She switched on the radio and entered the kitchen to cook something, so that the incessant rumbles in her stomach would stop. She heard ‘Yaad piya ki aane lagi..Haaye bheegi bheegi raathon mein…’ wafting from the radio in the kitchen. She tried to wipe away the memories that were associated with that song, but she could never do it. Every time she tried to ignore the memories while listening to that song, she was pushed into the oblivion even more. She put on the frying pan and started dicing some veggies. Slowly, a drop of tear started making its way down. She wiped it off and continued cutting the vegetables into small shreds. She decided to prepare Panneer fried rice and Gobi Manchurian gravy which was her all time favourite. Soon, tears began to flood her eyes like a broken dam. She stopped cooking and switched to another radio station. She waited till she could completely get over her sobs, ceasing only when the song changed to Sheila Ki Jawani. She went back to work as if nothing had happened.
Aarushi lived a mundane life in her posh deluxe 2 BHK apartment in Mumbai. She was working in Infotech as a senior programming analyst. Her mechanical life was beginning to take a toll on her. She was 26 and all alone. Though she was beautiful and attractive, she had a very low self esteem. She left her parents back in Delhi as they were pestering her to get married. Neither was she interested in commitment nor did she have a boyfriend. She was unreceptive to boys and never welcomed them into her life. She severed off ties with her old friends who were keen on asking unwanted questions about her life and make her feel even more low. She whiled away her days by indulging in painting. She painted whatever she saw. She painted truth, her hidden dreams, and her varying moods. Finally, she painted ‘him’. She painted him as she knew him back during those ‘lovely’ days. She considered that as her masterpiece. She would just sit and look at that painting for long hours. Except that particular painting, she sold the others to an art exhibition. Her paintings were displayed under the pen name ‘Dheeksha’. She loathed publicity, hence, she chose a pseudonym for her paintings.
Once, she was asked by the exhibition manager over the phone, “Which painting do you consider as your masterpiece, Ms. Dheeksha?”
“Well, that’s a painting which stays close to me. I have not displayed it in the exhibition,” she replied, rather bluntly.
“Achcha! Why don’t you make a public appearance? There are many admirers for your paintings. They are eager to meet you and interact with you.”
“Well, I am not eager to publicize myself. I prefer to paint anonymously under the pen name ‘Dheeksha’.”
“So, ‘Dheeksha’ isn’t your real name?”
“Well, madam, why aren’t you interested in this chat? You seem to be lost. Even when you visited our office to display your paintings, you were aloof. May I know what’s bothering you?”
“That sounds as a personal question, Mr. Srinivas. You can hang up rather than asking such questions.” She turned all rude.
“I am sorry, madam. I don’t have the rights to interfere in your life. My sincere advice is, be happy always. Have faith in God.”
“But I have got no faith in God for the past ten years.” She hung up abruptly and switched off her mobile in an instant. She turned hysterical, plopped down on her bed, and buried her face in the pillow. There it was, again. Her sudden outbursts for reasons unknown. She had also visited a psychiatrist, but to no avail. Her unendurable pain became almost stagnant in her life.
She cried and cried till her heart ached. Yes, she painted him, finally, and kept him as her masterpiece, but she lost him in her real life. She lost him ten years ago. He was her first love at the sweet age of 16.
The year 2000 held a lot of memories for her. She fell in love with Abhinav, the curly haired guy, who was famous for his Hindi poems. Their love story was sweet, mushy and innocent. They exchanged letters and met up as often as they could. Both were multi-talented, since they shared common interests. It was as if they were made for each other. But there was always a problem of communication between them. Sometimes letters were also not exchanged. Their parents would either be around them or they would be too busy with their exams to pen letters. Their only way to spend time with each other was to meet in school. Technology was not developed in India and mobile phones were really expensive. Calling to your loved one’s land-line number seemed dangerous. And that’s why their love story ended soon.
One fine day, Abhinav was gone. He could not inform Aarushi. There was a miscommunication. When she contacted his friends to know about his whereabouts, they were as lost as she was. Abhinav and his family were nowhere to be seen in that area. Aarushi asked his neighbours whether they could provide any information about his whereabouts. She even tried visiting browsing centers and searching for Abhinav Sharma via Google, but nothing worked out. She started waiting for him, day after day, hoping that he’d call her or send her a letter. Nothing of that sort happened too. And that’s when she lost faith in God and turned into a lifeless being.
