Beautiful Fall season was around the corner, leaves were fluttering in the air, it was like shower of leaves, it was beautiful, in between when leaf was touching the body which could feel like a tickle. Leaves looked really golden treasure especially when the Sun was hitting them with its rays. Breeze was flowing in the air. It was early morning; Sun was still coming out from the lap of earth like a baby tried to peep out from Mom’s lap. There was nothing so special about morning; it was usual Simla morning but it didn’t matter how usual was the morning, as Simla was one of the prettiest place of India, so usual morning was also as beautiful as golden sun rays.
Naaz and her father Rahim were walking towards the bus station while Naaz’s gaze reached to the road she was walking; it was filled with leaves and flowers, red roses and leaves which were wilted because of heat of sun rays. Their hearts were filled with joy they shared during the past month and with melancholy which they would share after this moment. Both father and daughter shared a great bonding from the beginning; she was the baby princess of her Dad’s heart. But each daughter had to go away from her parents one day and she went away from her parents three years ago when she got married.
Finally they reached to the bus and all the passengers were getting ready to get into the bus while saying goodbyes to their loved ones.
“My dear Naaz, please take your lunch box and water bottle, and softly step into the bus.” Mr. Rahim said.
Rahim came here to the bus station to drop her only daughter as she was leaving for her in laws house after spending one month with him. She had been married for three years and she was six months pregnant. Her dad asked her to spend a few days with him as it wouldn’t be convenient to travel during the later stages of pregnancy.
Her parents’ house was located in beautiful alley of Simla and her in laws house was situated in Srinagar. Both were very scenic places. Each had its own independent unique beauty. One was nurtured with beautiful garden valleys and one was nurtured with mountains and snow. Both were relatively cold places of India.
While staying at her parents’ house, she used to talk with her husband on a daily basis; she was in much love with her husband and this unborn kid would bring them closer. Her wedding happened three years ago, it was a normal affair with a lot of fun, it was a love marriage. Today morning, her husband called and asked her to come back as soon as possible as her mother in law got admitted to the hospital. Her mother in law had a heart attack. Naaz got really worried for her mother in law and she packed her bags right away. She tried to get flight ticket but all flights were booked for Srinagar and there was no flight for next three days. There was no reservation left for train and only option left with her was going by bus.
She was juggling with so many things in her hand, her bag, her lunch box, her plump belly, water bottle, her purse and her dupatta (a clothing material of Indian outfit like a scarf), she was just unable to handle all the things, her dad helped her to put bag inside the bus. Her dupatta fell off as she was managing to put her first step on the bus.
“Naaz beta (daughter), take care of your dupatta, you know it is very important for girls, it is the question of Girls’ self respect.”Mr Rahim told her with authoritative sound.
“Yes baba (Dad), I know that.”Naaz said while leaning towards the ground to pick up her dupatta. Rahim had back problem so he couldn’t bend a lot.
It was very hard for her to bend because of her plump belly. One gentleman looked at this sight and he picked up her dupatta and put it back on her shoulder while not meeting her gaze at the same time out of respect. He was looking somewhere else not to embarrass her as her dupatta was not on her body.
“Hello, thank you.”Naaz said. Before she could ask more, he had already left.
He entered into the bus and looked for his seat number. He didn’t care to listen to thanks from her.
She felt it little rude but she didn’t care. She was searching for her seat number and she found out that her seat was just beside that rude man, she sighed with little disgust as she found out that she had to sit beside him for the entire journey. She was disappointed as she didn’t get the window seat.
The bus was supposed to leave in ten minutes. Her dad came to meet her in the bus for the last time before bus will run, his eyes were already moist. By looking at her dad’s moist eyes, she couldn’t control her tears. She started shedding tears. She took his blessings and he hugged her softly considering her belly. His dad caressed her forehead and her hair delicately. It was quite overwhelming feelings for him to leave his only sweet daughter, the bond shared between two was very adorable, as for Naaz, he is the mother and father. Her mom died when she was eight years old, since then Rahim did every possible things to keep his daughter happy. Naaz also loved her Dad to death. She fell in love with Amir while doing her undergrad in Chemistry. Her father had happily accepted their union and they both got married. Her in laws had been also nice with her from beginning. She got the life she wished for.
Her father left the bus as it was time to leave. She settled down on her seat and she waved good bye to her dad with watery eyes from the window by breaking down the view of the person sitting beside her. She inadvertently touched his shoulder while waving good bye to her dad. He looked at her with little anger as she kind of broke his concentration from whatever he was staring at from the window. He leaned his shoulder slightly down so that she could reach to the window easily.
She was sobbing; it was hard for her to control her tears. She was concerned for her father as nobody was staying with him to take care of him except one servant, she had asked her father so many times to come with her, but her father belonged to old school thought where father couldn’t stay at daughter’s house.
