After the healing touch.
hreya phoned her mother and said, “Mummy, I’ll be a bit late today.” “Why?” “Boss wants me to complete certain work today itself,” explained Shreya.
“It’s already 7 pm. Try to come as early as possible.” “Okay, mom.” Shreya worked as a programmer in an IT company in Connaught Place, New Delhi. By the time she finished her work and reached the bus stop it was 9 pm. After a long wait a bus going to Moti Bagh arrived. Shreya got in and luckily got a seat also. After buying a ticket she placed her handbag on her lap, closed her eyes and tried to relax. But she couldn’t! An ear-splitting sound she heard almost made her jump from her seat. Next moment the bus came to a halt with a big jerk. When Shreya looked around she saw the driver checking the tyres. After a while he announced, “Tyre burst. The bus won’t go further,” and nonchalantly walked towards a nearby tea shop.
Being the month of December it was quite cold and dark outside. The passengers willy-nilly stepped out and walked towards the nearby bus stop. When Shreya came out she thought, ‘If I go on foot I can reach home within 20 minutes. Better I do that than wait for another bus’ and started walking along the main road. After a while she turned right to take a bylane. It was dimly lit and wore a deserted look.
he eerie surroundings scared her. She increased her speed to cover the lonely stretch as fast as possible but before she could reach the other end, someone grabbed her from behind and sprayed something on her face. Shreya lost her senses instantly. Soon she was taken to a car parked in a secluded corner and shoved into the back seat.
The eerie surroundings scared her. She increased her speed to cover the lonely stretch as fast as possible but before she could reach the other end, someone grabbed her from behind and sprayed something on her face. “Mummy, I’ll be a bit late today.” “Why?” “Boss wants me to complete certain work today itself,” explained Shreya. “It’s already 7 pm. Try to come as early as possible.” “Okay, mom.”
“Don’t get upset unnecessarily. She’ll be here soon,” consoled Shreya’s father.
They waited for her for almost an hour. Then Shreya’s mother suggested, “Perhaps, she must be at the bus stop. Let’s go and pick her up.” “Then get ready.” Shreya’s parents might have covered almost a kilometre when her mother yelled, “Stop... Stop.”
“Why? What happened?” asked Shreya’s father glancing at her.
“I saw a girl lying by the roadside,” replied Shreya’s mother in an apprehensive tone.
Soon they came out of the car and walked to the spot. As soon as Shreya’s mother saw the figure she cried, ”My child!” and plonked down beside her daughter. Next moment, when she noticed Shreya’s dishevelled hair, torn clothes and pale face, she could not control her emotions. She wailed, “Somebody has spoiled my girl. Her life is ruined,” as she fondly stroked her daughter’s hair.
er husband stood watching her for a while. Then he spoke in a serious tone, “If you go on wailing like this people will soon come to know of it. Instead let’s take her home.” She just nodded.
Shreya remained in a dazed state for a couple of hours. When she regained consciousness her thoughts went back to the previous night. ‘While returning home someone had caught hold of me and sprayed something on my face. Then?’ She pondered for a long time but could not remember anything. The question haunted her constantly. As days passed she became quite withdrawn and aloof and remained in her room most of the time thinking about the incident. Her strange behaviour worried her parents. They watched her for a fortnight and then took her to a psychiatrist.
fter three months of counselling Shreya recovered from trauma and depression and started leading a normal life. That day, while relaxing in her room, snatches of conversation from the adjoining room fell on her ears. “Didi, you know quite well that Shreya’s life is now almost ruined after that night’s ghastly incident. But have you thought about the future of your two other daughters? Do you think good alliances will come for them if Shreya stays in this house?” asked Shreya’s mausi who had come from Chandigarh.
Her mother replied in an angry tone, “Don’t forget that Shreya is also my daughter. The poor girl is slowly returning to life. And you’re after her.”
“Please don’t misunderstand me, didi.” Then her mausi explained, “What I was going to suggest was let Shreya take up a job in a different city and stay there.”
