Update for this one?
She was rushing out adjusting her watch-strap. Hurry, Zoya! You'll be late again. She'd promised to meet Tamatar at her college canteen for lunch.
She heard brakes squeal to a stop outside and the car door slam.
Uh oh, sounds like Jahanpanah. And a very angry Jahanpanah by the sound of it.
Gee Zoya, two guesses who he was angry at.
The front door crashed open, swinging drunkenly on its surprised hinges. His slitted eyes laser-beamed on her and his jaw tightened even more. It could well have been a T-Rex's gaze landing on its human dinner from all those Jurassic Park films.
As if, she snorted to herself.
She waited for him to start bellowing at her. Because that's what he did best. He always morphed into this angry bull avatar whenever in her company--typical fire-breathing and acid-dripping Mr. Khan.
Mr. T-Rex Khan. Tyrannosaurus Jahanpanah.
Asad's chest heaved; his head lowered.
Zoya couldn't resist a smirk: yep there it was, the mad bull pose.
Asad saw red. He was really trying his damnedest to control his breathing. But her cool grin and that raised eyebrow---
It infuriated him as never before.
"Fix it," he hissed through gritted teeth.
She actually had the gall to laugh at him? Him? No one laughed at him.
"You know the rules, Mr. Khan. Say sorry and I'll fix your phone for you. It'll just take two seconds."
He snorted a very dangerous and dragony snort. Zoya's lips curled in merriment. Hah! You don't scare me at all, Mr. Khan.
"I. Said. Fix. The. Damn. Phone."
I'm not retarded, she wanted to holler. I heard you the first time, you big bad wolf.
"Bite me," she retorted and swiveled on her heel.
He yanked her arm back and twisted it behind her back. Zoya's eyes flared in surprise. No, she still wasn't afraid of him. But there was something that flip-flopped around somewhere inside of her.
"No," she stated. Softly.
"Zo--Ms. Farooqui!" he shook her after letting her arm go and gripping her by her forearms.
"It's really simple, Mr. Khan. I'll do what you say when you do what I say."
His cheekbones sharpened and that glacial jaw? Surely, it was close to splintering if he clenched it any tighter. Don't call me Shirley. She was obviously going crazy--where the heck did that come from?
Her head was fogged over; her heart groped for a footing in the dark. And unbidden, unchained, her hungry fingers rose to trace that live wire of a pulse in his forehead.
Those vise-like hands loosened their grip on her arms. His eyes closed shut in desperate surrender when he felt her cool hand cupping his cheek.
"Why do you let yourself be so angry, Mr. Khan? What is it about me that infuriates you so much?"
His empty hands dropped to his sides.
Three hours later at work he still couldn't get her words ... or the feel of her hand on his cheek out of his mind. A stress-headache rolled and writhed behind gritty eyes. Or was it hunger-induced? He had skipped lunch, hadn't he?
Asad pushed back from the table to moodily glare out the window. How was it that all his anger had evaporated at her touch? Thick billowing smoke blown away by a gust.
He'd wanted to fling her back against the wall but had stepped back instead. It was only when he got to the door that he'd rememberd to smash his phone at her feet.
He was still supposed to be angry after all. Little did he know what else he'd left at her feet.
Asad swiped a hand across his forehead.
Something known yet unnamed churned inside him. Everything named and known brawled against it. Visions tiptoed in and danced in his head. Visions of her lips ... his hand rising to touch them ... his thumb tracing ... stroking--
No. It wasn't right. It wasn't supposed to be like this.
He needed to stay mad. If he didn't ... everything would be over.
"Bite me," she'd said.
His heart hiccuped and stuttered. He--
Asad slammed his fist into the wall.
When he slammed in back home that night Ammi and Tamatar really hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. Sure he was cranky, but when was he not?
No Biggie, as Zoya, no, Ms. Farooqui would say.
They bustled about him, handing him the TV remote, bringing him his coffee, laying the table for dinner and softly chatting among themselves.
The house was too quiet. Eeriely so.
It usually wasn't and the chatter wasn't soft either when ... when Ms. Farooqui was around.
