The Vengeance 2020

The Vengeance 2020

by Rajesh Sheth


Starbucks cafe was teeming with busy souls. She was sitting in there at a corner table. A blue silk scarf was covering a blood stained knife that lay next to her velvet purse. The two tailed mermaid Siren must be jealous of her. Luring and attractive blond babe, Kat had been waiting at the farthest bentwood table near the half open broken window keeping her snooping eyes stared constantly for last 90 minutes. Coffee was streaming under the foamy ocean at the brink of the China cup, Kat was devouring. The Siren was the metaphor for Starbucks and Kat was for Siren, the luring singer with a repetitive voice enough baiting for the CEO of Monty Sys, a Publishing House in Brazil.


The blood stained silk was recently pocketed from the most popular Sunday bazaar, at Istanbul. The war between two writers had been bloody. The Royal Villa located at the royal banks of historical waters of Marmara witnessed the intimate moments shared between the Prince and Kat. Prince was a staunch reader of novels. Monty Sheth was among all the invitees cherishing the moments of togetherness with Kat. Born nature of Kat, to draw the male with luring words, had become the habit as passionate as the taste of Starbuck Coffee. The ghost writers are expert in luring.


One week back, Monty Sheth had already booked the deluxe suit at the 52nd floor of the five star hotel of Istanbul before he left from Brazil, the land of Amazon. The wilderness was still in the heart of Monty which was going to be the spread sheet for Kat at the meeting. The 52nd floor is under lock today. The Police are in search of the occupants.


“The welcomed delegates are requested to occupy the chairs.” announced the Manager. The Oval conference table had been well adorned as far as possible to meet the demands of the World Publishers’ Committee.
The lighted lamps inside the crystal chandeliers found a few bright humanities who accompanied the beauties of the East. Kat was one of them. Dressed in the scarlet long gown, studded with the gold trinket at the beautiful bosom, Kat looked splendid. The praying eyes couldn’t stop piercing through the cruel beauty for a long time; the Teak wood door opened, showing the Prince in the doorway. Kat couldn’t resist her inquisitive eyes staring handsome young Prince. The hands were shaken and the hearts were throbbed. The throbbing heart of Prince made the way easy for Kat to enter the Villa the very same night. Monty Sheth was the man of experience. He had been publishing novels written by renowned writers.


Being the son of a retired Army officer, Monty Sheth made himself known about the body language of Kat and Prince. The deal was going to be sure. He sipped a sip from the crystal glass filled with red grape juice. Consuming alcohol was much far away for Monty as far as Kat sitting at the opposite end of the oval conference Table. The underneath legs of the table saw a barrel of a small Colt pistol pointed at Monty. Monty had many friendly enemies. Kat was burning inside as soon as she saw Monty Sheth in front of him.


Kat had started her career as a writer. She had been hired by a local newspaper to fill the gaps of weekly issue with a short story of 500 words before she reached Mumbai to take part in writing completion. However, she was disqualified for reaching late by one hour only by the judge. The national English daily had arranged the competition. The luring prize was not less than Rupees One lakh. This amount was much life making amount for her. Then organizers had scrutinized minimum 1000 entries before preparing the final list. Then ten finalists were invited in person to narrate their stories at Bhaidas on that Sunday when Kat’s father had suffered severe heart attack. The cheeks were still wet with tears when she received the call from Mumbai. Her heart and soul both had been converted to stone. The life with success and fame were waiting for her at Bhaidas. She reached late. The judge was Monty Sheth. The feeling of revenge was born in the corner of the heart of Kat.


A call from Monty Sheth made her more thoughtful to continue writing but as a ghost writer. A person gets reward but not the name. Monty was himself writing his third novel. He had grabbed a lot of name and fame in only three short years. The luck was much charming for his second book, The Seven Seasons, had become the best seller in 16 countries including Brazil. Kat wrote a lot of words day and night and burnt her midnight oil to write five thousand words daily to meet the target. The fourth book of Monty Sheth was the hit again. ‘The Midnight Oil’ was the name on the jacket with the writer’s name, Monty Sheth. She had received the said amount but not a written consent about the same so that she can prove herself as a writer.


