Tag Archives: author

Rhythm & Blues Chap 22: Overture

overture

Chap 21

22: Overture

-0-

“You took my heart and this time I’m not sure if I want it back…”

The words had emerged spontaneously as if from somewhere deep inside. Shan hadn’t planned anything. It was as if his soul had blurted out what he’d felt all along but didn’t have the courage to accept and now that it was out in the open, he couldn’t turn his back on it because it was the truth. Plain and simple.

But how would Khanak react? Would she believe him? After all he had tried so hard to show her he wasn’t really involved.

He waited with baited breath and a lump in his throat.

She stood silently in front of him with her head bent. Her shiny hair expertly coiffed lay fashionably askew (Diva’s a genius!) and it so enhanced the elegant lines of her lovely neck that his hand raised instinctively to trace them with his fingertips.

She looked up suddenly startling him. Her color deepened contrasting beautifully with the pale pink of her dress. Their eyes met and for the briefest moment he thought he saw a glimmer of understanding in those deep pools of ebony.

They appeared to be searching, probing as if looking for something. What? Sincerity? He’d have given anything at the moment for the ability to read her mind.

Khanak looked away feeling flustered. A strange heat was spreading through her body. There was something in those brown eyes she hadn’t encountered before nor had she dared to.

“Khanak I…”

“Yes?” she turned her face eagerly toward him.

But he didn’t speak instead kept looking silently at her.

***

The impasse was thankfully broken by a loud knock on the door.

“Hey Shan! Are you there laat sahib?”

Shan opened the door, “Rohan you?”

The chubby twin leered on spying Khanak in the background and laughed, “Just what I suspected! Bacchu…When will you lose your bad habits?”

“Rohan. Watch your dirty little trap.” Shan felt himself growing livid over something that wouldn’t have concerned him a tad bit in the past.

“Hold on my boy! I’m sorry. Did I say something wrong?” Rohan said without taking his eyes off Khanak who seemed to be looking for a place to hide.

“Rohan…! Stay within your limits,” Shan said tersely while trying hard not to lose his cool.

The designer was taken aback, “Hey calm down. I didn’t mean anything…nothing at all. I apologize if you felt otherwise,” he nodded at Khanak. “I just came to ask you both to accompany me to the stage.”

“Be sure to watch it in the future or else you can wish away your VIP passes to Jhankaar’s opening night,” Shan said offering Khanak his arm.

That was enough to frighten Rohan into behaving and genuflecting in front of Khanak as if she was the Queen of England.

***

“How can he?”

“How can who Tash?”

“How can Shan?! Look at him! Look at the way he’s flaunting that bimbo on his arm!”

Tarun turned to give his full attention to Natasha who looked like she had bitten into a particularly smoking chili pepper; one of the ‘Habanero’ variety. Her face bright red, ears steaming, her whole body consumed with a jealous rage as she glowered at the very handsome couple striding arm in arm down the catwalk.

He smiled, “You mean Ms. Khanak Mishra right?”

“Whatever her name is, I don’t care! He cannot dare to pay attention to another woman in my presence!”

Tarun wasn’t in the mood for sympathy, “Well Tash…she is his lead dancer and very lovely too I might add.”

What? What did you just say Tarun?”

“He said exactly what he meant to Tash darling!” Diva breezed by with a bright smile and placed a sisterly palm on her arm. “For once he has spoken the truth. I guess that’s the magic of true beauty…” he sighed. “By the way did you like my artist act? You think I can be a future matinee idol?” He arched his head and appeared to rearrange an invisible strand of hair.

She flicked his hand away, a vicious light into her eyes, “Yes but only as a confused fag…and I can assure you you’ll find plenty of people to laugh at your sob story, me included.”

Diva remained unruffled…”at least I’ll have an audience but my darling you…” he flicked her chin up with a graceful forefinger, “… can kiss the limelight goodbye. From now on your rightful place is in the back benches.”

“Diva! How dare!”

But he had his eyes trained to the ramp, “OMGeee! Look at my lovelies! Don’t they look gorgeous! A match made in heaven! Gosh I need a tissue…” He sniffed and blew a kiss at the dashing pair.

