Thy Name Is Ashia
Thy Name Is Ashia19 mins 425 19 mins 425
Time flew away faster than Zoraver could imagine! He completed his college and was working in a coveted position in a leading company. Everything had gone as per plan. His foresight had worked well. His dad was about to retire next year. He had already booked an apartment, he will get the possession of, by that time. His dad will move with him.
He was enjoying his work. As he always had been an introvert, he still didn't have many friends. He was still in touch with Dilbaag, who had given up on becoming an engineer and instead had joined a leading photographer in Delhi. His days were all predictable and that's how he liked things. In a pattern and orderly. He'll wake up in the morning, go to the gym, come back, get ready, have his breakfast, go to the office, come back late and sleep after having his dinner.
The weekends were a little boring but then almost every alternate weekend he would either be traveling related to work or he would go and visit his dad. His dad would always bring up the topic of his marriage which he always brushed aside on some context or the other. Though he didn't hate women, he never found one who could capture his imagination. Most of those he came across were driven and selfish, looking to use him to rise up the ladder. But he was too smart to let anyone make a fool out of him.
One fine day, he was driving to his office and he felt he saw Vaidehi standing by the side of a road. She was wearing a saree and looked like waiting for a taxi. He asked the driver to stop the car. He got out and rushed to her. She was surprised to see him. So was he. She looked pale and lost
"Hey!" he was the first to speak out.
"How have you been?"
"I'm good! How are you?"
He didn't believe what she said because she didn't look like she felt good but he didn't counter her.
"I'm good, can I drop you somewhere?"
"Oh! I'm waiting for my lawyer to arrive, we have a meeting planned. I would have loved to come along with you but a little stuck right now!"
"No worries! This is my card, do give me your number, I'll call you up in the evening if that's ok!"
She waved at someone inside a car, " I gotta go Zoraver, it was a pleasure catching up! I'll call you in the evening!"
"Sure! I'll wait"
"Bye, Take care!"
On his way to his office, he kept wondering why should she be visiting a lawyer? She didn't look very good. What could have happened? Once in the office he got busy and forgot about her. He reached home late at night and slept after having his dinner. When he woke up in the morning he checked if he had missed any calls from an unknown number because Vaidehi had said she will call. There were none.
He could reach her by no means as she hadn't given him his number. He felt awful. On his way to the office, his eyes were looking for her but he didn't see her. He lost the hope of seeing her again. In the evening while he was having his dinner his phone rang, an unknown number flashed and he prayed that it should be her.
"Hi, Vaidehi here!"
"Hey! so good to hear from you!" he contained his disappointment from not getting a call from her last evening
"I'm sorry I couldn't call you yesterday as it was quite late by the time I got free!"
"No worries! I'm glad you called. How are you doing?"
"I'm good, just came into this city last week."
"That's nice, How's Pranjal?"
"Pranjal? Oh, I separated from him, he was different. And we never married if that's what you wanted to ask
"Oh no! That's not what I meant to say. Just a courtesy I thought! So what brings you to this town?"
"My mom is no more, she had a house here and the tenants are not ready to vacate; neither are they paying any rent. So I came here to look after the legal aspects of that."
"Ok! Let me know if you have any trouble with the lawyer, since our company provides data storage backup to the leading law firms, I have a few contacts!"
"Sure! I'll let you know! How are you doing Zoraver?"
"You could find yourself some interesting girl or you still hate them?" she laughed
"I couldn't find any who could capture my mind!"
"Oh! you've set your standards very high"
"Hmmm! how's your dad doing?"
"He is good. He will move in with me next year after his retirement."
"Great! It's a blessing to have your parents around. I lost my mom to an ugly battle with cancer last month. But she was with me all through it. That was the only respite "
"I'm sorry to hear about your mom!"
"That's how life is! Cruel and merciless!"
"Hmmm! true, where are you staying?"
"My mom's house. I've taken a month's leave from office to sort this mess out!"
"hmmm! what are you doing over the weekend?"
"Come over to my place, we can catch up!"
"Sure! Save my number and I'll give you a ring on Friday to confirm!"
"I'll wait for your call!"
When he thought about how life had gone, it all seemed like yesterday when they would discuss the things out sitting on those college benches! She had got involved with Pranjal but she still managed decent scores and had secured a job in a good company in Belgium. That's what he knew about her. What all transpired in the four years that followed he had no clue. He was really looking forward to seeing her. Afterall she was one of the three people in this world whom he knew.
Friday evening Vaidehi called him
"I'm free the whole day tomorrow, let me know when its convenient with you to meet up!"
"I'm home too, just come over!"
"Please send me your address!"
"You send me yours I'll have the driver come and pick you up whatever time is convenient for you!"
"Ok! Send him over at around 11 Am"
She texted her address to him the next morning
He replied back
"The driver will be at your place before 11 Am. Please be ready, His name is Madho, he'll give you a ring when he's there!"
