“The heart of a father is a masterpiece of nature.” ~Antoine Francois Prevost
Age is just a number but a significant one when considering a pretty match for a girl. Noor is twenty five and her aunt mandates that she is to get married before 30. All the girls in the family have never been beyond 21. For middle class morality, twenty five and still a bachelor is a shame but twenty five and still a virgin is a pride and Noor being at equilibrium still stood a chance. Of all the things that Noor desired, marriage was never in her bucket list. She has somehow managed to snuck out some of her childishness in the late twenties which according to her cousin is a substancial barrier for her being as appetizing as other girls of the neighbourhood.
Twenty five, working and virgin was all that went round tables at gatherings and feasts. Noor being least of it disturbed and seeing her so much at peace was all the cause of disturbance for uncles and aunts at home. She was a type of girl who could be easily convinced for a late night party but take considerable cajoling to put lipstick at work. For her, situation and its need held prominence.
Noor held a firm grip as her hands trembled violently and peered closer in the mirror. She dipped the thin tip and and blinkled several times before she laced a bold black liner over her scintillating hazel eyes. Just as she finished making it winged someone smacked her head from behind.
“Have some shame idiot, you are going to meet your father in hospital.” Said the venemous aunt.
“Papa likes it.” She said with a practiced delight.
Hearing those words from a girl of twenty five was perplexing. “My boyfriend likes it.” Would have been more convincing to her aunt. Before she could open the trash filled mouth Noor quitted the room in livid veneration.
At her father’s bedside when everyone left after giving vigorous peptalks and unsolicited advice, she held his fingers entangle on hers. His knuckles white and bony and the veins peirced, channelising the antibiotics. Sporadically he would puff or groan not so much an alarm to the unnerving walls and cold bedsheets but Noor would be on his guard instantly. Sometimes when pain subsided he would reiterate the story of Noah and his ark or how the forbidden apple was a reason for their existence. They would laugh at some arid joke uninspired by murky daylight popping in through the chinks of the window.
“How long?” He repeated the question second time in this week. Tears bidding space at the corner of his eyes. He gulped few words and cautiously opened his lips to try again. ” How long will I tire you? I don’t want to be your priority or drawback.”
Tears streamed down in pitious chase over the blush of youthfull cheeks. Noor didn’t wipe it. “Do you consider me weak, papa?”
“Now! Now! Those streaks of liner is best suited for your eyes and not on your golden cheeks. You are ruining it. Go and apply it again.” Her father shoved her hand and eyed sternly to make her budge from his side.
Noor reluctantly moved to the adjacent washroom. Turning on the faucet she washed her face. Her cries muffled under the gurgle of water. It is so alluring and magical how tears mingle with water as of the former never had its existence. Water taking away the blots of pain entirely.
She came out minutes later. Her face radiant and flush with youngblood. Her eyes an amber of setting sun and the distinct thin line of eyeliner beckoning the night in magnificence. She again perched on the bedside chair and nestled her head among the mound of sheets on her father’s lap. He began stroking her hair gently. “Father’s pet” Her high school friends always ridiculed her. Well now it made sence.
Silence echoed before he inhaled deeply and said, “You were never the beautiful peacock of my garden.”
Noor clenched her fist not rising from his lap grimacing at the numerous regection faced at every matrimonial or the grades that slouched her father’s spine or the befitting job she now catered to.
“You are my flappy, noisy pigeon.” He added. “Forever exhausted but always fluttering. I love that bird. I admire her every little twitch and every little blink.”
Noor looked up in curiosity.
“But the thing with the bird is that they are free creatures and are born to venture sky. Liking a bird would mean to confine her world. But I love you and therefore have to let you free.”
Noor was now enigmatic. Unblinking and motionless. She asked unhurriedly.”Did you….”
“Intercept your mails. Yes! Its sometimes good to sneak out your password.” Her father blinked and Noor’s eyes furrowed. “Now I ask you to join the job you always desired. Its few kilometers away but you don’t have to be at my side all the time. I am growing tedious of you.” He jerked his face away.
“One more thing. Don’t seek marriage just to be married. Better wait years for the right person that to wait years for the right love from the wrong person. And don’t worry if people are talking behind your back. They are talking about you because if they talked about themselves nobody would listen.” He chuckled at his thought.
“Forget average. You deserve the best, my love. Never be afraid to shine alone. Remember the sun doesn’t bothers a bit if it blinds you.”
He looked deeper into her eyes and said, ” I have a girl in whose eyes her dreams are as stark as her liner. You are not weak but braver than you think, little bird.”
There was a soft knock on the door and the nurse pushed the trolly inside and said with an exhausted smile, “your bedding need a change and so do your clothes.” She cocked her head towards Noor and said,”can you please move out.”
Noor smiled and tapped gently on her father’s hands, ” I’ll be back.”
As she passed the nurse studied her and said with a sneering smile, “bold liner, I guess its of little help at hospital.”
She wanted to explain but thought it to be futile. She smiled instead and said “thank you. I’ll consider that next time.” And left.
She cared less now. Of everything that will not matter in the long run. She was musing over the first time she mounted on a cycle with her father’s help. The door opened and nurse came out pulling the trolly. Her smile was genteel and unadultarated this time.
“I am sorry” she said at once and continued pulling the trolly away. Noor followed her in trance unable to fathom any reason out of her apology. “Excuse me. Why did you apologize?”
The nurse laughed lightly and said, “Your father said that you love those eyeliners and because of it you don’t cry too often.”
Noor fell short of laughter and tears as the nurse tapped her shoulder and veered down the corridor.