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3. The Dream
Meeti was running ahead of him.
"Catch me, maamu," she challenged, looking back to see if he was following. The morning sun sparkled on her brown hair, not brighter than the sparkle of mischief in her eyes. For a child who couldn't even stand steady on her feet a year back, she was amazingly fast! Her impish smile warmed his heart as she was the sunshine in his life now. He ran slowly to make her feel proud in her ability to outrun him.
"Oh, my Meeti is so fast, maamu can't catch her."
"Maamu can't catch me, maamu can't catch me!" she chanted as she disappeared behind the tree.
He slowly walked towards the tree and exclaimed, "Caught you!"
But Meeti was not there. He ran forward trying to find her again, but she had disappeared.
"Meeti! Meeti!" he called out. But the park was deserted and the morning suddenly filled with fog. He searched for her frantically yet couldn't find her.
"Geet!" he yelled in panic looking around. Then he saw her a few feet away from him and calmness spread over.
"Maan, you called?" she asked, her face glowing with her smile.
"Like a dying man his God!"
"You need me, " she said walking towards him.
"More than my next breath!"
Standing in front of him, she lifted her hand to touch his face. He closed his eyes, at the whisper of her touch, his whole being concentrated on the sensation of her touch, a part of him reminding him that this was all he had now. But even as he wanted to prolong the moment, standing still in case any movement from him made her disappear, some one tugged him in his dream.
"Maamu?" a child's voice called turning his attention away from his Mishty.
"Meeti, where were you?" he heard himself asking.
"She was with me," whispered Geet's voice as her smiling presence disappeared yet again.
"Don't leave me Mishty. Please don't go." He heard himself plead the words he never said when she left him, the words that may have stopped her from walking away from him, his home and his life.
Maan woke up with a heightened sense of loss that intensified his loneliness. A few thoughtless words uttered in anger and contempt had changed his life forever. He lost the most precious person in his life, the one who had filled his life with happiness and brightness. During these past years many had advised him to remarry but he didn't want to ruin another life. He was sure he cud never love another with the same depth, for Geet was his soul mate. He didn't want to give away the memories of his days with her or his dreams of her, which was all he had of her now.
As he thought of those early days, he felt like laughing at his foolishness. He had packed her belongings away to barsati, thinking not seeing her things lying around wud help him forget her, help to heal the pain. But stubborn that she was, Geet refused to stay away. She taught him that she was present not just in the material belongings but in every corner of his life, in the guarded words of his family, in the sorrowful eyes of his staff, in the sight of a road side vendor, in the empty side of his bed, in the absence of the slight weight on his chest as he lay down to sleep but most of all in the incompleteness he constantly felt. At night she taunted him with her presence in his dreams, always a touch away from him, disappearing in the second he reached out to touch her, to hold her back. There was no escaping her, so he was learning to live with it, looking forward to the dreams when she was with him.
The only comfort Babaaji offered was Meeti, his niece,the tiny being who taught him that there was still laughter left in him. Now that too was taken away from him. He had tried his best to make them reconsider Arjun's decision. But they seemed adamant to shift to Amritsar. Why did they have to go to Amritsar of all places! He had thought of asking Annie to leave Meeti with him. But he cudn't, coz he knew his little angel needed her mother more. But that knowledge didn't stop him from missing his tiny bundle of joy! He missed the peel of laughter that rang out when he tickled her, her weight on his back when he did his push ups, the clutch of her tiny hands on his hair when she carried her on his shoulders. May be he shud forget his hatred for the place and surprise her with a visit. He was contemplating that when the phone rang. He smiled to see it was Annie.
"Bhai, you will be come to Amritsar next weekend, na? It is Meeti's birthday."
"But I thought you were coming to Delhi to celebrate it."
"We had planed it so, but Arjun is too busy now and it seems we can't make it. He thinks the party will be a good platform to make stronger bonds here."
"I still can't understand why he had to go to Amritsar in the first place!" Maan said angrily.
"Leave it Bhai. Just because we stayed in the outhouse to be near you and daadi doesn't mean Arjun can't make decisions regarding his family," Annie sounded cross.
"Okay, okay. We will come," he said to avoid an argument.
When he replaced the phone, he thought if it was a coincidence that Annie called about the birthday after the dream. Geet's words "she was with me" echoed in his thoughts. Was there some significance to his dream?
Another part with a lonely Maan'. did I succeed in building your anticipation? Hope you r with me.
Sorry about this but my next updates will be a bit late with an extended weekend and world cup final, I may not get time to write. Please post your comments and criticism
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