That rude man had offered her a handkerchief. She got little surprised by his behavior as he seemed rude at the beginning. She wiped her tears from his handkerchief. She was adjusting herself in a seat to comfort her belly. He looked at her and he tried to give her half of his seat as well and he moved further towards the window. She felt good as she got enough space for her and she softly smiled at him and she thought to introduce her.
“Hi, I am Naaz Anwar.” She said.
“Hi, I am Maan Singh Khurana.” He said stiffly with a lot of pride about his name.
Both nodded to each other with smile acknowledging that they felt nice to meet each other.
Maan seemed really tough guy and he was wearing white shirt and blue jeans. He had quite attractive features, his wheat color skin was graceful and illuminated with rich complexion, his eyes were really deep like a sea, he was not masculine but he had his own charm. His personality was quite fascinating and mysterious. His eyes could speak more than he ever could. There was a lot of compassion in his eyes. He seemed kind of an aloof guy who preferred to keep into himself.
Maan worked for a Khurana Construction (KC) as a manager. He had been with KC for last four years after finishing his MBA. He had been happily married for last two years. His wife, Geet, had been pregnant for four months now. His happiness was on cloud nine when he came to know that he was going to be a father.
His Dadi found a nice girl for him and he was happy with his arranged marriage. He found his love, his life through this marriage, his wife Geet, filled his life with happiness which was lost in his struggled life.
He lived in Srinagar but he had to visit Simla for business purpose. KC couldn’t afford to travel their employees through air and he chose to travel by bus as his wife had suggested. His wife always liked bus travel. She always enjoyed the small happiness of life; bus was the best place to enjoy the scenic view of places.
The total journey from Srinagar to Simla could take 11 to 12 hours with small breaks. Already half an hour went by and Naaz was in sleep. Her head was moving everywhere and Maan looked at it, he pushed his shoulder close to her head so that her head could lean on his shoulder. As soon as her head found a support, she rested on his shoulder automatically; she felt warmth like she always felt with Amir, her husband. Maan also felt asleep and his head softly laid down on her head though not forcing his head weight on her.
After an hour, they both woke up and she was feeling little nausea, Maan sensed it and he offered her his own window seat and few napkins. He helped her to move towards window seat, he held her one hand with his hand and his other hand was supporting her back very gently to help her changing her seat. When finally she organized herself on a window seat, she felt good because of cool breeze. It made her feel better. Maan was reading a magazine but peeking at her regularly from the corner of his eye to make sure that she was doing fine. His attention was not really caught in the magazine but it was on her pregnant belly. It reminded him his conversation with his wife, Geet.
“Maan, listen, we should have kids now, I want one beautiful boy like you, who will have same eyes as you do, same features as you do but same smile as I do.”Geet said.
“No, it is not fair, I want a girl, only girl, and she will have same hazel brown deep eyes as you do, same rosy cheeks as you do, same smile as you do and same cute face as you have.”Maan said.
“No, I said boy means boy.”Geet said.
“No Geet, listen to me, I want a girl means girl.”Maan said with firmness.
Geet got upset and she made a sad baby face and moved her face on the opposite side of him pretending to avoid his gaze.
Then he reached out to her and he tickled her back and said “How about twins? A boy and a girl?”
Geet faced towards him quickly with a sweet smile and said “Perfect”
Both hugged and kissed each other.
Naaz found him lost in thoughts and she waved her hands but he didn’t notice. Finally she poked him with one finger and he woke up from his trance of thoughts with a sudden tremble.
He felt little disappointed as she broke his tranquility.
Naaz started talking like a baby, “What are you staring at? Haven’t you seen any pregnant woman before?”
Maan was taken aback by her question, he wasn’t intentionally doing anything, he was just lost in thoughts about his wife.
“Naaz, I am really sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, and actually I was remembering my wife as she is also pregnant.”Maan said apologetically.
Naaz felt bad now for doubting his intention and she was glad as she found the reason to talk, as always she couldn’t shut her mouth for so long, she needed to blabber all the time.
“Maan, no problem, in fact that is so exciting that your wife is also pregnant, so how many months she is pregnant?”Naaz asked him enthusiastically.
Maan was in no mood to talk and he was kind of quiet person, he wanted to escape from the conversation hence he said casually, “She is four months pregnant.” He moved his face towards other direction so that he couldn’t face her to avoid further questions.
She didn’t notice his mood, and she continued talking, “Wow, that is so exciting, you both must be on cloud nine, when I came to know about my pregnancy, my husband and I couldn’t stop talking about it, we were so excited that we started shopping for toys and we bought so many baby items so far that our house is filled with toys and baby items.”
Maan tried not to pay attention on her jabbering but she was telling so joyfully and animatedly that it brought light smile on his face; he rolled his head towards her and pretended to listen to her carefully. He was not really listening to her but he enjoyed her soothing innocent voice which attracted his attention, her childlike behavior and innocent eyes.
Three and half hours of journey had been already passed, Naaz took out her lunch box as she was craving for food, and plus this pregnancy mood swings, made her to crave for sweets, but unfortunately she didn’t carry any sweets with her and there was not visibly any sweet shop from the bus.
