The Gem

It was 1:00am and the city glowed in artificial lights. Veer, with a suitcase in his hand, stood in front of her door, hesitating to ring the bell.

Veer was amongst the youngest entrepreneurs in the city. He had an excellent turnover and was well-recognized. This 28-year-old young man had worked hard to reach here. His professional and goal oriented attitude made him seldom make any mistakes.

Failing was simply not his taste.

He finally rang the bell. Rubbing her eyes, she opened the door. But before she could react, he spoke with half-open mouth, “Jassy, I am going to live with you henceforth” and went inside.

Jassy was a beautiful lady with dark brown eyes and long silky hair who earned her living by teaching art to middle school children. She lived in a small two roomed apartment in the outskirts of Bombay. Her house contained nothing more than a couple bed, two plastic chairs, a table, a small wooden cupboard, an old refrigerator and a second-hand television. Yet she had beautifully decorated her house with paper and woollen crafts.

She wasn’t an atheist, but her home saw no pictures of God. She only lighted candles in front of the photo of her husband who had lost his life in the 26/11 terrorist attack.

Jassy was a very mature lady. She looked at this world from a completely different perspective. She was quite practical and had a good grip over her emotions. She was empathetic towards others and loved to share and help. Never did she complain about her life, nor asked for more. She believed in simple living.

Veer had met Jassy at a cultural event. Both of them were keenly interested in Indian folk dance and their common taste in food made the two from different backgrounds, best friends. Its had been a year and a half since then, and they shared a perfectly unbreakable bond. They would talk for hours on any topic under the sun- right from folk dance to politics, from business to astronomy, from art to technology, from love to death! They spoke about books, movies and music. About spirituality and family. Their talk often wandered in rains and sunsets and chocolates and cloths. Both knew almost everything about each other’s everyday life.

But some dark secrets are always left untold..

There was a time when there were continuous quarrels between Veer and his wife Kavya. That was when Veer used to spend most of his time with Jassy. Gradually they started meeting more frequently, from twice a week to almost daily. She was his only bliss in a tiring routine and he perfectly wiped away her loneliness.

Jassy stared at Veer with raised eyebrows and folded arms. He responded with a half-hearted nervous smile.

“What?” she asked.

“We got divorced.”

Jassy wasn’t surprised. Kavya was giving calls for divorce for four months now.

“Am I so bad?” Veer spoke, “I am… I am not a good husband. I couldn’t give her what she deserved. She was never happy with me.”

“Don’t talk rubbish. You were very true to her. Things sometimes happen out of our control”

“Jassy!” he choke on tears. “I am infertile. That’s the reason she left me”

“Is it? I am sorry I didn’t know.”

“Are these the things you that announce?”

“But she must have known about it before your marriage, didn’t she?”

“She did”

“Then?”

“I don’t know!”

Jassy didn’t inquire any more. She made some orange juice for him and made his bed. Veer placed his head on her lap and she sang him to sleep.

***

Veer was a very organized person who never knew failure. Never had he experienced it before, be it academics, dance, sports or his career. But the most important relationship of his life hadn’t worked. How would he not over think this?

One night Jassy found Veer sitting by the window, staring at the crescent. She stood beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder.

“Look at the moon, it’s so pretty. Just like Kavya, far and beautiful” tears escaped his eyes.
“You know Jassy?” He sat straight. “We used to jump on the bed, in the middle of the night and spill pop corns everywhere in the room. And then act like we were hungry for ages, and gulp down all the food.”
Jassy firmed the grip of his shoulder. She knew he was having a difficult time.

“Its not my mistake Jassy.” He broke down, “Its not my mistake”

Jassy spoke in a firm yet low voice. “But your story went wrong, didn’t it?”

“But its not my mistake.”

“Things go wrong; doesn’t it mean there was a mistake?”

Veer took a deep breath.

Jassy continued, “Don’t be harsh on yourself. Find the mistake and make sure you never do it again. Accept yourself, forgive yourself. The day you will do that, life will become simple. Remember you are allowed to make mistakes.”

