Sakhi's Laghukatha

Archive for the ‘romance’ Category

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Aks got up cursing again. He hated to go to office in those crowded Mumbai trains. Even the thought of the crowd pushing, crushing him; where he can smell the sweat of people around him and people breathing air almost in his mouth made him almost puke. The first class pass was not really helping in peak hours either. He shifted to Mumbai some six months back and was still not used to the crowd, the heat, the cacophony and the mad rush that everyone seemed to be in. Even the soothing waves of beaches failed to entice him. He saw filth everywhere. Aks questioned himself again and again why he ever decided to come to this dreaded city. Yet here he was, getting ready to go to work and cursing some more as today he was running late.

As Aks reached the platform running, panting and sweating, he saw his regular fast train pull out of the station and he cursed some more. Sometime later he boarded another train. As this was a slow train, at least the first class compartment was not as crowded. He squeezed himself between two gentlemen who reluctantly gave some space so that he can just about rest his rears at edge of the seat. Ah Mumbaikars!! He rolled his eyes and was about to say something caustic when his eyes fell on a lady in the adjacent ladies compartment.

He kept staring at her. She looked extremely beautiful with big black bindi on her forehead, elegantly tied bun at the nape of her neck, crisp saree… grace personified! He could not believe someone can look this beautiful and fresh even in this Mumbai heat and humidity, especially in a local train. She was so different from others around her who wore more comfortable salwar kameez or jean and tee shirts. Aks kept looking at her and forgot all about his Mumbai woes. He came out of his trance when she got up to get down at her station. He then realized that he had missed his station but for a change he did not curse. A slight smile played on his lips. He had no idea why, but something fluttered in his heart. He kept smiling till he reached his office.

The next day Aks deliberately took the same train and managed to get in the same compartment in the hope of finding Grace (that’s what he decided to call her till he gets to know her real name!). His eyes searched for Grace and a small sigh escaped from his lips on spotting her at the window. She must be a regular here to get a window seat, he thought. The journey to office was breezy that day. Air did not seem hot at all and humidity did not bother him. Fellow passengers seemed more tolerable too. He sighed again. He got down at Grace’s station even if it meant that he had to go back two stations in order to go to his office.

About a week later, by chance, their eyes met and Grace smiled at him when she found him looking at her (probably she was not aware that Aks was staring at her for a week now). Aks’ heart leaped to his mouth, he grinned back a silly grin even though he knew that hers was a courtesy smile, a smile one gives to a fellow passenger. Her smile stayed with him even during his sleep. Next day there was a bounce in his feet and heart felt as light as a feather, he was in fact humming a song while getting ready for office. Now that was a first since he shifted to Mumbai!

He boarded the train and saw her at her usual seat. Aks waited for her glance, to see that gorgeous smile but she seemed oblivious to his presence. Another day went by. As days became weeks, a routine was established for Aks – board this slow train, wait for Grace to smile at him (which she did more often than not), get down at Grace’s station, go to office, go home, sleep, repeat. Grace too appeared to wait for him to board the train. He could feel that when she looked at him her face softened. Some mysterious expression played on her attractive face, her eyes seemed to say something which he could not decipher. However, he was happy to see her smile. She seemed like an anchor to him. They never spoke, never exchanged even a hello yet she, her smile, seemed to fill his days with eternal happiness. He could not understand it but then he did not want to decode this anyway. Weekends seemed longer and he could not wait for Mondays. He was happy and suddenly Mumbai felt livable.

Today was different though, someone else was sitting at Grace’s window. Since Aks has started boarding this train a couple of months back, this was the first time that Grace was absent. He missed her smile, her presence, her everything. He did not know what to do. He knew deep in his heart that it was just one day and she might just have taken a day off for some domestic reason; that he should not panic but still panic he did. He could not wait till it was next day so that he can run to board the same train, to see Grace sitting at her usual window seat smiling at him. He longed to see that softness of her eyes. He needed to know that she was okay. He kept telling himself that this anxiety was unwarranted but some unknown dread filled his heart when he did not find Grace even on the next day.