He summoned the driver to go and bring her. He told him to wait as long as she wanted and not to hurry up.
He checked on the cook who was preparing his lunch.
"Kya bana rahe ho baba?"
"Bhindi aur kofta"
He took charge of the things in the kitchen and got busy. Before he realised, his doorbell rang. He forgot to remove his apron and almost ran to open the door. Vaidehi walked in. She looked pristine in her white top and denim.
They hugged each other and suddenly he realised he still had his apron on!
"Oh! I'm so sorry!"
"Not a problem, I didn't know you were a chef!"
"My dad carved me into one!"
"Please come in!"
He led her into the drawing. She was admiring the settings and the interiors. He was quick to judge her admiration
"You think this house needs a woman to decorate it!'
"Yes definitely! An interior designer paid to do a job is only at a job. He doesn't have the heart of a woman!"
"Yes! but you wouldn't understand!"
"Ok! I give up! Who would dare to argue with Vaidehi the great!"
"Long time Zoraver!" she looked at him smilingly.
"Yeah, a long time!"
"Where are you based?"
"I'm in Melbourne for last year and a half, was in Belgium before that."
"Why? you ain't happy with your job!"
"I can't really complain, as they pay me well but the work is too boring! It doesn't excite me! I thrive on the adventure of doing the things differently, my way. I do not have that freedom nor the challenges!"
"I can understand, I'm glad the Vaidehi Bharucha I knew could survive all these years."
"I guess so!"
"No! I stopped believing in the concept of commitment after I was through Pranjal"
"Hmm" He didn't feel like persuing the topic anymore
"You know what, I like your attitude! I'm sorry to say but I believe these commitment relationships demand a bit too much from a person. Your life stops belonging to you and instead is dictated by the whims and fancies of another person who turns so inconsiderate and gives a fuck to what you want or like!"
"Oh my God! You sound so much wiser"
"Well maybe, life makes you wise!"
"Yes, like crazy!"
Let's have our food then, the table is laid.
They discussed the college life and everything under the sun over lunch. The time went by so quickly. By the time they were back in the drawing-room after finishing the lunch, Vaidehi got a call. She looked angry. Zoraver left the room to give her some privacy.
"Yes! " He came back
"I'll need to leave, the neighbor called. The tenants have thrown my luggage out of the house! I've called up my lawyer, he's out of the town. I need to go and see things"
"Should I come along?"
"That would be nice if it's possible"
"Yes of course! I'm free!"
Both of them went to Vaidehi's mom's house. He asked her about the whole thing on the way. He talked to the tenants. Told them you can continue with the legal battle but the house belonged to her and they can't deny her from staying there. He called up a lawyer friend and made him talk to them. They eventually gave in and said sorry to her. He asked her to be careful and call him at any time if the need be.
They were in touch over the next week. And he was glad Vaidehi had settled down in the house.
The legal proceedings were to take their own course.
One day Vaidehi called up and asked what he was doing over the weekend. He said he was to visit his dad. She asked him if she could come along. He said
"Sure! He would be glad to see you. At one point in time, he thought that I should have proposed to you before Pranjal did!"
"Yes, he was sure that you would have opted for me!"
"No wonder parents think very highly of their kids!"
"What do you mean? I wasn't better than Pranjal?"
"No that's not what I meant! You have been my best buddy ever and that's how I always thought of you!"
"So have I always thought of you! My best buddy! I'll pick you up at 7 in the morning Saturday"
He called up his dad next
"How are you doing?"
"I'm good! How about you?"
"I'm good too! Did you get your blood tests done?"
"Not as yet, It was busy at the office! And I thought I'll get them done when you are here over the weekend!"
"No! You would be busy this weekend so you better get them done right away!"
"What do you mean?"
"Dad, you remember Vaidehi from my college?"
"Yes, I do!"
"I met her a couple of weeks back. She's in India for a few days and would be coming along with me to see you this weekend!"
"Should I read something more into what you are trying to tell me?"
"Not really! Please get my room tidied up a bit. And yes I'll be sharing your room! I hope I made myself clear?"
"Yes of course! I got you! I'll look forward to meeting her, as it is I'm bored with you!"
"Great! see you then"
They reached his house at 3 pm. His dad was waiting for them. He hugged them both and welcomed Vaidehi in.
"God bless you! This is the first time a woman has entered this house in more than 2 decades. I'm sure Zoraver must have told you about our life!"
"Yes, he has an uncle! I'm the only friend apart from Dilbaag he's ever had, so I know a bit about him and you! I've always admired the relationship you two share. He's lucky to have a father like you. That's why I was keen on meeting you. After losing my mom I've been feeling lost." She wiped the tear that had escaped her eye.
