"I often wonder why mom keeps staring at this photo frame. The frame seems to be so old and who is the guy in the frame. I shall change it tomorrow" said Vinita to her elder sister Nandini. "No you cannot, this photograph and the frame both are special to her.", said Nandini to her little sister. "I want to know why! After all, what is so special about it?” asked Vinita and further added that this has become deplorable for her.
I am the photo frame in Muskan's hand. From the past thirty five years I am with her. She has never changed the picture I so proudly behold nor did she replace me with a new one.
"Didi please tell me, all that you know about the frame and the person held in it" said Vinita. "All right, I will tell you all that I know about it." said Nandini.
Nandini took a deep breath and carefully narrated the story.
Back then, mom was in sixth grade. She was fun loving, talkative, sweet and polite child. And undoubtedly she was beautiful. Many young boys tried to win her heart but failed. It was as though she was waiting for her Mr. Perfect who would come riding a white horse and sweeping her off her feet. A girl of her worth was definitely the apple of everyone’s eye. One day as she was walking in the society park, she noticed a guy. He was handsome, tall and had an incredible smile, which caught her attention. His warm smile created beautiful dimple on his cheeks. She was lost in him and had lost all sense of time. Her mother was calling her since quite some time now and it seemed as if she had become deaf to the world outside. A small boy came and patted her shoulder and that brought her back to her senses. She went home but couldn’t get that boy out of her thoughts. Next day early morning there was a knock at the door. She went to open the door and could not believe her eyes, the same guy was now standing in front of her. She thought it was a dream. But it wasn’t, the guy was indeed there, and it was for real! "Can I know at what time the water supply comes in this society?" asked the guy. "At 6 am in the morning and 6 pm in the evening" replied her mother. "Good morning Aunty" said the boy. "Good morning Beta" replied her mother. She was perplexed, how her mother and that guy knew each other. She would give one look towards her mother and then towards the boy. She wondered how her mother knew this guy while she didn’t even know he existed until the previous evening. "Thank you Aunty” said the boy, hearing which got her back in senses. The boy smiled at her and once again she fell for his smile. “Mom, how do you know this guy?” she asked. "He is our new neighbor, his family bought the house which earlier belonged to Mr. Varma.” said Muskan's mother. "Oh! That means I can see him from my balcony pretty often" she murmured. "What did you say?" her mother inquired. "Nothing" she winked and went to her room. As Muskan got ready for school and stepped out of the comple gate she saw the same guy again. Seeing the boy wearing the uniform of St. Marks School, she understood within a minute that they would now be in the same school. The boy recognized her and took the initiative to start a conversation. "Hey" the boy said. "Hi" Muskan replied. “I am Varun and what’s your name?” he asked. “I am Muskan, so you took admission in St. Marks” asked Muskan, curiosity getting the better of her. “Yes, in class 6th” said Varun. Muskan could not believe her ears. She could not believe that fate would be on her side, lady luck shining brightly on her. Now she got even more curious and wanted to know his section but she was hesitant so she said, “Oh! I am in the same grade and in B section and you?" "Same Pinch, I am also in same section said Varun and he pinched her. This pinch was the starting of their friendship. She was on seventh heaven and blushing whole day. Now they both used to go school together, come back home together. They went to same tuition and played badminton every evening. Slowly Muskan fell in love with Varun. One day she decided that by hook or by crook she wanted Varun's photograph which would capture his beautiful warm smile. She took her camera and headed towards the park. When Varun and his friends were talking she clicked many pictures of Varun but none of them were what she wanted. After trying endlessly, she finally succeeded in getting a picture of Varun with his smile. She rushed towards studio to get print of that photo.
In due course of time, they were becoming close friends. Muskan’s birthday was nearing and Varun wanted to gift her something but he was clueless. He asked friends suggestion and finally decided to gift a photo frame.
"This is the same photo frame that Varun gifted her", said Nandini to her little sister who was listening intently.
Muskan had lovingly framed the photograph of Varun which she had clicked, in this very photo frame.
Muskan’s happiness knew no bounds when she was gifted the frame.
She hugged me and why not, after all I was the first gift that Muskan received from her love. She loved staring at me every day and I was safely placed inside her cupboard. She would stare at me when no one would be near her. Sometimes she would kiss me lovingly.
Nandini resumed her narration as Vinita gulped every word uttered by her.
As time went by, Muskan’s feelings for Varun grew stronger and she wanted to confess her feelings to Varun. But she was hesitant, often wondering, if the act would ruin their freindship. On the other hand, now Varun too had a soft corner for Muskan. He decided to confide in his mother. His mother was his best friend and Varun would share everything with her. He told his mother that he loves Muskan but he is hesitant proposing to her. His mother asked him not to worry and that she would take it up from there.
Varun's mother shared the mother-son conversation with Muskan’s mother as they had become good friends. Muskan’s mother too liked the well behaved boy. Knowing this gave boost to Varun’s confidence and he was all set to propose Muskan. As the naughty mothers hid themselves, Varun mustered courage and proposed her. He wore his heart upon his sleeve.
