Hesitation


I was always hesitant while eating his rotis (bread). My mother had told me not to eat anything from him, as he belongs to lower caste. But I never found anything wrong in his rotis, plus my hunger never allowed me to deny him. He was one and only friend of me in the village. His hut was adjacent to our house and his father used to work in our farms. He also contributed in few duties at our farms like grazing our cattle and maintaining our garden. For the kid like me who spend their whole day in boring books and non-happening school, his life was fantasy- close to the nature and free from the burden of study. So I always accompanied with him in spite of my mother’s disagreement. I used to do all type of childhood fun with him – playing gilli-danda, swimming in the pond, roaming in guava garden and buffalo ride.

His mother gave him six roti everyday when he left the home for grazing our cows and buffaloes. He ate these roti in the afternoon while cattle were resting in the pond. I joined him right after my breakfast in morning and returned at home in evening only. He gave one of roti from his lunch to me, and that fat and dry roti was enough to kill my hunger till evening. Due to lower caste concept, I was a bit uncomfortable while eating roti, but my mind never found a reason to not accepting roti from him. All I thought was to eat this roti so that there will be no need to return home for lunch. The only difference I found in his roti, it was dry and thick as compare to roti at my home. But he solved this difficulty too; he took little butter with him and put it on the roti given to me. He asked me not to say anything about butter to his mother. On the return of this favor, I asked him not to say anything about roti to my mother. On the foundation of mutual belief, we were enjoying the fun of our friendship.

After few years, I got busy in my higher study and hardly got time to come at village. He also moved with his family to some other place. Initially I tried to find him but I didn’t get any clue. I got busy in my life and locked the friendship of childhood in the rooms of memory only. I never recalled him until that day came. I went to the famous restaurant of our town with few clients and my bosses. Our health conscious clients ordered the menu with less spices, less vegetable oil and no butter. The time when our order had arrived, we found one butter roti in the basket. My bosses raised the concerns to the waiter who took our order, and he came with another guy who prepared our order in the kitchen. That guy raised his finger at me and said he thought I need butter roti. I looked at his face closely and felt I had seen him somewhere. The nerves of brain put some pressure in head and I recalled that he was my childhood buddy. My heart filled with similar happiness that veteran heroes felt in old movies when they found their lost siblings. I wanted to hug him but I found myself hesitant to do so in front of these so called high class people. I said my bosses that I mentioned him about butter roti but somehow I forgot about it. He went to kitchen and we got busy in enjoying our dinner. I still felt hesitation in eating his roti as I was recognized but not greeted him the way he deserved. My bosses and clients were kept on talking about money and business, but all I was thinking that he still remembered that I could not eat dry rotis.

!!! चार – एक !!!


रोज की तरह उस दिन भी मैं पगडण्डी से होते हुए गाँव में जा रहा था | ‘सर, आज गाँव में मत जाइये और स्कूल भी बंद ही रखिये’, रास्ते में मिले तीन छात्रो ने मुझसे कहा | ‘क्यों, क्या बात हो गयी’ मेने आश्चर्य से पूछा | ‘आपको नहीं पता सर, कल गाँव में हिन्दू-मुसलमान के झगड़े हो गए | अपन ने उनके चार लोग निपटा दिए पर अपना भी एक मर गया |’ अपने छात्र के मुँह से ये बाते सुनकर मैं हतप्रभ रह गया, उसकी आवाज़ में एक आदमी के मरने के दर्द से ज्यादा चार लोगो को मारने की ख़ुशी थी | ‘ठीक हैं मैं वापस जाता हूँ, पर तुम लोग कहाँ जा रहे हो’ मेने गाड़ी मोड़ते हुए पूछा | ‘सर हम थाने जा रहे हैं, इसको थानेदार साहब ने बुलाया हैं | इसका बाप ही था वो एक आदमी जो अपना मरा हैं|’ तीनो में सबसे चुपचाप और दुखी छात्र की और इशारा करते हुए बाकि दोनों छात्रो ने मुझे बताया | मैं उन तीनो को गाड़ी से थाने छोड़कर वापस शहर लौट गया |

कुछ दिनों बाद गाँव में सब कुछ शांत हो गए | स्कूल भी पुनः शुरू हो गए | वो छात्र जिसका बाप मरा था, स्कूल में हमेशा बहुत चुपचाप और गुमसुम रहने लगा था | छः माही परीक्षा हुई और वो बालक सभी विषयों में अन्नुतीर्ण था | मुझे उस पर दया आ गयी और मेने समझाने के लिए उसे अकेले में बुलाया | ‘तुम सभी विषयो में फ़ैल हो’ मेने उससे कहा | ‘सर, वो मैं…मैं’ मेरी आवाज़ सुनकर वो डर गया और कुछ न बोल सका | मेने उसके सर पर हाथ रखा और समझाया – ‘तुम्हे तो ज्यादा पढने की जरूरत हैं, अभी बड़े होकर माँ का ख्याल भी तुम्हे ही रखना हैं’ | मेरा इतना कहना था कि वो फफक-फफककर रोने लगा | ‘सर, माँ भी यही कहती हैं | सबके सामने तो वो कुछ नहीं कहती पर अकेले में वो भी मेरी तरह गुमसुम रहती हैं और रोती रहती हैं |’ बालक ने रोते हुए मेरे सामने अपनी व्यथा रखी | ‘देखो तुम्हे हौसला रखना होगा, ऊपर वाला सब कुछ ठीक कर देगा|’ मेने उसे सांत्वना देते हुए कहा | ‘सर, जब मरना किसी एक को ही था तो भगवान ने मेरे बाप को ही क्यों चुना, किसी और को क्यों नहीं |’ बालक ने गीली आँखों से मेरी और देखते हुए कहा | उसके इस सवाल का मेरे पास कोई जवाब नहीं था, धर्म-युद्ध के इस मैदान में चार-एक की बढ़त पाकर भी शायद ये बालक अपना बहुत कुछ गँवा चूका था | मेने किसी तरह से उसे समझा-बुझाकर शांत किया और फिर कभी उसे भगवान के नाम का हौसला नहीं दिया |

 

सरस्वती माँ और लाल गुलाब


ये उसका हमेशा का नियम था, परीक्षा वाले दिन स्कूल के रस्ते में आने वाले पीपल के पेड़ के नीचे एक गुलाब रख देती थी | उसकी माँ ने बचपन में उसे ऐसे ही कह दिया था कि इस पीपल के पेड़ के नीचे सरस्वती माँ विराजमान हैं | बाल-मन ने उसे सत्य मान लिया और तभी से पीपल के पेड़ के नीचे रखा पत्थर उसके लिए सरस्वती माँ हो गया | हर साल परीक्षा वाले दिन एक गुलाब उस पत्थर पर रख देती और उसका परचा हमेशा अच्छा जाता | अब इसे विश्वास कहे या अन्धविश्वास, पर उसे यकीन था कि सरस्वती माँ की कृपा से एक दिन वो भी पढ़-लिखकर शिक्षक बनेगी, और ऐसे ही किसी स्कूल में बच्चो को पढ़ायेगी |

उस दिन उसका आठवी कक्षा का आखिरी परचा था | अंग्रेजी विषय से वैसे तो उसे थोडा डर लगता था, पर उसे यकीन था कि सरस्वती माँ की कृपा से इस विषय का परचा भी अच्छा ही जायेगा | हमेशा की तरह हाथो में स्केल, पेन और एक लाल गुलाब लेकर वो स्कूल के लिए निकल गयी | पीपल के पेड़ के नीचे जैसे ही कदम पहुचे तो देखा सरस्वती माँ वाला पत्थर अपने स्थान से गायब था | उसने वहा काम कर रहे मजदूरों से पूछा तो उन्होंने बताया सड़क का काम चालू हैं, तो हो सकता हैं किसी ने उठा के फेक दिया हो | मन आशंकाओ से घिर गया, अब सरस्वती माँ के बिना परचा कैसा जायेगा | फिर भी उसने मन को तसल्ली दी और गुलाब पेड़ के नीचे ऐसे ही रखकर आ गयी | उस दिन का परचा वाकई में कठीन था, पर सरस्वती माँ की कृपा से उसे सब कुछ आता था | पूरे मनोयोग से वो उत्तर लिखने में लग गयी |

अभी पर्चा शुरू हुए एक घंटा ही हुआ था, कि उसके बापू कक्षा में आ गए और उसे परचा अधुरा ही छोड़कर वहाँ से ले जाने लगे | उसने थोड़ी जिद्द की तो बापू जबरजस्ती उसे खीचकर वहां से ले गए | घर पहुचने पर माँ ने उसे समझा-बुझाकर कुछ मेहमानों के सामने बैठा दिया | वो कुछ समझ पाती कि ये सब क्या माजरा हैं, उससे पहले ही घर में शहनाइया बजने लगी | सात दिनों बाद उसकी शादी हो गयी, और माँ-बाप ने डोली में बैठाकर उसे विदा कर दिया | डोली पीपल के पेड़ के पास पहुची तो उसने पर्दा खोलकर बाहर देखा, सोचा आखिरी बार सरस्वती माँ के दर्शन कर लिए जाये | बाहर थोड़ी तेज़ हवा चल रही थी, और कुछ मजदूर पीपल के पेड़ को काटने में लगे हुए थे | वहाँ खड़े लोगो की बातो से उसे पता चला कि सड़क चोडी करने के लिए पीपल का पेड़ काटा जा रहा हैं | दुखी मन से उसने आखिरी बार हाथ जोड़कर सरस्वती माँ को याद कर लिया | वो मेहंदी वाले हाथो से सरस्वती माँ को प्रणाम ही कर रही थी, कि हवा से पेड़ के नीचे पड़ा एक सूखा गुलाब उड़कर उसके हाथो में आ गया | हाथो में वो गुलाब लिए वो फिर डोली में आकर बैठ गयी | यकीनन वो गुलाब उसका नहीं था पर उसे उसमे अपना ही अक्स दिख रहा था – सूखा, मुरझाया, कुचला… पर मासूम और मनमोहक भी |

– अंकित सोलंकी
२८ जुलाई २०१३, उज्जैन (म.प्र.)

भाभी-जी ट्रैन में है !


मैं हमेशा ट्रेन में सबसे ऊपर वाली सीट लेना पसंद करता हु | और इसका ये कारण बिलकुल भी नहीं हैं कि मैं ऊपर वाली सीट पर लेटे-लेटे नीचे की सीट पर शयन कर रही ख़ूबसूरत लडकियों को निहार सकू |अजी, हमारा ऐसा नसीब ही कहाँ कि ख़ूबसूरत हसिनाओ का साथ मिले, हमारी किस्मत में तो हमेशा बूढ़े-अधेड़, मोटे-छोटे अंकल लोग ही फसते हैं | और ये अंकल लोग पूरी रात भर दूषित वायु भयानक विस्फोट के साथ छोड़ते रहते हैं | ऐसे में अगर आप इनके नीचे वाली सीट पर फंस गए तो समझ लीजिये कि पूरी रात अफगानिस्तान पर होने वाले अमेरिकी हमलो को याद करते हुए गुजारनी हैं | वैसे ऊपर वाली सीट पाकर भी आप विस्फोट की आवाज़ या बदबू से बच तो नहीं सकते पर ये सुकून जरूर रहता हैं कि बम सीधे-सीधे आपके ऊपर ही नहीं फेंका जा रहा हैं | हालाँकि हर बार ऊपर वाली सीट पर ही आरक्षण पाना थोडा मुश्किल होता हैं पर मैं इस मामले में थोडा खुशकिस्मत जरूर हूँ कि अधिकांश बार मुझे ऊपर वाली सीट पर ही आरक्षण मिल जाता हैं |

