everytime...i m waiting for one update of this ff...n ending up with re-read one of ur old ff...last one week i have again re-read all the parts of ABI NAHI ANA, IT MAKES TWO SEASON 1 & 2 and LOVE ME NOT
@indiegirl: welcome aboard! I have always seen you on frost's thread but to have you here is a big honour. You comment made me really happy. Looking forward to seeing more of you!!
@Sheen @Marium_maan: I totally understand if you don't like Maan's ways but he is like that only... I can't help it.
@coolchahat3: Geet and Kabir?? You sure don't want to give me ideas do you? *smirks*
@-Awaari-: Welcome Aboard dear. I am so glad you like this story. Thank You.
@Zeehana: Welcome Welcome. So happy that you are liking this!
@SHIK.LOVMAANEET: missed your comments. welcome back.
@-indulekha-: twist after a shammi kapoor Song? Yes! thats so me!
@Madhuri53: thank you di for such a lovely comment.
@sdlife19: Maan is adorable, isn't he?
27. The Ruins Of A Man...
"Maan... Maan... listen to me beta..." dadima ran after the thirteen year old with food.
"No...I won't. I am not going to that horrible school ever gain." He sat on his bed making faces.
She sat beside him and broke off a piece of chapatti and dipped it in the curry, "you are angry at your school na..."
He nodded his head and looked at her, nose crinkled in anger, "yes! Everyone makes fun of me dadima. They don't talk to me because they think I don't listen to anyone and I try to become their leader!"
Dadima smiled inwardly. Maan even as a kid had a strong personality, something she realized he got it from her husband. But she knew better to not agree to this right now. The Prince of household was not ready to go to school.
"Okay... you are angry on your school... thats okay because they made you angry. What did this food do? did it make you angry?"
He looked at the plate, "No.."
"Did it make fun of you?"
"Good. Then open your mouth! We can deal with the school matter together when dadaji comes home in the evening."
He nodded and opened his mouth. Dadima smiled and fed him lovingly and he ate it all. It seemed weird to people that he had chosen to stay back with them in India when his parents were away. But that was Maan Khurana. He had always been very attached to his grandparents and stayed he back happily because he didn't want to part with them.
He dropped the cigarette butt and trampled it with his foot. Popping a mint chewing gum into his mouth, he walked inside the house, trying to sneak into his room. The house was eerily dark and silent and he hated it. It had been like this for a few months now, after dadaji's death. Everyone was home, paid condolences and left. But dadima remained alone. His parents wanted to take them to the US but he was in his 11th grade. He couldn't have shifted mid-session. Dadima stayed back too because she didn't want to part with her home, more precisely her husband, this soon.
"Maan... why are you late beta?"
He stilled and looked around only to find dadima sitting on the sofa, in the dark. he hadn't noticed her.
"I...I had extra classes in the coaching centre dadima." He tried to cover up.
She stood up and walked towards him, slowly. Her shoulders sagged and she suddenly looked much older than she was. Her eyes were puffy and dark circles marred her beautiful features.
"I called your coaching centre and they definitely didn't have extra classes. Where had you been Maan Khurana?"
Her voice was stern, angry. And when she came closer, her eyes didn't hold sadness. It held anger.
"I...I..." he didn't know how to tackle this. He had never lied to his grandparents until he had started smoking. He was sixteen now and he wanted to be the coolest guy in school. Girls wanted to strike off a relationship with him. he was the sports captain of the school, excellent in academics but he wanted more. He hung around with the coolest people and smoking was just what these cool people did.
"You have been lying to me all these days...how dare you?" her voice echoed in the silent house.
He rolled his eyes, "dadima.. please. Stop making a fuss. I had been out with friends."
"You could have informed me..."
"As if you would have allowed." He let out a breath.
Dadima's blood boiled, "what is this smell? Have you been smoking?"
He sighed and tried to walk away, "Dadima just stop this... I am tired."
