Far Too Long
This time, This place
She ran, her heart beating furiously in her chest. His figure . . . ahead of her . . . moving up the path. She struggled, as she attempted to catch up. Opening her mouth, she tried to call out, but she couldn’t catch her breath. Continuing to move up the hill, she silently cursed the taxi driver that had refused to bring her all the way up. But she hadn’t quibbled, knowing that he was near.
Taking those final steps, she reached the top. She heaved a sigh of relief. She was on a plateau, an unexpected building in front of her, a work still in progress. The sun was about to set, the orange and red beginning to spread across the horizon. She shivered in her thin clothes, her body trembling at the cold on top of this hill.
But the important thing was there he was.
“Aahil!” she called out, her heart now in throat.
He turned, his eyes widening in surprise upon seeing her there.
Running to him, she fell into his body, her arms coming around to grasp him close. Her lips landed, almost accidentally, against his neck, left bare by the half-unbuttoned shirt. But the kiss they bestowed on that naked skin was by no means an accident.
It was only when Aahil’s arms cradled her in return, did she finally allow herself to relax.
Too long, Too late
Who was I to make you wait?
He pulled away, and gently grasped her face with both hands. Her hair falling across her face, and her chest heaving from the climb worried him. But it was the wild look in her eyes that worried him the most. Half caressingly, half efficiently, he moved the hair back from her face and cupped her cheeks. He raised an eyebrow in question.
Her eyes fell away, unable to meet the silent questions in those chocolaty brown eyes.
Glancing at her more carefully in the fading light, he could see the stains on her knees. His eyes fell to her hands and saw the scrapes there. “What’s wrong?” he asked in a hushed whisper. “What are you doing here?”
She froze, unsure of what to say.
Shaking his head at asking questions when he should be acting, he swiftly took off the leather jacket he had on, and covered her trembling form with it.
“It’s okay,” she mumbled distractedly. “You don’t have to.”
“I insist,” he said firmly, pulling the jacket close around her.
She snuggled into its warmth, enjoying that for now. Her eyes moved over the scarf he had wrapped around his neck, her eyes widening. A knowing feeling tugged at her senses. “Did you buy the scarf at a small shop at the Dharamshala?” she asked.
He quirked an eyebrow in surprise, and then nodded uncertainly.
She smiled softly. “Why? It’s just a plain, black scarf.”
“There was something about it . . . a scent. I needed to have it,” he answered distractedly, his mind now on the task of cleaning her wounds with the handkerchief he had taken from his pocket. Gently brushing at the scrapes, he murmured soothingly as she gasped in pain.
“What are you doing here?” he repeated, keeping his eyes focused on her hands.
And as before, she froze, unsure of how to answer the question in his eyes and on his lips.
Just one chance
Just one breath
Just in case there’s just one left. . .
“I was coming to your home,” she began weakly. “I couldn’t bear . . .” her voice trailed off.
“What is it?” he asked softly, putting the handkerchief away. “You can tell me anything. How did you know to come here?” He stepped back, letting go of her hand.
“Shaad . . .,” she began, and then stopped. Her hand crept out and grasped his hand, holding tightly when he stiffened. “I’m just so . . .” She shook her head. “I saw you leaving in your car,” she went on quickly. “I needed to talk to you. I followed you here, but the taxi driver dropped me off midway up the hill. I had to run up the hill. And when I go to the top . . . there you were. Here. In this place.” She began to breathe quickly, her words coming out in short bursts, as her anxiety increased.
His eyes crinkled in confusion, going from her hand holding his back to her eyes, which seemed to want to convey something he couldn’t understand.
“Aahil,” she whispered, pulling him close suddenly.
He grunted in surprise, as his body landed against her softness. His arms came around her automatically, holding her close. His hold tightened, settling her against him . . . all rational thought slipping away . . . when he saw her tears.
“It hurts, Aahil,” she murmured. She pushed closer, as if trying to bury herself in him. She inhaled deeply, taking in his scent, savoring his warmth . . . feeling for the first time . . . in the longest time . . . that she was home.
“What hurts?” he asked in a choked tone, his body hardening at her nearness. He couldn’t stop, couldn’t tell himself that she didn’t remember . . . he couldn’t rationalize her closeness or explain that her snuggling against him was for comfort and nothing more.
He wanted to hold on to her and never let go. He groaned softly. He wanted to taste her once more . . . to lay her on the nearest flat surface and bury himself inside of her. His body hardened at that enticing thought. He wanted to be a part of Sanam again. He wanted to so badly. He groaned again, the sound that of a man pushed beyond all endurance.
Reaching up, he placed his hands on her arms, ready to push her away. He knew that if he didn’t do it now, he would not let her go. Not even for her own good.
“No!” she wailed, her arms coming up to wind around his neck. She held on tightly, almost choking him. Her body settled against his once more, and she rubbed herself against his hardness. It was a move that seemed almost instinctual.
He froze. His breath caught in his throat. She had to feel him. And yet . . . there was no reaction. Only a soft sigh of relief.
“What are you doing?” he asked through gritted teeth.
I love you
I have loved you all along
And I miss you
Been far away for far too long
“I love you,” she burst out, the tears continuing to fall. She pulled back and grasped at his collar, twisting it in her agitation.
