AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – V

Vansh was driving his car when suddenly a lady riding a scooty overtook his car. In spite of the heavy traffic, she seemed to be modestly juggling her scooty through the crowd. In order to save his favorite car from getting a scratch, Vansh immediately applied the brakes. The car screeched and came to a sudden halt. However, this sudden jerk, helped Radha make her way back to the real word. Vansh gave a sigh of relief, as he succeeded in saving his car. Vansh gave a quick glance at Radha, to make sure she is fine and he immediately got down from his car.

Hello Madam,” Vansh shouted sharply. He wanted to show his anger, but since he noticed a lady rider, he kept his cool.

The lady had already turned her scooty in opposite direction. “Sorry, I have to rush, she managed to say urgently.

Yes, only you have work, as if I spend the entire day playing tic tac toe!” Vansh yelled, literally fuming inside.

Vansh leave it, we are getting late, let’s go”, Radha said through the window.

Unwillingly, Vansh turned towards his car, and at the same moment, the lady halted and turned. “I’m really sorry”, she said.

Vansh angrily scoffed, “Keep it to yourself!”

Pragyaaa” screamed Radha from inside the car. But before anyone could speak a word, they had to hurry because of the deafening honking. 

“You know her?” asked Vansh sharply.

Radha could still sense anger in his tone. “She is my bff!” Radha replied cheerfully.

“BFF, like seriously”, said Vansh sarcastically.

“Yes, what’s your problem? By the way, what angered you the most that she was about to dash with your favorite car or she got saved from your lecture?” giggled Radha.

Vansh gave her a disgusted look and Radha burst into laughter. Radha managed to cheer up Vansh and finally they reached their office.  

Radha was well known for her efficiency. But that day, she could hardly focus on her work. “Pragya is back in town! How come she didn’t inform me? Is everything alright?” her mind was flooded with thoughts. Just as she was settling down on her chair, few notifications caught her attention. “Rads, I had planned to surprise you, but it got spoiled so unexpectedly. Please don’t get mad at me. See ya after office”, Radha smiled as she read the message. “Prags is back! My goodness, what a surprise! Well, I’m glad she is back, I needed her badly as I’m in a vulnerable state now,” Radha murmured to herself. 

After office, Radha went straight to her apartment. Just as she was about to open the door, “booooo” shouted Pragya and popped up from behind the door.

Aaaiiioooo” Radha screamed… “Prags, you literally scared me! You and your pranks ufff! But I’m glad you are back. Prags, I missed you.”

“I missed you too Rads.” Pragya said as they quickly embraced each other in a tight hug.

Radha and Pragya were best buddies. They were meeting after two months. Pragya had been on an official tour and returned that evening. Their friendship is genuine and they adore each other’s company. Radha is an orphan and Pragya has no sibling, so they are basically sisters from different mothers! Radha was more composed as compared to Pragya. Pragya was always the fun-loving person. No matter what the situation was, she always managed to cheer up Radha. Radha was a nerd and on the other hand Pragya was tech-savy. Nevertheless, their friendship was seasoned with their best and their worst phases of life.  

Later that evening they ordered their favorite dinner, and they sat down to watch their favorite daily soap. After sometime they retired to their respective beds. Pragya and Radha were room-mates during their college days. And they are still room-mates even though they have different jobs and different work schedules. 

“So what did I miss?” asked Pragya.

Not much. By the way, why were you riding so recklessly today morning? Every time you create a scene! Radha replied grumpily. And all these while Pragya was busy giving humorous facial expressions as a sign for Radha to stop her lecture. “Anyways, how was your day?” Radha asked casually.

Well should be asking you the same question,” replied Pragya, narrowing her eyes.

“He is my colleague. But works in a different department. I had already told you”, replied Radha.

“Okay, so are you both..?” chuckled Pragya, “Whattt?? Prags stop it!” snipped in Radha. “Okay okay, just kidding” said Pragya.

Prags, listen I have to tell you something”. Radha became bit serious as she prepared to say something.

Go on babe, I’m listening”, Pragya said looking at her friend.

