Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lease of life...?

“Hello there, blue kurta!”

Shivering with fear, Rashmi wondered who was calling out to her. She took a deep breath and turned around. ‘Here comes the moment I have been dreading ever since I joined college’, she thought.

“First year?” he asked.

‘Don’t show him you are scared. Be brave Rashmi,’ she told herself, ‘anyway ragging is banned on the campus, if he acts too smart, just complain to the principal.’ Mustering courage she let out a meek “Yes, first year.”

“Great! I am in first year too! The name’s Agrawal, Rohit Agrawal,” he smiled, making a James Bond like pose. “And yours?”

“Patala Bhairavi!” she made a face and walked away.

“Hello Bhairavi, which branch? I am in electronics.”

She walked away without answering.

He was pleasantly surprised to see her in his class, and sat down beside her. She looked away. She wanted to stay away from any of these Romeo type of guys.

“Bhairavi, which school did you pass out from?”

“Why don’t you find someone else for your banter? I am not interested.”

“Whoa, that’s rude, I didn’t ask to date you, I was just trying to make friends” he said taken aback.

“Well, find someone else, in that case.”

He got up and walked away. Throughout the day she found him staring at her and looking away when she stared back. She made a couple of girl friends and was walking towards the canteen with them after college, when he approached her again.

“Bhairavi, could I have a minute.”

‘Oh no, not again’, she muttered under her breath.

“I wanted to tell you that you look like a replica of my mom, you have her green eyes, her brown silky hair, her fair skin, and I can’t help wondering how alike you both look.”

“And I wanted to tell you Mr. James Bond, that this is the cheekiest line I’ve ever heard. Why can’t you keep out of my bounds?”

‘What is with this girl? She thinks she is some Cleopatra or what?’

He watched as she stormed out of the canteen and walked into a swanky car waiting for her at the college gate.

‘Spoilt brat’, he said aloud, sure that she couldn’t hear him.

He still couldn’t stop wondering how she looked so much like his mom. He took a bus home and rushed to tell his mom about her.

“So mom, tell me what do you think.”

“I have heard there can be seven look-alikes for each person, so why not? For all you know, she might be one of them.”

 “I hope we didn’t lose any child when she was young…or..” he trailed off. He wanted to ask her if she ever had a daughter that she had given up at birth, but kept mum.

As if she had read his mind, she reacted, “Neither that nor did we ever give up any child for adoption. Now run off and let me work in peace.”

But he couldn’t take his mind off that girl.

Rashmi couldn’t stop thinking about the strange boy either. She herself had been thinking that he looked a lot like her dad. The curly black hair, the moustache, the deep black eyes, yes he did resemble her dad. She had always thought herself to be a misfit in her house. She didn’t look like her parents and didn’t like the rich lifestyle, the non-vegetarian food or the over-the-top way of showing emotions. They were social butterflies and had a lot of friends.

On the other hand she had been shy, conservative and liked to be with herself. She had preferred vegetarian food and had kept a low profile. Nevertheless she loved her parents and they loved her more than anything else in the world.


It was midnight and everyone was asleep. Rohit’s mom sneaked off to the store room and climbed the dusty attic with the help of a wobbly wooden ladder. She used her torch to find an old rusty trunk case secured with a lock. She opened it with a key that she had kept hidden all these years. She searched till she found what she had been looking for.  

A faded picture of a bonny baby girl, with beautiful green eyes just like her. She wiped the dust off the picture and kissed it softly.

Her baby.

The baby she had secretly swapped with an innocent baby boy on the next bed. His mother had just delivered and was still unconscious. None of her relatives were around. Her husband had thrust a wad of 100 rupee notes into the hands of a nurse and swapped the babies. If he had not done that, her baby would not have been alive today. She had already had two daughters and a third girl in the family would not have been welcome. Her in-laws had already made that clear to her. She had been lucky enough to get a baby boy without raising any suspicions. No one knew of the swap except the both of them and they intended to keep it that way. Forever.  She had given her daughter a new lease of life or had she? Life had a strange way of coming a full circle.


(Image: courtesy google)
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