Joined: 25 May 2010
Joined: 25 May 2010
Joined: 30 July 2011
Joined: 25 May 2010
Joined: 25 May 2010
Ahem tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, in a rhythm to kill time. He could feel Gopi's gaze on him, but deliberately tried not to acknowledge it, and silently cursed the red lights to turn green.
It was the last day of Gopi being in the Modi Mansion, and Ahem Modi's life. No news could be greater than this for Ahem, he was overjoyed, or at least he told himself so. Although, for the first time he had felt bad for Gopi, even though he'd never appreciated anything Gopi ever did for him. She still learnt his difficult ways of life to learning how to make his green tea, and cooking foods with less oil and fat. All those things he'd wanted done with precise order, was received without complaint from Gopi's end.
Small droplets of rain began hitting against the windscreen, the sound of the wipers rubbing against the window joined the company of the uncomfortable atmosphere, with little in common to talk about, Ahem had felt the need to say something, but failing to pick the right words, which suddenly seemed to be the hardest job in the world right now. As he threw a glance in Gopi's direction in the side mirror, he could see the look of sorrow running through her in her reflection.
He had seen Gopi in tears many times, but this time was different, something had felt a lot deeper, and he couldn't help feeling responsible for it. He felt a strange urge to comfort her, and held out his hand to place over hers but then as if coming back to reality he'd pulled back. Knowing Gopi would unintentionally get the wrong idea, and right now bringing false hopes was not a good idea.
He tried to privately lighten up his mood by remembering Anita's voice filled with excitement over the phone last night. His lips curved up at the ends without further ado, thinking he would finally get to start living life the way he had always wanted to. Today was the last day of his pitiful life, and tomorrow would be the first day of his new lustrous life with Anita.
During the journey Kokila was extremely nervous, as she knew that this was Gopi's last day as her Bahu, alongside revealing the fact to the household members that her son and daughter-in-law's divorce petition had already been filed.She dreaded the day Anita would get married to Ahem and come into her house as her new Bahu, how she will be able to replace her Gopi Bahu, she thought already biased towards her dear Gopi. She had tried so hard to make Ahem see sense, but without success. Today she had lost the yearlong battle with her son, and was left with no option but to let Gopi go. Each and every time Kokila had looked at Gopi she couldn't help feeling guilty, thinking back to all those times she had promised Gopi that Ahem will accept her as his wife one way or the other - but today all was over, Ahem hadn't accepted Gopi, and today this chapter will be close forever.
A year ago, it seemed like a similar night, when Ahem had first seen Gopi in the same place. Same as every year they had went to the same Mandir, and then to the ground where a huge lavish Raas Leela was held. To which the Modi's had always been invited as per tradition due to the hefty donations given by their household since years.
Ahem had returned from abroad after his studies, and dealing with successful business investments internationally, when his beloved Mother had called him home suddenly. Not being able to refuse his Mother to anything, he had obeyed her without question. Upon returning home he had realised that Kokila had supposedly found an eligible and sanskari girl for him who was apparently perfect in every way. Ahem had told his Mother at once he weren't ready to get married as yet, but she seemed determined, and told Ahem to take a look at the girl at the very least and to trust her judgment. Which Ahem did trust on that night of the previous Janamashtami. He was told that Gopi was a virtuous girl who was a strong devotee of Lord Krishna, which she certainly was! Confirmed Ahem, but after that it seemed like that's all she was.
Gopi was to perform as Lord Krishna's ardent devotee Radha in the role play of the Raas Leela, but upon reaching the site things were entirely different. He had
later found out that the performer was not Gopi but her cousin sister Rashi who hadn't seemed to fit the description given by his Mother entirely.
