By Mozhgan Mahjoob

Suhail and Nargis studied commerce at Aga Khan college in Karachi, Pakistan, but they were in different cohorts. They never met. Yet it was written in their destiny to cross each other’s paths someday. After graduation Suhail came back to Kabul and got a job in the finance department of a telecom company, while Nargis migrated to Tajikistan with her family, and after a year they settled in Canada. One day while looking at his Facebook “suggested friend” list Suhail saw a very beautiful photo of a girl called “Lutdee.”

She was so attractive, so cute, that Suhail gazed at her for a while and spontaneously sent her a friend request. A year passed, and he was disappointed that Lutdee never accepted his friend request. He forgot about her. Then Suhail received a notification from Facebook; “Lutdee has accepted your friendship request, you can chat and call her now.”

Suhail was puzzled. He sent a message, “hi, do I know you?”

She replied, “No, and I don’t know you. You sent me the friendship request, so I accepted.”

Then Suhail remembered her. She was the beautiful girl whose friendship he requested one year ago. Her profile photo had changed—now it was more beautiful and attractive than before. On chat he asked her, “tell me a little about yourself.”

She wrote back, “my name is Nargis, my nickname is Lutdee, and I live in Canada with my family. I studied commerce in Pakistan and continue my studies in accounting now.”

When she mentioned the college where she studied he told her, “I studied commerce there too, but it is strange that I never saw you there.”

Their friendship started this way, by chatting on messenger: from the discussions of normal daily life to long stories and jokes. One day Nargis said, “I want to talk to you.”

Suhail who was impatiently waited to talk to her for the last few days, felt surprised and told her, “yes, please. I would like to talk to you too.” Then she called him and for the first time he heard her voice which was so unique and pleasing. It had a relaxed tone that attracted Suhail to her more. They talked over messenger for a while and laughed over some jokes and memories of their college, and soon Suhail grew dependent on texting her daily. They had different lifestyles. She was in Canada and he was in Kabul. He never thought to love her; it really seemed impossible for him. But after four months of chatting and talking he fell in love. Suhail loved all her habits, her chats, her behavior, her voice, her face, her beautiful smile, and her eyes. She was his dream girl, and he was more than happy to have finally found her.

Suhail was not very handsome and he’d never fallen in love before. He didn’t know how to express his love, and he didn’t know what to do if Lutdee rejected him. But he could not live without her. He could not imagine marrying another girl, especially now that he was so attached to her. His heart beat only for her.

Unlike Suhail, Nargis was very attractive: pretty, sweet, with an almost too perfect purity. She lived in Canada, 9,978 kilometers from him, and he didn’t know if they would be together in the future. Would she be his destiny? Would he be able to see her one day? All he knew was that these realities—different life styles, different standards, different countries and the distance between them—would not stop him from loving her. He wanted her for the entirety of his life. Until death separated them, Suhail was hers. Therefore, one day he said, “I see you as more than just a friend.”

She said, “no, you shouldn’t do that. We are just friends.”

But he insisted: “I love you and I really mean it.”

Nargis was not hard-hearted. She enjoyed the flattery and felt some mischief that made her smile. “Well,” she messaged Suhail, “if this is true, then impress me enough that I accept you.”

Suhail asked, “how should I do that?”

She wrote, “I don’t know, but I will give you points when you impress me, until the end of the year. If you get a hundred points I will say ‘yes’ to you; otherwise, you should forget me forever.” Suhail eagerly accepted her conditions and promised her that he would get “yes” from her at the end of the year. But he didn’t know how to impress her: he’d never had any relationships with girls before. He thought a lot about it that night and he decided to talk to Darya, one of his colleagues at the telecom company. Being a girl, she would definitely know what really impresses girls.

During the lunch break in the office Suhail said, “Darya I need your advice in a personal matter since in the whole office I only trust you because you are like a family member.”

“Yes, please go ahead,” Darya added.

“Actually, I love a girl,” Suhail begun and felt shy. “Her name is Lutdee and she lives abroad. I have to impress her to win her heart but I don’t know how, can you please let me know how to impress her?”

