Love Heals: My entry for the Get Published contest

The Idea: More often than not, love has been termed as a psychological disorder. They say it curdles the mind and bridges the gap between the brain and the heart and slowly the heart takes over. But what happens when a person who is known to understand emotions and to excise control over them starts losing control? Would they give up all that they believed in? 

What Makes This Story 'Real': This story deals with the most important question. "How does love happen.” It’s very easy to say that "I just fell in love". But what factors are responsible for the heart to skip a beat? What makes you willing to give up anything for one person? This story addresses these real life issues. 

Excerpt: Dr. Sharma looked at the clock on the adjacent wall. It said five minutes to six 'o' clock. It was a Saturday. From the past two months Dr.Sharma has been looking forward to Saturdays. It was a day when she could rest after her routine of appointments that would end at five. It was the day when her 'special' patient Armaan came to visit her. Armaan, who had not meant anything to her a while ago, but now he had become the center of her living. She was slowly falling in love with a troubled man and she knew that he was healing her more than she was healing him.

Armaan was frustrated at work. In an hour, he had an appointment with his psychiatrist. He had been battling depression for more than a year now and after severe cajoling and nagging from his wife, he had agreed to see a shrink. To his surprise he seemed to enjoy it and started feeling better right from day one. Dr. Ananya Sharma was one of the leading psychiatrists in the city and he was glad when she accepted him as a patient and as a case study. Armaan loved his wife immensely, but there was something about the doctor he was attracted to. As much as he brushed away the thought, he would keep coming back to it.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

P.S: Please go here and click on the heart to like this post. Please help me get published :)

~ Soumya

Lock & Key

I cannot explain what I feel inside
When the thought of you begins
Its a scary thought that my lyrics might not do justice
To your symphony that my heart now sings

Love would be too small a word
For this powerful emotion that I feel
It is now spread all over me
Nurturing everything and ready to heal

I had built walls all around me
Anger was then my super power
I'm so glad you unlocked my heart
In the barren field then bloomed a flower

You held my hand through each day
Letting me be the crazy me
Not once complaining about anything
Together we then became the crazy we

Each day still feels like the first
Every moment I can feel the butterflies
If there is heaven, its right here
In your arms, all perfect and nice

From strangers we became friends,
Not once realizing where we have come
Love seemed to be the obvious next move
There was nothing else that we could become

The little silly things that we share
From our loud laughs to our flushed smile
It did take a long time for this perfection
But when it came, it made the wait seem worthwhile

This was not our first attempt at love
But you showed me why it didn't work out with anyone else
We were meant to reach the destination together
And not to be stuck to our incomplete self

You are solely responsible
For introducing me to happiness
Its only been a year of being together
But forever we shall revel in this madness

~ Soumya

Role Play - Concluding Part

Role Play - Part 1Role Play - Part 2Role Play - Part 3

Subash dada put back the spotlight on the tub. The AD's camera screen now showed a lifeless naked body in the tub. Satisfied he looked at Atif and smiled.

"Cut!" Atif yelled loud.

Everyone reacted and started doing their chores, but Vishwas stood right beside the tub looking at Sania's pale body. Sweat was tricking down his face and he stood shivering staring at the limp body. It was obvious that Subash dada and the AD were involved in Atif's idea, as they did not even bother to check on Sania. They just left the set to take a break.

Atif sat on his chair with a smile. He had avenged his insult. He slowly got up from his chair and walked towards Vishwas. He held his shoulders and shook him.

"Vishwas, listen. Vishwas. It is okay. Relax, its over. You did good. Great." Atif said looking into his bloodshot eyes.

Vishwas finally stirred. "Ehhh? Its over right? I almost thought she'd pull me into the tub." He said still sounding scared.

Atif hugged him tight. "That was an awesome job my boy. You shall play the lead in my next movie too."

This was enough to get Vishwas back to normal. He smiled and wiped the sweat of his face with the arms of his shirt. Atif put his arms around his shoulder and moved him away from the tub.

"Come, lets go for a smoke." He said happily.

"Sure Sir, but....." Vishwas pointed towards the tub.

"Later. Its not like she's going to die right." He said and laughed aloud.

