Sahib dropped Akshay and me at my uncle’s place. Upon ringing the door bell we were greeted by my sister. She sprang her arms around me. Pecked me on the cheeks and shrieked, “I knew this would work out.” All my attention was sidetracked from the pain and the accident. She was the most benign member of my extended family. My sweet little sister (we are of the same age, but it’s always the brother who feels bigger and conscientious.) Her dark brown hair waved with a gush of air that freed my tensed nerves. The freckles on her face were not a result of age, but a sign of fret and relief on holding her dearest brother tightly after such a long time. Her eyes, a shade darker than mine, were shut. She only opened those almond contoured eyes to look at Akshay. We had never had any sibling rivalry. We owed this to the fact that my uncle treated me as the son he always wanted and my cousin was overwhelmed by the distinction of being the only girl in the whole of Dehradoon who could address me as “Brother”, without offending me.
There was nothing wrong with the lights. My eyes had emoted and by the time I could see clearly those saline droplets, full of emotions, had reached my lips. I had actually cried while saying those lines. Akanksha had been recalled by Lady Penguin away from the stage because I wasn’t paying any attention to the corrections she was prompting. For the first time in my life, I was being applauded by Lady herself. The stiff expression on her forehead vanished and she had a very motherly smile. She asked me to come down and announced.
“Edward is with us in his full luster, Helen has been with him all through and it is now time for all of us to come together and put forward the greatest theatrical ever by the girls of Welham’s and a suitable boy from Doon High.”
The fateful day arrived too soon. Akanksha and I had practiced the scene where Edward tries to steal the baby and is caught. He explained to Helen the reasons for his action through my monologue. I had never seen such an attendance before. All twenty five girls who play various roles in our stage production were present. Lady Penguin took a seat in the last row, with the two senior school girls on her either side. Robot’s sister was waving from the prompt box. I listened closely to the piano waiting for it to momentarily pause so that I could begin my act.
Kalsh: I come from far far… away, where no women no angels stay,
We did something very very wrong, whose burden I still borne,
A Long time ago, a mullah said we want no femme no more,
A lady is weak we believed and instead brave men we seeked,
So we torched them alive, foeticide, sent them all out of sight,
Only sons did we ever ask for,
Now in that village where I have grown, no one cuddles at night,
I was sent to your village, to bring back a girl like yourself,
I knew it all along that I had to steal from you I swear,
For nine months what you had to bear, I alone are to be blamed,
Garrotte my senses, drown my hope, take me apart piece by piece,
We men don’t deserve your grace, but please
Let me see my Angela at least,
That is what my last breath would pray, You, Me and My daughter Stay
There was a silence. I couldn’t see anything. My view was hazed. I rubbed my eyes but it did not help. The stage light was blinding me. I looked around for Akanksha but she was nowhere to be seen. And then I heard a voice so soft that it pierced my ears. “BRAVO!!!”