He hugged her "Don't worry my child, I'm there with you. Feel free. I guess you must be tired. That's your room. Please be comfortable. I'll have the food laid down for you two in the meanwhile. You must be hungry?"
Zoraver was the first to speak
"Did you make biryani dad? I'm dying to have it."
"Yes, you guessed it right. Freshen up. your kurta is inside my cupboard"
Both of them went to their respective rooms. Vaidehi saw the pictures hung on the walls of her room. She knew this must be Zoraver's room. Those pictures covered his life from childhood till his college convocation. His basketball was lying in a corner. She never imagined he could do anything except studying. She opened her suitcase and took her dress out. She went to the washroom and quickly washed up and changed. By the time she went out to the dining, Zoraver and his dad were already seated.
"Come over, I can't hold him back from having biryani for too long."
She loved the dad-son chemistry between them. She didn't take a chair and went to his dad.
"Uncle if you don't mind, can I serve the food?"
"Sure, my pleasure to be served by a darling like you!"
She served his dad first and then moved to Zoraver who was waiting for his turn. Then she sat in her chair and took her share.
"Dad you know I don't like these black balls in Biryani, still you always add them!" Zoraver said almost complaining
"That is coriander seeds, they are must for the flavor! I don't like compromising on my recipe specially when there's a special guest arriving!"
Vaidehi smiled "I am absolutely ok with coriander seeds uncle. Thank you! This is the best biryani I've ever had. Some people are so thankless" She said looking at Zoraver
All three of them laughed.
Zoraver's dad was a friendly man. A welcoming persona. She wondered how could a woman have left him? For that matter how could a woman leave her own child behind, to never come back? She thought of asking his dad but then brushed aside her thoughts as they may sound intrusive.
They stayed together through the day. She went to her room for an hour thinking the duo would be needing some privacy. His father summoned her back when the tea was ready. The table was full of snacks. She was too full still after that overload of biryani but couldn't muster enough strength to say no to the love that was being showered upon her. Just like any caring parent, Zoraver's father wanted them both to eat everything because he felt they were small kids who couldn't take care of themselves and were starved. She had to finally say no because he wouldn't stop insisting otherwise.
She was overwhelmed with his affection and care. He so much reminded her of her own mother. She was wondering probably this is why people go to any extent to have kids. They can risk their own lives, they can give away everything they have just to have a kid of their own. The bond that a parent and a kid share is the highest and purest form of love. No wonder they say 'If there's only one person in this world who thinks of your best every single time, it's your parent.'
Anyone else, your spouse, your sibling, your friends, your family, may feel good for your success and achievements temporarily but it's only a parent who's really proud of even the minutest and the biggest achievements of yours. Others pity you when you are down and out but a parent is always concerned no matter what! Your good is always more important than their own every single time. Maybe she should consider having a child, with or without marriage is another question. May be someday!
Two days went by in a jiffy. They left his father's house on Sunday evening. Zoraver's driver was waiting for them at the station. He dropped her at the house at midnight and then left for his place.
She woke up in the morning. It was a long day ahead. She made herself a cup of tea and while having it she texted Zoraver's dad " Thank you so much uncle for having me with you! I feel blessed to know you. Zoraver is lucky to have you as his father. Please take care of yourself."
She quickly got ready to meet up her lawyer and plan the strategy forward.
While she was waiting for him to turn up Zoraver called her up
"Hey! I had a chat with a lawyer friend, he said your case is very straight and there's no reason why it is being stretched so much. I somehow didn't like your lawyers approach so far and that's why talked to my friend without having asked you. If you don't mind meeting him up once, maybe you could benefit."
"Even I'm not happy with my lawyer's approach. When can I meet your friend?"
"I'll call him up and enquire and then get back to you!"
"Sure, thank you!"
She called her lawyer and told him that she wasn't feeling well so wouldn't be able to make it to the meeting. She was on her way back when she received Zoraver's call
"He'll see you in an hour, I've texted you his address. From your place, if you start right now you should be able to make it in an hour. I hope I didn't rush you!"
"Not at all, thank you! That really means a lot to me!"
"Stop being so emotional, doesn't really suit you. Remember you owe me a treat if you can get through this mess."
She met the new lawyer, showed him all her papers. He asked her to give him a day's time and he'll get back to her the next day. The next day he called her up and assured her that there was nothing in the case against her or in favour of the tenants and they should be through it very quickly. She gave him the power of attorney to take charge of the case.
In the meantime, her Melbourne office wanted her back but she was postponing her return one excuse or the other. The company gave her a final ultimatum and she decided enough was enough and she really wasn't interested in returning back. She sent her resignation. She put her CV on a couple of job placement websites searching for a job in this town itself. Her mom's house made her nostalgic. She loved staying there.