Darya smiled and told him, “be faithful to her and do not make her love you unless you will marry her. Be yourself, be true, never deceive her, and be a man that she sees in her future. Anything you promise her, stand by your word and be a real lover to love the way she is. Let her feel special and that’s all I can tell you.”

“Do you think that she would accept me as her husband since she has better suitors than me,” Suahil asked.

“She would because none of her suitors will become yourself and that’s what which makes you different than the rest,” Darya replied. “Just listen to your heart because it always shows you the correct way and go ahead then be sure that Lutdee will be with you in the future.”

Suhail agreed. He decided to win Nargis’s heart and to get the hundred points from her. They both agreed to keep their relationship private until the end of the year. Then, if she said yes to him, they would tell their families, close friends, and relatives. The year was supposed to start tomorrow. Every night in Kabul was the beginning of the morning where she lived in Canada. Suhail stayed awake until late into the night, just to write a “good morning” text message for her, so that when she first came online she would read his text message, which was a couplet:

“You are special for me
I make you laugh to love me.”

With this first, short poem he wanted to impress her and earn a point for day one. He was not a poet, and he never studied poetry and poems. He had always worked with numbers and figures, but as Darya said, “when you are in love all the beautiful words in the world come to your mind, and you can express your heart through a poem.” Suhail believed that, when love is true, the earth, the sky and all the forces of nature will bring the lovers together.

As soon as Nargis read his poem in the morning she smiled and gave him one point. That night he could happily sleep in his yard under the black sky filled with sparkling stars. Another day Suhail prepared a video using Nargis’s beautiful photos and he shared it with her. She liked it and gave him another point. In order to prove to her that he was a reliable man, he got a part time job at another organization and Nargis gave him more points.

On the night before Nargis’s birthday Suhail was awake until after midnight preparing a birthday cake. To be the first to celebrate her birthday he waited until she came online and then he cut her birthday cake from that far distance on a video call. He also bought a special golden necklace with the carved name “Lutdee” on it, and asked one of his friends in Canada to send it to her with a bouquet of red roses. She was surprised. She liked it and she gave him more points.

On International Women’s Day, he prepared a special card and wrote another couplet for her and sent it:

“Are you the moon or star?
I madly love what you are.”

He got another point. Suhail continued texting her a good morning message every morning and wishing her a happy day. If she said she was busy he did not disturb her. He could sense if she was sad, and would send her a joke to make her happy. She always replied to him and if she replied late she apologized; but it was all right with Suhail because he wanted to give her the time and space that she needed.  Suhail always called her by her nickname, and one day she asked, “what is my real name?”

He wondered and said, “Lutdee, right?”

She said, “I’ve told you my real name. It seems that you’ve forgotten it?” In anger she deducted ten points from him and told him, “if you don’t know my real name by tomorrow I will stop talking to you.”

Suhail stayed awake until morning, checking all his messages until he found one that said her name was “Nargis.” He called her that morning and said, “I know that your real name is Nargis.” She was happy to hear this; she didn’t want to lose him. Suhail learned that he should remember every single detail about her, so he would not lose points.

When it was Valentine’s Day he gifted her a golden ring. She was very excited; how had he managed to send her such a precious and beautiful gift from so far away? Suhail received more points. One day Nargis told him about the ACCA accounting course that she wished to participate in it; therefore, Suhail studied the ACCA Course online, and then he passed the exam in Pakistan. Suhail got the highest score of all the participants in the exam, and Nargis was very happy and gave him more points.

Suhail lived to make her happy and whatever he did he considered her happiness first. During the year they never fought and he never got angry at her. He was always there for her. He always treated her like a queen since she really was the queen of his heart. They had mutual respect and understanding of each other. She knew   he worked hard since he financially supported his family, and Suhail also worked hard to impress her, to give her the feeling that he was the man of her life.

