Author Archives: Packerland

Rhythm&Blues Chap 12: Smooth


Chapter Links

12: Smooth


“Ooooohhhhhhhmmmmmm” A sound emanating from the depths of the eternal soul. “Shanti, Shanti.”

Clear your mind. Control your breath. Elevate your soul to a higher plane.. Call on your inner strength. Forget who you are, what you are, your purpose in life. Merge yourself with the supreme. Breathe in..breathe… There I’m getting it.

Bubbly di! Look! I got straight A’s just like you! Finally! Like you said if I really want something I can make it happen and I did…and it’s all because of you di! You are the Best!’

Shree… Sweet  young innocent Shree..with stars in her beautiful grey brown eyes, just like her Dad, though a lot more carefree and fun loving. Childlike, never wanting to grow up despite being all of twenty, just three years younger than her cousin.

Everybody said that Khanak grew up the very day her parents died. Every step she took wasn’t without considerable deliberation. Her behavior was exemplary, everybody looked up to her.

But see how it turned out? Khanak, (the one who could do no wrong) ran away bringing shame to the family, while Shree..young, flighty, irresponsible Shree chose to toe the line and get married. Married? The very thought made Khanak cringe! Was it some kind of a joke? No she’d sounded pretty serious on the phone..Then was it a trap? Was chachu behind all this? Was Anand…? No! Anand wouldn’t participate in such treachery..he simply wouldn’t! He’ll always be my friend before anything else. But people change. I’d  never have guessed he thought of me more than just a friend.

Continue reading

Rhythm&Blues Chap 11: Hearts in Motion

dancing on the beach

Chapter Links

11: Hearts in Motion


Shan threw down the pencil in disgust. For the past three hours he’d been trying to compose the opening score for the show. Usually this exercise was a walk in the park but this time he hadn’t even been able to get off the starting block.. for whenever he drew the bow across the strings of his violin, she came into view and interrupted his train of thought.

Khanak was a siren. Her svelte lissome figure fit consummate in his arms, snug like a glove. Her lovely face, with those perfectly etched features, made him want to just keep gazing endlessly at her. And those incredibly expressive eyes bade him come closer then looked away as if distracted, playing a constant game of hide and seek, holding him imprisoned, like a willing slave.

He sighed aloud frustrated causing Horse to cock up his ears and open an eye before settling down to snooze again, his master was behaving weird these past few days.

I feel like a fool! What’s going on? Are these feelings transitory? He tossed his violin aside. I get anxious if I don’t see her…but then I become tongue tied in front of her. I don’t know what to do or say. All I want is to just take her in my arms and..and…

Darn I need to see her again right now! He cast a glance at his napping pet. I’ve become just like you Horse!

He got up from his deep mauve leather rocker and ambled over to the studio, aware that she’d be there practicing her routine. After the slightest hesitation he turned on the switch that transformed the opaque wall into a one way viewing panel. He felt almost like a voyeur, yet  he needed to see her badly and for the sake of argument, it wasn’t her bedroom.

Continue reading

Rhythm&Blues Chap 10: A Story of Love


Chapter Links

10: A Story of Love


“So am I in for sure?” Khanak asked anxiously as Shan tossed his bike keys to the parking attendant at his apartment complex.

Dhyaan se Shyaam (careful Shyaam)…not a single scratch should be seen.”

The boyish attendant raised a cheeky finger in salute before roaring away on the shining vehicle in glee. Shan chuckled shaking his head indulgently.

“Kya (What?) ..He just drove away on your bike and you are laughing? What if he steals it?”

“He won’t..he’s an honest boy who leads a very tough life. I’m just letting him have his moment of thrill, he lives for it..did you see how his face lit up when he turned the engine on?”

Khanak nodded, appreciating this new soft side of Shan which he kept well hidden. Inside all the glitz and glamour hid a very caring and real human being.

“And yes you are in. Why..were you in doubt?”

“I..I, wasn’t sure..after what happened on the stage with Tarun.. I questioned myself.” She said nervously.

His features tightened. “Tarun shouldn’t have done that..his behavior was totally  unacceptable and I don’t know why Div didn’t put a stop to it either. He’s been getting out of hand lately..I need to warn him not to take his position for granted.”

“Thank you so much! Oh God I’m so happy! If I hadn’t got the job..I don’t know what I’d have done.”

“What do you mean?” He was distracted by loud barking as he unlocked the door..

The giant puppy almost knocked her over putting both his forepaws on her shoulders and licking her face with great enthusiasm.

Shan laughed. “You better start putting makeup on. Horse hates how that tastes.”

“Then I definitely won’t, he’s adorable!” Khanak said smiling hugging Horse tight.

Shan smiled back, still having some trouble accepting her simplicity and down to earth attitude. She’s so different from the a breath of fresh air.

“Shucks! I forgot, today’s Dibu’s day off!” He said noticing the bare dining table. “Maybe we can go out to eat..what say?”

“Can I suggest something?” Khanak asked after quickly going through the pantry and refrigerator.

“Like what?”

Would you mind if I tried my hand at some cooking? I’ve been tremendously missing my aunt’s home cooked bhojan (meal).”

“Sure, my guest! I’d love to taste something other than Dibu’s standard continental fare.”

Khanak did a small jig on the spot and would have hugged Shan but held back at the last moment.

He grinned, his eyes following her as she rushed in to the guest room for what she said was a quick shower.

“My my..what do you think Horse? She’s not just a fantastic dancer but also full of other delightful surprises.. Hmm what if I ask her to stay here forever..would she agree?”

“STOP! You cannot go in there..unless I go with you and that she won’t allow!”

He struggled to pull the pup back as he decided to amble into the bedroom after Khanak. “You’ll have me hanged one of these days..GOD!”

Trying with great difficulty to appear cool and composed Khanak went about preparing an ambitious meal while Shan watched her with his arms resting on the granite counter, sipping a martini a la James Bond ‘shaken not stirred’.

