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Ch24: Dreams & Ambition
"Uff hoo! To kya hua agar humein ek ghanta taxi ke liye rukhna pada. Kitne log to rukhey the wahan." Nakkusha inserted the key in the lock of their condo in Worli while Dutta stood beside her with luggage still fuming. He pushed open the door and entered the house without looking back at her smiling face. Dropping the luggage willy-nilly on the floor he caused the bronze figurine on the low stool to tumble down. Nakkusha gasped and reached out to steady it, rolling her eyes at her husband's miffed attitude. Dutta growled,"Kya ghar ko kabardkhana bana rakha hai? Aur yahi to point hai. Why should we wait in queue for Taxi when I have a car? Maine us ullu ke patthey, Meshram ko bola tha kal call karke car leke airport pahuche par wo kaamchor nahi aaya. Bekaar mein tujhe aisi halat mein itni garmi mein rukhna pada. Aur uss par traffic!" Nakkusha smiled and placed a soothing hand on his chest,"Main theek hoon baba! Aap bhi na, Sarduji! Wo to bus, uss filght ka khana khake jee bigard gaya tha..aur ulti ho gayi thi. Ab main theek hoon. Pakka."
Dutta sighed,"Koi theek week nahi hai tu.You are looking like death warmed over. Damn it meethu! Kaha thana flight mein wo sandwich mat kha. Par tu sunti kahan hai meri. Mere kissi baat ki value hi nahi hai, hai na?" Nakkusha looked down trying to hide her smile at his petulant tone. She shook her head making wispy curls escaping her plait go wild on her face. He pushed back a curl and lifted her face,"Meethu….main.."
His words were cut off by a known voice. "Nakku?" Nakkusha whirled to face the loved voice and gave a small shout of joy before rushing towards the figure holding out her arms wide for her.
"Kaladidi! Aap yahan! Didi!" Nakkusha hugged Kalawati tightly to herself feeling her eyes water involuntarily. Kalawati's deep sigh of contentment shook through her body as she caressed nakkusha's back and ran a hand through her hair,"Meri nakku! meri guddiya! Kaisi hai, beta! Ye tera chehra uttra hua kyu hai? Tillu?" Kalawati asked Dutta worriedly.
Nakkusha shook her head,"Kuch nahi didi! Wo flight ke gandhey khane se pait kharab ho gaya hai. par main theek hoon. Aap ko dekh liya na. didi, aap kaise ho? Jiju, babuji kaise hai? wo aaye hai kya? Aur debu,sonu wo log?"
Kalawati was about to answer when dutta came and put his arm around her,"Kya Tai? Meriko bhul gayi kya? Tumne parso call mein to kuch nahi bola ki tum Mumbai aa rahi ho?"
Leelawati entered with a bottle of water in her hands and answered all the questions for her sister,"Mujhe bhi nahi bataya, Tillu. Subha 7 baje domestic airport se call kiya ki driver ko bhej doo. Ye aur sonu aaye huye hai. isliye tum log ko lene driver nahi ja paya. Aur aane ke baad se hi jo circus chal raha hai! na kuch bata rahi hai na sunn rahi hai..bas bechaari bacchi sonu par baras rahi hai." Dutta took the bottle and took hefty pull on the water before extending it to nakku. Nakku looked with shiny eyes at kalawati whose eyes were pooling with water,"Sonu aye hai, Didi. Kahan hai? Sonu!Sonu!"
"Didi?" Sonu answered from behind the guestroom door half hidden by the frame. Nakkusha beamed at her as Sonu came forward to hug Nakkusha. Sonu burst out crying,"Didi, I am sorry. Main kissiko chot nahi pahuchana chahti thi. Aapki kasam. Kala didi ko samjhao na…please!"
Nakkusha looked at kalawati who sat down with her head bowed on her palms her shoulders shaking in choked cries. Nakkusha sat beside her and looked at sonu,"Kya hua? Didi? Sonu?"
Kalawati looked up and lifted an accusing finger at sonu,"Kya karti? Wahan is ladki ne jo harkat ki hai usko chupane ka koi rasta nahi tha. Itna pyar kartey hai hum sab isko aur ye..Nakku jaanti hai teri behen ghar se bhaag gayi thi."
