This monsoon I melted,
To be a straw that flows;
Sailing on the grace
That the divine always shows.
Awing at his wonders,
As my heart takes
A million bows
To be the one who loves
And Love is all who knows
Today the clouds have decided to wash out the streets of Satara.Since Kabir was in Mumbai for his business meet, our humble abode had only me and my little unborn angel to accompany it. As the day retreated, I sat to work on my project when the power supply was cut.Disappointed I decided to brew myself a hot cup of tea and sit by the window cursing the ceaseless decant from the clouds. And when I thought of calling Kabir I found the mobile battery discharged. “Just what I needed!” I sighed to myself. Getting a little annoyed by all the din of nature outside.
It was getting cold and windy, so shutting the windows close; I felt my way to the library. Lighting the hearth, I cuddled on the armchair sketching away my time. I was warmly surprised at the thoughts that were etched on the paper. It kindled the memory in my heart that was dampened over the years, by tears of time.
It was a similar stormy night, almost eight years ago, the night before the ring ceremony of my darling sister Peehu. We were all busy with the decorations and other preparations, when the power supply was cut. I remember teasing Peehu about how this is a sign, that this marriage is not one of her bright decisions and aai had scolded me for talking inauspiciously as if my words would come true. How lovingly she had told Peehu that her daughter will light up Satvik’s life, to which Akash dada chuckled “ThusSatvik’s salary would be spent paying the electricity bill.” My big brother Akash was famous for his dull comments. But He was the most adorable sibling one could have, He pulled us all in a big hug and just then baba announced that he had set up the dinner near the fire place.
Baba loved experimenting in the kitchen, though aai would go mad about the mess he would leave after cooking, baba would mollify her with his enchanting words, sweet nature and tastiest food. As we completed the dinner -in everything but silence- sleep had eloped with the excitement of the next day; so we sat up laughing, talking, and remembering our childhood. Soon aai-baba had left to hit the hay, but our Orion-belt twinkled all night and don’t know when we had laughed ourselves to sleep right there, I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop near the sparkle and warmth of our little monsoon campfire.
A kick in my womb sweetly brought me back to the crackling flames before me. They lacked the comfort I was looking for. Using the flashlight I went to the kitchen to find some milk. And as if there wasn’t enough happened that the milk vessel was empty. It was too stormy and late for any shop to be open, and Sunanda -my house maid- was on leave due to the Ganesh Chaturthi celebration at her home. Peeking from the kitchen window I looked at my neighbor’s house, we shared a common backyard. I thought I could see if she can help me with some milk. I carefully walked till her kitchen door; hoping to not disturb her. She was a sweet lady in her 60s. Her daughter was married and lived in UK. She usually slept by 8pm, and it was already past 9. As I neared her door, I heard voices of more than one person, good for me she had guests, so she was awake. “Kusum kaki” I called out to her as I knocked. She opened the door looking worried, “Jhilmil? What happened? Is everything alright?” She enquired. “Yes kaki, I just ran out of milk, and didn’t want to sleep on empty stomach, so bothered you.” I quickly replied pacifying her rising worry. She always reminded me ofaai, simple, tirelessly caring and ever so full of Love. I won’t lie if I said that I would visit her whenever I missed my family. And I know she knew it too but would never intrude my feelings. She immediately, started warming the cold milk from the refrigerator while simultaneously scolding me for being careless.
I heard laughter from the other room, before I could ask, aunty replied “Disha has come with her fiancé; their car broke down a few yards away.” I simply nodded. Disha was auntie’s niece. She lived in Pune. It had been 6 years that I had left Pune; my hometown. I was about to dive in the pool of memories when I was interrupted by Kusum aunty, as she brought a glass of warm milk and my favorite Maharashtrian style ‘poha’. “I had made it for Akash, he loves them.” Aunty explained pointing at the plate of ‘poha’. “Akash?” I asked, a little alarmed at the name. “Disha’s fiancé; wait let me introduce you.” Before I could say anything she called out, “Disha, Akash, could you please come here” My heart was sinking, and I was hoping, it to be just a co-incidence of name. As they entered, the soft light of the lantern revealed Akash. Many thoughts raced my mind; I wanted to jump and hug him, tell him how much I missed him, or congratulate him for the engagement, or scold him for not taking my advice before selecting his partner (not that I was complaining), ask him about his well-being and of baba’s and aai’s and Peehu’s. But my voice was melting from my eyes. I couldn’t say whether it was my heart or the thunder outside pounding louder. He also seemed to have lost his ability to speak or perhaps he was still angry at me.I don’t remember how we greeted each other, or how aunty introduced us. I just left from there absent mindedly. I walked as fast as I could but the 10 steps seemed like 10 miles between our houses. The welled-up emotions just poured incessantly and many unkind memories flooded my mind.