“How can I send my girl away? That too all alone to a new place?” replied Shreya’s mother in a worried tone.
“I know it’s difficult but you have to do it to overcome the present situation. And the earlier you decide on it the better it is for all of us,” said Shreya’s mausi candidly.
After listening to their conversation Shreya sat thinking, ‘Mausi’s words indicate that something untoward had happened that night. That is why she says that my staying in this house could hamper the future of my two sisters.’
hreya pondered for a while. Then she phoned her friend and said, “Hello, Ranjitha! Are you free tomorrow morning?” “Yes, my dear.” “I have an important matter to discuss with you. Can we then meet at the coffee house near your home around 11 am?” “Agreed.” While having coffee, Shreya mentioned the previous day’s conversation between her mother and mausi and then said in a chocked voice, “I don’t want to bring disgrace to the family or spoil the lives of my sisters. Hence I have decided to leave Delhi. But before that I must have a job to support myself.”
“You mean you want to leave your family and go to distant place?” asked Ranjitha in a surprised tone.
“Yes. I have to do that for the sake of my family.
That day, while relaxing in her room, snatches of conversation from the adjoining room fell on her ears. “Didi, you know quite well that Shreya’s life is now almost ruined after that night’s ghastly incident. But have you thought about the future of your two other daughters? “I’ll wait for you. But promise me that you’ll call me regularly. That’ll give me the strength to sustain me till you return and make me your own,” sighed Shreya.
And I need your help for that.”
“My help?” said Ranjitha in an astonished tone.
“Ah!, Ranjitha. Remember, you once told me about your sister working in a senior position in an IT company in Agra. If you could talk to her about finding a job for me,” said Shreya and looked at her friend.
anjitha pondered for a while and then replied, “Let me have a word with her. Last week when she phoned me she mentioned about some openings coming in her office and asked me to apply but l’m not very keen since I don’t want to stay away from my parents.”
“I too wish to remain with my family and work in Delhi but now everything is over,” sighed Shreya.
Placing her hand on Shreya’s shoulder Ranjitha consoled, “Don’t lose heart, dear. Everything will be fine.” But the next moment when she remembered about Arun she turned to Shreya and said, “But what about Arun? He’ll be sad to know that you have left Delhi and gone to a different city.”
“He’ll not only be sad but will also start detesting me when he hears the whole story,” replied Shreya in a melancholy tone.
Soon scenes from the past flashed before her eyes. That day Shreya, as usual, boarded the 9 o’clock special bus for going to her office in Connaught Place. It was almost full. A few minutes later she got a seat next to a young man busy reading a book. After a while he closed the book and was going to put it in his briefcase when it slipped from his hand and fell on Shreya’s side. She picked it up and handed it to him. After thanking her he just smiled, “Working somewhere?” Shreya just nodded. Next day when Arun saw her at the bus stop he flashed a smile and said, “Hello.” Shreya responded with a smile. Her charming smile, beautiful eyes and tall figure attracted him towards her. And their travelling by the same bus for going to their offices and getting down at the same stop made things easy for Arun to befriend her.
s days passed, Arun and Shreya became close friends. They often met at coffee houses, restaurants and parks and sat talking about their college days, hobbies, office work and future plans. Arun, manager in a small firm in CP, had already done the groundwork to land on a job in the States. Shreya planned to stick to her job and do an MBA (part time).
That day when Arun entered the coffee house he was beaming with happiness. “Do you want to hear the good news?” said Arun as soon as he saw Shreya.
“Got a job in the USA?” smiled Shreya.
“You guessed right. They want me to join within a month,” said Arun excitedly.
“Hardly any time left,” said Shreya in a depressed tone.
“I know.” Both remained silent for a while. Then Shreya urged in a melancholy tone, “Why don’t you try for a better job here itself?”
run looked into her beautiful eyes and said, “I know why you’re saying that. I too am sad to leave you and go to a distant country but to come up in life one has to endure such situations.” Then he added, “But don’t lose heart. I’ll come on leave as soon as I’m settled there and we both shall fly to the States as man and wife.”
