The parent,Chapter 3

“Ek parinda aise toota…”
 
Channi gave an amusing smile watching her little sister admiring her bridal attire and jewellery with gooey eyes.Her twinkling hazels inflicted a strange emotion in her heart.She felt happy and sad for her chidi’s pristine innocence simultaneously.She wanted to cherish her “innocence” for whole life and at the same time she wanted her to “grow up” faster,because she would not be with “her” anymore.She herself was not sure of her future anymore.She did not know whether she would be able to see her little sister again after eloping with Gurwinder on her wedding day,however she was content somewhere because no matter what,chidi would always be sheltered and protected by her true parent,”Rano”..

“When would I get married di??”
Geet’s voice brought an end for Channi’s musings as she looked into the yearning eyes of her little sister.
Why you are in hurry of getting married chidi??” She asked with a smile on her face.
“Marriage is fun di..Tai ji has bought so many beautiful suits, dresses,shoes and jewellery for you..You got all this because you are getting married..“Geet gave her innocent and childish reason..
“and what about the “Bidai” ritual?? I won’t be living with you anymore..” Channi spoke as little dampness covered her eyes.
“Thats not a problem di..Your new house is in the village nearby..You can easily visit us whenever you want..” Geet said in a manner to console her sister..
Geet herself was not very fond of this ritual however other rituals like “Mehandi and Sangeet” did not let her charm reduce for the “marriage”.Channi wanted to tell her little sister that marriage was something beyond “beautiful jewellery and clothes” but she could not voice her thoughts as loud “music” had already grabbed geet’s attention.
“Sajan jee ghar aaye” was being played loudly in the “Shamiana”, to complete the scenario of “wedding house”..
“I am going for dance di…“Geet chirped in excited voice as she moved her steps towards the door.Her eyes followed her little sister  till she was out of her gaze as she moved towards the bed. Her eyes traveled from her bridal attire kept on the bed to the “pen and paper” kept on the side table,With trembling fingers,she picked up the things kept on the table to write the most important decision of her life.She kept the “letter” on the table as she missed her parents terribly.If they were with her today,she would not have taken this decision. They surely would have understood her situation.
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Piece of paper was crushed badly in the strong fist of old man as he barked with immense anger..“Its all because of you balwinder..You made me allow her to study further and It has resulted in all this..She ran away from her marriage..”
“What will we do now daarjee..???” said pammi meekly with fear in her eyes.
“I have sent my men to find her..” Daarji replied gritting his teeth in immense anger.
“They won’t be able to bring her back so soon daarjee..Barat has already arrived..” Pammi spoke adjusting her veil on her head.
“We should tell everything to groom and his family..They would surely understand our situation..“Balwinder suggested.
“You have gone crazy,Balwinder..“Daarji roared.”You are suggesting me to sabotage my reputation with my own hands..” He exclaimed further incredulously.
“But we don’t have another choice,daarjee..”Balwinder said in an attempt to convince his adamant father.
“We have one choice”
Pammi’s determined words made Daarjee and Balwinder turn towards Pammi who was standing now near the window with her eyes fixed on Geet who was busy enjoying “Jalebis” in the shamiana outside.
“Only Geet can save our family from the defamation now..”
“No..!!! Its not possible..She is a kid pammi..” Balwinder spoke denying pammi’s suggestion blatantly.
“Do you have any other solution,Balwinder???” Daarji asked his son with furrowed eyebrows.
” No..but darjee…“He tried to reply but could not complete as darji intervened,“Then don’t interfere in all this.” 
“.Get her ready for the marriage..,He instructed further to pammi.
“and what about groom and his family???Would they accept geet instead of Channi????” Balwinder exclaimed with irritation and helplessness dripping in his voice.He knew,it was his last attempt to save his chidi.
Balwinder’s question made Daarjee look quizzically towards Pammi as if asking her same.
