Thanks for asking! I would love to update but am facing monster writer's block. I have some parts written but can't seem to find the mojo to make it substantive. Definitely plan to update, just give a little more time!
Thanks agin for keeping my story in your hearts and minds. Such a boost to my ego.
You can always give us a short update or maybe we can help u with somethin...
Like Zoya once said to Asad during and before that trip to NY... Believe in the power of Delegate or something as such...
Oh my god, MayurChan, what a pleasure to hear you say that you've re-read the parts!
I was thinking of doing the same!
And I love that you're quoting my chapter idea to myself! I did start writing this morning. So fingers crossed I will have something to share soon! I think I've been disenchanted lately and the charm and escapism of the FF isn't working. But I think I made a decision this morning and will address some issues that were bothering me through the FF.
All the best and thanks so much for your kind words of support!
Meri Shaam Raat, Meri Qayanat, Voh Yaar Mera Saiyyan Saiyyan
Even long after Dhoni left, they'd continued to tease her mercilessly. "The man won't be able to play for a few matches," Ayaan declared. "Bah-bye, IPL!" "Really, and what makes you such a health expert?" Humaira defended her sister. "Becuase he probably has a concussion from the hat trick chaukas Mona Darling clocked him with!" "Nahin, ab woh aur bhi achcha khelega," Siddiqui saheb valiantly added his two cents. "Kyun Mamu? Because Mona Darling's chauka and chhakka tightened all the loose screws in his head?" Ayaan dodged to avoid a Humaira-mukka. Zaid laughed. He liked excited talk of chaukas and chhakkas. Crickkettt! But he loved to see flying mukkas even more. "Kkkaaa ... kkaaa," he mumbled. Sleep was knocking him out for a six--just like Dhoni mamu's head was knocked out by Ammi's gamla. "What if he suffers from PTSD and ducks each time a ball comes too close, thinking it's a flower pot? Ab toh retire karna hi padega!" Ayaan crowed.
The number of silent screams she'd screamed in her head, Allah miyan! All of Ayaan's cackling commentary had made her heart toss around for multiple fours and sixes swatted around with classic helicopter shots. But no, she didn't even scale any boundaries. It was an OUT instead! A ducking Golden FU*CK, that's what she was. Back to the pavilion for our Ms. Farooqui. Allah miyan, what's wrong with me? And god nooo, please, not retirement!
Her skull was a battered batting cage...
And all evening Zoya had avoided looking at Asad too. Jeez, she had never been so mortified. This time if the Jahanpanah lost his temper and exiled her, even she wouldn't blame him. And Asad didn't bother coming to her defense either. The woman had made a national pest of herself; she deserved the ribbing. But his heart knocked in his chest as the night wore on. That too-bright smile was pasted on. It slipped whenever she thought no one was looking. She pretended to be engrossed with Zaid long after he'd fallen asleep on her shoulder, absently playing with the mini toes. The fierce pout chasing that wobbly frown...Those perfectly kissable lips... Ahhh. Asad sighed as he saw her avoid his gaze once again. Wearing all that brattitude as armor? Typical Ms. Farooqui. Using her hair to hide her face... Clear signs that she needed to be bailed out. Stat. "OK, that's it," Asad put his foot down. He rose from the sofa, and stetched his arms to signal that it was time to wind the evening down. "I'm done with this post-mortem. Ayaan, we've lost a whole afternoon of work, I need you to contact Mrs. Walia from legal, ASAP..." He rattled off more instructions that had Ayaan standing at attention and Amit scrambling to take notes. "Did you get the email distribution list going?" The guys synced their notes on phone calendars and reminders. Bringing Ayaan to heel meant that the Dhoni post-game analysis was officially over. She should've been grateful, but Asad's clipped tone made Zoya quail even more. Sheeeiiit.
The moment of her sentencing and execution was close. She was a dead woman walking and hadn't even got to enjoy her last meal. Zoya squeezed her eyes shut but they sprang wide open. Because each time she closed her eyes, the restaurant scene of her clean-bowling the mighty Dhoni kept playing on an endless, technicolor loop in her head. Slo-mo, replay after replay. Even the Third Umpire had had to rule against her. That flippant verdict by Ayaan, "ab toh Dhoni ko retire karna hi padega," had her mentally hyperventilating too. Jeez, who would have known that his biggest fan would be the man's downfall? Please, don't retire! Asad cleared his throat. Zoya sat up at attention.
Sh*it. Sh*it. Sh*it.
After everyone left, she would be summoned for her peshi and hazri, and Zoya was pretty sure this time Jahanpanah would be on the warpath. She could just picture his face -- the straining pulse on his forehead, the gritted teeth... She would be fast-tracked to being walled in: "Iss badtameez kaneez ko deewar mein chunwaya jaye!" As Asad's brusque orders fell on Munim-Vazir ears, Zoya vaguely wondered about him contacting the legal team... Mrs. Walia? Why? Oh my god! Oh my god! She couldn't seem to tamp the rising hysteria... or breathe. No, no, it's nothing to do with you, a tiny voice in her brain said.