Road was deserted. It was hard to find any kind of shop there. The bus was passing through mountains, the road was surrounded by a different kind of natural beauty, and mountains look really stiff and warm, but at the same time breeze were passing through the body because of bus motion. Mountains were not really green at this time considering it was Fall season where more leaves were on the road rather than on trees, path was made of leaves which could feel like walking on a multicolor carpet, sun was also playing hide and seek with mountains so sometimes its rays hit the eye and sometimes it was completely dark against eyes.
He looked at Naaz and he sensed some nervousness in her. She was fidgeting hence he asked her, “Naaz, what happened? You look restless.” There was worry painted on his face, by this question from him, her baby face was filled with some kind of relief. And she instantly replied “Actually I feel like eating some sweets but I am not carrying any sweets with me.” Maan knew this pregnancy mood swings very well as his wife was also pregnant so he laughed softly. He quickly took off the box of “besan ke laddo” (Indian sweet) from his backpack which he bought for his wife and gave it to Naaz. By looking at packing, Naaz realized that he must have bought for someone else so she said, “Maan, I can’t take this, looks like you bought for someone else.”
Maan replied her “Naaz, please take it, I bought it for my wife but believe me I will be happy if you eat it, I have bought many other stuff for her so she won’t mind, in fact you look like you really want sweets right now, so it is ok, please have it and don’t worry at all.”
Maan’s replied made her relaxed and unknowingly she felt faith in him, and her heart made some instant connection with him like they knew each other for so long, she sensed a lot of compassion and confidence in his eyes which were mesmerizing. People make different connection with different people, some connection is magical and this is one of those connections. She felt that magical connection with him, it wasn’t like love she felt for her husband or any sort of that, but something was inexplicable about it which she didn’t understand either. The connection which was made by God, the connection where you could trust someone without knowing anything about their past or current, and you could still feel that you knew everything about that person. Without saying anything, they knew much about each other.
She took the sweet box from his hand and ate it slowly like enjoying each bite of it. Maan was watching her from the corner of his eye completely oblivious to the surrounding like lost in the different world and he felt happy deep inside his heart like he gave a candy to a crying baby. The smile he had on her face was mesmerizing, they continued to talk for an hour and he couldn’t believe that he talked too much with her, it wasn’t normal for him as he was a quite person who always kept it to himself, he didn’t like to talk a lot with people, he was not at all people person. He only talked when needed in his personal life as well as professional life. He also felt some inexplicable sole connection with her, which he never felt before with anyone else on this earth, even not with his wife even though he loved his life so much. It was like there was some uncanny call sprinkled in their heart which connected them for many reincarnations. Like they knew each other for many reincarnations and they felt that instant connection which led them to believe that there was no world beyond that. Suddenly his tranquility was broken by sudden noise.
Bus was at unknown place, there was nothing visible through a simple view, it was kind of a barren place, where you couldn’t find much, but suddenly a crowd was standing in front of a bus with swords, guns and bamboo sticks in their hand which was illuminated with fire, their face was filled with rage and bitterness like they could kill anyone, their eyes were looking for their prey, and they were asking only one thing, “STOP THE BUS, I WON’T SPARE ANY MUSLIM TODAY”, the crowd looked uncontrollable, their gestures, their eyes, their weapons, all things were showing clear outrage that they would kill any Muslim in front of them, apparently bus was filled mainly with Hindus but there were only two Muslim girls in the bus, one was Naaz and other one was Zooni, by hearing those words, there was an horror on all the faces, the horror which could take anyone’s breath away, all became lifeless and numb like they were going to die and it was the last breath they were begging to God.
The crowd had stopped the bus by standing on the way of the bus and they ordered to open the door, everyone in the bus was so scared that they didn’t know what to do, even though if they chose not to open the door, they would break the door and get inside, everybody was worried about their life like they were counting their last moment, they were praying to God inside their heart like God would do some magic and they would be saved, Maan was also in shock, but he got more worried by looking at Naaz’s face, she was in horror and plus she was pregnant, her eyes were filled with instant tears, her rosy cheeks turned pale white, and her heart literally stopped breathing, the fear that she would die and she wouldn’t be able to meet her husband, the fear that she wouldn’t be able to see the face of her kid, the fear that her all dreams would shatter in a second, killed her, Maan had to think something instantly to save Naaz, he couldn’t tolerate the death of Naaz in front of him like he had to pay some debt from last birth and the idea ran into his mind that he bought Mangalsutra and sindoor (Hindu wedding signs for women which conveys that she is married) for her wife, as his wife always liked to wear those auspicious necessities and luckily he bought this time for her, he instantly took off it from his backpack and put it in the hands of Naaz, but she was totally lost, she didn’t know what to do with it, Maan didn’t have much time to explain her hence he tied Mangalsutra around her neck and he put sindoor along the parting of her hair and he told her “your name is GEET, ok, if anybody asks, say your name is GEET and you are my WIFE, Did you get it? You are Geet Maan Khurana.” He yelled in her ears two to three times to make sure that she heard it right and she remembered it right. This happened so fast but time was slowed down for this moment to happen. Naaz remembered what he said and she crammed it like a school kid tried to remember some formula for exam without actually thinking what did that mean, and why was that needed. She knew Hindu tradition but in that quick moment she didn’t have time to realize the implications of it.