Aks never saw her again. He tried to find out about her from her fellow passengers but no one seemed to know anything about her. He never got to know what happened to his Grace, why she disappeared without a trace. His days were filled with despondency and Mumbai’s overcast skies matched his mood. The heavy downpour that followed could not wash away the agony in Aks’ heart. Once again, Mumbai was not a happy place.

Had Aks payed attention to News in morning papers, he would have known that Grace killed herself two days back due to severe depression. Her suicide note did mention something about local train and finding her late husband there.

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P.S.  For non-Indian Readers – Aks means reflection

Flaw

Posted on: August 14, 2014

fiction_stamp Dhri was not happy to leave her friends behind in Bangalore. She did not like that she had to leave her favourite school too. She loved the house and her room, not to mention cuddling up in her bunk bed. She belonged there.Though she never told anyone, she would miss Ryan too. Her friend, her soul mate. How will she be able to survive without seeing Ryan everyday. Of course, Facetime and Skype will help but it will not be the same. Sigh. 

 Everyday she was told about how good the new school would be and how great the new residence was. She was told about this new city, the city that never slept! Mumbai, city of dreams!! It sounded more like a nightmare. Though all were trying to perk her mood up, there was no way that she would feel excited about this new development. But she was 16 and she had to comply to her parents wish of shifting base to Mumbai. She looked like a little girl when she boarded plane with tears in her eyes and pouting. She kept staring out of the window, tears streaming down her face, throughout the flight. It was as if her world was crumbling around her.

Blue tarpauline lined slum houses and littered roads, continuous honking and traffic snarls of Mumbai dampened Dhri’s spirits even further. Affluent ambiance, perfectly trimmed Mehndi shrubs, evenly spaced trees, landscaped garden, swimming pool and cheering children on their bicycles at her new housing society did not do much to lift her mood. New abode was as good as her Bangalore one, if not better. It seemed to Dhri that nothing, nothing can ever make her happy now that she was uprooted.

Days passed and Dhri’s family started liking their new place. Her brother made new friends and both her parents started settling down at their new work place too. Neighbours were quite helpful and welcoming. Only Dhri resisted being happy. She still sulked and did everything to show how unhappy she was at every opportunity she got. School was still closed for summer vacation so there was no way to make new friends unless she ventured out of her new apartment, which she did not! She just wanted to show her parents how they had ruined her life by getting her away from her comfortable and contended life. It was working in part as her parents were now getting worried looking at their once happy-go-lucky daughter brooding for days. No amount of pacifying or reasoning seemed to work and one day Dhri’s father lost his cool. He admonished Dhri for her irrational behaviour.

That night Dhri cried herself to sleep. It was not even midnight when a sudden noise in her room startled Dhri and she woke up with a start. It took time for her vision to adjust to darkness. She thought she saw a shadow near her french window and she shrieked. Sweat beads broke out on her forehead and she struggled under the grip of the shadow who was now trying to stop her from screaming. As her effort to free herself reduced, she realized that the shadow was trying to talk to her. She stopped fighting. The shadow released her and it turned out that he was a young lad and a very handsome one at that! Fear went out of Dhri’s being, she kept staring at him. He was saying something to her but Dhri was lost. She blinked her eyes and he was gone. Dhri could not believe her eyes. She wanted to run to her parents but decided against it thinking she might have had a nightmare. She tried sleeping again but it eluded her that night.

Next night she tried staying awake to see if what happened the previous night was really a dream or not, but dozed off. A light shake woke her up. The shadow was there, looking down at her, smiling. Dhri, disoriented, looked around. She was indeed at her own home and this guy was in her room, smiling! Confused, she smiled back. His name was Hrim and apparently, he saw her everyday mopping around the house and just felt like meeting her. He liked her and wanted to talk to her. He was of her own age and was a neighbour. If that was the case, why he did not come and meet her like a regular visitor, she asked. He guffawed. Dhri liked the sound of his laughter and she smiled, a wary smile still, too. He started talking to her like he was her childhood friend and they always knew each other. Dhri warmed up to this cute chap and it was beginning of a new friendship. They talked and talked and Dhri slept off somewhere near dawn. When she got up she had a smile on her face. She felt good and light. After ages she hummed a song as she went to shower. Everyday she waited for the night to fall, waited for Hrim. They loved talking, shared their dreams and fears, teased each other and fought too. Her scowl had transformed into a happy, silly grin and it did not go unnoticed. Her parents were happy that finally their daughter had accepted the change and was being herself again. Again she was irritating elder sister, loving daughter and generally a happy teen. She was herself!