During this time Anita had found out that discussions were on about the business tycoon Ahem Modi getting hitched, and his Mother was on the hunt for her perfect Bahu. She felt annoyed and angered by this, for she knew that Ahem hadn't told his Mother of her. Determined to make Ahem hers in any case, she took her entry by force in the Modi Mansion and pleaded to Kokila that she give her consent for their marriage, as she claimed to have loved Ahem whole heartedly. However, Kokila had refused her downright, saying she weren't eligible to be a Bahu of the Modi household, and further informed that she was far too modern for their liking.
After much persuasion Kokila had finally convinced her son that his decision to refuse Gopi, in order to marry Anita was wrong. As she could never keep him happy, she foretold. Gopi was a dream come true for any house hold that she will be married into, trust your Mother, said Kokila, 'I will do whatever need be right for your future'.
Ahem had eventually decided to marry Gopi, who had apparently failed miserably with her poor acting skills to perform in the Raas Leela that night, therefore leaving Rashi to step up to her act, and take over her role, hence the confusion with the girls.
Kokila had in actual fact planned for Ahem to see Gopi's performance in the Raas Leela in order for him to take a general interest in her. Clearly things hadn't worked out, but had set things right soon after.
Nonetheless Rashi's performance hadn't gone to waste either, as this was how Jigar had found his wife to be.
As Ahem recalled all the events in his head, he cursed himself for that moment, he hadn't listened to Anita. Six weeks before his Mother had called him home for Janamashtami, Anita had already tried to persuade Ahem into marrying her. Ahem had evidently refused without reconsidering, but how he'd regretted that moment today. If only he had listened to Anita in the first place, he would have won the race against his Mother. He would have turned up with Anita announcing their marriage beforehand, leaving his Mother with no choice, and then Gopi would never have even been an option in his life. A perfectly good year wasted thought Ahem silently.
'Jigar Ji,' began Rashi, 'do you remember this place, it was the first time we met?!'
'Yeah Rashi I remember everything, how could I possibly forget your performance,' replied Jigar as he turned his car towards the parking area. 'I can even remember the look on Bhai's face, when he first saw you, he was so confused...but luckily I had seen Gopi Bhabi with Kaki the week before, but mind you...I did have to nudge Bhai, to explain to him that you weren't Gopi' reminded Jigar, with a look of regret on his face, knowing that their relationship had come to an end.
As Kokila and Hetal had gotten down from the car, Kokila was unable to stay silent at the topic Rashi had bought up. 'Yes Rashi of course, you and your Mother were extremely prepared for the performance Gopi was supposed to do. I was amazed at the preparation done by you considering it was Gopi who had been rehearsing the whole time.' Kokila said wide eyed and sternly, allowing Rashi stutter with her unsaid half mumbled words.
'Lekin Kaki Ji, look on the bright side, if that incident hadn't happened, then me and Jigar Ji would never have gotten married,' said Rashi tactfully, trying to bring the attention on the brighter side of things.
The truth of the matter was that Urmila, Rashi's Mother was the brains behind the whole scheming act that night. If Urmila hadn't found out that multi-millionaire Kokila Modi was in search of a bride for her son via the Pandit, she would never have forced Gopi to switch places with Rashi. The Pandit had told Urmila that Kokila Modi wished to introduce Gopi to her son on the night of her performance. And that she was highly impressed with Gopi's knowledge regarding her religious affairs, and after a long chat with the Pandit, she had come to know that Gopi was deprived of her education, and since childhood had attended to all duties in the temple. This information was enough for Kokila to go smitten with Gopi's traits, and had finally decided her search for an eligible daughter-in-law was over.
However, Urmila had tried to outsmart Kokila, and had selfishly thought of the well-being of her own daughter Rashi. She had figured if Ahem was to lay eyes on Rashi first, he would go gaga over her beauty. But that hadn't happened, as Urmila wasn't aware that Jigar had already met Gopi alongside Kokila in the Mandir that day. Therefore, during Rashi's act, Jigar had taken the courtesy of informing Ahem that the girl on stage was not Gopi.