Those goons were all set to kill people, they broke the entrance door of a bus and entered in the bus and roared on top of their tongue, “Who is Muslim here? I won’t spare you today, you have killed many Hindus, but not today, today I won’t let you go.” They started moving around, checking each person, everyone was showing their signs of being Hindu through whatever they were wearing in their hands, or around neck or on the forehead, which could prove that they were Hindu, goons were harshly touching their hands, neck and face to check each sign carefully, their hazardous hands reached to Maan also, Maan instantly showed the Taviz (kind of a necklace for man which proves Hinduism) he was wearing around his neck which one priest had given him once which was only worn by Hindu people, one of Goons, pushed Maan’s shoulder to check it properly, then a goon looked at Naaz curiously, and he held her face through his one hand and tilted it up and he moved her dupatta little through another hand to check Mangalsutra and he found it, Maan was getting really hyper by this rude behavior, and he said angrily, “Please stop it, don’t touch my wife, my GEET, she is pregnant, please be nice to her.” Those goons really got angry by Maan’s statement and he slapped him on his face, Maan was burned from inside, his face became redden, but he decided to stop himself for Geet’s sake and for his own life’s sake. Those goons moved ahead after noticing silence from Maan and still checking each person carefully, the other Muslim girl was scared to death, one goon reached to her and they couldn’t find any sign of Hinduism, so they asked her angrily, “Are you Muslim? Speak up, damn it, or do you want to get killed?” while grabbing her through her shoulders, out of fear, she couldn’t utter a word, her breathing became uneven, she was panting heavily, horror was marked on her face, she was screaming for help, all people asked goons to let go off her, they screamed, ran to help her, but there were many goons with weapons in their hand so it wasn’t wise to fight them back, everybody was scared enough to utter a word or to move, they set back, and those goons took the girl away with them, she was screaming and crying for help, but nobody could, the fear was in the air, people couldn’t move but their tears were rolling down, everyone was sympathetic for that Muslim girl, Zooni, for these people it didn’t matter that she was Muslim, they just knew that she was also in the same bus so she belonged to their group.
How could religion empower humanity? How does it matter which religion you are born with? It is not in human power to get birth in particular religion. God never differentiated anyone based on religion while sending them on earth, then how could humans go against God and generate differences among God generated children?
Maan tried hard to stop those goons from taking away Zooni but goons were more powerful and they pushed him away with force. If he would have tried harder, he could have lost his own life and Naaz’s life, he couldn’t endanger his life for Naaz’s sake and for his own wife, Geet’s sake.
Finally all the goons got off from the bus, there was fire everywhere around the area, someone said that “there is fire and killings going around the villages, so if we move forward then our lives are in danger, we have to stop here at least till everything calm down.”
Naaz was so scared, after goons left, she hugged Maan tightly like she never wanted him to go, she closed her eyes and lost in his embrace. Amidst all these crazyness, she felt good in his embrace like she forgot whatever happened.
Naaz finally came back to her senses and realized what just happened. Maan noticed that she was breathing normally now, and he asked, “Geet, are you ok?” Naaz was looking around like he was talking with someone else, then Maan realized that she was not Geet, her name was Naaz.
Maan whispered in her ear, “Naaz, listen, till the end of this journey, you are GEET, we shouldn’t give any reasons for doubts because our lives are still in danger, we can’t take chances and plus we have to be more careful as you are pregnant. So I will call you GEET ONLY.” Naaz nodded in agreement.
They left the bus and walked further to find some eating places and some places to stay and they stopped walking when they saw something. It wasn’t like fiver star hotel, it was quite like a hut or poor lodge, ghetto place, Maan had a struggled life, whatever he achieved today because of his hard work so he could stay anywhere, Naaz got shivered by looking at those places, she was holding Maan’s hand tightly out of fear. She was walking very close by to Maan and their shoulders were almost touching. Maan didn’t mind as he could understand the suffering she must be going through right now, and Maan wouldn’t mind helping her like he made a goal in his mind that Naaz was his sole responsibility. Suddenly he found a purpose of his life that he got this birth just to save her.
When Naaz walked down from the bus, the first thing came into her mind was calling to her husband, Amir, to inform about this situation as her trip was delayed and God knew how long. Cell phones signals were not working in this area hence there was a long queue for using a public call booth, she told Maan that she wanted to make a phone call to her husband but by looking at the long line, Maan suggested her to first eat something while he would find a place to stay as driver had already informed that bus wouldn’t move till next morning and we would look in to the situation then only we could go further. There was a rush everywhere. It wasn’t easy to find a place to spend a night amidst all the chaos.
