Ashar was sitting in his office, thinking about his relationship with Mariana. A tall , blonde , hazel eyed woman with whom he fell in love two years ago. But was it really love. He thought. Her dad, Mr. Smith was not only his father’s friend but also business partner in their resort chain. He knew Mariana since childhood but interacted less with her as he thought her to be rude. It was 21st December 2014, when he looked at her differently. But was it actually him or the alcohol which affected him, its still a question to be resolved.
“Can I come in?” Zarrar, his younger brother asked while standing by the door.
“Yes please. You don’t ever need to ask.” Ashar replied with a smile.
Zarrar took the seat in front of Ashar’s.
“So is it finally over between you and Mariana?” Zarrar asked.
“What made you think so?” Ashar asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I haven’t seen her here for a while. Do you know dad wanted you to settle with her as earliest as possible?”
Ashar rolled her eyes. He remembered his father telling him about the right age of getting married. He categorized 30-35 as the best age and also reminded him how he is overage by 1 year.
“You too have only 2 years more to spare my little brother. Then you will be the one he want to see settled.” Ashar said and chuckled.
“haha…but trust me bro!I will not even wait for turning 30.” Zarrar replied with a small laugh.
The age gap between Ashar and Zarrar was 8 years. But their bonding was no less than the best friends. They shared everything with each other and stand together in any situation.
“I don’t think i will be able to continue my relationship with Mariana. In the past two years have definitely enjoyed her company but to spend my whole life with her is something I am not comfortable with. After all life is not about partying and clubbing right? It has more meaning and Mariana fails to understand that. I mean she is definitely gorgeous and lively but I don’t think I fit in that lifestyle.” Ashar poured his heart out.
“I knew that bro. And I am sure you will find yourself a girl who match your frequency. It can take a year or two but settling with someone just for the sake of settling is not something wise.”
“You understand me lil one!” Ashar said tapping Zarrar’s hand.
“So when are you going to end your relationship with Mariana?”
“its unofficially over. I am giving her the chance to break it up first and blame me for not understanding her or giving her time.”
And that’s how it happened.
Ashar received an e-mail from her the following night, telling him how much neglected she felt while Ashar paid attention only to his career. However she also sees him as a friend she can never loose and wished him all the best in life. Last part of message did relieved Ashar in an unusual way. At least now he did not felt as the one who did not gave enough in a relationship. What Mariana wanted was lots of time and pampering. But his priorities at those moments was his company. He wanted to make LA PARINE hotel and resort chains the best in the world. Now he can sleep in peace for few hours as he have to leave for Paris next day.
Before his flight to Paris, Ashar did messaged Mariana telling how much he loved the time spent with her and though they did not match each other’s frequency, he definitely think her as friend and wish her good luck too.
Ashar had a different attitude on flight. He interacted with attendants with huge smile giving air hostesses a topic to discuss. “That was not so bad relationship that i have to feel so free.” He thought with a small grin. But real reason was definitely the fact that he is going to the LA PARINE PARIS, which was his most favorite among his hotels in different part of world.
He was welcomed with great warmth at the airport. Mr. Bing was present with a Lilly orchid bouquet. Mr. Bing hold the senior manager post at LA PARINE and will be completing his 7th year as an employee. Ashar had a good bond with him. Everyone loved having him there. None can be found back biting about him. As he entered the hotel, the staff gathered around him and saluted him in a cheerful manner. After meeting with each of them he entered his suite to finally spare a moment alone. His window showed the view of race course where he can see multiple horses gathered.
A girl with a cowboy hat caught his eye.She was not so tall but not too short also. Her fair smooth skin was shining under the setting sun. He couldn’t actually understand the color of her eyes but they were definitely big. It looked as if she was talking to the horse as her rosy pink lips curled into smile quite often. Her dark black shoulder length hairs matched with the horse’s. She was strolling a shiny black horse to stable. She was a new face for him and she was not even present when he was meeting other staff. Unable to control his quest, he moved out of room and reached race course.
“hey there!” Ashar said to her.
“I am sorry young man! you cannot ride now. Its closed now.” She replied.
“Well what if I insist?” Ashar asked playfully.
“No means NO! Don’t you get that. Let me call my uncle…….”
“Shhhhh……” Ashar said stepping closer to her.
Saleha stumbled but regained composure as she took a step back.
“Well I didn’t mean to scare you but don’t you think I exhibit a bit of authority over my land?” Ashar said smiling.
