Precaution: Long Post (Though its a short story) with some errors!
There was a lot of commotion in the house of Chawla Family that day – peals of laughter and sporadic shouts of children could have heard from a distance and the gathering of many people stirred the interest of the village folks. Usually, keeping to themselves, Chawlas were one of the wealthiest families in the village and their palatial home was like a forbidden palace for the village folks. It was the stature and influence of the Chawlas that kept other folks impassive towards their daily lives. Even the most inquisitive folks did not care or dare to say anything about Chawlas. Though, many of them were kind of interested to know more about that particular ruckus. Something like that happened five years ago!
Five years ago, Kanchan eloped with her boyfriend Prabhat and what followed afterwards turned Chawlas home into any other house in the village. It was a rare opportunity for many village folks and each one of them visited that home to give some false or true information about Kanchan. Things had changed in five year – Kanchan was coming to her maternal home and the whole family implicitly agreed to celebrate. They cursed Kanchan for a long time for what she did, but finally they accepted that gnawing decision and went on to convince themselves that all happened for some good. Kanchan’s mother talked to her daughter after five years and after the initial tear-laden conversation, she invited her to see the ailing grandmother. The oldest member of the family or Kanchan’s grandmother was eagerly waiting for her grandchild, who was once treated like a princess in that home. Kanchan agreed to visit her grandmother – within a couple of days, the brightly lit and recently painted Chawla house looked alive and quickly filled with relatives, who came from the far and wide corners of the city not only to be a part of this celebration but also to meet Kanchan – and to see, whether she was happy or not. Many were surprised that Kanchan’s father had made peace with his daughter. It wasn’t easy at all, but then a daughter’s love overpowered everything.
It was not going to be a kind of typical after-marriage ceremony, but for Chawlas, it was that much awaited occasion to celebrate and wholeheartedly accept the decision of their daughter – in front of those who had a lot to say five years ago. They did not forget to invite all of their relatives and above all Kanchan’s best friend Sanchita.
Kanchan was supposed to come home in the evening and all the members of the family were waiting for her. Old memories invigorated and more than joy – it was a moment of relief for the Chawlas – though they disowned their daughter, verbally in front of the society but never really accepted it – themselves.
Kanchan’s brother Ramesh, quickly got Sanchita’s phone number from her maternal home, but before giving her a call, he consulted his mother. It was an odd moment for him and his mother. In fact, his mother said that Kanchan might not like it because it was Sanchita who first broke the news of Kanchan’s elopement to the Chawla family. Sanchita and Kanchan were considered as the best friends by many. They went to school together, studied in the same class and shared every secret – two grown-up girls typically do. On that day, when Kanchan decided to elope with her boyfriend, she did not tell anyone about her plans except Sanchita – her best friend. But, that did not go well! Somehow, Kanchan and her boyfriend Suraj made a last minute change in their plan and that somehow helped them to keep Chawla and their clan away – or it would have been a disaster for the young lovers. Kanchan’s enraged brother and father had used all of their resources to get the information about the couple but they did not succeed. And, five years changed their perception.
After pondering over the implications, Kanchan’s mother told Ramesh that he should call Sanchita because everyone had moved ahead with their lives.
Kanchan’s brother Ramesh called Sanchita many times that day, but she did not pick up the phone. The phone kept on ringing and finally Kuldeep picked up the phone. Kuldeep was Sanchita’s husband. He was a senior inspector in the state police department.
Ramesh, “hello, Namaste Ji, can I talk to Sanchita?”
Kuldeep, “Who are you and why are you calling on this number again and again.” Before Kuldeep could have shot a few expletives, Ramesh quickly took him through the back story by explaining everything.
After listening to that he said, “Ok Ramesh, Kanchan will call you.”
Kuldeep was a bit short-tempered fellow. Due to his erratic behavior most of the people used to avoid him. But, that was tolerable to a great extent, but then he had this knack of turning into a monster after getting drunk. Sanchita got married to Kuldeep four years ago – a year after her best friend eloped with a boy. Initial outbursts of Kuldeep quickly turned into trails of ugly fights which sometimes appeared sadistic.
Kuldeep had a tendency to fight over trifles and a couple of times, Sanchita went back to her parent’s home but only to return after a few days. And, then it became a usual affair and Sanchita got used to it.
Kuldeep started drinking a bit early that day and Kanchan could sense that something nasty was in the offing. Her keen knack to gauge the frequently changing behavior of her husband had made her very alert as an individual. Those four years with Kuldeep, had given her two daughters and a submissive will to tolerate everything for the sake of her daughters. A few times she contemplated the options of committing suicide but then quickly changed her mind. Who would look after her daughter, if she would kill herself? Kanchan had made peace with herself and expected the norms, which included, subject to frequent beatings and unnecessary rants. Kuldeep never hesitated to humiliate her in front of others.
After finishing half of a bottle of Rum, Kuldeep mumbled. “How can I trust a woman like you, why did you not tell me about this friend of yours earlier?”
Kanchan knew that it was coming, but she did not say anything. Mentally she prepared herself to take another beating. Then the memories flashed before her eyes. Just like another girl, she had those dreams and aspirations about her would-be husband and life after marriage, but things got worse just after the honeymoon. She felt that her bad times started when she said yes to Kuldeep’s proposal. May be it was that police inspector’s charm!
