"Mumma mumma yeh kaun hai?
Aarushi went towards her mum with the photo in her hand, Shanaya bent down to her level and caressed her hair softly and asked her
"Kya hua baby?"
Aarushi silently showed her mum the picture she found while playing in her mother's room. Shanaya took the picture in her hand and she never realized when tears drops started falling off her eyes. The 8-year-old got quite a shock seeing her mother like this, this was the first time her mother was crying in front of her. It's not like she had ever cried but Shanaya had always kept herself strong in front of Aarushi.
"Mumma? Aapko kya hua? Why are you crying? I'm sorry if I said something wrong"
Aarushi started saying hoping her mother would calm down. But Shanaya's tears did not stop but a small smile came out after hearing her daughter's reply.
"She may be only 8 but she acts like a matured person" Shanaya thought.
"Baby, Main aapki vajah se nahi Ro rahi hun."
"Phir kya hua mumma?" asked the curious daughter, disturbed seeing her mother's tears.
Shanaya stood up and brought Aarushi to the sofa holding her wrist, she made her sit and she herself sat. "Aapko pata hai Iss picture mein kaun hai?"
"Vahi toh main puch rahi thi!" exclaimed Aarushi but her confusion with regards to her mother's behavior continued to rise.
"Is mein main hun, aur mere bagal mein Zoya Aunty hai." Aarushi's confusion rose as Shanaya said Zoya Aunty.
But as Aarushi was about to ask, Shanaya said "Actually, Khala Zoya."
"Par mumma,Zoya Aunty, I mean, Khala Zoya kaun hai?" Aarushi asked.
"Aapki Khala Meri best friend hai."
" You mean like me and Tanisha?" Her innocence overcame her sadness, Aarushi's sweet questions and her sudden from being a matured person to a small child really always touched Shanaya.
"But mumma, Khala Zoya kaha hai? Aur humse milne bhi nahi aayi?" This question of Aarushi angered Shanaya's heart. But she wasn't angry with Aarushi, but herself and that so-called God which everyone believes in.
"Aarushi...zoya bilkul aapko tarha thi..funny, sweet , azaad aur kuch zyada hi naughty..." She said as she pinched Aarushi's fleshy cheeks as Aarushi grumbled in protest . They do grow up extremely fast...we just don't notice it...how much she wished Zoya was here to witness it ,no one will ever be able to understand.
"Sachi? Toh abh woh kaha hai?"
Now that question was a tough one. This was the one question she asked herself everyday before going to sleep ...that one question that keeps her awake all night and will forever more. She knew the answer of course...theoretically she is dead. She isn't breathing...she cannot walk , talk or eat but did that mean she wasn't alive. That couldn't be it. Then how does Zoya speak to her in the low points of her life. How does she assure her that everything will be alright when she isn't there at all. She knew in her heart that she was somewhere, she just didn't know where . She couldn't help but remember that day when everything came crashing to an end.
~15 years ago~
"Meine kaha tha na, tujhe kuch nahi hoga Zoya...yeh doctor log bhi maan Gaye...they are saying ki tere operation successful tha..."
Shanaya was young and naive. Full of hope and determination to keep her friends always with her.
"Arey titli...yeh doctor log ko kya pata? Naa Jaane kab kya ho sakta hain..." Said Zoya in her usual jovial self
"Shut up Toofani! Meine kaha na tere Allah aur mere Krishna ji teriko kuch nahi hone denge..." Shanaya was already hot with tears threatening to spill out.
" lagta hain mere Allah aur Tera Krishna ji mujhe kuch zyada hi pasand Karte hain...isisliye toh mujhe Itna Jaldi bula rahe hain." Zoya's words may have been cheerful but her yes were dead serious and fully void of hope which was what scared shanaya the most.
"I am serious toofani ...shut up...vaise bhi the doctors say your tumor has reduced." She needed hope...it was the only thing she had left.
"Doctors pe kya bharosa hai...unko yeh bhi nahi pata hain ki mere kaunsa cancer hain."