Meeting between Monty Sheth and Kat had been expected volatile for there had been a feeling of pulling the dragon apart from that there wasn’t any concrete motive to meet. Monty Sheth had promised to justify Kat’s name as a creative writer at the conference. The corporate brunch did not make the situation better. Moreover, the boiling attitude of both spoiled the evening high tea, too. Italian Roast Coffee was not to be served. The Coffee mugs were hard to be found in Istanbul on that day of the meeting. Kat did not forget the habit of Starbucks’ Fair Trade Italian roast. There wasn’t much difference between Kat and this brand. Both were sturdy and sweet blend, potent and intense.


The burning issue of accepting the ghost writers as the real writers was the main agenda. Brazil was trying to find the crevices among the talks. India had been much ahead in finding the top place at the Summit meeting. Turkey was just watching the mundane game plan without brains. A feeling of bogus anger and enraged attitude made Prince believe that Brazil and India can never be together. Kat was not given the name as promised. Having sensed the failure, Prince invited Kat and Monty to his Royal Villa, at the banks of Marmara trough. He wished to show his royalty to the guests.


The chilled night passed shiver through the spine when the mercury stood at 4 degree celsius. Kat wasn’t aware about the gust of cold wind that pierced through the wide French windows of the top guest room of the Villa. She was busy in a fresh room preparing the last crusade. Reaching the safes at the basement to retrieve Indian Historical books was the only motive. The hall of guest room was under surveillance but not the fresh room. The pink garters grabbed the Kanpuri Knife tight under her knee high transparent skin tight stockings. Red scarlet long gown had been replaced with turquoise blue velvet skirt. The dark brown lip liners embedded the cruel smile on the lucky lips. High stiletto raised the height of Kat to 6`3“. With head high, Kat measured the lobby with keen eyes. Monty Sheth was at the basement museum to have a look at the original manuscript of WW2 history. He had a vicious plan to steal that precious book away. There wasn’t any elevator reaching the basement. The only way to reach the place of target was through the staircase. The staircase, well guarded was out of reach for Kat. It was the day of money transfer. The Royal banks were ordered to deposit the Gold reserve in the safe of the Palace. The safes were the most prioritized objects for Kat so the dinner was given up for lost. She descended from the emergency back stairs to avoid the guests in the lifts. Kat and Monty were from a special team of guarding the nation. They were secret agents.

The Guest hall of the Palace was highly illuminated to welcome the guests from all over the world. Dinner was arranged in the Royal garden at the back of the Palace looking at the dark waters of Marmara. The guests including Monty Sheth were exchanging the words of wisdom and vanity, but, Kat was not to be found. It’s well-known fact that the city, Istanbul is the location that makes two cultures of the West and The East meet. The high minarets were flared with the fire colored flags to outshine the world. The imperial gate reminded the stupendous powered reign of the Ottoman. Kat wasn’t much interested in all this pompous show. She found herself in the back yard of the Villa from where the large ventilators allowed the fresh air to enter the basement. A slight movement was observed near the security wall so Kat concealed herself under a dark wild bush.


What’s the difference if she was under a wild bush? It wasn’t a new experience for Kat. A few minutes later the vents were half open and had allowed a lady from India to intrude the most secured basements of the Palace. The motion detectors and surveillance cams were already mute half an hour ago. Miss Kat Khorana from Jullundur was to be pride for all the Indians soon.


The clock tower of the Palace said 12 midnight. The royal dinner along with the guest was at the climax disposition. Somewhere about 500 meters away , Kat was excited too to open the vault where she could trace out the Indian documents and bagged them before she was out again in the glittering garden with all the guests. A broad smile with sweet voice made the guest convinced that an Indian mermaid was present in the Royal party.
It was a wonder why nobody could see Kat accomplishing the lethal and impossible task. Though she was aware about the motion sensors and the camera surveillance, she had continued her passionate task, she was assigned. She would have been hanged to death for this act if the power was on in the basement. Monty was the reason. He had muted all the sensors to help himself but he never knew that he had helped an Indian mermaid, Kat.
The morning sun declared the victory of Kat to the Indian Embassy. And the same morning sun had also complained about the open ventilator window to the chief security officer of the Palace Museum. A search for unknown intruder was on but the identity was blank as all the surveillance cams of the palace had become blind 12 hours back.