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(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

Radha narrated the entire “Happygolucky” episode to Pragya. “Hmm, I see. Rads do have any clue if that person is for real or not? And what if he is not a guy, what if it’s a girl who is portraying as a guy?” Pragya said in a worried tone. “Yeah even I was thinking the same. But then see the comments. I was in two minds after reading them” replied Radha. “Rads are you sure you want to get into this again! I mean are you sure you want to invade those territories again, which hurt you the most”, Pragya asked in a serious tone. “I don’t know Prags. I’m not sure. I don’t know what to do about it? Should I confront him?”, Pragya could clearly sense Radha’s dilemma. “Prags I think more mature and emotionally strong this time. But then, part of me feels the feeling is genuine and part of me wants me to stay away from the mess” said Radha in a convincing tone. Just then the doorbell rang. “Ah the old man”, sighed Pragya.

Radha got up and opened the door and there he was the old man. But this time he asked for ice as well as some balm because he had a bad headache. Radha hurried with old man and wished him good night. She immediately hurried inside, but as usual, Pragya had already slept. Radha smiled to herself. Pragya always had this habit of dozing off in between conversations. But she felt relaxed, seeing Pragya back. 

She quietly snuggled into her own bed. She was about to switch off her bed lamp that she realized she hasn’t yet checked the comments on her recent post. She immediately grabbed her phone and tried accessing her blog but it didn’t open. She then got up and tried accessing from her laptop. She managed accessing her blog page, but the particular post and comments were still not loading. “Arrgghhh, this network glitch. Its nearly 12am, what can I do now?”, Radha murmured to herself and kept staring at the revolving cursor….

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AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – IV

I slept late last night and accidentally snoozed my morning alarm”, she replied. She recollected herself and said, “I am sorry to just barge in to your car. Thankfully if you wouldn’t have been here, I would have been really late for the office.”

That’s perfectly fine! Good that I saw you hurrying across your apartment gate.” Vansh said.

Oh! By the way, how come you are here? And how did you know that I live here?” Radha demanded.

My cousin lives in the adjacent apartment; I have told this to you earlier also. Don’t you remember when we were discussing about the traffic nuisance in your area because of that upcoming mall?” Vansh asked.

Oh! Yes. Yes, I remember now,” Radha replied.

So”, said Vansh, “yesterday, it was my cousin’s birthday and we had a get together at his place. Instead of going back to my home, I preferred to spend the night here only and head for office directly.”

Great! And I got saved from reaching office late!” Radha said smiling as she tied up her loose tresses into a ponytail which she couldn’t in all this hurry.

She had a beautiful smile. Her colleagues had often complimented her.

Vansh glanced upon her and said, “Thank God you tied your hair, else I would have been cleaning my car for the rest of the day, with all those hairs falling here and there!”

Excuse me”, Radha couldn’t control her laughter, “I don’t suffer from hair fall.”

Vansh chuckled and increased the volume of the FM Radio and started singing along one of the famous Hindi songs:

Jis raah pe, hai ghar tera
(The street on which your house is there)
Aksar wahan se, haan main hoon guzra
(I’ve often passed through that street)
Shayad yahin dil mein raha
(Probably this was there in my heart)
Tu mujh ko mil jaye, Kya pata…
(That maybe I’ll attain you, who knows)
Kya hai yeh silsala
(What is this story)
Janu naa, Main janu naa
(I have no clue about that)
Dil sambhal ja zara
(O heart, be steady… restrain)
Phir mohabbat karne chala hai tu
(You’re going to fall in love once again)

Is he hinting on something or am I just thinking too much”, Radha told herself, she couldn’t look into his face while he was singing, so she preferred to gaze outside the window and watch the bustling traffic and the concrete jungle. But her mind was fixed on those lines of the song-‘fir mohabbat karne chala hai tu’. Should she speak up to happygolucky directly or should she just go with the flow or better just forget about falling in love again. She was again lost in the web of her thoughts when suddenly she felt a jerk.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – III

13 years ago, I was in love. I adored him. But, he broke my my heart. No, he didn’t cheat on me. He deceived me. Well, more than a decade has gone by. And, I’m no longer as  hurt as I was then. Perhaps I was too naive to read beyond the face!