“I know Shoki’s mother quite well daarjee..A little raise in the “cash and gifts” can easily please and convince her..” Pammi answered .
“Hmm..”Daarji nodded his head consenting with pammi as he spoke,”I can do anything to save my hard earned “reputation” in this village..Give her as much money as she want..”
“Don’t worry daarjee..I will handle everything..“Pammi exclaimed before leaving the room,leaving behind two tensed and worried souls.One was worried for his beloved niece where as other one was worried for his so called reputation.
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Geet looked around herself through the veil which had hidden her face completely.She was seated among the ladies of the village and in due time,Final ritual of  the marriage ceremony,”Bidai” would be performed.Her eyes halted at the face of her “Rano masi” whose eyes were roaming around with lines of worry marking her fore-head.Geet knew she was looking for her. For once,She wanted to run and hide in her lap But then ,her “Tai ji’s” words did not let her.She was hit with the wave of excitement when Tai ji informed her about her getting married few hours ago.She wanted to share this news with all her school friends but she was stopped immediately by next set of words that escaped pammi’s lips.She was informed about her elder sister’s disappearance. She was very well aware of her grand father’s anger and mere thought of punishment that her channi di might get,once she would be back,sent a cold shiver down her spine. Her innocent brain was unable to understand why Channi did this???All she could understand was that her sister had done a grave mistake and to save her from Daarjee’s wrath,she had to do what her tai ji was asking her to do.She had to become a “rag doll” who had to keep her face hidden under the veil till all the rituals of marriage were being performed.
“Where is chidi parjai ji??? 
Geet heard Rano’s voice who was asking Pammi about geet’s whereabouts.
“She must be playing somewhere Rano..You know ,no one can’t hold her at one place for a long time..”Pammi answered in a nervous voice..“Stop worrying about her..Why don’t you help me little..We are already getting late for Bidai” She spoke further dragging Rano to the other room as well as away from geet.
Tears welled in her hazels as she saw Rano going away from her.May be her elder sister was right. Marriage was not that exciting and fun..
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He guffawed at the joke cracked by one of his friends as he poured “bubbling soda” to his glass of liquor. He was not very fond of “alcohol” but could not deny his friends on the happy occasion of his wedding.
“Go shoki..Your “bride” must be waiting for you in the room..” said,one of his friend in hazy voice due to alcohol consumption.
“Like I am going to jump on her tonight..” He exclaimed taking a small sip from his glass.
“What do you mean???” His other friend asked incredulously,pushing a fist full of “roasted cashews” in to his mouth.
“I mean..She must be tired today..Let her take some rest..“He tried to explain,only to get a teasing “laughter” from all of his rustic and drunk friends.
“Stop making excuses Shoki..We know,you are scared of her rejection..”He heard his friend’s words amid fits of laughter.
“You are right brother..I have seen her younger sister in the marriage..She was so beautiful..If the little one was that beautiful then elder sister would be epitome of beauty..I am sure she won’t let our Shoki touch her tonight..” His other friend in the group consented with previous statement.
“I am afraid if “parjai ji”got scared seeing his face???” The third one increase the level of “taunting” with his comment.
They all were busy spluttering under the effect of “alcohol”,oblivious to the way their words were poking his heart and ego.He was most educated among all his friends but still could not find a girl for himself.His dark complexion and chicken pox scars were a big hurdle in his path of marriage.That was why he was getting married at the age when all of his friends were busy raising their kids.Sudden disappearance of “light” because of usual power cuts in rural area resulted in one more “taunt” from his friends as they amusingly rejoiced at the fact that his wife won’t be able to see his ugly face on her wedding night.
