The line suddenly struck a memory…..it was as if someone peeped into her past and took a small piece of it out. She wasn’t sure what was more shocking…..finding that line here, or the memory it evoked after all these years!
 
Suddenly that day came back all too clearly, and the events that unfolded. Prerana would have been 15yrs then. She was returning from school with her friends, nibbling on the gooseberries they had picked on the way and chit chatting when she accidentally bumped into him. Her bag, gooseberries all fell down and her friends giggled, then burst into a laughing fit. She was embarrassed and thought the guy might scold her. He instead picked up her books and even her gooseberries. She was extremely tongue-tied to even apologise. She suddenly realized how silly she must look and ran home.
 
The days that followed were a daze…..he was always around the corner while going to school, and while coming back. It was filled with stealing quick glances, a secretive smile on her lips, the ebb and flow of emotions anticipating his presence. One day he caught her off guard when he approached her and asked for the location of an address. Later she realized it was all a ruse to get her to talk. The ice broke rather quickly and they shared ever so sweet moments. He was new to the city, having come here to find a job. She felt comfortable telling him about her life. She was the elder of two daughters for her mom, who was widowed when her father passed away in an accident. Her mother was very young when she eloped with her father, so there was nowhere to turn to when he passed. Theirs was a dreary life in the slum. Her mother worked in many houses to make ends meet, and educate her daughters. So it was a hand-to-mouth existence. They had an aunt, her mother’s sister, who wanted to educate the two girls and give them a better life, but the bitter words they had exchanged before cut too deep for her mother. So she was determined to make it on her own.
 
Then came the news that he managed to land a job, but in a different city. After delivering the news, they stared at each other for a few moments, waiting for the other to make a move. She was close to tears but determined to not let it show. He then slipped her a note, and whispered: “I will be waiting”. The note said “Midnight, on the bridge. Come alone.” She always had her friends around her whenever they met, so the thought of meeting him alone for the first time scared her, but also gave her a secret thrill.
 
But she never really found out how it would be to meet him alone. Her mother found the note and put her in house arrest. The next morning Prerana was shipped off to her aunt’s place. Her mother swallowed her pride and entrusted her sister with bringing up her daughters. Far away from their earlier life, the two girls finished their schooling at a good school and completed their higher education.
 
Since then Prerana has had a very rocky relationship with her mother. Though the memory is now buried deep, her anger at being denied what she wanted to do stayed. Her daughter’s voice jolted her out of her reverie. She signed out of her Facebook to attend to her. She saw her walking in hand-in-hand with her mother. On seeing her child, came the sudden realization…’would I let some stranger take my child away from me at a tender age of 15yrs?’ There could have been a more patient and calm way of dealing with the situation, but considering the circumstances she realized her mother couldn’t have done it any different. She then looked at her mother and hugged her and whispered: “I don’t think I would let go of my daughter either”. Her mother held her and said, “So I was right all along.” Prerana thought a moment and said “hmmm……maybe”.
 
In a dark cell lavished a man, far away from Prerana but very close to her thoughts. Convicted of trafficking young girls, he was looking at spending the rest of his life in jail. And he remembered his first failed kidnapping and wondered what became of that girl.

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About the Author:

Meenakshi Anand’s earlier work as report writer made her realize how much she loves putting my thoughts into words. Since her childhood, a chance phrase, a sight, anything for that matter would trigger a story and she always wondered what medium would help her realize those stories. Now she knows!