Locked into her own inhibitions, Aayat was super anxious about her results the next morning. CBSE had announced the decided final date and time to release the much-awaited board exam results for class 10th and 12th. Besides the preparations for Rishi’s birthday, she had kept an eagle eye on CBSE’s every move. It was very unlikely that she would not score good but she had expectations as high as the clouds. After the last meal of the day, she went to her bed but sleep was miles away. Her Dad, Noraiz Shaikh was confident about her result and had even told her in advance that he would throw a party at his house. Everybody in the Shaikh family was confident about Aayat’s results but her last-minute anxiety was way too much to handle. In fact, Rishi too had texted to tell her that she needn’t worry about the result. She, being Aayat, listened to everybody but spoke to no one. She went into a quiet hibernating mode as if she was Saving her energy. Even on the dinner table, she was very quiet and was consumed in her own thoughts.
“Aayat pass me that bowl.” Said her mother while Aayat moved the spoon in her plate absentmindedly, staring into oblivion.
“Aaaayaaatt !!” Her mother had to call her name thrice to get her attention.
“Yes! Yes mom”
“Kya hogaya Aayat?? Itna sochne ki Zaroorat nahi hai…Sirf ek result ke liye itna pareshan nahi hote!! Tune acha hi karna hai!! Ab khaana khaa aram se” (What happened to you Aayat ? You don’t have to think so much for it’s just a result. And you’ll anyways do good. Now don’t worry and eat your food).
During the course of her exams, Aayat’s mother, Farah used to be awake the whole night making tea for her and teaching her certain topics. Farah was a government school teacher before marriage happened. She had been teaching her kids ever since they were in the pre-primary class. For Aayat, Farah was more than her life.
That night, Aayat went to bed with a heavy heart, filled with anxiety and fear. Fear, of not achieving her years old dream; Fear of not being happy tomorrow while the rest of the world would be.
“Heyyy !! Don’t worry ok. U’ll do good. I knw. Take care and sleep now.”
Aayat lifted her phone to see Rishi’s last message that he had sent an hour back. She didn’t reply to it.
“I dnt know Rishi. I’m so nervous. Can’t handle it. I feel I’m gng to get evaporated any moment. Wht do I do?”
She replied with trembling hands.
“C’mon Aayat ! We knw u !! U’r going to be proud of urself tmrw. Just wait and watch. I’ve full faith in u … Luv u”
It didn’t matter what anyone said, but when Rishi said the same thing she felt light. At least after reading his text, her hands stopped shivering. She set an alarm to wake up by 5 am. It was because her classmate, Athar, called up in the evening to tell her that the result usually comes out on unexpected timings. He seemed to have all the prior knowledge about admissions, results and schools as he had an elder sister who gave her board exams 2 years back. He seemed to have seen everything from very close. That’s why he became the guiding light for the rest of her class. He said it would be out early morning. Aayat was so nervous to check the expected time herself. She believed him. He too was nervous and hence dumped a big portion of his nervousness into Aayat’s head.
Aayat, instead of texting Rishi back, kept her phone aside and recited some verses of the Holy Book, Quraan Shareef. She covered her head with a scarf and prayed in her heart. A tear escaped the corner of her left eye while doing so. She wanted to feel the best tomorrow. She wished to get the reward for her hard work.
Hours of twisting and turning in bed, Aayat finally decided to get up and looked at her watch. The clock showed 4:05 am. Last night Aayat force-fed sleep to her eyes, yet she couldn’t get any. Removing the quilt off her tired body, she went to the kitchen. As she closed the door of the fridge after pulling out a water bottle her eyes moved to those few lines of a song which she had placed on the front door of the fridge a week back.
“Teri wo Raftaar ho, roke se bhi tu na ruke
Haasil kar Aisa Shikhar, Parbat ki bhi nazrein uthen…”
Reading those lines suddenly just disappeared all her nervousness. The song reminded her of all the hard work she had put in a few months back. How she kept herself submerged under books for hours. She recalled how hard she studied this time and there was nothing which could hold her back from achieving what she wanted. All of a sudden her apprehensions seemed to be too tiny to engulf her confidence that she got reminiscing about her hardworking times. With a confident smile pasted on her lips, she moved out of the kitchen.
