He felt so helpless…first meet vanished and then her parents. The house looked ghostly and he had a doubt that it was all a dream. But the engagement ring on his finger was the solid proof that everything was a reality. Its been months since he had heard her voice or even seen her. Dejected and angry, he went back home and fell on dadima’s lap, crying out his helplessness. Things were so beautiful and time changes so fast… things were slipping right out of his hands and he was just too helpless to do anything!!!
He didn’t know what to do! Should he call the police or just wait because calling the police shall make it public… Maan Singh Khurana lost his fiance and god knows if meet’s family got to know this, what would they think! After consulting with dadima, he had a talk with the DIG on confidential grounds and made sure the search was completely confidential. It was7 months since meet was gone and he was suddenly keeping too busy. He actually made himself busy deliberately to prevent himself from getting crazy. He looked at his engagement ring and kissed it, “I will find you no matter where you are hiding. There is something drastically wrong Meet and i will make sure you are safe, with me!”
It was one such evening when he just sat in his study, holding his file. But his heart was with his meet…she might be in trouble…she might need him the most now! He recalled the day a year back when they were supposed to meet at a cafe . he was just back from Mumbai and got late. Meet was standing in front of the cafe, waiting for him when some eve teasers passed some lewd comments on her. One of them went closer and she was so scared…that she had almost been at the verge of crying. His meet was so innocent. He had come to her rescue that day but now… he was just so scared. Whatever happened to his meet…?
He closed his file and went to stand by the window, looking at the dark sky that reflected his life now.
“meet…just come back..”, he whispered.
His phone buzzed with an incoming message. He didn’t want to even check out anything about work but somehow his 6th sense urged him to at least look into it. He quickly checked the message from an unknown number and stood numb seeing the content. It was from Meet???
“am sorry maan to have hurt you this bad… But I am coming back. Just wait for me.
He read and re-read the message once, twice…thrice until he could no more. He wondered if someone was actually playing a prank on him but he had to be sure. He immediately called back to the number, checking it twice that it was from the US and indeed it was. His heart beats were running a marathon it seemed…5 months it took her to give him a call…five darn months. And if it was a prank he swore he’d kill that person.
The phone rang for a long time but no one responded. He tried again…and again , which seemed like a test of his patience, but it bore him fruits. On the third call to her, she received and a long silence stretched! Both sides, the lines remained silent as if they found solace. Even the silence seemed to make him happy that at least she received his call.
After almost like eons, his voice cut through the deafening silence, “Meet… “
His heart skipped beats hearing her muffle her cry. He was a hundred percent, no no… a two thousand percent sure that it was her on the line. Her voice it was and god, she was crying!
“meet…where are you? Bolo..kahan thi tum… you don’t know how crazily i have been looking for you! Do you know how much it killed me??”, his own voice choked with emotions. All he ever wished now was her to come back and he’d do anything to keep her safe.
“ma…maan…”, her broken voice echoed, “am sorry…am so sorry…”
“just tell me where are you…am coming to you now..”
“no don’t…”, she cut him in between, “am flying down to India tomorrow…”
He felt a wave of relief hit him, calming all his senses. But where had she been all these months?? And why the hell was she crying!!
“meet… tell me whats wrong? Kuch hua hain? Tum theek ho? And why is there no one at your home???”
“they’re with me maan… and am flying tomorrow. “
He had so many questions to ask…so many things to say but he knew this was not the right time. What mattered was she was coming back and within two days she’d be here in front of him and he would take her in his arms and hug her so tight that she’d forget everything in this world but him.
Dadima was too happy to hear meet was alright and that she was coming back. She had strictly asked him to bring her to KM when he meets her. It was the day she’d be reaching home. He called her up but then there was no reply. He had been over enthusiastic that day. She could be back anytime soon and she’d be meeting him.
Later at night, he was just unable to sleep. should he go to her place and check on her? She must be tired after a long journey right? Yeah…but he couldn’t help himself think about her. He had to make up for the past seven months!!! He called her but her phone came switched off. He just left her a message that he would see her the next day by xyz bridge near some park. He was happy after a long time that she was back!! And that place had been their…especially her favourite meeting place. It was a beautiful small bridge that connected two sides of the park over a small stream.