Vishwas joined in. He felt sadistic joy in doing so. Who cares, he got what he wanted anyway. Another movie with Atif. He was a pleased man.

"We also need to inform Anya that the movie is all hers now. She's an awesome girl." Atif sighed.

Vishwas was surprised. "Her too?" He questioned with an open mouth.

"I didn't ask for it. She came to me two months ago. The next morning she asked me for a role, I said I did not have a script yet. She left angrily but came to me every week to remind me that she's still available for any role." Atif explained in pride.

"Then why did you choose Sania?" Vishwas was confused.

"Sania is a better actress. Simple. If only Sania had been like Anya outside set, she'd still be here. I even would have got her an award. I know about five members in the jury this year. But sadly for her, it was not meant to be. I have established so many stars, she won't be one among them." He said in a hurry to head out.

"But word is out that Sania is in the movie. She already is a small time actress. And more over Anya just looks like Sania and that too not exactly, I know the difference." Vishwas said.

"Vishwas, just relax. Your part is done. With a little makeup Anya can easily become Sania. Nobody will notice. Sania will go missing after the movie, and Anya will continue to my next movie, where we shall "launch" her." Atif said quoting in the air.

"Why can't you tell the media that it was an accident and you just had to replace her?" Vishwas was more curious now.

"Idiot! Its not of your business. Just do as you are told. Who would work with a team where an actress was killed accidentally? Use your brain. You got what you asked for right? So just forget all this." Atif was angry. 

"Sure Sir, you are the boss. Can we go for a smoke now?" He asked with a smile. He obviously was pleased with Atif and himself.

"Hahahaha." Atif laughed out loud and put his arm around Vishwas and they both headed out.

Both stopped in their tracks when they heard a loud splash. They turned around in unison. And then froze.

Sania was sitting up in the tub with a big smile on her face. She stoop up and kept smiling. Totally unaware of her nakedness, she looked at Atif and Vishwas.

"How was it?" She asked.

Vishwas was about to faint but Atif held him. His mind was racing quickly.

"Sania..... we were just going to get help. Are.... you..... okay?" He mumbled with shock.

"What happened to you guys? Can't you see me standing here? Of course I'm okay. I just realized that I could hold my breath for longer that what I thought." She said with pride.

Vishwas was standing up now still in a state of shock.

"But you were in there for more almost five minutes Sania. That's physically impossible." Vishwas said with wide eyes staring at her from top to bottom.

Suddenly aware, she jumped out of the tub, grabbed her robe from behind the tub and wrapped herself in it. She seemed perfectly fine.

Atif stared at her with his mouth wide open. A lot of things were playing in his mind.

Vishwas kept on mumbling. "Five minutes. Five minutes... It can't be, it can't be. Anya! You are Anya right?"

Sania looked confused. "Anya who?"

Atif did not know what to say. "No one. He said Sania, not Anya." He managed to blurt out.

Sania didn't react but approached Vishwas. "Oh poor you, Vishwas. I'm totally alright. I realised half way down the scene that you guys wanted to make it look natural. So I played along holding my breath. I just wanted to see for how long I could hold my breath so I continued. After the AD moved his camera away I even began breathing here and there. Of course you guys were too worried to notice the air bubbles then." She pulled Vishwas's cheek as she said this.

Atif's face shone suddenly and he managed a nervous laugh thanking God secretly that Sania's hadn't figured out the truth.

"Yeah yeah, I just wanted to extract the best out of you. See, I told you, you were talented." He came close to her and patted her back and gave Vishwas a stern look.

Vishwas read the look right. "Awesome work Sania, you definitely had us worried. Brilliant acting. Kudos to you Atif, for choosing her." He gave them both an appreciating smile.

Sania beamed with happiness. "Okay, let me go take a shower and get ready for the next scene. When would that be?" She questioned Atif.

"Take your time. Get fresh, eat and take some rest. I'll complete Vishwas's solo scenes until then. I'll send someone to call you." He couldn't wait to get rid of her.

"Great. All the best Vishwas." She waved a bye and walked out of the set back to her trailer.

Lalit saw her approaching and quickly stubbed his cigarette and rushed to open the door for her.

"Thanks Lalit bhai." She said with a smile.

