Previous Part- Episode 12
The Shop was no more there.
“Obviously, we bought the land” Omkara winced.
“Do you know or have any idea where she lived?”
“Bhabi if you remember I have already mentioned that we had a heated argument over here. How am I supposed to know where she lived?”
They all looked around in search of some clue. Shivay stopped a passerby…
“Excuse me… do you know where the owner of this shop is?”
The man thought for a moment and jerked his head sideways Shivay tried again “The shop was of… “he looked at Omkara for help… “Of temple accessories. I mean those things which one uses…”
The man looked at their faces confused and frowned to concentrate while Omkara was blabbering and made no sense.
“Sir there are many more shops in front of the temple you just need to…”
“No no… we need the owner not the shop” Rudra corrected.
The man scratched his forehead and asked “How does he look like?”
“He? It’s not a He it’s She. The owner was a girl. She was fair and…”
“She? Oh! Gauri?”
The Oberois looked at each other and smiled dumbly.
“Yes” Om sighed. “Gauri”
The native laughed at them “You could have said the name at once. Everybody knows Gauri here”
Of course, Om thought and aloud he said “So can you say where we might find her?”
“Mmm as much as I think you’ll find her in her house right now. Her mom is not well so she must be taking care of her right now. If you want I can take you all there…”
After 10 minutes, they all stood in front of a small pucca house.
Only while knocking on the door did they realize the weight of the situation. They were about to meet the supposedly sister of Anika.
Anika lived her whole life believing she has no family. How bad she had craved for one. But today when her wish was about to be fulfilled, she was not sure if this what she had longed for. The mere thought of having a blood related sister made her shiver.
Shivay held out a hand for her “Are you cold?”
“No I’m fine” she managed a smile.
The door opened and Gauri stood there in front of them.
The man spoke first “Gauri, these people wanted to meet you, so I brought them here”
“Meet me?” she asked confused and peeked behind the man. Her smile vanished the moment she saw Omkara
“You?” looking at others, her frown deepened. She looked at the man again “Thank you Bhaiyya” and smiled him a goodbye.
Returning her gaze at the Oberois she chose to start with Om “What…. What are you doing here? And who are they?”
“Gauri… I’m not here to fight with you. I…. I need your help. They are my family. This is Shivay… Rudra and Anika Bhabi… Shivay’s wife”
She tried to smile at them still confused what help he can be talking about.
“Gauri… what happened? Who is it?” a voice came from inside.
“Maa we have some guests” Gauri replied and asked them to get in hurriedly.
While everybody got in Anika stood there still; the word “Ma” still ringing in her ears.
It can’t be… she can’t be my sister. I’ve seen ma dying. She can’t be alive.
“Anika?” Shivay broke into her reverie and gave her a hand to get inside.
A lady sat there inside cutting vegetables.
Looking up at the faces her eyes widened and she stood up.
“Maa this is Omkara, Shivay bhaiyya, Rudra and Anika Bhaujai”
“Namaste” she greeted them and asked them to sit.
Gauri turned at them and asked “You said you need some help? What is it?”
Omkara started to explain when Anika spoke up out of curiosity “Gauri… is that…. is she your mother?”
Gauri looked at her nervous mother and smiled without turning “Yes. She is my mother”
Anika replied hurriedly before anybody else could say anything “Do you know if there’s any other Gauri in Bareily?”
“But bhabi let’s first…”
“No Om… she can’t be the one. Don’t you see? She has a mother. She… she just can’t be the one…. She is…”
Shivay got by her side in no time to help her from falling. Putting his arms around her he whispered “It’s okay Anika. Don’t worry. We’ll take it slow. I’m there… right beside you. I’m right here. Don’t worry.”
Gauri’s mother brought a glass of water for Anika and held it out to her… “Beti”
Anika looked at her intriguingly with wide eyes. The lady indeed looked serene and motherly…. But could she be her mother?
Omkara turned at Gauri and said “Gauri… we have something to say and it’ll take time. Please sit down and listen calmly to us”
Gauri understood that Om surely was not up to something bad this time. She sat down palpating with the growing tension in the room. The Oberoi brothers narrated everything to her. All necessary facts were laid out in front of her while Anika sat quietly. Still.
Gauri’s body went rigid as there story proceeded. Her expression changed from understanding to surprise to shock to terror, when she finally understood where this story was heading to…
Om was scared that she’ll turn frantic. After all, throughout this time he had seen Anika go through all this. But then Anika had got time. She had to face it one by one, but Gauri… Gauri had to take all of that at once and that too a mere story from a few strangers. As if to add to it… a not so appreciative stranger.
But Gauri didn’t go frantic with each phase she rather got still and still and more still. At a point Om had to stop to check if Gauri was still breathing and alive.
With her eyes moist Gauri’s structure suddenly looked very small. She was looking down at the floor unable to speak. She had a lot of questions to ask. A lot to enquire, but her throat felt extremely dry. Something in Om’s eyes said the whole thing was not made up. His voice had honesty in it, and something else.
“We think the Gauri we are searching for, it’s you. Though we are not sure. The main mismatch is that, you’ve a mother while Anika bhabi…
Gauri? Gauri are you listening? “
She looked up at the face hovering right above her. Looking at Om’s face she knew that ‘something else’ in his voice had been care. She could no longer look at his face. Her lips trembled. Clutching the chair beneath her she winced and looked down trying to control and craving for an escape until she felt a hand on her shoulder.
She looked up again.
Anika was kneeling in front of her. She calmly nodded at her with moist eyes and that was it. The tears broke through. Arms went around each other.
Gauri knew Anika understood. Understood what nobody else did in that room. It was not just the facts which had disturbed Gauri, but the main trigger had been Anika’s nightmare. Or should she call it THEIR COMMON nightmare?