Joined: 18 March 2012
Joined: 16 September 2011
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Joined: 18 March 2012
Joined: 17 May 2012
Joined: 18 March 2012
Joined: 18 March 2012
'Tis the human touch
in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more
to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine.
For shelter is gone
when the night is o'er,
And bread lasts only a day.
But the touch of the hand
And the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul always.
"There you are, Mishti….I have been waiting for you since hours. Babuji too is not here…he has gone to his friend's place. Now hold your precious nephew while I go get a nap. He has been troubling me the whole day. If I don't get my beauty sleep, what'll Aman say when he sees me tomorrow? That his beautiful Aarti has turned into a haggard hag after giving birth."
"Oh, Di…you are such a Drama Queen!! You know very well Jiju only sees Moon and the stars when he looks at you. I am more worried about my little Anshu here…The new papa might forget his new sonny when his eyes fall on the beautiful wifey he hasn't seen in three months….Hai na Anshu…hai na…Bad mumma, Bad papa, Good maasi…only she loves you, only she can tickle you with her nosy like this…aha… you like that…ha, ha...you like that, don't you my prince?"
"Oho…cheeky, aren't we? Wait till Mr Yash Scindia's bandages are off and he finally gets to look at his own personal nurse, someone will have to remind him to blink…Aha got you there!!! I can already hear wedding bells and see you leaving us in your fineries…tra…la."
Having had the last word…Aarti turned to walk away with an affectionate smile, leaving her two babies to take care of each other. However, a long habit made her look back after reaching the end of the lawn. …She was horrified to see the look on her Mishti's face….She was clutching Ansh to her and her eyes were glistening with tears. She could hear the baby's protesting whimpers. She almost ran back and took Ansh from her. She then called out for the maid who had just walked in for the evening chores and requested her to take care of Ansh for awhile. Mishti needed her…and nothing else mattered to Aarti at that moment…not even her own child. She held her little sister close, letting her cry it out, waiting for her to calm down and come out with what was torturing her, just like she always had….Her thoughts flew back all those years, to the day when she met her own little angel for the first time………
She was eleven. That day she had come back late from school and found all the dormitory girls surrounding the cot at the far corner. Amid the din they were creating, she could hear soft sobs. Being the dorm captain, she knew that a new girl was admitted the previous evening to the primary section…and that she was to come in today. She tossed her bag on her cot and hurried toward the corner. "She is lying," "How can her own father…," "Aartidi will be very angry," and the mumblings carried on till she asked firmly, "What's going on here?" On hearing her voice, the girls scattered, one of them speaking out, "Aartidi, this new girl is a liar, she says…" "I am not a liar." Aarti's attention was drawn by the small voice, whose owner looked at her now with red eyes that pleaded to be saved. One look and a wave of memories washed over her.…"Mishti!!" she whispered. "Not Mishti, Aartidi…she says her name is Aarti Sharma. How can that be? Your name is Aarti Sharma. She also says her father left her here….How can a father leave her daughter here…in the orphanage? Only those who have no father/mother come here…hai na Aartidi?" She had silenced the girls with a firm look and had then knelt before the chubby five-year-old with Angel eyes and had asked softly, "Is your name really Aarti Sharma?" And at the vigorous nod that followed, she said, "Umm…Do you know even I am Aarti Sharma? Now let's see, this might cause some problems….If someone calls you, I might go running…and the matron might give my punishment to you or your share of kheer to me or..." She had the full attention of the little girl now, "OK…so why don't we make this simple and call you Mishti…because you are so sweet." That brought a smile on the little girl's face. "I like Mishti." "So that's settled…now can we shake hands and be friends...OK?" She held out her hand to Mishti, who immediately placed her little one in hers, and that touch of faith turned into a life-long bonding. Aarti took upon herself to be Mishti's parent in every which way. She never told anyone that Mishti was actually her little sister's name who along with her parents had died in a temple stampede; she had survived and was later sent here by her uncles. Little Aarti resembled her sister. She learnt later that Mishti's stepfather had left her here after bribing the orphanage officials, as he wanted to remarry after her mother had died and didn't want any burden in his new life. Aarti had met Aman while in college and married him soon after. He was in Merchant Navy so was away at sea for longer periods. Aman's father lived with them. As per her wish, babuji had officially adopted eighteen-year-old Mishti; she was now Aarti Dubey, and had moved in with them six months back. She was doing her graduation in fine arts and did voluntary service in the City Hospital.
"Is it Prashant, Mishti? Is he again troubling you?"
She somehow knew the answer before she felt the nod against her neck…This was not good. She couldn't involve babuji, and Aman was still a day away. Aarti hoped against hope that they had time.
"Calm down, Mithu…Here, have some water. Now, tell me all about it. I have been watching you for some days…You've been tense, and this has more to do with Yash's injuries and your worry for him. In fact you are keeping some things from me ever since the accident…you have not told me much about it. I didn't ask because I thought talking about it would upset you. Out with it, Mishti…now…before it is too late."