The assistant was confused but didn't say anything. He guessed that, she had just shot a scene that might have involved alcohol. Shaking his head, he went to the chai wala who had just arrived on the set with his tea kettle and small packs of Marie and Glucose biscuits.

Sania sat slowly down on her couch. She was trembling. She knew that Atif had wanted to kill her, but she was not the one to let go so easily. She would be more cautious now. She would just finish her job and leave. 

Meanwhile Atif was having a tough time talking to Anya. She was threatening to sue him and he was only getting more and more angrier. Thankfully he hadn't told her the entire plan about the killing, else the lady would have straight headed to the cops, gaining the publicity she needed desperately. He promised her his next movie along with a few ads and she finally calmed down.

"See you tonight." She said and walked away.

Atif sighed. He walked towards Vishwas who was lighting one smoke after another. The shock was evident on his face and his shirt was soaked in sweat.

"You got another?" He signalled for a cigarette.

Vishwas handed him a pack from which he extracted one and promptly returned the pack. He lit it using his lighter and took a deep drag silently.

"What if she knows the truth? That we tried to kill her?" Vishwas broke the silence.

"She doesn't know it and you please stop talking about it. It did not work, let it be. Let she finish the movie and walk away. We just have to put up with her until then. No more wrong moves. We need to be very careful." Atif said with caution.

"Okay all forgotten." Vishwas tried to force a smile.

"Come, lets finish your scenes for the day. Then we can call her and finish her stuff too and pack up." Atif seemed in a hurry.

The shoot continued smoothly for the rest of the schedule. Sania maintained her distance from Atif and her only interactions with him were regarding the scenes and nothing else. Atif even stayed away from the trailer. Vishwas too showed promise in his role and Atif was glad he had chosen him for his next movie as well. Sania was also a great actress and he was proud that he had chosen her. If only she had been like the way he had imagined her to be, things would have been so different. The technicians were instructed to just finish their work and leave. No one was to interact with the main cast. They had been working with Atif for a long while now and knew the repercussions if they disobeyed him.

The schedule went on for two months and soon the last day of the shoot arrived. Atif was known to promote his films alone, without his cast. He gave interviews, attended socials dos and even made appearances on reality shows. But all alone. The cast was to interact with the media only after the release of the film. This was already mentioned in the contracts that his actors signed. After the shoot, he would never meet his cast. Exceptions were made only when he wanted some scenes to be reshot. Else, after the last day of the shoot, he would meet the cast only during the premiere of the movie. The premiere for this movie was to be held a month later. Since, this was the last day of the shoot, he had arranged for a small party on the set once the shoot was all packed up.

Sania, Vishwas, Atif, Subash dada, the AD, the spot boy, and about a ten more junior artistes were the only ones at the party which was held around an old wooden table filled with drinks and food. A half cut cake was lying in one corner of the table. Everyone seemed to enjoy and relax. Atif approached Sania.

"Excellent work Sania. Thanks for doing the film. I hope to work with you again sometime in the future." He said with a smile.

"Sure Sir, thank you for signing and trusting me with your film." Sania sounded genuinely thankful.

"Welcome." Atif said and walked towards Vishwas.

Sania saw them exchange a few words and a few laughs from the corner of her eye. She was glad all of this was coming to an end. She wanted to free herself from this as soon as possible.

After a final round of goodbyes, everyone left the venue and went back to their usual lives.

Vishwas had had way too many drinks and was finding it difficult to drive back home. He was too dazed to remember what had happened in the party. He was too dazed to see the truck approaching his car from ahead. Then suddenly, Vishwas remembered nothing.

Atif was now back at the studio with the AD. They were here to edit and process the film. Atif sat in the dark room with the remote in one hand and a note book in another. The AD whose name was Anwar sat next to him, waiting for the show to start on the projected screen. The beginning credits began to roll. The background score was exactly like how Atif had wanted it, he looked at Anwar and smiled. Anwar returned the smile back and pointed to the font on the credits. Atif frowned. That was not what he had decided on.

"You were right. I shouldn't have hired that college kid for this work. I need to get back to him now." He said and scribbled something in his notebook.

