It was 11 A.M, the next morning. Harini sat her back to the entrance door. She did not turn for him. It was more than ten minutes she had been there. The coffee shop was deserted except for a couple of people. A girl sat in one of the corner tables. There was another guy looked imaptiently waiting for someone.
Few miles away, he kick started his scooter. The fresh air hit his face. His scooter which always gave him some sort of trouble seemed to have become his timid pet. He gently patted the handle bar and straddled. Sathya adjusted the rear view mirror to check his hair style. His hair had grown well, hiding the baldness. Few muscles were showing up in his arms. He was happy, not just for his physique.
He did not know what happened. It seemed as though his life changed upside down a couple of days ago. She came into his life like an angel.
“What have you done, Sathya?” He froze when his manager asked him. He stammered and before he could utter few more words, “The client who just left, gave a wonderful feedback about you. She told us you have mastered most of the market strategies. She told us how well you explained about the volatility of even few elephantine company stocks.” Venky spoke with a surprise in his eyes.
He had told her a few things, but not all those she had told to Bharath and Venky. Why did she really do it? He wondered. As it was towards the end of the financial year, he was praised as the best employee of the quarter. He started walking in his office, with his head held high. His own team mates started looking at him with a different perspective. There was something in her eyes. He did not even know what her full name was. Before Sathya could take her details and complete her form, she just walked away. Something in her eyes disturbed him. He was trying hard to get her details. He cannot ask his manager; ideally Sathya was the one who should know it, asking his manager will reveal that he did not get her complete details. He stayed put. He thought of checking things a couple of days later.
As he rode his bike, he thought about the meeting today. He looked at his watch. It was 11.10 A.M. It might take another 40 minutes at least. Sathya rode his scooter faster.
Jana parked his bike in the lot inside the coffee shop.
As he got down, his foot hit the mudguard of the adjacent bike. He winced in pain for a second. Nothing was going right in his life in the recent past. He felt his life change upside down. He shook his head as he let out a sigh.
He saw Harini sitting in one of the tables. There was her mobile, wallet, vehicle key and a book like thing on the table. He rushed to the table.
“Harini, Harini,Hi.”He took a chair opposite to her. “I need to tell you so much. First of all..” as he began, he saw the waiter approaching.
Jana got the menu card from the waiter and looked at Harini. “Latte? Or Irish coffee?” he asked, knowing that those were her favorites.
“Order some crap and make this guy go away. I guess we need some privacy. I am not here for relishing a coffee. I am here for something more important.” she spoke under her breath.
“Two cold coffees, please.” Jana ordered and the waiter left.
“Harini, How are you?” Jana tried to begin a conversation.
“Alive.” She replied, her silent yet harsh words hit his heart straight.
There was a long pause. He caught his head and looked away.
“It is easy to hurt. It is difficult to be on the other side.” Harini spoke looking at him.
“Harini, such words do not slip through your lips.” He began again, talking about the word ‘Crap’ she told before.
“You have made me speak all that I have never spoken before. You have made me do all that I have never done before. Having a grudge, gritting my teeth, losing my temper, calling you several times, throwing my phone or be it any other senseless act, you made me do everything.” She did not raise her voice but her words were strong.
Jana was looking at her, his facial expressions paralyzed.
The waiter bought their cold coffees.
She moved the book that she had bought, towards him. Jana who did not expect it coming, failed to catch it and the book fell on the floor. He could see that it was the slam book he gave her. The pages turned. He could see that she had carefully noted all of their day to day activities. As he picked up the book, he saw the last page. It was dated a year ago. ” ‘I’ have written all the happy moments that ‘you’ gave me so far. This book is going to be our wedding gift from me to you. From then on, let us write all the happy moments we behold, together.”
Jana felt tears gushing down his cheeks. As he raised his head, he saw Harini crying.
She missed a pair of eyes looking at her.
“It all started with this.” She pointed to the book. “Let us end it with this.” The words escaped her lips easily. Jana who was looking at the slam book, looked up , as her words jolted his face up.
“Harini.., but let me tell you something.”
“Really? I wanted to talk you too. Did you mind? Did you even hear me? I felt so crippled every time I initiated a conversation and you ignored it so easily. I was strong enough to forget those incidents, forgive you and rise up again for our relationship. It all made sense only if we had a true relationship and I had to save it. Jana, our relationship sank at the moment I saw your previous love; at the moment I came to know that you have chosen another woman over me. When there is no relationship, there is no purpose to save it. It is done, I am DONE.” She raised her voice for the last word, panting.
Jana felt the world freeze around him.
She fixed her gaze at the tall glass in front of her. “You can take the book and leave,” she paused. “..once for all.” She finished her sentence. Jana punched his fist on the table.
“Don’t create a scene. No one is watching. Even if some do, they won’t mind. You can leave anyway.” She spoke as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Can I..” Harini heard Jana’s voice. She bought her hands together as if in a prayer. “Enough Jana. I am done. I don’t have more energy to get back to you, every time you are going to kick me out. Thanks for everything.” She looked away concealing her tears, failing to notice Jana’s tears.
Harini sat on the chair thinking about the first phone call incident; the first incident that brought Harini to Jana.
It was on 3rd May 2011. It was around 3.20 P.M. “You go to the classroom and bring our bags. I need to call my Suresh Uncle and discuss about my implant training certificate.” Her friend Sujitha pushed Harini into the lift.
If she had accompanied Harini, Jana would not have spoken to her at all. She wouldn’t have been there in that situation.
