MAYA

by Preeti Venkateshan

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“Hello! I am Raghav, may I know your name please”. The voice echoed across the room. It was like a dream, Maya mused.

 

Every second she spent with him flashed across the big pink walls. It felt like watching a movie in a multiplex. Was it true?

 

Raghav had committed suicide, but Maya was not able to fathom why. She could still feel him in her arms.

 

How can he die? What was wrong with him? Did he kill himself because of me? Maybe this is true! If he had married someone else, I am sure this would have not happened. Maya was questioning herself and every time she contemplated, a sharp pain stroked her heart. What was his best friend Mukesh doing when he jumped off the cliff? What are friends for? Why didn’t he save him, for me, for him, for all? Maya was weeping profusely and all of a sudden, she heard a noise at the door.

 

Knock…Knock…

 

There was a feeble knock at the door at twelve in the midnight. “Who would that be? The vicious wind or the lonely stray dog, Maya mused. However, she was certain that could never be a human being; it was a long time since she saw one of them. Maya befriended loneliness for a change, now that won’t leave her, would it? Travelling between her thoughts, perception, and time, she could still hear the noise.

 

Knock! Knock!

 

Maya was petrified. A little tremble wrapped her like a Mother. She was chanting the name of Lord Ram and slowly gathered all her strength and peeped through the window to see who had the courtesy to knock at her door at that hour of the cold breezy night, and there she saw a beautiful nightfall. Full moon with its silvery reflection on calm lake waters, soft winds singing a beautiful song with exuberant flowers dancing to their tunes, the dogs on the streets playing with their mates, It is so pleasant, she thought. Nevertheless, no one was at the door.

 

So Maya went back to her room, sat in one corner, and looked at it. It was a big room. Huge Baby Pink walls with abstract Paintings, beautiful lamps, sparkling dangles, huge bed that could accommodate a hundred mortals, Soft creamy bed spreads, pillows as soft as a baby’s bottom. A huge LED television, speakers, laptop placed on a big sandalwood rack, a huge cabinet with the most expensive clothing, bags, shoes, cosmetics and so on. She couldn’t remember the brand names. Her so-called corner looked like the room of a princess. All the luxury a person could desire, she had it.

 

She stared at the gigantic golden chandelier. Maya had never seen or heard of such a big decorative piece. Raghav had bought it from an auction during their honeymoon in Jaipur.

 

Those were the best days of her life. Thoughts about him sent shivers down her spine.

 

She considered herself as the most fortunate person in the whole world. “Raghav was one of the finest men nature could have ever nurtured”, Maya said to herself.

 

Born with a diamond spoon in a royal family he intended to be a doctor. If he wished, he could have owned all the hospitals in that district but he chose to work in a village for the unprivileged. He looked like a South Indian Superstar if not better.

 

A little above 5 and half feet, dusky skin, big black sparkling eyes, Converging thick black eyebrows, full lips, Perfectly aligned teeth with a beautiful smile, broad shoulders, majestic gait, husky voice. Maya could go on and on forever describing him.

 

When she saw him, she thought, “What is such a handsome man doing in this village? The first words he said to her … Hello! I am Raghav, “May I know your name please”. Maya was enchanted. Never in her life had she come across people who were willing to know her name. And here was a handsome doctor staring into her deep eyes and talking sweetly. Maya was happy for the first time in her life. Of course, she had a reason. A poor girl abandoned by her mother in a garbage van, brought up in an orphanage with leftovers. It was a miracle, like a storm that swept all her unhappiness instantly.

 

She still remembers the day; it is as fresh as it happened few seconds ago…

 

Maya was born, given away, and brought up in Sajanpur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh. She loved her village. It looked like the pictures on a wall poster.

 

Sajanpur had beautiful fields, exuberant gardens, thousands of trees, shimmering clear water lakes, clean lanes, beautiful women, well-dressed men, delicious cuisine and so on.

