Ranjan was sitting alone on the beach. Here sand was not golden, it was white like silver. As far as one’s vision could go, only waves after waves of crystal-clear blue water. Far, far away, on the horizon, a deep orange sun was trying to submerge in this blue ocean. A pack of blustery wind was sending everything away. Ranjan’s hair was becoming wild with each blow. His white dress was also shining along with silver sand. He could not remember how long he was sitting here, but that did not bother him. This moment was such a moment that keeping a record of time became irrelevant. He wished he could live this moment for infinite. A little girl was making castles with sand very close by of Ranjan. She would be around four to five years old. Her hair was dark brownish & curly, this wild wind playing with this in full swing. Her eyes were full of life & curiosity and also had a unique colour & pupil was completely dark, but iris was deep bluish grey. Abruptly, she giggled. It sounded like someone just played a jal-tarnag in a swift hand. suddenly from back she came and cuddled Ranjan and said,
“I love you, papa.”
Ranjan smiled and held her small palm into his hand and said,
“I love you too.”
“Papa, never leave me alone.”
“I never will.”
All of a sudden, a gigantic wave came and just broke over them. It was an enormous flow of ocean water. Because of the force of water, Ranjan and that girl got separated completely. When water flowed back to ocean, Ranjan was madly searching for that girl but not able to find anywhere; entire beach was vacant & no one was there. It suddenly startled Ranjan by looking at his dress, entire dress was full of small red palm print made by blood stain. Sun finally set into the ocean and entire blue ocean turned into red like a pool of blood. A faint sound of a girl was slowly coming to his ears like it was coming from too far.
Ranjan slowly opens his eyes. It is already late afternoon. Shreya is calling him for his evening tea. Ranjan looks straight to the eyes of Shreya, same dark pupil and deep bluish grey iris she possesses. Ranjan smiles and takes the teacup. Shreya asks politely,
“Baba, do you need anything?”
“Nothing Shreya. Thanks for this lovely tea.”
Shreya smiles and leaves. Ranjan is resting on his easy chair and watching that Shreya leaving; but actually, he lost in his own thoughts. This same dream he is experiencing for last thirty years. He could not able to save his daughter. Until he had returned from Delhi trip, all was over. Nirmala had already aborted that baby. He was in such a shock and furious that day that no one could able to face him. He was feeling like he lost everything. Last, Damayanti finally took charge and made him calm down. From that day on, it changed his relationship with Nirmala. From a true loving couple, they became a decorative husband wife. Beneath that decoration, an abyss of emptiness exists for ever.
Ranjan never saw his daughter, but since that day he kept on meeting her in same dream years after years in regular interval. So, when he saw Shreya first time in hospital, it shook him inside. How she has the same eyes as the girl in his dream. He puts lots of thought over it, but nothing concludes, apart from a pure coincidence.
After giving tea to Ranjan, Shreya is returning to her room. Becoming a mother elated her nowadays. She never thought of that being a mother is such an awful lovely feeling that all other feelings just fade away. A life just living inside her, not only a part of her body, also a part of her soul. Her very own personal possession.
She is still not clear why Rajat asks not to share this good news with her family; she thinks maybe he wants to inform them. Shreya smiles in her mind. She already makes one decision Rajat doesn’t know. She decides two names for the bay. If it is a boy, then it should be Aansh & if it is a girl, then Anisha. She is eagerly waiting for Rajat to come home.
Rajat is on the way to his home, his face is calm but internally he is having a huge conflict. How he can say all these things to Shreya but at the same time he must do before anybody does. It is such a pain that can’t express. It is burning him from inside. In that irritation he has decided to tell Shreya everything this evening only. He presses the accelerator of the car; Rajat wants to be at home as soon as possible. He needs to remove this burning sensation as early as possible.
It is almost six past quarter, eastern part of India at this period of year has complete darkness all over. Street’s lights are already on. Noise of vehicles from nearby roads is still coming, but not so loud. Shreya is walking slowly in open terrace. Cold has not come yet, it will come after Diwali only, but a slight chill feeling already in air. Shreya is actually enjoying this weather and the surrounding environment. There is a sound of footsteps on the stairs. Shreya looks curious, it is Rajat. Shreya smiles at him and then says,
“Oh, it is you. So, finally the latest updated software back to his old hardware.” After saying that, she breaks into loud laughter.
Rajat smiles at her back, but that smile does not have the touch of soul.
“Hope your day was great.”
She does not wait for Rajat’s reply; she continues again,
“You know, I want to tell you something for long. Thought today I should tell you the same.”
“I also want to tell you something today.”