खैर, खुशकिस्मत तो मैं उस दिन भी बहुत था जब मेरा अहिल्या नगरी एक्सप्रेस का टिकट आखिरी दिन १०० वेटिंग से कन्फर्म हो गया | और सोने पर सुहागा मेरा सात दिनों का अवकाश भी एक झटके में स्वीकार हो गया | हमेशा की ही तरह ही मुझे ऊपर वाली सीट पर आरक्षण भी प्राप्त हुआ | पर इन सबमे सबसे बड़ा चमत्कार ट्रेन में टिकट पक्का होना ही था | अहिल्या नगरी एक्सप्रेस ट्रेन चेन्नई से इंदौर तक चलती हैं, और ऐसे में किसी का टिकट नागपुर से १०० वेटिंग से कन्फर्म होना वाकई मुश्किल ही नहीं नामुमकिन भी हैं | खैर वो कहते हैं ना कि “जब तू साथ चले, कैसे ना रास्ते मिले”, मेरे भी रास्ते की अडचने एक-एक करकर सभी ख़तम हो गयी और मैं अपना सामान पैक करके चल दिया इंदौर में छुट्टी मनाने | वैसे इस बार मेरा जाना इसलिए भी जरूरी था क्युकी अगले ही हफ्ते मेरे दोस्त गोविन्द की सगाई थी तो ऐसे में अपना पहुचना तो बनता हैं ना बॉस |

वैसे खुशकिस्मत-यो का सिलसिला यही पर ख़तम नहीं हुआ | जब मैं ट्रेन में पंहुचा तो देखा हमेशा के विपरीत मेरे सामने की सीट पर कोई अंकल्स नहीं, बल्कि तीन ख़ूबसूरत लडकियां बैठी हुई थी | अब मेरी हालत ऐसी थी की “मांग ले बेटा आज कुछ भी, खुदा बस बांटने के लिए ही बैठा हैं” | तीनो शायद चेन्नई से आ रही थी, पर दिखने में वो दक्षिण भारतीय नहीं लग रही थी और मोबाइल पर धारा-प्रवाह हिंदी भी बोल रही थी, इसी से मेने अंदाजा लगाया कि शायद वो अपने मध्य-प्रदेश की ही होंगी | यु तो वो शाम पांच बजे का ही समय था, पर तीनो लडकियों ने अपने शयन आसन खोले हुए थे | सबसे नीचे और मध्य वाली सीट पर लेटी दोनों लडकियाँ मोबाइल पर बात कर रही थी, वही सबसे ऊपर वाली सीट वाली लड़की लेटी-लेटी कोई किताब पढ़ रही थी | नीचे की सीट वाली दोनों लडकियाँ मोबाइल पर किसी लड़के (शायद बॉय-फ्रेण्ड) से बात कर रही थी, ये कोई भी उनके वार्तालाप सुनकर सरलता से अनुमान लगा सकता था | मध्य सीट वाली लड़की की शायद उस लड़के से नयी-नयी दोस्ती हुई होगी, इसलिए वो बहुत शर्माती-मुस्कुराती हुए बाते कर रही थी | वही नीचे वाली लड़की शायद लड़के को बहुत ज्यादा समय से जानती थी इसलिए वो जोर-जोर से चिल्लाते हुए लड़के से झगड़ रही थी | उसकी आवाज़ इतनी तेज़ थी की आसपास के सभी लोग सुन सकते थे की वो क्या बात कर रही हैं | “तुमने कल मुझे फोन क्यों नहीं किया” , “परसों की पूरी रात तुम कहा थे” , “क्या तुम मेरे लिए इतना भी नहीं कर सकते” – इस तरह के संवाद काफी चिल्लाने (या यु कहे डाटने) के स्वर में बोले जा रहे थे | उसकी बाते सुनकर तो ऐसा लग रहा था की अगर वो लड़का सामने खड़ा हो तो शायद वो उसका क़त्ल कर दे या इतनी बाते सुनकर वो लड़का ही खुद ख़ुदकुशी कर ले |

ट्रेन अभी तक नागपुर शहर से आगे नहीं बढ़ी थी, इसीलिए दोनों लडकियों को अच्छा मोबाइल नेटवर्क मिल रहा था और इसीलिए दोनों मोबाइल पर लगी हुई थी | पर उन दोनों से बेखबर वहां एक तीसरी लड़की भी थी, जो शांत चित्त होकर सबसे ऊपर वाली सीट पर लेटे कोई किताब पढ़ रही थी | अभी दोनों लडकियों के सामने बैठकर उनकी बकबक सुनने में कोई मतलब नहीं था, दूसरा मैं भी थोडा थका हुआ था, इसलिए मैं भी उनके सामने अपनी सबसे ऊपर वाली सीट पर जाकर लेट गया | सोच इस बहाने सामने लेटी, किताब पढ़ती लड़की को ही देखा जाये | वैसे उसका कोई लफड़ा (बॉय-फ्रेण्ड) नहीं हैं, इतना मुझे विश्वास था | ऐसा इसलिए कि लड़की का रिलेशन-शिप स्टेटस वो खुद नहीं, उसका मोबाइल बताता हैं | अगर किसी लड़की का मोबाइल बजे और वो काफी हँसते-मुस्कुराते हुए बात करे तो समझ जाईये कि ये नया-नया प्यार हैं, या यु कहिये नया-नया खुमार हैं | और अगर किसी लड़की का मोबाइल बजे और वो जोर-जोर से चिल्लाते हुए, झगड़ते हुए या रोते हुए बाते करे तो समझ जाईये मामला सीरियस हैं, वो काफी समय से रिलेशनशिप में हैं | और अगर कोई लड़की खुद हर आधे घंटे में फ़ोन करे और केवल २ मिनट बात करे तो समझ जाईये की वो शादी-शुदा हैं | पर इन तीनो प्रकार से अलग थी मेरे बाजु वाली सीट पर लेटी लड़की | उसका मोबाइल बंद और किताब खुली थी | इसीसे मेने अंदाजा लगाया कि बेचारी का कोई सहारा (बॉय-फ्रेण्ड) नहीं हैं, इसीलिए किताबो से दोस्ती बढाई जा रही हैं |

वैसे बंद मोबाइल वाली उस लड़की की किताब का शीर्षक भी काफी रोमांचक था – “लव कैन हेप्पन टवाइस” | पहले बंद मोबाइल से मुझे लगा था कि उसका कोई (बॉय-फ्रेण्ड) नहीं हैं पर किताब का शीर्षक पढ़कर ऐसा लगा कि उसका अभी-अभी ब्रेक-अप हुआ हैं | वरना किताब का शीर्षक “लव कैन हेप्पन टवाइस” नहीं, “लेट्स डिस्कवर लव” होना चाहिये था | खैर वो प्यार पहली बार करे या दूसरी बार करे, करे तो सही | एक बार किताब के पन्नो से नज़र उठाकर सामने बैठे इस स्मार्ट, हेंडसम,कूल डूड को देखे तो सही | पर वो थी कि मेरे सारे अरमानो पर पानी डालते हुए किताब के पन्नो में ही प्यार ढूंड रही थी | वैसे ये सिचुअशन भी अपने लिए अच्छी ही थी, अगर लड़की हमसे पूरी तरह बेखबर हो तो हम भी बेशरम बनकर उसे अच्छे से निहार सकते हैं | और ये तो लड़की भी इतनी ख़ूबसूरत थी कि मैं अपनी किस्मत पर ये सोचकर ही गौरवान्वित हो रहा था कि मुझे उसके बाजु वाली सीट मिली | कभी वो दाई और करवट लेकर किताब पड़ती तो कभी करवट बदलकर बायीं और घूम जाती, और जब दोनों करवट से ऊब जाती तो सामने की और देखते हुए किताब पढने लगती | और जब भी वो अपनी पोजीशन बदलती अपने साथ कई सारी चीजों को सहलाती, जैसे अपने हाथ के कंगन को घुमाती, आँखों को बंद मुठ्ठिया से मलती, बालो को हाथो से सहलाकर आगे कंधे पर बिखरा देती, अपने टॉप को कमर से नीचे सरकाने की कोशिश करती और पैरो को करीने से समेटने लगती | यही बात मुझे लडकियों की बहुत अच्छी लगती हैं, हर काम को करीने से करती हैं, हर आदत में एक अदा रखती हैं | वरना देखिये लडको को, कोई गधे की तरह लौट लगाते हुए सोता हैं तो कोई कुत्तो की तरह एक टांग ऊपर रखकर सोता हैं |

मैं उस लड़की को देखते हुए ख्याली पुलाव पकाये ही जा रहा था कि अचानक मेरे मोबाइल में बीप-बीप की ध्वनि हुई | मोबाइल देखा तो गोविन्द का सन्देश था – “साले…तू मेरी सगाई में आ रहा हैं कि नहीं …जल्दी बता” | अभी गोविन्द को क्या हुआ, एकदम से ऐसा क्यों पूछ रहा हैं, मैं थोडा सोच में पड़ गया | ” हाँ, आ रहा हूँ …क्यों मेरे लिए कुछ खास इन्तेजाम कर रहा हैं क्या ?” मेने सन्देश का प्रतिउत्तर दिया और फिर सामने वाली लड़की की गतिविधि देखेने लगा | मैं उस लड़की को ऊपर से नीचे तक निहारे ही जा रहा था कि अचानक उस लड़की का करवट बदलना हुआ और उसकी नज़रें पन्नो से हटकर मेरे ऊपर चली गयी | वैसे मैं क्या, किधर और कैसे देख रहा था उससे ज्यादा जरूरी हैं आपका ये जानना की उस लड़की ने क्या किया | उसने मेरी तरफ नाराज नज़रो से देखा और अपने पास पड़ी चद्दर उठाकर ओढ़ ली | केवल सिर बाहर था किताब पढ़ने के लिए और हाथ बाहर थे किताब उठाने के लिए, बाकि पूरा शरीर चद्दर में ढक चूका था | नवम्बर का मौसम वैसे तो हल्का सर्द होता हैं, पर कोई शाम को पांच बजे नागपुर जैसे गर्म स्थान पर चादर ओढ़ ले इसका क्या मतलब होता हैं, ये मैं अच्छी तरह से समझ सकता था | मन में थोडा गुस्सा भी आया कि मैं कौन सा उस लड़की को इतना प्रदूषित नज़रो से देख रहा हूँ जो उसने अपने ताजमहल को चादर में छुपा लिया | पर मैं उस लड़की की मनोदशा भी समझ सकता हूँ, जब से देश में बलात्कार की घटनाये बढी हैं, लडकिया अपने तरफ उठने वाली हर नज़र को बलात्कारी के रूप में ही देखती हैं | खैर, लड़की के इस दांव से मुझमे थोड़ी बची-कुची शर्म का आगमन हुआ और मैं भी करवट बदलकर ट्रेन की बेरंग दीवारों को घूरने लगा |

इससे पहले की मेरा मन बेरंग दीवारों से ऊबता, मेरे मोबाइल में फिर से सन्देश-ध्वनि हुई | गोविन्द का सन्देश था – “नहीं, मैं तो ये बता रहा था …कि अगर तू नहीं भी आ रहा हो तो भी मैं सगाई कर लूँगा” | अभी मुझे यकीन हो गया कि गोविन्द का टाइम-पास नहीं हो रहा हैं, तभी वो मुझे भी पका रहा हैं | खैर अपना वक़्त भी उस समय कुछ मजे में नहीं कट रहा था तो सोचा गोविन्द से ही मन बहलाया जाये | ” तुझसे इससे ज्यादा की उम्मीद भी नहीं थी … पर मैं शादी और शादी के बाद भी तुझे परेशान करने जरूर पहुच जाऊंगा…वैसे भाभीजी का नाम-पता-फोटो कुछ तो बता” – मेने प्रतिउत्तर दिया और फिर बैरंग दीवारों को देखने लग गया | ट्रेन नागपुर शहर से आगे बढ़ चुकी थी और मोबाइल नेटवर्क के सिग्नल कमजोर हो चुके थे | नीचे बैठी दोनों लडकियों के मोबाइल जवाब दे चुके थे इसलिए वो मोबाइल बाजु में रखकर आपस में बातें करने लगी | कुछ देर पहले मोबाइल पर चिल्लाती-चीखती लड़की अब खिलखिलाकर बाते कर रही थी और मुझे आश्चर्य हो रहा था कि कोई इतनी जल्दी अपना मूड कैसे ठीक कर सकता हैं | अभी कुछ देर पहले तो गुस्से की पराकाष्ठा पर चढ़ी ये चंडी इतनी जल्दी मस्ती-मजाक के मूड में कैसे आ गयी | बरफ भी पिघलने में थोडा वक़्त लगाता हैं पर इंसानी मिजाज में ऐसा त्वरित परिवर्तन भौतिकी के हर नियम को गलत सिद्ध करता हैं |

