Tag Archives: music and dance

Rhythm & Blues Chap 20: A Special Night

special night

Picking up from where I left off after a long time—-

chap 19

20: A Special Night


A blinding flash of light followed by another and yet another then several in succession.

Shiny limos plying equally shiny bodies that disembarked and gave the paparazzi their much needed glamour and gossip fix.

But Shaan didn’t realize that he too was one among them—a willing player expected to read his lines from a script repeated and rehashed so many times that it had become second nature. So much that sometimes it was hard to distinguish the real from the put on.

But this acting and role playing had become boring and stale. He wished he could fling the cloak away and scream—This is not me!

And that urge was particularly pressing today as he stood there all alone on the red carpet acutely missing his new associate and partner.

He wasn’t flashing his usual heartbreak smile nor paying heed to the earsplitting screams of jostling fans leaning over the fences with their arms and bodies stretched out, wanting to touch, to get a piece of him.

He appeared totally unaware of it all and that infused his persona with a uniquely mystic and attractive aura.

Where is she? Should be here by now. Not a peep from her since she left in a hurry this afternoon! Is she not coming? She said she would be here well in time. Khanak isn’t one to shirk from her professional duties. He racked his brains; Did she take that blabbermouth Trish seriously…or did something happen between her and that loser?

A voice hailed him from behind—“Someone is looking wickedly distracting tonight!”

He didn’t have to turn around to figure who it was. He cringed; “Natasha…you here?”

She was checking him out in her usual pose—perfectly coiffed head slightly tilted to one side, a slightly amused smile playing on voluptuous red lips and a svelte figure wrapped in deep sea green that perfectly offset her eyes. She had mastered the art of snaring attention.

Yet it did nothing for him. He stared blankly at her.

“Are you so overwhelmed with happiness that you are struck speechless?”


He heard one of the Khatri brothers’ high pitched laughter in the background. It was their show and she was the guest of honor.

He flashed her his usual smile; “think what you will Tash.”

“Won’t you walk with your dear old friend? Or have you forgotten your manners?”

Shan offered her his arm though he’d have preferred to seem uncouth and walk away. The news hounds didn’t need any more scoops that night.


Earlier at Diva’s–

Khanak had rushed over following the prompts of her instinct knowing that he was probably the only one most likely to provide the peace and comfort she so desperately desired.

“Now look at yourself!” Diva said turning her around to face the mirror.

Khanak’s stared at her image wide eyed, “Do I look okay?”

“Okay? OMG girl! Get real!” Diva exclaimed in exaggerated surprise. Today he had on a purple do with sweats to match.

“You look sensational! Stupendous! Kya kehte hain usko… Item! Yes you look like an item! And in that shade of blue you are bound to send the whole audience to the hospital–the men with hearts attacks and the women in a raging jealous hysteria!”

Khanak laughed; “Oh please leave it Diva! Don’t flatter me! Tell me the truth!”

“You hurt my heart!” he looked woebegone.

“Oh I didn’t mean that! I’m so sorry!” She jumped up to console him; “You are so sweet. I’m just not used to so much praise.”

“Girl get this straight!” he said tapping her shoulder lightly with his beautifully manicured fingers. “What Diva says Diva does! He speaks his mind–showering praise or critiquing when and where it is deserved. I don’t believe in keeping people in the dark!”

She nodded waiting expectantly.

“All right,” he smiled gently holding the point of her chin between his thumb and forefinger; “Let me put it simply. You possess a special kind of beauty, a rare hypnotic mix of innocence and charm. It is so powerful that it can even make a gay man wish he was straight.”

Her cheeks grew warm when she noticed that he was quite serious.

He then laughed and blushed himself, “But if that were to happen my Shaan wouldn’t like it at all! And Diva cannot afford to infuriate one of his best customers can he? Uske biceps dekhe tumne? Did you see his biceps? Mein toh mar hi jaoonga! I’ll be dead for sure!”

“That’s where you are wrong,” Khanak said solemnly turning back to the mirror.

“Diva wrong? Never! And that Shan is an open book for me. I’ve seen the way he looks at you sweetheart! Haven’t you?” His face wore a fond smile.

Khanak pursed her lips and shook her head not wanting to acknowledge what her heart so eagerly wished to believe.

“Eyes speak a lot…and I know exactly what Shan’s say.”

Khanak made a valiant attempt to steel herself, “He is a very nice man, kind and generous. It’s just his compassion that you see.”

“Okay. So be it. But why should you let that bother you?” Diva asked watching her closely for her response.

Khanak dropped her gaze; “I…I…”

Diva chuckled; “There! So the flame burns equally on both ends! Wonderful! I can’t wait to dress you up for the wedding!”

“Diva please don’t!” Khanak exploded in anguish. “… that can never happen!”

“But why?”

