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Geet, who never cried, cried her whole heart out, while Maan was caressing her hair.
With her like this he forgot all, who she was, who he was, what was the status level difference’ Just fewh days he had known her but with them alone, it was only him and her, nothing else.
“Geetu’ who did all this” Geet still crying “Baba” “you went to him today” She nodded in yes, still sobbing “kyun”
“He came to take me, he is my father” Maan brought her even closer, making her safe with him
“why he beat you up but” “mother gave only part of my salary to him and came back to Haveli.” “So“
“He said, now mother will not make this mistake so he beat me up for her mistake“
He by the time put all her button up and then there was knock on the door, Geet by reflex immediately got up from his lap, now realizing what she did. She was on lap of Chote Thakur. Maan got up too
“Maan bete” his chachi Mohini called
“Ji chachi ji, coming“
“Geet, why is she crying again.. listen Geetu, what happened in your house don’t bring it here, go get rest today“
Maan immediately managed “Chachi ji what happened today? She is crying coz I scolded her “
“Maan puttar, leave her today, she already got beaten up with her father today, go girl take rest today“
His chachi said casually, Geet as usual left from there.
His chachi left with milk on his table. Maan sat on his bed and closed his eyes, all that reflected in his eyes was Geet, her bare body in front of him and her wounds.
Whole night Maan’s mind could not find peace. How a father could beat up his child for the money that too for his drink. By morning Maan was sure he was going to give peace of mind to both her parents. His status should come to some good use.
Maan was about to ask the driver to get the car out when he saw his mother ready to go out somewhere.
“Maan, you need to go out, you can go on your bike son, I need the car now” “Ok Mom, where are you going this morning“
“Ohhh I am going to Geet’s father, he need the peace of mind for treating a child like that and that too how dare he do that when child is in our care“
Maan felt so proud of his mother, There was definitely a reason that they possessed power and respect in village
“Mom, I was going for same purpose, in absence of dad and chahu, I being eldest should represent them with you.” His Mom felt proud of him, “Come son.”
Next hour, Mohinder, Geet’s father was bending in front of whole community, asking for forgiveness. For Maan’s Mother, it was their reputation, how can anyone mistreat a girl under their care. It was direct question on their respect and thus he needed to be taught the lesson or other day other villagers can do anything. But for Maan, he was angry from the man who did this condition of Geet.
Later when they were back in the afternoon, Geet was standing in Annie’s and Nandini’s room, obviously waiting for some order. Maan’s anger went up high and he went and held her arms
“You were asked to take rest today, why are you here? Go to your room now“
“Chote Thakur, woo” she looked at Annie for help
“Bhai I just need” but she was cut in between as Maan’s hand went up “We are not making her work in this condition. There are many servants in Haveli to fulfill your need Annie“
Annie kept quiet and Maan turned to Geet who was waiting for the decision made for her
“Yahi khari ho? Gayee nahi tum. Suna nahi kya kaha maine.” Geet immediately left from there.
Geet went to her room and sat on the thin bed in the small room. Her mother was also not in the room. She felt relieved and the small room outside the main Haveli but within the campus of haveli, this place felt the most comfortable place to her in whole world. And when her mother was not here she felt like queen of the place, place where she can think herself, where her thoughts will have value, though she is the only one to listen it.
“Yeh Chote Thakur Bhi na, whenever he feels he scolds me and then he becomes friend. All at his wish“
But then she heard a footstep and placed her hand on her mouth “Geet chup, you speak a lot. He is Chote Thakur, how can you even imagine it will be with your wish” she looked up
“Babaji mafi kerna, galti ho gayee“
Few days passed, Maan was too busy with his studies these days, he had his mind focused on what he had to become in career he wanted to extend the only construction company of his family to more sectors. HE just dissolved himself in his studies but did not stop from taking Geet’s tution. Mostly the tuition would be half an hour study and rest half hour he would get lost asking her so many questions about her and share things about him.