That day, she watched the light yellowish-orange yolk-like sun oozing out from behind the clouds. Keeping the glass mug aside at the platform outside in the verandah, she stared back into the sun with such grace and confidence like she never did before. It was one of those times when you know you’ve evolved way above to your own imagination. Leaving behind the fear and anxiety was a new Aayat who was confident about her wished outcome and who was strong enough to accept the bitter realities if in any case, she doesn’t get what she prayed for. She was confident about herself yet prepared for whatever was coming her way. She knew she had to fly really high and just one result couldn’t snatch her dreams away.
Roll no. : 9669492
Date of Birth: 25.1.1997
She entered her roll no. and Date of birth as the online portal asked. It was 9:30 am when the website finally showed some sign of progress. She had spent the last four and half hours sitting in front of her laptop clicking all the possible results the search engine gave her. At times, she would Google random words to see if they would bring her somewhere near the result or not. Finally, her wait was over. While she fixed herself in front of the laptop screen, her mom and Dad were in the other room enjoying their morning tea together.
“Hamari Beti ka board ka result aa Raha hai Noraiz. Uske paas chal kar baithte hain. Wo waise bhi kal se bohot pareshan hai”. (Our daughter’s boards result is coming today Noraiz. Let’s go and sit with her. She is so tensed since yesterday.) Aayat’s mother said to her husband, who was sitting beside her on the bed with a cup of his morning tea. A rimmed spectacle sat on his nose and as he watched his wife from behind his glasses he smiled.
“Farah …” He paused for a few seconds and then continued.”I know my Aayat. She can be tensed, you too can be tensed but I am not. I have seen her working day and night without letting even a bit of exasperation fall in her eyes. I’ve known her more than you or in fact anybody for that matter. Therefore this result hardly determines her skills and abilities. She’s way beyond all our expectations combined. Aaj tum khud dekh lena (you’ll see yourself today)”.
Farah nodded, thoughtfully taking the last gulp of tea from her cup.
“Mummyyyyyy…y.y.y” Aayat shouted from the other room and her mom ran straight to her. She thought Aayat had fallen down.
Inside the room, her daughter peered into the depths of her laptop screen without looking anywhere. There was an eerie silence surrounding them. Farah, seeing her daughter in that zone knew that her result is probably out but she might have not achieved her dreams. In her mind, she had already prepared what she had to say to console her. After all, she was a mother and she cannot leave her kid in the middle of her shattered dreams.
“Koi baat nahi beta. Result se fark nahi padta Aayat. Tujhe science stream mil jayegi.” (It’s okay baby. The result doesn’t matter. You’ll get science stream).
Her mother said to console her after she saw the horrific expressions on her face.
“Mom…This…Result…9…5….%…I…I don’t know. This…My…” If she was not under the stress of the result, Farah would’ve definitely thought that her daughter started stammering. Not one sentence fell off her lips and she didn’t looked up from the screen yet.
“Pata nahi kya bol Rahi hai tu. Tu uth mujhe dekhne de kya aaya hai” (I don’t understand what are you saying. Get up, let me see). Aayat’s mom shifted her aside and now the laptop was in her lap. As she kept it on her thighs she realised it’s been burning for hours.
“Ya Allah. Ye laptop itna garam Kyun hai” (Oh God !! Why is this laptop burning!!)
She said without looking at the screen.
“You scored 95%????” Her mom exclaimed in disbelief. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
There was a sudden rush of overwhelming happiness in her eyes and she hugged her daughter immediately. Finally, Aayat laughed too. She was so happy seeing what she had done. After so many days of nervousness, thrill and excitement, she couldn’t believe that she had achieved it.
