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It seemed like thousands of people passed her by in the span of seconds, parents talking about the wonder ahead to their kids, lovers asking each other how much the other loved them, school kids listening to facts bored. Yet among the crowd of people she felt alone. She sat in the gardens once again crying, she really didn't know why; was it because she felt hurt that they hadn't told her the truth earlier, or that her entire life felt like a lie, or that she had lost a father just as fast as she had found him, or she had never known the pain her mother had felt for all these years, or that not everyone was as lucky as her as not everyone had love in their lives.
As she sat crying she could hear them faintly in the background, she had been persistent in shooing them away as she wanted to be alone for just a little time. Maybe if she was alone her head would stop spinning and she would be able to think clearly; however it was not working. They were arguing, what about this time she thought. She could hear Sameer trying to defend himself. She heard Radha say, "Who told you to bring us to this city? Look what have you done now; she is crying even more."
She needed to bring peace Sometimes people who care for you seem to not take care of themselves as they are busy taking care of you. Yes, that was it- people sometimes forget themselves, they give up their happiness just to insure yours. Things were starting to get less blurry but there were still things that she needed to come to terms with.
She called out to the two who were still arguing, gesturing them to join her.
Geeta, "What are you guys fighting about?" she asked as they came closer.
Of course she noticed the dirty look Radha gave Sameer before replying, "Oh! Nothing, you know how it is" Radha gave her signature 'all is going to be okay' smile before sitting next to Geeta.
"Yeah! You know how it is" Sameer joined in.
Geeta, "Well I don't ' as they say miya bibi meh tension tension" she laughed as she spoke those words.
Finally she had smiled and the two people who had compelled her to do so seemed to just be beginning on the journey that so many before them had gone on. Now if only these two would realize what they had before the journey was cut short due to their stupidity; although she was sure who the problem was.
She decided that instead of keeping them on their toes wondering what had happened the day before. She knew they were worried and had been supportive no questions asked, but it was to say aloud what she had heard. Maybe that would help her come to terms with what she now knew to be true.
Geeta, "I want to tell you both something" she said taking a deep breath.
Radha, "You don't have to if you don't want to" she said assuring "You know we are here no matter what"
'Oh! Now she was taking for both of them.' Geeta thought and smiled to herself, this was definitely the beginning of something. She recalled how her father, no wait Maan had during the entire talk had referred to her mom and him as us/we, they had never been a separate entity within themselves. Maybe that what love was- it was the ability to speak for both as one.
Geeta, "I know I don't have to say anything, but I want to."
Radha, "Okay, we are all ears" she smiled and looked at Sameer who was now seated too.
Geeta, "Yesterday, I found out the truth about my life, remember how we had searched the answers to all those questions, well they were answered. And I truly don't know what to do."
Radha, "Well how about telling us what you want and we will figure it all out" she took Geeta's hand in hers and waited.
She narrated the truth just as she had heard the day before, from the very beginning, from her mother being forced into marriage, to her maternal family trying to kill her, to her father (was he her father she questioned to herself) saving her mother, to her mother moving to Delhi to make a new life, to her mother finding the man who had betrayed her, to her realizing that it was none other than her betrayer's brother she had fallen in love with, to her mother leaving because her grandmother was sick and the rest they all knew. How her mother had gone to school, and had raised her on her own.
She could see tears in their eyes and a frantic Radha looking for tissues in her black hole of a purse. She wiped her own tears away and realized that just speaking it all had indeed made her feel light. Her mind was now clear. For the first time in 24 hours her head had stopped spinning.
She had always wanted to come to the Taj Mahal; she had just thought that the circumstances would have been different. It was one of the 7 wonders of the world and a great specimen of amazing architecture. She saw the beauty now. She had read a lot about it and was saddened that over the centuries people had desecrated this wonderful monument, stripped it of all the gemstones that had once adorned it. However it was still standing strong after 400 years, multiple wars, millions of visitors, empires and changes in democracies. Shah Jahan had succeeded in building an everlasting monument to his love.
She snapped out of her thoughts and decided to change the focus of everyone's attention. She turned to Radha and asked, "Did you bring your notebook?"
Radha, "You know I always have it in my bag, let me get it out for you."