Kanchan went into another room, where her daughters were watching a cartoon series. She picked up the remote, increased the volume of the TV and came back into the same room to face her drunk husband with assurance that her young daughters would not hear anything of it.
Another day, another beating. Kanchan took all the beating, waited for Kuldeep to sleep, who used a few more swearing words, crashed on the bed and soon started snoring. She washed her face, picked up the phone and called Ramesh. They talked over the phone for sometime and then Ramesh broke the news of Sanchita’s homecoming and asked a few more details before inviting Kanchan.
Once again, memories flashed before her eyes, as she recalled those days, when she and Kanchan were the best friends, hugely popular for their bonding in the school. They shared every little secret they had about their first crush, fears, things they admired, things they hated and everything that could have been discussed among girls. Sanchita admired Kanchan for her courage. Like any other typical friends, Sanchita and Kanchan have had their share of fights with each other, but it was Kanchan who always took the initiative to patch up with her friend Sanchita.
Sanchita went on to the terrace and giggled alone by recalling some funny moments - she and Kanchan enjoyed together. There were many sweet memories. Kanchan smiled many times, while sitting alone on a plastic chair on her terrace but then she started crying.
She clearly remembered that day, when Suraj came to her home at night to asked about his sister. It was the third and last year of their freedom in the college. Sanchita was well-aware about her friends’ affair. She always encouraged Kanchan to meet her boyfriend Pradeep. Sanchita was just like Kanchan in playing pranks and cracking jokes, but it was her rigid nature and at times a very blunt attitude, which created a kind of borderline around her – and nobody dared to cross that. A few times, Sanchita was approached by a few boys, who wanted to take her out on a date, but once again it was her rigid attitude which kept them away. Sanchita always felt happy about those encounters but never moved beyond a casual conversation. She believed that she deserved a far better prospective groom for her than any other boy from the City College.
When Kanchan and Pradeep were dating, Sanchita has had those lonely moments to contemplate a lot of things. At times, she wished that someday they might get caught and then Kanchan would learn the greatest lesson of her life that to lead a peaceful life, we had to play by the rules created by others. Well, that did not happen.
On that day, when Kanchan eloped with her boyfriend Pradeep, Sanchita was more shocked than the family of her friend. Once again, Kanchan’s audacity surprised her best friend. How could a girl like Kanchan elope with a local boy? She certainly deserved a better choice!
Before Chawla family could have pressed Sanchita – she readily gave away the address of that temple, where Kanchan was supposed to get married next day. Everyone in the Chawla family thanked Sanchita who was absolutely convinced now that the moment of reckoning had arrived. And, now Kanchan would learn the greatest lesson of her life. But, that did not happen!
Kanchan and Pradeep was supposed to get married in that temple that day, but then Kanchan suggested that before going for that they should get married in the registrar’s office so that legally they would become a couple and get the police protection.
Sanchita felt a quivering chill down her spine as she recalled her action and felt that how would she face her best friend after what she did to her, five years ago. All her life, Sanchita hated the guts of her friend. Kanchan was upfront, spontaneous and a free-spirited girl, Sanchita wanted to become like her but she could not and all that hatred erupted in the form of that revelation that night when she told Ramesh about the whereabouts of Kanchan.
She looked at her watch, it was 1’O Clock. Kanchan came downstairs, feeling nauseated, heard the snoring of her husband, and then a thought struck her – she instantly made up her mind that tomorrow she would pretend of feeling sick, and did not go to meet Kanchan.
But that did not happen. In the morning, Kanchan’s brother Ramesh came to their home to pick them up. Kanchan’s husband was also coming with her and now she did not have enough time or space to fake any illness.
Finally, that auspicious moment arrived, when Kanchan came home. Entire family greeted the couple. Sanchita met her friend Kanchan and could see that her friend was very happy. Tears welled up in the eyes of both friends as they hugged each other and shared a few quick words regarding the whereabouts of each other. Kanchan hugged her friend tightly and said that she has a lot to tell her.
Kanchan was soon surrounded by her relatives and then she sat with her grandmother. Sanchita was sitting in a corner and kept a close eye on her husband, who was gulping alcohol in another room, with Ramesh and his friends. Finally, both friends sat together and Kanchan said that she missed everyone so much but did talk to her mother regularly over the phone. But, she never dared to comeback because she knew her father would never agree.
After a few more rounds of drinks, Kuldeep got drunk and indulged in an animated conversation with Ramesh’s friend. Soon, that animated conversation turned into a verbal fight. Before things could have gone out of hand, Kanchan went straight into the room, threatened her brother that she would leave immediately, if this would continue. Interestingly, Kuldeep did not say anything after that.
Kanchan came back and could see that her friend was sobbing in a corner. She held the hand of Sanchita and said, “Its ok Sanchita, there is nothing to feel embarrassed about, he is ok. We all are your family. Don’t worry, Its ok. It happens to everyone.”
Well, Sanchita then broke down in tears, lifted her face and tried to speak.
“I am not thinking about that dear, but I want to say something.” I want to tell you something important. I thought I will never ever see you again in my life, but now that you are here. I would like to tell you something dear. Before Sanchita could say anything, Kanchan held her hand and said, ‘dear, thank God, you told my brother about our plan and gave away the address of that temple. It kept them busy there and we could get out of this district. I will be eternally grateful to you for that.’
Then she hugged her friend Sanchita and whispered in her ear. “Dear, life isn’t fair to anyone, but yes we can do our bit so that there wouldn’t be any regret.”