Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Aau Jo

Chapter 1 

I took tentative steps towards the small corridor and trotted along quietly. For some reason, I felt anxious. I had walked through this same passage several times before. Then why did I feel agitated today? The passage was dark and right at the end there were two adjoining rooms. I knew which one I had to enter. It was the likely place where I would find her. But the room right in the front caught my eye. There was a soft, soothing tune of a female voice coming in from there. I walked towards it.

The room’s door was closed. But I could see inside as the door was half-wood and half-net. There was a really old man seated comfortably on a rocking armchair inside. He was wearing really thick glasses and a white dhoti and kurta. He seemed lost in his thoughts and was gazing outside the open window of his room at the skies above. Beside the chair, was kept an old radio on a table which played the mellifluous song. I could hear the words very distinctly now.

Tu jahaan, jahaan chalega…Mera saaya, saath hoooga…

Tu jahaan, jahaan chalega…Mera saaya, saath hoooga…

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…

Mera Saaya…

The song. The words. Where had I heard them before? Why did it remind me of someone?

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…Mera Saaya…

Tearing my eyes away from the scene, I decided to move to the next room. The place I knew I would find her. The door was left ajar and I could hear faint voices from inside. I pushed the door aside and entered.

“Arre Chiku Bhai…!” said an old man with a glowing smile. He was wearing a very simple grey shirt and navy blue trousers. There was a twinkle in his eyes which calmed my nerves. “Jai Shri Krishna Nana,” I mumbled quietly.

The room was quite small and looked very homely. There were two beds in adjoining corners there and clothes lay spread on it. Although I had been here innumerable times before, I stared in amazement all around it. As if I had found a lost treasure.

“You are up early today. What do you want to eat for breakfast? Should I make parantha? Or poha? Or would you prefer something sweet like seera?” came an old woman’s voice which broke my reverie. She looked plump and wore a purple sari. She was standing in the small area that was the kitchen.  

“No Nani, I don’t want to eat anything right now,” I said and continued looking around; feeling dejected. I had expected to find her here.

“Of course you do. You are just eight years old. Your body needs nourishment. You love sweets isn’t it? Let me make seera then,” she said with a final authority; not expecting another answer from me. Turning her back, she became busy in the kitchen.

The old man, meanwhile, smiled at me and became engrossed in a newspaper. Sensing that the old couple was busy now, I decided to slip away from there. “I will come back for the seera Nani,” I promised myself and moved towards the door of the room. I felt restless and stepped out quietly. Giving up was not an option. I had to look for her.

…Nazar aaau, Ya na aaau, Tere paaas hongi mai bhi…

Tu koiiii, janam bhi lega…Mera saaya, saath hoooga…

Tu jahaan, jahaan Chalega…Mera saaya, saath hoooga…

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…

The words. Each of them was reverberating across my soul. I turned my head and saw the old man in the rocking chair. He was till gazing outside; staying motionless. I had seen him before. Why couldn’t I recall his name?

I chose to walk ahead. The words of the song were now slowly fading away. But it still felt like someone was calling out to me.

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…

Mera Saaya… Mera Saaya…

I now came to a large, open, area. A few people were seated on chairs here. Some were sipping tea, while some read newspapers. She wasn’t among them.

“We need to get some new coolers. Udaipur’s temperature this year is getting unbearable,” exclaimed a man wearing a blue lungi, while he read a newspaper. He had shiny white hair and a well trimmed white moustache. But despite that, he looked quite young. His eyes fell on me and he smiled.

“Had a good night’s sleep?” he asked politely, “Ready for the trip to Gulab Bagh today evening?”

I nodded shyly. A woman, who was sitting near the man, then remarked, “Ah...Look at him! He is just eight years old and already so tall! Mark my words. One day, he will even cross Amitabh Bacchan’s height.”

There was animated laughter at this comment. I, however, wanted to get away from the scene, but a young boy with curly hair accosted me.

“Hey, you wanted those comics isn’t it? Today, I will take you to my friend who has this comic library in his home. You will love it. You can choose as many as you want,” he said excitedly; as if this meant a lot to him.

I smiled. Normally, I would have been elated at this news. But today was different. Today, I sought something else.

I noticed that everyone was now engaged in their own conversations. Without making a sound, I moved out of the open area and walked towards the staircase outside. I had a strong feeling where she would be now.

One by one, I now began climbing the stairs, even as my heart pounded in excitement.

I came to the first floor landing. It was deserted. Only a lanky old man, wearing a loose, white vest, was brushing his teeth outside his room. He looked at me, but did not smile; just continued his task. From inside his room, I could hear the muffled noise of news being read in Hindi. I walked on; climbing the next set of stairs with anticipation.

As I neared the end of the stairs leading to the terrace, I heard the dulcet tones of a woman’s voice. My heart skipped a beat. I knew that voice as well as I did myself! With trembling legs, I climbed the rest of the stairs and came to the terrace. The voice now became more distinct. It was a chant.

Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah!

Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah!

That chant. I had woken up to it innumerable times. I was gasping for breath and could literally hear my heart thumping madly. I followed the voice cautiously and came behind a half-constructed brick wall. Steadying myself, I peeped out.

There she was! Finally! Clad in a peacock blue gown, she was chanting the shlokas rhythmically. Her eyes were closed and were facing the morning sun. Her palms were folded and she chanted so dedicatedly as if her life depended on those words. Her hair was damp and every other feature of her face glowed radiantly. She looked pristine.

Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah!

Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah! Om Suryaya Namah!

Each syllable of the chant seemed to permeate every cell of my body. I stood there and gaped at her hungrily. I wanted to drink in as much I could of the moment.

Finally, her chants stopped and she opened her eyes. She looked directly at me, calmly; as if she knew all along I would be here. She smiled.

My lips quivered and I couldn’t hold back any longer. Hot tears began leaking from my eyes before I could even realize it. I wanted to say so much, but couldn’t muster the courage. Taking in deep gulps, I cried, “Maa…!”


Somewhere deep within the lanes of Kolkata, a 30-year-old man woke up with a start.  



  1. red it again and i think its one of ur best

  2. One can only pour in so much of passion.. and when the passion becomes one, words become superfluous.

  3. One can only pour in so much of passion.. and when the passion becomes one, words become superfluous.

    1. Thanks for lovely comment. :) I am just surprised that you managed to read and like this one. :)