The First Ring
Nasir was humming his favourite romantic song with closed eyes. He was visualising how he would propose to Megha with the diamond ring he had just bought. He was about to join his new job in Mumbai.
The phone rang and Nasir jumped to answer it. Anwar was at the other end with a plan. Nasir and Megha would meet at the terrace garden later in the evening in Answar’s house where Nasir would propose to her.
Poetry brought Nasir and Anwar closer and became inseparable right from their college days. Anwar discovers the beautiful voice of Nasir that suited ghazals remarkably and he was soon addicted to shayari sessions together and Nasir’s singing ghazals. They spent hours on end sharing their poetry and singing their favourite ghazals. Anwar had his lucrative family business in Bhaderwah and kept coaxing Nasir to settle there with a business.
The waiting seemed to be endless and Nasir, as usual takes out his notebook. The scenic Bhaderwah and Shayari, (writing poetry) were instrumental in bringing out the poet in Nasir. Anwar and Nasir were inseparable for their endless shayari sessions in their college days. He suddenly feels a pair of soft hands closing his eyes from behind and instantly knew who it was.
“So, what have you written? Again complaining about me?”
“Well yes. Now I have to learn to wait longer for you. I am leaving for training soon to Mumbai in 2 days.” He said sadly.
“So soon? Well, I can expect a big book of your shayari when you return!” laughed Megha, trying to cheer him up.
“Relax Nasir. We are both well aware where we are heading and the consequences. We will be together eventually, whatever it takes. Okay? Soon I will be by your side, for life, I promise.” She took his hands in hers.
Within seconds, Nasir softly sang his favourite romantic song. Anwar had invited both Nasir and Megha for a surprise meeting. They were waiting for Anwar to pick them up.
Their meetings were few and far apart, given the volatile atmosphere due to communal violence in the beautiful Kashmir valley. The exodus has already begun. They too were at the receiving end of frequent threats to their lives.
It was getting dark and there it was again: the raging mob mouthing the same threats. “No time to waste Megha, Let’s leave.” Nasir dropped her at a safe place near her home.
The diamond ring had to wait.
Months later back in Bhaderwah, Nasir called Anwar. Nasir and Megha made a pact to never use their use their phones or other modes of communication for obvious reasons. They did not want to take any chance with the violent rioters.
“Nasir, my friend” Anwar’s voice brings Nasir back to the present. They hug each other.
“Hey, what’s wrong? Why are you so silent? I don’t see my old dear friend Anwar….Is everything alright?”
“No, something is not alright. Nasir” Anwar choked. He slowly broke the news:
‘Megha’s father was killed and their house destroyed. There is no trace of Megha and her mother…..”
Anwar had no clue about what happened to them despite his best efforts. Though shaken, Nasir gathers himself quickly. Anwar appraised him of about all his efforts to search for Megha and her mother. Anwar promised to keep at it.
The recent mob violence in the State turned ugly and families left the valley all of a sudden to save their lives. Megha’s parents sensed the time has come for them to leave. They had built this beautiful house where Megha was born and grew up. Nevertheless, they were preparing to leave the place.
The violent mob wreaked terror and suddenly the whole city looked like a war field. In the melee, Megha’s father Professor Bhardwaj was shot dead on his way home.
The news immediately reached Seema, Megha’s mother who knew their house would be their next target. “We have to hurry up Megha. It is getting dark.” Megha’s mother said in a whisper, getting nervous with each second while they nervously picked up their important belongings before leaving their house to escape attack.
On the road, they were pulled into a car. Terrified, they felt that they were being kidnapped.
Only after they reached a house they realised that it was Zeba as she was fully masked and never spoke. They learned from Zeba about overhearing a conversation about targeting Megha’s family that day. The same night Megha’s house was ransacked and destroyed. Seema was shell shocked and fainted.
Zeba and Megha were colleagues in a NGO that worked for the welfare of different marginalised sections of the society. Zeba represented the transgender community and was working for their welfare. Megha, a Psychologist worked there as a Counsellor.
Megha grew restless. The next day she spoke. “Zeba, you have put yourself in danger by saving us. What if you get into trouble?”
“Megha, you know me, I cannot be a silent spectator, right? I know you should leave this place immediately for safety. At the moment your mother needs your attention.” Seema screamed in her sleep and sobbed uncontrollably.
“Mother, calm down…Look at me. I am still alive; I will give you a beautiful house. I owe this to my beloved father. I will not rest until then.”
Seema controlled herself. Very soon she made up her mind to remain composed and be a moral support to Megha. Both left for Bangalore the same day.
Megha soon started working as a senior social worker in Bangalore under Dr. Rana’s guidance. She was able to help Seema recover from shock and grief. In the process, Megha was determined not to lose her mental strength.
Megha’s workaholic schedule made Seema worry. Seema talked to Zeba about Megha’s unique heart problem. All she wanted was for Megha to get married and settle down. She knew how much Megha loved Nasir.
Understanding her concern, Zeba, using her contacts, arranged for Megha’s meeting with Dr. Diwakar Rana, a well-known heart specialist with a Heart Research Centre and Hospital in Bangalore. Later, Dr. Rana convinced Megha to be part of his research due to her unique heart condition. He assured Seema that this condition would not come in the way of Megha leading healthy and normal life. He encouraged Megha to work with the patients and their families. Working with Dr. Rana, Megha could fine-tune her counselling skills with excellent results.
