Tragic Thrillers

  • 28 Jan - 03 Feb, 2023
  • Salaar Laghari
  • Fiction

Umer while sitting kept two short stories ahead of himself and stated:

“Let’s consider an experiment here. I will read the two stories side by side and see if I can stay engaged.”

He first started reading the story put on his right hand side:

Present Day

At the Karachi’s Mental Hospital for Women, three students of psychology were following their professor. Professor Zeeshan Akbar was a psychologist who was helping his three female students with their report on some disease.

They stopped outside a room. The keeper of the room opened the lock on Professor Zeeshan’s request. The three students looked inside the room. A fine looking woman was sitting on her bed. Her clothes were very dirty and she seemed extremely upset.

“Her name is Omama Hami,” the professor said. “She’s one of those patients.”

“But she seems absolutely okay,” one of the students responded.

“I know, but she’s not. You’ll learn about her condition.”

Next minute, they were walking in the corridor until they stopped outside another room. The shutter of the room was already open and so the professor asked them to take a glance at another patient. She was a woman of the same age as the previous one.

“Her name is Farheen Abidi,” the professor stated.

This woman seemed ill as her eyes were closed and her mouth was open with saliva dropping out.

Anyways, the psychologist and the three students walked past that room and then stopped outside the third room. The keeper of the room opened the lock and allowed all of them to see inside of that room. This third patient also had on very dirty clothes as were her hair. It seemed as if she hadn’t bathed in quite a long time.

“What’s her name?” one of the students asked.

“Shehla Mohsin…” the professor replied, “she has the same disease as the previous two patients had.”


“Yes, anyways, we have one last patient left…”

They walked a little farther this time until they stopped and saw a mentally ill woman being dragged by two nurses.

“It’s her,” Professor Zeeshan spoke while recognising the patient’s face, “her name is Eruj Noor and she is suffering from the same mental illness as Farheen, Omama and Shehla.”

The ill woman was trying to speak something but was stuttering. They all paid attention to her words, she spoke:

“It’s easier to hate than to love…”

They got surprised as they heard wise words from an insane woman.

“Were they sane before they got this disease?” one of the students asked.

“Yes, they all were completely fine. They were perfectly normal and healthy women. In fact, some of them had children too.”

“So, what happened to them?”

“Let’s go out,” the psychologist suggested. “I’ll explain everything at the canteen outside.”

Several minutes later, as the three students and their professor were sitting together at the canteen, one of the students asked:

“So, who did this to these women?”

“In my opinion,” Professor Zeeshan replied while having a sip of water, “the guy who is responsible for their conditions was Zubair Karwani.”

“Zubair?” the student repeated. “And who was he?”

The professor did not answer. He changed the subject:

“Anyways, you should read lives of these women in order to find out how perfectly sane they were.”

They talked for a while until the waiter showed up and asked for their order.


Three Months Earlier

I was waiting outside Omama’s apartment. She came and answered the door. She was a perfectly healthy and normal woman. She was twenty three years old. As she looked at me, she spoke:

“Sorry for being late Saad.”

“It’s okay,” I replied kindly, “are you ready now?”

“Yes I am, let’s go,” she said stepping outside and shutting the door.

Next minute, she was driving her car and I was sitting right next to her.

“Once again Omama,” I said looking at her, “thank you for this treat.”

She chuckled courteously and spoke:

“Anytime Saad… You’re my only friend. Who else would I share these moments with?”

I smiled but did not answer.

Thirty minutes later, Omama and I were inside the cinema theatre. We were watching some movie while seated next to each other. The movie was getting quite boring. We both were losing interest, so looking at me and trying to cheer me up she asked me:

“So, how’s your family business going?”

“Uh… It’s good, actually quite successful.”

“So, you are the owner of that construction company?”

“Yes, my father was but he made me the owner before he passed away.”

We talked and the movie kept on going. But we were enjoying each other’s company.


Next morning, I was at the supermarket delivering important files to my boss. And then, I was instructed to do another task. In the meantime, Eruj, a forty year old woman came along with her 10 years old son. She stood right in front of me.

“Hi, how are you?” seeing her I got delighted.

“We’re good, what about you Abdullah?”

“I’m also fine, I wasn’t expecting you today.”

“Well, to be honest, I came here for you.”

“That’s so kind of you, ma’am, but right now, I’m a bit engaged with work. Can we meet after one o’clock?”

“Will they leave you after one?” she asked getting a bit surprised.

“Well, there are plenty of clerks here to take on my shift.”

“Working as a clerk is easy for you isn’t it?”

“Yes, indeed.”

As I continued my task, she waited for me till one o’clock. Till then, I got the day off and left with her.


That week’s Wednesday, during afternoon, I went to Farheen’s house. She opened the door as I knocked it from outside.

“Come inside,” she spoke allowing me to come inside.

I went through her house. She lived alone as she had no family at all. Her brother who lived abroad was her only financial support. She asked me to sit on the sofa in the lounge. I did so.

