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Day: 26th January, 2007.

Place: Somewhere in Ballia, popular as “Bagi Ballia”
I still remember that day like it had happened yesterday. I had passed my 11th class and was about to start coaching classes for 12th level from August 15th, 2007.

So 15th August, Independence Day, was my first day in KDS classes. We were three friends--Ambar (Me), Rajvijay, and Animesh.

Flashback

ME: First day achha tha na ?
Animesh: haa be mast tha.
Me: Yaar hum chaaro se coaching kaise chalegi?
Raj: Kyon nahi chalegi ?
Animesh: Haa suna hai 2 log milkar ghar bana lete hain :D(Laughing)
Me: Oye filmy chal  bahar aa
Raj: Question is, who will teach us physics ?
Me: Yeah. I am also worried.
Animesh: Yaar lagta hai physics mystery ban ke reh jayegi.
ME: Don’t worry Guys! Everything will be alright…chill maro ! ! !

Next day at the coaching center

Raj- There is something fishy.

Me- Fishy?

Animesh-Fishy?

(Note- Raj is a very good observer in some cases)

Me-I didn’t get you.

Animesh-No-No. Raj, I am getting you. Koi apsara hai na samne wale building me.
Me-OMG! That is fishy?

Raj-Oh Yeah!

Then, suddenly teacher arrived and asked furiously, “What are you trying to see Guys?”
We three shouted together—Sir, there is a snake!
Teacher jumped on his feet and  asked in a low voice, “Where it is?”
We shouted together again, “Sir, Snake has probably crawled out.  

Teacher calmed down but couldn’t dare to stay in the classroom. He left immediately saying he’d take class tomorrow.
Again, we shouted together “Thank you, Sir”.

That’s what we wanted. A break from the lecture.

We ran and reached the roof of the building.  We were dying to see that “Fishy Apsara”.  Unfortunately, she had left  her terrace by then. We were sad not because we missed “Fishy Apsara”, but because it was very tough  for us to wait for next 24 hours to see her again in the terrace.

There was no other way. We waited almost 30 minutes on the roof of the coaching center. We left the coaching center with many questions storming our minds when she did not turn up.

I extracted important information about her from my sources. She used to go to a particular shop daily to buy milk in the morning. And, then, next day, we reached early to see her going to the shop. We sat together and waited. Everyone was trying to pretend that they hardly care about her. But the fact was that they cared for her more than each other.

I felt years passing through my eyes while waiting for her before I spotted her walking down a narrow street.  We were hardly able to see her face. But we got an idea of her figure.

An average height, silky short hairs. She was walking down the street as if she does not care about any creature in the world. We could not see her clearly.  We waited for another chance. We were all dreaming. That day, we three did not talk to each other like we used to. We were silent most of the time.

After leaving the coaching center, when we were walking down the street, we spotted her coming towards us riding a bicycle.

The sun was shining above our heads at an angle of 60 degrees approximately.  And its rays were directly reflecting on her face. Right then, I saw a rainbow on her face without any rain.

Her cheeks appeared red, yellow and, often, white at different angles. I was almost dead. My friends were holding me. And when she disappeared, i regained my consciousness slowly.

I said, “abe chodo saalo pakde kyon ho”.

They said together, “KUTTE-Kamine, blaah blaah”  and continued, “ “abe apne type ki nahi hai”.

“Angoor tum logo ke liye khatte hain mere liye nahi”, I replied.

It was the love at first sight. I was in love with a girl to whom I had seen only once in my life. By the way, I am an optimistic. So, I decided to take a step further.  I now wanted to talk to her.

I activated all my resources to extract more information about her. And within 24 hours, I had enough information about her and family. 

Though, the best news was that her best friend was cousin of my best friend. I asked my best friend Sunny, “Hey! Tell me something about Vanshika.”  Yes. Her name was Vanshika.

“Why dude?” he asked surprisingly.

“ I just want to know about her” I replied.
“Okay. Well, she is in 11th and she studies in Holy Cross……”
“Oh! I know that. Tell me about her nature. About her voice and how is she in studies?”