 Of late someone has made me realise that its worth to turn over a new leaf. That someone for whom my heart skips a beat is always in my thoughts. I’m afraid . . . I guess I’m falling for him! But, wait . . . once bitten twice shy. Should I give wings to my feelings? Or should I just nip them off? Ummm . . . unable to decide . . .

Tempted to let my guard loose. But, holding myself back. Too many ‘what ifs’ echoing in my ears. Should I give love a second chance in my life? Should I unchain my chained heart? Or should I tighten the shackles not to let myself break free?

Is it love that’s beckoning me? Or a mere illusion that I’m falling prey to? I fail to comprehend. All I know is that my heart is on him. Something within, tells me I won’t be disappointed this time.

‘To be or not to be’, wrote Shakespeare. The same I sigh today!”

This had been Radha’s short blog of the evening. As soon as she hit the Publish button, she felt a bit foolish. After all, how and why did she make her feelings and dilemma public? Did she expect the thousands of strangers who were merely followers of her blogs to influence her life’s decision? Was that what she wanted?

Not exactly . . .

She wanted that one reply – that one voice to influence her decision. How and when she had allowed this person to have a say in her life, she herself didn’t know. Just that she longed for either a nod of approval or a nay of disapproval from him.

Radha woke up to the repeated blaring rings of her door bell. One glance at the cuckoo clock on the wall and she leaped from her bed, a squeal escaping her throat. It was 8 A.M.!!! She ran to open the door to her maid who was understandably irritable as she had come twice already at 6 A.M. and again at 6:45 A.M. – her usual timings on Radha’s working days and holidays respectively. And now, she rang the door bell on her way back from her second work, to just check if all was well. Else, she was determined to call on the police.

Thanks, Ambika . . . thank you”, said Radha and banged the door on her maid’s face as she rushed to the bathroom to freshen up.

Out there, Ambika twitched her face voluntarily and stomped away muttering to herself.

Radha reported for work at 9:30 A.M. every day without fail. She was the first to enter the office building as the work hour started only at 10 A.M. Nobody knew Radha to be late for work ever. And today, her records were going to be broken. There was no way in which she  would reach before 10 A.M. that day! The Mumbai traffic was not expected to have mercy on her.

As she scurried down the stairs of her apartment at 8:30 that morning, having skipped her breakfast and leaving her bed unmade, no thoughts of the previous night made their foray into her mind. Not even when she found Vansh waiting in his car near her apartment, to give her a ride to office that morning. “This would save you from the overcrowded local trains”, he had said. She found no words coming from her mouth, save her hand opening the car door to let herself in. All she could think was to reach office on time at least, if not before. Vansh was Radha’s colleague from another department in the same office. Both knew each other only by the exchange of pleasantries on occasional official meetings or if they happened to pass by each other in the corridor, save for one discussion that they had had along with a group of other colleagues when Radha was animatedly talking about an upcoming mall near her apartment.

Relax”, said Vansh. “I’m the one driving. Your tension cannot make you reach office in a jiffy. You have to rely on me as I wade through the traffic. So, just sit back and rest your mind and body.”

Ah! Well . . . I woke up so very late today and that messed up everything”, whispered Radha calming her breaths while breaking into a faint pleading smile as if she was expected to explain herself.

Suddenly, she realized how unthinkably she had jumped into Vansh’s car a few minutes back. By the way, what was Vansh doing near her apartment? Surely, he couldn’t be passing that way! She very well knew that he lived in the other end of Mumbai. So, what exactly was he doing near her apartment at that time?

Intending to enquire of his detour, she started, “Vansh, what . . .” 

Didn’t sleep well last night?”, her words were drowned by his deep husky voice.

Yes . . . ummm . . .” and soon the events of the previous evening came flooding into her mind.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – II

Radha hurried with the old man by giving him a bowl full of ice cubes and sent him off wishing Good Night. She jumped onto her bed in a flash and clicked on the notification to let the comment of happygolucky, the blogger who had always made her heartbeats skip thousand times per second, appear on the screen.Radha read the comment for the 19th time exactly.

