Raghav was busy tending to the plants in the small garden he had in front of his independent house in Bangalore. He saw a taxi stopping in front of his house. He was surprised to see his daughter Anushka getting out of the taxi. He had no intimation about her arrival. Since she left for Dubai a few years ago with her husband, there had been no communication between them.
Anushka walked into the house with her luggage. She looked totally distraught. When she saw her mother Neena seated in a wheel chair, unable to move , she rushed to hug her and broke down crying. Raghav and Neena were perplexed. When Neena asked her what happened, Anushka did not reply but was sobbing inconsolably.
In between sobs, Anushka told them that her husband had divorced her as per Muslim law and thrown her out of the house. Since there was no one to help her in Dubai, she had taken the first available flight home to meet them and seek their help.
Raghav’s surprise turned into a shock. With great difficulty he controlled his emotions and sat down on the sofa to get more details about Anushka’s life in Dubai and to find out the reason for her husband’s action.
Hailing from a middle class family Raghav had a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. After graduation he joined an automobile company as Trainee Engineer. Over the years he rose in the company to become the Divisional Head and was doing well in his job. He had also managed to build a small dream house on the outskirts of Bangalore with a small garden. His wife Neena was a home maker, a charming person who was well known for her wonderful hospitality. Anushka was their only daughter.
An extremely pretty & vivacious girl Anushka was full of fun and made friends easily . A Commerce graduate, She pursued a computer course, in a private institute, to qualify herself for a job in a software company. She did well in the computer course and after finishing the two years course managed to get a job as a software engineer in a leading software firm in Bangalore, with a handsome salary. Raghav and Neena were happy that their daughter was progressing well in life. They thought it was time that they found a life partner for Anushka.
When life was cruising along beautifully, Raghav did not realize that a storm was brewing in his life which was to shatter the peace in their home.
It was not unusual for Anushka to return home late from office. When questioned by her parents about this she would always reply,
“We are working on a big project Appa. I have to stay back every day to help my boss meet the deadline”
“Who is your boss? Are there other girls in your team?” – worried Raghav would question her.
“Our boss is Mr. Hussain. He is a very good man Appa. Whenever I am late, he only drops me home”
“Oh! That white car which drops you is his. I thought you were taking a call taxi home every day”
“Though he stays far away, it is nice of him to drop me home before he goes to his flat”
Apart from coming late from office every evening, Anushka also started going to office on week ends. One week end, Anushka did not return home. When contacted, she said, “Appa, the project has reached the final stage. My boss has to make a presentation to the management on Monday morning. So I am staying back in the office to complete the job. Don’t worry, I am safe in the office.
Raghav was not happy. But he did not make an issue of it, trusting his daughter.
Even after completion of the project, Anushka continued to come home late. Within a month, when again she did not return home over a week end, Raghav and Neena got worried.
“I am not comfortable Raghav. We have got to check on what is really happening” Neena urged Raghav to investigate the matter. “You had said that you know some one in the company where Anushka is working. Why don’t you discreetly check about Anushka “
Raghav decided to act. The news that the friend gave him about Anushka a week later was shocking.
“Raghav, your daughter seems to be having an affair with her boss, Mr.Hussain, a divorcee who has been with the company for the last five years. He seems to be doing well in his job and he is in the good books of the management. I learnt that your daughter is seen going out with him daily after office hours. In fact there is a rumour in his department that the two have been spending week- ends at a resort, on the outskirts of Bangalore”
Totally shattered Raghav and Neena decided to confront Anushka, on a Monday following a week end when she was away from home.
“Where were you this week end Anushka?” asked Raghav.
“I told you I was in the office”
“Don’t lie Anushka. I know where you spent this week end with your boss”
Anushka realized that her bluff had been called off. She decided to be defiant.
There was no remorse or regret when she said, “Yes, Appa. I am in love with my boss. And we are planning to marry soon”
Raghav did not expect his daughter to be so bold.
