Part 3

After 6 years

Somewhere in the borders of Jammu and Kashmir, a young woman in her mid twenties was giving instructions to her fellow soldiers. There was a chaos in the area and they wanted to clear it soon. The chiefs know that no one can do better than her, Lt. Col Geet, who was a person with 100% dedication and hard work. The group of soldiers under her was having almost the same dedication and spirit as hers as they idealized her. In the past years of her service, she has saved many lives including those of her fellow soldiers, has got shot many times but still she survived by God’s grace or due to the prayers of those whom she saved. Everyone had named her as angel, an angel who won’t think twice before putting her life in stake to save others. However, something that bothered everyone was that her eyes were always blank like there is no life in it and no one knew the reason. They only knew that she was an orphan. She never opened up to anyone, not even to Amar whom she considered as her big brother. Her smile never reached her eyes; it was as if she has forgotten to smile. She was always there to help anyone. No one who got to know her better has approached her in any wrong sense and Amar who has always got posting along with her was very protective about her. Now the mission was risky still they were all set to demolish the terrorists who were becoming a threat to the thousands of innocent lives there.

Meanwhile, in Khurana Mansion, Delhi a six year old woke up from his sleep noticing that his father is still asleep. He shook him a little, but seeing that he is not budging, he poked his cheeks hard. Maan woke up and noticed his naughty little son was poking him. He tickled him and both fell on the bed laughing. He got up and told, “Dad chalo, Gym chalthe hain. Mujhe bhi apne muscles banana he, bilkul aapki tarah. Aur haan, don’t forget your promise. I want my room ready as per my wish if I score 100% this time.” Maan shook his head seeing his stubborn son and told, “Haan mere sher, ab jaake fresh hojao.” Aarav gave a peck on his cheeks and went to bathroom. Maan woke up and gazed at the picture drawn by Sanjana, picture of Geet. There were no other pictures of her, so Sanjana drew one for Aarav to see his mamma. He traced his finger in the picture and told, “Geet, please wapas aajao. We miss you.” His trance was broken when his mobile started ringing. He took the call knowing who it will be. He heard the shouting from other end, “Maan, isko bolo ki mujhe Aarav ke birthday ke time pe India aana he. Nahi tho mein aaj hi Priya ko leke wapas India aa rahi hoon.” He heard Rehan trying to interrupt the talks. He told, “Sanjana, Rehan ko phone do.” Rehan spoke, “Are yaar yeh tho samaj nahi rahi he. Iska check-up karwana he ab. I tried to make her understand that it is not possible to travel so far after such a major surgery. Ab tum hi usse samjao.” Maan told, “Tik he usse phone do.” When Sanjana took the call he told, “Sanjana, kya tum chahthi ho ki Rehan aur Priya teri wajhe se phir se pareshan ho? Tumhe pata hena jab tum hospital mein admitted the tab Rehan Priya ko kaise sambhalthe the? Kya tum phirse unhe tension lena chahthi he?” He heard her, “Par Maan, Aarav ka birthday tho aaj tak meine miss nahi kiya.” He told, “Tho iss baar tumhari tik hone ke baad hi hum uska birthday celebrate karenge. Ab chup chap apna khayal rakho. Aur Rehan ko tension mat do.” After talking a while to Rehan, he cut the call.

He kept the phone aside. The only thing besides Aarav that gave him happiness was that Sanjana got all happiness in her life in the form of Rehan. After Geet left, Maan understood that he had fallen in love with her and what he had for Sanjana was the strong bond of friendship. Sanjana too realized it soon when she met Rehan. She had an internal injury, which had gone unnoticed during the accident, and it got worse after few days since Geet left. When they identified it, she was sent to Los Angeles, for further treatment. Dr. Rehan was the son of a family friend of hers and was the best in the field. By the time she recovered, they both had fallen in love. When she informed Maan, he was more than happy as he was in a dilemma on how to tell her that he can’t marry her. However, she never missed a chance to be with Aarav, despite her ill health. Rehan and Sanjana got married and they had adopted Priya, the daughter of Rehan’s collegue, a single mother who passed away giving birth to Priya. Priya was two years younger to Aarav. Maan had kept himself away from his family after Geet left. Every single day without her was like ages to him. He knew how much she might have craved for love and care and he could give her none. He searched her everywhere but could get no information about her. He even tried to check in the hostel, but the earlier nuns had been transferred to some other place and no one else had any idea on where she will go. He never lost his hope and was still trying by all the means.

