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Khushboo Narang



Khushboo Narang


Melody of life

Melody of life

16 mins 439 16 mins 439

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Aranya was in slumber. After working hard for the entire week, Sunday was the only time when she could have some rest. Her phone was constantly buzzing with messages. Finally, she woke up to the sound of 'Lag Ja Gale' which was her ringtone. Her friend Sasha was on the call. She was screaming on the top of her voice reminding her about their trip. Aranya stood up and started to get ready. This was the trip for which she has been planning for so long. She can not miss this. Aranya and her college friends were saving money for this trip for so long and for Aranya this was very special. She was going on a trip without her family for the first time. 

Aranya belonged to a rich and conservative family. From childhood, she had enjoyed a luxurious life. But when she completed her graduation her family decided to get her married. Aranya tried convincing them that she wants to study further but nobody listened to her. In the end, she did something which no one had imagined. She ran away from her house. She had applied for admission to a college in Delhi and she had cleared the entrance exam so when the admission letter came she decided to choose the life of her dreams. As she was a scholar she could pay her college and hostel fees by scholarship but still chose to work at a nearby restaurant part-time so she could save some extra money. After two years she had saved some amount with which she could live her life without anyone's support. But in this journey, she got some partners. Her friends with whom she was going on a trip and the love of her life- Abhinav. He was her senior, they had met during an intercollege debate competition. Soon, they bonded really well and became best friends and from that turned into lovers. 

But for the last one month, he had been very busy with his placements and could not give enough time to Aranya. But Aranya was mature enough to give enough space for the things that were really important for him. For a girl who was brought up in a very luxurious environment surviving in a megacity was not easy but Aranya worked hard every day. This was the first time when she was giving herself some time to relax and enjoy a trip with her friends as her vacation was going on. 

Aranya went into the washroom and saw herself in the mirror. She was taken aback. Last week had been very hectic at the restaurant. She had worked in the day and at night she would study. She had barely slept 5 hours in the entire week. So, there were dark circles under her eyes. She sighed and told herself that this is how it is going to be. To live the life of her dreams she would need to sacrifice some things. Just when she was about to leave she got a call from Abhinav. His voice was tensed. She asked him if everything was fine. He said that he got the job. Aranya was more than happy to get the news. She congratulated him. But still, there was some tension in his voice. She asked him that why he wasn't happy. He said that he got a job in Mumbai. Aranya did not know what to say. They had planned their future in Delhi. Her college was in Delhi and she was still studying. Abhinav told her to say something. After a moment of pause, Aranya said that it is great news and they should be happy. She said that after post-graduation she would also apply for a job in Mumbai. She said that their love can definitely sustain this long-distance relationship for one year. Abhinav agreed but his voice was still not completely cheerful. He wished her a safe and happy trip and ended the call. She left for the railway station.

