- 24 Jul - 30 Jul, 2021
- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
Hina and Sohail were twins. Born with a silver spoon 22 years ago, they had everything one could wish for except for their parents’ love. Their father was top industrialist of the country who spent most of his time in business activities. Their mother was an ex model who was seldom present in the country. Their entire childhood was spent playing with each other and their pets. They often got to meet their father on Sundays, who would have brunch with them and then left for playing golf with his buddies. Last time they saw their mother was almost a month ago and that too on a television show. There were many wall sized pictures and murals of hers in the house. They would secretly talk to her before going to sleep every night.
They were admitted to city’s best school. Their school life was the usual. They went to school together, had the same tutor in the evening and then watched television. Their favourite cartoon show was ‘Dexter’s Laboratory.’ Throughout the school life, they did not have any close friend. They had each other. He cared for his sister as much as she cared for him. Once, Hina got injured while playing in the garden. They both were ten year old. Their parents were nowhere to be found. Some servant rang the family doctor who came instantly, patched her up, gave her a tetanus shot, and told the young boy to look after his sister. The injury was not serious and was more of a scratch but Sohail sat for entire two days besides his sister’s bed to tend to her needs. He was now more than just a brother to her. He had taken over the parental role which Hina despite showing annoyance, liked a lot.
From their childhood, they both wanted to become doctors. Most of their self-developed games included a doctor and a patient. As they grew up, their obsession started turning into reality. They both got admission in a renowned medical college on self-finance basis. It was here that they parted their ways. Life in medical college was different. There was more independence and a variety of choices. Sohail joined a company of friends who were more into partying. They wanted to become doctors but at their own terms. They wanted to turn these five years into the best days of their lives. They studied too but were never too serious. Hina, on the other hand, had different purpose of studying medicine. She wanted to open a charity hospital and help poor people. There was no dearth of money so they both started pursuing their own goals ambitiously. Their paths were separated but they still loved each other a lot. They frequency of getting together on Sunday brunches was also reduced considerably. Either one of them or their parents missed the occasion and no questions were ever asked. The ritual was being followed blindly and with silence.
In the medical college, Sohail friended with Obaid and Saad. The trio had a similar family background and they soon became fast friends. They lived in the same neighborhood and had plenty of cash to spend. There was no one to supervise them or keep them on straight track. Despite their hectic routine in the college, they would often get together on weekends and enjoyed their life like anything. They had started using drugs and within a year, they were known to every club of the city because of their extravagant spendings. They were called as the SOS gang. Young boys and girls treated them as VIPs and had started following their suits. SOS was new regime. Obaid’s father was a senior ranking police officer and Saad’s father was a bureaucrat. The trio took pride in doing every wrong thing a youngster can imagine and there was nobody stopping them. Inadvertently, they were heading to a disaster. They just could not see it forthcoming.
Hina, on the other hand, came close to Saima who was from a lower middle class family. Her father was not alive and she lived with her mother in city outskirts. She had a beautiful face and a loving personality. She had topped the entrance exam and was granted scholarship by the medical college. Saima, besides her studies was into social work too. She regularly spent few hours on weekend in a charity organization as a volunteer. Hina also started going to the same setup which was close to Saima’s house. Hina had in fact become a close admirer of Saima and hence would spend a lot of time with her. They would go to the charity office, do their office work and return to Saima’s home. Hina also liked Saima’s mother a lot and would always look out for opportunities to be with her. She especially enjoyed the food made by Saima’s mother. Deep inside she knew, it was her mom she missed the most.
The SOS gang did everything they wished and got whatever they desired. Boys wanted to join their gang but its membership was strictly restricted to these three. Girls wanted to get close to them on lame pretexts. They were on a high road. Nobody dared to offend them. However, one person out of their reach was Saima who was never impressed with their money or looks. She was a serious book bug and spent most of her time buried in her notes. Sohail tried every trick and even used Hina to get some attention from Saima but all in vain. They were now into third year of their medical college and the SOS gang had earned a solid repute. The only black spot on their high mark was Saima. She had now become a nuisance for them. It was challenge they intended to beat sooner than ever. The only hurdle in their way was Hina and Sohail could not do anything about it.
