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diptee kalaktaree – a story by Amarkant

shakaladeep baaboo kaheen ek ghante baad vaapas laute. ghar mein pravesh karane ke poorv unhonne osaare ke kamare mein jhaanka, koee bhee muvakkil nahin tha aur muharrir saahab bhee gaayab the. vah bheetar chale gae aur apane kamare ke saamane osaare mein khade hokar bandar kee bhaanti aankhe malaka-malakaakar unhonne rasoeeghar kee or dekha. unakee patnee jamuna, chauke ke paas peedhe par baithee honth-par-honth dabae munh phulae tarakaaree kaat rahee thee. vah mand-mand muskaraate hue apanee patnee ke paas chale gae. unake mukh par asaadhaaran santosh, vishvaas evan utsaah ka bhaav ankit tha. ek ghante poorv aisee baat nahin thee.

baat is prakaar aarambh huee. shakaladeep baaboo sabere daataun-kulla karane ke baad apane kamare mein baithe hee the ki jamuna ne ek tashtaree mein do jalebiyaan naashte ke lie saamane rakh deen. vah bina kuchh bole jalapaan karane lage.

jamuna pahale to ek-aadh minat chup rahee. phir pati ke mukh kee or udatee najar se dekhane ke baad usane baat chhedee, “do-teen din se babua bahut udaas rahate hain.”

“kya?” sir uthaakar shakaladeep baaboo ne poochha aur unakee bhaunhe tan gaeen. jamuna ne vyarth mein muskaraate hue kaha, “kal bole, is saal diptee-kalaktaree kee bahut-see jagahen hain, par baaboojee se kahate dar lagata hai. kah rahe the, do-chaar din mein phees bhejane kee taareekh beet jaegee.”

shakaladeep baaboo ka bada ladaka naaraayan, ghar mein babua ke naam se hee pukaara jaata tha. umr usakee lagabhag 24 varsh kee thee. pichhale teen-chaar saal se bahut-see pareekshaon mein baithane, em.el.e. logon ke daravaajon ke chakkar lagaane tatha aur bhee ulte-seedhe phan istemaal karane ke baavajood usako ab tak koee naukaree nahin mil sakee thee. do baar diptee-kalaktaree ke imtahaan mein bhee vah baith chuka tha, par durbhaagy! ab ek avasar use aur milana tha, jisako vah chhodana na chaahata tha, aur use vishvaas tha ki choonki jagahen kaaphee hain aur vah abakee jee-jaan se parishram karega, isalie bahut sambhav hai ki vah le liya jae.

shakaladeep baaboo mukhtaar the. lekin idhar dedh-do saal se mukhtaaree kee gaadee unake chalae na chalatee thee. budhautee ke kaaran ab unakee aavaaj mein na vah tadap rah gaee thee, na shareer mein vah taakat aur na chaal mein vah akad, isalie muvakkil unake yahaan kam hee pahunchate. kuchh to aakar bhee bhadak jaate. is haalat mein vah raam ka naam lekar kachaharee jaate, aksar kuchh pa jaate, jisase donon joon chauka-choolha chal jaata.

jamuna kee baat sunakar vah ekadam bigad gae. krodh se unaka munh vikrt ho gaya aur vah sir ko jhatakate hue, kataah kukur kee tarah bole, “to main kya karoon? main to hairaan-pareshaan ho gaya hoon. tum log meree jaan lene par tule hue ho. saaph-saaph sun lo, main teen baar kahata hoon, mujhase nahin hoga, mujhase nahin hoga, mujhase nahin hoga.”

jamuna kuchh na bolee, kyonki vah jaanatee thee ki pati ka krodh karana svaabhaavik hai.

shakaladeep baaboo ek-do kshan chup rahe, phir daen haath ko oopar-neeche nachaate hue bole, “phir isakee gaarantee hee kya hai ki is daphe baaboo saahab le hee lie jaenge? maamoolee e.jee. ophis kee klarkee mein to poochhe nahin gae, diptee-kalaktaree mein kaun poochhega? aap mein kya khoobee hai, saahab, ki aap diptee-kalaktar ho hee jaenge? thard klaas bee.e. aap hain, chaubeeson ghante mataragashtee aap karate hain, din-raat sigaret aap phoonkate hain. aap mein kaun-se surkhaab ke par lage hain? bade-bade bah gae, gadaha poochhe kitana paanee! phir karam-karam kee baat hotee hai. bhaee, samajh lo, tumhaare karam mein naukaree likhee hee nahin. are haan, agar sabhee kukur kaashee hee sevenge to handiya kaun chaatega? diptee-kalaktaree, diptee-kalaktaree! sach poochho, to diptee-kalaktaree naam se mujhe ghrna ho gaee hai!” aur unake honth bichak gae.

jamuna ne ab mrdu svar mein unake kathan ka prativaad kiya, “aisee kubhaasha munh se nahin nikaalanee chaahie. hamaare ladake mein dosh hee kaun-sa hai? laakhon mein ek hai. sabr kee sau dhaar, mera to dil kahata hai is baar babua jaroor le lie jaenge. phir pahalee bhookh-pyaas ka ladaka hai, maan-baap ka sukh to jaanata hee nahin. itana bhee nahin hoga, to usaka dil toot jaega. yon hee na maaloom kyon, hamesha udaas rahata hai, theek se khaata-peeta nahin, theek se bolata nahin, pahale kee tarah gaata-gunagunaata nahin. na maaloom mere laadale ko kya ho gaya hai.” ant mein usaka gala bhar aaya aur vah doosaree or munh karake aankhon mein aae aansuon ko rokane ka prayaas karane lagee.

jamuna ko rote hue dekhakar shakaladeep baaboo aape se baahar ho gae. krodh tatha vyangy se munh chidhaate hue bole, “ladaka hai to lekar chaato! saaree khuraaphaat kee jad tum hee ho, aur koee nahin! tum mujhe jinda rahane dena nahin chaahateen, jis din meree jaan nikalegee, tumhaaree chhaatee thandee hogee!” vah haanphane lage.

unhonne jamuna par nirdayataapoorvak aisa jabaradast aarop kiya tha, jise vah sah na sakee. rotee huee bolee, “achchhee baat hai, agar main saaree khuraaphaat kee jad hoon to main kameenee kee bachchee, jo aaj se koee baat…” rulaee ke maare vah aage na bol sakee aur tejee se kamare se baahar nikal gaee.

shakaladeep baaboo kuchh nahin bole, balki vaheen baithe rahe. munh unaka tana hua tha aur gardan tedhee ho gaee thee. ek-aadh minat tak usee tarah baithe rahane ke pashchaat vah jameen par pade akhabaar ke ek phate-puraane tukade ko uthaakar is talleenata se padhane lage, jaise kuchh bhee na hua ho.

lagabhag pandrah-bees minat tak vah usee tarah padhate rahe. phir achaanak uth khade hue. unhonne lungee kee tarah lipatee dhotee ko kholakar theek se pahan liya aur oopar se apana paarasee kot daal liya, jo kuchh maila ho gaya tha aur jisamen do chippiyaan lagee theen, aur puraana pamp shoo pahan, haath mein chhadee le, ek-do baar khaansakar baahar nikal gae.

pati kee baat se jamuna ke hrday ko gahara aaghaat pahuncha tha. shakaladeep baaboo ko baahar jaate hue usane dekha, par vah kuchh nahin bolee. vah munh phulae chupachaap ghar ke ataram-sataram kaam karatee rahee. aur ek ghante baad bhee, jab shakaladeep baaboo baahar se laut usake paas aakar khade hue, tab bhee vah kuchh na bolee, chupachaap tarakaaree kaatatee rahee.

shakaladeep baaboo ne khaansakar kaha, “sunatee ho, yah dedh sau rupe rakh lo. kareeb sau rupe babuakee phees mein lagenge aur pachaas rupe alag rakh dena, koee aur kaam aa pade.”