The crowd got into the spirit and began a unified chant—“DANCE! DANCE! DANCE!”

Shan grinned and whispered something into Khanak’s ear. She in response colored prettily and nodded.

The models stepped aside cheering them as the music cued in.

The entire theater gasped as Khanak unclipped her dazzling crystal ensemble and flung it away to reveal an uneven lyrical dress in plum and pink. Shan, discarding his evening jacket took his scarf and fashioned it like a bandana around his head.

The following is a song from the Hindi movie Kisna

Hum Hain Iss Pal Yahan,

Jaane Ho Kal Kahan
Hum Miley Na Miley,

Hum Rahey Na Rahey

 

(We are here at this moment

Know not where we shall be the next

Though we may meet or not

Though we may live or die)

 

The rhythm of the song seemed to be in tandem with the beat of the heart as the pair split up and moved to the opposing ends of the stage.

Both appeared displaced in a melee, their eyes flitting around as if in search of a lost love.

Khanak stood on tip toe, her feet bare and assumed the arabesque where she stood on one leg while extending the other straight back then fluidly moved it up in the air and pointed it higher as the front of her body bent low in balance. Then beginning slow in adagio and picking up the tempo as in allegro she began doing quick pirouettes and jumps around the stage…her movements effortless almost as if she was suspended in space. Meanwhile Shan complimented her adding high leaps in the air leaving everyone enthralled.

Rahegi Sadaa Yahan,

Pyar Ki Ye Dastan

Sunengi sada jise

Yeh Zameen Aasmaan

 

(The story of our love

Shall remain always

Resonating forever

Through this earth and sky)

Both of the dancers looked distressed seeming unaware of where they really were.

After a great deal of effort they spotted one other. Smiling with relief they sprang into motion. Khanak leaped high doing an aerial split. Shan caught her by the waist and lifted her straight up above his head. Holding his gaze Khanak relaxed her body and draped herself over his shoulder as he gently lowered her to the ground and they ended in a tight lover’s embrace.

The crowd roared jumping collectively to their feet. The couple on the stage seemed taken by surprise then smiling with embarrassment they split apart and took their bows.

***

“Calm down Tash…you look like you are going to burst an artery!” Tarun’s voice rose in concern.

“Make way! Make way!” Diva appeared as the uppity crowd jostled with each other seeking to be introduced to Khanak.

She was riding high with a near perfect ballet/contemporary routine and Shan was by her side. It felt as if she had already met most of her goals.

Therefore when her gaze fell on Natasha who looked ready to make a meal out of her, she didn’t feel particularly threatened. Instead she schooled a pleasant smile on her face and extended a gracious hand—a gesture that was bluntly ignored by her rival.

Tash jumped to Shan’s side and clung to his arm; “My poor dear. How odd you must feel in the company of strangers. Don’t you worry, your favorite Tashu is back and I promise to never leave you alone again!” She said while aiming toxic barbs at Khanak who responded with a graceful smile.

Shan priced Tash’s fingers loose, “I prefer strangers to so called friends who are just waiting for the moment when they can pull the rug from under my feet.” He smiled at Khanak, “…besides Ms. Mishra is not a stranger. Rather she has become someone infinitely more precious.” At that something intimate appeared to pass between him and Khanak causing Diva to burst into a merry giggle.

So you may think but not for long! Tash thought spitefully before she declared with a dazzling smile— “I hope everyone, old acquaintances and new are going to join me in my welcome back bash tonight!”

tbc

PS: Excuse me for the delay in posting. I’ve been caught up in a lot of things– including putting the final touches to the manuscript of my upcoming novel MILAN to writing Book 2 of INCONVENIENT RELATIONS. I hope to make the intervals shorter in the future 🙂

GET MY BOOKS

It’s Here! The Cover of Milan – A Wedding Story!

Milan-cover (2)Yes! It’s finally Here!

The cover of my next book– MILAN- A Wedding Story 

‘Milan’ in Hindi meaning ‘a coming together’.

As soon as I saw the beautiful cover in red and gold depicting a traditional North Indian wedding procession where the bride in her doli (palanquin) is being transported to her husband’s house, I fell in love with it. And I hope you do too! Not just with the cover but with the story- A real- life fairytale!

