Dating in an Alternative Universe

If you are a DC or Marvel fan, you may be familiar with the idea of alternative universes where reality slightly differs from what we are generally accustomed to. This article is based on a dating trend in an alternative universe, where patriarchy doesn’t exist, and society is dominated by women.

Hashim: Dad we have extra classes at university, so I have to go. My Uber driver is waiting outside.

Dad: Have you asked your mom? Plus even Ahmed’s son studies at your university but doesn’t have extra classes that you’re so fond of attending.

Hashim: Well, that may explain why he isn’t that bright, right? And I have told mom, she just said that I should be back before sunset.

With that being said, Hashim strolled out of his house and was about to enter the white Prius, waiting outside as the Uber cab, before his dad rushed outside in a sense of worry.

Dad: Cover your beard with this cloth, do you know how perverted these Uber drivers are? Remove it once at university, but don’t tell your mom I said this.

Hesitantly, Hashim covered his beard, bid farewell to his father, and occupied the back seat of the Prius while waving his dad goodbye. The car roared into the ignition and slowly rolled across the road before swaying right for a U-turn, getting out of sight of innocent dad still watching the car from his driveway.

Hashim: Alina you can stop the car so I can come and sit alongside you sweetheart.

Alina: Every single time, you fool your dad with this trick. Their daughter-in-law coming as a Uber driver….hahahha…..I thought we were going to be caught red-handed this time.

Hashim: Stop with these harsh statements, please? I can’t even imagine what would happen if my elder sister or Mom saw me like this…..probably stop me from leaving the house or get me married to Mammoo ki beti (Uncle’s son)

Alina: Stop this! You know I can’t live without you and you’re my world.

Hashim: Oh really?!!! Did you say the same to Zain, Bilal, Zarak, and Usama? You would move on to someone else the day we break up.

Alina: BUS KARO!!!! HAR DAFA YEHI BAAT!! MOOT AA JAYAY LEKIN AISA KOI WAQT NA AYAY (You repeat the same dialogue every time and I would rather die than accept our breakup)

An awkward silence followed this episode. By now, both were accustomed to these mini-fights which would erupt due to Hashim’s insecurity and possessive nature who feared that the girl whom he thought the world of, would eventually leave after emotionally manipulating him and entitling him to several guilt trips. On the other hand, Alina, whose previous reputation as being inconsistent and habit of moving on when she had enough, was proving to be a thorn in their brittle relationship, despite her best efforts to bury her past and regularly expressing her love for her significant other half. Despite being aware that she wasn’t wrong, Alina knew that she had to cheer up her pissed, petty boyfriend, who won’t talk unless Alina showed remorse or made an effort to make amends.

Alina: You want something to eat?

Hashim: No! I am not hungry! I had a good breakfast!

Alina: You sure? Dibs on me, I’ll take you wherever you want. McDonald’s? KFC? Burger King?

Hashim: I don’t know…..I can’t decide….you tell me what do you want?

Alina: You tell please, I’m happy with whatever you opt for.

Hashim: Nando’s? I could go for some grilled chicken.

With that answer, Alina steered the wheel of the car in the opposite direction as they headed towards ‘Z’ Block, where Nando’s stood tall alongside the main road. During the journey, they came across a police check-post and that sounded trouble as a couple of lady police officers signaled them to stop the car. Before you begin pondering the reason for this surprising halt, Pakistan was controlled by the conservative Jammat-e-Islami who declared dating as sin with 2-year imprisonment for this act.

Alina: Babe just remember, as practiced…..you are my cousin, Aunt’s son, which explains the different surnames and why there is no similarity in our ID cards.

Hashim nodded in agreement and wrapped his beard in the cloth his dad had earlier handed over as that generally gave a positive vibe to the police who were continuously on the hunt to eradicate dating from the country.

Police Officer: Haan Behan Kahan ja rahi hain partiyan (where are you two lovebirds going)?

Alina: Sir! He’s my cousin and I am taking him to the hospital where his mother is admitted. Heart Problems….

Police Officer: Abbay ja yar, shakal deekh kay pata chal Raha hay maamla Kuch aur hay (I can see that’s not the case)

Alina: If you don’t believe me, would you like to talk to my mother who can confirm this?

The police officer nodded her head in approval and Alina searched for the contact ‘Mummy EMR’ and handed over the phone to the police who talked for around five minutes, and later returned with a sense of assurance and satisfaction.

Police Officer: You’re free to go but I’m confused as she said that his mother had kidney failure but you were referring to heart issues?

Hashim: Sir? Multiple issues have emerged, and there’s no point in arguing which one is more dangerous. Please pray for her as she means the world to me.

This emotional dialogue from a submissive Hashim, who preferred remaining silent throughout the conversation, touched the heart of the police officer who, apologetically, opened the barrier and let the two pass their car, leading to the famous ‘Z-Block’ of DHA. Eventually, they parked their car outside the infamous Nando’s and occupied a table for two.

Hashim: So, does your mom know me? I mean the phone call?

Alina: Oh that? No, it was just Mahnoor who I’ve asked to bail me out of such situations. You see the ‘EMR’ at the end of the contact titled ‘Mummy’ stands for ‘EMERGENCY’. She acts like my mom on the phone and if she also needs such help, I return the favor.

