by Burka Lover
Detective Samantha Kerry had just finished with the scalding hot cup of coffee, when her pager went off. It was always the same. Being a detective was no easy task. You are on duty all the time and you are in grumpy mood because you have not had enough sleep. Samantha was seriously grumpy today. She picked up her coat, the one with LAPD’s logo on the chest, and rushed out of her cubicle. Each officer is assigned a small cubicle and this is their only personal space in the entire office department. The tax payer did not want their money wasted on fortifying police departments and the government always did not have enough money when the department requested for it.
Taking the corridor to the outside entrance, Samantha met her partner Detective Usman. He was a brown man, clearly from mid-eastern origin. He also had a similar accent. His hair was black and closely cropped in military style. It was in clear contrast to Samantha’s blond bob. Samantha was average height at around 5 foot 5 inches. However years of training and gym had made her body hard and today if she did punch someone, she could actually break a few bones. Usman gave her a nod of acknowledgment but otherwise said nothing.
“What is the status?” Samantha asked.
This was their usual routine.
“Got a gang killing this time. It is a top priority case and that’s why the department has chosen us to head it.” Usman said.
“It is from my community. This guy who was murdered was a big scientist. His son and I were in the same school back in my country.”
“Seems to be a high profile case. We will nail whoever is responsible for this.” Samantha said with utter conviction.
Usman gave a nod of agreement, and both of them got in the car and departed to the crime scene.
When they reached the crime scene, it was cordoned off using a yellow tape which said ‘CRIME SCENE’ in glaring red. Crossing under the tape, Samantha crouched near the body. It was a clean hit. The bullet had cleared his head. But there was not much blood from the wound. His throat had rope marks indicating that he was also strangled to make sure he was dead. The body was had become rigid which meant the person had been dead for some time. Samantha had an intuition, that whoever had done it, was a professional, a hitman probably. Turning around, she observed the surroundings. They were in the hotel room where Dilawar Shaikh had resided for business. The surrounding area in the room was relatively untouched. This meant that Mr. Dilawar had not put much of a fight.
Usman was talking with someone near the entrance of the hotel room. When Samantha reached over to him, she noticed that he was talking to a person who bore striking resemblance to the deceased. Clearing her throat, she said,
“Hello sir. I am Samantha. I am Usman’s partner. Would you tell me if you doubt anybody to have done this?”
“I am Anwar Shaikh. Dilawar was my brother and we were very close. My brother has been killed in cold blood. I want his killer brought to justice.” Saying so, Anwar spun on his heels and was out of the hotel corridor.
Samantha blinked and then turned to Usman, “Seems to have got quite a shock,this fellow. Did he say anything else?”
“No, but I have an uneasy feeling Sam. There’s a lot going on that we do not know.” Usman said.
“Yeah. Come on, let’s wrap up here. I will look at him later.” Samantha said looking at the back of the departing figure that was Anwar.
It had been two weeks since the murder but Samantha had not had any evidence pointing towards a suspect. The coroner’s report had come a day after the murder. The postmortem had revealed that Dilawar had died because of the bullet shot. Such a disclosure could give anyone shivers. Samantha had gone through every possible scenario but could not find any leads. It was as if the case had reached a dead end. However, something was nagging her since meeting Anwar. That thing was Anwar and his statement. Anwar’s statement had not revealed much. But Samantha knew he was very close to his brother. Maybe the man could shed some light on what his brother was involved in that could get him killed. Anwar had said, both he and Dilawar were close, so may be he could point out to any possible enemies.
The next day Samantha was off duty, so she decided to pay a visit to Anwar. She thought Anwar might reveal something when they were alone. Putting on the coat and the glares, Samantha got out of her Chevy. The Chevy was an old car. It would have been in a scrap yard had it not been for Samantha. She had purchased it at the lowest price and done a serious number on the car. Now the Chevy could match any average car in the world. The Chevy was Samantha’s baby. Samantha set off towards Anwar’s house.
Anwar lived in a huge villa in the secular part of LA. This part mostly consisted of rich Muslims and Sikhs. Looking at the villa gave Samantha the impression of Anwar’s wealth. Samantha knocked on Anwar’s door. The door was opened by a figure completely covered in black. The lady had her hands covered in black gloves. Her shoes were not visible beneath the black shroud. Her veil was so thick that she could not even see the eyes of the woman. Samantha wondered if this lady could even see anything in front of her. The figure motioned Samantha to enter the hallway. Samantha followed the figure to the living room, where another figure, this one dressed similarly in black coat and gloves but with her face showing welcomed Samantha to Anwar’s household.
“Hello, I am Nabila. My husband had said that he was expecting you, so I made myself ready to greet you. You must be Samantha, the detective working on my brother-in-law’s murder case right?” Nabila greeted her.
Looking at Nabila, Samantha recognized several things. First of all, Nabila’s accent was European English. Secondly her skin was fair, but she was really beautiful. She had greenish blue eyes and some red strands of hair poked out of her headscarf. She was a lady of average height, slightly taller than Nabila.
“Hello. I would like to speak with Mr. Anwar.” Samantha said politely.
“Kindly seat yourself. I will get the refreshments ready. My husband will be with you shortly.” Nabila made herself scarce.
Samantha wandered around the room. The room was airy and vast. It was decorated with Persian rugs and various portraits. Samantha settled herself near the fireplace. She was reading a magazine when Anwar entered the living room. He was dressed in white pants and white shirt. His black shoes were shining bright.
“Hello Mr. Anwar. I wished to ask a few questions of you.” Samantha said politely.
