Unspoken words

Published: November 19, 2012

He smiled to himself again as he pulled on his socks, revelling in the chaos around him. This was his world; noisy, messy and completely complete. PHOTO: REUTERS

He watched her from the corner of his eyes as she tried to contain her long, impossibly curly hair into a bun on top of her head.

His 5-year-old son was running around in circles making it absolutely impossible for her to put his shoes on him. As she finally grabbed him and started to briskly slide the shoes on his feet, a few wild curls escaped from the bun she had managed to make on her head and she muttered under her breath as she pushed them out of her eyes.

He smiled to himself.

As she was done getting their son ready, almost on cue, there was a piercing cry from their bedroom. The baby was up, wailing frantically for her bottle.

She turned quickly, causing those untamed curls to break free from the confines of the bun, looking like black waves cascading gloriously down to her waist as she ran to the kitchen in her rush to get the baby’s bottle.

He smiled to himself again as he pulled on his socks, revelling in the chaos around him. This was his world ─ noisy, messy and completely complete.

“Are you ready,buddy?” he asked his son.

“Baba, tell mama I don’t want to go to school today! I want to go to work with you!” his son looked at him, with his wife’s eyes, imploring him to save him from school.

He laughed as he picked his son up in one swift motion, and walked towards the bedroom.

She sat there on their bed, in her pyjamas and a navy blue kameez; their nine-month-old baby daughter cradled in her arms.

He did not know exactly what words could best describe the emotions that played across her smooth golden face. He just knew that those emotions were possibly the purest form of love there ever was. Every time she held their baby, he felt like a light switched on inside her, radiating the sort of love that could light up the sky, illuminating her face and everything around her.

To him, as always, she looked most beautiful then, in her worn out pyjamas and her wild black curls, her eyes still carrying traces of sleep in them, not an ounce of makeup on her face. Simply glowing with love for their children.

“Suniya, we are off,” he said, as he plopped his son down from his arms so he could go give his mother a hug goodbye.

“But baba! I told you I want to go to work with you today!”

Mikaal’s eyes…her eyes, started to brim with forced tears as they looked up at him.

Meri jaan” (‘My love), she said, as she bent forward and pulled him to her.

“I will pick you from school early today. Then we will go meet baba for lunch. What do you think about that?”

“Okay! McDonald’s?” the tears were gone as he started to bounce up and down with excitement.

She placed the baby on the bed and hugged him tight, her face lighting up again, with that glow he was so familiar with now.

“Yes, meri jaan, we’ll go to McDonald’s.” she said with a smile.


Mikaal pumped his fist in the air and bounced out of their bedroom calling behind him,

“Let’s go, baba, we will be late for school!”

They looked at each other and laughed at the joy that was their son.

She got off the bed and walked up to him.

“I will come around noon and we can take him to lunch then. I will leave baby Eisha with Ami (mother); she said she will come today.” she put her arms around him.

“Are you going to hug me goodbye?”, she teased.

This was their joke; he was not big on hugs or words, or any displays of emotions in fact.

“But words are all we have in the end”, she would tell him often.

Chalo okay, we are off.”

He said peeling her arms away from him while trying not to let her see how happy that gesture made him.

He tugged at a tight spring curl as she frowned at him for not hugging her goodbye.

“You will never change,” she sighed,

Khuda hafiz. I love you.” (Goodbye, may God be with you)

He kissed the baby and started to walk out of the room.

“Hello? At least an ‘I love you too’ would be nice!” he heard her call out from behind in annoyance and laughed as he closed the door behind him, his heart brimming with tenderness for the woman he loved.

That same day, later that night, he held her soft hand in both his hands and for the first time, words spilled out, like a dam had been broken.

“I love you, Suniya, I love you more than you will ever know. From the first time I saw you, I knew in my bones you were made for me. And from that day on, nothing and no one could complete me the way being with you did. You are the love of my life. If I live a thousand lives; in every lifetime, you and I will be together, you will be the love of all my lifetimes until the end of time.”

“Are you listening, Suniya?” he gently kissed her hand and then bent forward to touch her beautiful wild hair.

“I love your hair. I could lose myself in your hair. I know I know I never told you that before, but tonight I want to tell you everything.”

“You always tell me that I don’t express myself. You always say; “Use your words Asad. Words are all we have. Nothing should be left unsaid”, you once said to me, especially not words of love or joy. You were right, Suniya; today I want to say everything.”

“But you must have known all these years, my love, that I love you more than words could ever express. Some things are so precious, so dear to us that we want to keep them inside us, not just close to our heart, but seeped in the essence of our soul, and my love for you is such a thing, that I felt it in my soul and I knew always, that my soul reaches out to your soul and whispers what you are to me, even as the words don’t come out of my mouth. Even as your ears never heard these words before, how could your soul not have known? Am I right, Suniya? Tell me I am right.”

“But I know you always have pined for sweeping gestures of love. I love that about you too; your desire for romance and passion and all those things that I always thought only happened in books or movies. You believe they happen in real life and I know I have always teased you and made fun of you but you are right, the things that people say in books, I feel them for you, always have, and always will. I just did not have the courage to say them. I don’t know why.”

