Nurturing One Another

“Relations are like the elements of the earth, if not used right they destroy the other, but they are meant to nurture the other!” Ryan ended his philosophy class on this note. Mia loved listening to Ryan, but his concepts made no sense to her. She understood things in black or white, “Either we are compatible or we are not.” She insisted when Ryan tried to handle situations holistically.

Mia was an economics student, while Ryan was a freelance lecturer. He visited her college often and they both enjoyed each other’s company although each believed they were not meant for each other.  She was spectacular, excellent and glamorous. He was rooted, soulful and deep.

The woman was a shiny metal bowl, and wanted a fluid personality she could hold within. He was the green woods, nurturing the earth, attracting the winds, besides feeding the nature with his fruits. He knew her shiny personality will only harm him and cut him through. Neither was willing to transform their nature towards the other. They were together all the time yet apart, pursuing their individual personalities in each other’s vicinity. She would attend all his lectures but criticized everything he said. “What sense does it make, how can pain make you stronger. The reason I am sore is that I didn’t fight back enough.” She commented while he spoke on‘Pain makes you stronger.’ She just loved disagreeing with everything he said.

“We are planning a vacation, are you in?” enquired Ryan as Mia joined their common friends. “Always in for vacations!! Where are we going?” she checked with excitement. “It’s a place called Jharia, somewhere in Jharkhand, we get to see the country life, families and the much spoken about Coal repositories.” Her face was benighted in a draught. She didn’t want a tedious vacation, she enjoyed luxury and fulfilment. It never made sense to her why Ryan always ruined vacations with weird destinations. Last year his crowd went to draught stuck areas in Maharashtra and distributed food and water supplies. A few years ago, he went to Plague affected Gujrat with medical Relief. She certainly didn’t attend such places. So, it was obvious that it’s a “NO” from her again, but something in her made her agree to this trip. She wanted to understand what Ryan gained out of altruistic trips.

Finally, they all decided to go on the expedition. Changing, flights and trains and then a short ride and walk brought them to their destination. Mia survived the stress, however the sorry state of the place they decided to live tired her out completely. Just one giant gallery with ground beds for seven of them. A single electricity point, which they juggled between lights and charging of phones. Just one attached bathroom for all of them to share and a gas stove to prepare their own meals. Mia believed in buying help, that was her paramount way of serving the poor. She was really not charitable otherwise.

Next day morning as Mia woke up she saw little Meera standing at the door. She had come to accompany them to the nearest coal segregation region. Meera was an urchin all of 10, roaming about aimlessly in the town. She never really went to school or had a home to call her own. She survived on the leftovers discarded by the village people and worked at the coal mines to earn some penny. The most exciting phase of her living was when outsiders visited the town, she would escort them throughout and earned some extra money. What excited her more was getting to eat some fresh food. That day she shared a part of the instant noodle breakfast prepared by Ryan and team.

As they were preparing to enter the coal mines, with their face masks, gloves and jackets, Mia saw Meera with simple slippers and a frock, with not much protection and was hopping around the place with ease. The fire and fervour around just zapped Mia out, she couldn’t stand there anymore, until she saw little children handling burning pieces of coal as if it’s just cold rocks. The fire which could melt metal was not burning their souls. With chapped hands and feet, they continued to work. She apologized to her mom for shouting at her over hot chapattis. She wanted to acknowledge her father, who sheltered her from the scorching sun and kept her safe at home. She wanted to request all those over privileged city dwellers who cried over October heat. There were fire and heat at every part of the mine.

“I know Didi* it’s very hot inside, should I get you a bottle of water?” checked Meera as soon as they were out of the mine. “Why don’t you take a shower and clean yourself? Your hands and legs are chapped totally?” Mia expressed her concern. Meera didn’t care, she believed her wounds cured themselves, she never treated any wound so far. The wound of being born on a warehouse and been left there unattended for 3 days got healed on its own. She grew up being fed milk poured over deities in the temple. The wounds she accrued fighting with dogs over left-over food got healed. The umpteen molestation and abuse attempts from unknown people got healed on its own. She was a survivor and smiled over the small joys she received.  The joy for today was the wound dressing that Mia did for her now. Overjoyed and elated she went back to the temple stairs to spend her night. In spite of the fire burning all around her, she remained calm and cold as a river water.

