That afternoon, Arfa ditched college early to get ready. She had planned it out perfectly: her Ammi was going to be visiting Nanni Amma’s house, her older brother would be working and her sister-in-law had an appointment at the hospital, and Arfa had arranged for a friend of hers to look after her 3 year old niece; with all of her family members thusly occupied, she was free to go on a date with her love. Arfa had never thought that she would fall so hard in love with a Punjabi; but she did, and she was so happy.
Arfa quickly changed her clothes, putting on a rose-patterned kurti and tight jeans with a light dupatta . She inspected her form in the bathroom mirror. She then curled her hair and tried to put it up in the style she had recently seen Ayesha Omar wear in her latest drama; surveying her completed look, she was very pleased with herself. ‘I am sure that Asfand will love it’ she thought to herself, putting on a final coat of lip-gloss and stashing the tube in her purse, she texted Asfand to let him know she was on her way. She called a Careem from the app, and when it arrived she got into the car. She was meeting Asfand at Lake View Point, a park in Islamabad. She was very pleased with his choice of venues, they were going to have so much fun, he had promised to take her boating.
Asfand was waiting for Arfa outside the park; looking rather dapper in dress pants and shirt. She had texted him the Careem’s number plate and as soon as he saw the car he walked forward on to the curb and waved to get their attention. He was exited for the date today, as he was going to ask Arfa a very important question.
Asfand was a tall man, six years older than Arfa’s twenty-one and his family owned several malls in Rawalpindi, one of which he worked at as a manager. They had met at Arfa’s college function where he was visiting his sister, a good friend of Arfa’s. They hadn’t hit it off instantly, but Asfand had been enamored with her after seeing her give a faqir a hundred rupees. He had asked his sister about Arfa and subsequently found out that she was a Kashmiri and a top student and that she was quite popular at her college. His interest in her grew from there and he endeavored to run into her at several other opportunities and begged his sister to invite her to their house.
That was finally what had given him an opportunity to really converse with Arfa, surprisingly he had found her quite easy to talk to and had discovered that they actually had very similar views regarding lifestyles, family and even politics. Their outlooks on modesty, responsibility and career paths also meshed very well and they had quite a lot to say to one another. From there their relationship grew and evolved into a serious relationship. By this time they had been going out for 18 months and Asfand felt that it was time for the next step in their relationship.
As the car rolled to a stop, Asfand went forward immediately to open Arf’s door. He helped her out, smiling and guided her to the curb, turning back to pay the Careem. After he had done so he turned back to Arfa and smiling he said, “You look very beautiful today, my dear.” Arfa blushed at his words, smiling back and saying thank you. Asfand took Arfa’s hand into his own and walked with her into the park, smiling down at her he asked her what she would like to do first.
When Arfa replied that she wanted to ride the Ferris wheel, Asfand couldn’t help but chuckle. Arfa had an almost childish love of Ferris wheels and it was always the first thing she wanted to do at any theme park. “Are you laughing at me?” Arfa asked with mock affront. Grinning charmingly at her Asfand replied, “Of course not, your wish is my command.” He winked at her and tugged her to the side of the footpath, saying, “Wait here for a bit, I’ll go get the tickets.”
As soon as he came back he led Arfa to the line for the Ferris wheel, which was mercifully short at this time of day. They climbed into a car shortly and the Ferris wheel started moving, causing Arfa to let out a squeal of joy. Asfand amused at her eagerness grinned and leaned over to tweak her nose asking “Are you sure I’m not dating a little kid?” Arfa pouted in return, causing Asfand to laugh softly at her and say “Sorry, sorry”. After the ride was over they disembarked and Asfand said, “Come on, let’s go and eat.” They went to a nearby restaurant and while they ate, they chatted about his job, her studies, the latest movies and anything and everything in between.
After eating they went boating on Rawal Lake, and afterwards Asfand led Arfa back to the Ferris wheel, booking another ride. Arfa was happy but confused since they had already ridden it once before and Asfand wasn’t really a fan of it, but rather only went on Ferris wheels for her amusement. “Come on, let’s get on”, Asfand said, cutting off her upcoming question. They climbed into a car once more and when the Ferris wheel set off, Asfand said to Arfa, “I have been meaning to ask you this for a long time now, Arfa, will you marry me?” Overwhelmed with joy Arfa was speechless and her eyes filled with tears of happiness. Asfand was worried, until she threw her arms around him and said, “Yes, yes, of course I will.” Now happy and laughing, the couple disembarked and Asfand dropped Arfa off at the road nearby her house. “We won’t have to hide much longer; my parents will send a Rishta to your family, soon.” He told her as she stepped out of his car.
For the rest of the day, Arfa was on cloud nine. She was smiling and laughing, and when Rahim her second older brother came home from university she was delighted to receive him and she cooked up a feast for her family with no complaints. Her good spirits infected the rest of her family and everything was right with the world.