jamuna ne haath badhaakar rupe to avashy le lie, par ab bhee kuchh nahin bolee.

lekin shakaladeep baaboo atyadhik prasann the aur unhonne utsaahapoorn aavaaj mein kaha, “sau rupe babua ko de dena, aaj hee phees bhej den. honge, jaroor honge, babua diptee-kalaktar avashy honge. koee kaaran hee nahin ki vah na lie jaen. ladake ke jehan mein koee kharaabee thode hai. raam-raam…! nahin, chinta kee koee baat nahin. naaraayan jee is baar bhagavaan kee krpa se diptee-kalaktar avashy honge.”

jamuna ab bhee chup rahee aur rupayon ko trank mein rakhane ke lie uthakar apane kamare mein chalee gaee.

shakaladeep baaboo apane kamare kee or laut pade. par kuchh door jaakar phir ghoom pade aur jis kamare mein jamuna gaee thee, usake daravaaje ke saamane aakar khade ho gae aur jamuna ko trank mein rupe band karate hue dekhate rahe. phir bole, “galatee kisee kee nahin. saara dosh to mera hai. dekho na, main baap hokar kahata hoon ki ladaka naakaabil hai! nahin, nahin, saaree khuraaphaat kee jad main hee hoon, aur koee nahin.”

ek-do kshan vah khade rahe, lekin tab bhee jamuna ne koee uttar nahin diya to kamare mein jaakar vah apane kapade utaarane lage.

naaraayan ne usee din diptee-kalaktaree kee phees tatha phaarm bhej die.

doosare din aadat ke khilaaph praatahkaal hee shakaladeep baaboo kee neend uchat gaee. vah hadabadaakar aankhen malate hue uth khade hue aur baahar osaare mein aakar chaaron or dekhane lage. ghar ke sabhee log nidra mein nimagn the. soe hue logon kee saanson kee aavaaj aur machchharon kee bhanabhan sunaee de rahee thee. chaaron or andhera tha. lekin baahar ke kamare se dheemee roshanee aa rahee thee. shakaladeep baaboo chaunk pade aur pairon ko dabae kamare kee or badhe.

unakee umr pachaas ke oopar hogee. vah gore, naate aur dubale-patale the. unake mukh par anaginat rekhaon ka jaal buna tha aur unakee baanhon tatha gardan par chamade jhool rahe the.

daravaaje ke paas pahunchakar, unhonne panje ke bal khade ho, honth dabaakar kamare ke andar jhaanka. unaka ladaka naaraayan mej par rakhee laalaten ke saamane sir jhukae dhyaanapoorvak kuchh padh raha tha. shakaladeep baaboo kuchh der tak aankhon ko saashchary phailaakar apane ladake ko dekhate rahe, jaise kisee aanandadaayee rahasy ka unhonne achaanak pata laga liya ho. phir vah chupachaap dheere-se peechhe hat gae aur vaheen khade hokar jara muskarae aur phir dabe paanv dheere-dheere vaapas laute aur apane kamare ke saamane osaare ke kinaare khade hokar aasamaan ko utsukataapoorvak nihaarane lage.

unakee aadat chhah, saadhe chhah baje se pahale uthane kee nahin thee. lekin aaj uth gae the, to man aprasann nahin hua. aasamaan mein taare ab bhee chatak dikhaee de rahe the, aur baahar ke pedon ko hilaatee huee aur khapade ko sparsh karake aangan mein na maaloom kis disha se aatee jaatee hava unako aanandit evan utsaahit kar rahee thee. vah punah muskara pade aur unhonne dheere-se phusaphusaaya, “chalo, achchha hee hai.”

aur achaanak unamen na maaloom kahaan ka utsaah aa gaya. unhonne usee samay hee daataun karana shuroo kar diya. in kaaryon se nibatane ke baad bhee andhera hee raha, to baaltee mein paanee bhara aur use gusalakhaane mein le jaakar snaan karane lage. snaan se nivrtt hokar jab vah baahar nikale, to unake shareer mein ek apoorv taajagee tatha man mein ek avarnaneey utsaah tha.

yadyapi unhonne apane sabhee kaary chupachaap karane kee koshish kee thee, to bhee deh durbal hone ke kaaran kuchh khatapat ho gaee, jisake parinaamasvaroop unakee patnee kee neend khul gaee. jamuna ko to pahale chor-vor ka sandeh hua, lekin usane jhatapat aakar jab dekha, to aashcharyachakit ho gaee. shakaladeep baaboo aangan mein khade-khade aakaash ko nihaar rahe the.

jamuna ne chintaatur svar mein kaha, “itanee jaldee snaan kee jaroorat kya thee? itana sabere to kabhee nahin utha jaata tha? kuchh ho-hava gaya, to?”

shakaladeep baaboo jhemp gae. jhoothee hansee hansate hue bole, “dheere-dheere bolo, bhaee, babua padh rahe hain.”

jamuna bigad gaee, “dheere-dheere kyon boloon, isee lachchhan se parasaal beemaar pad jaaya gaya tha.”

shakaladeep baaboo ko aashanka huee ki is tarah baatacheet karane se takaraar badh jaegee, shor-sharaaba hoga, isalie unhonne patnee kee baat ka koee uttar nahin diya. vah peechhe ghoom pade aur apane kamare mein aakar laalaten jalaakar chupachaap raamaayan ka paath karane lage.

pooja samaapt karake jab vah uthe, to ujaala ho gaya tha. vah kamare se baahar nikal aae. ghar ke bade log to jaag gae the, par bachche abhee tak soe the. jamuna bhandaar-ghar mein kuchh khatar-patar kar rahee thee. shakaladeep baaboo taad gae aur vah bhandaar-ghar ke daravaaje ke saamane khade ho gae aur kamar par donon haath rakhakar kutoohal ke saath apanee patnee ko kunde mein se chaaval nikaalate hue dekhate rahe.

kuchh der baad unhonne prashn kiya, “naaraayan kee amma, aajakal tumhaara pooja-paath nahin hota kya?” aur jhempakar vah muskarae.

shakaladeep baaboo isake poorv sada raadhaasvaamiyon par bigadate the aur mauka-bemauka unakee kadee aalochana bhee karate the. isako lekar auraton mein kabhee-kabhee rona-peetana tak bhee ho jaata tha. isalie aaj bhee jab shakaladeep baaboo ne pooja-paath kee baat kee, to jamuna ne samajha ki vah vyangy kar rahe hain. usane bhee pratyuttar diya, “ham logon ko pooja-paath se kya matalab? hamako to narak mein hee jaana hai. jinako sarag jaana ho, vah karen!”

“lo bigad gaeen,” shakaladeep baaboo mand-mand muskaraate hue jhat-se bole, “are, main majaak thode kar raha tha! main badee galatee par tha, raadhaasvaamee to bade prabhaavashaalee devata hain.”

jamuna ko raadhaasvaamee ko devata kahana bahut bura laga aur vah tinakakar bolee, “raadhaasvaamee ko devata kahate hain? vah to paramapita paramesar hain, unaka lok sabase oopar hai, usake neeche hee brahma, vishnu aur mahesh ke lok aate hain.”

“theek hai, theek hai, lekin kuchh pooja-paath bhee karogee? sunate hain sachche man se raadhaasvaamee kee pooja karane se sabhee manorath siddh ho jaate hain.” shakaladeep baaboo uttar dekar kaanpate honthon mein muskaraane lage.

jamuna ne punah bhul-sudhaar kiya, “isamen dikhaana thode hota hai; man mein naam le liya jaata hai. sabhee manorath ban jaate hain aur marane ke baad aatma paramapita mein mil jaatee hai. phir chauraasee nahin bhugatana padata.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne sotsaah kaha, “theek hai, bahut achchhee baat hai. jara aur sabere uthakar naam le liya karo. subah nahaane se tabeeyat din-bhar saaph rahatee hai. kal se tum bhee shuroo kar do. main to abhaaga tha ki meree aankhen aaj tak band rahee. khair, koee baat nahin, ab bhee kuchh nahin bigada hai, kal se tum bhee savere chaar baje uth jaana.”

unako bhay hua ki jamuna kaheen unake prastaav ka virodh na kare, isalie itana kahane ke baad vah peechhe ghoomakar khisak gae. lekin achaanak kuchh yaad karake vah laut pade. paas aakar unhonne patnee se muskaraate hue poochha, “babua ke lie naashte ka intajaam kya karogee?”