Aranya and her friends had planned a trip to Mcleodganj and Dalhousie. They took a train from New Delhi railway station and reached Mcleodganj early morning. They went to the hotel which they had already booked online. They thoroughly enjoyed their trip and visited all the famous places of Mcleodganj and then left for Dalhousie. After 4 days of the trip, they had covered almost all the places. Aranya had the best time of her life. But there were still two days left with them. They asked the hotel owner about any other place that they can travel to for one day. He suggested that they can go to Chamba which was a beautiful village and also had some beautiful pilgrim places. They can visit the famous Champavati temple on whose name the town has been named. They left in the evening for Chamba and stayed in a hotel at Chamba. Aranya was a bit sad. It had been 4 days and Abhinav hadn't even sent a single message. He hadn't replied to her messages and calls. Just when they had finished dinner, one of Aranya's friend Rahul got a call after some time he went outside. He looked tensed. When he returned he looked at Aranya's side and sighed. Aranya got worried. He asked Rahul if everything was fine. Rahul told her to hold on to herself and listen to him very carefully. He told her not to get tensed. Aranya asked him to tell what has happened. He told her that Abhinav's marriage is fixed and he doesn't have the courage to say this on your face and that's why he told me to inform you. Aranya could not believe what she had just heard. She asked him if he was in his senses. Rahul told her that Abhinav's family did not agree to get their son married to a girl who ran away from her own house. She said that Abhinav had told her that his family won't be a problem and that he would convince everyone. Viren, her other friend spoke suddenly that listen that let me tell the real reason to all of you. He is still lying to all of us. My senior friend informed me today morning that he did not get any job in Mumbai. In fact, he told that Abhinav is going to start a business. I think her to be in-laws are giving money for his business. I was not sure about this and that's why did not tell any of you. But now that he has told Rahul, I think the news is correct. Aranya couldn't hear anymore. She scolded both Viren and Rahul. She called some of Abhinav's friends and they told the same thing that Viren said. She did not know what to say and how to react. She said "If that's what Abhinav wants then let him be. I want to spend some time alone. I'm going to my room and please don't come behind me. I'll be fine." She left for her room and cried. She could not believe what had just happened. Just when she thought her life was started to sort and that she would have everything that she ever wanted things changed in a totally unexpected way. She called Abhinav but he did not pick up. She wrote a long message telling him everything that was in her heart. All the anger, sadness, love, and emotions had been poured into a single message. She could not sleep all night. She suddenly felt heaviness in her chest. She felt suffocated. She needed some fresh air. She left her room and went straight out of the hotel and started walking in an unknown direction. She walked fast and then faster and faster and then started running. After running for a few km she stopped to breathe. She was exhausted. Suddenly, she heard the beautiful sound of the flute. She looked around. On the top of the roof of one of the houses, a guy was playing the flute. His eyes were closed and he was totally engrossed in his playing. Aranya got lost in the tune of the flute and forgot all her pain for a second. But then the guy suddenly stopped playing and opened his eyes. His eyes met Aranya's gaze. Sun had started to rise behind Aranya and her hair and face shone in a golden and orange hue. She looked ethereal. The guy smiled at her. Aranya pulled herself out of the gaze and came to reality. She did not smile back and started running again. After running for a few minutes she sat on a bench. She opened her FB and what she saw broke her completely. One of her distant cousins was still in her contact and she had shared Aranya's father's post. Aranya's brother had opened a new branch of their hotel family business. His father had mentioned that he was proud of his only child who has proved his worth. The words broke her heart. From childhood, her brother never studied properly nor had any dreams of doing something in his life. But still was always praised. She knew that the money for the new branch had also been provided by her father but his brother is getting all the appreciation whereas she has been working so hard on her own and nobody from her house even cared to call or know about her once. She thought that when she would be successful her family would accept her and will be proud of her but this post proved that no matter what she does the only thing that would matter for her parents will be their son's progress. She felt that all her dreams were useless. And no one needed her. She felt that for whom she should work this much hard when no one cares. She felt like giving up on everything. She stood up and looked down in the valley. For the first time in her life, she had self-destructing thoughts. Just when she thought that what would be the height of the fall someone replied that it is very much. She turned around. There was a woman around 50 who had a glowing radiant on her face. There were a few grey strands on her head but not a single wrinkle on her face and there was a big smile on her face. Aranya asked her did she say something. The woman said that I was saying that the distance to the ground is very much. If you are thinking of jumping then let me tell you that it would be very scary and painful. Aranya said that she was not thinking of jumping. Woman smiled. She said that her name is Preeti Malhotra and she lived in the house on the opposite side of the road. Aranya smiled half-heartedly and introduced herself. "People come here to get some peace and you have come here to suicide that's weird. " Preeti said. Aranya said- "I was not going to commit suicide."

Preety said "Fine. I believe you. But tell me what is the reason for this miserable condition of yours." Aranya felt irritated. She said that she was completely fine and just want to be left alone.

Preeti replied that "If you tell everyone to leave you alone then with whom will you share the things that are there in your heart. Maybe there are some things that you won't tell your loved ones because they would be sad or you will feel ashamed but it is easy to open up to a stranger sometimes. I mean, it doesn't matter even if they judge you. So, tell me what is that thing which is suppressing you from smiling wholeheartedly." Aranya was irritated but also felt like at least there was someone with whom she could share all the burden that was on her heart. But then she was not sure that if an old woman will be able to understand the problems that she was facing in her life.

Preeti said, "If you think I won't be able to understand your situation because of age difference then let me tell you most of the people in Chamba used to take my advice whenever something was wrong, even teenagers and young adults." Aranya was shocked. It was as if the woman could read her mind. Aranya hesitantly started sharing her story. She started from her childhood and then how she ran away. She felt embarrassed. But the woman said you are amazing. It takes a lot of courage to take such a step. People may call you selfish but it truly takes a huge amount of courage and self-love to be able to do something like that. Aranya felt good. She started speaking again and told everything to Preeti. After listening to everything Preeti sighed. The moment was followed by silence. Aranya said that nobody wants her. Tomorrow, if she dies no one would care.

Preeti smiled again. She looked at earphones that were around Aranya's neck. She said- "Can you see that little boy sitting next to the tea stall studying? Go and give your earphones to him." Aranya looked at her weirdly and asked her why. Preeti said I will tell you that later. But only if you don't want them back. Aranya hesitantly went near him and extended her hand with earphones in front of him. The boy looked at her surprisingly. He asked her if she really wants him to have them. Aranya nodded. The boy smiled and took it. With a tear in his eyes, he thanked her. Aranya was taken aback. She came back and asked Preeti, why the boy became so happy with this earphone. Preeti replied "He comes from a very humble background. When online classes started due to covid he did not have the money to buy a smartphone. His father somehow arranged some money and bought a second-hand smartphone so that he could study. After few days his mobile's speaker stopped working properly. The mobile repairer said that the sound system was fine but something was wrong with the speaker. He can buy an earphone to hear properly or can get the phone repaired by sending it to the company, but he did not want to bother his father again. He somehow adjusted with the speaker which did not work properly. Yesterday, I heard him praying to God for some miracle and today God sent you. Don't ever think that no one needs you. You are alive, you are here for some reason, and don't give up until you play the role that you were destined to play. Be there for the people who are deprived of the bare necessities of life. You don't have your parents but there are many old couples in old age homes who would love to have someone talk to them like a child. Become their daughter. Instead of focusing on the people who don't want your focus on the ones who really need you." Preeti said and smiled.

