Fiction@ATP: Rishta

Posted on January 15, 2008
Filed Under >Pervaiz Munir Alvi, Society
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Pervaiz Munir Alvi

PurDil Khan had been under a lot of pressure lately. Even before the month of fasting had started his wife was nagging him on a number of issues. She wanted his help to stock essentials like sugar, rice, flour and ghee before the prices would shoot up for the holidays. She also wanted him to send for their elder daughter Gul Jan and her three little children to spend Ramazan and Eid with them.

The three grand children must have new clothes and shoes for the Eid and the time was really running short. But PurDil Khan thought there was still enough time for these things and wanted to postpone addressing them for few more days if not for few weeks. More pressing on his mind was what was going on at his workshop and the situation that he might have to face at the mosque. Sitting on his lathe he thought of the days when his worries were much less and simpler to handle. Six years ago his elder daughter Gul Jan was only sixteen when his brother SherDil Khan surprised him on Eid day by asking for her rishta (engagement) for his son Afzal Khan

“But Agha Jan she is only sixteen and has not even learned the ways of household” PurDil had protested mildly.

“It matters not. She is not going to any stranger’s house. She is my daughter too and my house is her house as well. Plus my wife and our mother will be there to teach her whatever she needs to learn”, the elder brother had argued.

Before she knew it, Gul Jan was married to her cousin Afzal Khan and without a miss came along their three children; two boys and a girl. Since then for the last six years it had been a tradition for Gul Jan and her kids to spend Eid at her father’s house.

“I’ll send for her in two weeks”, PurDil said to himself. “For now I must finish all the orders I have promised to deliver right after Eid. Plus I must find out what my son Akmal Khan is up to”.

If it was not for Dr. Abdul Rashid Dundaan Saz (dentist) across the street from his workshop, PurDil Khan would not have known any thing about what was going on behind his back.

PurDil Khan was an upright and pious religious man who all his adult life had never missed his namaz (prayers). Every body at the mosque knew him well and respected him for his honesty and righteousness. Particularly kind to him was the Imam Sahab Qari Amin-ul-Haq. Often after the prayers PurDil Khan would stay behind to have a little chat with the Qari Sahab. But what Dr. Rashid told him today was totally unexpected and it had disturbed him very much.

Actually PurDil Khan was only making a minor complaint in passing when he said to Dr. Rashid that if his son would work a little harder he would not be so much behind in completing his Eid orders. But Dr. Rashid exploded a bomb when he told him that soon after PurDil Khan leaves the shop for prayers his son leaves too; except his son leaves the shop to go to the Qari Sahab‘s house. He was having a liaison with Qari Sahab‘s daughter when the two men were at the prayers.The thought of his son having a secret affair with Qari Sahab‘s young daughter was very disturbing for PurDil Khan.

“What if the people at the mosque found out what was going on? What if Qari Sahab found out what was going on? Maybe I should have a man-to-man talk with my son. Maybe I should go to Qari Sahab and ask his daughter’s rishta for Akmal Khan. Maybe I should wait till after Eid to tackle with this issue”.

PurDil Khan was pondering on all these and many more questions in his mind. Finally he decided that he would speak to Akmal Khan after the Eid but for now he must keep a strict watch on the movements of his son.

It was 27th of Ramazan. Gul Jan and her three children had already arrived at the house. PurDil‘s younger daughter Noor Jan was particularly happy to have her niece and nephews at the house and was always busy playing with them. She had just turned eighteen and was very happy with her job at this NGO office involved with abused and neglected housewives. PurDil Khan had just returned from his evening prayers and family was getting ready for their supper when some one knocked at the front door.

“I’ll check it”, Akmal Khan said quickly proceeding to the door.

It was Shireen, Imam Sahab‘s daughter at the door with a covered plate in her hand.

“My father has asked me to deliver this to your house”, she said quietly.

“She could not be more than sixteen”, PurDil said to himself.

As she was leaving Akmal Khan was ready to close the door behind her.

“May be she could make a good wife for Akmal Khan one day. But kids must come to the parents first instead of getting involved with each other secretly. I’ll discuss this subject with my son after the Eid”, PurDil was reasoning in his mind.

