Joined: 08 December 2006
"Mujhe badi fikar ho raho hai, beta, yeh sab kaise hoga? Ek to itna lamba safar, aur upar se Punjabi shaadi! Hamain unki reeton ke bare main khuch bhi pata nahin….kuch bhool ho gai to?", a women was telling his son. Worry was evident from her words as well from the wrinkles of her face.
"Aap bevajah fiker kar rahin hain Ammi, Kapoortala se unke koi parivaar se koi yahaan aane vale hain, hamein sab kuch samjha denge, aur saari taiyarion main madad bhi karenge….", a tall boy sat by the lady's knees, eyeing a jhoomka in the great spread of jewellery and garments around him.
"…vaise bhi aapne to is hi ghar mein chaar-chaar shaadiyan karvayi hai. Is baar to sirf barat le ke jaana hai!", said the boy reaching out to the jhoomka.
"Arre, dekho bhaijaan, aap hum auraton ki kaam main dakhal na do! Vaise bhi, hamari bhabhi ko chod ke aapki choice badi kharab hai….." one of the seven girls said…making all of them giggle.
"Yaad hai Ammi, aapa ki shaadi main bhaiyaa ne mujhe hare ghagre ke saath kala dupatta pasand karvaya tha….", said the youngest looking one, smiling.
"Bhaijaan, aur unke raang…..hara ya kala ya fir bhoora…..sara samay apni fauj ki baatein…..aur kuch aata bhi hai kya unko??", said another, still giggling!
The boy oblivious to all this mazak masti, was staring at the golden jhoomka, with red beeds…….thinking of his beloved, his love……his would-be-wife…..
"Maine agar tere saath freashers ball main aane se inkaar kar diya, to tu mujhe mana nahin sakta tha??"
"Hum bhi kamre main yahi soch rahe the…."
"Par tune aaj miss bahut kuch kiya, sabne itna maza kaiya, itna naache…."
"Aap kise bevkoof bana rahin hain? Yeh hum bhi jante hain aur aap bhi, ke aape to ball main kiya w o h dance nahin tha!"
"To kya tu sikhayega mujhe dance karana……?"
The look in his eyes said it all. He, who had never danced, never beheld a girl other than his sisters, never gone so close to anyone, never felt love……took her hand and lead her to the deserted dancefloor!! And they dance, for what seemed like hours…..without any music with perfect harmony!
"Captain Ali Begh!!", called a voice from the courtyard!
Ali shot up and rushed to the door….the voice sounded weirdly familier, but Ali couldn't recongnise it…..
"SURIJI…..aap!!', yelled Ali
"Badi changi gal hai puttar, tu evahi Pooja se biyah kar lega aur hamein batayega bhi nahin?? Par meri beti apne Suriji ko nahin bhooli, to maine usse kaha….ke pahele us gadhe ki khabar leta hoon, fir teri baraat main naachta aaunga!", smiled Suriji. "Waie puutarji, sachhi gal e hai, ki main ithhe Kanpur vich apne bhanje de ghar aaya si, aur vahan yeh tere vaalidsaab mil gaye."
"Hamein to vishvaas hi nahin ho raha hai…..Ammi, apa….ye dekhiye Suriji, aaye hain, Academy se! Main inke bare main aapko apni chitthion main likhta tha na?",Ali explained!
"Parjaai, laddu motichur ke hi mangvana, shaadi main unke bina ji nazza nahin aata!"
"Nahin bua, mujhe to kheer khaani hai."
"O puttar, tujhe kya maloom? Saare Kapurthala vich koi byah motichor de bagair hua hai?!"
A boy of about four and an old woman were arguing, sitting in the varandah of a mension-like house surrounded by trees. A Sardar enters with three other men and pulled a stool near the jhoola on which the woman was sitting.
"Dono mangva lenge puttarji, koi gal nahin! Jo bhi hamare chotu ko pasand hai, wohi banega didi ki shaadi vich!"
"Tu bhi Surender, bigaad baitha hai in bachhon ko!", said the old woman wth a smile.