She had been waiting for him from that day. She knew that she was turning insane with each passing minute, but she always hoped for the best. All she needed was to see him at least once in her life. She was waiting for that moment. She dreamed about that moment. She delved in those sweet memories. It was those memories that brought a smile on her face. It was those memories that acted as a catalyst in her life. She knew that even if she sees him, he won’t be able to recognize her. ‘Worse, he would have got married already and living a happy life with his partner,’ she thought. She shuddered at the thought of her Abhinav with another girl. She had stopped her tryst with boys as she was not able to forget him. She never allowed herself to fall in love again.
First Rays of Sun was a band formed by Bobby, a few years ago. They churned out albums after albums that went on to become chartbusters. The creator of the band was a most sought after pop singer and music composer. He was the one who brought back the essence of pop music in India, but he had not delivered any performances nor had he made any public appearance. People never knew how he looked like. For most days, he stayed inside his recording studio. If he had to go out, he would be heavily armed with bodyguards, so that unexpected shutterbugs kept out of his way. He also stayed out of social media, asking his band to create a common account page where they could post updates. However, as days passed by, he felt that he should come out in the open. Something prodded him a lot and his public appearance would be the only way to steer clear his enigma. Hence, he was gearing up for a live performance. He had planned it to be a grand musical show.
“So, who is that special person whom you are about to invite?” asked Pranav, a young and talented singer in Bobby’s band, while fine tuning his guitar.
“She is the one who instills music in me,” Bobby said.
“What?! You haven’t introduced her to me. Who is she?”
“Even I don’t know who she is. I haven’t seen her before.”
“Speak some sense, Bobby. How can you invite someone whom you have not seen or met?”
“I am inviting her to see her,” said Bobby with a wink.
“We cordially invite you to our grand debut musical show Chaahat, on the 16th of October, 2010. The show features the pop sensation Bobby and his team. An evening filled with the true soul of pop music. Please do join us and make the show a grand success. The venue details have been communicated to your manager.
First Rays of Sun”
The invitation read. Aarushi couldn’t believe her eyes. She read it again and again till she felt exhausted.
“Wowwwww!” She jumped in sheer excitement.
“I – I can’t believe this. I have been invited to Bobby’s show. Oh my God! Am I imagining things?! I am going to see Bobbyyyyyy.”
Aarushi was a great fan of Bobby and his band First Rays of Sun. She never missed a single album of his. Hum Kab Milenge, sang and written by Bobby was her favorite. She felt that she could easily relate herself with his songs. She even thought that she could move on with her life and start loving Bobby. She was such a crazy fan of him. The thought that she was going to see him for the first time made her go nuts. She learnt that the invitation was first sent to her art exhibition. So, she called up the manager, Mr. Srinivas.
“Sorry to disturb you, sir. What was actually addressed in the letter that came along with this invitation? You refused to send that letter to me stating that it should be checked for authenticity, in order to prevent stalkers, blah, blah, blah….”
“Calm down, madam. I’ll read it out to you. It is indeed sent by Bobby himself. He is a polite man. He hadn’t even addressed the letter directly to you. Well, it states ‘Hi, this is Bobby. I am a great fan of Dheeksha’s works. Her paintings are just out of the world. I want to meet her. So, I invite her personally to my debut musical show.’”
Aarushi pinched herself to know whether that was all really happening.
“I have no words to say, sir. I am Bobby’s craziest fan, but I never knew that he would be a fan of my works.”
“This is a miracle, madam. I think you might have a great future with Bobby.”
“What do you mean?”
“Er – I meant that you might work along with him. For example, you could paint his music and he would sing your paintings. Umm..Am I sounding funny?!”
“Oh, cut the crap, Mr. Srinivas!” Aarushi roared at the other end and hung up.
‘Noooo…I am in love with my Abhinav. I have been in love with him for the past ten years. Nothing can change me. I am just infatuated with Bobby. That’s it. There is nothing more to it. There is no more love in my life.’ She reassured herself by looking at her masterpiece.
Facebook was a recent phenomenon. Though Aarushi was in Orkut, she could never find Abhinav Sharma. There were lots of Abhinav Sharmas and some even had profile pictures that were gross. She also got in touch with her high school friends whose mutual friend list never had an Abhinav Sharma. Hence, as a last resort, she joined Facebook and searched for him, but she couldn’t find anyone even vaguely resembling to the Abhinav that she was searching for. Losing hope, she was about to log out, when she found ‘First Rays of Sun’ band’s official page. Though she knew that she wouldn’t find Bobby’s photo in it, she just visited the page and listened to their super-hit numbers. All of a sudden, she was flooded with Abhinav’s memories. She could never fathom why Bobby’s songs always brought Abhinav’s thoughts along with them. It was the most inscrutable conundrum.