“ohh…..so you are Mr. Ashar Ali! I am sorry sir! I didn’t recognize you. I did saw your photo today but i just failed to recognize you. I …I am really sorry!” Saleha responded with wide eyes as she gave a whole look to the man standing in front of him. A Six feet tall well built and with hairs as dark as the night. The face was definitely an epitome of beauty. Strong bones smooth cream skin with a light trace of hair in almost fainting beard. His silver eyes bore deep into hers as she marveled at his beauty.
“Well its okay. I know they edit much of my photos to make me look less handsome.” Ashar smirked.
“umm yeah…” Saleha responded blankly.
“ohhh…My boy is here! I thought you were coming tomorrow. Well that’s how one tend to loose memory in old age right?” Sameer Ahmed, uncle of Saleha and vet at the resort said to Ashar.
“You are a young man Sammy! How can you talk of old age.” Ashar replied hugging Sameer Ahmed.
“I miss having coffee with you my boy! why don’t you come over…..”
“oh no Sammy! I have to prepare a presentation for tomorrow’s conference. I will see you tomorrow after the presentation.” Ashar said patting Sameer’s hand.
“let me introduce you to my niece,Ashar. She came all the way from India to take care of me. Mr. Bing wanted a botanist anyway so I called her up here.” Sameer said smiling.
“ohh that’s really nice. I hope you enjoy working here Missss………..”
“Saleha! My name is Saleha Khan.”
“that’s a cute name.” Ashar said before turning around to move back to his suite.
*IN SAMEER’S APPARTMENT
“I didn’t knew you were so close with your boss, uncle. Why don’t you call him Sir?” Saleha asked giving a glass of water to Sameer.
“Ashar is a very good soul Saleha .He never let anyone call him sir.” Sameer said laughingly as he kept the glass on nearby table.
This is the first place I started working at and I am really sure that my breathe will last here. I know Ashar since he was five. They used to spend each of their vacation here. He shared a close bond with me. I still remember him crying over my shoulder when his parents divorced. Poor boy.!” Sameer said as he looked up being lost in past.
“poor boy!” Saleha smiled to irony his uncle just stated.
They spent the rest of evening discussing the small yet grand Ali family. Sameer filled in every details that Saleha should must know about, keeping the secrets safe which Ashar and Zarrar used to share. By the night,Saleha was well acquainted with the ALI family.
Ashar did came for the coffee after the meeting. Saleha made tea for them and was about to leave the two men alone but was stopped by Ashar’s question.
“So when did you completed your education Saleha?” He asked.
“Five years back,Sir.” She replied.
“Ahan that’s nice.”
“She is a very hard working woman Ashar. I am sure you will love her work here.” Sameer said smiling.
“I am sure I will.” Ashar said giving a deep look to Saleha.
“I have to see black beauty, the good horse in stable, so I will give some alone time you people. have a good time.” Saleha said as she left the room.
“She really love horses I guess.” Asher said to Sameer.
“yeah she do. she is a very good girl and has seen a lot of bad time. Her parents left the world when she was 3 and she was looked after by her grandmother in Indore, India. Her grandmother, my mothers sister passed away when she was 18 and since then she is all by her own with very little help from all of us. That’s why I called her here, my boy.I would have done that earlier too but there were so many complications. I don’t want to die before I see her all stabled and happy. She deserve happiness and I hope she will get it very soon. And yeah …she loves all animals.” Sameer said smiling.
On his way back, Ashar spotted Saleha with black beauty.
“why is black beauty special than other horses?” He asked from the back.
“well there is nothing like that. When you were not here, he lost his best companion, Brooke. And sensing the sadness, I am just giving him the company.” Saleha replied turning towards Ashar.
“Well that’s very thoughtful of you. Have a good night Miss Saleha. ”
“You too, Sir.”
“don’t call me that. Just call me Ashar.” Ashar said as he turned for the last time before going to his suite.
Saleha stood beside black beauty, trailing Ashar’s back in the dark. He was surely handsome and loved by his employees. Their was absence of this ego of power and richness but their was something about him just too dominant. She was unable to figure it out.
As Ashar tried to sleep in his bed, he remembered the anguish in Sammy’s eyes when he talked about Saleha’s parents. Loosing parents at such young age is really difficult. He can feel her as he also suffered the depression when his parents divorced. Yet he thought, divorces can never be as bad as loosing someone forever and never getting to see them. As for him, though he lives with her father and shares a stronger bond when compared to her mother but at least he has a relief of talking to her whenever he wants. Her thoughts drifted to Saleha. A girl with mediocre height and fair complexion. Big almond eyes and fine beautiful hairs. She doesn’t look ordinary. Her experiences has definitely given her strength and that made her stand out of all the girls.
