Dev’s attire was very unusual today as he walked adjusting his Dhoti, He had worn a huge gold pendant shaped as OM in his neck which shone from his Saffron coloured embroidered kurta and he peculiarly wore a huge red tilak on his head.
He walked in and sat opposite to his girlfriend Jennifer in Pizza Hut, He looked like he had dressed for the Costume rehearsal of a play with Historical characters as he sported a beard and a thick mustache and constantly tweaked the ends.
Displeased with his garb she questioned in a rude tone “What are you trying to show? Why are you dressed this way today?”
Dev replied “I am making you feel exactly how you have made me feel throughout this relationship”
Dev had predetermined to end this relationship which was based on conversion of his faith. Although an atheist, he believed love was unconditional and the basis of a relationship should be trust and understanding and not converting to a particular sect of belief .He did not want to take up a religion just because he was being forced into it, he never thrust his beliefs onto others and expected others to respect his views.
“Do you remember what the priest said”, He paused for a few seconds and got no response from her
“That You need to accept the faith with belief, No one will forcefully convert you” he continued with stern look on his face.
“But you are blackmailing me into it”
Jennifer made a rude expression and looked away from his gaze.
He had madly been in love with Jennifer since he met her for the first time. At one point was ready to do anything to have her in his life. One day while standing outside a church with an ultimatum to choose between heartbreak and Christianity, he had chosen the latter and promised her that he would get converted.
Jennifer had always wanted to become a nun, but she had fallen head over heels in love with his charming young man. Her only condition since day one for taking the relationship ahead was Dev’s acceptance of god and her religion.
Dev had been an atheist right since he remembered; he had always questioned religious beliefs and rituals as he never found them logical. Dev had realized that he only comprised to be in a relationship with Jennifer. He was losing his self worth and his own persona in trying to be someone else to please jennifer. He was not being truthful to himself in this process.
He broke up with Jennifer and walked out of Pizza Hut, her repeated attempts at calling him back were futile. When she understood the seriousness of the situation, it was already too late. Dev had fallen out of love; there had been an incident in dev’s life three days ago where a determined unknown girl had taught him the meaning of Unconditional love and humanity.
As he hired a taxi, the flowing wind felt good. He felt freed from a stressful relationship and the fragrance in the air made him remember the mysterious and sedulous girl he met three days back , He missed her vivacious smile and exuberance of her youthful personality.
26th July 2005
The Entire city of Mumbai was submerged in water, All that was visible till the eye could see was immersed in water. Torrential rains had stopped all activity and the entire population was stranded as there were no modes of transportation available and on this day, dev struggled to walk in waist-high water that was gushing past him with a tremendous ghastly flow. He was unsure if he would make it home. There could be a gutter or a dug out man-hole anywhere and he could drown to his death. After four hours of strained walking from his office in Powai ,he had finally entered Kalina and his house was just a stone’s throw away from this place. Just one left turn and a five minute walk would ensure his reaching home safely.
Water flushing everything away at extravagant speed made him skeptical, nevertheless he slowly moved ahead keeping one foot at a time, reassuring himself of landing on the road’s surface.
As he started to take the left turn, a meekly voice shrieked ” Do not go there, You will Die” .He stopped immediately, but in his urge to reach home which was just a few steps away he neglected the advice and tried keeping one foot ahead which had him almost lose his balance as there was nothing ahead but an endless gutter. In the nick of time he gathered himself and put his foot back on the land, He was terror struck of having come so close to death. He first collected the jittery pieces of his shattered Self and looked back at the girl who slowly uncovered her face realizing that he had survived.
An Indefinable beauty sat on a broken tree shaft; he was stunned by her alluring good looks. She was very mysteriously attractive and fascinating. He slowly moved near her and gleefully smiled at her.
She had a round face, big eyes, luscious lips and flowing long hair. Clad in a pinkish salwar suit , she looked straight out of a romantic novel he had read in his adolescence, she was what dream girls are made of. An Apsara(Fairy) straight out of heaven, he was bewildered , as he had never seen someone so prepossessing before.
“Thank you for saving my life” He said and attempted to climb the broken tree shaft and sit next to her. She said “Do not attempt to sit on this branch, Stand where you are, you can hold the tree for support “. Her tone was rude. She was trying to be protective maybe and maintaining distance with a stranger. He nodded in agreement and tried to look away. But unintentionally he ended up looking at her mesmerizing face again and again. She had a magnetic appeal.
She finally spoke “I was walking along with a group of youngsters, they all moved left and i decided to walk straight..I saw them all being blown away by the water’s electrifying force. i am not sure if they survived or …….”
She started sobbing and he consoled her, but she suddenly shrieked again at another middle aged man
“Do not turn left, you will die ” But the man continued to walk and without a minute to spare, dev plunged there like a super hero and pulled the man back and told him about the gutter ahead.