Nakkusha's face lost color as she looked at sonu with horrified eyes,"Kya?" Dutta moved a hand over his hair,"Sonu? Par kyun?" Kalawati said,"Iska dimaag kharab jo ho gaya hai. kal sham ko school se ghar hi nahi aaye…mere haath pao thandey ho gaye the..nishikant babu bhi darr se kaap rahe the..aur ye bhi indore gaye huye the kaam se…sab jagah dundh liya…itni chotti si jagah mein kidnapping ke cases nahi hai. kaise kaise khayal mann mein aarahe the..raat tak soch liya police mein jayenge…tab iske jiju ka phone aya rajnandgaon ke station se…ladki Raipur ke station mein Station Master ke cabin mein baithi hai."
Nakkusha looked at her in question,"Raipur?" Kalwati nodded,"Tillu tere jiju ko rajnandgaon mein sab jantey hai…aur sonu debu ka unse rishta bhi. Is ladki ko dophar ki train mein bait ke jaatey dekha tha Ticket master ne. akele dekha isliye teri jiju ko bata diya. Jiju ne phir wahan ke station master se dusre station master se puch ke phone pe pata lagaya ki Raipur mein ye ladki bina ticket ke pakadi gayi thi. Isliye station par baithi huyi hai. Hum log wahan bhaagtey bhaagtey pahuche. Nishikaant ji to isse jaan se maar dete. Agar us waqt isse ghar le jaatey to subha tak sab ko pata chal jata ki ye ladki ghar se bhaagi thi.. kya hota phir soch to? Isliye tere jiju ne kaha kuch din isse leke main yahan aa jaun..raaton raat flight ki ticket banai aur ek jodi kapade mein yahan aa gayi." Leelawati looked thoughtfully,"aur wahan log puchenge to kya bologey?" Kalawati shook her head in defeat,"yahi ki nakku se millne hum dono achanak chale aaye.. wahan sation ke log inke kehne pe chup rahenge. Jab tak sab theek nahi ho jata. Phir laut jayenge."
Nakkusha sat there in shock for some time. Sonu crept closer to her and whispered,"didi?" Nakkusha shook her head,"ye kya kiya, sonu? Kaladidi kya bol rahi hai? tu aise…"
Dutta cleared his throat,"tai, sonu aise type ki ladki nahi hai. jaroor koi karan hoga. aise hi thodi wo ghar se nikal jayegi. Sonu, tu bata, kya hua? Why did you do something so stupid? Is it about some boy?" Nakkusha gasped and looked at her sister in horror while kalawati, leela and sonu turned a shade of deep red. Dutta sighed," Oh, come guys! Sonu is growing up! We need to be frank with her. Sonu?" Sonu stammered,"nai…Dutta bhau..aisa kuch nahi hai…sacchi!" Kalawati looked at dutta with angry eyes,"tillu, meri sonu aisi nahi hai. usko humne aise bada nahi kiya hai." Dutta shook his head,"Alright! I give up. Mera dimaag ghum raha hai. aap log batao ki hua kya hai. This is sounding like the great Indian tragedy." Leelawati glared at Dutta,"Dutta ! Sonu ab teri bhi jimmedaari hai. please be serious about this. Kala tu bata."