Hearing this master-plan sunk Hashim’s heart. Although the sheer cleverness and brilliance of this diabolic plan evaded them from uninvited trouble, the implementation of this plan paved the way for several daunting thoughts in his mind. The level of confidence shown here does prove that Alina is good at posing to be someone else? The level of coordination and planning is also a clear indicator that Alina was accustomed to such stunts to avoid police attention while on dates but the fact that this was their second date baffled Hashim who began suspecting a lack of loyalty from his lover. Finally, is she non-serious about this relationship? Why don’t her parents know about him? His emotions changed altogether as the bright, gleaming smile accompanied by a pearl of laughter was replaced with a stubborn frown, somewhat similar to how children express when scolded by their parents.

At the other end of the table, Alina’s mind was involved in dissecting the possible reasons for this attitude from Hashim. She got him to a restaurant well above her standards, provided unpaid transportation, begged Mahnoor last night to be prepared to avoid the earlier fiasco yet still Hashim was acting eccentrically. Completely opposite to the romantic date she was day-dreaming last night? Should she ask?

Alina: Is everything all right?

Hashim: Yeah we cool!

Alina: You sure?

Hashim: Can’t you hear properly the first time?

Alina: Oh okay chill!!!!!! What do you want to order?

Hashim: Idk? What did all of your other dates to this place order huh?

Alina: …..you are the first to be treated here?

Hashim: Okay then ask all those whose mothers you sent to the hospital just to avoid the police. I can’t even believe this………you are such a………..all girls have one thing in common……all liars……ALL GIRLS ARE TRASH!!!!!!!!

Alina: WTH??? What are you talking about? I asked Mahnoor last night as I was aware that there’s a check post at the entry point of DHA. Check my WhatsApp if you want to…….I can’t even believe you think like that…….

Hashim: Acha na sorry! I overthink sometimes….

Once both were done explaining their opinions, an unfamiliar silence engulfed the restaurant as the couple showed some anxiety in getting over the events that had unfolded. As an ice-breaker, Alina suggested taking a selfie which both of them uploaded as their Snapchat stories (as family members aren’t added there), and almost simultaneously, their phones were notified of Snapchat replies. Each one of them received replies from their friends who questioned if they were on a date.

Alina’s reply: Yeah sis, gonna have ice-cream later too

Hashim’s reply: NO! She’s my best friend! What are you thinking? Can’t people from opposite genders have a simple lunch together?

Later both of them ordered their food and ate which sharing their dishes. However, there’s an unexplainable habit of the girls from this universe to express their love even if it’s unnecessary.

Alina: You see, this Perri Perri Sauce may be very hot, but we both know someone else’s hotter, right?

Alina: From now on I’ll call you “Perri Perri” instead of “Pyari Pyari”

Before Hashim could even force a smile after receiving these cringe-worthy statements as compliments, a high-pitched murmur from a voice behind Alina made his feet cold. An unfamiliar churning began in his stomach, tongue lost the ability to say a word, the floor began spinning as his shoulders dropped, waiting for the impending doom. “Did you say this to Hashim?” questioned the figure emerging from the shadows. Alina slowly turned her neck, hoping against hope that this scenario, which she had faced in a nightmare, was not going to convert into real-life trauma. Long and curly black hair, fair-skinned with hazel eyes, dimples on both sides plus arched eyebrows? She was none other than Hashim’s elder sister!

Before wondering why there isn’t a conclusion to this story, let me remind you of a fact. It doesn’t matter if it’s an alternative universe, a desi household has a set of defined punishments for people who they think committed this “crime”

1. They get married to save Hashim’s respect

2. Hashim gets married off to some whom he doesn’t deserve and spends his whole life in misery

3. Alina denies this relationship and pleads that she was just doing “time-pass”

4. Hashim’s sister is super cool and joins for a chat and keeps their secret

You are free to imagine any one of these conclusions or even come up with your conclusion.

While the actions of Hashim and Alina may have irritated or intimidated you, the bitter truth is that our youth is involved in somewhat similar actions that are considered ‘normal’. For this story, we just swapped gender roles and the results are there for the readers. If you are someone who’s fond of any such acts, just a gentle reminder, take responsibility for your life, and stop treating it as a joke. You may be possessive, and get triggered with insecurities, but the fact remains that you don’t ‘own’ anyone and your partner has the right to do whatever he/she wishes. Give each other some breathing space and then see how your bond evolves into something better. Insecurity, possessiveness, lack of communication only toxics the fragile bonds that we desperately try to grab hold of. If you have any issues, make sure to properly communicate it to the other side, without any filters or anger (especially for boys) overshadowing the main point. Finally, sometimes humbleness is treated as a weakness. While it is pivotal to be polite and humble, there are moments where you have to stamp your authority if you feel that you’re being unjustly treated. Unnecessarily saying “sorry” just for the sake of preventing a possible feud IS ALSO TOXIC as you are blamed for everything that went wrong as you pleaded guilty and apologized, providing the offender with another opportunity to revert to their toxic ways.

Hope you all find the one “SPECIAL ONE”!

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Faaiz Gilani

An aspiring writer, with no prior writing experience, talking about his experiences to help others getting bored in Quarantine……….enjoy my short stories!