D's Dilemma V
D lost a lot of family in the 8th October earthquake. He lost 4 first cousins and about 30 second cousins, aunts and uncles. He flew in because he wanted to do what he could to help his family there. He didn’t lose anyone close to him, so he was quite calm and collected.
I met him the day he arrived. I went over to his house, glad to see him again, even if it was under such circumstances. He was going over to Muzafferabad the next day. His parents were making arrangements to take lots of food and blankets with them to take to their relatives. I didn’t seem much of him for a few days after that. He said they were probably going to bring back dozens of relatives who lost their homes back to Islamabad so they had a place to stay while they got over their shock. He had really sad stories to tell me – of mothers dying while running to protect their kids, or people being reported alive in a certain hospital only to be found dead underneath the rubble later on. The earthquake has been an enormous tragedy.
In spite of it all, when things settled down, he met up with W and they spent some time together, also happy to be with each other despite the circumstances. I broached the subject of W with D during one of our endless drives throughout Islamabad. He said that it was impossible to bring the topic up now. Not only did his dad just get operated on, but considering the recent earthquake and it’s fallout, it would be extremely insensitive and inappropriate to bring a topic like this up at the time. He was staying in Islamabad for about another two weeks, but he wasn’t going to bring the topic up. He would have to wait another month, at the very least.
So D and I would hang out. He would come to my house almost every day and we’d go out somewhere. Sometimes we’d pick W up as well and we’d all go out for a drive and a bite to eat.
About a week before he was due to leave, D called me up and told me he was coming over in 5 minutes. He picked me up and I immediately sensed something was wrong. He looked as if he had been crying. Not a good sign. He drove quickly to the markez nearby and got out of the car to get cigarettes. D had quit smoking about 10 times since he first got hooked. I kept pestering him to quit and he did, not because I told him to, but because W did. He’d quit and then start up again later, usually when something went wrong. He was not smoking when he came to Pakistan, so when he got out of the car to get cigarettes, I knew something was up. I got out of the car too and waited quietly for him to walk back with his cigarettes to tell me what had happened.
“It’s over man. This time it’s really over.” He said, unwrapping his cigarettes.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Her father found out about the phone call.”
“What phone call?”
“The one my Dad gave her. The one where he told her to forget all about me and that it wasn’t ever going to happen.”
“Shit!” I said simply. “How did he react? Who told him?”
“I think W’s mother told him about it. Anyway, he got really pissed off and wanted to know my dad’s number so he could call him up and give him a piece of his mind. He was really angry that someone called his daughter up and talked to her like that.”
He took another puff from his cigarette.
“So you think all that smoking is going to solve your problems?” I asked him sardonically. He laughed sheepishly despite himself, as he always did when I brought this topic up.
“Anyway, W’s mother managed to calm him down somewhat and he said that he would sleep on it. The next morning he sat downs with W and tells her to drop the whole thing. He ordered
her to drop it, and he’s not the type who will tolerate his orders being disobeyed. He told her that the boy’s family will never accept you if they’re saying such things at this stage, and that he would never ever
allow his daughter to enter a home where she might be miserable or treated like a reject.”
I took this in and was quiet for a moment.
“I can’t blame him,” I said at last.
“Yeah, neither can I.” He replied. “I’d do the same thing.”
“So what now?” I asked.
“I don’t know, man. I don’t know.”