“All I know now is this; if you just open your eyes, Suniya, I promise I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you. I will express a million times over, all the unspoken words, the promises that I never made but always kept, I will do it all. If you just open your eyes, Suniya.

Tears started to fall from his eyes and he felt like his world was ending.

She lay there; white as a ghost, all life, all light, sucked out of her. Tubes and machines connected to her body, a giant gash on her chest that had been covered with bandages. Then he looked up, above her head and saw her heart’s chords beat a little faster on the monitor.

“Suniya! Suniya! Can you hear me? Suniya! Say something!”

He became frantic, losing all control as he started to scream her name and squeeze her hand, willing her to open her eyes, willing her to allow him to say what she always wanted to hear. But then, just as it happens in movies and books, the line went flat, and with that line his world ended.

He had lost her to a freak accident when she had arrived at their son’s school to pick him up. A bus had hit her as she walked across the road towards the school.

And now, words were all he would have.

Words left unheard, words left unsaid.

Read more by Tayyaba here.

T Hassan

T Hassan

The author is a writer, dreamer, social activist and a Communications Major at California State University. She does Social Media and Marketing for various non-profit organizations and blogs at tabzy.wordpress.com/

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

  • M.J

    I hate you for the way you ended the story!!!Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    Ladies and Gentlemen…writer’s one of many fantasies..!! Recommend

  • Hitman

    had tears while reading !!Recommend

  • Qasim

    You made me cry Tayyaba…but i learnt a lot from this brilliant piece…thanks for sharingRecommend

  • Broken girl

    men are not expressive when it comes to showing their emotions. They should express before they lose some important one in their lifeRecommend

  • tj


  • Ali

    It broke my heart. Seriously.Recommend

  • http://shahidrizvi.wordpress.com Shahid Rizvi

    this article is truly wastage of time…Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    I like it but its too melancholic. The thought of a young mother dying leaving two small kids behind is excruciatingly painful.

    The key idea of the bolg is quite interesting. I would like to understand if many men acutally feel like the way the subject of the blog did. I have my doubts. I think most men hardly notice the glow which beams the face of the wife when she is engaged with the baby.

    I would definitley like to hear what men has to say about this blog and if they agree that they actually have such treasure of hidden feelings of love for their wives. Recommend

  • Umair

    after a long time read something good on ETRecommend

  • H.K.L

    Wow! simply wow!Recommend

  • Historian 1

    I believe once the emotional phase is over the guy should be looking for a girl to re marry. This will be good for him and his kids.Recommend

  • MoniShaikh

    “He said peeling her arms away from him while trying not to let her see how happy that gesture made him”

    I just loved the way you gave words to these emotions. Brilliant piece.Recommend

  • waja

    wOw!! brilliant!
    you should write a novel.Recommend

  • naeem Khan Manhattan,Ks

    Nice story and heart warming. Keep up the good work.Recommend

  • Rashid Ahmed

    When everythingz goin well, is it really necessary to kill someone off?? :/Recommend

  • gp65

    @Shahid Rizvi: You are clearly unacquainted with tenderness of any kind. My sympathies.
    @Author: Well written.Recommend

  • Ahmad Khan

    I don’t know why such articles find such valuable space on here. Very shallow.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I really liked the gentle and caring way you made your point.
    I suppose its in the male DNA not to outwardly show emotion but the female knows its there and if every now and then ( like twice or thrice a year ) he says ‘I love you ‘ it would not hurt. Enjoyed reading this.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Ms. Ras: “I think most men hardly notice the glow which beams the face of the wife when she is engaged with the baby.”

    Why is it important for a wife to seek approval from a husband about the glow which beams the face when she is engaged with the baby?Recommend

  • Rukhsana Sohail

    The story is beautiful. I wish you had kept the little children out of it —!Recommend

  • Atika

    Loved reading this. So proud of you.Recommend

  • Noor

    There may be opposite situations, where women are un-expressive, and that makes the man so frustrated.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Z3alous Sarah B. Haider

    No matter how depressing the ending was, like any other woman, I am moved with your piece. That’s the quality of a good write-up.

    P.S. i lol’d at historian1’s comment. Such a typical Pakistani rishtay waali khala he/she is.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Insaan: “Why is it important for a wife to seek approval from a husband about the glow which beams the face when she is engaged with the baby?”

    We all seek approval and affection from those we love and care for. This is not a gender issue. And the way this sensitive story is written, it does not appear as though the wife sought approval for specific actions – just an occassional verbal acknowledgement of the love that she probably was well aware existed.
    Sadly some people even seek approval from random strangers and run their life on the basis of log kya kahenge. The most extreme form of need for social approval is honour killings.Recommend

  • Ahsan

    @Broken girl:
    Some things are beyond expression. But yes, one should communicate in whichever way one feels comfortable.Recommend

  • Haris

    A clicheRecommend

  • Ms. Ras

    Thank you for understanding the point.

    Why is it important for a wife to seek approval from a husband about the glow which beams the face when she is engaged with the baby?”
    oh this was just an example to make the point clear. The point is that this is very well written blog however I am not so cetain if many men actually are silent admirers of their wives for all the things she does.

