Posted: 06 May 2007 at 5:29pm | IP Logged
The next day Tehzeeb was ready bright and early. She wore a cream colored churidaar suit with a green dupatta, "pata nahin wahan Angad ki mom aur bahen bhi ho?….I should dress up decently"
She barely ate any breakfast and told her hosts, "Hussain Chaachu, aaj ek early morning rehearsal hai….main chalti hoon…."
"Lekin Tehzeeb driver ko tho aaney do.." Hussain said
"Koyi baat nahin…rickshaw se chali jaaoongi…." Tehzeeb said
"Lekin beti tumhey aadat nahin hai rickshaw ki…." Hussain's wife, Rehaana protested
"Chaachi…aadat ho jaayegi….main chali…," Tehzeeb did not wait for a reaction and bolted out the front door.
Tehzeeb was pleasantly surprised to see that Angad's neighborhood was very close to her music school. It was an old neighborhood with very narrow streets and "galis"-very different from her dad's McMansion in suburbian New York.
Tehzeeb was not used to walking in the narrow galis where stray dogs, litter and human beings all co-existed. She passed by a few shops and finally saw a cluster of homes in a corner.
"Angad ka ghar….ah..ah…#210 hai….kahan hai?….oh..oh…wo raha," she noticed a cute little house on the other side of the street. The house was a 2-storey home with a terrace on the top. She saw some clothes hanging on the terrace, but was disappointed to see only women's clothes hanging, 'Angad tho sirf apni uniform hi pahenta hai…zaroor usey dry cleaners ke yahan bhej ta hoga….kahin aisa na ho ki wo yahan ho hi na…." Tehzeeb feared.
She was about to open the gate to the house, when she saw a young lady in her mid-twenties walk out of the front door, "mama…darwaza bandh kar leejiye……main shaam ko aapki dawa leti aaoongi…."
"Yeh Angad ki bahen hogi…..," Tehzeeb hid behind a tree and observed.
Mishti was about to sit in her little Maruti sedan, when a neighbor came up to her, 'Mishti….mama kaisi hain?"
"Pehle se theek hai auntie…..bas ilaaj chal raha hai unka….," Mishti answered
"Beti, Angad dekhaayi nahin deta….kahan hai wo aaj kal?" the neighbor asked
"Auntie…uski posting tho Andaman mein hai aaj kal….." Mishti replied
"Andaman? Yeh kahan hai?" Tehzeeb wondered. She cursed her geography teachers for not paying enough attention to the South Asian countries in school.
"Naina se kehna ki kabhie koyi help chahiye ho tho hum se kehna…," the neighbor said
"auntie waise main ek paying guest rakhney ki soch rahi hoon….jo ghar par mama ke saath bhi reh le aur thodi income bhi ho jaaye….aap tho jaanti hain cancer ka ilaaj kitna mehnga hota hai…" Mishti said
Tehzeeb felt bad, "bechara Angad….apni mom ke liye kitni mehnat karta hai….kaash main inki koyi help kar sakti….kar bhi deti par Angad kabhie nahin maanega…paying guest? Wow! What a brilliant idea…..I know what I need to do…"
Mishti waved goodbye to her neighbor and backed out her car. Tehzeeb knew she was taking a risk-but this was her only chance- she carelessly walked in front of Mishti's car.
BANG! Mishti applied brakes instantly, "Hey bhagwan! Yeh mujhsey kya ho gaya?"
Mishti ran out of her car and saw a petite girl lying on the road in front of her car.
A crowd appeared from nowhere and surrounded the car and the wounded girl.
Just as someone was about to call the ambulance, Tehzeeb opened her eyes and touched her head, "main kahan hoon? Kaun hai aap?" she looked at Mishti and feigned ignorance.
"I am so sorry….maine tum ko dekha nahin….please can I call an ambulance….kahan jaa rahi thi tum?" Mishti was very apologetic.