“I love you, Aahil Raza Ibrahim . . . I just know that I love you, and I can’t keep away any longer. I think about you at all hours of the day or night. Your passion . . . your integrity . . . your caring have taken over my heart completely. It’s you now, only you. There is no room for anyone else,” she said, in a driven tone. “You’re mine. And I’m yours. All yours,” she said on a sigh. She moved forward once more. Reaching up, she cradled his head in her hands and brought him down, meeting his lips with hers.
He exhaled softly, falling into that kiss like a starving man.
‘You’re back. Allah Miyah, my Sanam is back.’
She was back. She’d remembered, and the first thing she had done was run to him . . .even if she was still a bit confused about everything. But she knew she was his, and he was hers.
Silently urging her lips open with a brush of his tongue, he slipped inside, tasting her for the first time in the longest time. Their moments together . . . as they intimately discovered each other . . . had been too, too brief before their separation.
She moaned softly, answering the thrust of his tongue with her own, her body rubbing against his hardness once more. Her arms came up to wind around his neck, her hand clutching the hair at the base of his neck.
He growled softly in the back of his throat, pulling away, to nibble at the skin behind her ear, knowing that she loved that.
On my knees, I’ll ask
Last chance for one last dance
‘Cause with you, I’d withstand
All of hell to hold your hand
“Sanam,” he breathed into her ear, and pulled back to look deeply into her eyes.
Only those eyes were not happy. They were brimming with tears.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, caressing her cheek. “You can tell me anything.”
“I just confessed my love to you,” she whispered. “But you say another woman’s name?” Her voice was brittle, as if one blow . . . one wrong word . . . would shatter her into a million pieces. “Can’t you . . . can’t you forget your first Sanam?” she asked brokenly. “Was the women so wonderful? Can’t you see me? Am I not enough?”
“What?” Aahil asked, pulling away abruptly. “What do you mean?”
“It’s me, Jannat,” she replied, staring at him across the distance that seemed to have sprung up between them. “Moments ago, you were kissing me. You were holding me. You were hearing my confession of love. You accepted me, but you call me another woman’s name?”
“You don’t remember?” he asked in a shocked voice. “You don’t remember,” he repeated, exhaling heavily.
“I don’t want to remember!” she yelled, turning away to stare at the sky . . at the half-built building, which strangely seemed to look like a . . . dhaba? “Not when it would mean me remembering my life with Shaad. I know that he’s my husband, I know that I must have loved him in another life . . . but in this life, this Jannat is only for you,” she admitted in a stricken tone. “I want you and only you. Nothing else matters. I can’t remain in a relationship where there is no love . . . no trust. I can’t stay in a marriage, if I’m not happy. The same goes for you. You’re intent on leaving Nayi Sanam.”
“But . ..”
“So, can’t you forget your memories of your other Sanam, and just choose me?” she asked plaintively, cutting him off. She turned back to gaze at him pleadingly. “Can’t it be me this time?”
Aahil gazed at the woman standing before him. The woman who had run away from her husband to come to . . . him.
“You don’t remember,” he muttered, “But you chose me.” He coughed slightly, trying to clear the lump in his throat.
She walked over and grabbed hold of his face, forcing him to look into her eyes. “My life is extremely messy,” she uttered. “I don’t remember anything. And I am leaving my husband. Even if you don’t want me,” her voice breaking at those words, “I cannot be with a man I do not love. Whatever past I remember, I am willing to leave all of that behind for you.” Her thumb brushed across his lips in a sensual caress.
He closed his eyes at the sensation.
“I love you, Aahil Raza Ibrahim. The question is . . . can you forget your Sanam, and love me in return?”
I’d give it all
I’d give for us
Give anything, but I won’t give up
“I love you,” he whispered, the words falling easily from his lips. There was no doubt. His heart clenched with happiness when he realized the step she had taken.
Despite the all-encompassing love he felt for her, and the joy he had discovered in her arms and in their marriage, he knew that she had been forced to marry him. And despite how happy they had become, he always knew that Sanam had no choice when she tied herself to him in marriage.
A small part of him, that small, insecure part . . . the one that craved a mother’s love . . . and had never gotten it. The part of him that craved a father’s love . . . and got only pain in return. That part of him just knew that his wife had stayed because she was tied to him, and she was the kind of woman who kept her promises.
The part of him that wanted to be chosen for himself . . . loved freely . . . and made to feel that he was worth the effort . . . that part of him had gotten its deepest desire today. He reached out and grabbed her in a hug, his heart thundering in his chest. He buried his face in her neck, inhaling deeply.
She squeaked at the pressure, murmuring something about being unable to breathe.
He ignored her muttering, and cradled her close. Sanam Aahil Raza Ibrahim . . . a woman who hadn’t gotten her memories back, who thought she was married to another . . . and who knew he was married to another . . . that woman had freely chosen him today.
She loved him.
Been far away for far too long . . .
And he would hide the truth no longer. Especially, when the doctors he had secretly consulted over the past week had assured him that she could be told the truth safely. In fact, they said, most likely the false memories were causing her mental distress.
Pulling back quickly so that she stumbled slightly, he smiled at her.
She smiled back tremulously.
Pulling out his wallet, he murmured to her, “I have something to show you.”
She wrinkled her brow in confusion.
Silently urging her to come stand next to him, he opened his wallet.
“Not romantic at all, Mr. Ibrahim,” she murmured, finally looking down at the open wallet and froze. “There’s a picture of me in here!” she yelled in surprise. A picture of her with Aahil. In fact, many pictures of her. She turned to stare at him in shock, her lips falling open.
“My Sanam was always you, Sanam,” he whispered softly. “Let me tell you a story.”