Tag Archives: R&B

Rhythm & Blues Chap 19: Ironic

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19: Ironic

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“TISH!”

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.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

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

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WOOF!… WOOF!

“WATCH OUT!”

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

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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

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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

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“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

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“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

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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.

“Shree!”

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Rhythm&Blues Chap 12: Smooth

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12: Smooth

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“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

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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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Rhythm&Blues Chap 10: A Story of Love

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10: A Story of Love

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“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 rest..like 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, sure..be 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..”

“Yes..so 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 that..you 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 you..be 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 exes..you 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.”

“No..you 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.

–xx–

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 here..at 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 rhythm..one 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.

tbc