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Meher

Meher

18 mins 22.5K 18 mins 22.5K

“Beauty. Oh Beauty ,it takes away my heart.

Beauty, oh beauty, it tears me apart.

Slowly but steady, it grows on my soul,

It lures me into the dark, it consumes my whole.

Eyes into eyes, I follow mesmerized,

blinded by the glory, I follow, hypnotized.”

 

“Meher”

“A beauty she was.” The man’s brown eyes gleamed with the bright light of his past.

A bearded young man sat beside him, eager to hear, impatient to know.

“I saw her on a train.” his face moved away, and all the memories started coming back to him, pulling him back in time, like it was happening all over again.

“I saw only her eyes. There were so many people on the train. I was standing with a group of guys from my office, she sat at a distance. Her big, expressive black eyes met mine, and something inside me changed. I struggled to see her face, and she kept glancing at me.

I cannot say it was love at first sight, there is no such thing, but I surely fell for a pretty face.

Dusky complexion, perfect thin lips wrapped up in a shiny pink lip color, sharp nose and a beautiful long, black braid. She was perfect.

I kept watching her, but she didn’t seem uncomfortable, which gave me courage to stalk her.

I saw her standing up and moving towards the door, I hurried after her.

We got off at a station in the old city, almost 20 Kms away from my home. She walked swiftly between the crowd, I tried to keep up. She was dressed in a loose anarkali kurta, and a brown handbag hung on her right shoulder.  Her clothes were strangely loose, but somehow complimented her slender body.

She kept turning and glancing at me, she knew I was following her.

We were now outside the station, and she was walking at a slower pace in the parking area.

I adjusted to her pace, and maintained a little distance, trying not to scare her.

Suddenly, she halted and began looking for something in her bag. She brought out a mobile phone, looked at it for a minute and sighed.

Abruptly, she turned towards me and asked, “Hey, do you know where the Julian bakery is?”

I was surprised. I stammered a little, then managed to say, “Not really, but I have Maps on my phone, that could help.” My right hand dived into the right pocket of the black trousers I was wearing to find my phone.

“Thanks” she smiled. “My battery died, I need to pick a cake from that bakery”.

While my shaky hands were trying to open the Maps on my phone, my wandering eyes noticed something that made me skip a beat.

While she was walking up to me, a slow blowing noon breeze hit her, making the strands of her hair that fell on her face sway back. Her clothes swayed too, and adhered to her body.

That’s when I saw it. My heart stopped. I didn’t know why but it broke my heart, inkling told me something wasn’t right here.

Pregnant.  The woman was pregnant.

 

 “I don’t have one” she had said, in the most strangest of ways, when I asked her where her husband was.

I had walked to the bakery with her, and she asked me to join her for a cup of tea, at her place. Her apartment was about half a kilometer away from the station.

She lived alone in a one bedroom kitchen apartment on the 3rd floor of a shabby building. Although the surroundings were very messy, she had kept the inside of her apartment pretty clean and maintained.

She told me that she worked as a professor in a government college. Her parents had settled in the states with her elder brother about 6 years ago and that since then, she has been taking care of herself.

I told her about myself, about where I worked, about my family and friends, about so much. We had a good long chat, and I felt even more attracted to her as I noticed her talk, and smile and push her long black braid behind her shoulders every time that she stood up. There was something very classical about her, she was so feminine, so delicately strong, so beautiful.

We talked for over an hour, and then I told her that I needed to leave. My heart and mind urged to ask her all the questions about how and why and most importantly, who. But I couldn’t gather the strength to.

We exchanged numbers and shook hands and I was standing outside her door, just to wave her goodbye.

“Take care. Hope to see you again.” She said and smiled.

“You too” I waved at her and started walking towards the stairs.

“He left me. He didn’t want to have a child. So he left me.” I heard a voice from behind.

I turned.

She stood at her door, with her big, black eyes staring right into mine.

For a minute I couldn’t think of anything. My brain froze. I looked at her and then turned my eyes towards the floor.

I didn’t say a word.

“It’s okay, Vedant. You don’t have to be sorry for me.” She smiled.

I kept standing there, staring at the floor, still not sure on how to react.

I’ll have to leave now, Meher. Can you meet me for coffee this Sunday?” After a while, I gathered the strength to speak.

She simply nodded, and smiled.

“Give me a call” she said and slowly closed the door as I motioned towards the stairs.