Chandani who was sitting in one of the corner tables, recognized that his manager just broke up with his girlfriend. She sat thinking about the phone call incident; the second incident that had almost taken Harini away from Jana
If she had not engrossed herself into the matrimonial site in her phone, she would have attended the call. She missed to pick it up, due to which her manager had to attend it.
The new lady with his manager came to Chandani’s desk on a casual note and thanked her.
“If you had picked up my call, I would have just talked to you, got my query clarified and moved on. Jana picked it up, just because you left it unanswered. When I asked Jana why as a manager he was attending a front end office call, he told me about how you missed it. If not for that call, I would not have gotten back in touch with him.” Chandani remembered the girl’s words.
Just like any other person, she was able to guess that the entry of another woman had broken their relationship.
Jana walked swiftly, towards the exit door of the coffee shop, in excruciating pain of losing his lady love.
Sathya parked his scooter and walked towards the restaurant.
The sudden change in his life made him recollect few of his past incidents.
It was on 3rd May 2011. Sathya looked up at the clock in the interview room. It showed 3.23 P.M.
“Is it a recommendation?” asked his employer. Sathya nodded. He took a bunch of papers from the table and placed it before Sathya.
“All these are for the same post, with recommendations, but Suresh is very close to us and that was why you are given the preference. I may need to call Suresh now and check with him as a formality. Did you inform Suresh about this call?”
“Yes Sir. I spoke to him. He told he will be available.”
“I will call him as a part of the formal verification. Once he talks to me now, I will appoint you. If he is not available over phone or if he does not approve the verification, then I am afraid I might not be in a position to hold you. I hope you can understand how demanding it is.” Sathya recollected his employer’s words. Suresh Sir, who had given his recommendation, was busy over phone. The employer tried for several minutes, before asking Sathya to leave, of course without the job. That was the call; Radha had always been mentioning about it till date, whenever Sathya grumbled about his low profile job or low salary. Sathya had to spend the next two and a half long years without job and he had to land in a banking job, though he did not like it, just because someone was ready to employ him.
He shook his head thinking about the unknown face, which had kept Suresh’s phone busy, snatching away his employment. He could never forget that incident, the first incident, the same phone incident, due to which Jana took a high road in his personal life, made Sathya go jobless for few months and all the related sufferings.
Suresh later called Radha and apologized that his niece had called him unexpectedly. That was of no use for Sathya. The job was gone.
His life suddenly took a 180 degree turn last week.
“Ufff!” Sathya rubbed his hands. Sathya smiled as he thought about the remarkable incident , which made him popular overnight. Sathya did not know from where she came or for what. She walked in, did the magic and disappeared.
‘Employer of the month.’ The notice board had the holding with his employee number and name. His own peers looked at him with awe.
He slowly ascended the stairs to the coffee shop as he was about to make the first move for his love life. He was there to meet a girl who was interested in his profile through the matrimonial site. ‘Chandani Suryakumar.’, he recollected the girls name.
Jana who walked out, his thoughts struck to Harini, hit the man who came in front of him.
“Ouch!” Sathya exclaimed in pain.
Jana did not mind to look up. He just raised his hand, as a gesture of an apology and descended down the stairs, making the last possible move to save his love life and failing terribly.
The four of them were there, making their own moves, thinking about the significant incidents, which had highly influenced their lives directly or indirectly.
Harini waited there, in the coffee shop, for more than twenty minutes. She rested her head on the table occasionally to hide her tears. She wanted to shed those bitter memories there. She was not ready to go home. What would she tell her parents? That she had broken her relationship? They would ask her why. Will she be able to tell that he had been neglecting her for another woman? They would ask her, why she had to choose him if she had known he had a previous love. They will not understand what it is to fall in love again. Not their fault. Not her fault either.
She still knew her decision was right. She was still wondering how she would take it to her parents.
Sathya walked straight to the table where Chandani was waiting for him. They began with formal introductions and fell silent after twenty minutes of talking.
“Uhh. To begin with I am elder to you by 7 years. My take home is 45k, which is pretty less for my age. I was a mediocre student and I am an average performer in my bank. As of now, in my current job, there are no onsite opportunities. I live in a small 2BHK house. I am planning to buy one in the near future. That’s it from my side.” He shrugged his shoulders as he looked at Chandani.
He looked simple and nice. He sounded genuine.
Chandani was surprised how simple Sathya was and how his simplicity made her like him.
“Except for few, most of what you told me was kind of your short comings. Does that mean you don’t have anything good in you to project?”
Chandani looked at Sathya who was now smiling.
“I do have, but, they are left for you to explore. They will seem better if you understand rather than being told. I don’t want to brag much about it.”
Chandani smiled. He was good, she thought. She suddenly looked at the direction where Harini was seated.
“Something bothering you?” Sathya asked.
“You seem to be looking at something.”
‘Yes.’ She nodded her head.
“What is that?” Sathya became curious.
She showed her finger in the direction where Harini was sitting.
“She is manager’s girlfriend. Probably was.” She began
Sathya turned in the direction where Chandani was pointing.
“Oh My God!” Sathya exclaimed, almost as low as possible, just for him to hear. He was sure, she was the one who came to his bank a couple of days ago. As he was still looking at her, she stood up and walked away, out of the coffee shop.
Chandani and Sathya greeted each other and they left. Chandani seemed flustered about the broken relationship, but at the same time she made sure to put up a smiling face for Sathya. It was her life, after all.
Sathya ruminated, as he rode back. His mind drifted to and fro between Chandani and the other girl. ‘Angel ‘ – that was how he thought about her. Chandani was not exquisite, but she was graceful. While she liked his simplicity, he loved the way she was interested in knowing more about him. He reached home. Radha made out it was a favorable outcome. The smile on his face fitted perfectly as an answer to her not-sought question about the meeting.
