Role Play - Part 2




Atif stood ready, waiting to pounce on her. Her hands were behind her back. She came forward and brought her hands in front of him.

"Here. You forgot your bag. See you tomorrow, Sir." She smiled.

Atif was stunned and embarrassed at the same time. The chauvinist that he was was, he felt offended.

"Hmmm.." He said and walked out of the trailer. 

The assistant quickly stubbed his cigarette, waved a salute and went back into the trailer.

Sania was early the next day. The scene to be shot was her murder scene. The continuity of the scene they had shot yesterday. She was supposed to step into the bath tub and then a stranger would appear and drown her. This scene was vital for the movie. She was then to come back as a ghost and haunt the people who killed her. Cliched, she had thought initially. But as she continued reading the script, she realized that it was not like those usual revenge movies. Horror was probably not the genre she wanted to debut with in mainstream cinema, but given that this was her only choice, she had to accept it. 

She had auditioned for more than a hundred roles in two years, but always found disappointment staring right back at her. She did get tiny roles like that of a best friend or a junior artiste, but she wanted only main roles. She still remembered the day a month ago when she had auditioned for this role. 

She was called to a old dilapidated building. When she arrived there, she saw that there were more than a hundred girls there waiting for their chance. "165" was her role call number and a number she would never forget for the rest of her life. She sat down on an old wooden bench and looked around. Some of the women around her, were drop dead gorgeous. She suddenly felt insecure. There were also a few B grade actresses around whom she recognized, but chose to ignore. She sat quietly reading the mock script she had carried with her.

A bored looking lady then started sending the girls through the door marked 'Casting' one by one based on their role call number. It was very obvious from her body language and clothes that she herself had tried auditioning many times but had only ended up as an assistant. 

Finally after close to four exhausting hours, it was Sania's chance. She walked into the room through the door, that was then closed with a loud thud. Three man and a lady sat in front of her across a table busy looking through stacks of paper placed in front of them. Atif was no where around.

The lady dressed in a black shirt looked up and smiled half heartedly. 

"Hello. You are?" She asked trying to camouflage her yawn. 

"Hello ma'am. I'm Sania Tripati." 

The shorter of three men then started to talk.

"Oh yeah, I have seen some of your work. You are good." He said looking at the other two men who nodded.

Sania sensed the sarcasm behind the tone but did not react. "Thanks." She managed to say.

Without acknowledging he spoke again. "So you have read the scene? Sit on the black chair there and perform." He said pointing to a rusted chair in the corner.

Sania remembered the scene well. All the participants were emailed the scene and the dialogues once their application forms were accepted. She had received it a week ago and she had had enough time to prepare.

She nodded and left her bag on the floor and walked towards the chair.

The scene was fairly simple. The brief had said that she had to confront her lover who admits to have cheated on her. The dialogue read thus.

"You think I would just forget it and act like nothing happened? No way Arun. I shall never forgive you for this. I trusted you and lived my life with you, but you turned out to be so terrible. You don't deserve it. I'm walking away."

She slowly walked towards the chair and sat down. The guy next to the short man spoke up. "Ready?"

She nodded.

"Action!" He yelled.

Sania repeated her well rehearsed dialogue almost convincingly. She even managed to shed out a tiny tear amidst it. 

Nobody reacted when she finished. Sania for a second wondered if they had even heard her. They seemed busy talking to themselves and pondering over the papers in front of them. Disappointed, she decided to get up and leave. As she was about to stand up, the shorty screamed.

"Wait! Repeat."

She felt humiliated, but this was how the struggling actors were always treated. Slowly, she sat back.

The shorty looked straight at her and said "You leave when you are asked to leave. Understand?"

Sania nodded. "Sorry." she softly said.

He did not seem to care again. "Good. Ready?" He asked.

"Yes, Sir." Sania managed.

"Action."

This time Sania surprised herself. She got up from the chair and walked towards the judges as she effortlessly chanted her dialogues.

"You think I would just forget it and act like nothing happened? No way Arun. I shall never forgive you for this." She grabbed shorty's collar as she said this. Perhaps it was her inner frustration that was coming out.

Shorty sat motionless while the lady next to him giggled.

Sania ignored her and looked straight in to Shorty's eyes and shed a tear in her own. "I trusted you and lived my life with you, but you turned out to be so terrible. You don't deserve it. I'm walking away." She walked away wiping her tear and sat back right in the chair and looked up.

Four faces stared back at her. She sat quietly waiting for their reaction.

Shorty spoke up. "You think you do all this and it will look natural? Almost half the women who came in before you tried this stunt. Don't think you are a genius. And definitely don't expect an applause." He said flatly.

Sania was visibly upset. Her face shrunk and she was on the verge of tears.

"We're done, you can leave." The lady said in between her yawns.

Sania murmured a thanks and hurriedly left.

She came out of the room and sank back into the bench. There were about forty more women left there. She saw the water filter at the other end of the room and walked to it. She drank about four glasses of water and approached the assistant.

"Will they let us know right now if we have been selected or sometime later?" She questioned.

"You can leave. If you are selected someone will call you." The assistant said without looking up.

"Ok. Thanks." Sania said and left.

A week later, as she was on her way back home from a shoot, her phone rang.

"Hello?"

A male voice spoke. "Hello, Sania Tripati?"

"Yes, Sania here." She replied.

"This is Mahesh calling from Atif's casting department. Congrats Sania, you have been chosen to play the lead in Atif's next movie. Please contact him on 7876765438. You got that?" He seemed to be in a hurry.

Sania was thrilled. Her first ever main stream movie. First ever. With many more to come. She wanted to scream.

"Thank you so much, Sir. Can you please repeat the number again?" She fumbled for her tiny note book and pen.

"78.. 76.. 76.. 54.. 38. Its Atif's direct line. Please call him within the next ten - fifteen minutes. Alright?" He ordered.

"Sure, Sir. Thank you again." She said and the line went dead.

By then, the auto had reached her house. She paid the driver and rushed inside clutching her bag and the notebook.

She unlocked the door, let herself in and went straight to the bathroom to wash her feet and hands. She was back soon and then went to the corner of her kitchen where she had made a small puja room with a Ganapati idol in the centre. She lit a lamp and applied kum kum on her forehead. She then closed her eyes and said a silent prayer. After four to five minutes, she came back to her living room with a cup of coffee, sat on the lone plastic chair and stretched her feet on the old wooden center table in front of her. A couple of film magazines were strewn around the table. She slowly sipped her coffee and dialled the number. The phone rang. A ring, two rings, three rings, four rings, five, six, no response. She cut the line.

