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Part 25

Maan went inside study and locked the door. He wanted some time away from her to think about what had transpired between them. He removed his vest coat which had her fragrance still. He thought of how she clung to him. He touched his cheek and felt the touch of her soft lips. All this were happening all on a sudden and he too got carried away in the flow. He knows that he is attracted towards her and his restlessness when she is near was because of that. But no relation blossoms with physical attraction. So till they get to know each other well, he has to keep a check on this physical attraction towards her. He went to bathroom to freshen up and when he returned she was there in the room still not looking his way.

To reduce the awkwardness Maan went near her and asked, “Geet, is there any specific reason why you are afraid of darkness. You were shivering when the power went off.” Geet’s face immediately fell as if she was reliving some dreadful memories.  She told, “woh bus aise hi.” Maan told, “If you feel comfortable then you can share with me.” She told not wanting him to know about it, “Aapko meeting keliye der ho jayenge. Mein fresh hoke aati hoon.” 

Maan told sternly, “Geet agar tum nahi batana chahthi ho tho tik he. Don’t try to change the topic.” Geet immediately told, “Mein aapko baad mein batayegi. Ab nahi. Please.” He shook his head and left. He went and joined dadima for lunch. Geet too joined soon. Geet occasionally kept glancing at him but he didn’t spare even a single look at her. She knew that he hated it when he was denied something. But she didn’t have the courage to tell about something that she never want to remember even in her worst dreams. He left for his meeting soon after lunch.

The day went pretty fast for both. Geet got busy with the preparations for engagement. Eventhough the event was held at Meera’s place, they had to invite few more people and do shopping. They reached home by seven and when the dinner was finished dadi and Annie retired for bed due to tiredness. Geet talked with Dev for a while before he went to sleep awaiting his big day. She decided to wait for Maan and tell him the cause of her fear. Maan finished his meetings by 8pm and reached home around 9. He had informed that he has a dinner meeting and not to wait for him. But he knew Geet might not have slept.

When he entered their room, she was sitting in the bed reading some books. She stood up seeing him. He thought she wanted to ask him something. But she silently left the room. Maan was little annoyed and left for study. When he came from bathroom after getting fresh, she came with a cup of black coffee. He had a habit of taking black coffee normally after dinner meetings or party. He raised her eyebrows seeing her. 

She told, “Woh Nakul aaj jaldi sogaye. Kal bahut kaam hena ghar pe. Dadima ne bola kal bahut sare rishtedaar honge ghar pe. Tho mene unhe jaldi sone ko bola.” He smiled inwardly listening to her. She gave the exact answer to what he thought. He took the coffee and was about to leave for study when she told, “Aap mujse naraz tho nahi hena?” Maan turned and asked, “What makes you think that I am angry with you?” Geet gulped and told, “Woh kuch nahi, aaj meine aapko..” Maan cut her in between, “Geet, it is upto you whether you want to share something with me or not. If you are not willing to move our relation forward then I can’t help.

Geet told, “Mein aapse kuch chupana nahi chahthi hoon. Par mein humesha uss baare mein na sochne ki poori koshish karthi hoon par jab hi andhere mein padthi hoon tho mujse raha nahi jatha.” Maan understood there must be something serious that she is afraid of. He went near her after placing the coffee mug in the bedside table and told, “Geet, I think if you share your inner fears it will help you to overcome the fear. I am not forcing you but you can tell me if you feel comfortable.” She slowly nodded her head and told, “I will tell you. Par aap aaj tired tho nahi hena?” He felt good seeing her concern again. He shook his head and asked her to continue after taking his coffee and sitting in the bed. He gestured her to sit near him. She sat keeping considerable distance between them.

She told, “Hoshiyarpur mein humare haveli ke saamne ek family rehthe the. Unka ek beta aur beti thi. Beti mere age ki thi, Priya naam tha uska. Hum dono high school se ek saath padthi thi aur IIT join karne ke baad mein sirf vacations mein unse milthi thi. Uska bhai, Sanjay aur Brij veerji bahut ache dost the. Mein jab IIT ke second year mein thi, vacations keliye hoshiyarpur gayi thi. Jab mein unse milne gayi thi woh bahut tensed lag rahi thi. She told me that she was in love with a guy who is her senior in her college. Knowing her brother I asked her to forget it. But she was adamant in her decision and told that they had planned to elope the next week. I tried hard to make her change the decision but she was adamant. Sanjay veerji somehow came to know about all these and he had made his plans.

She unaware of all these waited for him on that fateful day. When he didn’t come for long she called me. Even though I was reluctant, I couldn’t let her go alone at night. We sneaked out making sure that the elders were asleep. When we neared the place he was supposed to wait, we saw his bag there. I felt something was wrong but she told that we will look around. We heard some noises coming out from the building on construction nearby. It was pitch dark and we somehow managed to reach inside. The sight that greeted us was something I could never forget in my life. Her lover, Sohan was there all tied up with men around him holding swords and burning logs. I tried to check the men who were near him. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Brij veerji and Sanjay veerji. I held her back when she tried to run towards them.

We heard Sanjay Veerji threatening him and then Priya wriggled out of my hold and went towards him. She shielded Sohan and pleaded to her brother. But his anger took over and he pulled her roughly from him. Brij veerji held her tight while Sanjay veerji took the sword and.. ” Geet was shaking by then. Maan moved near her and put an arm around her. She moved closer to him. He told slowly trying to calm her down, “Geet, It’s ok. Calm down.” 

Geet continued, “Mein woh sab kaise bhool sakthi hoon. Everything happened right in front of my eyes and I could do nothing. Agar mujh mein himmat hothi tho unke gunegar aaj bhi hasthe khelthe zindagi nahi jeeta. Priya aaj mental hospital mein nahi hota. Mere aur Priya ke alawa kisi ko pata bhi nahi he ki mene yeh sab dekha he. Aaj bhi jab mein andhere mein hoti hoon un dono ki aankhen mere saamne aa jatha he like accusing me for doing nothing.” She was crying badly by then.

Maan understood the trauma she might have faced all alone. He could understand the reason why she never raised her finger against them. She was too weak to fight against them. He slowly told, “Geet, we can’t revert anything back. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t do justice to your friend. You can try to get her back to a normal life. I am not offending your family, but I think Brij is too cunning and his friends will definitely be. So they might have erased the last traces of evidence before they do something like that. You could do nothing then and it was not your fault. No one was there to support you not even Priya. So your actions are justified. Don’t take the blame on yourself and suffer like this. Be strong enough to bring your friend back to the normal life.” 

When he finished, he felt her relaxing. After sometime she looked at him and told, “Thanks. Aapki baatone mujhe hausla diya he. Aap sahi keh rahe the. Mujhe Priya ko tik karne ki koshish karni chahiye. She deserves a normal life.” Maan told, “Dekha, har pareshani ka kuch na kuch hal tho hota hi he. Bas hume sahi rasta doondna chahiye.” He told after sometime, “Geet mujhe lagtha he ab hume sona chahiye. Mein chaltha hoon” and stood up to leave. Geet told, “Goodnight and Thanks for supporting me.” Maan looked at her and could see the warmth back in her eyes. He wished Goodnight and left to study. Both slept comfortably awaiting a new day with new hopes.

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