Maan’s eyes were drooping and Simran very lovingly placed his head on her lap. He hugged his mother so relieved and ecstatic to be cocooned so affectionately in her embrace and she caressed his hair rocking him to a peaceful and sound sleep after ages. Simran next placed Geet’s head also on her lap, stroking her hair tenderly wanting to absorb all the trauma both her darling kids had under gone over the past weeks. Soon Geet also fell asleep under her caring touch.
All had tears in their eyes as to how much their beloved children had suffered and they wished they could reverse the time wheel and free them of their pain and anguish.
Simran very lovingly caressed both her children wanting to take away all their pain and suffering and fill their lives with happiness. Rano tucked Geet completely in the comforter and gestured to Simran to shift her over to the pillow but she refused. She wanted to hide her dear kids from the evil eyes of the world and waned to protect them cocooned in her embrace. Tears fell from Rano’s eyes looking at the love and affection Simran had not only for Maan but for Geet as well.
Rano tucked Maan as well but as soon as she tried to cover his back he flinched in extreme pain and she withdrew the blanket immediately. He had masked his pain in front of all while he was awake but his sleep gave his heart wrenching sufferings away. All felt so guilty of having abused, cursed and tortured him beyond imagination and tears poured from their eyes feeling the pain and humiliation they had caused him.
Raj knelt down on his knees beside Maan and gently caressed his hair. His heart was bleeding while soul weeping at how he had whipped his son mercilessly. He wept uncontrollably while his body flinched in pain feeling the agony his precious child much have undergone at his hands. He very softly ran his hand over Maan’s back as if trying desperately to heal him while tears rolled down his eyes at the scars he had given his dear child not only physically but emotionally as well by calling him a curse.
They kept adoring their children all night long while tears of guilt kept on flowing at not being there for them when they need them the most rather misunderstanding them as well.
As morning approached Rano broke the silence.
Rano: How will we handle Mohinder after he comes to know the truth?
Raj: He doesn’t need to know…
Rano (interrupting him): But that is totally unfair with Maan.
Raj: I know it Rano but you know Mohinder. His family name and reputation has much higher value in his eyes than even our dear children and I just can’t let him ruin Geet Beti’s life in the name of worthless tradition and false honor. At least he is silent at present and the only thing he wants is their marriage.
Rano: But it is like taking undue advantage of Maan, his love and affection. We can’t force him to marry.
Sirman: and all this is already so traumatic for Geet, having suffered so much, is she even in the right state of mind to accept a new relationship?
Raj: You guys don’t worry, I am not saying to force them into anything, let our children decide what they wanna do in their lives. What I am thinking is that though Mohinder will be back today but he would be leaving tomorrow for one month on his business tour and by then our children would be back to their hostels. So we should just persuade him to wait till the semester end for the engagement and I will convince him to delay the marriage till they finish college. This way Geet won’t even come to know about Mohinder’s plan till semester end and we all are there to get her out of her depression by then. As for marriage they both can get to know each other better as adults in these 3 years and then we would let them decide their future.
Rano and Simran were also convinced that this was the best plan given the situation.
Mohinder returned the following day and he was pleased to see that all had accepted back Maan and Geet was much better, so now his plan for their marriage seemed all clear to him. He talked with Rano, Raj and Simran regarding the engagement and marriage to be held as soon as possible. But Rano managed to convince him to hold the engagement ceremony at semester end while Raj convinced him that the whole society will talk if they married their kids before college finished that probably their children had crossed their limits and Mohinder agreed as he was afraid of his family name getting tainted.
Later that evening Mohinder asked Rano to call Maan.
Mohinder (alone with Maan): You stay away from Geet till you both get married. (Maan simply bowed his head). I have forgiven your mistake but it doesn’t mean that I will tolerate any more of your nonsense so just remain within your limits till you are officially married. Understood?
Maan simply nodded his head and Mohinder left. Rano was standing outside the door and her heart ached to see Maan being insulted more.
Rano (tears in her eyes): Beta, I am really sorry.
Maan jolted out of his thoughts hearing Rano’s voice and he was surprised to find her there.
Maan (making eye contact but Rano was astonished to see so much disgust and sadness in his eyes): Nahi Rano Maa, mujhe is baat ka bura nahi laga ki Uncle ne mujhe Gudiya se door rahane ko kaha bulki mujhe is baat ka dukh hain ki jab unki nazaro mein maine itna gira hua aur ginhona aprad kiya hai uske bavajod woh Gudiya ki shaadi mujse karwana chahate hai. If he really believes I… I…
(Maan closed his eyes in pain dying inside as he said so) I… raped Gudiya
(his expressions changed to anger and disgust) then how can he even think about torturing her more by marrying her to her culprit. (questioning Rano, holding her shoulders and shaking her) Maa he claims to love Gudiya but what kind of love is this which is ready to forgive her abuser and make her suffer in the name of family honor, what kind of honor is this that has no value for living beings. It will be my honor if Gudiya accepts me as her life partner and I am willing to wait till eternity for her acceptance but the reason why he wants to marry us disgusts me to the core.