He gritted his teeth as he brought the “liquor”bottle to his lips to empty the content in one go.He did not want to be in his senses tonight as he would not be able to endure the rejection from his beautiful wife.
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 Sudden absence of light increased the eeriness for geet as she missed her home and Rano masi terribly.With the passing minutes,her “charm” for “marriage” was decreased gradually.There was no fun in marriage,She concluded as she tried to make her mind focus on beautiful red dupatta she was wearing right now.She did not find “dupatta” that appealing as it was looking when it was kept on channi’s bed this morning,however the “sequins” on it were still able to distract her mind.She was busy admiring her dupatta as she heard footsteps entering in to the room.Suddenly She was reminded of all the instructions taiji had given her at the time of “Bidai”.She was not allowed to say a word and She had to let “her husband” do whatever he wanted,however she was pretty unsure about what he was exactly going to do.She had seen “Wedding night” scenes in number of movies but they all ended with switching off the bed lamp.She wanted to ask about all this to Rano masi but talking about “wedding night” was taboo in the society she lived.
He saw her standing near the window.Her skinny frame was enlightened with the moonlight that entered the room.He took his wobbling steps towards her.He stopped when the distance between them was decreased up to level that he could hear her breaths.His hands encircled her tiny waist from behind as he pulled her closer to himself.He could sense her flinching at his touch,however it ignited his fury as all the taunting comments of his friends started reverberating in his “liquor dazed”brain.With a harsh pull,he turned her around and tried to snatch her dupatta..
A meek “No” escaped geet’s lips as her hands clutched the dupatta on her front.She was not liking the way this man was behaving with her.
“Shut up!!!”..He barked with anger as he pulled the dupatta with much force.A painful moan escaped geet’s lips as the “safety pin” tore the soft skin on her shoulder.She could not find the time to check her wounded shoulder as his lips and limbs attacked her brutally next minute.
She felt disgust rising in her veins the way he touched her.She wanted to scream loudly but then,face of her elder sister flashed infront of her eyes and She succumbed to “disgust”..
She succumbed to “shame” she felt when he tore her clothes.
She succumbed to “abhorrence” she felt when he touched her body the way she was never touched before.
She succumbed to “sharp pain” she felt between her legs after some time.
 Finally,She succumbed to “darkness” that covered her eyes when she felt the same pain third time.
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He felt his head bursting with immense pain as he opened his eyes next morning.He cursed his friends for dragging him to their boozing  as he jolted up in his bed. Chilled wind entering from the window made him realize his “naked” self and his actions previous night.His gaze roamed around in the room and halted on “her”.She was laying on the floor.He closed his eyes in regret watching her dishevelled and naked state as he grabbed his kurta. His steps moved towards her to cover her body with quilt.He was securing the comforter around her when he saw her face.Pain in his head was accompanied with confusion now.She was not the girl whose picture his mother had shown him.He was trying to understand the situation when loud bangs at his door disturbed him. He opened the door to find a middle aged couple looking at him with immense anger and accusations.
“I would make you rot in prison for doing this to my daughter..” Mohinder spoke grabbing him from his collars.
Tears could not leave her eyes because of shock as Rano found her unconscious chidi on the floor.She could not muster the courage to reach near her as she knelt down at the place where she was standing.She could hear faint voices of her angry husband and the “man” who was trying to defend himself by telling his “unawareness” about all the events.Her gaze went to broken anklets of her daughter and It was then,She broke down completely. Her  painful “cries” echoed the room next minute..Her chidi’s wings were “trampled” badly before she could enjoy her first flight…!!!

