‘Revenge’ is my favourite word

Published: August 30, 2012

I finally understand Khursheed's plight, at a cost I never imagined I would have to pay. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ramazan had begun and my dear Khursheed’s college had ended. I loved meeting her. Every day I would prepare Iftari for her, all set with a bottle of chilled Rooh Afza. She would come, collect the Iftari, stay with me for a while and then leave.

One day she told me that her father had accepted her cousin’s marriage proposal on her behalf and so I should not meet her anymore. I was enraged, furious at the thought of her being with someone else. I just couldn’t let her go away like this.

I thought to myself,

If she can’t be mine, then she shall not be anyone else’s.

The next day I went to her with Iftari like I used to. I sent her an SMS and requested one last meeting. This time my Iftari tray was a little different than usual─ there was a bottle sans the Rooh Afzah. However, there was a surprise in it; something she would not like.

When she came to meet me, I could tell from her facial expressions that she was not amused.

“I told you not to come! Baba is calling me. I have to rush.” she said.

I smiled at her and before she could speak another word, I hurled the contents of the bottle at her.

Acid.

She uttered a long, loud, piercing cry. I could sense how much pain she was in from her shrieks of agony. I had ruined her body. Her wailing had caught people’s attention and before I could be caught, I ran away.

As I ran, her screams echoed in my head, like balls of immediate, fiery guilt.

I thought to myself,

How could you do this? What have you done!

Nonetheless, I kept myself updated about her later. She was admitted in the burns ward of a hospital and her condition was quite critical. There were hardly any chances of her survival.

I was heartless. I didn’t care. I was engrossed in my own worldly affairs and soon enough she was forgotten.

Years passed and I got married to my neighbour. I have two sons now. I love my wife a lot, but she is not the first love of my life.

I am a lonely taxi driver whose wife despises him. She no longer accepts me as her husband and wants to get divorced after ten years of marriage.

It was a warm day in June 2009, when a veiled woman sat in my taxi. Unlike most passengers, she was quite talkative. She talked about the weather, the markets, and the areas we drove through. She randomly enquired as to which areas I travelled in.

I replied,

Bibi, I only drive in this area.

The next day, while I sat in my parked taxi awaiting a passenger, I noticed a veiled woman and a man walking in my direction. Before I could fully grasp what was going on, I felt a wave of immense, scorching pain on my face. Within seconds, she hadthrown acid on my face. I cried as my face burnt; an unbearable pain had taken over me.

The cruel woman unveiled herself, showing me her burnt face.

“Pehchana mujhay?”

(Do you recognise me?)

I fainted from the intensity of the pain and shock.

She was the woman whom I had loved so passionately─ my first love, on whom I had thrown acid. She was Khursheed.

It was in the late 90s that I had met her outside her college. I still remember how she ran after my rickshaw, shouting out,

“Rickshaw, rickshaw! Rickshaw walay, ruk jao!”

(Rickshaw man, please stop!)

When I had finally stopped, I saw a beautiful girl running out of breath, standing next to my rickshaw. Like any man would, I looked at this panting beauty with wonder, from her head to her toes.

She had long hair; her fringes covering her forehead slightly. Her lovely fair skin, blue eyes, rosy cheeks, thin lips, fluttering eyelashes, made me lose my senses temporarily.

My trance was broken when she spoke,

“Tariq road tak jaogay? Allah wali chowrangi kay kareeb?”

(Can you take me to Tariq road? Near Allah Wali roundabout?)

I nodded in affirmation, unable to speak as I had paan in my mouth. She immediately hopped into the rickshaw and covered her head with her dupatta. I looked at her in the rear mirror every now and then.

The next day, I intentionally parked my rickshaw outside her college, silently praying that she would come again. Luck was with me and she was searching for a rickshaw today, too. I parked my rickshaw close to her.

Maybe she didn’t recognise me as she asked me again if I could take her to Allah Wali Chowrangi, Tariq road. I agreed and she sat in the rickshaw. I didn’t need much of her instructions today because I already knew where she lived.