“Bhai kya hua? Everything is okay, na?” he was totally shocked.
I said, “No. I am in love with her.”
He laughed like a monster!!!  ha ha ha ha ha 
“Beta tu to gya”

Meanwhile, her cousin sister came and said, “Hi bhaiya.”
“Hey Tani, you  call him Bhaiya. Then what will your best friend…”

 “Vanshika,” Sunny was interrupted by Tani.  

 “Yeah.What will she call him?” he pointed me.
Mujhe bahut gussa aa rha tha
“Bhaiya”, she said.
“No.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because Ambar is in love with her.”My name is Ambar!
She was shocked.
We were in silent mode for next 2 minutes. Then she broke the silence by saying, “but Abhi koi fayda nahi. kyonki wo chuttiyo me lucknow ja rahi hai. 2-3 months baad aayegi”

“When is she leaving?” I asked.
“Today in the evening from “Utsarg Express”

Though I was sad, I planned something really quick in my mind to see my rainbow again.

I knew the departure time of Utsarg Express and I, somehow, felt that she might have a reservation in AC 3-tier. I was right. I used to see her constantly, without batting an eyelid, from a distance of about 10-15 meters always, but she never noticed me. Not even today when I was looking at her from a point blank range.

She was gone

But not from my life. Just from the city. And for a short while.

We all three returned.  We were worried about final exams. We studied hard. My friends secured 90+ and me, just, 78%.

My friends felt bad for me.

But, my father said, “3 hours of an academic test can’t judge you my son. You are my hero. Tum IIT-JEE me appear ho paoge na?”

 “Only 60% is criteria,” I replied.

“You secured extra 18%. Well done my son”

I was happy for his blind faith in me. Though, at the same time, i was worried a little because, for the first time, I had this feeling of a huge responsibility on my shoulders. At any cost, I had to crack JEE to prevent my father’s belief from breaking. 

We shifted to Kakadev in Kanpur.  We took the best coaching classes from Ashishand Anurag for Maths, Anish for physics, and Pankaj agrawal for chemistry.

We had been studying like we were getting ready for a War against Pakistan. For the first time, we were away from our parents. We missed them a lot. But I was missing someone else too.

After joining coaching for IIT-JEE in July 2007, I was desperately looking for a vacation back home with my family. I got that opportunity in Diwali. I don’t remember exactly, but I reached my home town on 6th or, may be, 7th November.  I was happy because I received extra love and respect than I ever deserved in my life. May be, because, I had been living away from my home for the first time to live up to my parents’ dreams.

“Double ho gye ho babu”, My mom said.

After some time, my father too had arrived home. I touched his feet and talked for hours.

In the evening, I eagerly wanted to see her.  I wore a brand new white shirt with a pair of blue jeans.  I stepped out to see my friend Sunny at his shop. 

“Kaise ho bhai”, he asked when he saw me coming.

“Mast yaar. aajkal kahan hai wo?”

“Kyon naam lega to badnaam ho jayegi ?”

“Yeah,” I smiled. 

“She is in ballia yaar.” I was happy to hear that.

“How can we see her?”

He said from the roof of the Amit’s house.  Amit is our mutual friend. We reached Amit’s house. Unfortunately, he was not home. He had gone to the market nearby. His mom though allowed us to wait for him on the roof top. We reached the roof top. Though, we could not see clearly.

 “Yaar yaha se chehra nahi dikhega sahi se” I said.
“Haan yaar chalo kal ayenge.”
 “Kal dikhne lagega?”
“Abe telescope layenge.”

But I wanted to see her  right then.

We went to the coaching center. No one was there. There was a newly opened shop. Just in front of me was her home. Suddenly, she stepped out of her home to buy something from the shop.

She looked at me like she knew I used to follow her. She said hello to Sunny, because he is the cousin of her best friend Tani.

I was burning with jealousy.  Before entering her home, she turned around and gave me a gentle smile. I was shocked. Had she noticed me before? I can’t explain how it felt. I kept thinking about her smile. It became a greater mystery than Mona Lisa.

 My genius friend Sunny said, “It seems that she knew about your feelings.”,
“How?”

 “Tani.”

