I couldn’t sleep last night after ‘that’ phone call I received at 11 pm. I was so anxious and couldn’t stop thinking, questioning myself what was going to happen tomorrow. Series of thoughts and questions crossed my mind. I didn’t know in what state I was, happy, sad or neutral. I had an uncontrolled eagerness to meet someone who called me yesterday. The person who called told to meet me at 11.30 am next morning. Somehow I managed to sleep for two to three hours. I woke up at 8 am in morning, did all my morning stuff, got ready and headed to workplace, where I was pursuing my MD in the Department of Microbiology, Grant Medical college, Mumbai.
I took readings of all samples in Bacteriology section, observed the smears, instructed to technicians for further work up. I was so impatient and was checking my watch repeatedly and was also checking to the door. There was a signs of insomniac sleep of last night and at the same time my gut was having goose bumps. I was waiting in a computer library. It was 11.30 already, and suddenly our servant in the department came to me and said, “Kshitij sir, yahaa, bahar koi aap se milne aaya hai. Someone is outside, want to meet you”
I pretended as if I didn’t know it, but couldn’t hide my excitement.
“Someone named ‘Nisha’. She said, she wants to meet Dr Kshitij Kulkarni.”
“Ok. Send her in after five minutes”. Again, I pretended to be busy but then cursed myself for saying that.
He went back. I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out by unnecessarily giving myself five minute window to groom myself by combing neatly and made myself sure that I am looking presentable. I suppressed the urge to check my watch, took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven……three, two, one”. I waited for the moment. But nothing happened and then suddenly there was a knock on the door. The familiar sweet voice fell on my ear drums. “Kshitij….?”
It was one of the most beautiful moment I have ever felt. She was in Pista colored Punjabi Kurta and white stockings. The face with most number of appearances in my thoughts. I was looking at that face after four longest years. The straight nose, curious eyes, archly lips, long dark black hairs tied and freed on her back. She was little bit thin than she was in my last memory. But she was looking more beautiful than that of 4 years ago. My life was paused at that moment and all the time I had spent with her was in front of my eyes as if it happened yesterday only……
It has started when I was in 11 th standard in Yogeshwari college of Art, Science and Commerce, Ambajogai. I was in science faculty. My father was Principal in Saraswati Vidya Mandir. There was buzz in our colony friends that there was a new family named of Mr Deshmukh has been arrived in, who happened to be bank manager. The buzz wasn’t about Mr Deshmukh but their daughter, Nisha. I didn’t give much attention to this as I was very studious kind of in those days.
One fine day when Professor Ghate was giving their Maths lesson to us, he suddenly stopped. I was writing down in notebook noticed that, everyone in class has stood up and said , “Good afternoon sir”
“Good afternoon. Sit down class”, said our Principal who was just came in.
After a paused moment he said, “I am glad to introduce you a new student in our class. . . Miss Nisha Deshmukh” Then the girl entered. She was wearing a college uniform which appeared to be bought yesterday only. She was nice looking but her beauty was lessened by her two sided ribboned hairstyle. But in that also she was looking attractive. I was constantly watching her when she passed in front of class and approached towards the last bench.
“Interesting”, I whispered. Then everyone sat down.
That day I was rewinding the whole incident in my mind.
From next day I was observing her more and more. She was very sincere student in the class and she was scorer too. Her home was located at not more than five minutes from mine.. I started to match her timings of leaving and returning home from college. I started to like every minute details of her slowly. What she was wearing, how she speaks, how she writes, how she gives attention in class, how she walks, how she ride the bicycle. Everything was felt different from others. Or what at least I felt. Slowly she was also noticed that I am observing her constantly. First she got irritated, then she spoke to other girls she had got recently closed to. My past record was clean and I wasn’t not that bad looking too.
After few days of looking for any medium through which I could communicate with her, I found the way. Coincidently my younger sister and her sister were studying in same standard. I asked my sister Aboli,
“Is any girl named Deshmukh in your class?”
“Yes. Her name is Neerja. Why?”
“No. It’s just that coincidently her elder sister is in my class”
“So..I was just asking you for information.”
“Ok. INFORMATION.! What else information do you need?”
I went in my room.
Both of our sisters became friends. My sister started going to her home and vice versa. One evening Nisha herself came to our home while I was in Verandah. She was wearing yellow colored Punjabi suit. She asked,
“Hi.” I got bewildered by watching her unexpectedly.
“Hi…”, tried to control my excitement as well as embarrassment because I was in Khaki colored half pant and a old white colored T shirt which presently got the color of earth.
“Is Neerja inside? It’s been 3 hours they are playing.”