“I would answer anything if it will help solve my brother’s murder. Ask away.” Anwar said.
“I think Mr. Anwar someone murdered your brother to get something out of him. He was a reputed scientist, may be some project caught this groups eye which they wanted to acquire from Mr. Dilawar.” Samantha said, irritation was evident in her voice.
Anwar pursed his lips. He debated revealing it to Samantha. However, he accepted the risk. Samantha exhibited a aura of protectiveness and fierce loyalty to her duty. She would not disappoint him, thought Anwar.
The look in Anwar’s eyes made Samantha uneasy. Anwar got up and asked, “If you will follow me?”
Samantha and Anwar walked off towards what looked like a basement of the house. They walked a small flight of stairs that ended in front of a huge wooden door. Anwar typed something in the number pad besides the door. There was a beep and the door swung open. This came as a surprise to Samantha because apart from this area of the house, all the areas had next to nothing in the form of security. The basement door was actually a decoy for a safe. From the safe Anwar retrieved a vial of bluish liquid.
“This is the reason for my brother’s death.” Anwar said.
“How can such a small vial be the reason for his death? What is that thing by the way?” Samantha asked.
“Let’s go back upstairs, I will explain everything in detail.” Anwar said. Anwar restored the vial back in the safe and locked the safe.
Refreshments were present on the table when they arrived again in the living room. Samantha positioned herself on the couch and took tea for herself while Anwar just waited for her to be ready.
When Samantha gave a nod, Anwar started “I and my brother were both scientists in charge of a secret military research. The idea was to develop a formula, which would enhance human strength manifold and would make humans almost invincible.”
There was a short pause before he continued.
“But there was a problem with the research, the formula we developed, had some dangerous side effects. The main one was that it reacted violently when in presence of testosterone, the male hormone.” He said.
“What was the reaction Mr. Anwar?” Samantha asked curiously.
“Death” Anwar said solemnly.
“The female body, on the other hand adapted beautifully to the formula but there was one fatal side effect for them as well. Their skin became hard as an armor. However, sunlight pierced the skin and damaged their inner organs in the female subjects. Many tests done on such women led to their demise. This meant that the female subjects who were injected with the formula burned to death under sunlight.” Anwar said dejectedly.
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Samantha.
“The only good thing out of this experiment was that the women became five fold stronger. They also were able to heal themselves. The only thing was that they were effectively restricted to the dark.” Anwar said with a bit more confidence.
“The military scrapped the project and all the formulas were destroyed. However, my brother had high hopes on this research. He could not see all that work going down the drain and stole one vial of the formula from the lab. The vial you are looking at is the last remaining formula available.” Ahmed said. He was proud of the experiment as this was evident from his tone.
Samantha sat there wondering. She could not believe her ears. This was nothing short of fantasy but it was what she had to work with.
“So, why was your brother killed then?” Samantha asked.
“It seems that someone has found out about this formula. They must have asked my brother about the formula. When he must have refused, they would have murdered him.” Anwar said gloomily.
“Why didn’t he destroy it then?” Samantha queried.
“He tried to. But this is a tough formula. It is durable. So destroying it takes a lot of resources which both of us did not have. He was killed for this formula. Now even my life is in danger. The only other way to get rid of it is for someone to accept it into their body.” Anwar said dejectedly.
Samantha made some quick calculations. “What if someone volunteers to consume it? Someone who is on the right side of law?” Samantha said with conviction.
“Who will be mad enough to consume this?” He said pointedly.
“Me” Samantha was grinning.
Anwar was intrigued by the detective. This was one person who was ready to risk her life for a dangerous gambit.
“Are you sure?” Anwar asked.
“Yes, I am completely sure.” Samantha said.
“Why?” Anwar queried.
“There are many reasons. First and foremost is that the government and police have become lax and corrupt. There has to be some authority which cannot be manipulated by money. Before starting my career as a detective I had taken an oath. The oath was to protect my citizens and uphold the law. I intend to do just that.” Samantha said with conviction.
“That is a good motive. But how will you protect yourself from sunlight?” Anwar asked.
“I have an idea for that. I am just proposing this. The final decision will be yours. When I had rung the bell of your house, a lady dressed in completely black cloak came to answer the door. Not even an inch of skin was visible from that lady’s body. If I can incorporate that sort of clothing, I can pass through sun light easily.” Samantha said.
“That is a good idea. But if someone from the law enforcement asks you to reveal your face in daylight then you will have no option but to flee.” Anwar countered.
“True, for that I suggest, you add me to your family. As a family member of an Arab or Muslim man, I am less likely to be questioned.” Samantha said hopefully.
“The only way to add you to my family is through marriage. And I am not interested in marrying you. I am perfectly happy with my wife.” Ahmed said clearly not liking the idea.
“There is another reason why this would be a good idea. You and your family is currently in danger because of this formula. If I am around your family, it will only increase their security.” Samantha said, trying to prove her point.
“I am still not convinced. But it may be a possibility.” Anwar said.
“So what is your next step?” Samantha asked.
“Firstly I will talk to my wife about your … uh … proposal. Next we will have to tie up loose ends. That is you will have to disappear from the law enforcement scene. Then there would be your intended incorporation in to my family. We will move ahead from there on.”
Samantha sighed. “Sounds good to me. I will wait for you. Good bye.”
It was late at night, when Anwar came into the bedroom. His wife, Nabila, was already waiting for him. She was wearing a see through nightie and a black hijab was wound around her head. She was sprawled over the bed and was reading a book. Anwar looked lovingly at his wife. Anwar knew that Nabila loved only him. She had been from a liberal family before the marriage, but had taken up the strict customs of his family after the marriage. She had transformed herself into a pious muslimah, who had dressed with utmost modesty for the prestige of his family. The thought of marrying another woman was distressing to Anwar. But he could not disagree with the detective’s logic. His family was indeed in danger and the detective was one woman who could safeguard them. He sighed and sank down the bed besides his wife.