“jo roj hota hai, vahee hoga, aur kya hoga?” udaaseenataapoorvak jamuna ne uttar diya.

“theek hai, lekin aaj halava kyon nahin bana leteen? ghar ka bana saamaan achchha hota hai. aur kuchh meve manga lo.”

“halave ke lie ghee nahin hai. phir itane paise kahaan hain?” jamuna ne majabooree jaahir kee.

“pachaas rupe to bache hain na, usamen se kharch karo. ann-jal ka shareer, ladake ko theek se khaane-peene ko na milega, to vah imtahaan kya dega? rupe kee chinta mat karo, main abhee jinda hoon!” itana kahakar shakaladeep baaboo thahaaka lagaakar hans pade.

vahaan se hatane ke poorv vah patnee ko yah bhee hidaayat dete gae, “ek baat aur karo. tum ladake logon se daantakar kah dena ki ve baahar ke kamare mein jaakar baajaar na lagaen, nahin to maar padegee. haan, padhane mein baadha pahunchegee. doosaree baat yah ki babua se kah dena, vah baahar ke kamare mein baithakar itmeenaan se padhen, main baahar sahan mein baith loonga.”

shakaladeep baaboo sabere ek-dedh ghante baahar ke kamare mein baithate the. vahaan vah muvakkilon ke aane kee prateeksha karate aur unhen samajhaate-bujhaate.

aur vah us din sachamuch hee makaan ke baahar peepal ke ped ke neeche, jahaan paryaapt chhaaya rahatee thee, ek mej aur kursiyaan lagaakar baith gae. jaan-pahachaan ke log vahaan se gujare, to unhen vahaan baithe dekhakar aashchary hua. jab sadak se gujarate hue babbanalaal peshakaar ne unase poochha ki “bhaee saahab, aaj kya baat hai?” to unhonne jor se chillaakar kaha ki “bheetar badee garmee hai.” aur unhonne jokar kee tarah munh bana diya aur ant mein thahaaka maarakar hans pade, jaise koee bahut bada majaak kar diya ho.

shaam ko jahaan roj vah pahale hee kachaharee se aa jaate the, us din der se laute. unhonne patnee ke haath mein chaar rupe to die hee, saath hee do seb tatha kainchee sigaret ke paanch paiket bhee badha die.

“sigaret kya hogee?” jamuna ne saashchary poochha.

“tumhaare lie hai,” shakaladeep baaboo ne dheere-se kaha aur doosaree or dekhakar muskaraane lage, lekin unaka chehara sharm se kuchh tamatama gaya.

jamuna ne maathe par kee sari ko neeche kheenchate hue kaha, “kabhee sigaret pee bhee hai ki aaj hee peeoongee. is umr mein majaak karate laaj nahin aatee?”

shakaladeep baaboo kuchh bole nahin aur thoda muskaraakar idhar-udhar dekhane lage. phir gambheer hokar unhonne doosaree or dekhate hue dheere-se kaha, “babua ko de dena,” aur vah turant vahaan se chalate bane.

jamuna bhaunchak hokar kuchh der unako dekhatee rahee, kyonki aaj ke poorv to vah yahee dekhatee aa rahee thee ki naaraayan ke dhoomrapaan ke vah sakht khilaaph rahe hain aur isako lekar kaee baar ladake ko daant-dapat chuke hain.

usakee samajh mein kuchh na aaya, to vah yah kahakar muskara padee ki buddhi sathiya gaee hai.

naaraayan din-bhar padhane-likhane ke baad tahalane gaya hua tha.

shakaladeep baaboo jaldee se kapade badalakar haath mein jhaadoo le baahar ke kamare mein ja pahunche. unhonne dheere-dheere kamare ko achchhee tarah jhaada-buhaara, isake baad naaraayan kee mej ko saaph kiya tatha mejaposh ko jor-jor se kaee baar jhaad-phatakakar saphaee ke saath us par bichha diya. ant mein naaraayan kee chaarapaee par pade bichhaune ko kholakar usamen kee ek-ek cheej ko jhaad-phatakaarakar yatnapoorvak bichhaane lage.

itane mein jamuna ne aakar dekha, to mrdu svar mein kaha, “kachaharee se aane par yahee kaam rah gaya hai kya? bichhauna roj bichh hee jaata hai aur kamare kee maharin saphaee kar hee detee hai.”

“achchha, theek hai. main apanee tabeeyat se kar raha hoon, koee jabaradastee thodee hai.” shakaladeep baaboo ke mukh par halke jhemp ka bhaav ankit ho gaya tha aur vah apanee patnee kee or na dekhate hue aisee aavaaj mein bole, jaise unhonne achaanak yah kaary aarambh kar diya tha – “aur jab itana kar hee liya hai, to beech mein chhodane se kya laabh, poora hee kar len.”

kachaharee se aane ke baad roj ka unaka niyam yah tha ki vah kuchh naashta-paanee karake chaarapaee par let jaate the. unako aksar neend aa jaatee thee aur vah lagabhag aath baje tak sote rahate the. yadi neend na bhee aatee, to bhee vah isee tarah chupachaap pade rahate the.

“naashta taiyaar hai,” yah kahakar jamuna vahaan se chalee gaee.

shakaladeep baaboo kamare ko chamaacham karane, bichhaune lagaane tatha kursiyon ko tarateeb se sajaane ke pashchaat aangan mein aakar khade ho gae aur bematalab thanakakar hansate hue bole, “apana kaam sada apane haath se karana chaahie, naukaron ka kya thikaana?”

lekin unakee baat par sambhavatah kisee ne dhyaan nahin diya aur na usaka uttar hee.

dheere-dheere din beetate gae aur naaraayan kathin parishram karata raha.

kuchh dinon se shakaladeep baaboo saayankaal ghar se lagabhag ek meel kee dooree par sthit shivajee ke ek mandir mein bhee jaane lage the. vah bahut chalata mandir tha aur usamen bhaktajanon kee bahut bheed hotee thee. kachaharee se aane ke baad vah naaraayan ke kamare ko jhaadate-buhaarate, usaka bichhauna lagaate, mej-kursiyaan sajaate aur ant mein naashta karake mandir ke lie ravaana ho jaate. mandir mein ek-dedh ghante tak rahate aur lagabhag das baje ghar aate.

ek din jab vah mandir se laute, to saadhe das baj gae the. unhonne dabe paanv osaare mein paanv rakha aur apanee aadat ke anusaar kuchh der tak muskaraate hue jhaank-jhaankakar kotharee mein naaraayan ko padhate hue dekhate rahe. phir bheetar ja apane kamare mein chhadee rakhakar, nal par haath-pair dhokar, bhojan ke lie chauke mein jaakar baith gae.

patnee ne khaana paros diya. shakaladeep baaboo ne munh mein kaur chubhalaate hue poochha, “babuaa ko meve de die the?”

vah aaj saayankaal jab kachaharee se laute the, to meve lete aae the. unhonne meve ko patnee ke havaale karate hue kaha tha ki ise sirph naaraayan ko hee dena, aur kisee ko nahin.

jamuna ko jhapakee aa rahee thee, lekin usane pati kee baat sun lee, chaunkakar bolee, “kahaan? meva trank mein rakh diya tha, socha tha, babua ghoomakar aaenge to chupake se de doongee. par ladake to daanav-doot bane hue hain, ona-kona, antara-santara, sabhee jagah pahunch jaate hain. tunatun ne kaheen se dekh liya aur usane saara-ka saara kha daala.”

tunatun shakaladeep baaboo ka sabase chhota baarah varsh ka atyant hee natakhat ladaka tha.

