That night Veera couldn’t sleep. He sat at his window and looked towards the forest. The longing to see her was so strong that he was about to jump out of the window but a faint call stopped him.
The timid yet strong emotion in his sister’s voice instantly brought him to her side. But the moment he sat down next to her, his protective instincts kicked in. He clasped her trembling little hands in his and smiled.
“Are you……are you going away?” she asked in a trembling whisper.
Veera shook his head and dragged her towards him. Just as she came and sat down close to him, he pulled her pigtail playfully.
“How can I? If I leave who will tease you and fight with you?” he asked in return trying to change the train of her thoughts.
She pouted and then linked her arm with her brother’s.
“I don’t want you to leave. Promise me you’ll never leave me,” she said extending her hand to him.
Without thinking for another second, he clasped her hand and smiled amiably.
“I promise, no matter what happens I’m not leaving you ever. And you have promised me that you’ll always stay by my side.”
Gera nodded and then stood up on the bed and started to jump up and down in excitement. The huge stretched smile on her face was so infectious that Veera instantly forgot all his worries and started to smile with her. In minutes, they both were dancing in the room laughing hysterically.
By the time she had slept off exhausted, the clock had already struck the midnight hour. He waited for his sister to reach her deepest of slumbers and the moment she did, he climbed out of the window, down the tree and ran in lightening speed towards the forest.
As he climbed the tree and reached the top branch, his heart thudded with the thought of never seeing her ever again after this. He sat down on the branch and looked inside.
And there she was, sleeping peacefully oblivious to everything that had happened. But he couldn’t leave without telling her everything. She had the right to know.
Veera stretched his hand and clasped the rails of her window and then climbed into the room.
That night had been the hardest for Veera. Telling her the whole thing had made the matter worse. Seeing her shedding countless tears had been unbearable. Although he had tried his best not to cry his voice had trembled with aching pain. And finally came the time to leave.
Veera stood up from the bed and slowly approached the window. Before climbing down he turned and looked at her. She was sitting on the bed looking in space.
His whispered plea turned her head and suddenly she was in his arms, clutching him to her with every ounce of strength in her body.
“Ishi, I have to go. It’s almost morning,” Veera reminded her as he tried to loosen her arms but she didn’t let go but he still struggled.
Just as he was about to loosen her arms, she looked up at him with tear-drenched eyes and the steely control in him dissipated. Helplessly he clutched her face in his palms and brushed off the pearly droplets.
“Please don’t cry,” he implored.
“You’ll for-forget m-me.”
“No Ishi, I’ll never forget you.”
Saying this, he started climbing out of the window. But before he placed his foot on the branch, he looked at her once more and smiled, and she smiled back.
“Ishi, I’ll come back.”
“No matter what?”
He smiled and replied, “No matter what.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Veera’s heart skipped a beat the moment he heard her. He wanted to hug her but he couldn’t stay any longer. The morning rays had already started to break the borders of darkness. He jumped on the branch and climbed down. With one last look at her, he sped down the forest path and vanished into the thick foliage.
By the time he had reached home, everybody had woken up in the household. Knowing he will be discovered if he tried to climb up to the window of his room, he boldly entered through the main entrance and true to his assumptions his father stopped him just as he was about to climb the stairs to their inner quarters.
“Where did you go this early in the morning?”
Taking deep breathe, Veera slowly turned and looked at his father. He had to answer his father but there were no words in him right now. He saw his father staring at him with strange eyes and then suddenly he walked up to him and placed his hand on his head.
Ruffling his hair, he said in a soft tone, “Go to your room and sleep.”
Watching his father’s retreating back, Veera swallowed the lump of pain in his throat. There were so many things he wanted to say to his father but he couldn’t for words would never be enough to convey what he was feeling right now.
That day he had learnt an important lesson.
When it comes to family, he will always keep them first no matter how much it hurts him to do so.
The morning came with a heavy heart. Veera hadn’t slept the whole night as he couldn’t think about anything else other than not meeting her again. He looked at his father as he discussed the panchayat matter with his uncle. He couldn’t concentrate on anything they were saying. Not able to take it anymore he got up and was about to go to his room when he heard his father call out to him.
“You are coming with us to the panchayat meeting.”
Veera looked at him with surprise not understanding why his father was taking him to such a thing when all he wanted to do was to be alone.
However, the moment they reached the panchayat ground, he understood why he had been asked to accompany his father.
Rajneesh was standing with his uncle and father looking at him evilly.
As he neared the area where the Sangawats were advised to sit, he felt a murmur starting in the crowd gathered there. Their side of the village was with them and all of them were glaring at the Raijdas family.
“Vikramveer, we have discussed the matter and analysed facts from both sides. As you have appealed that it was wrong for Rajneesh to have attacked your nephew and son, it was also wrong for your son to be on their side of the forest,” the main panch said.
Veera was about to refute but Vikramveer’s raised hand stopped him.
“Therefore we have decided that both Rajneesh and Veera will leave their respective villages by tomorrow morning.”