Shock rippled through Veera as he heard the main panch. There was no way he was leaving the village. He was stood up to protest but Chandrapal shoved him back into the chair. He looked at his father and was surprised to see the look of agreement on his face.
The crowd started to thin out and in a matter of minutes, almost everyone was gone. The only ones who remained were them and the Raijdas family. Veera looked on as Virendra Raijdas glared at Vikramveer and knowing his father, he guessed that he would be doing the same thing.
And he didn’t blame his father. He had tried his best to discuss the matter in a sane manner but the Raijdas’ had refused.
But right now more than anything else, the panchayat’s decision was raising hell in him. He reluctantly followed his father and uncle home and straightaway went to his room. Knowing the fact that there would be people watching his every move, he stayed put in his room. He could hear the hushed voices of his parents together with his aunt’s and uncle’s.
Silently he climbed down the stairs and stood just outside the door of the sitting room where the discussion was happening.
“Bhaisa, I didn’t like the way Virendra was staring at you. There is something sinister going on in their mind. I think it would be best to leave this place for some time till everything settles down,” he heard Shekher kakasa say.
“No Shekher, I’m not leaving this haveli. I can’t let anything happen to it,” he heard his father say in a stern tone.
“Hukum, we will not let anything happen to it. What Shekher bhaiyya is saying is not wrong. Even if you people leave for some time, I’ll have the guards protecting this place. So you can be rest assured nothing will happen to the haveli,” he heard Chandrapal kaka reason.
Veera waited with bated breath for his father’s reply for he knew if he said yes then everybody will leave this place; not him alone.
“No Chandrapal, I can’t have that. But I promise you guys I’ll think about this. Right now I’ve to make sure that Veera leaves this place without much drama. Uma, get his things ready and if he makes any fuss then send him to me. He has to understand the consequences.”
“He is only a boy,” his mother said.
“I know Uma, but in the present circumstances we can’t afford him behaving like a boy.”
He heard his mother sighing heavily and then saw her turning towards the door.
“Uma, pack my things too. I’ll be going with him. Pack the deed too.”
“You will be submitting the deed tomorrow?” Shekher asked in a surprised tone.
“Yes! It’s time all this ended.”
Veera closed his eyes and shook his head in pain. Come tomorrow morning and he will be gone from his place forever. He will never see her again.
But he knew she will wait for him no matter how many years it would take him to come back.
Saddened, he slowly started to move away from the door. Suddenly his vision was interrupted by a shadow moving away from the other side of the room near the window. He rushed towards it but by the time he reached, there was nothing.
May have been the figment of his imagination.
But had it? Or was somebody standing near the window eavesdropping on the conversation?
Who could it be?
Shaking his head, he drove the thought away and went upstairs. There was hell lot on his mind right now.
Veera was still in the middle of taking his things out of the cupboard when he saw his mother enter the room. He looked at her and she smiled but he couldn’t return the smile. There were a lot of things he understood but he couldn’t understand why his father hadn’t challenged the decision of the panchayat and why his mother had agreed to it.
Just as his mother came near him, he looked away. He couldn’t show her the pain neither could he let her know that he had been crying. That would be too weak for him.
However, his mother had other plans. She ruffled his hair and pulled him to her and made him sit down on the bed.
“He has his reasons. Don’t misunderstand your father. He is doing this for your own good,” Uma said in a grave voice.
But Veera’s heart was breaking into pieces just as he thought of the days he was about to spent without his family, without Ishi. Tears welled up in eyes and instantly he started to struggle to escape his mother’s arms but she wouldn’t let go.
“Don’t fight it. The more you fight, the more it’s going to pain. She will understand and if she is your true friend then she’ll wait for you.”
The moment his mother mentioned her, he hiccupped a little and moved and thankfully his mother didn’t stop him this time.
“You know its okay to cry. It shows that you are strong enough to let go of whatever pain you have inside you.”
But he wasn’t listening. He was looking out of the window towards the forest and what lay beyond.
“You can’t meet her tonight, Veera, if that’s what you are thinking.”
“Why?” he asked turning towards her no longer scared to show the tears that fell freely.
Uma stood up and walked up to him.
“There would be people watching her tonight hoping that you will come. And you know what will happen if you go there.”
“No buts, Veera.”
“Please understand that you meeting Gudiya tonight will only aggravate the situation. There will be a time when all this will be over. When that happens you can freely meet her, you can even bring her here.”
“When?” he asked excitedly.
“Soon. Now let me help you pack.”
“I don’t want to leave you guys,” he said looking away.
“Veera! It’s only a matter of days. We will follow you shortly. Don’t worry. And Chutki is also going with you. Do you think your father and I could stay away from you guys?”
Veera smiled a little but it didn’t reach his heart. Although he was happy that his sister was going with him, he couldn’t strike off the fact that he was leaving a big part of him here.
His mother and father.