Left Right…Romance Chowk: Panda love and Anarkali

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Chapter 6: Panda love and Anarkali

“Abe Anarkali, at least say something? Why are you acting pricey like a mehenga bride and I am no sasta Dulha,” Sejal ruffled his hair. He gave her cold stares. He pushed her hand away from her. Mann shunned her and was in no mood to speak.

“Don’t you dare to touch my hair or come an inch near me or I will call aunty?” he warned her. She was unfazed by his empty threats and dared him by walking seductively in her shorts, moving an inch closer to him. Sejal eyed him like a tigress lusting on its prey. Mann almost shouted like a child, “Aunty…”

She was amused and grinned. “Let it be. I am not going to molest you in any case and drag you on the bed. Cry babies should be left on their own. You such a girl, Mann.” He protested, “It’s so racist and sexist. How can you speak like that?”

“Whatever,” Sejal muttered. “Ab agey bhi kuch toh bol. I ain’t going to sit in silence and please stop this tear jerking sullen act.”

“Why did you do that?” Mann sat cross faced in front of her.

“I did what?” she was perplexed.

“Don’t you try to change the topic and pretend to be innocent? We lost our sleep and courted danger to find you sitting inside the train on the Monsoon Day when the city was sinking. Is this your idea of fun? One rainy night, to run away and sit inside a train compartment that was filled with water. Are you aware how worried aunty was?”

She became silent and suddenly broke into a cackle. “You are such a cute chamcha! Abe oye! My Mom’s chamcha. What do you think that you got a legitimate fuck entry into my house as the official damaad.” She pinched his cheek. “You look like such a sweet little munchkin yaara. I couldn’t imagine that you are so stuck with this rain incident and in the end, like filmi people, we did smooch. Guys will be guys.”

Mann exuded a faint smile and went point-blank. Deep inside, he was trying to be pricey and putting an act pretending to be all hurt since Sejal didn’t bring up the topic of the monsoon tryst.

“Stop behaving like Dadaji,” she told him. “There is a big secret behind me sneaking out in the rain to go sit inside the train with a book as companion. See! I love thrills and adventure.”

She made a straight face and pressed her naked feet on him. “I am a bit, just little bit ashamed for that day but you saved my life braving danger.  I am sorry for putting you and Maa through all this. You love me a lot, na.”

Mann slowly moved his face an inch away from her. “Tell na. What are you being so shy? You became my Dabbang hero on that day and putting your life at risk to save me from the water. I was shit scared that both of us would never be able to make it.”

“Oh! Wow! Lara Croft you are. You had the time to think about us while drowning,” he teased.

“You see. I am a thoughtful girl friend. And, you were cross with me. Acha sorry yaar. What else do you wanna me do now? Uthak Bhaitak like a monkey,” Sejal flashed a bright smile. “At least tell that you love me, na,” she was eager to hear him spell the three-letter words.

Mann breathed in and out. “No! I was saving you and not to take Paap of letting a girl die. I am in love with Shaina.” Sejal turned her face abruptly and her voice rose, “Now who the fuck is Shaina?” It felt like a pinch inside her heart.

It was his turn to laugh gleefully. “My neighbor’s pet dog. Of course, I love you, idiot.” Sejal pushed him on the bed, pressed his chest with her leg and pump fisted him on the stomach. Both wriggled and rolled with each other between laughter and cuddled each other. She smacked him on the mouth and whispered, “It’s a secret that I am going to tell you. The day I sneaked out to sit inside the train…”

He moved his eyes furtively to ask in a hush and seductive tone, “What’s your train secret?” She dragged him off the bed, “Now! Let’s go out and unravel the mystery. Another clue, the secret destination lies in a public glare.”

Mann protested that they were not able to make out, “You are such a kabab me Haddi’ and to which she responded, “That I am! I promise you the spicy sex if we unravel the mystery together. Well! It’s not over and patience will reap the fruit, my dolled panda.” She scratched his nose.

Love

V

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Left, Right…Romance Chowk: Drip of stormy love

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Left, Right…Romance Chowk

Chapter 5:

The car wiper was stuck. Mann lunged towards the front seat and grabbed the dusty garment to wipe the window sheet. The cab slowly ambled its way towards Churchgate but hit a dead-end to wage a battle against the water raging its might. Water seeped inside the car that soon replicated into miniature version of a swimming pool.

The two car occupants, Mann and the car driver impassively watched people stranded, kids doing a somersault and flowing on a container substituting for a boat that turned the road into a vast sea expanse.  The driver was having a tough time, igniting the battered engine to life that screeched and timidly lurched ahead. Wrong signal. The water escalated like a rush of electrical wave and ran wild on the otherwise busy road at Eros Theater.