“kyon?” shakaladeep baaboo chilla pade. unaka munh khul gaya tha aur unakee jeebh par rotee ka ek chhota tukada drshtigochar ho raha tha.

jamuna kuchh na bolee.

ab shakaladeep baaboo ne gusse mein patnee ko munh chidhaate hue kaha, “kha gaya, kha gaya! tum kyon na kha gaee! tum logon ke khaane ke lie hee laata hoon na? hoon! kha gaya!”

jamuna bhee tinak uthee, “to kya ho gaya? kabhee meva-mishree, phal-mool to unako milata nahin, bechaare khuddee-chunnee jo kuchh milata hai, usee par sabr baandhe rahate hain. apane haath se khareedakar kabhee kuchh diya bhee to nahin gaya. ladaka hee to hai, man chal gaya, kha liya. phir mainne use bahut maara bhee, ab usakee jaan to nahin le loongee.”

“achchha to khao tum aur tumhaare ladake! khoob maje mein khao! aise khaane par laanat hai!” vah gusse se thar-thar kaanpate hue chilla pade aur phir chauke se uthakar kamare mein chale gae.

jamuna bhay, apamaan aur gusse se rone lagee. usane bhee bhojan nahin kiya aur vahaan se uthakar chaarapaee par munh dhankakar pad rahee.

lekin doosare din praatahkaal bhee shakaladeep baaboo ka gussa thanda na hua aur unhonne nahaane-dhone tatha pooja-paath karane ke baad sabase pahala kaam yah kiya ki jab tunatun jaaga, to unhonne usako apane paas bulaaya aur usase poochha ki usane meva kyon khaaya? jab usako koee uttar na soojha aur vah bhakkoo banakar apane pita kee or dekhane laga, to shakaladeep baaboo ne use kaee tamaache jad die.

diptee-kalaktaree kee pareeksha ilaahaabaad mein honevaalee thee aur vahaan ravaana hone ke din aa gae. is beech naaraayan ne itana adhik parishram kiya ki sabhee aashcharyachakit the. vah atthaarah-unnees ghante tak padhata. usakee padhaee mein koee baadha upasthit nahin hone paatee, bas use padhana tha. usaka kamara saaph milata, usaka bichhauna bichha milata, donon joon gaanv ke shuddh ghee ke saath daal-bhaat, rotee, tarakaaree milatee. shareer kee shakti tatha dimaag kee taajagee ko banae rakhane ke lie naashte mein sabere halava-doodh tatha shaam ko meve ya phal. aur to aur, ladake kee tabeeyat na uchate, isalie sigaret kee bhee samuchit vyavastha thee. jab sigaret ke paiket khatm hote, to jamuna usake paas chaar-paanch paiket aur rakh aatee.

jis din naaraayan ko ilaahaabaad jaana tha, shakaladeep baaboo kee chhuttee thee aur ve sabere hee ghoomane nikal gae. vah kuchh der tak kampanee gaardan mein ghoomate rahe, phir vahaan tabeeyat na lagee, to nadee ke kinaare pahunch gae. vahaan bhee man na laga, to apane param mitr kailaash bihaaree mukhtaar ke yahaan chale gae. vahaan bahut der tak gap-sadaaka karate rahe, aur jab gaadee ka samay nikat aaya, to jaldee-jaldee ghar aae.

gaadee nau baje khulatee thee. jamuna tatha naaraayan kee patnee nirmala ne sabere hee uthakar jaldee-jaldee khaana bana liya tha. naaraayan ne khaana khaaya aur sabako pranaam kar steshan ko chal pada. shakaladeep baaboo bhee steshan gae.

naaraayan ko vida karane ke lie usake chaar-paanch mitr bhee steshan par pahunche the. jab tak gaadee nahin aaee thee, naaraayan pletaphaarm par un mitron se baaten karata raha. shakaladeep baaboo alag khade idhar-udhar is tarah dekhate rahe, jaise naaraayan se unaka koee parichay na ho. aur jab gaadee aaee aur naaraayan apane pita tatha mitron ke sahayog se gaadee mein poore saamaan ke saath chadh gaya, to shakaladeep baaboo vahaan se dheere-se khisak gae aur vheelar ke bukastaal par ja khade hue.

bukastaal ka aadamee jaan-pahachaan ka tha, usane namaskaar karake poochha, “kahie, mukhtaar saahab, aaj kaise aana hua?”

shakaladeep baaboo ne santoshapoorvak muskaraate hue uttar diya, “ladaka ilaahaabaad ja raha hai, diptee-kalaktaree ka imtahaan dene. shaam tak pahunch jaega. dyodhe darje ke paas jo dibba hai na, usee mein hai. neeche jo chaar-paanch ladake khade hain, ve usake mitr hain. socha, bhaee ham log boodhe thahare, ladake imtahaan-vimtahaan kee baat kar rahe honge, kya samajhenge, isalie idhar chala aaya.” unakee aankhe haasy se sankuchit ho gaeen.

vahaan vah thodee der tak rahe. isake baad jaakar ghadee mein samay dekha, kuchh der tak taaraghar ke baahar taar baaboo ko khatar-patar karate hue nihaara aur phir vahaan se hatakar relagaadiyon ke aane-jaane ka taim-tebul padhane lage. lekin unaka dhyaan sambhavatah gaadee kee or hee tha, kyonki jab tren khulane kee ghantee bajee, to vahaan se bhaagakar naaraayan ke mitron ke peechhe aa khade hue.

naaraayan ne jab unako dekha, to usane jhatapat neeche utarakar pair chhue.

“khush raho, beta, bhagavaan tumhaaree manokaamana pooree kare!” unhonne ladake se budabudaakar kaha aur doosaree or dekhane lage.

naaraayan baith gaya aur ab gaadee khulane hee vaalee thee. achaanak shakaladeep baaboo ka daahina haath apane kot kee jeb mein gaya. unhonne jeb se koee cheej lagabhag baahar nikaal lee, aur vah kuchh aage bhee badhe, lekin phir na maaloom kya sochakar ruk gae. unaka chehara tamatama-sa gaya aur jaldeebaajee mein vah idhar-udhar dekhane lage.

gaadee seetee dekar khul gaee to shakaladeep baaboo chaunk uthe. unhonne jeb se vah cheej nikaalakar mutthee mein baandh lee aur use naaraayan ko dene ke lie daud pade.

vah durbal tatha boodhe aadamee the, isalie unase tej kya dauda jaata, vah pairon mein phurtee laane ke lie apane haathon ko is tarah bhaanj rahe the, jaise koee rogee, mariyal ladaka apane saathiyon ke beech khel-kood ke dauraan koee halkee-phulkee sharaarat karane ke baad tejee se daudane ke lie gardan ko jhukaakar haathon ko chakr kee bhaanti ghumaata hai. unake pair thap-thap kee aavaaj ke saath pletaphaarm par gir rahe the, aur unakee harakaton ka unake mukh parkoee vishesh prabhaav drshtigochar nahin ho raha tha, bas yahee maaloom hota ki vah kuchh pareshaan hain. pletaphaarm par ekatrit logon ka dhyaan unakee or aakarshit ho gaya. kuchh logon ne mauj mein aakar jor se lalakaara, kuchh ne kilakaariyaan maareen aur kuchh logon ne daud ke prati unakee tatasth mudra ko dekhakar betahaasha hansana aarambh kiya. lekin yah unaka saubhaagy hee tha ki gaadee abhee khulee hee thee aur speed mein nahin aaee thee. parinaamasvaroop unaka haasyajanak prayaas saphal hua aur unhonne dibbe ke saamane pahunchakar utsuk tatha chintit mudra mein dibbe se sir nikaalakar jhaankate hue naaraayan ke haath mein ek pudiya dete hue kaha, “beta, ise shraddha ke saath kha lena, bhagavaan shankar ka prasaad hai.”

