My Spinel

Mon, 1979-01-01

Lady Magazine



                         By Mrs. Habeeb.



Gulnar walked into the drawing room and found her parents in earnest conversation with Ali and Farheena.


Ali and Farheena had been her classmates since college days, though she had to leave college when she graduated but Ali and Farheena completed their Masters degree before getting married earlier this year.


“I think it would be very good for Gul.”

“What is it that would be good for me?” asked Gulnar light heartedly.

She was answered almost simultaneously by all of them.


“A trip to Tehran……”


Dawn was hurrying to greet the early risers the cool morning breeze smelt fresh of dew…the warm September night just fading. The group of oddly assorted people had boarded the Tourist bus with its luxurious interior. The tourists impatient to begin their week long trip from Karachi to Tehran.


There was a group of six boys in their late teens accompanied by a young man of twenty five or twenty six. They had spread themselves all over the bus and chatting loudly. An Irani gent and a Pakistani family …a couple with three children. On the rear seats were Ali and Farheena accompanied by Gul.


As the bus started. Gul decided to leave Ali and Farheena alone, leaning back comfortably she closed her eyes.


The boys had noticed that she was the only obviously unattached girl in their group. Hearing their loud comments and conversation. Gul wondered if it was for her benefit…

Most boys cannot resist doing or saying something to attract the attention of the girls! Being no stranger to mixed company, Gul knew the presence of a girl in their midst had the effect of making them self conscious.


In a nice way of course mused Gul….whatever would girls do if their presence left the guys indifferent. However dull or depressed one is…this awareness of a boy having noticed you… warms your heart right away!

What on earth was she doing? Thinking like a love sick teenager wondered Gul. When sometimes she felt very old and mature and at other times felt like this…young and wondering about the future.


It was over two years that she had been a nineteen year old bride. Her dulha a well chosen young man distantly known to the family. All within a matter of a few months she had become from an optimistic bride to a very distressed divorcee.


Why should she have been the victim of this unhappy circumstance? Her bridegroom it turned out had not been allowed to marry the girl of his choice. He had gone back to his love as soon as possible. She hadn’t felt anything for him… ‘I guess he never gave of himself, he had not even asked for her understanding.’ She thought sadly.


He had been watching her, her red chiffon dopatta draped around her hair, resting against the electric blue of the cushioned seat. She looked so small and alone…their eyes met he found her eyes so sad and defenceless…or was this only his imagination …he wondered.


‘Oh well, I should console myself, thought Gul that as a divorcee one does not feel the diffidence of an bachelor girl in mixed company nor worry about the husband thinking you are talked too much to so and so… Hers was an emancipated status, it gave her a comfortable freedom even this trip to Tehran’ she was thinking.


Gul wished that their road trip through West Pakistan would not be too hot and dusty. She wondered how the passengers would mix. To her the tourist bus was like an attractively packed box of assorted chocolates! Even as a child she always had trouble deciding which one to try first...


She opened her eyes to study the back of the heads visible to her and to listen to the voices of her companions, when her eyes met the nicest albeit serious eyes…the unexpectedness of his meeting of their eyes quickened her heartbeat and caused a hot blush to wash over her face.


By nightfall the passengers in the bus felt like one family. Before reaching ‘Pindi Ali had become good friends with Aamir the handsome brown eyed stranger! Gul realised that Aamir rarely addressed her alone, but when she was with them he never failed to include her in the conversation. Even so Gul felt piqued that Ali and Farheena had taken so much to Aamir that she felt left out and the stranger to them!


As the bus speeded on, Gul enjoyed the long hours of allowing her thoughts to stray on untrodden paths, darting in and out of forbidden places sometimes enveloping her in a dreamy stupor and other times causing restlessness! She dwelt on Aamir’s little mannerisms the tone and inflections of his voice… and wondered at the expression in his eyes and the answering beat of her heart! She chided herself ‘My I have certainly noticed a lot about him while nursing my left out feeling’!


Everyone in the bus seemed to have been asleep for hours…Gul could not sleep even though it had been a long day…they had started so early in the morning. They had left Kabul and were going to be driving all night.


Gul could feel the dark quiet darkness all around, the ribbon of a beautiful concrete road in the midst of nothing. She tried settling more comfortably in her seat, hoping to sleep when from the back seat Aamir leaned forward and whispered softly ‘I am wide awake too. May I come in the empty seat next to you?’


‘Yes do’…her voices sounded like a breathless whisper in her own ears she hoped he had not noticed. Aamir was seated so close beside her, with everyone asleep and the stillness of the night outside Gul felt as if the two of them were quite alone in a world of their own! She could feel Aamir’s awareness of her.


He asked softly, ‘What have you been thinking of Gul, you have been restless for the past hour or more’ before she could answer, he continued ‘don’t you feel isolated as if there is no one here except our selves’? ‘That is exactly what I was thinking’! ‘We are kindred souls perhaps?’ ‘I would not know I have never met one before’ she replied. He gave a low gurgle of a laugh and mentioned that he knew from Ali about her marriage.


