Sorry guys, I know I have been a little late with this part.. but had been a bit busy lately. Anyway here's part 4.
That night was one in a lifetime. The tension, the worry, the fears- everything was unparalleled. It suddenly seemed as if the friendly and homely city of Mumbai had become a graveyard and the devil was lurking from every corner.
Archana was missing! Manav's mind was caught in an imbroglio of thoughts and refused to think straight. She had just been in trying circumstances.. had she taken some wrong step in her depression? Manav hastily shook his head. No.. he had to find her.. at any cost!!
He tried his best to compose himself. He looked again on the platform. She was not there. He couldn't find her on the bridge or the other platform as well. And she had not gone outside since there was only one exit. His mind drifted to the footbridge a little distance away from the station near a railway crossing and roads.. had she tried to go from there? But why would she..? He decided to check all the same.
He started running away from the station. As he ran alongside the railway track, he could see a figure walking quietly on the track on the railway line. He relaxed and walked towards her, only to be startled by the hooting of the next local train. He looked at the train and then at her... she was still walking on the same track!
"Move aside..." he shouted. Still no budging. He was seriously worried now. He started running at full speed, hoping to make it to her in time...
Archana felt better as the cool breeze blew on her face. She had wanted time to to think, compose herself and most importantly stop crying. So she had taken the footbridge to walk home by a longer route.
The train was coming closer now. Archana was in a daze. Why was everything in life so hazy? She didn't know where to go from here on... her life had no direction, she had become a burden on her parents whom she loved deeply. Her family was worried and distressed.. all because of her. Why wasn't Bappa listening to her? Why wasn't there light at the end of this tunnel? Hey, what's all this light... and...
She had no time to think as someone made a dash for her and both of them fell off near the railway track. She was shocked, and first looked at the train cluttering on the rails close to her, and then at the 'someone' who was now breathing heavily.
The train sped by. The 'someone' was that same mechanic she had encountered several times by now. He got up and helped her up.
"Are you mad...!!!" he shouted. "What were you upto???"
She suddenly realised what he was thinking.. "I...I.. sorry.." she said slowly.
"What the hell do you mean by sorry..!!" he screeched back. "You have any idea what COULD have happened. Do you always do things like today without even thinking? That day, also by mistake you entered the.."
"Don't remind me.." Archana snapped. "Thankyou very much for all your help.. but frankly speaking these are my problems... you don't need to be a superhero or anything anymore. Whether I die or something is none of your concern."
Manav stared in shock and disbelief as Archana muttered these words.. half crying. The moment was disturbed by the whistles of the railway police, who had witnessed some activity in the middle of the track and had come along to investigate.
"Its OK..." Manav shouted out to them. "We were just leaving." He looked at Archana. "Shall we..."
Archana looked at his understanding face for a moment before he turned without waiting for an answer. She followed him slowly out of the station.
"I didn't do it on purpose." She said quietly. "I know you wont believe me but..."
"I believe you." Manav said. "I know you from 2 years and know that you are too selfless to cause so much grief to your parents."
Archana looked at him, straight into his soft eyes which were swimming with understanding and kindness. It was too much for her. Tears started flowing out of her tired face.
"It would have been better if I had died today." she said quietly. "Everyone in my family is suffering today because of me. Since morning no one has stepped out of the house. I have disgraced everyone..."
She burst out crying. Manav did not know what to say. He sat quietly while she let the emotions of her heart flow out in the form of tears. After a while, when she had quietened somewhat, he offered her his handkerchief. She accepted it slowly, but then saw it had stains on grease.
"Sorry.. " he muttered.. taking it back. At least she had stopped crying.
They sat in silence. Finally he broke the silence. "Can I ask you something?"
Archana looked at him.
"Why do you feel it would have been better if you had died today? Cos your marriage broke, cos you have been humiliated or cos of your family?"
"Are these reasons less that I need more reasons to die?" she asked curtly.
"Yes," he answered. "These reasons are less. In fact every reason is insufficient to even say that it is better to die rather than face life. Everyone has problems in life. They have to be faced and fought. You cannot run away from them."
"It is easier to say these things..."
"I know. And I also know you were on the verge of giving up your life today since it is difficult to face things. But Archanaji, understand one thing... your life may not be important to you, but it means a lot for many other people who would have died if anything had happened to you today. And really, why should you die? That guy Satish wasn't your love, was he? His calling you names shouldn't matter to you... especially when your parents have faith on you. In the end they are the ones who matter... you have to live on for them.."
"After all this humiliation.."
"... a woman's dignity and honour doesn't need a certificate... it is just like the presence of God in an idol... you can believe he is present in it or you can deny it. Those who have faith will stand by it even if 100 proofs are presented. Those who don't will be convinced even by a rumour. It is a fault of minds, and not your character..."
Archana listened staring at him in the face. He looked back at her in the eye.
"That guy Satish doesn't know you well. I don't blame him for it too. He was new into this relationship. It is nobody's fault, except for the person who trapped you."
"Who did it doesn't matter now... my life is ruined... the news must have spread among relatives... no guy will ever marry me.."
"Is that all that is there in your life Archanaji, marriage and nothing else? Is that the only aim of a girl's life? Would you have been happy if despite thinking you are a prostitute, Satish would have accepted you for your family's sake out of his kindness..."
Archana had no answer.
"I will answer my own question. You would NOT have been happy. You would be relieved that your parents are happy, you would be thankful to Satish but you would not be happy. At the end of the day it is impossible to compromise on this count. So why fret... I understand you have faced a lot... but a little more strength is all that is required. You are lucky to have a family who supports you so much... their love is your strength.."
"And why worry about marriage... I have faith on my God... he does not do injustice. If he is indeed present, he will give you a life partner who would realise the true beauty of your character, and not certify your dignity as virgin or not, he would love you unconditionally in whatever condition or whatever person you are."
Archana stared in disbelief. Manav smiled.
"We should go now else your parents will get worried.
Archana looked at the understanding face of the person sitting beside her in the taxi. Was he indeed the mechanic who had worked in her street for two years and had yet somehow been invisible all along? She had always seen his kind and helpful nature but had always looked through him.
Today however, things were different. She didn't know anything about him, but felt she had opened herself upto him. There had been a moment which only the two of them would remember now... or would they? As he left her near her house, she turned back to look at him. A chapter of her life had closed today in front of him, and a new chapter had begun. Would he be there in it?
Edited by nikitagmc - 06 September 2010 at 1:12am