​बाह्र सत्ताइस कविता 

बिहान सबेरै उठेर
हतार हतार हिँड्यो केटो

परीक्षा दिन भनी ।

‘ढिलो हुन्छ होला,’ ऊ सोच्छ ।

रिङ्गरोडमा उडेको धुँवा हेर्दै,

बानेश्वर पुग्ने गाडी कुर्दै,

‘कसरी समयमा पुग्ने होला?”

सोच्छ घडी हेर्दै ।
भाग्यले साथ दियो,

एउटा माइक्रो आयो

धुम्बाराहीदेखि बानेश्वर जाने ।

चार मिनेटमा चाबेल पुर्‍यायो

अनि सुरु भयो जाम

गाडीहरूको अद्भूत जाम !

धुवाँ उडाउँदै उभिएका गाडी

लस्कर लागेर एकअर्कालाई धुँवा दिँदैछन्

चुरोट पिउने साथीहरूले चुरोट बाँडेझैँ ।

‘तिनीहरूको फोक्सो दह्रो हुँदो हो,’ ऊ गम्छ

‘यस्तो धुँवा धुलो खप्न

धुँवा पहिल्यै भरिएको छ !’
कछुवा गतिमा गाडी अघि बढिरहेछ

आफूभित्र धुलो भरिरहेछ !

दम बढ्यो केटोको

झ्याल खोल्ने कि नखोल्ने

अलमलमा पर्छ ।

झ्याल खोले पनि नखोले पनि

धुलोले आखिर फोक्सो भरेकै छ ।
जाम खुल्यो पन्ध्र मिनेटमा !

खुलेकै त होइन

ट्रकले छोड्यो बाटो थोरै ।

गयो माइक्रो अघि

केटोले बाटो देख्यो

बाटो बाँकी थिएन

हिलोमा गाडी गुड्दैथे

अनि देब्रेपट्टी एउटा डोजर

मेलम्चीको पानी आउने पाइप

बिछ्याएपछि

बाटो पुर्दैथ्यो ।
साढे छ बजे पुग्यो बानेश्वर

पुग्न अझै थियो शंखमुल

हिँड्दा हिँड्दै देख्यो एउटा पुल

आकाशे पुल

नभए पनि हुने ठाउँमा 

बानेश्वर चोकमा पुल बनेन

तर थापागाउँ जाने बाटोमा बनेछ !

आवश्यक भएको ठाउँमा

जेब्रा क्रस पनि राम्रो रहेनछ !
फोटो खिच्न हुन्थ्यो

मोबाइल रहेनछ !

सेन्टर नै अजिब

ब्याग बिल्डिङ बाहिर राख्नुपर्ने

मोबाइल पनि त्यैँ

घरै राख्नु बेस भनेर छोडेको घरमै !
लमकलमक हिँड्दै

पुग्नै लाग्दा शंखमुल पुल

बोलायो कसैले !

रहेछ एन ओल्ड फ्रेन्ड फ्रम लिभरपुल

“ओहो अबिन !” भन्दै

लामो कुरा गर्न नपाउँदै

एक्जाममा पुग्न ढिलो हुन्छ भन्दै

स्यँस्याँफ्याँफ्याँ गर्दै पुग्यो

एक्जाम हलमा !
मिति लेख्दा कपीमा

बाह्र-सत्ताइस पो रैछ

बेमतलब, बेकार

जाममा फसेर,

बीस मिनेट लम्केर

प्रश्न सजिलै परे

त्यसै दु:ख पाको हरे !

​Listen, will you?

“Are you listening?” I asked myself as my sister was talking the other day.

“No,” I confessed. 

“Why weren’t you listening?”

Honestly, I didn’t have the answer. I did not feel like talking at that time. When I came back contemplating over the matter, I understood I did not want to speak because I was not listening well.

I am not good at making conversations. I wanted to know the secrets of better conversations. I sought the help of YouTube. I don’t remember most of the advices I got through speakers at TED Conferences, and some psychology related channels but the one I remember is “Listen!” And this was the only advice I could listen when I thought why I was not conversing with my sister the other day.

Why is listening important? All the videos I watched agree that by listening properly one can decide what to speak with ease. If I had been listening to my sister, I might have easily understood her talk and would have carried it on further. Because I got selfish and stopped listening, I had to make her repeat the same thing twice, which in turn bored both of us. Hence, no conversation!

One speaker on one of the videos said, “These days we listen things so that we can argue and react upon some particular words.” She said something like: “Listen so that you understand. Listen to learn and listen to talk well.”  If we listen just to react upon things, we are not good listeners. We must react, of course, but by listening properly, we can decide whether we need to react or not. People say, “We have two ears but one mouth so that we can listen well and talk less. ” It is also said that those who talk less, speak precisely when they must.

I remembered a Folk tale as I was writing this. I am going to keep it as short as possible.

Once upon a time, a king brought three human skulls to the court and asked his ministers, “Can you tell me the price of these skulls?”

‘What could be the price of human skulls?’ The ministers thought. None of them came up with a solution. The king gave them three days to come up with a solution. Three days passed. The king said, “Have you come up with the answer?”

The ministers hung their heads in shame. One minister, however stood up and said, “Your Highness, I got curious when you asked the question. I took a trip to my teacher’s house far away from the city. He gave me the knowledge in discovering the price of a human skull.”

The minister asked permission to demonstrate. He took up a skull in his hand and poked a stick into its right ear hole. The stick went in a and was out through the other ear hole. He inserted another stick into the right ear hole of the second skull. This time it bended towards the throat. He repeated the procedure with the third. This time, the stick went in through the ear hole, and snapped. A larger part went to the cranium and a small part to the throat.

