Tears rolled down her eyes, as she saw a figure dissappear in the dark. She lied all alone in the dimly lighted alley. Her whole body was shaking. She could hardly stand on her feet. She knelt down against the wall, her hands covering her crying eyes. Her hair was all loose and her dress was all drenched in rain. Her purse was lying near her, but her hands trembled to reach for the cell phone inside it. She could see the street light at a distance , but her feet failed to reach her there. Today, she has lost the faith in humanity, in love, in a relationship of a mother and a child. Soon another figure approched her, but she didn’t move. A lady in a khaki uniform approached her, followed by men in khaki. They could see the fiery red eyes of Kavita. But the eyes didn’t show any fear, neither showed any shame or remorse nor any revenge. Her eyes showed failure. The police inquired about the assailant but Kavita said she didn’t know the person. They took her to the police station for further questioning but nothing came out of Kavita’s mouth. They dropped her home but didn’t drop the case. They have managed to get the list of people close to Kavita and would start their inquiry soon.

Kavita was a 32yrs old woman. In one word, she was beautiful. Tall, fair and a figure to die for. She was working as thr Front Desk Manager in one of the leading chains of a 5star hotel for last 3years. Her english was impeccable. She was graceful and courteous. She definitely had no enemies in her workplace. She was also not being harassed by anyone. She was doing good professionally. And nobody was aware of any boyfriend that she had. She loved to maintain a very low profile, had a very small group of friends. Off late, there was one guest who would often come and talk to Kavita. But nothing suspicious. She treated him as courteously as any other guest. Kavita was used to getting attention from men but she was least interested in any. As well as the hotel staff were very strict in matters related to dignity of any women.

She had managed to rent a 1bhk flat nearby, where she lived alone. Her neighbours loved her. But, knew very little about her life. She was a very simple, down to earth girl, who kept to herself. Went to office on time, came back on time, had a few friends, definitely not a party goer type. Her simplicity added to her beauty. She has always been very friendly with her neighbours. They have never met her parents, in fact Kavita had hardly mentioned them. Kavita was very close to her neighbours son. He was 5years old and Kavita was like his best friend. He reminded her of Rishi babu.

Rishi babu was the closest thing Kavita had. She has never mentioned about him to anyone but she loved him. He was a 5year old kid. Kavita adored him. But that was a different era, an era that brought with it few tinges of sorrow and happiness. Kavita’s parents were very poor. So they have sold her to a man for a mere Rs.15000. At that time she was just 10 years old. The man had then taken her to a big house in a big city. The scared little angle squatted near the sofa. She was wearing a torn and tattered frock, no slippers or shoes, but even through the unkept, un-combed hair one could see the beautiful and innocent Kavita. The man then gave some papers to the family and in return got an envelope which made him really happy. The man then told Kavita to stay there and and listen to everything the Malik and the Malkin said. Obey their orders, and if she was good then he will come and take her to her parents. Kavita cried and cried, she didn’t want to stay there. She wanted to go back home. But no one was there to listen to her cries. She has been crying for last three days without anyone to feel her tears. But unexpectedly, this place was different. It proved to be a blessing in disguise for Kavita.

The Malkin came and consoled her and showed her, her room and gave her some clothes to wear. The clothes were not perfectly her size, but they were beautiful. Then the Malkin gave her some food. It was the tastiest thing she had ever tasted. She showed her around the house, and told her the things she was supposed to do. And then took her to the world’s most beautiful room. The room was bright yellow and blue, there were some characters painted on it, which later came to be known as Ben 10, Doremon, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. In the room was a toddler. He was the cutest baby Kavita has seen in her life. Sadly, she never had a chance to see herself as a kid. The malkin introduced him as Rishi, and from that day onwards he was Kavita’s Rishi babu. He was a 2.5yrs old toddler, who within a week became so close to Kavita, that she forgot all her grief. Rishu babu was very fair, with curly hair. One remarkable thing that Kavita noticed about Rishi babu was a unique crescent shaped mark on his left hand. It was his “Birthmark.” There was something strange about that mark. No one can forget that mark, once they see it.

The malik, malkin seemed friendly. They bought her some new dresses. The best dresses, she had ever owned. Other than the three, there was an old lady whom she addressed as dadi. Kavita’s duty included looking after Rishi babu and doing few household chores in free time. Mr. And Mrs. Kapoor were very busy. They were hardly home. Most of the time travelling to places that Kavita has never even heard off. But whenever they came back they brought lots and lots of gifts for Rishi babu. And to Kavita’s surprise, for her also. Very soon she forgot her parents and was very happy with her new one. Dadi was a little irritating but Kavita has seen and experienced worst. From morning till night she would spend looking after Rishi babu and Dadi. In absence of the Kapoors, she was the one who directed the cooks, the gardener and the driver. And they loved getting instructions from the pretty little lady. One day Mrs. Kapoor went to check the cctv footage. Kavita was good but Mrs. Kapoor had her shares of doubts. She was shocked seeing the footage. She never expected a girl of such tender age to have so much knowledge. She felt guilty looking at the video, she being the mother, never took as much care of Rishi as a 10 year old did. Everything was perfect. The way she bathed him, fed him, played with him, caressed him, put him to sleep, even scolded him gently when Rishi was naughty. With tears in her eyes, she rushed outside and gave a hug to Kavita.

