*** Dil ne jise apna kaha ****
Dedicating the OS to Kiran who made me think about starting an OS, and Ritu whose w'ful VM on Dil ne jise helped put together the story.
Part II - Updated on Page 4.
October had slipped into November, bringing dark nights and cold weather. He stood on the shores one late evening, watching the waves wash away sand beneath his feet. A half empty bottle in hand, he looked across the sea, searching, searching for a meaning, a purpose, as a dull ache built up in his heart. 'Save a little more money, buy a house and then settle down' was all Aayi Saab told him; when he shared his desire to marry Seema. It felt like yesterday, long hours at the garage, a few stolen moments with her and the short knackered, exhausted nights.
He looked around for the shattered dreams, trying to collect some pieces. His life was empty of purpose, emotions, feelings, desires he had buried everything behind. Aayi Saab, his family, the people of Patilwadi were all that mattered. And of course Baji, without him he would have been lost; Baji always reminded him that nothing was truly hopeless.
When Baaji was not around, the sea, the shore and the eerie silence around were his company. He enjoyed sitting here on the rocks a drink in hand letting out his fears, his grief, his tears and no one to question him.
It was late, he had to get back he thought, Aayi must be waiting. He took a long gulp of the leftover, flung the bottle into the water and turned to walk back. It was a dark night; the solitude gave him the solace he always wanted. He hated crowd, more because he failed to understand their emotions, devoid of them himself, he could not empathize anymore. Baring a few people at a distance there was no one around on the beach. He staggered, the cold breeze biting his face as he walked back to the jeep. He could hear voices of the group, the faint voices growing louder as he walked towards them. He was in no mood to settle a domestic brawl, and did not wait to see what the matter was. 'Promises'''breaking promises' ' he heard them accuse each other.
A hick escaped his lips, 'Promises' he spoke out loud, he hated that meaningless word.
He could see his jeep at a distance and wished Baji was with him.
'Saab' did someone call out to him? Ignoring, he continued walking.
'Saab' he heard the voice again. Something made him stop.
'Mujhe bacha lo Saab' he heard the voice just behind him, turned to see a girl run up and hold on to his arm. He jerked his arm off without looking at her.
'Saab mujhe bacha lo' she clung to him again. This time he looked at her, staggering, and saw a puny girl with wide doe eyes looking at him. The scared imploring look hit him as he shook himself to look at her again. Her eyes were glued to the crowd, which had slowly started moving towards them. He tried shrugging off her arm, but she clung on to him, her eyes never leaving the crowd.
He looked at the crowd who was closer now. They stopped in front of him and looked at each other. One by one everyone folded their hands and bowed down. She saw them and turned to look back at him mystified. One of the women from the crowd came up and pulled her away from him. 'Yeh Bhau hai, Dutta Bhau'. She told the girl. The girl folded her hands and bowed down.
'What's the matter ? Why the commotion?' His voice resonated around. The men looked at each other, no one dared to speak. 'You tell me Maushi' he looked at the lady.
Hands folded, she narrated, one of the men in the crowd, Morey wanted to marry her daughter, pointing to the girl with her. Ganpat, her husband, had accepted some money in return and now this conflict. She did not want her daughter to marry Morey, her voice quivered, he was unemployed and a drunkard. Dutta looked at Morey who was completely sloshed and shaking in fear. 'Don't you dare force the girl into a wedding that she does not want to. Is that clear ?' His tone was hard and firm.
Everyone in the crowd nodded and Morey stammered 'But Bhau my mo'money ?'
'You will get your money back' he said after checking where they lived, as he turned to walk away. He turned after a few steps, raised his hands threatening 'No forced wedding.' The crowd stood folded hands nodding. After a swift glance at the girl he quickened his steps towards the jeep.
Life resumed its flow, whipped into frenzy at work, late nights, travels, he missed the visits to the beach. After the incident there was a restlessness that worried him, a strange feverish anticipating that he refused to accept but kept gnawing. He found his thoughts going back to the incident, the girl clinging on to his arm pleading to save her, imploring doe eyes, haunting him without reason.
A couple of times he was back at the beach, his usual drink and debate with the waves, his eyes searched for something, his ears craved to hear a name, every time he returned disappointed.
It was one of those days when everything went wrong. He had fired Baji for being lackadaisical, he knew Baji was doing his best. But he had to vent out his ire and as always he took the liberty with Baji.
It was late as he drove towards the beach, a heavy bank of dark clouds blanking out the stars. The skies rocked with thunder and flashes of lightning.
As he settled on the rocks, his eyes looked around, other than a few hawkers who were packing up for the day the beach was deserted. He looked out at the sea, the breeze ruffling his hair. The skies rocked again this time the thunder louder threatening rains. He finished his drink, threw the bottle away and sat looking at the cloudy sky moodily, brooding.
The first droplets of rain spattered as he got up. He should get back to the jeep before the downpour, he thought. He looked around once last time and walked briskly towards the jeep.
'Saab' someone called out and he stopped dead in his tracks.
He stood still not believing he heard the voice. 'Saab' the whisper next turned him back.
She stood there in the rain, holding a shabby umbrella, her profile silhouetted against the dim lights from the tower house. Strands of hair graced her face as she tried tucking them behind her ear. He stood looking at her, a little muscle throbbing at his jaw line, a strange delight welling inside him. It was raining harder, she raised her eyes, looking straight into his hooded dark eyes, her gaze holding his for a moment before lowering.
Slowly she lifted her chin and started walking towards him.
EDIT : Just read the news on TOI - guess thats the last nail for me.
Edited by Lekz - 06 June 2011 at 9:58am