Naaz sat down on the bench, Maan bought some food for her and then he ran towards a motel, which was the only motel in that area, but all rooms were gone by the time Maan reached, so he went back with defeated face.
Maan didn’t want to call her wife to make her more worried. Hence he avoided calling her and he hadn’t told his wife when he would be coming back to Srinagar as he wanted to keep it as a surprise. He decided to call her just before few hours only so that she could come to pick him up.
Naaz ate some food and she left some for Maan, in the mid time she called her husband also but she couldn’t reach out to him, it was really distressing for her but she had to give up, she saw Maan, walking towards her with defeated look.
“Maan, please eat something.”Naaz said while putting some artificial smile on her face to cheer him up as she couldn’t see him panicked.
“Geet, I couldn’t find a room, all were taken.”Maan said while eating some food.
“No problem Maan, I am sure God will help us, and we will have some roof to stay.”Naaz said hopefully, like there was a confidence in her voice.
Finally after having food, they walked around the area to find the place to stay over a night.
Naaz was having trouble while walking as she was pregnant, she was breathing heavily and Maan noticed it.
“Geet, stop, just sit down here, you shouldn’t walk, you can’t walk, you have to take care of yourself, for God’s sake, how can you forget that you are pregnant, think about the strain, baby will face, how can you be so careless?”He said it with one tone with a fury like he was scolding his own wife. In his anger also, there was kindness and sympathy, Naaz was staring at him while he spoke all those things in one line, she couldn’t believe what she just heard, but somewhere deep in the heart, it felt good, the compassion he had in his eyes was hard to resist.
She couldn’t utter a single word and she sat down, then he heard some noise coming up from far, some crazy crowd could be moving in this direction, he held Naaz in his arms like a teddy bear was cradled in a lap. Naaz felt warmth in his embrace when their bodies were touching and some sensation was felt inside their body. He walked fast while holding her to find a place and finally someone looked at pregnant Naaz and out of sympathy offered them a room. Relief was descended on their faces like they found water in the desert. There was a light smile on Maan’s face, the filling of achievement, that now at least Naaz didn’t have to suffer, he wasn’t worried for himself, he didn’t want Naaz to spend a night on roads like some beggar.
Few hours had already elapsed. The room they got wasn’t like mansion or king’s room, it was completely opposite of it, it had only needed furniture, one small bed, one bathroom, one cabinet and few things laid on the floor, but at the middle of this riot, there wasn’t any hope of getting luxury so they both were ok with whatever they got. Maan knew that after all Naaz wasn’t his wife, so he shouldn’t disrespect her in any form, hence he decided to spend a night on road while letting her have the entire room by herself.
Naaz was really sleepy, she decided to go to sleep, now there was only one small bed, and she was really uncomfortable finding Maan in his room, but she knew that she had to accept it after all he had done a lot for her, without him, she wouldn’t exist, hence she tried hard to hide the uneasiness she was going through because of having a man in his room who was not her husband, but she felt trust in Maan, she knew that she was safe around Maan.
How hard Naaz tried but her hesitance was apparent on her face, and Maan noticed it, Maan understood it and it was quite understandable as how could one lady trust a man without knowing much about him, because he didn’t know that Naas had the same feelings of trust, and divinity for him as he did for her, he didn’t know that she was going through the same emotions as him, he didn’t know that she was going through the same fear of losing each other in riot as he did. Maan wanted to go outside but only one thing was stopping him that if Naaz would get sick or something troublesome happened with her when he wasn’t around then who would help her.
There was still some noise outside the house, it was really scary, and Naaz was worried for Maan’s well being. They heard the news about that other Muslim girl who was with them in the bus, Zooni, that she was raped and then murdered by those people. This news itself created goose bumps within her like her entire self was crucified with pain.
How can people be so cruel? How could they perceive different human beings based on religion? As God is never bias towards any religion then how could we human being do that?
Maan walked towards the door, and Naaz screamed, “Maan, where are you going?”
Maan turned with a jerk after hearing her scream; he got so worried like something had happened with her. He felt relief while finding her in ok state.
“Geet, you shouldn’t scream in this condition, and why are you screaming?”Maan asked.
“Where are you going? You can’t leave me alone here.” Naaz said with innocent face.
“Geet, how ………can……..I ….live…….here? I will sleep outside; you can have this room for you.”Maan stammered, feeling little shy by her question.
Naaz walked towards Maan and grabbed him by his arm and pointed him to sit by the bedside. Maan couldn’t speak anything and he whispered, “hmm she really knew how to scold like a wife.
Even though they were alone in the room where Maan could call her Naaz, but he liked to call her Geet, as her voice was so magical, like the name Geet which means Song or music.