Sathya saw the clock. It showed 6.10 P.M. He waited for the next morning, eagerly. He wanted to know the name of his angel, at least her name.
Harini sat on the sofa, hugging her knees. It was the next evening- Monday evening.
“A girl child is not supposed to sit that way.” She heard her mom’s voice from the kitchen.
She sighed and sat cross-legged.
She appealed to her parents to eschew their questions regarding Jana. She lied that they were in a fight. Though the latter was true, she lied about the intensity. “I am angry on him. I will talk to him once my anger subsides.” She gave a wry reply, subduing every small instinct to break into bitter tears.
Her head was woolly from the recent happenings of her life. She did not accompany her Dad to their office. She hesitated to even take a bath and moved around in the same dress she wore the previous evening. Every single thread in it reminded her about the happenings at the coffee shop, every time she lowered her eyes, when the things in her surrounding failed to grab her interest.
She had to talk to her parents about something else too, but, she was badly in need of time to gather herself to a good shape from her current distorted shape.
She decided to turn off the television and go to the terrace garden. As she stood up her mobile rang.
“Hello.” She answered. She knew who it was.
“Can we meet tonight in the same coffee shop?” The familiar voice asked. She could not deny. She had so much to talk to him.
She hurried. She had to get ready real quick.
“Hi, Harini. I am Sathya. Hope you remember me.” Sathya began, as Harini pulled her chair closer to the table.
The next few minutes went in stony silence.
“The reason why I called you here…” Sathya began , when his mobile rang.
“We are here, left side corner table.” He answered.
“I am expecting another person to join us.” Sathya managed to speak. Harini crooked her brows.
“Who is that?” She asked. “You will know in few minutes.” Sathya replied, looking at Harini.
As Harini shot a skeptical look at Sathya, they both turned as they heard the light tread of his boots.
Jana walked towards the table where his woman and a strange man were seated.
“Listen Mr.” Jana spoke, his eyes towards Harini. Harini turned away skipping his gaze. She never wanted to create a scene. She decided to sit back and watch.
Sathya stood up. He was almost 6 inches shorter than Jana. He was frail compared to him. Jana’s voice broke his thoughts.
“Mr. Sathya, my life is all messed up. Okay? My girlfriend left me. I am not sure If I am going to..” he stopped in between, looking at Harini. She shot an aggrieved look at Jana.
“Those are my problems. Anyway, I am not comfortable adding more people and in turn more problems to my life, which is already in anguish.” Jana let out a sigh as he spoke to Sathya.
“This is just to set things straig..” Sathya was interrupted by Jana.
“Excuse me, May I know who the hell you are to advise and set things straight in my life?” Jana, who seemed too overwrought to listen, snubbed Sathya.
“You need not talk to him that way.” Harini spoke for the first time in the past few minutes.
Jana turned towards Harini. He looked in a fit of pique.
“You are trying to support another guy in front of me?”
“You ditched me for another woman, remember?”
“Harini.” Jana almost held his fist tight. “Do you really have to talk all this in front of a stranger?”
Sathya stood tongue-tied.
“He is not a stranger.”Harini cut Jana short.
“Then who the hell is he? Why is he concerned about my life?”
“Excuse me. He is concerned about MY life.”
“Why should he?”
“He should, because he is my Brother. My elder brother.” Harini looked at Jana, her nostrils flaring as she panted.
Jana turned to Sathya in bewilderment. “Brother?” He muttered.
Sathya turned to Harini. “You knew it?” He muttered.
“What else then? You expected a girl to walk into the Coffee shop with you, just because she came to you for an investment? “Harini snapped.
March 4th 6.30 P.M
An overwhelmed Harini reached home. She was confused. She looked concerned.
She saw her dad seated with his laptop, while her mother was slitting Lady’s finger for dinner.
“Mom, can you please come here for a moment?” She called.
Her mom walked slowly towards them.
“Mom, Dad, I want to tell this as simple and as straight as I could. I do not want to give you surprises. I know this might be too much for your age. Please don’t get overexcited. I saw my brother, your son, our lost prince, Sathya. I met him today in the bank. I do not know any of his details. I thought of telling it you first, before we get more information about him. We can go find him and bring him back.” She paused.
Harini was prophesying a pair of flabbergasted humans, while she saw two composed old people exchanging glances.
“Mom, Dad, I thought this was a huge news for you. I did not even speak a word to him. I came running , just to inform you about this. Aren’t you happy that you have got your lost son back?” Harini raised her voice, the veins in her neck, jutting out.
Her dad smiled as he gave a gentle pat on her shoulders.
“We did not lose him, Harini. He left us.” He paused and took a deep breath as if he was about to narrate something deep.
“What?” Harini was lost.
“He left us when he was 15.” Her mom added.
“What do you mean by this? You told me that you lost him. You knew he left us and yet you did not take any measure to find him?” Harini saw her Dad’s blank face. “I have cried over this for so many nights. You just can’t..” She stopped , holding her head.
“Harini, relax.” Her mom touched her cheeks, with tear-stained eyes.
“Appa. Was there any problem between you and Sathya and did he leave because of that? You don’t seem show any emotion.” She shot a skeptical look at her dad.
“Child, you might think I am perfunctory and unceremonious, But I have a lot to tell you.” Her dad’s voice made her look up.
She looked at her Dad as he spoke.
“Your mom and I were married for eight years, then. She had four miscarriages. We almost met most of the doctors in the city. They told that your mom’s womb was not in a perfect shape to hold the implanted embryo. We felt things closing upon us. While most of the relatives and friends worried that there was no heir for my flourishing business and swanky life, we agonized over missing an eternal bliss of bearing a child, both in womb and heart.
