Joined: 21 September 2010
We were getting late to the party. It was already 8.30PM. I and my friends were on bikes. I was sitting behind Gaurav who was new to the city just like me. He was new to driving as well. So when the signal was just going red, all my other gang-members sped away evading the signal in spite of traffic-police incessant whistles but Garry, as we fondly call him slowed down to a halt. He reassured me that he knew the way to the Disc we were going to. He confidently steered the bike to the left when we came across a four square road. Soon the houses on the street became sparse. The trees grew huge and the roads silent and shrouded in darkness. He kept zooming on as the wind grew chilling ad whipped past my ears. Pulling my scarf closer I wondered loudly if a disc in such a jungle would be such a hit. He kept quiet and I realized… Opps! He knew the stats of mugging and crime in city like these, on streets like these. He kept going till we reached a small market like place. He braked in and asked a man the way to the disc. The man looked incredulously at us and told us that we were on completely different part of the city almost in opposite direction. He asked where we took the turn. We should have turned right, he said. After another hour and half of wandering around asking random people the directions we finally reached the Cassanova disc at around 11.15 PM. The performance of the DJ, our friend who was participating in the "war of DJ contest" was long over. After suffering a lot of ribbing by friends that we had purposely got lost on streets to enjoy a romantic long drive and that we were secretly dating and all such nonsense, Garry was again driving me home very late at night. When I got off his bike, he smiled and said that he was sorry for the inconvenience he caused. He got confused at the crossroads and took the wrong one. I smiled and said it's Ok, after all by taking the wrong road we now know which road lead where. As we bid goodnight and parted, him taking the straight road that lead to main street and me taking the left lane to enter my society, I contemplated how tricky it is to decide the right route on a crossroad.
"Didi, kaun hai wo log? Aap jaanti hai?" Nakkusha sat infront of kalawati huge dressing table and looked at kala who was silently brushing nakkusha's long brunette hair with light stokes. Kalawati sighed at the soft velvety texture of the long thick hair in her hands. It was another one feature of Saroj kaki Nakkusha had inherited. The other was her mother's sweet nature. Sonu had got all her mother's outer beauty and Nakkusha had got all the inner one's. Kalawati was proud of nakkusha's hair as if they were hers. She always forbade her to cut them beyond a inch, even when nakku begged to cut them off and get short hair which were manageable.
NAkkusha probed again-Didi, bolo na..Acchanak kaise…aapne subha to nahi kaha tha. Kala sighed and clipped the hair at the top and let the rest down shining in the light,"Mujhe bhi nahi pata tha. Achanak hi aa gaye. Dinky ke sasural ki taraf se hai. Shaddi mein tere jijaji aur babuji se baat ki thi Ramkishan ji ne. Wo ladke ke pitah hai. Tere jijaji bol rahe the…accha ghar hai..bada business hai..Ladke ke papa ka publishing ink ka business hai bilaspur mein..teen ladke hai ek ladki…ladki ki shaadi kara di hai Indore mein..bada beta fauj mein hai aur shaadi kar li hai..apne mann ki…chotta engineer hai par USA gaya hai aagey ki padhai karne…wahi basega..ye manjhla hai" Kala bent her head a little near nakku's ears and whispered meeting her eyes in the mirror,"Uday". Nakkusha grabbed Kalawati's hand and looked pleadingly at her,"didi" She whispered back shaking her head in negation, tears glistening in her eyes. Kalawati cupped her face in her hands and kissed her cheeks,"kitni pyaari lag rahi hai, nakku. ekdum gudiya..wo dekhte hi passand kar lega..ghabra mat..tu jaisi hai waisi rehna..agar koi baat bhi khatake to maana kar denge..aisa thodi hai yahi shaadi karni hai." Nakku bit her lips and shook her head again a lone tear slipping out. Kalawati wiped it- pagal, ro mat. Teri bidai nahi kara rahi hoon..bas yeh to dekhna dikhana hai. kajal beh jayega, ro mat..itna sundar liner lagaya hai tune ek baar mein..mujhse to hota bhi nahi.