For the first time he was staring at Naaz very carefully and he was lost in her beauty like she was some Greek goddess, even though she was pregnant and overweight, but her honey colored eyes were deep and innocent, her cheeks were chubby and cute, her lips were soft like baby skin, she looked like a rose, and her rose petals skin was smooth and transparent. There was a childlike divinity on her face. Finally Naaz spoke something and he came out of his tranquility.
Naaz grabbed his hand and came very close to him because she was very afraid; her look was scary, like someone was going to kill her. “Maan, I am really scared, if I won’t reach home, if I will get killed, if I won’t see my kid ever, if I won’t meet my family ever, then..”Naaz said with frightened face.
The image of the day they spent so far was flashing in front of her eyes and she wasn’t able to forget whatever happened with people today in the bus, especially with Zooni, she knew that she wouldn’t be alive today if Maan wasn’t there.
Maan put his arms around her waist gently, and said, “Geet, don’t worry, I am with you, and nothing could happen till I am alive.”
There was confidence in his voice, emphasize in his voice could clearly convey one meaning, that he wouldn’t mind surrendering his life to save her life. The God had given special chance to Maan and Naaz, to meet each other in these odd circumstances, to help each other till their last breath was snatched away, to spend the most memorable time with each other which they would never be able to cast away from their thoughts and probably all the future birth they could have.
“Geet, now you should go to sleep, you need to rest.”Maan said while holding her one hand and helping her to move towards bed.
Finally she lay down on the bed but she was still holding Maan’s hand firmly. She was still afraid, she was missing her husband, her family who was always with her to support her in any bad situation, but for the first time, she had to bear this situation by herself, but she was thankful to God for having Maan by her side, without him this wasn’t possible and somewhere deep in her heart, she was happy to meet Maan even though it was under unfortunate circumstances, there were many things beyond love, lust which could be known as divinity, and by meeting Maan in her life, she felt this magical divinity for the first time, by meeting him, the trust she had in God was confirmed, by meeting him, she felt that God existed in his form, he completed her divinely, like there was something missing in her life which was fulfilled by meeting him, if there was a checklist of tasks to finish before you die, then one task was finished from her checklist by just meeting Maan, like she owed something in her past life to Maan, and by meeting him that debt was expunged.
Maan was sitting on the bed while having her head in his lap and caressing her forehead smoothly which could help her to get asleep early. Within few minutes, she was in deep sleep, while caressing her forehead, Maan also felt asleep as both were totally exhausted.
To top the riot of, it was raining outside, the surrounding was kind of unique in a way, in middle of uproar, there was some sweetness about this night, water was pouring heavily, beautiful raindrops had filled the surroundings with wetness and the enchanting smell of wet sand which helped people to get calm, to alleviate the chaos, the voice of heavy rain drops opened his eyes in the middle of the night, he softly pushed her head on pillow and he walked towards the only window of the room, it was serene and quite like nothing had happened, raindrops never thought where to drop then how could human being decide who should live and who shouldn’t, nature was always indifferent towards people but people had created biases in their mind, he stretched his hand outside the window to fill the drops of rain and it reminded him one of his unforgettable experience, once he and his wife Geet, a few months ago, were walking down the road from grocery store to home, at that day Geet was really happy, she wanted to go for a walk to the nearby garden, Maan resisted at the beginning as he was tired and weather was gloomy, but after a lot of insistence, he went with her for a walk as she was really happy and he didn’t want to break her happiness, when they finally reached to the garden, and rain started pouring suddenly, Maan started to run away towards the home, but Geet grabbed his hand and stopped him, she pushed him towards her and kissed him passionately and then whispered in his ear, “I am pregnant” Maan couldn’t believe his ears, it was the happiest moment of his life, they were showered with the best gift from God, his dream came true, he was jumping with joy, and he hugged Geet tightly, the time was stopped for them, he wasn’t even aware of the heavy rain drops touching their body, and they were completely wet but they were enjoying this moment and they wanted to make it last long.
Maan was lost in this sweet reminiscence while still feeling the raindrops on his hands, Naaz woke up while Maan was standing near the window and lost in his thoughts, she sensed that Maan wasn’t beside her and she got afraid, she was looking everywhere in the room and finally her eyes reached to the window where Maan was standing, the moonlight was illuminating his face, and his face looked like Indra ( Lord of heaven) in the perfect moonlight, and as soon she noticed Maan, she ran to him, and she hugged him tightly like this was her last moment to breath, Maan also hugged her back like he was hugging his real wife Geet, both forgot the reality and hugged each other tightly as both were missing their better half, they were rubbing each other’s back, the current ran through their spine and the moment lasted for a minute and then Maan whispered “Geet” and in response Naaz whispered “Amir” and by hearing these whispers both came back to reality, they realized that they were not with their better half and they broke the hug, it was an embarrassing moment for both of them, it was not their intention, they were missing their better half but situation forced them to come close and they floated in the air, forgetting everything else, they felt the warmth with each other, they knew that they felt some magic but both were not ready to admit it as it was embarrassing for both of them, they couldn’t meet the gaze of each other and they couldn’t utter a word, silence was heart wrenching between them, like the big ocean waves were exploding in their hearts, tears rolled down on Naaz’s cheeks and finally Maan gathered courage to come out of the state of awkwardness, and he said while wiping tears from her cheeks, “Geet, don’t worry, God is with us and we didn’t do anything wrong, sometimes situations are not in our control, and we forget about what’s going on, but yes one matter is true that we both love our respective better half a lot, more than anyone or anything in this world, and it is good that we both are fortunate enough to have that kind of love in our life, so we should just appreciate the best gift of God which is love, so we should remember always good memories which we share with anyone and bundle it like a treasure, and cherish it always by just remembering it”.