दोनों लडकियों की बातो से मुझे पता चला की वो दोनों खिलाडी हैं और चेन्नई में कोई स्पर्धा में भाग लेकर लौटे हैं | गुस्से से बात करने वाली लड़की जीतकर लौटी हैं और मुस्कुराती हुई बात करने वाली लड़की हार कर लौटी हैं | अभी मुझे फिर से आश्चर्य हुआ, कोई विजयी होकर भी इतने गुस्से में क्यों था और कोई हारकर भी इतना कैसे मुस्कुरा रहा था | खैर किसी ने सच ही कहा हैं – ” वो गुस्सा तेरा झूठा था या ये मुस्कान सच्ची हैं | तू मंजिल हैं मेरी या सड़क अभी कच्ची हैं |” वैसे मेरी मंजिल उन दोनो में से कोई भी नहीं थी, मेरी नज़रे तो सबसे ऊपर लेटी हुई लड़की पर लगी हुई थी, पर उसकी नज़रे थी कि मेरे रंगीन चहरे को नज़रन्दाज करते हुए काले-सफ़ेद कागज़ के पन्नो पर जमी हुई थी | मैं अभी इस ख्याल को अंजाम ही दे रहा था की अचानक मेरे मोबाइल पर फिर से सन्देश-ध्वनि हुई | शायद ट्रेन किसी आबादी वाले क्षेत्र से निकल रही थी और मोबाइल को फिर से नेटवर्क मिलने लग गया था | गोविन्द का सन्देश था – ” भाभी का नाम अदिति हैं और ये उसकी फोटो हैं ” फोटो डाऊनलोड हो रहा था पर मुझे यकीन था की ये फोटो या तो कटरीना कैफ का होगा या फिर दीपिका पादुकोण का | पर मेरे कयासों को झूठ साबित करते हुए गोविन्द ने इस बार मुझे वाकई में भाभीजी का ओरिजिनल फोटो भेजा था | मोबाइल फिर से नेटवर्क खोता इससे पहले फोटो डाउनलोड हो गया और मेने जब फोटो देखा तो अपनी नजरो पर यकीन नहीं हुआ | फोटो की हुबहू शकल वाली लड़की मेरे सामने वाली सीट पर किताब पढ़ रही थी |

अब मेरी हालत ऎसी थी कि – “तुझे खुदा कहू या इन्सान ही मानू, तुझसे गले मिलु या तेरे पैरो में गिरूँ |” जिसे खुदा का नजराना मानकर मैं इतनी देर से नज़रे फाड़-फाड़ कर निहारे जा रहा था, वो नजराना तो था पर मेरे लिए नहीं,गोविन्द के लिये | अभी मुझे समझ में नहीं आ रहा था कि कैसे अपनी पहचान सामने बैठी भाभीजी के सामने उजागर करू, और उजागर भी करू कि नहीं क्युकी अभी तक वो मेरे बारे में कुछ अच्छा नहीं सोच रही होंगी | पर कुछ भी करने के पहले पुष्टि करना जरूरी था | मेने फोटो को दाये से मिलाया, बायीं तरफ से मिलाया, हर तरफ से सामने बैठी लड़की हुबहू वही थी | फिर मेने उसके सामान में बेडमिन्टन का रेकेट देखा तो मुझे याद आया कि गोविन्द ने मुझे बताया था कि भाभीजी बेडमिन्टन की खिलाडी हैं | और अब अगर नीचे बैठी दोनों लडकियाँ चेन्नई से खेलकर लौटी हैं तो ऊपर बैठी भाभीजी भी इनके साथ चेन्नई से खेलकर ही लौटी होंगी | नीचे वाली लडकिया भी उन्हें अदिति कहकर बुला रही थी | इन सब बातो से मुझे पक्का यकीन हो गया की वो और कोई नहीं बल्कि होने वाली भाभीजी ही हैं |

अभी मुझे ३ इडीयट फिल्म का एक द्रश्य बहुत याद आ रहा था | ” ह्यूमन बिहेवियर के बारे में हमने उस दिन कुछ जाना, दोस्त फ़ैल हो जाये तो दुःख होता हैं लेकिन दोस्त फर्स्ट आ जाये तो ज्यादा दुःख होता हैं ” | मेरे मामले में ये मसला परीक्षा परीणाम का नहीं, लड़की का था | “दोस्त की ज़िन्दगी में कोई लड़की ना हो तो दुःख होता हैं पर दोस्त को इतनी ख़ूबसूरत मंगेतर मिल जाये तो ज्यादा दुःख होता हैं ” | वैसे भी कहाँ इतनी ख़ूबसूरत, खिलाडियों जैसी चुस्त-दुरस्त काया वाले अमीर भाभीजी और कहा आँखों पर मोटा चश्मे पहने, पेट पर एक ऊँगली अतिरिक्त चर्बी चड़ाए हमारा गरीब सॉफ्टवेयर इंजिनयर दोस्त | ऐसी जोड़ी कैसे बन गयी, ये सोचकर मैं हैरान था | वैसे मैं कितना भी हैरान-परेशान हो लू पर एक बात तो तय थी कि सामने बैठी लड़की अपनी भाभीजी हैं और अब भाभीजी को केवल भाभीजी की नज़रो से ही देखना हैं | वैसे भी ये दुःख-जलन बस एक पल की प्रतिक्रियाये हैं, दिल में तो दोस्त के लिए ख़ुशी और अच्छी भावनाए ही थी |

वैसे मुझे अपने दोस्त के लिए ख़ुशी इस बात से भी थी की भाभीजी ऊपर बैठी हुए लड़की ही निकली, नीचे मोबाइल पर बात करने वाली नहीं | सबसे ऊपर बैठी भाभीजी तो मुझे भी शुरू से ही बहुत पसंद थी, अब वो मेरी भाभी बने या मेरे दोस्त की, भाभी बने तो सही | एक और बात की ख़ुशी थी की भाभीजी का केरेक्टर भी साफ हैं, अपने दोस्त के अलावा उनकी ज़िन्दगी में कोई नहीं, वरना अभी तक तो कितनी बार मोबाइल आ जाता और अपनी मोबाइल थ्योरी से मुझे सब कुछ पता चल जाता | इतना सब सोचकर मुझे लगा कि अब मुझे भाभीजी को अपनी पहचान बता देना चाहिए, आखिर गोविन्द अपने खास दोस्तों में से हैं | मैं भाभीजी को कुछ कहने के लिए शब्द ही ढूंड ही रहा था कि भाभीजी ने किताब बाजु में रख दी और कुछ सोचने लगी | थोड़ी देर सोचकर उन्होंने मोबाइल उठाया और किसी को कॉल किया | “गाड़ी बैतूल स्टेशन पर पहुचने ही वाली हैं, तुम आ रहे हो न मिलने” भाभीजी ने फोन लगाकर सामने वाले से कहा | “ठीक हैं, मैं S-6 डिब्बे में हूँ, वही मिलती हूँ” इतना कहकर उन्होंने फोन काट दिया | कुछ ही देर में ट्रेन बेतुल स्टेशन पर जाकर खड़ी हो गयी | भाभीजी अपनी सीट से नीचे उतरे, अपने बैग में से गिफ्ट जैसा पैक सामान निकला और बाहर प्लेटफार्म पर जाकर खड़े हो गए |

वैसे मुझे जासूसी करना कभी भी अच्छा नहीं लगता पर अब अपने दोस्त के सुरक्षित भविष्य और अपनी आशंकाओ को मिटाने के लिए सच्चाई का जानना जरूरी था | मैं भी बैतूल स्टेशन पर भाभीजी के पीछे-पीछे उतर गया और उन पर नज़र रखने लगा | कुछ ही मिनटों में वहा एक लड़का आया और वो भाभीजी से बाते करने लगा | लड़का देखने में कोई २४-२५ साल का लग रहा था, ६ फिट लम्बा गोरा-चिकना और बॉडी-बिल्डर टाइप भी था बिलकुल जॉन इब्राहीम की तरह | भाभीजी ने वो गिफ्ट जैसा पैकेट उसे दिया और बदले में उसने भाभीजी को केडबरी की १० रुपये वाली चोकोलेट दी | दोनों ट्रेन के चलने तक हँसते हुए बाते कर रहे थे | पाच मिनट के स्टॉप के बाद ट्रेन ने चलने का सिग्नल दिया और भाभीजी उसको बाय कहकर फिर से अपनी सीट पर आकर बैठ गयी | उनके ही पीछे-पीछे मैं भी अपनी सीट पर आकर बैठ गया | अभी भाभीजी मेरे सामने उस लड़के की दी हुई केडबरी खाने लगे | मन तो हुआ कि भाभीजी से अभी कहे की फेंको ये चोकोलेट, मैं अभी आप को अपने दोस्त की तरफ से १०० रुपये वाली बड़ी केडबरी लाकर देता हूँ, पर अब कहे भी तो किस मुँह से | जैसे-जैसे ट्रेन आगे की और बढ़ रही थी, भाभीजी की केडबरी ख़तम हो रही थी और मेरा मन भी आशंकाओ के बादल से निकलकर कुछ सकारात्मक सोचने की कोशिश कर रहा था | ” हो सकता हैं वो लड़का सिर्फ दोस्त हो या जान-पहचान वाला या रिश्तेदारी वाला हो, हो सकता हैं की वो उनका कोई दूर का भाई हो, दोनों का गोरा रंग और चेहरा भी मिल रहा था, वैसे भी भाभीजी का उसके साथ कोई चक्कर होता तो वो मोबाइल थ्योरी के अनुसार उससे मोबाइल पर घंटो बाते कर रही होती, इस तरह किताबे नहीं पढ़ रही होती|” मन को ऐसी बातो से मेने समझाया की ऐसा कुछ नहीं जैसा मैं सोच रहा हूँ पर आशंका का बीज मन में बो चूका था और अब उसका समाधान होना अति-आवश्यक था |

आशा और आशंका की उस उधेड़बुन में तकरीबन एक घंटा बीत चूका था और ट्रेन बैतूल से इटारसी आ पहुची थी | इटारसी में ट्रेन रात के कोई ९ बजे पहुची थी और ट्रेन में बैठे अधिकांश लोग अपने रात्रि-भोजन में व्यस्त थे | मेने अभी तक भाभीजी को अपनी पहचान नहीं बतायी थी पर अभी तक मैं भाभीजी और गोविन्द का विचार भी मन से निकाल नहीं पाया था | सोचा आशंकाओ को क्यों ना बातचीत से मिटाया जाये , भाभीजी को अपनी पहचान बतायी जाई और उनसे बाते की जाये | और फिर बातो ही बातो में उनसे उस लड़के के बारे में पूछ लिया जाये, क्यों मैं मन ही मन अकेले ही घुटकर अपना वज़न कम करू | ये विचार मुझे सबसे अच्छा लगा और मैं भाभीजी को अपनी पहचान बताने को तैयार हो गया | पर इससे पहले मैं कुछ बोलता भाभीजी ने फिर से मोबाइल उठा लिया – “हेल्लो, मैं S-6 डिब्बे में हु, जल्दी आ जाओ मिलने”, ट्रेन इटारसी स्टेशन के आउटर पर खड़ी थी जब भाभीजी ने किसी को ये कॉल किया | अभी मेने अपनी कुछ देर पहले बनायीं बातचीत की योजना को रद्द किया और भाभीजी के हाव-भाव देखने लगा | कुछ ही मिनटों में ट्रेन इटारसी स्टेशन के प्लेटफार्म पर जाकर खड़ी हो गयी | भाभीजी फिर अपनी सीट से उतरे और वैसा ही गिफ्ट अपने बैग से निकाला | फिर वो बाहर जाकर खड़े हो गए | बाहर एक लड़का उनका पहले से ही इंतज़ार कर रहा था | ये लड़का भी पिछले वाले की ही उम्र का होगा, कद ५’१०”, लम्बे बाल और गोरा रंग | उसका चेहरा कुछ-कुछ शाहिद कपूर के जैसा ही चोकोलेटी था | वो भाभीजी से बात करते हुए थोडा शरमा भी रहा था पर भाभीजी उससे काफी खुलकर मुस्कुराते हुए बात कर रही थी | इस बार भी भाभीजी ने उसे वैसा ही गिफ्ट दिया और बदले में उस लड़के ने भाभीजी को २० रुपैये वाली केडबरी चोकोलेट दी | पांच मिनट की उस छोटी पर प्यार भरी मुलाकात के बाद भाभीजी फिर से ट्रेन में अपनी सीट पर आकर बैठ गए और ट्रेन इटारसी स्टेशन से आगे बढ़ गयी |

