The Contract

By Zeenat Mahal,
Special to The Post 
A crisp, deep, masculine voice at the other end, said, “Is this Ms. Shahira?”
“Yes,” she replied mystified. She hardly ever got any calls, let alone from urbane sounding men.
When he spoke again, his voice had an edge to it, “Ms. Shahira, I believe my mother spoke to you about a marriage proposal. My daughter Natasha and my mother are extremely fond of you. You must be really good…”
It sounded like a sneer.
His voice turning cold, he added, “Well, you can say goodbye to your dreams of ensnaring a rich husband because they’re about to be foiled. You may have thought that a child and a sentimental old woman were easy targets, but I find your methods despicable. You misused your authority and your status as a teacher. Your circumstances are not of my making and I’m certainly not going to take responsibility for you and—”
“Now just hold on a minute!” Shahira cut in, outraged at his presumption. She’d learned the hard way to stand up for herself and defend her rights. So, very firmly, her anger latent in every word, she gave the man on the other end of the line, a piece of her mind.
“Look, I have no desire to marry you. Nor do I have any designs on your wealth. If I didn’t see another man for the rest of my life, it would be too soon. I was merely kind to Natasha, attentive to a child, who apparently has no one but her grandmother to take care of her. And you don’t know your mother very well if you think she’s sentimental or senile. I reiterate - I was merely kind to Natasha because she needed it. While you’re busy adding to your wealth, she’s pining away for a father. Think about that before you point fingers at others. Good day!”
She cut the line. She’d had enough of men who thought they could do and say as they pleased with no fear of reckoning. 
The next day, Shahira received another call.
“Ms. Shahira, this is Hussain.” Hastily, he added, “Kindly hear me out before you hang up on me again. I’m a very busy man.”
He sounded irritable. Taking Shahira’s shocked silence as acquiescence he continued, “After our last conversation, I’m of the opinion that we are entirely suited to each other…”
Shahira couldn’t help it; she made an outraged sound of disbelief. 
He pressed on, “I understand that you have as little desire to take a husband, as I have to acquire a wife. But my mother’s taken a very strong liking to you and so has Natasha and as you so patently pointed out, I do realize that Natasha needs someone to take care of her. I’m offering you a solution to everybody’s dilemmas, including yours. It’s a…slightly unconventional arrangement, but do take it in the spirit that it’s being offered.”
Shahira tried to interrupt, “I have no…”
“Kindly allow me to finish. Like I said, it’s an unconventional arrangement, but something that will suit both of us admirably. My offer’s that we get married in a purely business transaction. You’ll appear to be, to all practical purposes, my wife. However, between the two of us, we’ll know that you are in fact my wife only in name. Think of it as…employment. I’ll pay you a regular salary. If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”
Shahira was too shocked to reply.
He had an hour free on Saturday? To employ her as a wife, no less. Wonderful. Tally ho, Mad-Hatter. 
Read more from "The Contract" at
About the Author: 
Zeenat Mahal was born in Lahore, Pakistan and grew up in this city of gardens, and saints, shrines and Sufis. She is passionate about reading and writing romances and cannot resist paranormal and historical romances. She has been published in online literary magazines like The Missing Slate and Running Out of Ink.
This story is a excerpt from Indireads. This fictional series offers a wide wide range of romance novellas written by both men and women, for South Asian readers around the world. Read more at
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