Hrim came to meet Dhri every night, which went on for a few weeks. One night as they were engaged in their usual banter, there was a knock on the door. Dhri was surprised since everyone was supposed to be asleep. Were they too loud? What will they say if they saw Hrim in her room at this hour? She looked at Hrim and he just smiled and nodded for her to open the door. Her parents rushed inside the room and looked worried. They demanded to know what was going on and whom was she talking to and laughing with. Dhri looked over her shoulder and saw Hrim had vanished. She smiled at her friend’s quick reflexes. “No one”, she replied and kept her naughty smile in check. Her mother gave anxious look before leaving her alone and asked her not to lock the door. Hrim did not come for a couple of days, rather nights, and Dhri realized how much she was missing him. It had not occurred to her to ask for his mobile number neither had he asked hers. She did not even know, if he was her neighbour, which was his apartment. She cursed herself for being so stupid. Now, there was no other choice but to wait for him to come over. There was no way she can contact him. Hrim came over on the third day, as usual, with his trademark smile intact. Dhri giggled with joy but took care to keep her voice low. They got lost in their repartee. Opening of her bedroom door startled Dhri. She rushed to her fuming parents to pacify them. She was sure that this time Hrim did not have enough time to escape. Her father pushed her aside, rushed to the balcony beyond the french window for he was sure that whomever Dhri was talking to had to be there. To their utter disbelief there was no one. Dhri was happy that Hrim had pulled off the disappearance act again but this time her parents did not let her off the hook. They goaded her and after a while Dhri spilled the beans. They looked at each other in bewilderment and with incredulity at their 16 year old.

How was this possible, their home was on 26th floor?!

Kesar peered at Tanish from behind her glasses. Every time he passed by her cubicle, her heart went into a somersault. She sighed!!

 “When will he notice me?” she thought. Love

She looked around her to check if anyone saw her ogling her boss and the effect he had on her. Every one was busy with work. She sighed again in relief and tried to concentrate on the rows and columns filled with numbers. Soon she forgot all about Tanish as she dived in balance sheets. She was the topper in university exams and loved playing with numbers. Since the day she joined A & A Fashion house as a trainee she was smitten by Tanish.

She tried hard not to show but it was difficult to turn a blind eye to her blushes. Tanish could see her puppy love for him and felt amused. She was cute, bubbly and a geek. He liked her name too… Kesar, saffron!! She was not beautiful in the conventional way but looked extremely attractive with her short cropped hair, a nose ring and black squarish glasses. She stood out with Kohl lined eyes, denims, long khadi kurtas, dangling earrings and floaters. But what caught his attention more was her youthful exuberance. Yet, he was acutely aware of the age difference between them. She was at least a decade younger to him, not that it would matter. But he was convinced that he was not romantic type, whatever that meant!

As the days passed Kesar got more opportunities to know Tanish. He was a tolerant boss and commanded respect. When late nights were inevitable at the office, he changed from hard, critical boss to understanding witty colleague. She noticed his exceptional managerial skills. She also noticed that though he was friendly with one and all, he never crossed limits and never allowed anyone else to enter his personal space. He kept people at bay without offending them. She was happy to know these tit-bits about him. She wanted to know more, much more. But this has to do, at least for now!

It was getting increasingly difficult for Tanish to work with Kesar without a stir of emotions. It was as if he was in his teens again. He loved her laughter, which he could not hear but see through the partition glass when she was engaged in some animated chatter with one of her colleagues. His heart would melt seeing her smile when she caught him staring at her through the glass panel. He would blush and feel embarrassed. He didn’t like when she was away.