“Shan is meant for Natasha. They complement each other perfectly. They are the eternal couple!’”

“What utter rubbish! Who has filled your head with such bakwas?” Diva appeared genuinely surprised.

“I see it everywhere…in the news….magazines…even Tarun…”

“Tarun!” Diva spat out, “…that slimy SOB! His only job is to create malevolent mischief! Don’t you believe a single word he says! As for the magazines, Khanak hon… I didn’t think you were so naive! Don’t you know the only way the media keeps itself in business is by feeding the frenzy and fanning the rumors?”

She wasn’t convinced; “Yes you may be right. But I believe it in my heart to be true. She has been Shan’s friend and partner for a long time and he has relied on her. The only reason I came into the picture is due to the accident.”

Diva nodded, “Some of what you say is true but not everything. These eyes have seen a lot.” He laughed, “You can call me a walking behind the scenes encyclopedia! If I get my memoirs published I’ll become an instant millionaire! But then who’ll trust in me?” He said wryly.

Khanak gave his hand a tight squeeze; “I do Diva…”

He smiled, “I know you do darling. That’s why I love you. You are pure of heart and you don’t pass judgments just because…”

He paused before going on; “…as far as Natasha is concerned… she too used to be like you at one time… fresh, talented, hardworking, eager to make a mark. But then she changed, she became a victim to fame. She became self-centered. She couldn’t tolerate anyone better or even as good herself…she couldn’t let independent talent thrive. So instead of working on improving herself she began to resort to crooked and devious ways. She made herself indispensable to Shan; started producing his shows… took on some of the hiring and firing in the pretense of helping him out. It was a way of making sure that nobody in Jhankaar could challenge her position and then even got him to give her an exclusive contract.”

Diva looked at Khanak, “I could see Shan’s frustration build. He wanted to break free from her. But she had accumulated a lot of powerful ‘friends’ in the industry who always managed to convince him otherwise. Then all of a sudden out of the blue, I don’t know what occurred in that twisted mind of hers that she decided to break her ankle…”

Khanak broke in, “Break her ankle? What do you mean? Which dancer would want to do such a thing on purpose? You must be mistaken!”

“Exactly, no dancer in her right mind, but Tash isn’t sane! When she saw Shan unwilling to toe the line, she took it upon herself to teach him a lesson. So just before the new season began she faked an accident and broke her ankl, sure that he won’t find anyone else good enough to take her place thereby making him undergo a major loss and ultimately enslave him for the rest of his life. But…” Diva smiled, “…she made a mistake. She failed to figure you in to her calculations.”

Khanak stared unblinkingly at Diva, stunned at the revelation.

“Unbelievable isn’t it? But this is how showbiz works…talent isn’t enough anymore. You need a mentor…and fortunately you’ve found the best one in Shan.”

Khanak was at a loss for words; all this information was too much to absorb. It was difficult to fathom that evil could reside behind such a beautiful face.


Diva glanced at his phone and cried out, “OMG! Talk of the devil! You have been summoned!”

Khanak eyes twinkled, “Then we should get going!”


Rhythm & Blues Chap 19: Ironic

R and B

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19: Ironic



A peal of insane laughter. “Gotcha! You and your dirty little secrets!”

Yes it was Shan’s neighbor, who having designated herself as his unofficial girlfriend had conveniently pocketed a set of his house keys.

She was looking at both of them right now with a wily smile plastered on her painted face, standing, no leaning against the studio door seeming at any moment ready to tip over and land on her face.

I need to get those keys back! Shaan thought.


Horse had her pinned to the ground in a jiffy and appeared to be wondering whether she would make decent breakfast material.

“Get this bloody monster off me!” She shrieked.

Shan ignored her. Horse needed to polish his aggression skills. Lately he had become too soft after being overly babied by Khanak.

“What in Hell are you doing here at this hour?! He demanded while reluctantly letting go of his dance partner. Kabab mein haddi had to drop in at this time! Just when I felt I was attaining  a different plane with Khanak.

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 18: Love is in the Air


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18: Love is in the Air




Khanak turned just in time as a huge fur ball flew across the roof garden and hurtled itself on top of her nearly knocking her over.

“HORSE!”  Khanak laughed struggling to maintain her balance as the overgrown pup placed his forepaws on her shoulders and proceeded to lick her face clean with a very wet tongue.

“Horse…I missed you.. and looks like you missed me too! How have you been?” She cried burying her face in the warm thick coat hugging the furry body which shook from side to side along with the happy tail.

Shan watched silently as girl and dog met like long lost friends even though they had been apart a bare couple of days. He made no attempt to curb his pet’s enthusiasm. She needed the distraction as well as the unconditional affection that she was willing to accept.

I don’t think she’s ready to accept mine..not yet.