मन तो फिर से हुआ की अभी भाभीजी से कहे कि फेंको ये चोकोलेट, मेरा दोस्त आपको शादी के बाद अमेरिका की चोकोलेट खिलायेगा पर वही कहे तो किस मुँह से | अभी मेने तय किया की अपनी पहचान गुप्त रखता हूँ और भाभीजी पर पूरी नज़र रखता हूँ | वैसे इस तरह अपनी होने वाली भाभीजी पर नज़र रखना अच्छा तो नहीं लग रहा था पर क्या करे, अपने दोस्त की इज्ज़त अब बस मेरे ही हाथो बच सकती थी, और मैं दोस्ती निभाने का ये मौका बिलकुल हाथो से नहीं जाने देना चाहता था | भाभीजी ट्रेन में आकर फिर से अपनी पुस्तक में खो गयी | अभी मुझे उनके यही किताब पढने का मतलब समझ आया – “लव कैन हेप्पन टवाइस” | बैतूल और इटारसी जैसी छोटी जगहों पर ही टवाइस टाइम लव तो हो ही चूका था और अभी भी ट्रेन को भोपाल, उज्जैन और इंदौर जैसे बड़े स्टेशन पर पहुचना बाकि थी | खैर थोड़ी ही देर में जिस बात से मन डर रहा था वही हो गया | ट्रेन रात को १० से ११ बजे के दरमियाँ भोपाल पहुची | जो लोग भोपाल में रहते होंगे या वहां गए होंगे वो जानते होंगे की भोपाल में दो स्टेशन हैं – हबीबगंज और भोपाल मुख्य | हमारी ट्रेन हबीबगंज में तो ५ मिनट ही रुकी पर इन पांच मिनट में भी भाभीजी का आशिक (कहते हुआ बुरा लग रहा हैं, पर क्या करे ) आ गया | लड़का थोडा सावला सा था और थोडा दुबला भी था | अगर मैं किसी बॉलीवुड हीरो से कम्पैर करू तो वो बिलकुल दक्षिण के सुपर स्टार धानुष जैसा दिख रहा था | भाभीजी के आशिको में अब बनारस का रान्झाना भी शामिल हो गया था | उसे भी भाभीजी ने गिफ्ट दिया और उसने भाभीजी को रिटर्न में फिर से चोकोलेट दी | अभी चोकोलेट का साइज़ भी बाद गया था, शायद वो ५०-६० रुपये की होगी | बड़े शहरो में आकर चोकोलेट का साइज़ भी बढ़ रहा था |

हबीबगंज के बाद ट्रेन भोपाल मुख्य स्टेशन पर पहुची | जॉन इब्राहीम, शाहिद कपूर और धानुष के बार अब बारी रणबीर कपूर की थी | भोपाल मुख्य स्टेशन पर भाभीजी से मिला लड़का रणबीर कपूर जैसा ही गोरा-चिट्टा और लम्बा – पूरा था | वो भाभीजी से काफी खुला हुआ भी लग रहा था | ट्रेन भोपाल मुख्य स्टेशन पर पुरे २० मिनट रुकी और इन २० मिनटों में वो लड़का भाभीजी के साथ खूब हंस-हंस कर बाते करता रहा | उसे भाभीजी ने दौ गिफ्ट दिए और उसने भी भाभीजी को १०० रुपये वाली बड़ी केद्बेरी दी | अभी तो मन हुआ की भोपाल के इस सावंरिया को भोपाल के ही बड़े तालाब में जाकर डुबो दे, पर कर क्या सकते थे | अभी मेरे मन में मेरे बेचारे दोस्त के लिए बहुत अफ़सोस हुआ, कहाँ थोडा सा मोटा, आलसी, निकम्मा और सॉफ्टवेयर की नौकरी का मारा मेरा सीधा-साधा, भोला-भाला गरीब दोस्त, और कहाँ इतने ख़ूबसूरत भाभीजी और उनके इतने हेंडसम आशिक | कैसे मेरा अमोल पालेकर दोस्त इन नए हीरो से मुकाबला कर हीरोइन को पटायेगा |

ट्रेन ११ बजे तक भोपाल से निकल चुकी थी | ट्रेन के सारे यात्री सो चुके थे या सोने की तैयारी कर रहे थे | भाभीजी भी किताब बंद करके सो रही थी | मुझे भी नींद आ रही थी तो मैं भी भाभीजी से नज़रे हटाकर आँखे मूंदकर सो गया | रात में ट्रेन में कोई हलचल नहीं हो रही थी और मुझे बड़े आराम से गहरी नींद आ गयी | कुछ घंटो बाद मेरी नींद खुली तो वो रात कोई २-३ बजे की बात होगी | ट्रेन शुजालपुर स्टेशन पर रुकी हुई थी और मेरी सोच के विपरीत शुजालपुर जैसे छोटे से स्टेशन पर भी कोई लड़का भाभीजी से मिलने आ गया | अभी तो मेरी पूरी नींद उड़ गयी और मैं चोरी से भाभीजी और उस लड़के को देखने लगा | वैसे ये लड़का दिखने में पूरा रणवीर सिंह जैसा फालतू और फुकरा दिख रहा था, पर भाभीजी ने उससे भी सब जैसा ही बर्ताव रखा | उसे भी गिफ्ट दिया और उससे भी चोकोलेट ली | अभी मैं और भी चौकन्ना हो गया और सोने की बजाय भाभीजी पर नज़र रखने लग गया, क्योंकी एक घंटे बाद ही उज्जैन स्टेशन आने वाला था | मैं आँखे खोलकर उज्जैन आने का इंतज़ार करने लगा, पर भगवान् महाकाल की कृपा से उज्जैन में ऐसा कुछ नहीं हुआ, मतलब भाभीजी से मिलने कोई नहीं आया और उज्जैन जैसी पवित्र नगरी की पवित्रता बरक़रार रही | और इस तरह कुल पांच विभिन्न स्टेशन पर ” लव केन हेप्पन टवाइस, थ्राईस, फोर-स और फिफ्थ” टाइम करते हुए भाभीजी और मैं सुबह ६ बजे इंदौर स्टेशन पर पहुच गए |

इंदौर स्टेशन ट्रेन का भी आखिरी स्टॉप था तो सभी यात्री ट्रेन से उतर रहे थे | मैं भी अपना सामान लेकर नीचे उतरा तो देखा भाभीजी इंदौर में तीन लडको से बात कर रही थी | उन्हें भी भाभीजी ने गिफ्ट दिया और उनसे चोकोलेट ली | अभी मेने अपना मोबाइल निकाला और अपने दोस्त गोविन्द को फोन करने लगा | हालाँकि उससे क्या कहूँगा ये मुझे समझ नहीं आ रहा था, अभी ये तो नहीं कह सकता ना कि अगर इस लड़की से तेरी शादी हुई तो तेरी सौतन मध्य प्रदेश के हर स्टेशन पर मिल जाएगी (या जायेगा) | पर उसे सब बताना जरूरी था, तीन दिनों बाद उसकी सगाई हैं और आज तो वो शोपिंग के लिए भी जाने वाला था | अगर ये सब कुछ आज ही क्लियर हो गया तो बेचारे के खरीददारी के पैसे भी बच जायेंगे | खैर, मेने फोन लगाया और ठन्डे दिमाग से उसे पूरी बात बतायी | उसका दिल भी बैठ गया और उसने कहा की वो अभी भाभीजी से बात करके सब कुछ पता करता हैं | मेने गुजारिश कि मेरी पहचान और नाम गुप्त रखा जाये अन्यथा अगर उसकी शादी हो गयी तो मैं भाभीजी के सामने हमेशा असहज ही रहूँगा |

गोविन्द को कॉल करके मैं इंदौर स्टेशन पर ऑटो देखने में लग गया | कुछ ही देर में मेने देखा की ऑटो स्टैंड पर उन तीन में से दौ लड़के खड़े थे | उन्होंने मेरे सामने ही उस गिफ्ट को फाड़ा और मेने देखा कि उसके अन्दर से चमचमाता हुआ मैडल निकला | मेने सोचा गोविन्द अपना दोस्त हैं, भाभीजी भी अपने होने वाले भाभीजी हैं, पर ये लड़के तो थर्ड पार्टी हैं , क्यों न इनसे जाकर कोई जानकारी निकाली जाये | मैं उन लडको के पास गया और पूछा कि ये मैडल उन्हें क्यों मिला हैं, तब उन्होंने मुझे बताया कि वो मध्य प्रदेश बास्केट-बॉल टीम के सदस्य हैं और ये मैडल उन्हें चेन्नई में हुई स्पर्धा में मिला था | मध्य-प्रदेश उस स्पर्धा में दुसरे स्थान पर रहा था | अभी मुझे गिफ्ट की गुत्थी तो समझ में आने लगी थी पर बात पूरी तरह से साफ नहीं हुई थी | मेने उनसे पूछा की क्या वो लोग भी अभी-अभी अहिल्या एक्सप्रेस से लौटे हैं तब उन्होंने मुझे बताया कि नहीं, वो लोग अपने मैडल चेन्नई में ही भूलकर आ गए थे, ये तो अभी अदिति मैडम वहां बेडमिन्टन स्पर्धा में गये थे तो वो लेकर आ गयी | अभी मुझे गिफ्ट और लडको के बारे में सब कुछ समझ आ गया था पर ये पक्का नहीं था की ट्रेन में मिले सभी लड़के बास्केटबॉल टीम के ही सदस्य थे | मेने उनसे कहा कि आपकी टीम में बस आप दौ ही लोग थे तब उन्होंने बताया की उनकी टीम में मध्यप्रदेश के विभिन्न शहरो के खिलाडी थे जैसे इंदौर, भोपाल, ग्वालियर, रीवा …यहाँ तक की इटारसी और शुजालपुर से भी खिलाडी थे, पुरे १० लोगो की टीम थी मध्य-प्रदेश की | इतना कहकर वो दोनो लड़के ऑटो में बैठकर वहा से चले गये |