Naaz was also lost in the thoughts, like thinking hard whatever Maan just said. In the middle of the night, under the carpet of twinkling stars, and with the God’s blessings on them, both felt the unforgettable moment of their life, the moment of understanding they shared with each other, the moment of faith they shared with each other, the moment of divine love they felt for each other, the heart to heart connection they shared with each other were captured by the moon light and witnessed by the raindrops. Like each rain drop was screaming not to touch the ground before witnessing this moment.
Eventually their world of thoughts broke from the strenuous thinking process and they preferred to get some rest before the night reached to the compelling moment of dawn. The way all good things had to end, the same way, all bad things had to end as well, the moment of darkness, the moment of riot, the moment of chaos, the moment of killings, all ended with the new ray of dawn, finally dawn broke down with the smell of sweet tea in the air, with the smell of sand in the air and with the musical voice of kids in the air.
Naaz and Maan stood beside the bus, waiting for bus to move, waiting for people to get done with their morning chores, waiting for people to get done with morning tea and biscuits, waiting for the Sun to shower its heat on the road, waiting for the long awaited moment of quietness, especially after last stormy night, peacefulness got the special importance in everybody’s life. People were afraid of noise and chaos now.
Maan and Naaz preferred to avoid each other’s gaze as the one gaze could bring down the all memories of their journey like the gaze had witnessed the love, the intensity of emotions, the sadness, the helplessness, the compassion bundled into one flash. They were afraid that meeting gaze could result in explosion of inexplicable emotions, the divinity of emotions, so rather avoiding gaze was the better tactics in this situation.
God was in favor of them, that they found peace in each other after the stormy emotions they went through. It was like the tornado ran into their life and changed everything, they were holding to the last pieces left in their life.
How hard they tried, but it was impossible not to meet each other’s gaze, and whenever their gazes met, it brought happy and sad tears in their eyes, it intertwined their souls the way no God, and no reincarnation could separate.
Their hearts were filled with happiness to go back to home as well as melancholy to leave each other. They knew that they could never meet again and they knew that they didn’t want to meet again as it was the best for both of them, they knew that they wanted to remember each other as angel or as God who visited only once to bring back their lives and then went back to its own world. They knew that this moment of eternality couldn’t come again. Even thought they knew all these things which seemed logical from their stand point, but who could control the agony they were going through, the desire to see each other once more was undying.
Amidst all these thoughts, their journey started again, the journey which was destined to end soon. The bus was filled with all the passengers, and driver started the bus in the direction of Srinagar, they were five hours away from Srinagar.
During these five hours, they tried to avoid talking with each other to hide their emotions, there was an unknown barrier between them, which they avoided to break, the barricade of respect, the barricade of their own fear to burst out of emotions, the barricade to maintain distance, the barricade of divinity.
In this moment of silence, they shared everything; they shared their life through the intensity of eyes, intensity of gestures, and intensity of emotions which they were trying to hold through the barricade.
Maan was very careful about each small movement of Naaz, she was pregnant, and he assumed himself responsible for taking care of her till the end of the journey, each small movement showed the caring nature of Maan, he helped her to sit properly, he helped her to move, he helped her to sleep by providing support of his shoulder.
In this moment of silence and care, suddenly Naaz felt the movement of her kid in her womb, and she got excited, and inadvertently she grabbed Maan’s hand and put it on her womb and asked, “Maan, do you feel the kid? It just moved, I feel like the kid is happy for something, do you feel that?”
For a second, Maan was shocked to touch her womb, like he had touched some foreign object where he wasn’t permitted, but soon he forgot about that as he felt the movement of kid and he built an instant connection with the kid, and he said, “Yes Geet, I feel the baby”.
The moment of joy soon disappeared in the air as soon as he slipped back his hand from her womb out of his gentility, and Naaz also didn’t feel bad for it as she knew his gentle and kind nature by this time, this short journey had taught her everything about him. She knew what was going on in his mind; she knew his reasoning behind his each action, like she could read his face, his eyes. She knew that this action must have reminded him his own wife Geet and his own baby, for a second, he was lost in the moment of joy to cherish it as long as it lasted and then he brought back to his senses and realized that she was not Geet, not his own wife, so he slipped back his hand away from her to honor her respect, and to honor his dignity.