So the man who has made my heart so palpable for the last one month or so, says I can allow myself to fall in love again!!!‘ Radha repeated this statement in her mind again and again as she kept looking at the screen, at the name of the blogger, the user icon and the comment. It had been 13 years since she was heartbroken at the age of 22, when she was just an immature young adult. And now, at the age of 35, her heart felt the same emotions captivating her whole-being…making everything look so beautiful and colorful around her. She could smell only the aroma of rose buds even when there were no thorny rose plants near her.

But!!!

But, there was something that was stopping her to express herself to the person more openly. Her reasoning mind kept pulling her heart backward telling, ‘when things pertaining to love could not work out in person, how could then the same be possible virtually! Of course, there are many such examples of virtual love but for her… Is it possible?

She closed the lid of her laptop and slid her body down on the bed from a sitting position to lying down comfortably closing her eyes as her mind went back 13 years past, when she met Sanjay, her heartthrob then…

Sanjay was a 28-year old man then, who was her immediate boss in her first working place. He had a charming demeanour about himself that had always allured the females working with or under him, including his female superiors. But he gave his heart only to one girl in the whole world and she was Radha. Radha was a mere 22 year old then, who could not resist herself even a bit from falling in love with a person like Sanjay when he proposed her. She was an orphaned child who was brought up by her only family member, her granny. She had craved for love from her very childhood and the seed of love which Sanjay sowed in her soaking heart sprouted within no time. The females at Radha’s work place were envious of her but she… she was flying in the mid air as her wing, her love, Sanjay made her feel so loved within such a short time.

It was not difficult for them to convince Radha’s granny for their relationship and ultimately marriage as she also loved Sanjay as a fitting candidate for her grand daughter, who could look after her and love her after she passed away.

She will never forget that day, 28th September 2006. She was waiting for Sanjay to come and plan the final list of invitees for their wedding reception. Time passed by but there was no sign of him. They were supposed to meet at her place. Her granny was also worried seeing her baby Radhika in tension. She patted her back and asked her to calm down and wait for Sanjay who might be busy in something very important. Radha had dialed his number 10 times by then but there was no response from him.

At around 8 PM in the evening her best friend Sukanya called her up and asked Radha to switch on the TV right away and watch the news on so and so channel.  It was not a news that was broadcasting that day, but a nuclear bomb that blasted and devastated both the granny and her grand daughter leaving them dead emotionally and mentally.

It was unbelievable for those two poor souls to acknowledge that Sanjay was a trafficker who was arrested that day being caught red handed. His secret dynasty was busted by a group of secret police squad formed only to find the culprits of absconding girls and women recently.

Radha’s heart shivered in pain and agony as all those thoughts of her past came so alive in front of her after so many months again. She clasped her head tightly with her both palms as she felt an excruciating pain encompassing her heart and mind both. She felt extremely lonely that moment, which she felt the day when her granny passed away leaving her in tears. And now she was all alone to decide her heart’s matter by herself…

“Radha ji, it has always been a delight to read your heart and mind through your stories and articles. And this piece also made me think for a while but I think, it is very natural to fall in love again and again till we find that true love and settle with it by committing to it.

Love itself is so vast that it can let everyone drown in it. I think you should go ahead and allow your heart and mind to break free to experience love again.”

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(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

She repeated his words in her mind as she shook her head, reconfirming herself once more, ‘No… Never again… I might feel attracted to his intelligence by reading his comments and the wisdom he imparts as a person which reflects through his own blog posts but I can’t feel that same love again, even his feedback on my post seems very convincing about it.

She shook her head and again allowed her mind to take control over her heart as she went into a deep slumber without a second thought.

AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER – I

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(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

Radha’s fingers were trembling before clicking the “Publish” button on her blogging site. She was a leading blogger and wrote mostly about love and life which naturally drew lot of followers to her blog. Her blogs were often short, simple and oozing with emotions. Her followers would wait for a post from her and today was no different.  She took a deep breath and hit “Publish”.

BOOM… went the post live.

Can Love Happen Twice?

