(He is old to the boy’s youth and naivety. At the age he’s at, Suleiman Wahdati knows all there is to know. He knows he will never be accepted for who he is or the company he would choose to keep but he accepts it with quiet grace. He’d bought a house to live out the rest of his life in solitude. This boy, Nabi he’s been told needs to be corrected constantly otherwise he’ll forget who is in charge.)
On bright days Suleiman sketches, he hasn’t picked up a pencil in the past few years. He’d thought his muse gone for good. In his earlier years he would’ve chased it to the ends of the Earth, now he is simply happy to be out of his mother’s house. Away from the dogs and his overbearing mother. He finds himself picking up his old sketch books to doodle. He doesn’t know what he is drawing, only shapes and lines. It’s only when he starts sketching the face does he see it with clarity. The boy he’d hired just a few days ago is beautiful and handsome but for all that he is troublesome.
He can’t fix a meal to save his life, he can drive but from the few trips Suleiman has taken with him, it’ll be a while before his driving is considered passable. The first few times, Suleiman has to tell him where to go, he gets lost in the crowded marketplace. Later on, Nabi would sheepishly admit that he came from a small village and knows nothing about the city, and Mr. Wahdati being the way he is, nods in understanding.
(When he takes Nabi home, the boy is hesitant to take in his new surroundings. Afraid of being hit, his former master was bewildered at Suleiman’s interest in his servant but thinks nothing more of it when Wahdati tells him to name his price for Nabi. Money and words are exchanged before his former master grunts at him to pack his stuff. Nabi leaves when the deal is done. His heart mixing with dual emotions: that he is glad to be out of the house but horrified of what comes next. He doesn’t say anything to Mr. Wahdati, sign of weakness they would say.)
The days roll by, Nabi is loyal and friendly to Suleiman’s solitary nature. The two complement each other beautifully. Sometimes Suleiman asks to be taken places, places he knows Nabi will love (places he knows where they’ll be all alone without anyone being suspicious). They go to the park, to the art store which Nabi knows the way to like the back of his hand. Suleiman has three sketchbooks full of Nabi: Nabi sitting, Nabi working in the gardens. He has heard rumours of Nabi’s steadfast loyalty to him and how it has cost him the companionship of his fellow workers.
A part of him is happy, while the other worries for his well-being. He too is getting on in years, people have their suspicions about him, he wouldn’t have cared so much if it isn’t Nabi. If he leaves he can’t take Nabi with him. There is a woman who is looking for a suitor, more to be rid of her father than anything else.
(Vaguely, on the ride home Mr. Wahdati tries to get Nabi to open up about his life. Nabi gives him little details here and there. It is not enough for him, he knows this will take time.)
On a bright sunny day, he tells Nabi to take him to Nila’s house. The deal goes through smoothly and by the coming months they are Mr. and Mrs. Wahdati. In between driving and serving Mr. Wahdati, Nila’s needs also needed to be balanced into the equation. Mr. Wahdati is surprised at the fervour Nabi does this. Nabi’s life revolved around Nila’s and the off chance he gives Suleiman a parting glance he does so because he is his employer.
(He can see his older servants from the windows of his house peering out at the new employee. They will probably throw a fit thinking they’ve been replaced by someone younger and more able but that is not the reason Mr. Wahdati has hired Nabi. That is something he will take to his grave.)
The stroke and Pari are two things in Suleiman’s life that are unexpected and unwelcomed at first but Suleiman is happy to have both things happen to him even if it isn’t spaced out in the way he would’ve liked. Pari is timid and frightened at her new surroundings, Nila tries to get her mind off of it. She reads to her every night, tucks her in like a mother, she feeds her eggs and chocolate milk for breakfast (which Nabi makes). Suleiman avoids it all in the haven of his office but reconciles when Pari starts crying for her brother Abdullah and their father.
(Nabi walks out of the car as if in a daze. It might be the start of something better or something much more worse than what he had come from. He tries to be as fast and efficient as possible, showing Mr. Wahdati he can be counted on, volunteering to take the luggage to his room by himself. Mr. Wahdati smiles, says it isn’t necessary.)
He is in a pitiful state the week he comes home from the doctor’s. He cannot walk or eat properly, Nila flees as soon as the coast is clear as he expected she would. Only Nabi stays for the years Suleiman is alive and he is grateful for it, for every minute he can squeeze in to be with Nabi. He is also angry that he cannot do anymore for Nabi, can’t even wrap his arms around him to show how grateful he is.
(The house is bigger than his former master’s and for once Nabi stops and stares blankly. Suleiman consoles Nabi in the front foyer of the mansion. This, he says is your home. It will always have a place for you.)