Subsequently Rahim was in a good mood when he went out to catch up with his neighborhood buddies. His mood was soured, however, when he overheard a group of guys making crude remarks regarding his sister. He picked a fight and they told him that they had seen his sister get out of the car of a strange man, holding hands with him. “She must be a slut, going about with strange men”, they sneered at Rahim. Livid, Rahim wanted to go confront his sister at once, but his friends convinced him to talk to his father or older brother first. Grudgingly Rahim agreed.
That night he told his older brother about what he had found out, “She is besmirching our honour!” he declared hotheadedly. His older brother Kashim however told Rahim to stay out of it, I will tell our parents and they will deal with her. Rahim, however loathe he was to follow his brothers advice, reluctantly agreed. The next day, a Saturday, Kashim didn’t have time to tell his parents as both of them had left early to visit their Mamoon who was ill.
Rahim was in the hallway when he heard his sister’s voice talking from her room, he snuck up and putting his ear to the door he overheard her making plans to meet Asfand at the corner shop near their house. Rahims anger returned in a wave and left him seeing red. As soon as Arfa was done with her call he banged open her door and shouted, “You’re not going anywhere! How dare you besmirch our honour like this!” Not giving her a chance to retaliate he wrenched her phone out of her hands and locked her in her room. She banged on her door and shouted after him, “Rahim! Bhai Jan! It’s not like that, please let me explain.”
Rahim paid her no heed and in his anger he grabbed his father’s pistol off the wall, loaded it and set off to meet Asfand in his sister’s place. I’ll teach him to despoil my Sister’s honour! He thought viciously, making plans to beat him up.
Within five minutes Rahim reached the corner store, the pistol hidden underneath his jacket. He saw a young and handsome man leaning against a pillar outside the store, looking around searchingly and checking his phone now and again. He immediately walked up to him and asked, “Are you Asfand?”
Asfand, looking up from his phone, frowned at the crazed looking man facing him and tentatively replied, “Yes, how may I-” Cutting him off Rahim said in a menacing whisper, “I’m warning you now, stay away from my sister or I’ll kill you!”
“What?” said Asfand bewildered. “Stay away from my sister Arfa or you’re dead meat!” Rahim reiterated. “You’re Arfa’s brother?” asked Asfand. “That’s what I said and I’m warning you-“ this time Rahim was cut off by Asfand, who frowned and said, “I am afraid I can’t do that, you see I’m in love with your sister and I’m going to marry her.” “A Punjabi like you?! Dream on!” said Rahim spitting on the ground to illustrate his opinion. “What’s wrong with being Punjabi?” retaliated Asfand now getting angry himself and drawing himself to his full height of six feet, two inches, he loomed over the 4 inch shorter Rahim. The passersby now tried to intervene, a nearby man asking, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
Feeling threatened Rahim’s anger escalated, he said in louder voice, “You and your filth is not fit wipe my sister’s shoes, we are pure Kashmiris for countless generations and she will marry an honourable Kashmiri.” Asfand now truly angered, also raise his voice slightly and said, “Well you can take your bigotry and shove off, I am marrying your sister regardless!” Rahim, now out of his mind with anger, pulled out the pistol and shot Asfand in the chest in full view of three of his neighbors and the shop-keeper. Screams and panic erupted and Rahim was shocked of his rage, staring disbelievingly at his own hand holding the pistol and Asfand’s dead body.
He ran away back to his house where his brother and father had both come back and he sobbed out what happened, trembling the whole time, his brother was shocked speechless and his father slapped him right across the face, snarling, “You ignorant, foolish boy!” A scream was heard from behind them, Arfa had overheard them and had fainted dead away.
His father set out at once and called in a few favours at the local police, greasing a few palms to rid of evidence. He then visited each of the witnesses and threatened them to silence with his gang connections. In this way, Asfand’s death was ruled as an accident, the official story being that Rahim had been going to the shooting range with the pistol and had not known his gun was loaded, it fired off accidentally. He was given a minimal sentence of six months and then his father shipped him off to Dubai using his contacts.
From then on Arfa’s outgoing and vivacious personality dulled and later on she silently married an honourable Kashmiri man. For the rest of her life, Arfa never spoke a single word to Rahim ever again.
Glossary of Terms
Hamara Pyar – Our love.
Ammi – Mother
Nanni Amma – Maternal Grandmother
Kurti – A long traditional Pakistani Shirt
Dupatta – It is a long piece of fabric (complement to any dress) which is meant to be worn as a head covering.
Careem – Is a popular car App in Pakistan similar to Uber.
Faqir – a beggar.
Rishta – Formal request for a girl’s hand in marriage.
Bhai Jan – Dear brother (a term of endearment and respect generally used to address or refer to an older brother or cousin)
Punjabi – People of the province of Punjab.
Kashmiri – People of Kashmir province.