COMPLETING THE INCOMPLETE.

CHAPTER 8: INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS.

Ayesha was up early that morning, at least earlier than the previous day. She helped her aunt set the table for breakfast and even had breakfast with the other women. The elder women were very understanding, at the same time, they were also fun to be with. If she were the older Ayesha, she would have mingled very well with them. After breakfast, she had helped clean up and listened to stories about the ancestry of the family.

Later on, the girls, Barkha, Farah, Hiyam, Lubna, Nabiha, and Rubab entertained her until after lunch when her aunt told Ayesha to take a nap before dinner. Ayesha nodded and gave her aunt a hug before going to her room. The feeling of slight content and happiness filled her as she thought of everyone around her before she slipped into slumber.

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Ayesha smiled as she alighted the decorated car. She looked at the entrance of the banquet hall, her shyness overpowering every other sense. Parvaiz, her brother, came to her right and forwarded his hand to her, palm side up. She lifted her hand, clad with expensive rings and bangles, and placed it on her brothers. She walked hand in hand with him, her heeled feet clashing with the red carpet spread. Her gaze traveled behind her, to see her aunt and uncle ushering her ahead.

With every step she took, her heart pounded. It wasn easy to walk when all she wanted to do was stumble and fall across the floor with shyness. Thank Allah, her brother was holding her up. She blushed as she entered the hall, the gazes of so many guests flustering her already nervous state.

Once they had reached the stage, another hand was placed in front of her. She looked up at the familiar man, her cheeks turning crimson. He helped her up, and onto the stage. He sat her first on the couch and then placed himself next to her. Ayesha looked around to see roses of different colors decorating the stage.

Her aunt and mother-in-law made their way to her, setting her veil and asking her if she needed any refreshments. She refused politely and stealthily looked at the man next to her. He was clad in a black sherwani (grooms wedding attire) with little gold embellishments. She blushed when he caught her and chuckled.

”Nikkah Mubarak Janaan. ” He rasped in her ear. (Congrats on the Marriage Love.)

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Ayesha fluttered her eyelashes as the suns rays hit her cuddled self. She placed her hand in front of her face as a shield and opened her eyes to find herself in her room. She frowned and collected herself before shutting the curtains to block the setting sun.

She leaned against the wall and wondered about the dream. She saw everyone around her but the groom and her mother-in-law. They were the only blurred figures in her dream.

What was she to think of this dream? Was this a vision of the future, or was it Allah trying to instil hope in her heart?

She shook her head to push the confusing dream to the back of her head. She opened the wardrobe and selected a simple pair of pants and an old t-shirt that belonged to her late father. She then looked some more for a black dupatta (large scarf). She took a warm shower and changed into the selected clothes. She simply pulled her hair into a knot, not bothering to comb them. Shorter tendrils of her hair framed the sides of her face in rebellion. The scarf was draped over her head and around her shoulders.

Ayesha then proceeded to look for her aunt. She started with her aunts room, then proceeded to the kitchen. Not finding her in both of these places, she looked into the dining room and living room. But alas, she wasn in any of those areas too. Ayesha suddenly felt helpless. If she hadn vowed to remain silent after her parents death, she would have been able to ask the other family members about her aunt, but now that she was already putting the vow into action, she couldn .

Her heart ached and her head pounded. Where was her aunt? Her hands were beginning to get clammy, and Ayesha could feel hot tears making their way down her cheeks. Her aunt was the only mother-like figure she had in her life, and if she were to lose her too, Ayesha would have nothing to live for. She then heard the honk of a car and made her way to the entrance. She found her uncle alighting in the passenger seat and found Zeeshan alighting from the drivers seat. She looked in the car to find it empty. She was now full-on sobbing.

Her uncle, shocked, turned to Zeeshan in worry before looking at her.

”Ayesha, bachhe (child), what is wrong? ” He cooed.

Instead of answering, Ayesha shook her head and continued crying. Her uncles forehead creased in worry and he called his wife. He told her what was happening and she rushed to the entrance. Once in Ayeshas vicinity, Ayesha pulled her aunt in a hug and kept sobbing. Her aunt wrapped her in her embrace and led her to the backyard, the men following them.

Ayeshas aunt sat her down next to Badi Ammi (Zeeshans mother) and turned to get her a glass of water, but Ayesha wouldn let her. So, instead, she sat down too and instructed the housemaid. Ayesha placed her head on her aunts shoulder and blinked as tears clouded her vision. Just then, Ayeshas aunts phone rang. Ayesha could only see that it was a video call.

”Assalamu aleikum, how are you child? ” She heard her aunt ask.

The person on the other end sounded familiar as he greeted her back and conversed with her aunt. He then asked who was crying and her aunt told him it was Ayesha. Moments later, she placed her phone in Ayeshas hand and helped her clean her face.

Ayesha raised her eyes to the screen of the phone and found her brothers handsome face smiling at her.

”Assalamu aleikum, meri chanda. ” He greeted. (My moon)

Ayesha knew her brother had missed her just as she had and that was the reason he video-called instead of voice-calling. This made Ayesha contemplate her vow of silence and she cleared her throat before replying.

”Waleikum salaam bhaijaan. ” (dear brother)

”Why are you crying, Chanda? ”

Ayesha shook her head in a negative.

”Do you miss me? ”

Ayesha nodded her head.

”I miss you too. You know, I was snooping around the house the other day, and guess what I found! ” He exclaimed.

”What? ” Ayesha rasped, her throat not used to all the talking.

”This! ” Her brother raised a stuffie to the screen.

It was a kawaii kitten plushie her father had gotten her when she had insisted on a pet and her mother had refused. It was white in colour with a dark brown for the ears and paws. The cat had whiskers and its eyes looked like they were twinkling. She remembered sulking for days when her father brought her this and said that her mother could never reprimand her for keeping this particular pet. She reminisced about her mothers enthusiasm at the plushie and her fake anger toward her father for the comments.

A sob was let out at the memory. Her tears began rushing once again and this time she wailed, loud enough for anyone to hear the pain in her voice.

”Chanda, meri Jaan, bas kardo. You
e hurting their souls, Chanda. If you miss them that hard, pray for them instead of crying. ” (My love, thats enough.) Her brother soothed after a while.

Once Ayesha had been consoled enough to stop sobbing harshly, her brother mentioned his reason for calling.

”I am sorry, Ive been extremely busy to call you. I was trying and have succeeded to transfer the business to India. I am going to leave tonight and hopefully, Ill be with you by tomorrow afternoon, InshaAllah. ” (If Allah wills)

Ayesha talked to her brother for a while longer, him doing most of the talking though. When she was finally done, she looked up to find herself alone in the backyard. The sky had turned dark and she noticed the lights had been turned on. She was grateful to the family for giving her privacy. She had no idea how she would have faced them for the amount of crying she had done.

She made her way into the house to find her khala (maternal aunt) waiting for her at the door. She smiled at Ayesha and silently led her to the dining room. None of the family members, Allah bless their souls, questioned Ayesha which she was very thankful for. Ayesha sat next to her aunt once again and had the same amount of dinner once again. She felt better after having talked to her brother.

However, someone in the same room was restless. He wanted to squeeze information out of her and comfort her. He wanted to caress her swollen eyes and scold her for being so careless of her health. And yet, he had no right. No right whatsoever. He sighed and returned his gaze to his plate, lest his mother finds him staring at her and declare her his bride once again. Not that it was a bad idea.

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