Today is the birthday of my son Arman and he has invited some of his friends to our home for a small party in the evening. I know all of his friends but for one good looking boy whom I have never met before. When he arrives, Arman immediately can sense that we both are unfamiliar with each other. He introduces him saying, "Mom, this is Arif; he has recently joined my school as he and his mom have recently shifted from Mumbai to Pune."
My husband Rahul has also taken a day off from his office to be with our son and his friends. We let them have a good bash as my hubby and I keep being at their beck and call supplying all the eatables and other things they ask for.
At about 8 P.M. parents or someone else start arriving to fetch the boys. Everyone has gone with someone but for Arif, who has been eagerly waiting for his Mom to pick him up.
Suddenly, there rings the door bell and I rush to open the door. I become stunned at whom I saw on opening the door. It is Nahid who appears to be equally stunned at seeing me. After some trepidation, I request her to come in and ask her for being doubly sure if she is Nahid. When she nods yes, we both hug each other our eyes brimming with tears. For some time, nobody could say a word. After hugging we both keep staring at each other without blinking. It is the voice of Rahul that breaks our reverie. He immediately recognizes, welcomes profusely and makes her comfortable on a sofa.
Afsana meets Nahid after a long gap of six years. She wonders how much Nahid has changed in those years. And Nahid also feels the same about Afsana.
Afsana - six years before
Afsana lived with her family of a sister, a brother and both parents in an apartment of a multistoried building at Ghatkopar in Mumbai, her sister Nahid being elder and her brother younger to her. Afsana was pursuing her graduation in a college when she met Rahul, who was doing post-graduation in Physics in the same college. They came to know each other through a common friend and overtime they both developed good friendship that gradually matured into a love affair. When they found that they couldn't live without each other, they decided to marry. But they were in a catch-22 situation because after post graduation, Rahul wanted to pursue PhD course in Physics. Moreover, they were definite of meeting opposition from their families as they were from different religious backgrounds. On the contrary, they were sure they would be able to handle the situation with best of their efforts.
After about a year, Rahul could get a part-time job in Mumbai while pursuing PhD course. Afsana also completed her post graduation with merit. Then they thought that it was an opportune time to broach the subject of their marriage with the respective family members. When Rahul talked to his parents about it, initially they opposed as she was Muslim but, ultimately, he was able to convince them that she would prove to be a good life partner.
Afsana broached the subject of their marriage with great care knowing that it would meet with angry response from all members of family. And it did indeed. Even her elder sister Nahid also opposed it. Her father was so angry that all were afraid he might turn violent. But somehow he was able to check his temper. Afsana had then resigned dejectedly herself to her fate. It was Rahul, who helped fight her pessimism. Afsana met disappointment when she once more tried to take her mom into confidence.
By then Rahul had successfully completed his PhD and after a period of three months, he got a job as Assistant Professor in a college in Pune. During this period they kept on meeting and didn't let the ember of love die down.
As they were not sure of getting consent to their marriage from Afsana's family, they decided to take recourse to court marriage. After marriage, she became Mrs. Afsana Khanna. She then went to her family to formally inform them. Hell broke loose when she did so. Her father was so angry that he was about to hit her but with intervention of her mother and Nahid, he could be prevented. She was commanded to leave the house for good. She left the house with a heavy heart, knowing well that she had been ostracized by family, relatives and community.
Afsana left with Rahul, who was standing outside, to his home, where they both were welcomed with open arms. Rahul's parents always showered affection on her so as to make her happy and comfortable. After spending some days with them, they left for Pune, where they settled down before long. There was smooth sailing in life and after one and a half years, a lovely boy - Arman came into their life.
It is a great moment of happiness for both sisters to have met each other so unexpectedly.
After some casual talk with Nahid, Rahul goes to the other room, leaving behind two sisters to themselves. They feed each other on what all expired in their lives in those long six years...........
Nahid - six years later
Nahid told her sister that after she left them, she was also married to a businessman - Salman, who initially was quite caring and loving but after two years, his behavior began to change. In the meantime, Arif came into their life; his behavior improved somewhat but soon reverted back to old one. Later, I came to know that he was having an affair with a woman and was interested to marry her. Whenever I opposed him, he misbehaved and at times manhandled me. He didn't mend his ways even on intervention from our mother and father.
Later, on an ill-fated day, he divorced me summarily by saying Talaq three times in succession. I felt as if I have been thrown in a whirlpool of emotional pain. I left for father's home taking Arif along with.
You know Afsana I had already completed M. Com before marriage. In order to get over the emotional turmoil, I decided to take up a job. I got a job of an accountant in Pune that I had applied for. And this is how I am sitting with you today.
Afsana feels sad for the events that shook Nahid's life turbulently. Henceforth, two sisters become friendly again, leaving the bitter past behind.