Geet would understand only half of his high class things but still would enjoy. He was the only one who at least considers her to share something. She started opening up to him, but only in his room. But still she knew her limitations very well. So in whole hour, Maan could make her talk and speak only about her 10% of what he asked. Geet thought 100 times before speaking any word, what if her words would make him angry. His anger she feared and then if he disallow this session with him then? She did not want to miss these sessions with him. It was only in this hour with him that she felt that she was also someone with whom someone could share their things, whom someone asked her wish and many more. Though she knew this friendship or an hour session was at his mercy but still it was something she had not even dreamt of. She did not want to upset him in any case. Anyways, he was their Chote Thakur, how could she even compare to him.
One day Maan was out roaming in haveli, it was afternoon. He went to meet his siblings who must be back from school by now.
His legs stopped listening Geet’s laughter. She had milk glass in her both hand for Annie and Nandini. They were sitting on bed watching cartoon and this small girl was standing with glass of milk for them but was still laughing at the cartoons.
As those kids forgot about drinking milk while watching TV, this small girl also forgot to remind them in watching TV, though once she had reminded but later forgot.
Maan watched her from far, she was laughing with the girls, she looked so much of a child. But soon Mohini, Nandini’s mother came and checked the milk in Geet’s hand. She got good scolding for not making girls drink the milk, the job she was given. Girls also blamed on her to escape
“TV , your mind don’t work in front of TV. Are you here to watch TV. We are lenient, that doesn’t mean you forget your work and enjoy” she left, giving warning to girls and mostly Geet to Make them drink.
As his chachi left, Maan saw all colors of her face were again gone. Girls again got busy with TV. Ohh, what an irony, she was younger than girls how can she convince them to drink the milk.
“Didi, drink the milk please” busy in TV they just signaled from hand, eye still on TV
“ruk na Geet” Geet again kept standing with their glass of milk. Maan could not move from watching her.
She being a child again got lost in TV along with girls. But as soon they heard Mohini approach them, Nandini drank her milk while Annie did not want to.
“Geet, drink this milk fast” “Annie di, how can I” Geet wanted to avoid, she hated milk. Being poor doesn’t mean you don’t have child’s taste.
“Drink I said, Fast” Annie made big eyes and as Mohini approached Geet drank the full glass immediately. She felt like throwing up but had to stop. Maan turned and he felt his eyes got moist at the end. He was there to see her laugh but what he got in the end.
In the evening that day, in Maan’s room:
Maan was taking her test of Hindi and English alphabet writing. When he check, she was almost right, though she made few mistakes.
“Today again you will practice them, tomorrow again I will take your test and if there is even one wrong then you see” Geet nodded her head. He then taught her numbers basics. Later they were done with the studies.
“What did you say the other day, you hate milk, right? Mujhe nakhre dikhaye aur and when Annie asked, you gulped it all.“
Geet bowed her head, looking down. “Geet, look up. What I said, we are friends, then why you bow your head like this. Dosht hoon, gussa nahi ker sakta” Geet just nodded.
Maan pulled her closer and placed his hand around her waist, it felt so good, to both of them. Maan had a feeling she was his and only his responsibility, as all others were only in need to extract from her. For Geet, she felt special at least for moment, she felt loved at least for moment. She cherished these special moments with her Chote Thakur, which was their own secret.
“You should learn to say no to others too.” He was trying to give meaning to her life which she never knew even existed.
Geet then looked down, he knew she wanted to say something. He lifted her chin
“Do you want to say something? ” She did not know how to ask, if he feel bad that she is questioning his act then? But she wanted to ask
“woo.. Maa said, you asked her not to beat me? “
“Yes, I said. Being your mother doesn’t give even her any right to beat you up anytime she wishes. When elders don’t know what is wrong and right then youngers have to tell them“
“Accha, sunno, your taste went bad today, yeh lo” and he gave her small box of meethi dahi.
Geet’s eyes brightened seeing it. She was having it while he watched her. She was almost about to finish it when his mom called his name. Maan immediately took the box from her, wiped her mouth with his hand, while Geet straightened.
When his mom entered, Maan was having Dahi from the empty box.