She held his hand, "Did you or did you not?"
He turned back and saw her eyes spitting fire. She demanded answer. He had to give it to her.
"yes.. yes i did. Now will you let me go?"
The next moment he felt a sharp stinging pain on his cheeks that left him stunned. She looked at him with hurtful eyes and didn't say a word after that. She walked away silently and he raced back to his room too. dadima had never ever raised her hands on him and now that she did, it hurt immensely. Angry, he didn't come out for dinner and surprisingly, she didn't bother calling him. that was a huge blow to his ego.
It was way past midnight and he was hungry. He would not go to dadima and he wouldn't speak a word to her. how could she slap him? he tiptoed his way down the stairs and headed towards the kitchen when he heard faint sound of someone crying. Curious, he walked towards the dark living room and stood rooted seeing his dadima cry silently. He had never seen her that broken. And then he realized, her walking away silently hurt more than the slap. Her silent cries in the middle of the night hurt more than his bruised ego. He ran to her and hugged her, promising never to touch cigarettes ever again. and he never did...even after all these years...
Faint sounds of door creaking and things moving woke him up. He opened his eyes slowly to adjust to the light and saw her walking in with something in her hands. His head felt heavy and he closed his eyes again.
Her soft voice floated in the air and he relaxed.
"Maan..." she called again, "if you want to sleep, go to your room. I will be here with dadima for a while."
He opened his eyes again and felt her warm breath falling on his face. he had slept off on the couch and she was leaning down to him. her breaths, soft and rhythmic felt like gentle caress on his tired eyes. He stretched and she moved back. The warm breaths vanished. Once fully awake, he glanced at dadima who was sleeping soundly... her body gently moving up and down with her slow, long breaths.
"You want some coffee? You have been here the whole day."
His eyes flicked towards her and a genuine worry marred her features. Wasn't she supposed to be in college?
"You don't have college?"
She smiled weakly, "You would know only if you stepped out of this room! It's 4 in the evening Maan. College is done."
He pinched the bridge of his nose, recalling the dreams he had some time back. Dadima had been on sedatives and he hadn't left her side for the past one week.
"Umm... coffee would do."
She looked at him, lost, tired and worried. He had grown his stubble into beard. He hadn't been to office in the past one week and just remained with dadima. Kabir had been managing everything alone. Both the brothers had taken the entire responsibilities and with Maan not around, Kabir had to take the reigns. No one told Maan anything because they knew it. his mother tried to coax him to just go out for a while but he never listened to anyone!
"What are you holding?" he asked when she turned to leave.
"Ohh this?" she raised it up to her, "dadima had been asking about this photo album since morning. we hurried to college so we promised her we will get this in the evening."
"Where is Ana?" he hadn't seen her around lately.
She kept the album on the table, "In office, with Kabir."
"here you go..." she placed the mug in front of him.
Dadima was still sleeping mostly because of the sedatives and she found Maan lost in the photo album, running his hands lovingly on the pages. Her voice brought him back.
"Thanks..." he picked up the mug and out the album down on the table, open.
He sipped his coffee and sighed in relief. He wanted that. And for a change, she didn't add sugar.
I am saved!
"hey...who is that?" her chirpy voice caught his attention.
She was looking down at the album when the picture of a baby, dressed like a doll caught her attention. She looked so beautiful in red and pink frock and a hat.
A faint smile tugged on his lips, "Guess..."
She picked up the album and took a seat beside him, "I am sure its Ana. She looked so cute."
"Its Kabir!" he broke her bubble.
Her jaws dropped and she looked at him, bewildered, "Don't tell me!"
Her wide eyes, full of surprise made him chuckle. He took another sip, "yeah. Ana wasn't even born then.."
She looked at baby Kabir and then back at him and laughed, "Ohh my god! When did this happen? Hahahaha he looks so like a girl..so beautiful..."