Tehzeeb tried to get up, but pretended that she was going to collapse again. Mishti caught hold of her, "tum mere saath aa jao…mera ghar yahin hai…thanks everyone….main isey apne ghar le jaati hoon…aap sab jaa sakte hain….," Mishti reassured the crowd and helped Tehzeeb on her feet.
Mishti put her arm around Tehzeeb and walked with her to her house.
"Nahin aap taqleef mat kariye…main ab theek hoon…Ahhh!" Tehzeeb winced with her pretend pain and pretend injury.
"Nahin…taqleef ki koyi baat nahin hai….yeh meri galti hai….chalo main thodi ice laati hoon…lagta hai tumhare pair mein chot aayi hai….you may have sprained your foot…." Mishti carried her to the couch in their living room.
"Kaun hai?" Naina's voice floated from the kitchen, "Mishti! Kya hua….kaun hai yeh?"
"Mama…meri gaadi se takkar ho gayi bechaari ki…" Mishti said
Tehzeeb looked up at Naina and tried to get up, 'Namaste aunty…..,"
"Nahin…nahin baithi raho…main ice laati hoon…" Naina went back to the kitchen
Tehzeeb thought, 'saasu maa aur nanad dono hi bahut acchi hain…aate hi bahu ki seva kar rahi hain…not bad!"
After Tehzeeb had iced her foot, Naina brought in a glass of "haldi ka dhoodh"
"Beti isey pee jao…issey chot jaldi theek ho jaayegi.." Naina insisted
Tehzeeb made a disgusting face, pinched her nose and drank the milk to impress Naina.
"Beti kya naam hai tumhara?" Naina asked
Tehzeeb was about to say, "Te…..," but paused, "pata nahin yeh log ek muslim ladki ko paying guest banaaengey? Ah..ah…mera naam Kripa…Kripa Sharma hai!"
Tehzeeb remembered seeing some shops on the way. She distinctly remembered some of the signs on the shop- one was KRIPA MISHTHAN BHANDAR, the other one was SHARMA TENT HOUSE! And that is how our Tehzeeb Khan became Kripa Sharma in Mumbai!
"Kahan jaa rahi thi? Main chhod deti hoon tumhey" Mishti asked
"Main yahan paas mein hi Soul Music Academy mein student hoon…wahin jaa rahi thi…" Tehzeeb answered
"Soul music academy? Arre mama, suna aapney….Kripa bhi aapke school mein student hai….bimaari se pehle mama bhi wahan teacher thi…." Mishti smiled.
"Really? Auntie wahan teacher thi? Lekin… bimaar? Kya matlab?" Tehzeeb acted ignorant again
"Mama ko blood cancer hai…..ab wo kaam nahin karti….ghar par hi rehti hain…" Mishti became sad.
"Oh! I am sorry…." Tehzeeb lowered her head. She tried to get up, but collapsed again.
"Kripa…tum yahin thehro…main doctor ko phone karti hoon…wo yahin aakar tumhey dekh lengey, "Mishti sounded concerned.
After the doctor checked her out, he reassured them it was probably a mild sprain, but Kripa was probably shaken up by the accident, "aaj thoda aaram kar lo beti….aaj music academy mat jao," the doctor advised.
"Kripa…kahan rehti ho? Main tumhey tumharey ghar chhod deti hoon," Mishti offered
"Main actually America se aayi hoon sirf music seekhney….abhi koyi permanent jagah nahin mili hai rehney ko…bas yahi kabhie kisi friend ke yahan…kabhie kahin aur….I am still looking for a place to stay," Tehzeeb lied innocently.
Mishti and Naina looked at each other, as if saying, "lagta hai apni problem solve ho gayi…"
Mishti sat down next to Tehzeeb, "Kripa….yadi tum chaho, hamare saath reh sakti ho….mera ek bhai hai, wo aaj kal out of station hai….you can stay in his room….we were looking for someone anyways, kyunki main bhi din mein kaam karti hoon…aur mama ke paas koyi nahin hota…tumhara school yahan se paas bhi hai…..what do you think? Hamare yahan America jaisi luxuries tho nahin par pyaar bahut hai…" Mishti smiled at Tehzeeb.