 

The night stay at the palace was a deliberate move to be truthful to Prince. Having had a nice breakfast with Prince, Kat left in search of her favorite coffee joint, Starbucks. She had found one with much toil and trouble at Abide-i Hürriyet Cd. The roasted Italian was ordered. Kat had worn her favorite blue overall dress with same colored silk scarf over the head hiding her beautiful blond hair. She had decided to visit the famous Blue Mosque before leaving for India. The full robe was the sign of respect and serenity for the respect of the divine shrine. The knife, her true friend was still stuck in her stockings with the help of garters under the blue overall.


A man of 50’s approached Kat asking her identity. Kat was trifle suspicious about the behavior of the man with large walrus moustache hiding the identity and the squinted eyes hidden under large pointed cap. Was he known to her or was it a nightmare? She had already handed over the documents to the bearer form the Indian embassy. The bearer was a realistic true friend of her since childhood. The mysterious man at Starbucks had been sitting with a newspaper in his hand for the last thirty minutes but the page was neither shuffled nor changed. The place was not much crowded as it was the morning time and Friday. The man stood from his seat and approached nearer to Kat to get her real identity. Kat was a little taken aback as she had not expected that situation. Everything was smoothly running. She feared the catastrophe so did not ignore the unknown and re-ordered the counter man to divert the attention of the man. The luring voice of Kat made the man hypnotized and forgot why he was there. Kat offered him a seat to accompany her. The Siren tone could not stop the man sitting in front of her. The Starbucks coffee mug was on the table. The picture of Siren on the coffee mug was not much away from resembling with Kat. Her luring attractive voice made the companion forget that he himself was a silent killer The vicinity at the restaurant was life less. People were busy for the Morning Prayer. Counter sales person had just left the counter for a while as a Black Mercedes Benz had collided with an old woman crossing the road. Considering the situation vital, Kat signaled the companion to follow her to the restroom. Hypnotized sailor with the motive of murder was under the spell of this Indian mermaid. Siren, the twin tailed mermaid was watching with jealousy from the coffee mug from on the table.


After a few minutes, Kat was at her table drinking her favorite Starbucks roasted Italian coffee sip by sip. The blood stained knife was in her handbag. The sharp pointed knife had lifted the cap of the man reviling his identity, Khurshid, the bodyguard of the Prince. Her head was bare without the scarf. The blue silk scarf had found a new place in the handbag. The road had become busier than before. An ambulance had arrived and already taken the old lady to morgue. The city morgue might need more space for a dead terminator. Kat Khorana left the place for airport and decided to visit the Blue Mosque another time. The cold morning had a touch of heat. The lesson was learnt. Never be a ghost writer. And, never underestimate a ghost writer. Monty Sheth watched all the moves of Kat and decided to write a new novel, The Ghost Writer.

The Godavari saved a crime

The Godavari saved a crime

Dear all, I am participating in a writing contest. I have tried my level best to follow the rules from the organisation. Please feel free to comment and support me.

 

Preface by Amish Trivedi

Close to the city of Paithan, in a small village called Sauviragram, which lay along the banks of the great river Godavari, lived a woman named Ilaa. Being cotton farmers, her family was well to do, but not among the richest in their area. It was the harvest season, and cotton had to be picked from the plants. The wholesalers and traders from Paithan would be arriving in just a few weeks, carrying gold and goods for barter. They would exchange what they carried for the cotton that the farmers grew. The bales of cotton had to be ready in time! Work was at its peak!

But Ilaa was not to be found in the fields. She wasn’t working. Instead, she was sitting by the banks of the great river Godavari.

‘I am sick of this!’ she grunted loudly.

 

Continued By Rajesh Sheth

The silent waters of Godavari were the soul mates of Ilaa since her childhood. Yet there was no body to answer, Ilaa couldn’t resist spreading out her agony and rage loudly. Work was worship but the patch of insult on her repute cast away her womanhood. The past memories were suddenly reveled with a simple reason of gold coins, the exchange formality for the while cotton bales.