“But you know the reason! It wasn’t in my hands. How can it be my mistake?” he said, quite confused.

“Trust me Veer, that cannot be the reason. Instead of searching whose mistake was it, search what was the mistake.”

Veer smiled, trying to understand what she had just spoken.

“Come, sleep. I’ve school tomorrow” said Jassy.

“Thank you Jassy for everything you have done for me. I’ll shift in my new house tomorrow” he smiled.

Jassy looked in his eyes for a moment, and then without uttering a word, turned towards her bed.

***

Kavya was a very cheerful girl. She loved celebrating life. Everything about her had a touch of child like innocence. She was a gynaecologist by profession. Looking at an infant as it experiences the world for the first time, gave her immense joy. Its tiny body struggling for independent existence, that first cry, those tightly shut eyes and those soft heartbeats fascinated her.

She loved how families celebrated the new birth.

She loved her job.

And she loved her husband. Oh, she was such a family girl!

About half a year ago, Veer had suffered from malaria. He had to be hospitalised. A week later when he had to go on a business trip, and Kavya was alone at home, in his locker, she found two ‘get well soon’ letters written in red ink on pink paper. Along with that were chocolate wrappers and rose petals.

In those letters, Jassy had apologised in beautiful handwriting, for not being able to make it to see him when he needed her the most. She promised to go for the next Ras Leela program with him. At some point, she also expressed her love towards him.

Those letters broke Kavya. She didn’t know how to react to them. She didn’t know how to ask Veer about them. She did not. She kept it to herself.

That cut gave rise to many other cuts from which the poison entered their relationship, eventually killing it.

And now, three months later, she still wondered where she went wrong.

***

Monsoon in Bombay is well-known everywhere. Everyday, there is a blockage in some part of the city, trains are late and roads suffer from tiny ponds on their bodies. In spite of all this, it is the most loved season.

Rains come to Bombay with an atmosphere of bliss. Those tiny water droplets showering in great number, cold hues of sky, scent of wet mud, the fresh leaves, just fried kanda bhaji and a cup of tea brings life to the season.

One such evening Veer was walking in the marketplace, when suddenly it started raining. Having forgotten his umbrella, he ran for the shed. The girl in front of him, wearing a long blue skirt, caught his attention. Her open hair were wet and water rolled down them. She had a bag in her left hand and her other hand was hand stretched out to collect the rain water.

Veer, remembering his own name, decided to listen to his heart.

“Kavya?!” he initiated the conversation.

“Hii!” she said with a mixture of excitement and nervousness in her voice.

“How are you?”

“Nice. You?”

“I am good. Hmm..Found someone?”

“Twenty three new lives” she gave a contagious smile.

After a wave of silence, Kavya spoke up. “How is Jassy?”

“She is…” Veer blankly stared at her.

“I know. I found her love letters in your drawer.”

“Those were… Wait.. Is this the reason you called for the divorce?”

Kavya nodded, forcing a smile. “Hope you guys are happy” she said.

Veer’s hand rose to touch his forehead.

Jassy was right. It was my mistake!

He dialled a number on his phone.

“Hello, Jassy, listen, we found out the mistake. Wait we are coming to your place. See you.”

***

Both of them entered Jassy’s house, wet and cold. Kavya stood in front of Jassy, surprised.

Jassy fumbled, but then gathered courage to speak up. “My daughter, Olivia, passed away when she was two. After that, somehow my uterus became incapable of baring a baby” She swallowed a lump, “My husband didn’t leave me for that.”

Veer’s eyes traced a hint of guilt.

She then held Kavya’s elbow with her wrinkled hands and gave a broad toothless smile. “If Olivia was alive, she would have been exactly like you. Kavya, you are a gem.” Her eyes shone.

All the six eyes in the room were filled with tears. Everyone cried for a different reason but each drop expressed their reuniting happiness.

Outside, it was still raining heavily. Rightly said, rains in Bombay fall directly from the heaven.

Aastha Krushne.

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