“Hey Horse! Down boy!”He shouted when he saw Khanak bulldozed to the ground.

She convulsed with laughter holding a hand to her stomach when she saw Shan roll around on the flagstones floor wrestling with his Akita for control.

“That’s enough alright!” Shan yelled at the point of being overpowered..

“Phew! Bless my stars that he still recalls some of the training he’s been through.” He said getting up and embarrassedly running a hand through his hair.If he was trying to impress her by a demonstration of his machismo he had failed miserably.

But Khanak wasn’t paying him any attention, instead she was thinking aloud as she scratched the Akita’s throat. He had slunk away to her seeking consolation. “Only Horse loves me for me. He never wanted to know my name..nor was he curious about where I came from. He could care less if I was an escaped convict on the run from the law. He just decided that he likes me..that’s all. He didn’t judge me..nor did he publicly humiliate me. Then why..why does everyone else?” She cried out before bursting  into tears.

“Oh my poor Khanak!” Shan rushed to her side. He pulled her into his arms, rocking her gently as she sobbed.

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Rhythm and Blues Chap 17: Tangled Chords

Tangled chords

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17: Tangled Chords


My heart is a butterfly

Drifting aimless in the breeze

Floating without a care

Fluttering my wings

Of resplendent silk

Those who lay eyes upon me

Watch in wonder

As I dance, in a trance

To the song of freedom

And the music of love

It was a gorgeous piece of artwork–a tiny yet pristine butterfly arrested in mid-flight, so precious and fragile, handle with care or it’ll never fly again. Turning her hand this way and that, Khanak admired the way the ring caught the light. Surprisingly it seemed custom made for her finger.

How could something so small be responsible for such havoc and chaos in my life? She closed her eyes as the thing in her chest contracted in raw pain. For just a moment she had wanted to believe in what the cold piece of stone and metal implied. That’s what it is,just a symbol, an empty hollow symbol.

And it has served its purpose. She stole a glance sideways and caught him watching her. Her nerves came alive tingling in a flurry of excitement. It was his invariable effect on her no matter how well she thought she’d prepared herself.

Against her better judgment she felt drawn toward him; like  fish  to bait or  mice  to cheese; a surefire path to self annihilation.

His gaze didn’t falter, rather she was being perused with singular intensity.

I have my eye trained on the target, and it’s you!

Breathless, she felt trapped, ensnared. She turned away desperate for a way out, unsure if he had gauged the depth of her feelings mirrored in her face.

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 16: Sweetest Taboo


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16: Sweetest Taboo


Anand was true to his word. At the hastily constructed mandap in the backyard of the Mishra house, he took over the responsibility of Shreya from her father in his own highly capable hands.

The bride glowed as she and the groom were showered with blessings. And at the auspicious hour to the thunderous sounds of the nadaswaram and drums, Anand tied the mangalsutra around Shreya’s neck. The knots were then reinforced by his cousin sister and the bride became officially a part of his family.

Khanak eyes shone bright through a veil of tears as she watched her best friend grasp her cousin’s hand and take the seven vows around the sacred fire.

She felt at peace despite her sorrow. Shreya wouldn’t have found a better husband and perhaps Anand wouldn’t have found a better wife. It was time for her to move on.

“Anand is one lucky guy.”

The tiny hair follicles on the nape of her neck pricked and stood erect as she felt his voice drip like rich honey into her ear.

She closed her eyes, letting the warmth seep throughout her being. She had missed him, oh how she had missed him.

Trying not to let her tone belay her excitement, she said, “Yes, anyone who marries a girl like my cousin is very lucky indeed.”

“I didn’t mean to say that. He is lucky because he has you for a friend.”

The one who makes your pulse race..makes your heart sing with joy..’

“He was more a friend to me than I was ever to him.” She mused then said abruptly. “Let’s go..we are done here.”

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Rhythm&Blues Chap15: Fragile


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15: Fragile


“I am willing to marry you Anand.”

He looked up and stared disbelievingly at Khanak. “Did I really hear what you just said?”

Her lips attempted a bright smile but her facial muscles refused to cooperate. “Yes..I will marry you if that’d make you happy and ..and Shreya would be free to lead her life the way she is supposed to.”

He got up to his feet and stepped up close crowding her in. “Leave Shreya out of it! I want to know about you! Would it make you happy?”

False words couldn’t cover up the anguish brewing inside. “Of course! I will be happy..after all I’ll be spending the rest of my life with my best friend…right?”

All at once Anand threw his head back and burst into a fit of merry laughter and it filled Khanak with trepidation.

“You will never grow up will you Khanak? Though we have all graduated into adulthood, even your precious Shreya…you still remain a little girl of eleven whose favorite pastime is playing hide and seek with her chums. No Khanak! I won’t let you off this lightly, you can’t deceive me..I can read you through and through!”

