The Unlucky Ones by planet p

Disclaimer I don't own Mann Kee Awaaz Pratigya or any of its characters.

Quite early on into the whole affair, in fact, I'd noticed the spot of affection that Adarsh, my good friend, Pratigya's older brother, held for me. Now, any other girl, under any other circumstance, I'm sure would have been thrilled, but I was merely put uncertain at ease. You see, I had a secret. I, myself, had been harbouring, for a long time, now, my own spot of affection for Pratigya. That is, for another girl.

I decided, then, that I would merely do nothing. Pratigya, I knew, was not that sort of girl, if you take my meaning, and, so far, I still counted her as my good friend and myself as hers - therefore, anything that I could do to see her whole and happy, I would do, as a trusted friend. On the downside, that also meant keeping my secret admiration for her a secret, as well.

In time, I assured myself, Pratigya would meet a nice young man; and, in time, I would meet the right person for myself, too. Everything would sort itself out, time and patience willing.

It was to my immense upset and angst, then, when I learnt that my friend, Pratigya, was to marry Krishna. Not only was Krishna's family bad news, but the boy himself wasn't a mite bit better; he was a true son of his family. Arrogant, assured of his own superiority, and unwilling to believe that a woman could prove useful for anything other than housework or child-rearing. Don't get me wrong, I love children (and it's always been a dream of mine, one day, to have my own children) but I am not as happy about men - and the women who encourage them to carry on such beliefs - who think little of women and so much more of themselves.

Adarsh is great, I know that. He's educated and gentle and he has respect for the decencies and for decent people, no matter if they're men or women. If I had liked men, I knew it would be Adarsh I'd have given my heart to gladly. Though, that wasn't how it was to play out, for me.

As it turned out, Adarsh ended up marrying Krishna's sister, Komal. Now I had two friends to worry after, though I knew that they weren't stupid and that they wouldn't just allow themselves to be walked all over (if they had any say in the matter). I hoped very much that Krishna and his family would come to care for my friends, and that, in doing so, that they might be able to learn to care for the rest of us, too, rather than treating the majority of the town as though they were nothing more than pieces in a game they were playing.

For a while, it even looked as though Pratigya was succeeded, though there'd been heartaches, too, and then I learned from her that her husband, Krishna's sister-in-law had lost the baby that Pratigya had tried so hard to protect, and that she'd never again be able to have children. That was when I knew that enough was enough. I would find a way to help that girl if it killed me.

I did not appreciate Krishna's brother's tactics in his treatment of his wife, and all because she was darker skinned than he. Shakti ought have had more intelligence than that, but his parents' continual nonsense seemed to have sunk into his psyche so deeply that it was now unshakable. He must have thought that he was a wonderful husband, I thought, and that Kesar had no right to complain about the way she was being treated because, after all, he loved her. I, on the other hand, did not believe he was even capable of understanding what love was, at least, not yet. Perhaps, when he was old and grey and on the verge of dying, it would suddenly come to him in a great rush of pain, and he'd wonder what he'd done with his life, but not now, certainly not now.

I knew, almost at once, what I would have to do. I would have to take Kesar away from Shakti, because she wasn't about to leave him herself. If she'd ever had any incentive to do so, I thought she should have done so already, I though she should have thought about all of those other babies she'd conceived and who'd never so much as been given the chance to see the light of day or feel love or wonder. But, no, she just wasn't strong enough. She'd accepted Shakti's outlook on her 'condition', and she no longer felt up to fighting. Perhaps, she'd never felt like fighting; perhaps she'd really believed that love may save them in the end. Well, love had certainly not done that, this time.

I would find a way to get her away from Shakti and his horrible family, and when she was finally free of them, I'd find a way to help her heal, and watch her grown into a strong, independent, caring person - but a person who wouldn't make the same mistake of caring for someone who wasn't even living in the same world and with it enough to realise that they had serious problems.

In the first place, Shakti should have married a woman far different from Kesar, he should have married a woman from his own socio-economic circle, and certainly, with his dislike of dark skin, he shouldn't have married someone with darker skin than he himself and then used that as an excuse to justify his and his family's horrific acts towards her. I'd always expected him to be smarter than that, but then again, he was, more than likely, as blind as Kesar had been when she'd agreed to marry him, believing that he might love her, believing that her financial woes were over.

It was a sad state of affairs, but you either cried until you drowned yourself in all those tears (and everyone else who cared about you, too), or you made a stand.

It was time for Kesar to make her stand.

And, if she was brave enough to decide to do so, I would be there to help her get through it. I needed a friend - in truth, I'd needed a friend for a long, long time - and she would, too. As long as I had that: a friend, a purpose, a reason, I knew that I could wait - I could give love time. I wouldn't make the same mistake that Kesar had, believing so easily that love was able (without reason or rhyme) the key to the universe and all its mysteries.

Well, I think, deep down, I'd have liked to believe that, too, but, more than that, love, real love, was about more than just the warm, fuzzy feeling that one person felt for another - it was about two people (and everyone else they cared for), and it took a heck of a lot of investment to do it right.

Kesar hadn't had a lot of luck there, but perhaps her luck was on the turning about, too; perhaps her luck was about to change, perhaps it had only been waiting for that nudge from her all along.

I hoped so.

I'd always liked a good love story, I suppose.

Thinking along those lines, I guess, was also my own internal cue to let Pratigya go, to let her decide for herself the path that her life would take from now on and to finally leave myself (and her) some breathing space, to stop worrying constantly because I knew - I knew - that she wasn't a silly girl, and though she had her aspirations and her moral compass, she also had enough self-preservation and intelligence to know that the world was only ever about small steps. (It could never be anything big.) And one day, all of those little things might add up to something bigger, to something quite wonderful - and that was quite all right, then.

Well, hardly ever. In Kesar's world, leaving Shakti would most certainly constitute a big step, I was sure, and so, it would likely prove a hard decision to make, and a hard move to convince her of. But I wasn't giving up so easily. Kesar wasn't as strong as Pratigya, and I knew she feared for her sister-in-law's safety. She can only have wondered, after all, after what Kesar had suffered, that she might have had enough and think that her only option was to take her own life - but, as we both knew (Pratigya and I), there was also another option.

Living without the man she loved and the family she'd come to think of as her own would be hard, I imagined, but it would be living, and that was better than nothing, in my books.

All that was left to do now was to convince Kesar.

I hoped luck was on my side.