Humming HeliMhari to herself, as her expert hands stitched away skilfully on the pink dupatta, Paro kept herself busy trying to forget she was all alone. The rattling at the door startled her.
"Paro it's me, open the door!" Bindi's familiar voice came from the other side. Paro sighed in relief after a moment of panic. "Gosh it's so hot today," Bindi announced splattering her face with cool water. There was a 4 day festival/mela in a nearby town. It offered the villagers of Birpur a chance to sell souvenirs, artefacts and was a great business opportunity. A lot of villagers had gone there including Mamisa, which left Paro alone in the house.
"Here you go" Bindi offered Paro some imli after she'd dried her face. Paro immediately lit up. The two friends were chatting away merrily when the ear splitting sound of a jeep honking continuously made both girls jump up. It came from the back entrance of the house.
Curious, Bindi leapt up followed by Paro to see what the commotion was. The house was situated at the edge of the village. The backdoor overlooked the endless sands of the Rajasthani desert and no one really passed from this side unless they had to go through the barren region. As Bindi opened the door they were greeted by the image of a BSD jeep that had come to a slow stop outside the house. Paro took a step behind Bindi in fear Images of her parents' corpse and the nightmare involving a BSD officer setting her on fire flashed before her eyes before she shut them tightly. Holding onto her Rudraksh tightly she chanted Bholenath's name.
"He looks unconscious or dead even" Bindi whispered slowly. Paro's eyes snapped open again. She hadn't registered the BSD officer who had passed out while driving, he seemed to have leaned over on the steering wheel. Bindi moved out into the courtyard. She took a long look at the officer, he was breathing but definitely unconscious. Paroambled up to her. Bindi tried to pull him off the steering wheel but he was too heavy. She eventually pushed him back against the seat.
"HaiBholenath" Paro said in shock. He was bruised and bloody with numerous wounds on his body; the front of his shirt was very much torn and wet from the blood oozing from his wounds. Paro's attention was caught by the bracelet on his right wrist. It was identical to her Rudraksh bracelet. He was a believer in Bholenath like she was.
"We should attend to his wounds," Paro said more calmly now, her eyes travelled across his body to assess his wounds.
"We can't take him inside...he's a BSD officer Paro," Bindi tried to reason. She was shocked Paro even stood so close to this officer.
"His blood is red just like ours; he is a believer in Bholenath just like us. He is someone's son, brother, friend...husband even, we have to keep him alive if we can, remember what Mamisa says, every life is precious," Paro desperately tried convincing Bindi as well as herself. She couldn't understand her need to help this man, all she knew was she had to.
"Tabyat toh teekh hai thari?"(Are you feeling alright) gulped Bindi eyeing Paro with concern. Her friend was terrified at the mention of BSD and here she wanted to heal this officer.
Taking Bholenath's name once more and hoping she was doing the right thing she moved forward to pull the BSD officer out of the jeep. She and Bindi hoisted him out and dragged him inside with difficulty. He whimpered in pain as the girls lay him on Paro's bed. Paro began whipping an herbal paste and crushed some other herbs for him to drink. Bindi took some long pieces of cloth from the courtyard to cover the BSD jeep with. She hoped against hope no one would come here and see it.
Inside Paro was battling with her emotions. She had never been in such proximity with a man, let alone strip him off his clothes yet that was the demand of the situation right now. Her hands outstretched only to retract slightly.
"Remember, Mamisa also says that whoever is on the sickbed is only a patient. You have to forget whether they are man or woman, friend or enemy...if you have decided to treat him them you'll have to see him as just a patient...not a man and not a BSD officer," Bindi said as she came back into the room and understood Paro's turmoil. Yes, Bindi was right Paro thought. On numerous occasions she had seen Mamisa objectively attend to the sick and wounded be it a man, woman, child, the rich, the poor, a relative or a stranger...yet never had a BSD officer been in here for medical assistance. What would Mamisa say if she found Paro nursing a BSD officer? What would the other villagers say and above all what would Thakur-sa say?
The man moaned in pain in his unconscious state, pulling Paro out of her thoughts. Hands now moved faster to unbutton what remained of his shirt and tugged it off. She sat down at his side and began to clean his wounds with a fresh cloth and warm water. She looked at his face where creases formed on his forehead; he was in pain from all the stinging.
Paro sat at her patient's bedside as he slept on into the night. As midnight approached, Paro who was dozing off in the chair stirred. He was tossing his head from one side of the pillow to the other, forehead creased and body tensed as he cried, "Don't leave, come back please! Please come back!"