The minister explained, “The first skull is worth four annas. It is the cheapest one because it does not listen to anything. Whatever it listens from one ear goes out through the other.

“The second skull is worth eight annas. It listens but reacts without speaking. The third one is worth sixteen annas or a rupee. It listens, keeps most of it in its mind and speaks only what is necessary. Such skulls are rare.”

The king was happy. The minister was granted his prize for being able to explain the price of the skull.

Here’s what the story wants you to know just like the people said in videos I watched: ‘Listen and understand before you speak, will you?’

इण्डियन लाहुरे

(समर्पण : गोर्खा रेजिमेन्टमा भर्ति भएर युद्ध लडेका, लडिरहेका र वीरगति पाएका सबै नेपालीप्रति )

अफिस पुगेर गार्डको युनिफर्म भिरें अनि बाहिर गेटमा निस्केर बुढियालाई फोन गरें, “केही खबर आयो ?”

“छैन ।”

“टिभीमा पनि केही आ’को छैन ?”

“छैन । आ’को भए त तपाईंलाई फोन गरिहाल्थें नि ।”

हो त उसैले फोन गरिहाल्थी नि । उसलाई पनि त कम गाह्रो भएको थिएन । मैले भनेँ, “उफ्, केही सोच्नै सकेको छैन मैले त । खबर आउनेवित्तिकै मलाई भनिहाल है त ।”

उसले केही भनेझैं लाग्यो तर फोन काट्ने सुरमा मैले सुनिनँ । फेरि फोन नआएकोले खासै जरुरी कुरा होला भन्ने लागेन । मन फेरि एक तमासको भयो । काममा पनि ध्यान गएनछ । ” सन्चो छैन दावा दाइ ?” सँगै काम गर्ने कार्की भाइले भन्यो ।

“त्यस्तो केही हैन, कार्की भाइ ।”

“केही त भएकै छ, दाइ । अघि फोनमा कुनै खबरको कुरा गर्दै हुनुहुन्थ्यो । अनुहार पनि मलिन देख्छु । शरीर पनि थाकेजस्तो देखिन्छ । के भयो ?”

“खै भाइ, के भन्ने ? काश्मिर सीमामा भारत र पाकिस्तानका सेना लडिरा’का छन् रे । छोरो त्यतै छ । मन साह्रै आत्तिइरहेको छ ।”

“सेनाको जागिर । जता भन्यो त्यतै जानुपर्छ ।”

“आफ्नै देशको सीमामा भए नि देशको लागि लड्दैछ भनेर चित्त बुझाउने बाटोसम्म हुन्थ्यो । अर्काको देशको सीमामा छ । मामालाई देखेर त्यतै जान रहर गर्यो । त्यो छोरोलाई नजा भनेर कति सम्झाएँ । मान्दै मानेन । भन्यो, “नेपालको सरकारले नै जान हुन्छ भन्छ भने किन नजाने । यहाँ बसेर बेरोजगार हुनुभन्दा त त्यही ठीक ।””

मेरा आँखामा आँसु भरिए । कार्की  भाइ  पनि एकछिन  टोलायो अनि भन्यो,  “उसले भनेको पनि ठीकै हो । हाम्रो देशचाहिँ आफ्नो सीमाको रक्षा आफैँ गर्न सक्दैन । फेरि नेपालीलाई चैं अर्काको देशको सैनिक बनेर उनीहरूको लडाइँ लड् पनि भन्छ । किन हो कुन्नि त्यस्तो ?”

मेरो मन चसक्क दुख्यो । ऊ भन्दै थियो, “मेरा छोराछोरी अस्ति भन्दै थिए, पाकिस्तानले भारतलाई खत्तम गर्दे हुन्थ्यो भनेर । उनीहरूलाई थाहा नै छैन कति नेपालीहरू भारतीय सेनाको गोर्खा रेजिमेन्टमा छन् ।”

“नेपाली, इण्डियन, पाकिस्तानी जे भने पनि मान्छे नै त मर्ने हुन् नि होइन र भाइ ?”

“युद्धले कसलाई पो फाइदा गर्छ र, दाइ ।” दिनभर मसँग कुरा गरेर ढाडस दिइरह्यो उसले । घरमा फोन गरिरहें तर केही खबर आएन । छटपटी बढिरह्यो । दिन साह्रै लामो लाग्यो । बल्लतल्ल दिन बित्यो ।

ड्युटी सकिनेवित्तिकै घरतिर लागें । खासै टाढा थिएन तर हिंड्दाहिंड्दै थकाइ लाग्यो । बैंकको ढोकाअघि बस्दा पनि थकाइ लागेको थियो । पहिले यस्तो कहिले भएको थिएन । मनको पीडाले शरीर पनि बिरामी हुँदोरहेछ । निकै बेर लगाएर घर पुगें । सिधै टिभी राखेको कोठामा पुगें । हिन्दी न्युज च्यानलको ब्रेकिंग न्युज आइरहेको थियो: भारत-पाकिस्तान सीमामा अठार भारतीय सैनिकको मृत्यु । मन झन् भारी भयो । छोरी र बुढियासँग पनि केही बोल्न सकिन । त्यो कोठाबाट उठेर अर्को कोठामा गएँ अनि पल्टिएँ ।

“बाबा खाना खान आउनुस् ।” छोरीको स्वर सुनेर झस्किएँ ।

“खानै मन छैन ।”

