Ashankit was on a door to door campaign in Salt Lake to collect old news papers, with his friends. Their NGO – ‘The Art of Living’ had planned to raise funds for the victims of a recent flood that had broken out in the rural parts of West Bengal. The funds raised from selling old newspapers would be utilized in sending relief materials to the villages.
They had just completed collecting papers from 10 houses. Midway into the collection he could feel his phone vibrating. He took out his cellphone and saw the name displayed on screen – “Papa.” His dad called up Ashankit, to inform him that in the evening they would be going for dinner with Mehta Uncle and his family! “I was looking forward to this!” exclaimed Ashankit to himself after keeping the phone.
It was at around 6.30 pm when Ashankit was heading back home. They were able to collect around 500 kgs of newspaper and magazines from Salt Lake and another residential complex in Lake Town, all in a matter of few hours. Having weighed and handed over the newspapers to the dropping point he was heading back home after an adventurous day.
After reaching home, he did his meditation and got ready. Meditation had become a must in Ashankit’s daily routine. No matter how busy his schedule would be, he would always take out time to meditate! There was a time when his life had taken a topsy-turvy but it was only through regular meditation that he was able to gain back his balance.
Ashankit had two siblings, an elder sister Gia and a younger brother Kirat. Both of them were very awestruck with the idea of going for a dinner, as it was not a usual thing. However, Ashankit was excited to meet new, yet a little sort of known people! All of them got ready and left for JW Mariott Hotel, their mom was also accompanying them.
On the way to the hotel Ashankit’s dad received a call from Mehta Uncle. Ashankit’s dad told his wife that Mehta Uncle and his family had already reached and they were waiting for us. Ashankit was the one on the wheel and his other two siblings were busy on their phones.
Upon reaching the grand JW Marriott hotel, they walked into the dining area and Ashankit saw his dad walk up to Mehta Uncle and greet him. He had never met Mehta Uncle, his dad’s recent yet a very close friend. Hearing them speak so often over the phone made him feel like he had to meet him!
Ashankit went straight up to Mehta Uncle and his wife, Shraddha and touched their feet to take their blessings. Dia and Kirat followed suit. This was a sight to wonder at for Mehta Uncle’s two daughters – Sambhavna and Vinuja. They were just awestruck to see him bow down. All they could do was gather themselves from their confusion and exchange greetings with Ashankit’s parents.
All the five, bright and young adults exchanged greetings with each other. There was obviously a sign of awkwardness for they were new faces around them. However, one was at extreme comfort and ease. It could only be Ashankit! There was only one question that was lingering on his mind –
‘Where was the third sibling?’
He was sure that dad had told him that Mehta Uncle had 3 siblings. However, he brushed aside this thought for the while.
They requested the waiter to walk them to a table that could seat nine. The first option offered seemed less satisfying. Mehta Uncle was a man of perfection and choices. He preferred things in a particular way but he certainly was not of the adamant kind or was he? Rather he was very sweet, caring and really childlike possessive about his things. They finally managed to get a table. A little away from the center dining area, it was perfect for the conversations that were going to unfold.
The long rectangular table perfectly seated the nine charming diners at the hotel. The four elders sat on one side of the table whereas the five young ones on the other. Kirat chose to sit at the corner while Ashankit sat next to Vinuja and damn opposite to Sambhavna. This was really great as it would help him converse with both.
Vinuja wore a purple netted top with a light beige colour jeans. Her small built and fair complexion made her look sweet. Ashankit expected her to be in her school years, only to be proven wrong later! Sambhavna had worn a dark grey top with black pants. She was wearing heels of a decent height which made her look tall, elegant and mature. He would soon realise that the last characteristic should always be given a miss for Sambhavna.
They had opted for a buffet dinner at the restaurant. One by one everyone got up to grab a few quick bites. They all helped themselves with the snacks of their own choice. It was only when everyone was seated that conversations started taking pace. Everyone among the kids started exchanging information about what they were doing. Sounds boring and monotonous but that was it. One would certainly not expect individuals to exchange count of their relationships or kid stories, right in their first meeting!
Sambhavna and Vinuja had heard a lot of Ashankit from their father. They had an image of a person who would be drenched in an ocean of traditions and moralities. However, they had no idea how good he was at breaking prejudices and judgments. Also, little did either knew that they would find a very dear and loving friend in him.
A good forty-five minutes had passed away, since they had met and now they were slowly getting to know each other. Sambhavna was the dynamic individual who looked at life from a wider and an adventurous perspective while Vinuja was the serious and ‘playing it safe’ type. Gia was the cute little girl, who was often finding it difficult to grasp the pace at which the conversations were going. Kirat was definitely irritated and unable to fathom the present atmosphere, something which is totally usual for him.