“ Ya. She is in hall. Should I call her. Or why don’t you come inside?” I watched and made sure that my father wasn’t inside.
“No thanks. Next time. It’s been late. Mummy is waiting for us.”( Next Time!! Means she is going to come again like this. !!! What can I need more!! Wow!!)
“ Ya. I will call her. By the way how are you?”
“ I mean.., How are you in new place, new friends.? Feeling nice or not? Is there anything you need you can tell me.”
“Ya. I am good. It will take a time to adapt in new environment. But it’s better if few good people like you are around”. (Few good people!!! Copy that. Few good people!!!)
“I am waiting for Neerja”
“Ya. Me too. Oops. I mean, I have to call her”
After both of them had gone, I replayed that conversation from my memory tape again and again. From that day the journey of excitement had started. Notebooks, journals etc were started to be exchanged via hands of our sisters. They had also started noticing our eagerness. But they had no objections until their demands got fulfilled.
Once I sent a message through Journal. “I love you and think of you all the time.”. I got the reply next day via another notebook, “I love you too” That was the most joyous day of my life. I was in hangover of that reply for many days..
I cherished a lot these days and got to know more and more of her and vice versa. I didn’t care for future and got along with flow of love. Then came 12th exam period. We studied a lot, both of us independently. Then results came, I opted for Medical field and she had got nice score in engineering entrance. Again coincident was that I got admission in Grant Medical College, Mumbai and she had got B. Tech. Computer science in VJTI, Mumbai. Both of us were happiest at that moment. Now our parents also started noticing our little extra happiness.
“Don’t distract from your goals for the things you are never going to get”, my father warned me while admission.
But for both of us it was like dream come true. Both of us were in the city of dreams and living our dream. For next two years we dated many times. We had lunches, dinners, watched movies together. Together we explored the city. It wasn’t that we had much of the money. But whatever we got the pocket money from home, we spent it carefully and yeah, fifty- fifty of course.
It wasn’t that we didn’t fight at all. But those sorted out after my apologizing to her as a rule between every couple. But these fights were rose for small things after 2nd year. She started to get irritated more often for every other day. Then one evening we met in National restaurant at CST for a tea. She said to me,
“There is a guy in our college, Akaash Pawar from Mechanical Department wants to be friend with me. What should I do?”
“I don’t have any objection as far as it remains a friendship only.”
“See. You don’t trust me. You are getting possessive nowadays.”
“Nisha, I was just saying ki I don’t have any objection to be a only friend with him”
“No. You don’t trust me at all after all these years”
I stopped talking anything. Then series of quarrels. Two days after that, I called her, she said,
“Hey Kshitij, I am at Siddhivinayak mandir with Akaash. He was going there for darshan, so he asked me to come along.”
“Ok. I will call later.”
In the night she called, “Hello, Kshitij. Arey, I was with Akaash”
“Ya. I know that. You told me”
“He is such a nice guy. He then offered me a dinner. Even didn’t allow me to pay.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Hey Kshit. We are just friends. Right?”
I had an intuition that what was going to happen in next few days. Again series of arguments, series of accolades for Akaash, and finally I stopped calling her. She didn’t even try to call again. Everything stopped. I was in so much of pain for many months. I didn’t have that maturity to move along in life after a ‘break up’ (oh god.. I hate that word. I didn’t want that word in my life) with a girl to whom I loved more than anything in the world. I started hearing sad songs, cried when I passed the places where we used to sit, chat, had dinner, and watched movies.
To get along with life and for a change, I started reading books for a change. Then I started liking it. Then came more books. I got more and more bookoholic. I had got more mature, more stable in life. I have got a different perspective to look towards a life in a more beautiful way. I passed my Final MBBS, had an Internship, studied for an entrance and have got admission to MD in Microbiology. But a not a single night passed without a thought of Nisha. I wondered many times, where she would be; she might have cleared the engineering and must have got a job somewhere. Many times, I had a strong urge to call her, but couldn’t and didn’t do it. Finally I thought if she didn’t have the need to call me back even once after separation, why should I?
One evening I couldn’t stop thinking about Nisha. I had an uncontrollable urge to call her. After a thoughtful one hour, I decided not to call. But suddenly my hands took mobile phone and fingers got tapped on dial screen. The number I couldn’t forget my whole life was got dialed. With each ring my palpitations increased. Then a soft familiar voice,
“Hello.” I felt, I was so close to her and had an urge to kiss her.
“Hello Nisha. It’s Kshitij.”
“Ksh.. Hi Kshitij. Where are you?”
“In Mumbai, same college, doing MD. Where are you?”
“I am in Mumbai too. Doing job in Capgemini.”