Hina had always protected Saima from Sohail and his buddies. Despite Hina’s shield, Saima would keep getting messages from SOS gang members in form of chits, posters, songs and SMSes. She had blocked each one of them on social media but they would keep reaching her from different accounts. Her strategy was to simply ignore them and that was the most upsetting thing for Sohail. On one Thursday, Hina was not feeling well and skipped the college. SOS gang got perfect opportunity to mess with Saima. They were sitting in cafeteria, when Saima walked in alone. She stood in the door and looked around for an empty table. Sohail immediately approached her and mockingly said while getting down on his knees with his one hand on his chest and the other pointed towards his table:
“Please join us princess. We would be honoured.”
Saima got confused a little. Students sitting nearby started observing them. Saima had always tolerated Sohail because of Hina’s but he was now crossing all the limits. Controlling her anger, she said, “No thanks. I will come back later.”
Sohail this time had something else in his mind. He got hold of her arm and tried to drag her to his table. She yelled at him, “Stop it. Let me go.”
The whole cafeteria suddenly went quiet and started watching the dramatic scene being created there. When Sohail refused to let go of her, she slapped him hard. Sound of a tight slap in pin drop silence created an electrifying climax. The hall burst into a huge round of applause coupled with giggles and hoots. Sohail got extremely embarrassed and was stunned for a moment. He then quickly walked out of the hall and disappeared for rest of the day. Saima did not know what to do. She walked bafflingly to the counter and asked for a soft drink which she hated the most. Few seconds passed and everyone resumed their own activity. Rest of the SOS gang also walked out. Next morning, the gang was summoned into dean’s office and was admonished for their despicable activities. They were also barred from entering college cafeteria for one week. Their reputation was tarnished and they were furious.
SOS gang was now hiding their faces. They bunked most of the Friday classes. Sohail felt insulted and offended beyond his imagination. His ego was shattered and his pride demolished. On Saturday night, SOS gang was high and enraged. They could not believe a dreadful treatment to them by a girl with such a low background.
After two hours of booze and hash, they got up and sped to Saima’s house which they had already seen once before when they had followed her. Sohail parked the car on road side at a relatively darker place and kept sitting on driver’s seat. Obaid and Saad took along the baseball bat which they always kept in the car and went inside the street. Sohail waited in the car anxiously smoking hash. After about fifteen minutes, Obaid and Saad appeared from the murky street carrying a body in their hands. Sohail immediately opened the back latch and the body was dumped into the car trunk. Obaid had hit her head with the baseball bat when she was leaving her house. They had tied her hands with her dupatta and duct taped her mouth and eyes. It was a dark street and nobody saw them hitting and then abducting her.
After wandering for an hour and unable to decide as what to do, they stopped to check on her. Obaid went to the trunk and came back dazzled. He told them that Saima is dead as he could not find her pulse. They all got panicky and started blaming each other. After a while, they agreed on dumping the body in a nearby canal. They drove to the bridge. Sohail stopped the car and opened the trunk. They went back and in dim light of the trunk they saw her body. It was placed upside down and was completely covered with blood. They picked up the body and threw her in the canal.
It was Monday morning and nobody dared to miss the period of Professor Jameel. The class comprised of 34 students. SOS gang had taken their seats. Sohail looked around and started counting. There were 30 students present. Saima was of course absent. She was dead. He himself had thrown her body in the canal with help of Obaid and Saad. They had followed local channels closely on entire weekend but there was no news of any murder in the city or recovery of any dead body. He was sure that the dead body of Saima would have travelled downstream and will not be recovered till it reaches some barrage. So, there was nothing to worry about for few days. As the attendance proceeded, three students appeared in the door asking permission to join in the class. SOS gang looked at each other disbelievingly when they saw Saima. She apologised the professor for being late. He allowed the group to join in. Obaid and Saad were puzzled. Sohail was frozen. He had forgotten to breathe. His head was spinning violently. He knew that the only person still absent in the entire class was his sister, Hina.