Bad Bad Girl (short story)

He was already late for the flight when he left his hotel room Worried that he might not be late for the flight, he kept asking the cabbie to pace up the ride. The city’s evening traffic was always a hell. He always felt that the erratic minded folks on the streets were responsible for him being late. In a while later, he was sitting peacefully in the waiting lounge recalling his day. Like a movie reel playing at the back of his eyes, he lived the whole day in a couple of seconds. It reminded him of his great uncle who used to tell him that in the old age a man sees the gone days of his youth like a film and then that seems more like a dream he had lived years ago and sadly cannot live again. How good are the tricks of mind that allow us to time travel. He came to the city a few days back to attend a seminar on ‘Nano-medicine and Oncology’. He always thought of coming back to the place he had graduated from some years ago. But the pace of life took him far away from here. Two days ago he came here hoping to find a chance to go to his college but couldn’t. The only time he could visit it was during the day and then he was occupied. He wanted to touch and feel the walls of the place where he laughed, learned and loved. Every path of this city was rigged with memories. Even the air of the city carried a nostalgia.

He was brought to the present moment by the announcer who was announcing the upcoming flights. Around him were passengers from every walk of life. He scanned the lounge. Not much changed about the airport since he was here some fifteen years back. Even the color was as old and boring as it was then. He observed the people. There was old couple right at the far end of the lounge arguing on something reflecting their love strengthening in old age. There were bachelors laughing together in another corner. A group of air-hostesses entered the lounge and the team of those bachelors couldn’t help but carefully examine each of the hostess from head to toes. A few families were scattered here and there. He looked at his phone only to find notifications he didn’t even bother to check. He wasn’t a teenager anymore who would get excited to see some closed envelopes on the screen. A caffeine craving was rising in him, asking him to get up and grab himself a cup of the needed dose. Winters were setting in already. A strange and odd restlessness was sweeping upon him which made the demand of the caffeine more intense. He got up and walked across the hall to reach the appropriate counter. The tea was served in a few seconds. A wave of freshness entered his tired mind and drained limbs. Sipping in the hot liquid, he took another glance at his watch. Four hours seemed to be a very long time to kill. What could be more efficient way to kill the time than his phone. So he pulled out the screen and checked his log. It was no different than what he had expected. After replying to a few people, he thought about an old fellow who happened to be in the city. He took his tea and returned to his seat almost colliding with a child on the way who was enjoying the best years of his life unaware of the blessing. That call was soothing to his soul. Even after all the technology that plagues our lives, we seldom find moments for the people who made this life a blessing in the first place.

As the call ended, he plugged in his ear-buds and started playing some music. What his eyes were seeing seemed like a video complementary to the music on his playlist. The tunes silenced the noises of the surrounding. There was a couple sitting three rows away from him with their backs towards him which is why he could not see their faces. The child he collided into a few minutes ago reached that couple and the man hugged the child. He was a very beautiful boy. That complete little family had his attention when the mother of that child got up from her seat and turned. Then he saw her face. He did not know that there was something else very close to him in that lounge at that time which was carrying the power of same nostalgia, far stronger than the winds and streets of that city. He was seeing a face after years. Everything was changed yet everything was the same. For a moment he felt the surge of strongest emotions in his blood. Time seemed to have frozen in that moment. His mind played the tricks, like a mind always does and took him some years back when the face he was seeing was more fresh, more younger, lively and a joy for him. The track changed on his playlist. Nature’s coincidences occur for more than just coincidences.

“…tera naa japdi phiran sohniya…”
“…’cause I am a bad girl…”

Time goes by so fast. And when we look back, it’s gone and disappeared into the ravines of nothingness. He felt jolts of memories all over his mind. He sat there frozen. But his flashbacks were not. The black of the burqa of that woman transformed into every color his eyes had known, learned and cherished. His imagination of the bygone days pulled out the locks that stole the peace of his life which were were then so well hidden under that black hijaab. He was flowing with the rhythm of the tunes and words pouring into his ears. He didn’t close his eyes and still saw everything his imagination was bringing right before his eyes. Past was morphing into present or present had metamorphosed into past..

“Tum itni achi kyun ho?”
“Kyun?”
“Kya kyun?”
“Acha hona mein koi masla hai?”
“Masla to nahin lekin….”
“Lekin?”
“Rehnay do…”
“Lekin kya? Bata do!”
“Lekin yeh keh…”
“Keh?”
“Keh boys ko achi girls achi nahin lagti.”
“what!”
“G!”
“To buri ban jaon?”
“Haan ban jao”

And she smiled and tried to run away. And he recalled grasping her wrist and pulling her in. 