Nakkusha closed her eyes and turned her head away. Kalawati took her chin and moved her face towards hers- Nakku, meri gudiya..please, mujhe samajh. Agar mujhe teri khushi mere bhau ke saath nazar aati to main khud Nishikant ji ke pairon mein gir ke tera haath maangti…par aisa nahi hoga..Dutta is chottey se shaher ki hawa mein ek sa hai…waha mumbai mein kuch aur..tu nahi khush ho payegi..kaisi aapne aapko dhal payegi uske raang mein. Nakkusha- nai, didi. Mujhe is baat ka zara bhi bura nahi lagta..ye baat nahi hai..maine sunni thi us din sashi kaka se aapki baat. Main jaanti hoon main duttaji ke layak nahi hoon..Meghna ji jaisi hi koi unki patni bann sakti hai…par didi, main abhi tayar nahi hoon..mujhe thoda waqt de do..Abhi to sonu-debu ko meri jarurat hai.
Kala sat down near nakku's feet looking at her shocked- tune us din sunna tha…aur tu sochti hai..tu layak nahi..pagal..sach much pagal hai tu to..tere jaisi ladki kissi ko sau punya karne ke baad millti hai..Dutta layak nahi hai tere. Samjhi! Aur sonu-debu unhe to zindagi bhar maa ki jarurat hogi..par tu unki maa nahi hai…wo seekh jayenge dheere dheere..aur main hoon naa..tujhe bhi to sambhala tha naa..jab tu chotti thi…unhe bhi sambhal lungi..waise bhi bhagwaan ne mujhe bacchey isliye nahi diye takki main saroj kaki ke baccho ko pyaar kar sakoon.. nakku, ladka sach much abhut accha hai. zameen se laga hua hai..teri tarah..shayad yahi teek hoga..aur bilaspur bas 4 ghante dur hai..ek baar koshish kar le. Meri khatir. Nakkusha looked at her and after a moment which seemed like eternity nodded. Kalawati kissed her cheek again, her own face wet with tears. She picked up the huge Gold earrings which she had put out for her and removing Nakkusha's simple fake stones tucked the earrings in place.
Dutta laughed half-heartedly at the jokes the father of the boy was cracking. He was bored beyond his skull. He still reeled with shock that they were here to see nakku. After the shock of Tai's words had worn off, he had dragged his feet to nakkusha's house. After introductions he had taken the seat beside Uday. He had tried making small talk with the guy. He was around 25-26 years of age, almost as tall as him but slightly on the bulky built. He had an alert gaze and deep voice. He would be called good-looking by any standard and to add to it he had a simple manner which made him likeable. Dutta couldn't find fault with him as he had talked to him in past half hour. In fact in some ways he was as simple and guileless as nakku. But then a flicker of unease rose in his mind as Dutta remembered the bike ride home. But he pushed it back to the furthest recess of his mind. His baser instincts were getting out of hand in this wilderness, he concluded.
Just then tai came in with nakkusha. Dutta looked at the woman beside his tai. He had seen her in sari before but today the sari didn't look out of place and the blouse fitted like a her thin shoulders perfectly. A simple embroidered yellow sari curved her body and accentuated each of her curves as none of her kameez did. Her hair glowed under the light of the bulb. She gaze was downcast as a small stone bindi winked in the light. A thin gold chain hung around her delicate throat while a small pendent snugly rested at the cleft of her collarbone. Nakkusha was not a breathtaking beauty but as she sat on the chair placed for her, Dutta decided that she definitely had a alluring quality about her. An elegance and delicacy that was inherent of womanhood and was as intoxicating as any wine!
The boy's mother shot random questions at nakkusha, making Dutta mouth tighten in disgust and anger. He could seeNakku was uncomfortable with so many gazes trained on her. "Maa..Bas! Aap kuch jayada hai sawal kar rahi hai." Dutta turned his head towards the deep voice. Uday was looking at her mother with annoyance,"Hum yahan inke mehmaan hai..aap.. "Nishikant interrupted- nahi beta, koi baat nahi..thodey sawal to poochna hi pardhta hai..kyun Ram kishan ji?
Meena quickly nodded- wahi to. Tu chup kar bittu. Tu key jaane! Sab pooch-puchwa lena sahi hota hai.. Warna shaadi biyah ki baat hai… Jodi to bhagwan banatey hai..par millana to hume pardhta hai na?
