The rage he felt was complete. The mere memory of the events he just witnessed was agonizing.
“Aapki patni humari naukarani hai Bihan ji”
Shradha’s vile words seeped into his blood like poison.
“Thapki, yeh tumhari ghar nahi hai, hum tumhe kaam karne keliye paise dethe hai …apni pati se romance karne keliye nahi..”
He slammed his fist into the wall. He hardly noticed as the blood trickled down his arm.
“Bbbihan…meri baath suno…jao yahan se …please Bihan”
Her tears burned into his skin.
“Thapki, kya yeh sach hai? Jawab do…Kyun kar rahe ho yeh sab?…Batao mujhe…kya zaroorat thi?-
“Haan …Haan mei Pandey Nivas ki naukrani hun…kyunki yahan rahne keliye kh-khirayi dena padega…jo tumse nahi ho payega Bihan..yahi aasan tha…ab daffa ho jao yahan se aur mujhe meri kaam ka-karne do…”
The hurt, humiliation, guilt and pain were too much to take. Thapki’s words echoed in his ears. She, his wife was working as a servant in his own home so that they can continue to live there. How could she do this to him? Was he so useless that he cannot be trusted with the responsibility of paying rent for the house? Did she think so low of him? The image of Thapki sweeping the floor in maid’s clothes refused to fade. He got up abruptly and left the stable.
“Thapki…Bahar ajao..” Bihan’s shout echoed across the house. The members of Pandey Nivas assembled in the hall one by one. Bihan looked at Shradha his eyes ablaze with rage.
“Thapki kahan hai Bhabhiji…” Shradha shuddered at the coldness in his voice. His murderous glare scared her more than she wished to admit.
“Bbihaan…” Thapki’s soft voice sounded. Bihan’s eyes softened as he looked at her form in front of him. Tears pricked his eyes as he noticed how the maid’s clothes were slowly suiting Thapki. She held a duster in her hands and he noticed the tear stains on her face. She had been crying, probably hadn’t eaten anything either. He slowly strolled towards her, fresh tears appeared on Thapki’s face as she noticed the dried blood on her husband’s hand. He took the duster from her hands and threw it on the floor
“Bihan ji …aap yeh-” Shradha began but Bihan’s voice sounded
“Chup…ek dum chup…Thapki ab se iss ghar ke liye ek bhi kaam nahi karegi.” Shradha looked at Bihan alarmed by his dangerously calm voice. Bihan grabbed Thapki who was shocked by her elbow and dragged her to the centre of the hall.
“Kabardar Humare saamne ab kisine humari patni par hukum chalane ki koshish bhi ki toh.” The calmness of his voice disarmed the family members. Shradha staggered as she noticed that Bihan was addressing her. “Humari patni ab iss ghar ki naukrani nahi rahi.” Thapki looked at Bihan with wide eyes.
“Bihan…ab yeh Kya naya Thamasha laga rakha hai tum.” Vasundhara screamed. ” Thapki yahan kaam nahi karenge toh khirayi kaise dege tum log…teek hai …tum logon ki marzi…uto apni saaman aur daffa hojao yahan-”
“MAA.” Bihan folded his palms but continued in the same chilling tone. “beech mei bolne keliye hum maafi chahte hai…humne yeh kahan hai ki humari patni yahan kaam nahi karegi…lekin humne yeh nahi kahan ki aap ko khiray nahi milegi.” Bihan took out a bundle of notes from his pocket and moved towards his mother, he took her hands and placed the bundle on them. The money of his own sweat. He never asked Bauji for salary for any of the job he had done for him but his father always made sure a deserving sum reached his bank account. He always told him jokingly that it would be of use if the family lets him down or to save the family if it ever sinks to debt and Bihan used to be angry at his words. Bauji must have never in his wildest nightmares thought that it will come down to this. “Agle teen mahine ki hai, advance mei.” Vasundhara stood stunned staring at the money. He turned towards the family, his eyes softening for a moment. He folded his palms in front of them, held Thapki’s hand and moved out of the house.
“BBihan…meri baat suno please…” Thapki begged for the hundredth time in a small voice. He had left her hand as soon as they got out of the house, walking away as if to say that he didn’t want anything to do with her, she didn’t know where he was going but she followed him begging him to speak to her. He refused even to acknowledge her presence as he walked with clenched fists towards the lake.
“BBBihan…please…mujhe maaf kar do..” Thapki was crying openly. “maaf kar dddo mujhe..” That did it for him. Bihan violently grabbed Thapki by her shoulder and pinned her to the nearby tree. The wound on his knuckled ripped open and fresh blood sprouted out. Thapki tried to touch the wound but Bihan yanked her arm and pinned it behind her. Tears stung his eyes as he saw her closing her eyes in pain
“Maafi? Maafi chahiye tumhe?? Kyun? KYUN?…Kya lagte hai hum tumhara?…Kya farak padega agar hum maafi nahi dii toh?…Hum kaun hote hai jo tumhare harkaton se farak padnewaala..” He let go of her and she fell down. His heart constricted in pain as he saw her on the ground but he had to let this out. It was impossible for him to let go of this. He turned his head and closed his eyes letting go of the tears.
“Kyun kiya tumne aisa..kya zaroorat thi?…Kyun Thapki…hum itna bhi bura, gair jimmedar nahi ki hum humari patni ko rehne keliye jagah tak nahi de sakte…Aaj pata chala tum humare bare mei kya sochte ho…Hume tum iss baath batane ki layak bhi nahi samjha ki maa ne humse khiray manga hai…aur tum…tum toh padi- likhi ho …samachdar ho par tumne ek naukarani ban ne ke bare mei socha bhi kaise… jab tumhe achi tarah pata tha ki yeh tumhe beizzat karne keliye hai” Thapki cried harder listening to his words. Bihan began moving away from her. Thapki saw this and stood up in panic, she ran towards him and hugged him from behind. Bihan stood still and closed his eyes in pain as she cried onto his shoulder.
“Maaf kardo mujhe Bbbihan…mei bhoj nahi banna chahthi thi…tumhe apne pariwar se alag karna nahi chahthi thi…agar wwwaqt par khiray nahi dete toh hume tabele se nikal dete…mujhe pata hai tumhe apne pariwar se kitna pyaar hai…tttumhari maafi se farak padtha hai Bihan…farak padtha hai mujhe…agar tttumhe meri naukarani banne se farak padtha hai toh mujhe bhi tumhari mmmaafi na dene se farak padtha hai.” She continued crying leaning onto him. He slowly took off her hands from his neck and turned around to face her. His eyes still held the pain as it beheld Thapki’s. He cupped her face in his hands and wiped off the tears. Thapki gently touched his knuckles, he winced in pain and a fresh bout of tears filled her eyes. She gently caressed his palm. Bihan pulled her towards him. They stood by the lake locked in an embrace. Words seemed insignificant.
PS- One shot 🙂