अभी मुझे यकीन हो गया कि ट्रेन में मिले सभी लड़के बास्केटबॉल टीम के सदस्य थे और सभी भाभीजी से अपने मैडल लेने आये थे | मेरा सिर तो जैसे शर्म से झुक गया – कैसे मेने क्षिप्रा की तरह पवित्र और इन्दोरी सेव जितने सीधे भाभीजी के बारे में क्या-क्या नहीं सोच डाला | मन में विचार आया की क्यों न इस पाप के प्रायश्चित के लिए घर जाने से पहले खान-नाले में डुबकी लगा ली जाये | पर कुछ करने के पहले दोस्त को सच्चाई बताना जरूरी था | उस बेचारे के गुलशन में तो फूल खिलने के पहले ही कांटे बिछना शुरू हो चुके थे | मेने गोविन्द को सब कुछ बताने के लिए कॉल किया पर जैसे वो पहले से ही सब कुछ जान गया था | जैसे ही मेरा कॉल लगा उसने जोर-जोर से हँसना शुरू कर दिया | मैं उसे कुछ बताता उसने ही हँसते हुए मुझे बास्केटबॉल टीम और उनके मैडल की पूरी कहानी बता दी | उसने ये भी बताया की भाभीजी ने उनके टीम के कप्तान को मजाक में कहा था की मैडल लेने के लिए उन्हें चोकोलेट खिलानी होगी तो कप्तान के आदेशानुसार सभी खिलाडी उनके लिए चोकोलेट लेकर आये | अभी मुझसे कुछ न उगलते हुए बन रहा था ना निगलते हुए, पर दिल में दोस्त के लिए ख़ुशी जरूर हो रही थी | और गोविन्द था की भाभीजी को ट्रेन में मिली हुई चोकोलेट खा रहा था और हँसे जा रहा था | मेने उससे कॉल काटने के पहले पूछा कि उसने मेरे बारे में भाभीजी को बताया तो नहीं कि तुझे ये सब मेने बताया हैं | जवाब में वो देर तक कुटिल तरीके से हँसता रहा और बोला कि उसने मेरा नाम-पता-चेहरा सब कुछ भाभीजी को बता दिया हैं और उसने फोन कट कर दिया | मैं भी ऑटो में बैठकर अपने घर की और चल दिया | वैसे मेरे मन में विश्वास था की गोविन्द अपना अच्छा दोस्त हैं, उसने भाभीजी को मेरे बारे में कुछ नहीं बताया होगा, वो ऐसे ही मजाक में मुझसे कह रहा हैं कि उसने भाभीजी को सब कुछ बता दिया हैं | पर अच्छे दोस्तों की नीयत में कब कमीनेपन की खोट आ जाये कुछ कहा नहीं जा सकता | वैसे गोविन्द कितना भी बड़ा कमीना हो या ना हो, पर साला समझदार जरूर हैं, आखिर उसने इतने मस्त भाभीजी को अपने जीवनसाथी के रूप में जो पसंद किया था |

Struggle to complete the circle


Nityam is in trouble, but this time due to his girl friend. She gets upset with Nityam on little misunderstanding but  there is no mistake of Nityam in that. While waiting for upset girlfriend, he met with two kids, one is crying due to hunger and other wants toys badly…what happen next…read the complete story

Whenever she gets late, she has genuine problem like she is helping her mother in kitchen, her father is at home, her best friend come to meet,  her pet is not well or she apply face pack… blah-blah. But when I get late, it’s always my carelessness, recklessness and laziness. Same thing happened that day; it was 31st December and we planned to go for pizza party in evening. She told me to pick up her from her friend’s home in evening. But what she didn’t tell me that her friend’s home is at Wardhman Nagar, almost twelve kilometer away from my place. At seven thirty in evening, I called to know her friend’s address and she annoyingly said to me that she waited for me at her friend’s place from an hour, and finally she left by city bus.  Now who argue with her that she should tell me in morning itself that her friend’s home is far away from here, so that I would start early. But not , she didn’t tell me in morning, she called me at six in evening  but unfortunately, I missed to pick the call as I was driving to drop my friend at railway station. And finally, she left her friend’s place and returning by city bus.

There is difference between fool and smart man; fool argues with woman and smart only hear them. But both finishes with same conclusion; foolish said at the end that you can never win with woman in argument and smart already knows it. I am not fool but also not very smart, I called and tried to convey my helplessness to her at some extent but she was not ready to accept anything. And as the adverse effect of my defense speech, she got angry and cursed a lot to me.  At the end of our conversation, I thought she would cancel pizza plan and go to her home directly. But no, she still wanted to go for pizza and told me to wait for her at Dominoz. One thing I could not understand that how can one party and eat pizza if he or she is really very upset. I tried to call her again to say sorry but she didn’t pick up my call later.

Sometime I really don’t understand her, I mean what is the point to get upset at such a small thing. I never mind when she ignore me and prefer her pet dog…yes…it happened 2-3 times with me, we planned to meet but she cancelled at the last moment as she wanted to spend time with her pet dog. I mean how can one ignore human over dog, and that too a man who loves you. I tried to talk her on this but she blamed me that I am insecure; I am trying to impose my order on her; I am felling jealous with pet. Yes, it’s true that I don’t like pets but I never feel jealous with them. All blames of her hurt me, and in the curse of hurt when I counter replied on these blames, it converted into a big mess. So to avoid such conflict this time, rather than playing blame game I sent a sorry SMS to her, and started waiting for her at Dominoz.

She was coming from twelve kilometer away and that too in city bus. It will take almost an hour to reach her at here.  There was no point to go home and come back for me as it will take one hour, so I better think to wait for her at Dominoz only. Weekend evening means prime time at Dominoz and that day it was New Year evening also. I didn’t want keep people waiting by occupying one table for long time without order anything, so I thought to wait her outside restaurant only.  I sit at the base outside the outlet and started watching road side to pass the time. One thing I like most about Nagpur is its roads. Broad roads filled with greenery from both sides, bright street lights, road side shops, moderate traffic, little chilled air and lovely people moving…its really pleasure to watch this. Though there are many holes and pits germinates on the roads now a days, traffic is still in control in spite of a big rush…no usual  jams …no blockages…like a river is flowing  on plain grounds…slow but steady. Rich, poor, middle class, traditional, liberal, bike wala, cycle wala, car wala, Marathi, Bengali, Gujrati,  South Indian, North Indian, East Indians…one can see people from all over India on the roads of Nagpur. From Audi, Mercedes to Maruti wan, from thunder bird to Luna super…Nagpur roads shows the display of all vehicles.  All alone or with friends, in a couple or with full family…each and every one is moving on the roads of Nagpur…not very fast, not so slow…but with moderate speed…enjoying and cherishing each and every moment of the path. I can surely say that unlike Mumbai where people are running in race, Nagpur is still jogging. And you know I like jogging more than race…race make you tired at the end but jogging is always recharging, refreshing and rejuvenating.

As a unique packaging of writer and software tester, I always observe and think something, otherwise who the hell will think so much on terrible things like traffic and roads, and that too when he is so desperately waiting for his upset girlfriend. But that is me, always connected with world of my thoughts and emotions. My world is different but it’s not totally disconnected from real one. A sudden brake of car broke my thoughts world and brings me back at the front of Dominoz. A lady with her around ten year old kid came at Dominoz in that car. Her fair color, slim body and gorgeous look were telling me that she takes good care of her.  Same way her branded jeans, expensive jewelry and long shining car were telling me that she must belongs to the rich family. She looked a bit tired but her kid seemed very happy. May be they came at Dominoz at the wish of kid only.

They were moving towards the entry gates of Dominoz and the boy looked at the footpath; a lady was selling toys there. Suddenly boy stopped stepping and asked mother to take toys for him. His mother didn’t give attention to his request and also didn’t stop. But the boy urged again, and this time mother paid attention to him. She looked at the toys for a moment. It added a hope at other lady that she must purchase few toys from her. But her mother gave an ill look toward the toy shop at footpath, like it was a hell-hole. She rejected boy’s request to buy toys with big NO. But kid already lost his heart for toys. He again insisted mother with shout and cry this time. Face of toy seller lady again shined with optimism but rich mother again rejected the request. Boy seemed very disappointed, he removed his hand from her mother’s hand and started crying loudly now. Toy seller lady again started starring them positively but mother used brain this time. She told boy that they will take toys after dinner. Boy was not looked happy but agreed at this commitment. They went inside the restaurant and toy seller lady was started looking other people to sell the toys.

That was a bad day for toy seller lady. Nobody was stopping at her, no kids and no elders. But she was putting great effort to sell toys. She was singing folk song and urged each and everyone passing from there to purchase toys. Especially for kids, she was trying a lot to attract them by singing with funny facial expressions and hand movements. While looking at her act, I noticed that she was keeping an eye at restaurant door also. After every few minutes, she looked at the Dominoz. May be she was waiting for that kid and his mother to come out.

There were three people waiting there at that time. One is me, who am waiting for huffy girlfriend; other is toy seller lady, who is waiting for that rich lady and her son to come out from restaurant. Third is a little kid who sat aside the toy seller lady and the single audience of the lady who was enjoying her act. (He must be son of the toy seller lady). But now he started feeling hungry; he was telling her mother to go home now. But his mother was not giving attention to him and continuing her act to tease the people moving from there. The boy kept patience for some time but later he started shouting at her mother. He was keep telling her mother that he is dying of hunger and now they should go home and prepare dinner. His mother asked him to keep patience for next five – ten minutes more. Boy accepted her plea unhappily and waited silently for some time, but his mother was not ready to go even after fifteen minutes. He again insisted his mother to go home but this time again mother asked for few more minutes. Boy became red on this and started throwing toys from shop at road. He was shouting that he want something to eat now. His mother collected all thrown toys from road and shouted at him to stop acting like this. But boy was not affected by mother’s thunder as he was still shouting and throwing toys. Toy seller lady handled the kid softly now. She took him in her lap and kissed at the face. She told him that there is a memsahib came in big car at front hotel; she had promised her kid to take toys from their shop. Toy seller lady explained that they will go home once memsahib came and purchase toys from her. She also told the kid that this memsahib looked very rich so she will purchase many toys and it ultimately makes good profit to us.  She committed that after selling toys to memsahib, they will surely go home; and if it will make good profit, she will make halwa for him. Boy was really looking very hungry but he accepted this commitment with tears in eyes. He maintained silent and didn’t disturb after mother’s commitment. Toy seller lady again made her busy in her act to tease people. Now both son and mother were keeping an eye at restaurant, mother was looking after regular interval of few minutes but boy was continuously looking at the restaurant exit door only.

By looking city’s restaurant, it seems that no one cook food at home on Saturday. Everyone is heading to any restaurant like there is a silent policy made by government to eat out at Saturday; And that was New Year evening too, so markets and restaurants celebrate a good rush and hub. That rich lady and her son were taking a lot time in restaurant, and that was too obvious as there were many people in queue in restaurant. Toy seller lady was still entertaining people by her act and her son was still looking at restaurant doors. His eyes were moist and face changed yellow due to hunger. But in-spite of all, he was silently looking at exit doors only. His condition reminds me about the non-violent protesters who usually sits outside the government office at hunger strike.

After waiting for almost forty five minutes, that lady and son came out from the restaurant. Unlike while entering, lady looked fresh now. Good meal with loved ones always erases the tiredness of the day and refreshes the mood. They might recharge now with satisfaction of good food, but there were some hungry eyes that were desperately waiting for them outside. Toy seller lady started singing and acting loudly while looking them to tease the kid. Her son was still silent but one could easily sense the hope and excitement at his face while looking memsahib. Kid of memsahib looked at the toys and it reminded him that his mother made promise to take toys while returning.  He rubbed his mother’s elbow and asked her to go at toys now. Rich lady looked at toys and again made hell look. She told the son that they will buy toys next time. But kid was not agreed and he reminded his mother that she made promise to him. His mother lean toward him and said that these toys are so cheap; she will bring a new video game for him. But this was not accepted to boy and he again reminded the mother that she had made promise before moving inside. Mother made a new promise to bring a new video game this time, but now son was not relying on her. He cried and cursed a lot but mother didn’t hear anything. She started the car and shouted at son to sit inside. Poor boy had no options left except sit inside, but he was cursing the mother till the time car moved from there. Whatever one should do but never make false promises to children; the kid looked more upset on not keeping the promise rather than toys.

One kid returned from there with tears in eyes and complains at lips, and he also left another kid with disappointment at face and hunger in stomach. Toy seller lady stopped her act and started wrapping her toys now. Lady toy seller silently hided her disappointment but her kid lost patience and that is too obvious as he was waiting for them from a long time in the state of hunger strike. He started shouting the mother that ‘why she didn’t hear him and go earlier’, ‘what she gets by keeping him hungry from long time’. He also cursed the lady and his son who came in restaurant – ‘these rich people are heartless…what will their go if they purchase some toys from us’. After shouting loudly for few minutes, suddenly his throat choked for a moment and it made his mouth shut. His words may jam but his eyes had taken charge now; he started weeping by rubbing his both eyes by hands. Boy was crying but lady seller was not looking at him. She was still busy in collecting toys and shut the shop. Her hands were moving in very fast mode and she also looked in hurry. May be she agreed with the son’s complaint and now wanted to go home and prepare food for him as soon as possible.