She waited a full two minutes and called back. This time he immediately picked up.

"Yes?" A hoarse voice said.

"Hello, Atif Sir?" Sania was trembling with nervousness.

"Yes."

"Sir, This is Sania Tripati. Mahesh asked me to contact you." She said slowly.

"What for?" He questioned rudely.

Sania was taken aback. Why were people in this industry so rude she couldn't understand.

Gathering every ounce of her patience she said, "For the movie Sir. Your next. I was selected after the audition. He asked me to talk to you."

"Oh. Ok. Good, Mahesh will send you the script and your dialogues by today, start preparing. We start shooting on 16th, next month. By then understand the role and choose your clothes and make up accordingly, half your payment will be sent to you by next week. On 5th you'll be introduced to the team. Someone will contact you soon. Okay?"

Even before Sania could reply, he hung up. She just stared back at the phone trying to remember what he had said. She quickly grabbed her notebook and wrote it down. 16th March - Shoot starts. 5th March - Meeting the team. The mention of the payment excited her. On her application form she has quoted twice of what she usually earned from a movie. They had agreed to it. She smiled.

Everything happened really quick after that. The running around for clothes, finding a make up artist, picking up shoes, rehearsing her lines, parlor visits etc. By the time 5th approached she was totally exhausted. But prepared.

The team was nice to her and she felt comfortable. She hadn't met Atif in person yet, but had seen pictures of him. He was a smart looking guy. In his late thirties, she guessed. 

The first time she met Atif was on the first day of the shoot. He said a hello and had briefed her about the scene. Sania has no clauses with nudity and she had signed the contract without any questions. The scene was okayed in the first take and Sania Tripati was a happy woman. A knock on her trailer's door jolted her back to the present. She was still dressed in the robe as the scene was to be a continuity from the previous day. She opened the door and Atif's spot boy stood there.

"Madam, Atif Sir calling you for shooting madam." He said proudly.

She smiled and said "Sure, I'm coming."

Wrapping a shrug around her she called her assistant, who had gone for tea. He said that he'd be back soon.

Sania checked her makeup for one last time. Then on an impulse, she unwrapped her shrug and opened her robe. The mirror showed a flawless, neatly maintained body. Having admired herself, she suddenly thought of how it would be if Atif was around her, touching all of her. She felt her stomach go into a knot. She had been attracted to him since the time she had seen him. She had met many men before who had walked in and out of her life before she had realized it, but Atif was different. There was something about him that she craved for. The way he had looked at her yesterday made her feel sexy and desirable. She wanted him with her. She wanted him around her. She wanted to make love to him. She wanted to feel his body on top of hers. She stood naked in front of the mirror, lost in his thoughts when there was another knock on the door.

To be continued.

~ Soumya

Role Play - Part 1

"Action." The director screamed.

A lady clad in a white silk bath robe appeared before him, looked sexily straight into camera and then took two small steps towards her left. The camera zoomed out a bit and a bathroom set came into view. She then slowly moved towards the bath tub in the center of the room and dropped her robe. Her naked frame soon filled the camera screen and she moved forward to get into the tub.


"CUT!" The director roared.


Sania Tripati rose from the bath tub and hurriedly draped the robe around herself feeling suddenly conscious. She then looked up at the director, Atif. No one knew his full name or anything about his background. He was known to launch new faces and Sania was more than thrilled to work with him. His movies did more-than-average business and she was sure that this movie would get her noticed.


Atif approached her. "Good shot." He said and patted her shoulder. Then he yelled to the crowd around, "Pack up!"


The technicians around were visibly upset. They expected this particular scene to take about ten to twelve takes atleast, but it was okayed in just one take. Come on, its not everyday you get to see a flawless beauty take off her clothes in front of your eyes. They murmured some thing and then started to pack up and free the set.


Sania Tripati was a happy woman, as she sat in her makeup van and removed her makeup. Today was the first day of her shoot for Atif's film. Until this day, she was an almost unknown B-grade actress with more than seven films to her credit. She knew she had the talent but did not know the right place or have the right contacts to use it. Her acting skills were good, but most of her movies until now only required her to expose her cleavage or her bare back and make erotic faces to the camera. The acting was limited to only about four or maximum six dialogues. Inspite of that, Sania had a pretty decent fan following. Although content with her dark success, she always craved for more valid and decent opportunities that would explore her actual talent.


Atif was known for his unconventional movies, his latest one based on the lives of tribal women in India had fetched him quite a few awards and some critical acclaim. He worked alone, with a small technical team. He produced his own movies and the actors he worked with could pick their own clothes, designers or make up artists and arrange for their own transport or make up trailers. He paid them well, for new comers, so no one complained. He never approached well established stars, knowing very well that they would not understand his way of working or his expectations. He believed that as long as he has a good script, everything else can be compromised on. A mantra that had always worked for him.


After the pack up, he walked towards Sania's trailer and knocked on the door. A grumpy looking assistant opened the door, let him in and walked out. He closed the door of the van and lit a smoke while waiting outside. Atif looked around, there was small couch and a bed inside separated by a coffee table and a television set. The makeup room was on the left and he could see Sania's silhouette through the thin white curtain that separated the two rooms. It was pretty decent he thought. The first thought that came to his mind was "How could she afford it?"


"Its rented." Sania said coming out of the make up room and interrupting his thoughts. Or rather answering him.


He could almost see her naked frame inside her robe. He looked away. "I see. Good." Atif murmured.


"How was the shot, Sir? I was really nervous but when you okayed it in one take I was relieved." She said sounding genuinely thankful.


Atif sat down on the couch and pointed towards her. "You are talented, that's why I chose you. I know that you are good." He said still looking around the trailer.


Sania stood away just brushing through the sheets that had her dialogues for the next day. "What happens tomorrow?" She asked.


"Tomorrow, we kill you." He said and started laughing loudly.


Sania didn't react. "Hmmm, its going to be a tough scene." She said leaning forward. Her breasts almost popped out of her robe and Atif could see ample cleavage.


He tried to look else where but his eyes kept coming back to it. He was beginning to get turned on. 


Atif rose to leave, "Yes, you better come prepared. Memorized the dialogues yet?"