Kalawati's face darkened with hatred,"ye sab us Mrs. Chougley ke karan hai. dimag kharab kar diya hai meri bacchi ka. Kitni baar sonu ko samjhaya ki naachne-gaane ka shouk ek jagah hai,padhai ek jagah. Jab chotti thi tab kabhi rokka kya isko kahi dance competition mein jaane se. ab bas ho gaya na. Ab thoda padhai kar le. Agley saal iski higher secondary hai. achha result karegi tabhi to science subject millega kissi college mein. Iske jiju ne Raipur ke college mein baat ki hai. accha sa PG dekha hai apne rishteydaar ke yahan. Sab set kar diya hai. aajkal science aur computer ke alawa koi stream mein job bhi nahi hai?" leelawati nodded,"hmmm.. I agree with kalawati. Padai to jaruri hai. par phir sonu to kaafi responsible ladki hai. it's so hard to believe ki wo padhai se bhaagegi." Kalawati shook her head,"last month wo Mrs. Chougley ayi thi nisshikant ji ke paas permission lene ki koi jodhpur mein dance audition hai,Sonu ko le jayegi. Nisshikant ji ne saaf mana kar diya. Bas uske baad se ladki ka dimaag kharab kar diya hai ulta seedha sab bolke. Aaj kal ye sab talent show bahut hotey hai…par kitne log kuch bann patey hai bolo. Aise kaise bacchi ko apna future barbaad karne doon. Aur ye nalayak ladki bhi roz roz apne babuji se jhagada karti hai. kahan ab ye thodi samjhdari se ghar sambhalegi apne didi ke shaadi ke baad. Nahi ye to bas apni zidd manwayegi. Humne thodi kya sakhthi barat di to hume aise pareshaan karke…agar kuch ho jaata isko to? Kahan jaatey hum log bolo,tai? Abhi iske mama logon ne nishikant ji se kaha hai ki isse wahan durg bhej de…wo logon ko lagta hai ki hum log iska khayal nahi rakh saktey. Main in logon ka khayal nahi rakhti?"
Nakkusha held kalawati by her shoulder and hid her face in her nape hugging her to herself. She could understand that Sonu's childish mistake had hurt Didi the most as now people will question her influence in lives of Nishikant's children. Kalawati was an elder sister to nakkusha but sonu and debu where her children. Her very own babies. Sonu had irresponsibly hurt her deeply and made her question her ability to bring them up.
Sonu whimpered,"Kaladidi, maine aisa kuch nahi kiya. Please! Main science nahi pardhna chahti. Mujhe koi job nahi karna, please. Wo chougley madam ne kaha hai mujhe…unki friend ayi thi..unhone…" Kalawati looked up at her with anger in her eyes,"Dekha kaha than a maine. Sab us good for nothing aurat ki kartoot hai. usne apni zindagi to barbaad ki hai ab meri bacchi ki life bhi waste kar degi. Kabhi apne ghar baar par dhyan nahi diya. Uski ek beti na jane delhi mein kya kya karti hai..aur beta…chi. Drugs ke liye jail ke chakkar kaat chukka hai. wo batayegi ab bacchon ko kya karna chahiye?" Leelawati sat down beside kalwati trying to soothe her,"Kala, sun chotti! Bacchon pe aaj kal zor jabardaasti nahi chalti re! ye log to aapne mann ki hi kartey hai. ab tillu ko dekh le…kabhi hum log ki koi baat sunna hai wo aajtak. Par phir bacchey bhi aapna accha bura soch lete hai bas communication ki jarurat hai. sonu bahut suljhi ladki hai. uske side ki story bhi sunani chahiye na?"
Nakusha shook her head,"Nahi leelatai, kala didi sahi hai. Ye ladki bahut bigard gayi hai. Sonu! Tu aisi harkat kaise kar sakti hai. kya kaami rakhtey hai hum log bol? Tum logo ke liye kya nahi kiya babuji ne. Aur tu…"
Sonu looked down defeated. Dutta looked at her and sensed her eerie rising slowly inside her at not being given a chance to explain. She was ashamed at her irresponsible act but at the same time she held her family responsible for goading her to it. He could see his resolute image in her. Dutta broke in the heavy atmosphere,"hmm…so we all agree ki Sonu ne galati ki hai. Right, Sonu? So now we can decide her punishment? Sonu for now tumhari punishment hai kit um hum sab ko chai pillaogi. Leela tai ki chai sugar-free…aur kalatai ki chai mein…Umm..on second thoughts..kalatai ki chai mein bhi chinni mat daalna. Tumhari didi ke liye ek chamach meri bhi. Okay! Kitchen mein Mary kaam kar rahi hai. Unse help maang lena. Go! Scoot!" He waved her off ,silencing others in the room.
