Promise By Fazila Bilal

In the dark shady street, of a chilly night, he used to walk through the narrow street; with, a thousand voices in his head. The living in the town was now slipping out of his hands, and he was unable to keep a hold on.

“The very minute you start thinking upon yourself, will let you know that, from how much pain you’re going through.” the lady on the bench he sat, turn on his face, made an eye contact and said, “So, stop telling yourself that you’re hurt!” she took her vegetable basket, removed the snow from her fine woolen over coat and went on. Josh looked at her until she disappeared from his sight. He didn’t even try to stop her and ask who she was. Perhaps, because she said the right thing?

“Welcome! Welcome! Mr. Josh Mathews, can I know the very date and that memorable day when you’ll deposit the money in my account? So, I can move on thinking whether…” Josh hand over the all-day earning to the landlady Mrs. Gillsmith.

“Oh, you better start telling your Nancy to stop listening to Opera. I, I… whatever” Josh walks over as if he didn’t listen a single word the lady said.

“I prepared a fine lamb and your favorite salad, and a honey toast will be served you as a desert.” Nancy narrated the list of the dinner as a menu card of the restaurant.

“Okay; now please describe the “Honey Toast”, please” asked Josh, as he was habitual of listening some new deserts Nancy use to cook.

“Well honey, it’s nothing but a simple toast with honey spread on. You see, I don’t really have a mood to bake a cake or…”

“Or you were short of money..?”

Josh raised a question over Nancy.

“Hon…”

“I know it, I really know what I worth off. Please don’t make fake worth of mine, please!”

“Come here, come.” Nancy held Josh’s hand and took him to her study, the paradise for Nancy on this planet.

“See this? This is, what, you’re worth of. It a dream of mine, and am living it just because of you, Josh. I wasn’t worth it; you made all this to me.”

Nancy was a little child when she lost her parents, and now living with Mrs. Gillsmith as a “non-paid servant”. Mrs. Gillsmith was a relative of Nancy’s father, and there was no other relative from neither her mother nor father’s side. Therefore, she was forced to live a slavery life under Mrs. Gillsmith’s horrific authority. Nancy used to work entire day and at the end with the rotted meal she get a single penny, which she used to save a one entire year to get able to buy a book.

Nancy’s parents didn’t die due to their illness but they died because they’ve not enough money to get a doctor’s treatment, and as the town was too small, there was not any good clinic or a doctor, or if there was, it was out the range Nancy’s father could afford.

Josh was not a permanent resident of that small town. But he used to live in the grand city of USA, New York. He was in the small town with his a wish of his late father, whom town was it. Josh’s father wished to back in his childhood town and make it a place worth living. But with his limited earning, he hardly made Josh a well-educated man. But as Josh started work, a great recession took place everywhere in, one of the world’s grand countries, so, Josh lost his job in New York City and find a small accountant’s job in a school of the small town.

“I always wanted to come here like a grown man, not like this, a growing man.” He used to tell himself so.

Josh met Nancy for the very first time when he was in search of a house in the town.

“Oh, I am sorry. I, I…” Josh hit a bucket full of dirty water and it all spread on the clean floor.

“Oh, you must not be. Its quiet fine.” Nancy answers him in a surprisingly soft tone and a smile on her face. She cleans up the floor and went on.

“How much do you earn?” Mrs. Gillsmith asked straight and forward from Josh.

“Mam, can you please let me know how much rent do you take for this apartment?” Josh asked in a slighter tone.

Mrs. Gillsmith started thinking. She was habitual of asking the paying guests how much they earn and then she tell them the rent.

Right where Josh seated, there was a mirror on the wall, he set his muffler round his neck and was about say something but Nancy stop him, who was there and listened all the discussion. Josh excused Mrs. Gillsmith and went out from the room.

“Don’t ever let her know how much do you earn, she’ll, trap you, and you’ll be trapped, ever, forever.” Nancy told Josh everything hurriedly.

“Why are you telling me all this? Are you interested in me?” Josh asked Nancy.

“I am telling you because I don’t want you to live a slavery life as I am living.” Answered Nancy.

Again her softer tone surprised Josh. And he realized he was too stupid asking such a question from such a nice girl. Soon Mrs. Gillsmith came to the hallway and said, “You can live here”

“Thankya…” Before Josh could complete Mrs. Gillsmith started giving him instructions.