Kalawati- sahi kaha aapne. Par shaadi bhi inhe karni hai..kyun na..dono ek dusre se jo pochna-puchwana ho kar le? Waise bhi aaj kal ki peedhi..inhe ek dusre ko jaanane ka mauka de to.. Meena nodded- haan haan..kyun nahi. Kalawati called sonu and debu who were sitting in a corner and eating the pastries and samosa they had ordered for the guests. Kalawati-jao zara, chatt par do chairs laga aao. As the two siblings hopped away to do the bidding kalawati gently squeezed Nakkusha on the shoulder telling her to be strong. Dutta felt an uneasiness deep inside him. was there any need for them to be alone yet? Nakkusha was very shy with strangers and felt uncomfortable and tongue-tied, he knew it, tai knew it, her father knew it. Then why were they trying to make nakku feel uncomfortable. He decided to be there to help them ease into conversation. As nakkusha and Uday rose to make their way to the terrace, got up too. Kalawati looked at him questioningly- Main aata hoon, tai.
Dutta took steps slowly one at a time. He could only hear Uday's voice occasionally. Uday- jee, asal mein hum kabhi padai mein tez nahi the..BCom karne ke baad aapna dhanda daal liya…aur bhagwaan ke krupa se sab saahi chal raha hai. mera promoter ka business hai. Bilaspur mein humare company ke bahut se flat apartment biktey hai. Maa baba ke liye hi bilaspur rukk gai hai. warna hum Delhi jaana chahtey the wahan business phailana chahtey the. Dutta was about to interrupt them when his mobile rang. He saw the caller id and swore softly. He had forgotten his date with meghna. He was torn between the two minds. One wanted to help his friend in this awkward moment and the other wanted to know about the woman who fascinated him. He chose the latter.
Nakkusha had heard the familiar music tone of the cellphone. She knew he was standing on the stairs. He would definitely help her out here. She waited for him to step up from the shadows. Her heart sank when she heard the sound of residing boots.
"Aap samajh rahi hai na, nakkusha ji? " Nakkusha looked up to meet the questioning eyes of the man who could very well be her husband soon. Husband? She felt like running away screaming. She thought over as to what was the questions and nodded her head thinking that can be the answer.
Uday looked at the elf like woman sitting in front of him. She was really a very meek, quiet woman. Very calm and just what he wanted in his wife. He had thought to marry another kind of woman a few years ago. A beautiful vivacious woman but then she didn't want to live her life in a small town and He had found himself trapped here by circumstances. A girl like nakkusha would do good by him he decided. She was neither ambitious, nor sharp tongued. She will listen to his mother and keep her happy. And he can breathe in peace. Uday-aap aapni padai dobara shuru to nahi na karna chahti? Jee, waise padai se koi aapati nahi hai..par phir maa ki umar ho chali hai ghar ka kaam kaaj..aur phir aisda to nahi hai ki aapne padai ki hi na ho..aapka kya khayal hai?
Nakkusha looked at the sun setting in the west sky. He went away! His date? Meghna! She remembered about Uday's question,"Jee main samajhti hoon". Uday- aisa nahi hai..ki main nahi samajhta…main samajh sakta hoon ki aap ko shayad shauk hoga aagey pardhne ka..par humare ghar mein bahuown par aalag haq maana jaata hai..purane khayal ke nahi hai hum." He hastened to add,"par maa-baba unke kuch armaan hai..badey bhaiyya to apni luggai..matlab patni ko leke chale gaye aur chotta bhai wapas desh na laut ne ki ratt lagaye hai..aise mein hum unke budhape mein chod de to kaise chalega."
Nakkusha- ji..m..m..mujhe aapki baton se koi aitraaz nahi..aap apni jagah sahi hai. har bte ko aapne mata-pitah ka khayal rakhna chahiye. Uday sat beside her and looked at her downcast gaze- mujhe aap shaadi mein hi bahut acchi lagi thi.. jab aapne maa ke liye itnbe logon ke bich chai bana di thi. Nakkusha looked up startled and remembered seeing this man at the wedding. She had recalled the woman downstairs but she had mixed up the face of her son. She looked up with her deep brown gaze at his handsome fair features. Nakkusha- aap? Uday gave a smile- maine to aapko tabhi pasand kar liya tha…bas aapki rai jaanani hai. aap chahey to kuch waqt le lijiye…main intezaar karunga.