Tanish tried to hide his feelings as did Kesar but it was as evident as sunlight. Only the two of them were blind and thought others were too! Love was in the air and it was palpable.

Valentine’s Day was around the corner and people were busy preparing for the office party for the V-day, as was the trend in A & A Fashion house since long. Tanish was in a dilemma whether to propose to Kesar or let the things be for some more time. But he decided to buy Kesar a gift, something he hadn’t done for anyone since he broke up with his first and last girlfriend when he was fifteen! He bought her an exquisite, hand embroidered maroon khadi silk kurta. He visualized her in it and was pleased at his selection. He knew she would look absolutely lovely in it. Now he just has to gather some courage to present it to her!

Finally, it was V-Day and Tanish got cold feet. He tried everything to avoid Kesar the whole day. He found a bouquet of red roses on his table when he came back from his so-called meeting. He knew it had to be Kesar, as no one in last 10 years had ever presented anything to him. He smiled in spite of himself. The silly grin was stuck on his face for long. He looked lovingly at the bouquet as he laid it on his bed while getting ready for the V-Day office party and smiled again. Suddenly he wanted to run to Kesar and hug her tight.

His eyes searched for Kesar amongst the crowd but she was nowhere to be seen. He waited for her but in vain. It was close to midnight, he realized she would not come. Suddenly the party looked drab. He wanted to call her but restrained himself thinking it might not be appropriate. He sighed and left the party early feeling dejected. As he approached his car he saw a lonely figure sitting on the bonnet. He strained his eyes and was shocked. On seeing him Kesar jumped down and ran towards him almost hugging him but checked herself just in time. She presented him with a big (though not as big as her smile!), heart shaped balloon and a small packet which contained Montblanc pen. He was so surprised to see her there, waiting for him that he went speechless.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” she chirped. Her exuberance was contagious and a small smile returned to Tanish’s lips. He remembered his own gift for her and handed over the packet to her.

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!” he said shyly. Unlike him she didn’t wait to open her gift and tore away the wrapping paper. She squeaked in delight at seeing the kurta and this time she didn’t restrain herself, she hugged him! Tanish’s arms went around her too. She felt so perfect in his embrace.

They smiled and looked into each other’s eyes as if asking, “What took you so long?” Hand in hand they walked towards his car and drove off into the moonlit night.

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I am asked time and again why my characters have romantic (!) feelings for the persons other than their spouces or partners. So I thought I should give my characters some chance to feel pure, sweet, unadulterated  romance. What better time than V-month. Please bear with me if you find it too mushy. But as I said earlier… love is in the air! 🙂  🙂

Wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day (Belated!!).

Loads of love,

Sakhi

The mobile rang third time. Ashu looked at the number and sighed heavily. He dreaded talking to his elder brother. He had shifted to this country just to be away from him but he knew he couldn’t ignore his phones. He adored Ashu like his own son.

“Hello bhaiya….”

“Hello Ashu, how are you? I just called to confirm your visit for the wedding! I am not going to hear any excuse this time.”

“But bhaiya…” Ashu trailed off. He wasn’t sure what reason to give for not attending his only niece’s wedding. It was more than twenty years since he had gone home.

“Nothing doing! As I said, no excuses this time. We have never discussed but I know that there is something on your mind which kept you away from home for so long. Not anymore! Past is past. You come home and bless your niece.”

Past is past… what did he mean by that? Did bhaiya know? How am I going to face him?, thought Ashu nervously.

Ashu sighed and disconnected the call.

He went back to the day when he had seen her the first time. Oh, how beautiful and serene she looked! Her long dark hair, bright shining eyes and shy smile… everything was bewitching. He understood the meaning of “love at first sight” for the first time. He kept on staring at her and was flustered when he was shaken out of his reverie. Bhaiya was asking him something but all he could do was, give him a silly grin. He was almost dragged out of the room before he made a spectacle of himself.

