Mr Mehta and Mr Sharma were friends from the time they were in service. Both of them retired in the same year , just a month apart. Their wives also were the best of friends of each other. Be it evening gossips over tea, shopping together for grocery or clothes or trying out some new recipe together, be it anything the ladies truly enjoyed each other's company. They stayed nearby so weekends were usually spent going to one another's house for dinner or a movie together and sometimes even dining out as all of them were very fond of food and loved experimenting and tasting various cuisines. Their children too shared a great rapport with one another. They went to the same school, tuitions and played together in the evenings. And their main interest was cricket of all the games. Rohit was Mr Mehta's son and Pankaj, Mr sharma's son.
Years passed, the boys grew up into handsome hunks and both of them got well placed in different jobs and did well for themselves. Pankaj got a good placement in US and left for better prospects while Rohit settled down in his job at Delhi. They both were constantly in touch with each other through whatsapp and skype chats though Pankaj missed his home and his best friend . After few years, Rohit's marriage was fixed with Anita, a smart and beautiful girl who worked in a private company at Delhi itself. It was an arranged marriage. Both the families were overjoyed with Rohit's wedding and were getting hyper with all the preparations that would follow. Pankaj too was excited for his buddy as he would begin a new life as a married man. Pankaj applied for his leave in order to attend the wedding once the dates were fixed.
The D-day arrived. The wedding was a grand one. All the families were thrilled and happy as the Mehta's household would now welcome a new entrant, Anita, who would be a daughter for them rather than a daughter in- law. Two weeks went by in the blink of an eye and it was time for Pankaj to return back.
Though he hardly got acquainted with Anita due to the wedding hush and rush he really found her to be a mature and happy go lucky girl. He wished the couple all the best in their newly married life as everyone else in the household became teary eyed as they bid him goodbye until his next arrival to India.
Time flew by. Everything went as per routine. Anita adjusted so well with everyone in the family that in no time she became the darling and apple of everyone's eye. And in turn all of them loved her so much that Rohit felt like an outsider sometimes. Both of them got busy in their office lives and in no time a year passed by since they entered marital life.
And... motherhood came calling for Anita. The families of the Mehtas and Sharmas were overjoyed beyond words. They were so excited to become grandparents and were competing among themselves as to who would spoil the grandchild more! And the ladies giving Anita a whole load of instructions on how to take care of herself during those months. Anita felt she was the most luckiest girl to have got three sets of parents who loved her so dearly more than themselves and an equally affectionate husband who understood, cared and loved her like none other.
As time passed Anita's due date was approaching near and tension was gripping everyone in the household. But by God's grace everything went on fine and Anita gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and named her, Amrita. Happiness was tenfold in the Mehta-sharma household. Pampering amrita to no ends became a new hobby for them. She became the lifeline of the household. Everything was done as per her liking. The grandpas would take her for walks while the grandmas would tell her stories and spoil her with whatever she liked to have as food. The whole household was brimming with joy and laughter.
But destiny had something else stored for them. One day while Rohit was returning home from office his car collided with a speeding truck and was damaged beyond recognition. He died instantly on the spot before the bystanders could reach him to the hospital.
Rohit's loss was unfathomable. Amrita was just one year old when this incident happened. Anita was devastated. They had just begun living their lives when her whole world seemed to have shattered into pieces. The Mehtas were inconsolable. But little Amrita became the sole reason for their existence, for their lives to slowly come back to normalcy. Her laughter, her innocence, her playfulness and her talks slowly brought back everyone into their normal lives and Anita slowly accepted the truth and got back to working again as a distraction from Rohit's thoughts and a way to keep herself busy. Though it looked easy she put up a brave face on the outside but inside she was totally broken and many a times burst out crying when no one watched her when she would take amrita to her room in order to put her to sleep. She did not want to break down in front of her in- laws as they were already broken and shattered by their son's sudden demise and she did not want to pain them further in their old age.