He was in pain but not physical. He was having a torturous nightmare and it disturbed Paro to see him like this. Almost reflexively she knelt down by his bed, one hand tried to hold his thrashing body while the other stroked his forehead.
"Shhh...shaant...shaant" she said soothing him while his fingers intertwined with herRudraksh bracelet, "shhh everything will be ok," she continued to caress his forehead and he relaxed under her touch. But her heart and mind were racing. What had disturbed a man like him in his sleep like this? Caused such emotional distress and why had she felt so disturbed by his anguish? He was a stranger, actually he was a BSD officer who will probably wake up and leave as soon as was physically possible for him to do so. Would he though? How would he react upon waking up? Paro hadn't given these consequences a thought until now. Thakur- sa addressed these BSD officers as Janwars and she herself had lost more than enough to their devilish deeds, to know that this man was not going to really get up and thank her for saving his life the way other patients might have done. She had seen his belt where the gun pocket was. Thankfully it was empty, and she doubted he had any other weapons to harm her with. Did he even need weapons to hurt her? There were always other ways, ways which were worse than death for a woman. Paro trembled at the thought of a girl Nandu Jeeja's age who'd hanged herself after presumably being raped by a BSD officer 2 years back. She shook her head as though that would shake the thought out too, when her eyes fell of his Rudraksh bracelet again. His Rudraksh bracelet - the very reason she had chosen to nurse him back to health, the reason why she felt that he wouldn't sink to the lows other BSD men might have and the reason, she hated to even admit to herself, that she was drawn to him.
Just before dawn he regained consciousness, every muscle in his body throbbed with pain. His eyes felt heavy as he fought to flutter them open. The first thing they registered was an angelic figure at his bedside. Upon blinking a couple of times the room came into focus. It was someone's house. He was lying in a bed that carried a flowery scent. The angelic figure was a beautiful woman and this must be her bed, her room,her house. What was he doing here?!Rudra questioned himself. He tried to pull himself up but soft pair of hands pushed back.
"shhh...shaant...you're hurt, you need to stay lying down" she whispered quietly not meeting his eyes, "if you need anything tell me, I'll get it for you"
"Where am I? Who are you? What am I doing here?" he enquired, continuing to analyse his surroundings under the faint light of the candle by his bedside. It was a small house; there were 3 photos on wall opposite him, two men and a woman, all with garlands on them suggesting their demise. The girl who was hovering over him looked apprehensive. He looked down at his wounded body, it was covered with some yellow paste and he could definitely feel it stinging less now.
"You are in Birpur, Your jeep stopped outside my house and you'd passed out so...so we bought you in...I have applied herbal paste on your cuts and bruises so they'll heal very soon.For them to heal faster you should drink this," she held out a cup. It smelt bitter, Rudra registered. He had no intention of drinking it. He had to move, get back to headquarters and report his findings to Singh Sir.
Making more of an effort this time he managed to sit up and she seemed too scared to protest. She eyed him nervously as he studied his wounds and the paste she'd applied. He couldn't smell or feel anything to point out that it was harmful in anyway, yet he wasn't going to blindly trust this girl. Of course how could he trust a woman, his father had drilled into his head for 15 years now that beautiful women were not to be trusted and the woman infront of him was beautiful alright. In the faint candlelight he could make out her face, it was angelic, it wasn't as though he hadn't seen more beautiful women; just that none carried the same aura as this one.
"I need to leave," Rudra tried to get up but swayed. Paro tried to steady him but he held out his hand.
"ek aurat ke sahare ki jaroorat nahin hai" (I don't need a woman's support) he muttered bitterly steadying himself. His words hurt Paro. She felt offended for all her efforts to help him and this was the response she got, not that she expected any different.
"So you have never taken assistance from a woman or have you forgotten that if it hadn't been for a woman you wouldn't be here?" Paro retorted. Why were these BSD men such unappreciative animals who had zero consideration for the feelings of others? This man clearly didn't understand the great risk she'd taken to help him recover.
"DO NOT talk about things you have no idea about, bewakoof ladki!" his voice raised making Paro cower a little. Without so much as a backward glance or a simple thank you, he limped out the room into the courtyard and out of the house. Paro remained rooted to the spot, the fire she feared and associated with the BSD was visibly clear in his eyes for those 2 seconds. The one she had saved was the one who personified her greatest fear. A minute or so later she heard the jeep roar as it drove off.
So what did you guys think? Please leave back your thoughts and tell me whether I should continue or not