A difficult love shred into pieces in the chaotic city

Dadar Station, 21.45 PM:

It was scorching hot this evening. Braving the sweat, the vast swathe of human masses jumbled at one end of the station to the other, crowded like packed eggs in a basket, fighting for space. Hardly any space could be spotted to breathe and anxious heads cum legs occupied every space of the cement coated floor   Trains were running late.

The mobile tea vendors moved at brisk pace, struggling to find pace and space, broken and coarse voices could barely be heard, “Chai..chai..cutting chai..cutting cutting’, as siren whispered and loud voices took center stage in the commotion. The guy at the newspaper stall, sported a monotonous look and the expressionless face witnessed this routine scene of commuters flocking to the crowded Dadar station. The army officer rested his leg on plastic chairs on one end and the other end, the wall offered support to his back. The jawan’s black rifle hanged on the back.

The short-haired and tall fellow walked at leisurely pace and space, wriggling his way out of the Churchgate-Andheri slow local ambling at the station. Plodding his steps and unfazed by the mammoth crowd, he slips his hand inside his jeans pocket, fingers struggling inside the jeans pocket to fish the cellphone buried between handkerchief, a pack of classic mild cigarette and coins. At last, the cellphone singing to the tune of Kamli found some space, stuck like glue to the ears.

‘Hello,’ his cheerful tone flirted on the line. Suddenly, a loud explosion reverberated and almost broke his earlobe. Bang!! He tried to find his balance, seeking the support of the countless steel and cement pillars at Dadar station. He feels a dizzy sensation running through his body. The smattering of blood run cold through his ears and face, on the spur of the moment he went went black and pale. He bends on his knees and fell on the floor.

People were running for their lives, crushing bodies in the stampede as splinter of mental shards on the roof flew in all directions and crackling concrete, mental paneling exploded. The cries of babies, children and mothers lunging out desperate voices, hitting their stomachs and army jawans, cops running in all directions with their guns perched on top of their shoulders.

His eyes are wide open, feeling the burning sensation of blood oozing through his body and a forced smile. He slowly closed his eyes with pain and collapsed.

Six Months earlier:

Radhika lit a cigarette outside the pan shop and looked around, in the hunt for a good story to air on the new channel, ‘Maharashtra 7  a Week.’ The sea breeze and gusty wind gently stroke her curly hair as she takes a deep drag, scouting the crowd at Barista, double decker red colored BEST bus slowly finding pace and the street urchin doing a jig. ‘Is there a story somewhere?’ her anxious eyes and mind run wild with excitement.

He looks around at the street in South Mumbai, confused and bedazzled at the same time, trying to find his feet in this city. ‘Will I be able to keep pace with my new life in the city?” He feels restless, scanning the crowd who is on a life-long rush and seem to have no time for an outsider like him. Radhika spotted him.

She walks towards him and non-chalantly asks, “Hey!! new in Mumbai?”

He stammers, “Yeah!!!

She tries a joke, “If you got the pace, you’ll survive. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone and show the money, you’ll get everything in the city. Just never give up and run away.

He thought, “I have seen her somewhere” but couldn”t recollect. Trying to beat his grey cell without any success, he innocently asked, “Are you a TV actor?”

She smiles, “At least, someone recognized me. Not a soap opera bahu, though. Radhika Singh from Maharashtra 7 a Week.” She offered  a tight handshake to him.

“Now I remember. Manav from Bhopal. I am mass communications student at Xavier’s.”

“Cool,” she sheepishly says, aware that his eyes is focused on her.

Radhika and Manav kept meeting each other in cafes, holding hands and running together, along with her TV crew, chasing celebrities and politicians, keeping a track for stories that would be making headlines in the evening. Manav would rush home early in the afternoon and slouched on the sofa, admiring, Radhika Singh, reading news at 10 every evening

They took a cab at Churchgate. The cabbie adjusted the rear window, gazing on Radhika’s crystal face, light lipstick and crystal face.

She whispers to him,”He is looking at me.”

“Let him! How long can you hide beauty?”