“You seem to be overly thoughtful tonight.” Nabila said with curiosity.
“It is about a proposal. I want your opinion on it.” Anwar said.
Anwar told his wife everything detective Samantha had told him. During the entire time he looked straight at the wall unable to look into his wife’s eyes. When he had become quiet, his wife kissed him on his bearded cheek. Anwar was surprised and gave his wife a wide eyed look.
“The detective is goodhearted and noble. I realized that when I first saw her. She took everything right from our culture to our ambiance quite well. She did not judge us. May be Allah wants us to accept her request.” Nabila said quietly.
“But, I am already married to you.” Anwar said, trying to stall.
“You also at the same time want me and our family to be safe. I think you should get rid of this vial as soon as possible. You have become stressed due to that matter. Your health has deteriorated since the murder. Please accept her offer.”
Anwar sighed. He knew his wife was speaking the truth. He went to sleep knowing full well, that a new chapter was going to be written in his and detective Samantha’s life.
The next day, Samantha received a call from Anwar stating that his wife had agreed. He had not gone into the details. So Samantha decided to resign from her position as a detective. Many people in the police department were shocked by her sudden move. Samantha had planned this move well. She knew if she would resign, then the killer would become over confident thinking that she had resigned out of fear for her life. This would work well for her, when she would track the killer down later. She gave the reason that she had fallen in love and was shifting with the person to concentrate on the family. The bosses had not taken the request well, but still given their approval at the end.
Samantha met detective Usman in the cafe. He was seated with his coat off, sipping coffee when she arrived.
“I am resigning.” Samantha said, as she settled down.
“I know.” Usman said.
“No questions?” Samantha asked. She was surprised.
“None. It’s your decision. Apart from that, I know this case did get to your nerves. Hell, even I am having problems coping with it. I have got threatening calls Sam. Just to give up this investigation. You are doing a good thing.” Usman said emphatically.
“Oh god! Have you filed any complaints? Did you trace the calls?” Samantha asked. She was concerned for her partner.
“Yes, I did all that. But no trace. Just a dead end.” Usman said.
“Everything will be all right friend.” Samantha said.
‘I will make it all right.’ Samantha said to herself.
“See you later.” Samantha said.
The next few days were spent packing her belongings. The other things such as furniture and other artifacts were sold or donated. After a week, Samantha had cleaned up the house, put it up on real estate market for sale. Stepping out of the house, she made her way to the black Chevy. This was one thing she would not sell. She had secured a lifetime storage space just at the outskirts of the city for the car. Once she had settled down with Anwar, he would send her car up there. The car was already loaded with luggage, so she pulled out of the driveway and made her way towards Anwar’s home.
Once there, she was ushered into the dining room. Nabila was already present and was working near the kitchen sink. She was wearing a flowery pink hijab and a green abaya. She helped Samantha with her coat, after which Samantha sat at the dining table. Anwar was sitting opposite her sipping tea.
“So what are the details of the decision Mr. Anwar?”Samantha asked.
“My wife has agreed with your plan. I now understand, that as a housewife with only the maid and an occasional family member coming to visit, my wife is quite lonely. It is forbidden for my wife to interact with someone lower than our standards or caste. Thus she has minimum contact with the maid. Having you will give her a sister that she never had.”
“That is a great thing Mr. Anwar. So when can we start?” Samantha said.
“Before we start, I have decided on an excuse for your inclusion in the family. The reason we are going to give to our relatives is that, you always wanted to study Islam. You acquainted with Nabila during your investigation where you came to know more about Islam and you decided to convert. Since your security and social status as a non-married muslima was a cause of concern we both decided on the marriage.”
“Oh, Good reason. I agree with it.” Sameera said.
Anwar gave a nod of acknowledgment and said, “Some arrangements are still to be made. That will require some time. I would recommend you get used to our lifestyle. May be Nabila would take you with her for shopping the necessary garments.” He was looking hopefully towards Nabila. Nabila gave him a nod.
“Did somebody mention shopping here?” Nabila was grinning like an idiot. This caused everyone to laugh their hearts out.
In her excitement, Nabila dragged Samantha towards her room. Once in the room, Nabila guided Samantha so that she was standing facing the full length mirror. The room was spacious with a big king sized bed and a dresser. There was a big closet, which Nabila opened to reveal a wide range of dresses.
“It would be a bit hard on you to try out the traditional or necessary clothing in the family. So let’s start with something basic.”
Nabila removed a black abaya and a black hijab.
“This would be enough for now. You can continue wearing whatever normal clothes you wear underneath the abaya as long as they are not visible to the visiting person. In the family, it is okay in whichever way you dress. But it is advisable that you get accustomed to Islamic style of clothing.” Nabila said.
“I will surely try it out.” Samantha agreed.
Samantha touched the fabric and felt it’s soft and smooth texture.
“This seems to be a good quality material.” Samantha said.
“Oh yes, it indeed is. One of the finest silks you will see.” Nabila said, bubbling with excitement.
“So let us get started.” Samantha said.
Nabila helped Samantha put on the abaya. Then she went on to wind the hijab around her head. She kept one end of the hijab hanging in front of the chest and pinned the rest of the hijab in place.
“That looks good, take a look at yourself.” Nabila said.