“Papaaaaa….aaaa..aaaaaaaa” she shouted so loudly that it almost shook her neighbour out of sleep.
Noriaz Shaikh came inside the room. He didn’t need to hear anything. The happiness on the faces of his daughter and his wife explained everything.
Aayat jumped out of the bed and hugged her father. Suddenly the entire atmosphere went vibrant with happiness and cheer. Listening to all the voices of her family, filled with great zeal and energy, Aayat’s grandmother walked up the stairs to witness the iconic moment herself.
“Ammi Aayat ne apna school top Kiya hai ” (Mom, Aayat topped her school)
Noraiz told his mother and asked her to sit down.
“Masha’Allah !! Mujhe to pata tha mera baccha kar lega ye” (I knew my child would achieve it).
She kept her hand on her granddaughter’s head and blessed her. She was happy too.
Noraiz called up their relatives and told them about the victory they had experienced. When a child in the family achieves something, it’s not the only achievement of the child, but of the entire family. Chest swelled up with pride, he walked outside his house. Probably to get some sweets. It was so amazing that the tensed atmosphere surrounding their house a day before has suddenly turned into a festive mode. Loud and cheerful voices could be heard even outside their house and even the neighbours got to know about it. Everybody congratulated Noraiz on his way to the confectionary shop. Happiness was clearly visible in his eyes and even while driving his scooty, there was a satisfactory smile on his face.
“Noraiz Bhai !! Mithai khialana mat bhoolna” ( Noraiz !! Don’t forget to treat us with sweets). Shouted one of Noraiz’s friend who lived next door as his scooty passed him leaving behind the dust.
“Arey Haan Haan ! InshaAllah” (Yes Yes !! Of course I will). He said and finally disappeared from the curve.
Meanwhile, Aayat was getting so many phone calls from her friends and everybody congratulated her. She became the talk of the day. Never before she experienced such limelight. To her Surprise, she was enjoying it. Keeping aside everybody, Aayat finally made a call from her personal cell phone.
“I got 95%.” Skipping the formalities of Hi Hello, she came straight to the point.
“Oh My God !! Congratulations Babu!! I knew it. I just knew it. I told you. I’m so happy for you.” Rishi’s enthusiastic voice and applauds for Aayat brought her happiness to another level. In moments like these, Aayat felt blessed to have found someone to share her happiness. It was a brief call after which she had to hung up as everybody was calling her to other phones. So many calls were lined up for her. A number of them were on waiting, all of them from her friends and relatives.
“Go go… Mom’s Calling you. Talk to everybody. It’s your time your moment. Make the most of it. Enjoy your time Aayat Shaikh.” Rishi said as he overhead Farah Calling out for Aayat.
“How about Aayat Rishi Gujral!!!” She said to tease him and winked. Though the conversation was happening over an old-fashioned Nokia cell phone, the naughtiness was clearly visible in her voice.
Rishi said nothing, just laughed with her.
“Coming!!!” Aayat said to her mother and hung up the call.
Everybody in the family was so excited. Adeen and Aarzoo went around Aayat to ask for a party.
“Arey de dungi party yaar. Pareshan na karo ab tum dono” (I’ll give you a party promise. Now stop annoying me). Aayat said to Aarzoo while holding her younger brother in her arms. Adeen was very tiny and loved her sister too much. He loved her because Aayat cooked his favourite dishes and even that too which his mom didn’t. So every time he had to eat something good, he knew whom to approach.
In the middle of a phone call to her aunt, Aayat’s cell phone vibrated once again.
Love makes changes in your life. And despite being small, these changes are important. One is to keep your phone on silent always. No matter how trivial it sounds but your phone shouting loud on a general profile is a big risk and you must not get into trouble because of that. Second, you must never save the special number with a special name. It can be caught. The contacts should be saved with a normal common name so that they are not highlighted. Third, your sent messages should always be nil apart from one or two work-related messages. The entire blank folder can give birth to doubts. However, the folder should be robbed of any I Love u’s and mane made <3.