Geeta, "No I don't want it, but I am sure that you have a list of facts for this wonderful place. Was wondering if maybe you could educate us a little." She said laughing as she noticed the glint of joy in her friend's eyes.
It was time that Sameer saw what he was going to have to deal with if the relationship worked out Geeta decided. Yes, Radha was wonderful but her lists were popular in making people lose their patience as they seemed to pop up at the many inconvenient times.
Radha, "I thought you would never ask" she said as she pulled out the notebook. "Let's see what I have over here. Are you guys ready?" Of course she didn't wait for them to answer before she continues like a train trying to get to its destination. "It took 22 years to build this place, 20,000 workers, more than 1,000 elephants, construction started in 1631 and was completed in 1653." She took a breath before continuing, "It was built by as you all know Shah Jahan for his Queen Mumtaz Mahal after her death. She died giving birth to their 14th child, can you all believe it 14 children, I am sorry but that is too much." She said almost imagining the woman giving birth 14 times. "However did you all know that her real name was Arjumand Bano Begum and she was actually his 3rd wife! I wonder how many children he actually had, if his 3rd wife gave birth to 14 kids, how many did his other wives give birth to."
"Never mind to each his own" she said before continuing "The Taj Mahal complex is beautifully laid out in walled gardens and consists of 5 major constituents- the Darwaza, the Bageecha, the Masjid, the Naggar Khana and the Rauza. The Rauza or monument is made of 4 minarets and 1 main central structure which houses the central dome. The four 162.5 feet minarets, which for you is 49.63 meters (looking at Sameer) have been consciously shortened to emphasize the dome. The central dome is 58 feet- 16.68 meter in diameter and 213 feet -64.92 meters in height."
She was about to continue when she saw Sameer mouth to Geeta, "How long?"
Radha, "Not long, I am done. If you all want to get more info get it yourself. It wasn't like I brought out my notebook without being asked. She was on her way up when he pulled her down.
Geeta got the message and excused herself saying, "You know what, I think I am going to go take a look at the tomb" and before they could volunteer to go along she said "alone." After assuring them she was fine and promising them to meet up with them in 2 hours at the entrance. Of course she had to assure them again and again that she was going to be okay before they finally let her leave. And once again she could hear them in the background arguing as she walked away.
As she made her way towards the gigantic overbearing structure she was forced to think of her mom. The hardships that she had faced would have broken down any normal person, but then again her mother was no normal person. She was superwoman, strong, caring, kind and always patient. The thought of patience now forced her to think of Maan. Here was a man who was good looking, rich and successful; someone who could have gotten any woman and yet he had waited for almost 2 decades to be with her mother. He had loved from afar. Seemed that he had something in common with Shah Jahan, he didn't need to build a monument for her mother, her mother was just happy with him being there for her without being with her. Now that she thought of it, he had loved her too. He had kept up with her as she grew up, he had done everything a father would do only from afar. He must have hurt immensely.
She climbed up the stairs to make it to the tomb. And once inside the Taj Mahal she was fascinated by the intricate work. The fusion of Mughal, Persian and Indian architecture was overwhelming. Amazing how three different things came together to make something so wonderful. Once again it was hard not to compare it to her own life. Her mother, Maan and her Masies had come together to ensure that she- Geeta had turned out to be the person she was today. She was lucky to be loved by so many people.
Once out of her thoughts she made her way to the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, however after paying respects where they lay in eternity she was surprised to find another set of tombs. Which were the real ones she wondered. Maybe she should have agreed to have Radha and Sameer accompany her, she was sure that Radha would know which ones were the real deal. She had noticed from many around her that people actually prayed at the tombs. She had already prayed at the first set to show her the way to coming to terms with everything but now not wanting to have her prayers go to waste she prayed again. Better safe than sorry.
She then made her way out and walked around. A few people came up to her to have their pictures taken by her and she happily agreed. These people looked happy and she was more than joyous in helping them capture the moment.
After about 30 minutes she realized that since she had left the Khurana Mansion she hadn't called her mother and she was sure that she would be worried. She made her way towards some trees pulled out her phone and made the call. One the other end Geet who along with Maan had just finished talking to the family and was now seated in the garden. She answered the phone even before the first ring was done.
Geet, "Beta, are you okay." She said calmly. She was not nervous anymore; letting the truth out had lifted all the negativity and stress.