After few years seeing her dull existence and chirpiness reduced to almost nil the Mehtas and sharmas advised her to get married again as she was young and they didn't want to see her live a life like this, without any happiness or enthusiasm.
She declined and refused outrightly saying that she did not want to leave them and she requested them not to take up this matter again in her presence. They loved and respected her for this decision and decided to leave it to fate and never did this topic surface again.
Pankaj got placed in India and he requested the concerned officials at his place of work to get him posted at Delhi as his parents were aging and he wanted to be with them. Everything went on fine and he got posted back home. He could not come over to India when Rohit's demise was heard of as there was a huge merger going on in his company and he was required to stay back. He had never ever felt helpless than he had felt then at that moment. When he landed in India his visit first was to Mehta uncle's house. He could not control himself and just hugged little amrita who was playing, oblivious to anything that had happened in her life. He could not face Anita as he did not want to see her sad and now in the form of his best friend's widow. He so wished he could do some thing for them but didn't know of what help he could possibly be of.
Time passed, days passed and months passed. Little amrita loved Pankaj. He used to visit the Mehtas every evening and spend time with amrita and bring along toys and chocolates for her. He took her for a ride in his car everyday after office, however late it may be and if she was awake. He soon became her favorite. He too started developing a bond for her. He felt she was a part of his life. Slowly everything and everyone seemed happy again on pankaj's arrival. The Mehtas and sharmas were having their evening get togethers once again. Pankaj slowly started developing feelings for Anita though he did not speak about it to anyone.
He started liking her, not out of lust but out of respect for her. Inspite of all this she chose to stay back in her in- laws house and they too were blessed to have a daughter in- law like her. Though Anita spoke less she always liked Pankaj because rohit used to always speak about him to her. So she had created an image of Pankaj in her mind and found him extremely genuine and a nice person to be around and also the fact that he was a second 'son' for her in- laws and they had dotted on him and they always stayed cheerful in his presence.
Pankaj was losing himself in Anita's thoughts. He wanted to talk to her, let her know what's in his mind and express his liking for her but somewhere he was scared in case she thought he was being an opportunist. All these thoughts were making him insane. He wanted to talk with his parents but again the thought that they would misunderstand him always made him take a step back. But then he had to let it out else he would go berserk . But he knew he loved Anita and wanted amrita and her in his life. He did not care what others would think about his decision as he was crystal clear in his thoughts.
He and Mehta uncle got along very well. He always saw his son rohit in him. Pankaj tried to find out what were their views on Anita marrying again or if someone approached them for marrying her. They told him that they had no issues with her remarrying but instead they would be the most happiest if she would settle down again as she was young and they were getting old and aged. So that was a good signal from their side incase he had brought up the topic of marrying her.
Pankaj's parents started looking out for a bride for him as they wanted to see him settle down soon. They had selected some girls and were showing him some of the photographs when he told them that he was interested in marrying Anita. They were shocked and his mother, though she liked Anita, could not visualize her as their bahu (daughter in law). Though the sharmas were of modern thinking to an extent but suddenly when their son expressed his desire of marrying their best friends widowed daughter in - law they were taken aback. As any normal parent would react they told him to reconsider his decision as they wanted the best for him always. But at the same time they knew that their son is a matured, independent and responsible man. After long talks with him and knowing his stand regarding his marriage plans with Anita, they finally agreed and were happy for him and in fact for Anita also as she would be given a second life and also the fact that they would be the reason for her happiness once again . They were happy for Pankaj and gave the nod.
Now the only person to persuade into marriage was Anita. Somewhere he feared rejection and did not want that to happen. But then he had decided and wanted to go ahead with this and thought to himself that he would bear whatever comes his way. If rejection it is, so be it!
As he and Anita sometimes spoke to each other on phone regarding matters on Amrita, her likes, dislikes, he decided he would message her and ask her out for a coffee or so after office hours.