When Samantha looked at herself in the mirror, she was stunned with the beauty of the material. She was now completely covered. Her head was covered in a beautiful black hijab. Only her face down to her chin was visible. This accentuated her facial features.
“This looks beautiful.” Samantha said with wonder.
“Yes it does. But we are not finished. Let me tie up the loose hanging end of the hijab to cover your lower half of the face. That is the most important part before we step out in the outside world.”
Taking up the loose end, that was hanging by her chest, Nabila brought it just below her eye level and tied it off behind her head.
“Hurray, we are ready.” Nabila said.
Thereafter Nabila added a black abaya over her green abaya to cover it up. Then she chose a black hijab and a three layer face veil. After putting on her hijab, she donned the face veil. Only her eyes were visible from behind the veil.
“Come then, let us do some shopping.” Nabila said.
“But what will we shop. I have everything I need for my stay in the suitcase.” Samantha said.
“No, you will get new clothes for your new life. There will be no arguments with that.” Nabila said with conviction.
Sensing her that Nabila was not going to back down, Samantha let Nabila take the lead for the day.
The day was a whirlwind. Samantha had never experienced being anonymous before. This was a different experience. When she and Nabila were going along through the mall, she noticed different reactions from various people. The normal folk, mostly ignored them. Some people sneered at them. There were some boos as well for them from different groups. But Samantha noticed that Nabila completely ignored them.
“How can you ignore them? Do you not feel bad that they think about you as such?” Samantha asked.
They were seated at a food court in the mall.
“No, the reason is that they do not know what we are and what our values are. Just by the way we dress or behave does not make us bad people. Just as shorts or tees are the norm for most Americans, a hijab and abaya are the norm for us. If they do not feel uncomfortable in the shorts then why should we feel uncomfortable in the hijab?” Nabila said.
For the rest of the day, they roamed around in the mall. There were a few shops that catered to the Islamic community. In there, many women were present who wore similar outfits like the one Nabila was wearing. When they passed by, there was a nod of acknowledgment and a sense of belonging with them. It was an entirely new way of life for Samantha.
While Samantha was busy looking at the various hijabs displayed in the section, Nabila asked.
“What about you? How are you feeling wearing the hijab and the veil?” Nabila asked tentatively.
“It’s good. At first I was fidgety and sweaty. But as time went on, I hardly notice that I am covered up at all. It’s different. People mostly ignore me. When I was a detective, people used to keep safe distance. But that was primarily due to fear. Now people just ignore me. It’s certainly good to be out of their radar.” Samantha said.
Nabila’s face was flushed with relief. She gave Samantha a hug. “Thank You so much.” Nabila said.
“My pleasure, sister.” Samantha said. If she had not been veiled, Samantha’s grin would have lit the entire room.
“Let’s finish up. Anwar never likes if I forget him, when I go for shopping.” Nabila said laughingly.
When they returned home, there were two figures waiting for them at the door. Both were wearing burkas. One of them moved forward to take their bags. The other rushed towards Nabila, to remove her outer wear. Samantha had also removed the knot behind her head, letting the other end of hijab fall free over her chest. The air conditioner was on, at full speed. But in the abaya, the cold was much more bearable. Anwar came in after a few minutes.
When he saw Samantha, he kissed her hand and said, “If any other Muslim man would have seen you the way you are, he would have asked for your hand in marriage right away.”
This made Samantha blush.
“It was just a compliment, miss. I have also secured another maid for you. This is Zara.” Anwar said, pointing towards the second burka clad lady.
“It was not necessary.” Samantha said.
“Yes, it is. As the wife of Anwar Shaikh, I will not leave you unattended except at the night. She knows all that is to be known, so you should not worry about her.” Anwar said. His tone left no room for arguments.
“Fair enough.” Samantha said curtly.
“I have arranged a maulvi, who will help you convert to Islam tomorrow. Then the next day, we will marry. Our experiment will start thereafter.” Anwar said.
“Good then, I will go to sleep now.” Samantha said.
She was exhausted after the day’s activity.
“Come on, I will put you to bed.” Nabila offered. Samantha agreed gladly.
The very next day, Samantha met as scheduled with the maulvi. She converted to Islam in the attendance of Anwar and a few other witnesses. Samantha also had requested for a name change, but Anwar said, it would be done after the marriage so there was no need to worry. When Samantha returned home from the mosque, Nabila had thrown away all her previous clothing such as shorts and tees to emphasize that she was now a pious muslimah. Thus, both Samantha and Nabila, sat by the fireplace for a cup of tea. Nabila was dressed in a blue dress and black hijab. Whereas Samantha was completely veiled from head to toe.
Earlier when Samantha had gone to her room to change, Nabila had followed her. Nabila was serious when she explained her plan.
“I understand that you wish to continue your duty after marriage. So I was working on an appropriate attire for you. I have finalized the designs, so it will be ready by the time you finish with the experiment.”
“Thank you so much.” Samantha expressed her gratitude.
“You will have to get used to veiling at home as even slight sun light would damage you. So I have instructed Zara about your home attire from now on. She will help you with it. I will be waiting for you by the fireplace.” Nabila said and vanished from the room.
Zara came in, as soon as Nabila left the room with arm full of clothes. As usual, Zara was completely covered with a black material. Thus started Samantha’s dress routine. First of all she was stripped to her undergarments. Then, her hair was made into a tight bun. A pair of salwar kameez were given to her. Samantha dutifully put them on. Next, elbow length black gloves and black socks followed. Then an abaya was put on. A hijab, also black, was wound around Samantha’s head. A niqab, or a three part veil was next. With all the three parts Samantha was almost blind. Furthermore, a long black dome type robe was presented. This robe had no arm slits. It had a sort of skull cap. This skull cap was fit over Samantha’s head and then the entire robe flowed from the cap. It only had a small mesh through which Samantha could see.