But things were a bit strange. It took her two days to agree and meet him. When he went to visit her at her place, her parents said she wasn’t home. He called her and then left her a message saying how hurt he was and indeed her indifference hurt. Why the hell wasn’t she showing her face??? and when he was sure she’d break her patience, her reply came and it made him all the hungrier for an answer. She was not behaving normal and there was definitely something drastically wrong.
“Maan… please forgive me for being rude. I will see you tomorrow. Just forgive me.
He re-read the text again and sighed… she seemed indifferent…like she wasn’t who she was! He had to find out and the next day was going to be his first step towards his answers.
He finished all his works quickly and checked the time. He was supposed to meet her at 5pm and at the same place he had mentioned earlier. Time for answers. He trusted her blindly and still does. And he was sure his meet was too innocent to be playing games with him. He reached the venue well in time and waited at the edge of the bridge, waiting for her.
Time ticked by and he felt restless. He checked the time third time in a row and it was just 10 minutes to his arrival.
“where are you meet?”, he called out to her mentally.
A gust of wind whooshed past him and a throng of people flocked the place. He looked around to see if meet had missed him in the crowd and his eyes stilled on one person, standing a few feet away from him, looking at him intently.
His breath stuck in his throat… was it really her? Clad in a bright yellow chudidaar and her hair let down… she looked like a bright summer flower. He had so many questions to ask but he felt over whelmed with her mere presence… she was alright.. she was safe and thats what it mattered the most now. He took a step towards her…a slow step, while his gaze fixated on her, making her flinch.
She gazed at him, a bit awkwardly, and took a step back, unsure about his reaction. Her beautiful big hazel eyes looked at him in awe and surprise as he walked closer and closer until he stood right in front of her. Time stopped!
His heart swelled with so much emotions..every question, every word was forgotten. He leaned a bit closer and pulled her into a tight hug, almost knocking the breath out of her. She stilled…with that sudden act of his and gulped down the knot in her throat, feeling the corner of her eyes burn.
He held her as tight as he could…no care in the world. The people looked on, smile and walked away but he could care less. He was seeing her after like 7 months, holding her close after eons and she felt so soft in his hands, just like a soft, delicate feather. He dipped his face into her dark locks and inhaled her scent. She smelled a bit different now… felt a bit different too. She smelled of vanilla… ummm… she looked so pretty.
He was so so happy to see her… her hair had grown long and think and a bit curly they were. It was very rare that meet let her hair down… and she just looked out of this world to him. Surely, US has done something to him.
“ohh dear…you don’t know how i survived all these months meet… am so happy that you are safe…I love you…”
She steeled herself and her fingers curled into tight fists but she never held him. She just remained still in his arms, limp and unresponsive. Maan felt that detachment… meet never did that. She always reciprocated his love… when he hugged her, she buried herself into him, letting him know how much he means to her but today, it felt all so different. He broke the hug and cupped her face, looking deep into her eyes…so beautiful they look with a thick layer of kohl adoring them… her features had turned a bit sharper and she stood right in front of him, motionless, looking at him as though she was seeing him for the first time.
“meet… jaan… kuch tho bolo! You don’t know know how much i had looked for you.. aisa koi karta hain kya? You just vanished… taking my life away! Kya hua tha? Was something wrong? You could have called me right…and…”
He just stilled seeing her so numb. Her expressions were unreadable but her eyes spoke volumes… so many emotions at one that left him confused. For the first time ever, he failed to read them but he did see a thin layer of tear in then.
“meet…”, he called out lovingly.
“this… this is wrong…”, her lips quivered. She had difficulties in speaking those words out.
“what is wrong meet? Kya keh rahi ho?”, he got worried seeing her so unsure about everything.
She gently held his hands that cupped her face and pushed them down, away from her, shocking him.
“this is not right…”, she took a step back, frantically, and looked deep into his eyes, “am sorry… am so sorry… but i have to leave!”
She turned back but he held her hand, stopping her, “don’t go…please. am sorry if I hurt you jaan…please, stay!”, he begged earnestly.
She looked up at him, biting her lips to stop her cry and twisted her hand to break free.
“i can’t…am sorry…”
The next moment she jerked his hand off and ran away, leaving him all alone in the milling crowd…shocked and unsure about what happened now!
next: maan at meet’s place