The bright yellow doors of the coffee-shop were half open, reflecting the state of my mind, undecided. Should I meet her? or retrace my steps and cancel our rendezvous citing a bad head-ache. But a small corner of my heart wanted to do no such thing and was imploring me to enter into the coffee-shop. I followed the diktat of my heart and walked towards the coffee-shop. A red-bicycle was parked at the entrance.
I sat at the corner-table over-looking the view outside. Sridevi would be here after 15 minutes. It started to drizzle. The pedestrians had opened their colourful parasols taking refuge under its shade. On a rainy day like this , I would have loved to walk without the protective cover of a parasol , to drench myself. But not today. The memories of a similar rainy day, 22 years ago came flooding into my mind.
22 YEARS AGO.....................
On a rainy day , the raindrops took a demonic shape and lashed out , hurling pebbles angrily to the ground and the wind blowing, freely. I was doing my 'riyaz' (practising singing) with my music teacher Pandit Ravi . Raag 'Megh Malhar' was in progress.
The rains, thunder , melody of music and the togetherness proved to be a perfect concoction for the inevitable.
Two months later, amma ( mother) noticed the missing menstrual cycle and the secret that I had caged in my heart, hoping that things would turn out in my favour,was out. Appa (father) packed me off to a distant relative's house in a remote village , to bear the fruit, shrouded in secrecy, so that the family honour would not be tarnished.
Two years later, I was married to a wealthy business family. I dare not ask the whereabouts or the gender of my progeny and was dissuaded from discussing about it with my new household members.
The rains lashed at the window panes blurring the scenes on the roadside. A young girl wearing trousers and a light grey tee-shirt , with strands of red beads around her neck, walked in, looking around. She came to my table and asked," Are you Madhuriji?".
I kept staring at her. I was seeing my own reflection. I replied in affirmative.
"Please call me Ma, ( which means mother) abbreviation for Madhuri" said I.
I was associated with an NGO, working for the betterment of the girls from economically backward classes.
She was collecting statistics and data for her project.
After appa's demise, I managed to track down my past. The girl child , I had given birth to , had been adopted by appa's childless friend and reared the child as their own. Fate had brought my girl close to me but I chose, by circumstances, not to reveal my true identity to her.
I ordered two cups of strong coffee with extra sugar. Our tastes are similar. After all she is my own flesh and blood.
She rose to leave. I looked lovingly at her. For her, I was just another social worker.
She went out of the coffee house and hailed a cab.
Sitting inside the cab, Sridevi smiled to herself and thought. I will look like my Ma when I am forty years old.The project was just a ploy to meet my reflection.