“Oh!” 
I had a positive response. I decided to propose to her.

Next day in the morning, I went to the bus-stand. I was waiting for her. 

After some time, I saw Vanishka coming towards me riding a bicycle.

“Vanshika, please stop”, I shouted.

She saw me yelling, applied brakes too, but, suddenly, changed her decision and rode away. She didn’t stop. She parked her bicycle in the stands and stepped inside. I returned.

It was her day off the other day from coaching classes due to Diwali. And I had to return to Kanpur day after tomorrow. Obviously, I did not have time to see her again. But I promised myself to return on Holi to propose to her.

Next day, I had almost left for Kanpur when suddenly the speeding bus, after hardly 100 meters, came to a sudden halt. The angry passengers shouted at the bus driver, who, in his defense, said, “Bus steering is failed.”

I called up my mom immediately and explained what had happened.

“Abhi fail hua to baad me bhi ho sakta hai jab bus ki speed bahut jyada ho” she was scared. I de-boarded the bus. My friends, who were still at the bus station, looked happy after seeing me de-boarding the bus, and sang the most famous slogan of Bagi Ballia —Bole-bole bhrigu baba ki jay!

We returned home that day, thinking it was planned by God. Was there any reason behind what had happened today? Was it all a circle of life?

So it was her day off next day. And my father made a reservation for me its next day at 8 am, but her coaching schedule was from 6 to 9.

Next day, I had a last chance to propose to her.  I was again at the bus stand. I saw her coming towards me again riding the bicycle.

 “Vanshika please stop,” I shouted.

She didn’t stop. I kicked my bike and followed her, slowed down bike’s speed to ride at her speed.

“Bhoot hoon main tumhe kha jaunga? Why don’t you stop yaar?” I asked.
She just smiled. 

“Abhi to main jar ha hoon but I will come again in Holi, ” I said and accelerated away.

I wrote a letter to her that night.

Tum mujhse jitna door ja rahi ho,
main tumhare utna karib aa rha hu
abhi to main ja rha hoon but main laut ke aaunga
intezaar karna…

Always your’s
Ambar
9305810568

I wrote my cell number first, but, removed it later, to avoid her parents calling me instead.

I made 3 copies of the letter and put them in her cycle. One under the seat, one on the carrier, and one in the brakes.  I had a locket that I tied to the bicycle’s lock as a gift J.

I boarded the train at 08:00 AM in the morning.  I had no idea about what was going to happen. Though, I was mentally prepared for it. Suddenly, my phone rang. It flashed the number of Animesh’s uncle PCO.  May be, he had called to know where I am. I thought.

I received the call.

“Hello bhaiya,” the girl on the other said.

OMG! Who the hell she is? I was shocked.

“ Ye kya kiye hain aap?”

I disconnected the phone immediately. I felt so sorry for her. Bhaiya and I everything began to haunt me.  I was broke. 

I called after 30 minutes to speak to Animesh’s Uncle.  He started hurling abuses on me as soon as he picked up the call.  “Cool down uncle” I said.

“I have the letter you gave to that girl. Why did you do that to her?” he shouted.

“Because I loved her,” I replied.

“She was crying when Sunny’s cousin called you.”

I disconnected the phone. I was both happy and sad. Happy because she did not call me Bhaiya and Sad because she was crying. But my friend Rajvijay had once said, “ladkiyaan khushi aur gam dono me roti hain.”

I arrived in Kanpur next day at 2 am. And the following day, while I was going to attend my chemistry classes, my cell phone began to ring endlessly.

“Hello,” I said. It was a voice of a girl on the other side.

 “Hi, Vanshika. How are you?” I said not realizing that it could have been somebody else.
“I am not Vanshika.“,
“No. I know you are.” I said. “Gussa to nahi hui na maine jo kal kiya? I am sorry for that.”
“It’s okay, “She said. She said she would call me tomorrow and disconnected the phone.

That was the most beautiful day of my life. I could recall its every moment, and, still, be fascinated with its charm and innocence.
The sun shone bright, cold air blew over my face, pounded my heart, and dreams came to reality.

I had fallen in love with her.