Mr. Bing did mentioned about hiring a 28 year old indian girl. And now that he met the girl, he felt proud as LA PARINE has the most amazing people working in it.
The night was cool and suddenly Ashar realized that was no light except at the Eiffel Tower. He wandered around it and then he saw someone in silver silk dress coming towards him. He could not recognize that figure but as it came closer, he realized it was Saleha! He stood with silence mesmerized by the silvery moonlight coming from her. He motioned himself towards her and in no time, they were involved in a passionate kiss. Ashar felt the brimming happiness but then he heard the clamping sound. His eyes opened and he realized the complete darkness.He stretched himself only to realize that he was in his room and lying on his bed and there was clamping of balcony window. He laid motionless on his bed thinking about the dream he never thought would occur to him. What made him fantasize about Saleha was still a mystery for him. He smiled at the thought. One thing he was sure of was that he will be going to visit Eiffel Tower tomorrow. He grabbed his pillow and turned side to sleep.
The next evening Ashar visited Eiffel Tower and he did not see Saleha in silver silk dress but was stunned to see her in blue denim shirt and white pants. was his dream going to come true?
“hey there” Ashar said.
“Hey! How are you?and what are you doing here? oh.i mean..I think that’s really an stupid please ignore it.” Saleha said laughing.
“so did you came here all alone? ” Ashar asked
“Yes. There was no one to accompany me so I thought lets trip myself.”
The evening was going really smooth for both of them. They talked about his life in different countries and about her life in India. He realised that she did not opened up much about her but she definitely was a passionate thinker. It was after an age that he felt he was in deep talking with a girl.
“Everyone loved having you around, Ashar. They love your company and I have never seen anyone backbiting you.They say you never make them feel like a staff but always like a family member. “Saleha said.
“I never understand why there is demarcation on the basis of money. My hotels are because of my staff and they deserve all my respect and attention. its because of them that we hold good position and ultimately its their hard work. They are always my family and this is why I never fail to show them my love and to be honest, I never expect them to title me as Sir. And you know what, its all been taught by my father and that’s why its in my roots.” He said looking deep in her eyes.
“You are a good soul.” Saleha said tapping his arm. That stirred a hotness between them and in no minutes their lips met with each others. It was definitely magical but Saleha broke from the kiss and took a step back.
“well I gotta go. ” She said fondling with her handbag.
“we are going to same place I guess, so I will drop you. ” Ashar replied.
She did not exhibit any reluctance and soon they drove off to the hotel in complete silence.
Ashar parked his car and accompanied her to staff area.
“I had a lovely time with you, Saleha. You are an amazing person.” He said in front of th stable.
“Yeah me too.” Saleha replied looking atcthe ground.
They both went to their respective paths.
Ashar thought about his dream while he lay leisurely in his bed. A dream which came true more or less. His lips curved into a smile as he thought of her. She was not an ordinary girl. He thought.
Saleha mulled over only one sentence for the entire night. you are an amazing person
Ashar always loved the environment at LA PARINE PARIS. It was always happy and now it was happier as he enjoyed Saleha’s company. They would caress Black beauty together. Saleha told her the species and specialty of entire flora present around the hotel. They would discuss life as they lay on the hay beneath the open sky . Ashar has definitely missed all these his entire life.He took her to dinner with her for a day or two and there was no awkwardness. It definitely didn’t gave the idea of an date but of two good friends hanging together. He was definitely spending the most beautiful time of his life he never felt with any woman in his life.
On Friday, a day before he was suppose to leave Paris and to be in Canada, his home, he received a call from Zarrar. The happiness in his voice informed Ashar of some happy news.
“So my lil bro, I can sense the happiness! Tell me the reason fast.”
“I wanted to tell you face to face but I guess it has to be on the phone. well your lil brother is all set to settle for one woman. and guess who is she.Amber. You remember my friend from the university.”Zarrar said with happiness.
“ohh definitely, Amber with whom you did your presentation and ended up ruining it as a prank. You never told me something was cooking between you too.”
“No bro. I just met her a week ago after long 5 years and I knew she has to be the one.” Zarrar said
“But are you sure my …”
“yes yes yes. its not typical love trust me. It’s more than that. its real and its meant to be forever. I knew you would be shocked if I tell you I just meant her one week ago.But its meaningful and its beautiful. ” Zarrar explained as he cut through Ashar’s sentence.