Eid day was very busy at the mosque. A large crowd had turned up for the prayers and Qari Sahab delivered a well thought out Khutba for the occasion. He pointed out that while month long fasting and extended prayers during Ramazan were to please God, Eid day was to be thankful for His blessings and to share the joy with family and friends and to give alms to the poor. After the prayers PurDil exchanged hugs and warm hand shakes with all of his friends and with Qari Sahab.

“Oh PurDil, could you meet me at my hujra before you return home. I want to discuss some thing very important and personal with you”, Qari Sahab said.

“Does he know about the secret meetings between Shireen and Akmal Khan? How much does he know? How I am going to defend myself and my son’s behavior”.

All these questions started to run through PurDil‘s mind.

“How is the family”,

Qari Sahab nervously started the conversation sitting face to face with PurDil Khan.

“Every body is fine, alhamdolillah. My older daughter Gul Jan is home with her kids and my younger daughter Noor Jan got a very good job with this NGO. At least for now”, PurDil was saying with equally nervous discourse.

“Yes I know. I see Noor Jan every afternoon passing my Hujra when I sit here for my daily reading. She is a very fine girl. In fact I wanted to ask you her hand for myself”.

“Qari Amin”. PurDil Khan got up with the agility of a wild cat. “What are you talking Qari Amin. You are already married. Plus she is hardly any older than your own daughter. Have you gone mad”, PurDil snarled at him with anger.

“But I have not asked you anything outside the Shariat. She is way past sixteen and it is good for girls to be married once they come of age”. Qari Amin was saying.

“You must forget it. Shariat or no Shariat, this rishta is not acceptable. Not to me. Not to my daughter. We must never speak on this subject again. Never”.

PurDil quickly left Qari Amin‘s Hujra without further exchanging any words with him.

The moment PurDil returned home his three grand kids wrapped themselves around his legs.

Eid Mubarak Baba Jan”,

“Khair Mubarak”, PurDil Khan tried to return the greetings with a smile while still seething about his earlier encounter.

Noor Jan offered a small chair to PurDil to sit down while his wife came over with a hot bowl of sheermall. Akmal Khan too came in from outside and sat down next to his father.

“Where were you this morning? I did not see you at the Eid prayers.” PurDil inquired his son.

“Oh Baba Jan I was with my friends getting ready for the Eid“. Akmal Khan tried to explain.

The two men sat quietly for some time, each thinking about what to say next. Finally Akmal Khan broke the silence.

“Baba Jan I wanted to talk to you about Qari Sahab‘s daughter Shireen. I was wondering if you would ask Qari Sahab about her rishta for me”.

“Enough Akmal Khan. Enough”, PurDil said with a slight of his hand. “This rishta is not good for us and don’t ask me why. Now go get your sisters Gul Jan and Noor Jan. I need to give every body their Eidi“.

29 responses to “Fiction@ATP: Rishta

  1. Uzma says:

    Another really nice short story. I am glad to find fiction & literature here at ATP. Also, really glad to find that I am not the only engineer interested in writing, literature and arts.

  2. Agadir says:

    AOA to alls

    It is a very nice post and it reflective of the reality
    It is a typical Pakistani culture and it is right.
    Most of peoples believe on this type of culture now.
    Most are think it is right and most of them are thought is wrong.

  3. Matloob Zaman says:

    It is difficult to distinguish if this is fiction or a real story! specially since such stories can be expected to take place in the given environment of our innocent rural and not so rural settings. It is often that Qaris & Khateebs while busy conducting their daily readings will also keep an eye for things in the surrounding.
    I certainly feel sorry for son Akmal that Qari sahibs forthrightness in proposing his matrimonial may have killed any options Akmal may have had depending on how liberally his father felt towards son’s becoming involved in the so-called affair.
    In the light of Islam it would be rather encouraging if the parents adopt the policy of “assisted marriages” over “arranged marriages” and act as the wali (agent) of a girl rather than a custodian, yes the parents do have the right & privilege of applying their wisdom in these affairs however they should also be forthright and forthcoming in politely discussing options and their merits and demerits.

  4. Tina says:

    what is your link or email address, Pervaiz?

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