Tariq waited for their car to move ahead and clear his way. He saw it disappear from their sight. The tiny hand of Henna waved them good by. A nudge from wife made him break his frozen composure and turned the key.
“Any thing serious?” Praveen enquired.
“No.” Tariq didn’t look at her.
He knew she didn’t believe him. His own voice seemed peculiar, as if it belonged to a complete stranger.
He began to wonder if Waqar’s fanaticism has influenced him in some way? His thoughts went back to howling Henna, throwing her tiny legs and a demure, simple Jahida serving him food.
“Abba ...Henna is going to London.” His son Ali spoke with a tinge of jealousy and expectation.
So Waqar has already decided to take them on his dangerous mission.
“ When will we go to London?” Ali was impatient to hear a promise from him.
“ Abba will tell you later. Now will you please let him drive?” Praveen come to his rescue.
A crimson sun was setting in the wide horizon and the road seemed to head for the mighty fireball. The car ahead appeared to head for it too, gradually becoming smaller till it turned in to a tiny dot and then it was gone. Tariq felt dizzy and stopped the car on side and asked for bottle of water. He stepped out of car and splashed cold water on his face again and again until he felt better. He looked away from the sun.
Praveen looked at him with troubled curiosity. Her face hidden in a scarf she always wore so elegantly. Tariq knew she was worried and would need a proper explanation from him- always a difficult job.
Ali laughed and asked Praveen to let him imitate his Abba, he didn’t wait for her approval. He come to him and extended his hand and took bottle of from him and immediately splashed water on his face, drenching his cloths wet.
Ali was not happy with the result and sheepishly looked at Tariq for help in his venture. Tariq felt secure that his tears were hidden in cold water invisible to his son, who always thought him to be a brave man: beyond such cowardice. He went to an embarrassed Ali and knelt down.
“Its alright beta. Lets go.” He picked him up and went to the car.
“I will drive, you must take rest now.” A pale and troubled Praveen has shifted to the driving seat.
Tariq avoided looking at her.