"Well, actually I always wanted a baby sister but then well, Kabir was born. I was so upset that I kept pestering mom and dad to get a sister for me. Kabir's first b'day was approaching and I remember how much I cried because i wouldn't get to celebrate my sister's bday. So, mom and dadima actually brought a frock for him and dolled him up so that I could just love him as much as I would have loved my sister!"
She laughed until she was red, "does he know?"
"Oh absolutely! He got to know of this when he had come to India when he was ten. He got so angry at me that he didn't speak to me for like whole two days!"
"Poor Kabir... but you know imagining him like that is not so hard."
She giggled and flipped the next page.
"Is this Ana you are holding?"
He kept the mug down and leaned closer towards her, "yep. She was one month old."
"You look so happy!" she ran her fingers lovingly on a smiling six year old.
"I was the happiest actually." He smiled with her and they flipped to the next page together.
"See..here is dadima with dadaji..."
They kept flipping on pages after pages and he told stories behind those pictures that made her laugh and sad at the same time.
How time flies...
"...see this. I came first in a National Level Science Olympiad. Dadima hugged me so tight and dadaji clicked..."
She smiled and looked up to see him but she couldn't meet his eyes. They remained glued to the beautiful face of dadima...strong, confident and pride oozing out of her eyes.
"...and this was when I scored a 98% in my tenth boards. Dadaji gifted me a watch and dadima made my favourite thandi kheer..."
Her eyes riveted back to his face, "You like a sweet dish? Oh please..."
"Arrey I do. Its dadaji and my favourite. He doesn't like much sweet too. so only dadima could make such awesome kheer. I don't like kheer made by anyone else."
They flipped to the next page and a bitter sweet smile tugged on his lips.
"This was dadaji and dadima's last picture together. I clicked it..."
His voice trailed into a low whisper. Memories hit him like a whirlwind. His dadima looked so beautiful...those twinkling eyes... those raised cheekbones... those strong shoulders... she was a lady of stature that stood firm like a wall even in the mightiest of storms. He dared to raise his eyes and look up at the woman sleeping right in front of him. her eyes held no more twinkle. Dark circles marred her face, her cheeks sagged, she lost weight like a tree sheds leaves in autumn... that glow morphed into dullness... the stroke had left physical scars in its wake.
She stirred in her sleep and came awake, looking for someone. Geet rushed to her and he just observed. The woman who slapped him once and shaped him up as a person was now lying so weak that she needed someone to even help her in drinking water.
"did you get what i asked for?" dadima asked weakly.
"yes dadima.. you want to see now?"
She nodded and turned towards him and gave him a smile, gesturing him to go near her. his heart constricted seeing her struggle to even smile. Those memories came haunting now... was this supposed to be a sign? He didn't want to believe anything at the moment but everything just pointed towards the inevitable...
He sat by her and Geet left, giving them some privacy but she stood by the door, watching them see that album together. Her heart constricted seeing them talk of the beautiful memories of the past as they flipped through the pages. And for the first time, she saw tears in his eyes. Unable to take it, she wiped her own tears went downstairs to take her mind off.
He sniffed, "see dadima... this was when I got my first award for the company..."
He flipped another page and continued talking, "this was when Kabir joined me. You were so happy that you couldn't help throwing a party..."
"...and this.. when Ana came to visit us in India...she wouldn't stop blabbering in English and you taught her our National Anthem..."
He blinked a couple of times, "and this was when I graduated from college..."
Dadima kept her hand on his, stopping him. he gulped down that knot in his throat and looked at her.
"Maan..." she whispered, "Be Strong."
"I am dadima..." he managed to speak.
With great difficulty, she raised her hand and wiped those unshed tears from his eyes and he held that hand and rested it on his cheek to feel more of her, "you will be okay dadima... don't worry."
"Maan...listen to me.."
"You don't have to remain confined to this room anymore. And once you are fine, I am taking you to India...back home.."
"Maan listen beta..."
She spoke a little louder and he stopped.