"Almost done." She smiled, playing with her hair and crossing her legs as she sat down on the nearby chair.


It felt like an invitation but Atif wasn't sure of it. He was tempted to walk up to her and rip her robe apart and take her on the leather couch there. He just stood there staring at her with a million thoughts in his mind and all his blood gushing towards his center of being.


Sania interrupted his thoughts. "Sir? I said I'm almost done memorizing the dialogues." She looked straight up at him as she said this.


Atif felt embarrassed. He looked away.


"Good, see you tomorrow then." He said and was about to leave.


"Wait, Sir." She said urgently.


He turned back and looked at her, expecting her to drop her robe.


She was walking towards him now.


To be continued.


~ Soumya

It Happened!


My eyes were searching for him the minute I entered the venue. Then I felt stupid, because I knew he had not yet arrived. I was taken to a room and seated there. Here I sat, all decked up in the silk saree and the jewellery that we had picked up together. I knew I looked good, yet I wanted his acknowledgement. After all, all this was for him. As the minutes passed, I oscillated between staring at the clock and the mirror. After adjusting my hair for the billionth time, he called to say that he had reached. My parents rushed out to greet him and his family. But I was still asked to be seated inside the room, waiting to be called out.

Thankfully his room was straight opposite mine. The door to my room was slightly ajar and I could see tiny glimpses of him. It was a while before I could get a good look at him.

From across the room I gazed at him. He looked splendid. I knew that the blue would look great on him. He looked back at me and stared in awe. This was the first time ever he was seeing me like this, and we weren't even supposed to look at each other! He gestured that I was looking good and I smiled back. For a moment we just stood looking at each other. The love in his eyes for me made me feel like the luckiest girl in the whole world. The ten yard distance between us then felt too long. I wanted to be by his side, holding his hand. But I knew I had to wait. As the pujari started his puja with our parents, we just stood on either ends looking at each other with a feeling of triumph. I'm so glad I held on. I'm so glad he didn't let me give up. As we stood there listening to the faint ring of bells and chants, the past year flashed by. It just felt like yesterday and here we were today. 

It would have meant a lot of other things to others, but for us it was just a celebration of our love. Even though majority of the people attended the event to find flaws and went back with a burnt ass finger, for Cal and me it was only about us. The audience be damned. As expected a lot of unnecessary people tried to create unnecessary scenes, but we cared two hoots about it. It was our day and we wanted to live every minute of it. As we stood there, looking at each other, waiting to be called out we both happily realized one thing. That this was only the beginning. 

Moments later, as we slipped our perfectly designed rings on each other's finger, I felt fireworks all through my body. The smile on his face and the happiness in his eyes was what I was living for. He held me close and whispered "It happened!" Later that evening when we met for the first time as fiancé and fiancée at our usual hangout we realized that nothing has changed. Expect for the rings on our finger. I didn't need anything more then. My world was here.

Yes, yes, Cal and I got engaged. Woohoo! I can't describe the event out here because it was so magical. It remains embedded in my mind and it stays there forever. All I can say is that I probably am more in love with him now. And he more crazier. For all those who said that things would change once we were committed, "Up yours!"

~ Soumya

Remember to Forget - Concluding Part





Pia was silent now as she stared into the sky.


Archana was angry. "Answer me Pia. You still love him right? Wait, did you make up all this just to get me away from Samar, so that you can have him?"


Pia was about to say something when Archana put up her hand. "Pia listen, he loves you. I know how much he does. You probably are the only one he has held on to for so long. If you love him, you can always go back to him."


Pia remained calm, "I did not make up anything Arch. That's the truth."


Archana did not seem interested. "I don't care Pia. The fact that Samar asked you to marry him when I've been with him for more than a year is enough for me to hate him. I don't need anything more."


Before Pia could reply, Archana walked away.


Pia took a deep breath and looked up. Her hand went to the pendant across her neck and she felt strange emotions stir inside her. She then slowly walked out of the terrace and pressed the button for the lift.


Meanwhile six floors below, Samar was getting restless. He was with a group of people he hardly knew and all he was thinking was of Pia. He did not understand why she was talking to Archana for such a long time. There was no need for her to talk to Archana in the first place. What if Archana tried to get Pia away from him. Finally, his love for Pia was finding a happy destination and this time he would not let anything go wrong. No matter what. Having decided this, he excused himself from the group, fetched himself another drink and went back to the balcony to wait for Pia.


"I shall propose to her again, the same way. And this time we shall not be interrupted." He decided.


Few minutes later he felt impatient and was just walking into the room on his way out to look for her, he saw her entering the hall. He heaved a sigh of relief. He rushed to her and hugged her tight. Nitesh saw this from the corner of his eye and wanted to strangle Samar. All these years he had never understood as to how Pia could bear Samar. He thought Samar was a selfish leech and Pia his innocent prey. He now turned away from that sight and pretended to be interested in the conversation that was happening around him.


"I'm so sorry Pia, Archana is just impossible. I'm so sorry." Samar apologised.


"Its alright, but that was quite something. Can you please fetch me a drink." She asked feeling her throat go dry.


"Sure. Go out to the balcony and I'll see you there in a minute." He said and touched her cheek.


Pia just smiled and walked out to the balcony waving to a few people around who smiled at her.


Samar was back really quick and she took a sip of her wine and stretched her neck on both sides.


"Tired?" Samar asked worriedly. He came forward to massage it for her but she pushed him away.


"No, I'm fine. Just a little stressed."


Samar felt hurt. "Have you really forgiven me Pia?"


Pia now was surprised. "Of course. Didn't you hear anything I told you something ago?"


"You left me over this Pia. And today you are here just so you could sort out things with me? Why didn't you do this sometime back? Why now?" Samar leaned across the balcony and took another sip from his drink.


"Because there is no point in carrying this burden further. Its been more than a year and it hurts me every single time I think of it. You certainly did not make it any easier with you incessant calls and messages. Each time you called, I remembered what you did. And each time I remembered you, I hated you more. My hatred for you was so strong that it started affecting me on a day to day basis. My temper got worse and I had begun to annoy myself. And then I decided to let it all go. I decided that I would forget you. So each time you tried to get in touch with me and remind me of yourself I made a pact to forget you. Every reminder you gave me was a reminder that I need to forget you. Rather remember to forget you." Pia stopped for another sip.


Samar just stood staring at her. "Did it work?" He finally asked.