I didn’t think I would ever fall in love again. I know that everyone says that after a heartbreak, but the difference is that I’m not heartbroken. I’m not cynical, or pessimistic, or sad. I’m just someone who once felt something bigger than anything else I’d ever felt and when I lost it, I honestly believed I would never have that again. But… I was 22 then and life is long. And I’m feeling things right now that I haven’t in a long, long time. 

Should I or shouldn’t I?

(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

It was 4 pm – the time when most of her posts would go live. Then she would unwind by plopping herself on a bean bag in her balcony with a cup of masala chai to sip from. She would normally spend an hour in the balcony watching kids return from school, senior citizens stepping out for a walk and looking at the mellowing sun. Not a word said, not a word thought! 

After an hour she would freshen up, dress up in a crisp cotton saree, take her small purse and jute bag and would go out for some fresh groceries. She would always buy some candies on her way back and give it to children playing the society’s garden. All children adored Radha.

In a way, Radha had no family, but in a way, there were so many people who loved her. 10,000+ followers to her blogs, children from her society and their parents as well! She was a friend, guide and philosopher to many but girlfriend, wife, sister, mother to no one. Such was her life!

She would quickly fix the dinner for herself after she returned from grocery shopping and catch up on some saas-bahu sagas on TV. How all ladies love those typical serials and Radha was no exception. Somewhere around 10.30 pm when she is done with all the chores for the day, she would go back and check her post. This was a ritual. Like we say good night to our partner or family before going to bed, she would read the comments to her blog from her followers. It was some kind of assurance that someone in this world is there for her.

However, today she was hesitating a bit. After all, she had posted something very personal on her blog and she was not sure if she will be looked down upon for it. She was curious to know the reaction of her blogger friends and readers to her question but at the same time she felt very vulnerable, she had never opened herself to anyone, never after her heart was broken at 22!

Radha couldn’t reason as to why she had such feelings for someone, but there was very little that she could do, her feelings were honest and deep. She wanted to let the person know what she feels for him but she feared rejection. Not the rejection from that person – but the rejection from the society. After all, her love story was a bit odd indeed. It’s not every time that one falls in love with a person who comments and likes each post that you publish.

Radha had tried to reason with herself innumerable times. She had tried explaining herself that what is the guarantee that the person she has fallen for is a good person? Will he be same age as hers? What if he is goon? Who knows if he has a family of his own and many such thoughts but it was all in vain. She often tried not to think about him for wait for his comments but that never really happened. Radha felt a strong connection. Was it love really? And even if it was, how was it going to materialize?

Radha was scrolling through the comments hastily to find that one comment from that special person.  There were many comments like…,

 “Great Write-up!”

“Go for it Mam”

“Next part of the story please”

“All the best, listen to your heart”

……………………………….
And many more but Radha’s eyes were looking for the one comment from someone special. As the comments were approaching the end, she was a little disheartened that perhaps that special person has not read her blog yet. But wait, that never happens, he is the one who normally comments right in the first hour after the blog goes live.

Just then, a notification popped up. “You have received a new comment from “happygolucky”. Radha’s eyes lit up, a smile adorned her fact and just when she was going to click on the notification…..

Ding Dong, rang the shrill doorbell the moment Radha had gathered enough courage to check her today’s post.

Arrrrgh….!!! This old man!” spoke Radha to herself. She knew it was none other than the old man who stayed in the apartment on the next floor. Radha would get annoyed with his daily requests for ice at 11 pm but never denied because she pitied him really. He was all alone, old – must be around 65 yrs. His wife had died 25 years ago and his son had left him alone after he moved to the US for higher studies. He never looked back, never! Did not even invite his dad for his wedding. The only help he offered some years ago was to put his dad in the old age home where he can be taken care of. This had completely shattered the old man but because he was the man of mettle, he chose to live on his own. He didn’t mingle much with other society members but he would often seek help from Radha in the form of some ice for his daily drink.