 

Like all good things, come to an end- Sajanpur was overrun by cholera. As it was summer the disease was traveling across Sajanpur in the speed of light and as usual, there was no response from the big people in her village.

Maya was visiting the government hospital in Sajanpur on a hot sunny day in summer. For a change, the hospital was not as bad as she thought it was. There, she saw a group of doctors sitting under a tent and looking into few x ray reports. There were 10 people, 5 girls, and 5 men. Girls seemed tired.”May be they did not sleep last night, So many people are infected, and they must have toiled very hard to treat them”, she thought.

 

Maya felt sorry for them, she went to her ashram, and saw if anyone was around, went to the backyard, there were many fruit trees, herbal plants and sweet smelling flowers. She plucked few mint leaves, few sweet litchis, and herbs, ran into her kitchen carried lots of cold water from the earthen pot. Maya thought a cold herbal drink would be ideal for the tired doctors in this hot summer. She made a drink and tasted it; the cool drink was delicious.

 

She returned to the hospital and while approaching their tent, Maya paused,”How could I give them? Would they accept anything from me? They look like rich educated people; the girls are so beautiful. What will they think if they look at a short dark skinned girl, with deep green eyes, blunt nose, chapped brown lips which had never seen a smile, long hair as thick as her destiny and dirty torn clothes, offering them something to drink”. She contemplated.

 

Maya had nothing nice to describe about her. Tagged as a bad omen by her village, Maya did not have anything to be happy about. Nevertheless, she was so benevolent and full of life and love that all her difficulties vanished in thin air or that is what she thought. She stood there lost in her thoughts and then she felt someone standing right behind her. Before she could turn back, she heard a husky voice, “Hello! I am Raghav…“May I know your name please”? When she turned, she gasped for breath…

 

A handsome man never of her standards asked for her name. Was it just a name- maybe nothing more?

 

Maya felt great! Raghav looked into her eyes; he felt like watching the sea, big green eyes  full of uncertainty and pain. Not a conventionally good-looking woman, he thought but something about her attracted him. He seldom knew what but he felt blissful too.

 

“She stammered…Maa y…ya”. Raghav laughed and said, “I am not going to give you any injection, so do not worry… I am a normal person like you, talk to me as you talk to your friends”. Maya was puzzled, she quickly exclaimed, “Friends? What is that? I do not have friends’ sir so I have no idea about how to speak with them and therefore I do not know how to speak to you”. Raghav saw her shivering. He felt sorry for her. So he said, “Don’t lie, I am your friend, talk to me as much as you want”, he winked at her.

 

Maya was blushing; she liked him in the first instant, but life had taught her a lesson of how not to expect, so she liked many things but never expected to get them. Raghav asked her “what you are holding in your hand? She smiled and said…“I got some herbal drink for you people, your friends looked tired and worn out. This is a very healthy drink; it keeps you fresh and energetic throughout the day”. Raghav smiled and said, “I heard Sajanpur is a nice village, now I know why”. Maya did not know to react to a compliment she had never received one before. So Raghav accompanied her to the tent and said, “Hey buddies look what I have for you! A healthy cool drink prepared by a special person from Sajanpur.”All of them were delighted and thanked her for the drink. Maya was very happy. After all the doctors finished their drink, Raghav took her to the hospital. Maya said, “I am doing quite well sir, thank you” with a look of a 5 year old.

 

Raghav smiled and said “Blood test is mandatory for everyone in this village as cholera is highly contagious”. Maya finally agreed and he did a blood test and joked, “You do not have cholera, just some fear, and tension. Maya gathered all her courage and asked, “Why you are so kind to me”? So he shot back, “It is because you’re going to be my wife. How can I be rude to you?”It was a typical Raghav joke, just to lighten her up but Maya did not react; she knew it is too good to be true. She said thank you and left.

TO BE CONCLUDED IN THE NEXT ISSUE

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