“Let go of the guilt, Taahir. You don’t deserve to hold on to it any longer,” Faiza whispers in his mind.
Part of Taahir resists automatically. He does deserve this weight. He does. But the thought of dropping that weight is intoxicating. His wife’s words run through his mind over and over again.
Faiza had refused to let it go. As she always did. She’d finally worn him down and gotten him to admit it – he was self-destructive at times. He second guessed himself. He put himself last. He punished himself. And she refused to let him keep doing it.
It had taken a while for him to understand. But Faiza had been patient and persistent and now, forgiving himself seemed possible somehow.
An unwilling smile split his face, as he remembered Faiza’s vigorous defence of him. She’d been so animated, throwing her hands up in the air and pacing, even shouting at times.
His stubborn wife had refused to let him cling to the guilt he’d carried for so long, tugging and yanking and nagging.
And he wouldn’t have her any other way.
As though his thoughts had summoned her, Faiza walked into his study. In her hands, she held two forks and a plate with a large slice of cake on it.
She leaned over the desk and handed her burden to him, keeping hold of a single fork.
“What’s this?” Taahir asked her curiously.
“We’re celebrating,” Faiza announced, seating herself on his desk.
Taahir looked enquiringly at her.
“We’re celebrating Taskiya Mansoor coming back into your life.”
“What?” Taahir asked, thoroughly confused.
“I was so furious about what happened, about how gullible I’d been and how conniving she’d been and how miserable you were and then I realized that if she’d never come back, I may never have understood properly. And you may never have finally trusted yourself enough to know that you are strong enough to stick to your morals.”
Taahir snorted, still not completely convinced.
“You are, Taahir,” Faiza insisted.
Taahir said nothing and finally Faiza continued. “I just realized that she helped us. Completely unintentionally, but still. So I thought we should acknowledge that.”
“Yes. It could have been so much worse and in the end it turned out to be helpful. It let me understand you a bit better and, well, I’m grateful for that.”
Taahir lifted a forkful of cake to his mouth. “It’s good,” he told Faiza. “Really good.”
A thought struck him. “You’re not going to go thank her, are you?”
Faiza pretended to think for a moment before giggling and shaking her head. “No way,” she assured him. “Taskiya Mansoor is part of the past and that’s where she’ll stay. For good this time.”