Posted: 26 January 2007 at 8:54pm
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"HUDA????", Naina exclaimed….and so did all her batchmates….
"Oye, tu yahaan to main aur kahan ho sakta hoon?", there he stood in perfect sherwani, still looking perfectly dude, and bearing that perfect flirtatious expression….
"Nautanki….ab yahi baaki tha!", said Aalekh and all the friends rushed towards him….
"Oye Panjaban, tune apna setting to jhat se kar liya…par main to ab bhi is hi janani ke intezaar main hoon…..", he said, settleing next to Pooja….
"Huda, tu bilkul bhi nahin badla…."
"Oye Phoolan, main to vaise ka vaisa hi hoon, par tujhe to pehchan nahin pa rahaa hoon….oye, quaidi, yeh meri phoolan hi hai na? Ye kangan, bindiya, yeh to jananiyon jaise dhikhti hai… badi sundar hai…."
"Ab aap unko pareshaan mat kijiye", said Ali laughing, "magar ek baat aapne sach kahi Hudabhai, Naina aaj bahot sundar lag rahi hai…"
Pooja raised her eyebrows and made a face….Naina guestured to Ali, and he followed…
"Magar sabse sundar nahin….."
Pooja's eyes dropped….she was too shy to look up….
"Oye hoi, o ji yeh to Hindi film de scene ho gaya….", and Huda started off the dance by calling all the eager girls and dancing…..everyone else followed, but Aalekh and Naina.
Pooja's father, came by and, "O puttarji, tussi nahin aaoge? Chal beta, doston de naal bhangda paa le….", and as he said that, Huda came by and pulled her into the big group of people dancing….Aalekh stood grinning!
The music got more beat, and feet moved faster, Naina stood clapping amidst the group at first but as the music got faster, she let herself go…..after what seemed to be five minutes, everyone coupled out for a "fodadi"[its when two people hold crossed hands and move in circular motion at a great speed…..remember the last shot of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun….just to give u the idea…]
Huda and Naina were going rounds…and as their speed increased she let all her thoughts go….leave her mind…..lighten her heart…..absent her memories…..soothe her wounds….for those few seconds….she was the same old Naina again for some seconds…..Naina who laughed, who loved, who trusted…..
She had the best time over last few years, and so did Aalekh, by seeing Naina's face grow pink, rather than the usual pale, white one!
Sangeet continued…..girls danced, Huda and Yudi flirted, Aalekh stood by the window talking to Ali, and Pooja and Naina were taken to the center of the hall for mahendi…..the two friends talked….about Pooja's work, meetings with Ali, the wedding, Naina's trips abroad, other modeling experiences, cosmetics, jewellery, clothes, future plans……..within what can be called an hours time the mahendi was applied….. the girls had to retain it till it dried, which would be another hour and then brush it off without water……
The girls had added some little romantic ritual-like things for themselves…those married and engaged could participate and others would await their prince charming.
During the hour's time everyone went for dinner, where Pooja's mother fed her, and Ali's elder sister helped Naina. After the dinner all the seniors departed as it was quite late, but the youngsters and other women hanged around….as phirni, kheer, kesar-milk was being served.
"Oye yaaro, yeh dekho sada Quaidi Kheer kha raha hai….."
"Hai la! Aalekh, yeh kya?"
"Aalekhbhai ne sharab chhod di…"
"Kya??????", Huda and Yudi yelled together.
"Dheere se bol, apun ko marvaoge kya? W o h do saal pahele apne birthday par Naina ne gift ke taur par maang liya…..to paun ne kasam khaya ki sharab ko choega bhi nahin!"
"Hamein naaz hai aap pe! Dosti nibhani to koi Naina se sikhe….aur…..", Ali stopped….suddenly a tension filled atmosphere fell over the boy's camp, all of them staring at Naina, who was playing with Ali's niece, with eyes full of concern…
Pooja's cousin came up amidst the girls and said in a voice that was audible to even boys…
"Chalo kudiyon, ab jinki bhi mahendi sookh gayee ho w o h mahendi ko aise hi bina paani ke nikal de….paani lagaya to mahendi ka rang dhul jayega…..aur mahendi fiki pad jayegi….aur ladko, apni apni kudi ko madad karo…."
It was just a simple way of having small celebrations, which would enrich every relation with more love, and it certainly seemed to work for Ali and Pooja as they sat brushing dry Mahendi off Pooja's hands….Ali brushed the sticky parts and made her brush her hands….
Naina looked around at couples, and her memories tortured her again….those days when she …….she ran off from the hall towards the varanda eneterance…towards the little washing area. "whats the point", she told heself, "I will never have a dark colour, Meri mahendi kabse phiki pad gayee hai….", tears in her eyes she ran in pitch dark…..untapped the water….and as she brushed her hands in the water….she froze……a pair of hands that touched hers, were familiar, and it seemed that the owner of those hands seemed to recognize her touch….and tried to hush away…..
….but before anyone could move of do something…..
"Naina, idher andhere main…..", Aalekh came holding a lantern….but what he saw in the light of the lantern, was unbelievable…..he stood rooted…..
Naina turned and saw the familier hands that had toughed her….the hands that had held hers a number of times…..the hands in which she felt soo secured and safe….the hands whose touch made her experience love for the first time and forever….
…..the hands of Colonel Rajveer Singh Shekhavat!
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