“Smells like heaven..You’ll soon be dealing with the green eyed monster in Dibu’s guise for sure.”

“He should be least concerned…I’m not planning to take his place.”

“I wish otherwise…you are definitely more picturesque than he ever will be.”

Khanak blushed before turning away to chop some onions which had her sniffling in no time.

“Hey let me..I’m the best onion chopper in the business.” Shan volunteered eagerly. But by some strange act of fate he ended up slicing his own thumb. “I seem to have become weak and accident prone lately..wonder why.” He said looking at her with an innocent smile as she spruced him up. “Maybe I like being pampered.”

“What?” She looked sharply at him..

“Here..I think you can take care of the rest yourself!” She said thrusting the bandage in his hands.

“Hey..I didn’t mean to. It’s just that its been so long. I..I guess I’m missing  Dadi ma’s touch.” His face fell and his eyes seemed lost in a far off place.

She felt sorry for him, wanting to know more but didn’t think it was her place to intrude. Why had Diva appeared so concerned about him? “Ahh..nothing like the aroma of traditional Indian spices to titillate the taste buds.. Methi Aloo, phulke, Kashmiri pulao, mint raita, sambhar soup and kulfi.”

“No ice cream?” Shan asked.

“Hmm..kulfi sounds more authentic don’t you think?”

He dug in to the repast with single minded dedication and nothing was said for the next half hour while Khanak looked on with trepidation.

He got up from his chair and walked over to where she was watching silently twisting and untwisting the cream napkin over and over on her fingers.

“You didn’t like it?”
“Like!” He dropped down on his knees..took her hands in his gently kissing her palms not letting go as she tried to pull them away.

“What can I say to someone who reminds me of a past that I want to forget? Those wonderful yet painful memories when my grandma used to make methi aloo and bread just like this and feed me with her own hands after my father had locked me up in my room when he discovered that I hadn’t gone to school once again? What can I say?” His eyes delved deep into hers.

“But he never did so to my brother or my sister… I used to wonder if I was really his son and repeated the same mistake over and over waiting for the day when he would just pat my head and tell me it was fine and to not do it again.”

“That day never came…” He laughed. “And grandma died and all hell broke loose.” He turned to Khanak earnestly, gripping her fingers hard in his hands. “Tell me! How can a true parent mistreat one child while rain love on another? How is that possible?!”

She wrenched her hands away, stood up and pretended to get busy clearing the table. “I don’t know..that’s a tough question to answer.” His words had made her recollect her own painful memories..would chachu do the same to Shree?

“I’m sorry about your grandma, it’s really hard to say good bye to someone whom you really love.” She turned away and briskly walked nto the open kitchen, trying to hide the tears that had sprung up in her eyes.

He followed and pulled her around with force. “Why don’t you know the answer? Why can’t you tell me?”

“Because I am an orphan that’s why!”

He stared stunned at her for several moments. “But I thought you had a loving and supportive family..”

“ did I. But when my chachu who I used to think the world of, insisted on marrying me off against my wishes, because he considered me a liability..I couldn’t stay to find out, I ran away and..and here I am. I really don’t know if my father would have done the same thing. If he’d  have also killed my dreams.. Because he’s long dead and gone, so is my mother.”

She broke down and he hugged her gently letting her cry, while Horse came up and rubbed against her leg.

Khanak stepped back suddenly and wiped her nose roughly with the edge of her dupatta. “I’m..sorry. I shouldn’t have done are my Boss and I’m your employee.” She bent down and kissed Horse on his head.

“No I consider you much more than that.”

She threw a sharp glance at him.

“I mean..I’m a human being first and then anything else.”

“I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to invoke your kindness or your pity. I wish to be hired only on the basis of my talent, that is what I’ve worked hard on all my life and that’s why I left my home. If I don’t fit the bill then tell me so frankly, I’ll leave right away. I’m sure I’ll find something else.” She smiled trying to make it sound easy and casual. “I can join a smaller company or maybe even teach dance..I’m sure there are plenty of parents out there who want their children to get a taste of their culture and heritage.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” He looked down intently at her face while grabbing her arms again. “I’d never have hired you if I didn’t think that you were the right one for me. You have that spark, that josh, that spirit inside you which I’ve seen in no one else. You make the stage come alive and make me feel like I want to dance with a part of your story. I want to…I want to…” He stopped abruptly and stared at her not believing the words that were at the tip of his tongue. Was he going insane? Or was he unconsciously falling into a trap that he himself had helped create? Was it all an infatuation?

Horse’s loud barking at the door came as a welcome interruption. Shan felt unusually tongue tied and bothered. His new companion was wrecking havoc on his organized and uncluttered life and he wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Yet he didn’t like the disturbance. “Who can it be at this God forsaken hour?”

It was only 10 pm.

“Hello..boyfriend! We have a date tonight!” Trish walked in all saucy wearing a backless dress with a deep revealing neckline, a red satin bow around her scrawny neck and heels to match.

“What date..I don’t remember any..and anyway I have loads of work left to do.” He said glancing at Khanak.

“Darling!” Trish hung on to his arm while Horse started a low continuous growl. “Remember last Valentine’s when that Tash stole you from me..that Bitch! You promised to make up by taking me out this year..and today is the day! Besides your whole artsy stuck up gang will be there.”

“Yes Shan.” Tarun said sauntering in behind his sister looking dapper and snooty in a white jacket and red bow. “Navin Jha and Sherie Bajaj are both supposed to make an appearance with their respective know how they adore the ground you walk on and doing a little PR especially at a time like this doesn’t hurt does it?”  Aiming a sly wink at Khanak.

“Don’t be a nerd baby, where is your fun side? Oh will you ask that stupid animal to shut up! How do you tolerate that thing!” Trish said waving her red painted nails in Khanak’s direction. She already looked plastered. “Anyways here I am lover boy, give us a kiss.” she pouted her dark red lips.

Khanak looked away embarrassed. “Please excuse me, I need to practice what Tina taught me today.”