"Um ... woh ... Najma, where's Ms. Farooqui?"
"Uh ... she still hasn't returned ..." Najma said in an apologetic tone. She wanted to protect Zoya from Bhaijaan's obvious wrath but then she was too scared not to answer when asked a question directly.
"She texted that she'd be home soon," Najma stuttered to fill in the angry silence.
Except it wasn't an angry silence, was it? He felt frustration bloom and mushroom through him.
"So late ...?"
"Asad, don't get mad. She's be home soon. Aati hogi," Dilshad pacified him.
What the hell? He wasn't mad. Not really.
Asad pushed his sleeve back to check the time.
Unease crawled into his gut and set up home.
An hour later and she still wasn't back.
Dinner was done. Tanveer and Ammi were parked in the backyard with cups of tea and Najma was holed up in her room. Asad was sure she was frantically trying to reach and warn Zoya.
He was sick of checking his watch every two minutes. He drummed his fingers on the glass table instead.
When she moseyed in a half-hour later he wasn't sure how mad or relieved he was. But his face had slipped into its familiar mask of outrage just out of sheer habit--because his face didn't know any better when it came to her. The stony angles and edges were a default setting when it came to Ms. Farooqui.
She already had her hands up and was rattling off a semi-apology a mile a minute.
"Sorry, sorry, Mr. Khan. Don't be upset, please. First, I couldn't get an auto and then a car bumped into us--I think the axle got twisted. Poor guy, he was so shaken. I got him to have some water to calm him down. Then I even helped him push the auto--"
"You got into an accident!" He didn't know why he was shouting.
Of course he knew why he was shouting--he was un-freaking-believably mad, that's why. Mad, as in angry-mad, not lunatic-mad.
He needed to stay mad.
"It was no big deal," she rushed. "Just a small ding. But I got the car's license plate. I can run it and find out the owner's name and then I'm going to find them and make them pay that poor guy for the damage! Do you know he has two young daughters! What if something happened to him? And now it'll take so many days to repair his auto--how will he make up lost wages?"
No big deal, she'd said.
NO BIG DEAL? Was she mad? Lunatic-mad, not angry-mad.
"Did you get hurt? Are you OK?" he interrupted her neverending good-samaritan-saga of injustice.
Everyone else was here now. Ammi and Najma ran over to fuss over Zoya. And of course she forgot to answer his worried questions.
Asad sighed. Are you OK?
"Zoya, tum theek ho na? What happened? Why didn't you call?"
"Phuphi I swear, I would have. But there was no time! And I was trying to take a picture of the fleeing car and helping the poor auto-wala. I'm going to lodge a complaint tomorrow. This is just not done--"
On and on she ranted. She still hadn't answered the question. But of course she must be OK. She was yapping wasn't she? Non-stop.
He glanced up and caught something fleeting in Tanu's gaze. Annoyance? Irritation? What? Why?
Asad shook his head. He had no time for this. Ain't nobody's got no time for this, he'd heard Ms. Farooqui say on many an occasion.
Get out of my head, Ms. Farooqui.
Ms. Farooqui was still droning on about her latest escapade; her plans for reparation and restitution for the auto-wala got more detailed. Thank god Ammi was leading her away to the bedroom--hopefully she'd get some first aid if she needed it. She couldn't be hurt under all that manic energy.
He did catch that little wince on her face though. Was it her ankle bothering her? Her neck? What? Are you OK?
It was her neck. Later that night Zoya felt the stiffness mount as she twisted and turned in her bed. A whiplash from the impact most likely. It better not be serious, Allah miyan! Ain't nobody's got no time for that. She massaged it for the fiftieth time. She didn't want Phuphi or Tamatar to know. They'd worry.
Zoya turned over again and flopped on her back. And she thought about the afternoon encounter with Mr. Khan. She felt guilty for blackmailing him with the phone. And guiltier for his smashed phone which she'd taped together fully intending to return it to him.
She shouldn't have been so pig-headed.
You mean like him?
No, I mean ... yeah, exactly like him.