Once her dressing was complete, Zara guided Samantha slowly one step at a time to the fireplace. Once Samantha was settled with Nabila, Samantha asked.
“This is too hot. Why do I have to wear this?”
“Because, we cannot allow a single beam of sunlight to touch your skin. This is your outside attire. Which means that in case we visit some place during the day, you will wear these.” Nabila answered.
“Oh no! Why the hell did I agree?” Samantha said, although her tone was jovial.
“It’s all right. You will get used to it. Tomorrow you are going to be married. It is important that you behave as a modest woman.” Nabila said, a grin evident on her face.
Both women laughed.
When the laughter had subsided, Nabila said.
“When you will wear your outfit for night, you will have much more freedom. I will also make necessary arrangements for your room. It’s windows will be removed and only artificial light allowed in. I have instructed Zara accordingly.”
“Thank you Zara for helping me.” Samantha said.
Zara just rubbed her cheeks with Samantha through the niqab.
“Why did she do that, she could have said ‘you are welcome’ or something else?” Samantha asked.
“It is quite obvious to me. You are her mistress. If any bad word about her goes to the master of the house from you especially, not only will she lose the job but she will also lose her social standing. That’s the reason for the show of affection.” Nabila replied.
“But your maid doesn’t show her affection.” Samantha said.
“No, she doesn’t. She should not actually. You see, Zara is her daughter. I had recommended Zara for you. She already has thanked me a thousand times already. It is a tradition of Zara’s family to have one woman serve the Shaikh family in all generations. If Zara would not have got a job here, she would have to go out in exile.” Nabila said in a matter of fact way.
“Oh my god!” Samantha explained.
“Thus do not worry about Zara. She is just doing her duty, just as you are doing yours.” Nabila said.
The next day, Samantha and Anwar got officially married according to the Islamic laws. Samantha also changed her name officially to Sameera. A small reception was held for close friends only. Sameera was dressed in a bright red wedding saree. A loose end of saree was placed over her head covering her face, also known as a ghunghat. If any of the ladies wished to see the bride’s face, they would lift the ghunghat, and peer at the face inside. Many of the relatives gave their wishes to her. The entire time, Nabila was besides her. Nabila was dressed in a colorful salwar-kameez. A red hijab was wound around her head. She was clearly enjoying the proceedings.
The wedding night, Sameera and Anwar consummated their marriage. The sex was wonderful. Sameera had a good night’s sleep. What was more interesting was that, Nabila had shared the bed with them. It was as if Sameera had married not only Anwar but also Nabila.
The next morning, Sameera awoke next to Nabila. Anwar was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is Mr. Anwar?” Sameera asked Nabila.
“Shush. What disrespect is this! A wife never utters her husband’s name or calls him by his name.” Nabila admonished Sameera.
“Sorry. How do I mention him then?” asked Sameera guiltily.
“Master” Nabila said sacredly.
“OK, where is our master?” Sameera asked.
“He said, he had to do some arrangements. So he went to the lab. He instructed me to keep you company.” Nabila said.
“Oh, I will get in the shower then?” Sameera queried.
“I will inform Zara then.” Nabila said leaving the room.
A heavy silence encompassed the bedroom. Today was the last day Sameera could taste sunlight. As silently as a ghost Zara entered the bedroom and moved to the adjoining bathroom. Sameera heard a tap being opened and water filling the tub. She was aware of everything in vivid detail.
Sameera was brought out of her daydream when Zara nudged her thigh. Sameera sighed and made way to the bathroom. Zara helped Sameera get out of her hijab and the night gown. Sameera was naked as she entered and laid herself in the warm water of the tub. Zara pulled her sleeves to her elbows to reveal black PVC gloves. She started washing Sameera’s hair and body. Soon the bath was over. Zara dried Sameera’s body and then walked out of the bathroom to make sure the bedroom was empty and locked from the inside.
Sameera followed after a few minutes to find Nabila also present there. Nabila’s maid was nowhere to be seen. Silently the trio of women made their way to a steel door in the bedroom. Sameera had termed the room beyond the steel door as a ‘cell’. The door was unlocked right now. From the door Sameera could only look at stark white walls with the bare necessities. There were two cots, a dresser with a mirror. A closet enough to store a enough clothes for two people and a privy. The room had another steel door on the opposite wall. This door led to the backyard. This room was to be her sanctuary now on. Each night she would spend with her husband and sister. But rest of the day she would be confined here in this cell to protect her from the sunlight.
“Are you sure you want to spend some time here?” Nabila asked cautiously.
“Yes sister, I want to get used to this as soon as possible. It is to save my life and protect me after all.”
Sameera turned to Zara and said, “I request you once again please turn away now. I cannot confine you to this prison for my own selfishness.”
Anwar had ordained that Sameera should never be without a maid and as such Zara was to stay in the cell with Sameera.
In answer to Sameera’s request, Zara knelt in front of her with her head touching Sameera’s feet, showing her submission.
Strengthening herself, Sameera said, “Very well Zara, let’s get ready.” Facing Nabila Sameera said, “I will return to you sister for the breakfast.”
Nabila left dutifully.