 

 

“We were in a relationship for about three years. Kartik belongs to a renowned family; they are a big name in textile business.

We had met in a bus during a 2 day-trekking trip organized by a local travel group. We got involved in a conversation and became good friends. We knew from the very first day that we both liked each other a lot.

Things went really smooth for us; we fell in love, and had the best times of our lives together. We went out for holidays, parties, dates and so many movies. Life was beautiful. It was.”

She paused, her eyes wandered out of the window. She blinked fast, trying to hold back her tears.

“It was until this happened.” She slowly placed her palm on her belly, and looked at it.

“For two months I didn’t even come to know. I ignored it. We hadn’t expected this. He couldn’t believe it at first; I had to show him the test reports.

We fought a lot, both of us were shocked, we didn’t know what to do. The world around us was spinning.”

She took a break to sip the cup of coffee on her table, frowned, and put her cup down.

She called up the waiter and asked him to bring her some extra sugar.

“Kartik had got me habituated to sweet coffee” She smiled, a bitter one this time.

“So, didn’t you guys think of marriage?” I asked. I was eager.

“We did. But Kartik said he couldn’t marry with the baby in me. His family would be put to shame if anyone came to know about this. He said he hadn’t had the strength to tell his family about this. He wanted me to abort the child.” She lowered her eyes and stirred her coffee slowly.

I couldn’t say anything to her. I felt numb.

She was a strong woman; she knew what she was doing. And that made me feel more attracted to her.

I however, had no idea what I was doing, why I was pulled so much towards her, what made her so special for me. That’s when I had called you. I needed you.

Oman looked at him. He remembered what he had told him.

“But you didn’t tell me the whole thing. You never told me the whole thing Vedant.” he said, feeling the sudden rush of guilt running through him.

“I know. I am not blaming it onto you Oman, how could have anyone…” Vedant halted as his phone’s sharp ringtone interrupted their conversation.

Oman saw from the corner of his eye that it was from Sarika, and quickly glanced at Vedant.

“Yes, wife.” he said, and walked out to the balcony outside the living room, picking up his phone.

Oman stood up and started looking around the house. He had known Vedant since his childhood, and had settled in Dubai just after he came out of college. They used to stay in frequent contact until 7 years ago, when suddenly Vedant had become out of touch with all his friends. Months later, Oman arranged for his contact and called him up.

Vedant simply told him that Meher had left his life, and that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Oman had no idea when he got married or when he had his first born kid until today, when he decided to pay him a sudden visit.

He looked at the photographs that hung on the wall, pictures of his private little marriage party, of his wife, and of a pretty, little daughter.

“At least things are good now.” He whispered.

“Need a cup of tea?” Vedant’s voice echoed from back of his shoulder.

“Sure. So, where is she? Sarika? And your daughter?” Oman asked, gesturing towards the sofa placed in the corner of the room.

“Sarika is staying at her parent’s place today. And my daughter has gone for her music classes.” Vedant said, and he walked towards the kitchen.

 

“If there were enough words to say, all that you feel,

The world would have been such a pretty and simple place.

But that is not how things work my friend,

You can’t just say it all.

Some feelings remain trapped, in the dark corners of your heart.

And that is what makes this world so amusing.”

 

“How did you meet her, Sarika?” Oman took a sip of the boiling hot tea.

“She works in my office. She was a friend from a long time, she has been very supportive all this time” Vedant sat down on a plump brown bean bag, facing Oman.

The room became silent for a while. Oman kept sipping his tea and looking around the room, occasionally taking a peek at Vedant.

“Things were so beautiful Oman, I was so happy. Even though nothing was perfect, but it was beautiful.

I can’t say, even today, that I loved her, but I could do anything to comfort her. She was so fragile, she needed me, and she needed care.

She never talked about herself a lot, about her family or job. She was a very silent woman, or maybe she became silent after Kartik left her. I didn’t know. I didn’t try to invade her space too much.

I went with her to all her doctor’s appointments, took care of all her needs, I used to stay at her place for days together. I had almost forgotten that I was not the father of the child she was bearing.

Until that one day. When I was reminded that I was not.

 

 

 

 

 

It was my birthday. I had told Meher that I was going to be busy with my colleagues.  I said they were throwing a party for me.

Then in the evening, I reached at her doorstep, to surprise her. The door was closed, and the neighborhood was pretty quiet that day.  I rang the doorbell and waited. Nobody opened it for a while. I kept ringing it for about 5 more minutes, I was beginning to get worried.