So when Asad came closer and lifted Zaid out of her limp arms, giving her hand a tight squeeze in the process, she nearly sobbed out loud. Zoya ducked her head again so that no one would see the sheen of tears. Damn you, Mr. Khan, I'd prefer your anger to pity! She didn't realize when that puff of indignation at her husband's charity evaporated the oncoming panic. Zoya breathed. Deeply. And this time she brazened it out to meet Asad's gaze. She was ready. His barely repressed chuckle and side-eye made her gather up her ruffled feathers into an offended heap of outrage. Bring it, Mr. Khan.
Asad had really wanted to roll his eyes when Aunty came over twisting her dupatta between her hands. They were all leaving. She lingered to have a word with him. "Beta, usko zyaada mat--" "Aunty please, I'm not going to eat her up, or kill her. Please don't worry." Good god, did they all think he was such an ogre after all? Even Siddiqui Saheb's brow was pinched. "I know. But still... Tumhara naraaz hona bhi lazmi hai, akhir. Yeh Ladki bhi na... Maybe she should spend the night with us?" Raziya asked with sinking hope. He patted her shoulder and walked her to the waiting car. "I promise nothing bad will happen to your ladli Zoya. I'll try to control my rage. Maybe break some plates in the kitchen or a couple of chairs to blow some steam off?" Raziya looked up at him in alarm. But then she breathed a sigh of relief seeing his smile. He seemed relaxed. There was none of that famed Akdu Ahmed Khan storm and rampage in sight. Zainab, she thought to herself, I'll bring flowers and a chadar tomorrow. We'll feed the poor. This girl is so crazy and, Alhamdulillah, so lucky... But then her eyes misted as she gazed up at Asad. No, not that lucky. I wish...
Dilshad was smiling too as she discarded her dupatta on the bed and tied up her hair. What a day, she shook her head. Anwar had been right about his Category 5 Hurricane Zoya... Allah! She looked down at a sleeping Zaid. Nearly half a dozen pillows borrowed from all over the house, made the perfect nest. Fingers crossed, this time the Dadi-pota sleepover would be a no-hitch hit. After charming the pants off Dhoni Mamu, Zaid was exhausted enough to sleep the full night without trying too many acrobatic stunts. Dilshad bent to brush his forehead lightly. Those puckered lips...the flickering lashes and translucent tremors... What did those eyes dream?
A fond dua escaped her lips. The room was so warm. Dilshad went to the window to shut it before turning the AC on. Asad's laughter floated up from the backyard. That rich, hearty sound of breathless delight made her cozy all over. Another day, another blessing. Her palms rose in gratitude. Because till about two years ago if she ever heard Asad downstairs, it was a series of growls on the phone, or the clatter of locking horns with Zoya. An outraged, "Mr. Khan!" had Dilshad laughing to herself. These two! She shut the window behind her after another silent prayer.
Asad wheezed some more as he tried to cut off the laughing (in deference to his wife's wrath). He was holding Zoya from the back as she struggled against him. "Mr. Khan, it's so not funny! It was humiliating!" He laughed again and she smacked his arm. "I can't believe you did that," Asad said as he finally managed to turn her around to face him. Zoya covered her face with both hands. Yeah, she couldn't believe she'd done that either. And she also couldn't understand why her husband was so happy about the worst day of her whole entire life. "Allah miyan, what's wrong with you, Mr. Khan!" Had the man inhaled some laughing gas on the way from the living room to the backyard? And then she got it. Zoya whirled on him. "Oh. My. God. You're actually thrilled that I hurt Dhoni, and would never want to face him again, aren't you?" "Hurt? I think 'battered' or 'bruised' would be a better term for it. And 'I'm not gonna lie'," he mocked her Americanese with more air quotes. "I do love the idea that you're radioactive to Dhoni now!" "Asad, you're so mean!" Taking her hands in his, he kissed their tops but saw her grow quiet. Distant even. "Zoya?" She turned away from him once again, head bowed. He hadn't expected her to start crying after the signature, "are you OK?" "Zoya," Asad rushed to hold her and she sobbed into his chest. "Babe, it's OK. Everything's fine," he soothed. She shook her head grinding her nose into his shirt. "Numphits nodumph!" "Hmm?" Asad bent his head lower to catch her words. "Everything is NOT fine! I ruin everything," she sobbed harder. "Shh," he soothed holding her tighter. "That's nuts, you do NOT ruin everything. Only some things...sometimes!" "MITTER KHNAN!" came an indignant cry from somewhere near his chest. "Come on," he coaxed. "It's not so bad." "Not so bad! I will never be able to watch a Dhoni match now--not without thinking about what a giant--" she spluttered, unable to even say the words. "About how I--" "Decked him? Conked him? Concussed him? Then topped him off with tea and ice cream! Made a Dhoni-sundae out of him?" She growled and snapped piranha teeth at him. Asad couldn't help repress another laugh. "But that's great isn't it? Think about