Her mouth tightened. But he did need to say sorry to her. She wasn't being that unreasonable. He owed big time for sending her to that weasel Akram and for everything that happened--
But it wasn't his fault that Akram turned out to be such a douchebag!
Fine, yeah ... But still!
She rose and picked up Mr.. Khan's repaired phone from the dresser. She'd wrap and leave it outside his door.
Zoya rummaged through her backpack to retrieve a dog-eared post-it notebook. She tried to smooth out the edges with her palm and then gave up when they returned to their sorry state.
"I'm sorry," she scribbled across one and drew a smiley face. She stuck it to the phone which was being held together with some cheery Hello Kitty tape.
See Mr. Khan, it's not so hard to say sorry. And it won't kill you to say it to me!
Zoya tiptoed out. But of course her tiptoeing meant some minor crashes and trips along the way. Naturally.
A bull in a China shop, Jeeju used to joke.
She put his phone on the dining table.
No. Phuphi would see it and then it would be embarrassing to explain.
She next put it in front of his door.
But what if he came rushing out and stepped on it? He'd go flying, break his bones and then like Anarkali she would be sentenced to death and be walled in, brick by brick. May be in that wall by the front door. Bye, Zoya. Alvida. Hasta la vista, baby.
Aapi would cry so much and Jeeju wouldn't know what to do. And how would they go on without her? Who would do their taxes? They'd be miserable. No snow angels in December, no Thanksgiving in November. No 4th of July fireworks.
Her eyes stung.
And it was at that moment that Mr. Khan decided to open the door to his bedroom.
He hadn't been able to sleep a wink either. And those muffled sounds coming from outside his room--his gut told him it was Ms. Farooqui. Probably fumbling around in the dark. But what if she was seriously hurt? What if there was some head injury from the accident? Head trauma or a concussion?
But it was the sniffle he'd heard outside his door that had clinched it. He leaped out to make sure she really was OK.
He saw her crouched in front of his room.
"Zoya, are you OK?"
She jumped up as if burned and backed up. Right into the carved screen.
Asad couldn't help himself any more. He took her by her arms wanting to shake her but remembering that she could be hurt. "Will you just tell me that you're OK? Are you hurt?"
She shook her head numbly and then winced. Of course she wasn't OK! He led her to the sofa, turning on the table lamp next to it.
"Where does it hurt?" he asked.
She was still on that emotional roller coaster where she was playing out the scene of Aapi-Jeeju having to go on with their awful lives without their pyaari si Zoya. And it was this man that would do that to them.
She glared at him.
Asad recoiled. He was kneeling in front of her, being a solicitous gentleman and here she was glaring at him. Ungrateful brat.
"Look, Mr. Khan," Zoya raised her voice and a finger.
"Shh," Asad responded.
"Did you just shush me? Allah miyan, what's wrong with you, Mr Khan?"
"Ms. Farooqui, you'll wake up everybody."
"Oh. I'm sorry." Shit, why was she apologizing? She hadn't done anything wrong. She'd read in the New York Times about a study that showed that women apologized a lot more than men. At work. At home. And men? Nope, men never apologized! Even when they were wrong. Just like Mr. Khan!
She re-glared at him.
Asad sat back on his heels. What the heck was going on with her? She must be hurt in the head for sure.
"Can I get you something?" He asked. "For your pain? You're obviously hurt. I'll call the doctor--"
Oh really? A doctor?
"Yes, you can get me something," she hissed back. Wouldn't want to wake up any body now, would we? "You can get me a 'I'm sorry, Zoya' on a gold platter. With a red bow and cherry on top!"
He blinked. What? The woman was clearly insane. Possibly even delirious.
"I'll call the doctor," he muttered pulling out his phone.
Zoya saw the phone in his hands and her lips drooped. Oh, so he'd got a new phone already, had he? Of course. Why would he need an old, battered, messed-up phone like the one she'd fixed?
Zoya picked up her tattered dignity and whatever leftover emotions remained and trotted off to her room.
"Ms. Farooqui? ... Zoya!"
