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Queen of Hearts

Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.

She always made heads turn and hearts beat faster wherever she went. After all, a woman in salvar kameez riding a proper bike wasn't a very common sight!

Astha had always been the master of her life! Her individuality and fiercely independent streak showed itself since she was just a new born. Her mother always heard someone remarking at little Astha's tight fist, fearless eyes, stubborn chin, proud and upright nose. Baby Astha was different because she looked more like a proud queen than an innocent, cute baby.

Asha, Astha's mother, never let these comments affect her in any way. Yes, her darling daughter was a born queen! And one day, she will rule the world! She was her world, for sure....

Ramesh, Astha's father was a simple man, a hard working farmer who had no expectations in life. Asha and he wanted a child and God had finally blessed them with one, after a series of miscarriages. He didn't want to risk his wife's life anymore, so he quietly got his vasectomy done. After all, it wasn't just the woman's duty every time!

Asha and Ramesh were completely wrapped around Astha's little fingers! They pampered the little baby and let her grow up without cramping her style! Astha was quite the tomboy and didn't tolerate nonsense from anyone. She had an innate sense of justice and kindness. Bad and abusive behaviour made her rage like a mad bull and then she wouldn't spare anyone !

Astha was a brilliant student, although a bit aggressive. her teachers loved her. Her favourite teacher Shanti suggested that her parents send her to the city for further studies. Ramesh and Asha were saving up for Astha's marriage, but the teacher somehow convinced them that her education was more important right now.

With Shanti's guidance and help, Astha got into a good college in the city. Focussed and determined to succeed, Astha topped her college and even the University. Shanti had been Astha's friend, philosopher and guide all these years. She was sure that Astha wasn't born for an ordinary life; she was born extraordinary!

When Astha cleared UPSC exam at first attempt, she was the first from her village as well as the entire district. Her photo and life story were all over the news and the social media. Thankfully, Astha was too grounded to be affected by the sudden attention. Asha and Ramesh were proud of their Queen!

During her first tenure as the DC, Astha quickly made a name for herself as the youngest and most dynamic IAS officer ever. As she rode to office on a bike, she shattered all stereotypes without a single word! She meant business and was not to be messed with- the message went out loud and clear!

Astha's life was extremely busy and honestly she had no time for herself. Her parents had left the village to stay with her. They were worried as Astha was old enough to get married now, but showed no interest in it at all! She had always been such a tomboy!

What her parents didn't know is that she did like a classmate in college, but things fizzled out when he wanted her to be more feminine and came to know about her humble background. She had made a mark for herself and motivated many young girls from villages, but it seems nothing else mattered other than the fact that she was a farmer's daughter! Her intelligence, hard work, sincerity, her self worth and confidence- everything fell short! She was proud of who she was and proud of her poor parents who spent all their hard earned money to educate her instead of wasting it on a lavish wedding! She wasn't going to mope over a chauvinistic pig who didn't deserve her!

Astha decided it was time to tell her parents that she plans to stay unmarried all her life and wants to adopt a girl child. Her parents resisted initially but when Astha explained things to them properly, they accepted her decision. They always knew she had a mind of her own!! If there was really someone destined for her, she will get married!

Asha and Ramesh were ready to accompany Astha to the Orphanage today. The VIP treatment, despite Astha's strict instructions, was a bit embarrassing but there was no escape from it.

Astha noticed a man seated in the visitor's room. He nodded at her and then got back to his book. Dressed smartly in a crisp white shirt and tie, wearing glasses, the man should have clearly looked out of place in this dilapidated building, but he seemed comfortable ! And he didn't seem to recognise Astha. She wasn't sure whether she should be happy or unhappy about it! She nodded back at him and sat down with her parents .

Astha and her parents were being fussed over by the staff which seemed to amuse the man who kept glancing at them with a slight smirk. Finally, he closed his book and got up, walking straight to Astha's parents as he greeted them warmly. Then he stood right in front of Astha and said," Are you here for adoption or for publicity?"

Astha was taken aback by the intense look in the piercing black eyes behind the glasses. But she managed to say," I'm here to adopt. I can't help it if people go overboard to please me! Anyway, how are you concerned with it? Do you own this place? As far as I know it's government-run! "

The man's initial rage seemed to have subsided as he spoke to her calmly this time. He politely offered his hand to shake hers as he said," I'm Anand Malhotra, MD,Anand Industries. Pleased to meet you Ms Astha. I wanted to see if you are another airhead who thinks no end of herself because she is the DC! I have heard a lot of good things about you and I'm glad we finally met! Actually, my grand father had donated this land to the government specifically for an Orphanage. I have just taken over from my father and he left this place in my care. I was abroad all this time I'm still learning my way around here. I have been coming here for a week now! I'm a qualified engineer and alongwith my friend who is an architect, I have chalked out a plan to renovate this entire place. It's literally falling apart!"

Astha was pleasantly surprised to hear all that he said and assured him of all assistance from her side. She was impressed with Anand's sense of responsibility and genuine concern.

Astha and Anand worked together for the next few months at rebuilding the orphanage. While Anand was mostly at the site, sometimes getting down and dirty with the workers, Astha would take some time out from her hectic schedule to see the progress. They got to know each other better and even started liking each other. Anand found her unique and loved her 'badass' attitude! Astha fell for his genuine kindness towards people in general. He had a heart of gold and would spread joy wherever he went, true to his name 'Anand'.

Finally, the Orphanage had a spanking new building- bigger, brighter, with more rooms, bigger play area and even separate rooms where kids would be taught by volunteers. There were about 30 odd kids now, 20 being girls. There was also some special children, who were undergoing therapies and treatment from professionals.

Astha couldn't decide which child to adopt, so she decided to adopt all of them! She contributed towards the education, including stationery and token payment to the volunteers etc, of all 30 of them till they clear class 10. Anand contributed towards health and other requirements like clothes, toiletteries etc. Ramesh volunteered to start a kitchen garden where the kids also participated. Asha helped and supervised in the kitchen and ensured no one was slacking! Astha had motivated a lot of people to donate or volunteer for the Orphanage and other such institutes like old age homes, destitute/ homeless shelters, rehab centres and many other charities.

With the blessings of their parents and without any fanfare, Anand and Astha got married. The couple was loved, admired and highly respected for their down to earth nature and kind hearts. Asha and Ramesh were so proud of their Queen of hearts Astha, who had finally found her match in the King of her heart, Anand.

And they lived happily ever after working for a good cause and setting an example for many others. Life is more than just breathing and staying alive. Life is about living each day doing what we can for another person.... Life is about making someone's day a little brighter and happier with a kind word or gesture.... Life is about looking forward to a brand new day, no matter how dark the night is!

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