It was true...Zoya's cancer was a new type then...that is why it was so difficult to treat her. Words eluded Shanaya as she struggled to instill hope in Zoya. Zoya knew what was coming and had accepted with open arms. It as as if she had already embraced death.
"Titli ...mein kuch bolu..."
Shanaya managed a limp nod as she struggled to not burst into tears.
"No matter how few my days on earth are...I am just thankful that I had a friend like you."
That was it. She couldn't handle it anymore as she grabbed Zoya in her arms and sobbed Into her shoulders as Zoya stroked her head and comforted her.
"I love you Zoya." She mumbled through her tears as she held on to the moment tightly in fear of letting it go and never finding it again.
"I love you too Shanaya..."
Zoya held on for a while as she began to fall numb in shanaya's embrace.
Soon shanaya realized those were the last words she would ever utter.
Fifteen years ago Shanaya had spiraled into a shock that's he is yet to recover from. All she could ever do was hide it. She had to stay strong for Zoya's parents , for her husband and for her own daughter. It was not like she hadn't tried to move on...she did but nothing ever helped. Therapists used to say that she needed closure but anything that even reminded her of Zoya pierced her heart so bad it tore her apart. She had decided there and then that becoming a New person was the best way to forget. So from a playful titli she had transformed into a mature and unyielding Shanaya.
"Shanaya snapped out of her trance as she gazed open eyed at the huge brown eyes staring back at a her. She realized that she had zoned out.
" kaha hain woh?" Said little Aarushi grabbing her mother's attention.
Shanaya controlled her tears the same ways she did that fateful day and the many days that had came and passed.
" Woh Bhagwan ke paas hain."
She found solace in that answer though she didn't believe in god anymore. It helped her feel that wherever Zoya was, she was happy.
" toh mein unse Baat karti hoon aur bolungi ki meri mumma unko kitna miss karti hain."
Shanaya felt a lump in her throat as she heard those words. Aarushi was going to do that one thing shanaya had never dared to do. She was going to talk to Zoya.
"Mumma aapka dupatta dedo mujhe please."
"Kyun ?" Asked a puzzled Shanaya.
"Khala Zoya keliye aise waise prayers nahi chalega...pehle toh please give it na."
Shanaya hesitantly removed her dupatta as she gave dropped it into her arms as she ran off excitedly with it.
She closed her eyes for a minute as a lone tear streamed down her face. That's weird thing about death. You reconcile with the fact that she is gone but you never really do...you get reminded by things everyday. By the way she would used to sneak out of class or the way she kicked up her feet to watch television to watch television no matter how many times her parents aid not to . No matter how prepared you are for it you never really are. You just tell yourself it's over and your heart ignores the message. With one final attempt to console herself she opened her eyes too the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.
That was the only thing she could mutter as she stared unbelieving.
A young girl kneeled on the ground , a scarf around her head tucking all lose strands of hair into hiding. Light streamed through the window causing a strange unearthly glow. The little girl splayed her tiny hands in front of her offering prayers. Her eyes closed in devotion , Shanaya could feel her faith making its way around her. Soon she adjusted her eyes to realize that the little girl wasn't Zoya but her own angel Aarushi.
At that moment she had realized that nobody really dies. They may stop breathing, talking or walking but they are always alive... They live in memories, they live in their legacies , they live in hearts. Shanaya had always thought back to how unlucky Zoya was and how god cruel god really is. She had then realized that Zoya was so fortunate that she could live in the true sense of the word ...most just exist. Zoya was free, she brought smiles to everyone , she was happy. And even luckier was she and everyone who he gotten to know Zoya, she was lucky enough to be loved by her and to love her so very much. If such angels existed , maybe god really is Real. She smiled through her tears as she glanced at Aarushi, Zoya was never really gone ...she was always right beside her.
This work is a collaboration os by me and neha dedicated to shivangi
Edited by Angel-luvs-s - 06 November 2013 at 2:55am