Josh tried to listen but Nancy’s secret smile captured him and he ignored the entire summons from the horrific lady.

Josh started living there. He used to notice Nancy all-day if he’s home. Whenever he comes back to his apartment, from the office, in the evening, he find Nancy in the garden reading some stuff, in a little corner of the garden, where there is a little cage of the birds having no bird inside. One day Josh asked Nancy,

“Why there are no birds in this cage?”

“Would you like to be chained and having all your stuff around you? Nancy raised the question while reading the book.

“What would I do with all my desired stuff if I am chained?” Josh asked Nancy.

“Then why do cage little birds then?” Nancy left another sound example on Josh.

Josh always brings a flower for Nancy on his return from the office, and left it on the destructed small quarter’s door where Nancy used to live. But he neither tell her nor left any note with his name or so. But Nancy always gives a thanksgiving smile to Josh every morning.

“Dinner is here. Where are you? Mr. Mathews!” Nancy woke up josh from his thoughtful sleep.

“I was in that time when I left bringing up flower for you and you asked me one morning why I not bring flowers…”

“Start eating Josh!” Nancy interrupted Josh.

“You never tell me, never…” Josh complained.

Nancy and Josh ate up the dinner. Nancy brings the honey toasts for both with a cup of black coffee for each. She made a tray and as she could walk through the hallway, she looks and opens letter. She open and start reading.

“Hey Honey! You got a job in New York City?” Nancy asked Josh

“Yeah, Yeah! I do” Josh said as if he doesn’t care what a lavish job he got. And with it all their woes would came to an end. They can leave that filthy apartment and can break the chains in which Mrs. Gillsmith tied them up.

Mrs. Gillsmith had kept Nancy because her father was in debt of her. And she therefore never allowed her to study as she was beware of the brilliance of Nancy, and she knew if she would study she would lose a non-paid servant. It was after Josh proposed Nancy and promised her,

“Nancy, I am not fond of your deep blue eyes, wood colored hair and those cherry red lips. I am actually fond of “what you actually are”. I won’t promise that I would never ever let you cry, because I won’t ask you to be a stone statue. But I promise, together I and you would reach our dreams. I would make you study in a medical college. I would take your dreams in me and all your dreams will come true. I promise you would have your dream study area, it’ll be all yours and yours…”

Nancy filled with a courage and she went in the destructed room of her, opened the box of her father that was the last belonging of Mr. Blond, Nancy’s father. Nancy brought the gold broach of his father, the only thing his father didn’t sold even during their dark days of inflation, as this was a lot dear to Mr. Blond, because he brought the broach on his wedding day.

“This broach was the only dear thing to my father and so to me, he kept it safe all his life.” Nancy told Josh while putting the broach on his coat.

“One day I, by mistake, broke a glass platter of Mrs. Gillsmith, and she beat me up till death, even then I didn’t give it to her. This means a lot to me. No one ever notice how much I am fond of studying but you did. It means all, to me.” She added, smiled with little tears in her eyes.

“I love you, Nancy!” said Josh to Nancy. By going on his knees, he took out a rose flower out of his coat, and ask; “Nancy? Would ya… you, marry me?”

Nancy nodded her head with a yes, “Yes Mr. Josh Mathews, I would love to.”

Josh grabs her hand and took her inside the corridor as it started raining. But Nancy, like a little child went back in the rain and pulled Josh as well, both started dancing as the world was theirs and no one was there anymore.

“Josh, how much fingers are these?” Nancy showed Josh her three opened fingers.

“Nancy?” Josh said as if Nancy lost her senses.

“Josh, don’t you know what does it means? You would get rid of all your woes. You would not need to do this grimy peon job anymore; it’s a big multi-national company with a clear growth for you. You…” Nancy said to Josh.

“I know, I know My Love. But more than my woes, your dreams are here in my eyes. Your clinic for those poor families of the town, these children who come here to study from us, are far more important for me. I can’t let all of them down.” Josh told Nancy.

“Honey! We’re running through a recession, we’re having no more money for the clinic not for buying books for these little children. If you’ll join this job, together we’ll reach your dream as well Hon!” said Nancy to Josh. “You fulfill your promise; you made me a good doctor now it’s your turn sweetheart.” she added.

“I don’t want to leave you alone here, an… and, I can’t live without you alone there.” Josh admit.