All was not lost however, Jigar was intrigued by Rashi and they had quickly fell in love, causing them to break this news to Hetal, who was equally impressed with Rashi, and had no objection to their marriage. Urmila was overwhelmed by this fact, as her daughter would still be getting married into a rich household, be it Ahem Modi, or Jigar Modi.
Gopi and Ahem both recalled the events which occurred in the past year. Gopi couldn't help feeling immensely torn up deep down inside, staying quiet the whole time, she hadn't uttered a single word, and for some strange reason Ahem had seemed to be bothered by this sight. For the first time Gopi hadn't cried, why on earth weren't she crying? Ahem's inner voice shouted from inside his head. Not that he wanted her to cry, but simply because he knew Gopi weren't the type to keep things bottled up inside of her. He knew if she suppressed her feelings now, then she would never allow herself to move on freely in life. Ahem didn't want to live with the guilt of making Gopi's life ahead a misery. He had hoped that Gopi would find someone too and settle down in her life, with a deserving partner of her own status. He held no ill feelings towards her, he just didn't love her that was all.
There were times when he'd supported Gopi in many things, and she him. And at times he felt swayed towards her, caught up in the waves of emotions and sometimes in mere pity, at other times he was not able to differentiate between the two. She was such a naive girl that Ahem could only see Gopi in a vulnerable state, and hence decided that he'd always felt sorry for her. If in the rare occasion he'd doubted his intentions, he would be quick to use this excuse of taking pity on her.
It was at times like these he felt afraid of his own actions, scared that he may be growing a soft spot for Gopi that he had decided to part with her for once and for all.
Recalling these soon to be vague memories, Gopi lost all efforts to cry, as it felt pointless right now, never had her tears bought her any benefits in the past, so she failed to see what good it would do now. If she cried now, it would feel like her own tears would be taunting her unlucky fate that was cursed with endless emptiness. As the night neared the end, she could slowly feel the life being sucked out of her, moving away from reality, departing from her surroundings, oblivious to everything. Almost like a shadow casting itself over her serenely, regardless of the liveliness taking place outside Ahem Ji's very car, she could feel the darkness taking over and knowing the rising sun tomorrow would shed its light in all four corners of the world, but will never be able to reach its golden rays at the doorstep of her miserable life. Being carried in this vehicle she was no short of a dead body being delivered for its utmost end journey of life, even though joyous processions proceeded outside, life continued for others as it would for Ahem Ji, after disposing of her.
Almost there, thought Ahem, still awkwardly keeping focused on Gopi, who hadn't looked at him since a long time now. He released a heavy sigh, before considering breaking the silence between them. 'Gopi...' started Ahem not quite sure of what he intended to say, but when no reaction came from Gopi's part, he repeated further and louder this time, 'Gopi!'
She jumped at the sound of his voice, which abruptly ruined her thoughts of literally nothing and making her shift hastily in her seat and attempting to sort out her pallu just to check if it was securely in place above her head, 'Je..j...jee' she finally replied.
'Woh, I just wanted to say that, er...just that...erm...that...I never meant to hurt you deliberately,' he looked away for a moment to gather his words this time before he spoke, 'all the times I shouted at you, and came across rudely, was only because I was more angry with myself, than I was at you. What I mean to say is that I was so scared of losing control around you that...'
Hearing Ahem's words of blaming himself surprised Gopi, but as she managed to make eye contact with him at the point where he mentioned that he was afraid to lose control around her, he had frozen, and by the looks of it Ahem too seemed to be shocked at his own words. Before opening his mouth again, he coughed to clear his mind rather than his throat and tried again.
'I just wanted to say that I hope you get married in life and move on happily' he uttered very quickly but slyly rehearsing the sentence in his head before speaking it out loud this time.