His smile vanished as his hands clamped down on her arms, and she felt his fingers mark her bones, yet she didn’t squirm. There was something in his eyes she had never encountered before and it scared her. “I don’t want you to be just a friend, I want you to be much more than that…I want you to be my wife, my lover..Someone I can share my sorrows and joys with..I want to be your everything. Can you see me in that guise Khanak?”

She didn’t think he’d like her answer..but they’d always been honest with each other. “Perhaps I could.”

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 14: Shattered Dreams

shattered dreams

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14: Shattered Dreams


“Hello there!” Called out an authoritative voice while a strong hand grasped Shan firmly by the shoulder stopping him in his tracks.

Irked at the interruption, he turned around and was confronted by an imposing specimen of manhood… tall, slim, and square of shoulder, it was obvious this guy hailed from the armed forces…and after a careful perusal of the distinguished features marred by a linear scar on the right temple, Shan figured that he was a close relative. Khanak’s brother or cousin perhaps? Gosh..I hardly know anything about her.

He smiled and shook the proffered hand, concluding that it wouldn’t be prudent to cross any of Khanak’s relatives, particularly if he wished to form closer alliances in the future. Heck! What am I thinking about?

“Hi! I am Shyam..the bride’s brother! Am so sorry to startle you, but you see mom has given me the task of making myself familiar with as many guests as possible. Being away stationed on the border for months on end, I hardly know my own family..let alone anyone else! You must be one of Anand’s college friends’. I’m assuming so, because I know all his school ones!” He roared laughing out loud as if finding the thought quite funny.

Shan guessed Anand was the bridegroom.

“He must have sent you to spy for him. That chap has very little patience. Has been that way ever since he was 5 yrs old. I don’t know how Khanak handled him. Both of them always got along very well.”

Shan felt a sudden chill as Shyam’s voice trailed off and a look of pique settled over his jovial features.

“Hello? Neengal yaaru? Who is this Shyam?”

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 13: Hearts of Glass

hearts of glass

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13: Hearts of Glass


Tongues wag. They do so for various reasons but the most substantial among them is because they don’t want to adopt a state of dormancy–that’d be akin to ringing a death knell!

Over the past few weeks the busy tongues along a serene and conservative street of the upscale beachside Chennai neighborhood of Besant Nagar were having the time of their lives. They were reaping a golden harvest. From dawn to dusk, in the courtyard of the Ashtalakshmi temple along the shores of Elliot’s beach, even under the Banyan tree of the renowned Kalakshetra Academy you could eavesdrop on the following prattle:

‘The elder Mishra girl has run away and wonder of wonders she has shunned the match of a lifetime- Anand Vaidyanathan! Now who in her right mind would even consider flirting with such an option?!’

‘ The girl is definitely not all there!’ This was the foregone conclusion accompanied by a sympathetic head shake.

‘Poor Srinivas and Komal Mishra.. They have committed no sin by coming forward to take care of their orphaned niece. How were they to anticipate the ungrateful girl would pay them back this way?’

Therefore on a pleasant Spring day in April when a brand new shining ‘phoren’ sedan came to a screeching halt in front of this  infamous Mishra household, the aforementioned tongues wagged and twisted themselves into a feverish frenzy.

Dressed in a simple yellow and green raw silk salwar suit with the crinkled shawl drawn over her elegant head and across the lower portion of her face so to appear as innocuous as possible, Khanak entered her former home and rushed at once to find her cousin.

She stood outside the room which not so long ago had been to her as familiar as her very own and hesitated. She felt like an unwanted intruder.

It was packed with women talking in loud voices creating a happy din, one that is so prosaic in a house preparing for a wedding.

She stood there for several moments and listened, catching random phrases enunciated in lilting tones.

Ahhh Savitri amma..aapke haathon mein jo jaadoo hai..Dekho…Dulhan ke kesh…kitne khoobsoorat lag rahe hain na? .(there is unique magic in your hands.. Behold..the bride’s tresses..how lovely they look..don’t they?)

“Kya? What..? Tamil mein (speak in Tamil)..I don’t understand!”

A trill of amused laughter. “Never mind! You are the best Savitri amma!”

Khanak smiled too. Yes, Savitri amma was the local expert on hair design, especially when it came to braiding it with fresh flowers. She inhaled deeply, the sweet aromatic fragrance of jasmine, rose, and marigold, fresh from the fields and it brought back bittersweet memories.

“Look! The Henna’s color shows up so deep! Shreya beti, don’t you worry , you’ll have no problems holding your husband’s interest.”

So it was true, her cousin was indeed getting married. She needed to talk to her.


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Rhythm&Blues Chap 12: Smooth


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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 out..in…out..in.. 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.

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 11: Hearts in Motion

dancing on the beach

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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.

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