The parent, Chapter 2

  Motherless????
 


She lowered her lashes in shame as her fingers tightened around the properly folded copy of “Bollywood Masala”

“When would you grow up,girl???” Pammi’s said in thundering voice pointing towards the Red stains on geet’s bed..”I have told you so many times to sleep carefully during thesedays..”
“I am sorry tai ji..you know i am a heavy sleeper..”Geet tried to save as well as explain herself..
“I know how deep your sleep is geet..But you can be careful at least when you are awake..Pammi spoke as she moved towards geet..You ran out of your room without checking your clothes even once..What if your Taya ji had noticed this???“She said further gesturing with her hand towards the back side of her Kurti..There were also some stains..
“Thank God he did not notice..“Geet exclaimed immediately taking her tongue between her teeth,”I am really very sorry Tai ji..I promise I would be careful in future..”She tried to pacify her aunt whose nostrils were flaring due to immense anger.
“That would be good for you girl..“Pammi replied leaving her room after banging the door loudly.
Geet sighed in relief as soon pammi left..”Its really hard to be a girl..“She spoke in a dejected voice glancing at the bed sheet..But all the gloominess left her system next moment as her attention went to the prized possession in her hands.Chime of the her anklets seemed louder because of her excitement when she ran towards the bathroom to get ready…
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Her furrowed eyebrows and the way she was mashing the boiled potatoes clearly conveyed her anger to her husband as soon he entered the kitchen.Pammi had realized Balwinder’s presence in the kitchen but she was not in mood to initiate a conversation.
You showed that gold necklace to Channi??“Balwinder asked opening the refrigerator.
“hmm”..Pammi replied.
“She liked it???”He asked again bringing out the big bowl of  homemade white butter out of the fridge.
“I don’t know..She did not say anything..”
Why do I feel she is not happy with this marriage,pammi???”He spoke quite thoughtfully keeping the bowl on kitchen counter.
“And You can’t make her happy Balwinder ji..You did what you could do for her..Despite Daarji’s protest,you let her attend her college..You have found the most educated boy in our village for her..If she can’t be happy now then its impossible to make her happy..” She ended gritting her teeth.
“I know I know pammi ji..Its just I am not satisfied with boy’s age..He is thirty and our channi is only nineteen..”
She would be twenty next month Balwinder ji..and She has to compromise with the “age” if she wants an educated husband..“She retorted putting all the spices in the mashed potatoes.
“hmm..”Balwinder nodded his head in yes before continuing further..“I don’t understand pammi ji,why you are always harsh with both the girls???Can’t you give them a little love..They have lost their parents in accident..”
“and I lost my only son in the same accident…!!!“She said with teary eyes however her countenance showed extreme anger as she looked straight in her husband’s eyes.Her words freshened worst memories for Balwinder. 
Karanveer had planned a trip to “Naina Devi temple” with his wife and daughters.His love for “Brij” as well as Brij’s own excitement for the trip did not let him deny Brij to come with them inspite of mild fever,Brij was suffering from.Pammi was strictly against her son going for the trip in such condition But neither Brij,nor Karanveer listened to her..None of them would have realized that they were heading towards their death when they left the premises of Choudhary Haveli..With God’s grace both the girls were saved however rest three members were found dead at the spot. Pammi still blamed Karanveer for all the pain she had suffered and was still suffering..Geet and Channi’s faces made her more angry at the “Injustice” God had done..Out of three Kids of the family,he snatched only her blood..
“No one can fight against time and fate ,pammi..”Balwinder said as tears made their appearance in his pained eyes.
Air in the Kitchen was suddenly heavy with grief..Pammi’s heart cringed watching teary eyes of her “otherwise strong” husband..
“And why have you brought this Butter out of fridge so soon???I have not prepared Dough for the “paranathas” yet..“Pammi spoke in an attempt to change the conversation..
“but potatoes are ready no…”
“So what???you would eat mashed potatoes with butter??? Pammi asked in surprised voice.
“NO i would keep standing here on your head to make you cook “Aaloo ke paranthey” fast. My wife is very lazy after all..“Balwinder  answered with an amused smile..
Before Pammi could reply to his remark,Kitchen was filled with “cham cham” of geet’s anklets..Their chime entered the kichen before the owner of the anklets..
“Where are the scissors,Tai ji???“Geet asked as soon she came inside with the school bag on her shoulder..
“Why are you leaving for school so early today chidi???“Balwinder asked to his beloved niece.
“I am going to Rano maasi’s house first,taya ji..I would have my breakfast there..“Geet  replied dipping her index finger in bowl of butter kept on the shelf.
“Before that you would help me with breakfast geet..”Pammi ordered mixing the water in wheat flour.
Geet’s eyes immediately requested to her saviour “Tayaji” as she nodded her head in “NO” with butter coated finger in her mouth.
oh ho pammi ji..Why are you bothering chidi??She is a kid…“Balwinder tried to save geet from the task of cooking.
She is “FOURTEEN” balwinder ji..”Pammi spoke putting much emphasis on the number..”and moreover look at her health and height..She does not look younger than Chinni..“Pammi continued.
But It does not change the reality ..Geet is younger sister of channi…“Balwinder exclaimed..“Yo go puttar..Channi would help your tai ji..“He spoke further turning towards geet whose entire attention was on the “scissors” kept near the knives..
“Ok tayaji as you say…!!!“Geet said with a wink grabbing the scissors as she left the kitchen with hurried steps before her aunt could stop her..
