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At the luggage check-in counter, a young woman requested the people lined before her to see their tickets. The young woman was so self-conscious that she seemed to be at the brink of arguing with anyone. Wahidullah didn’t just see this, but also felt it. It was a feeling he knew so well. But only in her case, it seemed to him, that it arose not from an internal, mysterious quality or the lack of it, it rather stemmed from an external attribute -- namely her looks, the natural part of her looks and her own interference with them. The parts of her skin, which she had not deemed necessary to alter its color, showed that she was dark complexioned. Those parts being the lower regions of her neck, her ears, and her hands. And from the upper half of her neck, to the hairline at the top of her forehead and temples on the sides, her skin was grey in way not be found in anything natural. This was the area which she had attempted at making it fair. But the unnatural grayness in which it had resulted was so obvious which seemed to affect the women herself more than others looking at her. And it was this awareness of her condition in the eyes of others that rendered her ready to argue anyone. Wahidullah felt so much for her, that he was inclined to go and comfort her.
“May I see your tickets please?” the woman said, briefly looking at Asra.
Seeing that only one person was travelling, after Asra provided her the tickets, she said still not looking at anyone and expressing disdain for all: “Those who are not travelling are not allowed to proceed beyond this point.”
“Okay,” said Asra meekly and turning to look at her companions, who had also joined her in the line and the que extended behind them. Fereshta and Wahidullah were looking back at her understanding the complications of airports. Asra turned back to the woman. “But can I check in the luggage and say goodbye to friends?”
The woman raised her eyes to the couple, deliberated and then said. “Yes!”