all the hours you won't waste watching TV now! So much more work you'll be able to do. You've been complaining about not having enough time. Now you do!" "Mr. Khan! Stop this--you're having way too much fun! You don't understand. My life is over..." "Zoya, stop. Your life is NOT over! C'mere." Asad walked them to the bench and pulled her into his lap. "OK I agree, right now it looks bad. But tomorrow it'll be better. And you've got to forgive yourself. You're the one who taught me that!" She snorted, not wiling to believe him. He just didn't get how awful this was for her. Her whole, entire Dhoni-worshipping life was ruined forever. Asad tipped her chin up. "A long time ago, someone told me that we needed to stop looking behind, and look ahead instead. That forgiving oneself was the only way to move on and open yourself up to love and Allah's blessings." Zoya made a face. Of course she'd said that. She'd said that to convince him! This was different though. How could she even-- Asad wasn't done. If she was going to be stubborn about her Dhoni self-pity then he was going to be just as relentless about talking her out of it. If he had to resort to blackmail he'd do it too. He'd learned from the best after all. "If you can't forgive yourself for this, then I guess I have no right to forgive myself for all the terrible things I said and did to you in the past." "Asad!" "No, I'm serious. You just conked a man's head with no intention of hurting him, I hurt you so much. Sometimes intentionally. When I think about how I insisted that you apologize to Akram--" Zoya sighed. "Mr. Khan you're being so unfair and you know it too! Allah miyan what's wrong with you, such a drama queen! I know exactly what you're up to," she poked his chest. "Don't you dare bring up all that stuff! One has nothing to do with the other. This is totally different!" "So I should forgive myself for Mangalpur, for our mehendi night? For that bloody ass, Akram?" Zoya groaned. "Really? We're going to do this? Now?" She took a deep breath and held up a hand to count off these pitiful trespasses on her fingers, "Maglapur Part II already made up for Mangalpur. Our Mehendi night ended beautifully." Asad grinned and waggled his brows. This tugged a reluctant smile from her. "And hello, Akram is in jail thanks to you, so I'm all good. So if this is your weakass way of distracting me from Dho--" Asad placed a firm finger on her lips. "Stop! That man's name will never again be mentioned in my house." "Your house?" Came the roar of outrage as she jumped off his lap. "My house too! And I say his name WILL be mentioned in MY house whenever I WANT to mention it!" "Fine, 'you do you'," Asad used air quotes again to mimic yet another Americanism of hers, and another, " whatever floats your boat.' She was too riled to pay attention to this piss-poor parody. "Though why you'd want to say his name or see another match of his, I don't know..." "So I should be ashamed of what happened today? That's what you're really tryna say, aren't ya?" She glowered at him when he grinned shamelessly and shrugged those shoulders. He always found her descent into indignant American slang hilarious. How soon would he hear "ain't nobody's got no time for this!"? "Never!" Zoya was still ranting. "Hey, if I want to see another Dhoni match, I will! It's my house. I'll watch one right now. And there, I said his name--Dhoni! Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni!" Asad grinned. Bingo! Zoya narrowed her eyes. Why was he looking like the Cheshire cat that'd swallowed Tweety bird and Jerry? Asad brushed her nose with a fingertip. "If you're going to say THAT name aloud so often, I guess I should just put his name outside my house. He held out his hands to frame an invisible rectangle. " 'Dhoni Villa' in gold letters. Will that make you happy?" His wife huffed. "That's crazy talk. I don't even know where you're going with all this drama. What's gotten into you? Did you have bhaang again?" Asad laughed. As if if he had bhaang again, he'd have it without her. She was his bhaang-mate after all. And why would he even need bhaang? Wasn't his life a psychedelic bhaangalicious carnival even without intoxicants? "No Mrs. Khan, I haven't had bhaang." He tucked a loose strand behind her ear. "Do I need to, when I already have you to make my head spin? "As--ad," she grumbled in surrender. "Babe..." "Shall we?" she asked after a long soul-drenching squeeze. "We shall," Asad said sweeping her up in his arms and heading inside. "Why else would I pack off our son to camp the night with Ammi?" Zoya pouted. "Why would you exile my sweet baby so far away from us?" "Because his mother needs a good spanking and some private coaching on cricket." "Oh really?" "Oh, really!" "Can I bat first? Get a nice firm grip?" "After the spanking, and only if you win the toss." "Heads, hmm?" Asad laughed. "Koi shaq?" "And if I lose?" "Then I'll bowl first." Zoya pinched his cheek in satisfaction as Asad carried her to their room. "I looorve you, Mr. Khan!" she whispered in his ear theatrically. "You're my trophy and my captain! My googly and my sticky wicket--" "Shut up Mrs. Khan, and start batting!"
