“Khushi, What happened?” Payal lost her control. She cupped Khushi’s face and looked at the wound.
“Khushi…!” she had tears in her eyes. She didn’t know what to do. “What happened? And what have you done to yourself?” she asked on the verge of crying.
“Nothing, Jiji.. Hum Patthar Ki Diwaar Say Takara Gaye! I banged on the stone wall!” she said as a matter of factly.
“Then?” Payal asked with wide eyes in shock.
“Then what, Jiji? What did you expect? That the wall will crash down? He he .. I wounded myself..!” she said with a broad smile rolling her eyes. ASR still merging himself in the darkness watched Khushi with his moist eyes.
“Khushi… why can’t you take care of yourself? Why didn’t you call me?” Payal broke into tears.
“Stop it jiji.. it’s a small wound! I washed it away..!” Khushi wiped Payal’s tears. Payal gaped at her.
“Aur Tumharay Gehenai Kahan Gaye? Where are your ornaments?” she asked aghast.
“Jiji.. Look at my wound!” Khushi pointed out at her forehead. “I had to remove my Tika, it got crushed.. so had to remove the entire set..! It wouldn’t look nice!” She said holding Payal’s hand and pointing at her beaded white bag. By that time her friends came running towards her.
“Khushi..! What happened? ” Rekha looked at Khushi and pulled her into an embrace.
“I am OK, Rekha Madam, Don’t worry!” Khushi smiled at her.
“Khushi Bitiya? Ka Hui Gawa? What happened?” Nani made her way through the crowd. Khushi sat on the nearby bench. Nani caressed her face. Khushi smiled broadly. “As usual, Naniji.. my clumsiness.. gave me this mark..!” she said and Nani smiled. “You are a brave girl..!” and she gazed Khushi from top to bottom. “Come, Khushi Bitiya.. I will clean up your wound..!” she said.
“No need Naniji.. it will heal! I have washed it properly!” Khushi refused smiling. Nani had a smile and said..
“Khushi bitiya, when you came here you looked like Radha waiting eagerly for her Kanhaiyya! And now look at you! You look like Meera.. who lost everything for her Giridhar Gopal..!” She kissed her forehead affectionately. Khushi’s eyes flickered. She hummed..
“Mhara re Giridhar Gopal..! Dusaro na koiya..!” Nani’s eyes flashed too! “Lucknow Gharana, Kathak.. Meerabai!” She blurted glaring at Khushi and Khushi smiled in acceptance. Nani pulled her hand. Will you? She asked. Khushi nodded.
“Not here… there!” Khushi pointed out at the stage where orchestra was being played. Nani nodded smiling.
“And you accompany me as my Kanha!” Khushi put a condition. Nani’s eyes lit up. She went up on the stage and stopped the orchestra, asked them to clear the space and announced.
“Kathak… an encient dance form of Classical Dance in India! Its close to my heart and an integral part of theatre in India. Natyashastra and Nritaya go hand in hand.
“Jiji.. you sing!” Khushi ordered. “No!” She was scared. Anjali came forward, “I will do it.. payal you accompany me!” she said excitedly. The stage was set. Khushi was to give another shock to everyone.
ASR still in dark, hitting his back on the stone wall, watched her unblinkingly. Nani was all set to start. The beats, bols started. Khushi, looked like Meera, who left everything behind in devotion and eternal love of Lord Krishna..! Her home, family, relatives, her inlaws, her husband….all her friends, her possessions…everyone, everything..! She only had one person in her mind who ruled her soul…! Lord Krishna!
Anjali Started off….
“Mhara re Girdhar Gopal dusara na koiyaa (I have Girdhar Gopal and none else)
Khushi was sitting on the floor as if playing on ektari, singing for her lord. Nani at the background was depicting different stories of Lord Krishna.. as he was playing flute!
Sadha sakal lok joyaa dusraa naa koiyaa(I have seen all the people, but there is no one else like him!)