This world is full of strange facts; the rich boy whose appetite is full, crying for toys and the boy who has entire toy shop, crying because of empty stomach. Human desire always come in circle, you have the key of someone’s happiness and same way someone has the key of your happiness. It’s just the matter to find and shakes hand with him and this is how circle completes.  The whole struggle of one’s life comes in completing this circle only.

I may get philosophical and create theory with circle and hand shake, but in reality food is the basic need of every human being; toys come secondary. Boy was crying by hunger and I don’t know why I felt burden of it. This baggage should go to either mother and son duo that left the restaurant few minutes ago or toy seller lady, but why I was feeling something bad. Some decisions of human heart are always indigestible, and the worse thing is we can’t manipulate heart at such occasions. With the curse of heavy heart, I went to close the toy seller lady’s shop but I was not sure what I will do there.

‘What do you need?’ toy seller lady asked me. I was not sure what to say so I just looked at her toys so that she will assume that I am looking toys, and till the time I could think of something. ‘Do you need toys?’ boy stopped crying suddenly and asked me. During my whole stay there, first time boy was speaking with any person other than his mother. It’s only his mother who was dealing with customer earlier. ‘Yeah, I need a toy’ I think boy had sorted my problem and gave me way by which I could help them. ‘Which type of toy do you want?’ boy got confidence and he was talking freely with me, but his mother again started wrapping her shop; May be toy seller lady lost the hope that someone take toys from her now. ‘Which is your favorite one among them’ my age of playing with toys had gone and now I had no interest in toys, so I better thought to ask the boy only. ‘I like this puppy…it’s so cute’ he handed a white colored puppy toy with curly hairs all around body. Boy was smiling while I was observing the puppy toy. I felt strange how could one talk with so much interest when he is feeling hungry badly; may be hunger converted into habit when stretched for long time. ‘Do you know it sings also…just keep hand on his tail’ boy said with naughty smile. I stroke tail and it started singing ‘Sheela…Sheela ki jawani’. This particular feature of puppy made me smile, its fun to watch puppy singing while someone strokes that tail. Also, I find something adult in the toy made for kids only.

I don’t like dogs and I have many complains about dogs – Dog creates mess in one’s home; people who keep pets in their home, take them in front of other’s house or empty road for releasing their wastage;  dog  lick their owner’s feet like they are slave. One more important reason to hate them is my girlfriend has pet dog, and as I said earlier many times she ignores me due to her pet. I may hate dog but I didn’t want to say NO to the boy at the moment. Also, I didn’t want to go into searching toys as I said my age of playing with toys had gone. So I said yes to this pappy toy and asked for price. ‘Whatever you give’ the boys said immediately. I don’t know why he said this but her mother immediately corrected him ‘its ninety rupees.’ I knew this puppy will not cost more that forty or fifty rupees but I don’t want to bargain with them so I gave hundred rupees note and took the puppy.

‘I don’t have ten rupees change’ toy seller lady searched in her money bag and replied. ‘Take this two balloon…it will balance everything’ boy suggested the solution immediately. I opened the heart for the boy and now boy was taking full advantage of his favor.  I took puppy and two red balloons and moved back to my original position. Toy seller lady wrapped her small shop and went away from there. Throughout the time toy seller lady was collecting toys in big box, boy was looking at me only and that too smiling and happily. Even while they returned boy waved his hand and said good bye to me. The smile at boy’s face filled me with the satisfaction that I made someone happy on the eve of happy New Year.

I was looking at the toy seller lady and son moving from there and someone touched my shoulder from back. I moved back and saw my girlfriend was finally arrived. She looked at me with surprise eyes but I looked silently to her. I was not sure what to say at the moment …should I say sorry to her …or let it be; why it’s always difficult for men to express his emotions. But before I said anything she said cheerfully ‘Oh my God…is it for me.’ For a moment, I didn’t understand anything but soon I realized she was looking at the puppy toy in my hand. ‘Yes…yeah …it’s for you only’, I haven’t decided the puppy’s fate yet so I didn’t hesitate to say yes. ‘You know I like pets and balloons…so you took these for me…right…how caring are you…so romantic…I like this’, My girlfriend got emotional but I didn’t understand what made her emotional…the puppy with me or me with puppy.

Nobody knows when women get red and when they melt. I never thought that she cursed me for such a small understanding that I missed to ask her the pickup point, and also I never imagined not even in thoughts that a puppy toy purchased from road side made her mood happy. Men may taunt a lot to women but there are certainly few good things about women. They may annoy frequently but they also get mollify very easily. People have wrong assumption about them that they like only expensive gifts like diamond necklace. Reality is this girl like gifts or anything that hints them that man is caring about her…it may be men’s praise, time or attention.

We entered inside the restaurant and my girlfriend moved to order counter, and I hold a table and sit there. My girlfriend was etching her head in order menu and it gave me time to think again. I really wanted to thank that boy as he made my New Year eve very special. He also proved my full circle theory of human desire true. I made him happy and he indirectly made me happy by giving me the right toy at right occasion. It’s true that everyone hold the key of someone’s happiness in this world; It’s just matter to identify that someone who has the key of our happiness. And you know, our heart is always pushes us towards that someone but we ignores him and later complains about happiness.

I was in thoughts and my girlfriend came and sat in front of me after placing the order. She started playing with puppy toy, and this is the thing I hate most about her; she gives attention more to pet then me. But at that time I was also in love with that puppy toy, after all it was he who made the mood of my girlfriend and ultimately saved my evening. My girlfriend was playing with puppy toy like he was alive; sometime she was rounding his ears, sometime rubbing hairs…and suddenly her hands reached at tail. She touched the tail and suddenly it started singing – Sheela…Sheela ki jawani…everyone around us was looked and smiled at my girlfriend, and it made her embarrass for a moment. In spite of her discomfort, I was laughing loudly at her like it was my intentional prank.  She looked me with her big round eyes and suddenly I stopped laughing. Now you could think of what she would tell me…why this song…you boys are so cheap…blah…blah. But don’t worry; now I know how to handle her…little care, little praise, little attention…and this is how circle completes…

For Your Eyes Only


“Story of an arrange marriage meeting of a Businessman Doctor”

Being a doctor doesn’t mean that your life partner would be a doctor too. Though, this equation fits on most of the doctors in India. But I am exception for this assumption as I never fall in love with any girl of my college during my medical study. Well, I am exception in some more scenarios like my family doesn’t have medical background; they are in garment business and by the grace of God, doing very good in it. In my childhood, I was good in study but my family has already planned for me to join their business after education. However, just on the suggestion of our family doctor, I appeared for medical entrance exam. And that was definitely a surprise turn of my life. By the combination of little destiny, little luck and little hard work, I scored well in medical entrance exam. My marks were good but not enough to give me admission in well known government medical colleges of our state, but my family was ready to pay big fees of private medical colleges.  And finally, I made my way to medical college.

Believe me; getting admission in medical college was the one and only achievement of my life. Apart from this, I never did anything over which I could feel proud of. But it gave me honor in society and family like I climbed the Mount Everest.  And why not getting this respect, after all I am the first doctor in my family. My college days were golden days of my life. To be very honest, getting cleared the entrance test is the hardest thing for engineers and doctors in India. Once you reached into institute, they will automatically convert you into a doctor and engineer. Yeah, quality of skill differs in everyone but for sure, each one of you will become doctor/engineer someday.

I am a doctor but definitely business is in my blood. And you know, no business run with emotion. I am emotionless in doctor profession too. In real life, these MunnaBhai MBBS philosophy is totally bullshit, you should not show love or any emotion with patients. Being a doctor, these patients are a defective machine for you and you have to repair it, that’s it, no emotional drama should involve into it. I usually behave very hard with my patients,   after all I have to cure them any cost. I never tolerate any irregularity in treatment by anyone. While operation also, I cut and stitch skin like a tailor is cutting cloths. MunnaBhai may not like me but these qualities gave additional heights to my practice. Soon I became quite famous in my profession. With the monitory help of my family, I opened a nursing home in the city. And now my garment business family had entered in hospitals management too. Finally, a son of businessman started making business in doctor profession too.

A successful doctor, owner of hospital and belongs to a reputed rich business family of city, these three qualities are enough to give me name, fame and honor in the city. Soon, I became quite famous in the society. People looked me with the eyes of honor and applause everywhere. In my family also, my example was given to everyone. Every family member concerned me before taking any step in personal or professional life.  Overall, I have everything in my life what a normal man wishes – success, fame and respect.

Sometimes when I thought about myself, I feel proud. The way I studied hard for medical entrance exam, the way I completed my medical degree then started practice as a doctor and finally run into hospital business, every milestone of life make me proud at myself. (This is the other thing that I got most of the things without much struggle). Soon this proud has turned into an attitude in my life style. All childish innocence, simplicity and softness went away from me and all I behaving is the symbol of emotionless doctor, rich businessman and honored member of society.

I was living in my own space of name, fame and money but my family started searching for partner who can share her life with me. Well, hunt for bride has started and there is a big queue of bio-data of girls for me. Everyone in family is suggesting few proposals for me. My mother is visiting around ten girls on every weekend. Sometimes she accompanied by my father, sometimes by my brother and sister-in-law. If they like any girl in their visit, they send the bio-data for next level interview to me. This is how process started but still we didn’t find that lucky girl yet.

In the continuation of our search, Last Sunday my grand-pa told us to visit Mr. Parekh. Mr. Parekh’s father was the school friend of my grand-pa and so my grand-pa treats Mr. Parekh as his own son. As this proposal was already approved by grand-pa at first level, now this came directly to me to look the girl and decide. Mr. Parekh is a teacher in government school. He lives in the government servants’ colony with wife and three daughters. In compare to our royal rich status in society, Mr. Parekh has just a normal middle class family.  My uncle told me clearly that we are going there just because grand-pa urged us; otherwise we usually avoid such proposals. Even I was also a bit hesitant in going Mr. Parekh’s home after knowing about his job and financial status. It’s not the thing that I have ego of my position and money but defiantly there is a difference in ours and his status. And also, I was thinking whether Mr. Parekh’s daughter can sync up with my life style as she had grown up in middle class environment. My mother caught my hesitation and told me to forget about Mr. Parekh’s job and status, and only focus on girl; just meet with her and if I found her suitable than other things can be neglected. All set to done; we finally reached at Mr. Parekh’s house.

Mr. Parekh’s house was typical two bedroom-hall-kitchen government quarter. We entered into the hall and sat on the sofa placed in the corner of hall. Hall was painted by white cement but one can easily figure out few cracks in the wall. The walls of hall were decorated by paintings and handmade decorative items. All items on the wall were nice, but items were too many in number and also hanged randomly at walls, so all together it was not creating the impact that those items could create. Soon Mr. Parekh greeted and made us comfortable, his wife entered with a tray of sharbat glasses. She wore a printed sari and covered her head with pallu. She greeted everyone with smile and welcome drink. My mom, dad and uncle picked up the glass but I politely denied taking the sharbat.  Mr. Parekh stood up from his position on my denial, inclined towards me and requested me to taste the Sharbat. He also said that its handmade item, specially made by mango pulp stored in freezer during summers. But I was still reluctant to take and again denied by saying that I only prefer diet coke. Mr. Parekh became speechless for a moment as he was unable to arrange diet coke for me. After a pause of few second, my mother broke the tension and said to Mr. Parekh that doctor community is so much conscious and hard about diet so let not request to me. She also mentioned that she liked the sharbat a lot and can take one more. With this statement, she added an artificial guffaw to normal the situation. Mr. Parekh sat down at his position again and elders of both families started talking about business, weather and some other topics that had no relevance with our purpose to visit.