Pia laughed out loud. "With you calling me about hundred times a day, you think?"


Samar just smiled not knowing what to say.


Pia continued. "Then I realized that as long as I had this hatred for you I would never be able to forget you. You remember people for something. What you did bothered me so much that it began to eat me. I needed to let go of the hate to forget what you did. To forget you. Somethings always exist, as long as there is someone around to remember it. I was a reminder myself and I hated that. I wanted to let go of the anger and live free.That's why I'm here."


"Feeling better now?" Samar came closer to her.


"A lot better. I might sound a lot selfish here but it was worth it. I knew it was the right thing to do. I feel light now." She open her arms wide open and breathed deeply into the late evening breeze.


"Thanks a lot Pia. You brought me back to life. But I'm not gonna let you forget me. Ever. I love you so much Pia. Its been so long now that all I remember is loving you. Not having you by my side made me a different person. Insensitive and cruel. When you left me over the Namitha episode, I thought a lot to myself and decided that yes, I was wrong. I shouldn't have taken advantage of Namitha's feelings towards me. Maybe subconsciously I decided to myself that if you ended up with someone else instead of me at least I'll have someone to go back to and not end up being a loser."


Pia's eyes were cold now. "What about Archana?"


"What about her? She was never in the picture Pia. It was always you. I love you like crazy woman, please understand." He said with tears in his eyes.


Pia ignored his teary eyes and asked "If I had not forgiven you, what would you have done? I'll tell you what, you would have gone back to Archana."


Samar was irritated now and started pacing up and down the balcony. Pia waited sipping her drink. She had witnessed his scenes way too often to even react to it. Finally Samar calmed down, gulped down his drink and came closer. He held her face in his hands and tearfully looked into her eyes. His eyes looked bloodshot with all the drinks he had had.


"Pia, it has been about five years now and I have loved you for every minute of it. I have spent every second of these years trying to get you into my life, without caring about anything else. All I wanted and want, is you. Yes Pia, I have made mistakes and I'm ashamed of them. But a day hasn't passed when I have not tried to get you back into my life. I did everything I could to get you back. I might not be the best person around here, but I'm the person who loves you madly and would do anything for you. Even if it means breaking a million other hearts. I live for you and I want to do that for the rest of my life."


He let her go and moved back and went down on his knees. "I'm sorry for all the hurt I caused Pia. I promise I shall spend the rest of my life trying to make up for it. Pia, please marry me." He then began sobbing.


Pia came closer and brought him back to his feet. She looked into his bloodshot eyes and she could see the love for her in them. She hugged him tight until he stopped sobbing.


"Fine now?" Pia asked with a smile.


"I need a drink." Samar said and was about to walk out of the balcony when Pia caught his hand.


"No, you have had more than enough. Let it be." Pia's voice was crisp.


Samar turned back and looked at her with admiration and raised his index finger to point at her. "Only you, only you have the power to control me. I don't have it myself. Only you. What have you done to me Pia?" He said and held his pounding head with both hands.


Pia was all serious. "Samar?"


He came closer to her and brushed her cheek with his thumb. "Hmmm...??"


"I know you love me, I have never doubted that one bit. But you involving other people in it just so you don't end up a loser is so selfish that it makes you a horrible person. I cannot marry you, I'm sorry." Pia looked away.


Samar started in disbelief. "What? You won't marry me now just because Archana is involved. I love you Pia, she was just someone I had for company. I never even touched her I swear. Please don't do this to me Pia. Please." He begged.


Pia was unperturbed. "That's not the only reason Samar. I do not love you anymore."


Samar felt a strong pain in his gut. This was not happening to him.


Pia went on. "I have forgiven you Samar, that does not mean that I marry you or come back to you."


Samar banged his fist on the wall. "That bitch Archana, she had to come and spoil it for me. Damn her."


Pia was angry now. "This has nothing to do with her Samar, you need to...... " Her phone rang.


Samar walked away to the corner of the balcony trying a get a hold on himself. Pia answered the call.


"Hello? Hmmmm I'm almost done. I'll be ready to leave in about 20......... Okay fine, see you then. Bye." She hung up.


She walked to the corner where Samar was struggling to stand and helped him stand straight.


"This has nothing to do with Archana, Samar. What you did after we broke up is no business of mine." Pia said without any feeling.


Samar started at her blankly. "So you are leaving me? Again?"


Pia was removing her necklace. She handed it back to him. "You can think what ever you want. Here, I also came to return this."


Samar took the necklace from her hand and swung it out of the balcony. "Damn you Pia, I want you, not this."


"I'm sorry Samar. The very reason that you felt the need to have a back up probably means that we are never meant to be." Pia said and started walking out.


"Pia?" Samar stopped her. "Please stay for a while."


Pia shook her head. "My work here is done. My past ends here. Moreover Akash is here to pick me up. I need to leave. Bye Samar."


Samar's head hurt more. "Akash?"


Pia turned and gave him a last look. "Yes. Akash, my husband."


The end.


~ Soumya

Remember to Forget - Part 3


 "Samar, I....." Pia mumbled.


The music in the hall suddenly stopped and every one was silent. Pia looked up to see what was happening. Samar was irritated. Talk about spoiling the moment. He caught hold of Pia's hand.


"Please finish" he said.


"Okay. Samar...."


A screeching sound filled the air, and then;


"Calling Mr. Samar Nath. Someone at the entrance is looking for you. Mr. Samar Nath, please report to the reception immediately. Repeating, Mr. Samar Nath, please report to the reception immediately."


"Damn, who the hell is this now. Why can't they call me on my phone instead? What's the need for the announcement?" Samar was frustrated.


Pia was annoyed too. "Its okay, just go check who it is and be back."


"But Pia....."


"Even I want to finish this soon Samar, but this seems like an emergency. Just go." She said and pushed him towards the hall.


He was visibly hurt. He turned back and said "Stay right here, I'll be back soon." and blew a kiss her way.


Pia just smiled and watched him leave.


She turned back and admired the view from the balcony. It was getting dark and the lit street lights looked beautiful from the 17th floor of the building, where the party was being held. She was feeling happy inside. She had come here with the sole intention of sorting out things with Samar and letting go of the hate she had for him inside. It was a burden she had carried for a long time and and she wanted to get rid of it. When she has got the invite to the party, she had decided that it was about time she ended her grudge and let it off her system. She gave a long sigh. But who had interrupted them, she wondered. If it was someone from the office they could have just walked in with the invite and spoken to him. Okay, maybe it was someone who did not work at this place. But then again, who? His parents were not here, no siblings either, so what emergency could this be?


