Falak will keep the mat ready before Ammi’s broken alarm clock ticks off. She would chant her prayers so elegantly that Ammi forgets she missed the last deadline the porky pawn show owner had given her. Ammi knows 31st is coming and Falak would bring crisp green notes home.
“Falak works so hard. Allah has blessed me with the best of both a son and a daughter in one.” Ammi would tell Maqbool chacha while Falak sleeps after the tiring night shifts. But he frowns his eyebrows because he got his daughters married at 16 and 17. ‘Haraam’, he calls it, working late nights in the city that consumed far too many souls.
Falak has made colored candies this evening. The orphans from the nearby Madarsa would circle her and she would fill their hands with candies and hearts with love and laughter and smiles. She would keep the best ones for little Jannat, a beautiful girl of 4, whose nose is more curved than the fish hook. Jannat would run all over the place with her hands in the air as if she were flying.
Falak would walk a mile by the side of the stinky lake to catch the local at 7.40. At 8.30, she would exchange smiles with her colleagues. She would walk straight to the restroom and remove her headscarf after wearing it the whole time. She will look in the direction of Madina and ask for forgiveness.
She would trade her sapphire Kurti with a red deep neck blouse and pair it with the shiny golden knee-length skirt. Falak would put 3 layers of maroon lipstick and put on a fancy perfume to get rid of the fragrance of Ammi’s attar. She would stand in line, twisting her waist so that the hoard of cheating husbands and experimental teens would have a good look at her curves.
A regular of hers would walk in and call for her. She would take him to the same dimly lit room. “How are madam and daughter, Sir?” Falak would ask. He tells her that they celebrated their 10th anniversary yesterday. After they are done, he would ask her how’s Jannat. Falak would smile while redoing her lipstick. “She likes to fly, Sir. I would make her a pilot.” She said while removing stains from her fish hook shaped nose.
Falak would close her eyes and put the money in her wallet, thinking about Ammi. She would sigh looking in the direction of Madina once again. “Allah forgives you” she would say to herself while re-entering the line, twisting her waist.
Ammi waits for the 31st and Falak gives her green crisp notes. Some anonymous donations have come for Jannat’s school fee. Ammi has got a new alarm clock and they have a TV now. Maqbool chacha still frowns his eyebrows. The kids have been upgraded to chocolates from candies. Falak’s prayers are more elegant than ever.
Allah forgives you, Falak. Allah forgives you.