“ come too, meet the in crowd, get familiar with their ‘high class’ ways! You can be my bro’s date since none of his are planning to show up!”

“Trish, that isn’t very nice!” Tarun glowered.

“I’m just saying the bitter truth my dearest bhaiya (brother). It’s high time you realized that girls aren’t toys!”

“But…” Khanak protested then agreed with much reluctance on seeing Shan’s faint nod.


The Buddha Baron (An upscale watering hole and dance lounge haunted by the who’s who of Mumbai’s entertainment industry.)

The youthful party of four managed to attract attention as soon as they made their entrance. Though Tarun and his sister Trish were no mean eye candy..the objects of particular interest were the very handsome pair who accompanied them. Shan in a black tux which he had chosen to wear over a red silk shirt with a fluffed red silk handkerchief as the only adornment making him appear rakishly debonair and charming at the same time and the lovely girl who stood behind dressed in a simple yet elegant white tulle cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline and a twisted red satin cinched waist which enhanced her fresh beauty but what attracted everybody more was her wide eyed innocence and naiveté which was a rare sight to behold.

“Ahh.. I like it so much least I don’t have to watch out for some old fart’s hand up my arse!” Trish said loudly to Khanak who was  busy absorbing the sights around her. The colorful language took a lot of getting used to but she had to reluctantly agree with her view..the place was huge!

The ambience at once stunned and mesmerized the untrained eye. The decor in reds and golds with wooden panels and exotic artifacts looked classy and refined but at the same instant managed to appear glamorous and trendy. The center of focus was a giant Buddha the bar’s namesake, sitting serenely enthroned. The covered entry led into a large open area decorated with amber colored lighting and red and gold Chinese paper lanterns.

A live band played in the background giving the evening a sensual feel.

Couples dressed in the theme colors of the evening were already swinging to the music.

“Thank you.” Khanak said softly as Shan pulled back her chair, both remained acutely aware of the other despite making a singular effort to avoid any kind of contact.

She sighed in relief when he hurried away after being hailed by a particularly large boisterous group; their earlier conversation had put her feelings all in a jumble.

Tarun didn’t wait around much longer either..he was still miffed at being targeted by Shan in front of the other dancers. He believed that he had been unfairly singled out and blamed it squarely on Khanak.

“My brother is such a jerk…he makes every girl he goes out with think that she is the only one while actually he is just playing the field.” Trish observed while they watched Tarun cozy up to a very buxom blonde.

She drew in hard on her pink women’s special filters before letting the smoke drift out through her nostrils then promptly went into a coughing fit. “*** these cigarettes! I thought they’d make me look cool for Shan, but he hardly looks at me. I’d rather have red wine instead..they say it’s good for your health.” she giggled. “By the by has he come on to you?” She asked Khanak archly.

Khanak flushed. “What kind of stupid question is that? I just work for him.”

“But I know your heart goes ding dong when you are with him and I’ve also seen the way he looks at you.. Wanna be my chammak challo o.o..” Trish winked taunting her while she jigged on the spot to the catchy tune.

“Trish please there’s nothing like that between us…” Khanak said trying to remain calm while feeling all giddy and agitated inside.

“Ahh..jaane do (let go) you can have him..I don’t want him, anyway he has no time for me.” Trish brushed her off. “I went after him only on my **** bro’s say so. When he said it’ll help make Marcus jealous. Ohhh..Marcus, Marcus..when will you come back to your Cleo?”

Khanak followed Trish’s dazed eyes to the dance floor where she saw a slim and very attractive young man dancing intimately with a scantily dressed girl.

“Isn’t he a dish! We used to be always together until Tarun spoiled everything! Oh..I know Marcus wants me back, if only he’d answer my calls.” she said her eyes screwed up. “No I must not cry..that’ll spoil my makeup then he won’t look at me at all!”

Khanak found her a tissue and watched blow her nose hard into it. She realized that Trish was a lost and thoroughly spoilt girl who was being exploited by her brother for his own gains..she wondered at what they were.

“I think I’ll go to Marcus and tell him everything!” Trish got up and wavered over to the dance floor holding onto tables for support, she could hardly stand straight.

“Khanak!” Shan came over with a couple of his friends who looked like twins. He held out his hand to her, “let me introduce you to some of the best known names in the fashion industry..the Khatri brothers–Rohan and Roshan and this is Ms Khanak Mishra., my new lead dancer.”

Khanak smiled feeling quite a bit exposed as both the brothers swept her over.

The one called Rohan grabbed her hand and smooched it sloppily. “Nice meeting you Ms Kha.nak..I’m sure we shall keep in touch.”

Shan eyed him with derision before whisking her away. He whispered, “keep away from those two..they are wolves in disguise. But you don’t have to worry, I won’t let them touch you!”

She looked up at his face and was arrested by a strange look in those yummy brown eyes. Her pulse went haywire.

The music picked up, a very familiar which made her want to dance and sing with joy.

Placing an arm possessively about her waist he pulled her to the open floor. “Shall we show them what dancing is all about?”

He jerked her close to his chest, a warm hand firmly supporting her back. “It’s time for your first show..Just remember I lead.. you follow.”

She smiled and nodded, feeling no fear at all.

She danced without hesitation, as if the movements were ingrained into her body, following his every move smoothly. Then gaining confidence, feeling a familiar thrill of being in the limelight she came into her own. Her eyes sparkled with mischief as she smiled coquettishly and her body teased him drifting very close and then moving away making his heart race with excitement as if she was dancing for him alone and no one else.

No one dared share the stage with them. They held their breath as they watched the two dance as one..lovers caught in each other’s spell..

He reluctantly released her after acknowledging the thunderous applause moved back and let her take her bows. I need to take care, this is definitely more than just infatuation.


The Accidental Wife Chap 1: Wishes and Demands


Chapter Links

1: Wishes and Demands


NYC 2 months ago

Rihaan Mehta was a confirmed bachelor, at least he was determined to be one, until now.