“मन त मलाइ पनि छैन तर पिर लिएर मात्रै पनि त भएन ।”

बिस्तारै उठेर भान्छामा पुगें । बिहान उब्रेको खाना तताइछ बुढियाले । भाग बसें तर दुई गाँसभन्दा खानै सकिनँ । छोरी र बुढिया पनि भक्कानिए । त्यस दिनको खाना फ्याँकियो । टिभी कोठामा एकछिन पछि आइपुगें । त्यही समाचार छ हिन्दी च्यानलमा । नेपाली मिडियालाई त मतलब छैन । नेपाली पनि परे भने खबर ल्याउने मात्रै हुन् । नराम्रो खबर नाओस् भनेर भगवानसँग प्रार्थना गरें ।

मोबाइलको घन्टी बज्यो । बुढिया र छोरी दौदिंदै आइपुगे । नम्बर हेरें । इण्डियन हो तर छोराले गर्ने भन्दा फरक । मुटुले ढ्यांग्रो ठोक्यो । सास फेर्न गाह्रो भयो । जसोतसो लाउडस्पिकर अन गरें । उताबाट नेपालीमै कसैले भन्यो, “यो दावा तामांगको नम्बर हो ?”

“ज्यू ।”

“एउटा दु:खको खबर छ ।” एकछिन रोकियो, सुस्केरा हाल्यो अनि भन्यो, “तपाईंको छोरा सोनामले वीरगती पायो । दुस्मनको गोलीले उसको छाती छेड्यो । ढलेपछि पनि निकै साहस देखायो तर उपचार पुरा नुहुँदै उसको निधन भयो ।”

मेरा आँखाबाट बरर्र आँशु खसे । टीभी राखेको टेबुलमा उसको तस्बिर थियो । गोलो, गोरो मुहार, अग्लो गंठिलो शरीर, इण्डियन सेनाको पोशाक लागएर उसले त्यो फोटो खिचाएको थियो । त्यही फोटो मात्रै आँखाअघि नाचिरह्यो । उताबाट भन्दै थियो, “भारतीय सरकारले उसलाई शहीद घोषणा गर्नेछ । त्यसैले उसको अन्तिम संस्कार यतै हुनेछ ।”

मुटु चुँडियो । न सास, न लाश । टिभी टेबुलको तस्बिर नै त्यो लाहुरेको अन्तिम निशानी भयो ।

(कार्तिक १७, २०७३मा नागरिक मा प्रकाशित समाचारबाट प्रेरित)

Leave Me Alone-5

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

Ajay and Sasha go Sasha’s house to celebrate her birthday. Ajay sees a portrait of a woman on red saree. A woman similar to that on the portrait attacks him and he runs to the police station. There he meets Dr. Shrestha, who tells him something about Sasha’s past. Ajay does not believe him. So he calls Parmila, Sasha’s maid to confirm his story. Ajay still has some questions about Sasha. 

What answers will he get? In this chapter…

“I still don’t understand,” Ajay said, “why I was attacked?”

“There are some probabilities,” Dr. Shrestha replied grimly. “It is a fact known to me and my colleagues that Sasha believed within her subconscious that her mother was alive. Sasha used to have hallucinations in which her mother would talk to her. Whenever that happened, Sasha’s personality would alter. She used to be more aggressive, and used to gain immense strength. Ten men would find it difficult to calm her down.”

“So you believe Sasha’s alternate personality influenced by her dead mother in her subconscious attacked me?” Ajay intervened. “But would she?”

As if he had not heard anything Ajay said, the old doctor continued, “Using medication, we had been able to suppress the hallucinations and to some extent, the alteration of her personality. Some years ago, when she joined nursing, I recommended the medication be stopped. That was the biggest mistake I made.

“Because the medicines were not being administered, the hallucinations may have begun controlling over her for some time. Her mother might have talked to her, and convinced Sasha that you are either the one or related to someone who led into her mother’s death,” the doctor told to Ajay.

“But I am not related to any bank manager who went missing.”

“There was a lawyer who proved falsely that Sasha’s mother was mentally ill.”

Ajay was stunned. Dr. Shrestha seemed to look through him. He stammered the question that came into his mind: How do you know my father is a lawyer?

Dr. Shrestha smiled at Ajay without being surprised. “I knew your father’s name from your license last night,” the doctor replied. “I had doubted that he is the famous lawyer. You’ve confirmed my suspicions.”

“My dad can’t have done anything wrong,” Ajay said, terrified by what the doctor was trying to say to him. He stood up and looking straight at Dr. Shrestha, announced, “He might not have been involved in the case.”

“He is a professional advocate. It’s within his right to do anything to save his client. Why don’t you ask him yourself about his involvement in that case?” Dr. Shrestha replied, unclenched.

‘Was my dad involved?’ Ajay thought, his fear escalating. His mind was divided. Prior to the talk with the doctor, he could confidently bet that his father advocated the truth. However, after the doctor’s indication that his father had falsely accused Sasha’s mother of being a psycho. Trembling, he inserted his hand into his pocket, produced his cell phone and dialled his father’s number. “Ajay, where had you been all night? I’ve searched everywhere for you,” a hoarse voice asked.

“I’m at a doctor’s, dad.”

“Is everything all right?” Ajay’s father asked him.

Ajay wanted to lie by saying ‘yes’; instead, he said, “No dad, something is wrong. My girlfriend attacked me last night and her guardian says that you are related somewhere in the case. That I’ve been assaulted because she believed I was you in her state of altered personality.”

