Taskiya Mansoor had been stylish and sophisticated, one of the most popular girls around. She was beautiful, with long hair and grey contact lenses which she wore religiously. Taskiya was always poised and perfectly put together.
Taahir adored her. He’d met Taskiya at a party one day and had promptly fallen head over heels for her.
Taskiya hadn’t paid him much attention at the beginning, but as time went by, she’d become nicer, smiling at him and greeting him when they saw one another in classes.
Taahir’s infatuation grew with every day that passed. Soon, he found himself looking for Taskiya during classes and watching her instead of paying attention to his lecturers.
When he finally got up the courage to speak to her about his feelings, she’d smiled at him and confessed that she’d been waiting for him to admit his feelings.
Taahir had tried hard to do things decently and begged Taskiya more than once to let him speak to their parents but she refused every time. She insisted that she wasn’t ready and she needed more time. When that excuse stopped working, she resorted to threatening to leave Taahir whenever he brought it up.
He’d reluctantly let it go, unable to tolerate not being with her. The secrecy took its toll on him, and he reacted by withdrawing into himself and not confiding in anyone because he knew what he was doing was wrong.
The day he’d finally had enough and issued Taskiya an ultimatum – be with him openly and announce an engagement or end their relationship, she laughed in his face and mocked his gullibility.
“I was never going to marry you!” she shouted in his face. “You were nothing more than a bit of fun! God, Taahir, how stupid can you be?”
What had hurt even more than hearing Taskiya admit the truth was seeing her with another man barely a week after they’d had their final fight.
Taahir had been shattered by the whole situation. He’d thrown himself into his studies and, after telling his parents the whole sordid tale, refused to even think about Taskiya again. His only comfort was the fact that he’d refused to touch Taskiya, despite her attempts to convince him.
He’d vowed after Taskiya to never let himself get trapped that way again – to always be careful and never let his emotions get the best of him.
He’d failed royally.
His feelings for Faiza were far deeper than the infatuation he’d felt for Taskiya.
The carefully cared-for armour he’d built around himself for the past six years had been useless against Faiza. His plans to simply treat her like a friend were in shreds.
He badly needed to get back control but he had no idea how. Hurting her by being careless with the way he spoke had become unacceptable – he couldn’t imagine trying to distance himself from her.
Ya Allah, what do I do? Someone tell me how to fix this mess!
Faiza heard the front door opening and ran to meet Taahir. She stopped short at the sight of him. He looked terrible. His clothes were rumpled and he was slouched against the doorframe. His expression tugged at her heart. He looked so lost.
She threw herself at him, folding her arms around his waist. It was the first time she’d had so much contact with him and she absent-mindedly noted that he was in very good shape even as she worried over his state.
Faiza snuck a look up at Taahir, trying to gauge his reaction. He hadn’t reacted to her impulsive hug and she began to pull away in embarrassment when he tightened his own arms around her.
She startled and then lay her head on his shoulder with a smile.
After a few minutes of the two of them standing together in the door, Taahir’s stomach growled loudly, ending the moment.
Faiza giggled. “Time for supper?” she asked.
Taahir nodded sheepishly and she dashed into the kitchen, ordering him to just sit and wait and the food would be ready in just a minute.
They were halfway through their meal before Taahir spoke for the first time. “Faiza…” he started. “I need to tell you some things. They’re not – they’re not nice things. I don’t even know where to start with everything…” he trailed off.
Faiza reached out and took hold of his hand. “Taahir, I know whatever it is, it’s serious. If not, you wouldn’t have reacted like this. I can’t promise that everything will be fine after today. But I promise that I won’t judge you for sharing and for being brave enough to not hide this from me.”
“I – I don’t know what to say to that…” he admitted. “The stuff that I did… I wouldn’t blame you if you were disgusted with me. It -”
Seeing an opportunity to reassure her husband, Faiza grabbed it. “I can promise you that I won’t be disgusted with you. I might hate what you have done but I can see that you regret what you did and I have faith that whatever it is, you won’t do it again. And I can promise you that I won’t ask for a divorce.”
Taahir gaped at Faiza. The thought of her asking for a divorce hadn’t even crossed his mind. But why wouldn’t she? He’d done something terrible, after all.
But… she’d said she wouldn’t. Could he trust that?
Looking into Faiza’s eyes, Taahir decided that yes, he could trust her.
He opened his mouth and poured out everything. He told Faiza about Taskiya in far more detail than he’d gone into with his parents. He couldn’t seem to stop speaking once he’d started and everything just poured out – the guilt that he’d felt lying, the hurt and rage that had come when she told him the truth, the shame that he’d carried since then.
When he was done, he looked at her anxiously, waiting for her judgement. She looked furious. He watched as she got up from the table, his heart in his mouth. This was going to be bad, he knew.