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“Sukkhi’s dadi ji is coming here mausa ji…“Geet yelled entering the small house of “Handas”..
Geet’s voice startled Mohinder who was enjoying Old melodies on Radio in his drawing room. 
Mohinder smiled at the “tornado” which entered his house,however it had brought the soothing “cham cham” with it.Before geet could ask,mohinder answered himself…“Your maasi ji is in Bed room…” as he walked outside to receive the old lady…
“You want me to cut your hair like her???“Rano asked with wide eyes pointing towards the “Kajol’s” face in the poster of Kuch Kuch hota hai..
“Yes maasi ji..Exactly like her..”Geet replied pulling out the rubber band from her ponytail as her long silky hair covered her back completely.
“But her hair are so short chidi…”
“So what maasi ji..This hair style is in fashion these days…“Geet explained in an excited voice.
It was impossible for Rano to deny her chidi for anything but she simply did not want to chop her long and beautiful hair.
“I would surely have cut your hair chidi ..but you know I lost my scissors few days ago…“Rano tried her best to save geet’s hair.
“I knew it masi ji..“Geet said with furrowed eyebrows..“I knew you were going to make this excuse thats why i have brought the scissors with me..“She spoke further taking the scissors out of her school bag.
Rano took the scissors from geet with reluctant hands as she made her brain to act fast.She badly needed an excuse to avoid this “hair cutting” ceremony.
“You don’t want to cut my hair maasi ji???”Geet asked pouting her lips as Rano took much time in bringing scissors near her hair.
“No chidi..Its not like that..I was just thinking whether these short hair would look good with “Pink suit”,you are going to wear at Channi’s marriage..”
Geet’s thoughtful face clearly told Rano that she had hit at right place..
“Look at the other girl in the picture chidi..”Rano spoke pointing her finger at Rani’s face..“She is wearing a suit and she has long hair…”!!!
Yes maasi ji..”Geet answered looking carefully at the picture..
“So should i cut your hair or not???“Rano asked.
“No ..no maasi ji..Not till channi di’s wedding…“Geet spoke immediately snatching the scissors from Rano’s hand..
“Thats like my intelligent chidi…!!!“Rano exclaimed caressing her head lovingly…”Common lets have breakfast now!!!
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“Whats your age mata ji???”Mohinder asked to the old lady sitting infornt of him but he did not get any reply. He was filling the “Ration Card” form for the lady whose entire attention was at Rano who was feeding Geet with her hands.
“Mata ji..I am asking about your age..”Mohider said little loudly this time..
“Sixx..sixxty master ji..“Lady replied little shocked with his loud voice..
Mohinder completed her form with in some minutes however  lady’s eyes did not leave geet and Rano all while..
“Here is your form mata ji..“Mohinder said handing her the form..
“Thank you so much master ji..“Lady thanked him..”Your wife is a very good woman master ji..She is showering her love on a motherless girl…Wahe guru would bless her..”Lady spoke further as she turned around to leave the room.
“Our chidi is not “Motherless” mata ji..She has her mother with her…!!!”Mohinder exclaimed with pride looking towards the mother-daughter duo with a satisfied smile on his lips…
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Khurana Mension
Delhi…
“He failed in five subjects Maa ji..!!!..I am tired of this boy..No one is ready to give him tuition even!!!.”
 He kept his hands busy with “Rubik’s cube” as he heard his mother complaining  to her grandmother about his failure.
“Why don’t you pay attention to your studies maan???” Mamta asked his son in a tired voice..
As always,”His complete silence” answered her..
“I am talking to you maan…”She said further in a tone full of anger.
Neither he talked nor he looked at his mother,however his fingers started revolving the sides of Rubik’s cube furiously now..
I asked you something maan…Answer me right now…”Mamta almost yelled pushing his face upwards from his chin..
Rather than answering his mother,he pushed away her hand before throwing the Rubik’s cube at the floor with much force..His violent behaviour stunned his mother as she watched her son running towards the room speechlessly.
“You should not have yelled at him like this Mamta..!!!“Savitri devi exclaimed with disappointment following her grandson..
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A tear escaped her eye and fell on the “Mark sheet” in her hands as she felt somone touching her shoulder from behind.
“Mamta…!!!” Savitri devi spoke in a sweet voice thus making her daughter in law turn around..
“Maan has got ninety percent in Science maa..”Mamta said wiping her eyes..
and you know very well the reason behind it beta…
“Yes maa ji..Its because I had helped him with this subject just a night before the examination..”
“Right Mamta..!!”Savitri sighed before continuing..“All he need is your attention beta…He deliberately did not write anything in the other subject’s answer sheets because you did not help him in those subjects..”
“I know maa ji..I wanted to help him but I could not because of official meetings…I am torn between my responsibilities as a mother and as a wife..“Mamta said as she completely broke down..
“I understand you beta..“Savitri tried to console her..“Khurana Construction is my son’s dream and after his death,you have single handedly  nurtured his dream…“She spoke further taking mamta in her embrace.
“But maan does not understand this maa ji..He thinks his mother is ignorant towards him..”
“He is only twelve now mamta..He would surely understand as well as support his mother one day..He would be proud of you like me one day..You are a great entrepreneur..”
“But I am a “terrible mother” maaji..My son is “motherless” despite having a mother…!!!
Mamta spoke as she hid herself  more in Savitri’s embrace…