Geeta, "Mamma, I am fine. Just thinking that is all." She then heard him in the background asking her mom to ask where she was. She could hear worry in his voice. And decided to put him out of his misery. "Mamma I am in Agra, I didn't want to stay in Delhi last night so here I am."
Geet, "Agra? How did you get there, how did you even know which way to go?" now she was starting to worry. It was unlike Geeta to make trips without telling anyone.
Once again she heard him in the background, "she is in Agra! Is she safe? Where is she staying?"
Geeta, "I was really upset yesterday and as soon as I left I called Radha. She was hanging out with Sameer so they both came to see me. I was in no form to deal with everything but I was sure I didn't want to go back home so Sameer drove while Radha held me. I guess he thought Agra would be the best place to go as it is not that far from Delhi and plus it has the Taj Mahal. They have been with me the whole time making sure I am okay"
Geet was glad to hear that Geeta was okay and gestured to Maan to calm down. She mouthed to him, "she is fine" before continuing, "Beta when are you coming home?"
Geeta, "Mamma, I hope you don't mind but I think I am going to stay in Agra maybe for another day or two before making my way back to Delhi. I know there will be a lot to deal with when I get back and I am not sure yet if I am ready. But I promise you that as soon as I know when I am coming back you will know." Realizing what time it was she decided to end the call but not before telling her mother she loved her.
As she made her way towards the entrance she noticed Sameer and Radha following in the age old tradition of getting their picture taken in front of the Taj. She smiled. She was sure that the calm between them wouldn't last for long and waited for a few minutes before joining them. She would ask Radha later on when they were alone how things were going between Sameer and her but for now all she could think of was food. She could hear her stomach growl and was certain that so could the others around her.
After a long day being a tourist they had finally gotten into their room. Of course there was still a long day ahead as they had to go shopping in 2 hours for all the necessities. One had to in the future have a going away bag packed for all times, this leaving Delhi without planning was a pain.
As they sat watching TV she finally asked, "So what is going on between you and Sameer?"
Never having seen her friend blush she was taken aback and couldn't help herself, "Oh you are blushing, you look so cute. I told you so, don't forget to invite me to the wedding."
Radha whose eyes popped out on hearing the work wedding with a pouted face said, "Wedding? Whose wedding? Geeta we are too young to get married, I don't even know him that well, I am not even sure if I am ready to call him my boyfriend and no I am not blushing, it is just the heat."
Geeta, "I was just teasing you, but it is so nice hear the word boyfriend and him in the same sentence from you." On seeing the look on Radha's face she decided to stop with the teasing by saying, "okay I think I am done no more teasing, but you have to tell me what happened after I left, you guys seemed to be having fun when I meet up with you guys."
She then heard all about the exploits of Sameer and Radha. Sameer had apparently apologized and told Radha that the only reason he had asked Geeta how long was because he had wanted to see if they had time to maybe visit the other sites as he didn't know when they were going to go back to Delhi. He then forced her to give him a detailed lesson in all about Taj Mahal. He had in loving ways yet not cheesy ways made it clear to Radha that he would someday acquire the Taj Mahal in all its glory for her only to then buy her a plastic Taj Mahal and tell her that if she had really thought he would get her the Taj Mahal, she was mad. He was only going to be a chef and was certain that no matter how hard he worked he would never have enough money to get her the Taj Mahal. It had all been playful but it had shown Radha just how truly special Sameer was and had compelled her to this time around ask him on a date. They had made plans to meet up when they got to Delhi and spend time together maybe even Radha helping Sameer made a date dinner.
Geeta then realized that everything would eventually work out and like her mother she found herself in a serene calm. She called her mother and told her that she was returning the day after tomorrow and was ready to deal with everything. She was told by her mother that her great grandmother wanted to see her, her mother had told her that she would understand if she needed time to meet her blood family. She in turn had told her mother that she now wanted to see the people with whom she shared genes and was hoping that things would turn out okay. However she did have a condition, she wanted Radha, Sameer, Pinky Masi and Adi Mausa there with her. As she explained she needed familiarity amongst the chaos. Geet agreed with her and told her no matter what she was loved and would always be loved before ending the call.
Do you know who she is?
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