How can Ilaa forget the insult she had been barring since the beginning of the last year?

Maygaon , the very nearest hamlet was much advance compared to Sauviragram. The workers from the following villages were returning from the busy farms. The white produce was not as white as it looked but was blackened by the immoral trade practice of some traders. The Romans had been the appraiser of the textile of Paithan region since a long time; however, local rulers couldn’t develop the bondage between East and West.

White bales have darkened the life of Ilaa a bit. The suppressed voice of the female working women is to be voiced by Ilaa soon. Many young working women shared their tales of grief to their leader, Ilaa.

“ Didi, why don’t you support us and make us free from the clutches of Vatandaar Ragho Shet and Babaji bidwai?”

“Listen, I am trying to convey your message to these administrators and commission agents. Dada shall take care of it.” Ilaa tai said.

“ Ilaa tai, had you not been with us , we would have left the place and settle at Aurangabad. My brother has promised me that Nizam shall solve the problem.”

“ My dear Sausi, we have been ruled by all the rulers, Mughal, Nizam and Now Peshwas. What’s is new? English have tried to enter our Maratha province but Shivaji Maharaj has made them run away. See our art of weaving is so popular that Peshwaji shall solve our problem. Any good ruler takes intense care of the subjects.”

The time ran torrentially like flowing water of Godavari. A name among successful youth was lingering in the mind of Ilaa. Babaji , a chief trader from Paithan is considered a rigid mogul. The Roman blood has been erupting egoism in his veins for ages. Though the women are honored in the society, Ilaa is much ignored in her own family. The trunk of gold coins ditched at home has become her foe.

Presently, sitting at the banks of Godavari, Ilaa curses her own charm of luck that had been induced in her life twenty years ago. Godavari is the witness. She has been supporting the lives for years. Lord Brahma’s wish to be settled on the earth had been fulfilled. Illa recalls the want of Saint Gautam for allowing Gangadevi there at the foot hills of Brhampuri. Illa’s pet name is Gautami. Pious by heart and generous by nature, Ilaa supports her family of seven along with her grand-father, Mahadev Rao , a name of repute among the cotton exporters. The dark waters of Godavari at night brightened the vows of Ilaa.

It is known to Ilaa only that both Babaji of Paithan and Mahadev Rao share a trade secret. Glittering Gold coins for cotton trade have become the pride for some but prejudice for others.

“ Gautami, where have you placed the gold coins?”

“Dada, you know better than me as I was at the farm till late evening when Raoji had come home to pay.”

“Listen Illa, you have been becoming much hindrance for our relation with Raoji. A person such as Baji can’t be so close to any family as to ours. He is all royalty. He has name and wealth. How can you ignore a Roman blood for all the life?”

“Please pardon me, dada. You have known me since my childhood. Nobody in our family knows about my past. Nobody other than you knows that I’m not your blood related grand-daughter.”

The heart throbbing statement was shared by Ilaa unaware of the presence of her youngest sister, Kasturi standing at the half open door. Kasturi was an expert golden thread weaver at the handloom device. The Paithani saree was her winning smile. She was envy of all but glory of one, Ilaa. Kasturi was the youngest of all; however, her matured mind proved herself a business woman of the family.

The most awaited winter season of harvesting was ignored intentionally by many farmers as the new Peshwa was being honored crown soon. Balaji Bajirao was determined to be getting married into Wakhare family, the leading money lenders of Paithan. Ilaa was much disturbed with a view to going to Paithan at the time of harvest. Babaji , the cotton trader of Paithan is much closer to this Money lender Wakhare family. The royalty blended with business was the concern for all the farmers at Sauviragram, popularly called as Suva. Kasturi had declared her wish to visit Paithan at the marriage ceremony of Balaji Bajirao. Ilaa her second mother was much disturbed by Kasturi’s decision. She never wanted that she should visit Paithan, the town of dishonor and insult that she had bore last year.