When she handed me the money, I bucked up the courage to ask her if I could pick her up every morning for college. To my utter surprise and elation, she agreed.

One day she finally asked me my name.

I replied,

“Mushtaak”

Then she asked me if I had a mobile phone so she could contact me if she wanted to go elsewhere. We exchanged numbers.

The following night I got a text message from her.

I was surprised. She asked why I don’t talk to her while she’s in my rickshaw. I told her that I kept quiet because I was scared she would get upset. She insisted that I talk to her and I replied to her with a neutral,

“Theek hai.”

(Okay.)

The next day, she told me she wanted to go a park rather than her college and we had a pleasant conversation. Very quickly, we became familiar with one another and started easing up.

This led to many more meetings and I soon realised that I was falling for her. I decided that I should let her know.

The following day, I asked her if I could pick her up as I had something important to say. I got all spiffed up and took her to Paradise Point, where I proposed to her like they do in the films. She said yes.

When I went with my family to her home with the proposal, they did not even let us in. Khursheed’s father rejected my hand in marriage for his daughter due to class differences. He insulted me and my family; his harsh words compelled me to become vengeful and take this horrible step.

Today as I lay on this iron bed in the burns ward, writing this story, the guilt hurts me inside more than the burns on my body. I have lost one eye and my face has been ruined completely. I can no longer drive a taxi and I’m helpless, incapable, incompetent and vulnerable.

I finally understand Khursheed’s plight, at a cost I never imagined I would have to pay.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated the date to be the 80s. This has been corrected. 

 

Natalia.Islam

Natalia Islam

The author is currently doing media studies from the Institute of Business Management.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Muhammad Rizwan

    Very well written. At last vitriolage has been recognized as a crime in our country and carries a heavy penalty now.

    Just on the side note, women should know not to push the limits. V’r centuries away from a world where law can actually prevent a crime..Recommend

  • Nawaz

    Wow, that was an engrossing read. Is it a true story or an allegory?

    We need to have more Express Blogs about serious issues like this, taking a leaf out of the Guardian’s supreme blog section ‘Comment is Free’.

    Less of the fashion blogs and more blogs on the serious issues that afflict our community please.Recommend

  • Farigh-ul-mulk

    80s… mobile phone with rickshaw driver?Recommend

  • S.Sohail

    Jesa karo gai ,waisa bharo gay. liked it but Allah wali chowrangi,and mobile phone could not digested because they ware not available at time of story.Recommend

  • Arshad

    It surely is not a tue story. Were there cell phones 20 years ago? Recommend

  • Sinclair

    There were no mobile phones in the early 80′s madam. And no SMS. You tried to tell a story of revenge from the culprits viewpoint, which is – interesting. But reading this, it felt like you wrote three disparate passages and wound them up through literary coincidences.Recommend

  • Umair

    It seems concentrated acid is very cheap these days. Government should put some restrictions on sales of acid as these acid attacks are increasing day by day. Female acid victims should not remain silent & should take revenge when it is possible.Recommend

  • Wrestling-Geek

    I Agree with ArshadRecommend

  • junaid

    @Nawaz:
    Yes its a true story!! people did have samsungs and iphones back in the 80s! rickshaw drivers were the super elite class !!Recommend

  • Idrees

    1- Human’s invention equivalent to brain is computer. There are many processes running when windows Operatig System is booted. Students learning in school & their parents & media (specially FM Radio) should teach teenagers that if they regularly meet person of the other gender a very little process will be created in their mind as its natural. So they should avoided such incidences. If they feel about this, they should talk with their friends’ & try to kill the process (as in taskmanager of Windows NT, XP, Vista, Windows 7) in its 1st stage. Else fighting from self isn’t any easy job.

    2- Parents’ should monitor their youngsters from time to time. Ask them questions in a friendly way.