Aranya smiled. "But then why didn't you gave him earphones. You could also have done that." Aranya asked.

Preeti said that if I could I would have definitely done that till now and became silent and looked towards the sun.

 "What do you mean ?" Aranya said "Nothing. Right now let's focus on you. So, now tell me, will you ever think that no one needs you ?" 

"Never". Aranya replied with a smile. "Maybe your parents will never appreciate you but if you become successful then it may be possible that some parents will get inspired and tell their daughter to be like you. That would also be worth working hard for. Won't it be? " Preeti asked. 

"Yes," Aranya replied with a smile. 

Preeti continued "And now coming to Mr.Abhinav. I know it is heartbreaking that you have been betrayed. But think what if you would have got married to him and then slowly you would have figured out what kind of person he actually is. What could have been more painful than that? This moment is heartbreaking but it did save you from a big problem. My husband is a very weird man. He is always doing some mischief. He is completely the opposite of me. But whenever he looks at me I feel like I'm the most beautiful woman on the earth. He annoys me a lot but never leaves my side. One day there will be a person in your life who would look at you like a child who looks at the moon, in amusement and that person would be your home. But before that, you will have to become that person for yourself. Love yourself the way you want to be loved. Well, that reminds me that the flute guy is also not bad either. He is a good boy."

Aranya rolled her eyes. 

Preeti laughed and continued "My husband never asked for anything from me except one promise. He told me to stay with him till his last breath and I'm going to keep that promise forever." There were some tears in Preeti's eyes. But then she smiled again. "We lived our life on our own terms never caring about the norms of society. We supported each other in every aspect. After working hard for so many years and making our children self-sufficient, I requested him to shift to a hill station and he agreed in a minute. He did not even ask why. We enjoyed everyday morning tea with sunrise and evening tea with sunset. We spent weekends in temples and orphanages. Although he is not much religious but still visits the temple with me and in return I've to watch a new action movie every weekend with him." Preeti said while still laughing. 

Aranya forgot all her pain and laughed with Preeti. 

Aranya said "Thank you so much for making me feel so good. Sometimes, all you need is someone who listens, understands, and tells us what is correct when we are not in a position to think that on our own. I promise you that I'm going to work very hard and always going to be there for anyone who needs me and I'm not going to settle for anything less than what I deserve." 

Preeti said "That's amazing. All the best."

"Thank you. By the way, I forget to ask for your number. How can I contact you if I ever want to ?" Aranya said.

" I don't have a phone. But if you ever want advice you can go through my books you will feel I'm around. I'm an author" said Preeti.

"Wow, that's great. Thank you. I'm definitely going to read your books when I reach Delhi. Bye." Aranya said.

"Bye," Preeti replied. 

Aranya left for the hotel. 

On her way back she saw the flute guy was still sitting on the roof. He smiled again at her and this time she smiled back as well as waved back at him and started walking again. She now knew that even a smile can make someone's day beautiful. When she reached her hotel she found her friends were waiting for her. They were shocked to see her smiling. They asked if she is fine. She said yes and told them to get ready they have to explore Chamba in a day. After enjoying the whole day they took a car to travel back. Her friends asked her that what is the reason behind this enthusiasm and happiness. She told them about Preeti. She thought of showing them a photo of her. She searched her name in Google. And the result shocked her. It showed that Preeti Malhotra passed away 4 years ago. She looked at her picture. She was the woman who gave her the best advice of her life this morning. Suddenly, all the things started to make sense. She remembered how she told her that if she could she would have given earphones to that boy and that she doesn't have a phone. She understood how she knew the flute boy and Aranya had a moment. She remembered how she said that she had promised her husband that she would be with him till his last breath. She kept her promise even after death. Initially, Aranya was scared but after thinking and realizing that what a pure soul Preeti is she felt happy that she met her. On her way back, she saw Preeti standing on the balcony of her house. She waved at her and Preeti waved back with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. She had understood that Aranya now knows the truth. As they left Chamba, Aranya's phone rang. It was Abhinav. Aranya was going to cut the call but then she decided to let it play as she wanted to enjoy listening to her new ringtone. 'Zindagi ek safar hai suhana yaha kal kya ho kisne jaana' played. Aranya had finally understood the melody of life.

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