“I’ll wait for you. But promise me that you’ll call me regularly. That’ll give me the strength to sustain me till you return and make me your own,” sighed Shreya.
“I’ll do that,” assured Arun taking her hand into his.
Ranjitha’s words, “Hello! Are you here or in America?” brought Shreya back to the present.
Two months later Shreya got a Programmer’s job in Ranjitha’s sister’s office in Agra. Shreya stayed with her for a month. Then she moved to a small rented apartment near her office. As days passed Shreya started linking her work, the office ambience and the city of the Taj Mahal.
Two years rolled by. Meanwhile Shreya’s parents visited her a couple of times and spent some time with her.
It was a Sunday. Shreya was leisurely having her morning cup of tea but before she could finish it the door bell rang. Who has come so early? Wondered Shreya as she went to answer the doorbell. As her eyes fell on the handsome
“Arun!” uttered Shreya nervously. When Arun said, “Are you going to make me stand here the whole day?” Shreya invited him in. While having coffee she asked in a tremulous voice, “When did you arrive from the States?” “Last week.”
young man dressed in blue jeans and black T-shirt standing near the door a shiver ran through her spine.
“Couldn’t recognise me?” said the young man with a twinkle in his eye.
“Arun!” uttered Shreya nervously.
When Arun said, “Are you going to make me stand here the whole day?” Shreya invited him in. While having coffee she asked in a tremulous voice, “When did you arrive from the States?”
“Last week. Anyway, how does it matter to you?” said Arun in a touchy voice.
“Why do you say so?” countered Shreya.
“Because you didn’t respond to my phone calls or e-mail for the past couple of years.”
“I couldn’t. I was unwell for a while,” said Shreya in a subdued tone.
“What happened?” asked Arun, his voice mellowing a bit.
“I was under treatment for depression.”
“How come? You were quite okay when I went to the States,” said Arun in a surprised tone.
Shreya sat thinking, ‘Should I tell him about that incident? How will he take it? But how long can I hide it from him?’ She then turned to him and spoke in a serious tone, “Arun, I just want to tell you that the Shreya sitting in front of you is not the same girl you knew before going to the States.”
“What are you talking? I don’t understand,” said Arun in a confused tone.
“I don’t want to give you more details since that would spoil your mood.”
“Shreya! Please stop talking in riddles and tell me everything in detail,” said Arun in an irritated tone.
After a brief silence Shreya took a deep breath and then narrated in a nervous tone about the ghastly incident of that night; the depression and trauma she went through thereafter; the counselling she underwent to overcome them and her leaving Delhi to take up a job in Agra.
he shocking revelation stunned Arun. “What are you saying?” said Arun shaking his head in disbelief.
“It’s true, Arun,” said Shreya as she wiped the tears flooding her eyes.
“But you didn’t tell me about it all these days,” complained Arun.
“As I told you, I was in a peculiar state of mind after that horrible incident. Later on when I recovered, my conscience whispered, ‘You know your life is doomed after that fateful night. Then why do you hang on to him?’ “I pondered over it for several days and finally I decided, with a heavy heart, to distance myself from you,” explained Shreya in a voice choked with emotion. Arun sat still looking into the distance.
After a while Shreya added, “I have done that for your good. It’s my wish to see you marry a virtuous girl and lead a happy life.”
“Thanks for your noble thoughts,” said Arun turning to her and got up to leave.
Shreya followed him to the car. Before he left she said, “Hope you’re not cross with me?”
“Not at all,” replied Arun curtly and left the place.
“You look quite tired and dejected. What’s the matter, son?” asked Arun’s mother as soon as she noticed his gloomy face.
“Just the long drive, mom,” replied Arun and went to the toilet to freshen up.
Arun’s mother was aware of her son’s affair with Shreya and his desire to marry her. So when he came to the drawing room she offered him a glass of fresh juice and went and sat by him on the sofa. She then asked, “How is Shreya? I still wonder why she left Delhi and took up a job in a small city like Agra.”