Given that Aayat owned a relic phone which provided only basic features, she could only do so much. She was well aware of her mother’s strong espionage instincts and her love for Ibn-e-Safi’s novels. She didn’t doubt it.
She picked up her phone in the third ring.
“Heyy !! Mom wants to talk to you. I told her I had to congratulate you and hence took your number from Zuly.” Rishi said from the other side of the phone. He handed over the phone to his mom.
“Hello, aunty…Namaste!!” Aayat greeted Gayatri aunty with a cheerful voice.
“Namaste beti!! Bohot bohot Mubarak tumko… Bohot Khushi Hui beta tumhare number sun ke” (many many congratulations dear. We’re so happy to hear about your result).
“Thank you so much, aunty…I still can’t believe this actually happened!!!” Aayat exclaimed in her little squirrel voice.
“No no…Believe it dear. You deserve it”. Rishi’s mom said expressing her happiness for Aayat.
She even spoke to Aayat’s mother and grandmother after Aayat. Everybody showed their happiness and Aayat’s mother enjoyed the incoming love and importance!
Bringing the printout of her result to meeting her school teachers, the day was running really busy for Aayat. A local newspaper approached her and took her interview. The school was happy about it. Because of Aayat, the school was highlighted too.
Everything was going great. Later, that night when Rishi called her, she couldn’t keep quiet. She kept on talking and talking and spoke her heart out.
Rishi was happy seeing her that way.
“Papa’s going to throw a party at our house. And you have to come. You know that would be a nice excuse for you to meet them.” Aayat said in the middle of her unending conversation.
“No Aayat. I won’t come. If you want I can send Shikha and Chavi but I won’t come.” Rishi pushed the thought away even before considering it.
“Why not !!! Don’t you want to meet my family ?? Don’t you want to meet me?”
“I want to but not when I am not settled in my life. I need to achieve a lot before I meet your parents and moreover, it would look a little odd if I come to your house. According to everybody, we do not share any bond. It would definitely look weird. More because even Zuly is out of station.”
“Hmmm…” Aayat had to agree as Rishi had a point.
“But we’ll meet the day after tomorrow, as planned. Right?” Rishi asked her when she was absorbing what he had said a minute before.
“Oh !! No no. I don’t think so. Actually, mom has invited some guests home. And I would be busy. Sorry Babu”
Aayat lied. She had to in order to get her plan at work. She had been constantly in touch with Vikram regarding his birthday arrangements. It was decided that Vikram would meet her on his bday at the decided destination. Arrangements were done and everything else was finalized too. She was very excited. Aayat had a big surprise for him. It’s going to be the best bday of his life …
“Ohh it’s Okay !! We’ll meet some other day.”
Aayat laughed inside.
Rishi Gujral, Just wait and watch. She thought.
“Koi Haseen khwab meri aankhon mein utar aaya ho jaise … Ye timtimate Taare ye Chand ki Khamosh roshni ye aasmaan par chalte jugnoo … Ek mein hun aur ek tum ho … Ham do alag ghar hain , ham do alag rang hain … Hamari zindgi hamari maut kuch Mukhtalif nahi … Jab saath Hain to jeete hain, door hain to jaise khwar … Sar-e-aam apni Mohobbat Ko ruswa nahi karte , Hum door kahin ek Parbat ki oonchi choti par Aag jalaye baithe hain … Hum Sab kuch bhulaye baithe hain … Bhool jaane se zindgi to nahi chalti… bhool jaane se wapsi asaan to nahi Ho jaati … Bhool jaane se koi umeed koi khwahish koi Chahat mukammal to nahi hoti … Kisi bhi baat Ko bhula Dena uska wajood khatm nahi karta … Uske tootne se Milne wale Dard Ko bhi Kam nahi karta. .. Bhool jaane se aane wali zindgi asaan nahi Hoti … Bhool jaane se sirf takleef tal jaati hai … Lekin wapas Laut kar aati zaroor hai …”