After spending days of discussion, we decided to adopt a child. Your mother was insisting that that baby should be only few days old. We contacted several orphanages and voluntary organizations and finally found a week old baby. We did not ask for the gender. We rushed to the orphanage. We saw a cute little boy, who stared back at us with his prominent brown eyes. We liked him a lot and adopted him. We gave him everything; Love, care, best education and a memorable childhood. As he started growing up, we forgot the fact that we could not have a child biologically. Sathya was there for us. Eventually we started to forget that he was an adopted son. Things slowly got back to normal until he was seven years old. It was a bright morning, when your mother felt nauseous and dizzy all of a sudden. She was 36 years old, then. I took her to the hospital after leaving our son in the school. We received the most unexpected news. Your mom was conceived. Our joy knew no bounds. The three of us eagerly waited for your arrival. Your brother was the happiest to see you. He wanted to be by your side all the time that we had to forcefully send him to school.
We were worried how possessive he would get, by noting the care and attention the new born received. We made sure he was not denied of any form of care or attention.
You both grew together graciously. We felt happy to see the thick brother-sister bonding that nurtured in between you two.
The sudden ecstatic feeling of bearing and giving birth to a child slowly settled in. Life was then smooth and fine and we were happy parents.
As Sathya grew, I started involving him in office works, by mostly asking him to stay with me during some Accounting sessions or involving him in some minor deeds which were helpful to me.
I made sure not to force him into management or entrepreneurship. I did not want him to follow my path. Your mom and I decided that he should pursue what he was interested in.
It was a day after your 8th Birthday, I asked him to fetch a file from one of my closets. I asked him for a yellow stick file, while he bought an old blue rustic one. I did not look up. I just placed the blue file on the table and asked him to get the correct one. It struck me after a second. I looked up. His eyes were reddened. The blue file had the adoption details. I called out for your mother in anger. We had preserved it out of his sight for 15 long years. Your mother misplaced it recently, when we had to fill up some details from the file and he saw it. He broke into terrible tears. More than the fact that we did not tell about it, he was discombobulated that he was an Orphan. He cringed in embarrassment and yawped in anger. We tried to pacify him. He never listened. Your mom and I sat with him for a long time, assuring him that things will be fine. I fell asleep in the sofa, while your mom fell asleep on the floor, holding Sathya’s hands. We thought it would get better in the morning. We woke up the next morning to see a bright aurora, an empty room and a missing son. He was gone.”
Her dad’s eyes were wet as he narrated the past.
“You kept asking us, where your big brother was. We had to cook up stories that he was gone for his studies. As you grew, it was difficult for us to contain you within the same lie. You started asking us for the university details. We had to lie again that we lost him. You cried. It was easier for us to pacify you rather than make you understand the real reason.” Her dad continued.
“Was he an adopted son?” Harini felt the words slipping through her lips slowly.
“Yes.” Her mother’s feeble voice reached her ears.
“Not in a single instance we treated him that way. The moment we walked in with him, in my hands, we decided to forget the fact that he was not our biological son and eventually we forgot too.” Her mother’s voice broke.
“When your mom was conceived, before we could celebrate the pregnancy, we decided to stay wise and treat both the children equally. We made up our mind, not in a single instance, there should be a difference.” Her Dad added.
Harini felt, the feeling of bringing back some lost happiness to her parents, fade away.
She thought she was the one carrying the surprise. Her parents had triple folds of surprises for her, about her brother.
“I pestered your dad to reach to him somehow.” Her mother began. Harini looked at her mother, as she continued to speak. “If your father had tracked, he would have surely located Sathya. It was an agony of a mother’s heart, after all. Sathya was the one who filled the initial void of a childless home. Your father was more thoughtful. He was strong that Sathya chose to leave us, because of the irreversible reasons. If it had been a fault, we would have got him back and assured him that it would never happen in the future. It was an irremediable flaw from our side. We should have told him the truth when he grew up to an age to apprehend the reality. We did not, because, we made sure we forgot the fact that he was adopted. We thought it would all end well. That’s how life plays the trick. Bang- came in the most disastrous moment; he peeked into the file which I misplaced by mistake, which revealed him the truth.” Her mom spoke her heart.
Harini nodded. They were right. Their reasoning had obviously convinced her of their way of interpreting his departure, but she did not want to stop there. It was her right to know about him. She decided what she wanted to do next.
March 6th 7.30 P.M
Harini , was now looking at Sathya, as she sipped a mouthful of the cold coffee, to quench her thirst after the long narration.
Sathya’s face reddened with embarrassment. He lowered his head.
“I am so sorry.” He looked at Harini.
“I was taken aback after hearing so many revelations. I did not want to lose you for the second time. I wanted to see you. I wanted to know more. I wanted to grab you by your collar and ask you ‘Why the hell did you leave your little sister back?’, though there were thousand reasons for you to leave. Before all that I had to know where you were, what were you up to and what was happening with you.” Harini replied to his apology.
“I myself had loads to tell you.” Sathya spoke looking at Harini.
“My professional life took an overturn the day you met me. There was something oddly familiar in your face, which I could not decipher completely. I could not take you off my mind. I saw you again for the second time, here, yesterday. I came here to meet my fiancée, Chandani, who works with my brother-in-law.“ He paused as he saw Harini glaring at him. He knew it was for the word, ‘Brother-in-law.’
“My fiancée is working in your showroom and that is how I got your number. She told me about your life. She felt bad, even I did. I first wanted to know who this girl, whom I met in the bank was. I went back and took her records. Her dad’s name and house address made me realize that she was my sister, whom I lost long back. I thought I should help her, just as a stranger, though I knew who she was to me. That was why I called her here.” He looked at Jana.