“It is now or never. The example placed for all the women shall be remembered for ages.”, Thought Ilaa. The morning sun of winter season shone much brighter than ever. The inner vengeance was erupting from within the sour heart. The gold coins were at safe place. Why should she make her own property if it was her only? Ilaa ran towards home instead of farm. A few farmers were eagerly waiting for the head woman of the home, Ilaa. Ilaa stepped inside the home and found herself in a dreary situation. Kasturi was weaving at the handloom with golden threads. Dada was stuck in the cot tied with tight ropes from all over. All other household were either hidden or strangely ran away. A Mughal Sipoy from Delhi Darbaar was guarding the house from outside and a Subedaar was standing with a open sward terrifying the artist at work along with Kasturi.

Kasturi said with the tears in her eyes, “ Taai, s new ‘farmaan’ has been passed from Delhi Court that The Paithni Sari shall be called as Aurangzebi and no one shall prepare this for locals but shall be prepared for the Mughals only.”

“ And, we shall be punished if we prepare such Jamdani for local.”

Ilaa stood there with confidence and hate in the heart. She thought, “Though Mughal emperor has patronized us , he doesn’t have right to snatch away art.” The thought of saving the society and the art both surfaced in the heart and mind. The drastic change occurred with in no time. The hate and jealous of the Peshwas was melted as the ice on the sun.

The villagers who had been waiting for Ilaa at the farm were curios to call her so they tried to approach her at her home. The scene was no better than a battle field. The feeling of togetherness and fraternity was at the best. The sickle and sticks became the weapons for the battle of pride.

The Mughal Sipoys and the Subedaar fled away leaving the warning behind. But, the joy of victory suppressed the lethal warning of fleeing away Mughals. Paithan was witnessing a royal wedding where as Sauviragram was busy managing the destruction caused by the foreign rulers.

A few days later…

Godavari was witness again. Ilaa slipped away serenely with the heart of contentment. Now she was ready to take revenge of her own insult. Ilaa visited the banks of Godavari again and shared the secret that she was going to fulfill her retribution. She was a child of ten days when Dada had found her on the same banks of Godavari twenty years back. She had known her own life from Dada when she had saved his life during critical illness. Dada was much eager that Ilaa should marry Babaji. But, the corrupt Babaji was never in her heart. The cries of the laborer women were still in her mind. They had been pain less wages and were humiliated too to make the rich traders happy. The social evils were to be drowned into the waters of Godavari. The time was much ripe now. Babaji was called at the banks of the river. The feel of getting married with the most beautiful lady of the village was Babaji’s dream. He had visited Dada’s home many a times. Ilaa was the eldest one to negotiate the trade of cotton bales. The luring eyes of Babaji were neither hidden from Dadaji nor Ilaa. However, the aspect of understanding was different. Dada wished Illa’s marriage with Babaji where as Ilaa never wanted to marry a trader. She wanted to work for the society and women.

The dark night of no moon filled the darkness in the heart of Ilaa. Ilaa waited at the torrential banks of the Godavari. Flowing water was supporting the silence of Ilaa. The Human heart was so silent that beats were throbbing loud. The deafening screech from the nocturnal birds awakened Ilaa from the night mare. No one approached as decided. Babaji didn’t turn up instead he was captured by new Peshwa for being corrupt in the gold trade. Ilaa was saved from committing a crime.

ઝંખના…

લેખક: શ્રી રાજેશ શેઠ સંપર્ક : ૯૩૨૭૧૫૬૯૮૯

કંઇક કેટલાય દિવસો પછી આજે કેતકી આવવાની છે.. સવાર થી આખું ઘર માથે લઈને નોકરો પાસે સાફ કરાવ્યું. કેતકી ને ગમતી નથી. ઘર ના દરેક ખૂણા કેતકી ને સારી રીતે જાણે છે. ઝાપટવા ના કપડા ની સાથે તો જાણે પ્રેમ છે.

ત્યાં ખૂણા માં પડેલા મોબાઈલ ની રીંગ વાગી. ” હંમે તુમસે પ્યાર કિતના યેહ તુમ નહિ જાનતે….”હું સફાળો તંદ્રા માં થી જાગી ને ફોને રીસીવ કરવા ગયો. 