“Who attacked you? Sasha, is it? Are you all right, Ajay?” his father asked and before Ajay could reply, he continued furiously, “Anyway, don’t believe in any nonsense. How can I be involved in your girlfriend’s madness?”

“Do you remember a case twenty years ago?” Ajay said. When he received only silence in reply, he continued, “That case in which a reputed bank manager had been accused of abusing his employee. Though that woman had written the truth in her diary, the manager’s lawyer had proved in the court that she was mad and her letter could not be solid evidence against the manager. Do you remember that case, dad?”

Ajay had expected a reply but he actually received a hanging up tone in answer. He redialled the number four times but his father did not receive the call. He looked at both Dr. Shrestha and Parmila sadly. He felt weak. His legs could not keep him standing. He sat down on an empty chair and covered his face with his palms. He wanted to cry but he could not. Ajay could not believe that his father had done something that had affected him twenty years later.

Dr. Shrestha broke the silence, “You need to go to your father and talk to him. You have to ask him everything. You deserve the truth.”

“I don’t think I can bear the truth, doctor,” Ajay said bitterly.

“You have to face it, Ajay,” the doctor said, “not just for yourself but for Sasha as well.”

“Oh, I can’t,” Ajay y and stood up from his chair again. He picked his phone and dashed out. Before he reached the edge of the garden, Dr. Shrestha shouted out these words, which Ajay would clearly recall the following week: “Talk to your father, Ajay. If you don’t he might harm himself.”

Ajay did not return home for a week. He stayed most of his time at the hospital looking at his unconscious lover outside the ICU. She did not show up much improvement. Ajay was sad but was hopeful. He ate at the canteen. He made friends with the doctors, nurses and other medical staffs. When he felt extremely tired, he called his friends and slept at their houses. That was because he never felt like going back to Sasha’s place. His father called him several times during that week. Ajay picked up just twice. He had no will to talk to his father. Ajay’s father too had not been able to say anything. Silence had ruled over both the calls Ajay received.

The call, which overruled the silence, was too chaotic for Ajay. The man on the other side said, “Mr. Ajay, I am Inspector Pradhan.” After a few seconds of silence, Inspector Pradhan added with a loud sigh, “I have a bad news for you. Your father has killed himself.”

Ajay felt as if the world had collapsed. The doctor’s words rushed into his mind. ‘That doctor had the tongue of a wizard,’ he thought. For some minutes, he could not stand still. He sat on a chair covering his face. He gathered up courage and rushed down the stairs. ‘He must have left something.’ Ajay’s instincts told him that his father had not gone without letting him know the truth. He reached the street and got on to a bus that went the nearest chowk from his house. All through the journey in the bus, he thought, ‘I made a mistake in choosing to avoid myself from the truth. I should have followed Dr. Shrestha’s words. He is an experienced psychiatrist after all.’

Ajay sensed a chaotic silence when he reached his home. His mother lay unconscious because she had cried a lot. His older brother sat beside his mother in silence. Some officers were roaming around, still investigating the house. Ajay noted Inspector Pradhan giving orders to his juniors. He went up to the officer and said, “Inspector Pradhan, where is he?”

“In his own room,” the inspector said, “I’m extremely sorry at your loss.”

“Did you find anything, Inspector?” Ajay queried. “Any note he had written before his suicide?”

“Yes, we did find a note,” Inspector Pradhan said. “It was inside an envelope on his table. Your father had written on the envelope that the letter should be given to you only. I’ve ensured no one reads that before you do.”

Inspector Pradhan then produced the letter and gave it to Ajay, who tore the envelope and read instantly:

Ajay,

I had made several mistakes during the early days of my career as a lawyer. Those immoral acts, I never intended to do myself. I had been forced to.

Those days I worked as the legal advisor at a bank. The manager was, at first, friendly. He used to ask me the laws related to everything he was going to do. He paid me well. But one day, he showed his true colours. He talked to me about a lady who worked in his office. He said she was beautiful and that he lusted for her. He asked me to suggest ways so as to incite her. I was shocked by the way his true self had come out. So I resolved not to help him.

He was a reader of minds, however. He told me that if I didn’t help him, he would not pay my fees and he would get all of us into trouble by messing up with the loans I had obtained from the bank. I remembered you, Ajay. I could not let you suffer. I had to oblige to that evil man.

I had just said this, “Be her Messiah.” The manager talked to the lady about a profitable business and she told that to her husband. They took loans from the bank but the information the manager had fed into them was fake. Their business collapsed. Their house was bought in the bidding by the manager’s relatives and he took the house himself later on. And when the lady was in deep sorrow, he increased her salary, promoted her and gave back her house as a “gift”. By doing that he gained her trust.

One day, the manager expressed his feelings towards her. Because she was married and had a child, she did not accept his proposal. The manager turned mad and brutally forced her into physical intimacy. I told him that he could get into trouble but he did not listen to me. He continued his brutality and the lady suffered a lot in her mind. Some months later, she ended up her miseries herself.

The note she left before she died could get the manager into trouble. He told me to help him by calling her mad and that she could not be believed. I refused to do so. He threatened me that he would torture me and my family so much that I too would get crazy like that lady and commit suicide. I had to give in to his threats and I saved him from punishment by doing whatever he told me to do.

After he retained his post, I quit the bank and practiced in the court. I never saw the manager again but then I heard that the wicked man disappeared. He deserved such a punishment and I thank God for punishing him.

I don’t expect you to forgive me Ajay. I have committed sins by letting that manager play with the mind of the lady. Because of my deed, you have suffered. You’ll never have to face any trouble I create from now onwards.