IF ONLY WE COULD HOLD A CONVERSATION…

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How often do we actually take out time to exchange just a few words with the people who don’t hold much importance in our life? Rarely or maybe sometimes. Recalling one of such acquaintances, I cannot forget my childhood memory associated with the purchase of junkies from a nearby colony provision store. No sooner was I able to collect a few coins than I used to rush to the shop to purchase either a pack of chips or my favorite cola! However, the owner of the shop had such disposition that all my excitement always cooled down on seeing his grumpy face. Since it was the only shop in my area, it seemed more of the kind of a monopoly store. His irritation level would rise to heights if I would ask him to display his collection of candies or if even I just had to add one extra item in the billing list. A smile was the last thing one could expect from this shopkeeper. Whenever I returned home after my purchase, I always complained to my mom about the rude and ignorant behavior of this man. But then again, I had no option than to go again to this merchant for purchases as it was the only store that existed in my colony at that time. Moreover, if anything went wrong or if I ever had to return an expired item, he took it back with so much of sternness as if he was doing a favor on me. His nags and my complaints went on endlessly until a piece of shocking news broke out one day.

I had risen from my morning sleep when I saw my parents leaving home early that day. When I asked my maid about it, she told me that they were going to attend the funeral of Mr. Jaiswal. It was as if the ground below my feet had shaken for how could a man who seemed so fit could pass away. I couldn’t help remembering how often I used to engage in a fight with this man at his shop even for his fuzzy attitude. All of a sudden, I just felt as if I had so many unsettled accounts with this person, left to finish. When my mom returned, she told me that this shop owner was suffering from mouth cancer and he committed suicide.

For a moment, I couldn’t believe if it was really true and when this reality seeped in me, I could somehow relate to the reactions of this shopkeeper in the past. Mr. Jaiswal was not bad, it was his circumstances that had turned him sour and bitter. Now it clicked to me that why he didn’t respond to my anger as uttering a word from the rotten mouth was so difficult for him. Moreover, the pain of those blisters in his mouth was the reason for the constant frown on his face. I really felt sorry for a dead soul that day and more than that I was agitated by my own self that how I could hold so many grudges against a diseased person for petty issues. It really struck me that why I didn’t even try for once to gauge the depth of his situation. I really wondered if I had just even tried getting into his shoes, I would have never held any complaints against him. I cursed myself endlessly for not making any efforts to discover the reason for his sternness. Why for God’s sake, I didn’t even hold a conversation with him? Sympathy filled my heart when I came to know from the neighbours in my colony that how lonely he felt as he had no one to look after him. It was not only the disease but solitude as well that was killing him. He certainly might have felt very low which led him to commit suicide and there might be no one around to even console him. Connecting the dots seemed very easy at that moment for one could then sense that his frustration was definitely the outcome of his sufferings. I couldn’t help questioning myself that how I could frame so strong and wrong perceptions about this person just because his behaviour was bad with me.

Mother Teresa has rightly said:- “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’’ These words were somewhere resonating in my ears for I had turned so nasty in judging the shopkeeper that I had no time to empathize with his problems that were probably greatest than all of our rants. I felt very sorry for him and at the same time, I really felt that I just could not forgive myself for passing angry comments on him. I learned a lesson that day to not judge a person without knowing his struggle story. Moreover, it does not take much time to know the sorrows of a person only if we understand the real meaning of tolerance and patience. Even if it takes time, isn’t it worth it, if it can save someone’s life and make him feel worthy enough to live on this planet; making someone feel a little less lonely?

This incident really questioned my indifferent conscience that day and struck such chords in me striving me to live a life of awareness and kindness with empathy and compassion filled in the heart.

A SNOWFLAKE’S TALE – PART XIV

Meera was in pain – physically, mentally and emotionally. Her condition was critical as her pregnancy was three months running, yet she has no place to hide and no one to depend upon. The pain of carrying a baby was killing her, and the emotional agony was devastating her from within. She had hoped on her old employers as they knew her for a long time, but they also acted as if she was a whore. Tears rolled down from her eyes as she walked on the road thinking what she would do with a baby in her belly on the verge of being delivered while her bundle of joy – Sia was nowhere to be found.  The scorching heat of the sun in April was making her sicker as she reached the Kullu Bus Terminus. She took out her wallet and counted her money… ‘seven thousand four hundred thirty-four…’ She murmured. At least she could buy a ticket to Manali as she had no hope left in Kullu.