'Nahin, Ahem Ji' said Gopi simultaneously not being able to stop herself, 'I'm already married, and I have loved with all my heart and soul, it's a relationship I cannot betray even if I wished to, so please do not speak such bitter words, and let me be. My life will always remain what it is today. Radha Ji had also loved Kishan Ji, but their love never resulted in marriage, Krishna had married Rukhmani. But never had Radha stopped loving her Kishan, just like that Ahem Ji, I could never stop loving you, you will get married to Anita Ji, but Radha's spot will always be taken by your Gopi Ahem Ji, because you are attached to my soul.' She said hopelessly letting the words out of her mouth without permission to do so, and not sure if they were even making sense.
'But Gopi, don't be so stupid,' argued Ahem. 'The love you talk of is impossible, these are just stories Gopi, no one has the power to survive alone in this day and age, and everyone needs a companion!'
'Please Ahem Ji' begged Gopi, 'if you have decided to cut me out of your life, at least don't try to tell me how to live the rest of it, especially when you don't exist in that part!' She managed to shout in a croaky voice and her eyes closed in despair.
'But Gopi...' he responded with his voice trailing off in defeat. He was seriously confused at this point in time, suddenly he felt a shiver run up his spine and the hairs on his arms standing on end.
Gopi never raised her voice at him ever, but the thing that astonished him the most was that not a single tear was in sight yet. The way she was coping with the situation should have made Ahem comfortable as she remained too calm, but the fact that she was, made Ahem feel like he should be the one panicking. If Gopi won't get married again, did that make him responsible for ruining her life. No of course not, he finally decided, it was her decision, which had nothing to do with him.
Before he could continue debating with Gopi, he could hear loud voices coming from the far side to the left of the car, outside. Ahem turned the volume of the radio down, in order to locate the voices through the slow traffic, only to find a young boy arguing with a fully grown man sitting in one of the side shops idle. Selling paan in a small booth, he was rather fat as his belly was protruding and his dark sweaty complexion dripping from is over-dyed henna coloured hair, which made his unshaven face look even more hideous then it was. Wearing an off white vest which seemed to have grown smaller on him, and looked like it hadn't been washed since a decade. Gopi and Ahem watched more closely as the crowd grew bigger and the voices louder. The hustle was between the so called fat looking guy, and strangely his opponent who was half the size of him. A lanky looking toasted complexioned boy, who hadn't looked like a beggar at all. He seemed well fed, and looked like he was dressed for a function in a bronze coloured kurta and a beige dhoti that parents would usually take out on special occasions for their children. Perhaps he was lost, was Ahem's immediate thoughts, and maybe the poor kid had asked directions or something and the old bugger couldn't be bothered to direct him.
Gopi noticed the kid with a basket in his grip, but was unable to see the contents inside of it, she tried to peer over to get a better look without any luck. Her attempt was bothered by the sound of rattling sticks hitting the ground. As she looked up she saw the fat man who had become irritated by the youngster and had knocked over his goods from his hands. Shocked at the sight before her, Gopi had quickly tried to rush out of the car and aid the innocent boy, only to be stopped by Ahem's hold over her hand, while she tried to unfasten the seatbelt.
'Wait Gopi, it's not right for you to interfere in such a situation' he ordered. 'It's dark out, and you don't know what kinds of people lurk in the streets at this time of the night. I'll go, and please whatever happens...do not leave the vehicle.' He pleaded in his mellow but yet stern tone of voice. Leaving Gopi with precise directions, he opened the car door to leave, but had been stopped when he felt a firm, yet soft warm touch on his hand, which was now grasping onto his own.
Gopi hadn't thought of her actions when she decided to ask Ahem Ji to stay safe, but it was too late, she'd already acted and Ahem Ji was staring back at her with a questioning gaze of what she was doing.
'Er Ahem Ji...erm...please be careful,' she let out, feeling foolish and lowering her gaze.
'I will Gopi, don't worry' he assured understanding her reason for concern, and then moving along.
Inching closer to the scene, he threw one glance back at Gopi, who never removed her eyes from him once, and raised his hand to ensure he will be okay, supported by a delicate nod.