Khushi looked at everyone in the crowd and turned her back on them falling at the feet of Lord Krishna Nani was depicting Krisha lifting the Mountain and saving the people from heavy Rains!
Bhaghat dekhiyaa raaji hyaa lagat dekhyaa royaa (With good people I felt happy with bad, I was sad!! )
Khushi was turning to people, picking up good from bad!! Nani was showing defeat of Kalia the serpant at the hands of lord Krishna!
dudh math ghrut kadh liya dar diya choyaa (I churned the milk, saved the butter and discarded the remainder I have taken what is pure and uncorrupt in this world and renounced everything else..!)
Nani was depicting Krishna Advising Partha at the battle telling him verses of bhagwat geeta!
Rana vish ro pyaalaa bhejiyaa piy magan hoyaa (Rana sent a bowl full of poison, i drank with devotion! With this poison, I became one with my Lord.. Everything else means nothing to me!!!)
A bowl of poison was sent to her… and she drank it happily … with devotion ..! And fell on the floor in a heap and Nani, Lord Krishan Lifted her up and took her along with him…!
They both disappeared behind the stage..!
The crowd stood like a cluster of Wax statues, forgot to clap. It looked so real that everyone felt her antuish, her pain, her urge to meet her Lord even by drinking the glass of poison..! Khushi and Nani reappeared on stage…
“This is a pure form of Classical dance.. and not its impure and diluted forms like Mujara..!” Nani spoke bowing to the public Holding Khushi’s Hand. ASR turned his back on the erupting crowd. People broke into clapping hard with tearful eyes. His clenched fists spoke it all.
“Khushi… what was that?” Payal asked her with wide eyes.
“Kisiko Samajhaanaa Jaruri Tha Jiji! I needed to tell this to someone, Jiji!” Khushi said gravely and Payal gaped at her.
“Ghar Chalo, Jiji! Let’s go home, Jiji!” she said pulling Payal’s hand..!
“Oh! No.. Not so soon.. We haven’t had enough …!” Nani and Anjali were standing before them. Lavanya came.
:Chamakili.. what was that? I didn’t understand the meaning.. but I must say, you were good.. and Naniji, I didn’t know… you Dance!” Lavanya complemented both. Nani turned her face and Khushi accepted her compliments with a bow.
A foreigner came forward from the crowd and holding her hand to her embarrassment, said “I don’t know the language, but you touched my heart!” Khushi looked blank. “Thank you!” Anjali spoke on her behalf. Khushi smiled in acceptance.
People around them. Everyone wanted to talk to Khushi. She was the center of attraction. She smiled and accepted the complements but somehow had lost the enthusiasm and rhythm. She wanted to go back, to her home..! She felt insecure in the crowd of her admirers. Payal too wanted to go home and ask Khushi the real cause of her wound.
People were not ready to let them go. ASR had lost somewhere in the crowd. Her eyes aimlessly weeded through the crowd. “Hope he understood!” she kept her hand on her chest. Regi was staring at her intently. She avoided his gaze and looked away. “Khushi..!” he held her hand and took her away from the crowd.
“No! I don’t want to talk about it!” she said looking away with tearful eyes. He gazed at her.
“I..I banged my head on the wall..!” she reiterated and Regi left her hand. “Khushi ..!” someone called her and she turned her back and merged into the crowd.
“She is a fire…! I Hope she doesn’t get burnt in her own flames..!” Regi looked at the crowd gravely..!!
“You are a fire… not the destructive one.. but the one which lights lamp in a Mandir..!” Nani hugged Khushi fondly!
“She is a fire… will I be able to bear the flames?” Ranjan was not sure…!
Payal looked at Khushi’s reddened face and said.. “Khushi, you look like a flame..!”
“Jiji.. then pour some water on me..!” Khushi giggled rolling her eyes and Payal joined her holding her hand.
A small flame had lit up in his heart ….!!
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Note: The links to the original song of meerabai are given in the comment!