Your dad

P.S.: A doctor took custody of Reshma’s daughter. He is the girl’s biological father.

Ajay trembled. The letter fell off his hand. He had made a mistake by not talking too his father before the latter’s death. He cried bitterly until Inspector Pradhan said, “I’m sorry, Ajay. But I am curious about something.”

‘What is it?’ Ajay asked through his gestures. The inspector pointed at a small photo on the top of the table and continued, “Is that you?”

“No,” Ajay said in a low voice, “It’s Dad”. The officer then remarked, “You two look strikingly similar.”

Read Chapter 4

Leave Me Alone-4

Previously on Leave Me Alone

Ajay and Sasha go to Sasha’s home to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. Ajay sees portrait of a woman on red sari who looks like Sasha. Ajay is attacked by a woman on red sari and he flees. He goes to a police station and tells what had happened. Sasha wakes up on a cold street and returns back to her house, where police officers tell her to go with them. She is reluctant at first first but agrees later. At the police station, she faints.

Let’s look what happens to her and what truth Ajay discovers in this chapter.

The men at the police station acted quickly. Within minutes, Sasha was taken into the hospital, which she had exited some hours as a nurse. Ajay was devastated. He did not understand what was going on. Sitting on a chair outside the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, Ajay began contemplating his relationship with Sasha. He realized that he did not know much about her. He had never asked her about her family and had wrongly believed that they were alive. Before Sasha had arrived at the police station, Dr. Shrestha had told him about her troubled childhood. He had also told that Sasha’s mother had died long ago. ‘Who was the woman who attacked me then? Was she Sasha’s mother? Or was she Sasha herself?’ Dr. Shrestha said she was Sasha but Ajay could not believe him. So, Dr. Shrestha gave his address and said, “Come to my house tomorrow at 8 o’clock in the morning. You will meet someone who will confirm my story.”

That night Ajay spent on the cold chair outside the ICU sometimes dozing, sometimes staring at the wall in front of him and sometimes looking at his unconscious girlfriend through the glass. When the darkness dissolved into the eastern lights, he talked with Rosa, whose shift had just ended. She told, “I had never thought I would see Sasha in such serious condition. I can’t still believe she is in coma. She was so lively last night.”

“Did you know about her problems?” Ajay interrogated as they walked out of the hospital.

“Everyone here knows that she had a split personality,” Rosa answered. “After long private sessions, Dr. Shrestha treated her. She got her nursing license after the treatment. Now that the disorder seems to have resurfaced, everyone is going to blame him. He is devastated.”

“I know,” Ajay said. “He is not happy with what has happened. He believes he made some mistake. The doctor thinks that if he had been a little more careful, Sasha would not have suffered the trauma.”

“It’s obvious he would think that way. He is her guardian,” Rosa remarked. They had already reached the bus stop on the street. Rosa bade farewell and went away. Ajay wondered, ‘Did she say Dr. Shrestha is Sasha’s guardian? He didn’t tell me that before. Why?’

He immediately resolved, ‘I need to ask the doctor.’

Ajay unfolded a small piece of paper in which the doctor had written his address. It was not far from where he was. Though he felt hungry- he had not eaten anything since lunch the previous day- Ajay decided to walk.

He reached Dr. Shrestha’s place in about fifteen minutes. He was not stopped at the gate. The doctor must have told the gatekeeper he was coming. He himself was waiting for Ajay in the garden. Beside him was a dark wrinkled woman. She smiled slightly at him. When Ajay sat on a chair opposite them, the doctor offered him tea and some slices of fruitcake. Ajay happily savoured them.

As they ate, Dr. Shrestha said, “Ajay, this is Parmila. She worked as a maid at Sasha’s from the time Sasha was born. Parmila knows their story better than I do.”

There was a silence for a while. Ajay asked, “Do you still work there?”

“No,” Parmila replied in a hoarse voice. “I stopped working there three years ago, after Sasha joined nursing.”

“Is it true that Sasha’s parents passed away while she was about six years old?”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“But I saw her mother last night,” Ajay exclaimed in disbelief.

“You can’t have seen Reshma,” Parmila said.

“The woman you saw was Sasha, not her mother,” Dr. Shrestha. “Tell him all you know, Parmila.”

Parmila nodded and began, “She was a beautiful child. She laughed a lot, played a lot. She wanted everything to be perfect even at a small age. She never liked playing with broken toys. After she played she used to keep them in their exact places. She was so sensitive that she used to cry whenever someone spoke to her loudly. She had lot of friends even at a small age.

“Sasha’s father had inherited a lot of land, from which he began a business of his own. Her mother, Reshma, worked at a bank on a good salary,” Parmila sighed and continued, “But some days after Sasha’s sixth birthday, fortune began to disfavour them. Her father’s business collapsed. He had taken up a loan from the bank where Reshma worked. The house had been mortgaged. The bank sold it when they could not pay the debt. The family who bought the house through bidding were relatives of the bank manager.

“Some months later, I heard a rumour that the manager of the same bank obtained that house from his relatives. Sasha’s father started blaming his wife for their misfortune. He said that she could have stopped the sale by talking to the management. But he never considered he had invested wrongly. He solely blamed upon Reshma for his failure. They moved into a small house. They had to pay rents and could not afford keeping me on the work. I had to leave.

“Some weeks later, Sasha’s mother came to my house. She looked as if she had slept for days. She was not as bright as she used to be. She sat beside me and said, “My husband has changed. He does not support me. He is not happy that I am still working at the bank that auctioned our house. I submitted resignation letter twice but they don’t approve it. He does not believe anything I say. We have been quarrelling a lot lately. It is affecting Sasha. He wants to send Sasha to a hostel. She is too young to be sent to a hostel. I want your help, Parmila.”