The black umbrellas mushroomed on the road past 2 a.m and flapped open, thrust forward and backward where people had a tough time holding on to. The car again battled the rush of water spurting under its wheel. The phone battery was almost done and Mann managed to make a call to Sejal’s Mom.  “Aunty! I cannot speak much since my phone is dying. I have reached Churchgate but we are stuck. It seems like it will take me another hour to reach your house,” his voice wobbled with emotions.

The TV reporters clumsily walked inside the flood to report and stood on their naked feet with their pants rolled till the knee, battling the heavy rain and cloud outburst to report live on the state of the city. There was panic everywhere. It was may hem everywhere. The car engine conked. There was no way it would leap to life.

The police were trying their best to help stranded citizens who were lost and moving in various directions with difficulty to find shelter under the roof of nearby restaurants, hotels and the station. Together, Mann and the car driver held to each other’s arms to wriggle their way in the water and crossed the road for shelter.

As Mann trudged inside the water that ran deep till the knee, the cab driver called, “Sambhal ke Jaana.” They exchanged sympathetic glances and smiles, a rare luxury in Maximum City. A tale of two humans and strugglers in the city who understood each others’ emotions without uttering a single word despite coming from two extremely different background.

Mann tried to find his balance by walking slowly in the water, battling the fear of being carried away by the waves when a cop held his hand and escorted him towards Churchgate. Sejal’s Mom was waiting in front of the gate housing the line up of plush apartments and she hugged him. “Are you okay, Beta? Let’s get inside the car,” she was on the verge of tears.

The car slowly trudged inside the water that made a splash like a stormy river. “Where are we going to find her?” her voice choked with emotion. “Pray that nothing will happen to her,” tears welled on her face.

The vehicle slowly ambled. It was dark everywhere. Mann called the emergency number but no one was picking up. He tweeted and sent a message on Facebook with the picture of Sejal. It was 3 a.m in the morning. The status and tweets were shared zillion times.

“Where to find her?” she stammered. Mann scratched his hair and tilted his head towards the rooftop of the car. He urged the car driver, “Bhaiya, let’s move towards Churchgate station.” The driver nodded. The tide was growing at every second. It was a five minutes distance but the car was stuck for almost one hour and the wheels turning into a ship flowing in the water.

The deserted road resembled the cramped space in the city pocked with vehicles, from cars to black-and-yellow taxis and a Best Bus all flowing together in a chaotic manner like the serpentine queue. Car drivers honked blaringly in sheer desperation. The vehicles were zigzagging inside the water from left to right and entangled in a circle. They were stuck inside the car, sandwiched between vehicles across all sides that felt as if a wall has been built.  It was impossible for the driver to thrust forward or pull back.

The car stood parallel to the platform facing gate and next to the yellow and brown local taxied on the railway track drenched into a vast pool of water. There was chaos inside the station packed with the seamless crowd mushrooming like eggs in a nest sprawled with tensed faces running amok and screaming for help. Battered faces, whispers and angry voices howled with palatable tension, wondering on how to get out of this mess.

Mann furtively looked around and his eyes cocked towards the road and railway station, silently longing for the sight of Sejal.  He fixed his gaze towards the train that was filled with commuters who couldn’t get out on the platform that was filled to the brink with water. A face struck him. He looked again and was bewildered. Sejal was sitting on the seat and her head buried inside a book. She was sitting in a casual manner and unperturbed about the city drowning and rain water spurting like electric waves.

He gently touched the shoulder of Sejal’s Mom, “Aunty, look there,” he pointed out to the train. She was flabbergasted and speechless. “Look at her. I can’t believe it.  We are so worried and she is casually reading a book inside,” she heaved.

“I wonder how we are going to walk past the water to save her.  Sejal! Sejal!,” her Mom lunged out. The voice went unheard and lost to the noise.  Mann yanked the door open, dithered at the water flowing till his inch and saw a long cardboard flowing in the water. He didn’t think twice and thrust his body that landed straight on the moving object. Mann held tightly to the cardboard and pushed it as if it’s the gear of a car, pressed hard planking his body on it to wriggle his way till the stairs of Churchgate station.

Mann stormed inside the station, battling the crowd of people and pushing his way between them to leap inside the train. She was oblivious to the voices and his presence. He pressed her arms and she almost yelped. “You! Almost scared me like that,” Sejal protested. Mann berated her, “You got the nerves to  complain when the entire of Mumbai is sinking under the water and the whole world is stranded.  Your Mom is in tears, sitting inside the car and I travelled on a dirty cupboard like a fish in water.”