On reaching Manali, she walked straight to the place where she left Sia, at the church gate but she found no one there. She kept looking around for people whom she could ask about the church and the orphanage, but no one was seen at that time of the day when the sun was shining like a burning fireball. She had no food in her tummy, and she felt sick. She saw some construction work was going near that place. She walked toward it, but she could not reach it. She fainted, and everything looked so dark.

When Meera got back her consciousness, she found herself in a temporary shade of a few females working at the construction site.

Where do you stay?”, asked one lady and Meera was in tears.

I have no place to go, and in this condition, I might lose the baby or myself,” she replied with a feeble voice.

I think she hasn’t eaten anything…” said another lady as she offered her some rice. Meera was grateful to them and ate a bit. Meera requested them to allow her to stay there with them. They showed pity looking at her condition and spoke to the contractor. He could not say NO to them but allowed her to stay with all of them. She was asked to help in cooking work in exchange for the favour she got from all.

Meera made up her mind that she would stay close to that place so that she could wait for someone who could give some information about the church or the orphanage or about her doll. Every day she would get up early and help in the cooking. When she finished all her work, she would walk down to the building where there was a church previously, sit there on the steps till late evening and weep remembering her doll, Sia. She would cry with her heart out cursing herself for leaving her daughter alone… She would pray to God asking Him thousands of questions.

And this routine continued for the next three months.

It was on a day in the monsoon month of August, that Meera collapsed due to lack of care and proper intake of food supplements. It was evening time, and she was incessantly weeping sitting at the same place as usual. She was extremely dehydrated and malnourished. No one usually disturbed her and left her all alone to herself… and that was the reason she was not noticed by others. After 15 minutes or so when one of the females saw her on the ground, she screamed to all and rushed to her. There were few others gathered together around Meera as she was picked up from the ground and carried down to the thatched house. Some passers-by were curious as well to know what had happened. And when they were told, one male out of them kind of showed little more interest to Meera’s matter.

“What? She used to sit here all the time waiting for someone who could tell about her daughter?”

“Yes Sir, she says that she left her daughter at the church door and told her to wait till she comes back after three months to take her back.”

“Can you take me to her… I want to talk to her…”

“Why Sir, do you know about her daughter?”

“I don’t know, but I think I can help her out?”

Mr Samar Verma, the psychotherapist, was taken inside the thatched house where all the women workers were standing around her. They moved away thinking Mr Verma as a doctor. He checked her pulses, and it was rapid. He could make out that Meera needed immediate care.

She needs to be hospitalised right away… or else she will be in trouble. One of you should come with her in my car to the hospital…,” he instructed and two of Meera’s closest mates went with her in Mr Verma’s car.

Meera was admitted in the gynaecology department with Mr Verma’s reference. He stayed there waiting for the doctor’s remarks and sent the other two women back to their place assuring them that he knew Meera very well. After few minutes when Meera was in a condition to talk, Mr Verma went inside to talk to her and he was pleased to know that his guesses were right though he didn’t tell Meera that he had met Sia thinking she should not be too excited as she was not in the right condition. He assured Meera that everything will be alright.

Meera’s condition was so bad that it was difficult for her to recover quickly. Moreover, the doctors were more worried because of the baby growing inside her. They put their everything to make Meera healthy again for her to deliver a healthy baby at the right time. Mr Verma along with her wife visited her from time to time assuring and consoling her.  And within two weeks Meera was alright though she was advised not to travel or do any physical work till she delivered the baby.

Mr Verma brought Meera to his home. Meera was not comfortable with a stranger. She was unable to understand why this man was interested in her so much though she was grateful for him because he bore everything when she desperately needed medical attention. She felt comforted when she found Mrs. Verma welcoming her with such compassion. She was really puzzled by their behaviours. But she could not restrain herself from sobbing when she saw Muskaan, remembering her own daughter.

Is Sia exactly of her age, Meera?” Mr Verma asked gently keeping his hand on her shoulder.

Do you know my Sia, Babu?” Meera’s eyes glittered as she looked back at him in hope.

“Yeah, I had spoken to her, played with her as well.”

“Is it Babu? Where is she now?”

He sat down with Meera on his couch asking Kamya to take Muskaan inside.

