“Geet what’s this??”
Neer was surprised to see pearls with Geet. Geet was scattering them on the bed and was counting. One was missing. She cried,
“My one pearl fell somewhere!!!”
“but where did you find this Geet??” Neer picked one and looked carefully, “it can’t be found here in village, where did you get it from Geet!!!!” She asked with little anger.
“He gave me” Geet said with a sob.
“He?, who Geet who given you, tell me!!!”
Geet didn’t not know Maan’s name. She tried to think but couldn’t remember. “Haww I didn’t ask his name Didi!!”
“Geet are you telling me who given this you or I’m going to ask Maa!!!” Neer was very worried, thinking that a stranger gave expensive pearls to her. She stood up to go when Geet pleaded almost crying,
“No, don’t tell Chachi she will take my pearls. I have not told Baba also. Baba himself had taken me there”
Hearing Mohan name Neer calmed down in relief. But still she was not clear who had gifted these pearls. She could guess these were expensive. She came back to Geet and asked lovingly.
“So you had gone with chacha?”
Geet nodded yes. “Baba and me had gone to Bari Haveli to return his ball” And then she remembered she did not bring the ball back. She made a cry face missing that big ball. Well ball story Neer had heard from Mohan so now she was sure there was nothing left to worry about. She laughed seeing Geet funny pouty face for her ball. She also started playing with pearls when Geet told her everything about there and Maan.
She found she had lost one pearl. She said her fear to Neer that what if she loses all? Then Neer suggested that she would make something for her from them and then pearls would be safe for always. Geet liked her idea. Neer said she will give that thing to her birthday.
“Now it will not be missed anywhere, haina didi”
Neer said yes but everything had been changed now. Now these expensive pearls had become a priceless memory for Geet that she didn’t know she would even remember till her grown up age or would forget everything but Neer had fear that this society will not let her forget anything. What behavior she had been experiencing in her own house was enough for her guess that Geet could not be able to forget her past ever.
Later in the day Geet wore a new frock gifted by Mohan and was ready to go school when Mohan’s eyes fell on her anklet. He asked about it.
“Uncle, That I have made for her,” Before Get would answer Neer said. She knew Geet would blabber everything that Maan had gifted them and no way would Mohan let her wear anything related to him. He already had fought several times for Mangalsutra and Sindoor but failed to make them understand. She knew how much Geet had waited for this anklet so she took control in her hand. Mohan did not ask further instead he praised saying it was beautiful.
“Geet show me how’s it?” Savita is shocked to know that Neer made an anklet for Geet. Geet showed her. Savita glared Neer secretly asking how much she spent on them. She could not voice it out because Mohan was there. Neer came and whispered in her ear,
“Don’t worry Maa, my old pearl necklace had broken so from those I made this for her”
Savita was satisfied with this answer. She also praised her work.
“Geet come fast I’m waiting outside” Mohan said and went out to arrange his cycle. Savita started going in kitchen when Geet asked innocently,
“Chachi won’t you give me any gift?”
Neer chuckled but seeing her mother glare she shut back. Savita smiled, said,
“Yes beta how would I forget my sweet Geet birthday gift, come with me I show you your gift”
Little Geet jumped in joy. She followed her to her room along with Neer who was also surprised what gift her mother had brought for Geet.
“Sit here” Savita made Geet sit on chair. She took up a Bindi sheet and placed a big red Bindi on Geet forehead. (Red Bindi is a sign of marriage in Hinduism).
“Maa what are you doing??” Neer shouted, she tried to stop her but Savita was very busy decorating Geet like a married girl does. She darkens her Sindoor. Geet did not understand anything but she complained that what kind of gift it was!!
“Geet beta look at you, how beautiful you are looking”, Savita made her agree not to remove it and finally little Geet complained turned into happiness. She runs out to show Mohan how beautiful she was looking.
But when Mohan’s eyes fell on her Bindi, his nostrils started fluttering in anger. He clutched Geet’s hand and dragged inside. He knew there was no benefit to shout on Savita or anyone so he decided to take steps himself. He snatched her chain from her soft neck. Geet started crying seeing her father’s anger. Neer and Savita both came running to see what happened and were shocked. Savita tried to stop Mohan and Neer felt bad for Geet but Mohan had become mad. He wiped Sindoor from her head and then Bindi. Geet soft skin became red due to rubbing of metal and her eyes swelled red but Mohan did not stop. Geet cried for not to snatch her chain away from her but Mohan did not listen and threw it at the corner. After removing every sign of marriage he carried her in arms and hastened out.
Mohan was still in extreme anger and Geet still had been crying. After some time Mohan heard her cry and he remembered his severe behavior, he should not have behaved violently with her. He stopped the cycle and came down. He wiped Geet tears and took her in arms, patted her back to make her shut.
“I’m sorry Geet, forgive your father beta!!” He himself cried. Geet looked at his face.
“Why did you punish me Baba I didn’t do any mistake?” She asked
“I know Beta I know.. I’m very bad na .. Please don’t cry. Do you want to eat toffees?” He wanted her to forget everything and hearing Toffee’s name she forgot her cry and said yes happily. Mohan smiled. He took her to shop and bought sweets packets and said to share them with friends. Later he left Geet in school and him-self left for the factory.
Geet was in school. All children wished her birthday and she distributed toffees among them. She was very happy, and had forgotten about morning incidents. She was coming back home after school with her friends when a girl said while putting toffee in her mouth,
“Geet are you become widow?”
“Nahi toh, what is this?” Geet said munching her chocolate.
“Then why you’re not wearing your Mg and Sindoor? Have your husband gone to God place?”
Geet hand stopped in air. She started her without blinking. “But Kaka had said that he has gone to function, how he can go to God place, you lies!!” she was shocked.
“Why would I lie ??? My Aunty also doesn’t wear these things and Maa says that her husband has gone to God’s place. She also says that who goes there never comes back. Come I take you to ask my Mother” She held Geet hand.
Geet snatched her hand from her hold., “No Maan has not gone to God’s place, and he will come back. I know, I will ask Baba!!!” She cried and ran from there. Girls kept calling her from back but Geet didn’t listen. She wanted to go Mohan and ask.
“Geet wait!!!” Panna who was walking little far from them shouted and followed her. She stopped Geet and her-self started catching breath, feeling exhausted.
“Geet where are you going?”
“I have to go to Baba!!” Geet sobbed and said.
Panna knew the place as her father also worked there. She took Geet there. Both children stood at the entrance holding each other’s hands and were staring at the strange place with fearful eyes. By luck a man recognized Geet and he informed Mohan about her arrival. Mohan came running to see her wondering ” what happened!! Why Geet had to come here!!”
He saw both girls stood numb and Geet’s face was moistening. He worriedly came and took them inside.
“What happened Geet?? Did you cry?”
He looked at Panna with questioning eyes. Before Panna could say matter Geet asked,
“Baba am I a widow?”
And this took her father’s breath away from his body.