The movie started. The first scene was the bathroom scene where Sania gets killed. Rest of the movie was about how she comes back to haunt her killers and then the movie moves to the past to show how the characters had actually met and what had happened. Atif smiled to himself knowing for sure that he had another success in hand.

Sania now appeared on the screen in her white robe. She looked splendid. Atif felt something stirring inside. He suddenly wondered if he had messed up his chances with Sania himself. The scene then shifted to where Sania drops her robe. He stared at her body in awe. She was a flawless beauty. Stunning to say the least. He felt the need to see her in person again. He needed her, he felt the urge to be with her. He felt something deep within which was something more than just need. More than lust. He felt a weird connect with her. He mentally decided to mend ties with her and try to win her. This time the right way and for the right reason. In the next scene Sania gets in to the tub and starts splashing water all over. Atif smiled, he was falling in love with her. He knew it now.

Vishwas slowly entered the scene. The lighting was perfect. Then came the struggling. Atif shifted in his seat. The scene had meant to be something else altogether. He felt nervous. Anwar was sweating and his hands were shivering. Both knew that they had come very close to murder. The scene unfolded exactly the way it had been planned. It looked so natural that Atif wanted to go and pull her out of the tub. They saw the look of horror on her face, the helplessness in her body, her silent screams, her failing battle. Atif felt tears well up in his eyes. How could he have tried to kill such an innocent being? Today he was very glad that their plan had failed. He slowly patted Anwar's hand. The scene was now over. 

The movie then moved to the scene where Sania begins to haunt Vishwas. Vishwas had done his part brilliantly. But Sania was not in the scene. Atif stood up and went back to the beginning of the scene. It showed a flustered Vishwas hiding behind a bed and Sania was to appear and scare him. He remembered shooting the scene, but Sania was not in the frame. Instead there was only a pale black shadow. He forwarded the scene and went ahead. Still no sign of Sania anywhere, just the black shadow. He was confused. Wasn't the lighting right? He then moved towards the past scenes which showed the courtship of the two characters.

Atif stood in shock. The scene showed Vishwas sitting alone in a park and talking to someone next to him. Sania was just not in the frame. Just when he was about to move forward he heard her dialogue. He stopped. Vishwas spoke and Sania's voice replied. But she was not seen. He was angry now. The actress was present only in the first two scenes of the movie. How could that be possible? He turned back to talk to Anwar, the AD and ask him what was happening. His eyes popped open.

In Anwar's chair, now sat Sania, with gleaming eyes. She stood up to reveal the silk white robe she was wearing. With a seductive smile she came closer to Atif and dropped her robe.

~ Soumya

Role Play - Part 3

Sania did not hear the first knock. She was too busy dreaming about Atif. She turned her back to the mirror and held her hair up with her hands and gave a seductive look to the mirror. Her back was slender and had the perfect arch. She smiled looking at herself. After two minutes, the knock came again. This time for a long time. Sania heard it now and frowned. Then she blushed. What if it was Atif. His spot boy had come and called her a few minutes ago, but she hadn't left. So maybe he himself had come to call her. She felt excited.

Quickly she covered herself with the robe and stylishly wrapped the shrug around her. She took a quick look at the mirror and adjusted her makeup. The makeup lady had done a good job she thought. She was worth the money she was getting paid. Adding some gloss to her lips, she rushed and opened the door with her widest smile, which soon turned into an expressionless curve.

Lalit, her assistant stood there looking impatient.

"Sorry madam, I got a little late. The spot boy came to call you again madam. Are you ready?" He said in a single breath not waiting for her reply to his apology.

"Hmmm..." Sania said but kept looking behind, expecting Atif to walk in any minute. Nothing of that sort happened.

"Go tell the spot I'll be there in two minutes." She said, rammed the door and went inside.

Lalit was offended. He lit a smoke and kicked the mound of dust next to his feet. 

"These so called stars and their tantrums." He mumbled and went into the set looking for the spot obliging Sania's order. After having delivered the news he walked back to the trailer and continued smoking and cursing. If only he hadn't had an argument with his boss and quit his job at the celebrity management center he was working with for the past five years, he wouldn't have had to be an assistant to a B grade actress. 