“You knew it already?” It was Harini’s turn to ask him.
“What else then? You expected me to walk in and help a stranger who came to me for an investment?” Sathya mocked Harini with a chuckle.
Harini glared at Sathya.
“After few minutes of intent look, I was able to identify that you were my lost brother. From wht your manager and lead spoke, I was also able to find out that you did not have a good reputation in your work. I just wanted to tell mom and dad about you. The moment I recognized it was my Sathya Anna, I just moved as quickly as I could to tell our parents. I also made sure to give a good feedback about you to your boss. I know how it works.” Harini spoke to Sathya.
‘Why am I even here in between this duo?’ Jana wondered. It was a good time to make his move, Jana realized.
“Har..” He began, when he saw Harini getting up to leave.
“It is too much information for me to handle. I still have loads to reveal to my parents.” Harini paused to let out a sigh.
Jana nodded, as if he understood. It should be about their relationship. He heard Harini’s voice, breaking his thoughts.
“While I haven’t come out of my broken relationship yet, there comes my lost brother. Should I rejoice in his arrival or mourn my lost love? I don’t know. I just don’t know. It is just like my brain is processing the surprise, misery, shock and sorrow in regular threads of interval. It is so exhausting and demanding.” Harini shook her head as she gathered her belongings.
“Harini. Would you please listen to me for a couple of minutes?” Jana stood up in an attempt to stop Harini.
She looked at him, the same pair of irresistible eyes and lips. He had come for her. She did not mind to speak a word or look at him. He had been patiently listening to them for so long.
His mobile, rang, disturbing her thoughts. She turned towards the table.
‘Amsadhwani’ his mobile displayed the caller name.
She gritted her teeth as she shook her head, regretting for what she thought few moments ago.
“There you go! You still need me for a few minutes?” She mocked and spurned her head as she strode away.
“Bro. If you don’t mind, can we talk?” Sathya asked.
Jana turned, shifting his eyes from Harini to the new guy.
“No, Thanks.” Jana snapped, as he silenced his ringing mobile and walked away.
Harini became teary-eyed as she hit the bed.
She could still not take the fact that he was still in contact with the other girl.
She rolled over to her left side staring at the window, which was tightly shut, as the room was air conditioned.
‘He is still in touch, even after knowing that it was the reason behind the rift between them.’ Harini thought. Her own thoughts took a toll on her.
She rested her throbbing head on her palm, as she placed her palm in between her cheeks and the pillow. She never bothered to turn the lights off. She felt her head heavy, even to turn to her right and flip the light switch to turn it off.
Through the corner of her eye, she saw her own blood vessel, pulsating near her wrist. It indicated that her heart was beating.
‘My heart always beats for you. Do you want to listen?’ One of Jana’s common questions came to her mind. That was his technique to deceive her into a tight hug.
‘Yes.’ She would nod.
‘Come.’ He would raise his chest. As she slowly rests her heads, he would wrap his arms around her, pulling her into a tight hug.
She would punch in his arm, as lightly as she could, so that it doesn’t pain. The hug was unexpected the first time. She did not know it was coming. Later on, every time he did it, she pretended that she did not know it was coming.
Tears rolled down Harini’s cheeks, as his thoughts clouded in her mind. She stared at the window-pane for some time and shifted her gaze to the bare white wall that stood high. She saw herself in her favorite red salwar and Jana in a grey t-shirt, in the wall’s white backdrop.
Harini held Jana’s hand as they walked back from the sea shore.
“Planet Yumm.” She giggled as she decided her dinner spot.
They took a comfortable seat and Jana stood up to buy food.
“They don’t serve here?”Harini was surprised. Jana smiled as he showed her the ‘Self-Service’ sign board.
“May I have your order Madam?” he pretended to be her waiter.
“Come on.” She hit his hand and smiled.
“Let us begin with a sweet. Gulab Jamun.” She grinned.
“What is so special?” Jana asked.
“What is not so special? You and me, out for a dinner. What more do you want?”
“This is the nth time, in our 5 years relationship.” Jana smiled.
“So what? Even if it is going to be for a life’s time, every minute with you are so special to me.” She looked directly into his eyes.
“What more do I need?” He smiled and walked away to get the food.
He came back with a small bowl which had two jamuns and a glass of Blue berry smoothie.
“What’s the other one?” She asked.
“That’s for me. This is just sugar and carbs.” He pointed towards the Jamun.
Her nostrils flared in anger. “Get lost.” She grabbed the bowl from him and turned away as she dug into the Jamun.
The sharp spoon slit through the smooth golden surface. As she slowly took the spoon to her mouth, she found a strong arm stopping her. Jana grabbed the spoon.
“Hey, you!” She exclaimed, as she saw him, trying to grab her sweet.
Jana was hasty enough to dump it quick into his mouth before she could stop him. As he acted swift, the spoon tilted and the Jamun piece fell off the spoon’s head.
Harini tried to catch, while it landed on the Jana’s left hand, splashing few droplets of sugar syrup on his shirt. In a fraction of second, Jana stuffed the piece into his mouth, making a mocking face at Harini.
She seemed less heedful of the Jamun as she grabbed a tissue paper from the stack in front of her and started wiping off the stains, the sugar droplets left on his shirt.
He sat motionless as she was busy working on his shirt. After a minute of rigorous rubbing, she crushed the tissue and placed it on the table. She looked at Jana who was already looking at her, smiling.
“That is you.” He looked into her eyes. She looked at him, puzzled.