In a couple of months, the court ordered the tenants to evacuate her house with immediate effect and to pay her pending rent with interest and legal fees! She couldn't believe it when the lawyer called her up to inform that. She has always heard ill of Indian legal system and how long and torturous the process was. Her tenants had no basis to occupy the house as her mom had the legalities always taken care of whenever she rented the house. That really helped.
She called up Zoraver and informed him of the development
"Congratulations! That calls for a treat!"
"Whatever you say! I owe it to you! Thank you for everything. If it wasn't for you, I would still have been in a mess!"
"Let me know when you are done with the formalities so that I can take out my ear plugs!"
"Zoraver how would I be able to tell you I'm done if you have your earplugs on?"
Both of them laughed.
"Friday night, my den!"
"Your den? it's me who's supposed to be throwing the party! Let's go out somewhere nice"
"I don't like noisy places and want to enjoy the cozy comfort of home-cooked food. If that sounds too boring we might as well go out!"
"No that's just fine with me! I'll be at your place at around 5 and would want to impress you with my culinary skills! Is that ok with you?"
"I guess so, as long as you don't set my house on fire! I'll be stuck in the office and won't be able to make it home until 8!"
"That sounds perfect, I can have the kitchen to me!"
"Great see you then! I'll ask Madho to pick you up!"
"I can come on my own!"
"You don't need to, that's what I pay him for!"
"Ok then, ask him to be at my place latest by 4!"
"Sure I'll do that! Bye for now and congratulations once again. I'm really happy for you"
"I know! Thank you and goodbye!"
Friday evening Vaidehi was ready by the time the driver arrived. She left immediately for Zoraver's house. She had a lot of work to do as the menu that she had planned was quite lavish. She picked up some veggies on her way. As soon as she reached, the cook greeted her at the door. He was a pleasant man, always smiling.
"Baba, mujhe aapki madad chahiye hogi, aaj khaana mai banaungi!" She was seeking his permission to let her use his kitchen
"Gudia, saahab ne mujhe subah hi bol diya tha, aapko jo chahiye sab milega magar thodi der baitho aur chaaye peeke fir kaam pe lagna!"
"Mere paas time nahi hai baba! She rushed to the kitchen!"
By the time she was satisfied with what all she was able to put together, it was already 9. Zoraver had not yet come back. She thought of calling him up but decided against it. Just as she say down in front of the TV he appeared through the main gate.
"Hi, it feels funny to have someone in my house before I'm there!"
"Yeah, I trespassed today!
"I hope you didn't have much trouble adjusting to baba. He's very possessive of his kitchen and doesn't let anyone in, not even me unless I'm very adamant on it!"
"He's such a gentle soul, he was too helpful. I hope you find the food worthwhile."
"Please excuse me, I'll be back in a few minutes!"
She laid the table while he freshened up. When he came back he was amazed to see the number of dishes on the table
"Are we expecting any more guests?"
"No! This is for us!"
"Zoraver please taste it at least!"
Both of them sat down on the table. The food was really yum
"You are one hell of a cook Vaidehi! Amazing! Thank you for cooking so much food, I can binge on it over the next few days!"
"I'm glad you liked it!"
"By the way, what's your next plan. I mean now that you have the house to yourself, are you considering going back to Melbourne?"
" I resigned from my job, I'm looking for a job here! Should get something soon hopefully!"
"Oh! That sounds great! By the way, Dilbaag will be in town on Wednesday and Thursday. I thought I should tell you in case you would wish to catch up with him."
"Nah! you love birds carry on!" she said with a sarcastic sense
Zoraver still couldn't believe that his two best friends were too different to like each other. Poles apart.
Dilbaag stayed with him for two days. He lived in a different world. He created magic with his pictures. The world that was so full of flaws, pain, and prejudices was way too perfect when you viewed it through his lens. The world that was dull, dusty and rusty to a common man was bright and full of life when he explained his vision of it to you. The world that was ruled by crime, money, and power was actually controlled by the picturesque movements of Sun, moon and water if you saw the detailing of his pictures. Maybe we lacked his vision. He was indeed a blessed soul. And staying with him for two days actually uplifted Zoraver's spirits so much so that he almost decided to buy a camera for himself but later dropped the idea.
After a long time, he was at peace with himself. The questions that haunted him in the past had been laid to rest. He was not vengeful against women. He had forgiven his mother without her having said a sorry. He had two really good friends in Dilbaag and Vaidehi. His work-life was going just as he had wanted it and soon his dad will join him in his den.
Vaidehi settled down in her new job in the town. She adopted a daughter. She named her 'Ashia' meaning life. She wanted to rediscover the bond she and her mother had shared. Zoraver's dad moved into his place. He grew a fondness for Ashia just by hearing about her from Vaidehi. The very next day after his arrival in the town he insisted on seeing her. Madho took him to Vaidehi's house who was still on maternity leave. When she saw Ashia play in uncle's lap, she knew life had come a full circle............