For Muskan this was a dream come true, a fairy tale she had been waiting so eagerly for months. There was no space for any hesitation anymore and with her heart and soul she accepted the proposal. The mothers were as excited and hugged each other, Muskan was surprised seeing them and was overcome by shyness. Both of them had found their soul mates.
I was now the pride of the most prominent wall in Muskans room, for now there was no reason to hide me anymore. Varun was surprised to seeing his photograph, which I held on securely. I too was flowed in emotions when Muskan confessed her love for Varun and told him I was the most precious gift she ever received. Muskan had even got into the habit to talking her heart out to me. Ah! Such bliss.
They spent beautiful six years together, and then it was time for them to decide on their career paths and they had to work hard for their future. Varun had to go to hostel since he was pursuing higher education from another city. Muskan hated long distance relationship she knew if love was true no distance would ever keep them apart, and more over this was for Varun’s brighter future which also meant their brighter future.
As the time kept ticking, the distance indeed got the better of them. Their free timings would hardly match and so they barely got time to talk to each other. Sometimes they the time they finally managed to catch up with each other would be spent on fights instead.
Whenever they fought, Muskan held me tight, close to her heart and shed tears. I abhorred the salty water falling on me from those beautiful eyes. I couldn’t bear to see the pain, in those bright happy eyes. But what I loved the most was when she would hug me and go to sleep holding on to me in her arms.
"Was that end of their relation"? Vinita enquired, for her it was a nail biting story, for she was getting to know her mother the way she never knew before. Nandini was irritated with the question and replied “No, their love was not so weak that it would break with a small fight. They would realize their mistake and make up. They always put in efforts to understand each other and stood as a rock solid support at the times of crisis.
Once Varun's mother was very ill and his father was touring abroad on work. Varun wanted to come and take care of his mother, but his final exams for the year was going to start. As a true soul mate, Muskan assured Varun that he should not worry since she will take the responsibility of tending to his ailing mother. This incident made Varun’s heart grow fonder for Muskan and he developed respect for her, which is an important part of a relation.
Post his education Varun got placed in a well know firm in Delhi and he was on the top of the world for it was now four years since he had last met Muskan. When they finally met, they hugged each other and it felt as though they were enveloped in the protective arms of happiness. Muskan felt relief knowing that now Varun was back for good and she could run into his arms whenever she wanted.
Varun was excited about his new job and as he entered his office he was informed that he was selected for a project spanning two years, for which he had to travel to Canada. Although a pleasant surprise, but Varun wasn’t happy, he was not willing to leave his parents and his love for another two years. He felt helpless and decided to resign from the job. After returning from office he shared the new developments in his office with Muskan, she felt a strange twinge in her heart, she couldn’t imagine having to live without Varun near her, for two more years. But she knew how important the job was for Varun and how hard he had toiled to get it. She took it upon her to convince Varun to go ahead with the opportunity; when they could bear separation of four years then why not for two more years. She tried her best to convince Varun but he wasn’t ready to listen. It was like an acid test for Muskan to make Varun agree. At last she succeeded and Varun agreed to go to Canada.
Infact, Varun’s mother was very happy that Muskan accomplished the near impossible task of making Varun agree to accept the opportunity. They all went to airport to see-off Varun. They couldn’t stop the avalanche of tears that rolled down. Varun slowly adapted himself to the environment in Canada and secretly kept counting the days when he could go back home. Meanwhile Muskan took up the job of a Professor in Delhi University.
In these two years Muskan cried each night holding on to me, for her having to live without Varun being by her side was a tedious task. I often wished I had hands to wipe off the tears which looked like pearls in the moonlight, I wanted to talk to her and give her solace. Ah! How I wish I too could speak.
And finally the days of waiting was over, Varun was back for good. Both set of parents didn’t waste any more time and decided to get them married. Varun and Muskan were the happiest love birds and they started planning their honeymoon and Varun confided in Muskan that he desired to have two lovely baby girls as she blushed. They would talk nineteen to a dozen. Their big day was just round the corner - 24th March 1991, their marriage date fixed. Their dreams were finally going to come true. And on the D-day, Varun decided to gift Muskan something special and on his way back after purchasing that something special he was hit by a bus. He died on the spot. How could fate play such a cruel game in the life of such beautiful human beings? Muskan died too, her sould died that day. She only existed after Varun was gone, for her life was gone. She never married; instead she chose to live with memories of Varun.
Tears tickled down from Vinita's eyes. "Whose daughter are we then?" Vinita asked. "You remember Varun wanted to have two daughters so our mother adopted us from an orphanage.” Nandini said. "Who told you their story?" Vinita asked. "I read their diaries" Nandini said.
It’s been thirty five years now, Muskan still holds me in her hand but now she rarely talks to me, she doesn’t even kiss me anymore, just the tears. Her heart stopped beating long back; to her I am the most precious thing on earth. I thank god today, that I don’t have hands, for those hands would have failed to wipe the tears from those once beautiful bright eyes, I thank god today, that I don’t have a mouth, for then my words would have failed to give solace to Muskan.