Shreya smiles and says,
“Then let’s start with you only.”
Rajat Knows his topic will end all future discussion and Shreya will not share her thoughts after that, so he says,
“No darling, let me hear your thoughts first.”
Shreya gladly agrees and says,
“You know, I have so many plans for the upcoming child, like what will be their dresses, where to stay, what are the things we need to buy beforehand etc, but you know I have decided names too.”
“So, what are they?” Rajat says faintly.
Shreya smiles and says,
“If it is boy then Aansh & if it is girl then Anisha. Do you like the names? By the way, have you thought of something?”
Rajat slowly moving towards the edge of the roof terrace and grips the railing. He can’t look at Shreya at this moment. He knows he cannot say all these things to her if he looks at her innocent, happy eyes. So, he stares at the lighted skyline and says,
“Shreya, whatever things I am going to say now, I should have been told to you even much before you came to this house as my wife. I was afraid & didn’t want to lose you either then or now. It made me scared. Maybe after listening to these things, you may leave me forever. I admit I did wrong being a selfish, I did injustice to you. I make things more difficult for you.”
“What is this all about?” Shreya asks casually.
Rajat tells her about their century old customs in childbirth and their history so far. How their family keeps the rights of serving Kul Devta generation after generation. He tells everything about it.
“we can only have boy child in our family to keep moving forward our royal bloodline.”
After finishing his last statement. Rajat feels relief. His prolonged anxiety finally gone. But that is for a single moment. The next moment a cold sensation flows through his spine, which nothing but a fear. He is just thinking about how Shreya will react now.
Rajat slowly turns to Shreya, and it’s perplexed him.
Shreya was smiling happily. She manages her hair from chilly wind and the says,
“You know, Mr. Raychaudhuri, you are really too good. I was almost going to believe this joke. Your style of telling this joke quite convincing. But you know at the end I am sure you can’t even think of such kind of nonsense for our own child. But I have one request please don’t make such jokes for our child. Please.”
After saying that, Shreya walks towards stairs to go to her room. Rajat not able to understand what he should do. He calls out her name,
She turns her head and looks at Rajat, she finally able to see the pain in Rajat’s Eyes. The realisation of truth stunned her; Shreya tells in her mind,
“Then it is true, but how such a thing exists in this current time. How they can obey such nonsense customs till now! They all are well educated, and education always help human to choose between right and wrong. Then how they still believe this kind of ritual is a sacred one.”
Her chain of thoughts breaks by an icy touch over her hand. She suddenly realises that she is standing like a lifeless statue in the middle of the terrace and Rajat just holds her hand. She looks straight into Rajat’s eyes and says,
“This is totally absurd. I cannot believe this kind of utopian logic of rituals that you all are following for generation after generation. Second, How could you accept these things for our own child. Can’t you protest about it?”
Rajat says hurriedly,
“Shreya, it’s not yet decided that we have to go through this - it can be a boy too, then all things will be over. We will be a big happy family only.” Rajat tries to comfort her.
“But Rajat, it is not sex determination illegal now? How can you say that we determine that it’s a boy or girl right now?”
Rajat smiles sarcastically and says,
“In India you need to have either power or money to mould or break any law as per your wish.”
Shreya comes closure to Rajat, puts her fingers across his fingers and holds his hand and then says passionately,
“If it is a girl, Rajat, will you not stand with me to fight against this meaningless custom? Can’t we fight for our own child?”
Rajat says nothing. He just lowers his eyes & looks at the ground.
Shreya gets her answer. Slowly, she removes her hand from Rajat’s hold.
After that discussion, almost seven days are passed. In between first ultra-sonography had been made as per Nirmala’s instruction. Shreya had no choice apart from going with Nirmala for test to the clinic. As Rajat said, money and power can do anything. They showed their true colours there and before leaving clinic they both knew that it is a girl. Nirmala did not utter a single word during the entire journey. After returning to home, Rajat & Shreya are not talking much to each other. Shreya not in a mood to talk and Rajat is running away to face her. Shreya is under very high stress; she can’t absorb the same even after seven days. She is in some sort of mental coma. How a civilised aristocrat family can follow such a butchery custom! She is standing alone on the balcony. Few droplets of tears rolled over without her knowledge. It is also not in her knowledge that Ranjan is watching her for quite some time from far.
Ranjan understands what is going inside here. He little hesitates but then clear his throat and says,
“Shreya, are you busy now? Can you come to my study for a second?”
Shreya wipes her eyes and answers.
“Yes baba, I am coming within five minutes.”
