She calls this room my “hujrah” (cloister / man-cave).
This is my operational room. This is where I monitored the entire 2013 elections, and in the words of my cousin Sidra, “as a one-man army”. This is where I read, I write, I cozy up in to my lonely self and spend time thinking, smoking, taking tea or coffee, use internet, go “social”, do multimedia of all types depending on my mood and just be with myself – most of the time just sit and do nothing.
This room was once a bedroom, it is designed and constructed as a bedroom, but sometime ago, my business failed, I converted it in to a study room of sorts, and brought some fresh looking furniture from my failed enterprise in to this room and made it in to my study. It has all the things I need for being with myself, my books, shelves, and stationery, my gadgets, my internet connection, and an attached washroom. This room also serves as a drawing room when my closest friends visit me.
This room is my favorite place to be in the entire house; when I am home, I prefer being here than in any other corner of the house.
So this room is the place where I actually work, my cabin in the office is just where I spend some time putting files and papers here and there to earn money. This room is where I find peace, and solitude; my friend and companion since I was a young boy of middle teenage. I got so much used to being alone growing up that nothing could change my pattern of life in wanting “quality time” alone.
This room is no ordinary room, or ordinary study, it is a multipurpose room. It is my fiefdom, a territory I rule; my cave, my pride, and my kingdom. I feel extremely agitated and annoyed when my brothers visit just because I have to empty this make-shift study to make room for them to stay. I often pray they don’t come to Pakistan just because of my fear that I would have to hand over my sovereignty over this room to them temporarily. I often argue with my father that we should move to some place bigger just because I need to keep a permanent study room which I don’t have to empty every once or twice in a year.
Ever since she came in to my life, many things changed but some habits are impossible to shake off. And for all her shortcomings I disliked her most for being a permanent intruder in my lonely life. I really used to get angry at this permanent wifely nuisance poking in to every important thing I possessed. However, with time, she made a compromise, like other compromises she made since she married me. She learned to respect my lifestyle. She understood my need for being alone. She also understood that I am extremely moody, and very slow at processing things, I need a lot of time to sit alone, think through things, fight my fears, and make up my mind and make a decision. And since the conversion of this room in to my hujrah, she also learned to respect my sovereignty over this room. This is one place in my life, one possession I have, which she would not trespass. This is the only place where she would knock to ask if she can come in.
Multi-tasking is not in my nature, my slow brain starts breaking down whenever it has to do things simultaneously. I have a very short memory, and a very small attention span. I cannot concentrate on anything if there are distractions; I cannot study and concentrate at the same time without pin drop silence. So understanding how I am, my body and my mind have developed certain personality traits which I can hardly control or change any more. I feel extremely annoyed when disturbed in the middle of something important, and I lose any focus or concentration that I had which often results in my giving up of the task at hand. So I generally prefer doing one thing at a time given the slow and easily distractible nature of my brain.
Even with her respect for my solitude and my desire for being alone for some time, she would still often come knocking at my door, and with my reluctant permission, she would open the door and display her teeth asking questions that would blow my mind away “chaye peeni hai?”, “khana kab khana hai?”, “Suno! wo Kayseria pe sale lagi hai, mujhe le chalo”, and “Acha! ab siyasat band kar do, so jao” and things like that. I could hardly endure the impunity of such questions, or advices for that matter.
Now I reconcile, she had many qualities, she is a brave woman; had she not been able to take care of most of the worries in my life, I would not have been able to hole up in to this room for couple of hours or more every day. She would give me no cause for concern about what is going on in the house, with my son, as well as with my elderly parents. And the impunity of her questions was in itself the greatest evidence of her courage, for I am certainly quite eccentric and unstable to be challenged like that.
Now I sit for hours after hours in this room waiting for her to knock at my door. I look in to these walls, the gadgets and the books, and they haunt me. I feel so lonely here, lonelier than I was forced to be at young age to adopt loneliness as a second nature. I wish her to come knocking at my door several times a day, displaying her teeth, asking all sorts of stupid questions. I wish she knew that ever since she is fighting her condition, I don’t even talk about current political affairs.
I just sit here, and think of the days that have gone by, look at her lab reports, and think of the future. If I could find a place in the entire world where I could find solace and peace for her, where worries, pain, and disease would not follow her, I would put all my mental and physical abilities to find and reach that place, build a small house there; sufficient enough for us and take her there. I would want to tell her that nothing will come between us ever again, no politics, no big books, and no big plans for changing the world – only if I could just change myself; be a good husband to her and a good father to our child, and be a good person to our small world – that would be one big change for my world.
I want her to know that she is worth more than other things in my life put together, and I want her to know that without her my life is a barren waste land where even ideas seem to be drying up, let alone any happy desires to carry on. I hope she knows that in her heart.