The door to her room closed. Whisper soft.
"Idiot," Zoya scolded herself.
No, she was even worse than an idiot. What was she even thinking? What had made her reach out and touch his face in the afternoon? As it is Mr. Khan had a low opinion of her. And then her zombie hands had taken over her mind and body and decided to cop a Jahanpanah feel?
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Zoya covered her face with her hands and groaned. How is it that she just kept getting into deeper and deeper messes? And why did Mr. Khan have such an effect on her? For god's sake, that man was a walking Tehzeeb-pedia... exactly the sort of know-it-all, mansplaining smug ass she detested ... then why was she behaving like a mental case around him?
You have a monster crush on him, that's why.
What? No, I don't.
Yeah, you do.
Do. Do. Do. Times infinity. Plus one.
Fu*ck. She was so, so screwed. Zoya pressed the heels of her palms against her eyes. In this world of seven billion people she could only find this one guy to fall for?
Fall for? Whoa! where did that come from? Who said anything about love? It's just a stupid crush, moron.
Yeah, yeah, my bad. Just a crush. Who said anything about falling for, or being in love or any such thing?
OK, so it was a crush. She'd deal with it. Just like the time she had a crush on Kevin in sixth grade. She'd play it cool like she did then. But then she'd found out that dumb Kevin had a crush on Sarah ... and she'd ...
Oh shut up, Zoya. How does it matter how you got back at him. She'd ditched him as a partner for the science fair. And she'd gone on to win second prize too, thank you very much. See, she didn't need Kevin. And she wouldn't need Mr. Khan either. She'd do what she'd come here to do and then leave for New York.
Simple as that.
Asad's heart had tilted when he saw his phone on the floor in front of his door. "Sorry," the pink note said. A lop-sided smiley face grinned up at him. The whimsical tape made him smile. And the damn thing even worked. No more I'm sorry, Zoya password needed.
He tossed it into a drawer. But then he'd checked on it every once in while. By the next morning its battery had drained and he'd even put it on charging. God knows why. What was he hoping for? That it'd reset the password? That he'd have to really say, I'm sorry, Zoya into it?
At work he hadn't been able to concentrate. Unwanted answers tapped against the door he'd firmly shut and walled himself behind. Whispers of desire and wisps of longing peeked through the barred windows of the vault to his heart.
He just didn't want to admit it. Too much would be lost if he did. He'd be left exposed, vulnerable. And he couldn't have that. No. That was just not an option.
But he didn't know how to seal the gaps that kept letting the visions seep in. Heated visions of luminous eyes and lips ... a sassy dimple ... a pout and its twin frown.
Those fantasies clawed at him, bolder and defiant each time he shut his tired eyes. He wanted to press her hand against his cheek. He wanted to pull it to his lips and kiss it.
Bite me ...
He wanted to bite her thumb and suck on it ... pull her to him ... press her against his hardness ... He'd sweep her up into his arms. She'd wrap her legs around his waist. He'd kiss her ... And after he'd had his fill he'd explore that dimple. He'd been dying to do it. It was only second on his long to-do list. He'd run his knuckles across her jaw and feel her quiver. She'd beg him to take her. And when he did she'd beg him to come inside her ...
Asad swore. He needed a cold shower and a bullet to his head. Definitely. He had no right fantasizing about--
He gulped some water down; the glass was slippery from frost. He pressed it against his forehead. He needed to drown himself in work. Asad pulled the laptop closer and took a deep breath.
Forty-five minutes later he pushed away from the desk. It just wasn't working. He was still distracted. He grabbed his coat and decided to get out of the office. May be if he went to the dargah he'd find some peace.
He could have lunch at home with Ammi. She was always a calming and centering influence. Tanu was out. She was busy trying to salvage her business back home ... Najma and Ms. Faroo--
Well, they'd be out too, he was sure of that. They were hardly ever home during the afternoons. He knew perfectly well that they were sneaking away to movies, music festivals and of course, cricket matches. Yeah, he was sure just Ammi would be home.
When he stepped inside he knew he'd made a mistake. A big one.