Today Sameera was to be robed in her permanent clothing. Zara laid out the items. First of all Zara oiled Sameera’s entire body. Thus oiled, Sameera then dressed in a black latex catsuit. The catsuit reached her neck and completely covered her body. There was however a zip at her crotch and around her ass to help with bodily necessities. Zara fashioned Sameera’s hair into a bun and then put a hood on her head. The hood was normal hood with holes for eyes, nostrils and mouth. Next Zara handed Sameera a leather hood. This hood was specially designed for Sameera. It had tinted eye glasses such that the sunlight could not affect her eyes but she could clearly see the outside albeit in a darker shade. It also had a small hole for the mouth. This meant that most of Sameera’s food would be liquid. However the voice enhancers helped Sameera’s voice come out clearly. This hood made sure Sameera’s face would be protected from the sunlight always.
Next Sameera dressed up in a salwar kameez and over that she wore a abaya and a niqab with a triple layer. Both Zara and Sameera exited the cell to join Nabila at the breakfast table. Anwar had returned from the lab and he was dressed for business. He took Sameera’s palm and kissed it. They silently ate their breakfast. Nabila and Anwar had solid food, while Sameera was provided with a liquid breakfast. Once the breakfast was over, Anwar led Sameera to a car sitting idle in the drive way. The windows of the car were tinted as well. Nabila and the maids were to remain at the house and wait for Anwar and Sameera to return. Sameera and Anwar seated themselves in the car and as the car left the house compound, Sameera felt as if she was leaving her old life far behind.
About half an hour after leaving the villa, they arrived at the lab facility. The lab facility was actually a warehouse at the outskirts of the city. It had a few security guards, most of Middle-eastern origin. The driver parked the car inside the warehouse, and Sameera got out of the car to witness a fully functional lab, inside the nondescript warehouse. People in white lab coats hustled all around the ground level. Harsh bright lights illuminated the entire area. Various scientific equipments were arrayed on tables. On the upper level, was a huge glass cell. It was a hexagon and made up of transparent glass. Inside was a bed, and other medical equipment used to normally monitor patients.
Anwar nudged Sameera forward and they met a woman who was also wearing a lab coat, but her face was covered in a veil.
“Sameera, this is Dr. Alia. She will be monitoring you and your health throughout the procedure. She has specially flown from Saudi, to take part in this experiment.” Anwar explained.
“Doctor, please escort the patient and make ready for the procedure.” Anwar addressed the veiled doctor.
The doctor motioned for Sameera to follow. They entered the cell where Sameera was laid onto the bed. Her right hand gloves were removed and her right sleeve was pulled up to the elbows. An IV drip was inserted in her veins. Other monitoring equipments were attached to her body. When the arrangements were done, the doctor signaled to someone outside the cell. Right after the signal, Anwar entered, in a white lab coat, plastic gloves and a surgical mask. The doctor handed Anwar an injection. Anwar drew the vial with blue liquid from his pocket, and drew the liquid into the injection. He applied some alcohol on Sameera’s arm and then injected the liquid into her body.
Sameera jerked wildly, it felt as if her entire body was on fire. Sameera heard distant screams, which were hers. Soon after she lost consciousness.
Anwar was sitting besides Sameera when she regained awareness. The doctor was also besides her checking her vitals. When he noticed Sameera was conscious, he brought a tube to her mouth hole. From the tube, Sameera drank small amount of water.
“How long was I out Master?” Sameera asked.
Anwar was surprised at being called ‘Master’. However he recovered quickly. If the doctor had noticed the use of the word, she did not show any sign of it.
“Eight hours. First you had gone into convulsions. We feared if your body had rejected the liquid. However, later your vitals stabilized and the doctor declared that you were merely unconscious.” Anwar replied softly.
“How do you feel now?” Anwar asked.
“I feel normal. Nothing different. Do my vitals show anything different?” Sameera asked.
Anwar turned towards the doctor. And for the first time since meeting her, Dr. Alia uttered a word. The only thing visible were her eyes. There was a thoughtful frown on her face.
“Vitals are stable, but there are certain differences between before procedure readings and the latest readings. The patient’s heart rate has decreased radically, but still she is quite healthy. That is unusual for a human. Also when I tried to insert the IV drip, into her body, it did not pierce her skin. Her skin has hardened. Also there are signs of underlying strength in her muscles.” All this the doctor said blandly, as if she was not even bothered.
“So far so good.” Anwar said. “I will take you back home once the sun has set. Sleep for now.”
Sameera dutifully slept.
The next time Sameera woke, the lab was sparsely populated and a few security guards and Anwar was waiting for her to be ready to leave. Anwar explained that there were two cars. One with security guards that will go first and the next with Anwar, Sameera and their driver.
“Why so much security?” Sameera asked.
“Nabila informed me that an unknown person had called and threatened to kill me if I did not hand over the formula.” Anwar answered.
“You mean they know that we have the formula and will possibly use it.” Sameera asked, her detective’s brain working full speed.
Anwar just nodded.
“Well then, let’s get going.” Sameera strode towards the car, her abaya flowing in mysterious air giving her a menacing aspect.
Soon, the cars were loaded and they pulled out of the warehouse. Fifteen minutes had gone into the ride and nothing had happened. They were going through a residential area. The houses on both the sides were empty or in bad repairs. This was not a good area of the town to be at night.
‘Boss, I don’t think anything is going to happen here.’ A gruff voice said on the mobile.
‘Still keep a …’ Anwar tried to say, however he did not get a chance to complete the sentence.
‘THAK’ ‘THAK’ ‘THAK’ …
The voice of gunshots rang in the still dark surrounding. The cars came to a screeching halt and men armed with rifles and wearing ski masks jumped from the gardens in front of the houses. Their guns were trained towards the cars. The guards were trying to aim blindly at their enemy. Anwar was frantically looking around to spot the perpetrators. In a fraction of second, Sameera realized that one of the powers of the formula was clear vision even in the dark. Sameera looked out and spotted 5 men surrounding the cars and three hidden beneath the bushes lining the road on both sides.
