Posted: 02 May 2007 at 1:48pm
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Tehzeeb folded the newspaper and put it back on the dresser. She hurriedly got up and dashed to her cabin. She had tears in her eyes by the time she returned to her cabin. She shut the door and stood with her back resting on the door, "kya Angad ne sach much mujhey dhokha diya hai…usey sirf paisa chahiye tha tho mujhsey maang leta….ab Abbu ko pata chal jaayega ki main kahan hoon, tho wo mujhey dhoondney aa jaayenge….phir main Aapi se kabhi mil nahin paaungi……I hate Angad….kitni badhi badhi baatein karta hai, aur peeche se mere yakeen ko dhokha de diya…."
Just then there was a knock on her door.
She wiped her tears and saw Angad standing with a big question mark on his face, "what about the coffee, your highness?"
"I would rather not talk about anything right now Mr Angad Khanna! Please leave me alone!"
"Lekin Tehzeeb? Aisa kya hua?"
"Please leave me alone, kal main jaldi jaagna chahti hoon, aur next port miss nahi karna chahti…GOODNIGHT!"
"Tehzeeb! I deserve an explanation for your erratic behaviour!" Angad lost his temper.
"Main kisko explanation deti hoon aur kisko nahin, that is my decision…now please LEAVE!" she shut the door on his face and ran to her bed.
Angad was flabbergasted by her behavior, "pata nahin yeh ladki kya khaakar paida huyi thi….uff kya saari zindagi mujhey aise mood swings sehney padhenge? Abhi bhi der nahin huyi hai….I can still back out…..," he thought for awhile, still waiting outside her cabin, but then turned around and pounded his fist on his heart, 'kya karoon….kambhakt dil hai ki manta hi nahin hai…."
Tehzeeb woke up at the crack of dawn and got ready to disembark at their next port, Nice in the French Riviera. She stuffed her clothes and belongings into her bag and left her cabin. Tehzeeb was not a very organized girl, as she had been spoilt by Begum and other housekeepers all her life. She did not check the drawers in the closet, before she packed all her belongings. Angad had safely placed her passport, travel documents and the envelope with her Appi's address in the drawer the other night.
"Main aaj Genoa se wapas ship par nahin aaoongi, aur phir train ya plane se Istanbul chali jaaoongi…..Angad ko kuch pata nahin chalna chahiye…I hope Abbu kahin raaste mein hi naa mil jaayein mujhey…"
Tehzeeb had a quick breakfast and took the first boat out to the harbor. She was glad that Angad was not on duty at that time.
Angad had assumed that Tehzeeb would probably get late as usual, and he was looking forward to hanging out with her in the beautiful town of Genoa in Italy.
Angad got worried about Tehzeeb, when he did not see her all morning. After all the passengers had left the ship, he went around the ship to look for her. He managed to get hold of the master key and when tehzeeb did not answer her door, he forced himself inside her cabin, 'kahin is ladki ne raat ko phir tho kuch nahin chadhaa liya…..," he thought as he entered her cabin.
His worst fears came true, when he saw that all her luggage was gone! Before leaving, he checked the drawer in the closet, but was reassured to see her passport and the envelope, "inkey bina wo kahin nahin jaa sakti…." He placed the passport and envelope in his pocket, in case she came back for them once he had left.
He reached the harbor and looked around everywhere. Genoa was a beautiful and picturesque town, but Angad could not focus on anything at this point. He met a few passengers from the ship, but they all denied seeing Tehzeeb anywhere.
He finally found out from the other crewmembers that Tehzeeb had indeed taken the early morning boat to the shore.
"Aisa kya hua kal raat, jo Tehzeeb bhaagney ki soch rahi hai?" Angad scratched his head and then suddenly recalled, "kal raat….mere cabin mein…..OH NO! she must have seen the newspaper….Oh my god! She probably feels I will inform her dad.….pagal ladki….maine paper tho jaan moojh kar apne cabin mein rakha tha ki koyi aur na dekh le…I know she is on a mission to meet her grandmother…..main tho uski help karna chahta hoon….looks like I will have to hunt her down…."
Angad called the local airport, train and bus stations alerting them about their missing cruise passenger.
If he had understood Tehzeeb well, he knew that Tehzeeb would have a hard time leaving all the beautiful and historical sites without checking them out.
Angad spent the whole day searching different restaurants, museums, art galleries, but was unable to locate. He was right, as Tehzeeb had indeed decided to spend a few hours in Genoa before leaving for Istanbul. After all, Genoa was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the place where the first pair of Jeans was ever made!
She was not the best of planners, and had decided to look for flights or a train after she had done some sight seeing. She made sure, Angad was nowhere around.
Angad kept missing her by a few minutes wherever he went. It was like a cat and mouse game. Tehzeeb managed to escape barely minutes before he got to a place.
Tehzeeb finally took a cab to the airport. She was shocked when she could not find her passport at the ticket counter.
"Ya Allah! Kahin ship par tho nahin reh gaye…ab tho ship ke wapas jaane ka time bhi ho gaya hoga….ab kya karoon? Bus aur train mein bhi problem hogi…..chalo harbor par jaakar dekhti hoon…..shayad koyi private boat mil jaaye…."
Angad in the meantime had eliminated most places from his list.
Their cruise ship was about to sail off. Angad took special permission to delay the departure. It had started raining heavily and the captain was not very thrilled about delaying the departure further.
"Sir…please let me keep a rescue boat….I will join you as soon as I find our passenger…"
"Why are you worried about her? She has voluntarily left the ship….all her belongings are gone too…..we can't wait here all night long…."the captain tried to reason with Angad.
"Sir! I promise, I will join you as soon as I can…."
"You know young man…you could be fired for this, but I like you…you are hard working and care for your passengers…OK….keep in touch with the radio….hopefully we will see you soon, or at our next port…Naples…OK"
Angad stayed at the port for sometime thinking about his options.
He strolled in the rain, "passport ke bina wo sirf illegally hi jaa sakti hai….let me check the private boats…..ho sakta hai wahan ho…."
Angad walked a mile or so on the wet coastline. He was completely drenched. The thunder and lightening reassured him that no private boat would take off at this time, of course unless she had already left.
Just as he approached the private boats harbor, he saw a young lady trying to talk to a sailor in a distance. He knew it was HER!
As he approached them, he saw the sailor had nodded his head and walked away.
Tehzeeb was standing with her bag and sobbing in the rain. She had never felt this helpless, "kaash maine apna passport dhyaan se rakha hota…..Abbu…kahan hai aap?" she was sobbing like a little girl now with her face buried in her palms.
Just then she felt someone parting her palms from her face; she looked up and saw Angad with water dripping down his face, his clothes as drenched as hers. He stood there holding both her hands and staring at her sympathetically, "kya sach much Abbu ke paas jaana chahti ho ya mere saath apni Appi ko milne jaana chahti ho?"
Tehzeeb was stunned at what she heard. She was shivering in the cold water, still trembling from the realization that she could be all alone in this foreign land…..
She could barely speak, as she kept sobbing and shivering.
Angad gently pulled her towards him and encircled her in his arms in a tight embrace, "Tehzeeb…..main tumhey kabhie dhokha nahin doonga….tumhari manzil hi ab meri manzil hai…."…
.to be continued….
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