“Oh Honey! As soon as you’ll save a bunch of money you would come back here, and do buy this building from Mrs. Gillsmith, and…” Nancy was condoling Josh while he interrupted and said; “Honey! Do you want me to die?”

“Josh” Nancy grumbled.

“You know, what she did when I went to her with your proposal. I was almost half dead. And this isn’t a building. It’s seepage of a grubby gutter. And I am not goanna buy such a sloppy place.” Josh spit out his anger for Mrs. Gillsmith.

“Why do you hate her that much? Tell me” asked Nancy.

“The days she used to treat you like slaves, I can never forget her treatment with you. And still she is the same creepy creature. But you will never say a word to her. Always smile and smile and… smile. Huh!” Josh continued his anger words on Mrs. Gillsmith.

“Don’t you like my smile?” Nancy asked childishly

“Off course I love it My Love!” Josh realized Nancy.

“So, its decided you’re going to New York City” said Nancy “Honey you…” Josh was interrupted by Nancy, “Tomorrow morning” she ordered Josh.

“Whatever you ask “My Lord”.” Josh assured Nancy, and they continue watching television.

Next morning at sharp 8 am, Nancy packed all the important stuff Josh might need there. Josh got ready to go and came to the hallway, stopped and start staring at Nancy with affection.

“Honey! Why’d you stop over there? Come have breakfast.” said Nancy to Josh.

As Nancy turn over Josh held her hand and said; “Again I promise you My Love, I would come back and we’ll build this town by ourselves and most important I would love you this much and more.”

“How ambitious you are!” Nancy wondered.

“Because “I stop telling me that I am hurt”. Because you tell me that bad day go away as soon as you let your pain forgotten, and the “good days” stays as long as you remember them, give priority to them more than those bad days. And Love, these eight months we’re together, I won’t let them gone forgotten. I always remember them because; I want to stay happy ever, forever.” Josh ended his last words face to face Nancy.

For the next five years Nancy and Josh became apart from each other. Everyday josh used to call Nancy in the night when he returns his hostel from office. Nancy and Josh used to take dinner when Josh calls Nancy. They spend more than an hour on the phone. Within the fifth year, Josh stopped calling Nancy. He just once told her that he’ll now goanna do over time at office from now. And from then he never called back, neither Nancy did. During theis time, Mrs. Gillsmith started brain washing of Nancy against Josh she said he left her here and married some other woman there in NYC. Nancy never listened her. Josh used to send some money and a note to Nancy that he miss her a lot but due to heavy work there, he’s unable to call her. Five years have flown away. Nancy was still that stunning lady Josh was fond of. One day while Nancy was in her kitchen she heard Mrs. Gillsmith shouting, “You don’t worth it, you can’t do it to me, I am owner here. I own this entire building. You hear me? Leave me, leave me.”

Nancy looked down through the window. Cops were holding Mrs. Gillsmith, and a man with black hat and fine woolen over coat was standing aside, having his hands inside his coat’s pockets. Nancy ran down the stairs, and as soon as she could reach there, the man turned on her, Nancy was stunned. Josh was there. He told that he find a lawyer friend in New York City, from whom he came to know that this building belongs to Nancy’s father. He took some debt from Mrs. Gillsmith due to which Nancy father put the building as mortgage to the lady, and she even didn’t give the actual amount of the building to her father.

Nancy wasn’t at all interested in what Josh said to her. She just knew that she’s no more alone there. And that Josh’s woes and their dark days have ended now. Josh brought another building from his saving to create a grand hospital for the town’s poor people. He also brought a team of doctors with him to serve there. The building of apartments was renewed and converted into a home of poor road people. Josh and Nancy themselves buy a house in the countryside which was nearer to the town as well as to New York City. Josh continued his job and was promoted as an M.D. of the Company. In the day time, when Josh used to go to the office, Nancy used to look over the hospital. Josh used to take Nancy from hospital in his brand new car and went to the Blond’s Palace, the home for the poor road people, take dinner with them. And drive back home with Blond, Nancy and Josh’s little son.

“What make you so popular dad?” ask Blond to Josh.

“It’s a promise” answered Josh to Blond.

“What Promise dad?” little boy asked a question again.

Josh answered humbly that “The promise that no matter what happened to me, it was already written in my faith; by ‘god‘. But as soon as I move on with a smile and contented attitude that ‘I isn’t in pain any more’ I would be a happy creature in the world.” Josh kissed Blond’s innocent face and curved his lips with a smile.
The End

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