By then Samar had already reached the reception. He walked straight to the receptionist who was busy playing solitaire on her laptop. "Samar Nath. There was an announcement asking for me?"


The bored lady looked up and dialled a number on her extension and mumbled "Send her in, Mr. Nath is here."


"Please be seated, Sir. Madam will be here in a minute." She gestured towards the black couch in front of her.


"Madam? Who the hell was it?" He wondered.


Then he realised. "Oh God, no no no..... No way...." Before he could finish his thought, Archana stepped out of the lift and walked towards him. Samar did not react but his eyes opened wide when he saw that she was dressed for the occasion. She seemed to be extremely thrilled and jumped to hug him. He pushed her away and looked around hoping that no one had seen them. The receptionist seemed too busy with her game to look up and notice. Archana started adjusting the collar of his suit and he was annoyed to the core now.


"What do you think you are doing here?" He asked angrily.


"Oh, come on Samar. How can you come to a party without me? That's mean of you." Her hand went back to his suit.


"For God's sake, this is an office party Arch. Leave me alone at least here." He pushed away her hand yet again and looked around.


"Now don't be rude. I just wanted to be a part of your fun."


"Don't. Please leave. Now."


"No way." she said clutching his arm. "I'm coming in with you."


Not wanting to create a scene he obliged grudgingly. As they entered the dim lit hall Archana was impressed.


"This is awesome, I'm so glad I came."


"Hmmm...." Samar murmured thinking what he would tell Pia if she saw him with Archana.


Just as he was thinking that, Pia walked towards the bar for a fresh glass of wine and saw them. She looked surprised. Samar just wanted to disappear that instant. To make things worse, Archana dragged him to the bar to fetch themselves a drink.


Pia looked at Archana, not knowing who exactly she is. She was well dressed and sophisticated Pia thought. Maybe a new member on Samar's team, she thought. Samar looked at her helplessly and prayed to God that Archana would let go of his hand. Well, it did not work. As they approached the bar, Pia looked at them and smiled. Archana stopped immediately.


"Oh, you must be Samar's friend? Hi, I'm Archana." "Dr. Archana." She added with a sense of pride.


"Oh!!" Pia was shocked but shook her hand and managed a "I'm Pia."


"Pia?? Oh my God. Is she the..... " She let go of Samar's arm and stared at him.


Samar just nodded.


"So that's why you did not tell me about this party nor get me here. I feel like a fool now."


Samar didn't think twice before saying "Yes Arch, you should. And yes, this is "the" Pia. The love of my life and I'm going to marry her. In fact just before you made your rude interruption I had just asked Pia to marry me."


Archana's face went red and she couldn't believe that Samar had told her that he loved someone else in front of that woman herself. She felt embarrassed.


"Then its better I leave." She said and walked out.


Samar watched her go and sighed. Then he looked at Pia who glared at him with anger.


"What? It was about time I told her the truth. Better late than never." Samar justified.


"That was plainly rude. Let me go talk to her." Pia said and rushed to catch Archana before she left.


"But why do you want to talk to her...?" But Pia had left before he could finish his sentence.


Pia came back to the reception and looked around. Archana stood by the lift lobby waiting for a lift to come up to her.


"Archana, wait." Pia shouted.


Archana turned back as Pia approached her now.


"I'm sorry about the way Samar spoke to you. That was rude, he shouldn't have done that." Pia sounded genuinely apologetic.


"No Pia, I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't have come here. I did not know that you would be here. I was so foolish to think that you would not be here. Damn, what has love done to me?" She started weeping.


"Sshhh, nothing like that Arch. Come, lets go get some fresh air." She said as she pressed the button for the lift.


The lift soon arrived and they both entered the lift as Pia asked the lift boy to take them to the terrace six floors above. Archana was still blowing into her tissue.


The lift stopped and they both stepped out and walked towards the door that led to the terrace. The door was already opened and there were a few people around drinking and even some couples making out. Pia led Archana to the other side where there were not much people. Only a guy who kept whispering into his phone and blowing out smoke from one cigarrete after another.


Archana leaned against the platform and wiped her eyes. Pia waited for a while and then asked, "Are you okay now?"


"Hmmmm...." Archana nodded.


"Listen Arch, its not your fault at all. Please don't blame yourself. You just wanted to be beside the man you loved. No harm in that." Pia rubbed Archana's shoulder.


"Thanks Pia, you're kind." Archana said and smiled.


Pia smiled back without saying anything.


"You know Pia, Samar had told me about you. He told me that he would always love you and I believed him. But, he never told me that he did not love me. And I stayed with him hoping that someday he would." Archana started weeping again.


Pia handed her another tissue and she continued. "If he was so serious about you, why did he play along with me? He has always been cold to me, but never once shrugged me off. He never told me that he doesn't love me. He never told me that we shall not have a future together. He never said a yes, but he never said a no either."


Pia smiled shaking her head. Archana just kept looking at her sniffing every now and then.


"That's Samar for you." Pia said. "Don't tell me you did not know this about him?"


"Samar never opens up to me Pia. The most deep thing that he told me about himself was probably that he loved you. Loves you."


"Okay, sorry if I sound rude now Arch. If he never opened up, how did you fall in love with him?" Pia asked sounding entirely valid.


Archana just shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. I somehow felt that I'd be happy with him."


"Inspite of him being so cold and rude to you?


"Yeah, somehow I felt that he was being reclusive because he had you in mind. I was confident that I could get him to come out of your thoughts and he never stopped me from getting close to him. I was so sure that I'd get him to forget you and fall in love me with me. But now...... Damn how stupid was I. Samar still belongs to you."


"Oh God Arch, be sensible for a while will you?" Pia sounded angry.


"Huh?" Archana looked confused.


"Since we met, how many times have you told me that Samar never told you a firm "No" from getting close to him?"


"That's the truth. He never did that. What are you getting at?" She gave another blank stare.


"Samar doesn't like to lose Arch. He needs to win, even if it is only to prove to himself. If plan A doesn't work, he always has a plan B ready." Pia explained.


"Huh? Pia? What are you saying? I just don't get it." She sniffed more into the tissue.


"Did Samar ever tell you why I left him?" Pia asked.