“Ahsan, I’ve known you for quite long,” she said while standing in front of me, “and we hardly meet!”

“Well, you’re right…”

“But you know what I’m pointing to?”

“No,” I got a bit confused.

“My focus is that you hardly drop by here.”

“Oh that!”

“Look Ahsan, I’ve known you since college and it’s been like six years that we’ve been friends.”

“Well, I’d say more than friends.”

“Ahsan, I’m seeing that you are changing. You are losing interest in this relationship.”

I stood up smilingly and gently asked her:

“Sit down, everything’s going to be fine.”

“First, you promise me that you’ll drop by here more often.”

“Alright, I promise,” I said maintaining eye contact.

She believed me and felt some relief. She sat down on the couch next to the sofa. I sat back and then said:

“Now, tell me is there anything else that’s bothering you.”

“My brother’s not sending me money quite frequently,” she answered instantly. “I hardly make ends meet. My expenses are increasing and my income is reducing day by day.”

“Alright stop,” I said politely, “you need to understand something about money. This society that we live in has become a slave of what you call money.”

“Come again?” she was confused.

“Alright, let me tell you an interesting story. In fact, it is not a story, it’s a real life tale.”

“Okay, I’m listening…”

“There was once a boy who lived in some western country. He was fifteen or sixteen, something like that. And he was blessed with a lot of wealth. His father was one of the richest persons in country… Now the strange and unusual thing about that young boy was that he did not know what was cash, or what was money.”

“What?” she got amazed.

“Yes, despite being a son of the wealthiest person, he had no knowledge about money, cash or anything like paper currency.”

“Oh dear,” she chuckled silently.

“His father had given him plenty of debit and credit cards. And the interesting part was that in that country where they lived there was more usage of these debit and credit cards instead of cash.”


“Yes, the cash was used only in small businesses or stalls. Anyways, now this young boy was used to spending money through cards and he had no idea about this concept of amount deduction after purchasing any product. Then one day, while he was out on his eighteenth birthday, he bought a cheap cake from some stall. He bought that for himself only. So, when he showed his credit card to the stall owner, the stall keeper refused to accept it, and said give me cash.”

“Wow!” she was gaining interest.

“The young boy had no idea about what was cash and so he simply asked the stall keeper. The stall keeper just took the cake back and refused to sell anything. This was the first time ever that the boy didn’t get what he wanted, because he had learnt about something new. Actually a new word that can be called cash or money.”

“So, what happened then?”

“That night, the boy couldn’t sleep as he kept on thinking about what was money or what was cash. So, the next day when he asked his father, his father told him everything about what was money and he also showed him what it looked like, a piece of paper. His father concluded his explanation by saying: I was only trying to protect you from this thing money. This was why I never told you about it. The boy was surprised that how could a piece of paper be this harmful for him. Then, his father explained that money is a master of everything. People become slaves of money.”

She was listening impatiently, so I continued:

“The young boy after few years left the country where he lived and set out to see how people were becoming slaves of money. His sole objective was to find out how a small piece of paper can change or destroy lives the way his father told him. So, then he arrived here in Pakistan. Within a few weeks, he realised that his father was right. People were so desperate for this small piece of paper that they were willing to risk their lives in order to earn it. Brothers and sisters were destroying their family relationships just for the sake of this thing called money. Some professionals were willing to trade their souls and moralities just to acquire some money, you know just a piece of paper. Slowly, while he was learning all this, he realised that he himself had become slave of this paper currency and was unfortunately dependent on it by now.”

“Wow!” she uttered as she realised that the story was over.

“So, this story gives us a very important lesson Farheen. It tells us that money should not be something for which we can trade our souls. Money may be important but not as important as our close relationships. Our families, people we love and care about. Money should not be a priority for happiness, there can be other stuff that can make us happy. There’s a lot more that can make us happy. Money is not essential for a happy life, gratitude is. So, don’t be a slave of money, think of it as just a piece of paper.”

She was moved. She leaned back on her couch and gave my words a thought.

After a few seconds, she heard the sound of door closing. She turned back to see, I had left. She didn’t feel unusual and instead smiled before saying:

“He always leaves like that!”


Next day, in my house, there was an aged woman with me. She was obviously older than me. Shehla Mohsin was divorced a little time back and she had two kids, a girl and a boy. While I was lying on my bed, I asked her:

“So, where are your kids?”

“They’re with their dad, spending the weekend.”

“Oh, I see!”

“You don’t miss him, do you?”

“No, no I don’t think so.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll get over him…”

“Thank you Rashid,” she said with tender voice, “you always say motivating words to me and give me strength.”

I smiled and turned my eyes away.

“So, how’s your lectureship?” she asked me.

“Yes it’s good, working as a professor has always been a passion and so it’s successful.”

“Can I come and visit this university you work in?”

“Sure, of course. We would love to have you with us.”

Well, this was me. One man with four different personalities. Four different identities. And having four different girlfriends. The question was which personality was real and which relationship I was actually committed to.

to be continued...