Dialogue Times

The Lost Stories

By Fatima Saleem

My paternal aunt was very wise.

She used to say, “It’s not good to hear stories in daytime; travelers forget their way.” I don’t remember any of her stories anymore. If someone tells me a story now, I have to think, “Who has to get lost this time, me or the storyteller?”

A fresh story, sitting right in front of me, was texting with God-knows-who-and-where, using the mobile that I had gifted her.

“When will you marry me?”, she tweeted without lifting her gaze from the screen.

“I will have to talk to my wife”, I forwarded the overused Whatsapp message.

“You…. Why then did you love without asking your wife?”

She troubled only one eye to look at me; the other was incessantly busy with the screen.

“My bad! Next time, I’ll ask her”. Though when asked, she does not even let me be frank with her, yet it was my socio-political as well as ideological right to raise my selfhood.

The reality is that I don’t even have a say in the daily menu at my house.

“By the way, when we began seeing each other, there was no such thing as marriage.”

“I did not trust you then,” she replied, placing her mobile on the table and looking straight into my eyes.

“Now, I don’t trust myself”, I gathered my courage to face the attack of her eyes.

“Reason?”, she did not quit staring.

“I am bald………and gaining weight.” It was my turn to pick my phone. Screw it! Nobody calls on such a complicated occasion.

“What if I think that you are just flirting with me?, she was getting irritated.

“Don’t know”. I gave a half smile. “After all, there are so many new words in relationships nowadays like flirt, affair, friendship; one has to ask the other,’What is it that we are doing?”

My arrogance persisted.

“Marriage is what we are doing!”, she said in a certain tone and carried on with texting; a sign that the meeting was over.

“What time tomorrow?”, I held my cigarettes and car keys.

“Marriage?”, her mouth fell open with surprise.

“No, I am asking about seeing you again. We’ll sit down and decide.”

She went away to the car without answering.

“Anyways, It was never going to get decided”, I thought while driving while was working her fingers on screen like a typist.

An Extract From My Autobiography,” Love is an irritation”- By Saleem Mirza (Translated by Fatima Saleem)

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