“GRANNY,” Not my granny, it was Granny I met in train. It seemed like ages. Well if you try to forget something badly and you are not able to, it seems like ages, I guess.
*********23 days back**********
She gripped my hand. It was totally dark in the coach. Not that it was night. It was a tunnel and our train passing through it. She was tightening her grip with the increasing darkness. Okay, don’t think that it was the Granny. It was her.
After we had passed the tunnel, I saw her closing her eyes like a child afraid of ghosts. And that is when I concluded that there are some adults who are actually afraid of darkness. Not important.
She opened one of her eye slowly to see if the train had passed the tunnels. And then a sigh of relief grew on her face, the shades of sweat glittering on her forehead disappeared instantly as she opened her eyes.
She hadn’t noticed that she had been hurting my hand. But I stayed numb. I saw Granny smirk at her pointing her eyes towards my hand and that’s when she realized that her hand was on mine. She lifted it and looked towards me, may be to apologize but I acted as if I was sleeping and got indifferent to make her free of embarrassment.
I was appointed for a few days project in Agra. And I preferred to travel in train. And here’s an answer for your question, “Why you like travelling in trains so much?”
“Well because it reminds me of her, of those moments with her.”
That’s when and where I found her, the princess of my dreams. That’s what I thought when she sat beside me now reading book “P.S. I LOVE YOU” By Cecelia Ahern. You will later understand the real reason behind her liking that particular book. Well it’s no big deal if you have already understood it.
“A great book isn’t it?” I threw a conversation starter.
“Yeah it’s really great.” She continued closing the book, “I have read it like ten times.” She seemed really excited about it. “The love and emotions expressed is just inexplicable.” Her face showed innocence of a child, her eyes portrayed her feelings; with zero sign of any attitude.
“Yeah, it is the first book I ever read and is my favorite.”
She smiled; her smile was delightful; with it she appeared like the princess from the fairytales. But in the bright mountain of her smile I could see a deep dark cavern of sorrow hidden. However I was drowning in her, her eyes; her smile; the way she turned the pages of the book.
The slight breeze from the windows made me feel I was in heavens with an angel. I knew I was thinking way too much, way too soon. Basically I was in love with a stranger in almost less than 24 hours.
That night I couldn’t sleep. Giving away my desperate attempts to sleep I got up and shuffled towards the door. The train was moving smoothly, people had almost slept, the coach had gone dark, I stood near the door; a heavy dense air was blowing through it; I stood there watching the far off shades of lights moving like lightened centipedes in the dark; conclusively thinking of her.
I didn’t understand how in a day I had gotten so close to her. I could see her everywhere, feel her hand on mine. I couldn’t help but resist.
And now again, there she was near the door, following me; I was fed up of myself my thoughts my dreams. “Go away,” I said in air.
And I saw her; the smiling face looked concerned as the eyebrows furrowed and the forehead wrinkled. She turned and walked back. “Oh shoot.” Now it was her, real her. “Hey Muskan wait,” I called, but she continued moving towards her berth (Seat).
“How you doing?” Granny was still on the phone, waiting for my reply. But my mind was astray and it took time to even answer that simple of a question.
“I, I am fine.” I replied groggily, unsure of my answer. “How is Muskan?”
That name hit me; it made the wound of my heart deeper. I couldn’t think of the answer.
Instead I started to think of something else. Everything was automatically flashing before my weak mind.
**********23 days back *************
I fumbled behind her. “Hey please wait,” I held her hand, I wasn’t afraid now. People around lifted the blankets off, some their hands off their faces. “You okay mam?” pried a young guy. “Yeah, yeah I am.” She seemed a little embarrassed as she turned towards me. I thought she would yell at me. I had made even a bigger mess this time.
But surprisingly no she didn’t. She just walked back towards the door. “Hey I am really sorry,” I asked. “It’s alright,” she replied with zero anger or frustration in her voice as well as on her face. “Hey I really am sorry,” I pleaded again.
“It’s alright.” Again both zero as she waved her hand and sighed it off.
“Umm, aren’t you angry? I shouted on you and created such a fuss in front of people over there.”