pudiya mein kuchh bataashe the, jo unhonne kal shaam ko shivajee ko chadhae the aur jise pata nahin kyon, naaraayan ko dena bhool gae the.

naaraayan ke mitr kutoohal se muskaraate hue unakee or dekh rahe the, aur jab vah paas aa gae, to ek ne poochha, “baaboo jee, kya baat thee, hamase kah dete.”

shakaladeep baaboo yah kahakar ki, “koee baat nahin, kuchh rupe the, socha, main hee de doon”, tejee se aage badh gae.

pareeksha samaapt hone ke baad naaraayan ghar vaapas aa gaya. usane sachamuch parche bahut achchhe kie the aur usane gharavaalon se saaph-saaph kah diya ki yadi koee beeemaanee na huee, to vah intaravyoo mein avashy bulaaya jaega. gharavaalon kee baat to doosaree thee, lekin jab muhalle aur shahar ke logon ne yah baat sunee, to unhonne vishvaas nahin kiya. log vyangy mein kahane lage, har saal to yahee kahate hain bachchoo! vah koee doosare hote hain, jo intaravyoo mein bulae jaate hain!

lekin baat naaraayan ne jhooth nahin kahee thee, kyonki ek din usake paas soochana aaee ki usako ilaahaabaad mein praadeshik lok seva aayog ke samaksh intaravyoo ke lie upasthit hona hai.

yah samaachaar bijalee kee tarah saare shahar mein phail gaya. bahut saal baad is shahar se koee ladaka diptee-kalaktaree ke intaravyoo ke lie bulaaya gaya tha. logon mein aashchary ka thikaana na raha.

saayankaal kachaharee se aane par shakaladeep baaboo seedhe aangan mein ja khade ho gae aur jor se thathaakar hans pade. phir kamare mein jaakar kapade utaarane lage.

shakaladeep baaboo ne kot ko khoontee par taangate hue lapakakar aatee huee jamuna se kaha, “ab karo na raaj! hamesha shor machae rahatee thee ki yah nahin hai, vah nahin hai! yah maamoolee baat nahin hai ki babua intaravyoo mein bulae gae hain, aaya hee samajho!”

“jab aa jaen, tabhee na,” jamuna ne kanjoosee se muskaraate hue kaha.

shakaladeep baaboo thoda hansate hue bole, “tumako ab bhee sandeh hai? lo, main kahata hoon ki babua jaroor aaenge, jaroor aaenge! nahin aae, to main apanee moonchh mudava doonga. aur koee kahe ya na kahe, main to is baat ko pahale se hee jaanata hoon. are, main hee kyon, saara shahar yahee kahata hai. ambika baaboo vakeel mujhe badhaee dete hue bole, ‘intaravyoo mein bulae jaane ka matalab yah hai ki agar intaravyoo thoda bhee achchha ho gaya, to chunaav nishchit hai.’ meree naak mein dam tha, jo bhee sunata, badhaee dene chala aata.”

“muhalle ke ladake mujhe bhee aakar badhaee de gae hain. jaanakee, kamal aur gauree to abhee-abhee gae hain.” jamuna ne svapnil aankhon se apane pati ko dekhate hue soochana dee.

“to tumhaaree koee maamoolee hastee hai! are, tum diptee-kalaktar kee maan ho na, jee!” itana kahakar shakaladeep baaboo thahaaka maarakar hans pade.

jamuna kuchh nahin bolee, balki usane muskee kaatakar sari ka palla sir ke aage thoda aur kheenchakar munh tedha kar liya.

shakaladeep baaboo ne joote nikaalakar chaarapaee par baithate hue dheere-se kaha, “are bhaee, hamako-tumako kya lena hai, ek kone mein padakar raamanaam japa karenge. lekin main to abhee yah soch raha hoon ki kuchh saal tak aur mukhtaaree karoonga. nahin, yahee theek rahega.” unhonne gaal phulaakar ek-do baar moonchh par taav die.

jamuna ne isaka prativaad kiya, “ladaka maanega thode, kheench le jaega. hamesha yah dekhakar usakee chhaatee phatatee rahatee hai ki baaboo jee itanee mehanat karate hain aur vah kuchh bhee madad nahin karata.”

“kuchh kah raha tha kya?” shakaladeep baaboo ne dheere-se poochha aur patnee kee or na dekhakar daravaaje ke baahar munh banaakar dekhane lage.

jamuna ne aashvaasan diya, “main jaanatee nahin kya? usaka chehara bataata hai. baap ko itana kaam karate dekhakar usako kuchh achchha thode lagata hai!” ant mein usane naak sudak lie.

naaraayan pandrah din baad intaravyoo dene gaya. aur usane intaravyoo bhee kaaphee achchha kiya. vah ghar vaapas aaya, to usake hrday mein atyadhik utsaah tha, aur jab usane yah bataaya ki jahaan aur ladakon ka pandrah-bees minat tak hee intaravyoo hua, usaka poore pachaas minat tak intaravyoo hota raha aur usane sabhee prashnon ke santoshajanak uttar die, to ab yah sabhee ne maan liya ki naaraayan ka liya jaana nishchit hai.

doosare din kachaharee mein phir vakeelon aur mukhtaaron ne shakaladeep baaboo ko badhaiyaan deen aur vishvaas prakat kiya ki naaraayan avashy chun liya jaega. shakaladeep baaboo muskaraakar dhanyavaad dete aur lage haathon naaraayan ke vyaktigat jeevan kee ek-do baaten bhee suna dete aur ant mein sir ko aage badhaakar phusaphusaahat mein dil ka raaj prakat karate, “aapase kahata hoon, pahale mere man mein shanka thee, shanka kya solahon aane shanka thee, lekin aap logon kee dua se ab vah door ho gaee hai.”

jab vah ghar laute, to naaraayan, gauree aur kamal daravaaje ke saamane khade baaten kar rahe the. naaraayan intaravyoo ke sambandh mein hee kuchh bata raha tha. vah apane pita jee ko aata dekhakar dheere-dheere bolane laga. shakaladeep baaboo chupachaap vahaan se gujar gae, lekin do-teen gaj hee aage gae honge ki gauree kee aavaaj unako sunaee padee, “are tumhaara ho gaya, ab tum mauj karo!”

itana sunate kee shakaladeep baaboo ghoom pade aur ladakon ke paas aakar unhonne poochha, “kya?” unakee aankhen sankuchit ho gaee theen aur unakee mudra aisee ho gaee thee, jaise kisee mahaphil mein jabaradastee ghus aae hon.

ladake ek-doosare ko dekhakar shishtataapoorvak honthon mein muskarae. phir gauree ne apane kathan ko spasht kiya, “main kah raha tha naaraayan se, baaboo jee, ki unaka chuna jaananishchit hai.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne sadak se gujaratee huee ek motar ko gaur se dekhane ke baad dheere-dheere kaha, “haan, dekhie na, jahaan ek-se-ek dhurandhar ladake pahunchate hain, sabase to bees minat hee intaravyoo hota hai, par inase poore pachaas minat! agar nahin lena hota, to pachaas minat tak tang karane kee kya jaroorat thee, paanch-das minat poochhataachh karake…”

gauree ne sir hilaakar unake kathan ka samarthan kiya aur kamal ne kaha, “pahale ka jamaana hota, to kaha bhee nahin ja sakata, lekin ab to beeemaanee-beeemaanee utanee nahin hotee hogee.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne aankhen sankuchit karake halkee-phulkee aavaaj mein poochha, “beeemaanee nahin hotee na?”