Ahem rushed to the kid at once, and helped him pick up a collection of bansuri's of different character. Some were old and some were polished in brass and looked brand spanking new, and others that had looked slightly tattered but very authentic. It was soon obvious that this kid was selling these flutes of all kinds for a living, and as it was Lord Krishna's birthday, he probably set out for making some kind of bonus. The old chap behaving rudely with this kid however, was yet undiscovered.
'I don't have any problem!' blurted the man holding onto the ends of his red ragged dampened scarf that hanged around his neck. 'It's this stupid kid' he wailed pointing rude arrogant fingers at the child. 'He came to sell me a bansuri (flute), and I, out of simple sorrow decided to buy one from him, but then he tried to tell me that I'm buying the wrong one, and insisted that I purchase the old tattered looking bansuri, for the same price as it will bring me luck!' He exclaimed further, literally spitting out the words.
'No that isn't what I said' the young boy finally spoke, 'I simply said that the bansuri you picked, isn't the correct one for you' he said calmly and taking all the time in the world to talk. His voice sounded like a girl's, but yet when he spoke it was melodious and had a strange sort of echo to it, moving his head like it were swaying to his words like he was some sort of preacher captured in a child's body, it was difficult to explain. 'I tried to explain to Kaka that making the right choice is important as life doesn't let you go backward and mend ways, once you have made a choice, you must stick with it no matter what.'
Confused at what this kid was trying to say, Ahem's eyebrows furrowed, but the kid hadn't quite finished.
'All I am saying is do not buy the bansuri that looks good, the one that I am suggesting you buy, will never fail you Kaka, it's sound will always be more soulful than the rest, you must seize this opportunity that has come to you, for not everyone has the luxury to have what is offered to you' spoke the boy again.
It seemed like he was talking in riddles, it suddenly became clear as to why the man was wound up so much, but if he didn't want to buy the flute offered by the boy, then Ahem's theory was he shouldn't have to. 'Are you saying this all about picking a flute?' Ahem had questioned in disbelief.
'That's exactly what I'm saying!' The tobacco chewing guy shouted.
Glancing at his wrist watch, Ahem decided that it was getting too late, and the rest of the family members must already be at the Raas Leela ground. Determined to set things right before leaving, he pulled out his wallet and grabbed a 500 rupee note, and handed it over to the boy. 'Look here's money for that old flute' he said rushing through his words now. 'That should cover things, now take this money and leave' he requested.
'Oh no! But this flute cannot do for you, what it could do for him,' warned the boy looking up to Ahem. 'You may not like what you see!' He went on. 'You see this changes things, you seem sure of what you want today, but tomorrow tells a different story' anticipated the boy.
'What on earth are you talking about?!' Ahem asked in agitation while pulling his sleeve from the clutches of the boy without coming across as rude.
'Oh nothing Mr. Ahem Modi, I'm just saying that a single good deed goes a long way' he said cheekily as he handed Ahem an authentic looking ancient flute with a hint of detailed golden embroidery over at one end hanging with several chains of crystal white pearls.
Bewildered at hearing the stranger uttering his name, Ahem questioned instantly of how he knew who he was. The child wasn't surprised at Ahem's question, instead he smiled and held a look of amusement in his eyes. 'You're famous Mr. Ahem' said the boy as though it's as obvious as that. 'And as for me' said the boy taking a moment to think aloud, 'your people know me by several names but for you, the bansuri wala will do' he added tilting his head over to the right. 'This bansuri seems to have a strange effect on people...' he teased, '...sort of like spell-bounding, so do be careful.'
'It's only a flute for god's sake,' replied Ahem, 'what's to be careful about?!' He asked sarcastically and smirked while he randomly tossed the flute around in his hand to inspect it casually.
'Well it's a divine instrument and can often be a blessing in disguise on this special day, don't you think? Divine things do tend to have divine effects on situations, and you forget Mister that Lord Krishna is very mischievous and is no less of an illusionist, and this bansuri does after all belong to him. Therefore I use the term be careful.' The so-called bansuri wala joked in an overly confident way.