Mia couldn’t take her thought of Meera, she tried to search for a reason behind Meera’s every smiling personality. ‘Ryan was right, probably this is how Pain makes you strong. So, strong that it doesn’t pain any more’ she suddenly began deriving sense in everything Ryan used to say. Some problems are not black or white, they need to be handled holistically.

Next day Ryan went with his team to distribute safety gears and jackets to the workers and also to appraise them about the safety measures. Meera was nowhere to be seen. Mia started worrying and insisted on searching for Meera. Ryan got over with his session and went on with Mia in search of Meera. Conclusively, following to the drain of a factory, they found Meera lying unconscious and drenched in tar. She was probably raped and dumped in the sea, she made her way to the shore but couldn’t shove slight further.  They rushed her to the nearest Medicare center and got her treated. After struggle for three days, she gained conscious. As soon and she saw Ryan and Mia she cried and said, “Sorry for spoiling your vacation, you should have just left me there”. Mia couldn’t control her tears, in spite of tremendous pain inside out, this little girl was apologetic for our trouble. With a heavy heart, two days post they left for Mumbai as their journey ended.

Mia couldn’t feel the stress of the travel as they went back home, her mind was occupied with ordeals of Meera. There was an unexplained silence in the rendezvous between Ryan and Meera. Then suddenly one day Ryan decided to state, “You know Mia we are absolutely separate on our own. We are not a pair that nurtures each other. I am way too rooted and you are too strong, we don’t complement each other.” Mia understood that Ryan was looking to break-up with her, but what would he break!! They were never really connected. Just as she was about to respond, Ryan continued, “You know what? You are a silver ware, if you get clean water, you will turn it to Amrit*, and I am deep rooted woods, if I get ample water I’ll grow and flourish plus provide, food and shelter to the entire world.” Now Mia grasped Ryan was coming up with something else, what is the water that can connect them? What does it mean? She spent the night pondering over Ryan’s words. This time she didn’t rubbish them as always, she knew he meant something, and wanted her to understand it in his terms. As she dozed off her visions were occupied byfresh flowing water, pure milky stream, gushing through the greens. Suddenly a bag of garbage fills it in, however, the river continues to flow, trying to push the garbage towards the shore, then a bucket of tar falls on the river, and its turns all black and filthy, drenched in oil and dirt it still stabs to push itself through. Then the river turns red as blood and our comes blood drenched Meera covered in tar and full of dirt. Now everything made absolute sense to her. Meera was the pure water which was getting adulterated, in spite of her struggle to run through. Meera was the uncontaminated aqua she was always waiting to protect. She was also the pure water that would nourish and groom Ryan.