The Petrified man thanked both of them and walked in a different distance.
For Hours they stood there and stopped many people from turning in that direction and many warm-hearted mumbaikars started standing there and guiding people. A Group of compassionate men now stood covering the entire left side so that no one attempts to divulge there.
Tea and Biscuits had been arranged by the rescue volunteers.
The volunteers requested the gutsy girl to take special care of small school children who were stranded and made them all sit in a secluded grocery store where Dev and the benevolent girl served them tea and biscuits. Serving unknown people in distress is a fascinating experience. Dev felt more human than he had ever felt. He realized that those people were not being served on the basis of caste; creed or religion. This was sheer humanity on display at its best.
Dev stared at the delightful girl when she entertained the kids with her sense of humor. With her infectious laughter time seemed to have paused as he felt lost in her voice with no sense of time. As if everything he could hear was her chirpy voice.
To bring smiles on the faces of the gloomy kids she started a popular film songs game called Antakshari and that brought lots of positive smiles and High fives among the kids.
Dev fumbled every time it was his turn to start a new song with the word ending from the previous song and his failure to come up with songs made the kids laugh.
His heart and mind was not in place, she had stolen his peace, his intelligence and his sanity.
The thing that had stood out in her was Unconditional love, her selfless love for humanity and human life. She could have easily gone to her house and ensured that her life was secure, but she stayed back to save some unknown people and even made Dev experience this divinity as she continued playing with those stranded kids with zest and enthusiasm.
At a random point dev sang ” Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi si” The Popular romantic song of Kishore kumar where he is teasing a drenched actress Madhubala.
He saw her blushing and abruptly stopped singing when she looked into his eyes. That Glare had passion, it meant many things and it did not mean anything. Sometimes silence speaks a thousand words and eyes reveal the truth. She had developed a liking for him at least Dev felt that way.
In the Night, after the rains had stopped and all the water had been drained out. Dev and his new found kindred spirit walked on the empty streets after dropping all the school children to their respective houses. The Silence was suffocating, Dev attempted to have a conversation by saying “I feel so good today” and she looked at him and smiled, her gaze was hypnotizing. He just wanted her to keep staring at him that way .Every time he turned his face to look at her, even she was looking at him. That gave him goose bumps.
She stopped at a small temple’s gate and asked him “Can you please pluck those flowers for me”
He climbed the tree with thrilling energy and plucked some reddish flowers for her.
She poured them all over the Shiv Ling and closed her eyes and prayed for some time. He stood there staring at her in amazement as she innocently blabbered some lines.
She opened her eyes and asked “Why did you not pray?”
He said “I Do Not Believe In God”
She said with a sigh “Everyone is seeking their own answers and in some way everyone is agnostic as they are unsure sometimes. But it is very important to respect each other’s beliefs”
After a few moments of silence again she broke the ice and spoke endlessly about her hobbies, favorite movie stars, favorite tv shows, her school life, college life, her best friends, her worst nightmares and even her dreams and aspirations. She went on and on and Dev was lost in her voice, he hardly interpreted the content of her talks. He was simply enthralled that she was speaking to him.
They had discussed about everything under the sun like long lost friends but he had still not asked her name and neither had he asked for her phone number.
In fact only she had done most of the talking and dev had thoroughly enjoyed her inanimate gestures and slightly demented talks. Dev felt their souls were connected. He was madly in love with her.
She finally stopped at the gate of a Government colony and said that she lived there.
Dev finally mustered some courage and stammered apprehensively “Can i know your Name ”
She said ” Sita , Gita , Tulsi or Parvati…Pick the one you like ” with a mischievous grin.
He smiled sheepishly understanding the fact that she was not interested in him.
He continued shamelessly rubbernecking at her as she entered the gate, she suddenly turned back and surprised him and said a ten digit number. He jumped in excitement and started racing back to his house repeating the number loudly and umpteen number of times, in his attempt to memorize her phone number.
He happened to cross that small temple that they had earlier encountered briefly .
Hopelessly in love, He picked one of those reddish flowers and sensing that she had touched it.
He touched the flowers imagining himself holding her hands and he stood there smelling that flower feeling intoxicated as he imagined smelling her fragrance.
He hoped to meet her again and start a new refreshing chapter in his life.
At this point he decided to break up with Jennifer when he meets her next,.
Unfortunately he had forgotten the number But he thought , if they were destined to meet, he would meet her again. Sita, Gita, Tulsi, Parvati or whatever her name was. He was unconditionally in love with this sedulous girl.
© Jitendra Kotai
To Be Continued ………………… Watch this space On June 30th For the rest of the story
The Sedulous Girl – Part II Coming up Next