I hoped that she was in the bathroom and she would open the gate anytime now.

The door opened, but not by her.

A tall, brown, muscular man stood in front of me. His eyes were glaring red, he breathed heavily.

He kept gazing at me for a minute, and just as I was about to say something, he barged at me with his hand outstretched. He grasped my throat with all his strength and pushed me against a pillar on the passage. As he spoke, his words felt like a growl in my ears. He said, “Don’t you try to brainwash this woman. Go and get this thing aborted and go where ever the hell you want.”

I couldn’t speak or breathe, my face had turned red, his hold was very strong. Just when I was about to push him aside, I saw Meher’s face from behind his shoulder. She yelled at him, something I couldn’t hear, and tried to pull him away.

He released his hold on me and turned towards her, grabbed her face by, pinching her soft cheeks with his huge palm, and whispered, “Get this thing done, else you know”.

I lunged towards him, raged by the sight. But he simply pushed her apart, and hurried off towards the stairs.

I ran after him, but was stopped by a voice.

“Don’t Vedant, please, I need you here.”

I turned. Meher sat on the floor, her head in her palms.

She was feeling dizzy; I had to take her back into the apartment.

Meher told me that he was Kartik, the father of her child. He had been threatening her to get the child aborted from a while. He was fearful that someday, by law, he might have to take responsibility of the child.

Meher had tried to assure him that she would never ask for anything from him, or even tell the child who its father was. However, Kartik wasn’t convinced at all.

Something inside me burned as the sight of his hand on Meher’s face kept revolving in my mind.

I told her that we were going to report all of this to the police, and ask for security, but she simply denied.

She said that he couldn’t really do anything; he was too scared of all this becoming public. He could not afford getting his family name involved in this.

And that she didn’t want to go to the police, she didn’t want to get harassed for being a single mother.

I wasn’t convinced, but I didn’t tell her anything. I waited for her to fall asleep, and then searched the entire house to look for any details about Kartik.

Nothing. I couldn’t find a thing with his name on it. Not even pictures. Maybe she threw them all away after he left her.

After thinking for a while, I decided on waiting for a few days.

From the very next day, I brought some of my stuff and shifted to her place.

Things got better from that day on. Kartik never showed up at her place again, and I had got Meher’s old phone number changed, so that we could live in peace.

Things were fine with her pregnancy, and she was soon about to deliver. I spent many sleepless nights, looking at her pretty face, placing my hand on her belly, trying to feel the movement of the baby, trying to talk to it.

I was excited, and I was nervous. I had fallen in love with this little person; I had started picturing it, picturing its little hands and nose, and little feet and rosy lips. Even though it wasn’t mine, I had started feeling like its father.

Days passed, and her due date approached quickly. We visited her doctor to ensure things were going good, and she examined Meher and said that she would be having a caesarian. Meher was very worried about the expenses, but I assured her that I would be taking care of everything.

A few days later, on a fine morning, we were there, in the hospital. I held her hand firm as they took her inside the operation room.

“I’ll wait here for you” I told her, I still remember.

Vedant sighed. He bent his head down, and closed his eyes.

Omar shifted in his seat. “Are you okay, man?” he managed to say.

Vedant nodded. “Yes.”

“So, why did she leave, and when?” Omar inquired. His inside felt furious looking at his old friend.

It had been a month; she gave birth to a pretty little girl. I gave her the name “Misha”. She was my Misha, my little baby girl.

We were very happy; I had planned on telling my parents about us, and about everything. I wanted to get married, and she had said yes.

I was on the top of the world. One fine day, I booked flights for our trip to my home, and called Meher from office to get prepared to leave with me the very next day. She sounded so happy on the phone, she almost cried of happiness.

I arranged for my leaves in office, and rushed to her apartment.

All the way in the train, I dreamt of the life we were about to have. A perfect little family, Meher, me and Misha. I felt so overwhelmed; I wanted to give Meher a tight hug.

I looked out of the window, hoping for the journey to end soon.

And it did. It all ended. Pretty soon.

 

When I reached her apartment, everything was gone. She was gone.

Vanished in thin air. Disappeared.

Vedant stopped. His eyes welled up with tears, but he didn’t let them fall.

Oman started at him, shocked.

“What? Where? And the baby?” Oman shot, his eyes wide.

Vedant was about to speak when the doorbell interrupted him.

He stood up and walked across to hall to open the door.