Aarav came out from the bathroom breaking his thoughts. He went to freshen up and got ready for office, while Aarav was all set to go to school. He went down and saw his dadima waiting for him. She was not there when all these happened. She was in Canada with his younger brother Vicky. After Geet left, he had distanced from everyone and when they couldn’t take his indifference, his dad and mom left for Canada along with his siblings Dev and Annie. Dadima and Vicky came back knowing the happenings not digesting the fact that their family had done such a heinous deed. She was initially angry with Maan, but Aarav made both of them forget the tensions. She had been Maan’s support since then. Vicky also had tried to find Geet with all his sources, but was not fruitful. While having breakfast, Maan’s phone started ringing much to the annoyance of dadima. She gestured him to finish breakfast but when Maan saw the caller, he couldn’t do that. He took it and told, “Hello Buddy, kaise ho?” Dadima and Vicky smiled knowing that it is Rajveer, Col. Rajveer Singh Shekhawat, Maan’s best friend. They talked for a while and after cutting the call, he informed that Raj is coming in the evening and everyone was happy.

Maan came back from office early and was greeted by a well-built man in his early thirties. They hugged each other and pulled out after a while. They exchanged pleasantries and soon dadima, Vicky and Aarav joined them. Aarav grew fond of the Raj very fast. Raj knew everything happened in Maan’s life but could never meet him in the past seven years, as he was busy with his missions. Raj told, “Maan, I must say junior is exactly like you.” Maan smiled and his thoughts went back to Geet. Raj understood it and tried to deviate from his thoughts. He told, “You know guys, this time my mission was in Kashmir. You always used to complain about my dedication. Finally, I found someone who can compete with me in the dedication. You won’t believe I have never seen such a person who is 100% dedicated, who won’t think even for a second before placing her life in stake.” Vicky interrupted, “Her? Is it a lady Raj bhai?” Everyone was interested while he continued, “Yes Vicky. That is what amused me the most. Moreover, she is an orphan and has no family to long for her. Like she said, her life is for serving the country. I was wondering even if she is an orphan, she could have certain dreams, ambitions like a normal girl.  But she doesn’t seem to have any; in fact I have always found her eyes blank like she has lost something precious in her life.” That caught Maan’s attention while Raj continued, “She was shot numerous times during the mission, most of the times while trying to save someone, but escaped miraculously from all those, may be with the prayers of all those whom she saved. In addition, they have named her as Angel. Nobody there seems to use her name. It is always Angel, even I don’t remember it.”

Maan slowly stood up and asked Raj to come to his room. Daadi and Vicky were surprised by his behavior and decided to follow them. When Raj came inside, he was staring at a painting in the wall. He went near him and a gasp escaped from his mouth. He told in trance, “Angel, how come her portrait is here? How Sanju knows her? Oh my Goodness, don’t tell me that she is your wife, Geet Maan Singh Khurana.” Maan closed his eyes in despair while others had happy tears in their eyes. Aarav somehow got that Raj knows where his mamma is and went near him. He shook him and asked, “Uncle, aap mere mamma ko jaanthe ho? Aap unse kab mila? Kab mujhe waha leke ja rahe ho?” Raj hugged him and told, “Bahut jaldi bte.” Like remembering something he told, “Dadi, Aarav ko leke neeche jao. Mujhe Maan aur Vicky se kuch zaroori baat karna he.” Dadima nodded and went out taking Aarav with her while he kept on asking questions about when he will see his mamma. Raj turned and held Maan by his shoulders, “Maan, do you know what you all have made her? She never cares even if she lost her life. How could you do it to her Maan? She has lost the will to leave. Now all these explain why she is like this.” He paused for a while and told, “You know now she is in a dangerous mission, anything can happen to her. Last time no one in the team came back alive.” Maan felt as if someone stabbed his heart. He was numb listening to him. He came out of the shock and shook Raj, “Raj, mujhe unse milna he. Please take me there.” Endless tears were flowing from his eyes. Raj hugged him feeling his pain and told, “We will go there. We will hope for the best.” Vicky also put a consoling hand in Maan’s shoulder with tears in his eyes.