"Hmmm.. I asked him once and he said that there was a misunderstanding. I did not pester him for more. Honestly, I hated it when ever he spoke about you." Archana confessed.


"I don't blame you. Well, here's the misunderstanding. Ever heard Samar talk about a Namitha?" Pia raised an eye brow.


"Never." Archana replied too quick.


"Well, she used to work with us. Namitha, Samar and I joined joined the firm almost about the same time. Samar expressed interest in me the first time he spoke to me. I still can't believe that!" Pia said.


Archana gave a sad smile.


"Namitha was crazy about him right from day one, but I somehow was never interested in him. We were great friends but I never felt romantically inclined to him. But he kept trying to get me to go out with him. And Namitha kept trying to get his attention. One of the reasons why she and I were never friends. Anyway, she left the firm later. And he still tried to get me to go out with him much to the angst of more than half the girls in our office. One fine day I gave in. I saw a different side of him when we started dating and slowly I started falling in love with him." Pia sighed as if to take a break.


Archana by now looked like a eager puppy waiting to be fed.


"I was with him for about a year and then he proposed. We were planning the engagement too. But then I found out that Samar had a "thing" with Namitha before I ended up with him." She sounded angry.


Archana was more perplexed. "So what? It was before you guys started dating right?"


Pia shook her head. "You don't understand Arch. Samar asked me out every single day for about four years until I gave in a couple of years ago. Which means that while he was trying to get me to go out with him, he was also having a safe backup in Namitha. This continued until I agreed to go out with him soon after which Namitha left. I did not understand it then, but a couple of months before my engagement to Samar I ran into her and she told me the truth. Apparently he dumped her like a 'hot potato'. She's still heart broken."


Archana was quiet for a while. "So after you left him I became a 'Namitha' until you agreed to take him back?"


"Exactly. Like I said he doesn't like to lose. He'd forget you as soon as I would remember him. He needs an ego boost even when his priority is failing. That's him. He even accepted the episode with Namitha claiming that it shouldn't make a difference since we were not together then. He still stands by it. And that's why I left him. He loves me yes, I know. But not at the cost of others. That's plain selfish trying to win both ways."


"Then why are you willing to take him back now? Do you still love him?" Archana questioned.


To be continued.

~ Soumya

Remember to Forget - Part 2

Remember to Forget - Part 1

Samar looked around the dimly lit hall. Almost all the women out there were dressed in black and yet he knew that his Pia was not around. He felt a sinking feeling inside. Then for a second he thought that she might be in the washroom. He rushed towards the rest room area and waited for full fifteen minutes. She did not come out. He then went back to the party hall and did another quick scan. Still no sight of her. Finally after thinking for a while he dialed her number. Busy tone. "Phew!" he heaved a sigh of relief. At least she was okay. And then hit the pang of jealousy. "Whom could she be talking to?". He brushed away all these thoughts from his head and approached Nitesh who now had arrived at the bar.

"Hey Nitesh, have you seen Pia?" he asked.

"I did. But then you took her away from me." He sounded irritated.

"Not then you moron. Now. Probably within the last 20 minutes or so."

"Nope. Its funny that after all these years you still keep trying for her." He gave a condescending laugh.

Samar was annoyed. "I do not have time for this", he said and walked away.

As he passed by the balcony he felt her silhouette against the dim sun light. He looked closer. Yes it was her.

He walked towards her and she turned back hearing his footsteps and gestured "two minutes". She constantly spoke on the phone and sipped the wine every now and then. Samar came closer. She smiled at him. Samar was shocked. "This woman is crazy", he thought to himself. Until a month ago she had dodged his calls, messages, mails etc. But today she was acting like there was no problem what so ever between them. He knew he loved her and wanted her back. But he could not understand these reactions from her. He had expected her to be cold and thought that she would avoid him all evening. But no. She seemed just like the way she was years ago, until "that" had happened. He was confused. He felt the need for a drink but was skeptical about walking back to the bar again.

Almost like reading his mind, she handed him her glass of wine. With a shocked look on his face he accepted it. He felt her fragrance with every sip and he felt himself being enveloped with her presence. He felt her come close to him and kiss his neck. He felt her arms around his back. He felt her taste on his lip. Just when he couldn't take it anymore, he opened her eyes. There she stood, with an obvious distance between them.

"All right, see you soon." she hung up and then looked at him.

He was just staring at her without any reaction on his face.

"Hello." she said and waved her palm in front of his face. He blinked and looked away. Obviously embarrassed.

"Sorry, was thinking of something." He tried to cover up.

"Hmmm.... like always." she smiled.

"So who was on the call? Akash?" he questioned.

"No, Teesha. You remember her?"

Teesha was her college room mate and they had been friends for more than a decade now. Samar had met her a couple of times and had even taken her help in trying to woo Pia. But all in vain.

"Oh yeah. She still has the buck tooth?" he snickered.

"Don't be so rude. She's a mom now. Just had a beautiful daughter last month, I'm her god mother. I named her Tia, nice na?" she said proudly.

"Nice. Teesha and Pia. Now Tia. Talk about creativity!", he teased.

She gave him an angry look and then they both laughed.

He returned her glass of wine, she took a sip and casually asked. "How's Archana?"

He was stunned and the color was drained off his face. "How did she know her" he thought.

His thoughts were heard and Pia replied. "Of course I don't know her. I met Sameera last month at the mall and she told me about you both. Not that I asked. We were just talking and she said that you and someone called Archana were planning to get married. She's a doctor I hear. Since when did you start liking doctors?"

"Its not true. She's papa's colleague's daughter. We just hang around and she's dreamt up all these things." Samar said in disgust.

"I know." Pia replied.

"What?" Samar questioned.

"That its not true. You would never go for a girl like that I know. Definitely not a doctor." She said without any expression on her face.

Samar burst out laughing. He walked around the balcony like a mad man laughing constantly. Pia just stood in the corner and waited for him to stop.

"You don't talk to me for over a year. In fact you did not even want to listen to me. But this you are sure off?" He said looking hurt.

"Yeah, I know you well Samar. More than anyone else does. One of the disadvantages of having been in love with you." Her voice went low.

"I'm sorry Pia. Extremely sorry." He almost begged.

"Let it go Samar. Its all in the past."

He couldn't believe his ears. So she had forgiven him?

"So I'm forgiven? Pia don't play around please."

