“She was in her twenty-first summer and yet when you see her you can’t guess her real age. She looks older than her age.” He whispered in his microphone. “Well”. He paused for a while adjusting his round framed spectacles over his nose, “I’ve seen her pictures from when she was bit younger, her eyes haven’t changed. Same charming dark black eyes watching right through you, the only thing that has changed is that now I can see crimson red shades in them with dark circles surrounding them. Her beautiful long black hairs are now somehow tied on her head and have become a liability to her. Today I am going to meet her again; this will be our fourth meeting in this month. I wish my help is helpful enough for her”, he spoke each and every word with definite pause with deep and mature voice.
He stopped the recording and kept the microphone in the top left drawer of his desk. He looked on the table for his keys, he couldn’t find it. He looked at his watch; he was already running late for the meeting. “ROSY!!” he shouted for his assistant “Where are my keys?”
“You stopped taking cases right? I don’t know why you are so driven for this case.”
“It should be in the right pocket of your trouser doctor,” Rosy replied from the distance while arranging the files on her desk.
“Got them, and I’m leaving.”
His hands on the wheels, he was speedily moving on the ring road; it was a cloudy day so he wants to reach his destination before its starts raining. Constantly looking at his watch and playing with those breaks, gears and accelerator it almost took an hour to reach there. It was a small house standing alone in that stretch, there was a small garden which clearly depicts that owner of the house wasn’t interested in gardening anymore. Dried flowers, fallen leaves and brown grasses were creating a depressing atmosphere; he parked his black Toyota in front of the main entrance.
He walked out of his car dressed in perfectly white shirt matched with a deep black trouser; he looked at his watch and pressed the door bell.
“Doctor Paras you again” she mocked him while opening the door. He noticed her eyes were heavy and her face looked so dull yet she was putting an effort to give him her million dollars welcoming smile. She was trying hard to look cheerful. “Why an old man like you never stops and just keeps appearing on my porch?”
“Well, that makes me persistent.”
“And these nurses you have left behind, when are they going to leave me alone?”
“Can’t say right now Maya, they are doing their job nothing else.”
Their meeting started, as usual, Maya trying to convince him that she should be left alone and Paras trying her that it will be done but not today. Her house was not so big and fascinating but enough for few people to cover their heads during the night. The front room was oddly empty with few chairs and a table fan in it, which just keeps adding unnecessary metallic sound in their conversation.
“How are you feeling Maya?”
“You tell me doc, how are you? I heard your wife passed away last week” replied Maya. She has never really opened up to anyone, for every question she always has a ready-to-shoot-at-your-face answer.
“I guess I am doing just fine and by the way it looks I think you are also doing fine.” Paras responded in very coldly, he has been practising this for almost thirty years and never ever someone got a chance to mess with his head. He was in his fifties and his hairs had changed their colour from brown to grey, he was getting old and he knew that but living rest of his life alone was never in his plan.
“Sorry,” she said, “didn’t mean to hurt you”.
“That’s okay, I should get used to it now.” Paras smiled.
“What was her name? Did you loved her?” Suddenly her sad face started to glow with excitement.
“Vaani, her name was Vaani and yes I loved her. And I love her even today.” He looked at his engagement ring and kissed it. “I have heard some stories about you too.” Paras shifted a bit towards her; came to the edge of the chair he was sitting and with no emotion in his eyes, he said “Stories about you and a boy that you loved” he made it sound soft as much as he could.
Maya closed her eyes and crashed herself into the depth of her chair. Her hands were firmly holding the hands of the chair. Paras stood up and placed his hands on hers, “It’s alright Maya, you can talk to me.”
“He loved writing poems,” she said without even opening her eyes “I have all of them with me here, his letters, his poems and some of his pictures. You’ve never met him but I’m sure that you would have liked him. He was perfect, perfect for me. In one of his poems, he wrote that I walk like butterflies swim in the air. You know what an irony in that doctor?” she suddenly opened her eyes; tears were crawling down her cheek, she looked towards Paras and said, “Let me tell you, they evolve but I don’t.”
Paras took her hand in his, trying to calm her down, he saw cut marks all over her wrist “ How did you both meet?” He was coming back in his professional touch back again; he knew this was the point where if he stops maybe he could never get another chance of listening to Maya. So he continued, “How you both did meet?”