There were several reasons why. The most important being his independence. To not have a girl nagging him day and night to determine his whereabouts or harrying him to present himself at home sharp at 6pm, was an asset that he guarded jealously. He pitied his Dad who was probably so accustomed to being henpecked that he wouldn’t know what to do if he was left alone even for a day or two.

Another consideration which urged him toward bachelorhood was that he’d never had an eye for the fairer sex. No girl had ever been able to bowl him over with her charms, though not for the lack of trying; many had. He just wasn’t impressed by what he called superficial accoutrements, nor had he felt the need for feminine company, except on rare occasions when he’d been obligated to. His work provided him with all the company he required and he couldn’t be happier, for he loved what he did.

Six months ago, after graduating summa cum laude from the very demanding and rigorous neurosurgical residency program at Mass General/Harvard Medical School, Rihaan joined as the youngest associate of one of the busiest neurosurgical practices in New York City. And he had proven himself so well that today his chief had offered to make him partner. He was thrilled beyond belief and would have been off flying on cloud nine, ten, or maybe even eleven, if it hadn’t been for the untimely demands of his mother.

Shashank and Shobha Mehta of the ‘famed’ (for various reasons) Mehta clan of New Delhi, along with their two children Rima and Rihaan had immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago, defying the wishes of their elders. Shashank was ambitious. He wanted to spread the Mehta business beyond the desi shores by establishing one of the biggest and finest jewelry chains abroad. And where best to start but the Big Apple? He did exactly what he said he would, making the entire family proud.

But his younger son Rihaan, instead of joining his father, and continuing with the tradition had opted for medical school and became a dimaag ka doctor (head doctor)…no, not one who deals with mad people but one who wields a chaku and a churi (knife and scalpel).

Everybody including his favorite uncle Rajbir shook their heads in disapproval, “Can’t trust such people. Business mein kya kharaabi hai?” (what’s wrong with business?)

But on a bitter cold day when mama and papa Mehta saw their defiant son being honored as one of the best to have passed through the hallowed grounds of the famed university, they couldn’t stop the flood of tears from flowing unchecked down their ruddy cheeks.

From then on the youngest Mehta was given free rein. When he declined to stay in the family’s huge suburban villa because it was way too far a commute from the city, his father gave his grudging assent. And when he opted to stay away from the many communal poojas (prayer ceremonies) and parties that his mother threw (most of them in the hope of finding a suitable daughter-in-law for herself) the senior Mehta looked the other way.

Rihaan succeeded in slowly but surely separating himself from the crazy chaos of his massive family except for occasional events such as his sister Rima’s wedding and the naamkaran (naming ceremony) of her child.

Finally he felt at peace.

But this state of affairs was intolerable for his mother Shobha. She felt cheated. How many years had she spent yearning for someone whom she could order around the house, and who would wait upon her hand and foot.  How she longed to be a Saas to beat all Saases (mother-law to beat all mother-in-laws).

But her son wouldn’t oblige. Despite her lining up hundreds upon hundreds of suitable girls (handpicked by her of course) he just wouldn’t bow his hard head down. What a waste of such a handsome face and a six figure income to boot!

One day she threw in her final salvo and served him the ultimatum in typical Bollywood style, “Shaadi ke liye tayyaar ho jao nahin toh tum mera mara muh dekhoge.” (Get ready for marriage or be prepared to see me on my death bed.)

He didn’t stay over that weekend.

“Do you think mom is serious?” Rihaan asked his father the question on the way to the local subway station. Rihaan hated driving particularly in a city like NYC where a car is considered a handicap. Instead he preferred the subway or his faithful bicycle which he rode everyday to and fro from work; come rain, snow or shine.

Shashank guffawed. He was very loud for not so big a man. Rihaan, who was more than 6ft tall, had apparently inherited the lanky genes from his Uncle Rajbir.

“No son, she won’t kill herself. But she’ll certainly kill you if you don’t bring her a bahu!”

That provoked a chuckle from his son, “Guess that’s one reason why I don’t wish to get hitched. Because no girl deserves to be a victim of mom’s ministrations, no matter how well intentioned they may be. I’d rather stay single.”

His father voiced sagely, “You say so now. But soon you will change your mind.”

“Why would I? I can see how happy you are married to mom!”

Shashank turned to face his son in all seriousness, “I’m as happy as I will ever be. You may be even happier.”

His son’s mouth twisted into a confused smile, ”I don’t get it.”

His father continued patiently, “You are young. You have everything going your way—Choice of education, job, respect, incredible success. But for how long? How long can you sustain this pace? Life comes with checks and balances.” His voice turned somber. “I was like you once; young, dynamic, impatient, and indestructible. But then papaji (father) persuaded me to tie the knot. I’m glad that he did. Though perhaps I’d have preferred a less forceful woman.” He said, erupting into an awkward laugh.  “Anyway that’s beside the point.” He continued, glancing at his son whose fine features had assumed a dubious expression. “What I mean is that a time will come when you’ll find an empty space inside that can only be filled with love. Mark my words.”

And on that cryptic note Shashank pulled to a halt.  Rihaan adjusted the ubiquitous backpack on his shoulder. “I’ll think about it Dad,” he said before nodding goodbye and walking away. Though he didn’t intend on doing any such thing. He’d said so just to humor his father whom he was very fond of.

Yet that night, he tossed and turned restlessly alone in his bed, whence typically he’d have fallen fast asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. His mother’s threat along with his father’s pearls of wisdom were raising a clamor inside his skull.

He knew his mother wouldn’t rest without seeing him wed, and by no means was he willing to cast away his entire future by linking up with one of her choices. What was a man to do when he found himself in such a bind?

Frustrated, he swung his feet off the bed and onto the cold hardwood floor. A glance at the luminous digital clock disclosed the arrival of another new day. Pulling on a pair of worn out sweats he’d had ever since college and his dependable trainers, he then grabbed his bicycle and rode out toward Central park.

Rihaan rented a one bedroom apartment in the posh Upper East Side of Manhattan. It’d come at a bargain because the guy who owned it happened to be a close friend, who’d just found himself a wife, thus been compelled to move to larger quarters.