Next day, she called again. We talked for only five minutes.  We didn’t have much to talk. I was clung to her voice throughout the coversation.

I  could feel her innocence. She was a girl with a heart of a child.  I was falling in love with her every day, more and more, and, even, more.  As we started talking more frequently, I was running out of topics to keep her talking to me. So, at nights, I would makes notes of topics, I could bring in the conversation.

Our bond was growing firm.

2 months had passed. 

One fateful day, I demanded something from her as a gift.

“What do you want?” she asked curiously.
“I love you and I want your reply if you love me too.”
She refused to answer but, upon insisting, she replied in my favor.

I arrived in Ballia again on 8th January. Ballia was looking more beautiful with time. And after spending time with my family, I called Vanshika to inform her that I was in Ballia. She was surprised.

I took a bike and rode to her home. I was seeing her for the first time after our relationship had started.  That evening, we talked about our hobbies, goals, and, obviously, future.

She brought me a gift that still adds to the beauty of my drawing room in Ballia.

We met almost daily.  We, in a few days, had developed a great bonding.  I could now talk at lengths without making notes of the topics the previous nights.

Before leaving, on the last day, I told her about my father’s belief on me.

“Your father is great and you must never break his faith and mine. “

After a long pause, she said again, as if to test me, “Its 15th January today and, hopefully, your exams will be held on 13th April.” 

“Yes.”

“Okay then. To meet me again, you will have to fulfill my one condition.”
“What ?”
“You will have to clear JEE.”
Is it fair? What if I can’t clear JEE? I thought silently. She looked at me for an answer.
“Okay,” I made a stupid face.
“I want to see confidence on your face.”
“Yes. We will surely meet.”
Her eyes were gleaming when she planted a quick kiss on my cheek.
I was on top of the world.

I returned to Kanpur the following day. Since that kiss, I was dreaming a beautiful world with open eyes, but the thought of JEE was coming back to haunt me at the end every night.

I decided to work harder.  She would call and encourage me daily. Despite a very tough competition, I managed to stay among the top-5 students at the coaching center.

Just, exactly when one month was left for JEE exams, she called me from a PCO somewhere in Ballia.

“Hello.”

“Give me your address.”

“Why? Ghar se bhag rahi ho kya?”
“Dimag mat kharab kijiye. Just give me your address.”

“Okay,” she disconnected the phone. I wanted to say something. But all I could hear was the dial tone.

She called me again next day. She had sent me something.  I love surprises.

Her courier arrived after two days. I opened the package. There was a bunch of my favorite pens and refills. I had no clue about how she knew that it was my favorite pen? There was a note too that read: “Use these pens for our dreams and your goal.”

After that day, I only used her pens. I had forgotten everything.  I was only imagining two things: My father’s belief and Vanishka’s dreams.

Finally, the date arrived. She had called early to wish me luck. I was not carrying my phone. I kept her blessed pens. I reached the center and took my seat. I began my paper. While attempting the 4th problem, I broke the nib of my pen. 

I couldn’t attempt that question as the time was running out. It happened again while I was attempting the last question I was not sure of.

I had left five questions by the time I was done with the exam.

I did well enough and was satisfied with my performance. I cross checked all the solutions at the hostel. My score was among top 5 scores. Everyone congratulated me.

At room, I checked my phone. I had missed calls from my friends, parents, and, of course, Vanshika.
I called her back. She didn’t answer. After sometime, I got a call on my phone. “Hello.”
“How was the paper?”
“Awesome.”

She screamed with joy and disconnected the phone.

Days passed on. I started preparing for AIEEE.  I performed will in it as well.

30th May

The Judgement Day finally happened. The results were out.

I asked my landlord’s daughter to check the results on her laptop. But, I wanted to see it alone.

Vanishka, my parents, and my friends were calling me endlessly. I didn’t pick up their calls for the fear of being flooded with questions I couldn’t have answered—ever.

I wanted to confirm that I was selected.

Time was passing by faster. I switched on the laptop but, due to tiring internet speed, couldn’t open the website.

I shut down the system and stepped outside to a cyber café nearby. Suddenly, my friends arrived in a sad mood.

