She staggered through the barren field, eyes red and swollen, cheeks stained, from the endless tears she had shed while remembering the seven year old boy she had left back home. Her once long and shiny hair was nothing but a complete mess; her lower lip bled badly, her throat was dry because of the depravity of water, and her stomach growled from the emptiness inside it, as she had not tasted a single morsel of food for days on end. She also knew that her condition was not good for the baby she carried in her womb, but she couldn’t help it. Tears of regret once again streamed down her face as she looked around the desolate stretch of the field that was the warzone, eight months ago, where her husband had bled for two whole days and had eventually died amongst the other brave army men who had fought courageously for their homeland. She reminisced over the fact that she had left Ahmed back home, the young lad to whom it was ever so difficult to explain his father’s death, and then her departure. She just couldn’t bear to look into her son’s eyes and see the visage of her husband, so she had been a coward and had run away from the world of endless torture and hurdles, with her unborn child. She suddenly felt a throbbing pain in her head, her last thought being Ahmed’s cries, as he pleaded with her not to leave him alone in that evil world, before she fell down, overcome with grief. Ten minutes later, she delivered a baby girl who she named Maryam right before the soul was taken from her body. Ahmed Mehmood sat at his mahogany desk, completely enraptured by over-whelming nostalgia that came in his direction once in a while. This time, it was the flashback was of his late father kicking the football towards the five year old Ahmed with a huge, careless and charming smile plastered across his handsome face.

There had been an amazing aroma of spices sizzling that had made Ahmed’s mouth water, and then the call of his mother for lunch. The life in that little cottage had been perfect with his beautiful, charismatic, and loving mother, and a muscular, caring, and graceful man for a father. It was the flawless image of the family only seen in movies or read in books, until the day that his father had his head in his hands, and his mother had tears in her eyes. It was Ahmed’s seventh birthday when he the news of his father’s departure to war was disclosed to him. Then, the young lad had no idea that his little sister was also on the way, but he had thrown the world’s greatest tantrum, thinking that it would stop his father from leaving.

A month was spent in immense grief, during which his mother suffered from painful headaches. But then, on the 8 th of September, with the ringing of the doorbell, their entire lives changed, as, instead of Ahmed’s father in the doorway, there stood a tall and muscular man wearing a uniform, making Ahmed’s mother dissolve into tears. Later, when the man was inside, Ahmed asked with as much envy he could muster, as he still could not understand where his father was, “ where is baba?” but the man, being straight forward, told him to come closer, and whispered in his ear that he was dead. The immediate reaction by the seven-year old was to hit the man on the chest, and shout, “why did you kill him!” and then dissolve into tears.

Later, the circumstances became so inauspicious that they had to move to a much smaller, dingy apartment in the insignificant part of town that was brought with the little money they had. Soon after, his mother had left him with the upstairs neighbor, Mrs. Tanveer, and Ahmed never saw her face again. A month after her departure, Mrs. Tanveer gave him the news that he now had a baby sister named Maryam, but along with it came the horrifying news of his mother’s death. By now, tears had formed in the multinational billionaire’s eyes. He was broken out of his reverie by the sudden knock on the door, and was reminded by his secretary that he had an important meeting to attend with investors of Japan. Ahmed left his corner office on the twenty second floor with the thought of the letter that the man in the uniform had delivered along with his father’s few belongings, and that now sat laminated in his drawer. It was handed over to him by Mrs. Tanveer, {who had been his care- taker}, when he turned ten, and had been the answer to his many questions, as well as the genius’ motivation to succeed. Maryam sat on Mrs. Tanveer’s couch, tears threatening to spill from her eyes, when the old dame brought in tea. The swirl of emotions was too irresistible, as after twenty whole years, she was finally met with someone who knew of the existence of her parents. The tears eventually became heart- wrenching sobs when Mrs. Tanveer told her of the existence of her brother, and the way in which God had taken away their parents from them. Maryam quickly linked together the information given to her about her parents by the social worker, and the news told to her by Mrs. Tanveer.

Maryam had never cared much about family, as she never had any, and lived in multiple foster homes, and then the orphanage. She had run away from that hell-hole too, and had studied on the streets until she got a decent degree. She was now told about her history and lineage, and suddenly, could not stop the tears that seemed to be waiting to gush out ever since she was young. Eager about Ahmed as living family member, she asked questions about him, yet soon enough, her hopes were put down when she was informed that he hated her without ever meeting her, and also blamed her for their mother’s death. Sure enough, when Mrs. Tanveer told Maryam that she was going to meet Ahmed the next morning, she hesitated to tag along, but on insistence, conceded. That night, Maryam was unable to sleep; therefore, she searched for Ahmed on her phone, which she had bought by working extra hours at the café downtown. Soon, the image of an extremely handsome man popped up, and Maryam could see the stark resemblance between him and herself. The navy blue eyes, defined jaw line, smooth hair, and the slight arch of his eyebrow depicted her own features. Bubbling with joy and fear side by side, Maryam went to sleep in the early hours of the morning. Ahmed stayed in the office till late, working on the presentation for the next day’s meeting with the marketing executive from France. The next morning, he woke at 6, took a shower and dressed for the day. He was speaking with one of his investors when the enormous wooden doors to his office opened, and there was sound of soft footsteps in the room. He did not turn around, but kept speaking heatedly to the man on the other end of the phone, who was getting on his nerves by the minute. While the intense atmosphere of the room grew, Maryam stood by a luxurious velvety couch, gazing at the grandeur of the office, with white walls, lavish seats, a furnished bookshelf with numerous books, and large window overlooking the busy city down below. It was then that her curious eyes landed on a well- built man in a tailored suit standing with his back to the room. He had neatly trimmed hair, and was having a frenzied conversation with someone. At that point, emotions poured freely from her eyes, and without a second thought, she launched herself at him. Ahmed’s back stiffened at her touch, and he hesitated to look back, unsure of who dared to hug the billionaire tycoon. When he did turn, there was a petite woman who had him enveloped, and behind her, Mrs. Tanveer had tears in her eyes. He swore, if this was one of her plans to get him married, he would… before that thought was completed, Maryam looked up, and Ahmed’s eyes widened. It couldn’t be; he had to be wrong. Although he recognized Maryam, he quickly masked the emotion and surprise in his eyes. On seeing Ahmed’s placid face, Maryam backed away in embarrassment and hurt. His next words caught her off guard. “Why are you here?” completely spellbound by his very existence, she kept quiet, and without her realization, Mrs. Tanveer slipped out. In reality, Ahmed was besieged by emotion at the sight of his younger sister, who he had pictured for years. Now, when she took a seat, there was an uncomfortable silence in the room, before he finally offered her refreshments which she denied politely. Her observant eye, however, caught the humility that Ahmed offered to the attendant that brought his coffee. Also, previously, he had not shoved her away from him, but had respectfully backed away. These qualities must be the result of his early upbringing by their mother, she thought. As they tried making conversation, the topic of her education and job arose.

