Mere naina saavan bhaadon, phir bhi mera man pyaasa. This Kishore Kumar song was a favorite with Pralhad for the last many decades.
Mere naina saavan bhaadon, phir bhi mera man pyaasa. This Kishore Kumar song was a favorite with Pralhad for the last many decades. “I just love the way Kishore utters the word naina. There’s so much of feeling in it,” he used to tell his friends at college and they would just smile at him politely.
Naina, the word, had become an obsession with him. “But isn’t the image of saavan more evocative?” his friend Rahul would often ask. “Na!” And Rahul knew that any debate on this naina v/s saavan topic was meaningless. It was in college that Rahul and a few other friends like Moid and Inaam introduced Pralhad to the Urdu poet Faiz, especially those verses that were sung by Mehndi Hassan. Pralhad simply freaked out on them, yet he knew that his heart belonged to this Kishore Kumar number.
And one day he met the girl of his dreams. It was raining heavily. “Aaya saavan jhoom ke,” Rahul trilled. But Pralhad hardly cared for the glorious rain. He was simply taken in by this girl whose name was… Naina. Naina, the girl, now became his sole obsession.
What was it that attracted Pralhad to Naina? Naina herself? Or her name and the fact that every time he uttered it, he was reminded of the Kishore Kumar number? Pralhad’s friends went berserk in wanting to know the truth. But Pralhad hardly seemed to care. For him, Naina had become the sole reason of his existence.
Naina too reciprocated his advances and soon the two were the talk of the town. Pralhad’s passion for Naina grew from strength to strength. First spiritual, then mental and finally it came to a point where they could not resist each other physically.
In such a state of affairs, their marriage vows were taken in a great hurry. Life is so wonderful, was the motto they stuck by for the first two years. Pralhad kept on humming the Kishore song to Naina and the emphasis this time was not just on naina but on mere naina.
And then Pratap (Pippu) was born to them. That was when Pralhad started noticing a change in Naina. She was not very happy becoming a mother.
Why? What more does she want from life? Can there be anything greater than becoming a mother? Especially when you have tasted all the joys of matrimony? And Pippu was no accident. He had been meticulously planned.
So why had Naina changed so drastically? They started having fights so regularly that soon Pralhad, instead of dreading them began getting bored. One day, they would fight because she didn’t like his parents, another day it was because he said something about her father which she didn’t quite fancy and yet another time they quarreled as she felt that he was spending more time with his books.
Oof! The list was endless. Also, Pippu was beginning to get on her nerves… Mere naina saavan bhaadon…
One evening Naina’s brother and his wife came to stay with them. Naina was surprisingly in a very happy mood. She was her usual affectionate self and Pralhad was very happy on seeing again the Naina he knew at college. It was, as he thought smilingly, the return of the native.
He went to the kitchen and while helping Naina prepare the meal, found himself humming mere naina saavan bhaadon. They kissed and after a very long time, it was a kiss that involved their entire being.
Pralhad knew that from now on things would improve. Dinner was wonderful. Pralhad had never seen Naina freak out so much. At least not in the last few years. Pralhad badly wanted to make love to Naina that night. She excused herself for a moment and then went to her brother’s room for a couple of minutes.
After that she came in looking radiant. It was she who made the first move. They made exquisite love until the wee hours of the morning, after which Pralhad drifted away into the comforting arms of sleep.
It was Sunday and Pralhad woke up only in the afternoon. The first thing that he noticed was the heavy downpour that had drenched the entire locality and Pralhad found himself in front of the campus canteen eyeing an absolutely dripping Naina. He woke up with a smile on his lips and went to the living room, hoping to find the entire family there.
Two hours passed by and there was no sign of either Naina, Pippu or his brother-in-law and his wife. The phone rang. A voice within Pralhad told him that things were not hunky dory. It was Naina. “Don’t ever try to get in touch with me. I’ve gone back to my house. Pippu is with me and the two of us never want to see you again.” The receiver was kept with a big thud.
Naina had walked away from his life taking Pippu with her, without a word of explanation. Perhaps, she didn’t owe him any. After the initial days of frustration and depression when Pralhad tried in vain to get in touch with Naina, he decided to begin life afresh. All by himself. “When a relationship withers away, it’s best not to make any effort to bring it back to life.”
Two decades had passed after this incident. Pralhad was sitting in the balcony, eating pakoras. He looked at the clouds that were becoming increasingly menacing with each passing second. Suddenly, the heavens opened their gates and it seemed as if only Noah’s ark could save the day.
Twenty years a lot had changed ever since Naina left him. He shifted base and went to another city where he gained fame for himself as a novelist. Pralhad married again, to Veena, but this time he was not blessed with a child. So the couple adopted Masha, a beautiful girl they had spotted at an orphanage.
True to his word, Pralhad never got in touch with Naina. He hardly cared. Surprisingly he thought of Pippu with the same indifference, as if the poor child were also to blame. But now, Pralhad was filled with a sense of contentment. Veena had been an ideal companion to him and little Masha.
She was the apple of his eye, his darling daughter, so what if she was not born in his house? Mere naina saavan bhaadon, phir bhi mera man pyasa, Masha played this cassette, knowing that it was her daddy’s favorite song. Kishore Kumar had died years ago. But… long live mere naina saavan bhaadon.
This short story was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2003).
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