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‘Aashayei’ 5th Abstract

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‘Aashayei’ 5th Abstract-By Udisha M.

Yashwardhan was left alone in his room with the luggage. He had come to this place with lots of hopes in his heart! But the encounter with Arjun, had made him question his decision. His beliefs got eroded today, he was questioning his god for being so unfair and brutal!
“I don’t know how can a kid of 17-18 can get a fatal disease like this!”, he kept pondering, he didn’t know whom he was supposed to blame?

There was a sudden knock on the door which broke Yashwardhan’s thoughtful slumber, he realized somebody had been knocking on the door since quite long, but he was too lost in his thoughts to take notice of it!
“Hello sir! Good-evening”, Sanskripti greeted him.
“Good-evening!”, Yashwardhan replied, still in the trance of his turmoil.
“Sir, the dinner is served at 8:00 P.M. sharp in the dinning hall, please be on time! We are a little particular about timings over here!”, Sanskripti explained him.
He nodded head in yes, and she went back to her desk!
Sanskripti had noticed Yashwardhan’s uncomfort while talking to him, she very well understood his psyche. She was not just the receptionist of the aashayei, but also the counselor for the patient. Who made sure that every person living in the ashram, lives freely and happily.

She was like a godmother for every patient, she looked over everyone, be it children or old ones. She made sure, that everybody gets adjusted in the place well and discovers a new home. This little abode was her entire universe. The constellation of happiness always danced in her little sky, she felt relieved every time she saw people putting up a brave fight in front of a fatal disease like AIDS. She was an inspiration for many.

*

Yashwardhan nervously unpacked his luggage, placed his clothes in the cupboard provided, shoes were shown their place in the shoe rack. He pulled out a picture of his wife and placed it on the study table! This photograph was something which he valued the most. A small idol of Lord Ganesh and goddess Durga adored a corner of his room. He was a realistic man, but had started worshiping after his wife’s death, as she was very much fond of her ‘gods’ and believed that they were there with her and more importantly ‘with them’ always.

Yashwardhan took a bath, changed into a white Kurta-pajama, lighted a Diya in front of the gods and made his way to the dining hall. His brain was still not able to rest, he had thousands of thoughts churning in his veins, which were throwing his consciousness apart.
“Are you new here?”, a man almost of his age called from behind.
“Yes!”
“Oh! I stay in the room next to you! Hello, I am Sandeep Awasthi!”, the old man introduced himself.
“Pleasure meeting you! I am Yashwardhan!”, he shook hands with him.
“I guess, you are heading to dining hall?”
“Yes!”
“Oh! Then you can join us, you know we are a gang of 11 oldies, you are the 12th one who looks youngest!”, Sandeep laughed as he kept his hand on Yashwardhan’s shoulder. Yashwardhan was a little amused and surprised by the sudden friendship which was forming.
He didn’t say much, just smiled. He was actually not getting the right way to react to this situation.

“Oh! I understand, you are new that’s why you are finding us weird. Isn’t it? Honestly, 2 years back when I came here, I too was like you! My children had abandoned me as they thought that they couldn’t face the society because their father was an HIV+ man! At that time, I hardly had any idea of this disease. I was in depression, but you see, this place is magical! It brought me back to life! Now I have friends who have the same secret as I, so why should I feel depressed and ashamed?”, Sandeep told his story without any hesitation. Yashwardhan realized how brutally honest, this man was, but somewhere down the line Sandeep’s story had a stark resemblance to his own. This made him feel better. Those thoughts of Arjun got sidelined for some time.

Yashwardhan walked with Sandeep towards the dinning hall, in the way he was joined by many men and women of his age. Now, he was getting why Sandeep had said, “we are a group of 11, you are the 12th one!”
They all introduced themselves to Yashwardhan, they had almost the same stories to tell, some of them were abandoned by their families, some didn’t have anyone to take care of them, some had walked out of their hometowns to escape from the social stigma the disease had!

They all had a dark past, but were brightening each-other’s present by being there, their lives were imperfect at their own levels, but their group seemed so perfect to Yashwardhan. They didn’t judge him for the disease, he was carrying, didn’t pay heed to why and how of his infection! They were just the way they were, happy to have each-other!

Yashwardhan didn’t even realize when he reached the dining hall, when he ate with them, even the tasteless food in the mess seemed fun with a company like this! They exchanged jokes like youngsters still had the understanding and knowledge befitting their age.
Yashwardhan felt as if he knew them for ages! He no more had any remorse in his heart, somewhere deep he was thanking Vinay for suggesting this place! He felt as if he was falling in love again. And this time, this love was the love for himself! There was a strange courage building up in him suddenly. There was a time, when he just wanted to cuddle the coming death and leave the world quietly thinking he has done the necessary duties towards the world, but today he was realizing that the duties were not just meant towards others, he had a duty towards himself as well! And that duty was to love self unconditionally and live the life fully!

This new realization was taking on him and brought a bright smile on his face in that darkness of the night!
TO BE CONTINUED………………………………………………………..

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