Rihaan loved the place, even though it was somewhat cramped. It was a convenient commute to the park and a half-hour to forty-five minutes at the most to work.

He pedaled furiously down 5th avenue and onto one of the numerous paths that led into the Park. Then, after securing his bicycle, he took off at a brisk paced jog. This marked his daily routine. The crisp, clean air helped keep his brain robust and operating in top gear for the rest of the day.

It was late autumn. Soon, very soon, a glittering white powder would descend from the skies and cover everything in a blanket of snow—a pristine, flawless layer of white—one of the most beautiful scenes nature could offer its patrons.

He contemplated, as his breath steamed in front of his face. Passing by a few other lone joggers like himself, he nodded to a couple of nameless yet familiar faces whom he recognized from before: a young man walking his dog and an elderly gent with his wife out on a leisurely stroll, their faces serene and blissful.

He then came upon another couple voraciously necking on a bench even in the bitter cold. They continued undeterred as he ran by. He snickered. Idiots! Wait till she springs the surprise!

Abruptly he stopped, reminded of an incident from a long time ago. It was prom night and the prom queen had dared him to a kiss to which he’d obliged quite willingly. In the girls’ bathroom, in a tiny stall, his raging hormones had taken over. Then egged on by a few slugs of beer, one thing led to another. Thank heavens someone had barged in at the right moment—or else.

“PHEW!” Rihaan collapsed against the gnarled limb of an old oak, the memory still strong enough to suck the breath out of him. Cindy, the prom queen, had been pregnant and the perpetrator had dumped her, making him, Rihaan, the dumb, rich fall guy.

“I’ll never let that happen again. Ever!” He blurted out loud to no one in particular. All he saw was the spectacular image of the skyscrapers reflected in the calm waters of the lake, where two white swans were taking a lazy turn. Bloody couples everywhere!

His pager came alive, springing him out of his reverie. It was the ED from Lenox Hill. He pulled out his cell phone and responded to the call. After listening quietly to the report, he barked few crisp instructions into the phone: “Alert the OR team. I’ll be there in 40 tops.” A fifteen year-old kid, playing with his father’s gun, had accidentally shot his friend. The bullet, while narrowly missing the vital organs, had lodged dangerously close to the spine.

Rihaan could feel the adrenalin pumping as he jogged back. This was why he loved his job so much. His skills could prevent someone from losing the use of his legs for life. He could already visualize himself performing the delicate procedure in his mind’s eye, and the most wonderful thing about it all was that his hands never shook.



Releasing a prolonged sigh, Rihaan sunk back into his swivel chair at the Manhattan clinic of Central Neurosurgical Associates. It had taken four long painstaking hours but the surgery had been successful. The bullet had been extracted, the blood evacuated, and the spinal cord saved. The boy would be able to walk!

Grudgingly he’d accepted the praise for accomplishing one of the toughest procedures that a neurosurgeon could undertake. But the best part of it all was when the boy’s father with tears in his eyes, had taken Rihaan’s hands and reverently kissed them. That was enough to validate all the years of toil and hard work he’d put himself through.

But his achievement failed to make the slightest dent in his mother’s demands. She screeched into the phone, “Rihaan! Do you want me to kill myself? If so, prescribe me some poison!”

Damnit! Why can’t I be left alone for even a moment! He closed his eyes, counted to five and replied, “Okay. I’ll give the matter serious consideration.”

“Wow really?” She sounded excited. He could imagine her eyes gleaming. “Then shall I start discussions with the Sharmas for their daughter Renu? She’s supposed to be a really good cook. Or what about the Roshans? Their younger girl Sush is apparently very skilled in needlework.”

“Ma…are you getting married or am I?”

Beta, listen…I…” She wailed.

He retorted sternly, “I’m willing to listen to you but on only one condition. I’ll choose my future wife entirely on my own!”



Please don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY of my debut novel AN INCURABLE INSANITY. Time’s almost up.

The Accidental Wife – Prologue


Hi friends!

Thank you for loving my debut novel ‘An Incurable Insanity’–your appreciation for my work has encouraged me to write more and I’m glad to announce that my 2nd novel “The Accidental Wife’ will be out in the near future.

Till then as a gesture of appreciation to all loyal readers, I’ve chosen to post a preview of the story here. Please follow and share your thoughts 🙂


Dr. Rihaan Mehta is a brilliant young neurosurgeon who has no inclination for love or marriage. According to him wives and girlfriends are annoying accessories that one can do without. But when his mother dangles the sword over his head in classic Bollywood style, he succumbs, and sets in search of a bride who would fit his ‘requirements’. But he could never have prepared himself for what awaits him.

Some accidents are meant to happen…

chapter links





“Another beer to calm the nerves?”

A loud burst of laughter. “Rihaan doesn’t need anything to calm him down. He’s going to be full on man! Can’t afford to disappoint bhabhi, right?” This was promptly followed by another outburst of mirth.

Rihaan submitted to several friendly thumps on his back and returned them with the obligatory wry smile, that could be interpreted any which way desired.

And yes, he hadn’t let a single drop of alcohol pass through his gullet, not because he was anxious to perform well on his wedding night and impress his brand new wife. Rather, he wanted to keep all his faculties intact, so to confirm the suspicion that had been gnawing at his brain ever since the wedding ceremony. And with each moment that passed, his unease grew in intensity.

Unable to bide time any longer, he stood up and marched toward his room paying no heed to the numerous whistles and catcalls that followed in his wake.

Thrusting the door wide open he strode toward the marital bed. It was bare except for his bride’s wedding finery that lay in a neat pile in one corner. Heart now pounding painfully hard in his chest, he scanned the vicinity fervently hoping that his concerns weren’t true.

He approached the balcony door that lay wide open, and felt his pulse slow down slightly. Perhaps he’d been just imagining it all?

A girl stood there leaning against the railing, her face upturned toward the full moon. Hearing him approach she turned around, “Finally! I’ve been waiting like forever!”