Sameera gave out a shrill cry and leapt out of the car. She was a blur as she tackled the first assailant. The poor guy did not even have time to train his rifle towards her veiled form. Flying through the air, Sameera kicked him in his ribs and sent him flying a few feet where he crashed into a dust bin. Turning to the assailant to her left, Sameera somersaulted in the air and kicked him on his shoulders. The man sprawled on the ground, and before he could gather his wits, Sameera got hold of his neck and twisted savagely. There was a cracking sound and the man went limp.
Seeing that one of their comrade was killed, the other four assailants trained their rifles on Sameera’s veiled form and started shooting. However, as soon as the bullets hit Sameera’s body they bounced and fell off harmlessly. Sameera’s grin would have been visible had she not been veiled. Suddenly confident that the assailants could not harm her, Sameera went on to methodically dispose each assailant. Soon, all the assailants had been taken care of and the street itself grew quiet. Sameera moved her gaze towards the bushes and saw forms of men running away from the scene. Sameera could have laughed heartily but then sirens started wailing in the neighbourhood and she knew the partol cars would reach the spot in a few minutes.
Sameera ordered the guards in the car to take off. She then hurried to the car she had been traveling in and told the driver to move aside. The driver was terrified and still shivering. Anwar on the other hand looked pale but still stable. Sameera started the car and zoomed out of the neighborhood just as the patrol cars turned around the corner.
The rest of the drive was completed in silence. The driver could be heard reciting prayers besides her. Sameera herself became weary as the adrenaline rush vanished. Sameera reached their villa twenty minutes later and pulled into the garage. Slowly both Anwar and Sameera made way to their house both lost in their own thoughts.
Nabila was waiting anxiously for Anwar and Sameera. When they entered the house, Nabila kissed Anwar longingly. Sameera blushed beneath her niqab. Turning to Sameera, Nabila rubbed her cheeks to Sameera’s cheeks as a greeting.
“Sorry for my surge of emotions, but you do not know how anxious I was for you to return.” Nabila told Sameera.
“I understand sister.” Sameera replied.
“Come on then, dinner is ready.” Nabila declared.
Over the dinner, Sameera discussed her further plan.
“I will visit Usman tomorrow night and try to glean more information from him. The attackers have become bold, to attack us in the open. I want this to end one way or the other.” Sameera said.
“I agree. By Allah’s grace, you would succeed in bringing justice to our family.” Anwar intoned.
“Amen” Everybody said in unison.
The next day, after Anwar had left for work under heavy security cover, Sameera helped Nabila to prepare the lunch. Sameera was dressed in a floral salwar kameez over her latex covered body. Her hood was in place, but she did not wear her niqab. In the evening after the sun had set, Sameera put on her niqab and abaya and ventured out to meet Usman. Sameera had called him up beforehand, asking him to meet her at a local coffee shop.
They met each other, however this time Usman was quite courteous and distant than he had been when he was her partner. Part of Samantha was frustrated that Usman would treat her as such, and other part understood that now they both had two different worlds.
“You have come unescorted and are meeting up with a non-marham male. I do not like it.” Usman said as they were seated enjoying the coffee.
Sameera had ordered just a coffee with a straw. She was sipping the coffee by passing the straw from under her veil.
“Come on Usman, you are not a stranger to me.” Sameera said awkwardly.
Usman sighed. “I know, but now you are no longer Samantha the detective, you are Sameera, Anwar’s wife and a muslima also.”
“I know. Still I wanted to know about the progress of the case. It deeply affects my family. And as a former detective and your partner I wish to know what progress has been made.” Sameera said firmly.
Usman said, “I have been taken off the case. Some rookie officer has been given the case. I protested about it to the chief but he brushed off all my protests.”
“This would not sit well with the community Usman. Is the chief foolish?” Sameera said incredulously.
“I can’t do much Sameera. He is the chief after all.” Usman said glumly.
“Its not your fault Usman. Did you get any further leads after I left my post?” Sameera asked cautiously.
Sameera knew that, now as a civilian she was not entitled to case information. But she was banking on her relations with Usman to glean information.
“Yeah, found the gang which had ordered the hit on Dilawar. The gang operates near the red light area and is run by leader Franko Harts. However before I could act, I was pulled off.” Usman replied absentminded.
“Suspicious. Did the rookie check the lead?” Sameera asked.
“Yes, performed the routine checks. But you also know that would yield nothing.” Usman said.
They both split up after the talk. Sameera now had the information she had come to find. It was time for action.
Sameera Now informed of the name of the leader, informed Anwar of her plan. Anwar however protested, but eventually agreed.
Sameera used her car to reach the red light area. At this time of night, she could see hookers and escorts hanging outside bars looking for customers. A few men, armed with guns roamed the streets threatening people to behave. Sameera got out of her car and the hooker ladies gasped at her. Sameera’s abaya flowed around her and it attracted comments from the hookers. They sympathized with her, saying how oppressed she must be feeling to wear such clothes. They even offered her safety and freedom.
Sameera, like a wolf concentrating on her prey, reached one of the gunmen.
“I heard Franko has lost his muscle in the area. A few of his thugs got bet up by a lady, one that wore a burka.” Sameera mocked the gunman.
Furious at being mocked in such a way, the gunman swung his arm to swat Sameera aside. However, before he could even get near her, Sameera took his arm and twisted it mercilessly.