It still drove her husband insane that she wore mismatched socks. The first few times he'd pointed it out to her, thinking she'd been mistaken and he was doing her a favor. Nah. "It's my style!" Zoya had retorted as she flipped her hair over a sassy shoulder. "What do you mean, it's your style?" Asad asked. "It means Mr. Khan, that I've always done it this way!" "What! Incredibly foolish. I bet you did it because you were too lazy to sort and match the socks." Zoya pretended to look shocked. That was one of the reasons for sure--Aapi said it too, all the time. "Didn't Aapi and Jeeju talk you out of it?" "Aapi tried. Hard. But Jeeju always took my side. He said that it was a mark of my independence. My signature. In school, my friends copied me." "You went out like that!" he bellowed. "What's wrong with you?" She laughed. "Absolutely nothing. Allah miyan, what's wrong with you Mr. Khan?" Zoya didn't have the heart to tell her husband that now she even ordered mismatched socks from the net. There were actual businesses devoted to catering to geniuses like her. She had ordered multiple pairs for Zaid too, but that had been too much for Jahanpanah. She needed to ease him, gently, into some incredible foolishness, or he'd combust. "Jeeju spoiled you rotten," was all Asad could manage to say. Zoya grinned as she raised an eyebrow as if to say, "and you don't?" There was no dampening her mood today. What Dhoni dud? Her mind had re-written that little chapter into a fairy tale of the best star-fan meet-cute. And weren't the world's best fairy tales edited and prettified for their audiences? So there--all unhoni was now perfect honi. She was back to reciting her sher about dashing, handsome, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Social media was doing its thing and everyone who knew her, sent emoji-filled congratulations on a dream coming true. "Wow, he came to your house for tea and ice cream??!!!"
"So lucky, yaar!"
"You TOUCHED him!!!!!!" Pfft, they didn't need to know all the details. Besides, which other fan could boast of an extended Dhoni-darshan assisted by her son and husband? Only Zoya Farooqui Khan, that's who. "The socks don't match. Again!" Asad prompted afer clicking his fingers to draw her attention back to the discussion. Zoya harrumphed. She didn't want to tell Asad that Jeeju had even allowed her to wear her shoes left side right as a toddler. That would send her Jahanpanah into proper 90 degree convulsions.
"Thanks a lot, Jeeju," Asad mumbled unhappily. She pinched Asad's cheek. "Yeah, he did spoil me. And now you get to do it, so we're even!" Asad rolled his eyes. For a tech wizard, his wife was terrible at math. But if her mismatched socks and upside down math helped recover from the Dhoni-fiasco, then why was he complaining? Why do I even bother, he muttered to himself. She does what she does. Because it makes you happy, some voice chirrupped from somewhere inside his head. But the Dhoni-euphoria from the post-Dhoni fanfic was short-lived.
"I know Jeeju, it makes me so mad! Why are people so cruel...so ugly?" She felt so powerless. Zoya's lips drooped. Thank god for Jeeju! They were skyping again. She couldn't talk about these things with anyone else besides him and Asad. Najma freaked out. There was no way she would trouble Ammi with her fury and fear. Humaira just wound herself up into a tight ball and went silent. And Ayaan flared up like a raging bull. She could talk to Aunty about some of it, but not too much. Zoya still didn't get this Indian habit of burying fears deep, not talking about volatile stuff because people apparently had weak hearts and could keel over from a bad discussion. "Beta, we have to calm down, not let anger get the best of us," Anwar said in his usual gentle manner. "Yes, it's infuriating, but sometimes the best thing to do is to put your head down and go on." "No Jeeju, it's not right! It's plain wrong. People cannot treat others like this!" These past few weeks she'd been super-frazzled and moody. No super-cali-fragilistic-expi-ali-docious for her in these troubling-bubbling times. Everything seemed to be going wrong. All her do-good pet projects that had gotten off to a grand start over the past months, almost a year now--at the factory, the children's center, the university courses and sensitivity training modules and webinars, the neighborhood kids' cricket--were getting too messy and big, and way, waaay, beyond control. "So, delegate," Asad had thrown her own words back at her half-seriously. He'd laughed when she made a face. "So 'Zoya Farooqui kuch bhi kar sakti hai' isn't so true anymore, huh?" She had really made a face then and bared her teeth at him. "Mrs. Khan, behave! You want that pretty face to get stuck like that forever? Zaid will have nightmares." "Mr. Khan!" Thing is, the projects and missions were all too dear to her heart. Which is why delegating was turning out to be murder. There was so much more she wanted to do. The prom for the kids at the center, fashion show with the dolls, co-ordinating the new IT-dev training for Asad's staff... She wished she had four clones, 10 hands and 15 screens from which to control her fraying life! Why the heck weren't there more hours in a day? There was just no time. The gym memberships languished. Ms. Sheena was beginning to do choo'n-choo'n about the missed Taekwondo classes. Ayaan made fun of them all for being stuck at