Of filter kaappi and maakkolams, of pookalams and kaineettams, of madisar and settumundu, of mangaacurry and mysorepak, of books and words, of pens and colours, of steps and rhythm...
To the good at heart, I offer a feast ;
Mess with me, and I'll be a beast :-D
So it was Mahita’s twin that was there on the photograph.
Sanjana.The elder of the twins.
I cupped my head in my hands, and sat still on the sofa for sometime, reeling under this new piece of information.
Mahita had a twin elder to her, and that photograph was hers. This meant she wasn’t alone, after all.
I looked at Mahita . She smiled at me. “This is surprising, and a little shocking too,” I said, trying to smile.
“ You haven’t had even half the shock yet,” she said. “ I have every reason to say I know more about love than you can imagine”, she continued.
“ Now you will tell me Saarthak is Sanjana’s son. That’s the obvious thing I should think,” I said, hoping that I hadn’t rubbed her the wrong way once again.
She smiled again, wryly this time.
“ We always jump to the best possible theories, Vinod. Things which we would love to hear. We imagine them and think they are the truth, while they may or may not be,” she said.
My irritation was coming back.
“What do you mean ? Your preachy tone is not helping things, Mahita. What is it that you are trying to hide ? When I asked whether Sanju was adopted, you were angry. Then you told me about your sister Sanjana. And I thought Sanju was related to Sanjana, that’s why you had mentioned her to me . Now you say I’m jumping to the obvious and it may not be true. What is it then? Is he the result of your fling with someone ?,” I lashed out at her.
I couldn’t control my tongue, and cursed myself for it, when she sat stunned at the question I had thrown at her.
“ I’m sorry, Mahita. Just that I can’t take this tension, anymore,” I mumbled, lowering my eyes.
When she spoke after a few minutes, she was trying to be calm.
“ Patience, Vinod, is a virtue which I have never regretted in life. I will tell you, everything. More for myself than for your knowledge. Please wait, I need to find out when Sanju will be back from his friend’s home. I don’t want him to listen to anything that I may tell you now,” she said, rising from the sofa and going to the telephone. She spoke on the phone for a minute and returned to her seat on the sofa.
“He’ll not be back for another hour, so we have ample time,” she said.
I sat back, looking at her big, brown eyes, as she leaned forward and started speaking.
“ You know, there’s something curious about me and Sanjana , despite our being twins. We both have different birthdays”.
“ She was born at 11: 55 PM, on 20th June, and I was born exactly 6 minutes later, 12.01 AM, and that was 21st June,” she winked.
I smiled at the rarity.
“ Sanjana was a very adamant child since childhood. She was the elder one, she wanted things first for herself, and my parents often gave in, because she would throw tantrums. She didn’t like me looking like her. She would pinch me, as a child, telling me that I had come to snatch away her beauty. To me, she was always my sis, and I would defend her. We both were good at studies, and she wanted to be a doctor, while I was more into the commercial sciences. But she couldn’t secure a seat at the Medical College, and she was disappointed when I completed my schooling in Commerce and took up Chartered Accountancy alongwith my graduation. She took up graduation in Biotechnology. And that was when Mom passed away, leaving us in dad’s care”.
I nodded in understanding.
“ It was difficult, really. Studying, managing the home, and I had my CA training to attend to. But she would never help. For her , life was all about enjoying. She was 19 and in the second year of graduation, when she fell in love with Captain Siddhanth, her friend’s cousin brother. They wanted to get married. Our father was ok with it, because Siddhanth seemed a good guy. His mother came home one evening , seeking Sanjana’s hand in marriage. And that’s when she saw me.”
“ Did she mistake you for Sanjana?”,I asked.
“ No”,she smiled, ”she thought she’d found another daughter-in-law.”
“For Captain Mohan. Her foster son, who was elder to Siddhanth by 9 years. She had adopted him when she didn’t have a child during the initial years of marriage, and later she had Siddhanth, they grew up as a family.”
I was curious , now that she had reached so close to Mohan.
“ I was 19, so was Sanjana, Siddhanth was 25 ; this meant Mohan was 34. The old lady was convinced that Sanjana was fine for Siddhanth, and as Mohan was yet to be married, she thought having me as his wife would prevent the family from splitting”.
“What about your father?”, I asked, unable to control myself.
“ He couldn’t do anything. Sanjana was adamant that she would marry only Siddhanth , and his mother said it was possible only if I would marry Mohan. Sanjana had to have her way. She threw tantrums, she went without food for three days in a row and made much drama about it. Siddhanth the virtuous , didn’t say a word against this, to his mother. And Mohan was unaware of all this, he was away at Kashmir, guarding the borders”.
I could sense the pride in her voice now. “Then ?”, I prodded.
“ I had to give in. No one asked my choice ; not that I had it. Mohan presumed that I had accepted, he even expressed his surprise that I had, without even meeting him first, to which I just smiled. And then, in all pomp and gaiety, we got married, me and Sanjana, to Mohan and Siddhanth respectively.”
I felt sad for her now.
“ Life was smooth, Mohan returned to the border, and I resumed my studies, while Siddhanth resigned from the Army and set up a business in his hometown, Chandigarh. Sanjana was happy, and I tried to be."
She paused for a moment and resumed, "Two years later, when I was 21 and Mohan was 36, he was killed in a bomb blast at Srinagar, while on deputation.”
She stopped, and her eyes were glistening with tears.
“I’m sorry”, I leaned forward and whispered.
“You needn’t be, not yet, anyway”, she said, rising up.
“Wait, I’ll bring something for you. You must be famished, ” she said , walking to the kitchen.
I looked at her as she went, and I couldn’t help loving her all the more. To be contd....