    3- A person of different class (lower) from compared to the higher one (norms of society) should communicate to the other person with respect. So if his family isn’t insulted a process of revenge won’t be initiated in other person’s mind i.e. chances of any kind of damaging process won’t initiate e.g. what happened i.e. throwing of acid.

    4- Parents, teacher & media should teach teenagers that nothing is free in this world in case where humans are directly involved. See a goldsmith used to give valuable things to a female & when she refused he threw aced on her.

    5- When ever there is imbalance there will be problems. Our religion Islam teach us that we should be moderate (i.e. between to limits) just as Allah has put planet earth at a right distance from sun. Otherwise if earth is closer to sun we’ll be destroyed by high temperature or if distance is increased, we’ll be destroyed by cold.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    People who commented before me – it’s not a true story guys. it’s fiction! Which is why it has been filed under – ‘ Poetic License ‘Recommend

  • Nandita.

    My commwnt was for nawaz and arshadRecommend

  • shafaq

    As i was reading the text, the first thing that my brain specified to me was; ‘why is the girl getting so engaged with anyone she is buying services from? so much that the other person sends a proposal to her place..’
    War is only fair in love, when the feelings are mutual. When both the sides have agreed to its consequences. This is a general point of view.
    But when we specifically talk about our society, its better to convince both the families than to elope.
    The guy obviously had selfish motives. Forgiving is the noblest of all the deeds but then The Divine Rules also say; ‘We ordained therein for them: ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.’ So what the girl actually did, is justified.. Recommend

  • Mustafa

    @Umair:
    Dude. Acid is used in ways other than throwing on women! Why increase its price and make its use costly?Recommend

  • Wahab J

    Nice read but “exchange of mobile numbers” in 80s :P Recommend

  • AIN

    Very well written!!
    I knew how the revenge can be so dangerous. As my self had been through it .Some one didn’t threw acid on my thanks God!! But Throwing acid on some one character is equally pain full. Its what I felt when my parents rejected the some one of my near for my proposal and then bully of my character was started which left me almost dead.Recommend

  • Hanju Panju

    oh what a romantic tale! twist in the end was just like the moviesRecommend

  • She

    A poorly-researched predictable fiction! I felt I am reading children story section. I appreciate that you wrote about this issue but it could had been done in a better way.Recommend

  • Sahar

    Am i the only one who found the imbalance in writing the plight of the story ?Recommend

  • x

    Rather than criticizing the story. The basic purpose was to understand the meaning of the story. You guys are so lame. Always in search of tiny errors. Focus on the moral not on the writing style of the passage. Recommend

  • A

    Sorry to be a prick but even in late nineties, as you have corrected to make the story look more realistic, no rickshaw driver could dream of a cell phone. Recommend

  • Tehmas Saeed

    I wish it should have been true story, even being victim of Acid attack I dont think Women in general will try to take revenge herself, she might use all her resources and that would be least ever action one would expect from them, I think advertisement of Crime has made crime rate doubled over the years. If you have dispute with opposite gender, media shows how to make maximum damage, no regulations and most of all rule of the law, law only helps influentials and riches.. I am trying to write novel on this issue , is anyone can assist me to add more realistic facts such as enquiry, details, etc……….Recommend

  • Ayesha Ahmad

    So heart wrenching :\Recommend

  • Tamur Ahmad

    We should not loose our temper.Recommend

  • Umair

    @Mustafa:
    Dude. Acid is used in ways other than throwing on women! Why increase its price and make its use costly?

    lolzzz … that was a joke.Recommend

  • http://www.cardonationcancer.info James Jackson

    Excellent work. see you,Recommend

  • Mustafa Arain

    @Umair:
    ohkay.Recommend

  • Vikram

    ‘Revenge’ is my favorite word

    Pyar ki rah dikha duniya koe
    Rokay jo Nafrat ki AandheeRecommend

  • Vikram

    @Idrees: A person of different class (lower) from compared to the higher one (norms of society) should communicate to the other person with respect

    What is lower class? You mean like Saudi’s treat Pakistanis like a servant class?

    Every one should respect every one as an equal.Recommend

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