I was felt so well after listening her voice. I had a desire to meet her and hug her so closely. I wanted to say her how much I have missed her in all these years. But words didn’t come through my mouth. I didn’t know what to say. She continued,
“Good to hear you are doing MD. Congratulations!!”
“Thank you Nisha.”
I couldn’t say much to her and hung up the phone. One week after that conversation, I got call from her at 11:00 pm. She said she wanted to meet me in morning at 11.30. I asked,
“I will tell you tomorrow”
“Ok. Come in Micro Department in the morning. I will be there”.
“Kshitij..?” I was suddenly woke up from my thoughts. She was looking so attractive that I had a desire to hold and hug her.
“ Hi Kshitij. You are looking little fat.” But then suddenly, I let my eyes fall on her left hand and followed it till the tip of her fingers which were held by another tiny little hand of a boy who was standing beside her. He was so cute and in his face I could see the resemblance of face of Nisha. “Meet my son. Om. Om, say hi to…… uncle.” He waved his tiny hands.
Uncle. I felt like a loser. My legs got weakened. Somehow I manage to stand on the floor.
“Where is …..his father?” , I struggled in weak tone.
“Well. Can we sit somewhere Kshitij?”
I slipped through the department by informing my guide and took her in Almas restaurant outside our campus. We ordered tea.
“Still like the Irani chai of Almas.”
“My ‘likes’ and dislikes haven’t changed even now Nisha.” Her eyes went away.
“Kshitij, after you went away, in one year only I got married with Akaash. He was selected through short service commission in army as an engineer. He has got training for three months in Dehradun and was appointed as a lieutenant. I was in my final year then. After few months field postings he had got transferred in INHS Ashvini at Colaba. He worked as a Mechanical Engineer in artillery workshop.”
It was like someone pricking me by a sharp pointed needle straight in my heart and that too, very patiently.
“We started living in colaba in Navy nagar. I cleared my B. Tech. and got job in Vikhroli. Meanwhile then, I got pregnant”
She paused for a moment,
“One day, while Aakash was on work in a workshop, fire invaded through short circuit and ended with multiple explosions. No one was spared who was inside and no one could be saved.”
She was crying now. I was witnessing the most tragic story affecting my most loved person got unfolded. I tried to console her. But suddenly I realized, It wouldn’t be nice to touch a married and now a widow women. I tried to calm her at my best but she was crying more and more. Then she got silent after few minutes.
“Then, after a while the most beautiful thing happened to me. The motherhood!! This, my baby came into my life and I got back in my life by watching him grow, playing, cuddling with him.”
“Nisha, I can’t explain, how sorry I am feeling about you.”
“But what brought you to me in a hospital?”
“Few months after birth of Om, he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease. I was referred here by a private Pediatrician to this hospital for further management. Can you help me? He is the only hope on which I want to live.”
“Of course Nisha. Don’t say such thing. Don’t lose faith in god. I will introduce you to Dr Reddy in our hospital. He is the one of the renowned pediatric surgeon.”
Then I introduced her to Dr Reddy. Series of investigations were advised. Om was declared fit for surgery and had a successful surgery. Through all this work up I got a more and more chance to meet her, to know her more and unnoticingly got attracted to her. We started to meet several times. I started to like Om also and vice versa. Both of them had got very comfortable and cheerful when I was around them. I controlled myself a lot but couldn’t stop thinking about her. I knew how much it was wrong in our society. I didn’t know what was written in my future.
Five years later
It was Sunday morning. I was reading a newspaper in my living room of our home in Pune. I started working as a Infection control officer in Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital. She had just got woke up and was in bedroom. I playfully said,
“Nisha….Honey come to me. Give me a good morning hug”
The tiny legs ran to me with little steps and said,
“Gooi moneeng, Baba”
“Good morning sweetheart”
Nisha , my daughter. She was two years old.
Five years ago I met ‘Nisha’. Even after such betrayal with me, it didn’t stop me loving her. But she refused to move along with me for a lifetime. She said,
“I betrayed the person who loved me most. That’s why I got punished by god. I deserve this only Kshitij. I don’t want to be a burden on you. I know you care for me. But you have such a wonderful life ahead. ”
“But Nisha I can’t imagine my life without you.”
“Who said I am leaving Kshit. I will be around. I am an independent working woman. I will raise my boy and I will make him a fine person like you one day.”
Three year after that incident, I got married with a girl named Megha through an arrange marriage. We had got settled in Pune. One year after our marriage ‘we’ got pregnant. During those days we were discussing the possibilities, whether boy or girl, and what would be their names. There were several names discussed, the names in case of boys would be, Sagar, Kiran, Amogh etc . But no one was allowed to discuss the name of girl, because it was already decided!!