“Nah I am not, I just thought you were worried about something and I was disturbing you so I left.” “You really understand people.” Our eyes almost met for a moment as I said that.
“Hey you got any problem?” She asked as we sat opposite to each other near the door leaning our backs against the corridor, with our legs stretched beside each other.
And so our conversation began. We talked and talked, like the continuous moving train, till it was morning. More than our mouth, our eyes did the talking. We never realized that it was late till the train stopped in a station; the words “Vada pav,” and “Chai,” started echoing, and people started waking up. I never had such an intimate conversation with anybody before that.
“Hey what’s wrong? How is Muskan?” Granny asked again with a little elevated voice. My mouth opened to answer, but it shut back.
And my mind went to flashback mode again.
**********23 days back **********
“Fahad wait,” She caught up with me, as I strode towards the exit in the railway station in Agra.
“Hello welcome to City of Taj.” A group of rickshaw drivers approached us.
“Pick and drop with tickets to moon light view of Taj just for couple,” Said one of them.
I was embarrassed and so did she seem on referring us as a “couple.”
“Hey we are not interested in anything like that and we are not c……” Before I could pronounce anything she held my hand and started whispering – “Hey, I heard the moonlight view here is really great, I got a lot of time but can’t go alone. Can you make some time for me?”
I couldn’t say no to her though I was least interested in seeing Taj Mahal or moonlight view then – “Yes okay.”
I will never regret that “yes”.
We hired a taxi to the great Taj. As I entered the gate, my jaw dropped down, my eyes remained wide open, as I saw the splendid, mesmerizing, wonderfully, marveling beauty. I couldn’t make out the difference if The Great Taj Mahal was illuminating its own light or was reflecting light back from moon.
“Click,” the camera clicked. “There’s something missing.” The photographer said pushing Muskan from aside him to pose with me for the picture.
“Hey Fahad, are you there?” Granny was still on the phone waiting for my answer, this time a little frustrated. “How is Muskan?”
**********23 days back *************
“Don’t follow me or try calling me again.” Muskan left saying that, after the picture was taken. I could see deep sorrow hidden in her eyes like I never had just before the pic was taken. Tears had welled up and I could hear her sob as she left never to return. I didn’t ask any reason, couldn’t ask.
The moon hid behind the clouds, the great Taj Mahal went dull. My life was lost in the darkness.
“Muskan I don’t know,” I cried on the phone, “She left.” “BEEP BEEP BEEP.” Granny disconnected the call abruptly.
“Hello,” granny called again. She was sobbing. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, I am but Muskan is not.” She started blubbering more, I held on tightly to the phone as my heart beats grew stronger “She has cancer.”
My heart beat stopped for few seconds, but started again, I wished if it would have stopped. I felt weak, the room seemed upside down; the phone dropped and broke into pieces as my heart.
I was in the hospital; she was sleeping. She seemed beautiful, like sleeping beauty. May be she had gone a little dull with the sickness but the “thing” she had going on, it never left her side.
She was graceful as always.
“No one ever visited her,” whispered the nurse beside me.
I looked at the nurse, shocked but not surprised.
I knew she had a father who left her and her mother who died of some sickness and Muskan an alone girl had made her own life. But she never had a friend or to call someone as hers, or to cry upon her dead body.
“Who are you?” the nurse questioned skeptically.
“I… I am no one.” I cried. And she left; guess that’s all of a sympathy they could show.
Hot tears poured down my cheeks, my heart was melting with sorrow, and I couldn’t stand. I collapsed on my knees to the ground. “Hey move aside,” Shouted the ward boy.
I cruised to a corner.
“Kid get up.” An old lady sat there as she removed her old soda glasses with her skeletal-meatless hands.
“Granny!” I exclaimed sobbing as I wiped my eyes off. She started sobbing. “She will be o……” I couldn’t say anything to console her. I knew nothing was going to be ok. I hugged her and broke down like I never had.
“Hey listen, the doctor said she would be fine for some days.” Granny said soothingly like a mother.
I looked at her, “You know you still got time,” I didn’t understand what she was saying.