““Okay, I understand your problem. I’ll take care of the child,” I said, “You don’t need to pay me as long as you are in financial problem.”

“Sasha’s mother thanked me. She looked a little brighter by the time she left my place. I looked after Sasha in the mornings and evenings, while working at other places for money.

“Sasha was really affected by the fights her parents had. She was gloomy. She did not talk to anyone. Her grades had fallen. I did my best to keep her happy. I talked and laughed with her. I helped her in whatever I could. Whenever her parents fought, I took her to my house in her sleep. But I feared, even at that time, that I had not been able to stop the psychological change the child was going through.

“The family’s fortune changed all of a sudden. Reshma got a promotion and her husband discovered a link to get hold of his business again. A few months passed in peace until one evening Sasha’s mother said they were shifting. “Where,” I asked.

““Back to the house we left some months ago,” she said. I could not believe my ears. I asked her again and she replied the same. That was the evening, I saw little Sasha happy in a long time.

“No one asked Reshma how she got the house back. Her husband did not look happy, though. I heard murmurs among the women that Reshma had got the house back because of her illicit relationship with the bank manager. Her husband might have thought the same but did not say anything. He also stopped fighting with his wife and was giving time to Sasha whenever he could.

“Reshma, on the other hand, was not giving time to her daughter at all. She had changed. She usually came home late at night, drunk. So much that she could not stand upright. The bank manager would bring her up to the door sometimes. I knew her husband was angry. He was like a dormant volcano, ready to explode anytime. I feared the destruction it would bring.

“One evening, he burst up. Reshma was drunk as usual. He could bear it no more. He shouted out, “What’s wrong with you, Reshma? Why do you come home drunk every night?”

““There is no use telling you. You’re not going to believe me,” she replied angrily.

““Why don’t you tell me what exactly has happened to you?”

““You know everything,” Reshma replied in a low voice this time. “Why do you want to hear it from me?”

““What? I don’t know anything. How would I?”

“I could not hear what Reshma said but her husband was terribly enraged. He slapped her hard and yelled, “I didn’t know you could fall that low. Didn’t you even think of me and Sasha?”

““I had no choice,” Reshma said, crying. Her husband did not even look her. From the corner I was standing, I saw Sasha looking at her father. I was scared. She had seen her parents’ fight.

“The next morning, I witnessed the most tragic incident of life. Sasha’s mother was found dead in her room. Her face had become blue. A small bottle of poison lay beside her. The police discovered a note inside her diary in which she had written that the manager of the bank where she worked had molested her several times. The note also said that he had offered the house in return. Reshma had to accept everything he did because he had threatened to harm her family.

“The police caught the bank manager but his lawyer saved him from imprisonment. They even proved that Reshma was mad and that her note was not trustworthy. A few weeks later, the bank manger suddenly disappeared and has not been seen again. God punished him for this deed.”

There was a long silence at the table. “What happened to Sasha’s father?” Ajay asked slowly.

“Oh,” Parmila said, “He fell down the stairs and died. In his will he had wanted Dr. Shrestha to become Sasha’s guardian. I kept working at their house. Dr. Shrestha provided me wages until I decided to leave work due to my age two years ago.”

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Leave Me Alone-3

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

Ajay and Sasha go to Sasha’s home to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. Ajay sees portrait of a woman on red sari who looks like Sasha. Ajay is attacked by a woman on red sari and he flees. He goes to a police station and tells what had happened. Let’s look at Sasha in this chapter.

Sasha felt cold. She had been lying face down on the frozen floor for she did not know how long. The cold hit her heart. She opened her eyes and sat up immediately. She was surrounded by darkness. She was stunned because she was not on the kitchen floor where she had fallen unconscious. She was on a street- cold, pitch-black street.

‘How did I reach here?’ she tried hard to recall but in vain. She had been attacked by her mother in the kitchen and had no idea what had happened to her after she fell down. She wanted to cry. She covered her face with her palms. They were sticky and smelt of rust. She peeked hard at her hand in the darkness. ‘Blood,’ she thought looking around. ‘But how did blood come up in my hands?’

Her hands went through her face. ‘There are some bruises on the corner of right eyebrow,’ she came to know and she formulated a hypothesis. ‘That wound wouldn’t have flowed much. My hands must have touched something bloody or smeared with someone’s blood.’ She feared, ‘Whose blood could it be upon my palms? Is it my mother’s or Ajay’s?’

She jumped up abruptly. What could have happened to Ajay? Her mother had wanted him dead. She hoped she had not been able to do anything to him but she was scared. ‘My mother can do anything,’ she said to herself. Her mother could have made a plan to murder Ajay and put the blame upon her. Sasha gasped, looked around through the darkness and realized that she was not too far from her house. She had to get back to her house immediately to protect Ajay from her crazy mother.

As she began running to her house, she noticed that she was wearing a sari. She clearly remembered that she had worn a different dress before her mother had hit her with a steel rod. She knew she had not chosen to wear a sari. She did not even know how to wear it properly. Her mother must have put it on her while she had been unconscious. ‘How did she manage to do that?’ Sasha could not understand. Nevertheless, she understood that her mother wanted to kill Sasha as well. A flimsy cotton sari would not have protected her from cold on a frosty night. ‘She really planned it well,’ Sasha thought. She also had several questions in her mind. ‘Why did she want Ajay dead? Was it really because of the revenge she wanted to have?’ However, she should have understood that he could not have harmed her at all. He had not even met her once. Sasha felt her mother had really gone crazy. Her mother had to answer Sasha’s questions honestly.