How quickly time faded the things that were his life. He was still looking at a fragment of his life or a part of his past which was no longer his. Even being just a viewer, he knew that element would live on forever like a cherished scar. The woman took the child and carried him. He could see the smile on her face. She hadn’t changed much. Maybe it were her clothes that were making her look different. He didn’t want her to see him. So he sank into his chair a bit more. That concealed him quite well. A distance of few meters wasn’t just a few meters then. It was years and miles long and he knew that he could not cross that by any means. The years of his life won’t be enough. The “Good” and “Bad bad girl” was right before him.

“…tera naa japdi phiran sohniya…”
“…’cause I am a bad girl…”

 He wanted time to pause. But that is exactly what men had wished for in the past but it never stopped for anyone. From Prophets and Kings to common men, no mortal could ever stop its flow. Some announcements were being aired on and off. At one such announcements, that family stood up and picked up their bags. It was destined to happen. Even he knew it, he wanted something else. That glimpse of the past was sweeter than what was concrete. He dipped his head for a moment. A few seconds later, he looked up again. They were leaving to board on the plane. And just when he was sure that they were at a safe distance, he stood up and felt the cold air against his ears. The track was about to end. Just then he saw her come back to the place they were sitting. Apparently she had forgotten something. He was not able to hide himself again. It happened so suddenly. Then she stopped momentarily and looked at him. She knew about his presence. That stare stopped his heart. At that moment the song ended.

The Perfect Girl

In school days, I had a rich friend. But we met in childhood and that is why money was not the cause of our friendship. Neither of us knew the power of the word rich so our bond of being friends strengthened. We went to the same school. His money pushed him to that school and i earned that after I cleared the test somehow. As we grew up the differences in our lives become prominent. We stood at the opposite ends of a spectrum. I used to come to school by bus while his driver used to drive him to school. Even the car was really a good machine. I never accepted his generous offers of dropping me home and he never stopped offering them. Before anything could get polluted by greed or some other emotion of the mortals, I got into another school. His family moved to a more posh city and he moved to a new school. It happened just an year before the school life was about to end. When we got promoted to the sixth standard, his dad gifted him a computer. In those days he was the only boy in the entire school who owned a computer. He invited his friends to his house which was in an upscale locality of the city. I went to his place to see what a computer looked like in person. It was a branded machine. I can still remember that brand. Yes, it was cool! Comparing it to today’s modern computers, it was shit but everyone in school wanted that shit. I was included in that everybody too. That night before sleep could take me into a valley of dreams and nightmares, I I decided to save money and get my own computer. As I was on the other end of the spectrum, I knew the saving would take some time. After many months, that day came when my pool could be changed into a computer. Boy that excitement was so pure and innocent. Back then gadgets and computer stuff was really expensive. A good screen used to cost an arm. It would have taken me years instead of months to get a branded computer like the one my rich friend was having. So I took the bitter path of compromise majority of middleclassyas take when it comes to desires and dreams. Compromise. Such a bad, ugly and bitter word it is. You feel the trap you are in more clearly when you compromise. I bought the individual parts for the computer to assemble them into a machine. It took one week of bus trips to gadgets shops and bargaining to find the parts at the cheapest possible rates.

Finally I had built my own computer.

It had a white mouse, a beige keyboard and a black case which housed all the parts like the motherboard, the processor and the power supply etc. In no way it was like the computer of my friend. That had everything in one color and one branding. Mine looked like it was made from leftover parts. A part of me which liked art didn’t like it. I did not tell anyone about it. So showing it to anyone was out of question. It remained a dream from that day to have a PC that looked like it came from one factory. This dream kept stinging for many years.

I remained in a relationship more than once. Each time it had something positive and something negative. In other words, every relationship bore something I cherished and something I feared. Upon being asked a very innocent question

Who is the best girl you came across

It was not an easy question. I have asked this question to myself too. The answer reminded me of that first computer I built. The perfect girl is a fiction. A pure fiction that lives in the head. And I assembled her from real girls. She has those penetrating eyes, those feet whose thumps echo heart, locks that have trapped peace of men. Her words work like magic. She never lies. She has no ego crisis. She has no dark matter with her. She would never betray. She would always understand. She would be obedient. She knows flying, driving, diving, archery and can be playful with kids. And she can cook too!

The bitter reality that she is a fiction. An unreal beauty of the mind that stays in the mind. But hey, these are her qualities. These are real qualities of real people I have seen, met, heard, loved and wished. So she is some real at least. In fact she is real only if the parts and qualities were available. However, she is nameless. I have not thought of her name yet. That would encase her in one flaw rendering her no more the perfect girl.

Aamir Bilal