They seemed in a mood to exchange confidences and life histories till much later there was a comfortable silence and Gul sank into a hazy sleepiness. When Aamir’s hand suddenly brushed hers she was shocked at her own response. The next instant her cool fingers lay tightly clasped in his he said ‘Gul Gul…she looked up but could not hold his gaze but unknowingly clung to his hand.


So wrapped was Gul in her awareness of Aamir that before she realised…Kandahar, Heerat, Islam qila and Tayabad were behind them like dreams in the night! When they reached Meshed Gul realised that now that they were on Irani soil…in another day or so they would be in Tehran …what then? What about Aamir…what was this? Just a meeting of strangers in the night!


Once in Tehran, Ali Farheena and Gul went sightseeing, and shopping  in the bazaars and in the multi storey department Stores enjoyed delicious steak meal in the department store restaurant Feroshgahae Firdausi, they tasted the popular Cheelo kebabs the next day and enjoyed their giant sized bread resembling our own small tandoori roti.


They joined friends and went for a picnic excursion to Shimran and were surprised to meet the large number of people there. Tehran itself has a lovely setting nestling in the valley surrounded by the Alborz Mountains in the distance covered in snow …beautifully picturesque.


They had planned a three stay in Tehran before returning via the Zahidan Quetta route while the other tourist were going to see more of Iran. Aamir had been touring Tehran with his wards; he hardly got time to say more than hello and goodbye to Ali and his companions. On the last day Aamir asked Ali if he could invite Gul to spend the evening with him. Ali and Farheena exchanged looks, Farheena taking the initiative said, ‘Yes Aamir you can ask her I am sure she will go with you.’


Before six o’clock that evening, Aamir in a bold checked jacket of brown and gold teemed with polo necked top in deep brown looked debonair from the top of his dark curly head to the tip of his sleek suede shoes. His masculine good looks bursting with the joy of youth and excitement at his evening plans went to pick up Gul.


Having seen her only in casual dress during their bus trip the sight of her in a Saree a beautiful shade of yellow teemed with a brightly designed Irani manufactured cardigan. Her eyebrows dark and well shaped with false eyelashes added on expertly making her eyes deep pools flecked with gold eye shadow and a sprinkling of tiny diamonds at the outer corner of the eyebrows. A dash of lipstick of a deeper shade than the one she wore in the day she took his away breath.


‘Where shall we go first’ Aamir asked Gul. ‘If there is still time before it closes I’d like to see the Crown jewels’ said Gul excitedly…She had decided that this last evening with Aamir she was going to enjoy every minute with a joyful abandon.


‘That is a lovely idea Gul; I read that it comprises the most dazzling single collection of Jewellery in the world’ Gul laughed merrily, ‘Aamir you sound like an official Guide!’


As they went from Showcase to showcase looking at this fabulous collection, they could feel the history of the jewels unrolling before them…the conquerors, the raiders the Emperors…Kings and Queens collecting, choosing, planning and wearing these gems and robes encrusted with jewels….


Just gazing at these and the ropes of pearls, the exquisite daggers, pens the utensils and sugar bowls…the Crowns girdles, Gekas and trays of precious stones…they felt a part of  that glorious time …the splendour of the Monarchy.


‘Aamir which of these have impressed you the most’ Gul asked her eyes reflecting the excitement and joy evoked by this magnificent display of the Crown Jewels of Iran. He tool her by the hand and stood before the case No.11 where lay the SPINEL weighing 500 carats. This he said is the largest known red precious stone, he said in a most impersonal tone as if giving information.


Aamir had turned her around to face him and with his hands on her shoulders was now saying huskily, ‘I think this is the most beautiful to me, it reminds me of the girl I fell in love with at first sight’ Gul looked up at him wondering her breath quickening as he continued ‘she was in the same shade of red…Gul my Spinel!’ Gul might have given in to the mad impulse to be drawn into his arms and held close against his chest…when the bell and announcement for closing time rang loud…..they broke away…the wonderful moment encased in time like a brilliant Gem.


Driving around the city in a taxi they could not resist getting off at the roundabout of the long and beautiful Elizabeth Boulevard. Later Aamir said let us go and eat at this place I have heard about, I think it is a revolving restaurant….hailing a taxi he asked the driver to go to… ‘Is it Floxsy’ asked Aamir the taxi driver shook his head that he understood….


Sitting high atop the city, sipping coffee after a wonderful meal and a lovely evening spent with Aamir, Gul did not think she ask for anything more. Little did she know that her cup of happiness was to overflow….when Aamir said, ‘Gul I am flying back to Karachi tomorrow’… ‘Tomorrow’ echoed Gul ‘why, you were supposed to be going to Isfahan and Shiraz?’


As if he had not heard her speak he continued, ‘Gul I love you, will you marry me? We will come back to Iran and  visit the lakes the beaches, the mountains and the caves and spend time in Shiraz the city of Wine Roses and Nightingales the home of Saadi and Hafiz….answer me Gul’


‘Aamir…Yes’ sighed Gul so softly it hovered on her lips like dew drops on a rose petal….


…………………End……..LADY Magazine Dec. `78.