baby-belts forever. "You can get a black belt with dentures and a walker," he teased. The monogrammed boxing gloves still hadn't been inaugurated. And how long had it been since she'd last had se*x? Those quickies didn't exactly count, OK? She was so not a single-org*asm girl. Worse, Zoya was missing out on fun with Zaid. Not fair that he had taken his first steps without her and she had to watch it on video! Thank god, Asad was with him at least. But even Asad had started makng noises about missing her, not seeing enough of her, or her being stuck for too long in her storeroom office if she was home. She'd even had to miss her beloved IPL matches (Asad still moaned and groaned about IPL not being "real" cricket, but when did that ever stop Zoya). Watching the highlights and recordings weren't no fun at all. Dhoni must've wished for this--he must've asked Allah miyan to ban his single-BIGGEST fan from the IPL live broadcasts! "Gamla ka badla," as Ayaan chanted. Oof!
And then the steady trickle of terrible news from back home and even recent events in India. Oh god, how much she hated Trump! Why did Americans have to vote for this orange monster? She had cried so hard on that 8th November! So close to her birthday, and this...this clusterfck! More recently, she and her friends from New York were still recovering from that nasty incident with Shabs. Poor thing, how two white strangers had tried to rip off her hijab on that subway? What. The. Hell. Where was all this hate coming from? Closer at home, things weren't pretty either. Nasty fake news and WhatsApp videos inciting violent thugs across India. Lynchings! In the 21st century? How was it even possible? A grim Asad and Abbu had both increased security at home and around their offices. More daily restrictions about not going out too much, or alone. Forget picnics around the lake or even taking Zaid to the park. Forget spontaneous trips out for kulfi, or chat, or ice cream. "We'll put up a swing set and a slide in the backyard for Zaid," Asad said when she'd pouted about Jahanpanah's new fatwas. "And a fort and the treehouse you promised me?" It was so easy to get Zoya to hop happily, and Asad knew it too. "Of course, why not? We can have a whole Disneyland back there!" "Yaay!" went Zoya. "Yayaya YAAAY," went Zaid. They watched Zaid toddle off to play with his dump trick and looked at each other. Zoya's smile slipped as she saw Asad's lips thin. She knew what he was thinking. She was thinking the same these days. How do you raise a child in an environment of hate? How do you stay hopeful in the midst of fear and distrust? What could you do to not become a statistic? How many more walls did you have to build? The grandparents were perhaps the most terrified...firmly convinced that Zaid would be kidnapped. A new dadi-nani competition had spontaneously unfurled: who would do the maximum number of kala teekas, tawizes, phoonks, and mumbled duas? Extra Quran saparas, nawafil and wazifa prayers were recited to ward of evil eyes, Bhopal to New York.
"Delete your social media accounts," Asad had said to her the other day. "No!" She had told him about some trolls she'd engaged with. Of course his classic response was to duck your head into the shell. "I've blocked them, muted a bunch of asshats and even reported some of the really terrible ones," Zoya tried her best to smooth things over. "That's not enough! I've heard they can dox you, make fake profiles, send threats. I don't want you to deal with all that venom. if you take on some of them, you'll get the usual bull about 'why don't you move to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia'!" The pacing had begun. The teeth now getting a grinding workout. "I always tell them: 'hey, democracies are best! I'll stay here where my rights are constitutionally protected, thank you very much'!" "That's not good enough to shut them up," Asad rounded on her. "Just don't engage!" Zoya exhaled. "OK, we'll compromise. Ramzan is coming up and I could go on a social media fast too!" One of her favorite Twitter heroines did this every Ramadan. "Hmm." Zoya knew that wasn't agreement as much as displeasure. Oh, Jahanpanah. "OK, how about this? I'll delete my Snapchat and Insta. I hardly use Facebook anyways." God, how she'd begun to hate Facebook--with the new exposes on how that motherzucking site had helped sabotage democracy--it made her blood boil. "But let me at least have my Twitter--I follow some really smart people. I need that." "Fine, but you'll do that fast thing during Ramadan?" "Done." "And no posting of Zaid's pictures anywhere!" "Already done. In fact I've told Humaira and Najma and everyone else to not do that either. Total Zaid blackout on SM! Took down his older pics too. No way, I want strangers to see my baby!" "Good. What about WhatsApp? I hate WhatsApp," Asad'd muttered. Didn't she know it. It had been hard enough to bring him on board two-ish years ago. He barely opened the app and had to be reminded to check out newly-posted photos. Right off the bat he'd made her block some distant cousins and relatives on his phone who routinely sent incredibly foolish posts. In fact, that phone had come dangerously close to being flung against the nearest wall more than once. And Asad routinely vented against the ills of social media. "These people have poisoned civil discourse! Ruined the country! So toxic. They only spread hate and division!"