Kalawati looked at him angrily,"Dutta, tu is baat ko seriously kyun nahi le raha? Sonu ne jo kiya..""Uska usse pachtava hai, Kalatai. Ab kya kare? Baar baar boltey rahe…Do push her, alright! Its Teen thing! Rebellion etc etc! I know! Been there, done that." Dutta sighed sitting in the couch facing the three women. His gaze shifted among them and stopped on nakkusha's face. His words stopped on his lips as he saw the pain in her eyes. Pain,shock and something else. A look of utter despair and disappointment in him. She felt that he was not taking Sonu's problem as seriously as her and that hurt her . She looked away not meeting his gaze. Dutta spoke softly looking at his sisters but his words were for her. He wanted her to understand that he was with her; he cared about her and her family just as much as her. Dutta ran a hand on his chin sracthing the stubble,"Sonu un ladkiyon mein se nahi hai jo ye kaam bahut soch samajh kar kartey hai. I feel uska ghar se nikalna was more a spur of moment thing. A whim but with reson. A pure reason. We need to talk to her. Sort it out frankly one on one. Agar hum baar baar uske chaaron aur aise guard lagayenge to wo aur rebellious ho jayegi.We have to give her a chance to explain herself. You can't just jump down her throat and ground her for life" Leelawati nodded,"Tillu sahi bol raha hai." Dutta grinned exactly," I mean agar parents aur guardians bacchon ko thoda control aur freedom de sakey….thoda clear communication rakh sake to bacchey ye sab karenge hi nahi."
Leelawati blinked her eyes,"Hmm..Tillu! samjh rahi hoon. Par I am impressed tillu. Tu to bahut jaldi parenting seekh gaya. So you will be very calm, jab teri beti ka rebellious period ayega. Tu to mentally tayyar hoga na…har ek baat ke liye. Boyfriends, dates, School bunking etc etc etc." Dutta scrowled,"To hell with it! Nakku! Meri beti kabhi Co-ed mein nahi jayegi. Aur tu usse school college chod ke ayegi, le ke ayegi..no Boyfriends. No friends ! period! Date ki to main aise ki.." he looked at the amused faces of his sisters. He lifted his hand,"Point taken. Main samajh gaya ki aap logon ke liye sonu aapki beti hai aur its not possible for you to take this incidence abjectly. I get your condition. "
Nakkusha got up and left the room hiding her tears. Kalawati called after her worriedly. Dutta rubbed a finger to his tired eyes,"Main dekhta hoon."
She was slumped by the bed her back resting on the stand, her hands wrapped
around her knee. Dutta sat down beside her. Silence spoke volumes between
them. Nakkusha looked at him dejectedly,"Main jaanti thi ki wo
hamesha se dance mein bahut interested hai. Socha hobby hai kar lene do. Usse
bhi to accha lagta hai hai aur waqt bhi cut jaata hai. par kissi ke kehne pe
dance completion ke liye wo itna bada kadam uthayegi iska andaaza hi nahi tha.
Kahan galti ho gayi humse? Hamesha heroines ko TV pe dance kartey dekhti
thi..ya koi show mein kissi pratiyogi ko dekhti thi to bolne lagati ti..Esshhh,
didi main in jaise naach paati to kinta accha hota! Main bol deti thi, sonu tu
to inse bhi accha karti hai. nahi bolna chahiye tha. Tabhi bol debna tha..ye
sab par dhyan mat de..padai kar..bado ki baat maan." Dutta smiled wiping a
tear of her cheek,"Hmm…par phir jo khushi Sonu ko dance kartey huye hoti
hai uska khoon ho jaata. Hobby ya aise shouk rakhne mein koi burai nahi hai
Nakku." "Hai..burai hai..agar wo shauk aapke ghar parivar ki
such-shaanti ke aarey aye to wo galat hai. parivaar ki khushi ke liye kuch aisi
cheese karni pardhti hai jo hum nahi chahtey. Aap nahi samjh rahe hai..kyunki
aapne kabhi aisa kuch kiya hi nahi…aapne kiya hai kabhi aapni beheno ke khushi
ke liye kuch…kuch aisa jo aap nahi karna chahtey the…ya karna chahtey the..par
nahi kiya sirf is liye ki unhe ussey dukh na pahuchey." She gave a harsh
laugh,"Nahi kiya na? is liye aap bahar itne asaani se wo sab keh rahe the.
Aap aaj tak sirf aapne liye jiye hai na Dutta. is liye nahi jaantey ki aapne
parivaar ke liye kuch chod dena kaisa lagta hai. kaisa lagta hai parivaar ke
liye sapne dekhna chod dena." Dutta looked away from her,"Kyun choda,
nakku? tere parivaar ne to kabhi nahi maanga na kit u sapne dekhna chod de.