"Inhise to hamari jind vich rang bhar aate hain, biji! Oye sunlo, o khotyo, saadi kudi di shaadi main koi bhi kami nahin rehni chahiye…..O biji, apni jhalli sahelion de naal bazaar gai si, vaapas kab aayegi?"
"Bachchi, waqt ki badi pakki hai, das baje ka keh har gayi thi, ja dekh le, apne kamre main sahelion ke saath gappe maar rahi hogi……"
"Aaho-ji! Yeh armywale yeh cheez badi changi sikhate hain!
"Captaindidi to kad ki aa gai si…..didi…………………….!!", boy yelled!!
"Oye, Phate dhol, tu phir se chillaya!", a girl of about 24, tall, pretty and bubbly, rushed out with a stick and ran behind the boy!
"Bachchi, tu us Bandar ke piche mat bhaag. Tu ja, apne dostan de naal….", and the girl went in……….
Her cell phone flased "1 Message Received"
Her fingers trembled, she smiled…..she knew who this could be…….clicked, "Read"
"Good MorningJ" it read!
No senders name, but she knew it! It was he, who was the sender of all the incoming messages to her heart……Captain Ali Begh!
"Kiska message hai, Poojadi?" and a group of about fifteen giggling girls entered her room.
"Mujhe to ek hi network se incoming aate hain……", and the girls giggled again!
"Ab to aap pakdi gayi didi, aaj to aapko apni academy waali baatein humain karni hi padegi."
"Haan, didi, aaj hum aapko nahin jaane dene waale"
"Achha? To theek hai, poorane messages padh hi deti hoon! Bolo kya bataun?"
"Aap ke saath jiju wahin the na? Aur kaun kaun the?"
"Hmmmm…..Ali aur main vahi mile the….main kisike saath baat karti hui gir padi aur who mujhse baat karne gaya, par main behosh ho gayee….",Captain Pooja Ghai was all-set to venture into her old memories…..but didn't know where this journey would take her!
"….usse sab 'usool' kehte the, aur mujhe 'panjaban', dono naam jat ne rakhe the…."
"Jat? Kaun jiji?"
"Arre sada Huda, kamal da banda tha. Hamesha hasta, aur aspas sab ko hasata rehta tha….saari kudiyan paagal thi us jhalle de piche!"
The young ones in the group giggled at the mere imagination of him.
"….aur tha Yudi, w o h chote bachche jaisa tha, ekdam stupid! Par dil da bada changa tha. Kudion da department weak tha uska…….hum uski bahut khichai karte the!…", Pooja's eyes were flipping through the pages of Kanchanjunga Military Academy…..
"Aur…………Suriji, humare liye papaji jaise the, kabhi data diya karte the, par saare bachchon ke dil pehchante the, Lolita mam thi, Dr.Shalini thi, w o h teacher kum aur dost zyada thi…. Aur Nair tha, use to maine dim main tare dikha diye….bahut pitai ki maine uski……sabse khatarnaak, BC tha, usse Huda 'Tau' kehta tha….usko jhelna ek drill poori karne jaisa tha"
"Phir "quaidi" tha, kam bolta tha, par jab bhi bolta sach bolta, theek bolta…..dosti main, aur dushmani main jaan de jaye! Aalekh, kai baar hamein kuch galat karne se roka hai usne….! Admi ko turant hi pehchan jata tha…..bas ek baar hi bhool kar di……", Pooja's voice shivered, and then, "Aur kuch, ya itna bas hua?………….."
"Aur didi, tumhari who best friend, jiske bare main aap ma ko likhti thi….kya naam tha…….haan…..Naina??"
"Naina……?? W o h……………..", her voice died down………………. "Arre, kudiyon, tumhe, saariyaan nahin chunni kya…..meri shaadi main to 'only best dressed allowed", kya?"
The girls giggled and ran away to the next room where all the other ladies were making purchases.
Pooja was left behind….alone…..lost in thoughts……Naina's name baught tears in her eyes….for a second….. "We have to move on…..all of us…..and she too…..", she told herself…..and gathered herdelf back to the present…..
"Aaayeee, ma!", answered Pooja, and ran to the adjoining room and engrossed herself forcibly into an animated converstion with her sister on whether to wear blue, or yellow for Mahendi ceremony!
