After debating a while with different titles I decided to go with this one, although suggestions after reading the short story are welcome from you my readers!!
They seemed to be so perfect for each other, he has tall,dark,handsome,witty,full of wise cracks,sensitive and charmingly well mannered, sometimes Alka found it too good to be true, was it another facade hidden behind that charm or tucked away layers beneath his personality..Their story was unconventional. He was the investment banker in Mumbai and she a advertising professional,awaiting for her promotion. They did not meet at a party or social do or at the mall or coffee shop, rather their dates started over morning walks and gym sessions at the well-equipped gymnasium near her office.His hours were odd and long, her’s were longer and unpredictable.Somehow he did not seem fazed by her successful career or drawn to her association with celebrity endorsement campaigns nor did he mind her shooting schedules out of town.
He never complained when he phone rang and she could not answer his calls nor did he crib about her after parties with the whose who and hobnobbing at late hours.He seemed to understand her crazy world and the fact that she was career driven having been deprived of a stable childhood and father figure in her life.
Their friends thought there could not be a perfectly tuned couple and every photograph seemed to capture their happiness and excitement for living.Their tastes were similar yet different, she seemed to love her wine and cheese tastings, he loved his peg of single malt.She liked watching cricket and cheering at matches for her team , he seemed content to laze with the boys and beer around a table and order pizza while watching the European League.This was the time his pad became a complete bachelor oriented pad with shoes strewn around, popcorn and all sorts of bottles stacked up and a lot of yelling and shouting at every goal and cursing at every missed opportunity.She took the time off to catch up with her mom who was away in an ashram volunteering and doing social work after having lived her life for her family and kids, thank goodness for Skype, sighed Alka, while signing off.Mothers no matter which part of the world seemed to be the same, Beta , what did you eat for dinner, eat dry fuits,stay off oily outside food and try and exercise everyday and pray.She was concerned realised Alka about her status with Rohit, yet refrained from commenting for the fear of upsetting the delicate balance in their fragile relationship.After her mom’s divorce their mother daughter relationship had taken a beating and Alka and she were in a cold long drawn out war for a while till Akash and Aditi had intervened and tried to make both sides end it.
Alka was in a reflective mood, having decided to skip Rohit’s friend’s engagement party at a fancy five star and the usual drama that followed, crazy drinking sessions and gossip and finally passing out at their bungalow and waking up to a hectic day while being completely stuck in a hangover.Rohit would be upset that she did not accompany him because it did matter to him to have her beside him at social dos, as much as he loved them being a “Punjabi” he hated to go alone unaccompanied, he liked her comments after he got into his ethnic attire. His outfit had to be dry-cleaned and shoes well-polished, such a gentleman ,thought Alka while secretly smiling at how handsome he would look!She had told him she needed time out to finish a campaign and come up with new promotional ideas , as the celebrity she was working with seemed to have a never ending list of demands, the latest being served ‘water from the Himalayas” at a particular temperature during and after shoots!!She wondered how she ever got into this crazy world but the success of the campaign always left her hungry for more and she had a lot of proving to do to those who had smirked when she left her science “Biotechnology” career options to join the Advertising world, her mom being included, eventually her mom had realised her passion lay elsewhere and it was futile for her to dream on her behalf and force her dreams down Alka’s throat.
Decking up in a sari and wearing jewellery seemed like an arduous task after a hectic long-drawn shooting schedule and poor Rohit had to be sidepassed for her greater love, her career.Akash her favourite cousin brother had just moved out of Mumbai to Stockholm and seemed so far away, she missed their brother-sister bonding evenings, their easy conversation and sharing which at times drove Aditi wanting to tear her hair out, their fights,debates which started heatedly but ended up in splits of laughter.Akash always got her such lovely gifts and seemed to know what she wanted, he knew her so well, her moods,read her thoughts and understood her perfectly, it was a pity, he was miles away and working in such an offbeat location trying to restore diminishing pine forests.He had too followed his dream and gave up a fancy corporate career to take care of forests and work towards their restoration.She wondered, whether calling him would be appropriate, then realised with pangs of pain that he would be unavailable for the nnext couple of weeks and disconnected from humanity because of the remote location he was based in. Good of Aditi to give up her teaching job in Mumbai and help Akash follow his dreams and becoming a homemaker and raising their mob of 3 children so well, she was a hands on mom, hiring no help and doing every little chore herself while trying to give them a balanced East-West upbringing. Alka could never give her career up for Rohit , no matter how much she loved him, ,thought she while putting fresh beans in the coffeemaker all the way from Sweden, sent especially by Akash after realising how wonderful coffee tasted that way!
