BLANK. Slowly the voices around him started to fade away. The air around him started to grow colder. The movement of everything around him started to slow down. The only thing he had in his mind when he was losing control over his senses was the image of Shikha’s smile. He could see her; she was just there, smiling, calling up his name. He raised his hand in the hope of just touching her for the last time but right then second bullet pierced his chest. He fell.
The pain was unbearable but his lips were still smiling. He was smiling because his love, Shikha was there for him. She was calling his name. Her hair locks were calling Puneet to play with his fingers. Her lips were asking to be kissed. Her hands were dying to have a touch of him. Every part of her was feeling jealous of her eyes because it was just her eyes whose dream was getting fulfilled at that very moment.
“Cover me!!!!” That voice woke him up from his fairy land. The heat around him came back. He could feel his senses back and with that a feeling occupied his mind’s emptiness. He was dying. He was hit and may be those long breaths could be his last ones.
From nowhere came Ranjit and took him back to their bunker. Bullets could be heard getting fired from both the sides of the border.
“Doctor!!!” Ranjit shouted.
“No, not now……. Aaaahhhh…. This is not the time….. I don’t want to die now.” He said.
“Oye…. Tu sher hai… you are not going to die here. You will go back home, meet Shikha, and play with your son. Oye, you will be alright, Puneet. Don’t worry.” Ranjit was dressing his wounds and was trying to console him too. He was worried because he knew that Puneet’s time was over. He was his best buddy and was about to die.
“No, not know…….. NO!!!”
Stillness filled in his soul.
‘Death would be easier to experience then this very moment’, she thought. That feeling was getting unbearable for her. All the happiness of thoughts of having a baby flew away in a second while came the time of delivery. There were doctors, her sister but one person was missing and she was missing him a lot. Puneet, her love. She was missing his presence a lot but she was happy too to know that Puneet was somewhere fighting for the country on the border.
Pain started to grow to its utmost level and then suddenly she felt something. That wasn’t expected. A sudden depression, a fear, fear of losing someone. She was confused. She was worried. Then she fainted.
“Don’t worry; I will never leave you alone.” Puneet was standing there. He was wearing the uniform of Indian Army. She smiled. He smiled. Then image of Puneet vanished in air and transformed into a little child.
“It’s a boy.” Her sister Sulekha was holding the baby. He looked just like Puneet, she thought. She was very happy but suddenly her eyes fell on her sister Sulekha and the fear again took over her senses.
“What happened?” Shikha asked.
Sulekha said nothing just cried……….
FEW YEARS BACK…
Hauz Khas of Delhi was Puneet’s favourite place to spent a peaceful evening. According to him, the secret to feel alive was to just sit in the lap of nature. The trees, plants, animals, birds, lake and old abandoned structures all of them enhanced the aura of that place. It was difficult for him to spend every evening there but whenever he got the chance, he never missed it. He simply grabbed his favourite place in the park and then draws out the paper and a pencil from his carry bag and started to sketch random things. He loved sketching. His fantasy was to become an artist but never had the courage to take a single step towards his dream.
That day too, he followed the same sequence of his ‘free’ evening. While carrying his carry bag, he entered Hauz Khas and headed towards his favourite place to sit but then he realized something odd. A couple had already occupied that place. Puneet felt annoyed. He felt an urge to talk to the couple and make them leave to some other place but stopped himself when he saw that the couple started kissing each other. Now that was the moment when Puneet decided to leave the place immediately and search for another place.
Starting of the evening was not good for him. He cursed the couple for ruining his sketching session of the evening and headed towards the ‘Deer Park’ to sketch a deer. He was cursing the day while occupying the bench lying near the fence separating the Deer’s constituency from the common park. He pulled his sketching tools and was now waiting for the perfect moment to start.
His eyes were glued on a deer who was taking rest under the shade of a tree. He was waiting for him to stand. He waited pretty long but that deer was in no mood to pose for the artist. Puneet removed his eyes from him and then he saw her.
She was leaning towards the fence to feed the deer. She was standing facing her back towards Puneet. He tried to take a glimpse of her face from sides but her long, thick hairs made him wait for that moment. She was tall, just about the same as Puneet. She was wearing Black Kurta with black Jeans. Her curves were as perfect as a common man can imagine for her dream girl. Puneet suddenly felt that his heart has started to pump more blood.
She turned and headed towards the benches where Puneet was sitting. She was there with some of her friends. They all sat on the benches and started to giggle on some topic. Puneet shown no interest on anything around him, he just kept his attention over the girl.
Puneet started to sketch her, beginning from her fish shaped curved eyes. Around her eyes, he drew the face’s outline. Her long and thick hair took almost every bit of white sheet outside the peripheral of face’s outline. Her eyebrows were so perfect that it took precision to sketch them. Her nose was a bit rounder than normal and was enhancing her beauty by giving her the cute looks. Now he came on her lips. Those were beautiful. Just like petals of rose. Not too wide, not too narrow, just perfect.
After finishing the sketch Puneet kept looking to his creation and found something missing. It was not perfect for him. He was about to come to conclusion when someone from behind snatched the paper from him.
“Let me see what you are doing here, mister.” She was the one who snatched the paper from Puneet. Her voice was miraculous. Puneed felt spell bounded.
Puneet remained silent when she was busy in examining her sketch.
“It’s beautiful. A perfect sketch of Shikha.” Her friend said.
“It’s not the perfect one but will make it perfect soon.” Puneet said. ‘Shikha what a beautiful name’, he thought. She was blushing.
Their strings attached with each other. A cool breeze started to flow between them, sound of dry leaves of trees were making the whole environment more heavenly because it was looking as if the nature was applauding on their first meet. Both of them knew that they have found their soul mates and a love story was about to start.
She looked at the sketch once again and tried to hold back her tears. 5 years have passed but still, Puneet was alive somewhere in her. Shikha was still clueless why that sketch was imperfect for Puneet. She moved her neck around to look at it from different angles. ‘Perfect’ was the only word to describe it.
Suddenly, a familiar, heart wrenching voice pulled her back to reality. Rain had started to beautify the surroundings. She pushed the sketch back in the drawer and rushed towards the main gate of her house.
He was dancing in the rain. She took few moments to call his name as she wanted to absorb the happiness of that moment. Life has changed a lot after the death of Puneet but still there were some reasons left to smile.
“Rishi!!!” She yelled her son’s name.
“Mummy, few more minutes please…….” Rishi pleaded. Shikha’s heart melt in a moment but the motherhood was still alive.
“No Rishi, you’ll catch the cold.” She took Rishi back in the house.
Evening arrived, it was time to wake Rishi up but Shikha was still busy looking at the sketch. That sketch was like an escape door to past for her. For her, Puneet was still busy somewhere in perfecting the sketch.
“Mummy, what’s this?” Rishi came up rubbing his eyes.
“Nothing Rishi…….” She stopped and then continued, “Just an imperfect sketch.”
Shikha kept the sketch on the bed and rushed towards kitchen to prepare some snacks and also to hide the tears which were about to flow down her eyes.
When she returned back she found Rishi playing with his crayons. He was drawing something. Rishi looked up instantly when he saw her mother standing on the door. He smiled, just like Puneet would have. He raised the sketch he had drawn. That was the same ‘Imperfect’ sketch with a little more detailing. The black and white sketch now had a red crayon line over the top of forehead. The only thing which was missing from the sketch was ‘Sindoor’ on the hair lining.
“Now this sketch looks perfect. Isn’t it?” Rishi said and that brought tears in Shikha’s eyes. Finally the imperfect sketch of Shikha found its perfection.
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