Finally their destination was near or rather end was near, the last one hour they spent by resting on each others’ shoulder, by feeling the warmth of each other, they wanted to cherish that moment as long as they could, they knew that they had to head back to their life, the life which they had chosen for themselves, the life in which they were happy, the life in which they found their better half, the life in which they would never meet each other again. God only knew what he had written in their destiny.
Last few minutes of the journey was left, their hearts were filled with tears but with the relief of reaching home safely as well, Naaz remembered that she still had mangalsutra and sindoor, she quickly wiped sindoor from her parted hair and she took off mangalsutra and put it on Maan’s palm, Maan stared at her while she was giving him back, like she was returning his love, but he had to take it so he reluctantly took it back, his hands came back to him with Mangalsutra but his gaze was still on her, like it wanted to capture her last image which he could treasure in his heart forever. She was holding to his gaze as a natural response to his gaze.
It was almost afternoon so the Sun was straight up in the sky with heavy sun rays hitting on the earth, sun rays tried to interrupt their gazing moment by focusing its rays on their face, but of course the Sun was not successful as their gaze and their moment was so special that no obstacle could stop it.
Train was almost near the stop, it slowed down, both didn’t know what to do and how to react, they wanted to make this moment as long as possible, they wished in their heart for time to stop but of course time never stopped, it ran on its own rhythm, they were so lost in the moment and in each other that their heartbeats had followed the same rhythm, for the first time while forgetting everything around them, while forgetting their own life, their arms found the way around each other to hug and made that moment eternal. They completed each other by this eternal hug, today their empty lives were completed, and they gathered courage to go back to their own path while having mix feelings in their heart, desire to see each other one more time was undying, as well as the logical consent to their mind not to see each other was constant.
Finally train stopped and their hearts found a new rhythm which was slow but constant, they were breathing just for the sake of it, otherwise they lost their breath.
Amir and Geet were on the station, when train stopped, they were trying to find their respective spouses, Maan and Naaz were also preparing to get off from the train with their bags, Maan saw Geet and he screamed “Geet”, and when Geet saw Maan, there was a magical spark in their eyes, Maan got off from the train and hugged Geet tightly, he was happy to see his pregnant wife, it was a matter of few days but still it felt like a decade, Amir found Naaz as well and he helped her to pick up bags and helped her to get off from the train, Amir and Naaz’s eyes were filled with tears of joy after seeing each other after a few months. Both couples started walking down the station, where suddenly Maan felt that he missed something in the train, so he told Geet to walk up to the car and he would follow her soon. Maan was walking back towards the train, meanwhile Naaz felt some unstopping desire to go back to the train again just one last time so she made a same excuse that she forgot something and her husband walked back to the car with the luggage while she could come back, Maan was in the same compartment waiting for her, like he knew that she would come back, and of course she did, when one wanted something with full heart, then of course nobody could stop it to happen, and they both wanted to see each other one last time so both came back to same train compartment, as soon as Naaz tried to enter to the train, Maan saw her with a big smile, he put his step down from the train, they both couldn’t utter a word, but their eyes spoke a lot with in a second, they both knew that they both came back here only to see each other one last time.
Finally Maan spoke while breaking a long silence, the silence was not uncomfortable though, it was completely natural and soothing silence for both of them, Maan took out Mangalsutra from his pocket, and said, “Naaz, take this with you, because I can’t take it back, I felt like I am snatching your life, which I can’t do, so please take it.” Without uttering a word, Naaz took it and put it in to her purse, the last sign of Maan, she wouldn’t want to let it go, she wanted to treasure it, at the same time, Naaz took out a man wallet from her purse which she bought for Amir and put it on his palm and said, “Maan, take it, please.” Maan took it without any question, as he understood from her eyes that she wanted him to keep it, finally both walked off from each other towards their better half.
Maan and Geet settled down in the car and they started talking while Maan briefly mentioned about what happened with him while coming back and how he helped Naaz and Geet felt good as she knew that Maan was always helpful and understandable person, because of his helpful and nurturing nature only, she fell in love with him so quickly, they reached to their home finally, first time home felt like heaven, as after winning the battle of life and death, it was emotional moment to watch their own house, to meet own people. Geet prepared all Maan’s special dishes for lunch, they cherished their lunch while holding each other’s hand, and tears rolled down to their eyes, sometimes small and simple things could matter a lot.
Naaz and Amir reached to their own house, while Naaz mother in law was still in the hospital but she was feeling better, she was no longer in danger, Naaz was feeling better as her mother in law was out of danger, Amir had food for Naaz, his cousin sister cooked for his family while they were in hospital, Amir helped Naaz to settle down on the chair with her plump belly and he stared at her to make sure that she was doing fine and she also briefly told him what happened and someone had helped her, Amir was thankful to the man who helped Naaz because he saved two lives, one was his wife and one was his unborn kid. He was happy to see his wife back after many months; it was a perfect moment for both of them, as they wanted to cherish each other’s warmth which they missed for many months.