“I trust you Zarrar.And I know when you think its true then it has to be. I wish you all the very best my bro and please return a little early from London . I will be leaving for home tomorrow. ”
“Just two meetings left and I think I will be there by Thursday. Dad told me to plan for engagement as soon as possible so we will be discussing it when I get home. aren’t you excited? ” Zarrar said brimming with happiness.
“oh you bet?” Ashar replied.
After the phone call , his thoughts instantly drew to his own life.then to his love life and then to Saleha. He shook her head to remove her picture from his mind but he was unable to do so.
what is happening he thought.
For the first time in his life he was so excited to meet his family. He couldn’t wait to see Zarrar and listen his tales about how he found his love. He smiled as he imagined big brown eyes of his little brother who was grown up now to start his own family. As the flight took off, he felt a heaviness in his chest. As if he was leaving something behind. Something which was important to be delivered off before biding good bye. He recalled Saleha’s face at the airport. She didn’t spoke to him much during his departure but he could still feel the lingering fragrance of her scent. The hug was a casual one. But the fragrance was unusual. It filled his head and he could not stop it from taking over him until he came up to a conclusion. A conclusion which could have been reached at Paris. but never mind, nothing is lost. He smiled to himself as he thought.
Canada was his place. He felt a great closeness to ottawa. He had always loved his home. Its interior, exterior and its great vibes.
The union of the “Great Ali family” was always lavish. To the great lush dinners to games they enjoy, it certainly was a happy place for all of them.
Ashar met his cousins and spent days with the little kids his sisters had. His happiness was brimming out and everyone in the house can sense it. He was definitely happy and his mind was at peace as he did already reached conclusion and there was no fear, no further thoughts regarding it.
The day of his arrival was well spent and in night he stood in his father’s balcony having late night coffee with him and discussing about the engagement party they are going to have for Amber and Zarrar.
“So its all done about engagement then, but when I am going to have one for my elder son.” His dad said, winking at him as if he was talking to his adolescent son.
Asher laughed hard and then said “well may be the next day?”
This definitely made his father raise and eyebrow.
“if its true then I am the happiest person alive on earth right now. Tell me the name of my daughter in law.”
“Saleha.” Ashar said.
The next two hour went so quickly that he didn’t realised that he was discussing his love life with his father. The bond between them was always strong.
“But my son, you haven’t even talked to her about it.”
“ohh yes dad, I realised this on my way to Canada. I know I have to talk to her about it. I don’t want to delay it but Zarrar will be back in two days and I couldn’t figure out what to do next. ” Ashar said with frustration.
“well my son. let me tell you what you have to do.”
Saleha had missed Ashar every single second. She fought with her emotions at the airport. Scolded herself for behaving like his girlfriend. Even laughed at herself for thinking something so stupid. But she was unable to control her emotions. Her frustration grew as the day passed but Ashar didn’t even rang her once. Her mind mocked her at this but her heart was reluctant to realise anything. She was drowning in her thoughts but then the doorbell rang.
uncle might be home. She thought.
what she saw at door was unimaginable. Her eyes grew wider and wider as she stared at the tall handsome figure standing in front of her with a red rose.
“Asher…” she said and let her mouth be open.
Ashar’s heart raced at her sight and he felt himself drowning in her big black eyes.
they stared at each other for good two minutes. And later what came was not less than a storm.A storm of emotion.
in no minutes, she was in his arms as he held her by the waist tightly. Their lips met and ignited the fire. He cupped his face and looked directly in her eyes.
He got his answer. He placed a kiss on his forehead and knelt down on one knee.
Saleha was again dumbstruck at this sight. Next what she heard left her stunned with happiness and emotions.
“Saleha Khan, I love you. Will you marry me?”
She could have been a bit less dazed on first sentence but second one was beyond imagination. there was no looking back. This was something she always wanted. Marriage. A promise of love for the lifetime.
She took hold of her hand and said the right word.
He embraced her harder and then took out a small box his father had given him that night. It had the most beautiful ring Saleha has ever seen. He placed it at her finger and thus declaring his love.
They smiled to each other and made the promise to love each other through their eyes.
The Great Ali family celebrated many events that year. Not only the engagement of Zarrar and Ashar but also their Marriages. The next year was also set to bring happiness. New Ali heirs were about to come to beautify their lives.