Day was passing as usual with Geet when a new girl entered in her class. She was Panna. Panna was two years older than Geet and she had come from the city, due to her father’s transfer here. Her father Mr. Vyas was in a senior post in the same factory where Mohan worked. Teacher told Panna to sit on the Geet bench.
Nervous Panna came to Geet and Geet welcomed her with her sweet toothy smile that within a few hours they had become good friends, with the sharing of their lunch boxes and pencils to erasers.
They were walking toward their home after school off when Panna asked with utmost curiosity.
“Geet, are you married?’
Geet said yes, “Look this” she showed her chain which Maan had gifted her as mangalsutra.
“But how come you can be married in this small age!” Panna was surprised yet curious. Being a city girl she had little more knowledge than Geet. Geet looked confused, as she could not understand the coordination between being small and married.
“Where is your groom?’
“At his home”, Geet replied innocently.
“Aree budhu that I know he will be in his home. But don’t you live with him”
“But if I would have lived with him how my Baba would live without me” Everything which Panna was saying, was going from above her head. They walked further when suddenly Geet stopped. She was smiling looking in a direction.
“What happened Geet”
“Let’s go” Geet did not reply, just held Panna’s hand and made her run toward the same direction, and where they stopped, it was a temple.
“Temple?” Panna asked, confused.
“Let’s play!!” Geet said jumping. She slipped off her slipper and ran inside.
“Geet wait!!” poor Panna shouted from the back. “Let me remove my shoes first!!” But by then Geet had vanished inside. Panna sat on the floor and untied shoelaces, then washed her hand nearby the tab and then walked in, to find where Geet.
“Geet!!” She called her in little fear.
Then she heard Geet giggle which was echoing in a hushed temple. “Panna!!!” Geet shouted her name loud.
“Shh Geet, don’t shout loud, it’s not good manner to make noise in temple”
Geet came running and stood facing her. “How did you know? Maan also used to say the same thing when I used to make noise here” She giggled.
“Who is Maan?” Panna was glimpsing a temple. It was not so huge yet had spiritual and divine charm.
“He is my friend. He was the one who had given me this necklace” She pointed to her chain.
“So Maan is your groom?” Panan was more curious to know. Geet nodded yes smiling.
“And where does he live? Is his home nearby Geet??”
“Haan.. there” Geet pointed toward a direction.
Suddenly Panna’s eyes started shining. “Geet, can we call him here, so we can play together, it will be so much fun na!!”
Geet started jumping in joy. “Haan.. kitna maza aayega na,, yeiee!!!” She was clapping in happiness. “Let’s go to call him!!’ She started dragging Panna with her.
“Geet wait!! Let me wear my shoes first!!”
Geet was becoming restless with this little delay. “Why you wear shoes, why don’t you wear slipper like me!!”
“Finished, let’s go”
They both run toward Maan home. Geet was running like he wanted to reach there in seconds. Like something she would miss if she doesn’t reach on time.
“Geet run slow na, look I’m panting”
Geet stopped making a puffy face. “You’re too slow. Look if we don’t reach him on time and if he leaves for somewhere else then?? What we will do!!”
“But why would he leave. Is he going to some party?”, Panna again tried to make pace with Geet.
“I don’t know, but whenever I go to his home, always guard Kaka says he has gone somewhere” She showed her disappointment.
They reached and stopped before a bungalow.
“Geet, here he lives?” Panna was excited to see a huge villa-like house with a big field around.
Geet smiled “Haan!!”. She dragged Panna a little far and showed toward a window. “And this is his room. We play there. You know he has lots of toys!!”
Geet nodded. “But why no one is here around?” She was worried. She ran and looked for the guard and found him sleeping on a chair , in the shadow of a big tree.
“Kaka!!” Geet poked him. He woke up at once and saw little Geet there.
“Kaka, did he not come?” Little Geet asked, feeling sad. Guard looked at her and he also felt sorry for her though he smiled.
“Geet beta, he will come very soon. I had told you na he is gone for a function”
Suddenly Geet sadden face gleamed up hearing he will be back soon. She bites tongue “I’d forgot”
She turned to Panna, ” Maan has gone for a function. He will come back soon then we would play okay!!”
“Okay!!.. Geet now I’m going. Mama would be waiting for me,” Panna said and left for home.
“Kaka when Maan would come, can you please inform me” She looked at him with lots of expectations.
“Haa beta, I will inform you. Now you should also go back!!”
Geet smiled, happily she ran back to her home.
She was sleeping peacefully at night and having the same dream of her friend Maan. It was the only treasure she could possess.
Flashback (Through Geet’s dream)
Mohan heard her daughter’s loud cry when he was sitting with his friend on the temple campus. It was Aarti (Prayer) time in the evening and almost the whole village used to gather to take part. He rushed to Geet and saw her crying out loud.
“Geet, what happened Beta!!” He carried her in his arms and wiped tears. Geet pointed toward a direction and kept crying loud and louder, in between she was blabbering something which was very tough to hear.
“Geet beta bol toh, why are you crying?”
“Excuse me Bhai Sahab” he heard someone calling him. He turned back and found a lady who was standing with a little boy. Looking at her clothes Mohan could guess she was not from this village as richness and elegance was oozing out from her features.
She looked toward the little boy and smiled, said
“Maan, give her beta, look how she is crying”
But the boy hid behind her, holding a football and made an angry face.
Geet was calm by now and was looking at Maan with expectation but when he denied to give the ball, she again started her loud cry pointing toward the ball. Now Mohan understood that she wanted to play with Maan’s ball. He tried to make her calm, saying he will buy a new ball but Geet was not ready to give up.
“Maan I’ll buy new ball beta, give this to her. Look how cute she is” Lady also tried to make Maan understand but he was becoming angrier. He glared at Geet, she hid face in Mohan’s shoulder, weeping.
“I’m sorry Bhai sahab”
Mohan put Geet down on the floor but she did not leave his hand. “No need to apology Bahanji, she is also very stubborn’
“Maan you’re good boy na Beta, let her also play”
Maan watched crying Geet. She was still glimpsing at his ball. After sometime he himself came and kept the ball before Geet, on ground and moved back, without saying a word.
Geet eagerly looked for Mohan to find permission. When he smiled she happily took the ball and grinned.
“She is so beautiful. What’s your name beta’ Lady touched Geet face lovingly. Geet shied.
“Tell your name Beta” Mohan also tried to pressurize but Geet was only giving her a shy and sweet smile and she ran from there , struggling to carry the big football in her small hands. She turned back and smiled at Maan, whose eyes were following her. Geet showed the ball, gesturing ‘let’s play’ but Maan gave an angry expression. She got scared and hid herself among other children.
She woke up with a fresh smile and found Mohan was there, waking her up. Mohan was happy to see her happy and he kissed her head praying to God to keep his daughter smiling like this, always.