Part 16: My Strength
Today I need to send an email to Arnav. Said an excited Kushi.
Arrey yaar you just sent him one the day before no?? Cribbed Lavanya as she slumped down on the bed.
Tho? He is my friend and contact me rahna zaroori hai replied Kushi, as she switched her PC which was provided by her father in their hostel room.
Tume pata hai stared Kushi Arnav seemed sad in the last mail he sent me. I had asked him what was troubling him but wo mujhe nahi batata. Kushi said in a dejected voice
Of course nahi batata. That is cos he thinks you are me. Yani Lavanya. La said, suddenly interested in the conversation
But… Kushi was stopped
Dekho Pari, you need to tell him. What will happen if he finds out later on? He shouldn’t feel cheated no. Tum apne zid me yeh kyu nahi dekhti? Lavanya questioned, tired off all this. (Why don’t you see this in your stubbornness?)
You won’t understand this La. I know he will not talk if he comes to know it is me who is sending him mails. Promise me ki tum bhi nahi kahogi. Please. Pleaded Kushi.
You don’t need to tell me yaar. Me tho tumare liye kuch bhi karoongi. La said with a smile. But still the worry of what Arnav will do lingered in her mind
But Pari, manna padega. Guddu has such a cool name no. Arnav. Pehle tho kabhi nahi kaha tha usne. (but Pari you have to accept Guddu has such a cool name no Arnav. He never said his name before)
Ha wo tho hai. Smiled Kushi as she recollected their preliminary mails where he had been annoyed with her for calling him Guddu.
Ab tho wo 10th me hai na? How is his studying going on??
Han he is in 10th . But I think he is struggling. Pata nahi kyu? Answered Kushi just then a knock was heard and La opened the door.
Kushi Gupta? Came the voice of the warden.
Ji ma’am. Kushi asked, surprised by her visit
You have a call. It is from your house. Come quickly saying she left the room and Kushi followed wondering what was going on
The phone rang and Kushi picked it up. It was her Dai ma.
Beta how are you?? Asked Dai ma, happy to hear her voice
Teek hun Dai ma. How are you and others at home? Kushi asked as she wanted to know how her dad was. She was still angry with him but that dint mean she dint care for him.
Sab teek hai. Your dad is also doing fine. Dai ma replied knowing well of Kushi’s feelings
Tho Dai ma aapne beejh dia na? (so Dai ma you have sent it no?)
Han beta. I gave it to my son to give it personally to him.
Succhi. Oh thank you so much. You know how much Arnav loved Gajar ka halwa. Kushi said excitedly
Han han. Tum dono ko pasand tha. I know. I have sent it in the same box you used to send him food back home. (I know both of you liked it)
Thank you so much Dai ma. Squealed Kushi into the phone
Chal pagli. Mujhe thank you bolthi hai kya? Remember for me you both are my children only. Daima fondly scolded her. (you mad girl. Saying thank you to me? Remember you both are my children only)
Ji Dai ma smiled Kushi. Aap kab vapas Lucknow ja rahe ho? She asked. (when are you going back to Lucknow?)
Abhi tho ayi hun. Pata hai na me dadi banne wali hun. Issliye tho me Delhi me hun. Pata nahi fir kab Lucknow jana hoga. (I have just come here. You know I am going to be a Dadi that is why I have come to Delhi. Don’t know when it will be possible to go to Lucknow again.)
Ok Dai ma take care of yourself. Bye bye Kushi wished as it was time. The warden was already glaring at her.
Ok beta. Khayal rakhna apna. Saying Dai ma cut the call. (take care of your self)
Kushi went back to her room and saw La sleeping. It was already late. So she also switched off the PC as it was rule that no one should use computer after 9pm. It has been three months since she had arrived her and all has been well. She had mailed her Guddu for 5 times before he had replied. He had been hesitant to talk to her in the beginning. But later on he also has become free. But not fully. She could easily recognize that he was hesitant in sharing many things. She dint know how long he was going to be like this.
It was another embarrassing study time for Arnav. He dint know what to do. Sometimes he felt like running away from here. All these people expect so many things from him when he himself don’t know what he can do. He looked up at the time and it was 9pm. He signed as he sat down. He had not sent mail to Lavanya (Kushi). Today he was very tired. After his martial arts class and football coaching, he dint have much time to type anything for her. He kept his bag on the table and went in to change into his night clothes. When he came out, he saw Mami standing with a glass of milk and a sad face
Beta, don’t take Anjali wrongly. Mami started.
I am not taking Mami, but mujhe samaj nahi ata why she is so mean to me?
You’ll know beta. For now drink this milk and go to sleep. You have to get up by 4:30 tomorrow morning. She reminded with a motherly smile.
Ji Mami ji. Saying he took the glass and gulped it down. He then bid his good night to the gently lady and slept.
The next morning after his classes, he along with the family assembled in the breakfast table
All were eating when Mami bought a metal box and placed it next to Arnav’s plate
Yeh kya hai Mami? He asked. (what is this?)
Beta kal koi aya tha. He gave this to me and said your friend from back home gave it. She said. (Yesterday someone came here. He gave this to me and said your friend from back home gave it.)