Zoya agreed with this part. But she was of the school that you openly engaged the opponent with facts, tried to change minds, and spoke up loud and proud against hate and small-mindedness. Her Akdu Ahmed Khan was a believer in shutting up and shutting out though. Walls, the man was after all the Jahanpanah of building walls--was that why he had chosen to become an architect? He thought he could protect loved ones by sealing up those walls airtight? And wasn't it her heavenly mission to punch life-size holes in those walls? Damn straight. She'd donated to various causes, American and Indian. Even participated in a peace march (and no, what Asad didn't know, couldn't hurt him). It killed her that she couldn't post her marching selfies on social media. So sucky. But she needed to play superwoman too to protect her Akdu every once while. And Insha'allah everything would be fine. After all, their favorite Rumi had said "With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love." She had pinned this saying to her Twitter profile. Cos. she firmly, deadass seriously, believed in it. They would plant love. Lots of it. A fu*ckton.
"Asad, stop!" He sat back on the tub's edge with a lazy smile. The hot shower water laved her. Zoya bent to soap her legs and Asad leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. His heated gaze ate her up and she blushed. She didn't get this weird obsession. "We just made love like 20 minutes ago (like properly, after ages, thank you Allah miyan!), then why are you looking at me like that?" "Because...I can." "Asad!" "What? Can't I watch my wife take a shower without being cross-examined?" "You've seen me naked more than a thousand times!" "I can't wait to see you naked for a few thousand more." His eyes narrowed as she soaped her bre*asts but turned away from him. He made a noise in the back of his throat. "What?" Zoya pivoted. Of course she had to know. "You missed a spot on your back...and that luscious butt..." "Asssadd!" she hissed. God knows why she felt so embarrassed, but she did. If she turned her back on him he made her conscious of her ass, and when she turned to face him... "Shampoo you hair..." he drawled. "I wasn't planning on washing my hair today." "Please. For me." "Mr. Khan, you are evil. I know exactly why you want me to--" "Oh really? You're such a mind reader?" She huffed. Asad rose to walk up and lean his forehead against the glass door of the shower cubicle. Zoya's hand stilled. His heavy-lidded eyes looked drugged. Asad pressed his fingers against the glass. "Do it." She couldn't look away. Zoya's hand rose to unclasp the hair tie at her crown. She shook out her hair and let the water run through it. Her hand fumbled to find the shampoo bottle. Still looking into his eyes, she uncapped it and drizzled some in her palm. When she raised her arms to lather her hair Asad's eyes dragged to her uplifted bre*asts. Even though she wanted him to, she wasn't prepared for his yanking the door open and stepping in. Before she could yelp out a response he had her pinned against the shower wall. "Asad, your t-shirt is getting wet," she remarked uselessly, even as she gripped the fabric to drag him closer. His hands were already busy--one flicking a nipple between his thumb and forefinger, and the other slicking between her legs. She was still swollen from her three-alarm multiple orga*sms. And so ready. Zoya moaned. "Oh god Zoya, you've ruined me, you know." Asad sucked the side of her throat. "I can't get enough of you. Can't get my fill--" his guttural voice breathed in her ear. Zoya turned her head to capture his lips. After she'd had her fill she threaded her fingers through his hair. "Never, ever get your fill of me K, Mr. Khan? Twenty years from now, thirty..." "Twenty years from now, can I still watch you taking a shower?" She was already melting from the inside out...she was already a gooey, marshmallowy, drippy-- A press and rub of his thumb on her cl*it...two fingers sliding inside her...then three...and she was already coming undone, shattering, keening... It was only after he'd unsheathed himself, mounted her and made her come screaming again when she remembered his question: "Twenty years from now, can I still watch you taking a shower?" Zoya rose on her toes to whisper in his ear: "watch me twenty years from now. Thirty... In