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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Groomed To Go Places!

It was the Rakhi day. Alok,  2 years old only, had watched his Mom tying Rakhi to her brother, and wanted a sister to do the same to him. My brother’s surprise appearance at that very moment must have been God’s blessing. He was holding a hand of a very sweet and cute looking little girl and straightaway took her to Alok:
“Here is your sister who will tie Rakhi on you.”
We were taken aback. My brother was still a bachelor. Who this girl was then. We had not seen her with him before or heard about her from him earlier. We had to wait to know about her after she had gone through the ceremony of tying Rakhi on Alok’s wrist and put a piece of sweets in his mouth, which my brother had brought. My brother later told us the truth about the girl, which no one in the family knew before, when Alok and his new found sister went out in the lawn to play.
My brother was doing wonderfully well in his job with a reputed travel agency as their chief tour operator. Apart from making all arrangements for their travel, he would also accompany important tourists to places of interest all over the country as their guide. Some of them wrote letters of appreciation for him after their return. Mother of a legendary star of Hollywood went a step further and wrote to his managing director, requesting him to suitably reward my brother for his excellent services. This had an immediate effect on his career in the company. He was selected to be sent to Hong Kong to open the company’s office there to promote business amongst Asian tourists, especially the tourists from Japan. It was a golden opportunity for him to enhance his career and widen its scope worldwide. But there was one important task he must finish before taking the new assignment. He must find someone to take full responsibility of raising  the little girl he gifted to Alok as his sister. He could not think of a better person than Jeet for the purpose and brought her to us. He told us that the girl was his daughter, a gift of God to him and his girlfriend of long about whom we  all in the family knew, as she even attended our wedding with him. They were still planning a simple wedding for themselves when the girlfriend got pregnant, and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl before their proposed marriage. As soon as she was fit to travel after the delivery, as decided between the two, she took a flight to Kenya to tell the truth to her parents and to persuade them to come to India for their marriage. In the meanwhile my brother made arrangements with my mother’s old housemaid, who had helped her raise us all in Lahore and who now lived in her hometown in the hills near Simla. He knew her place as he had been to her house many times, to give her money and other gifts that my mother would send to her. His girlfriend never returned. She probably did not even tell her parents about her affair with my brother and giving birth to a baby girl. My brother was shocked when a mutual friend got a wedding card from her parents, an invitation to attend their daughter’s marriage to a boy settled in London. My brother had no alternative except to let the maid continue to raise his daughter till he could manage to look after her in Delhi, for which he would regularly send her sufficient remittances and also visit her as often as he could. Now when he got this offer to go to Hong Kong, he was in a fix. His daughter, now in her third year, must be sent to a good pre-school, and grow up in a good environment. There could be no better place than ours where both these objectives could be best achieved.
My brother left for Hong Kong greatly relieved, after Jeet took full responsibility to raise his daughter as our own and Alok’s sister that he wished for. My brother never returned to India, not even looked back to know how his little daughter was doing. He met an American lady in Japan, who was working in the American Embassy there, developed relationship with her and they got married and moved to the U.S.for permanent stay there. They had a long happy married life for nearly 50 years before both breathed their last the same year, leaving behind their very talented son, a Tenor, and Head of music department at Harvard University.

His daughter started to groom into an  accomplished girl under the care of Jeet. Along with Alok, she was going to the most prestigious convent in the city for her studies, apart from extra coaching  in English at home from a teacher in her school. Keeping in view her unfortunate infancy when she was abandoned by her mother and later left by her father, Jeet gave her all the more attention to see that she grew up to be a super talented girl, able to go places without looking back on her unenviable background. And Jeet achieved the objectives she had in mind for her - a very sweet, sophisticated and accomplished girl at fourteen, full of confidence. This was amply proved when she accompanied us to Mumbai, to attend the wedding of my niece, and attracted everyone’s attention, even of the film celebrities who attended the function. My brother-in-law, the veteran singer-actor of yester years, had taken to producing TV commercials and instantly spotted in her the potential to become a supermodel of the advertising world. He pleaded very strongly and seriously to let her stay back with them after the wedding, to be trained and groomed to become a great model. Considering a bright future for her and greater opportunity in life while living with them in Mumbai, we decided to let her stay back with them, though it was a hard decision to make, especially knowing that Alok would miss her very much. In Mumbai, besides pursuing her studies in a prestigious school, she also started her modeling career in commercials made by my brother-in-law. By the time she was eighteen, she was already an established model. At the peak of her modeling career, she came in contact with the young heir of the owner of of the only color lab for films in India, who was a friend of my brother-in-law. A couple of meetings, or dates, convinced them that they were made for each other. He did not wait to propose to her, and soon they got married in Mumbai’s one of the most glamorous weddings with the biggest names in Indian films and advertising industry attending it. And she was enrolled into the world of the rich and famous. Indeed, it was a proud moment for Jeet, who had played an important part to make it happen.


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