They left to Kashmir next day in Raj’s army helicopter. When they reached there, the officials informed Raj that the mission was success, but there is one casualty. They prayed it not to be Geet. However, the moment the army van opened and the two soldiers rushed in with a bloodied body, Maan’s heart stopped beating. It was his Geet, shot near her heart. She was rushed to the operation theatre. Raj came near Maan not knowing what to tell. Before he could tell something, a young soldier who joined recently came running near the theatre with two fellow soldiers trying to control him. He kept on telling, “Angel Di did this to save me. If I was a little aware of the enemy, this couldn’t have happened. The bullet was meant to hit me. Please God, take my life but don’t let anything happen to her.” Just then, a grim looking man in his late twenties came and put his hand on his shoulder. He told, “Jai, tumhe pata hena your di don’t like you crying. So be brave and pray for her wellness. She will be alright.” Maan could feel the weakening of his tone when he told the last sentence. He understood that he was trying to put a brave face. Raj told Maan, “He is Lt. Col Amar Rana. He has helped Geet since she joined army.”  Hearing Geet’s name, Amar looked up and saw Raj. He went near him and saluted him. Raj saluted him back and told, “Amar, he is Maan Singh Khurana.” Amar shook his hands with him and told, “Who don’t know you sir? It is a pleasure to meet you. ” Maan shook his hands and gave him a small smile acknowledging him. Raj continued, “Amar, He is here to meet his wife. He is your angel’s husband and the little one sitting there on the corner with the old lady is Aarav Singh Khurana, your angel’s son.”

Amar was shocked, so was Jai and others who stood beside the theatre. Amar asked little agitated, “Then why you never came to meet her?” Raj told, “Because they never knew where she is. She had left the house.” Maan cut him in between and told, “She was forced to live the house, which gave her nothing but pain, leaving her life, her son with me.” Amar didn’t question them further as he could read the pain in Maan’s eyes and words. After a wait of five hours, the doctors came out. The doctor told, “She is out of danger and will gain consciousness in a while. We have transferred her to ICU. The bullet missed her vital organs by God’s grace. But I could feel that this time her heart was responding faster than usual unlike the last time when she went on Comma for three days.” Maan was feeling like thousands of needles pierced his heart as each instance started pricking him, the words he heard from each one of them increased his guilt. Raj asked the doctor if they could meet her. He told that they could meet her in turns. Maan looked at Jai who was looking intently towards the door. He told, “Jai, you can go and meet her first.” Jai looked at him telling Thanks and rushed to meet her. He could see from outside the way she consoled him. He could feel her restlessness and saw her looking around. He knew that she sensed his presence. How could she love him so much when he did nothing other than hurting her?

Raj went inside after Jai and Amar. They both hadn’t told anything to her as Maan told them not to. Geet was surprised seeing Raj. She asked why he was back from the vacation he took after years. He told, “I came here because I could see two souls drowning in pain unknown to the fact that their happiness lies in there togetherness. I couldn’t help bridging the gap.” Geet looked at him confused when Maan entered the room. She was shocked beyond words to see him after the six long years. She never thought that she would meet him again. She again thought it to be a figment of her imagination and kept gazing in his eyes. Maan was taking in the sight of her before him. They were lost in each other’s eyes until a small knock in the door brought her back to senses. She looked to the door expecting to see Sanjana and their son, but an old woman came in with a six year old. The boy rushed near her and hugged her caring not to hurt her. He pulled out of the hug and told, “Finally I got you back, mamma.” Geet raised her trembling hands hugging her son as tears made its way down her eyes, after six years she let herself release those tears, the tears of pain and agony, the pain of being away from her son. Dadima went near her and sat on the bed. She slowly caressed her head and told, “Geet bte, hum pehle kabhi mile nahi. Mein Maan ki dadima hoon. Mein aapko bata nahi sakthi mein kitna khush hoon aapko dekhe.” She continued, “I was unaware of everything happened here. I am ashamed that my family did something like that and you went through so much of pain because of them.” Geet held her hand and told, “Dadima, mein bahut khush hoon aapse milke. Mujhe aapse ya kisi aur se koi shikayat nahi he. Yeh sab mere zindagi mein hona tha, aur ab unke baare mein baat karne ka kya fayda.” Maan went out unable to take the emotional turmoil. Geet thought that he is annoyed with her being close to dadima.

Dadima continued like reading her thoughts, “Geet bte, mujhe pata he ki aap yahi soch rahe honge ki hum yaha kyun aaye. Is che saal mein, aisa ek din bhi nahi tha Maan ki zindagi mein jo tumhari yaadein na ho. People tell that we will know how priceless something was only when we loses it. Same has happened to Maan. He realized your importance in his life only after you left. Aur usne tumhe doondne ki bahut koshish ki par tum nahi mili. Yeh che saal is khwaish se jeetha raha ki tum ek din zaroor wapas aayenge.” Dadima stopped when she felt that Geet wanted to ask something. She told, “Sanjana Di..” Dadima smiled and told, “Sanjana beti apne pati aur beti ke saath Los Angeles mein rehthi he. She had undergone a major surgery. Otherwise she could have been the first person to reach here.” Geet was shocked listening to dadima. She was about to ask something when dadima told, “Geet bte, ab aapko jo bhi poochna he Maan se hi poochiye. Hum bahar wait karenge. Chalo Aarav beta chalthe hain.” Aarav who was holding Geet close until then looked up and asked, “Mamma, aap iss baar mujhe chodke tho nahi jayenge na?” Geet had tears in her eyes. She kissed his forehead and told, “Nahi beta, mein kahi nahi jayenge aapko chodke.” He smiled and kissed her cheeks. Dadi took him and went out.