Jeena chod de. Debu ne kaha tha tujhse…ki uski didi nahi maa bann ja..Sonu ne
kaha tha? To kyu? Aur aaj kyun aapne sacrifices gin rahi hai." Nakkusha
turned her angry face at him,"To nahi sochu…Theek hai debu, sonu babuji
kissi ne nahi kaha tha..mujhse..par kya karti bolo? Babuji karjey mein doobey
huye the..mill band ho gayi thi..aur jab khuli tab babuji ka post hi nahi
tha…computer ne insaan ki jagah le lit hi…Hisaab kitaab computer hi jayada
jaldi rakh leta tha…kahi naukri nahi mill rahi thi..hisaab kitaab ke alwa kuch
nahi aata babuji ko. Post office mein maa ke ghar kharach se bachaye huye paiso
ka bond tha…babuji ki bhi kuch jamapunji thi…uska byaaz millla ke 1000 rupaye
har mahina aata tha. Aur saath mein babuji roz ka kuch 5-6 sau le atey
the…Chawaal 16 prati killo tha..aur dal 40…gehu 11. Aur usse pissane ka bhav
tha 2 rupya prati killo…aur debu-sonu ki fees 200 rupaye mahina..mera 300.
Babuji ki beti hoon na? isliye itna hisaab laga liya tha ki agar ek jan ka
school fees nahi dete to ghar ka rasion aa jayega…debu –sonu ka doodh ka
kharcha nikal jayega. Bardti umar mein doodh aur protein jayada dena chahiye
naa? Waise bhi second division aaya tha..Scholarship nahi milti college ke
liye. Ithaas mein major lene ka mann tha. Shobha thi naa..meri dost..shaadi
mein ayi thi na..yaad hai? Bhopal
mein naukri karti hai. Meri classmate thi school 12th tak. Mera 57%
tha..uska 54%...hum dono ek saath admission lena chahtey the…Gayatri
mahavidyalaya mein seat bhi thi. Admission form la kar de gayi thi. Nakkusha
bas sign kar dena..baaki main bhar dungi..aur haan 20 rupaye charge
lagega….form ka rate aur submission charges. Debu ke naye coloring box aur
school ki tie-belt lane ki jarurat thi. Roz school mein punishment millti thi
usse. Form wapas kar diya. "
Nakkusha shook her head,"Mujhe koi ghum nahi hai…koi pachtava nahi hai, samjhe aap. Maine jo kiya sahi kiya. Mere bhai ke liye kiya meri behen ke liye kiya. Kaladidi de deti gar unko pata hota…jiju sara intezam kar detey..par unhe batana pardhta na…maangna pardhta na. kyun maangu main? Kyun boloon har baar…roz roz wo log kuch na kuch to kar hi dete humare liye…uss par aur kitna ehsaan le hum log…main to phir bhi didi hai ye soch ke kuch bol deti..kuch le aati…par phir babuji ki aankhon mein sharam nazar aati thi. Pachtava nazar aata tha..hum bacchon ke liye kaladidi parivaar bann gayi thi..par babuji ke liye wo phir bhi pardosi hi the..aur hai. Aur pardosi se ek cup doodh maangtey hai…unki gai utha ke apni angaan ke khutey se nahi baandh dete. "
Dutta nodded,"par tujhe bura laga. Dukh hua ki shobha 54% leke bhi college mein admission le saaki tu nahi. Hum sapne dekhna nahi chodtey nakku. Chod nahi saktey, it's not humanly possible. But hum sapno ke sach hone ki aas chod detey hai. yahi to farak hai..dreams mein aur ambition mein…sapna wo jo hum khuli ya band aankhon se dekhtey ahi…mehtavkansha wo jo hum un sapno ko hasil karne ke liye kar saktey hai.. tune sapney dekhne to nahi chodey..par mehtavkansha chod di…ambition chod diya. Aur jab aisey sapno ki kirchiya aankhon mein chubhtey haina tab wo aankhen khali ho jaati hai." He cupped her face in his palms forcing her to meet his eyes," teri aankhen kabhi khalli nahi thi..unmein hamesha ek ambition zinda tha…apne bhai- beheno ka ambition…Tu apne sapne unki aankhon se jeena chahti hai hai na, nakku? Par aisa nahi hota hai..jo sapna jo ankhen dekhti hai..wahi purey karti hai. Problem ye hai..ki teri aankhon ne jo sapna dekha..Sonu ki ankhon ne dusra sapna dekha…ab aankhen uski hai to sach to wo wahi sapne karegi…warna teri mehtavkansha jeetey jeetey kahi woe k aur nakku bann jayegi."