“Something dreadful happened which compelled her to leave Delhi,” replied Arun without looking at his mother.
“Something dreadful?” repeated Arun’s mother and looked at her son for more details.
After pondering for a while he reluctantly told her about the ghastly incident and the repercussions Shreya faced after that.
After hearing the story, Arun’s mother sat thinking about the incident that happened in her life two decades ago. She and her husband were returning home on their scooter after watching a late-night movie. When they reached an isolated stretch, two people on a motorbike came from behind and blocked their way by parking the bike horizontally in front of their scooter. One of the fellows then held her husband while the other hit him on the head. When he fell unconscious on the ground they caught hold of her and tried to molest her. But luckily he was saved in the nick of time by a marriage party passing that way in a van.
run’s voice, “Mummy! What are you thinking so deeply?” brought her back to the present.
“I was just thinking about Shreya. This is the time she needs the love, care and support of her family,” said Arun’s mother in a concerned voice. “By the way, how’s she managing all alone in the new city?”
“Just pulling on but she has become quite elusive and withdrawn. I had to try hard to get her talk.”
“After such incidents girls usually become more cautions and alert,” said Arun’s mother.
“She feels guilty and blames herself for whatever had happened. And her self-esteem has plunged so low that she feels she is unfit to become my life partner.”
“And what is your plan?” asked his mother in a serious tone.
“Seems the happenings of that day – the delay in leaving her office; the breaking down of the bus she was travelling in and
After a brief silence Shreya took a deep breath and then narrated in a nervous tone about the ghastly incident of that night; the depression and trauma she went through thereafter.
was destined to happen happened. But do not brood over the past and spoil your health.”
“I try not but sometimes…”
“I can understand your feelings. That’s why Arun and myself are planning to take you back to Delhi,” said Arun’s mother throwing a glance at Arun sitting on the opposite side.
“To Delhi? No aunty, no,” pleaded Shreya nervously.
“Don’t be so scared. You’ll be safe and well looked after in our house,” assured Arun’s mother.
“In your house?” said Shreya in a confused tone.
“Ah, Shreya. We already had a talk with your parents and they have agreed to our proposal. Only your consent is required,” said Arun’s mother turning to her.
Realisation soon dawned on Shreya. She threw a quick glance at Arun and then replied to his mother with a sigh, “After that awful incident I have stopped thinking about my life. But I wish to see Arun lead a happy married life. And I have already told him about it,” and got up from the chair.
But Arun’s mother made her sit and spoke lovingly, “Like you, Arun too wishes to see you lead a happy life. And it shows that both of you, in spite of the adverse happenings, care for each other and love deeply and sincerely. Then why are you hesitant to agree to our proposal?”
hen Shreya remained mum, Arun’s mother said, “Well, all know that whatever had happened was not due to your fault. It was just the combination of events of that day which had led to such an unfortunate incident.”
“But how can I...?” said Shreya tears flowing down her cheeks.
“I know it’s difficult to forget such a dreadful incident and start a new life but you can do it by ignoring the unpleasant thoughts and by thinking about the happy events of the past,” advised Arun’s mother.
Shreya sat listening, her eyes fixed on the floor.
A few months passed. That day Arun, as usual, got ready to leave for office. When he reached the front door, he suddenly stopped and called out, “Shreya, my car key.”
As Shreya came out of the kitchen to fetch the key, her mother-in-law, sitting on the sofa, commented in a lighter vein, “Hurry up. The absent-minded professor is waiting.”
Shreya responded with a light smile and rushed to get the key. We
But Arun’s mother made her sit and spoke lovingly, “Like you, Arun too wishes to see you lead a happy life. And it shows that both of you, in spite of the adverse happenings, care for each other and love deeply and sincerely. Then why are you hesitant to agree to our proposal?” Arun’s mother throwing a glance at Arun sitting on the opposite side. “To Delhi? No aunty, no,” pleaded Shreya nervously. “Don’t be so scared. You’ll be safe and well looked after in our house,” assured Arun’s mother. “In your house?” said Shreya in a confused tone.