Unknown Love - by Wajeeha Zameer

Love wasn’t always a hardship. There were times when love had been a blessing, a relief, and a saviour. Sadly, his tarnished soul had forgotten that love was found often in the most difficult of times: in periods of trial. Love that we do not actively seek is often the kind that brings us hope and joy. Love becomes the flame that lights up the soul and banishes internal darkness.

Would this be the case with him? Would he ever find love? Tall, dark, and handsome with his rugged looks, he was the kind of man every woman dreamed of. However, in his little town, his very own town, he was feared. He was a man whose soul was blackened to the core and etched with the scars of his tormented past. He was a ruler who was feared. He was known for his temper and harsh rules. Yet, he was all alone, even in his thoughts. No one knew how much he yearned for someone who would be with him. Someone soft and gentle, someone who knew how to laugh. Laughter. It was a sound that was quite alien to him. He rarely smiled. Even his friends wouldn’t dare to laugh with him. They were intensely loyal to him yet they also knew there were doors that were barred, maybe forever.

Why? Why were the doors barred? His childhood had been a dark and bleak one, though his mother was married to the chief of the tribe, her existence was nothing more than that of a dust mite. Maybe, his father valued the dust mite more. His memories of his childhood were of cold and silent corridors and hushed sounds as if tears were being muffled. His father’s loud voice, his mother’s ushering him away, everything was still vivid in his memory. He turned and twisted as he smelled the foul breath of his now-dead father in his sleep. As the night turned into dawn, he opened his eyes with much relief. With these thoughts and images fresh in his mind, he spent yet another restless night and as soon as the first light broke, he readied his horse and rode away.

He rode over hills, meadows and through creeks, battling with his own mind, while he looked out for any trespassers. Tired, with the sun bearing right over him, he stopped over a hill and from where he stood, he saw her. Her identity was unknown, maybe she was a member of one of his villages on the outer edge. Still, he was fascinated by her. She was playing with her lamb and a dog. As she chased after the frolicking lamb, her dog yipped and ran after her. As she caught the little lamb, her dog caught up with her and jumped on top of her, unbalancing her, causing all three to land in a heap. The wind began to flow through her hair and blew her golden locks in all directions, covering her face. That was when he heard her laugh, the sound so melodious and sweet that he was mesmerized by it. He got off his horse and started down the hill as if tranced by her laughter. As he came close to them, the three mischievous creatures stopped their antics and the girl hastily stood up only to be pulled down by her dog, causing her to laugh again. With no thought in mind, he pulled her to himself and looked straight into her eyes. Her dark eyes clashed with his deep green ones. In the twenty-five years of his existence, he was used to being feared. Yet, she was the one person who did not shy away from him. She held his stare and then burst out laughing, pulling herself free, as she ran. He stood there watching her go. Amazed, dazzled by the beauty he had discovered in a green meadow.

Still, in a daze, he got up on his horse again and rode away. That evening, when he got back to the homestead, there was a reminiscence of a smile on his face. As he glanced around, he saw everything in a different light as if he was seeing these things for the first time.

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