“ હેલો”
“ હા બોલો”
“ હું આણંદ થી ડોક્ટર ભટ્ટ વાત કરું છું. મારે મિસ્ટર મેહતા સાથે વાત કરવી છે.”
“ બોલો ડોક્ટર ભટ્ટ , હું મિસ્ટર મેહતા જ છુ.”
“મિસ્ટર મેહતા , ધ્યાન થી સાંભળો……તમારી પત્ની, કેતકી…….”

અને ફોન ને ખોટું લાગ્યું…….તેને સંદેશો પૂરો ના આપ્યો અને મારું દિલ જોર જોર થી ધડકવા લાગ્યું…..
કેતકી પ્રેગનેન્ટ હતી…..

લગ્ન ના અગિયાર વર્ષો ના લાંબી પ્રતીક્ષા પછી સારા સમાચાર આપનાર ડોક્ટર આજે હાજર ના હતા. ડોક્ટર કોટેચા કાયમ માટે ટર્કી માં સ્થાયી થઇ ગયા હતા.

વર્ષો સુધી કેતકી નું મન સતત સંતાન ઝંખતું હતું ને મારા તરફ નો પ્રેમ એક સંતાન તરફ વળી રહ્યો હતો.

એક દિવસ શિયાળ ની અંધારી રાત્રે, અમે ગરમ એક્સ્પ્રેસો કોફી ની ચુસ્કીઓ લેતા વાતો કરી રહ્યા હતા.કોફી તેને અનહદ પ્રિય છે. કેતકી ના કાળા રેશમી વાળ માં મારી આંગળીઓ ફેરવતા ફેરવતા નંદુ ની કહેલી વાત ફરી કહેવા ની મેં હિંમત કરી.

“કેતુ ?”

“હં..”

“તને નથી લાગતું કે આપણે નંદુ ની વાત પર ધ્યાન આપવું જોઈએ? “

“હં બોલ..” કેતકી ના અવાજ માં શુન્ત્યતા હતી. નંદુ તેનો નાનો ભાઈ. બેંગલોર ની મેડીકલ કોલેજ માં થી સફળતા થી પાસ થનાર એક માત્ર થાન ગઢ નો યુવાન. નાના ભાઈ ની વાત માને એવી તે કેતકી અત્યારે શૂન્યમનસ્ક સ્થિતિ માં મને સાંભળી રહી હતી.

શિયાળા ની ઠંડી ઉષ્મા ભર્યું સ્મિત આપી ને કટાક્ષ કરી રહી હતી. સંતાન નું સુખ ઠંડી શું જાણે? પાનખર ની વાત તો વસંત જ જાણે. કેતકી નું જીવન મારા સગાથે પાનખર કરતા વસંત ભર્યું વધારે હતું. પ્રેમ એજ શ્વાસ. પ્રેમ એજ વિશ્વાસ.સાથી નો સંગાથ માતેલા તોફાન ને ઠંડી લહેર બનાવી શકે છે. અમારું જીવન આમજ ગતિ પામતું રહેલું. એક દિવસ અચાનક આવેલો નંદુ નો સંદેશો અમારા જીવન માં ખળભળાટ મચાવી ગયો.

“ પ્લીઝ જલ્દી આવો.” બેંગ્લોર નો ફોન નંબર અજાણ્યો હતો પણ નંદુ નું નામ વાચી ને ભાઈ ના પ્રેમ થી તરબોળ બહેન બીજીજ ફ્લાઈટ પકડી બંગ્લોર પહોંચી. નંદુ ની પત્ની કાજલ સીરીઅસ હતી. એઈમ્સ માં ઇન્ટેન્સીવ કેર માં દોડી ને કેતકી લઘ્ભાગ ગાંડી બની ગઈ. કાજલ ના ગર્ભ માં આઠ મહિના નો જીવ હતો. ૭૨ કલાક વીતવા આવ્યા હતા ને નંદુ આકુળવ્યાકુળ થઇ બેઠો હતો. સંતાન પ્રેમ ની આશા પત્ની ના જીવન આગળ નબળી પડતી હતી. પ્રેમ પાસા બદલતો રહે છે. પાસા અને પડખા માં ઘણો ફેર છે એવું માની ને પ્રેમ પ્રિય બની જાય છે.

