She could see the snow covered mountain peaks from where she stood in her balcony covered in the sea green woollen shawl that her mother had knitted for her years back. The chilly breeze washed over her, making her shiver. She drew her shawl tighter across the upper half of her body.
Winter had always been her favourite season. The advent of which always left her sneezing her lungs out. She smiled to herself as she leaned over the railing, recalling all the previous times when the cold had caught her. She remembered how her sisters used to tease her when she would be clad in a sweater while everyone went about business as usual. The weather had gotten her lying in her sick bed almost every year of her life.
She loved it anyways.
“Reminiscing?” Her husband asked as he slipped his hands over her swollen waistline.
She leaned back into him, loving the warmth of his body in the harsh, yet beautiful, weather.
“Yes.” she said as she covered his hands with hers over the baby mound.
“Share with me.” It was a request. For her husband, Dr Aswad Muqeem, loved to listen when she told him stories of her past. She knew they held a fascination for him.
Thus, she began talking of the time when she was a little girl who would not come out of the blanket for anything. Almost anything. The school had closed for the winter vacations. Though she had hated school holidays, winter was a time when she appreciated the holidays for the blessing they were for the rest of humankind. She talked of the day when her parents made her come out of her bed by promising her chocolates and books. That was not enough for her though. She had wanted a library with a fire place and a cosy armchair.
Keeping the promise, of getting her wish in the near future, close to her heart, she had ventured out of her bed for her birthday party that had continued in to the dark of night. All her friends and cousins had come over for a sleepover. For hours she had poured her stories in everyone’s ears bringing them to fits of laughter.
Her peer group had always been in awe of her, she recalled. They believed her to be a species apart because she had always had a way with words, weaving them into intricate patterns to give them a life of their own.
And to this talent of hers, and to God, she would forever be thankful as words and her writing was what brought Aswad in her life.
“Enough about my past Doctor sahab1,” she said as she turned in his arms and kissed him deeply. “Good Morning.” She could hear her voice going husky. But this was not the time for all that.
Aswad knew that it was a very special day for his gray eyed wife. Not only was it her birthday, January 1st, but also the launch of her first ever published work. He turned his wife around again and enclosed her within his arms as they both looked out at the snow covered landscape before them.
There were children out there, up at the crack of dawn. Playing in the snow. Some throwing snowballs at each other while some hard at work making snowmen with all the odd bits of pieces sitting obediently at their feet.
He had known Dania Shahzad (she had not changed her surname after marriage to appease the society at large) since nursery school. They were not friends then, though. She had believed him to be the personification of all things evil. All kids were mischievous when young, were they not? Well… everyone but his darling wife. She had always been minding her own business with her nose buried in one book or another. Many a times he had tried to make her see that she was the anomaly, not him. But there has been no winning against her.
With that much animosity between them, they had always been on the opposite sides; a dividing line that was never to be crossed. All that changed when during their O Levels English assignment they were paired together.
It was like a nightmare for them both. The teacher had been adamant about pairing a back bencher with the A-grader. Both of them had requested the teacher individually, and together, to reconsider the pairing but the teacher was determined.
Aswad had even begged, literally begged, to be let off the hook but to no avail. Who could tolerate to be in the presence of Miss Know It All for more than two minutes anyways? And that was how their journey to their ‘Happily Ever After’ had begun.
He still remembered that day when they had first sat down and had a discussion. Yes, a discussion and not a fight.
The assignment was to critically analyse one of Shakespeare’s plays. No choice for them to choose which one because the teacher was the one assigning the pairs a play each.
Before he could dive further in the past, he was brought back to the here and now as his wife shook in his arms. For a second, he was swamped with apprehension as to what may have happened to his wife. She was eight months pregnant with their first child. Soon he realised he need not lose his faculties as she was laughing at the antics of the kids out there.
“What happened?” he whispered in Dania’s ear and bit it for good measure for giving him such a fright.
She moaned, closed her eyes and leaned back more into him.
“The kids out there.” She said.
“What about them?” He asked.
“That girl,” she pointed towards a girl who was trying to wrestle a branch out of a boy’s hand. “And that boy. They’re fighting. Just like we used to.”
“Not really.” He put in as he saw the boy pull the girl’s hair. “We were never in each other’s touching distance, woman. I never pulled your hair.” He looked down at her with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, her face turned towards him while her back was still cuddled to his front. “At least not when we were fighting like cats and dogs.” He said with a lop-sided grin.
She sighed but blushed red as well. He bent his head to taste her lips again. They were simply addictive.
She could drown in the taste of his lips, she thought. But that was an indulgence for some other time; she chided herself in the next moment.
“What were you remembering just now?” She asked him softly.
“What makes you think that I was remembering something?” He countered cockily.
She rolled her eyes. They were always doing that. Trying to best another but they were embedded so deep into the psyche of each other that just a twitch of a muscle was enough to clue the other in on what was on the other’s mind.
“Tell me.” She fluttered her eyelashes and knew that he will be the one rolling his eyes the next instant.
“The first time we considered each other human beings.” He said a bit sheepishly. After all, it was pretty embarrassing that there was a time when both of them were so sure of themselves that they considered themselves to be totally something else. Above mere mortals.
“How stupid were we? Thinking ourselves to be…” She left her statement unsaid. They both knew what she meant.
But they were past all that.
“And today the world will know it too.” There was a smile in his voice as he said it.
So they will, she thought. For the romance that she had finally had had the courage to get published was no fiction. It was the life they had lived, the choices they had made. They have learnt from all their actions and by getting their lives out there in the public eye, they wanted the naive souls out there to learn from their mistakes while they enjoyed the ups and downs of their relationship.
1Sahab: Mister / Sir