“Oh! Yeah! That’s why you are completely wet. Dude! You are not wet. You look like a water man,” she appeared nonchalant. “Let’s go,” Mann dragged her out of the train. The tide was growing and spiralling like a tornado. Sejal and Mann clutched to each other, trying to get out through the main platform but the waves shook them as they took steps back and waded through the small door at platform No. 1.

The water was roiling like a steam bath on the road. Both of them were tensed and figuring out how to find their way inside the car that was stationed within a touching distance. They stood on the stairs and in the flick of seconds a flash of current waves knocked them off their perch that dragged Sejal inside the storm. She howled and shouted, ‘Help’. Mann flung his body inside the water and held to her fingers. The violent waves pushed him away from her and she was thrust to a faraway distance. His body spun in the water from right to left. He hollered, ‘Help! Help! Help!’

Battling the angry water that run above the knee, he struggled to stand on his feet in a stiff position to fight the angry waves. He lost control of his body that jerked backwards towards a hard object. A dash of hope surfaced. It was a motorcycle that lay abandoned against the wall. Mann removed the stand with force and held on the bike that stumbled inside the water and hit the pavement filled with water. He sat on the bike and pushed it with all his might.

Sejal was struggling inside the water and nearly tripped before getting up again. She was choking. Mann caught sight of her and was unsure what to do to save her since he didn’t want to lose the bike that would shield both of them.  He twisted his back in a reclining position and tightly held to the handle as he fell along with the bike inside the water and struggled to hold the fingers of Sejal.  The huge machine pressed his body. He was reeling in pain and stretched his hand to clutch her palm.

Sejal hands loosened away from him and he struggled to unfetter himself under the bike’s clutches. Mann limped his way towards Sejal and almost swam in the water covering the road. She was moving further away from him and was carried by the tide.  He pressed his hand to the ground to find his balance, wading through leaves and mud, battling his way and being hit by objects on the body.

It was a battle against the storm. Sejal’s body twisted and recoiled like a snake. Mann saw a wheel flowing and flung it towards Sejal who held to it by using the feeble force inside her. He finally held one side of a wheel flowing in the water and pressed her hands tightly. Mann shouted, “Don’t worry about me. Fucking put your head inside the wheel.”

He pushed the wheel and pressed Sejal’s back towards the wall, covered her with his body. She was choking. Both were tightly holding to each other. He kissed and hard pressed her back. The water has reached their necks and they exuded relief to see the rescue team of police and citizens taking a dive into the water. They were ushered towards a safe spot on the pavement coated with red bricks.

Their lips sat passionately tight on each other and curled together in the monsoon drip. They stopped in their track and smooched again. Sejal and Mann embraced each other and oblivious to Sejal’s Mom standing silently behind them. They smiled sheepishly. Sejal held on to her mother like a child guilty of a crime. Mother and daughter wiped each other’s tears with their hands.

 

 

Love

V

 

 

Left Right…Romance Chowk: Chasing the mermaid

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Chapter 4: ‘Chasing the mermaid’

The yellow-and-black taxi chugged slowly and was stuck in the pool of mud and water splash escalating higher at every second. Vehicles on the road were flowing like paper boats in a directionless manner. The entire city was brought to a standstill for more than three hours.

Mann was tensed, anxious and bored at the same time. The car lumbered, stumbled on the broken road and all of sudden jerked to stand still that provoked a thud noise that splattered his earlobe.  A thick fog surfaced to cover the beautiful Mumbai sky. It was raining everywhere. The cloud has lost its sheen and every space turned into dark spots as if some ghosts were wrecking havoc on the city by spitting fire balls and black smoke. The wind roared like wild sirens to conspire with angry foes and the thunder sparks shrieked like angry Goddesses.

The cab driver turned to Mann, “Bhaiya! We don’t have any choice. I am turning off the key. It’s impossible to move and I am very scared. Pray Bhaiya for our well-being. Everything is dark.” The man quivered and fidgeted with the car’s key. Mann nodded. Sejal occupied his thoughts and wondered whether she is stuck somewhere in the city. At that point of time, he didn’t mind her making out with a female friend or having sex with a random guy in a house or hotel, surrounded by a bonfire. As long as she is safe…he will turn a blind eye to extremities or human frailties that accompany the human mind and the quest for sensual adventure.

He was trapped in the myriad thoughts. Suddenly, he felt something sharp inside his heavy back pack that hurt his knee. He unzipped the bag and his hand flew inside to reach a dead-end at something thick that he removed. A pink wallet was snuggled inside the comfort of his bag. Mann was bemused, ‘How the fuck this pink wallet entered my bag?’

Mann pressed the button and the wallet flipped open. It contained a letter written by Sejal in bold, ‘You know where to find me.’