"Why do you think I'm here today Samar. I've thought about you every single day for the past year. I cannot go through this anymore. Probably I should have done this long ago. Yes, I forgive you." She sighed.

Samar felt deeply happy and rushed to hug her. She embraced him too and he held her tight for a while, soaking in the moment and the fresh smell of her hair.

"Thank you Pia, thank you so much. You don't know how much this means to me." He genuinely expressed his happiness.

"I know Samar. You're welcome. I feel light too now." She said with a smile.

Samar now had only one thought in his mind. He took the glass of wine from her hand and kept it away. He held her hand and brought her to the center of the balcony. Pia coped without any hesitation.

Samar went down on one leg and put his hand out.

"Pia, will you marry me?" He asked confidently.

Pia did not look shocked. She came closer to him, held his hand and said...

To be continued.

~ Soumya

Remember to Forget - Part 1


Samar was thinking hard. "Would she come?". He walked around with a glass of Glenfiddich, sipping way too often than necessary. Since she had not arrived even after half an hour he gulped it down and went to fetch himself another large.


Today was the company's anniversary celebration. An event when every one from the prestigious multinational gathered together to celebrate. Celebration was the last thing on his mind. He had come to see her. He knew she would be here; she was not the one to miss out on a celebration. But where was she? It had been more than a year since he saw her, and they had not ended things in a peaceful way. She had left him for something wrong he did. He knew that she had not forgiven him yet, but he wanted a chance to explain. He had been in love with her for about five years now, and he wanted a chance to ask for another chance.


She had carefully maintained her distance from him. Not answering his calls, not replying to his mails, chats, messages. He knew she was with someone else, but he knew that it was not right. He had always felt a strong connection with her from the first time he saw her. It had taken him years to get her to go out with him, but when she did, he knew that she was all his. It was not easy to forget such chemistry and move on to someone else. He knew that she till thought about him. This, he was sure of.


He was on his fourth drink when he heard her laugh. He turned back to look. There she stood, looking splendid in a fitted black dress. The dress was cut low, showing her perfectly arched back. And as usual she had stuck to minimal jewellery with just a chunky black watch and a thin frail necklace with a diamond pendant. He smiled. It was his gift to her on her previous birthday. She was wearing it today, meant that he still mattered to her.


Gulping down his drink, he walked towards her. She always made him weak in the knees. Years had passed but this had not changed. Be it on an occasion or in her pajamas she always had this effect on him. For a minute he thought about the last night they had spent together. Her soft touch, his strong arms pulling her close, the way their bodies entwined, her moans, her long hair trailing down his face, the honey color of her skin…. He felt a chill down his spine as he was jolted back to reality and to the fact that she was standing two feet away from him.


He approached her.


Pia?”


She turned towards him and looked straight into his eyes with her deep kohl lined eyes. He felt the world stop moving.


Oh hello, Samar.”


No surprise, no anger. So she did expect him to come. He took a deep breath and extended his hand out.


How have you been, Pia?”


She firmly shook his hand. Her touch did wonders to him that could not be described in words.


I’ve been good. Thanks.”


Won’t you ask how I am?”, he asked.


She smiled. “You look good. I guess you are doing fine.”


Samar felt nice. He knew of her fondness for the color black, and he had dressed up in a black suit. “So, she approves.” he thought to himself.


They kept looking at each other for a while and then someone interrupted her. Nitesh the guy who had a crush on her for the longest time. He almost jumped on her and held her hand never wanting to let go. The polite woman that she was, she made small talk with a smile.


Samar was feeling confident. Pia did not show any signs of anger or hurt. She seemed her normal self. He just stood staring at her wishing that the hand she was holding was his and not Nitesh’s. She caught his eye more than twice and did not mind. That moron Nitesh was just not letting her go. She looked at Samar helplessly. He knew her “Please help me” look and walked towards her and Nitesh.


Can I get you a drink Pia?” he casually asked.


Yes, please” she said and held his hand and walked away after waving a bye to Nitesh.


Phew! Thanks Samar. Nitesh has just not changed, has he?”


Its not his fault. You always have that effect on men, you know that.” He chided her.


I don’t know about others. But I sure did on you.” She teased.


You still do. Why do you think I’m here?”, he moved closer to her now.


What about the drink?”, she pushed him away.


He smiled and walked towards the bar.


Pia kept looking at him as he walked away. He was just as good looking as she remembered him. It had been quite a while, but he looked just the same. Charming, powerful, sexy. She saw a few female employees checking him out. As usual he did not care. She laughed to herself saying “He’s still the same.”


Samar was soon back and gave her a glass of her favorite red wine.


She took a sip, “Ummm… Nine hills. You remember.”


You don’t need to remember things that you don’t forget.”, he quipped.


Why is your hand empty. Have we exhausted the Glenfiddich yet?” she laughed.


I’m not the only one who remembers then. I’ll be back.”, he said and left to get himself a drink.

When he came back, she wasn’t around. He looked at all the surrounding tables, but she was no where to be seen.

To be continued.

~ Soumya

October Update

This year has flown by so quick. Its October already and I still remember the first day of this year like it was yesterday. Its been an extremely good year so far inspite of the small glitches here and there. This also happens to be the year where I have written the least number of posts. This year has been so eventful that I have been busy living life without looking back or pausing.

First the good news. Cal and me are going to be engaged in two and married in six months. This is the only part of my life that has been preponed. By choice. My choice. I always planned to get married when I was 28, but again I never thought I shall find a guy I want to be married to until then. Today, I just can't wait and I'm achieving this dream two years earlier. Yay me. Even though it all seems like a perfect fairy tale with a happy ending, it was not easy to get here. Being the second of the two daughters and getting married first is something I had to fight for. Even though my parents are all happy about it now it wasn't easy at first to convince them. I stuck to what I wanted to, my parents had to give in. After all Murphy doesn't let me have things easily, until I fight for it.

There were some good movies over the past few weeks. 'Barfi!' was good, only that during the entire movie I could think of every other movie where the scenes were similar(exact). The climax ripped straight out of 'The Notebook' was such a shame. Takes guts to make such a movie though. Priyanka was fab and Ranbir deserves another feather in his cap after 'Rockstar'. All I noticed about Ileana was her eye make up. 'English Vinglish' was a neat movie for the woman. The last such movie I saw was 'Mitr-My friend'. Both dealt with female emotions beautifully. Also, Priya Anand who played Radha in the movie was fabulous. Mehdi Nebbou was a bonus attraction.