He leaned against the door: on fire, in helpless lust. She was in the kitchen head buried in the fridge scrounging around for some junk food as usual. He could only see her butt and legs. That butt had been a part of his fantasies earlier this morning. He'd kneaded it and she'd wiggled and squealed in his arms. He'd buried himself deeper between her legs and her head had fallen back with a whimper.
Asad moved closer drawn to her. Moth ... magnet ... who really knew at this point. Or cared. Once again he was hard. God help him, he hoped she wouldn't notice. May be if he snuck back out? She wouldn't even know that he was here. She probably had her ear buds on. Yes, she did. She pulled out a jar of jam and some bread. She kicked the door shut.
She danced and wiggled that butt some more. Right in his face. She hadn't yet seen him and sang lustily: "you're the one that I kiss goodnight!" He didn't know it, but Shania Twain was one of her mood therapists.
Asad groaned. He watched her lick the jam off the knife.
"Ouch!" Of course, she'd cut herself.
How this woman had lived to be 22 he didn't know. How had she not killed herself with the walking disaster that she was? Must have a battalion of guardian angels, for sure. Stressed out guardian angels with high blood pressure and weak hearts.
He on the other hand, would've died of a heart attack if she re-dipped that knife into the jar. She must have sensed it, because she didn't.
She bit into the messy sandwich that practically bled with jam and turned around, still singing. That's when she saw him and the bread slices slipped right off her plate to land at her feet.
Asad pivoted on his heel and walked out the door.
Because, by god, if he didn't he really would have bent his head to lick the jam at the corner of her mouth. He'd have sucked the damn jam off her fingers and just picked her up to only dump her on his bed. He wouldn't have cared about the splattered sandwich on the floor. He'd peel her clothes right off and bury his face in her breasts. He'd slide his fingers in and feel her come around him. He'd--
Backing the car out of the driveway he dragged a hand through his hair. His breathing was ragged, his heart drumming a 100 beats per second. He growled in self-loathing and sexual frustration.
Zoya stood frozen at the kitchen counter. Allah miyan, what was wrong with her? Why did she turn into the world's biggest klutz in front of Mr. Khan? Just once, Allah miyan, just once, could I please appear dignified and elegant in front of him!
Sighing she picked up the mess off the floor and dumped it in the trash can. She mopped the sticky floor--Jahanpanah hadn't erupted into the usual Mr. Khan volcano today. He must really be pissed off at her. And geology and history were gavaah: when that Vesuvius imploded she'd be toast like Pompeii.
She didn't feel hungry any more. And she had to run. Najma's fashion show was in an hour. She'd promised she'd be there to support her. Tamatar was frazzled and super anxious. Poor thing, she better get there to cheer her on.
When Asad got the phone call he stared at his laptop in horror. In disbelief really. But should he really have been surprised? Truth be told, in some remote corner of his mind hadn't he always known that he'd get this phone call?
Ms. Farooqui in jail? The woman just would not leave him alone. He'd only just begun to focus on work and there she went, barging in again wearing only strawberry jam this time.
But he wasn't kidding himself. As he shrugged into his coat and rushed out the door the foremost thought on his mind was: I hope she's OK. Nothing better happen to her, or I'll kill--
By the time he reached the police station his lawyer was already there. Thank god. But why was Najma's college principal here?
"She was trespassing and damaged college property. I want her charged and detained," he heard Mr. Khosla allege.
Trespassing? Ridiculous. He knew Najma often invited Zoya to the college canteen and for all the festivals. Fear clutched at his heart. He hoped Najma was all right. Asad texted her and she replied within minutes: I'm home, she wrote back. Thank god.
But Asad's spidey senses tingled. Something was off. Zoya would not be on the college campus if Najma wasn't there.
The paperwork was signed, the principal pacified with a donation and compensation for damages and finally they led her out.
His heart lurched.
She looked pale. Had she been crying? Did they hurt her? But then he saw her square her jaw and shoulders. She stood taller, though she refused to meet his glance.
Topic started by dixeij
Last replied by Morsmorde