She nodded. Uday- waise main aapko aapne bare mein pahele hi sab batana chahta hoon. College ke dinno mein main ek ladki..Nakkusha interrupted him- ji, main …main nahi jaanna chahti..please. Uday was taken aback- nahi, matlab main aapko sab batana chahta hoon taki koi misunderstanding naa ho…aap bhi aapni koi bhi baat batana chahey to…
As Uday trailed away nakkusha looked him in the eye. She could distinctly hear Dutta's voice telling him about Envy and possession. Nakkusha- aapka kal aapka hai..par aanewala kal humara hoga..jo beet gaya ussey mujhe koi takleef nahi aaney waale kal ka intezaar hai..aapka ateet sirf aapka hai. mujhe ussey koi shikayat nahi. Uday sat up leaning towards her a little- aapko ye rishta manjoor hai?
Nakkusha- didi, babuji ko ye rishta manjoor hai.
Kalwati was very happy as she served the dinner. Dutta was about the events of the evening, deep in thoughts.
Kalawati- Soch zara bhau, Ye ladki purey gaon bhar mein ghumti thi logo ke ghar pakwaan banae ke liye jab kahi bhi kissi ka rishta aata tha.. yahan ladki dekhne log aaye aur yahan nakkusha ko bulawa aata tha..samosey, kachori, rabri, meethai baanane ke liye…aaj uss nakku ko dekhne ladka aaya aur wahi nahi thi ghar par kuch banana ke liye..bahar halwai se sara kuch mangwana pada..aur jamima ki haath ke chai…She glared at the other woman. Kala- kyun jamima, acchey se chai bhi nahi bana sakti..doodh naap ke chamach se daala tha? Itni patli chai? Agar ladke waale bura maan jaatey to..kabhi to apni akal laga…
Jamima- main ne to theek hi banai thi..aap na fikar chod do..aapni nakkubibi koi aise hi hai jo chai pasand nahi aayi to rishta maana kar de…aur agar kar diya to humari bala se..wo layak na tha..
Kalawati glared at her-shhh!! Kuch bhi mat bol. Wo log maan jayenge..bas. hai na dutta. Uday ji acchey hai na?
Dutta put the morsel in his mouth and grunted. Kishore watched him under hooded eyes- waise, ladkaaccha hai..par ladke ki maa zara..kala tumhey kissi ki yaad nahi aayi meena ji ko dekh ke? Kalawati- kisski? Kishore's eyes glinted- kyun meri maa ki? Har baat mein kaami nikalti hai. Kalawati looked at him shocked- kishore tumhari maa hai. Kishore- maa hai to hai..par galat hai to galat hai. main unka beta hoon par unhone ek aurat hoke tumhara jo apmaan kiya haiwo main nahi bhul sakta. Ab main yeh kah raha hoon ki mujhe to sahi galat mein se rasta chunna aaya to aaj main tumhare saath yahan khada hoon. He took off his spectacles and biting the handle of one end he looked at his wife- par kya kal Uday ji sahi galat ka sath de payenge?Sahi raasta chunn payenge? Dutta got up pushing his plate- tai, mera ho gaya..nakku aaye to chai bhejwa dena. Kalawati- arey! Aaj nakku nahi aayegi. Abhi to usse ladka dekh ke gaya hai..bechari thakk gai hogi..jamima chai bana de..Dutta stopped her with a hand- nai tai rehne do. Mujhe neend aa rahi hai.
A slight sound at the door broke dutta's concentration from the book he was trying to read about the new method of bypass surgery. He looked up to see her enter slowly. She smiled at him extending the cup. Dutta removed his spectacles and took the cup- tu? Tai ne kaha kit u aaj nahi ayegi. Nakkusha- ab to kuch hi dinno ki baat hai..isliye…Dutta interrupted giving a wry smile- haan, ab to tu kuch dinno mein tu shaadi kar ke aapne pati ke paas chali jayegi.
Nakkusha shook her head- nahi…main kah rahi thi..ab aap bhi to kuch dinno mein wapas cahle jayenge. Mumbai. Isliye.