SYNOPSIS–

When a daughter turns marriageable age, what should a responsible father do?
Easy. Wed her to the most suitable boy who comes knocking on the door.  Jai Bharadwaj, Madhu’s father and owner of The Serenity Tea estate in the idyllic Nilgiris would’ve probably liked to do the same, but being who he was, he had to ask her first.  What would she say?

The book will be out SOON!

Meanwhile you can read the first few chapters HERE!

And get my other books HERE!

Inconvenient Relations- Prologue

Inconvenient relations C

Hi friends and readers!

The 2nd edition of my debut novel is almost out with a new name and a new look. Here I’m sharing with you an excerpt along with the first few chapters. I’m sure you’ll want to read more. Do get the book because part 2 is in the works.

My 2nd book titled THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE will be out early 2015. 🙂

Blurb:

Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

What KIRKUS REVIEWS said about the book: 

Shaan Ahuja and Ruhi Sharma’s arranged marriage has an inauspicious start. Shaan spurns his new wife on their wedding night, still pining over the American lover he left back in Los Angeles. However, the begrudging spouses soon make a pact: Ruhi will stay with Shaan in the United States just long enough to avoid embarrassment. The young bride hopes she can use the time to win Shaan’s heart, and although Ruhi’s beauty and attentiveness do change Shaan’s feelings, his immaturity and inability to express himself—and Ruhi’s lingering mistrust—keep them from reconciling. As they attempt to be “friends without benefits,” they start to reveal their true selves, including her needling puckishness and independent spirit and the reasons for his reserved nature and impulsive jealousy. Their eventual reconciliation comes not from forgiveness but from acceptance and understanding. The novel trades in a certain amount of melodrama that, thanks to its light tone, comes across as indulgent but satisfying. …The novel seems highly aware of its influences, using cultural expectations and delayed gratification in the same spirit, if not with the same deftness, as Jane Austen. Shaan and Ruhi also sometimes mirror the star-crossed lovers from Casablanca (a film that the book directly
references). ..

An often intoxicating, … will-they-or-won’t-they tale.”

INCONVENIENT RELATIONS

Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
—Ambrose Bierce

This tale is an attempt to prove the reverse
or at least give it a chance.

PROLOGUE

Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack.
She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. “I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It’s probably a good thing to do anyway.”
He walked into the hall toward his favorite chair; he never sat on the settee beside her.
As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, “So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?”
She would shake her head, still looking down, though out of the corner of her eye she liked to steal glances at his feet—they were nice to look at, clean with well-manicured nails—then realizing that he was not looking at her, she would vocalize in the negative.
Her soft “no” would drown easily in the raucous loud blast from the TV game. He probably didn’t hear her; he probably didn’t care.

BUY LINKS

My Romance Radio Network Interview

Inconvenient relations C

It’s here! Me on my book in my own words 🙂

Desmond Haas, an author himself, honored me with an interview for his Romance Radio Network. He read the book and loved it (surprise, surprise!) and asked some very insightful questions which I tried to respond to the best I could. The audio quality is not the best (I was on my cell) but fairly intelligible. Please give a listen. This interview was for the first edition which was titled ‘An Incurable Insanity’. The revised edition is titled ‘Inconvenient Relations.’

ROMANCE RADIO NETWORK INTERVIEW: CLICK HERE!

BUY LINKS

India Unveiled- Mughal India: Tomb of Salim Chishti

Salim Chisti TombIntricate Jali – Stone latticework window overlooking the Jama Masjid courtyard.

About 25 miles from Agra is the city of Fatehpur Sikri (Hindi: फ़तेहपुर सीकरी, Urdu: فتحپور سیکری‎), founded by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, which also served as his capital from 1571-1585. Here he proceeded to build a grand walled city which today is one of the best preserved collections of Mughal Architecture in India.

The Tomb of the Sufi saint Salim Chishti (descendant of Khwaja Mouniddin Chishti of Ajmer) built inside the imperial complex is particularly mesmerizing. Facing south toward the Buland Darwaza, the shrine is enclosed by delicately carved Jalis– marble stone screens and topped by a single semicircular dome.