 

The parent..

Chapter 1

“Chidi…”

Mukeria,Hoshiarpur {Punjab}

December,1998

 

“Thak thak!!!”

Rano could hear the knocks getting louder at the door with the time she was taking to finish her prayer.Her hands were joined together while her lips were busy reciting “Jap ji Sahib” in a slow voice .She opened her eyes after finishing the last verse,as she bowed her head in reverence before large portrait of “Guru Nanak Dev”.

“Coming“..She yelled sprinting towards the kitchen to fetch a vessel before attending the milkman who was at door since last ten minutes.

“Sat sri akal masterni ji”..

Milkman greeted her in a trembling voice due to blood freezing winters.

“Sat sri akal veer ji..”She greeted him politely. An amused smile was lingering on her lips as she heard him calling her “Masterni ji“.She was not a teacher.Her husband Mr.Mohinder Handa was a Maths teacher in “Guru Gobind Singh Sr. Secondary School” and being his “better half”,She was fondly called “Masterni ji” by all the denizens of Mukeria.

“I am sorry veerji..I made you wait so long in such a chill..“Rano exclaimed with regret as her eyes noticed the chattering of his teeth.

“Its Ok masterni ji..Its my job after all..“He answered filling the “vessel” with milk.”Waheguru knows when these winters would end…”He exclaimed further getting back on his “Rajdoot“{Bike} after closing the lid of one of milk drums hanging on each side of the bike

” Just two more months veer ji..”Rano answered securing her shawl with one hand.

“Actually its really hard to ride the bike in such dense fog..“Milkman spoke gesturing with his chin towards the other end of the narrow lane as he revved up his bike.Rano came out from the door  to take a look around.Visibility was near to null.Fog had curtained each and every object around them.

“hmm you are right veer ji…Drive carefully”..

Rano exclaimed with a worried smile .

“Ji masterni ji..I would be careful…Sat sri akal.ji..” He greeted her once again before taking her leave.

Rano watched the bike getting lost in clouds of fog at the other end of lane leaving behind the mild smell of “petrol” and smoke. Rano felt the slight warmth of the smoke tantalizing her toes as she came back to her house.Enthusiastic chirping of the sparrows in the open verendah of her small house caught her attention now.

“Winters has not spared the birds even“Rano exclaimed with a smile giving a glance to sparrows who were gathered and jumping around the “Chulha” seeking the warmth of “burned coals” and “ash”. Rano preferred to cook “Makke di roti” on chulha rather than “Gas stove” for bringing that special flavor and sweetness to the “Rotis”. Ash in “Chulha” was still hot because Rano had used it for cooking last night. 

“Rano…!!!!”

Her husband’s voice brought her out from her musings.”He must be waiting for the “tea”..She thought,forwarding her steps hurriedly towards the kitchen.

                                  *********

“My morning does not start till I get this tasty ginger tea,Rano..Only you know the “secret recepie” for this special tea” Mohinder said adjusting his spectacles on his nose as he took his seat on his favorite easy chair.

“I know it very well ji..There is no need to flatter me..”Rano answered with a smirk keeping her cup on the small wooden table.She liked to have her tea a “little less hot”.She used to spend this “mean time” till her tea gets little cold,in making bed.

Her hands were busy smoothing the creases of the bedsheet  however her entire attention was on the bundle of ” Maths Test papers” kept on the study table near the bed.

Mohinder smiled as he sipped his tea before speaking,”You want to know your “Chidi’s” marks???”

His voice startled Rano.

“Have you checked all the test papers???“She asked moving towards the study table.

“Yes and your “Chidi” has got 70 out of 100″..Mohinder replied.

Disappointment could be seen clearly on Rano’s face as she searched for “Geet Choudhary’s “Test paper in the bundle.

“Chidi’s performance is getting poorer day by day..I am sure you don’t teach properly in the class..”Rano exclaimed sadly taking a closer look at geet’s test paper.

Mohinder was amused with his wife’s statement which screamed of her “endless” love for her best friend’s daughter. Rano and geet’s mother “Daljeet” were best friends since Childhood.Destiny and their bonding brought them to same place “Mukeria” after marriage also.While Rano got married to “Mohinder”,Daljeet found her life partner in Karanveer Singh Choudhary,younger son of Dar jee”Sukhdev Lal Choudhary”,who was “Sarpanch” of Mukeria. Daljeet was blessed with a beautiful daughter “Channi” just after one year of her marriage,however Rano had to wait for this “blessing” for quite a long time.