Mrs. Kapoor took the liberty of sending Kavita to a nearby school. Kavita was a fast learner. She mananged her studies as well as Rishi babu and the family. The tours of the Kapoors had increased. They were hardly home. Rishi was growing up in the nurturing hands of Kavita. He would not do a single thing without Kavita. She had to miss her school sometimes to keep upto Rishi babu’s expectations. But she didn’t mind it. The teachers knew about her and supported her in all possible ways. She was a bright student. After a year dadi expired. Then the whole household came into the little hands of Kavita, who was only thirteen then. But she took the responsibilities without any hesitation. But she had to miss her school. But the teachers gave her the privilege of studying at home and attending the exams. Rishi babu got more and more attached to Kavita. She was like a mother to him. She would entertain all his tantrums yet manage to teach him good manners. He started going to school. Instead of his parents, he would find Kavita didi waiting for him at the end of school.

Kavita had been staying with the Kapoor’s for last 5years. She now, no longer longed to go home. She had narrated the whole story to Mrs. Kapoor one day, and she had no idea about kids of such tender age being sold by the parents. She felt bad for Kavita. She felt guilty for seperating Kavita from her parents. Despite of her busy schedule, she managed to file a case against the agent who had brought Kavita to her. But, deep inside, both knew that that man unknowingly had done a big favour to both of them. Kavita was living a life which she could only dream off. And Mrs. Kapoor had a help whom she could trust her son to.

But then, happiness is never long lasting, it comes and goes and may have plans to visit again. But no one knows the correct time of its visit or exit. For Kavita, happiness was leaving on a flight to New York within a months time. Kavita immediately rushed to Rishi babus room and started crying. Rishi was 7.5yrs old now. He couldn’t understand the reason for her tears. But he also started crying. Soon the Kapoors were ready to leave. Rishi kept on telling that he won’t leave Kavita didi. He was down with fever. But the Kapoors had no options. They couldn’t take Kavita with them. Not that they did not want to, but it was difficult to get her visa. But, the Kapoors have made all arrangements for Kavita. They had maintained a bank account for her since the time she had come in their lives. They deposited her monthly pay in that account. Plus they have made arrangements for Kavita in a good hostel and promised to pay for her education as long as possible. Kavita didn’t ask for the money, she begged them to take her along, she couldn’t imagine her life without Rishi babu.

But the flight took off and Kavita landed in a hostel. Where, every month she would get money. But she longed for Rishi babu. For few months she received phone calls but then it stopped. She knew that the Kapoors were very busy. She had been a part of their busy life. She had no grudges against them for not staying in touch with her. But she missed Rishi babu. The money kept coming to her account but the calls never came. Once her college was over, she went to the bank to close her account. She didn’t have any other means of stopping the money flow. But, in her mind she thought that may be the Kapoors will call her hostel to ask for her whereabouts once the money didn’t reach her. She regularly called the hostel for any updates. But its been almost 5years that no one had inquired about her.

Its been almost 17 years since she has met Rishi babu. She often imagined how it would be to meet him one fine day. She had even plans to visit New York someday. She has been saving money for that trip. She didn’t have the address but still she was determined to meet her Rishi babu. She often imagined what Rishu babu would do once he saw her. In her dreams she would imagine his little hands reaching for hers.

But, now the dreams have changed. All she could feel was the hands of the monster trying to rip off her honour, her dignity. She could feel herself running desperately through the alley and the man chasing her. She has met that man several times in the hotel lobby but failed to notice the camouflage he was wearing . He seemed like a friendly young man, hardly 24-25years of age. That was the reason why she stopped to help him. But soon found herself running to save her honour. Her whole body trembeled with fear as she felt that man touching her, trying to molest her. And how she was struggling to get off his grip and how she ripped off his sleeve. And how the left hand revealed the crescent shaped mark- the birthmark, which once seen can never be forgotten. A mark which tore her whole world apart. And how the dark empty alley echoed in cries of pain, “Rishi babu, Kavita didi.” And how Rishi babu stood there in shock and shame, how he knew that he could never undo what has already been done, and how he just disappeared forever.

Kavita never saw or heard from Rishi again. She never wished to see or hear from him ever again. But she often wondered how such a good little kid with such loving parents could turn into a monster. What made a monster, of a young happy kid? Was she responsible for it anyhow? Or was it the busy life of the Kapoors? Or was it the society of the rich and famous? Or was it loneliness of a small boy in an unknown city?

All she knew was that her questions will remain unanswered forever.

(Shadow cannot exist without the dark. We all have an angel and a devil residing within us. But, its our upto us to choose what controls us. The good or the bad?? Putting the blame on the society, our parents, our friends is very easy, but accepting our faults, our mistakes, admitting to our guilts is very difficult. A toddler needs to be monitored, but once the toddler is an adult, then he is his own judge. Choosing the right over the wrong takes immense will power. No matter what the situation is, we should be able to choose between the right and the wrong. Rishi failed his parents and Kavita. He had everything but still chose the wrong path. Kavita had nothing, but still chose righteousness. What we become, is the choice we make).