Soon my mother started enquiring about the girl, their elder daughter. Mr. Parekh told that she had done schooling from Kendriya Vidhyalay in English medium. He put extra pressure at ‘English Medium’ and made it louder than other part of statement. He also said that his daughter was among the toppers in school. She was in board merit list in high school and higher secondary. After school, she did graduation and post graduation in physics from government science college. She was the university gold medalist in both courses. I can feel the pride at Mr. Parikh’s face when he was telling about gold medalist in college. My dad, uncle and I were listening everything neutrally like her achievements are negligible as compare to me, but my mother seemed impressed with it.

Soon her daughter arrived with a tray full of snacks and sweets. She wore a simple green colored salwar-kameez with dupatta properly wrapped between both the shoulders. I counted her height with eyes and found it’s about five-five, which was in-sync with my height of five-ten. By the time I was counting height, she put everything gently on table and sat at the corner chair. I looked straight to her but she never raised her eyes from ground. I always amazed with this avatar of Indian girls. I know no girl in this country who is such shy, silent and simple but still they pretend like cow of the Allah while someone come and look them for marriage proposal. I think that is the only occasion of an Indian women’s life when they keep quiet, else they are always in speaking mode.

I was trying to look at her face but she was not ready to raise her eyes from ground. It was always good to look a girl at street rather than at home. First, girl will not sit in such shy and uncomfortable there and second, you can look her continuously in the manner you want to see. No place of shy, hesitation and formality is there at street. I was struggling to look at girl with theft eyes and on other side; Mr. Parekh started requesting us to take something from snacks plate. I was not there to eat and also there was nothing in the plate of my eating habits so I avoided eating anything. Mr. Parikh asked me twice to take something but I denied both times firmly by saying that I already had lunch. But Mr. Parekh again asked third times to me and this time my mom also told me to take something so I took small piece of papad just for the sake of formality.

After a round of snacks by everyone in the room, Mr. Parekh again started his daughter’s achievement story. After academic applause, he started co-curricular catch-ups of girl. He mentioned that she knows everything that a man looks in a girl. She is very good in cooking and always tries new cuisines at home. She takes care of home and younger sisters very well in the absence of mother. She loves dancing, singing and karate also. She is a trained Kathak dancer. She performs kathak in various cultural activities in school and college. She is a national level table tennis player also. He pointed finger towards the almirah where her trophies and medals were placed and I can see a number of medals decorated there. I tried to look and read the comments at trophies but items were a lot in number and I hardly read only few. The couple of medals I read were awarded her in table tennis at district and state level. Mr. Parekh was continued his speech by speaking about couple of incidents when his daughter struggled and fought back in life but I was too busy in looking medals with surprise eyes.

I entered into Mr.Parekh’s house with the pride and ego of a successful doctor and business man, and was thinking only about mine. As per my point of view, we were superior to them in every context and we are the only who has to decide the girl’s fate. We still have decision making power as I don’t find Mr.Parekh had any objection with this relationship but the girl’s achievements were demolishing my superiority assumption. I was started thinking something ahead of my pride and superiority, about the girl and her life. Soon Mr. Parekh asked the girl to take her certificate folder and photo album. Girl dragged both the things from almirah and handed over to her father. I thought she may look me with theft eyes so I started starring her the time when she was extracting album from almirah but no chance, she completed her task by looking in the ground only.

Mr. Parekh handed over the certificate folder me to look in spite of my hesitation. In my earlier avatar, I may completely ignore looking into certificates as checking certificate is too middle class to me, but now I want to see whether this girl is really the genius the way Mr. Parekh is describing. I opened the folder and started checking certificates. Certificated were arranged in reverse chronological order and it started with her post graduation mark sheets. It was ninety percent marks in post graduation. After two pages, graduation years mark sheet passed and I was looking the numbers in various subjects with widely opened eyes. Eighty eight, ninety three, ninety one…I didn’t find any subject in which she scored less than eighty percentage marks. In higher secondary exam, she scored eighty eight percent and finally mark sheet series ended up with ninety five percent marks in high school board exam. After mark sheet, series of certificate started…table tennis, dancing, singing, painting, mehandi completion, karate, cooking, and essay writing…she had certificates in all kind of arts under her kitty. There were also some cuttings of news paper in which her achievements in table-tennis and dance programs were covered. I was looking the certificates and by the time Mr. Parikh searched and opened a photo in album in which she was awarded by the president of India for national level essay writing competition. Then he showed us few photographs of her educational visit to China sponsored by the human resource and education ministry India. My mother enquired about this visit and Mr. Parikh replied that every year ministry selects group of twenty college students for this international visit from various colleges across the country.

Now I had no doubt that this girl is genius and I could consider her for marriage in spite of her middle class background. But certainly I started feeling doubt at myself whether I have the worth to marry her, whether I have something in me that matched with girl’s capabilities. I was about to close the folder after checking last certificate and an untied paper moved out from folder. It was the result of medical entrance test and luckily she was also appeared the same year I appeared. She had scored seventy nine percentage marks in entrance exam, higher than my score of sixty three percent in same exam. ‘You scored very well in the medical entrance test’ statement spewed automatically from my mouth by looking the score. ‘Yes…it was good score but she missed the government college’s cut-off by just one percent mark and so medical career also’ Mr. Parekh said in the reply of my comment.

Girl was still silent and Mr. Parikh was so humble in mentioning all these achievements to me but it seems to me that someone slapped badly to my ego. On the name of achievement, I have only one thing that I born in a rich family. Her marks were clearly more than me in the entrance test but I became doctor just because my family bought payment seat of private medical college for me. She had a lot to show as her interest and creativity like dancing, painting, singing, table-tennis and so and so, but I spoiled all my free time in party, movies, fun and friends only. First time in life I met someone who is hurting my ego, even though she doesn’t have intentions to do so. Study, academics, sports, art… She was superior to me in every area of life and I was not able to digest this fact that I am looking for wife who is better than me. All her medals, trophies and certificates were looked like teasing me, playing with my pride that moment.

After snacks and tea session, elders left the room and told me to talk with the girl whatever I want to ask but I was speechless at that time. There was a silence of few minutes when they left the room as we both don’t know how to start the conversation. Soon I broke the ice and asked her that she looked like a good table tennis player, why she left the game then. She mentioned that this game wanted her more attention in terms of time and money and her parents wanted her to invest time and money at study rather than sports so she finally left the game after school. I can understand this typical middle class mentality of Indian parent who don’t allow their kids to select sports as career option. After this sporty discussion, there was again a silence of two minutes. She was still very shy and uncomfortable with me and still looking into the ground only. I broke the silence again and asked that why didn’t she try private medical colleges as she had very impressive score in entrance test but she mentioned that she tried but her father couldn’t afford the fat fees of private colleges, especially when he had two more girls responsibility on his shoulder. I don’t have any feeling for her first answer about leaving table tennis as both of our families has same thinking about sports and sure, my family had also not allowed if I ask for their approval for career in sports.  But her second answer slapped me at both sides. I was a doctor just because I belongs to a rich family and in-spite of better marks and academics, she was not the doctor just because she born in a middle class government servant’s home. This fact was really hurting my so called man-ish ego and supremacy complex but truth is truth and I can’t deny from it even if no one was taunting me there.

With these two questions and exclusive look at her achievements, I came to know that she was super talented girl born at wrong place. I didn’t have anything to look and investigate about her, all I had to do is taking decision but to fill the remaining time I asked again her – ‘Do you want to ask anything to me?’ This time she raised her head and made eye contact with me – ‘What kind of girl are you looking for?’ that was sixer on a googly to me. All I thought before that a girl would ask me about salary, home, family members, career, job…or even my cooking skill or honeymoon destination but proved false to all my views, she asked very strange question to me that what kind of girl I am looking for. In the surprise of question, I overlooked the fact that she was looking at me only …a chance to look her face that I was trying from long time. ‘Well…I want a simple girl… who love me… and take care me and…yeah my family too’ I replied in murmuring voice to her. My pause and uncomfortable gestures in the reply was clearly indicating that I never did any homework for such question.

Well she was not stopped with this question and asked next question to me – ‘Do you smoke or drink?’ this is the generic question or rather anxiety of all middle class family girls in India. Believe me most of the boys in India avoid to answer this question by looking straight into girl’s eyes but I was firmly looking into her eyes. I was about to answer this question and suddenly I realized that she was looking at the doors. I looked back at the door but there was no one at door. I surprised as why she was looking at the door. Anyway, I again moved to my original position and replied by looking straight into her eyes – ‘No…I don’t smoke…but I used to drink during college time but after college drinking habit also gone.’ There was flash of honesty and trueness in my answer and this time I spoke in firm manner direct looking into her eyes. But my honesty still didn’t drag her attention as she was still looking at door only. I again moved back whether there was anyone at door but like the previous occasion, no one was there at the door. I adjusted in original position and again looked into her eyes with surprise, and suddenly I realized that she was not looking at door but she had cross eyes vision. She was looking at me, but due to cross eyed vision it seems to me that she was looking at anywhere else.  The girl squirmed by looking my effort as she also caught that I am getting confused due to her cross eyed vision. I shocked with this fact buy never tried to look at the door again to make no more embarrassment for her.

With this final question, our meeting was done and we said good bye to Mr. Parikh and his family. On the way returning home, my mom asked twice me about the girl and my views but I was silent on the matter. Who is I to decide that girl’s fate…she was superior to me, she was talented and blessed with unique combination of art and wisdom. Also, humbleness and simplicity of her and her family is clearly telling me that she is a good human being too. Then why God has given this power in my hands to approve or reject her. She badly destroyed my pride, ego and so called superiority complex and after a long time make me emotional too. I never felt anything for my worst to worst case of patients but there is sympathy in my heart for that girl. She makes me realize that all I achieved in life is due to luck that I born in a rich family, something for which I should thank to God. Whether I would marry her or not, she is definitely genius and superior to me always.

I may impress with the girl and sympathetic with her but what I have to decide is further action. This is the tragedy of an arrange marriage that you decide life partner on the basis of her education, career, family background and beauty rather than emotional attachment, co-ordination and love between two people. What I have to do is ask certain question to myself – Whether I would like to have life partner who is more talented than me, whether I would like life partner who grown up in middle class environment and the last whether I would like to accept a cross eyed vision person as my partner. After a brainstorming thinking session, I said no to this proposal. I don’t know why but my heart is not saying me that she is the girl whom I am searching for. You may call me that I am rejecting her because of my man-ish ego or you may say that I am not accepting her because of difference in life style and family background, but what I would certainly like to tell her is that ‘ This NO is not for her eyes only.’

My Seventeenth Birthday – My First Date


 ( This is the continued season of story – My Seventeenth Birthday. You can read it individually but to enjoy it from start go to My Seventeenth Birthday)

Life has changed a bit after chemistry assignment incident for me. Nirmala was taking every chance to show her gratitude to me, but Mission Mitali was still in cold water. My conversation with Mitali was limited with just hi and hello. I was not getting chance to talk her and she was also not initiating any major conversation with me. Most of the time Mitali was accompanied by Nirmala at school and whenever I came to them, Nirmala started talking a lot with me and I found Mitali got disconnected from us. Nirmala became very caring for me after that incident and she didn’t hesitate to move any step to come closer me. Sometimes she came to me and offered byte of parathas from her tiffin, sometimes she came and offer her help even if I haven’t asked and sometimes she came and started talking even if I haven’t showed any interest in talking her.  Most important thing, now she joined me full time at square when I was waiting for Manish in morning. This strange change in Nirmala’s behavior was really irritating me but it was very funny for Manish. These all actions were providing him raw material to prepare time pass entertainment on me.

I was no more strangers for Mitali and also not just a batch mate for Nirmala. I had crossed the first level of friendship but still there was confusion. Why Nirmala was too much sticking at me and why Mitali was still showing neutral reaction at me. Was all non-sense of stupid Manish getting true for me… why Mitali haven’t felt such gratitude that Nirmala was showing? One thought came in mind was that it may due to their background and values. After all Mitali is a middle class Indian girl who lives in small town like Nagda since childhood , not like Nirmala who had lived in big cities earlier and became bold and open enough to show such friendly behavior with a boy. Well …There can be several ways to cajole heart but dilemma never dies. I was still in the midst of nowhere … Why is it so difficult to read Girls mind…I mean I was very sure about Manish always…he never be thankful to me and never stopped kicking ass if I helped or cared him …and also he never took it too heavily if I ignored him…but in case of Mitali and Nirmala, I was clueless…was Mitali looking a friend or well-wisher in me …was Nirmala behaving with me in this manner because she behaves in the same way with all friends …only god knows !