    @Shahid Rizvi
    I agree wiht gp65. Recommend

  • Agnes

    Melodramatic, much? One would think that the lowest common denominator would be a little bit higher.Too much to ask for, I suppose. Recommend

  • JB

    Purposeless. Recommend

  • islooite

    why did it have to be a sad ending . i am already annoyed because of pile of office work ! tskRecommend

  • Mano

    That’s one old story. Recommend

  • Haseeb Talal Khan

    Really brilliant piece of writing…. There not only men in this world who don’t express their feelings, there are women too, who has this problem of not speaking their hearts and minds in front of their husbands….who will teach them?Recommend

  • http://shahidrizvi.wordpress.com Shahid Rizvi

    @ gp65: Lolz… actualy Miss gp65 or Mr. gp65 Life is so harsh in reality and so many other problems to discuss rather to write about fairy tales. Or b gham he zamane me Mohbat k siwa.. @ Author.. You should start writing for Female digests, I bet you will be so successful.

    @ Ms Ras: I agree with @ shuja ul Islam & @ JBRecommend

  • Sara

    Beautiful short story but I was crying by the time I got to the end :(
    Agree with gp65
    @Shahid Rizvi just clicked your name and ended up at your ‘blog’. Its quite unfortunate the way you write.Recommend

  • zehra

    it is in the poetic licence so it is not an article nor a opinion it is an artists expression- be it fantasy exaggerated OTT it is all good coz it is supposed to be that way

    @ author : it is abs great!! had tears in my eyes, it is true for all relations many times we take relations for granted and never take a moment to thank or appreciate or just say how much they mean to us and then we lose the opportunity forever!!

    take out time and tell your loved ones what they mean to you!! Recommend

  • Mlh

    …and what if the situation is reversed? What if the female is incapable of outwardly showing emotion? incapable of putting it in words atleast..What if? Nothing wrong with her DNA, i suppose & hope!

    Gestures is all good, but putting stuff into words is disrespecting stuff…Recommend

  • Gilani

    She took me too seriously. I’d just told her, “Why don’t you leave then, who is stopping you?”Recommend

  • Sarah

    OhMyGod! Its terrible how you ended it! however somewhere in the middle I had a feeling that you’d do just that. but hey the message you were trying to send was really heart-breaking and true. In fact, its not necessarily has to be between husband and wife (btw this was really romantic) but even between your parents and grandparents.

    Although, its a bit exaggerated and kinda unreal but still very nicely written, it touched the cords of everyone’s heart out there and mine too! I pray and hope that nobody gets to experience this kind of ending ever.

    P.S I too have tears in my eyes. Recommend

  • http://rtipakistan.com Huda

    This was a heart touching piece of writing. I must laud the writer for creating such an atmosphere in the story. She must write novels and short stories. Recommend

  • Ms. Ras


    Fabulous. Yes the syndrome of unspoken words is applicable for all relationships. A year ago I lost my father in an accident. The burden of words not said , love not expressed and things not done which were supposed to be done is too heavy to lift. The painful fact is that the feeling stays perhaps forever in the heart of the survivors.

    Yes please let your loved ones know how much you love them before it is too late. Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum

    Tayyaba u made me cry my heart out :(Recommend

  • Syeda

    Agree with gp65 … saying all men lack expression would be a sweeping generalization. Most men I know are actually quite the opposite. Let’s not be sexists and admit that the inability to express is a personality disorder (which can be changed with some effort) rather than a gender trait! Recommend

  • Insaan

    Treat people you love with love all the times. Some people need to hear I LOVE YOU, others may need to be feel love. Love may mean different things to different people at different times of their lives.Recommend

  • Fatima

    I dont want to generalise, but in most cases women need to hear words of affection. Subtle implications of endearment are not enough to make them secure in a relationship. Guys should try and make them feel loved always so women can express love back.Recommend

  • irfan

    what was the moral of the story…………………….what she want to say ………….i did’t understand at all………Recommend

  • Syeda

    Moral of the story: Women with dry/expression-less husbands die.Recommend

  • a woman

    of course all we need to hear a word of applause, appreciation and then we can do a million worth job. But alas our better half in most cases make it a matter of ego… and thus crush our feelings. Recommend

  • Haven’t lost my sanity

    Don’t actions speak louder than words?Recommend

  • Haven’t lost my sanity

    But an excellent piece of writing. Loved it! :)Recommend

  • SK

    OMG :( … </3Recommend

  • SP

    Beautifully written. Really makes one think about how we take relationships for granted.Recommend

  • http://none Ahmar Qureshi

    Feels like Danielle Steel has written that! Emotional Indeed! Writing this long is not that easy! Kudos to Writer! :-)
    But I Agree with ISLOOITE: Pehlay hi office mein itni tension hai!Recommend

  • Ali kazmi

    A brilliant eye opener for the Asian Men who still live in the shell of their shyness. Speak up buddy before no ones there to hear!Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    Great Piece Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico


    Never stop writing… brilliantly written… i could visualize every single detail while reading.
    You`re too-Good…

    Keep surprising us..Recommend

  • Sherry

    mediocre! Recommend