Posted: 18 May 2007 at 8:02am
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Hariram drove Angad and Tehzeeb towards Worli beach. It was a clear, beautiful night with a light breeze blowing over the sea leaving salty incense in the air.
Angad helped Tehzeeb out of the car and put his arm around her. He turned to the driver, "Hariram….hum bas kuch der mein aate hain….tum yahin wait karo…."
:Theek hai sir…" the driver replied
They walked hand in hand towards the beach. Tehzeeb was still in her lehnga and high heels from the Eid celebrations. She had a hard time walking on the sand. Angad sensed her discomfort and picked her in his arms.
"Arre..yeh kya kar rahe ho?" Tehzeeb protested
"Wohi, jo ek rajkumari ke saath karma chahiye……" Angad held her close and kissed her forehead.
"Angad…tum bhi na….mujhey bilkul nikamma bana do ge…." Tehzeeb said lovingly as she held him snugly.
"My pleasure, princess…..main tumharey kaam aa sakoon…..that would be my honor…" Angad smiled
"Baatein banana bahut aa gaya hain tumhey…" Tehzeeb smiled back and pinched his nose.
Angad placed her down and looked into her eyes. He was about to say something, when they heard some voices approaching them. They saw a group of men with lathis and flashlights walking towards them. Tehzeeb clung on to Angad, "Yeh kaun hain? Chalo car mein wapas chalte hain…."
Angad held Tehzeeb close to his chest and said, 'Nahin Tehzeeb…ho sakta hai kahin aur jaa rahe ho? Ya humein koi aur samajh rahe ho…let's wait and see"
"Arre….Angad baba! Tho yahan hai aap? Naina devi ke ek laute bete…..yahan ek muslim ke saath ishq firma rahe hain…." One of them spoke. He was a tall tin man with glasses and a long flowing moustache. Tehzeeb shuddered at his sight, and clawed onto Angad's shirt.
"Kya chahiye aapko?" Angad asked politely
"Hum yahan tumhey samjhaane aaye hain Angad baba…..yeh muslim ka saath chhod do….aapka bhavishya bahut sunhera hai….hum aapko aur Naina devi ko apne samaj ki sabse oonchi gaddi par baithaana chahte hain…..par iska saath chhod do tho sab shanti se ho jaayega…" another man spoke up
"Aap mujhey dhamki de rahe hain?" Angad asked angrily.
"Nahin Angad baba…dhamki nahin, pyaar se samjha rahe hain!" the first man banged his lathi on the sand
"Aapke haav-bhaav se tho isme pyaar ki nahin, gunda gardi ki boo aa rahi hai!" Angad said
"Beta….humein majboor mat karo….yadi is ladki ka aur iske parivaar ka saath nahin chhoda tho accha nahin hoga…" one of the elderly men spoke this time. Angad recognized him from the temple earlier. He was present at his nanaji's memorial service.
Tehzeeb was shivering with fright and buried her face in Angad's chest.
"Yeh meri patni hai, aur iska parivar mera parivar hai….aap log hamara kuch nahin bigaad sakte!" Angad yelled this time
"Angad..please chalo yahan se…" Tehzeeb's voice trembled.
"Pachtaaoge….yadi is ladki ko zinda dekhna chahte ho, tho iska saath chhod do…..apne dharam ki kisi ladki se shaadi kar lo!" they threatened
Angad covered Tehzeeb with both his arms and stared them down, "Iska baal bhi baanka nahin kar sakte aap log…..jab tak main zinda hoon…..aap iska kuch nahin bigaad sakte…."
"Theek hai phir Angad baba…..humein baad mein mat kehna humney chetaavni nahin di thi…..chalo bhaiyon….." the elderly man gestured his gang to leave them alone.
The bullies turned around to leave. Angad stood there sheltering Tehzeeb with his arms, agitated and trembling with rage.
Angad finally turned around and consoled Tehzeeb, "Don't worry Tehzeeb…..yeh log hamara kuch nahin bigaad sakte…chalo wapas chalte hain…"
As they walked back, Angad felt someone was following them. He glanced with the corner of his eyes and saw a man with a knife behind Tehzeeb. Angad pulled Tehzeeb aside and grabbed the man's wrist, "khabardaar…meri tehzeeb ko haath bhi lagaaya tho"
Tehzeeb was aghast and screamed, "ANGAD!"
Angad pinned the man on the sand and tried to grab his knife. The man tried to get away, but managed to slash Angad's hand in the process. Angad tried to grab the man's legs, but the man managed to escape.
Tehzeeb helped Angad get up on his feet, "Yeh kya ho raha hai Angad? Please ghar chalo…mujhey bahut darr lag raha hai…"
Angad got up, his eyes still full of rage. He put his arm around Tehzeeb and they walked towards the car.
As they approached the car, Tehzeeb saw blood flowing from Angad's hand.
"ANGAD! Tumhara haath!" she was petrified. She tore the corner of her lehnga and tied it around his hand.
Angad looked at her adoringly and said, "bilkul filmi heroine ki tarah?"
Tehzeeb was sobbing, "chup raho!….dekho kitna khoon beh gaya hai…."
"Kitna mehnga lehnga tha yeh…..dekho kharab ho gaya ab…" Angad joked
"Tumhare khoon se keemti nahin hai kuch bhi…understand? Ab chalo, mujhey darr lag raha hai….kahin wo wapas na aa jaaye" Tehzeeb tied a knot on the tourniquet.
"Arre…sahib aap log bahut jaldi aa gaye!" Hariram seemed surprised to see them.
Angad looked at Hariram suspiciously, "driver…gaadi ki chaabi do!"
"Jee sir….aap baithiye…..main le chalta hoon…..kahan jaana hai?" Hariram said politely
"Jahan bhi jaana hai…..hum khud chale jaayenge….aaj ke baad apni shakal bhi mat dikhana…..YOU ARE FIRED!" Angad yelled at Hariram
Hariram was taken aback and looked at Tehzeeb, "Madam? Main aapke yahan 4 saal se kaam kar raha hoon….aapka namak khaya hai….aisa mat kariye…."
Angad intervened, "Namak khaya hai, tabhi tujhey police ke hawaale nahin kar raha….yaad rakho main in logon ka bodyguard hoon…..tum ab yahan se jaa sakta ho! UNDERSTAND! GO NOW!"
Hariram was petrified and had no choice but to leave.
While riding back, Tehzeeb asked, "Angad…..why were you so harsh with Hariram? He has been very faithful to me…"
"He WAS faithful…..par jaanti ho, usney hi phone karke un gundon ko beach par bulaaya tha…..trust me Tehzeeb, I can smell danger from afar…..Hariram is very dangerous for both you and Farhan….aur main yeh seh nahin sakta ki mere jeete jee tum dono ko koi haath bhi lagaaye…" Angad squeezed Tehzeeb's hand.
Tehzeeb slid right next to Angad and leaned her head on his shoulder, "Khuda ka shukr hai tum wapas aa gaye….I have no fear as long as you are with me…"
Angad stroked her head, "main sirf tumhare liye hi wapas aaya hoon jaan…"
…to be continued…
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