Megha was startled when she got a call from Zeba, saying she had some special news. Zeba could sense Megha was in love but she felt she should wait for Megha to talk about it. Nasir’s search for Megha and her mother had finally brought him to Zeba.
“Megha, I have a surprise for you. Now listen…” Zeba’s excited voice said.
It was Nasir’s voice that followed. She could not speak. Somehow she managed to say “Nasir, I miss you.” They briefly exchanged updates from both sides.
“Mother it is Nasir” she cried and smiled at the same time. Seema couldn’t believe her ears.
The Second ring
Anwar felt extremely happy when Nasir called him to say he was about to meet Megha soon. He was happy that after almost a year Nasir had found Megha and she and her mother were safe in Bangalore.
Nasir lost no time in making travel plans to meet her. He looked forward to the romantic evening to propose to Megha with an exquisite new ring that he had just bought for the occasion.
Suddenly the news of the suicide of Zeba arrived. The denial of a job she fully deserved (added to the harassment and discrimination) was the last straw. Megha vowed to act as the voice of such helpless people. That meant more research and voice for the LGBT community.
Nasir called Megha again to tell her about his plan to meet her. He was stunned to learn that she has accepted a scholarship to Gender Studies in the University of California at Berkeley and it would be three years before she can return……. She and her mother would be leaving for San Francisco in a few days.
Megha had landed the scholarship through her excellent work. The brilliant writer and orator she was had been advocating organ donation and other social causes. Her excellent work got noticed by international organisations and attracted invitations for Fellowships.
Just one day before Nasir was to leave for Bangalore, he was sent to Dubai on an urgent assignment by his company. His assignment went on for 3 more years.
The second ring also had to slip into the waiting mode…….
The Third Ring
The venue in New Delhi was brimming with people. Megha was being honoured as the year’s winner of the “Outstanding person of the Year” award. She had achieved multi-fold increase in organ donations in a year through her writing, speeches, seminars and rallies. Among the audience were Dr. Diwakar Rana, Anwar and Seema and a few close friends. Megha’s speech went something like this:
“My name is Megha Bhardwaj. My heart condition has been a topic of interest to the scientific community. Research has brought relief and hope to such people with abnormal health conditions.
My peculiar heart condition gave me the opportunity to work with Dr. Diwakar Rana. My qualifications in Psychology and Social Work helped me to work as a Counsellor and Social worker. Inspired by Dr. Rana I dared to use my writing, counselling and other skills to increase awareness about organ donations to save more lives.
A rally I witnessed during my stay in the US opened my eyes. The slogan shouting rallies made me realise how impactful they were on the society and the law makers. And that was the beginning of the journey that has brought me here.
Death is preventable if the healthy organs of just dead people are available. Precious lives are lost due to unavailability of vital organs. At the same time lots of them are allowed to go waste.
(She held her donor card up) This is my donor card. This card says that after my death, my useful organs can be transplanted into others to save their lives. We have achieved a remarkable increase in organ donations in a year!
Donated organs give life to others and continue to live in them. It is as simple as that. I would say Donor cards are as important as ID cards.”
She went on to finish her speech to thunderous applause.
Dr. Diwakar Rana was still applauding. An elated Seema hugged Megha and said her father would be proud of her wherever he was. Nasir handed a bouquet congratulating her. Anwar congratulated her and wished her a wonderful future.
Seema was surprised to see Megha having an animated conversation with Anwar at the other end of the hall. Anwar had been doing a lot of work during the past two years. He was helping Megha to build a house in Bhaderwah. Megha wanted this to be a complete surprise to her mother.
In the meanwhile Anwar had also finally succeeded in persuading Nasir to set up his own Travel & Tourism business at Bhaderwah. They had planned it as a surprise for Megha.
Anwar had his own reason to be happy as he and Nasir could now go back to their Shayari and Ghazal days. He had arranged for a surprise party that evening for close friends in honour of Megha’s achievement.
Megha left soon after she wanted her mother to have some rest. Nasir and Anwar went shopping to buy a Diamond ring.
The evening unfolded in the tastefully decorated party hall. Anwar had made sure the music and every other aspect to suit a romantic as well as a happy and friendly meeting for a small circle of friends. Happy conversations going on in whispers and soft music was playing. Anwar went around greeting each and every guest. Megha and Nasir could just exchange glances being dragged by different guests for a brief conversation.
“May I have your attention please?” Anwar was took the small podium as planned. He calls Megha and Nasir to join him and makes the announcement:
“Friends, this is a very special evening and memorable one for everyone present here. We all are going to witness the engagement of Nasir and Megha, the happy ending of a long drawn love story.”
Nasir got down on his knee and held up a diamond ring. Megha, full of poise nodded in agreement smilingly. Nasir put all the three rings on to her finger.
“Congratulations” greeted the crowd.
Anwar again drew the attention of the guests: “There’s going to be another announcement”.
“Today a promise of a long time is fulfilled too.”
He signalled to Megha to hand over a file to her mother. Calling her mother to her side, Megha announced, “Mother, here is your house in Bhaderwah.” and handed it to Seema.
The evening lit up with the singing and Shayari of Nasir and Anwar on the friend’s demand.