Jama Masjid courtyard

Jama Masjid courtyard

The atmosphere of the place is beautifully exemplified in this haunting melody from the movie Garam Hawa (Hot Winds), 1973.

The Surface

Gem Lake

 The Surface

—o—

We operate

You and I

We nod, we converse, we agree

We go about our business

On the surface

`

The chinks

They show on occasion

But we conceal them

Expertly shroud them

On the surface

`

And those who dare

Peep beneath

They rear aghast

At the rife ugliness they see

A cauldron of noxious brews

`

Of voices falling on deaf ears

Of conflicting emotions

Of affections forgotten

Of relations trivialized

Of promises broken

`

Yet it all appears just fine

On the surface

`

Milan (A Wedding Story) Chap 2: Ahaan

sneha3 709-001

Chap 1B

—o—

“You aren’t ready yet? Ahaan and his mother should be here in no time.” Kiran said, her voice brimming with anxiety, upon entering her daughter’s room and finding her there, standing at the window looking out, still in her blue jeans and T, while the grey and pink silk sari that she was supposed to wear, lay neatly folded on the bed.

“I don’t want to exhibit myself, especially when I already know what my decision is going to be.” Mili retorted, her gaze rooted on the antics of a couple of  squirrels on the branches of a Cyprus tree.

“And we shall respect it.” Her mother replied, quietly coming up to stand behind her. She continued, a stern note creeping into her soft voice, “Your father and I do not want to force you into anything against your will. Your happiness is our prime concern. Yet at the same time I expect you to behave like the well bred young lady you are; with dignity and poise. We are proud that you are our daughter and we want to continue to hold our heads high.”

`

A sudden bout of rigors seized Mili as she made her way slowly with the tea service, to the large open patio, where the family liked to receive their honored guests. The brick path was still wet from a light drizzle earlier that day, but the skies had cleared, giving way to brilliant evening sunshine, which made everything in sight look fresh, clean and vibrant.

It took Mili all her will to prevent herself from tripping over the edge of her sari. Her mother’s reassuring presence behind her helped but did not do much to allay her agitation. A sudden hush fell as everybody’s attention shifted onto her, while she directed hers on the wicker table. After setting the tray down without mishap, she concentrated on pouring out the tea and was thankful when Kiran came to her rescue and handed out the cups.

“Your daughter is the epitome of grace and beauty and this tea is the best I’ve ever tasted.” A feminine voice rang out approvingly.

“Thank you. You are very kind Mrs. Sharma. Mili  has prepared it herself and it is the product of our own estate!” Her father Jai, remarked with pride.

I didn’t make it Papaji. It was Ramu kaka! Perhaps he should be the one that Mrs. Sharma should take home. Mili thought, almost bursting out into a hysterical giggle, while her eyes traced the outlines of the bricks in the pavement. She couldn’t bring herself to look up and face Ahaan. She just couldn’t.

The conversation floated unheard around and above her head. He was there, his curious eyes upon her, wearing a pair of shiny brown leather shoes and crisp khaki trousers, sitting beside his mother, who was dressed in an elegant cream colored suit. She felt her face burn as she recalled their many not so friendly interactions. Indeed, their parting had been on less than amicable terms. She hadn’t even wished him good bye. Then why did he agree to see me? Is this some kind of a sham? I’m sure it is…she thought, working herself  up into a frenzy, twisting the tassels of her sari around her fingers.

So lost was she, that when her mother tapped her on the shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her skin. “Beta? Why are you so quiet?”

“Youngsters prefer not to talk in front of us.” Mrs. Sharma suggested.

Kiran smiled in agreement. Then looked pointedly at her daughter. “Perhaps you can show Ahaan around our garden which has found a new life under your tender care?”

Mili frowned irritably…her parents appeared to be reeling off lies at a rapid pace today…but she didn’t rush to correct her mother. Instead, she jumped to her feet and marched rapidly away, crushing the sweet smelling grass underfoot, not waiting to see if Ahaan was following behind.

Apparently he did. For moments after she settled down on a low stone boundary wall, the only dry spot she could find; she found him there right beside her.

Continue reading