કેતકી નો સંતાન પ્રેમ નંદુ થી અજાણ્યો ના હતો. બે જીવન મેં થી એક ને જીવન બખવા ની હોડ માં નવ-જીવન રેસ જીતી ગયું. અધૂરા માસે બાળક નો જન્મ , માં ના બલિદાન થી થયો. નંદુ ના જીવન માં અંધારું ને અજવાળું બન્ને સાથે પગરવ કરી રહ્યા હતા.

પ્રેમ ના પરમાર્થ માં પરમેશ્વર ની સભાનતા….સંતાન પ્રાપ્તિ ની ઝંખના ની પરાકાષ્ટા કેતકી ના જીવન માં સામાન્ય સ્થિતિ નું રૂપ લહી રહી હતી. કાજલનો વિયોગ વિસરાય એ પહેલાજ એક નવા સમાચારે જાણે કે શ્રુષ્ટિ નો નિયમ જ બદલી નાખ્યો.

ડો. સુલોચના, કાજલ ના માસી, આણંદ ના એક પ્રખ્યાત ગાયનેકોલોજિસ્ટ. તેમની સલાહ ને માન્ય રાખી ને સ્વ સંતાન પ્રેમ ને જીવતો રાખવા નક્કી કર્યું. કેતકી અને હું ડો.સુલોચના ની સ્પંદન ફર્ટીલીટી હોસ્પિટલ માં મુલાકાતી ના ખંડ માં બેઠા હતા. ચારે કોર ફ્રેમ માં મઢેલા સુંદર બાળકો ના હસતા ચેહરા, કેતકી ના અંતર પટ ને ઉલેચતા હતા. બાળક ઈશ્વર નું વરદાન છે , તે કેતકી ને ખબર હતી પણ તે ક્યારે ફળે, તે વિચારો થી જોજન દુર હતું.

કાજલ ના નવજાત બાળક ને મમ્મી પાસે છોડી ને કેતકી આવી હતી પણ મન હજી ત્યાંજ હતું.

“કેતકી બેન……”

“ હા બેન હુંજ કેતકી…”

“ આપનો વારો છે. મેડમ અંદર બોલાવે છે.”

“ ચાલ આવે છે ને?” , કેતકી બોલી.

હજી હા પડું ત્યાં, મોબાઈલ ની ઘંટડીએ શાંત વેઈટીંગ રૂમ માં બાળક નો કિલકિલાટ ભરી દીધો. લગ્ન પછી ના પ્રેમ ભર્યા દિવસો માં જે રીંગ ટોન થી કેતકી ખુશ થતી તે  આજે બદલાઈ ચુક્યો હતો. કદાચ કેતકી ના મગજ પર થોડી નિરાશા છવાઈ ગઈ છે.

“ હેલો!” હું હળવા દબાયેલ અવાજે બોલ્યો.  વેઈટીંગ રૂમ માં મોબીલે બંધ રાખવા ની એક સુચના હતી.

“ જલ્દી આવો” કેતકી ની મમ્મી નો અવાજ હતો.

“ કેમ શું થયું?”

“ નિપુણ હાલતો નથી!” નિપુણ, નંદુ અને કાજલ નું તાજું જન્મેલું સંતાન. કાજલ ના અકલ્પનીય અંત પછી કેતકીજ તેની માં હતી.

પ્રેમ ની વ્યાખ્યા સતત બદલાતી રહી…

કેતકી ને ગમે તેમ સમજાવી ને હું ઘર ભણી નીકળી ગયો.

કેતકી મારી પત્ની…પહેલા પ્રેયસી …તે પહેલા શુભેચ્છક….તે પહેલા શ્રોતા….

પ્રેમ ની વ્યાખ્યા સતત બદલાતી રહી…છે અને હવે શું થશે તેની કલ્પના નથી.

સમય દોડ્યો પાછળ….જાણે આગળ વધવું જ  ના હતું.

૧૧ વર્ષ પહેલા મુંબઈ ના ભાઈદાસ ના ભરચક હોલ માં મારા પહેલા પુસ્તક નું વિમોચન. તાળીઓ ના ગડગડાટ વચ્ચે પ્રસંશા ના ફૂલો ના બુકે ના ઢગલા થવા માંડ્યા. સૌ ની વચ્ચે એક સુન્દર કન્યાએ , મારો ઓટોગ્રાફ લેવા રીતસર ની દોટ મૂકી  જાણે કે છેલ્લી ફ્લાઈટ હોય અને ચુકવાની હોય?