Ranjan is just walking around in his study room. He is looking for a way to comfort Shreya. Ranjan doesn’t know what kind of speech can actually motivate a mother to kill her own child. He is so helpless that can’t find any word to start the conversation. Shreya will come any moment that makes him restless inside, so he walks around the room.
Shreya comes and says,
“Yes, baba, you are looking for me.”
“Yes Shreya, can you please sit here, I need to discuss something.”
Shreya goes straight and sits on the vacant chair of the study table. Ranjan also pulls his chair and places face to face.
“Shreya, I am making it straight I know it is a shocking information for you but just don’t break down. Please.”
Shreya does not reply to anything, she sits silently as a stone sculpture. Ranjan Continues,
“You know Shreya, since our ancient time of evaluation all species have been experienced one thing common. Within male & female who ever has superior physical strength, they dominate their counterpart. In the world of Hyena, Killer whale or Elephant where nature makes female is the stronger species, there they set the rules. In case of human male has taken an advantage, so that they design our entire society as per their convenience and make it in such a way that their beneficial position remains for ever. So, as a woman in every step of life, you need to work more, walk more, fight more & scream more to get same thing which a male can get with no extra effort. May be most of the men will deny upfront that they actually scare of a woman because of her immense potential, as a result they try to restrict them from right to education to entering a temple.”
Ranjan’s excitement is overflowing in his body language. The rage, which he has locked in his heart for so long, seems it finds a way out. Ranjan continues with the flow,
“Most wise thing in this world is nature. The paradox of male–Nature is always called a mother. They never get the audacity to call her in an unfamiliar name in any civilisation. That wise old mother nature always chooses a female to be a productive species, all across. Why? Why not a male has been privileged to be a part of creating life, the most amazing mystery which is not solved yet? I have my theory, Shreya, that mother nature knows that creating life and carrying it for so many days with your own body and tolerate that intolerable pain during the birth need lots of core energy, patience and genuine affection. Male neither have it nor earn it. Male knows that the secret source of power, which runs the entire circle of life, is always the female. That’s why god has been a woman since the beginning of time till the starting of civilisation. In civilised time, we, all men change the history and created the illusion, that male has all the superpowers.”
Talking so aggressively for quite long, Ranjan gets exhausted. He puts some water in the glass and then gulps it in one shot. He looks closely at Shreya; she is still sitting like a lifeless model. Ranjan is not sure that Shreya listens to his words or not. He comes closer to Shreya and puts his hand over Shreya’s shoulder and says,
“Shreya, are you ok maa?”
Shreya can’t hold it anymore. A genuine touch of affection melts her completely. She breaks into a loud cry. All pains are now converting into salty water and flows through restlessly. Ranjan knows he needs to wait till the time these tears flow out of her.
After some time, Shreya able to calm down and she eventually makes herself composed. Ranjan is quietly waiting till then. Once he is sure that right time has come, he says,
“Shreya, I do not call you here to listen to a theoretical lecture of mine. I just want to say you are not alone here. I am with you. We will find out a solution to get this baby girl in this mortal world.”
Shreya just looks at him with hope and then says,
“How it can be possible, baba? You know maa never let that happen, and Rajat does not have enough courage to stand against her or this family tradition. I am not seeing any hope. I am dying inside every second for this helpless situation.”
“You don’t worry about all this. Let me work out something on it. You need to take care of your health and be cheerful. These two things are very important for the upcoming baby girl. So, don’t neglect all these. Leave the rest part on me.”
After a very long time, Shreya smiles properly. It can resemble with a ray of sunshine breaks through a dark cloud. Shreya finally relaxed. She leaves the room, but suddenly she stops and returns to Ranjan. She touches his feet and seeks a blessing from him. Then Shreya says,
“I always have that doubt in my mind, but today I am confirmed.”
“What?” Ranjan asks in a surprising tone.
“You were definitely my father in my previous life.”
Shreya leaves the room after saying the same. Ranjan’s hands are still trembling. How could she find it out? He never shares with anybody about his dream. Does the connection of love exist even next life? Ranjan does not know, and he does not want to. He has a bigger challenge in hand. To comfort & bring back Shreya into normal life temporarily he commits he will make things happen. But he knows he cannot, it is next to impossible, get that girl safely. He is feeling guilt inside for cheating on Shreya, but he has to. He can’t see Shreya in that fashion anymore. Ranjan gets up from the chair and stands near the window.
Outside, it is late afternoon in early October. A blue sky with full of bright sunshine & white clouds are floating like a cotton wool. Nobody notices that from a distance angle a big dark cloud slowly approaching. A deadly storm on his way.