Oman could hear it from the living room that it was his daughter. Vedant told her that they were having a guest and asked her to run and say hello to his friend, Uncle Oman.

A little girl, dressed in a lacy white frock, having silky black ponytail ran up to him and offered him a hand shake.

Oman smiled, and shook her hand.

“Hello uncle Oman, I am Misha” she looked at Oman and smiled.

 

 

“Let’s push the clock a little back today, let’s play this funny game,

A game that you would have to loose and would have no one to blame.

I know it gives you a lot of pain, I know it stabs your back with a knife.

But that’s just how this game is played darlin’,

It’s called the game of life.”

 

 

Vedant stood at the door, ringing the doorbell. Nobody responded. He could hear little Misha crying inside. Her crying made him anxious.

He tried to twist the knob of the door, and it turned. The door squeaked slightly and opened.

He rushed inside, worried.

What he saw made his feet jerk at the very doorstep. The house was empty. There was nothing.

No curtains, no utensils, no wardrobes, no beds. No people. Empty.

Vedant rushed inside, to find Misha lying in one corner of the room, wrapped in a blanket in her tiny cot.

Her stuff lay all around her, and she kept crying at the top of her voice.

Vedant picked her up and clenched her close to his chest.

He couldn’t think of anything. He didn’t know what to do.

For days to come, he tried every possible way to inquire about Meher.

The owner of her apartment knew her by the name Priya Singh. He did not have any document of her true identity. He never cared about anything other than his rent.

Vedant tried to search for a Kartik, or any such man who owned a textile business. All in vain.

There was no Kartik.

Vedant had lost all hope, so many questions were haunting his soul, so many why’s remained unanswered.

He sat down at Sarika’s house, with Misha in his arms, shattered, broken, unaware of his surroundings, unaware of time.

Sarika walked upto him and looked down at Misha.

“Poor baby” she said and bent down to touch Misha’s face.

“My God, Vedant. She has a terrible fever. We need to take her to the Doctor.” She said, hurrying off to grab her handbag.

Vedant looked at her, and something clicked in his mind.

“Doctor”

He knew where he needed to go.

 

“I don’t know much.  When the first time she came here, she told me her name was Meher Jaiswal, and that she was 27 years old. She came to me when she was 2 months pregnant. There was a man with her, which she told was her brother.

He seemed pretty shocked on hearing about her pregnancy. I could tell this man wasn’t her brother. But it was none of my business.

After that day, she used to come alone for all the check-ups. And then, few months ago, you started coming along with her. You said you were the father. That’s all I know. I am sorry.” She looked at him, her face clearly reflecting how sorry she felt for him.

“That’s okay. Thanks doctor.”

Vedant stood up and turned to leave the room.

“Umm, Vedant. Wait. I need to tell you something else.” She said.

Vedant looked at her, a little surprised.

“Vedant, please, don’t think about her now. Don’t go after her.” she stood up and walked close to him.

Vedant looked at her blankly.

“You know something. You do. Please tell me” he heard himself say.

The doctor tilted her head towards the floor, and stood quiet.

“Please, doctor. I need to know. I am dying every day. Please” Vedant begged.

“Vedant, she did not work for any college. She was not a professor. She has been to this hospital before, my colleagues have told me. She has been here for abortions. Three times.

That guy was not her boyfriend. He was a broker. She worked for him.

Her medical condition was not good, abortions had harmed her body a lot. There were chances of her not being able to conceive if she aborted this one.

She wanted to keep the child, Vedant. I don’t know why. But she did. But that man wouldn’t let her do that. She meant money to him.

They had created a huge scene in the hospital. He actually tried to drag her into the hospital once. But she was stubborn.

I don’t know what happened then. Maybe she convinced him. Maybe she assured him that she would work again, and leave the baby somewhere. And maybe that’s when she met you.

She came here Vedant, a few days back. There was a mistake with her bills; she needed to collect her money back. I saw her at the reception. When I saw her walk out, I followed her outside the gate. She went and sat in a white Indica, and he was driving it Vedant. She went with that guy, the broker.

I don’t know why exactly she did this Vedant. But don’t go after her. She won’t come back.

Even if she wanted to, she won’t be able to. That man wouldn’t leave her. Maybe that’s why he came back for her.

Maybe she was one of his best.”

The doctor stopped talking and patted Vedant on the shoulder. She walked out of the room, leaving him in his misery.

Vedant stood there. Devastated.

“She was the best. She was.

Meher.”

He whispered to himself.


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