“You forget, even the thing you love the most, when it comes to me.” He continued.
“You are the one, whom I love the most.” She paused to smile. “Nothing else matters.” She winked at him.
They beheld each other for ten seconds, when the sound of the metal’s friction against the glass table, disturbed their mutual admiration.
Harini raised an eyebrow as she slowly pulled the Jamun bowl towards her.
“You are the one whom I love the most, but at times the Jamun matters.” Harini winked. They laughed together.
She was now weeping alone, tears gushing down her cheeks as the old thoughts came across her mind. She swiftly rolled over to the other side to switch off the light as if it was the bright wall that was gimmicking by popping up the images and incidents.. She later realized it was not the wall which was playing tricks; rather it was her mind which was playing the good old memories.
“You are the one whom I love the most, but at times the Jamun matters.” I winked. We laughed together.
Jana closed the slam book, after reading a memory, from a random page of the Slam book.
Jana’s only solace in the past few days was the Slam book, which he was using as a flip book. He would turn the pages rapidly and fix his eyes onto a random page and start reading his Harini’s words. That was how he had read a good old memory of them.
He looked at down at the cover of the slam book for a lot of time. He felt his stomach churn, to slowly realize that she was moving away from him. Jana could not imagine, missing her in his life. She is the purpose of his future. He will lose, every single reason to live further, the moment she departs from his life.
‘No.’ He shook his head. He thought how far she had understood him and came back to him every time he was harsh, just because she had to save the relationship. She had tolerated his harsh behavior. Just the fact that there has been another woman in his life had made her to decide to leave him once for all.
It was his turn to speak up, to get back to her, even if she is going to shoo him away. ‘A few minutes of talk will surely help. I can explain what is going on.’ He thought. He recollected the day’s events. He did not like the brother who had shown up all of a sudden. Harini had told him about her lost brother. Jana did not expect someone like Sathya. He was not sure why. ‘.. might be because Harini is neglecting me and is getting closer to Sathya.’His unhinged mind gave insane justification. “but he is her brother, feeling jealous is completely stupid. ‘ the sane part of his mind corrected him. He maundered across his room.
He decided to act quickly. Clinging on to ego will cost his Harini, eventually, all his happiness. He looked at the clock. It was almost 11 P.M. He did not mind. He made his move.
Few miles away, Harini felt sudden movement in her bed. Before she could react, she felt a warm hand on her shoulders.
Harini sat up with a jolt.
“Appa?” Harini rubbed her eyes as she squinted at her dad, due to the sudden lighting. Her dad had turned the room lights on.
“Harini, you have been crying?” He asked in dismay.
“It is just this Jana’s thing that is eating me up.” She replied, her voice confirmed that she was in half sleep.
“Jana?” Her father crooked his brows.
Harini shook her head as if she withered the residue sleep off her eyes.
“Anna. I meant my Anna’s thing is just disturbing me.” She managed.
“It is so hard dear. I know. Right now, I am going through the same thing.” Her dad’s words made her heed him.
“What is it pa?”
“Harini, first of all, so sorry, I had to wake you up child. I was just waiting for your mom to sleep deep, so that we could talk. I am so disturbed ever since you told us about your brother. Your mom insisted several times to find him and bring him back, when he left us. I was reluctant because he left us for a hidden truth. My conscious still pesters me, wondering how good he has been. I am just concerned about my..,” her father paused. “..my son.” He shook his head.
“Don’t worry dad. I know where he stays.” Harini replied casually.
‘Yes.’ She nodded.
“I did a random google search with his full name. I was given few search results, out of which two were LinkedIn profiles and one was a matrimonial site profile. I logged in as a guest and searched for his profile. I was not shown all of his details. I had to create an account and I logged in to find his details. I saw a mobile number tagged to his profile. I have noted it. Also the communication address.”
“He should be 31 already. He is still not married?” Creases of concern came across his wrinkled forehead.
“Don’t worry dad. I think he is almost there.” She tried to console.
“How did you know?”
Harini bit her lip. She cannot reveal about the meeting with Jana.
“Just a guess.” She shrugged her shoulders. She had an urge to tell her father that she had his number. She wanted to stay put, for she might need to tell about how she got his number and that will take her back to what happened with Jana.
“No more assumptions or specualtions, when it comes to my son.” Her dad’s determined voice made her look at him longer.
“What is it, Harini?”
“Too much concern for your son.” She smiled. She thought about Sathya. He did not utter a word about her mom and dad when she told Sathya about them in the coffee shop. He did not look like the one, repenting for at least fraction of a second, for leaving them behind. There was her dad, worrying about his son. ‘Parents’ innocence.’ She thought.
“Can we call that number?” Her dad’s voice broke her thoughts.
Harini rubbed her forehead.
“Sure Dad, tomorrow morning?”
“Sure dear. Good night.”
She saw her dad leaving the room.
The next morning, Harini sat on the bean bag in the living room, losing her thoughts in the dust particles that spangled along the golden path, illuminated by the rays of the morning sun that escaped through the colored glasses of the window.
“Did you call?” Her dad’s voice was low.
She raised her right hand and signaled him, asking him to wait.
She slowly slipped the mobile into her Pajama pockets and walked out, to call the number from her garden.
She did not want to call Sathya. She wanted to know what had happened in the past years. She was afraid he might not let her know it. She felt it was better to dial the number that was in the site.
As she dialed the number, she heard the ring tone.
A female voice answered the call.
“Hi Ma.” Harini greeted Radha Ma as she walked into Sathya’s compact house.
“You?” She fumbled for a moment.
“I am Harini, the one who called you sometime back and checked with you for your address.“
Radha let her in with an eye of suspicion.