"You know well enough what I am asking, WHY didn't you attend the party??"
"Oh, some important work held me back……."
"It was our party, you did know that Colonel?? OUR party…..and you were NOT there!"
"I have already explained myself….."
"Yes….you certainly have….EXPLAINED……"
"Main hi bevkof hoon, jo yeh sab karti rehti hoon……Paanch saal ho gaye shaadi ko…..aur hum dost bhi nahin bas sakein!"
"Kuch bhi karu…..aapko kuch na kuch kaam aa hi jata hai…..Simla jana tha, kaam aa gaya…..pichle saal tumhari bahen ki shaadi hui, mujhe bhej diya…..aur ab saare guests ke beech main akeli thi……….aur aap ko phir se KAAM THA!!??"
"Gopal, meri coffee kahan hai?"
"Important kaam……kya hota hai aapke liye yeh main jaanti hoon…..phir se…."
"PLEASE!!", yelled Colonel Rajveer Singh Shekhavat, at his wife, "….I said I am SORRY!", his wife, Ritu, was almighty's one beautiful creation, with all the aesthetic perfections…..draped in an expensive black saari, sparkling jewellery, she looked like a dream……..but the Colonel's eyes never rested on her….her beauty was all in vain to him. As he looked at her, with a blank expression, his eyes didn't have a tinge of attraction, admiration, love or even respect.
"We are married, do you realize that Colonel?? MARRIED! You owe me some of your time……..Yeh shaadi nibhaana aapki bhi zimmedaari hai!", yelled she.
"Haan…..hai na, meri bhi…..zimmedari……Zimmedari hi to hai!"
Ritu stared at him for a minute, as her silently sipped his coffee. Than walked out of the room….
Rajveer stood up….his hands tucked in his pockets, looked up in the sky, and closed his eyes, "I am sorry……Naveen!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The atmosphere grew more festive as cars full of relatives arrived at the Ghai household in Kapoorthala, from all over the country that morning!
Pooja's face had a glow, which made her shine brighter than her chunky jewellery. She was sitting on the jhoola with Biji, and all her relatives wished her one by one as they came. Every now and than, she kept on looking at her hand, where a golden ring with an engraved "A" shone under the sun, the mere glimpse of this, made her pretty face glow even more!
"Oye Praji, tusi, Amritsar wich Hotel book karai?", Pooja's aunt asked her father.
"Yeh tuna achha yaad dilaya.", answered Surender Ghai, "Kuljeet, oye Kuljeete…."
"Ji Pitaji",answered Kuljeet, Pooja's brother.
"Amritsar di koi changi hotel wich ek changa sa kamra dekh ke book karvaade, Pooja de khaad dost aane wale hai…..aur inhe to thik se rakhe nahin, to aspas ke log use pareshaan karne aa jayenge….bhai poora khyal rakhna, hamari khatirdaari main koi kami nahin honi chahiye!", explained Surender.
"Ji, Pitaji", said Kuljeer and drove off in his motorbike.
------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------
"Ali, tere liye phone hai."
Ali walked up to his sister and took the receiver from her hand.
"Tum samajhte kya ho? Jo man main aayega w o h karoge? Aur main karne doonga? Bro, you are very much mistaken!", a familiar voice yelled on the other end of the receiver. It took Ali a second to recognize it, and this baught a grin on his otherwise serious face.
"Oh, Yudibhai, hum samaj saktain hain, magar yeh sab itni jaldi….."
"I am terribly angry with you, dude. Aap shaadi kar rahe ho, and what do I get….??? This invitation card…..aur w o h bhi shaadi ke paanch din pahele?"
"Magar, aap aa to rahe hain na?"
"Now he is asking…..Haan, ab teri lovestory ko ham sabne milkar to banaya hai….ab uska success dekhne bhi nahi aayenge kya?"
"To fir der kis baat ki…."
"Anyways, congratulations dude! I will be there in a jiffy. Magar baaki saare bhi aa rahe hain?"
"W o h sab Pooja jaane, usne hi zimmedari li hai!"
"Alright bro…………See you soon!"