Dutta nodded and sipped at the tea- wahan teri chai bahut yaad ayegi…meri maid ko itni acchi chai banana nahi aati..coffee acchi banati hai..par chai nahi. Nakkusha looked at the specs on the bed and smiled- aap chasma pahente hai. Dutta- reading glasses hai.. normally jarurat nahi pardhti par is kitaab ki likhawat bahut chotti hai. Nakkusha- kiss bare main hai. Dutta hesitated- pacemaker fitting and bypasses..new efficient way jisse kum samay mein kum cuts ke surgery kar sake..uske bare mein..Especially chootey..newborn babies ki bypass ke liye. Nakkusha- Newborn? Lekin itne chottey bacche ko kyun bypass lageyga. Dutta- bahut reasons hai. Heart ki aartery mein by birth block ho..ya koi bimaari ho to..He started explaining her about the delicacy involved in such surgeries. He shared a few cases about such babies and other such surgeries. Nakkusha- kya surgery mein jaane se pahele aapko patient ka dil ka haal pura pata hota hai?
Dutta shook his head- tests observations reports se bas theory pata hoti hai..par kabhi kabhi surgery mein surprises bhi milte hai..tab wahan kai raastey hotey hai…ek decision lena hota hai..aur wo decision hamesha sahi hi hona chahiye. OT mein wrong decision ya wrong raasta nahi le saktey. That's no option.
Nakksuha nodded- aapki date kaisi rahi unhey tohfa pasand aaya. Dutta- hmm, uska farewell gift diya tha. Pasand aaya phir jab kaha goodbye to ussne ussey shotput ki tarah phek diya..crash burn. Boom!
Nakkusha- farewell? Goodbye? Dutta shrugged- didn't feel like it…it was going somewhere. kuch jama nahi. Nakkusha groaned- uffo..bechaari didi..aapki kab kisske saath jamegi jara bataye..mujhe aaj itni durr kheech ke le gayi gift lene ke liye…aur wo gift tudwa bhi diya? Puri mehnat bekar. Dutta- bekar kyun? Yeh hai na. He picked up the cookery book from the nightstand of the bed and extended it to her- Uday aur uske ma-baba ko bhi thai khilana..aaj to unhe tere haath ka khana naseeb nahi hua na? Nakkusha hesitated before taking it- thank you. she ran a tender hand over the cover. Dutta looked at her- nakusha, tu sure hai? matlab..tu kuch din ruk ke bhi to haan bol sakti hai..you are barely 21. Bahut samay hai. Nakkusha- babuji didi in logo ne jo socha hai sahi socha hoga na? Dutta-par aapni zindagi ka rasta humein chunna hota hai nakku…aur agar koi aur chunney aur wo raasta galat ho to? To kya karegi? Nakkusha- hamesha dorahey pe sahi raasta hi milley jaruri to nahi..par jo raasta chunn liya manzil bhi ussi raastey pe banna lo to raasta khud-b-khud sahi ho jata hai. Hai na?
He twisted under the covers restlessly. His face twisted as if in pain. He could feel her hands on his body yet the feeling was elusive. He buried his face on his pillow yet he could feel her breath in his ears as she spoke softly to him from behind. He threw off the pillow and turned back kicking off the covers laying in the chill of the wind wafting through the open window. He felt her body at his back hugging him, holding him. his body was bathed in sweat as he opened his eyes and jerked up. He breathed in deep and rubbed the beads of sweat off his face. He reached for the night stand and sipped the water. Pulling out a cigarette he hesitated to light it for second. Then deliberately lit it. He sat there leaning against the head board of the bed playing with the flame of the lighter and smoking his cigarette. He automatically put his hand out to shake off the ash on the vase beside the bed and stopped midway. His eyes drew towards the half wilted bunch of rajnigandha sticks as his hand waited above it with the cigarette. He slowly deliberately squashed the bud between his fingers and threw the bud off towards the open window.
…………….to be continued.
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Regarding your trip to the disc at night..i dont know whether to laugh or be angry at you.. itne raat woh bhi uss city mein.. tu rukh, i will rant like your mum soon in private chal, be careful dear.. u know i worry.. but seriously, pls be careful..
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