Maya had just finished her household chores when she entered her room; Bittoo had already gone off to sleep. Bittoo was her two year old son; her only shining star left in this world. One year after Maya’s marriage to Anand tragedy struck when he was killed in an unfortunate incident trying to save a boy from rioters. After that Maya was filled with apathy towards helping people. In fact for a long time she cursed the fact that Anand had risked his life for an unknown boy.
After the tragic end to Anand’s life Maya had given up all desires to live. Infact clichéd as it may sound she only continued doing so for her son. But as they say time is the best healer; though Anand would still very much be a part of Maya she had now opened herself again to life. Her effervescent personality was again visible; her giggles filled the atmosphere of the house. She was again embracing happiness all over again. Most importantly she started believing in charity and compassion again.
Maya had been staying with her brother-in-law and his family since Anand’s demise. She was working as a teacher in a school to support herself and her son. Each day she would wake up early; prepare breakfast for the entire household; get Bittoo ready for school; drop him and then finally got off to her school. In the evenings she would prepare dinner and also teach Bittoo and her brother-in-law’s kids. She actually tried to keep herself occupied as much as possible to avoid relapsing back into the black hole of misery and despair.
Maya was in her mid twenties; the age where many actually begin taking life seriously but she had already seen the upheavals that life comprised of. While with Anand; they would often visit ashrams to make small donations to poor kids. But after the misfortune with Anand, she had stopped all that. But gradually she overcame her bitterness and now wanted to continue that legacy of Anand in some way. She now waited for any and every chance to help people to honour the sacrifice of Anand. And it was not much later that she got her window of opportunity.
The town they lived in; Adarshnagar; was a conservative place where women were looked upon as mere show pieces meant for household chores more often than not. Though Anand’s family always treated Maya with respect; such families were few are far between in that town. And the situation had become worst in the past few days with drunken men creating havoc on the streets after dusk for women.
On the day of annual function of Maya’s school she had gotten a little late to return home. It was past 9 and had her brother-in-law been in town she would have been picked up by him. But that day it wasn’t to be so she hailed a rickshaw and started for home. Being a small town usually the streets wore a deserted look after 8 in the evening and that day it was already past 9. It was the unearthly hour of shadowy men wondering the streets in search for prey. Maya just prayed to reach home safely when suddenly came out from one of the by lanes in front of the rickshaw a terrified girl. She waived her arms at the rickshaw to stop. Her clothes were withered and amidst gasps of breathe she cried and begged for help. Maya immediately got down from the rickshaw and covered the girl with her shawl as she was shivering by now. It was clear some brazen drunk men must have done this to her and when she somehow managed to escape they must have started following her. There was no time; they had to react quickly. The rickshaw driver was a meek old man who wouldn’t be of much help she thought and also she didn’t have the strength to fight off strong drunk men. She told the rickshaw driver to take them to the nearest police station but the frightened driver rode away being scared out of his wits.
Maya and that girl were now alone in the road; it was dark and not a soul around. It wasn’t also a housing colony that they would go and knock at somebody’s door. It was a market place which had shut down for the day. There was nowhere to go. But before deciding anything they had to hide; so quickly Maya took the girl and hid behind the garbage van which stood at one corner of the street. No sooner that they were behind the truck a jeep carrying intoxicated men came from the same by lane from where the girl had emerged. They looked everywhere trying to figure out where the girl might be. There was no time; they would certainly look behind the van too. If they had to do something it was now Maya looked everywhere for a possible escape route. But to their dismay they could go nowhere; it was a dead-end.
Time started running out for them; two men were approaching the van to check out if the girl was behind it. Maya knew if both were found these men would annihilate them into pieces. Bittoo’s face came to her mind; Anand was already gone and now if something happened to her who would take care of Bittoo. Just then an idea struck her; the huge dump of garbage was infront of them. She pulled the girl and jumped right into that covering themselves with filth. They were just in time; the men came; looked around but couldn’t spot them.
After half an hour or so the men gave up their search and drove back. After waiting for a while they finally emerged from the dump. The girl was still petrified and why wouldn’t she be as she was in a state of shock. But Maya’s presence of mind saved both of them. But they were still not completely safe; they had to reach home and it was already late. There wasn’t any auto or rickshaw in sight so Maya called up her neighbour while still hiding behind the van and related him the whole story; also requested him to pick them up. After an agonising wait finally they reached home; everyone was stunned at the whole incident.
After they cleaned up, Maya nursed the poor girl to sleep after which she went to Bittoo. He was in deep slumber. She patted his head and looked at the photo of Anand on her bed side. She was glad that today fate didn’t cause any mishap which would take her away from Bittoo too.Also she was happy to be able to save that girl; Anand would have been really proud of her she thought.
Sometimes in life we are handed lemons while trying to help others but that shouldn’t dissuade us. ’Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light’ because to make this world a better place; to prevent mishaps like Anand’s death we need to cleanse the world’s soul which is only possible by love, affection and drawing people out of their misery.