“Bhai hum logon ka nahi hua.”

“Oh my god,” I was surprised too.  “What about me?”

“We don’t have your roll number.”

They left immediately to buy Daroo.

I ran to the cyber café. It was crowded like hell.

“Sir please check my result first,” I requested the café owner.

He looked at me and asked for my roll number. I told him and, suddenly, slipped into thoughts of my father and Vanishka.

He asked again loudly. I told him again. He hit the enter key on the keyboard. I was breathless. Heartbeat pounding.

Requested page cannot be found. A message appeared on the desktop. I was frozen.

“Nahi hua.”

“What! Have you entered the correct roll number?”

“Let me check.” After a quick gaze, he said, “Roll number is not right.”

I entered again. This time, I checked it twice. I hit the Enter.

The result was displayed.

I ranked 112th out of thousands of aspirants.   I screamed with joy.

I called up my parents.

“Ha beta.”

 “Ho gaya pita ji.”

“I knew it beta.”

 “Congrats,” said my mom. “You have added 10 more years in our lives. Ab ghar chale aao.”

“Pita ji can I call you later?” I was about to cry.

“Okay beta”

The phone was disconnected. But my phone rang again. It was Vanshika.

 “I have done it.”

 “Thank you.”
After a long pause, she said, “Go and enjoy your success.”
“Okay.”

Later that day, I reached my flat, where my friends were already sleeping after getting drunk. I was feeling sad for them. But I was happy for myself, especially, because I was returning.

Next day in Ballia, a crowd of my friends, relatives, and, to my surprise, even journalists, welcomed me. Though, a girl, holding balloons some meters away, caught my attention.

I walked up to her. She stopped me midway. I waved my hands at her and then she ran away. I smiled and left.
There was a party organized by my father in the evening. I wanted her to come.
But how on earth was it possible?

I sought help from Tani.
She brought her home along her and managed to position her right by my side while I cut the cake.

She was there. Close to me. I held her hands, which she tried to cover under her Dupatta.  And noboy saw it.

Everyone was enjoying the party. I shared a secret of success with everyone. Success is just what you dream you can achieve.

Meanwhile, suddenly, my father called me to make an announcement. As I was approaching him, he announced slowly, addressing me to the public, “I have fixed my son marriage with my best friend’s daughter.” I couldn’t hear to what he said later. All I could see was her face and hear the clamor of the guests, cheering for me and, of course, now, for my marriage with Anjali.

I controlled myself and later explained Vanishka about it all. I assured her that everything will be all right one day.

Days passed on. We met whenever we had time. After her 12th boards, she also prepared for JEE. Though, she did not taste the success. She got MLNR through AIEEE and I took admission in IIT Kanpur in EC department.

I had just completed B.Tech and she was a final year student.

One day, a bad news came. Her father found a perfect guy for her and started insisting her to get married with that guy. She tried everything to refuse but to no avail. Then, finally, as there was no other option left, she told her parents about us.

Surprisingly, her parents agreed and invited me to meet them home.

“Have a seat,” Vanishka said as I stepped in to the drawing area.

“You are a Singh and we are Brahmins. Do you think it will work out?” her father bombarded me with poignant questions.
“Yes. We love each other. We understand each other and, definitely, we will be happy together.”
”You both will be happy together. What about the society?”

“I don’t care.”

“But I do.”

“So?”

“So, there is no way.”

“There must be a way.”
“What’s the name of your village?”

 “Sikandar Pur.”
“What?”

 “Sikandar Pur?”

“Yes.”
Vanshika and her father looked at each in sheer dismay.

“What is your father’s name?” asked her father.

 “Pradeep. Singh.”
“Son of Pradeep Singh?”
“Yes.”
“Do you really think that he will agree for this relationship?”

“I don’t know.”
“Wait, I am calling him here.”

“No uncle. Not now.” He refused.

My father arrived at Vanishka’s home only to discover that his faith was crashed to tiny pieces. My father did not even know that I was in Ballia.

 “You have broken my belief,” he said with moisture in eyes.