“ મિસ્ટર, પ્લીઝ તમારું સુંદર નામ મારા હાથ પર અંકિત કરશો?”

હું તો ડઘાઈ ગયો અને થોડોક પાછળ બે પગલા ગયો પણ તેણે મારો હાથ પકડી રાખ્યો હતો. આઘાત પ્રત્યાઘાત ના નિયમ મુજબ હું લગભગ તેની તરફ ઝુકી ગયો. શરીર નું બેલેન્સ ના રહ્યું ને તેના બંને બહુ માં હું હતો. કેમેરા ની ક્લિક ચારે કોઈ થી વાવાઝોડા ની જેમ વધી ગઈ ને માર ગાલ શરમ ના માર્યા રાત ચોળ થઇ ગયા.

કદાચ આ મારો પહેલો સ્પર્શ હતો , કોઈ સ્ત્રી નો…….પ્રેમ ની સમાજ નો પહેલો પાઠ તે દિવસે ભણ્યો. લખવું સહેલુ છે પણ અનુભવવું અઘરું છે….

તે કેતકી હતી……..મારો પ્રેમ… મારી શ્રોતા….મારી શુભેચ્છક….. મારી પ્રેયસી…. મારી પત્ની….

ઘરે પહોંચ્યો ને બાળક ને ડો. પાસે લઇ ગયો. ચિંતા કરવા જેવું ના હતું. મમ્મી નાહક ના ગભરાઈ ગયા હતા.

કલાક પછી કેતકી ઘરે આવી. મન શાંત હતું. કદાચ માનસિક રીતે તૈયાર થઇ ગઈ હતી. બધાજ ટેસ્ટ ફરીથી ….બધાજ રીપોર્ટ ફરીથી…પણ નિર્ણય નવો હતો…ટેસ્ટ ટ્યુબ બેબી ની ત્યારી થઇ ગઈ હતી. કેતકી આનદ રેહવા ગઈ. નિપુણ ૮ માસ નો થઇ ગયો હતો ..ને કેતકી ના સંતાન ના આગમન ની તૈયારી થઇ ગઈ. સંજોગો સામાન્ય થી અસામાન્ય હતા. બે બે બાળકો ની માતા બનવા નું સૌભાગ્ય કેતકી ના નસીબ માં હતું.

ત્યાં ખૂણા માં પડેલા મોબાઈલ ની રીંગ વાગી. ” હંમે તુમસે પ્યાર કિતના યેહ તુમ નહિ જાનતે….”હું સફાળો તંદ્રા માં થી જાગી ને ફોને રીસીવ કરવા ગયો.

“ હેલો”
“ હા બોલો”
“ હું આણંદ થી ડોક્ટર ભટ્ટ વાત કરું છું. મારે મિસ્ટર મેહતા સાથે વાત કરવી છે.”
“ બોલો ડોક્ટર ભટ્ટ , હું મિસ્ટર મેહતા જ છુ.”
“મિસ્ટર મેહતા , ધ્યાન થી સાંભળો……તમારી પત્ની, કેતકી…….”

“ હા હા બોલો….ફોન કટ થઇ ગયો હતો….”

“મિસ્ટર મેહતા, કેતકી…”

“ હા શું છે કેતકી ને? પ્લીઝ જલ્દી બોલો….”

“ કેતકી ને મિસકેરેજ થયું છે….૮ માસે બાળક નિષ્પ્રાણ થઇ ગયું છે.”

ચારે કોર અંધારું છવાઈ ગયું……મારો જીવ રૂંધાવા લાગ્યો….મારે પણ બાપ બનવું હતું……..

Parents…a pleasant world…

Honoring the parents is a great blissful act. We can’t imagine the world without parents. Ask them who hasn’t any parent. I truly believe that God created a man and a woman but for a child they are parents. It is truly said that the living gods are your parents. I love and respect my parents more than anything in the world.