At this moment, she suddenly realized that his sudden success at an early age could not have been without any help. This vast and famous construction business must have had some back up, and considering Mrs. Tanveer’s background… The thought gnawed at her mind, but she did not express it aloud, preferring to talk about the way the social worker had found her in the barren field when she was a baby. Since then, she had went from one foster home to another, and when she finally ran out of options, she stayed at the orphanage for a year. During the description of the hardships faced at the orphanage, she had unshed tears in her eyes, and Ahmed’s expression too softened, as he offered her his mug of coffee to help clear her throat. Her education had been following her through her early stages, and she loved reading books, so late at night, when everyone was asleep, young Maryam would sneak out, and read the adventures of Sherlock Holmes under the dim light of the bathroom light. Maryam noticed his head shake in awe at her escapades, and it did not escape her that he flinched at the part where she spoke shortly of their dead mother. Both siblings did not realize that it was nearly lunchtime, and before they left the offices, Maryam was hired by her brother as his marketing assistant. The next morning, as she was locking the door to her apartment, Maryam was confronted by the landlord of her apartment, who gave her the shocking news that he had found new tenants and had to turn her out due to the minimal rent she was giving. Upon entering the office, when she got off the rickshaw, the sadness was killing her. Ahmed was waiting by the office doors for her, and noticed her troubled expression, but did not say so. Once she was settled in, a bunch of files came her way, and she dug into her work. At lunchtime, Ahmed’s feelings for his sister erupted, and he found himself going down to her office to offer to have lunch together to the nearby café. He himself was surprised by his sudden change in emotions towards his younger sibling. Maryam was hesitant about going with him to the café, but after all, he was her brother. However, the rift expanded when the topic about their parents came up, and Ahmed became rude toward her. She had only asked what they were like, but he had become frustrated, and remarked snobbishly that she did not even see them, while he was loved by both parents for seven years, and she has ruined his life. What caused her tears to spill was his hurtful snort that she had no right to come to him, and she should be grateful that she even had a job. He did not know where these insensitive words were coming from, but the moment he saw her tears, he felt ruthless, and stopped the lashing of his tongue. Lunch passed in silence, during which Maryam’s emotions played upon her mind. After lunch, she accompanied Ahmed to a meeting and saw the business-like and tactful side of him for the first time. The question of how he had achieved this success once again ate at her mind. At around four o clock, the fear that today her luggage would be outside the door crept back in, and now she did not know what to do or who to go to, as she had a tense relationship with Ahmed as well. When she had gone to deliver papers to his office, she tripped due to her mind not concentrating, and fell. Ahmed, who was working on his laptop, looked up, and rushed to help her up. He finally got her to tell him what was bothering her, and of course, offered the best alternative: o move in with him. In spite of her protests, he insisted, and helpless, she had to agree. Ahmed’s friend Ali then entered the office unannounced as usual, and Maryam was introduced. She immediately liked Ali, who was a humorous man, and deciphered from the friend’s conversation that Ahmed’s father had once owned a farm yard that was now DHA. She knew she shouldn’t be eavesdropping, but it was too exciting and she was too curious to let the matter go. That night, after they had collected Maryam’s things, they drove to Ahmed’s mansion in his car. Ahmed and Maryam were unable to sleep that night, and when Maryam came out of her room, she found Ahmed sitting on a couch, reading something. Upon sensing her approach, he put away the paper. Sitting next to him, there was a prolonged comfortable silence enveloping the room. By now, they were both used to conversation about their parents, and it was soon disclosed along the lines of their conversation that their father had left a letter to both of them before going to war. He handed the letter to her, and her eyes widened at the bold script, as well as what it withheld. Their father had attached a picture of himself and their mother, telling Ahmed that if he died, not to be cross with him, and to study in whatever condition he faced. It spoke of a land and its location that he had left for his family, and told Ahmed that his sister was on the way. It gave him love, and was so motivational that it brought Maryam to tears, especially the part where it said “take care of your mother and sister my son”.

The silence was then broken, “I got this when I turned ten. I couldn’t take care of my mom, but I will take care of you. He was an amazing person, you know, and I sold that land and used it as capital to establish the business in case you were wondering”.

For the first time, she saw tears in his eyes, and a smug smile formed on his lips, and she hugged him tightly then. The rest of the days fell into routine, sided by laughter and hard work, as well as stories from Ahmed’s side about their father, and how he had achieved success. In a year’s time, Maryam worked her way up to becoming Ahmed’s business partner, and she very well deserved it.

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