He frowned, straining to peruse her features obscured by deep shadow, “Deepika?”

“Naa…, not Deepika.” She stepped forward into the light; a bright smile illuminating her beautiful face.

His heart sank.

“My name is Naina. Goodbye Rihaan.”


Please like and comment 🙂

You can also read AN INCURABLE INSANITY here and enter the GIVEAWAY

RHYTHM & BLUES (a story about music, dance and romance)

PS: Please follow me on facebook , on twitter @simikrao and this blog for notifications on updates. THANKS!


Rhythm&Blues Chap 9: DUET


Chapter Links



DIVA’s  Supplies for the True Dancer at Heart

Khanak looked around the small yet beautifully arrayed shop which Shan said had all the supplies that a dancer of any caliber would need. He had brought her there to get her fit into some essentials–“You should always dress the part..and contemporary dancing means freedom of movement.”

“Hello Princess!”

She turned guiltily from a floor length mirror where she had been checking herself holding a sparkly gold costume to her chest.

“Let me introduce you to Damon the Diva, without whom none of our shows would see the light of day. He has us all hanging tightly on to his leotard strings!”

Shan made a show of introducing a very slim and good looking man who could have been anywhere between 25-40 yrs of age being blessed with a complexion any girl would kill for! Sporting perfectly arched eyebrows, makeup and coiffed hair he could have easily passed for a pretty girl had it not been for his voice which was a dead giveaway. “Another jaw dropping performance don’t you agree Shan darling?”

“Yes nobody can beat you Damon!” Shan laughed as Khanak snapped close her sagging mouth. This was the first time she was confronting a gay man who was unafraid to openly flaunt his sexuality.

Damon smiled benignly at her with an elegantly manicured hand placed daintily on Shan’s arm–an act leading to significant discomfort. “Darling..I understand, I tend to shock people sometimes. And you look like such an innocent!” He turned to Shan, “How did this beautiful creature land amongst us big bad wolves sweetheart? You promise to take care of her, don’t you?”

Shan cleared his throat. “She’s old enough to take care of herself, but if you insist…”

“I do..and I know you’ll enjoy doing so.” Damon winked at Khanak who blushed a deep pink.

“You know I’ve had a crush on this gorgeous hunk from the very first time I laid eyes on him but he has sworn to be straight.” He said looking utterly crushed, “and now I no longer wonder why..”

His intimation wasn’t lost upon Khanak who looked plaintively toward her employer.

“Don’t jump to conclusions Damon, Khanak here is a phenomenal dancer classically trained in Bharatanatyam and she is doing me a great big favor by agreeing to take Tashu’s place this season.”

“Ohh! I’m so and my naughty mind!” Damon smiled slyly, not for a moment appearing convinced. “I absolutely love Bharatanatyam..Lord Shiva is so Hott! Don’t you think?” He exclaimed while attempting to strike the Nataraja pose which had Khanak break out laughing with her head thrown back–a sight of pure untainted merriment that held Shan spellbound.

She concluded that she liked Damon the Diva very much indeed. People like him who were unapologetic and very comfortable in their own skin were hard to come by in her profession.

“Can we hurry up Diva? Got to get to the studio!” Shan was getting antsy.

But the Diva wasn’t one to be hurried, he liked to take his time.

“So we are shopping for essentials are we? A perfect 4, I should think, don’t you agree Shan?” He said discerningly, his piercing gaze giving Khanak such a once over that she felt like a slab of meat hanging at the butcher’s shop. It took her every single ounce of control to avoid crossing her arms over her chest.

Shan realizing her discomfort looked away. “Whatever you know best.”

“Oh thank you my dear. Come darling! Let the Diva create his magic.” Diva pulled Khanak into the interior of the store..and handed her a bunch of spandex in black, peach and cream which he rapidly and efficiently snatched off the racks and then pushed her into a dressing room. “Try these on for size and then show them to me. Don’t be shy! I’ve seen a lot of girls in the barest minimum! Somehow they feel comfortable stripping in front of me..perhaps because I tend not to get excited..hmmm?”

Khanak had to agree for Damon was soon tucking here and pulling there and she felt as if she was with her girlfriend though the costumes were another deal altogether.

Damon smiled upon seeing her trying to adjust the neckline of a particularly revealing leotard.

“ have the body so why not flaunt it? Women in this country are allowed to do so and get appreciated..unlike men! Imagine our Shan out there in tights! Phew! Just thinking about it makes me sweat!” He verbalized fanning his face with his hand.

“Women will have heart attacks in droves and the poor man will be arrested for indecent exposure! You can expect such double standards only in our land..otherwise why would they banish me, the best contralto ever to grace the stage..once they came to know that I wasn’t like them?”

“Hmmph! It’s because each and every so called man in a position of power is a PIG!”

“Oh..I’m so sorry Damon, I couldn’t agree with you more.” Khanak said seeing the subject had hit a sensitive chord.

“Oh..forget about it darling.” He smiled cheerfully, “that’s just me stirring up ancient wounds. No matter, it is  your time to shine now!”

“There..look at you!” He swung her around to face the mirror and she let out a gasp of delight upon seeing her long hair pulled up to one side of her head in a elegantly knotted ponytail.

“Now that exposes a sexy long neck and shows off to advantage your delicate bone’ll knock them all for a sixer as soon as you walk on stage and Tashu will wonder why she stepped off the curb in her 10inch heels!” Damon chuckled sarcastically.

“Stepped off the curb?? But I thought it was an accident.” Khanak said looking at him in the mirror.

“Yes….that was the published report but Diva knows better! Unfortunately it looks like her ploy has backfired big time..thanks to you my darling!” He said looking intently into her eyes. “It’s up to you now to take care of my Shan.”

“What do you mean? I don’t understand.” Khanak wrinkled her brow.

“This Damon can see what other’s can’ shall we end it at that? We can’t keep hottie waiting can we?”

“You’ve never taken this long before Damon!” Shan appeared edgy enough to start a war.