Once in the car, on the way back home, bhaiya asked in conspiratorial whisper, “Did you like her?” That single question brought him back to reality from his dream world. He had forgotten that they had gone to see the girl for bhaiya not him. Bhaiya seemed to like her too. It seemed to him that his world was crashing down around him. His disappointment felt unnaturally over-blown to even him. He shook his head as if trying to clear his thoughts and tried to enthuse himself for bhaiya’s sake. How he wished then, that bhaiya would not like her!

As he got to know her more, he started liking her even more for she was not just a beautiful face but was affectionate, intelligent and had an uncanny sense of humour. She was everything a man would want in a partner, and some more. In his heart he knew that bhaiya and she made a perfect couple, perfect in every sense and yet he couldn’t bring himself to see her as sister-in-law.

On the day of their wedding she looked like some goddess. He just couldn’t take his eyes off her. He wasn’t even worried that someone from the family or the guests might notice his blatant stare.

Post wedding days were increasingly getting difficult. Oddly, he never felt jealous of bhaiya but at the same time he craved for more time with her. He learnt to handle his love for her, he kept it brimming at the edge but he took care not to overflow it.

Time flew by with things falling into place. Their routine got set with all three of them going to their work almost at the same time and since her office was on his route he would drop her on most days. She would chatter away to glory and he would smile and nod as and when required.

He thought he had outgrown the romantic love for her till one day he saw her standing in the balcony trying to dry her freshly washed hair. “Sultry”, was the only word came to his mind. And he sighed. He did not know what got into him. Something was pulling him to her. He wanted to have her in his arms, wanted to kiss her senseless, wanted to hug her so tight that she would beg to take her completely. He advanced towards her without even realizing what he was doing. As he went near her he could breathe in her lovely scent. He caressed her hair. She got startled and faced him with her usual smile. But one look at his lust filled eyes ignited fire in hers. Her smile was inviting… but before he could advance she slapped him, hard. Not the force of her slap but the burning coal in her eyes shamed him. He turned around and left.

That was the last day they interacted. She never talked to him again. He wanted to apologize, wanted to be forgiven. He wanted her to know that he never had any intention of harming her in any way. What happened on that fateful morning was a moment of weakness. But she never gave him any chance. She never, probably, told anything to bhaiya but Ashu could never see in his eyes again.

He knew he could not stay with them any longer; he did not have the guts to face her everyday. He did not want to face her ever; and so he not only left the house and the city, he left the country and had not gone back since. It was more than twenty years since he last saw her. If only she would once say that she forgave him, just once…

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Hey guys, I just had to post a story. I couldn’t keep away from you people for long however busy life may be. I don’t promise to be very regular but will definitely write as much as possible. Missed you tremendously!!

Love,

Sakhi

true-story4

Names and certain incidences are changed to protect privacy!

“Papaaaaaaaaaaa…” Shree ran to her father to give him a bear hug as she saw him on the airport almost after a fortnight. She loved her father a lot but these days he was too busy with expansion of his business and was not able to give her much time. He kissed her on her forehead and hugged her tight. Oh, how he missed her! Shree was his only child and apple of his eyes. Shree filled him up with all that she had done in the past few days at school, about her friends and her win at State skating championship.

“Where’s mom?” Mohit asked her. He did not like that Shree had come to pick him up alone with the driver. He never trusted anyone with his daughter.

“Oh, mom was busy with some meeting, so I came alone. I couldn’t wait to meet you, papa!” His heart swelled with love for his daughter.

In a day or two at home, Mohit noticed some changes in his adolescent daughter. She was more chirpy than usual. She had some shyness on her face which wasn’t there earlier. Mohit disregarded these changes thinking that they were due to the transition of his little girl to the womanhood. Still, he made a mental note to talk about this to his wife. Just to be sure that there was no silly boy in his daughter’s life. BOY, was he paranoid!

But before he could dwell more on the matter he was on tour again and the whole issue was forgotten. But it struck him as odd when Shree did not come to pick him up on the airport this time. And as he noticed, the changes that were subtle earlier were pronounced now. Shree was lost all the time, spent more time in her room. Most striking was, her grades were below average, for the first time in her life. Mohit tried to talk to her but she refused that there was any problem. The heated argument ensued with Mohit striking her hard across her face, again, for the first time in her life! Tears of anger, tears of shame, tears of humiliation, tears of revenge slid down young Shree’s cheeks. She resolved to teach her father a lesson!

