The Last Time (s)

Graphic by Sayani Dhali

“God! How drunk were you?” Amyra exclaimed as she tossed her clutch when she entered the room. “Look at that poor hand. Are you happy now that you can’t move it?” She commented as she closely inspected my fractured arm and the bruises on my face. I cringed and groaned in pain as she stroked the bluish lump over my left eye gently.

“Oh my god, Aza! Why do you have to be in a hurry all the time? Do you know how worried we all got when Kahil told Dad that you fell from the stairs? Mom broke into tears. I am so relieved she didn’t have to see you like this. Her joint pain has made it difficult to move nowadays. I don’t know what she would’ve done had she seen you in this condition.” Amyra started to choke on her words, and I hated myself for inflicting this on her.

“I…I am fine, Di. I am sorry you had to leave everything just to come here.” It took all the strength inside my body to utter these words. “I know you were busy celebrating Shoib’s graduation. I’m sorry, I ruined it.” I paused to recollect my breath.

“You better shut that mouth before I break the other arm.” Not another syllable escaped my lips as I spotted the angst in her expression. “Do you think there’s anything that matters more to me than you? You have no idea how heart-wrenching it is for me to see you like this. Why do you do this, huh? Last month you burnt your hand while ironing the clothes and now this! Why can’t you be a little careful, my love? You know you’re like my child more than a sister. How would your didi live peacefully if you keep fumbling with things like this? I worry about you, Aza. You can’t act like a child forever.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but only tears rolled down. I hated lying to her but managed to say I was going to be fine, even though I knew I wouldn’t.

“Tea, ladies?” Kahil interrupted as he entered the room. “Oh, it seems like I barged into a sister’s moment. Shall I come in later?” He quipped as he took a close look at our tears-smeared faces.

“Oh no, come in. Else we might flood your house with our tears.” Didi attempted to reduce the tension in the air. We chuckled faintly. Kahil came to sit at the bedside next to me. He stroked my hair with one hand and gently squeezed my palm with the other. “I am never leaving you in the house alone, ever.”

I closed my eyes when I felt his breath near me as he converged to kiss my forehead. I didn’t open my eyes at all…

“The only relief I have is that she married you. I worry a little less, knowing you are there with her. God knows I would’ve died of hypertension if it weren’t for you by now. She’s lucky to have you as her partner in life. May God bless you both!” She muttered happily.

I still had my eyes closed as I recollected the memory of that night- my arm twisted behind my back, Kahil’s warm breath near my right ear as he said the words “W-H-O W-A-S H-E?”. I was constantly begging him to spare my life, that I didn’t know who that man was, and then, the blow, the sudden blow right on my left eye. Everything went dark. For a minute, I felt relieved because I thought it was the end — the last I’d have to go through that agonizing pain, his repulsive face and two-faced personality.

But God had other plans. I lived, and the next moment I knew, he was at the bedside, begging for my forgiveness. His only defense was that had he not been inebriated so heavily. He would’ve never done that. He swore on god for, god knows how many times, that this was the last time. It will not happen again, ever. But I knew I wasn’t that naive Aza anymore who was once madly in love with this man, who’d blindly believe his lies. I wouldn’t fool myself again into giving him another chance. Giving myself another chance.

“I sure am lucky, Di,” I spoke through my tightened jaw as I told her that her little child did grow up, but not for the best reasons.

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