“But Anushka, I understand he is a Muslim, is 15 years older than you. Besides he is a divorcee”
“So what Appa, I love him and he too loves me. He is so kind and caring, I feel very happy and secure in his company”
Raghav and Neena tried their best to persuade Anushka to change her mind. When they failed, they asked close friends of Anushka to influence her decision. But nothing worked.
When the pressure at home became unbearable, one Friday evening Anushka walked out of the home, never to return again.
Much to their displeasure, Raghav and Neena learnt that Anushka was staying with her boss in his flat. Subsequently they had a registered marriage attended by some office colleagues. Soon both quit their jobs and left for Dubai, where Anushka’s husband had found a good job in a software company.
All the efforts of Raghav to connect with his daughter failed miserably. She refused to respond to any communication from him. Over a period of time he lost all contact s with her. Raghav could not believe that love could be so blind that it can make a girl forget her near and dear ones completely.
Neena could not bear the loss of their only child. She fell seriously ill never to recover completely from a progressively debilitating disease she contracted, making her dependent on a wheelchair to move around the house.
In between sobs, Anushka told Raghav that after they reached Dubai, Hussain’s family consisting of his father, mother and a sister also joined them. She was forced to convert into Islam and was given the name Mumtaz. She was not allowed to take up any job. However, she began dabbling in some social activities in the neighbourhood.
Within 5 years of their marriage, the couple was blessed with two sons. Anushka had to cut down on her social activities to concentrate on the children.
Hussain had moved up the ladder in his company to become a Vice President. He was travelling a lot and spent very little time at home. She began to feel that he was beginning to get distant from her. Her in laws also started ill treating her. They were not happy about her going out on social work. But they were extremely good to her sons and the children also loved their grand parents.
On a couple of occasions when she tried to go out to meet some old friends who were visiting Dubai, her in laws created a scene. They must have carried tales to Hussein because his attitude towards her began to change. Anushka realized that Hussain did not love her any more. And He was not giving her time to listen to her story. She started feeling isolated and miserable.
Unable to bear the pressure, one day she managed to corner Hussain when they were alone at home.
“What is happening Hussain? Why are you ignoring me? Have you found some one more interesting?” the direct confrontation by Anushka provoked Hussain.
He replied, “Why, I understand that you have also been in touch with your old boy friend from India, who was here recently. You were seen a couple of times with him in a hotel”
Anushka did not know what hit her. It was true that she had met the old friend at a restaurant only once. And she had informed her in laws about the meeting. But she did not expect that Hussain will use the information to fix her and to make her feel more miserable.
This led to a massive show down between them. Hussain walked out of the house telling her that he is going to be away on tour for a couple of days and deal with her after his return.
Those three days were the most miserable days in Anushka’s life. She locked up herself in a room not eating and crying the whole day.
Three days later, when Hussain returned, instead of trying to patch up with her and console her, he threw a bomb shell at her.
“Anushka, our marriage is not working out. I have decided to marry again. I have found a more understanding woman, who can take care of my parents and my children. The law of this land allows me to do this. Here is your air ticket to go back to India and some money for your expenses.
I will keep the children with me. My parents will take care of them.”
.Anushka was devastated. Hussain had given her no opportunity or time to discuss their problem. Just took an adhoc decision and walked out of her life. She thought of committing suicide. But the strong person in her decided to fight Hussain. Since she did not have any close friends in Dubai, she decided to return to India to her long forgotten parents. She was confident that with her father`s help she will win the case and atleast get custody of her children, who were just 3 & 5 then .
Raghav ran from pillar to post to find a solution to Anushka’s problem. He contacted the best lawyer in town seeking his advice in the matter. He even visited Dubai and tried to meet Hussain, without luck.
In the meanwhile, Anushka’s condition became more and more pitiable. She was missing her children. Besides, the realization that her rash action had resulted in her mother falling seriously ill also started eating into her. Though she tried to help her mother in whatever way she could, it was a miserable time for everyone.
A year passed by, without any solution to Anushka’s problem. Raghav had found out that the laws of the land in Dubai, favoured Hussain. There was no hope of Anushka getting custody of her children.