I'm writing a regular post after a long time. My last few trysts with fiction was accepted well and I'm very glad. It helps that I have a terribly wild imagination. But for now, I'm concentrating on the reality that my life has to offer. A wedding is just not easy. There are so many intricacies involved which scares me at times. And I have wonderful friends around me for support. Since most of them are married by now, it helps to get advice from them. I suddenly feel all grown up.


Apart from love, the another emotion I've seen in abundance of late is jealousy. Its so funny how a union of two people can trigger various emotions in a hell lot of others. Some complain that its not right, some can't believe that its so right, some are wondering if my parents can afford the elaborate wedding, some are contemplating on the number of kilo grams of gold that I would carry, some are wondering if a girl like me who wears shorts and skirts can fit into a conservative Iyer family. Keep wondering, as I tie the knot with the man I love with complete blessings from our families. That's all him and I need.


Yes, its been a good year. And I have somehow managed to get the right balance in life.

~ Soumya

Getting Even


"I'm sorry, I'll never do it again. I don't know what I was thinking", quipped Saahil.

Niharika was quiet. Finally, "Do you love her?", she asked.

"No honey, I love you. It was just one time, a mistake. Please forgive me."

                              *A gun shot*

Saahil lay on the floor with blood oozing out of his temple. He wriggled for a while before going still.

"Now, we're even." Niharika said and walked away, cupping her swollen belly.

~ Soumya

Meenakshi


Her eyes show me the light of the day
 The crescent of her lip sings for my soul
 Her long black tresses show me there is hope
 Her being by my side makes me feel whole

Simi re-read these lines, before she shut the book.

“This would make any woman feel beautiful and loved”, she told herself.

Sigh. He was awesome. Every word he wrote seemed to mesmerize her. She re-read each of his verse several times a day. His words were simple, but they oozed feelings. This was the first time she felt love. That peaceful, serene feeling inside. Every written word spoke to her and many a time she shed a tear feeling the emotion. The rhymes caressed her and tickled her body. She did not know what it was, but she was in love with it. She looked forward to his magic every week. She lived for it. His poetry made love to her and she lived on thinking that he was her lover. Week after week, month after month.

Today, she put her feeble hand in mine
  I held her tight never wanting to let go
  She looked up and asked if I’d leave someday
  I felt her smile on my chest as I said no

Simi did not know how he looked. She did not know what kind of a person he was. He was a magician to her, who weaved magic with words. He was her knight in shining armor, who rescued her from the dark. He was her reason to wake up everyday and every Monday was her reason for living. His verses appeared every Monday in the local magazine. It had been about three months now and Simi had lost herself in his words. She had called the local magazine to find out something about him, but they had no information. They said that he sent them his work, via email and they were not authorized to disclose his email address.

There she stood by the nearby pond
  Soaking the sunset with her skin
  She turned and came rushing to me
  Brushed my cheek before kissing my chin

Simi wanted to meet him, to talk to him. She wanted to read his mind and see how much of a genius he is. She wanted to kiss his fingers that wrote these words. She wanted him to hold her and recite her favorite verses. She wanted to ask him, whom does he talk about in her verses? She wanted to tell him that she was jealous of his muse. She wanted to beg him to write something for her. About her. If not anything else, she just wanted to look at him. And die.

All she had was a name. Ansh.

Ansh, who was the most vital part of her today.

Her laugh intoxicates my heart
  Her touch makes me feel alive
  She is my reason for being
  In her love, I seem to thrive

Simi felt a strong pang of jealousy. Who was she, whom he spoke about? Was she his wife? His lover? His mistress? She can’t be as beautiful as he describes her to be. Simi hated her, for reasons obvious. Yet, unknown. She wanted to be her. In words and in reality. She wanted to be a part of Ansh. She wanted to see him, to show him that she was beautiful. She wanted to prove to him that she can trigger poetry too. She wanted him all for herself. Just for herself.

The next Monday, Simi rushed to her doorstep to collect the magazine. Grabbing it, she ran into her room and shut the door. She flipped straight to the last second page, where his verses always appeared. Today, a story stared back at her. She looked at the bottom of the page. “Kamal” it said. A fear gripped her. She hurriedly browsed all the pages from front to back, no glimpse of any verse. No mention of Ansh. Her heart seemed to crack as tears welled up in her eyes. It had ended just like the way it had begun. Suddenly. She slowly walked up to her drawer and pulled out a bunch of papers, tied together by brown twine. She read every page again and wailed out loud, expecting her screams to reach Ansh. She did not want anything now. All she wanted was for him to know that she will miss him.

Miles away, Ansh sat on a boulder by the sea, scribbling into his notebook. There was a bright smile on his face as he paused between words to complete his sonnet. A national monthly magazine had approached him to write for them and he wanted his first work there to be a master piece. He did not have to try much, he knew. He had the most beautiful woman by his side, who evoked poetry and passion in him. All he had to do was to let it flow.

He heard the chimes of an anklet behind him and turned around. There she came and touched his right shoulder. He felt his body lose control. She always had this effect on him. Meenakshi. Her bright eyes tapered perfectly like a fish tail. Whoever had named her, had named her perfectly, he thought. She kissed his cheek and sat next to him and let the wind blow through her hair. Ansh had met her 3 months ago at the railway station. It was the sound of her laugh that attracted him to her. Day by day their conversations grew and soon Ansh asked her to come home to live with him.

Meenakshi had agreed and today she had given him all possible happiness he could ask for. She thought that Ansh was the one who had saved her, but for Ansh, she was his lifeline. His reason for living. He put his arms around her and rubbed her right hand, which ended at a slant elbow. He turned to her side, lifted her charred chin, looked into her sole eye and kissed the remnants of her cheek. His lips brushed her jaw and they both laughed. This always happened.

Ansh did not think twice before including her in his life. He was in love with her. The fact that she was an acid attack victim did not bother him, nor did the fact that she had to beg to survive, after she was abandoned by her parents. All that mattered to him was her. Her zest for life inspired him, in spite of all that she had been through. She had taught him to accept life. And then start living. He would remain indebted to her all his life.

He shut his book and held her close to him. The sun slowly set, as he helped her cover her face with her veil.

In the dim light, he looked at her and felt pure happiness inside.

Meenakshi, who made his words flow and who made him want to live.

The End.

~ Soumya