During the year Suhail even kept a fast for an extra month a month and prayed all the time that she would say “yes” to him at the end of the year. Then finally, it was the end of the year and time to tell him if he had received a passing score from her. Was he the man to whom she would say yes? Suhail wrote his last poem on a message that he sent her:

“To my beloved”

I found you on the Facebook
Then I couldn’t overlook
I sent you the friendship
After a year of hardship,
You added me as friend
And the waiting was to end.
Then our love had begun
Texting, calling and chatting
I sent you jokes and photos
I carved “Lutdee” as tattoos.
I fell in love suddenly
Since you were so friendly
I told you that: “I love you.”
And you asked me, “is it true?
Impress me if you can!
If you really are the one.”
Then I proved in a year
That I’m the man my dear
You are the queen just for me
I’m all yours, as you see,
I am waiting for a “yes!”
If you call it “impress.”

In response to his last poem, Nargis finally sent him a sentence that he was waiting to hear for the entire year: “Yes, yes and yes.” Suhail could not forget the moment that happiness fell from his eyes in the shape of tears. It was the best moment in his life. She’d said yes to him; that meant she loved him too, and he’d succeeded at getting those hundred “passionate impression points” from her. It meant that he could ask her hand in marriage, and he did so.

Nargis told him, “I only wanted to make sure that you truly love me and you were serious about the marriage. During the year, giving you points was just encouragement, so that you’d become successful in your life. I couldn’t find a better man than you to marry.” Suhail told her that it was time to tell their families. Nargis’s father had passed away, so her brother was the leader of their family. When she informed him, he said “no,” but her mother was happy for her daughter’s happiness. Her mother did not have any issues with their marriage.  Suhail’s family were also happy and excited about his marriage with Nargis.

Nargis’s brother alone opposed the marriage proposal. His sister already had so many suitors who were there in Canada and other countries. They were rich and more handsome than Suhail, but Nargis chose Suhail who was still inside Afghanistan. He had many doubts about their marriage. Her brother wanted to make sure that Suhail truly loved Nargis, and the marriage wasn’t for the purpose of reaching Canada to get Canadian citizenship; Suhail should prove it to him.

After hearing no from Nargis’s brother Suhail wasn’t one to be discouraged or leave the love of his life.  He and Nargis kept fast for a month. Day and night, they both prayed to God that their families accept their marriage proposal. To get her brother’s approval for their marriage Suhail waited three more years. It was then that he received a Special Immigrant Visa to migrate to the United States. His aim was only to marry Nargis, and it didn’t make any difference to him where they lived. He would live with her under a tent, if only to be with her.

He tried to impress Nargis’s brother, and they became good friends at a closer distance. Nargis’s brother knew that he was not after citizenship now. He knew Suhail was the right man for his sister, that he loved her truly, and so he accepted their marriage proposal. Nargis and her family should travel to Pakistan and Suhail should take his family there too, to conduct the wedding ceremony.

It was difficult to get the visas for such a trip, but Suhail managed, and then he went to Pakistan and rented a very beautiful house. Soon, Nargis’s visa was approved and she went to Pakistan too, while her family’s visas were still pending. She took the long flight alone and Suhail arranged to pick her up from the terminal with a bouquet of pink and lavender roses. This was when they finally met.

Suhail wore a white tee-shirt and blue jeans, impatiently waiting for Nargis to arrive at the terminal. Everyone on the flight had come and gone, and the terminal was almost empty, but still no Nargis. As it turned out, customs officers stopped her for questioning at the terminal because she was an Afghan. It was unclear what would happen to her. Suhail’s heart beat very fast, waiting and wondering. The time moved slowly and he walked around and around that terminal so many times, looking at his watch.

Finally, Nargis—his dream bride—came wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, and a white face mask. It was the first time Suhail saw her in person, and he ran toward her and hugged her. It seemed at that moment the time stopped for them. A lovely melody drifted in his head on this most glorious and memorable moment for them both. Suhail saw no one except Nargis. Nargis was more beautiful and purer than her profile photos. Their wedding in Pakistan was like a dream; Suhail married with the love of his life after four years of waiting. A year later Suhail came to Canada, and they settled down together to make their new family.

12 April, 2023