“haan, ab utanee nahin hotee. pahale baat doosaree thee. vah jamaana ab lad gaya.” gauree ne uttar diya.

shakaladeep baaboo achaanak apanee aavaaj par jor dete hue bole, “are, ab kaisee beeemaanee saahab, golee maarie, agar beeemaanee hee karanee hotee, to itanee der tak inaka intaravyoo hota? intaravyoo mein bulaaya hee na hota aur bulaate bhee to chaar-paanch minat poochhataachh karake vida kar dete.”

isaka kisee ne uttar nahin diya, to vah muskaraate hue ghoomakar ghar mein chale gae.

ghar mein pahunchane par jamuna se bole, “babua abhee se hee kisee aphasar kee tarah lagate hain. daravaaje par babua, gauree aur kamal baaten kar rahe hain. mainne door hee se gaur kiya, jab naaraayan baaboo bolate hain, to unake bolane aur haath hilaane se ek ajeeb hee shaan tapakatee hai. unake doston mein aisee baat kahaan?”

“aaj dopahar mein mujhe kah rahe the ki tujhe motar mein ghumaoonga.” jamuna ne khushakhabaree sunaee.

shakaladeep baaboo khush hokar naak sudakate hue bole, “are, to usako motar kee kamee hogee, ghoomana na jitana chaaha.” vah sahasa chup ho gae aur khoe-khoe is tarah muskaraane lage, jaise koee svaadisht cheej khaane ke baad man-hee-man usaka maja le rahe hon.

kuchh der baad unhonne patnee se prashn kiya, “kya kah raha tha, motar mein ghumaoonga?” jamuna ne phir vahee baat dohara dee.

shakaladeep baaboo ne dheere-se donon haathon se taalee bajaate hue muskaraakar kaha, “chalo, achchha hai.” unake mukh par apoorv svapnil santosh ka bhaav ankit tha.

saat-aath dinon mein nateeja nikalane ka anumaan tha. sabhee ko vishvaas ho gaya tha ki naaraayan le liya jaega aur sabhee nateeje kee bechainee se prateeksha kar rahe the.

ab shakaladeep baaboo aur bhee vyast rahane lage. pooja-paath ka unaka kaaryakram poorvavat jaaree tha. logon se baatacheet karane mein unako kaaphee maja aane laga aur vah baatacheet ke dauraan aisee sthiti utpann kar dete ki logon ko kahana padata ki naaraayan avashy hee le liya jaega. vah apane ghar par ekatrit naaraayan tatha usake mitron kee baaten chhipakar sunate aur kabhee-kabhee achaanak unake dal mein ghus jaate tatha jabaradastee baat karane lagate. kabhee-kabhee naaraayan ko apane pita kee yah harakat bahut buree lagatee aur vah krodh mein doosaree or dekhane lagata. raat mein shakaladeep baaboo chaunkakar uth baithate aur baahar aakar kamare mein ladake ko sote hue dekhane lagate ya aangan mein khade hokar aakaash ko nihaarane lagate.

ek din unhonne sabere hee sabako sunaakar jor se kaha, “naaraayan kee maan, mainne aaj sapana dekha hai ki naaraayan baaboo diptee-kalaktar ho gae.”

jamuna rasoee ke baraamade mein baithee chaaval phatak rahee thee aur usee ke paas naaraayan kee patnee, nirmala, ghoonghat kaadhe daal been rahee thee.

jamuna ne sir uthaakar apane pati kee or dekhate hue prashn kiya, “sapana sabere dikhaee pada tha kya?”

“sabere ke nahin to shaam ke sapane ke baare mein tumase kahane aaoonga? are, ekadam brahmamuhoort mein dekha tha! dekhata hoon ki akhabaar mein nateeja nikal gaya hai aur usamen naaraayan baaboo ka bhee naam hai. ab yah yaad nahin ki kaun nambar tha, par itana kah sakata hoon ki naam kaaphee oopar tha.”

“amma jee, sabere ka sapana to ekadam sachcha hota hai na!” nirmala ne dheere-se jamuna se kaha.

maaloom padata hai ki nirmala kee aavaaj shakaladeep baaboo ne sun lee, kyonki unhonne bihansakar prashn kiya, “kaun bol raha hai, diptain hain kya?” ant mein vah thahaaka maarakar hans pade.

“haan, kah rahee hain ki savere ka sapana sachcha hota hai. sachcha hota hee hai.” jamuna ne muskaraakar bataaya.

nirmala sharm se sankuchit ho gaee. usane apane badan ko sikod tatha peeth ko neeche jhukaakar apane munh ko apane donon ghutanon ke beech chhipa liya.

agale din bhee sabere shakaladeep baaboo ne gharavaalon ko soochana dee ki unhonne aaj bhee hoo-ba-hoo vaisa hee sapana dekha hai.

jamuna ne apanee naak kee or dekhate hue kaha, “sabere ka sapana to hamesha hee sachcha hota hai. jab bahoo ko ladaka honevaala tha, mainne sabere-sabere sapana dekha ki koee sarag kee devee haath mein baalak lie aasamaan se aangan mein utar rahee hai. bas, mainne samajh liya ki ladaka hee hai. ladaka hee nikala.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne josh mein aakar kaha, “aur maan lo ki jhooth hai, to yah sapana ek din dikhaee padata, doosare din bhee hoo-ba-hoo vaheen sapana kyon dikhaee deta, phir vah bhee brahmamuhoort mein hee!”

“bahoo ne bhee aisa hee sapana aaj sabere dekha hai!”

“diptain ne bhee?” shakaladeep baaboo ne muskee kaatate hue kaha.

“haan, diptain ne hee. theek sabere unhonne dekha ki ek bangale mein ham log rah rahe hain aur hamaare daravaaje par motar khadee hai.” jamuna ne uttar diya.

shakaladeep baaboo khoe-khoe muskaraate rahe. phir bole, “achchhee baat hai, achchhee baat hai.”

ek din raat ko lagabhag ek baje shakaladeep baaboo ne uthakar patnee ko jagaaya aur usako alag le jaate hue besharm mahaabraahman kee bhaanti hansate hue prashn kiya, “kaho bhaee, kuchh khaane ko hoga? bahut der se neend hee nahin lag rahee hai, pet kuchh maang raha hai. pahale mainne socha, jaane bhee do, yah koee khaane ka samay hai, par isase kaam banate na dikha, to tumako jagaaya. shaam ko khaaya tha, sab pach gaya.”

jamuna achambhe ke saath aankhen phaad-phaadakar apane pati ko dekh rahee thee. daampaty-jeevan ke itane deerghakaal mein kabhee bhee, yahaan tak ki shaadee ke praarambhik dinon mein bhee, shakaladeep baaboo ne raat mein usako jagaakar kuchh khaane ko nahin maanga tha. vah jhunjhala padee aur usane asantosh vyakt kiya, “aisa pet to kabhee bhee nahin tha. maaloom nahin, isa samay rasoee mein kuchh hai ya nahin.”

shakaladeep baaboo jhempakar muskaraane lage.

ek-do kshan baad jamuna ne aankhe malakar poochha, “babua ke meve mein se thoda doon kya?”

shakaladeep baaboo jhat-se bole, “are, raam-raam! meva to, tum jaanatee ho, mujhe bilakul pasand nahin. jao, tum soo, bhookh-vookh thode hai, majaak kiya tha.”

yah kahakar vah dheere-se apane kamare mein chale gae. lekin vah lete hee the ki jamuna kamare mein ek chhipulee mein ek rotee aur gud lekar aaee. shakaladeep baaboo hansate hue uth baithe.

shakaladeep baaboo pooja-paath karate, kachaharee jaate, duniya-bhar ke logon se duniya-bhar kee baatacheet karate, idhar-udhar mataragashtee karate aur jab khaalee rahate, to kuchh-na-kuchh khaane ko maang baithate. vah chator ho gae aur unake jab dekho, bhookh lag jaatee. is tarah kabhee rotee-gud kha lete, kabhee aaloo bhunavaakar chakh lete aur kabhee haath par cheenee lekar phaank jaate. bhojan mein bhee vah parivartan chaahane lage. kabhee khichadee kee pharamaish kar dete, kabhee sattoo-pyaaj kee, kabhee sirph rotee-daal kee, kabhee makunee kee aur kabhee sirph daal-bhaat kee hee. unaka samay katata hee na tha aur vah samay kaatana chaahate the.

is badaparahejee tatha maanasik tanaav ka nateeja yah nikala ki vah beemaar pad gae. unako bukhaar tatha dast aane lage. unakee beemaaree se ghar ke logon ko badee chinta huee.

jamuna ne ruaansee aavaaj mein kaha, “baar-baar kahatee thee ki itanee mehanat na keejie, par sunata hee kaun hai? ab bhogana pada na!”

par shakaladeep baaboo par isaka koee asar na hua. unhonne baat uda dee – “are, yah bhee koee beemaaree hai? thode dast aa rahe hain aur kuchh haraarat hai. are, main to kachaharee jaanevaala tha, par yah sochakar ruk gaya ki ab mukhtaaree to chhodanee hee hai, thoda aaraam kar len.”

