“I am Maan. I am always there to assist everyone who comes from other countries to India. I am a perfect guide and an assistant. I have a habit of recording a video diary with my guest in India. This time I got Miss., no Mrs. Ivanka… no no Miss…. Let it be, I should say Ivanka Ma’m. Because of recording this video diary I will be late to go to the airport. I hope she has not been waiting for me.”
I reached airport where I was holding a board of her name. I was wondering how she would be looking. Ummmm….I think she would be tall with a harsh voice…! Just then I heard a voice, “Mr. Maan?” The voice was so melodious, I thought that a singer would be standing behind me. I turned. She was not so tall, almost 5’5” and whitish but very cute.
“Hi, Ms., how are you?” I greeted.
She just said, “Car?”
“What!” Surprised, I asked.
She said “Have you came by walking?”
I was going to say something when she asked with a cold rudeness, “Do you have a hearing problem?”
I was astonished but I turned and started following her. On the way she didn’t utter a word. After reaching the hotel she said, “Sharp 7am” and disappeared.
I thought that she must be mentally disturbed and I continued walking.
The very next morning, I was standing in front of the hotel. I was yawning when she came out and said, “You are looking sleepy so I will drive the car.”
I asked anxiously, “Where are we going today? The meeting is tomorrow.” She didn’t reply and started driving car with the help of GPS. I could only know what turns we were taking but I was unable to recognize the place. Yet I maintained silence and didn’t know when I dozed off. After sometime I heard her voice. “Are you coming?”
I got up quickly. “Where?”
She didn’t reply and started moving again, with me following her. There was a house.
“Is that your house?” I couldn’t restrict my verbose.
She beamed “Hmmm.”
I got excited to go inside the house. She opened the main gate and walked ahead. There was a gate inside the gate which was locked.
“Do you have the key?” I looked at her.
“No, you must bang it open with your head”.
I thought she was serious. I looked her in terrified. “R..Ree..Reallyyy!”
I saw her smiling for the first time. “No, I have the key.”
She opened the door and went inside. Without a word she went to the first room where I found nothing but she walked to each corner of the room, perhaps searching for something. I was standing quiet. I saw tears in her eyes but she wasn’t ready to admit that she was indeed crying. She took a deep breath instead, and told me about each and every moment related to that house.
“Where are your parents?” I asked.
Her parents were divorced. She had to go away with her Mom.
She waited, before she could answer my question. “I asked my father to live with Maa but he wanted independence. So I said, that let him enjoy that”. It all happened when she was barely 12.
“What happened in your life after that?”I was naturally curious.
” I went to U.S.A., studied, now I am doing a job.” she said unmindfully.
“What’s your father’s name?” I wanted to know.
She said, “Mr. Ram Naik”.
“What are you saying! Ram uncle?” My voice had suddenly raised its decibels.
“Do you know him?” she asked innocently.
My excitements knew no bound “He is now acting as the best divorce counsellor, without a degree. In every speech of his, he’d say, I lost my daughter to it but I don’t let that happen to you.” I waited to get back my breath and turned to look at her again. “Have you ever thought how you got admitted in that expensive school? Have you ever thought how you got a job so easy? How did you survive in a country like U.S.A.?”
I told her that her father was always there with her like a shadow. “There may have been problems between your parents but your father loves you more than anyone else in this world.”
She listened to me with all her attention. I kept talking.
“I know about him better than you do. I love listening to stories from him. He told me much about you too but you were very different during your childhood.”
“Can I meet him? Please!!” She pleaded.
“For sure, but when? You have a meeting tomorrow and you are leaving the day after.” I reasoned.
“Now” she said with a stubborn tone.
“Give me the car keys.” I offered.
We reached there in 30 minutes. I knocked the door. “Uncle, Maan here.”
He opened the door and she rushed towards him. She hugged him. “Sorry dad”. Uncle took a while to realise what was happening and hugged her back. Tears flew.
I felt proud of myself. This time I felt I did something in life which was bigger than anything else I did till now. We remained there for 2 hours with him. Uncle Ram asked about her maa and about her. She invited her dad to come with her to U.S.A. He assured that he would come soon.
I drove back to the hotel to drop her. As I was about to start the car again, she stopped me. “Maan…” I turned, she said “Thanks,” with a smile.
Soon it was time for her to depart from India. I and her father were at the airport to see her off! She hugged her father and said “bye” to me. She waited for me to say something. Suddenly something came to my mind and I said, “Wait, can we take a selfie?”
Whenever I think of the memory of those three days, I smile to myself. Of those few days with her, I have only one photograph. I have not even made a video diary. But those three days I remember much more than what I did in the past many years….