“But then I’ve never before had such a gorgeous creature to work with..have I?” Damon said with distinct pleasure upon seeing Shan’s reaction.

“How much do I owe you Damon?” Shan asked staring stupefied at Khanak.

“Ahhh! Nothing at all! That look on your face is payment enough.”

“But I insist!”

“Then send me a free pass to a front row seat at your inaugural..wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

“Consider it done! Thanks Damon! You indeed have magic in your hands.”

“Nonsense!” Damon said looking embarrassed. “This creature, what you have here is magic.

Mark my words..she’ll take you places Shantanu!”

“ know I don’t like it when people call me by that name!” Khanak could see her Boss’ jaw visibly stiffen.

“Oh..yes..but I’m feeling emo today! So forgive me my indiscretions.” Damon sighed dramatically.

“We should get going now..c’mon Khanak!”

“Just a minute.” She said turning to Damon. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you’ve done for me today.”

Damon smiled at her tenderly shaking his head. “No.. I should thank’s refreshing to see a pure and simple heart in this ugly place. Never ever change my dear.” He handed her a pair of ballet pointe shoes. “These are from Russia and I want you to have them and please don’t say no.”

“Wow..I’ve never seen Damon do that. He must be really impressed by you.” Shan said when they’d left the building. Perhaps I’m right in my decision after all, he thought observing Khanak as she adjusted the long scarf of her pale blue salwar suit. She definitely has a way about her.

‘Jhankaar Dance Studios’  Nariman Point, Mumbai.

“Here we are finally, my place of worship.” Shan announced pulling his sporty Ducati into a reserved spot. Without further ado he grabbed Khanak’s hand and rushed her through the revolving doors of the posh 50 story high building.

She was whisked up in a private elevator to the 45th floor that happened to be dedicated to Jhankaar in entirety. As soon as she stepped off she knew that her Boss was no small fish.. rather he was as big as they come.

Tastefully decorated with soft music playing through hidden speakers, she could see that no expenses had been spared in making the studios one of the swankiest in the business. The lobby was huge. There potential aspirants and clients could lounge in luxury on sleek Scandinavian furniture and entertain themselves watching continuously playing videos of the company’s past performances. And what looked like a large grand piano in the corner was actually the cleverly designed reception manned by a young man in a Pink Floyd T shirt. He sprung to attention as soon as he spotted Shan. “Good morning Sir!”

“At ease Joy! I’ve told you before that I don’t like formalities.” Her Boss replied pulling her forward, “meet Miss Khanak Mishra, our new lead dancer and Khanak this is Joy front man.”

Khanak smiled, and tried to look unruffled as she felt herself being closely scrutinized again. People in this town were very direct in their talk and manners. It made her feel victorian in comparison.

“Hello are late. Your dancers are in dire need of discipline. Why do you spoil them so?” A plump girl with bright intelligent eyes came breezing out of one of the inner doors with several glittering costumes slung over her shoulder, a picture of bustling efficiency. After giving Shan a brisk hug and an air kiss she turned her attention to Khanak.

“ Khanak Mishra our new lead from Chennai..she’s an ace exponent of Bharathnatyam and we are very lucky to have her..and Khanak, this is Divya studio cum production manager without whom I’d have kicked the bucket a long time ago.” Shan laughed.

Shubh shubh bolo Shan!” (Speak positive Shan.) Divya blushed while giving his ear a hard tug thereby eliciting a loud yelp. It was obvious that she was very fond of him. “Hmm..nice, very nice. Welcome to Jhankaar Mz. Mishra!” She extended her hand.

“I prefer to go by Khanak if you don’t mind…”

Divya smiled but it was hard to read those shrewd black eyes. Khanak knew that here was someone she couldn’t afford to annoy if she had any hopes of surviving in this place.

“Does Tash know about your plans?” Divya turned to look at Shan whose visage underwent an abrupt change at the very mention of the name.

“She does..anyway I don’t need her permission. She broke her ankle and we need someone who can take her place . It’s as simple as that. Anyway we need to get down to business. There is no time to waste!” He said curtly before opening the door to a large office and waving them both in ahead of him.

Khanak could sense that all was not hunky dory between Natasha and Shan, just as Diva had suggested.

“Where the hell is Tina? She should have been here by now!” Shan demanded of Divya, vexation clear on his matinee idol features.

“Tina? I haven’t laid eyes on her today.”

“Crap! This is what plagues us today, utter lack of efficiency!” He turned to Khanak, “Tina is our master trainer who I had particularly asked to work with you on your basics, put you through the hoops so to speak. But look we are here but where is she? This is the limit I say!” He grabbed a paper weight from the massive walnut table and flung it across the room. It bounced off the wall with a loud thud making Khanak cringe. She hadn’t expected him to get so riled up, but on careful inspection she saw that the wall bore evidences of prior similar abuse and guessed these fits of temper weren’t out of the norm.

“Yes..unlike me and Tashu and you of course Shan, there are few others here who are disciplined and dedicated toward their work.” Divya remarked with a wry shrug of her shoulders.

“ long has Tina been working for you if I may ask?” Khanak quipped feeling the person in question was being meted unfair treatment.

Shan shot her a glance as if surprised that she had dared to speak. “A couple of years..why?”

“How many times has she been tardy?”

He cocked a suave eyebrow in amusement while Divya appeared annoyed at her impudence. “Maybe once or twice..actually I don’t recall any one particular time.”

“Then I believe she is late for some unavoidable reason and should be given benefit of the doubt.”

“Hmmm…” Shan sat down in his berry tinted swivel leather chair with his fingers tented under his chin and regarded Khanak silently. Damn she’s good, very very good!

They heard a loud knock on the door and a slight woman with wild curly hair burst in like a hurricane very much out of breath. “Ohh..Shan, I’m so sorry but there was a terrible accident in Chembur and all traffic had to be diverted and my bad that I forgot my mobile at home! I hope you understand. It was something unavoidable!”