The sound of bone breaking, and moments later, desperate cries of a man in pain echoed over the now silent streets. The hookers fled in all the directions. The remaining gunmen, trained their guns on Sameera.
“Hold still or I will fire.” One gunman said.
“Move away from our man.” Another ordered.
“Take me to Franko.” Sameera said.
Both the gunmen, did a private discussion. They stole glances of their colleague in pain and then of the burka clad vigilante. Soon, they came to a decision.
“You lady will come with me.” The first gunman said to Sameera.
“You go take him to a doctor.” The first gunman said to the second.
Carefully training his gun on Sameera’s back, he asked her to move her hands behind her head and walk. They walked for fifteen minutes. They passed the bars, the empty streets and a few occasional drug dealers. Everyone gave Sameera a wide berth. Soon, they reached a low lying building. All around there were people guarding the place. One of the guards came and talked with the gunman. When they finished their conversation, the guards called others to escort a burka clad Sameera to their boss, Franko Hart.
They entered the building, and escorted her through a series of corridors before they came to a stop in front of huge wooden doors. The doors were swung open and the scene in the room revealed. Half naked women danced around men, these men were drinking wine and caressing the women. Most of them were drunk, some were lying snoring. However deep in the room, one man sat clear headed. It was Franko. He looked a normal man, lean and handsome in a very criminal sort of way. His side was flanked with men who were armed to the hilt.
When his guards entered the room with a burka clad woman, their guns trained on her all the dancing stopped. With a flick of his hand, Franko ordered his guests and servants to vacate the room. All the drunk men stumbled out of the room. Some of these men stole covert glances at Sameera’s burka clad form. All of them had heard how a burka clad vigilante had killed four of their men and injured others. Soon, the room was empty, except for Franko, his men and Sameera. He quietly sipped his wine.
“So you are the one who killed my men. Those who did survive gave me an account of it. They said you were a blur in comparison to them. They stood no chance.” Franko said eying Sameera’s form.
“Yes indeed, your men give good accounts of your incompetence.” Sameera mocked.
Franko hissed. “You dare insult me in my own room. I manipulated your law enforcement forces to stop the investigation. The mayor of the city works for me. I have silenced many a people, who do you think you are?”
“I am Anwar’s experiment.” Sameera said.
Stunned silence echoed around the room. Making good use of the opportunity Sameera became a blur. A kick here, a punch there. A somersault somewhere else. Sameera grabbed a man besides her and broke his neck. With a savage kick, she sent two men sprawling towards Franko. Franko saw his men get beaten by a burka clad Vigilante. In frustration, he asked all his men to engage her. It was a grim battle. The men were seasoned criminals, hitmen. They pounded her, tried to shoot bullets, choke her. However, none of their ways worked. Slowly, with her inhuman strength, Sameera over came all the men.
They lay twiching or still on floors. Hands, legs and necks bent at awkward angles. Some had bullet holes, some knife wounds. Sameera’s own abaya was torn at many places. Miraculously though, her catsuit was unharmed. Sameera faced Franko.
“Why did you kill Dilawar Shaikh?” Sameera asked.
“Oh, that brown man. Heh, he had a formula that could have given me superhuman strength. I would have been the king of underworld. He refused to give it to me. So I killed him. I wanted to scare his brother, Anwar into handing over the formula to me.” Franko sneered.
“Well, you are looking at the formula or rather the result of the formula.” Sameera said. She was grinning under her hood.
“What?” Franko said as understanding dawned on his face.
He frantically searched for a gun, he found one on the table besides him. He lunged for it, and took aim at Sameera. Calmly, Sameera picked up the gun of a dead man lying besides her, and fired four shots. After the shots were fired, everything was silent. Franko’s slumped form was riddled with holes and blood gushed through them. His eyes were staring at nothing.
“No one, absolutely no one reveals my nature, my presence to the police or media. If anyone does, I will hunt you down myself. Also no one targets Dr. Anwar Shaikh and his family. I hope I am understood clearly.” Sameera declared loudly in the now empty chamber. She was sure, all the men and women who were cowering behind the doors had heard her loud and clear. Sameera stalked out of her room silently.
The sound of laughter drifted off from the living room. It had been two months since, the gang headed by Franko had been found dead. All of them. The police were reluctant to point to a reason, but the word was that it was a gang war. No evidence was found, no one was prosecuted. Sameera had adapted to the life of a house wife in the past two months. During the day, with the heavy niqab on, she would help Nabila in cooking and other household chores. They would also go to shopping and movies in any free time. Sameera had never had a sibling, and having Nabila was like breathing fresh air.
Sameera had also taken up Islam seriously. She now recited namaz five times a day. Her zealousness had prompted Nabila and the maids to also follow the course. Sameera was also happy because, Nabila was expecting a child. Nabila had come to believe that Sameera’s presence was an indication of Allah’s grace on their family. Sameera was really happy for Nabila since she herself couldn’t bear a child because of the powers she had. Sameera however had not let her duty aside.
One evening Usman had come to visit Sameera. He brought with himself a invitation card. Usman was getting married, and he wanted all to attend his marriage.
“So how is your job going?” Anwar asked Usman.
“There has been unsolved serial killings in the vicinity. It is taking most of my time. I want to concentrate on the marriage, but somehow this is much serious. I just hope someone would solve the case like the Franko Hart case.” Usman said.
Anwar smiled knowingly towards Sameera. If Sameera had been unveiled, her grin would have made Anwar laugh. Now Sameera had another case to work on, and it was time to bring the Veiled Vigilante back in action.
– for now. Perhaps the story is continued some day.