Maan didn’t know how to talk to Geet. Dadima came out and asked him to go. He went inside and sat near Geet who was looking at him intently. He looked up and their eyes met. He could tell nothing, he moved forward and pressed his lips on her forehead. She understood his every unsaid word through his gesture. He never had expressed anything verbally and she knew what he gave her through the kiss. He pulled back soon knowing her condition. She held his hand from moving away. He kissed her eyes and held her closer. She closed her eyes hugging him realizing that he loved her as much as she did. She felt some wetness near her cheek and looked up to see the tears in his eyes. She wiped those immediately. He took her hand and kissed it.

He told looking into her eyes, “Geet, I am sorry. I can never forgive myself for what I did to you. The day you walked out of our lives, I realized what you meant to me all the while. I was in a dilemma all the while when I kept you away from me. Each moment I spend with you was awakening feelings that I never experienced in my life. I had understood that there was nothing physical in what we shared all those days. I was falling for you, but the guilt of doing wrong to Sanjana was eating me up. I was fighting with my feelings for you that I decided to ignore your presence after you conceived. The day you left, I understood what I was trying to do, what I have done. I destroyed my love with my own hands. In my guilt and pain, I never saw the pain and hurt you were going through. I was so selfish that I couldn’t see how much my each action must have hurt you. I knew the day you left Aarav to me, how much you loved me. I understood that the relation I shared with Sanjana was only friendship and nothing beyond that. Soon she too realized it when she found Rehan in her life. These six years, I have searched for you everywhere but couldn’t find you. I knew that more than we need you, you need us. I knew you would never be happy without us. I know that your soul rests inside me and you will be happy only with our love, our son and me. I am not asking for Aarav or me but for you, please come back to me. I want to fill your life with all happiness that I failed to give you, I want to wash away those scars of the past and fill it with love. Please give me a chance Geet, a chance to love you.. Please

Geet was trying hard not to cry all the while. The fact that he loved him was something she never expected to happen in her life. When he confirmed that every time when she felt love in his gestures, it was truly there, she couldn’t have been happier. Yet she feared that everything is an illusion and will go off in a blink of eye. She was not used to happiness ever since her parents passed away. She was afraid that she would lose them too. She slowly moved away from him and looked into his eyes. He was startled by the sudden movement and looked into her eyes. It was blank, no tears were there. He feared something, is she going to deny? She spoke after a while, “Maan, I am sorry, I can’t come back. I have dedicated my life to the nation. I am happy that I could see our son and your love for me. It is enough for me to live in contentment until my last breath. I don’t wish for any more happiness.” Maan’s heart pained hearing her reply. He couldn’t tell anything for a while. He told knowing that he can’t force her, “Geet, I respect you decision. But do you think that Aarav will leave his mamma? For his sake, can you please return home for a while? At least until you recover fully. I won’t force you to make any decisions. I will follow whatever you decide.” She looked into his eyes and could see the pain hidden within those dark brown orbs. She understood that he is trying to hide it for her sake. She knew that he longed for her. She looked away not wanting to change her decision.

She thought about Aarav. She cannot be selfish; she knew her son needs her. When she never experienced the love of her parents as she lost them early, how could she let her son go through that? She was thinking all the while that Sanjana would be there with Maan. She was there but not as his wife, not as Aarav’s mom as she thought of. Now how will she leave him knowing that he needs her? How could she leave Maan knowing that he was alone all the while? No, she can’t do it. She can’t let any fear to come between their happiness. They need her and her happiness lies in them. She turned to Maan and told, “Maan, I will come back.” Maan saw her thinking; he knew that she was still thinking of their happiness. However, this time whatever be her decision, he will do everything to make her happy. She has sacrificed more than enough in her life, not anymore. She deserves to be happy. He will make her happy. When she turned and told that, he hugged her tight as he couldn’t control his happiness. Geet hugged him back, feeling the strength of his hold and the trembling of his body. She smiled seeing dadima and Raj watching them from outside, with tears in their eyes.