Bobby adjusted the guitar that hung from his shoulder. He was giving his rehearsal a final shot. He hoped that the audience would love him. More than that, he hoped that Dheeksha would love him. He was going to see her for the first time. He prayed to God that she should turn up for the show. He had waited for this particular day. He just wished that she would acknowledge him. That was enough for him. He could never believe himself that he had fallen in love with a girl just through her paintings. He didn’t even care whether she was married or not. He just wanted to meet her and express his feelings towards her.
Aarushi entered the venue with the invitation card. She acquired a place in the third row, keeping her fingers crossed. She never imagined that she would be invited by Bobby himself. Her heart beats raced higher as she waited for him to appear. She wanted to see his face. She wanted to ask him to reveal the secret behind his soul-stirring songs. ‘If I get a chance to talk to him personally, I would invite him either for coffee at a restaurant or dinner at my home’, she thought. Immediately she regretted her thoughts. She mentally cursed herself for showing too much interest on him. ‘How could I even think about dinner, when I am still clinging on to my first love? Perhaps, Abhinav would be my first and last love. Forever in love, alone.’ She sniffed at her thoughts.
“Dear friends, brothers and sisters….A happy musical evening to you all!” The emcee began his introduction in a sonorous tone.
After a few testimonials about Bobby and his band, the emcee spoke again.
“We are not going to make you wait anymore. It’s high time that you must know who Bobby is. Let’s begin the countdown. 5…4…3…2…1…And here comes Bobbyyyyy…The pop star of India…”
Festoons and fireworks burst up as the spotlight centered on Bobby. The open stage, coupled with the chill breeze enticed Aarushi. She slowly closed her eyes as Bobby began strumming a lilting prelude on his guitar.
“Hum kab milenge jaaneman….” Bobby began and lifted his face to show to the entire world in front of him.
“Ooooooo…” Aarushi began cheering along with the crowd. However, her voice faded away soon. Her heart sank when she saw Bobby. Everything around her came to a halt. The strum of the guitar and the blaring synthesizers were muted. A stony silence prevailed, a silence which only she could feel. Blood gushed throughout her veins. The world ceased to exist as she stared at Bobby. That face, which she had longed to see for the past ten years, was before her, singing a song that could sear only her soul.
“Abhinavvv….” She exploded, but her voice was bogged down by the music.
She wept. Nobody noticed her. She was the only one to weep amidst a crowd of smiling faces.
Soon, the song ended. A serene aura hung over the crowd. They were contented on seeing Bobby, finally.
Then Bobby spoke, “Helloooo my dear friends…..How are you all?”
“Ooooooooooooo…” The crowd roared back.
“As you all know, I am Bobby. Sorry, I think it’s time to reveal myself. My original name is Abhinav. I adopted the name Bobby, because the industry required it..ha ha ha..” He laughed. The crowd cheered along with him.
“This is my first public appearance. And I am here to entertain you with more of my songs. Before that, I have tell you something important. I have been inspired by someone to create such music. Are you all eager to know who my inspiration is?”
“Yessssss….” The crowd chorused in unison.
“Well, it’s a girl.”
Tears flowed from Aarushi’s eyes. ‘So, there is a girl in Abhinav’s life.’
“I had been in love with a girl for a long time. That’s why I named my band as First Rays of Sun, which is the meaning of her name.”
A fake smile appeared on Aarushi’s lips as she knew that he was referring to her.
“But I was blinded by love that I couldn’t understand myself. The girl whom I currently refer is someone else, not the one whom I had been in love with.”
Once again, Aarushi’s face dropped. She knew she had to face the reality one or the other day. The time had come. Abhinav was in love with someone else. He was not hers anymore.
“This girl whom I am talking about inspired me to create music. I could relate myself to all her paintings. I think she painted my whole life. I gave my heart away to her. I have not seen her before or know anything about her. This show was an excuse to see her. I hope that she had turned up. Dheeksha, please come up on the stage wherever you are. I am proud to say that I love you. Please do come, Dheeksha. And forgive me if you’re married. I didn’t even care about that. I just want to express my feelings. Come up, Dheeksha.”
The entire hall stood in awe. Their eyes frantically searched for Dheeksha. Abhinav could hear his thudding heartbeats.
Up went Aarushi. She climbed the steps that led her to the grand stage. All eyes were on her. She walked elegantly and stood in front of Abhinav. She smiled as if there was no going back.
Now, it was the turn of Abhinav’s world to cease.
“Aarushi…” He whispered under his breath.
“I know. Love can be really weird at times. But, if two souls are destined to be together, then that is it.”
Aarushi spoke through choked tears.
There was no time to speak anymore words, as they hugged each other and the crowd cheered on.
Hope you all enjoyed this story, which I wrote three years ago. 😀