“That I don’t know now… That was a few months ago when we went to adopt Muskaan. We also wanted to adopt Sia, but the orphanage caretakers didn’t allow us saying that her mother might come back.”

“Where are they now Babu… Can I find them? Where did they all go?”

“I have been trying to find their new address since I met you, Meera. But do you have any proof that Sia is your daughter?”

“She is mine… Yeah, I do have her birth certificate… I have all her documents, my IDs, my husband’s ID…” Meera started to get hyper, getting excited.

“Calm down, calm down… No one can take Sia from you then… So don’t worry we will find them soon. You don’t take much stress on yourself as you are not well… Trust me, I will definitely find Sia.”

Meera could feel the man was genuine and not a fraud or selfish as all others that she had met previously. She nodded and calmed down with hope.

During Meera’s stay at Vermas, Samar could observe that she never cared about her health or the baby growing within her like all other pregnant women. All she was worried about her daughter, Sia. Being a psychotherapist, he could understand the mental statuses of Meera and all the characters connected to Sia. He could assess all the emotional events that were waiting once the process of claiming Sia starts. And he will have to play the most significant role in all these matters.

Days passed by, and it was on 9th October that year, a baby boy was born. But Meera had no joy.

“Meera, you got a baby boy Congratulations!” both Samar and Kamya wished her.

“Wish me congratulations when I get back my doll, my Sia, Babu… It was my fault that I tried to play games with my baby girl… I hate myself…” Her reply was telling the condition of her heart and how bitter she had been towards herself.

“Don’t be so harsh on yourself, Meera.” Kamya caressed her forehead and comforted as Mr Verma smiled looking at her and said, “And if I congratulate you for the reason you just asked for, Meera?”

“What do you mean, Babu? Please don’t make fun of me… I am not in a condition to play any more games…” She said bitterly.

“It is not a game, Meera… Someone has come to meet you today.” He said and went outside to bring Mr & Mrs Shaw in with a baby girl walking inside with them.

Meera looked at them and the girl. Her eyes were wide opened. She tried to get up amazed.

“Sss…Sii…Sia?”

Sia looked at her Mom and then looked up at Mrs Shaw’s face. Mrs Shaw was not looking pleased as her heart was breaking away and Meera’s heart was racing. She called out her name again…

“Sia… I am Momma… Your Momma… The game we were playing is over now… You remember?” Her heart stopped when Sia was puzzled looking at her as if she could not recognise her. It was difficult for a three years child staying away from her mother for nine months to recall everything about her past.

It seemed like the time paused for a few minutes… the clock stopped ticking… the hearts stopped beating… the eyelids stopped blinking… the people and other creatures stopped moving around in the world…

After two minutes of utter silence… the tapping sound of a baby girl’s feet was heard… Sia ran towards the bed and clutched her mother’s neck tightly with her tiny arms.

Meera could not stop sobbing as she held her baby doll tight to herself, kissing all over her face. There were three women in that room in tears along with the two men whose eyes were wet as well.

In the evening, when Meera was discharged from the hospital and was taken back to Verma’s, all were gathered around the newborn baby celebrating joys; Meera and Sia could get back to each other, Mr and Mrs Shaw got a newborn baby boy and Muskaan got Sia, her old friend but a new sister to play and study together, Mr. & Mrs Verma found someone faithful like Meera to look after Muskaan, and Mr Verma is happy to have Sia as her daughter as well at the end.

That night over the dinner everyone was applauding and thanking Mr Samar Verma for his keen interest in the whole matter concerning Sia especially Meera; it was all because of him all these could be possible. It was he who spoke to Mr Shaw as soon as he could find the new number of TOH. He visited him secretly and showed the copies of Sia’s birth certificate and all the documents necessary. He assured Mrs Shaw that it will always be better for her to mother a newborn baby. And in  the end, he made Meera gift her newborn baby to the couple who took care of her Sia for such a long time.

That December was a joyous one unlike the previous one. That December Meera had to jump around collecting snowflakes with not only Sia but Muskaan as well. Last December the snowflakes were chilling and piercing but this December they were like falling blessings from heaven over all bringing agony to a full stop.