CHAPTER 26

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CHAPTER 26
Things had been good for everyone. School was more serious than ever but Zinar was pulling it off. Amna and Nafisa had gone back to school. Things for Ahmad seemed even better, work as hectic but also great, the girl that he had been chasing for about three years was his wife except he didn't get to go home and meet her. They spoke every other day and somehow it didn't irritate Zinar. They went out on casual meals and strolls. It had been a decent month. Zinar had visited her mother in law and Yusra once each. Khalid and Amir were mostly busy with work. Khalid had not spoken to Amina since he fought a good fight to get her father to change his mind but the stubborn old man never agreed. It had been three months since her father told him that she was betrothed and he had accepted faith, he was certain she was married by then or at least engaged. He tapped send on his phone sending a rain check to his friend Tariq who he was supposed to meet for launch that afternoon. He seemed to be doing so lately, avoiding people. Tariq was always trying to get him to move on and get some other girl like it was that easy but he preferred to dwell on the pile of drawing sheets and blueprints on his desk. He checked the time and it was past six, he hadn't even prayed Maghrib. He liked it when time moved fast, the faster time moved the faster he would get over Amina. That was the idea. He prayed before heading home. Nooran crushed onto him on the staircase almost causing them both to fall.

"I rescued the princess" she yelled breathing heavily. He squinted as though he couldn't believe her. He and Amir had dared her and Kamal to rescue the princess in Super Mario in exchange for a thing they each wanted.

"Kids nowadays only know candy crush" Amir had said.

She pulled him to the screen to show him her achievement.

"Wow, how many trials did it take" he smiled. He didn't even have the strength for enthusiasms but he had to pretend for this little one, he didn't want her asking questions.

"So did you do it alone or with Kamal"

"Alone," she said boastfully "Now this is my list" she handed him

"List? Whoa! no" he shook his head

"You said whatever I want," she said sassily

"One thing" he defended. She was too clever for her age. The plan was to rescue the princess together with Kamal and each gets one thing but they decided to do it solo each getting something from both Khalid and Amir separately.

She bargained five things from the list and he agreed.

He went to his room to clean up and greeted his parents afterwards. He went to where Nooran was and found Kamal playing grand theft vice city. He sat down with his plate gisting with his siblings. He scrolled down his contact to call Amir and tell him about Nooran's request. He always felt like there was something missing in his contact, he had deleted every message and mail, her phone number, everything from his systems which Amir made sure had happened. He pushed the thought away as much as he could concentrating on the challenge Kamal had landed his way.

"How are you doing," Zinar asked him two days after. He had come to her school to meet a friend and after so grabbed lunch with her. They had barely spoken about Amina since the turn down. She didn't want to push him seeing he always changed the topic. She understood he was a man and showing pain was regarded vulnerability though it is wrong that was society's pitch. Men had to be strong and become stones to pain, It was very unhealthy. She could see his pain tailing his smile while he pretended he was fine.

"You know its ok to be mad a little, its ok to let the pain in, walk through it and get out of It." she said and he cracked a smile. She knew he was going to make a pun out of it or just change the topic. "You don't have to talk to me but you have to let it all in. Feel the pain, the anger, just don't let it leave you broken." She smiled. "So, what's up with work" she changed the topic, her voice sounding playful.

"Work?" his voice came out husky. What she said got to him. He had pushed away the pain afraid that it would make him weak. "Ah?" he cleared his voice "Work is fine" he finally said more composed. He was glad Zinar was not just his friend but also technically his sister. She was a good person, not particularly always nice but she was good. She cared about people under that badass carefree sometimes-mean person pose.

They caught up with each other on the two weeks they barely spoke. She told him about the test she was having in a few weeks.

"Its literarily everything from the past four years full on. MCQs, essays, orals, short answers probably true or false" she chuckled sipping her electric blue.

"It sounds intense. You seem excited"

"Well good thing is its not part of the school curriculum, it's an elective. If I don't make it no fuss no muss but in Sha Allah I will make it" she close her eyes saying the last part "The gain is I get to add it on my credentials when I pass boosting by GPA."

They talked some more before they wend their separate destination.

Khalid took Zinar's advice on letting himself feel and weirdly enough he was feeling better. He realized he had so much anger towards himself for not meeting her father earlier, may if he had met her father from the beginning before his feelings became strong the turndown might not be as painful he thought. He hated her father for being so arrogant and selfish. How can he decide her faith because he had the power? As a father the least he could do was make sure his daughter was happy. No, for Amina's father his image and integrity was everything. "If she let herself she can be happy with the husband I chose for her. I am her father, I know best and my decision is final" he had told Khalid when he went to convince him to change his mind. On that day Khalid saw Amina for the last time, he told her how it was a decree from Allah, how things would be better. He told her to be happy and have a blissful marriage life before he left. He didn't even believe most of what he said but he knew he had to be the stronger one at least in front of her. It felt like losing a body part except everything else screamed, the pain was extreme but he had to let her go and honestly pray for her happiness.

He went down to get some chips. He was on his way back to his room when he heard Ahmad's voice and his mother's. He walked backwards to where the voice was coming from but his phone started vibrating, it was work so he walked to his room to answer.

"You look better," Ahmad said piecing his gaze through Khalid.

"Well, I am," he said honestly. "How are things going with Mrs Ahmad" he smirked.

"Things are great." He grinned

"Look at you all love struck. Zinar has really done a number on you"

"Give me that" he jerked the bag of chips from his grasp. Khalid continued to tease him on and off as they talked about random things and played video games. He was truly happy everyone could see that. Zinar was an exceptional woman and he was proud to call her his. They were still on the getting to know each other level. Though it felt like she sometimes held back. Or maybe she still wasn't entirely comfortable. She was still getting used to being called Mrs Or leaving her phone on all day or having to call her husband after seeing his missed calls or having to stop herself from doing some crazy single girls shit with her friends in public. She was still learning, though she still didn't always reply his message and chats.

"You don't like messages do you," he asked when he noticed she sometimes didn't reply him.

"It's not like that" he raised his brow "Phones and I are complicated"

"Wow," he chuckled "that's the first". He had noticed how she wasn't always with her phone when they went out.

He picked up his phone and texted her before going back to their game. He left Khalid after Isha prayer and went home. He dialled Zinar's number when he came out of the shower but it went to voicemail again, it was the third time he had called her since he got back. He dropped the phone on a drawer knowing that she must have switched off her phone.
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