She slapped him gently. Playing with her curly fair, twisting them into knots, he tells, “You are so beautiful. Love is an oxymoron. The more I yearn for you, the more I feel you are faraway from me. Why is it so?

She abruptly removes his hand on her waist, “Dude, it’s not love. It’s just that we need each other and living in the moment. Love or needs is an ever-changing emotions.

Manav pushes his lip towards her but she moved her face away. “Get real. I am engaged to someone. It has been fixed by my parents and I will soon get married to him.”

He kept silent throughout the trip to Dadar. They walk together and finally he broke his silence. “But, how can you do that to me? He doesn’t love you like I do. And, now you are telling me this crap.”

She looks straight into his eyes and angrily says, “Listen. It’s been fixed by my parents and I can do little about it. Ashish Bhendre is owns a pharma firm and he will provide me with a secure life. I mean, we had a nice time together. If it’s becoming an obsession, it’s better we call it quit.”

Before walking away from him, Radhika turns around before saying, , “Please don’t try to contact me ever again.” Manav is at a loss of words as he watches Radhika disappearing in the dust and lost in a crowd gone berserk.

Manav tried calling Radhika several times but she cuts his calls and doesn’t revert to the 1000 messages sent on her blackberry.


Radhika is sitting in her room, shedding tears, smoking like a chimney and gulping the green bottle of Apple flavored Smirnoff. She knows that she has to take a decision today. Finally, she mustered all the courage in the world and dialed her parents’ land line. They are engaged in a heated debated and all of a sudden, she raised her voice, “Listen! Maa! You cannot decide my future like that and I ain’t coming back. Ashish is a bastard and I just uncovered his reality. He is involved in fraud and I will make sure that he is exposed on TV.”

“No!”, she yells. “Who are you, Dad to decide my future? Just because both of you have given birth to me doesn’t mean that you will decide what is good for both of you. It’s my life for fuck sake and I have decided to be happy by marrying Manav. I am not coming back home and it’s my final decision.”

Radhika calls Ashish to broke the engagement. She feels relieved for taking a major and independent decision in her life. It’s pure liberation, she prances on her feet.

Sitting in the make up studio, she consults her note and glanced at her watch. She has got one hour before going live. She calls Manav who jumps on his feet with excitement, “Hello.” Radhika smiles, “The reason why I love him so much. My Manav is selfless, cute and loves me like anything. How can one be so selfless in love!”

There must be a problem with the network, she reasoned. Manav said a cheerful Hi and in one minute, the cellphone went dead. This is the power of love. We need to go through thorns to be with the one we love. That’s ok. I will surprise him by landing at his house once I am done with the evening news.

Her romantic dream is broken when the junior editor, Arti, furiously entered the room, “Radhika come fast. Something serious happened and you gotta go on air now.”

“What happened?” Radhika asks.

“Just come, babe,” Arti almost ordered her senior.


22: 00 PM

Hi, I am your anchor Radhika Singh. Welcome to Maharashtra 7 a Week, she adjusts her glasses to read the news, sporting her new pony-tailed hair do. She moves away from her usual chirpy self on TV to adopt a sober tone. “A terrorist attack has rocked Dadar station at 9.45 PM. More than 20,000 people are trapped inside trains catching fire. At present, 200 people are dead and so many injured. We don’t have the exact figure. Today, Mumbai is crying. The Chief Minister will soon make a statement. ‘The Resilience of Mumbai’ is shaken once gain. I am Radhika Singh and thanks for watching us. Good evening.

Radhika packs her bag before jumping into the silver Maruti Swift, trying to call Manav but the phone is not ringing. She is worried and swerves her way to his apartment at Andheri. Today, no power will stop her.


Manav is lying in the pool of blood, a spark showing on his expressionless and motionless face. He slept peacefully with his eyes wide open, the crystal clear image of Radhika’s face is forever etched in his dying soul.




  1. A poignantly crafted story of love and longing against the backdrop of the City of Dreams, Mumbai, where many do not reap wealth and love. Manav leaves the world with memories of love while Radhika survives albeit a poorer person without Manav’s selfless love.
    It was a pleasure reading Vishal.

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