The two Mehta daughters never left a chance to pull each others feet. One would laugh about the other’s late night coming home scenes while the other would shoot back with the immaturity displayed by the other while on a partying spree. Ashankit was the one to enjoy every teeny-tiny bit of it.
“You are the perfect child every parent would want,” said Sambhavna.
Ashankit replied, “There is perfection in everybody.”
“How is that possible.”
“It is! You just need to have a vision to see it.”
Sambhavna was amazed to see the positive and charismatic attitude this guy possessed. No complaints, no negative vibes and the most shocking – not even a pinch of laziness after a hard days work. He seemed to be a specie from a different planet! But Ashankit’s stories about his adventurous and crazy past episodes always gave a confirmation of him being a native of this planet.
Vinuja was finding it really amazing how Ashankit was getting along with everyone. At the first instance when her father had told him about the plan, she thought it would be boring and mundane. Though they were not doing anything more than just sit and talk, she was amazed to see how interesting it was turning out to be.
Ashankit had left no crazy adventurous of his past still folded. From his
27 game Beer pong streak in USA, his past love for whiskey, to his fun days in college, he proved to be a real entertainer and liver!. However, there was just one precious thing about his life that he preferred not to share!
Kirat was the one who spoke the least. He was thankful that his elder brother, Ashankit was not talking about devotion and divinity. Nevertheless, Kirat tried to prove that he was a little cool among his three siblings but ended up being greeted by –
“You are like a child,” by Vinuja.
He did not care much to speak later.
Mehta Uncle got up to grab a plate. He could see how the children were getting along so well, something that he desired so much in his heart. Ashankit had excused himself and walked up to Mehta Unlce to have a conversation with him. Mehta Uncle had remarked that he was happy to see all of them get along so well.
“You should try and exert a positive influence on them,” he said.
“The work has already started uncle!” remarked Ashankit.
This made Mehta Uncle really happy. The reply just came out with a pinch of spontaneity. He could well understand what Mehta Uncle was talking about but he was not working at anything. All that Ashankit knew was that he was not the kind who would take sides. The only side that he would take off, was spreading love and joy.
He could sense the airy atmosphere that was prevailing because of the complex equations existing between individuals in their family. Nevertheless, he had already made up his mind that this equation would be a thing soon forgotten and that there would soon be a blossoming of love.
No wonder time had just flied. It was almost 11 pm when they got up to leave. All they could see was empty chairs and tables all around. Their long conversations had not even made them realise that there were very few guests left. On their way to the lobby of the hotel Ashankit and Vinuja spoke about how interesting the dinner had turned out to be.
“I have not gone out with Dad’s friends since a long time but this was really nice. Did not expect it to be this good,” said Vinuja.
Ashankit said, ” Same here with me.”
So much more good was in store!
All of them were waiting at the lobby gate for their cars to come. Though they had got up to leave, the two groups – the elders and the children stayed intact. Mehta Uncle walked up to the children and gave a ear to what they were talking about.
He was all praises for Ashankit, “I can see how mature and vibrant you are. There is a lot of positivity in you and I would just wish for my children to learn this from you.”
“It will gradually come in them Uncle.”
“See how mature he is. You must learn from this guy,” Mehta uncle said to Sambhavna.
“Everyone is not the same papa.”
“Yes, but you can definitely try to be.”
Ashankit stepped in to cool things – “There is always a time for things to be the way they are supposed to be.”
Though Ashankit was not taking sides, Sambhavna felt good that he was not being judgemental about her. It was nice not to hear any more negative things, for a change! He was not being analytical but he could make out the misery and sorrow hovering over the Mehta family. Messed up father-daughter equation which seemed difficult to fix but not impossible. It was not that one was culprit and the other a victim. Both were victims to the changing wheels and play of time.
Suddenly Ashankit could recall all those sleepless and painful nights that he had gone through, a couple of years back. It would feel like as if a needle would be continuously pricking his heart. Those nights would never pass without him crying, with his head tucked deep inside the pillow. He just shook his head and let those memories fade away. Ashankit just said to himself, ” I am not going to let anyone go through a similar pain that I had to go through.”
He just smiled and took a deep breath. Feeling optimistic and positive that things would change very soon! Though there was uncertainty in how and when, there was complete certainty about his intentions to make things right.
Sambhavna and Ashankit exchanged their numbers and Vinuja exchanged her number with Dia. Kirat was as always, least interested. He did not certainly like being called a child either.
Both the families went separate ways. One excited and the other with a ray of positivity and hope. Ashankit was determined to make the impossible, become possible.
And it did happen!
(To be Continued….)