“You are so amazingly talented, don’t you realize? It’s the inner beauty you are blessed with.”
Before Juhi met her soulmate, her world was like… a desert, with thorns all around, and the hot sun and sand drying out her whole body.
She got married six years ago in a small town and lived with her in-laws there. Her husband Rajeev worked with a firm in Delhi. Only the initial three months of her marriage were smooth sailing. After that, expectations arose from her to deliver a child. Pregnant she did become, not once but thrice in all these six years. Unfortunately, she faced a miscarriage each time.
Her world came crumbling down when she was announced by the doctors that she would no longer be able to bear a child, after her third miscarriage. Juhi murmured to herself.
“Is it my fault if I can’t bear a child? I’m ready to adopt an orphaned child, but hubby and his parents are not ready for that.”
On top of that, she was taunted by the entire family and relatives, for being rendered childless for life. Like any other ordinary housewife, she used to work from early morning till late at night, doing the household chores and attending to the needs of every family member. Apart from her mother-in-law, who demanded tea thrice a day and called Juhi to press her legs every night, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law were also very demanding.
“Bhabhi, please stitch my torn kurta on the sewing machine… Bhabhi, I don’t want to eat this vegetable, please make something else… My friends are visiting, please fry some pakoras for us.”
Juhi had no respite even during the afternoons, to take some rest. She had complained about this to Rajeev, who used to visit home during the weekends. But he turned deaf ears to her problems and would doze off when at home or would hang out with his friends without ever taking her along.
Tired of sulking and leading the life of a doormat, Juhi after much pondering took a drastic step. On Saturday, just before Rajeev’s arrival, she packed her bags and left for her father’s home, sticking a note on the dressing table’s mirror.
“I’m leaving this home forever… Goodbye Rajeev.”
In the nearby town, Juhi’s father used to live alone, as her mother had passed away a few years ago. She told about her hardship to her Dad and vowed never to return to Rajeev’s home. Her Dad advised her to calm down first, before taking any serious stand.
Juhi also called up her best friend Rina, being happily married off in the same town and who was blessed with two small kids. Rina invited her home the next day. Once there, Juhi was pampered by her bestie with not just plentiful delicious food, but bountiful love and laughter from her kids. This made Juhi laugh once again openly after the ages.
Rina had full sympathy for Juhi and advised her to move on, by starting her life afresh from her Dad’s home. Before her marriage, Juhi used to work as an insurance agent, apart from going for music lessons. Rina told her to restart her work and pursue her hobby, to feel much better. Back home, Juhi talked about her plans to her Dad, who allowed her to lead her life her way.
“I want nothing but your happiness, dear child. After the death of your mother, I don’t want you to live a miserable life anymore.”
After hearing this, tears rolled down her cheeks, and Juhi ran to hug her Dad. The next morning, she applied to renew her license as an insurance agent. That way at least she could earn something for herself, instead of being dependent on her Dad financially.
In the evening, she visited her music class to meet her Guruji. But was sad to learn about his death a year ago. In place of him, his only son Abhinav conducted the music classes at his residence.
Juhi had last seen him occasionally before her marriage when his father used to give her music lessons, from whom she had been learning for about two years. After knowing about her problems, and also her new assignment, Abhinav gave her the choice of time to relearn her lessons from the start. So she told him that she could come only during the early mornings.
The next morning, his mother opened the door for her. Juhi first of all, expressed her condolences to his mother, for the late Guruji. And then was led to the hall, where Abhinav was already sitting on a mat holding and playing his Tanpura.
He had closed his eyes and was deeply engrossed in singing a note from the Raag Bhairavi, a morning Raag. Juhi sat in front of him on a carpet about 2 meters away. She closely observed that he had matured very much appearance-wise, as now he had a full-grown beard, and silver hair had cropped up near his ears. He was about 5-6 years older than her. After finishing the Taan of the Raag, Abhinav slowly opened his eyes and smiled at her.
“Good morning and welcome to join your class, Juhi. Hope you will learn your new lessons with total dedication.”
“Yes, of course, I will.” She replied.
“First of all, I would like to hear Sargam from you, to check your vocal cords.” He said. Clearing her throat, Juhi rendered out.
“Saa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Saa…
Saa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Saa…”
Abhinav seemed satisfied with that and advised her to practice it at home regularly. Nearly ten minutes after practicing the Sargam in the extended form, he introduced to Juhi the Raag Bhairavi, starting with the Alaap.
For an hour or so, both of them continued to practice this Raag, from the Sthayi to the Antara and finally the Taan of the Raag Bhairavi. Juhi followed him closely with the fine nuances before she rendered out her own. Abhinav’s mother also sat beside them, after hearing her sweet voice. While wrapping up for the first day, he said to her,
“I’m so glad that you retain the quality in your voice, much needed to learn vocal classical music.”
Feeling happy inwards after listening to his encouraging comment, Juhi took the leave from him. Back in her Dad’s home, she felt extremely invigorating and alive after a long time.
Just then her husband Rajeev called her up. and threatened to give her divorce if she failed to return to his home in two days.
“Return to you… NO… NEVER… go-ahead to file a divorce, I’m ready with mutual consent.” Juhi then put down the phone.
She was happy with the new phase of her life. Starting with the music lessons in the morning, she committed to her work for an insurance agency. At night she used to practice her Sargam and do the riyaaz for the Raag, for more than two hours before going to sleep.
How six months had passed away, Juhi just wondered. In between, she and Rajeev got divorced with mutual consent, as they were not ready to tolerate each other, particularly Juhi. For Rajeev, it did not matter much, as he wanted to marry his newfound girlfriend.
One day before the start of the music lessons, Juhi once enquired Abhinav’s mother as to why her son was still unmarried. She told her that no family wanted to give away their daughter to a music teacher in the current times. Juhi informed her about her divorce, her medical problem, and her job. Both the ladies shared good vibes and used to chit-chat a little before Abhinav started his class.
Both the Guru shishya bonded very well during the entire session of the first year course of Hindustani classical music. Juhi was taught Raag Yaman, Bhairav, Kaafi, and a few more, apart from the various Taal in that period. And then gave both the theory as well as the practical exam for the first year.
A few months later, Juhi got to know that she had passed the exam in distinction. She expressed her gratitude to Abhinav and also thanked his mother for her support. He wanted to celebrate her achievement and invited her along with her Dad to dinner at his home.
In the evening, while Abhinav’s mother chatted with Juhi’s father, both their wards strolled out in the garden outside the home. They remained silent for a long time as if they wished to express something but couldn’t. It was a fact that both had a mutual admiration for each other right from the beginning. After a long pause, Abhinav opened his mouth.
“You are so talented with tremendous inner beauty, and with your gifted voice you can pursue a career in music if you wish to, dear Juhi…”
His words sounded music to her ears, as nobody in her entire life praised her so wholeheartedly. She felt as if she had found her soulmate, who turned out to be a catalyst in her life. Just out of impulse Juhi blurted out and proposed to him.
“Will you marry me… Abhinav?”
Shocked to hear that, Abhinav smiled inwards and shyly said looking straight into Juhi’s eyes.
“Yes, of course, I will.”
At this point, both of them laughed slightly at each other, and went inside his home, happily holding hands together to give their parents the good news.❤