Nakkusha looked in his eyes,"Sach kaha apne sapne dekhna to humare haaath mein hai hi nahi. Kuch acchey sapne hotey hai kuch burey..Waise bhi dekho na…mera ek sapna sach hua…aur wo mere parivaar ke liye bura khawab bann gaya..barsoo baad ek sapna dekha tha..aapko pane ka…aur dekho…aapko paatey hi sab kuch tootne laga..agar aaj humari shaadi nahi hoti…to main wahan hoti mere parivar ko sambhalne ke liye."
Dutta jaw hardened,"Khwab burey ho to bhi dekhne parhi jatey hai..agar main nahi hota to koi aur hota…aur agra koi nahi hota…to ussey bura kuch nahi hota."
"Main to Mumbai aana chahti thi..isliye Mumbai mail mein ticket leke baith gayi thi." Sonu told him innocently when asked where she was planning to elope. They were sitting on the swing sets on the play ground in the apartment society after the stressfull dinner. Dutta wanted to know what had prompted sonu the levelheaded, simple girl to take such drastic measures. "Mumbai?" "Haan! Maine parsoo raat ko babuji se bahut jhagarda ho gaya tha..unhone bahut zorse maara bhi tha…To maine socha ki babuji ko bas ek hi insaan samjha sakta hai. Didi. To idea ye tha ki main Mumbai mein aakey didi ko sab bata dungi samjha dungi aur didi babuji ko." Dutta shook his head in confusion,"par tu to jaanti thi hum log india ke bahar the..to?"
"aur ye bhi jaanti thi ki aap log aaj lautne waale the..subah..meri train sham ko aati yahan Mumbai mein."
"To tu Raipur kaise pahuch gayi? wo to dusri disha mein hai"
"Wahi to garboard ho gayi..harbaari mein main Up ki jagah down train mein baith gayi na…Wo train Howrah to Mumbai nahi..Mumbai to howrah ja rahi thi. Is liye Raipur mein utar gayi par second time ticket lene ke paise nahi the."
Dutta swallowed his laughter as he saw her sister's spark in the little girl sitting infront of him. Yes, Sonu was a beautiful girl. Clasically beautiful with fair milk white skin nad large grey eyes.. tall yet delicate. With time she will be heartbreakingly beautiful woman. She was spunky and outgoing. She loved to be praised and pouted when scolded. At dinner she had mooped about the room and table like she was being wronged and betrayed by her loved ones. A proper little drama Queen! She was as different from nakkusha's calm, serene persona as night was from day. Yet every now and then he could see the same wit and guilelessness that was in nakkusha. He felt pity for the man who would one day be in love with her. This pair of sisters was slow death for any sane man. But then what a death it was! He grinned at his thoughts running riot towards his wife. "Aap has kyun rahe ho? Aisi galti koi bhi kar sakta hai. " Dutta nodded,"of course. Par sonu tu didi ko samjhana kya chahti thi."
Sonu said vehemently,"yahi ki mujhse science nahi pardhna…mujhe dancer banana hai." Dutta looked at her seriously,"Ek baat bata tu agar dancer ban bhi gayi to kya karegi…Dance India dance mein jayegi…boogi woogi…ya phir kya Movies mein extra dancer banegi….chreographers ke troops ke saath ghumegi..Tujhe kya lagta hai its that easy?"
Sonu screamed tears of frustration in her eyes,"Yahi to samjhana tha…ki dancer banana ka matlab bas ye sab nahi hota. Dancer hona koi Tv show ya stage show ya movie mein heroine ke picchey ki row mein khadey hona nahi hai. aur bhi kuch hai." Dutta folded his hands,"accha? To bata mujhe, main bolta hoon teri didi ko. Trust me..agar tu mujhe convince kar payi to I'll make things happen. Try me!"