He was not her own blood, adopted from a home, nearly dying when her mom had brought him home and cared for him, she grew attached and asked her if they could keep him close to them forever and there started the mutual admiration club of the 5 year old Alka and 13 year old Akash.
While typing the last few lines, she decided to wrap up and realised there was persistent ringing on her doorbell, she wondered who it would be at this hour and dragged herself to open the door. When she opened the door she was amazed by the girl in a red barely there blouse and most see-through sari leaning on Rohit’s arm and casually smiling at her. Enter Roshni, Rohit’s childhood friend raised in Australia and half Indian and Half Australian. Roshni was someone every girlfriend would automatically be envious of, someone who was always well-turned out no matter what occasion, with an hourglass figure to die for,long tresses and perfect Colgate smile that made hearts melt at the drop of a hat.Why was she here, when did she land and a thousand questions raced through her mind at that hour and why on earth had Rohit not given her a warning call. She sighed realised she had her most tattered pair of shorts on with a baggy t-shirt and messy apartment strewn with paper,files and all sorts of things.She was planning to clean up post her shoot and give up the extra stuff to the Ngo down the lane.Oh gosh ,she realised while pouring out the drinks and some light snacks into bowls.She was slightly envious of the fact that Roshni lost no chance to tell her how crazy Rohit had been over her during their college days in Australia and how people thought they were made for each other untill she had dumped him and moved on with a native Australian cricketer.Peals of high pitched laughter echoed across the apartment, she wondered what the joke was and went in to the living area to find Roshni almost falling into Akash’s arms. “You should hear this , Alka, no see this” blurted out a very high,excited Roshni while wiping of that smirk which made Alka want so give her a slap, but she had to control her rage and not upset Rohit and act as the extra-cool girlfriend who did not mind close proximity of his best friend.
Rohit gave Roshni a warning look and she quickly put her phone down and still giggled helplessly while giving him looks. Alka was wondering how much there was to this equation, they almost seemed in love and so comfortable with each other and had so much to share, while she felt like a virtual stranger in her own home.”It’s getting late ,AM”, said Roshni in her drawl and accented English.Now you realised, Alka was muttering under her breath, when suddenly Rohit asked her if she said anything, she looked at him dazed and said no. Rohit decided to drop Roshni to her uncle’s apartment because it was too late to go alone by a cab or taxi all the way to the other end of town.
They had barely got off the lift and stepped into the parking lot when it started pouring, oh gosh no umbrella realised Alka, while Roshni seemed to scream with delight and act like a five year old and start jumping in the rain and catching it with her fingers to the amusement of Akash who was trying to get the car out of the parking lot. What a drama queen thought Alka to herself,next time she would get labelled that, she would surely remember Roshni’s antics and dramatic actions at three in the morning.
Akash waved to her and sped off , while Alka returned to an empty apartment and a sleepless night with so many unanswered questions.No wonder Rohit had not called,once he reached the party nor did he message as usual.
Where was her relationship with him heading, if a mere damsel in a red transparent attire could throw her in such a mood and stir those uncalled emotions of jealously,hatred and revenge in her? She wondered miserably and decided to warm the left over chocolate cake and watch the rain, while she waited for Rohit’s message.How was it that their perfect world seemed so threatened and rocky by a mere person who did not even stay in the same city nor visit them often.She was not average looking by any standards and had typical Bengali olive skinned beauty that was even more effective when her eyes lined with Kohl seemed to come alive and speak a thousand words , intellectual yes but not boring and a loyal friend to those who managed to break the walls and get to know her better. Committed,self-driven,smart she wasn’t very tall at 5’5 yet her humour and sarcasm seemed to keep everyone around her smiling and relaxed, she seemed to have a knack with words and could calm storms in her friends and close relatives lives.Where was her sense of humour she wondered and what was it odd about those two that filled her usually bubbly self with so many doubts!!
What did she want to find out?Who did she doubt? Why did she feel so insecure? Why couldn’t she trust Rohit?
The early morning rays of the sun filling her apartment with light seemed to make her realise that there was hardly an hour to catch up on sleep and another day full of shooting to look forward to which would wrap up one of the most innovative and important campaigns for a well known FMCG brand. The brand manager and the team would be there to see the unedited version and the last leg of the shoot.
She closed her eyes,curled up on her sofa cum bed near the window and fell into deep sleep, only to be woken up by the latest song ringing out loudly on her phone, she was late and rushed into a pair of electric blue jeans and pulled on a red racer-back top and threw last minute stuff into her bag while applying lip-gloss and blow drying her hair and speeding off to work. How could she have overslept on such an important day and miss out on the shoot because it would mean giving Bikram an upper hand and chance to report this to the higher authorities.
To be continued………………………………………..