HINA

“Oh God! Please don’t make me late!!” I silently prayed while the traffic moved horribly slow. I look forward to Friday night as it’s my show night. Since few years radio has become a passion. It’s an amazing feeling to play the songs I love, songs I grew up with!! Finally I was able to poke my head in the studio just five minutes before my show; mouthing a big sorry to my bit frustrated program manager.

While my eyes kept going back and forth to the wall clock, my fingers were picking up the songs based on my theme of the show. Today I was dedicating songs to Raj Kapoor; oh there were so many songs!! And yet so little time to choose!! But all my confusion vanished the moment I started the show, it was my own special time and I loved every bit of it. I feel that there is a story behind every song, emotions behind every line, you just need to find it and you will if you are a true lover of music. I have gone through all kinds of emotions while playing these songs, sometime a little smile played on my lips, sometime a tear trickled down unknowingly, some songs filled me with hope, some songs made me sad, some songs reminded me of someone loved and lost….oh what a range of emotions a song can capture!!

So while I was listening to, “Main Hoon Khushrang Hina…” theme song of Raj Kapoor’s last movie ‘Hina’, I suddenly realized that what a deep connection I have with this word! As the song was playing in the background, my mind raced backward and collected all the incidents associated with word ‘Hina’. When I started going through these incidents, it made me realize that though these incidents or situations were in different time frame, with different set of people or in different circumstances  yet they all were strangely connected.

Sometime around 1960’s: A typical Indian homemaker, clad in a saree from a Brahmin family was cleaning the staircase as part of her daily chores. Suddenly she noticed a small, frightened girl who was hiding behind one of the doors; she was no more than 5 yrs. old. One look at her face and the lady realized that she was crying since long.”Tum Kahan rehti ho beti?”(Where Do you live sweetie?) She asked soothingly but didn’t get any reply. Little girl seemed lost, hungry and really scared; it was obvious that she was not from the neighborhood. So the lady ran back upstairs and got some biscuits for her. She also informed her husband about the situation downstairs who followed her hurriedly. The offer of biscuit was an ice breaker, that small child hesitated just for a second before accepting the offer. She was soon comfortable enough to sit in that lady’s lap. Immediately her husband took the matter in his hand and started enquiring gently about her family and whereabouts. The only response he got was “Amma”(mother) and “Door”(far), every time she looked at the lady and said ‘Amma’(mother) and every time for house she referred “Door”(far). Now that girl was totally glued to the lady and won’t let her go anywhere or do anything. Her husband thought it wise to tell the police about the missing child while that child sat happily in his wife’s lap. After few hours of interrogation in surrounding area police came with two persons who claimed himself as her father and uncle. They were searching for her since morning. Girl also showed some recognition but refused to go with them. After lots of convincing finally she agreed to go to her own house but kept looking back to the lady who took care of her in last few hours. Just to make sure if they were giving the kid in proper hands or not;  husband decided to go with them. Soon it got confirmed that their claim was valid and she was the only daughter of that Muslim household. While she was sleeping, her mother went to finish some farm chores and when she came back her daughter was gone. They thanked the husband and wife profusely who took care of their daughter so responsibly. By this simple act of kindness, a bond formed between two families; irrespective of religion, irrespective of different cultures. A small step towards humanity  touched their heart and filled their lives with color of love, color of Hina….yes, that girl’s name was ‘Hina’!!