“mukhtaaree jab chhodanee hogee, hogee, is samay to donon joon kee rotee-daal ka intajaam karana hai.” jamuna ne chinta prakat kee.

“are, tum kaisee baat karatee ho? beemaaree-hairaanee to sabako hotee hai, main mittee ka dhela to hoon nahin ki gal jaoonga. bas, ek-aadh din kee baat hai. agar beemaaree sakht hotee, to main is tarah tanak-tanakakar bolata?” shakaladeep baaboo ne samajhaaya aur ant mein unake honthon par ek ksheen muskaraahat khel gaee.

vah din-bhar bechain rahe. kabhee letate, kabhee uth baithate aur kabhee baahar nikalakar tahalane lagate. lekin durbal itane ho gae the ki paanch-das kadam chalate hee thak jaate aur phir kamare mein aakar lete rahate.

karate-karate shaam huee aur jab shakaladeep baaboo ko yah bataaya gaya ki kailaashabihaaree mukhtaar unaka samaachaar lene aae hain, to vah uth baithe aur jhatapat chaadar odh, haath mein chhadee le patnee ke laakh mana karane par bhee baahar nikal aae. dast to band ho gaya tha, par bukhaar abhee tha aur itane hee samay mein vah chidachide ho gae the.

kailaashabihaaree ne unako dekhate hee chintaatur svar mein kaha, “are, tum kahaan baahar aa gae, mujhe hee bheetar bula lete.”

shakaladeep baaboo chaarapaee par baith gae aur ksheen hansee hansate hue bole, “are, mujhe kuchh hua thode hai. socha, aaraam karane kee hee aadat daaloon.” yah kahakar vah arthapoorn drshti se apane mitr ko dekhakar muskaraane lage.

sab haal-chaal poochhane ke baad kailaashabihaaree ne prashn kiya, “naaraayan baaboo kaheen dikhaee nahin de rahe, kaheen ghoomane gae hain kya?”

shakaladeep baaboo ne banaavatee udaaseenata prakat karate hue kaha, “haan, gae honge kaheen, ladake unako chhodate bhee to nahin, koee-na-koee aakar liva jaata hai.”

kailaashabihaaree ne saraahana kee, “khoob hua, saahab! main bhee jab is ladake ko dekhata tha, dil mein sochata tha ki yah aage chalakar kuchh-na-kuchh jaroor hoga. vah to, saahab, dekhane se hee pata lag jaata hai. chaal mein aur bolane-chaalane ke tareeke mein kuchh aisa hai ki… chalie, ham sab is maane mein bahut bhaagyashaalee hain.”

shakaladeep baaboo idhar-udhar dekhane ke baad sir ko aage badhaakar salaah-mashavire kee aavaaj mein bole, “are bhaee saahab, kahaan tak bataoon? apane munh se kya kahana, par aisa seedha-saada ladaka to mainne dekha nahin, padhane-likhane ka to itana shauk ki chaubeeson ghante padhata rahe. munh kholakar kisee se koee bhee cheej maangata nahin.”

kailaashabihaaree ne bhee apane ladake kee taareeph mein kuchh baaten pesh kar deen, “ladake to mere bhee seedhe hain, par manjhala ladaka shivanaath jitana gaoo hai, utana koee nahin. theek naaraayan baaboo hee kee tarah hai!”

“naaraayan to us jamaane ka koee rshi-muni maaloom padata hai,” shakaladeep baaboo ne gambheerataapoorvak kaha, “bas, usakee ek hee aadat hai. main usakee maan ko meva de deta hoon aur naaraayan raat mein apanee maan ko jagaakar khaata hai. bhalee-buree usakee bas ek yahee aadat hai. are bhaiya, tumase bataata hoon, ladakapan mein hamane isaka naam pannaalaal rakha tha, par ek din ek mahaatma ghoomate hue hamaare ghar aae. unhonne naaraayan ka haath dekha aur bole, isaka naam pannaalaal-sannaalaal rakhane kee jaroorat nahin, bas aaj se ise naaraayan kaha karo, isake karm mein raaja hona likha hai. pahale jamaane kee baat doosaree thee, lekin aajakal raaja ka arth kya hai? diptee-kalaktar to ek arth mein raaja hee hua!” ant mein aankhen matakaakar unhonne muskaraane kee koshish kee, par haanphane lage.

donon mitr bahut der tak baatacheet karate rahe, aur adhikaansh samay ve apane-apane ladakon ka gunagaan karate rahe.

ghar ke logon ko shakaladeep baaboo kee beemaaree kee chinta thee. bukhaar ke saath dast bhee tha, isalie vah bahut kamajor ho gae the, lekin vah baat ko yah kahakar uda dete, “are, kuchh nahin, ek-do din mein main achchha ho jaoonga.” aur ek vaidy kee koee maamoolee, sastee dava khaakar do din baad vah achchhe bhee ho gae, lekin unakee durbalata poorvavat thee.

jis din diptee-kalaktaree ka nateeja nikala, ravivaar ka din tha. shakaladeep baaboo sabere raamaayan ka paath tatha naashta karane ke baad mandir chale gae. chhuttee ke dinon mein vah mandir pahale hee chale jaate aur vahaan do-teen ghante, aur kabhee-kabhee to chaar-chaar ghante rah jaate. vah aath baje mandir pahunch gae. jis gaadee se nateeja aanevaala tha, vah das baje aatee thee.

shakaladeep baaboo pahale to bahut der tak mandir kee seedhee par baithakar sustaate rahe, vahaan se uthakar oopar aae, to nandalaal paande ne, jo chandan ragad raha tha, naaraayan ke pareekshaaphal ke sambandh mein poochhataachh kee. shakaladeep vahaan par khade hokar asaadhaaran vistaar ke saath sab kuchh bataane lage. vahaan se jab unako chhuttee milee, to dhoop kaaphee chadh gaee thee. unhonne bheetar jaakar bhagavaan shiv ke pind ke samaksh apana maatha tek diya. kaaphee der tak vah usee tarah pade rahe. phir uthakar unhonne chaaron or ghoom-ghoomakar mandir ke ghante bajaakar mantrochchaaran kie aur gaal bajae. ant mein bhagavaan ke samaksh punah dandavat kar baahar nikale hee the ki jangabahaadur sinh maastar ne shivadarshanaarth mandir mein pravesh kiya aur unhonne shakaladeep baaboo ko dekhakar aashchary prakat kiya, “are, mukhtaar saahab! ghar nahin gae? diptee-kalaktaree ka nateeja to nikal aaya.”

shakaladeep baaboo ka hrday dhak-se kar gaya. unake honth kaanpane lage aur unhonne kathinata se muskaraakar poochha, “achchha, kab aaya?”

jangabahaadur sinh ne bataaya, “are, das baje kee gaadee se aaya. naaraayan baaboo ka naam to avashy hai, lekin…” vah kuchh aage na bol sake.

shakaladeep baaboo ka hrday joron se dhak-dhak kar raha tha. unhonne apane sookhe honthon ko jeebh se tar karate hue atyant hee dheemee aavaaj mein poochha, “kya koee khaas baat hai?”