Tehzeeb had tears in her eyes, she instinctively hugged Mishti, "jaanti hoon…yahan mujhey aap log bahut pyaar se rakhengey….mujhey aapka proposal manzoor hai….kitna kiraaya hoga?"
Naina also sat down next to them and smiled, "beti hum tum se kuch nahin lengey…tum bas mujhey company dena aur sangeet suna na….mujhey kitney din ho gaye gaana sune….," she caressed Tehzeeb's hair.
Tehzeeb was tearful again and thought, "ab samjhi Angad mein itni acchi values kahan se aayi….he is so lucky to have a mother like that…"
"Kya soch rahi ho Kripa?" Naina asked
"Kuch nahin…bas meri maa nahin hai na…iss liye thoda rona aa gaya, " Tehzeeb hugged Naina and wiped her tears.
Naina and Mishti were thrilled to find a solution to their problem. Kripa seemed such a nice and affectionate girl- the perfect houseguest!
"OK Kripa main jaa rahi hoon…shaam tak tum mama ke paas hi raho…phir shaam ko jaakar tumhara samaan le aayengey…OK bye!" Mishti left for her teaching job.
"Auntie..aap mujhey mera room dekha dengi…," Tehzeeb asked excitedly
"Haan haan…zaroor….aao Angad ka room oopar hai…lekin tum oopar jaa paaogi…" Naina looked at Kripa's foot.
"Oh! Haan, lagta hai thoda better hai…aapke haldi ke dhoodh ka kamaal hai shayad," Tehzeeb saved herself from embarrassment, as she had almost forgotten about her 'sprain'
Tehzeeb hobbled behind Naina as they climbed upstairs.
Tehzeeb noticed the simple dcor of the house, with a few paintings on the walls and houseplants on the floor to decorate the interiors. She was used to seeing mansions with designer interiors, fancy rugs and furniture. Angad's home was as simple and honest as he was- and she loved it! She could already feel his presence around her as they came closer to his room.
"Yeh hai mere bete ka room…..chaho tho aaraam kar sakti ho…" Naina pointed to Angad's room.
Tehzeeb was awestruck and walked in with eyes wide open like a little child visiting Disneyland for the first time, "auntie..yeh tho bahut accha room hai….I love it!" Tehzeeb was of course thrilled about sharing Angad's room- his bed, his closet, his bathroom…she wanted to be a part of his day-to-day life; experience life the way he did, see the morning sunrise from his bedroom window, see the moon the way he had seen all his life…….
Naina proudly said, "Haan mera beta apni cheezein bahut sambhaal kar rakhta hai…."
"main jaanti hoon," Tehzeeb said shyly. She did not realize what she had just said.
"Tum kaise jaanti ho?" Naina was amused
"Oh..wo…wo bas aap sab se milkar lagaa….aap sab hi itne acche log hain…aapka beta bhi waisa hi hoga," Tehzeeb sighed at her slip of tongue, "waise aapke bete ka naam kya hai?" Tehzeeb saved herself from being caught.
"Angad….Angad hai mera beta…wo Navy mein hai…aaj kal Andaman mein hai..teen mahine ke liye….hafte mein ek baar hi phone kar sakta hai ship se…main aur Mishti har Sunday uske phone ka intezaar karte hain…." Naina's eyes became moist as she proudly talked about her son.
Tehzeeb could tell that Angad and his mother had a very strong bond- a bond she could only hope of strengthening with her love- she could never imagine coming in the way of their relationship……she knew that she would have to win Naina and Mishti's trust and love if Angad was to become hers forever……
Tehzeeb looked at Angad's picture on his desk- he was in his Navy uniform, looking dashing as usual, smiling at her with his piercing eyes.
She smiled back at the picture and silently spoke to him, "aise mat dekho mujhey….abhi se maarne ka iraada hai kya ?…"
…to be continued…..