The door opened and Sania stormed out without saying a word. Lalit gave himself a face palm. How much more crap would he have to put up with he wondered. He locked the door and leaned against it smoking wondering how life messed him to this extent.

Sania was walking towards the set. The set for today was the same as yesterday. A room made in the garage of an old apartment. There was a group of women waiting outside the room today. Just like the way it had been yesterday. All of them were there to catch a glimpse of the "dashing" director. Atif usually spoke to all of them and Sania had heard that occasionally some women even accompanied him back to his place. She felt a pang of jealously but continued walking. She turned to give a last look at the crowd and turned away immediately. But, she stopped again. Almost too quickly, she turned back and looked at one particular woman in the crowd.

The lady looked beautiful. Sharp and clean features with black lustrous hair that fell till her waist. She was dressed in a simple blue dress that accentuated her curves to perfection. Unlike the others she was not peeking into the set. She seemed impatient and kept looking at her watch every minute. It was almost like Atif had kept her waiting. Sania continued to look at her and was shocked. How could this happen? The same height, the same complexion, the same features. That lady in the crowd looked exactly like her!

Sania was interrupted by the spot boy.

"Madam, Sir getting angry. Please come in soon." He almost begged sounding obviously upset at being given a sound hearing by Atif.

Sania looked at him with a blank expression. She then gave a last look to the woman and walked into the set. As she was about to enter she saw Vishwas, the newbie who was chosen to play the lead opposite her. They had met during the brief introduction session and had shared a instant camaraderie. She smiled at him as she walked inside. Atif looked at her with disgust, he had still not forgotten the incident that had happened the previous day. He had expected her to "offer" herself to him, but that did not happen. He had stood there completely turned on, but she had just sent him away. He was angry and offended. This was one of the reasons he preferred to work with new comers. They were willing to do anything to get to act in a movie. He never cited a clause, but they were more than willing themselves to show appreciation. However, this had not happened with Sania. But since the movie announcement was made, there was little that he could do about it now. He gave her another angry look and walked away to have a talk with Vishwas.

Sania wondered what was wrong with Atif. Had she been wrong about him? Yesterday he had seemed so cool and interesting, but today he felt luke warm and bored. Sania thought maybe her attraction was too soon that was based on a first impression. She turned back to look at Atif who was busy explaining the scene to Vishwas. The actor seemed to nod his head vigorously. Then something strange happened. Both the men turned towards her and Atif gave Vishwas a weird look, who nodded in return. Atif continued to stare at Sania, making her feel very uncomfortable. She looked away and explored the set.

It was exactly the same as the previous day. She came closer and inspected the water in the tub. It was soapy and warm, just like the way she had instructed. It even smelt good. She looked around, there were only two technicians on the set. One held the camera and the other adjusted the lights. Atif's chair that had "Director" written on it was placed behind the main camera. His jacket was tossed hastily on it. Suddenly Sania felt uncomfortable. This was not how she felt yesterday. Today she almost felt like a pariah. Like she did not belong there.

"You ready, Sania?" Atif growled from behind.

"Yes, lets start." She said faintly.

"Okay, Vishwas come here." Sania looked at Vishwas who came running like an obedient puppy.

"Sir." He said and stood with his hands behind his back.

"So, we'll continue from yesterday's shot. Sania will get into the tub and the camera will focus on her for a minute. Next you enter, we'll only start with your shadow first. So you'll walk in as soon as Subash dada changes the light. You place your hands on her neck and push her into the water. No dialogues, no reactions from your end. We only need your shadow for this shot." 

Vishwas nodded.

Atif then turned towards Sania. "The minute he pushes you inside the water, you act like you are struggling. You flap your hands and legs inside the water continuously until the light comes back to normal. Then you hold your breath and stay still. The camera will focus on you for another minute. I don't need air bubbles nothing. Put your head out of the water if you must, no problem."

Sania was relieved. She was not sure of holding her breath for more than thirty seconds in water. She decided to keep her head above the water throughout. Any way the camera would focus only on her remaining trembling body. Later she can lie still for thirty seconds which would show that she is dead. She suggested this to Atif, he agreed and nodded.

"No problem, as long as you are fine with it. Vishwas, be careful. The lady is delicate." He said with a snicker.

