I had no idea how OmRu came up with that.
“Do you guys have any idea how many Orphanages we have around?”
“At least less than the number of Gauri-s and Mallika-s I guess!”
Om looked pretty confident but I was still not sure with this approach. Gauri was a very common name, to find her out of the orphanages seemed next to impossible.
“Shivay? What are you thinking? Let’s go.”
Rudra even started walking towards the door when I stopped them
“I don’t think this is the right way”
“Do you have any other way?” Om looked straight into my eyes and I had no answer.
He did not force me any further but instead took Rudra by his hand and left.
I still stood there thinking of how my very efficient brothers are going to execute such an awesome plan. I sighed.
IN AN ORPHANAGE
“O, this is the fifth orphanage now, I’m already exhausted, I think Shivay Bhaiyya was right, this is not a good idea”
“Rudra, this is just the 5th one. We’ve a long list to cover, you can’t give up so early. The problem is we don’t have much information about this Gauri, that is why it’s taking so long to find anything out.”
The receptionist saw them coming.
“Yes? How may I help you?”
By the sweet voice of the receptionist, both the brothers were expecting to get confronted by a sweet young, cheery girl, but it was not.
A Quite aged lady stood there smiling broadly at them.
Om was the first one to overcome his surprise and speak up…
“Ma’am, sorry to disturb you but we are here for some information”
“What information dear?”
“Ma’am we are searching for Gauri”
Rudra’s statement made no sense to the lady and she shot him a confused look.
“He means… we are searching for a girl named Gauri who most probably have grown up in an Orphanage. So we are going around in the orphanages and checking the records of the approximate years” Om explained.
“That’s quite a tough job”
It was her turn to be surprised.
“But my dear boys, I understand you both are working really hard to find that girl, for whatever reason, which I can guess, estimating your age, but…”
“Ma’am, it’s not the way you think it is. Actually our sister-in-law has grown up without a family, but now this Gauri seems to be her long lost sister. I mean we’ve found some papers and this is how we think it is so…”
“Hmmm sounds interesting”
The aged lady indeed looked interested “But my child there’s possibly 3 to 4 Gauri-s in every year. Just her name and age won’t be enough to find her”
Rudra looked at Om and whispered “I’m listening to this for the 5th time in a day”
“You are going to listen to this in every orphanage you go” She spoke without looking at him but instead checking something in her computer carefully. “If of course, you don’t find the girl you are looking for in the orphanage you are standing in right now.”
Even if she wore specs, they did nothing except sitting there on her nose and making her frowned face look more aged than she already was.
“The information is really vague. Do you have any other information? I mean I’ve been working here since years… to be specific even a few years before the year you both are looking for. So if you could give me any other information like how she was, or how she looked or anything specific”
“Ma’am, like I said Gauri seems to be our sister-in-law’s long LOST sister. So how are we supposed to know about her?”
“Oh sorry sorry, I forgot.”
Rudra inched towards Om and whispered in his ears “She forgot the words you said to her a few minutes back, and she assures to remember a girl from years back?”
“Shhh” Om replied.
“I’ve found 6 Gauri-s around these years. Come here. Look at the detailed records”
Om and Rudra hurriedly crossed the table, to look into the computer. They both knew what they were about to see, the same thing which they’ve found in the last 4 orphanages. The lady spoke their thoughts loud.
“You both have come to find Gauri, and you have found many Gauri-s, 6 in my orphanage n must have found many more in the past 4, but until and unless you’ve got more information how will you confirm which Gauri is the one?”
Omkara sighed, unfortunately she was right.
“She had a sister named Anika” a voice spoke from the doorway.
Without even looking up from the computer screen Om smiled “what took you so long?”
“Because I went to all those 4 orphanages to add this very information”
Shivay smiled and so did his brothers, but there was someone in the room who was not smiling but stood so still that she looked dead. The 3 brothers noticed that. Shivay kept a comforting hand on her shoulder to bring her back to life.
She was hardly mumbling when she looked at Om and Rudra with kind of disbelief “Your sister in law’s name is Anika?”
“Yes” they replied in unison.
“Is… is she fine? How is she now? “
ShivOmRu looked at each other.
“She’s fine” Shivay smiled
Her pleasant smile returned.
“But I thought her sister’s name was ‘Chutki’ “
“Chutki?” that one word question of Shivay had a mix of emotions…
Finally. Finally it seems we’re in the right place. If she remembers Anika and Chutki then… then what? How are we going to find her? Maybe she’ll have some information about where Gauri is now. But then, she had no information about Anika’s present.
The questions troubled my mind. I thought of asking her a different one rather.
“So if her sister’s name was Chutki maybe Chutki is Gauri. Do you know where she is? Or do you have her records? I mean who took her from the orphanage, the family she now…”
“Wait, wait my son. Chutki, or who is Gauri according to you, has never been in our orphanage”
“What? What do you mean?” I asked in disbelief, this is not what I was expecting.
“You were right dear” she looked at Rudra “my memory is not that sharp, but Anika is someone, whom I’ll never forget”
Rudra did not know about her memory but one thing he was sure about now, was that the lady had a great hearing power.
She turned back at Shivay “I think you all might want to sit. It’s a long story…”
We all sat in a room over a round table.
“Anika was very young when she was brought here… brought here by a young man. It was one of my early years in this Orphanage. She looked exhausted when she was brought here. I firstly thought she must be hungry and not fed for days but after a few days I noticed that even after being fed well, she still looked the same, exhausted. I realized she was under some trauma and that exhaustion is not a physical one, but a mental one rather. I thought of checking on her personally on a regular basis. On doing that I noticed she used to carve a name in every possible place when nobody looked at her “Chutki”. She hardly spoke to anybody, but I somehow managed to become a bit friendly with her. Though she still distanced herself but she did tell me a few things when I asked her about ‘Chutki’.
She paused to sip on her tea, what a great timing I thought.
“‘Chutki is my sister’, is what she had said, and when I asked Anika about this Chutki’s whereabouts, she wore a dark expression on her face and stated in a grim voice “She’s with Bua. They took her away from me”. That’s all, I never knew who those ‘they’ were… Anika was a beautiful girl, within just a few weeks, she had been adopted. The family was not too rich but they liked ‘Anika’ and wanted to have her to take care of their own paralyzed son”
Sahil, I thought.
I looked at OmRu, who were already staring at me.
“I checked on Anika a few years later, she seemed happy with her family, specially with her new brother. She did not talk to me about Chutki, I didn’t dare either. I asked her family members if she had ever said anything to them but she didn’t. It looked as if she has forgotten everything, and I was glad. So I forgot about it too…” she paused a little to look at us “or I thought I did, until you guys showed up”
I sighed when she was done. There was one character in the whole story caught my attention “Bua…”