Sonu swallowed ,"madam ne jodhpur mein jo audition rakha tha..wo kissi talent show ka nahi balki sadhna saini ki classes ka tha. Sadhna Saini…aapko pata hai kaun hai? Nai pata na? Kaiyo ko nahi pata kyunki wo koi talent show ki judge ya contestant nahi hai. Wo humare desh ki sabse badi dancer hai…classical, mohiniattam, bharatnatya, odissi…sabmein maharat hai unko..pata hai unhone solah baar world tour kiya hai aapne group ke saath..birju maharaj ke saath Chitrangada mein thi wo. Jaanety ahi aap?"
Dutta shook his head as a frown formed on his forehead,"Nahi main nahi jaanta?" Sonu gave a sardonic laugh," main bhi nahi jaanti thi. Sadhan ji madam ki bachpann ki dost hai. Dono saath gungroo bandhna seekhey the..madam ne kaha ki unke parivar ne unka dance school ke baad bandh karwa diya..is liye unka gyan wahi rukh gaya… par akhir to apna ghar chalane ke liye wahi kala kaam ayi na…wahi..sadhna je eke pitaji khud dancer the…unhone apni beti ko bahut sikhaya aur wo aaj inti badi mananiya dancer hai.. unke yaha class mein admission ke pahele his teen exam hoti hai dance ki…madam ne unhe mere bare mein bataya tha..sadhana ji khud mujhe aapne dance college mein chance dena chahti hai…scholarship bhi agar maine unka audition clear kiya to."
Dutta looked at her in wonder,"Dance college?" She mumbled with her head low,"Vishwa bharati, Shantiniketan. Mujhe to pata bhi nahi tha ki nritya ek padhai hai…usmein bachelors degree course hota ahi..teen saal ka..BFA..Bachelor in fine arts..dance major…acchey marks aye to Masters bhi hota…PhD bhi..dutta bhau..Dance ke liye PhD! Zara socho aisa bhi hota hai. Aur mujhe malloom bhi nahi tha. Bas yahi lagta tha..BA, Bcom,BSc..bahut hua to MBBS..BE…bas..itna hi hota hai padhai..par iske bahar bhi gyan hai…sheekhne ko hai. To hum kyun nahi seekh saktey, bhau?"
Dutta sighed,"Kyunki sabse kuch alag sapna dekhne mein bhi himmat chahiye, Sonu. Shayad tu ye sab pardh le..masters,Research sab karle..par kya tu apna career dance mein bana legi…kya job millegi…tour pe jayegi troops ke saath..ya college mein padhayegi..aisi qualification ka future kya hai…especially humare country mein. Aaj yahi karan hai ki kitne birju maharaj, lata mangeshkar,sachin tendulkar aur piccaso kissi computer ke aagey baitke coding kar rahe hai ya..kissi 9-5 ki job mein file sarka rahe hai..ya kissi morgue mein murdey kaat rahe hai. Its about shelf life of your career. Agar tu mujhe bata sakti hai ki is bare mein kitni serious ..tere kya plans hai..to main shayad kuch kar sakoon."
Sonu shook her head,"Agey ka to mujhe pata nahi bhau..par amin yahi pardhna chahti hoon..sikhna chahti hoon…sadhna ji jaise. Aur mujhe pata hai ki main aisa kar sakti hoon. Par ab koi faiyda nahi..main didi ko kaladidi ko babuji ko chot pahucha ke apna sapna pura nahi kar sakti…main jab apna pahela bada performance doon tab main chahti hoon sab mere saath ho..front seat pe bait ke mujhe uthsaa de..aisa nahi ho satkta to mujhe nahi chahiye..Didi chahti hai ki main Science hi pardhoon..usmein scoop jayada hai..didi agey nahi pardh paye na…isliye wo chahti hai ki main aagey pardhu."
