This story is in continuation of another one. Both of them can be read in isolation, but reading both would be better:
Zohaib opened his eyes to a gloomy day.
It was always gloomy. The clouds did that. It was always raining.
He reached into his rucksack and read her letter again. It had been six months and he hadn’t replied.
Lieutenant Kabir walked in.
” You are reading that again? ”
Zohaib ignored him.
” I don’t get you man. One minute, you are all into her. The next, you treat her like she doesn’t exist. What did you expect? That she would wait for you? ”
Kabir shot him a disgusted look and walked out.
Zohaib stared at the ground, replaying the last time he saw her in his mind. Finally, he had been able to go home after serving for a year in the African subcontinent.
(A few months ago):
She’d opened the door with a smile on her face. They had gone out for dinner and then a quiet walk on the beach. He’d tried to hold her hand. She’d protested at first and then yielded. The sound of the waves was oddly soothing. Her fingers were entwined in his.
They sat down in a secluded spot. She was quiet, he liked that about her. He didn’t like women who indulged in mindless chit – chat.
” Shehnaz, I can’t do this.” He finally spoke. He couldn’t look at her, he was too much of a coward.
She didn’t reply for a few minutes.
” Okay. I kind of guessed you wouldn’t.”
Her voice was strong; she looked him square in the eye.
” I’m sorry. I don’t think I can ever love anyone.”
” Forget it, Zohaib. I don’t want excuses. I’m done waiting for you.”
He tried to hold her hand but she smacked it away.
” I thought you would be different. Weren’t you the one who wanted me to wait? Anyway, you made your point.”
She got up. ” Let’s go.”
Her letter had been a bit of a shocker.
Simply put, she was engaged to be married.
Half of him wanted to write to her, ask her to change her mind.
But he didn’t. Something had changed in him. Maybe it was the Goddamn place. Maybe it was the fact that he’d been forced to watch innocent people die. Maybe it was because he’d killed another man and see the life drain out of his eyes.
He was tired. He closed his eyes. He was too far gone. It was too late.