so much as flinch.
She repeated the same action over and over again, until the tick in his jaw become visible. He was gritting his teeth. Hard. Zoya felt all kinds of malevolent satisfaction at that. So she ate even louder (if that was physically possible),smiling gleefully at the thought of getting under Asad’s skin. She even threw a couple of Mhmm’s in for good measure.
He finally warranted her with attention. He looked at her with those warm brown eyes, that were wasted on a man like him, his brows ever so slightly burrowed in irritation. He gave her that unruly child look again, but this time since she had gone out of her way to get that look, she just smiled innocently at him.
“I’m sorry” she said her voice oozing honey, “Am I bothering you?”
“No. Of course not Zoya. You are my guest feel free to eat like an ill mannered child if it suits your fancy”
She jumped off the counter. “I’m not an ill mannered child”
“Zoya, I really don’t want to deal with you right now. I have work to do.”
“Well Mr Khan, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you picked the fight”
“Are we really resorting to the childish nuances of ‘who started it?’’”
“Stop calling me a child” She said, involuntarily stomping her foot.
“ If the shoes fits”
“ You think you are so high and mighty. Look at me. I’m Asad Ahmed Khan. The thief of joy…”
“What did you call me?”
“Poor man” She said making a puppy dog face. “Already hitting old age so quick, that your hearing is going. I called you thief of joy”.
“I’m not a thief of joy, I am more than capable of feeling joy”
“If the shoe fits”
“Very well then Zoya, you can entertain as many petty assumptions about me as you very well please. Now can I with your permission return to my work”
“ Who works at 3 am in the morning?”
“ Those who want to succeed in life Zoya”. That face again. Unruly child. She wish she could rip that expression of his face.
“Are you implying I’m a failure?”
He threw his hands up in frustration. He got up of his seat and placed his palms on the countertop that was in between them. He looked down at the counter with barely concealed irritation, regaining his composure. Zoya tried to stay angry and not get distracted by the way Asad’s arm’s flexed, the way his veins protruded from the layers of caramel skin, as he nothing short of dug his arms into the counter.
“Zoya, why does everything with you have to be a direct challenge?”
“Because Asad, when you say things with such insinuation what am I supposed to think?”
“ I wasn’t an insinuation, it was a statement. You would think growing up in New York and having a Law Degree would have given you the tools to realise the difference.”
The man was beyond infuriating. She walked around to stand face to face with him.
“Don’t insult my intelligence” She said pushing her finger into his chest. This time he shoved her finger away and replied “What intelligence?”
She had had up to here with sarcastic insults. So she did what she always did when she got frustrated. She pushed him hard.
“Don’t. Do. That. Again”. His face was beginning to resemble that of an angry man. She was surprised it was in his palette of emotions. She thought patience and mild irritation were the only emotions Asad Khan was capable of.
Since Zoya was Zoya, she did not pay heed to Asad’s warning instead she pushed harder. Next thing she knew she was pinned between a very angry Asad and the countertop. She tried to push him away but he wouldn’t budge. The man was a solid as a rock. She was crowded by him. Surrounded. Consumed. He covered every inch of her.
She pushed harder. “I told you not to do that”. He grumbled. She could feel the vibrations of his chest under her palms when he spoke. She could also feel the anger rolling of him in waves. Waves that were crashing around her, to the point where she was drowning in it.
She had wanted to get under Asad’s skin and she had gotten it. But now that she had she was not sure she liked it.