Sometime around 1982-83: “Maa I can’t find Sonu!! Am tired of her tantrums!!”Sonu’s brother complained angrily. It had become a daily part of their lives to find Sonu before her school rickshaw came. “I am telling you she loves doing this, there is no other reason except that she doesn’t want to study!” he complained again, this time to his father who looked thoughtful. It was getting tiresome for everyone. That night Sonu’s father sat with his daughter and asked her very gently, “Sonu its six months now but you still don’t like going to school, why beta? What is it about the school which scares you so much?” Sonu’s eyes got all teary and she confided in her father that one of her teacher scares her, she is really mean to many kids and her punishments are also very intense. Sonu asked hopefully, “You won’t send me to school again….Promise?” “Ha ha .. You wish!!”Her brother teased her while his father gave him a stern look. Next day their father enquired about it to other parents and find out that it was the truth. Many kids were complaining about that teacher’s behavior. Apparently that teacher was a close relative of the Head of the school so there was no use of complaining to anyone. Being an academician Sonu’s father was wise enough to understand the psychological impact of such treatment on his child’s psyche. Next day their father announced that he won’t send her to school as it’s not good for her psychological health. He decided to teach her at home and would re-enroll her only when she is ready. Everybody opposed this idea except sonu; she was relieved to the core while other family member thought that she will never adjust to the school environment if father would be so lenient. After Six months, Sonu’s father re enrolled her in same school as this was the best school nearby… but in another class!  On the first day of school Sonu’s heart was thumping, she was feeling very nervous. Thank God!! her new class was totally in the opposite direction to her old class. The moment she turned the corner a very mild fragrance greeted her which grew stronger and stronger as she entered in her new class. Her new teacher was standing right in front of her with a warm smile and with the same mild fragrance, in a cream saree and a loose strand of hair. From that day onward that mild fragrance had such a calming effect on her. Now there were no more tantrums at home, no tears shaded for going to school; in fact Sonu started looking forward to school. How a teacher’s gentle touch and caring attitude change a kid’s whole world, her family realized that day. Sonu felt as if some fairy came and freed her from all the fear and insecurities of early school life. That teacher’s name was ‘Hina.’!!

2010-11: “Maa I want a play date with my new friend, will you take me there…Please, please, please?” my son kept asking while I prepared a snack for him. Mostly I am the one who is very enthusiastic about arranging his play date but this time job, second pregnancy and my husband’s travel were weighing me down. It had been weeks since he visited any of his friends, guilt finally caught up with me and I agreed. Though I met his friend’s mother during swimming classes but never visited his home. It was late November and wind was very chilly.  The warmth of their house welcomed us like our own. Quickly both kids ran downstairs to play with toys and video games. We also got settled with a cup of tea and soon got engaged in girly chit-chat. Though I am an extrovert and talking comes easily to me but matching wavelength is something totally different, surprisingly we both felt such an ease with each other. I felt as if we knew each other since long. Soon I started feeling drowsy and looked at the clock; it was already 11pm… Oh My God!! My husband was travelling so there was no hurry to go home but still staying at someone’s place so late for the first time was certainly not very decent. I apologized and called my son to leave immediately. He was already half asleep but both kids were yet not in the mood to leave each other. At this my new-found friend suggested that we should stay with them for the night since her husband was also traveling. She also mentioned that it might be risky for me to drive late night in pregnant condition. In spite of my hesitation, this idea seemed so appealing that I found myself nodding. And so I stayed at her place. Sleeping in different rooms we were surprised at ourselves, surprised at the fact that we both belonged to different countries and though our countries remained estranged to each other, we found a friend in each other!!

In the morning when I left for my home, we hugged each other…there was so much warmth in that hug, I instantly knew that I found a friend in her, a friend to cherish, a friend to keep!!

And since then we remained friends …. She had become so much a part of my life that after my delivery she was the first one with whom I left my infant when I needed to see a doctor for health purposes. And when she called me to tell that her father suffered from a heart condition  and she hurried to meet him … my prayers went along with her. After surgery she called me to tell that her father is doing well….I felt so relieved as if one of my family member got well.

Amazing are the ways of God who created us all. In short we all are connected,  yet  strange are the hearts of human which sometime opens so easily to someone while keeps its distance to many!!

These thoughts kept playing in my mind while I concluded my show and drove back home. Reaching home I saw my younger one doodling as usual. For the first time I noticed that he had this strange habit of making a picture and then connecting it from point to point. “Why do you always connect everything…Sweets” I asked lovingly and he looked up with that twinkle in his eyes before replying “Because everything is connected Mamma!!” I was so very amazed at his simplicity of stating this universal concept!! Here was I ….picking pieces from my life and trying to find connecting points one at a time while my 4 year old’s calm acceptance to this universal fact of life left me speechless.

He is so right!! Everything is connected, everything is effortless if we just open our hearts to fellow humans… just like my parents who formed a bond with a stranger missing girl called ’Hina’…..I formed another bond with my teacher ’Hina’…who freed me psychologically ……and yet another with this wonderful friend of mine whose name is also ‘Hina’.

Sometime I wonder is it in the name that these people touched our life, spread the color of humanity just like the color of ‘Hina’ Or should I quote Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

PS: This story is based on three true life incidents.

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