“I can’t remember. I was too small to remember when we met but from what I recall he was always there in my life. I remember when he sang that happy birthday song to me on my seventh birthday, he was terrible” she smiled, tears were still flowing from her deep eyes “I loved his voice, I loved to play with his curly hairs, I loved to sleep in his arms while he read for me, I loved the way he looked at me.” She stopped; her body was still facing upwards and her eyes were moving very fast as if she was trying to read something written on the walls.
“So you both were childhood friends, where did you live at that time?” Paras again asked softly, he didn’t want this conversation to end without any positive outcome.
“Last year he proposed me for marrying and obviously I said yes. I was waiting for that moment since I don’t know when. This home in which you are sitting now was bought by his money. He brought me here and asked” her voice was cracking, Kohl from her eyes was now spread all over her cheek, she somehow gathered herself together and whispered “He handed the keys to the house to me and asked will you marry me. You know that Teresa orphanage, all our life we have lived there.” She looked at his portrait hanging on the wall and took a deep breath, “He used to say that we will meet our parents again in the afterlife. Do you believe in afterlife doctor?”
Paras was so involved in her story that at first, he didn’t realise that she had asked him something, “Yes, I do believe” he replied as soon as he was back in senses. “Why did you ask such question, Maya?”
“So that you can see reasons for my actions, I am not a mad person doctor. I just prefer being with him in the afterlife than living here, alone.”
“Maya listen, what happened to him was tragic but believe me he would have never wanted this kind of life for you” before Paras could say any other word Maya stood up from her chair.
“He loved butterflies, when we were small we used to run behind them in our orphanage. He once said that my laughter gives colours to their wings and my laugh brings them back home. Later only I realised that even my tears were not able to bring him back. We had our whole life planned in front of us, but” she wiped her tears from the curtain.
“Look it’s raining out there doctor.”
“A bullet from some person decided our fate, this not fair.” She looked outside; the street was calm but peace of heart was already disturbed. There were some deep emotions hidden inside heart which started to cloud her mind. Constantly watching rain drops hitting her window pane she said, “I couldn’t sleep at night. It was hard for me, him not being here. Of course, he was doing his job, while everyone was sleeping peacefully in their houses he was patrolling our national border, just one bullet on his head and everything change. He was no high ranked commander or some famous rich guy with flashy watches and expensive cars; he was just a soldier, a soldier protecting his loved ones from unknown enemies and unseen dangers. The saddest thing about this is that no one will ever notice his death because he was just another soldier to them who was living on taxes they paid but”, she was sad? No more, but angry? Yes, she was. She was in pain and every word coming out from her was dipped in it with a topping of anger on it, she looked back at Paras and said: “but for me he was everything.”
She opened the door, it was still raining outside and she walked right into the rain. Paras immediately got up from his chair and reached out for the door, “Common Maya come in, you may get cold.” He ordered. Maya ignored every word came from his mouth and opened her arms wider allowing rain to fall on her face. Paras started to search for the umbrella, he couldn’t find one, he just stepped out of the house and caught Maya by her hand and screamed, “Don’t act like a child Maya.”
“You don’t get to order me.”
“I’m trying to save your life.”
“I don’t want to be saved.”
“At least think about the child you are carrying in your womb, his last gift to you.”
“What does anything means when he himself is not here.”
“Don’t talk stupid.”
“What do you know about losing someone? You don’t know anything. It was me waiting for his letters every month from those borders. It was me who prayed for his safety while you were having dinners. It never asked for any of these wars, this political usability and permanent state of tension between nations. I never asked for any of these territories, I just wanted him and you all took him away from me. You hear soldiers dying and you keep silence for two minutes and get over with but no one never even thought of what must be going on the families and loved ones of those soldiers. We don’t even know where they are and what they are doing, we just keep praying for them; sometimes we don’t even get to see their bodies. I never saw his body. What do you know about me? What did you know about him? What did you know about such an unnatural and permanent loss?”
She was still standing in the rain, full of rage, anger and remorse. She grabbed his hands and started to walk back inside the house, “Come on, let us go inside. Let’s save lives as legendary Doctor Paras does, right doctor.” She was angry, angry almost with everyone. Her mind was clouded with hatred and anger, sentences were spoken out of her mouth even before she could realise. Paras was lifelessly walking with her. All of sudden his feet stopped to move and Maya looked back at him “What happened? Now you don’t want to save lives?”
“It is true that I don’t knowing anything about you or about Maanav” H readjusted his wet tie and looked at his watch and continued, “but if it brings any good in your life then let me tell you one more thing, I had a son and five months ago he died in the same war in which Maanav died.”
He started to walk again, “Come in now, it’s raining heavily. It might be dangerous for your son.”