“koee khaas baat nahin hai. are, unaka naam to hai hee, yah hai ki jara neeche hai. das ladake lie jaenge, lekin mera khyaal hai ki unaka naam solahavaan-satrahavaan padega. lekin koee chinta kee baat nahin, kuchh ladake to kalaktaree mein chale jaate hain, kuchh medikal mein hee nahin aate, aur is tarah pooree-pooree ummeed hai ki naaraayan baaboo le hee lie jaenge.”

shakaladeep baaboo ka chehara phak pad gaya. unake pairon mein jor nahin tha aur maaloom padata tha ki vah gir jaenge. jangabahaadoor sinh to mandir mein chale gae. lekin vah kuchh der tak vaheen sir jhukaakar is tarah khade rahe, jaise koee bhoolee baat yaad kar rahe hon. phir vah chaunk pade aur achaanak unhonne tejee se chalana shuroo kar diya. unake munh se dheeme svar mein tejee se shiv-shiv nikal raha tha. aath-das gaj aage badhane par unhonne chaal aur tej kar dee, par sheeghr hee behad thak gae aur ek neem ke ped ke neeche khade hokar haanphane lage.

chaar-paanch minat sustaane ke baad unhonne phir chalana shuroo kar diya. vah chhadee ko uthaate-giraate, chhaatee par sir gaade tatha shiv-shiv ka jaap karate, hava ke halke jhonke se dheere-dheere tedhe-tirachhe udanevaale sookhe patte kee bhaanti dagamag-dagamag chale ja rahe the. kuchh logon ne unako namaste kiya, to unhonne dekha nahin, aur kuchh logon ne unako dekhakar muskaraakar aapas mein aalochana-pratyaalochana shuroo kar dee, tab bhee unhonne kuchh nahin dekha. logon ne santosh se, sahaanubhooti se tatha aphasos se dekha, par unhonne kuchh bhee dhyaan nahin diya. unako bas ek hee dhun thee ki vah kisee tarah ghar pahunch jaen.

ghar pahunchakar vah apane kamare mein chaarapaee par dham-se baith gae. unake munh se keval itana hee nikala, “naaraayan kee ammaan!”

saare ghar mein murdanee chhaee huee thee. chhote-se aangan mein ganda paanee, mittee, baahar se udakar aae hue sookhe patte tatha gande kaagaj pade the, aur naabadaan se durgandh aa rahee thee. osaare mein padee puraanee bansakhat par bahut-se gande kapade pade the aur rasoeeghar se us vakt bhee dhuaan uth-uthakar saare ghar kee saans ko ghot raha tha. kaheen koee khatar-patar nahin ho rahee thee aur maaloom hota tha ki ghar mein koee hai hee nahin.

sheeghr hee jamuna na maaloom kidhar se nikalakar kamare mein aaee aur pati ko dekhate hee usane ghabaraakar poochha, “tabeeyat to theek hai?”

shakaladeep baaboo ne jhunjhalaakar uttar diya, “mujhe kya hua hai, jee? pahale yah batao, naaraayanajee kahaan hain?”

jamuna ne baahar ke kamare kee or sanket karate hue bataaya, “usee mein pade hai., na kuchh bolate hain aur na kuchh sunate hain. main paas gaee, to gumasum bane rahe. main to dar gaee hoon.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne muskaraate hue aashvaasan diya, “are kuchh nahin, sab kalyaan hoga, chinta kee koee baat nahin. pahale yah to batao, babua ko tumane kabhee yah to nahin bataaya tha ki unakee phees tatha khaane-peene ke lie mainne 600 rupe karj lie hain. mainne tumako mana kar diya tha ki aisa kisee bhee soorat mein na karana.”

jamuna ne kaha, “main aisee bevakooph thode hoon. ladake ne ek-do baar khod-khodakar poochha tha ki itane rupe kahaan se aate hain? ek baar to usane yahaan tak kaha tha ki yah phal-meva aur doodh band kar do, baaboo jee bekaar mein itanee phijoolakharchee kar rahe hain. par mainne kah diya ki tumako phikr karane kee jaroorat nahin, tum bina kisee chinta ke mehanat karo, baaboo jee ko idhar bahut mukadame mil rahe hain.”

shakaladeep baaboo bachche kee tarah khush hote hue bole, “bahut achchha. koee chinta kee baat nahin. bhagavaan sab kalyaan karenge. babua kamare hee mein hain na?”

jamuna ne sveekrti se sir hila diya.

shakaladeep baaboo muskaraate hue uthe. unaka chehara patala pad gaya tha, aankhe dhans gaee theen aur mukh par moonchhen jhaadoo kee bhaanti pharak rahee theen. vah jamuna se yah kahakar ki “tum apana kaam dekho, main abhee aaya”, kadam ko dabaate hue baahar ke kamare kee or badhe. unake pair kaanp rahe the aur unaka saara shareer kaanp raha tha, unakee saans gale mein atak-atak ja rahee thee.

unhonne pahale osaare hee mein se sir badhaakar kamare mein jhaanka. baaharavaala daravaaja aur khidakiyaan band theen, parinaamasvaroop kamare mein andhera tha. pahale to kuchh na dikhaee pada aur unaka hrday dhak-dhak karane laga. lekin unhonne thoda aur aage badhakar gaur se dekha, to chaarapaee par koee vyakti chhaatee par donon haath baandhe chitt pada tha. vah naaraayan hee tha.

vah dheere-se chor kee bhaanti pairon ko dabaakar kamare ke andar daakhil hue. unake chehare par asvaabhaavik vishvaas kee muskaraahat thirak rahee thee. vah mej ke paas pahunchakar chupachaap khade ho gae aur andhere hee mein kitaab ulatane-pulatane lage. lagabhag dedh-do minat tak vaheen usee tarah khade rahane par vah saraahaneey phurtee se ghoomakar neeche baithak gae aur khisakakar chaarapaee ke paas chale gae aur chaarapaee ke neeche jhaank-jhaankakar dekhane lage, jaise koee cheej khoj rahe hon.

tatpashchaat paas mein rakhee naaraayan kee chappal ko utha liya aur ek-do kshan usako ulatane-pulatane ke pashchaat usako dheere-se vaheen rakh diya. ant mein vah saans rokakar dheere-dheere is tarah uthane lage, jaise koee cheej khojane aae the, lekin usamen asaphal hokar chupachaap vaapas laut rahe hon. khade hote samay vah apana sir naaraayan ke mukh ke nikat le gae aur unhonne naaraayan ko aankhen phaad-phaadakar gaur se dekha. usakee aankhe band theen aur vah chupachaap pada hua tha, lekin kisee prakaar kee aahat, kisee prakaar ka shabd nahin sunaee de raha tha. shakaladeep baaboo ekadam dar gae aur unhonne kaanpate hrday se apana baayaan kaan naaraayan ke mukh ke bilakul najadeek kar diya. aur us samay unakee khushee ka thikaana na raha, jab unhonne apane ladake kee saans ko niyamit roop se chalate paaya.

vah chupachaap jis tarah aae the, usee tarah baahar nikal gae. pata nahin kab se, jamuna daravaaje par khadee chinta ke saath bheetar jhaank rahee thee.

usane pati ka munh dekha aur ghabaraakar poochha, “kya baat hai? aap aisa kyon kar rahe hain? mujhe bada dar lag raha hai.”

shakaladeep baaboo ne ishaare se usako bolane se mana kiya aur phir usako sanket se bulaate hue apane kamare mein chale gae.

jamuna ne kamare mein pahunchakar pati ko chintit evan utsuk drshti se dekha.

shakaladeep baaboo ne gadgad svar mein kaha, “babua so rahe hain.”

vah aage kuchh na bol sake. unakee aankhen bhar aaee theen. vah doosaree or dekhane lage.

diptee kalaktaree

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By: Amarkant

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