Mohit felt bad at losing his temper. He knew how futile it would be to deal with adolescent kids in such upper hand manners. He resolved to make it up to her the next day.

Mohit prepared Shree’s favourite breakfast, rosti and orange juice, and took the tray to her room. He was shell shocked not to find her but a note on her pillow. He collapsed on the bed reading his daughter’s life sentence to herself!

Malti found him sitting at the edge of Shree’s bed staring at the life size picture of their daughter with tears running down his face. He looked so haggard and lost that she had to shake him out of his trance. When she read the note Shree had left behind, Malti almost collapsed. A look of “What and when did so much go wrong” passed between them. They sat there, holding hands and crying over each others shoulders for their daughter.

When did Shree grow up so much! She was all of sixteen and fallen in love. Fallen in love with a sweeper! And she ran away with him to teach her father a lesson!

“God, why her?” Mohit kept repeating this again and again in his prayers.

“She is just a kid. She doesn’t even know how to boil water or who polishes her shoes. How will she survive? What if…”  There were thousands of questions pricking Shree’s parents.

Mohit and Malti tried their level best, with all the contacts they had, to find their daughter to no vail. Even the boy’s parents were taken into custody but they too did not know where the duo was. It was almost two months now that Shree had gone.  Everybody had given up hope, but Mohit. In his heart he knew he would find his daughter no matter what!

One day as he was returning from his office, he saw a young girl selling vegetables on the roadside. She, just a little, resembled his Shree… though this girl was in shambles, in tattered clothes and looked like she hasn’t eaten or taken bath in months. Mohit shook his head at how almost all girls of Shree’s age reminded him of his beloved child. Tears stung his eyes yet again.

But as he went a few blocks ahead something struck him. No, this girl has to be Shree… the resemblance was too much to be a coincidence. He asked his driver to take a u-turn, he wanted to be sure! He approached the vendor with caution. If it was Shree, he did not want her to lose her again.

He could not believe his eyes when he looked at the girl from such close quarters. His daughter had lost substantial amount of weight, once shiny black hair looked like end of a broom with filth in them. Her once lacquered nails were brittle with dirt underneath, lips were chapped and skin was now dirty and listless! Mohit fought inner battle not to break down with pain in full public view.

“Shree…” he called her tentatively. Their eyes met. Something flickered in Shree’s eyes, hope may be! Without a word father-daughter climbed in the car. Mohit held his daughter’s hand tightly, never to let go again.

He saw shame, humiliation, fear and many such nameless emotions in his daughter’s eyes and gritted his teeth. He vowed to ruin the boy’s life. But that can wait… till his daughter is brought back to life!!!

fiction_stamp2There she was! He ran after her, was about to tap on her shoulder but she vanished into the thin air. He was baffled, he frantically searched for her but she was no where to be seen. It was as if she was playing “Catch me if you can” game with him. He was desperate to see her face, but she eluded him. He could spot her from distance but as soon as he reached just near her she would disappear. He tried to call after her but his voice failed him. He fell down on his knees in that dark alley and watched his dream girl float away.

He woke up with a start… looked around and smiled to himself, shaking his head. He had this dreams since a long time. He never understood the context. His dream always ended up with that girl floating away. There was some lyrical mystery surrounding her. Sometimes he found himself reciting some verses for her in his dreams. Most of the times he didn’t remember but sometimes he did and he would write it down immediate after waking up. He had now a handsome collection of these poems. In his dreams she would, too, leave her diary at various places for him to read. She wrote such beautiful prose. If only he could see her face once! He sighed and got up to get ready for his job.