"It is already too late, Di." She spoke finally…and with a finality that caused Aarti to shiver.
Prashant was Aman's cousin, his chachaji's son, and bad news. He was after the family house and property and constantly harassed babuji for the same, especially when Aman would be away. On top of that, ever since he had seen Mishti, he was smitten and wanted her. Aman had given him dire warning and threatened police action if he did not stay away from Mishti, before he left for his ship. Obviously the threat had been taken with a pinch of salt.
"No time for riddles, Mithu. I want you to tell me everything."
Mishti took a deep breath and started speaking.
"You remember that day, Di? It was bhaiya's birthday, and I had gone to the dargah to offer prayers."
"Yes, you were supposed to get back by noon and take Ansh for his second-month vaccination as I was unwell."
"You know, in the dargah, while I was praying, a baba came and told me that I'd meet my humsafar on the road that day. I was thinking about this strange prophecy while coming back when my scooty broke down. I was wondering what to do when I saw an overspeeding truck hit Yashji's car going toward the dargah and drive away. The car rammed into a tree and the tree fell on the car. Yashji was conscious then but bleeding profusely all over. He told me he could smell fuel so I should step back...The tree had jammed the door, and it took me sometime to remove it. I kept telling him I am going to get him out, and he kept asking me to move away. Maybe pir baba's blessings were with me that day, so I could open the door; I stretched my hand for him. He couldn't make out where my hand was, and then I realized he couldn't see…blood covered his eyes and temples. I just reached in and grabbed his hand and pulled him out. He was unconscious by the time I got him completely out and somehow dragged him away to a safer distance. Not a single vehicle drove by till then. Two cars went by after some time, without stopping. I was so scared for Yashji. The third car was Prashant's.
"He told me he had followed me to the dargah and tampered with the scooty, so that he could pick me up when it stopped. He got delayed in following me because of someone he met there. I requested him to help take Yashji to the hospital. That's when he laid the condition."
"Oh no!…Dear God…What did he want?"
"He wanted me to agree to marry him if I wanted to save this man. I had no option, Di….I had to say yes for Yashji."
"And you kept all this to yourself. Why?"
"Because he threatened to hurt you and Ansh. He left us at the hospital and went away after he got a call. For more than a month I didn't hear from him. I got a call from him the other day. He wanted to meet me. I had to go, Di. He said I had to marry him before bhaiya came. When I said I cannot do that, he showed me the property papers. He has everything in his name. He tricked babuji, Di….Do you remember that day when he came all repentant after bhaiya went? He said sorry to babuji and requested him to sign some bank loan papers as babuji was the only family he had. He said he wanted to start some business. Those were property papers. Yesterday I went all the way to the Estate offices and they confirmed the changeover. He said if I marry him, he will transfer everything back to babuji. And If I don't marry him tomorrow morning, he will leave babuji with nothing. I can't let him do that, Di."
"So you are going to be all sacrificing and get married to that lowlife? Right, Mishti?"
"I have given it a lot of thought, Di. What option do I have?"
"Yes, we do have options …we just have to think about them. I have not taught you to give up easily. Tomorrow you will go to the hospital; Yash needs you, Mishti. He will want to see you first when the bandages are taken off from his eyes. He may not have said in so many words, but I can feel the love he has for you. He is the one, Mishti…he is the one the baba directed you to. He is your destiny. Don't ever give up on him. I will go and look up Commissioner uncle before going to the Airport to pick up Aman. I am sure Commissioner uncle will put a stop to Prashant's ill-motives. OK? Now give me a smile. There…that's more like my Mishti. I'll go and get Ansh. Babuji will be back any moment."
Mishti felt a lot lighter after her talk with Aarti. She should have done this earlier. Di had always sorted things out for her. Everything will be fine now. Tomorrow Yashji will see her…and then she will wait for his decision. At that moment, the phone rang….She knew it was him…He never failed the Goodnight call.
"Mishti, you OK?"
"Ummm…maybe…maybe not…it depends."
"Oho…on a certain someone's temper tantrums and his demands and his…his…."
"His what, Mishti?...Mishti?
"Well…ah…not now….I'll tell you tomorrow…and that too only if…."
"If what? Mishti stop being naughty…and tell me."
"What? What did I say…or not say? Are you angry, Sir?
She broke into laughter, which made him smile and then grin. His Mishti was back…for the time being…he could make out from the change in her tone. He had been so worried for her. Tomorrow he will ask her what was troubling her after he had seen her beautiful face. Till then he'll play along….because he was certain that whatever was causing her to worry was still there. He knew his Mishti too well…At times he felt he had known her all his life!!
"Sorry, sorry…Yashji. (And then more softly) Yashji?"
"No, Mishti…no ifs, no buts….Tomorrow you will come. Tomorrow I will take this fear away from you, I promise. Just trust me. You trust me, don't you?
"Yes, I do…more than myself."
"Then let that trust touch the belief in your heart…and we will be fine…just fine. Goodnight, my Mishti!! I'll wait for you."
Joined: 13 March 2011
Joined: 21 June 2011
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