With an impeccable sense of direction, Sasha reached her house quickly. She was shocked by the fact that the gate and the main door were open. ‘My Mom must have fled already. She would have acted behind shut doors and windows. The lights are not yet turned off.’ A cold chill ran up her spines. Had she already taken Ajay’s life? ‘I should not think of such things,’ Sasha controlled her thoughts and ran in. Her hope that nothing had happened to Ajay increased when she saw a police van in front of the porch. There was a sound of people speaking and creaking of boots everywhere in the house. Sasha rushed into the kitchen, where the sound was bigger. The room was in a mess. Broken glasses lay here and there. The police officers were taking notes of what they saw in the crime scene. Sasha also saw a clean-shaven police officer giving instructions to his juniors. He noticed Sasha and stopped giving directions. Everyone started looking at her. The officer walked forward and asked her, “You’re Sasha, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am,” Sasha answered abruptly.

“Thank God,” the officer exclaimed. “Your boyfriend had told that you might be in danger. Do you know what he meant by danger?”

“My mother,” Sasha said, relieved that Ajay was safe,” she wanted him dead.”

“What? Why did he want to kill him? When did you know of that?”

“She did not tell me until this evening,” Sasha replied. She said that I did not understand; that I had been blinded by my love to Ajay. “She had even attacked me with a steel rod. I had fallen unconscious over there.”

She pointed to the floor before the sink. The officer looked at the rod with grimace. He did not seem to understand something. He asked her promptly, “If you had been attacked here, why weren’t you here when we had come here? Where were you?”

“I don’t know,” Sasha said plainly. “Even I don’t understand. I think she dragged me to the street and left me to die in the cold.”

The officer looked at her with distrust. He thought over for a while and said, “That’s very unlikely for a woman. But if she had someone to work for her or if she is strong, nothing is impossible.”

The officer’s phone buzzed. He seemed to receive some orders from the other side. When he cut the call off, he turned to Sasha and said, “I’ve been ordered to take you to the police station.”

Sasha trembled. “B . . . But I’ve not done anything. I swear it was my Mom. I can’t even think of harming Ajay.”

“You don’t understand, Sasha,” the officer said. “You’re not being arrested. This place is not safe for you right now. What if your mother attacks you the moment we leave? You’ll go with us for your own safety.”

Sasha nodded slowly. The officer was right. Besides, she could also meet Ajay and ask him what her mother had done to him. When the record taking was completed, the officer told everyone, including Sasha to move out. Within minutes, they were at the police station.

The officer led Sasha into the office of the Inspector. She saw three men talking with each other in one corner of the room. They were speaking in low voices. Sasha could not listen to anything but she thought they were talking about her. The officer who had brought Sasha with him said something to the trio. As Sasha went towards them, Ajay looked towards her. His eyes widened with fear. “You’ve been tricked, officer,” Ajay shouted out. “This is not Sasha, officer. This is the woman who attacked me.”

Sasha covered her ears with her hands. She could bear no more. Ajay did not believe him. Who would help her? Sasha had always loved her mother but she had got pain instead. Her pulse increased. She felt her temples were being seared. She clutched her head with her hands; howled out in pain and collapsed.

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Leave Me Alone-2

Previously on Leave Me Alone:

In the first chapter, Sasha takes Ajay her home. Ajay, who had never gone in before, is mesmerized by the decorations. However, the portrait of a woman on red sari who looks similar to Sasha (Sasha says it’s her mother) grabs his attention. Later, he sees a woman on a red sari. Before he can who she is, he is attacked. Ajay flees away from Sasha’s home.

Continue reading Chapter 2 here. . .

Ajay was gasping. The chilly wind that hit his nose and lungs did not help him. His legs, too were giving in and his feet were burning on the cold pitch. He did not stop, however. After a few minutes of run, he had realized that he was not being chased anymore but his mind had warned him that it could be a trap. Even under fear and darkness, his sense of direction had helped him reach the police station. As soon as he had stepped in, he had collapsed.

Ajay opened his eyes upon a hard wooden bench. He saw two men in front of him. One of them was a bespectacled man of about sixty. He had white beard and his demeanour spoke of experience. The other was clean-shaven man of about thirty. He looked the more curious of the two. “Bring him something to drink,” the younger man ordered. In less than a minute, Ajay was offered a cup of tea.

“Hello, Ajay,” the bespectacled man spoke, “How do you feel now?”

Maybe because of the tea, Ajay’s body had felt a little better. But the very thought of what had happened at Sasha’s place chilled his spines. “Sasha is in danger,” he said to the old man. “You don’t look like a policeman. Who are you? How do you know my name?”

The old man smiled. “I am Madan Shrestha. I am a doctor and I live nearby. I had been called here by Inspector Pradhan,” he pointed at the younger man, “who also happens to be my son-in-law. We had personal matters to discuss. That was when you stumbled into the station.”

“And I asked him to helped you,” Inspector Pradhan said sternly. “We took your identity from your driving license. You look well off. How did you come up here without your shoes? Who is Sasha? You were muttering that she is in danger even while you were unconscious.”

“She’s my girlfriend,” Ajay said and gave the Inspector her address. He took the case in his hands immediately. Leaving a junior officer Krishna and Dr. Shrestha with Ajay, he set off with some cadets. Krishna, who had been intently listening to everything earlier, spoke asked, “Let’s know what had happened to you and your girlfriend, shall we?”