“This is the first time, the girl, all by herself, is visiting s boy’s house for an alliance.”
Harini smiled as she shook my head.
“No, Ma. I am not here for that. I am not the one who is going to share his future. I am the one who had already lived with him for eight years, in the past. I am his sister. My parents had adopted him from an orphanage. According to my dad, seventeen odd years ago, when he came to know that he was an adopted son, he was in a terrible distraught and left us. I want to know more about him, Ma. I want to know about my brother.” Harini paused.
“In fact all of us are so eager to meet him. I just thought, I could talk to you first.” Harini continued.
Earlier that day when Harini told her that a woman answered, they were able to guess that she was his guardian. Her father did not accompany her as he felt he cannot talk to a strange woman, all of a sudden about his lost son, while Harini could do that for him. He sent Harini along with the driver, so that he could safe guard her, in case of any abnormal things as it was the new place for Harini too.
Harini was looking at Radha , who was a little disturbed about the revelation which Harini made a few minutes ago.
“Ma.” Harini called slowly.
‘Yes.’ A despaired Radha, nodded weakly.
Radha looked hesitant and uneasy.
From the smell of the car’s refreshner on Harini to the manicured fingers and the pedicured toes of hers, Radha was able to guess that she was from the moneyed upper class.
Harini, who seemed to have sensed the air of stiffness that was prevailing in between them, decided to make a move.
She got up from the chair and walked towards Radha. Harini held Radha’s hand. Radha was startled by the sudden move. She withdrew her hand immediately.
“Ma, I know I was a complete stranger a couple of minutes back. Now I have become someone, even worse; someone from the family, who had adopted your son, who is appearing almost after a couple of decades.
Ma, whatever might be the truth, whatever might unfold in front of my eyes and ears now, I am sure that will not take Sathya away from you. I am here, just to know about my brother. I promise you Ma. “ Harini looked into Radha’s eyes as she spoke.
Radha looked at the young girl in front of her. She was rich, but not a show-off. Her touch was out of the blue, but it was genuine. Harini showed her father’s identity. Radha confirmed that she was from the family which adopted Sathya.
Radha was silent for two minutes and then she began.
“Your mom and dad adopted Sathya from the orphanage which was run by me and two of my friends. I was from a conventional family background. The only mistake I did was, explaining my Dad about my interest in serving the needy children. When my dad commenced my wedding talks, I was frank to most of the people who visited me. Almost all of them, in unison, thought that I was impractical and they were not fine, with me running an orphanage, after the wedding. They wanted me to take care of their son and their house and not to run behind needy kids. They suggested me to switch over to a job, but I stood as a staunch supporter of my dream.
My father tried to persuade, but I was intransigent. I kept rejecting the alliances. We had a huge fight at home, after which I opted to walk out. I was warned I might not get married at all. I was ok, if that what it took to serve the needy children. Two of my friends and I started the orphanage and it was running good, when your parents came to me looking for a new born. They were so happy taking the infant with them. He was a cute baby. We friends loved him, since the day we found him. He had prominent big brown eyes. He was lovely.
It is still so fresh in my mind. It was almost 11 P.M, that day. We had run the orphanage for almost sixteen years. The orphanage was not getting enough support then. There were seven kids with us. We struggled to make money for their food and health. The voluntary contributions reduced drastically. One of the three, left for a foreign country and she had to quit. There were only two of us left. We started spending from our own pockets, which was not sufficient too. It was evident that the children were underfed for the past few weeks. They became skin and bones. We decided to dissolve the idea of running it further. My friend suggested that we cannot compromise on children’s health and food just to keep our aim alive.
We spoke to another established orphanage and they came and took the children. That was the final day in that small apartment which was once an orphanage, then an empty house. I sat there traumatized, in terrible tears as my ambition turned into a fiasco. The practical part of my brain poked me, ruminating all that I missed for this dream of mine. ‘Where would I go?’, ‘How would I ever answer my dad? – Numerous unfathomable questions popped up. My friend booked a taxi and insisted that we should leave, considering our safety. I stood there like a dilapidated building, not having heart to leave, as I wondered about the moldering life of mine. As I turned to leave, shooting a final glance at something, into which I had put my heart and soul, I heard swift trod. I squinted through the murkiness, to find an adolescent boy walking towards us.
He was panting.
“Is this an orphanage?” He asked, in between his short breaths as he gasped for air.
He checked a fragment of a paper, which looked like a printed matter. ‘He has torn it from somewhere.” I thought.
He had a backpack, which resembled a school bag.
His looks and his built for his age made me conclude that he was well groomed and taken good care of.
“I was adopted from here fifteen years ago. I want to be here again. I don’t want to live a life with false identity. If I was here as an orphan, I want to be here as an orphan only. ” He spoke, his voice clearer as his panting reduced and his breathing pattern became uniform.
We looked at him puzzled. He showed his dad’s identity and the adoption paper. We were able to understand that he was adopted from our orphanage.
“Sorry child. As you can see, “My friend paused to show the boxes we had packed as we vacated the house.
“.. we ourselves are moving out. The orphanage is not here anymore. We had sold it as we are not having sufficient funds.”
He stood still, puzzled.
“No son.” I spoke for the first time. He turned towards me in a reflex. Was it the word ‘Son’ or my hoarse voice, I wondered.
“We are just shifting. The other children, we had, have found their new homes. So we thought we could just shift to a smaller place.” I lied.
My friend pulled me by my arm.
“What the hell you are trying to do? Our previous plan will work better. I will move with my husband to my new apartment. You take our old apartment. We will find a job for you. We will see how we can…” My friend stopped as she noticed me looking at the boy.