Both Neena and Raghav persuaded Anushka to take up a job in a software company so that she will have some diversion. Slowly she started coming out of her depression and started behaving her normal self -spending as much of her spare time as possible with her mother – trying to cheer her in her miserable state. Though she missed her children, she remembered to celebrate their birthdays at home, every year.
While Neena was happy that her daughter was there to give her company, she was anxious to see her resettled in life, when she was still alive. She started putting pressure on Anushka to get married again.
It took almost four years since she returned to her parents home for Anushka to agree to the idea..
Raghav spread the word around, advertised through community journals and wedding portals. After an intensive effort, he managed to find a good match for Anushka . His name was Ranaganath - a widower who was a successful Chartered Accountant, in his mid forties, coming from a well to do family. Apart from good looking he came across as a very understanding person – willing to accept Anushka’s past.
Though Ranganath had given his consent within a couple of meetings, Anushka took her own time in giving her decision
Finally when she gave her consent , it was agreed the wedding will be a very low key affair in a Hall attended by very selected friends & relatives.
Neena, who was seated in a wheel chair on the front row in the hall was very happy to see the marriage ritual – which she had missed when Anushka had walked out on them to have a registered marriage wih her lover. While Anushka seemed happy at the turn of events, the thoughts of her children did pass through her mind. She wondered whether she will ever see them again in her life.
A surprise awaited the family when they returned home after the wedding ceremony.
It was a cover addressed to Anushka delivered by courier that morning. The maid who was holding the fort in their house had received it. What intrigued Raghav was that it was from Hussain in Dubai. He was not sure what good / bad news it contained. He did not want to spoil the celebratory mood of the family. So he waited till every one settled down to rest. In the privacy of his bedroom he read the letter.
I am writing this letter to you with a heavy heart. After the way I treated you, I don’t know if you would like to even read a letter from me. But it concerns your , nay our children. So please read on.
After your departure from the house, the boys started missing you badly. Though my parents were showering the affection on them to the best of their abilities I realized that it could never replace the love of a mother. After a couple of years when they started slowly accepting the situation, my parents who had gone on a Haj pilgrimage died in the major stampede in Mecca, which happened early this year. It was a shocking experience. The boys were shattered. Unable to cope with the family pressure brought on by this incident, my wife Rita walked out of my life..
I have never been a good father to my children. Though I shower them with gifts from time to time, I have never spent quality time with them. I am at my wits` end. As I am not sure of my ability to bring up the children on my own, I thought of checking with you to find out if you would accept the responsibility of bringing them up. I can arrange for the necessary finance.
Please let me know about your decision on the following email id at the earliest.
Yours … ex-husband
Vivek was confused. A mixture of emotions passed through his mind. After a traumatic period Anushka was about to begin a new life with her new husband. Should he upset the apple cart by sharing the letter with her? On the other hand she had always been pining for her children. Won`t it make her very happy to hear the news. Is it fair to keep such an important information from her.
He showed the letter to Neena who felt it would be best to give the letter to Anushka and let her decide the course of action.
After rest, when the family was having a cup of tea, Vivek handed over the cover containing the letter to Anushka. When she saw that the letter was from Hussain, she became tense and started reading the letter with trembling hands, with tears rolling down her eyes . Ranganath was keenly watching her. When she finished reading she started crying, hugging the letter to her heart. Once she recovered, she passed on the letter to Ranganath to read.
Vivek, Neena and Anushka were anxiously watching for Ranganath`s `s reaction as he was reading the letter. His response shocked every body.
With a smiling face, he hugged Anushka and told her,
“This is the best gift we have received on our wedding day Anushka. Don’t worry, your children are my children. We will both go to Dubai to pick up the children and go on a family holiday before we return to India.`
With tears of joy rolling down their eyes, and with folded hands, Vivek, Neena and Anushka expressed their gratefulness to Ranganath.. After several years there was a sense of happiness in the family!