And that's what he did. He called Anita and asked her if she would go on a coffee with him. Surprisingly she said yes and they decided to meet at the coffee shop near her office.
After the usual general talks he decided to take up this topic and wanted to know what's in her mind regarding him.
Pankaj: I wanted to ask you something.
Anita : Sure, go on. Why being so formal now?
He: Please don't think otherwise . I like you and amrita and would like to be a part of your lives. I'm not saying this out of any self pity for you but these are genuinely my feelings for both of you.
As he spoke Anita felt shades of Rohit in Pankaj. His straight forwardness, honesty, not beating around the bush mentality surprised her . And also the fact that rohit had told her so much about Pankaj that even though she hadn't had the opportunity to know him personally but through rohit it was like she knew him more than anyone else.
He: Anita?? Are you listening to what I'm saying?
She: oh, ya I was listening. Thank you Pankaj for being honest and straight forward about your feelings for me and ammu. (amrita) Frankly, I haven't thought about marriage after Rohit's demise. I still beleive he's with me. He's not left me. I feel his presence every now and then. I.....
Pankaj cuts in.
He: I can understand. He was my buddy too. The best person anyone can ever depend on. I'm not forcing you into anything. I had to let you know so I vented it out. Hope because of this you don't change your image or perception regarding me. Glad we spoke it out. I feel good now. Okay, I will drop you home. (though inside he felt like he had lost her forever. )
Both get up to leave and come out of the coffee shop.
He: Just a second. He goes to the nearby shop and gets lots of chocolate for Amrita and hands it to Anita saying, 'this is her favorite chocolate. Do give it to her.'
As they sat in the car and till they reached home Pankaj was continuously talking about Amrita nonstop. Her favorite toys, her favorite words, they way she spoke them, the way she smiled, her favorite food and Anita was amazed that she inspite of being her mother did not know this much as Pankaj did. She looked at him with amazement seeing his love for Amrita. His face glowed as he spoke of her. There was excitement, happiness and a strange affection and possessiveness for Amrita as he spoke.
When they reached Anita's home he like a gentleman accosted her till the doorstep and requested her to forget and pardon him for his silliness in expressing his thoughts to her. He couldn't stand there any longer and left saying a bye.
Anita stood there watching him go . And for the first time she felt some deep feelings for some other man. She felt her heart skip a beat and was surprised with herself for thinking that way. She knew he stole her heart. He was the one with whom she was destined to live her life thereon. Amrita had gotten her father in her favorite person, the person whom she loved the most.
Anita looked up to the skies and felt as though Rohit was looking from up above and telling her that 'yes, he's the one for you. He will not disappoint you. I promise you that.' She smiled and got inside the house.
Pankaj came back home and felt he had lost everything in life. He couldn't sleep and the whole night he thought what she would have imagined about him. He was a tough person, strong person and cared a damn about anyone but somewhere her thoughts made him weak. He longed for her presence in his life. He wanted to be Amrita's father. All these thoughts engulfed him and soon he went into a deep slumber.
Next morning as his eyes opened, his thoughts were still stuck on the previous day's meeting with Anita. Just then he took up his mobile to check out that day's official plans and mails when his eyes glanced on a message on whatsapp that had Anita's name in it.
He was nervous to open and read the message for the fear of rejection. But then he decided to go for it anyway.
He opened and it read,
' Hello. Good morning.
So, when are you coming and asking for my hand in marriage? Amrita and I will be waiting.'
He couldn't believe his eyes. He read it twice and thrice till it dawned upon him that it was real. He smiled as his eyes became moist.
He messaged back replying,' Thanks a lot. Be ready both of you. I will be coming soon.'
Just then he opened up his mobile gallery and looked up a picture of Rohit and himself and told him,' You don't worry buddy, I will take care of them till the last breath of my life. I will never disappoint you.'
Pankaj was a happy man again.