Love was in the air that night! A male hand compressed the female hand gently and at that very moment, the redness of a thousand roses could not beat the radiance on the face of the newly wed.
Though their honeymoon trip had ended yesterday, and it had been beyond imagination, yet the couple was still dealing with the honeymoon hangover.
Renee tried to pull her hand back, though, with much less effort; Pranab tightened his grip on his wife’s wrist.
Suddenly, Renee’s eyes sparkled as a thought crossed her mind.
“Let’s do it now.”
“Do it?..Like now?” His arched eyebrows and the tilted smile made a fresh gush of blood ran all over her face as she shifted her gaze down, on the bed, where they were sitting at the moment.
“Silly! I am talking about the gifts. Our wedding gifts!” She pointed her finger towards the almirah in a corner of the room, where the gifts were arranged in the magnificent arrays. “Let’s open them now.”
And the next minute she was taking all those beautifully wrapped gifts out of the almirah and placing them carefully on the floor.
The almirah was loaded with pretty gifts and she could hardly wait to examine them all.
No wonder, there were a lot of gifts and many more blessings; her mother had won the hearts of the people by her affection and charity.
Aditi, her mother, had brought her up as a single parent.
“Mamma, why don’t I have a father?” She had asked once.
“Because, you are a gift, my doll, which God Himself has presented to your Mamma.” She would plant a kiss gently on her cheeks and hug her tight.
And she never asked that question again.
Her mother was her world, her life.
Soon, there were open boxes and glittering, shiny wrapping papers scattered all over the floor. Dresses, beautiful decoration pieces, Home appliances, articles of jewelry and what not; the beautiful gifts added some more volume to the room.
Renee was examining them all, one by one, admiring them through her eyes.
“Isn’t it pretty Pranab?” She would say, occasionally.
“Hey, this one is from your mom.” Pranab handed a big box covered with the most beautiful wrapping on it.
“To my bundle of joy…. Hugs and kisses, Mamma.” She read the tag on the box and Pranab saw one of the cutest smiles on her wife’s face.
“Oh, My God!” cried Renee, greatly delighted. The box was filled with all of her childhood memories. “Oh, Mamma, dear Mamma! This is my best wedding gift. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
‘Look, Pranab, just look at this cute little dress, the first cloth that I had on. My first romper” She said as she picked up the little cute dress from the box.
He saw her stroking the little pink romper with many tiny Mickey mice, printed all over it, lovingly, as she got lost in her childhood memories.
“Ah! See this,” She proudly displayed a little pink hand towel from the box. “My mother would hand me this little hand towel whenever I insisted on helping her with folding clean clothes.”
Her face was shining with ecstasy; the smile on her face grew broader and more spacious with every dying second.
“Oh, My God! I can’t believe it. My scrapbook. A thousand thanks! Mamma.” She exclaimed, her eyes sparkling with pleasure.
The next moment, both was flipping through the pages of the scrapbook; but the blur of tears were making it hard for her to see the pictures clearly.
“You look cuter.” Pranab was awestruck seeing a six-month-old Renee.
“Mamma has treasured every important bit of my lifetime in this scrapbook.” She paused, only to make a broader grin. “Look, this is me; six months old, and this when I first set out walking; nine months old, this is the foremost day of my kindergarten and that is the first day of my school..”
The scrapbook was her journey, from the past to the present, which she was time traveling along with her hubby.
“And this is our wedding photograph, the latest one.” She planted a passionate kiss right on his lips. “Isn’t she amazing?”
“Yes, she is.” Pranab nodded. “She is an amazing person and a wonderful mother of an equally wonderful daughter.”
Renee turned to him with a blush and a joyous smile.
“You know Pranab, there are around one thousand orphans in her orphanage and she is always there for them, anytime. She never misses any of their birthdays or parent teacher meetings or any such important date. She is on her toes, round the clock for them and she takes care of them as she takes care of me. No wonder she has gained a great respect from all of them.” She was proud of her mother. “But she never ignored me in any case. I never felt the need of having a father. In fact, I never asked her who he was or what was he like. I simply didn’t feel the need.”