Six years ago my father disapproved of my marriage with Kabir because Kabir was born on a different path to God. I found this reason inappropriate to reject someone who loved me so much and with whom I chose to spend my life with. The idea of many Gods was funny to me. I sometimes wondered if there was a competition, about who has more followers. I tried to convince them, but I don’t know what belief had eclipsed their love for me. It was a tough decision to make; I was torn between a family who was always besides me and loved me so endlessly and a boy, with whom I had envisioned my future. It was like choosing between two parts of my heart. After failing at all my attempts, I had married Kabir against the will of my family. Aai had tried to convince him, but he made them all swear to not speak to me ever again. The encounter with my brother had salted my wounds, and now I didn’t know what to do. I sat on the couch crying when there was a knock and someone entered with the tray of milk and poha. My heart sank in my belly on seeing my brother standing there, “I am sorry I just entered, but you must not leave the door open like this.” He gently scolded, sounding unsure, happy, concerned and hopeful all at the same time. All I could say was “Dada” as I broke down weeping in his embrace. He simply patted on my back, trying to control his sobs.
He gently walked me in, near the fire place. Sitting next to me he fed me the poha, like he did when I would study for my exams and ignore food. “Baba may show he is angry, but he misses you Mili” After years I was overwhelmed on hearing that name. I was accidentally born to my parents, so everyone called me ‘Mili’; despite my grandma naming me ‘Jhilmil’ looking at my twinkling eyes. “How is everyone at home?” I enquired.“They pretend to be happy. I have seen baba silently shed tears with your picture in hand and when he is not around, aai talks about you, and has many times asked me to find out if you were happy. There has not been a single time when Peehu and I talked and we didn’t discuss about you.” All I could do was sob. “You changed your number, blocked your face book account, no reply to emails; I wonder why you decided to go underground. Did you really think Dad would hire detectives after you” I couldn’t believe that I laughed at his dull joke. He had not changed a bit; just looked a little older in the light of hopping flames. We spent the night complaining for not initiating the conversation in these years thentalking like nothing happenedand catching up on all the time we wasted in fear of rejection, he even called up Peehu at 2am; she was furious at him, but immediately turned happily surprised on hearing my voice. She was the eldest of us three and never failed to express it at every opportunity she found. She began scolding me for just going away, but quickly got excited by the news of my pregnancy and we spoke for a long time. The pouring rain washed away all my pain and filled my heart with joy.
Morning I woke up to the door-bell. After putting me to sleep in my bedroom, Dadamay have slept on the couch; he was fast asleep. Seeing him there, confirmed that last night was not a dream. I opened the door to let Kabir in and jumped in his arms cheerfully. Surprised by my behavior and equally confused, Kabir became nervous on seeing Dada, He whispered, “How is he here? Did he come to take you? What happened?” I asked him to breathe, and freshen up, Made some breakfast for him, and as he sat eating I explained him all that happened the previous night. Kabir smiled a sigh of relief. His eyes were sparkling with joy. I know he was waiting for this day as eagerly as me; perhaps with even more anticipation. He had no one but me to call his family. It pained him to see me without one too. In a hopeful voice he asked, “Will he talk to baba too? About accepting our relationship and our baby?” Before I could speak dada replied, who was standing behind and seemed to have heard at least that part of our conversation, “Yes, and I am sure he will be more than happy with the news of becoming grandfather to the most naughty baby to be born” Dada winked at Kabir, and I could not be mad at him for pulling my legs. How could I be; when I have missed it for so many years? They both shared a quick hug, and engaged in taking. Kusum aunty and Disha joined us too. Dada must have obviously explained everything to them, before bringing my tray of food the previous night. Disha hugged me affectionately as I welcomed her to our crazy family and Kusum aunty was beaming her sunniest smile.
The clear sky of that morning, marked a beautiful new day in my life. Once again I was grateful for the storm and my monsoon Campfire.
******* 15 months later*******
“Your father has filled the house with toys, and he is trying a new cake every day.” Grumbled my mom “I want to bake the perfect cake for my darling’s first birthday”baba justified enthusiastically.“This house has become a kid’s shopping center”;dada laughed at his own (supposed to be one) joke. “Mili just come with Kabir and the baby doll, we are excited to welcome you all” Shouted Peehu. “See you tomorrow guys” saying that I disconnected the phone. Kabir was in Roohi’s room, putting her to sleep. He smiled at me as I entered, gesturing me to not talk loudly. I walked to the balcony, breathing in the happiness and peace in the air. Kabir hugged me from behind. And we stood there in silence, in peace, in the completeness of that moment.