Ajay said, “We met at a conference about a month ago. We discovered many similarities between us and we soon got fond of each other. We exchanged numbers. Text messages soon converted into phone calls. The more we talked, the better we started knowing each other. A week later we went on our first date.”

Ajay told them that he had planned a special treat to celebrate Sasha’s birthday. A cake and dinner was ordered at 9 o’clock that evening. He had reached Sasha’s workplace ten minutes before her duty would end. He made a call, which Sasha had received on the eleventh time. She had soon come down, smiling. He had gone to her and had dragged to the car. He had opened the door and pushed her. He had been a little harsh and Sasha had been face down upon the seat. Ajay had never wanted such a thing to happen. She had looked a little furious. He had run to his seat and played her favourite music before he had driven them to Sasha’s house.

Sasha had smilingly asked him to come over at hers. Ajay had thought that she was angry with him because of what had happened earlier. He had not struck a conversation because of the very reason. He had been surprised and had denied the offer as he had often done. But she had pressed him hard. He would not have given in if he had not planned the treat himself. So he agreed. If he had agreed to go to her house earlier, she would not have been as excited at that moment.

Sasha had walked off the car and opened the gate. She had also shown him the garage, where he had parked the car. While he was walking towards the main door, he saw Sasha standing still on the porch. She looked like she was thinking something. When Ajay had called her, she had come out of her trance, or whatever it was, and had said that she had been waiting for her. Soon she had taken him through the main door, which opened into the living hall.

He had been mesmerized by the grandeur of the room. Its floor was covered by fine red carpet all over. In the middle of the room were three couches arranged in the shape of ‘U’. The bigger middle one faced the door that they had just entered from; one couch on its left faced the kitchen and the other in the right faced the bathroom. A low table lay in front of the bigger couch.

Two stairs went up from the living hall, one just from a little left from outside the kitchen and the other symmetrically left from outside the bathroom. They met on the other floor to form a balcony. Under the balcony, within the living room, there were several paintings. Due to low intensity of light on that part, however, Ajay could not properly see them from far.

While he had still been wandering about the hall, Sasha had entered the kitchen. He had heard the sounds of the gas stove being lighted up some minutes ago. The God of Mischief had led him into the kitchen. Sasha had turned her back towards the door and had been watching the milk-pan. Ajay had walked up slowly looking at his own face in the mirrors on the kitchen wall. He had also noticed a small mirror over the sink. As noiseless as a cat, he had reached Sasha and all of a sudden, grabbed her from behind. At the same time, the milk had boiled up and fallen over the stove, ceasing the fire. Ajay had been scared. He had made a mistake again. However, instead of punishing him, Sasha had pulled him forward to kiss him. The stench of the LPG had hit her nose at the very moment and she had pushed him away and had taken care of the situation immediately.

Though Sasha had not said anything, Ajay felt that his mischief had been enough to make her angry. He had quickly left the kitchen and had rushed into the living room again. He had explored the part under the balcony that time and had seen a portrait-like photograph. It was a life-size photograph of a woman on red sari and a matching blouse. Her shoes and bag too were red. She had put on a small bindi on her forehead and sindoor above it up to her hair. Her hair had been tied in a bun and curls were left out just above her ears. The photo stunned Ajay because the woman looked so much like Sasha but the photo did not look like it had been recently produced.

Therefore, while Sasha had entered with two mugs of coffee in her hands, he had asked if she had taken a photo of that sort. She had said that it was not hers. An idea struck into his mind that the woman on the photograph could be her mother instead, and she had confirmed it.

“After that, there was no question in my mind,” Ajay had continued. “I had strolled a little, sipped the coffee, I sat on the long couch. She had soon come and rested on my lap. I could see her beautiful eyes. They were full of love. I could not keep my own eyes off them. All of a sudden, her facial muscles twitched. The eyes that were filled by love had become furious. They looked as if she was about to pounce upon me.

“My reflexes tried to keep me away from her. As I jumped up, a little coffee fell upon her uniform. She lamented for a while and shot upstairs. Meanwhile, I emptied the coffee mug and put it on the table. I also noticed that Sasha had taken her mug upstairs for I could not find them in the room and I clearly remember that she had not gone into the kitchen either. I do not remember how long I sat alone in that living hall waiting for her. I was attracted to her mother’s photo and had taking a closer look at it again when I heard the sound of breaking glass from the direction of the kitchen.

“I hadn’t noticed if Sasha had come downstairs or not. I had no idea if she had been into the kitchen. I guessed she might have and dashed into the kitchen. Fragments of glass were scattered on the floor. The big mirror on the opposite of the sink had been the victim. I was careful not to step on them. (I had kept my shoes on the shelf outside the living hall.) Then I saw a woman advancing at me from the right corner of the room. I don’t understand if the photo had enthralled my mind already, for the woman who was sprinting towards me looked exactly like the one it.

“”Get out of the house,” she shouted at me. I refused to budge. She came forward at me and furiously swung her left arm at me. What I had not earlier realised was that she had carried a knife. By the time I could notice that, it had already landed upon my face.

“I howled, cursed and ran away with my hand pressing the wound on my face. Whoever this woman was, I was sure had gone crazy and was after me. I don’t know if she was Sasha’s mother whom I had not seen earlier; nor can I say what she has done to Sasha. At the time I fled, I just wanted to escape the wrath of that woman on the red sari. A little later, I mind just told me as I ran hard, ‘Go to the nearest police station, Sasha needs help.’ That’s what led me here and I collapsed before I could speak out anything to you.”

 

 

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