Do you know him? Yes. And his family? No. Ahsen lives alone in Lahore and loves his university classmate Mehwish. She hasn't yet met any of his family members, and before taking her relationship with him to the next level, she wants to know why exactly he avoids talking about his family. "Ahsen, I've some vague-headed questions... I want to ask you something," she said. Her pleasing, soil-ploughing voice softened my soil. She had that ploughing power. "I hope you don't mind." "Vague headed? What's so big that you think I would mind?" I responded. "It is neither big nor wrong. Only, I don't know how you'll take it," she said. "You can ask me anything. You don't need permission. You've complete freedom to play with me the way you want," I said, giving her an open field. "In the beginning, all say so. Let's see what space you give me to play in..." "Two things are two because they are two. Different. And, I'm different, more different than the different," I said, showing her my variance. But she saw no difference. "You love yourself too much, don't you?" she said. "No, I love you. Anyway, what are your vague-headed questions?" I asked. "I want to... I want to know everything about you. Before we take it to the next stage," she said, her eyes helping her lips pronounce the hard-to-articulate words. Her emphasis was on 'everything'. I saw hundreds of questions swimming in her eyes. All baby doubts. I started laughing, to relax the air between us. "Everything...?" I asked, wanting confirmation. "Yes. Everything," she said, her face determined. As we were opened to each other she could say or ask me anything. Even though I didn't like her question, I knew she was asking it to clear her mind, to become mine for forever; still the question spoiled my mood as it had come at the time when I was expecting to hear some animated love words from her. On two hugging occasions, I had tried to gauge her willingness for moon-walking but she asked me to wait for the right time. When her right time would come, she never disclosed. But I now guessed it was not far away; it was getting closer with every passing day. The good thing about our relationship was that she knew I would not touch the girl in her without her consent and it had built her trust in me to such a nice level that she could sit with me for hours, even behind closed doors, without any trace of typical female apprehensions ever showing on her face. For me, she was an oasis in the desert, a moonlight in the darkness and for that I could wait for her for an indefinite time, for years. "Don't you know me?" I asked, my mood serious, almost offended, but composed. "Yes. I know lots about you, but I want to know everything," she replied. I saw the silence come and hang in the air between us, stimulating an army of snake-faced questions. The silence was almost killing her. Her eyes, however, were saying, 'I'm sorry, I hope you don't mind it'. "What is it that you want to know, ask any question?" I prompted. "It is not about just questions," she offered. "Then what?" I asked. "In fact I have no specific questions," she said. "But without any questions, who would tell you anything. And how can I give you any answer or know what you want? You should first think about your question. Make it specific. That which is exactly what you want to ask...because nothing is everything - everything has in it hundreds of things," I responded, almost snubbing her. She heard me with the patience of a skinny boxer and then with a strange strength appearing on her face, she said. "I want to know... Who are you?" "Who are you? Sweetie, what is this question?" I was shocked now, but I was trying not to let it appear on my face. "Yes, I mean the same. Who are you?" she repeated, smiling.
Jamaluddin Jamali is a Lahore-based journalist and a writer. He writes accessible literary fiction and is, currently, working on a literary thriller, a crime story. The Love of University Classmates' is a Literary romance.