“In fact, I am very lucky to have a mother like her.” Said Renee, a proud daughter “I have seen her lifting the sick and poor people from the pavements and pleading doctors to treat them; be it rain or shooting mercury or chilly outside, she has been always there for the people, who lay dying there on the streets.”
“Though she has been worshiped as goddess by the people of the city yet she never considered herself a personage of importance, such a humble person she is. She has always thought of adding to the happiness of others.”
Renee was beaming with pride and joy.
“And who are these people?” Pranab brought her back to the present, flaunting a photograph of a couple to her “It was in the box too.”
The woman in the photograph, somewhere around twenty, was the perfect picture of beauty. Fair, soft face, big serene eyes with a dash of kohl in them, pink lips complementing by magical, charming smile and the shiny black hairs with a small line of vermillion in the front edge of the partition of hair and a sparking nose pin on her slim nose, wearing a mangalsutra in her neck and clad in a silk banarasi sari; she resembled the Indian goddesses on the posters.
The man in the picture, with his strong masculine features, seemed to be the perfect match for the girl. Dusky attractive complexion, the chiseled jaw and the well-built body, soft, warm eyes and broad shoulders, he was no less than the Greek god.
“Oh, this is Amulya aunty, Mamma’s best friend. The orphanage is in her name. Now who would do that? But Mamma did it. She hasn’t only sacrificed her whole life for these destitute children, but named the orphanage after her best friend’s name.”
She had never seen Amulya herself, but Aditi would tell stories about their childhood to her and she was very fond of listening to them.
“And this is Ajay uncle; Amulya aunt’s husband. They had a love marriage.” She said. “Sadly, they died in a road accident a few months after their marriage.”
Before the sadness could cast its ugly shadow on his beautiful wife, Pranab noticed a yellow envelope in the box.
“And what’s this envelope. I guess it is a letter.”
“A letter? Really?” She was on cloud nine. “Now, that’s the last thing I expected.”
Thither was a break for a second. This roller coaster ride was too much for her to handle.
And then something unexpected happened.
He saw her face turning pale, a mask of numbness stealing her smile away; dead giveaway. Instantly, he knew something was terribly wrong.
She stood there; unmoved, stunned. The world stopped moving around her.
She handed the letter to him.
I never knew that someday I would have to let you go. It really hurts. A lot. Believe me, darling, nobody can fill up the void in my life that you have left behind you.
But, I am also happy that you have entered your new phase of life and you two make a beautiful couple. My blessings are always with both of you.
And as you are crossing this threshold, I want to confess something to you, the hidden truth, the darkest chapter of my life and by all means, you have every right to know it, because my angel it is the truth of your life, our life.
We all make mistakes, at some point of our life. You, my princess, should know that your mother is no exception to this and that your mother can be imperfect at times.
It is well said that a mother is born with the birth of a child. True to the fact, the mother in me was born with your birth, only I didn’t give birth to you. Amulya did. Ajay and Amulya are your real parents.
Yes, my doll, I am not the one who gave you birth and I am very sorry for hiding this deep, dark secret from you for all those years. I didn’t want to be judged since I was terrified that you would hate me once you know the truth.
It was sunk deep in my heart for a long time, but today, I am opening my heart to you, therefore I am loosing my soul off this load.
Promise me that after knowing this truth, you won’t shovel me out of your life. Will you, my dear?
It was Dussehra that day; the day that glorifies the triumph of good over evil.
My angel, the good and the evil reside within us and our conscious decides which one is stronger between them. We, ourselves, let our positivity overpower the negativity of our heart or vice –versa.
The battle was on, once more. It was, again, good versus evil, god versus demon, positive versus negative and foe versus a friend.
My speeding auto halted with a shriek.
“What’s the matter, bhaiyya” Irked, I shouted at the auto driver “I am already late, and they will set him on fire anytime soon.”
I didn’t want to miss the custom that we had been following devotedly since our childhood, watching the Ravana set on fire by Sri Rama.
We, Amulya and I, had planned to meet at the Ramlila ground for the Dussehra Fair. Your mother had gone for shopping with your father and they were to reach the ground directly from the market while I had to join them there.