Sania unwrapped her shrug and stood in the white robe pretending to ignore the snicker. This was not the man she had met yesterday. Something felt weird. Maybe she formed an opinion of him too quick. She made a mental note to herself to be careful. She decided to tread carefully and not get carried away by his charms. Maybe he expected every actress to sleep with him on the first day itself, probably that's why he is behaving irrational today. A thought went back to the crowd she had seen outside. Its better for Atif to go to bed with any of those women, she did not want it anymore. Or maybe tonight he could spend the night with the woman who had looked just like her. It would make no difference to him obviously. She felt disgusted and bile began to rise up her throat. She looked up, stood still and let the moment pass. Thank God, she did not fall prey to Atif. 

"I'll be strictly professional. I'll finish this movie and end all contact with him." She told herself.

"Ready guys? Subash dada, two minutes after she enters the tub change the light. I only want Vishwas's shadow. And when the struggling stops, switch back the normal light. Okay?" Atif addressed the crowd.

Subash dada, the light man who had worked on every movie of Atif's showed a thumbs up and began adjusting the lights.

Atif looked at Sania with a glint in his eye. "Ready?"

Sania turned her back towards him, removed her robe, tossed it behind the tub so that it can be hidden from the camera, quickly got into the tub and readied herself. She nodded and looked away.

"Lights." The almost dim light was on that fell straight onto the tub. Almost like a spotlight.

"Camera." The camera man cum assistant director moved to stand vertically adjacent to the bathtub and stood ready to take close ups.

Atif finally peered into his camera and screamed "Action."

Sania began playing with the warm soapy water, seductively splashing it all over her face. She occasionally lifted her naked leg up in the air and caressed it with her hands, just like she had seen some top actresses do the same in soap ads. The camera kept rolling. She then unhooked the hand shower and began spraying water all over her face. The AD was taping closeups of her face. She fluttered her eye lids, made expressions, bit her lip, looked sexily right into the camera. She did everything she had to do, to get half of the male population to watch the movie. The AD was impressed. After finding sufficient closeups he moved back.

Atif signalled to Subash dada who immediately changed the light to a pale yellow that cast a pale shadow on the wall behind the tub. Vishwas slowly entered the scene. Atif's camera focused on the wall and the AD still focused on Sania. Vishwas's shadow came beautifully on the wall and Atif smiled at Subash dada who nodded back. Vishwas walked slowly towards the tub and parked his rough hands around Sania's neck, who pretended to be surprised. The AD came closer and Sania started splashing around the tub creating a struggling scene. She looked at the AD, who was still focusing on her face. She was angry, wasn't he supposed to focus on her body so that she could keep her head above water. Just as she was thinking about it, Vishwas started pushing her head into the water. The shadow on the wall clearly showed a murderer drowning his victim. Sania was really struggling now, she caught hold of Vishwas's hand and tried to free herself, but he was too strong for her.

She couldn't understand what was happening. She was fighting for breath now and her face was turning pale. She put her hands up hoping Atif would stop the scene knowing that she was genuinely drowning instead of acting, but he continued taping. She pulled herself up above the water as much as she could and looked at Atif. He seems undisturbed busy recording the scene as if this is exactly how it was supposed to be. The reality then suddenly hit her. This was what Atif had instructed Vishwas. He wanted Vishwas to drown her for him. He wanted to kill her and blame the shooting on the pretext. As Sania was struggling for breath, it all flashed in front of her eyes. Her audition, meeting Atif for the first time, the nudity clause, the white robe, her trailer, Lalit, the crowd, the woman who looked like her........ Her thoughts stopped. The woman who looked like her was no coincidence. Was it? No, it couldn't be. She was expected to replace Sania once she was dead. Oh God, it all made sense to her now. They would just dispose her body and continue shooting with the look alike and act like nothing happened.

Sania's eyes were filled with tears as she felt her body go weak. She finally took her hands of Vishwas's hands and let go of her body. That's it. It was over. Her career, her life everything.

She wanted to take a last look at Atif before she closed her eyes, but it was too late. Within the next minute, her body settled at the bottom of the tub. With no air bubbles. Just like the way Atif had wanted it.

To be continued.

~ Soumya