fact, you have to--it's in the Nikahnama's fine print, Mr. Khan." She felt Asad's laugh rumble through her body since she was still plastered against him. "Now how did I know you'd say exactly that?" he asked tightening his arms around her waist. Their lustmist was fading, their bodies cooling. Zoya tilted her head back and co*cked an eyebrow. "I'm that predictable? Can't be cos' you're a mind reader!" Asad guffawed. Predictable, and his wife? Sassy as fu*ck, but no, not predictable. He rained tiny kisses on her wet jaw. "No. You're delectable...incredible... And I love that our Nikahnama is a living, breathing document that accommodates all my lust and desire for you." Zoya purred in satisfaction. One reason why she loved this man so much was that he always managed to say the most incredible, adorable, charming, and perfectly fu*ckable sweet everythings to her that she could just die a happy girl. "Oh Mr. Khan, the things--" "Say my name." "What? Why?" "Just say it. Say my name!" Zoya giggled. "Heisenberg?" "Hunh?" She laughed. "Just kidding. Something I remembered from an old show." Asad heaved a sigh of resignation. "Was it about that drug cooking chemistry teacher? You're calling me a drug dealer?" Zoya grinned shamelessly before rubbing noses with him. "You are my dealer and my drug. My purest, bluest crystal that has me addicted and keeps me coming back for more. My Meth Ahmed Khan!" He frowned, forgetting to waggle his brows at the "keeps me coming back for more." Asad wasn't sure he liked being named for an illegal substance. "Do you even know how dangerous meth is? It's high lasts for--" Damn, Zoya thought. What a missed opportunity to praise her smartass wordplay. And uh oh, here comes Jahanpanah, high on a fit of righteousness. Zoya rolled her eyes. Jeez, trust the man to bellow away her mellow. "Asad." He stopped his rant mid-way. Zoya pinched his cheek. "Asad," she said in a huskier voice. "Hmmm?" "Just sayin' your name. Liked you asked." He smiled. He liked it when she did things he asked. "I love you."
She was ignoring him. And he knew it too. Asad had dared make fun of her chronic fix-it-tiveness. Again. This is what had happened: One evening when he'd returned from work Zoya had welcomed him with a box at the door and grabbed his hand to lead him right back to the car. "What?" Asad had asked, and not as patiently. It had been a long day and he was beat. He was in no mood to go out even though it was one of those rare days when his Mrs. was actually free from her overloaded fingers-in-mulitple-pies schedule. "Remember, when that night we were returning from Abbu's place and you had a flat tire? Right after Zaid's birth and our se*x-curfew--you know!" Asad's eyes crossed. What did that have to do with anything? Where was this going? Why were they here and not inside the house with him freshened up and holding Zaid? "Remember, that night we were super jodi Asad and Zoya and beat up those gundas?" She had started to bounce with excitement. The eyes were sparkling, the dimple was flashing in its full glory. "And you would've had to change the tire with all the traffic on your side?" Of course Asad didn't need reminding of this incident. That horny night was pure hell...those incredibly foolish delays after delays..."Yeah, so? Zoya, why are we here rehashing bad memories?" "Mr. Khan, look what I ordered from Amazon!" She held out the box for him to peer in. Something orange flashed in there. Asad reeled at the color assault. "What are these?" "Traffic cones with reflectors!" Zoya announced with her usual you're-welcome-I'm-so-awesome face. Asad tilted his head in puzzlement. Here was the problem: if he let his wife explain things at her own terms and pace then they'd be here for another half hour. But if he asked to get to the point ASAP, she got to the point with glaring gaps in the information. So he had to decide: was he going to listen to her whole speil, or was he going to play detective trying to figure out the clues on his own. "Traffic cones?" And then Asad remembered that even that night he'd laughed at her when she'd come up to him wrapped in a perfumed saree, a peek-a-boo thong and teetering on her fu*ck-me heels. He'd been sick with se*xual frustration then and in the middle of this lust-logged crisis she'd demanded, "where're the traffic cones?"