“You love her right?”
“Yes.” “Then you know the conclusion.” I knew what she was trying to mean. I knew what I had to do. I knew my role there.
“What what are you doing here?” Muskan asked as she opened her red sore eyes. Her voice had gone very weak. She was shocked, it seemed like her pain had multiplied. But a sort of relief came on her face.
“When one loves a person they decide to help each other out in all joys and sorrows. Isn’t it?” I questioned her, holding her hand in between both my hands. A needle was pierced down her delicate wrist; a bottle of blood hung by the side of her. What was her age? 22 or 23? She neither smoked nor drank. Why had the cancer caught her and not me? Why not to those people who drink and smoke inexhaustibly?
Tears started to well up but I had promised myself not to cry in front of her.
“But…..” She began before which I put my finger on her lips. “No I don’t want to hear anything.”
“I will ask you something, will you give it?” My voice was as low as possible.
“What what can I give?” She asked groggily. I couldn’t see her that weak, but I knew worse time was yet to come soon. I badly controlled my urge to cry.
“Just promise me you will say yes.” I whispered.
“Yes.” A desperate week smile curved up on her face.
“I never got what I loved in my life,” I explained, “People said I was a bad omen, and that’s why God always took away from me all love I as a normal human deserved.”
“And now this is happening again.” I couldn’t control my tears, my heart burst out.
“Will you help me prove them wrong?” She started to sit up, grimaced and sank back against the pillow. Her hands were shaking, she was sobbing, and tears were pouring from her dry eyes.
I held her slim shoulders with both my hands, “Will you give me the love I deserve? Will you prove them all wrong?”
“Will you marry me?”
The moon was in its full phase revealing its complete beauty. And the light fell on Taj. Difference was just that, this time it was breathing. Not soulless Taj Mahal, it had life. It was her, my love, my wife Muskan. She wore a white ball gown. I stepped forward; she stood up weakly and hugged me tightly. Her head neatly rested on my chest just below my chin.
Well may be not that perfect but now that’s how I see it.
“People die to see the Taj, and for the wonder I am witnessing now I would give up my life.” “Shhh!” She placed her finger on my lips. “Thank you.” She voiced. I leaned down “Thank you!” I breathed in her ears. She turned and our eyes met, our noses were almost touching, I gently placed my lips on hers.
It doesn’t matter if she stays with me forever or not. I don’t need a Taj Mahal to remind me of her, or set an example before the world. I don’t need to prove to world of how much I loved her.
I am not crazy enough to suicide losing my hope on God. I know she is waiting there for me, and I don’t want to go to her as a coward who couldn’t spend such a small life span alone. She did fight for her life till her last breathe. Even I will do the same.
– Pages from my life.
With a hope that you have read all the above attached pages…………………
My Dear fiancée,
The reason I wrote all the above is that for you to know me better. Not that you know me less now. But its better you know this part of me.
I want you to know I haven’t forgotten her even a bit from the past five years. We are going to marry in few days and it was necessary that you know this.
It’s not that I don’t love you, but you know you will always be the second one. Though, you are the person who thought me the real meaning of love.
I had experienced it before, but never actually knew it definition-wise. But now with you I realized what I had and what I have? Now I know how lucky I was and how lucky I am.
“Thank you,” will not be sufficient for your sacrifices.
“Live life, marry someone who loves you.” Those were her departing words. I had promised her I will.
But I want you to know every night she shows up in my dreams with same white ball gown and kisses me. I want you to know every morning I wake up with her image in my mind.
May be her face has faded. May be I don’t remember the exact way she was, but the image gets refreshed every time. It never grows old. Her eyes, her smile, her… oh forget it. It’s something beyond explanation.
May be you will try all your best to make me forget her. But you will not succeed and that’s my guarantee.
Now you can take your decision and trust me you will find many more men who will keep you happier then I would.
You might think that after all she is dead and sigh it off. You might not give her any significance, but I want you to know she is not dead. And if you want a share of my heart then you must give prominence to her, Coz that’s where she lives.
Your beloved fiancée;