Ahem hadn't known what to say to the boy, but before leaving he deterred the crowds away informing everything was over, and then said his last words to the mysterious boy. 'What a strange little fellow you are' he said smiling at the whole scenario, 'but I must go now, thank you for this regardless...
'You must hurry Sir, otherwise you'll be late for attending the Raas Leela!' The kid informed.
'How do you know that I'm on my way to a Raas Leela?' Ahem examined closely without further ado.
'It was a simple guess, seeing as it's the Lord's birthday, I figured you must be late as you kept looking at your watch, and the only place to go today at this time of the night must surely be a Raas Leela.' The kid answered back smartly.
'Right' was all Ahem could respond with, 'you're a clever little boy, aren't you? Well I better be off, nice meeting you kid' he said ruffling the child's hair before leaving for his car, 'I'll sure remember to be careful with this little fellow too!' Ahem shouted back further pointing out to his flute.
As Ahem was about to drive off again, the bansuri wala had caught up again, knocking on Gopi's side of the window, Ahem rolled it down electronically wondering what he'd wanted now. 'What is it kid? Have I paid you less or something?' He said reaching over.
'No I needed to return your change' he replied. Handing him 250 rupees back, the kid looked at Gopi, who was smiling at him. 'Jai Sri Krishna Gopi' he said. Gopi also replied the same.
'Hey how do you know my wife's name?' Ahem fired rapidly, as he put his hand out to collect his change.
'You are strange Sir, all ladies that believe in Lord Krishna are considered to be his Gopi's' informed the boy once again outsmarting Ahem.
This just seemed to be way too much of a coincidence thought Ahem, first this kid knows my name, and then Gopi's too, although his given reasons were justified as per his explanations, something had still seemed to feel fishy according to Ahem, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
'Mr. Ahem remember each time the flute is blown, a will story must be told, until you find out what the meaning is for each story told, you will remain tangled in the web of your questions, that can only be answered by you.' Said the child before Ahem accelerated.
'What a weird kid' said Ahem nodding his head sideways, not realising he was talking to Gopi on a simple basis.
Gopi took hold of the bansuri and blew into it lightly, not putting her mouth to it, she felt the exterior of the flute and admired it's beauty, and was about to blow into it once again. Just when Ahem given her a firm look at once, making Gopi stop immediately, and in fear placing it in the back seat.
Ahem's phone had rang just as he was about to pull up into the Raas Leela parking lot, it was Jigar on the other end, asking him of their whereabouts. Ahem had told Jigar to tell the family members they'd arrived, and will be meeting up with them any minute soon.
As Gopi and Ahem got out of the car, they both looked at each other one last time. This will be the last moment spent with Ahem Ji, thought Gopi. It would soon all be over.
Ahem looked at Gopi feeling baffled with the turn of the events and then suddenly being so close to what he'd dreamt of since the time of his marriage, but today he stood there amazed at how the feeling of reluctance took over. He was almost finding it difficult to move along easily, as though he needed to take time to re-think his decision. What was I thinking! He thought to himself suddenly, I've thought this over for a whole year, and a few moments spent with her are causing me to re-think my decision. It's all the after effect of guilt Ahem, he told himself, that's all.
Thank you for reading!
I know this is long, but I must confess, while writing, I am unable to stop until I know it's over. I have tried many times to do shorter updates, but I am hopeless at it.
There is a lot of reading between the lines in this chapter, and I hope I haven't made it too confusing. The next chapter will require you to have headphones, of course it is optional for everyone reading, but when I write I try to let all readers get as close possible to my own imagination, hence all the details and music lol.
I have written everything in English now, as per numerous requests, and I do not mind if there is anything else that you feel I should know or do.
A very big thank you to everyone who pressed like in the previous chapter and also commented, it was very overwhelming. I really appreciated everyone's support in this fantastic forum.
Do press like and leave your valuable comments.
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