Authors: Xunaira J.
Before Time. Copyright © 2014 Xunaira J. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or transmitted by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, information storage and retrieval systems, recording, or otherwise without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
First edition, November, 2014
Cover Design Copyright © Xunaira J.
Book Layout by CL Foster (authorclfoster.com)
To my friend, Allison Goodson, who believed in this story and wanted me to write it for my readers. Without your support, I would never have completed this novel. Thanks for reading the first drafts and your comments about each of the chapters.
To Dianne Harman, for being my mentor and supporter, without you I would never have been able to complete this book.
To Lilian Roberts, for being my beta reader before the publication.
To my parents, friends and siblings, who have always been supportive of my novels, thank you! I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this milestone if it wasn’t for all of you.
To my editor, Michelle Browne, who worked with me tirelessly to perfect this novel. Thank you for all the months of hard work.
To Rana Muhammad Usman, for believing in my talent for writing and supporting me throughout.
Finally, to “LIFE” who taught me all about life and how to be a better person. Without you, I would never have understood the meaning of “HATE” and this story would never have flowed through these pages.
Thank you everyone for staying with me always.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hot blood rushed into my ears. What the hell was I reading?
My face burned with anger. I had just logged in to mIRC, the chatting software I had been using for five months now, and was scrolling through my messages. One of them caught my eye.
What kind of a bastard talks like that to girls?
I asked myself.
This person has no shame, no morals, and no scruples.
I knew that these kinds of words were common on the internet, but I was shocked to have them associated with me. What had I done to earn this kind of treatment anyway? People were so weird around here.
You whore! Slut! Bitch! I know the likes of you! I know what kind of brothel you’re from. I’m sure your mother and sister must be like that as well.
I switched the window to the channel where I sat regularly; I banned and kicked him. My blood was still boiling when he jumped into my private stream and threatened me again with foul language. That pushed me over the edge, and I blocked him from there.
I started using mIRC when the government ordered to ban Facebook in Pakistan, due to controversies which had incited worldwide unrest among the Muslims. The controversy was about certain unholy cartoons of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W.), which were printed in a Danish magazine and spreading all across social media. I remember watching the uproar of the Muslim community on the media which started with numerous rallies and ended in bloodshed. To prevent all these outbursts and to appease the religious extremists, the government banned Facebook.
At that time, I was only nineteen and an opinionated teenager, but I was totally against the political issues. It's not that I wasn't a true Muslim, but I believed in silence over action at that time. I preferred to keep my opinion to myself rather than sharing it with others. With Facebook gone, I was utterly bored.
Bored and blasé, I decided to try another hobby that would keep me entertained until I was ready to attend university. Therefore, I decided to install a chatting software called mIRC just to kill some time and my boredom. I’d used it a few years ago, but had fallen out of the habit.
I sat back, trying to relax, but still reeling from what I had just read. I’m not that rude, but desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s when I saw the private message window blinking red on my screen. Goosebumps appeared on my arms as I read the nickname of the person who had messaged me. I wasn’t afraid, but an inexplicable wave of electricity shot through me. I was just acquainted with his nickname. We hung out in the same channel, and our nicknames started with the same letters, but we had never talked. I had never seen him chat or talk to anyone; it was like he was just a statue sitting there. But here he was today, in my private stream.
Straightening up from my chair, I clicked on the window and read the message.
I wrote back.
I couldn’t help but notice what you just did. Was there a particular reason for that, or it was just a friendly kick?
He abused me.
Yes. You can read here what he said to me.
I pasted the abuser’s messages in his window and waited for his response.
Well, that is bad.
There was a long silence from his end.
Ten minutes later, his message window blinked again.
Will you unban him if he apologizes to you for this
If he truly apologizes to me, then I will.
True to his words, Casinoguy apologized for the abuse, and as I had agreed, I unbanned him from the channel.
Impassioned messaged me sometime later.
I wrote back, sending him a smile emoticon. He sent the same back to me.
That was the first time I chatted with him. I don’t know what should have been my reaction, but I was nonchalant. He was just one nickname in this sea of nicknames we called mIRC. For me, nothing changed.
My phone rang incessantly as I walked out of the shower. Pulling my wet hair out of my ear, I picked up the phone.
“Where the hell have you been? I’ve been calling you for the last ten minutes,” Sarah said.
“I was taking a shower.”
“Well, you take too long. I’m outside.”
“Give me only five minutes. I’ll be there.”
“Alright. I’m waiting for you in the car.”
I quickly untangled my wet hair and brushed it. I spread some lotion on my face; after a hot shower, it shriveled like a potato skin. I applied some makeup and I was ready to go. I picked up my clutch from the table on my way to mom’s bedroom.
“Mom, I’m going out with Sarah. I’ll be back home around eight.”
“Eight is too late, Onaiza.”
“Mom, my curfew time is nine, remember? I’ll be back on time.”
“As if you will.”
“Okay, Mom, I’m leaving.”
“Okay,” she relented. I rushed outside. I knew Sarah; she couldn’t wait for long, and so she must be impatient. I was quite right. She was impatiently looking out the window. I grinned at her when she saw me, and she grinned back.
“Seriously, Onaiza, you take too much time,” she said as I got in.
“Me? Are you kidding me? You make me wait for hours.”
“I don’t. I’ve been out here for half an hour,” she exaggerated.
“Liar.” I playfully slapped her.
She grinned at me. “We’re going shopping first. I need to change clothes.”
“Shopping?” I groaned.
She patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry, my love, I know how to torture you.” She grinned at me devilishly.
“You really know how to make me cry,” I whined.
“Well, let’s get the shopping over with, shall we?”
We headed off to Islamabad. Years back, before my birth, my father had received a job here and had decided to move. I was born in Islamabad, and it was my city. All my friends and acquaintances were here, too. The best thing about Islamabad was that we could shop easily. There were limited markets, and we knew where to go. Moreover, the peace and tranquility of the city was the most attractive point. I never wanted to leave Islamabad. This was one city in Pakistan where you could be an independent female. This city had molded me into what I was today, and I was proud.
We went to Jinnah Super, where there were ready-to-wear clothes for women. There were two options to buy clothes: one was the boutiques, from which we could easily buy ready-to-wear clothes. There many options from famous designers. There was another option; to buy the cloth from the vendors and get it stitched according to their wishes. Unlike me, Sarah liked ready-to-wear clothes, while I preferred to get my clothes stitched by the tailor. Sarah preferred shopping from the ready-made places, and I was thankful she wouldn’t take much time choosing. She would take whichever dress I said looked good on her. We strolled into the Maria B. outlet in Jinnah to glance over the famous designer’s clothes.
I glanced at Sarah, who was looking at a red shirt.
“How’s this one?”
“Try it on.” I said. She went into the changing room, and two seconds later, she called my name. I entered the dressing room and saw the shirt on her. It suited her perfectly.
“You look hot.”
“I know.” She grinned wickedly at me. “I’m getting it.”
“Cool,” I said as I walked out.
Ten minutes later, she had chosen a pair of matching tights and a stole for herself. She quickly changed into the new clothes in the dressing room of the shop. Once the payment was done, we walked out of the store.
“Now I need shoes.”
“Do you really want to kill me, Sarah?” I asked.
“No, not today, but someday I’ll make you shop so much that you’ll drop dead.”