Daljeet’s happiness was doubled on her second pregnancy after five years because this time her best friend was also “expecting”.But very soon destiny snatched this happiness as Rano suffered from a miscarriage during 8th month of her pregnancy.Along with her unborn kid,she also lost the chance to experience motherhood in future too because of certain medical complications.”Trauma” afterwards was the worst time for Handa couple.Mohinder tried his best to keep his wife happy but “their loss” was too big to forget.

What Rano’s husband could not do,was done by her best friend “Daljeet”..Mohinder saw his wife smiling after two months,when Daljeet kept her second daughter “Geet” in her lap.Since that moment,Rano was Geet’s second mother.Rano’s love for her “chidi” was endless and it was increased beyond limits after sudden demise of geet’s parents in a road accident two years ago.

“Yes,you are right Rano..I don’t teach properly..I am really surprised how some of my students got 100 out of 100 then..???“Mohinder exclaimed in a sarcastic tone.

“I know you are the best “Maths teacher” ..“Rano answered picking her cup of tea from the table…” I am just concerned about chidi’s performance..Why she is lagging behind???”She asked with furrowed eyebrows sipping her tea.

“She is a quick learner Rano ..Its just She is distracted very easily..Her silly and careless mistakes in calculations has prevented her from getting full marks..”

“Hmm..I know..These days her entire attention is on Channi’s wedding..”

“When is channi’s wedding ???”Mohinder asked handing Rano the empty cup.

“Its next week only..“Rano answered as her feet moved towards the window.

She looked outside only to find not any sparrow near the “Chulha” anymore..”These daughters are like sparrows,Mohinder ji..You never realize when they would fly leaving behind your “empty” courtyard..After few year,my “chidi” would also fly ..”Rano exclaimed in a sad voice as she wiped her eyes with the corner of her shawl…!!

                                    *****************

 Continuous Buzzing of the alarm clock made  14 years old geet open her droopy eyes to check the time.Her breath stuck in her throat as she realized how late she was today morning.It was 7.30 am already.Sleep left her system completely as she ran outside her room with the speed of air,without caring about her clothes and morning chill.Her skinny frame was trembling and teeth were audibly chattering as she looked for fresh copy of “Ajeet Samachar” in vast courtyard of Choudhary haveli..

“News paper is already in Darjee’s room,Chidi..You are late today” Balwinder spoke with a teasing smile watching his late  brother’s daughter busy in searching newspaper in such cold weather, without any “wollens” on her.Once newspaper was gone into Daarji’s room,noone in the family could muster the courage to bring it out till the next morning.

“How I can be late on Friday taya ji…I missed today’s “Bollywood masala .“Geet exclaimed with sullen face.

Balwinder tried to control his laugh watching his niece mourning for a mere “News paper supplement..”..”Oh yes chidi..How can you miss today’s bollywood masala..You know there is a large poster of “Sharook Khan’s” new movie in it..”

“Really Taya ji..There is a poster of “Kuch Kuch hota hai”????“Geet’s regret for sleeping this late was touching its peak now as tears brimmed in her hazels.

“Yes chidi..and “Sharook Khan” is looking very handsome in that poster..”

“Oh ho..Taya ji..Its Shah Rukh Khan not Sharook Khan…“Geet corrected his uncle in a teary voice as she hugged herself because of freezing air.

Before tears could trickle down her pink cheeks,Balwinder preferred to give his niece her most prized possesion,”Fresh copy of Bollywood masala”..

Geet could not believe her eyes as Balwinder handed her the paper. She was literally jumping in the air now.

“You know..you are my favorite Taya ji…“Geet exclaimed hugging her uncle dearly.

“I know it very well chidi..”Balwinder answered kissing her head.

“Geeettt…!!!!”

Pammi’s strict voice coming from geet’s room startled both of them.

“Your tai ji is calling you chidi..”

“hmm taya ji..and she seems quite angry..”

“She is always angry chidi..”Balwinder exclaimed with a wink as he gave a hearty laugh,soon to be joined by geet’s musical laughter.

Another angry “call” from tai ji broke geet in to run.

A serene smile lingered on Balwinder’s lips as he watched geet jumping over the small plants in the courtyard while running towards her room.Her one hand was holding her “salwar” little upwards from the knees where as other was busy holding the paper.Chime of her anklets with extra “ghunghrus” could be heard in whole house”

She indeed was the “Chidi” of Choudhary Haveli…!!!!

                                       ***********************

ps- “Chidi” means “Sparrow” in punjabi..