"Ithaas mein major lene ka mann tha". Dutta looked up at the sky. Little white sparking dots littered the sky, a faint smell of chamomile and roses came from the manicured garden behind them. The watchman's bulldog was inspecting the tyres of the cars in the parking lot sniffingthem to find a perfect spot to relieve himself. He choose a BMW and did short work ofhis job and went away limping. A smile tugged at his lips at the innocuous scene. An image of Nakku came up in his mind of her reading each plaque at the Hungarian nation museum. She was always the last to finish a room of exhibit. Many times he had lost her in the maze of the aisles, worriedly he would look around calling her name despite being sushed by the proprieter. She would come running with her cheeks flushed and eyes dreamy,"Ye Ghengis Khan kaun hai pata hai kya? Wahan uska talwaar laga rakha hai.Batao na kaun hai…kab ke log ahi ye log..tasveer se to chinky-minky lagtey haii angreez nahi."
Dutta got up from the swing and pulled her up on her feet," Ek deal karte hai Sonu. Tu Kaladidi ke sath ghar jayegi..aur HSC purey tayaari ke sath degi.OK? Main teri madam se baath karke sadhana ji ka contact number loonga..agey ki baat discuss karunga..let me do my thing, OK? Phir main khud tujhe shantineketan le jaunga entrance exam ke liye."
Sonu's eyes sparkled with hope hitting a spot in his heart so like another very dear pair of eyes..So different yet so same. Sonu's face dimmed a little as she tried hard to stamp her hope,"Par didi nahi maanegi..babuji? wo log chahtey hai.."
"Logon ke chahne se hum humari zindagi nahi jee saktey. Chahe wo humare aapne hi kyun na ho. Humein kya banana hai iska faisla sirf humara hota hai. Apne sapney sach karne ka mauka milley to usse le lena cahhiye..aisa mauka bahut naseeb se milta hai, Sonu. Warna phir hum apne sapne apno par thopne agtey hai.. hum jo na pasaake wo apno ke zariye paana chahtey hai.. Is liye zaruri hai ki har kissi ko mauka mille ke wo apne sapne jee sakey…Mera tujhse wada hai kit u apne sapne jeeyegi..apne ambitions hasil karegi..kissi aur ke tootey khwab nahi sametegi… I will not let you live anyone elses dream…each one will live their own. Tere sapne purey hongey aur teri didi ke bhi."
Safety was a word that Sonu had missed inthose few hours alone in the Raipur station wondering how she will ever go back. She had not felt safe after that..not even when her family ahd come to find her..when kaladidi had hugged and cried holding her..or today when she had met her Didi again after so long. Somehow, Sonu had felt that she had broken the pattern of safety in her life and had not known how to repair it. But as she hugged the tall man tightly, she felt safe again. Dutta bhau rocked her on her feet playfully making her giggle. She smiled contently as she knew in her heart he will set things right. Having an elder sister was good….kaladidi and jiju were more like maa-babuji but dutta bhau! Well, it felt good to have an elder brother rather than a pesky little one to take care off. Now things felt right and complete.
Dutta slipped in the bed and looked at the side. Nakkusha was lying with her back to him. He thought she was asleep when a sniffle set him right. Dutta looked at the white ceiling thoughtfully.
"Aap jaantey hai aap kya kar rahe hai?Ye meri behen ki zindagi ka sawal hai."
"Tu meri aur sonu ki baatein sunn rahi thi?"
"Aap logo ko andar bulane aayi thi..to…"
"Choron ki tarah sunn liya..teri ye adaat kabhi jayegi ya nahi? Come on Nakku, chup ke kissi ki baatein sunna badtamizi hoti hai."
She turned back with hurt and anger in her eyes,"haan haan! Main gawar hoon na…mujhe kya pata tameez kya hoti hai….aisi badtameez gawar anpardh se aapne shaadi karke apni zindagi barbaad kar dina Doctor saab…aur ye jo roz aap sone se pahele ek baar ciggerette peeke aatey hai…chup chup ke office mein peetey hai..wada karke bhi tordh dete hai..ye hai na aapki tameez. Waise main kyun dukhi ho rahi hoon..abhi to bas ek wada torda hai..deere deere to abhi aap aur bhi kitne wadey todengena? Pardhey-likhey gawar jo hai aap!"
She turned back switching off the sidelamp leaving Dutta in shock and dark. Claws were out again, he thought. "History? Seriously? Meethu! Are you sure tujhe military training nahi leni thi." Not getting a answer he sniffed his hands. Damn! He made a mental note to change his deo again and note to see to fulfilling his promises.
………To be continued.
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