All these thoughts were burning inside me and Manish was the only person in the world whom I could share these in spite of the fact that I never got a single sensible reply or suggestion from him. So here I was talking with Manish on the matter one day.

“Hey Manish, Still Mitali is not paying any attention to me yar” I told Manish.

“Why…now black duck Nirmala is full flat on you…it’s became easy for you to enter their club” Manish replied.

“No it’s not the plus point for me…whenever I talked to them…Nirmala used to talk a lot and Mitali mostly maintained silence” I said in disappointed voice.

Manish put his hand on mouth and started making voice of laugh to give me gesture that he didn’t want to smile but laugh leaks out from inside him. “Oh…so now black duck is swimming at your surface…hehe he…huhh…anyway ….so talk her when Nirmala was not there…” Manish said while laughing.

First time in the history, Manish gave me sensible suggestion but my misfortune as it was not working for me. “No yar…I never found Mitali alone…mostly Nirmala was always there around her…and if Nirmala left her that too because she came to talk with me.” I replied.

“Then situation is really very hard for you” Manish said in artificial sympathetic voice.

“Yeah man! It’s really very hard to find her alone…that black duck Nirmala never left her …she came with her at school; they sit together in classroom, eat Tiffin together and even goes to bathroom also together “I expressed all my frustration in front of Manish.

“They go bathroom together….hhhh..hhh..khhkhh…you goes to ladies toilet to catch girls…hhhh…khhh…  so shame” Manish couldn’t stop laughing loud and this time laugh really leaks out from inside.

“I goes till ladies common room not inside the common room…so it’s not a big deal to put nose up by shame….but can you imagine…they always go to common room together…I mean how can two person feel the need of bathroom together…and also they take same time to finish off inside and exit together from there…” I did postmortem of all my observation about them till the date.

Manish couldn’t control himself on it; he lies down at ground, put both hands at stomach and laughed like he heard the best joke of life. He was trying to say something but couldn’t due to laugh. After few minutes somehow he controlled himself but his eyes and face became completely wet till that time due to tear came out while laughing.

“Hey Nityam…now you can solve such kind of math puzzle very easily…if person A finishes off their job at bathroom in fifty seconds and person B is talking one minute for same than how much will it talk if they both goes together” Manish taunted and started laughing again.

If you care friends, life will care you. I gave a chance Manish to laugh at that day and life replied me with chance to smile on the same day. Our physics teacher announced batches for practical on the same day. All students of class were distributed in groups of three people for physics practical for entire session.  Generally whenever such grouping happen in our school, there were separate groups formed for girls and boys, but our physics teacher has changed that rule and made groups after sorting all students name alphabetically. Rules are always made to be broken but this broken rule joined my little heart. Mitali and I fell into same group for practical. I found it million dollar opportunity but this million dollar opportunity came with few fake bucks to me. Nirmala was our third partner in the group as our names were written in the list like this – Mitali Kashyap, Nirmala Niranjan and Nityam Rathore.

Though Nirmala was there in our group, I felt happy by thinking that practical batch will bind Mitali also with us. I was hoping that somehow this closeness of two hours during practical will fall down the curtain of silence and shyness between me and Mitali. I was happy but Nirmala was happier than me as she found both her good friend in the group. Well there was one more person who was not in our group but still very happy; teasing me with name of Black duck Nirmala was his birth right and now this physics practical batch had given him assurance of providing continuous drama for such tease treatment. Yes…Manish congratulated me for this wonderful opportunity and said that fate finally sealed frog with both duck in the pond of physics lab; let’s see how long this frog can jump now.

Week starts with Monday but I was eagerly waiting for Friday from day one as that was the only day we had physics practical in week. “You are going for physics practical, not for date” Manish commented once on my eagerness for physics practical. Well, I very well knew that it was physics practical, something very serious matter, but how can I control myself as it was the first time in life I will be working with girls. Wait…wait…It was wrong to say that I was performing task first time with girls as I already worked with girls on few tasks earlier in school life, but this time it’s different feeling. A feeling that I can’t express in words but it looks like a sensation that I felt when Mitali touched my hand while asking for my Chemistry assignment, an eagerness to know a person personally whose presence electrifying me even in thoughts. May be I was a kid earlier and first time in life, feeling like a man.

Finally Friday arrived and I was there in physics lab as the venue of my first date with Mitali. Our first practical was simple pendulum, we have to count oscillations of pendulum and calculate frequency and amplitude of pendulum using oscillation count readings. We have to count oscillations ten times and take average of all these readings. I tied pendulum at hanger and, Nirmala and I sat on each side of pendulum to count oscillations. Mitali sat at the corner by holding notebook and stop watch to note the reading and monitor time. I pushed pendulum softly and it started to-and-fro motion. Nirmala and I both started counting the oscillations. The arrangement was like that I and Nirmala sat in front of each other and we had pendulum oscillating between us. For initial few seconds, I kept my eyes only at pendulum but slowly it shifted from pendulum to Nirmala’s face. Just like the pendulum, my eyes were also started doing to and from motion from pendulum to Nirmala’s face. That was the first time; I was looking Nirmala so closely. I started looking her face start from hair, her hairs were thick black, skin was smooth but dark in shade, eyes were really beautiful like a boat but there were lots of hairs growing randomly at eye-brow, nose was long and good in shape but a bit tilted at the end, lower lip was thick and a bit hanging toward down, but oh! My god…there were some hairs above her upper lip. One could easily recognize a thin black line of hairs above lips. How can hairs grow at this place to her…do girls also has mustaches. Well …I was really surprised after exploring this fact about women but I didn’t try to explore more about Nirmala’s body after this, and started concentrating only on hard, hairless and colorful pendulum.

I found this practical a golden opportunity to see the face closely that coloring my teenage days with the flavor of romance. So after couple of oscillations, I gave suggestion to swap the task; sit Mitali for counting oscillations and Nirmala to note down reading. But Nirmala didn’t pay attention and started oscillations and, we got busy in counting again. After couple of more oscillations, I again repeated my suggestion but this time again Nirmala started oscillation without hearing my comments and we got busy. As the pendulum was moving to and fro, my heart was ticking off Nirmala, why was she not giving chance to Mitali of counting oscillations; it would give me also an opportunity to behold the beautiful face of Mitali. That time, black duck Nirmala was really looking like an eclipse in my life.

After couple of more oscillation, I again offered that suggestion. But this time just for the sake of formality, I offered Mitali to be swapped with my position. To be my goodness, Nirmala hasn’t made any hurry in starting pendulum oscillations and Mitali handed over her work to me. My formality fell down as big tragedy at me as I was there sitting in the corner for note-down the reading and both girls were counting oscillations.

Next time, I didn’t give any suggestion and noted down all reading with upset mood. But by the grace of my almighty god, I got finally the golden opportunity for which I was trying from long time. Someone called Nirmala for help from other group so she had gone and I sat at the place of her to count the reading. Mitali started oscillations and we started counting. As per my previous experience, I also started to and fro motion of eyes from pendulum to Mitali’s face. But this time, I gave priority to face over pendulum and spent more time to stay at face. Her hairs were silky and in brown shade, forehead was fair with few hair curls waving, eyes were big like two bowls with a black diamond inside.  Unlike me, she was continuously looking at pendulum only; even I can see the image of pendulum in her eyes.  I was diving inside her eyes and suddenly she lifted her eyes from pendulum and started starring me, our eyes collided first time and I fainted for a minute. In that lucky moment, I was not able to recognize anything and continued with enjoying the pleasure of swimming inside her eye pond. But as my mind senses alerted the eyes that she also starring at me, I jumped out from eyes and pretended to show that I was looking at pendulum only.

After that moment, I tried to pull my eyes again at her face but didn’t get courage to continuously looking and explore her face, as many thoughts arises in mind; what she thought while watching me looking her face so lucratively, is it good to do such escapade in just start of new friendship, what’s the difference between me and road side loafer who made x-ray of every girl by eyes. Rest of the time, I just counted oscillations and remembering the scene of a movie (I think it was Ham Aapke hain Kaun…) where hero and heroine play cushion game, they pass cushion to each other while continuously looking into each other’s eyes and suddenly hero naughtily blink his one eye and heroine lost the game. How fictitious are these movies; in real life, I not even courage to look into eyes of girl, giving naughty gesture was far away from my feet.

I might not look continuously at her face but still I was looking her by stealing eyes. I was not staying at her face for long time but visited face in between for just few seconds. I was also trying to pretend that I was looking at pendulum and it was just an accident that our eyes were collided last time. I don’t know why I was pretending at that time but yes…there was an unknown fear in me at that time. Why this fear came when we expect something from us or others. I mean I was not expecting anything from Nirmala so I was shamelessly looking at her face, but in case of Mitali, a pinch of shyness and fear came inside me and stopped me to do what I wanted badly. I don’t know the answer of these questions but these shy and fear pinches had taken the chance of chasing her face any more in pendulum game.

Well…pendulum had stopped rolling but not my luck. I got opportunity to feel her beauty again with eyes. She picked up the notebook from my side and moved her head to note down the reading and I got side look of her face. This time it was safe to look her as she was busy in making calculation, so here I was again on the way of my real experiment. She turned head down to write in notebook, so her upper hairs hanged a bit at side upper head and it looked very stylish to me. Side look of her eyebrow was looking very graceful as curvy thin and long black line, and it also contrasting with her fair color.  Her cheek was looked very smooth and soft… but oh my goodness! There were some hairs at her cheek, exactly at place where her hairs of head ended. Unlike the Nirmala, her hairs were brown and very small in length just like someone glued few sand particles there. There was sunlight coming at her from window, and in the sunlight her facial hairs were shining exactly like sand at sea shore. Though this fact was also shocking for me that girls do have hairs at cheek, I was enjoying the scenery. That scene was really delighting me and it felt me like I am perambulating at the sea-shore in physics lab. I really wish I can touch those shiny sand particles at soft and smooth sea shore of her face, but at that time I could not do anything except feel it by eyes. And soon my eyes moved from cheek to ear, her ear was normal but she decorated it with beautiful ear-ring…golden shiny…and no need to say that her ear ring was throwing yellow light in the sunrays … but oh shit!…what was this….looked like she had not cleaned her ear properly from a long time. A muddy tower was established inside ear and I can easily measure the hugeness of it as sunlight was brightening her complete ear at me. Can’t she clean her ear properly? This was the most disgusting feature I explored about her. However, I liked everything except ear dirt at her face (including facial hairs!)

Meanwhile, her calculation of reading had completed and I finished my face travelling. We showed our results to teacher and done with the day at physics lab. At that day in physics lab, I indeed got enough chances to keep my eyes rolling closely at her body other than just face, but I don’t why my heart had stopped me to think more about it. I would not call myself very gentle and decent guy but sometimes definition of right and wrong has changed from person to person; and my inner soul was not allowing me to think otherwise for the person whom I want to commit friendship.

It may not be very official date that generally happens between a boy and a girl, but still I would always like to remember that day as my first date in life. What people do in date, they greet, meet, talk and try to know each other, and I also did the same thing. I was also trying to know the person; this is the other thing that I started by reading faces. What else I can do at the moment  as we didn’t have to talk other than counting oscillations…sixty six… sixty seven…sixty eight…sixty nine… but I enjoyed these counting and practical both …as it gave me enough time to read the faces and this was new thing to learn for me. And obviously why we perform practical…just to get new learning by applying our theoretical observations in real environment. Yeah…this is true that I got some very shocking learning’s also by exploring girls’ beard, mustaches and ear dirt.  But whatever it may be, I really enjoyed this first time experiment of my life and I would always remembered that first day in physics lab as my first date. It was the first time in life; I was with girls with different emotions and mind set. I would not call it love, also it was not lust, but it was the first time, I was feeling strange attraction for girls …a quest to look them, know them…