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All the planning and arrangement had taken up two weeks, and Kranti and Radha were now ready to leave. These few days had created a strange bond between the three; something words couldn’t describe.
The loud and frantic thumping at the door woke her up. Meeta glanced at her watch. 12:30 A.M. Who could it be? She pulled a gown over her night suit, and stepped out. As she peeped into the security camera, she was shocked to see two faces- Kranti and her daughter!
She quickly opened the door.
“Madam, please help me. save me… my daughter!” cried Kranti, as soon as the door opened.
“Don’t worry, you will be fine.“ Meeta tried to comfort her. She had no clue of the source of fear, but the dishevelled condition of the duo and the terror written over their faces told her it was something serious. She pulled them both inside and bolted the door.
As she led them in, she noticed the wound and blood on Kranti’s forehead. She immediately rushed to get the first aid box and helped her clean the wound. Thankfully, it was not very deep.
“Is it hurting a lot?”
“No, it fine,” mumbled Kranti, in a hesitant tone. ”I was running… it was so dark. Didn’t see this stone and tripped over.”
Slowly in between sobs, she narrated the rest. She had been running away from her brother-in-law. The alcoholic brute had crossed all limits today. Not satisfied with taking away every penny she earned, he was now negotiating a deal to sell her daughter. She got a whiff of it and tried to escape with her daughter, but he noticed and started chasing them, along with some of his friends. The mother-daughter duo somehow dodged them and managed to reach the only place they thought could be safe.
Meeta had known that Kranti was a widow and had a young daughter. Since the demise of her husband 4 years ago, she had been living with her brother-in-law and his family in the ‘basti’ nearby. Radha was studying in 9th grade, and Kranti’s only desire was to educate her daughter and help her become ‘something’… a dream she and her husband had once seen together. And, for that, she clung to the only ‘support’ she had in form of a family.
“Madam sorry I disturbed you… I was so scared, did not know where to go, so I came here!” she said and let out another sob.
“Kranti, it is fine; you did the right thing. You can relax, no one will come here.”
Meeta once again glanced at the petrified child. Before Kranti could say anything more, with a motion of her hand she signalled that it was not the right time. Kranti understood; wiping away her tears, she simply embraced her child and closed her eyes.
After arranging a makeshift bed for them on the living room floor, Meeta returned to her bed, but she could not sleep after that. Her heart went out to the mother and daughter. She had seen terror in the eyes of the young girl and knew that after today’s incident, they both were not safe here; those goons would soon find a way at getting them. A police complaint was an option, or an NGO, but she had to first speak to Kranti in the morning, to know her mind.
“Madam, in our world, this is common, no one will even raise a finger at him. As for a police complaint, what will the police do? Maybe keep them in the lock up for a couple of days, but after that what?” She shuddered at the very thought. “No, no…I have to get far away from here, from this muck!”
Meeta understood the fear, but wondered what could be a safe place, who could she reach out to. She knew something had to be done and done pretty fast, before her relocation to US next month. She couldn’t leave the mother and daughter in this condition.
And then all of a sudden, it came to her like a flash. Anita, YES, she was the one!
Anita was her childhood friend and had recently taken up a teaching assignment in a residential school, on the outskirts of Ajmer. Just last week, she had told her how good the place was, especially the residential facilities for the staff and workers. Nothing could be better than that place for Kranti.
That afternoon, Meeta was finally relieved. After their initial conversation, Anita had quickly checked and confirmed that there were some vacancies for housekeeping staff and Kranti could easily get that job. She had also addressed her next big concern – the school did have a provision for scholarship seats for underprivileged students. Radha’s education had been her major concern and was the primary reason she had been keen that Kranti take up a school job. She knew Radha was a bright child with a lot of potential. Given the right environment and guidance, she could make a mark.
That morning, Meeta decided to drive them to the railway station herself. The brother-in-law had stayed away since the fateful night, but she still did not want to take any chances.
It was finally time for the train to leave, for them to part, perhaps forever. She was not sure why that thought made her so sad. As if reading her thoughts, the teary-eyed Kranti cried out, “Madam, we will never forget you. You are an angel! I have to leave now but I will be back someday, I will meet you yet again!”
Meeta stood still, speechless, as she turned to the first page of the book in her hand.
‘Dedicated to Meeta Madam- The lady who gave me a new life years ago…’ Author- Radha K
Radha and Kranti were at her door, to invite her for the book launch, the first book authored by Radha!
“I will meet you yet again”. Kranti’s words reverberated in her ears, once again. She couldn’t believe they remembered it all and were actually at her door, after so many years.
She opened her mouth to say something, but was overcome by the sudden surge of emotions; she just stepped forward and hugged them both!
Back then, Meeta had been relieved to know that the duo had settled well at the school but the school scholarship had become an issue. It was mid-session and all seats had been taken. That’s when she had volunteered to sponsor Radha’s education till as much time as the scholarship materialised. She had asked Anita to have it processed discreetly, as she did not really want to Kranti to worry about it, at that time. The arrangement had worked fine. Radha finished the year as class topper and had later won the merit scholarship for the next year.
With time, Meeta had got busier with her new job in the US and slowly, they lost touch. Meanwhile, Radha had completed her masters in literature, and was now working as a teacher in a reputed school. She was also a budding writer; her first book had just been published. They had never forgotten Meeta, and recently when Radha learnt the truth behind her ‘scholarship story’, she was more than ever determined to meet her. Finally, through a Facebook post, she had traced her and here she was… at her door in Pune.
Editor’s note: This story was shortlisted for the April 2019 Muse of the Month contest, even though it wasn’t one of the top 5 winners.
Image source: shutterstock
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