March 6, 2011
she fell into his arms. she was sobbing, shuddering involuntarily at each intake of breath. he could do nothing but hold her and cry with her.
he thought he had had enough of the usual fare. a plush job at a multinational, an apartment in the swankiest part of the city - and yet the humdrum was almost suffocating. the human in him cried out in agony. but what could he do? years of toeing the drawn line had ingrained in him a subdued submission. he could not make himself think out of the box anymore - and the box seemed to close in on him at an ever increasing pace. that was when he heard of the orphanage. an hour a weekend, he decided. what was there to lose? after all, he spent much more attending the evening bashes. his decision was greeted with the usual derision but it had been long since he had grown indifferent to it.
she looked exactly the same as she had the first time he had seen her, more so because she had been crying then too.
he walked through the gates with a dull anticipation. he was about to ask someone for directions to the head's office when something struck against his legs. looking down he found that it was a small girl - no more than five or six - who had collided with him. she clasped his legs in a vice and pointed to a boy who stood some distance away waving a doll in his hand. but on seeing a grown up, he stopped this and looked on sullenly. it was now apparent to him what had transpired between the two children. he sat down on his knees to pacify the girl but she wouldn't stop crying. he couldn't see her face as half of it was turned away from him and the other half was hidden behind a mop of hair that fell across it. he made her face him and waved away the tresses on her face. tears flowing, she lifted her eyes and looked at him - and he knew he had met someone very special.
he rubbed her back and drew her closer. finally, she stopped crying. but she wouldn't let go of his hand, as if it were the last thing she would ever hold.
he began to look forward to spending the weekend with her. she would hop gleefully when she spotted him at the gate. and then, sitting at the edge of the playground, they would spend hours talking to each other. he felt an unconditional affection emanating from her. in her eagerness to tell him everything, she would often run out of breath, so that he had to tell her to slow down a bit. slowly but surely, he came to a decision. it was a difficult one but he gave it a lot of thought before making up his mind. he decided to take her home, to adopt her.
he remembered why he had named her 'aanchal'. her face looked so beautiful when it was half-hidden with her hair - it was as if she had worn a veil, one that hid only half her face.
at first, the head of the orphanage refused him flatly. there was no precedent, he said. but he persevered and maybe the head felt the bond between aanchal and him. finally, after a lot of paperwork and background queries, he obtained custody of her. they walked out of the orphanage hand in hand - she was carrying a bag full of her possessions which she refused to let him carry.
they were going home.
he looked past her at his parents and the livid expression on their faces. but this wasn't the first time.
he hadn't told anyone about aanchal yet. he simply hadn't felt the need. there was no reason anyone would object to his decision. but he was wrong. the first salvo came from his girlfriend. she simply went into a fit of rage on hearing what he had to say. he tried to reason with her but she wouldn't stop. and when she called aanchal his illegitimate child, he shut the door on her - literally. they had been going steady for the past two years and yet it felt strange that he didn't see any signs of remorse in himself. but if he thought it was going to end at this, he was gravely mistaken.
he looked into her eyes and asked her if she was crying because she felt bad for the things his parents had said to her.
life was turned into a virtual hell for him. everywhere he went, the snide remarks and suppressed giggles followed him. how people could pass these moralistic judgments, he never could quite comprehend. all his relatives tried to persuade him to change his decision, giving all sorts of arguments. but he stayed put. in the evenings when he sat down with aanchal to watch the television, he felt all the tension draining away. he helped her with her homework - not much because she was surprisingly quick at picking up new things. and then, one fine day, his parents came.
"no," she replied, "it's because i can't see you crying."
it was a veritable war of words. his father talked of societal pressures and norms and he told him that he didn't give a damn about any of these. tempers flared and he forgot that aanchal was there, witnessing all this. in their frustration, his parents turned on aanchal and told her things he had wanted to protect her from, the very reason he had brought her out of the orphanage. before he could stop them, the deed was done. she fell into his arms. she was sobbing, shuddering involuntarily at each intake of breath. he could do nothing but hold her and cry with her.
"what's your final answer? " his father asked him.
he took her hand in his and walked out.
this is the first story i ever wrote. was based on a dream i had. come to think of it, i have overused this style of story-telling :P.