“What can I do, madam? The road is blocked.” He said with an immense regret and innocence as if to declare that it was not his fault.
“Whaa..t? Why? Which political leader is coming today” I asked, frustrated.
“I believe it is the case of accident madam.” He said. “There are a lot of people gathered over there, right in the middle of the road”
“Accident? Oh, my God!” And without a second thought, I was out of my auto and the next moment I was finding my way to reach the poor victims.
And I saw them.
Lying in the pool of blood, surrounded by the mute spectators’.
My head was spinning faster that the spinning top.
The blood covered bodies of your parents laid on the route. Their bike had been run into by a truck, a hit and run case, as the onlookers told me.
There were persons all around; some showing sympathy to the young victims, some abusing the drunk truck driver, some blaming the government for not making effective rules to stop accidents and to punish the criminals.
As to talk about the humans, there were none. They were standing over there, doing everything but help.
My beloved friends, one of whom was more than a sister to me, were dying in front of me. Ajay, your father, had died on the spot, but Amulya was still showing the signs of life.
“Amu..” Her name slipped through my tongue, though barely audible.
“Did you say something?” The man standing next to me raised his eyebrows, inquiringly. “They are too young to die and that too a painful death. Do you know them?”
Do I know them?
The first place in the class goes to Amulya Mishra and the second goes to Aditi Verma.
Clapping and applaud in the hallway. They are hugging each other whole-heartedly, warmth in one heart and jealousy in the other. The individual feeling grew year by year.
The all rounder of the school is Amulya Mishra.
Tears in their eyes; one had the tears because of joy and pride and the other had the tears because of broken dreams. The All-rounder trophy should be hers.
What? You lost the scholarship to Amulya, just by one mark? Do know that you just lost your golden opportunity to study abroad? Amulya has made her parents so proud. Oh, how I longed for a daughter like her.Her mother screamed her lungs out. More tears. More jealousy.
I like you very much Aditi and It feels very bad to hurt you like this, but I love Amulya. We are getting married in six months.That was Ajay; the Man of her dreams, her prince charming.Tears knew no limit while the jealousy crossed all the limits and turned into hatred.
I never realized that I was so profoundly insecure that jealousy tipped me over the edge.
“Do you know them?”
And then it happened, what had not to be happening, anyway; the malevolent power took possession of me.
“No. I don’t” And I turned my back and left the place.
That one moment, the Ravana within me won the battle and the loss that moment had made was irreversible and was for good.
The traffic police finally took Amulya to the hospital where she took her last breath. She could have been saved, only if she had been admitted there on time. But, the doctors managed to save you, premature, seven months at that time.
If only I had not been an evil spirit that time, I could have saved her life. I killed her myself. I am a murderer. I snatched her away from you.
The guilt haunted me all my life. My life; Oh! Such a torture it had been. Adopting you and starting the AMULYA DHAROHER orphanage, were the only way to repent for my sin; though I doubt that it was enough to wipe out the stains completely.
My child, how could I have started a family of my own when I had robbed you of your family? I never got married.
And as I believe the purpose of my life is completed, I want my eternal sleep to be peaceful. By the time you read this email, I would be no more; I am ending my life and thus freeing my soul from this sinful body. The Ravana, within me had been set on fire since my last sin and it’s time to accomplish the salvation.
Though my sin is unpardonable yet I seek your forgiveness.
My princess, I know you are worthy enough to take care of this orphanage after me. I have full faith in you.
I am on my deathbed and these are my last words; my lesson from life. Never let the evil within you win the battle, never ever.
And, I want you to know this that I love you, truly.
Your unfortunate Mamma,
Pranab’s fingers fumbled through the touch screen of his mobile as he dialed her mother’s number, but before he could actually make a call from his mobile, an incoming call from the orphanage office drained the blood out of him.
The inevitable had happened.
Her mother had committed suicide.
He shook his head in despair while answering her horror-struck look.
Renee stood there in silent for a second. Then she exploded.
YOU KILLED MY MOTHER AGAIN ,MAMMA.
A loud outburst of pain, anger, betrayal, loss, sorrow and helplessness filled the room.
The apartment was grieving with an air of melancholy.