“Everything you told me just now is going to hold good except that; it is not just me, who is going to take up the apartment. It is going to be me and my son.” I smiled for the first time in the past few days.
“Radha!” My friend almost lost her temper. “Don’t you see? He looks like he was raised by an opulent couple. You are buying in unnecessary troubles.” She warned.
“I could see that. Did you listen to him? He wants to be here.” I tried to convince my friend.
“Don’t convince me. Convince the boy to get back to his parents.”
“I was here in an attempt to make the life of under privileged children better. I knew we failed. We might or might not build an orphanage again, but here, I see this as a God given opportunity. It looks like I cannot afford to make children’s life better, but, let me make this child’s life better.”
“Think about the couple who had raised him for fifteen years.”
A tinge of selfishness took over me, in the so called selfless mission of mine.
“He has come from nowhere, just to show a new path and destination to my life. Why should he come here, exactly on the same day of closing this orphanage? Why hadn’t he come a few minutes later? There is a co-incidence, there has to be a reason for it too. I will consider, raising him for the rest of his life as my main goal. It looks like some part of the shattered ambition is building together. “
My friend, after her futile attempt of convincing me, gave up and we three walked back to her apartment. He had just completed his high school. I struggled to make him complete his higher secondary and college. I was not sure, whether was it due to the depression of separation or the bitter truth, once a meritorious student became an average performer. I had always wondered. I even had a thought whether it was my mistake for not taking him back to his parents. I knew I was selfish, but that was my only choice. He then struggled for finding a job and ended up in a banking job. As he started earning, I quit my job and now we are here. ”
Harini listened patiently, sipping the water from the glass. She looked at Radha for a long time, tongue-tied. She was not sure what has to be said exactly, as the reply. She bade a bye, as she texted Sathya , that she wanted to meet him.
“Radha Ma lowered her head as she narrated the past. The ticking of the clock and whooshing of the fan were the only two noises that prevailed in between us for the next couple of minutes.” Harini briefed her meeting with Radha to Sathya, whom she met almost an hour later.
Sathya sat still for several seconds.
“It was so difficult, Sathya. I stood there tongue-tied. I could not speak anything. Why did you leave us, Sathya? Why did you leave me?”
Sathya sat in complete silence.
“Sathya, I have got my lost brother back. I should just be on top of this world, but I am not. I don’t know why. On the day, I met you, I went home panting, my heart beat tripled, to tell to our mom and dad about you. The excitement did not last long. So many deep, emotional secrets were unfold, which is just giving me a mixture of emotions.” Harini shook her head, looking at Sathya.
“Were you disappointed when Mom and Dad did not reciprocate the emotion you had, when you found me?”
Harini nodded weakly. “The distress was not just because of that. It was due to so many dark secrets that unfolded in front of me.”
“Why should those secrets cause you sadness?”
“Sathya it was not simple. I missed you so much, until the age, wherein I did not know what studying in abroad meant. When the reality and knowledge crept in, I was told that the higher studies were a lie and you went missing. I cried for nights together. I asked my parents why not they searched for you. They convinced me; A lie on top of another. A day comes wherein all of a sudden you come to know that, all that you were told for almost fifteen years were lie and I was shuddered. Why should all this happen? “
“It should and it will. That’s the bitter reality.” He spoke, his eyes still on the plate in front of him.
Harini looked at him, startled.
“Do you have a birthday?”
Harini looked at him puzzled. “I do. Everyone who is born on this earth does.” She replied.
“Everyone does have one. Few of us don’t have the privilege to know it.” His cold reply made Harini to look at him for a longer time.
“Why is 7th February your birthday? That is because you were born on that day. Why is 19th June my birthday? That is because someone found me on a road side, bawling for milk. Take it in this perspective, it was the same day someone had abandoned me. How is it sounding?” he crooked his brows.
She nodded, as if she was getting where the conversation was going.
“When I was asked to bring that file, I still wonder, by which means another blue file fell on my hands. It was not stacked properly. It fell perfectly into my hands. The first page clearly read ‘Date of Adoption’, after which everything got blurred. For a moment, I realized, everything around me was a lie. Everything was sheer humbug. I asked my parents what it was. They told me the real things behind it. They adopted me because they did not have a child, not because I did not have a home. If they hadn’t had a child at all, that should have given my story a different ending, but they did, for good. I thought the purpose of my presence ended there. I wanted to shed the false identity and search the real me. I took my school bag and stepped out.” Sathya let out a sigh as he gasped for air after a long talk.
“You might wonder how so much of a thought got into my fifteen year old head. I did not think so much then. I just wanted to leave from the false world and get into my real world. As I grew, I thought why? What? And how? I slowly started apprehending the reality.” Sathya replied.
‘Everyone seems correct from their own perspectives.’ Harini thought.
The mobile which Harini had placed in between them, rang, disturbing her chain of thoughts.
“On the way Pa, things went well. I will tell you.” Sathya heard Harini speaking over phone.
“Hey Anna, I am going home. Can you please think about meeting our parents one day?” Harini spoke, as she unlocked her mobile after the call.
“Hmm. Sure. Uhh.. but I am not very sure how can I bring..” He fumbled.
“I understand. Probably, you visit us first, and then we will think about introducing Radha Ma to mom and dad.”
“That’s a good idea.”Sathya smiled.
“Once you decide let me know the dates.” Harini smiled back, as she took her bag to leave.
As Sathya saw Harini walking past the entrance door, he felt his mobile’s vibration. He got up a little to take his mobile from his Jean pocket. ‘Amsadhwani’, the sender name was brightly displayed and he read her text. It lured him into a complete joy.
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