(No Rano Maa, I didn’t feel bad about the fact that Uncle asked me to remain away from Geet but I felt sad that when in his eyes I have done such a horrible and gruesome crime still he wants to get Gudiya married to me)
Rano was awestruck at his truly selfless love. There was probably no limit for his pure unconditional love for his Gudiya. He was not even one bit bothered about his image, his self-respect in the eyes of his beloved family, he silently bore when all cursed him, abused him, misunderstood his sacrifise, he didn’t even flinch when he was mercilessly beaten but a mere thought against his Gudiya that she could have suffered (since in reality Maan was the best partner she could ever dream of) and he was shaken up to the core, he just couldn’t bear to even think about any injustice on her what so ever. She wondered how could love be so pure, so noble, so absolute that he saw nothing other than her happiness, her smile, that nothing existed other than her.
Even God probably would have saluted his divine love totally over whelmed with his truly unconditional and selfless love and care for his Gudiya.
As days went by both Maan and Geet’s physical wounds had healed. Also under the loving care of Maan, Rano, Simran and Raj slowly even Geet’s mental and emotional scars were curing but she was still very apprehensive about going out of their home. With great difficulty Maan had managed to take her out a couple of times on the pretext of long drives, which used to be her favorite before the incident, but now it would take hell lot of forcing and convincing on his part to even stop for an ice cream or a cup of coffee.
Geet was not willing to come out of her shell, yes she used to talk to them but hardly laughed and even when she did her smile never reached her eyes. She used to remain very silent which was totally against her bubbly nature and she simply feared, despised and completely averted crowd. Her condition was silently killing Maan inside and his guilt at not being able to protect her was burning his soul.
A few days before their college was to resume Rano somehow convinced Geet to go out for a movie with Maan. The movie was supposed to be total comedy and all thought it would be a good change for her. Geet finally agreed after emotional blackmailing from all (Maan, Rano, Raj and Simran)
Maan and Geet reached the hall, she was hell scared seeing so much crowd and stuck to Maan who very lovingly cocooned her in his embrace all the way inside the hall. He didn’t even let him buy popcorns, which was their favorite activity whenever they came to watch a movie in the past, out of the fear of getting lost alone.
She tightly held his hands digging her nails deep inside his skin as they seated and he very gently caressed her hands as if assuring her that he would never ever leave her come what may.
The movie started and as all had expected it was really very hilarious and even Geet laughed occasionally and even her grip relaxed. Maan was completely lost in his Gudiya’s laughter finally relieved to see her old self at least for some time, it seemed a definite step forward towards her recovery when hell broke loose. Suddenly there was a scene in which the villain captured the heroine, Geet’s expression changed to extreme fear and she started trembling as if re-living her night mare. Maan got worried seeing the change in her and it was then that he saw the screen and realized that she was undergoing her ordeal again. The villain ripped the heroine’s sleeves and Geet screamed completely shattered.
Maan immediately got up and lifted Geet who instantly hid herself in his embrace and he walked out from the hall not caring one bit about all the jeers he was getting from the crowd. As soon as they were out he sat on the couch just outside the hall making her sit on his lap engulfing her in his embrace.
He was dying in guilt, the failure of not been able to protect his Gudiya was eating him inside, his heart was burning feeling her pain and the remorse of not being there when she needed him the most scorching his soul.
Maan (completely broken, tears flowing continuously, his voice full of grief guilt and self-loathe): I am so sorry Gudiya… I wasn’t there… I couldn’t even… protect… my doll… Oh God… I hate myself every second for having left you alone (and he wept uncontrollably just not able to forgive himself. He felt as if his heart would explode not able to bear the torture she had been going though, at his helplessness on not being able to heal, and the regret of having left her behind) It is all my fault… why… why… did… I… go.. Oh Lord… why didn’t I just die … before I left you…
Geet (jolted out of her pain and grief hearing him curse himself. She was shocked beyond words at his guilt, she realized maybe for the first time what he had been undergoing from that day till date and screamed in pain not able to bear his remorse): Maaannn…..
Geet: Maan please look at me, it is not your fault. What you did for me no one and I mean no one could do. You sacrificed not only you body, heart, soul but even your self-respect, your everything just for me, for my stupid and foolish mistake. You were never wrong, you always warned me, it was I who like a fool believed him. Please don’t blame yourself. (when he still didn’t look up) I am not even worthy of your divine love yet you kept on showering your unconditional love and care on me and all I ever did was give you pain in return.
Maan (He immediately kept his hand on her mouth silencing her, shaking his head. She was his Gudiya, his Jaan how could he bear her blame herself.): Nahi Gudiya…
Geet hugged Maan promising to herself that she would come out of her grief and not let her savior suffer because of her while Maan just cocooned her in him embrace wanting to absorb all her pain. He wished he could bear her suffering on him so that his Gudiya could be free of all burdens.
Even God was speechless today witnessing his unconditional love and happy to see it being reciprocated with equal fervor.
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