As soon as Arnav looked at the box, he knew who had sent it. Lavanya. He thought as the box had the same inscription of a swan on the top. He smiled looking at it.
Dekhu tho what your friend has sent you? Saying Anjali tried to snatch it but Arnav stopped her. He dint want her to pass some rude comments. But Anjali pulled the box roughly and it slipped from his hands and fell down. The box opened and the contents of it spilled on the floor. Seeing this Arnav’s eyes filled with tears. Lavanya had so lovingly sent him Gajar ka halwa and this girl had done this. He glared with watery eyes towards her. But she looked at him with a smirk.
Kya dekh rahe ho? Go and eat it. She told him with the mocking smirk. If I remember correctly, you were a servant in that house no? Tho you can eat this from the floor like the rag you are. Anjali mocked him and Arnav felt every word hurting him.
Anjali… yelled Devayani. Yeh kya bakhwas kar rahe ho? I have warned you to behave. Why are you doing this? She yelled at her.
Nani he deserves it. wo hai he esa. Jesa bap wese beta. Anjali said but she was glaring at Arnav. (he is like that only. like father like son)
STOP IT yelled Nani. If you continue being like this, me tume hostel bejh dungi. Warned Nani
I don’t believe this. Saying Anjali walked away without having her breakfast.
Anjali beta. Called Mami as she took the plate and ran after the girl.
Nahi Mami. I’m not hungry. Feed your ladla saying she left the room
Arnav dint see or care abt what was going on. He slowly bent down and picked the box. There was small quantity of halwa left in the box. He took it by his finger and tasted it. It was delicious. The same way he and Pari liked it. Pari, the name broke his already broken heart. He busted into tears and ran to his room, not hearing the calls from behind.
It was in the evening that Kushi entered inside the hostel room. Lavanya had her dance classes and so she was alone in the room. She opened the PC to check for mails. There she saw the most awaited mail from him.
Sorry for the late mail.
I really don’t know what is wrong with me and I also understand that writing to you in such a mood is not proper but I couldn’t stop myself. You are the only friend I have now. I don’t have friends here Lavanya. No one wants to be my friend. Anjali di, being the senior has warned every one. I feel lonely. Upar se,(on top of that) every day she insults me on being a servant boy. Back home mujhe kabhi bhi nahi laga (I have never felt) that I’m a servant boy but here I feel it every day. I want to run away from here. Very far off. Mujhe bohot akelapan hota hai yaha. (I feel very lonely here)
Nani and Mama are always behind me. Nani wants me to study and Mama wants to educate me abt the high society skills. I hate it. Why can’t I be like I am? I don’t understand all this. I hate the food here. Mujhe sirf waha ka khana pasand hai. (I only like the food from there) You know last night also Anjali di mocked me on the way I read. I know I am bad at it. But I cannot help it. She keeps on making noise that disturbs me. You know what she said, she said that people who don’t know how to read should not try it at all. She teased me saying I’m a gawar(uneducated) and British people ran off knowing I’m will be born in future. All this also dint hurt me so badly like what she did today morning.
She pushed the box you sent me. Spilling its contents. I just tasted it. It was very nice. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t honor your effort and gift. I’m so sorry I am such a loser.
Kushi dint know what to feel. Should she feel happy that Arnav had at last opened up to her or should she feel bad hearing his position at his home? She understood that Arnav was feeling miserable there. And reading all this, she was getting worried for him. She just hoped and prayed that he doesn’t run off from that place. She placed her hand on the key board as she decided what she was going to write.
First let me tell you that I’m very disappointed in you. Kyu puchte ho (you asking me why?)than listen. That house is yours. Your Nani took you there cos she and the other family people needed you. They love you and you are their family. If you don’t accept it as your house, you are going to feel like a stranger always. Tho please change your thought. Then next thing abt your Anjali di is try and find out why she is like this. Till that time, stay away from her.
Now Arnav you are not a loser. Everyone faces difficulty when they try something new. You think all was easy here in the hostel for me? No it was not. I also faced so many difficulties but I will never go back home and accept defeat. You also should never think like this. You just need more practice. No one is born a genius. They become one through their experiences and hard work. You will also grow to become good in what you do. You remember the box I have sent you? It has an inscription of a swan. That swan is you. You do remember the ugly duckling story no? You are also like that. Keep on working on your reading. Then dekhna (see) one day you will shine aur sab dekhte he rahjayenge (and everyone else will be left gaping at you)
She smiled and hoped Arnav would understand what she wanted to tell him.
Arnav felt his heart swell in pride. He dint know why he felt this reading this mail. Was it Lavanya who wrote it? He had never in his life imagined Lavanya to be so matured and strong. He felt something stir in his heart. He knew what she was trying to say. He would defo try to do this. He wanted to reply with a thank you but dint as he knew that in friendship there is no sorry or thank you. It is just haq (right) which a friend has on the other. He shut down the computer and decided to sleep. There was a knock on the door and he went to see who it was. As he opened it, he found the same box filled with hot Gajar ka halwa in it. He dint know who had kept it. He looked here and there but dint find anyone. Who could it be? He wondered as he tasted it. It was very good. Different from how he liked it but this was also fine. Happily he finished it and slept with a big smile on his face.
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