“Unavoidable.” He repeated softly. “It’s all right Tina, I’m glad you are okay. Settle down, take a breath and meet your advocate and my new lead…” He got up, clasped Khanak’s hand and introduced her to Tina while Divya looked on dumbstruck.

As she followed Tina who was chattering nineteen to the dozen about how she had always adored Idli, dosa, Bharathnatyam, sambhar and filter coffee not in that particular order, Khanak sensed a terrible misgiving that she had rubbed Divya the wrong way on their very first meeting, but then she had always spoken her mind and she wasn’t going to change something that had always stood her in good stead, fortunately it had prevented Shan from blowing his top unnecessarily.


“So how did it go Tina, you two have been closeted together for over a couple of hours.” Shan said unable to wrench his eyes off Khanak who was trying her best to appear nonchalant. She was looking particularly fetching in her brand new leotards which hugged her slender yet perfectly proportioned figure like second skin. Her beauty was all the more enhanced by the natural flush provided by exercise. It also added a sparkle to those jet black eyes and made damp with sweat wavy hair stick to her brow. Just shoot me! Talent ko goli maaro..I will pay top dollar just to watch her walk across the stage!

“Did you hear what I said, Shan?”

“Hmm..What Tina.?” Damn work..Shan..concentrate!

Tina beamed, waving her tiny arms around passionately. “I said that she’s awesome! This girl is a natural, she grasped everything so quickly and  has such perfect lines and amazing intuition for what should come next! I’m pretty certain that with intense practice you’ll be ready to go in two weeks!”

“Is that right? No limits?” Shan asked wanting to make doubly sure.

“None! She has the ability to do it all, except classic ballet which obviously takes considerable practice.”

Shan hugged Tina lifting the petite woman off the ground. “That’s the best news I’ve heard in days! And Khanak…” He was about to pull her into his arms but checked himself at the last moment. “Thank you!”

“ don’t have to say that. It’s my pleasure to work with someone like you.” Khanak replied while thinking. Phew! Now the real trial begins..!

Shan waited for the door to close behind them before jumping in the air executing a roundhouse karate kick. “Yes! I’ll show all my critics..this’ll be our best year ever!”

Tina led Khanak into a very long rectangular room that apparently served as the main dance studio. It was lined with ballet barres along one side and wall to wall mirrors on the other. There they saw several dancers of both sexes, few were busy going over their individual routine while another bigger more raucous crowd was gathered in a corner cheering and clapping. As they drew nearer Khanak recognized Tarun as the one responsible.

“Oh that’s Tarun, our male lead.” Tina said shaking her head and smiling. “He’s such a show off!”

Khanak looked apprehensively at the man she was supposed to be partnered with.., he was doing a series of ballet turns in a continuous circle around a very pretty girl who was watching starry eyed. She appeared inexperienced and very, very young. He was obviously very good and knew it too. Ending with a perfect ten high kicking split in the air, he bowed low as everybody burst into loud applause.

“My dear friends..let me introduce you all to Khanak our new lead dancer!” Tina announced bringing her forward.

“New female lead..Oh my! Tash will be horrified! …But we knew that she was out of bounds..wonder what she’s like… Looks like a green horn!” There were whispers along with muffled laughter.

The words did not escape Khanak’s ears as she scanned the inquisitive faces around her, wondering who would be the supporter and who the dissident. She was no a stranger to jealousy and rivalry and its prevalence in the ‘live and let die’ world of performance art.

“Should we put her through her paces Tarun? What do you think?”

Khanak turned her head to see Tarun observing her quietly as if seeing her for the first time. His eyes wore an inscrutable expression. “ is as good a time as any!” He replied with a sly smile to Divya. “C’mon Mzz Khanak..we meet again!”

Khanak followed him hesitantly to a small raised platform, shuddering inside as the rest of the crowd followed. “Let’s see if you can follow the leader!”

He  started slow, performing a blend of various dance styles, executing each one with amazing panache. She was initially able to follow but soon lost track as his steps became more and more intricate and complex.. That he was trying to make fun of her was soon obvious and the laughter it was generating from the audience added considerably to her embarrassment so that soon she stood rooted to one spot wishing to be anywhere but there.

“STOP IT EVERYONE!” A voice filled with authority  lashed out from the back. “Is this how you welcome a new recruit to the club? Tarun..I didn’t expect this from you of all people!” Shan looking awe inspiring in a red and black leotard and jazz pants came striding up to them. He was bristling with poorly disguised rage.

Tarun was clearly taken aback at the onslaught. “I’m sorry..I was just trying to make her feel at home…”

“Oh scaring her out of her wits! Well done! And you too Divya, I see that you were the instigator!”

Divya baulked at being singled out. “I apologize.”

“Ok…but never again or you can all say adieu to your jobs!” The concealed threat in Shan’s voice unmistakable.

Khanak closed her eyes breathing calmer, thankful that the most important person still had faith in her.

“If you really want to make her feel welcome do it with style… Do you have a license ‘coz you are driving me crazy!”

Khanak’s eyes snapped open when she heard his seductive whisper. Her pulse grew erratic and she shivered as goose bumps spread all over her body.

You are the only girl in the room I care about, his eyes wanted her to know as the music started.

Soon he was moving to the rhythm trying to seduce her with his slick swagger as she caught the drift and walked ahead holding her head high, playing hard to get, yet teasing and leading him on with a bounce in her step and a tilt of her hips in a typical courtship dance. Egged on by loud appreciative whistles she finally relented and let him swing her around lifting her high in the air.

“Will you let me take you home tonight Khanak?”

Her mouth went dry as she looked quizzically at him, not sure of what he had just suggested.

The spell was broken as he took her arm, turned to the audience and dipped his head. “Take a bow Khanak. You’ll soon have them eating out of your hands..I can taste it!”

She smiled and bowed unable to suppress a twinge of disappointment. Foolish girl, don’t you know that it’s just a part of the act?

Courtship MJ style 😉

John Travolta and Olivia Newton John heat it up in Grease