"Hunh?" "You know, those orange cones with reflectors that you put out around a car so that oncoming traffic knows to avoid you? It's for safety reasons, Mr. Khan!" "Americans and their fantasies of chaos-control!" Asad had muttered that night too. Asad shook his head now. His wife was still congratulating herself on her smarts. "You should keep them in the trunk for any future emergency. And then when you have to pull over, you just set them out like this." And she bent over to set five uglyass orange cones around the car--his car. Asad groaned. First at the delectable ass waving in his face. And then at the junk that was piling in his car thanks to a very determined wife. There were now baskets of back-up supplies in the trunk for supposed emergencies. Caps for cap emergencies, a tissue box for tissue emergencies, extra shopping bags for shopping emergencies, Zaid things for Zaid emergencies, phone chargers for charging emergencies, hand sanitizers in the front and back for hand-sanitizing emergencies, a comb and brush and scrunchies for hair emergencies, air freshners for freshening emergencies, a pair of sunglasses for emergencies when she went flying out of the house and forgot to pick up her sunglasses on the way out. A pair of tweezers for when something fell between the car seats, a glitter-coated trash receptacle for trash emergencies, a neck roll and eye-mask for sleeping on long drive emergencies, a soft blanket for when it became too cold for Ammi in the car... "Why has the car become a mini-house as if we're going camping?" Asad had mumbled. "Exactly!" Zoya had gloated, so proud of her equally-smart husband. "Back home in New York, my car was my office. It had everything I ever needed!" "Even traffic cones?" "Even traffic cones," Zoya clapped for his intelligence. "In fact Jeeju made me keep flares in the car too." "Flares?" Asad asked. Why would Jeeju make her keep bellbottoms in the car? Must be another American thing. "You know, those stick things that you light up? They're also for emergencies to signal for help, or to barricade a traffic lane." Asad had smacked his head. This was really too much. "Zoya, this is not New York. Please don't go around putting cones and flares around a car here--you'll get run over in a second. In fact I refuse to put those dumb cones in my car--they'll get stolen the minute you put them out. And don't you even dare order flares from Amazon!" He could just imagine what disaster would follow if Ayaan got hold of them. And then his face paled. Oh. My. God. Being Muslim and ordering flammable stuff on the internet? RAW would be on them so fast that his wife wouldn't be able to Allah-Miyan-what's-wrong-with-you out of it to save her own pretty little ass. She would be deported for sure, and he would just die.
And so she was ignoring him even today. And he knew it too. He had after all tried to make her simple act of helpful Zoyaness into an international incident rife with SWAT teams and immigration police. And he'd threatened to have her Amazon account frozen.
Dilshad loved to see them around the kitchen. In typical American ease for PDA, Zoya would stop to hug and plant a kiss on Asad's cheek every now and then in between mashing bananas for Zaid, or whipping eggs or folding in pancake batter. And even though he loved it, he would redden knowing that Ammi could see.
In the early days Asad would try to remind his wife to behave with a throat-clearing, or one of those signature head-nods. But now he'd learned to ease up on himself too. And although Dilshad was strict about them behaving in front of others, she never minded this Asad-Zoya non-nok-jhonk moments. It was good to see them fight; it was even better to see them bantering and touching each other. Though today, there was some moody tension between the two. There was obviously some post-spat and almost-made-up chemistry at work here. She watched Asad sneak a kiss on Zoya's fingers. Her happy chirrup made him frown. He had just planted a quick kiss on her hand so Ammi wouldn't look. And now she had broadcast it to the whole house! Thank god for Zoya being demonstrative, thought Dilshad as she turned away with a smirk. It had made her son uncoil--a Persian rug unfurled in its glorious reds and blues. A walled-in Asad had had to slice open his heart to let her in. And Zoya, zindagi par excellence, had crawled right in and burrowed in there to find home. Once inside, she'd thrown all the old junk and angry gunk away. So what if her son's car was filling up with labors of love? Dilshad watched Zaid play with his dump truck. The truck family had multiplied as had his truck vocabulary. And to his Dadi, all the vrrr-ing and brrrmmm-ing was music. But this music was soon interrupted. First a clatter, and then an annoyed Jahanpanah voice: "why can't you be more careful?" "Mr. Khan, chill will you? Why are you so hyper? Jeez, it's just a spoon." "A spoon? It could've been a knife!" "And it could have been a spoon, and guess what? It was! Life happens." "What does that even mean? Do you even know what it means? Don't just throw around random American phrases to cover up--" "Allah miyan, what's wrong with you Mr. Khan? Get off my ass!" Mmm. That ass. It did distract him for a moment. "I'm just saying that when Ammi is in the kitchen she doesn't go around dropping knives and spoons." Uh-oh. Now he'd really stepped in it. Zoya's eyes squinted. She grabbed his head by the ear and hissed in it, "there's a lot of things I do that Ammi doesn't do for you! Shall we make a list?" And to punish him for being a total ass she shoved her tongue down his ear. Asad blushed a beetroot-red and went hard the same instant. I guess you're going on a se*x-fast today too, Mr. Khan, his wife's murderous glare implied. "Incredibly foolish!" he spluttered. Where was that woman who he'd once made the mistake of thinking as "bholi" and "masoom?" "Control freak!" Zoya cried out as she took a bunch of spoons from the drawer and threw them all on the floor. "Ms. Farooqui!" "Mr. Khan!" "Allah!" Dilshad smacked her forehead. "La mya, aaa yuuu... bbbrrrmmm," sang Zaid as the dump truck chugged up the sofa arm. Welcome to Sunday mornings at the Khan house.
OMG!!! It was amazing, more than amazing. Just love it. Ur writing is wonderful,no body can't beat u on it. Oh how much I missed this ff, it was a long long wait, I checked almost daily if there is an update thinking maybe there is some technical problem n I didn't get ur PM. Thnku so much for such a mind blowing update.