As he was blog hopping one day he came across this blog whose author, he found, had the same style of writing as his “dream girl”. He read post after post and got hooked to it. He tried to find out about this anonymous writer through “about page” but came up with almost nothing. The things mentioned in there were non-committal. He waited for her (he was sure it was HER!) new post thirstily, as if his life depended on it. Over a period of time he could manage to develop a good rapport with the author but she was still eluded him. How much ever he tried, she would not allow him to know her in real life. She now became his obsession. He would check her blog every half an hour to see if she had replied to his comments or if she had published a new post. He would become agitated or depressed if she did not reply to his comments. He would feel on top of the world if she so much as put a smiley as a reply to his comments.

Things started changing when more and more people started visiting the “unknown blog” and “she” would reply to all of her commenters with the same gusto. He started feeling jealous. He started feeling left out. He felt as if his world was coming apart….

I am not sure how to end this story. Can you guys help?

fiction_stamp2“Aadi, will you see who is at the door?”

Aaaditya’s mother called out to him. He stood gaping as he looked at the visitor. He had never seen more beautiful girl before. He stood there awestruck. After a while he realized that the visitor was asking him something.

“Is this Mrs. Bally’s place?”

“Yes…”

“Who is it Aadi?” his mother asked from the kitchen.

“Someone’s here to see you, mom.” still standing at the door, he forgot his manners to ask her inside. He stood there looking at her as if he had seen some “apsara”, making Nidhi conscious. The blush on her face made her even more beautiful, or so Aadi thought.

“Yes?” asked Mrs. Bally to the visitor and looked at her son quizzically for the dumb look on his face.

He couldn’t know from his room what the duo were talking about. How he wished to be there, with her! He felt his face and ears getting red and hot.

Two days later when he came home in the evening, he saw her again. She looked more beautiful than he had remembered. She smiled at him and his heart skipped a beat. He gave her an awkward smile and scurried to his room. Once in his room he flopped on the bed and tried to look at her through the eyes of his heart. Her dark, midnight sky colour, hair in long braid, big vermilion bindi on her forehead, her “Kajal” lined eyes brought a smile on his face. He went back to the other room just to get a glimpse of her but his mother was already packing tabla and she was gone. He sighed.

Their encounter became routine since Nidhi came to his place at least thrice a week to learn tabla and Bharat Natyam from his mother. He would make sure to come home early on her scheduled days. He loved it when she smiled at him. He loved her grace when she danced to his mother’s directions and she looked fabulous when she played tabla. She tried to talk to him couple of times but he would feel very shy and embarrassed. She became his passion. He would get agitated the day she did not come.

Aaditya got restless when Nidhi didn’t come for her classes for a week. Today was her scheduled day too and he decided not to go out of house, lest he miss her! She did come. But she had this “lost” look on her face. He waited for them to start the session but they just sat and talked. Mrs. Bally got a glass of water for Nidhi and seemed like consoling her. It then occurred to Aaditya that Nidhi was crying. He couldn’t get what was going on between his mother and Nidhi but something was seriously wrong. He tried to stress his ears but couldn’t know the reason of Nidhi’s distress.

At dinner he heard his mother tell his father about Nidhi’s marriage to someone whom she didn’t love; a person a decade elder to her.

“She is just 23… imagine! Poor girl! So talented! Tsk…” commiserated Mrs. Bally.

Further talk was lost on Aaditya. He felt as if the earth had given away and he was spiraling down some bottomless pit. He was completely lost. In a daze he managed to go to his room. Mr. and Mrs. Bally were surprised at Aaditya’s sudden change in mood.

“Might be due to the exams. Let me go talk to him”, said Mr. Bally to his wife, patting her hand.

When Aaditya did not respond to Mr. Bally’s knock he peeked inside his room. Aaditya was sitting at the window and was lost to the world. He did not hear his father approach.

“What happened Aadi, any problem in school?” asked Mr. Bally lovingly to his only child. Aadi shook his head but his eyes started brimming over. One look at his dad and he lost control. He hugged his father tightly and started crying openly. Mr. Bally stood there transfixed not knowing what was wrong with his adolescent son. But he let him cry.

He just wished that whatever was causing so much pain to his son had a remedy.


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Sakhi's Laghukatha by Sakhi (aka Dr. Dhara Shah) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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