“Uncle please. Listen to me carefully. It’s not his fault. He was here because I asked him to.” She was lying.

She was now talking to both her father and mine. “When we were kids no society played any role in our lives. We came close due to a divine force within us. We shared everything, faced all hard times. We can feel our silence. We can die for each other. So, if you think you can find a guy better than him for me then I will wait.”

I stood speechless, helpless like an animal tied to a pole. But I wasn’t the only one speechless in the dining area. There were other big animals too. I mean her father—not mine.

After a long silence, my father said to her father, “Tiwari Ji. Your decision will be mine. I just want to see both of them happy.” And he left.

“Ambar, I believe that you two will be happy together. But I have worked hard all my life to be what I’m today. This society has given me everything I had always wanted. I can’t explain what aftermath you may conjure upon yourself, and my daughter, if you dare to go against this holy society. But if, still, you think I am wrong then Beta agar Bhaag ke karna chahte ho to kar lo. But my soul will never allow. I am not forcing you Vanshika. If you want to go with him, you can go. I will not stop you. In fact, I will not do anything. But if you care for us, your parents, then will you have to leave him now. And promise that you won’t see him again. “

I was listening to him, without a single effort to judge him. May be he was right. Or, may be, he was wrong.  But he loved Vanishka just like I did.

“Do you allow me to speak to Vanshika alone, Uncle?” I requested. He granted the permission. He trudged out as he looked at Vanishka once again as if to plead that she must not go.

The room was now empty. We two looked into each other’s eyes, tears dripping down the faces, she stepped closer. 

I was silent. And in my silence, I was thinking if an incomplete love is the only true love one can truly have.

We were crying. She wiped her face and broke the shoddy silence.

“Will you survive without me?”
“No,” I replied.
“But you must survive—for me.”

“ I will miss you.”

“Let’s exchange our diaries.  You will read it every time you will miss me. And so will I.” 
“Are you sure about it?”
“Yes”
I took a long breath to feel her fragrance, and, may be, to keep it safe within me forever.

I stood up to leave.

“Just five minutes,” she requested. May be for the last time.

“No,” I refused.
“Why?” she asked.
“Because I think this is right.”
I began to walk out of the door, when she came rushing for me, hugged me tight from behind, like a lost kid in the crowd, who has caught a glimpse of someone he or she knows.

“You don’t have just 5 minutes more for me?” she asked again.
“No.”

She cried until I left the main gate from where I couldn’t hear crying. Her father stood there like he already knew I would stop for a while for an explanation.

“Mujhe maaf kar dena,” he said.

I touched his feet and said “Please take care of her she is very innocent and very special for me.”

I began to walk again. I did not look back. May be, I didn’t want to.

You must be wondering that why I could not stay there for more five minutes. It was a matter of just five minutes. This guy is cruel!  Was I? I don’t know.

But all I know is I did not stop. Because I knew she wanted to hear me say no. She wanted me to not obey her decision.

After one year, neither me nor Vanshika ever tried to contact each other. But she lives in my mind every day. Aisa lagta hain jaise kal hi ki baat ho. Aur sab theek ho jayega.

Kisi bhi unknown number se call aata hai to dil ki dhadkane badh jati hain.

Aaj bhi kabhi kisi ladki ko cycle pe dekhta hu to sochta hu ki!!
Kaash wo steering fail hi na hua hota,
Kaash ki maine usko propose hi nahi kiya hota,

Kaash ki mujhe usse pyar hi nahi hua hota.

Kaash main use kisi aur ke sath dekh loon.

Kaash ki wo shaadi kar le.

Kaash ki ye zindagi hi na rahe.

Kaash ki main hi na rahoon.

Kaash ki ye kaash na hota.

Kash ki hum sath hote.

Kaash ki ye wo padh pati aur batati ki kya-kya baki reh gya hai.

Kaash ki wo mujhse baat karle.

KAASH KI MAIN USE BATA SAKOON KI EK SAAL KAISE BEETA.

Kaash ki main use gale se laga sakoon.

Kaash ki wo samajh pati ki ek dusre ke bagair hum adhoore hain.

Kaash! Kaash! Kaash!

 

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