The chat ended there….Ali had a smile on his face, his friend, one of the closest….and after such a looong time……He had a feeling of excitement, but he feared….that the past, and long forgotten memories would re-surface……
"Ali, yeh tumhara dost Yudi hi than na, jo party waale din….Madonna….??", his sisters question baught Ali back to the present.
"Ji Aapa. Pahele yeh bade confused-se hua karte the, magar ab to sahab Captain Yaduvansh Sahani ho gaye hain, aur KMA main Strategy & Communications padhate hain cadets ko! Dhan-daulat aur saari suvidha main palne ke bavajod army ke sakht aur discipline saanche main khudko dhaala hai inhone!", Ali voice was filled with pride and love for his friend!
Army Headquaters, New Delhi, 1200hrs:
"Saahab ka mood kaisa hai?",Orderly Mayank Shekhar asked his collegue, holding a coffee mug.
'Pata nahin, aaj kisiko andar bulaya hi nahin!"
"Aisi koi baat nahin hai, magar zaraa sa darr lagta hai. Saahab waise to hain apni hi umra ka, magar unka jawab nahin….is desh ko un jaise ek do aur mil jaye na, to in sab dushmano ki chhotti kar de!"
"Yaar, fir bhi, zaraa sambhalyo! Kabhi pyaar se dost ki tarah baat kartein hain, aur kabhi aise dekhtein hain ki………"
"…Kuch bhi bol, koi baat hai, saade Major main, pichle saal Diwali pe ghar aaye the, to amma ke pairon ke paas baith gaye aur phir unhi se baatein ki, saari shaam, aur jaate jaate bole, 'Shekhar, amma ki jaan se laga kar rakhna!'…."
Trembling, Orderly knocked at the door. The door, that beared a very familiar name, but it seemed so much more respectable today, "Major Aalekh Sharma".
"Aajao, Orderly", a voice as young as a boy's called out!
"Coffee, aur daak, Major!"
Major Aalekh Sharma fumbled through his post, flipping through what seemed to be a dozen of different envelopes, his hands jerked to a halt holding a golden envelope. He smiled……pushed aside all other posts, and lay back on his chair.
For several minutes, the strict, efficient, perfect, determined Army Officer, Major Aalekh Sharma, became Cadet Aalekh!
"Yeh fookat ki chai, fookat ka kapda….kaam kya hai?"
"Oye, khotya, yeh jail nahin hai, academy hai…..aur tujhe army officer banana hamara jimma hai!", face of plump Suriji floated in his memories…….
... "Abe oye Quaidi, jail se to nikal gaya, insaan bhi banja, shave kar le, makkhan ki tarah chalega yeh rezor",he could see several cadets holding him back, and one of them came near and near to him holding a razor.
"Kya tum Mujhe ander le jaoge, handsome??", Madonna asked him. This one was too much even for the grim Major to resist….and he laughed sitting in his cabin!
"Major Aalekh Sharma…"
"Happy Birthday to you……", said a girl's voice. Aalekh's face gave a never before smile……
"Ek tuich hai, jo mujhe wish karti hai…..saala apun ko hi apun ka birthday pata nahin….", without even realizing, he spoke in a completely different manner….a manner which he now never used, which was alien to all his collegues.
"Mare liye wahi din tumhara birthday jab hum paheli baar mile the, wahaan…..", she said. Her voice has miraculous effect on this strong hearted Major, his face softened every minute……
"W o h kya kehtain hai, 'Thank you'!", his grin widened….
"Bol, kya gift degi mujhe aaj?"
"Jo tu maange, mere paas ab tere siva kuch bhi nahin bacha….."
"Maang loonga, fir denaa hi padega…."
"Ab kisi bhi cheez ki kaami nahin hai, koi cheen sake aisa kuch hai hi nahin….."
"….tera raag nahin sunna mujhe, bol, jobhi apun mangege, milega?"
"Apun ko, apunki wohi dost chahiye……pooraniwali…………"
There was a long silence on the oppoite end….and then…..
"Pata hai Aalekh, mujhe kal hi……."
"Baat ghooma mat!"
And silence followed…..until Major heard a 'click' on the other end….
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