by Safia Rehman India
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Next Morning Sumaya woke up for the Early Morning prayers and waited on the Prayer mat reciting the Quran till Sabah and Aunt offered their prayers and went back to sleep.
She got up from her prayer mat. Waited some more time till the sun rose. She then wore her burkha and walked out of the house.
She recalled that she had started walking towards the road on the right on that fateful day and now she took that direction. She kept reciting prayers not to be frightened at what was happening to her, as it was happening for real and she had to face it, no matter what.
After walking for a while, she could feel a sense of overwhelmness and she knew she was reaching her destination.
She kept reciting some more prayers and walking to the path and then she stopped. She froze.
In front of her lay a huge traditional house which was covered with mango trees and had a huge verandah, just like she saw in her dreams.
This was the house that was coming in her dreams.
"This is my house!" An eerie realization came over her.
She opened the gate.
In front of her, she saw figures of two small girls running around and then suddenly they disappeared. She then saw figure of two teenage girls, running around. When she looked closely, she could see herself as one of the girls, and the other girl was- Vidya.Her best Friend from another time.
At this thought, Sumaya sat down.
Vidya....! Vidya called me here to my home. Her home? Who was she? These thoughts circulated in Sumaya’s mind.
She got up wearily and walked towards the door and knocked it twice. Her heart was beating rapidly and she was profusely sweating in the early hours of morning.
After a long wait, a Young woman of her age, answered the door.
The woman looked at her in surprise first and then with an amazement.
"Yes, what do you want?"She asked.
Does Vidya live here?"
"Yes," The young girl answered with a perplexed look.
"Can I meet her?"Sumaya asked.
She didn’t know how she would have the courage to meet her friend of seventy years ago.
"Come in," said the girl.
Sumaya entered the house and looked around.
"Amma must be sleeping. She is not well.Dr says she in in her last days.-The young woman said.
"Who are you? You look familiar." She said.
Sumaya stood gazing at the portrait of a man on the wall.
She kept staring at him for a long time.
"Vasu," She spoke out.
"You know my father too?" The woman asked.
"Yes I know." Sumaya wanted to say aloud.
"He was my brother,"-she wanted to say, to this young woman who was the niece of the woman, Sumaya once was.
"My name is Radhika. Come in,I will show you a picture of my aunt". She led her to another room.
Sumaya felt a sense of home all around her and she could feel, the directions which this girl was taking her.
"My room is upstairs. She will take me over there." Sumaya kept thinking.
And Radhika led her upstairs,along a wooden stairs and stopped at a room.
She pushed open the door saying- "We haven’t opened this room for a while".
Sumaya’s heart missed a
The Room was dark and dusty. There was an old wooden cot and a wardrobe. Sumaya walked toward the bed and placed her hands on it. She then looked towards the wall, and there, with long hair parted in the middle, and smiling face was the portrait of Sandhya,the woman Sumaya was in a different time!
"Don’t you look just like her?" Radhika asked Sumaya.
"Do you know who drew this Portrait?"Sumaya asked.
"It was her fiancée Raaghav, he was heartbroken after her death."
"She died when she went swimming in the lake,"Radhika said.
Sumaya remained quite, and tried to feel her house as to how it was so many decades back.
The smell of incense from the temple, the flowers that she and Vidya would tie in their hair. How they would run around the house, eat mangoes and have long conversations under the Mango tree.
"Can I meet her?" Sumaya asked.
"Come with me." Radhika led her, Sumaya could feel her being taken to Vasu’s room.
When they reached the room. Radhika knocked at the door softly.
It was opened by a Nurse.
She entered the room and saw an old lady sleeping.
Vidya, her best friend and confidante. She walked towards her and sat next to her.
She looked at her sleeping face and saw how different Vidya looked, and yet the same.
All of a sudden, Vidya opened her eyes, and looked at her.
"Sandhyaaaa," Vidya whispered.
She held Sumaya’s hand and Sumaya held it tight.
"She is mistaking you for my aunt who was her best friend," Radhika said in an agitated voice.
"Sandhya, I was waiting for you," Vidya continued talking. "I had told myself that I will not leave this world without seeing you again. You left me without a good bye, Sandhya. You left us all heart broken. Nair house was never the same again after you" Tears filled Vidya's eyes.
Sumaya too was crying softly.
Radhika looked in wonderment as to why this Muslim woman was crying, hearing the stories of the past. And who was she?
Sumaya kept holding Vidya’s hand,and sat hearing the stories of the times gone by, the times which Sandhya had missed.
"Vasu married me only because we were close and he knew that will make you happy. Raaghav left the village after you died. Accha and Amma, celebrated your birthday every year by giving food to the poor. We missed you so much. We missed out so much," Vidya said and closed her eyes again.
Sumaya sat there for some more time holding her hand. She then got up and walked out of the room.
Radhika followed her. Her face looked pale with fear.
"I think your grand mom mistook me for her friend" Sumaya said.
Before Radhika could ask any more questions, Sumaya said "I will come again tomorrow," and walked away.
The next morning, when Sumaya went back to the house, there was a huge crowd of people.
Radhika came up to her and held her tight. "Amma is no more".
"She told us all that you were Sandhya and she had wanted to see you again before her death."
Sumaya stayed in her house, till the final rites of Vidya was over.
Many who attended the funeral remarked how similar the lady in burkha looked to Sandhya who lived there, long ago. ***