Mia couldn’t sleep the whole night waiting for the morning break. First thing in the morning she landed at Ryans house. “Ryan, I want to return to Jhariya, I think I left a part of my soul there, I want to bring it back” she insisted. He knew where this was emanating and he suddenly felt more associated by her. “Care for a cup of coffee,” shouted Ryan from the kitchen. “Yes, very much, but I haven’t yet brushed, would you have an unused piece for me to use?” Ryan was always supplied with spares, he generally had unplanned and unwelcome guests staying back. Over a cup of coffee, Mia explained to Ryan how she felt about Meera, how she felt she can nurture that tender bud who was troubled and disturbed by the winds of the society and make her a gorgeous flower. Ryan echoed her feelings besides agreeing that they need to do something about the situation. They also tried to figure out if there any charitable institutes that can house the pure soul. Or perchance they give some money to the shrine authorities and request them to school her and take care of her. Myriad thoughts crossed their minds but they couldn’t come up with any conclusion. That’s when Sharad and Sabina came in. Sharad accompanied Ryan in an avalanche rescue operation and was close to him since then. And he had been seeing Sabina for some time now. Sabina worked for an NGO dealing with human trafficking and Sharad enjoyed accompanying her on few critical liberate operations. “Sabina and I are getting wedded this Thursday and we need your help as witnesses for the marriage” quantified Sharad much to Ryans amusement. “There is a two-year-old girl, born to a teenager we rescued from the brothel, I would like to adopt her, however, it’s much leisurelier and safer to adopt along with a partner, than as a single parent.” Explicated Sabina. “We would have anyway married sometime, but now we have a motive to be together” Sharad explained further. Ryan and Mia witnessed the couple through their marriage and the proud moment when they brought in the little angel Karishma into their home. The whole scene seemed like a fairy tale, a perfect couple with an angel to sanctify their togetherness. As they walked back home there was an unexplained muteness between Ryan and Mia, the thought crossed each mind, but they couldn’t courage up to speak to the other.

“Do you think, I am really harmful for your existence?” Mia erupted suddenly. “I mean do you think we may be able to work things together” she continued. Ryan knew exactly where she was coming through, and he was crystal clear in his mind what he wanted for himself. “Will you say, “I do” to me?” he popped up the question unexpectedly. “I want to, but I am not sure if I can convince my folks” she replied. “We’ll figure things out, they are modern people I don’t think they would worry much about religion and community.” Ryan tried to reason.  Mia knew he was right, her parents wouldn’t object her marrying Ryan, however at 23, they would definitely not want her to mother a 10-year-old. However, the strength of their determination melted all objections and the unimaginable event happened, Ryan and Mia were affirmedman and wife.

The first hurdle was crossed, the bigger leap is yet to come. It was time for their honeymoon, as they packed their bags to the much presumed ‘Jhariya’ trip. Their togetherness relieved her from all the pain to reach the god forbidden village. On reaching they realized Meera no longer stayed around, she had been sent to a nearby town for work. Their hearts broke but not their will, as they realized this qualifies as a case for child trafficking as Meera was underage and she can’t be used for employment. With the help of Sabina, a hunt for Meerastarted. The phase of trouble and agony had taken Ryan and Mia closer to each other, as they realized they could merge and compose to create magic. Not all metals are axes, some of them as minerals which enrich the soil and the wood that grows on the soil enriches the minerals. They were nurturing each other every day as their pursuit to find Meera continued.

Six months and eight days later Sabina came up with a horrifying news. Meera was battling for her life in a city hospital. She encountered tremendous torture at the city home she worked as a domestic help. Her state was so moving that even the security personal who freed her was in snuffles. The child relief association who was taking care of her treatment happily accepted all the aid offered by Ryan and Mia.

After almost a year of medical and legal battle, Ryan and Mia got custody of Meera and brought her home. But the person they brought was not the Meera they knew, this child was physically challenged and mentally disturbed, and had many other medical conditions which needed extensive care. They cared her three years till Meera breathed her last. Their hearts broke but they were glad they could give Meera three years of love and care, which she was deprived of in the first ten years of her life. The whole episode made Ryan realize that Mia had a heart to love, care and nurture relationship and Mia realized that Ryan is capable of organizing him and taking care of duties when the need arises.

The void which Meera left in their lives was filled by the love they developed for each other, the love which was a wide pure river that could quench the thirst of millions, it could extinguish the fire that’s burning shedloads. Mia and Ryan decided to adopt every abandoned child, across the country. With the help of Sabina, they set up a small shelter home and moved across the state to identify any child they felt needed help and worked towards rescuing them. Meera shelter home today houses near hundred children, but its open to anyone starving to come and have food, or anyone looking for a roof to rest at night.

Finally!! They reached a state when their elements were nurturing each other and the whole society.
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Roshni Thomas

Roshni is a software architect and a mother of a 10-year-old. She has a hidden passion for writing. It is her way of unwinding.

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