She smiled...the most beautiful one he had ever seen, "will you do something for me?"
She knew how he worked. and she steered him that way.
"Anything you say..." his voice broke.
Why did everything feel like it was for the last time?
"When the time comes...let me go!"
He gasped and then his hold loosened. Her hands fell lifelessly on his lap.
"what... ye kya keh rahi hain aap?" he couldn't find the strength to speak.
"Yes Maan. See me off with a smile."
Unshed tears now made their appearance...slowly at first and then with the vigour of a river rushing down the mountains. He hid his face in his palms and cried like a baby. Dadima held his hands and let him cry because she knew he wouldn't cry in front of anyone. It was better he vented it out before the inevitable.
If she knew better, she saw the ruins of a man that day. From what she heard from Ana, she knew her fortress was in shatters. She cried with Ana, with Kabir, with their parents but he didn't. He remained cold. Cold to everything and cold to everyone. He had walked into dadima's room early morning to check on her and found her still like a statue. Initially he thought she was sleeping but just for a change, he observed her a bit more carefully. Her stomach didn't move rhythmically or in arrhythmic fashion too. he rushed towards her and tried to hear her breaths. There was nothing. He tried checking her pulse. And it had vanished!
She was gone...
She looked as if she were sleeping peacefully. He would have mistaken her as asleep had he not looked at her stomach.
He didn't cry, didn't speak, didn't look at anyone. He completed all the rituals instead of his father and locked himself up in his room.
She went back to her apartment after everything and sat on the bed, with a blankness surrounding her.
Mom... dad... Raj...Dadima... who else is left Kanha?
Images of Maan with dadima filled her head and tears rolled down. It had been a long time since she had been home and alone and with a head full of nothing. She was exhausted, both mentally and physically to think anything but she couldn't help. thoughts came popping and she cried that night.
Time passed like nothing happened and days turned into a week. Time is ruthless. Time never understands the meaning of its own moments! Time is cruel.
"How are you Ana?" she called her friend, "and Kabir and Maan?"
Ana sighed, "Kabir is busy Geet. Too busy that he doesn't come home at all."
"Uh Oh...is Maan okay?" she stressed on that name.
"Don't ask. He hasn't gone out of the house in the past one week Geet. We all are worried about him. he just sits for hours in dadima's room and doesn't talk at all..."
She didn't know how to reply to this. She was the same after her father's demise. She was too young to remember about her mother. But then she had learned to handle loss. He hadn't.
She walked into the mansion and found Maan sitting on the steps of the porch, lost in his own thoughts. Awaara played along and barked to gain his attention. But Maan disappointed him. She knew now what dadima meant to him. He never went to office.. he never spoke to anyone other than what was required and he kept himself locked up...
She sighed and sat down beside him, on the steps. He didn't react.
"How are you doing?"
Her soft voice made him look at her and for the first time, his empty eyes scared her. she gasped and then, he looked away!
She slid closer to him and rested her hand on his shoulder. He stiffened.
"Maan... she is gone. Let it go."
He pushed her hand away in a jerk and looked at her angrily, "Leave me alone Geet. I am really not in a mood to talk or listen to anything."
She was surprised when he pushed her away but then she knew it was his vulnerable side speaking.
"I know it is hard to lose someone you love but you can't fight fate"
"No." he cut her off. He had been tired of listening to the same things over and over again. He had had enough.
"You don't know. You don't know what it means to lose someone you love so much. Just cut the crap and go away."
He expected her to get angry, feel hurt and go away but her smile shocked him to no ends. There was not a wrinkle on her forehead. She looked deep into his empty eyes and smiled.
"I have lost both my parents Maan... I have no one to turn to. Do you think I won't know?"
She said it so lovingly, without faltering, with so much calm that rendered him speechless. All he could do was to just gape at her and let her words sink in!
________________________________________ >>Heavy Update? Well, the story needed to move!!
>>I know I know... I am equally upset about dadima as well. But we can't fight fate!