The night air outside the hotel was nothing like the calm atmosphere inside. It was full of sounds, and lights. Sounds and colour. Taxis horned loudly in search of customers. Throngs of young people walked by in bright coloured clothes shouting, laughing and enjoying the sweet and spicy atmosphere of a Karuchi night. Although there was not a single star in the sky, a full moon illuminated the sea and its shores ethereally. Neon lights flashed from the bright signs on almost every restaurant and club. Disco music could be heard blasting against the innocent walls and windows of an unfortunate building. There was a noticeable dearth of women but it was still a happy night.
Qandeel Baloch walked by with her bandwagon of young men. She was chirping on and on about Al Bustan and how much she had loved it and was sorry to leave early. The young men had been quite happy to leave as traditional music wasn’t quite to their taste . They had, in fact, been wondering why someone like Qandeel had seemed fascinated with it. But, one never knew with Qandeel. Just recently they had been shocked to learn through the grapevine that she had been married before.
‘So Qandeel, you are not coming to the club with us?’ said the one with the narrow face, thin lips thickened side burns and an even thicker Arabic accent that was too eager to please.
The short and stocky one called Siddiq rolled his eyes at Rashid’s question, and continued punching his phone disinterestedly. Fortunately, no one noticed the surreptitious rolling of eyes.
‘Qandeel Baloch! Qandeel Baloch! Qandeel Baloch! I call you three times. That is the number of times I will put my knife in you if someone pays me to. Just you wait and see. I will stab my knife into your whoring heart any day……’
The loud voice of the old cobbler under the streetlight towards the end of the street, won the battle over the other noises of the crowd, the cars and taxis and the disco. His soliloquy was accompanied by him waving his cobbler’s knife madly in the air before going back to sewing a shoe under the blinding brightness of the streetlight.
Qandeel and her circle laughed out loud at the old man’s rantings. ‘I am meeting someone big, you will know by tomorrow,’ said Qandeel mysteriously. ‘I am going now. That taxi has been sent for me. Remember to leave the pretty girls to the men without imagination!’
But at that moment, they were pretty content to be men without imagination.
Cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi’s wives knew him as a very serious man who split his spare time between reading the Koran, the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and other books on Islamic teachings. His dark beard with a spattering of white always looked well coiffed. His kaftans always well put together, his words always carefully selected; why the Prime Minister had trusted him with chairing the Muslim council.
What his wives and the Prime Minister were yet to know was that he was very giggly. He giggled like a toddler in the company of attractive women. Puppies wagged their tails and dribbled with excitement but Mufti Abdul Qavi giggled. So when he opened the door to his private suite at the glamorous Avari Towers Karachi for Qandeel Baloch, he immediately started giggling. Like a child looking at ice-cream, he felt unable to disguise his glee.
Qandeel had changed into tight khakhi slacks and a well fitting black blouse. Her hair was now in a tight pony tail which a few strands had managed to escape and were now framing her face. The cleric felt a little disappointment like most people when they met Qandeel in person. The Qandeel that he would have wanted to walk through the doors was one in a short pink flirty cleavage baring dress like the one he had seen her in on her Facebook page. But, well, at least the pants were tight enough, he thought. He was a wise man who quickly appreciated what he had.
‘Soooo…… er I wanted to talk to you about the Scriptures…. the burkha and…,’ he said giggling a little after they had sat down on the beautiful gold and brown couches. The whole suite was tastefully oriental. Moroccan carpets were thick with elaborate cream and gold embroidery; the furniture expertly handmade and divans especially inviting. Ceiling- to- floor, windows were draped with heavy expensive curtains gold in colour which looked like they could buy someone’s car. At the far end of the suite was a four poster bed, with more cushions and pillows on it than probably in her entire village back home.
Qandeel had laughed at first at the mention of scriptures but poured warm cider from the porcelain teapot and turned to look at him with her cup on her lips, telling him with her eyes to go ahead.
She wasn’t afraid of him, he realised, unlike his wives or other women, she wasn’t scared at all. This unnerved him and he giggled some more as he opened a thick book and started talking; and talking. Qandeel poured some more tea. He talked and talked. She nibbled on something. He talked some more and opened more books. Finally, she interrupted him, ‘You know, I don’t think women should wrap themselves up if they don’t want to. You are saying that the oppression of women , is neither condoned in the Koran nor in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad although the Prophet encouraged women to cover up for their own safety lest their attract men unintentionally. But it is rather our traditional culture that oppresses women is that so?’ He shut the book on his lap rather unceremoniously and said, ‘Yes, yes. That is quite it. Yes.’ But he didn’t know why he felt a sense of defeat descending upon him. At that point, he knew that he hated her.
She stood up and walked towards the divan. He remembered then how tight her pants were and how her blouse was stretched across her chest. His feet followed her to the divan.
‘That was a good discussion. We should take a selfie to finish it all up.’ And giggling sheepishly he allowed her to a photo of them, with the beautiful divan in the background.
‘Come and sit here,’ he said sitting down. ‘The divan is beautiful. It just needs a beautiful woman on it to complete the picture.’ He held her arms and drew her down to him.
‘I thought we were finished Cleric,’ she said gently extricating herself from his clingy arms that reminded her of an octopus.
‘No, we are not my dear Qandeel,’ he giggled a little as he reached up to her arms again
‘Unfortunately, I have to go dear Mufti. Thank you very much for your kindness and for the talk. By the way, the taxi driver who drove me here can help you find a sex worker. I am not one. Goodnight.’
A smiling Qandeel left the hotel suite with its unsmiling Cleric and his smouldering hatred of her. He wished he could find someone to do the job because there was no doubt that in his position could not do it by himself.
This story is a fiction version of Pakistan internet sensation, Qandeel Baloch, who was murdered by her brother in an honour killing.
Story written by Godess Bvukutwa. Godess enjoys creating powerful female characters in her work of fiction. And is forever in fear of boring readers of her non fiction pieces. She gardens, reads and plays with her daughter aside from writing.
Main Image, Qandeel Baloch. Image taken from www.nbcnews.com