“If I go missing one day, don’t freak and become dukkhi like some jilted lover. Remember Devdas. It’s so passé. Mom will call you and blow her top. It’s her normal best. Excitement is me. Clue No 1, remember our conversation during sex. I love to mumble during the act like a flattened parantha. I disappear out of the blue. Thunder, rain and monsoon excite me to no end. I am a mermaid.”

Mann was amused. A feeble smile enlarged his jaw. He couldn’t help stop the frantic heart beat. His mind was stuck on the letter but at the same time was fighting demons like the ferocious rain spreading its might like arrows speckled on the car. The brain has stopped functioning. His eyes were glued to the letter that he caressed with his hand.

“Hey! Wondering what I am blabbering right now. Babe! Time for clue no. 2: You love girls who stand in the middle of the rain and getting drenched from top-to-toe? Sounds sexy and revealing when they wear everything white? The water makes the skin translucent. Gives you an orgasm…in your head. Stop being hard and stiff inside, you pervert. Imagine the rain sending the whole of a Mumbai in a tail spin and folks running for their life. See! Sirjee, I am Jhansi ki Rani and love to flirt not with men but danger. I love caressing the rain and the violent tree branches falling on my face feels like sensual love and lip smacking sensation. I ain’t crazy. It’s just a shade of me that you never knew till now. Slow baby! Dheere dheere, you are approaching my location and no, cabs are not GPS enabled. You gotta do some hard work to find me. You will be handsomely rewarded with a sprinkle of wet kiss and loaded sex for a full week. Wrack your brain.’

Mann almost cursed in frustration. “First, the cab is not even moving and she is telling me that I am coming closer to her.  Where the fuck do I find her? She lost it. I could be sleeping on my bed, wrapping myself under a thick blanket. But, no, I am out looking for her in the rain. I am the one who is mad. I am shivering. But, for whom! But, Madam doesn’t care. Right now, I don’t mind watching those ugly Ekta Kapoor soap operas that serves as a good substitute for porn.”

The letter was long like a scholarly dissertation and his eyes bore shades of tiredness. “Now, should I tell that guys like you are fascinated by Mumbai locals and railway station that you like to explore as if it’s some playboy hub! Stop guessing, baby. The clue lies within. Follow the heart. Heard the classic and oft-repeated ritual? Dhudne pe bhi bhagwaan milta hai. It’s not like I am some fucking bhagwaan but well, Run Lola Run.”

Mann was tired and felt his legs numb. He wanted to sleep in the backseat but ended up chasing the flies hovering above his head. Suddenly, the cars started to move and Mann felt a dash of hope. He read the letter all over again. It was unbelievable. Something was brewing in his head. He had an inkling where Sejal was.  A triumphant smile surfaced on his smile. “Pagal ladki,” he muttered.

Tring!!! Sejal’s Mom was calling. He picked it up, ‘Hello aunty.’ The person at the other end was worried and her voice broke, “Where are you beta? I am sitting inside my car and not able to get past my gate because of the rain and water flooding.” Mann spoke in a calm and hushed tone, “Don’t worry aunty. I think that I know where she is…saw a letter filled with clues. It’s almost impossible to get out of the city. But, we will find her.”

Sejal’s Mom broke into tears. “Beta, can you come to Churchgate. We will go together to find her in my car. My driver will take us.”

“Theek aunty. Hope the cab beats the traffic. I am coming,” Mann tried to calm her. He ordered the cab driver, “Bhaiya, please take a u-turn, speed and avoid potholes and flooded areas if possible. Churchgate.”

The driver nodded. The car screeched its way at a hurtling speed and in the flick of 10 minutes, it was speeding on the highway. Mann couldn’t believe that an Ambassador car can be so fast and furious. The driver sensed that something was wrong.

Love

V

 

Jab Harry Met Sejal is about being hopelessly in love

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Film Review: Jab Harry Met Sejal

Director: Imtiaz Ali

Producer: Red Chillies/Gauri Khan

Rating: Three stars

Genre: Rom-com

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Aru K Verma and Evelyn Sharma.

 

A journey of love is not about conquering or possessing hearts but making every drop of water count. Relationships are complex so are humans.  Jab Harry Met Sejal (JHMS) narrates the tale of two characters who are dramatically opposed to each other but at the same time gullible. Harry and Sejal are not flawless or infallible. Imtiaz Ali is one director who believes in the films that he makes and the human emotions he weaved in the film will remind us of people whom we have met at some point or the other in life. JHMS is a human story that will warm your heart. A very relatable story that reminds us of follies made that would lit our faces with a smile.

Shah Rukh Khan effortlessly plays Harry as the travel agent who is never shy in telling, ‘Mein ladkiyon ko gande nazar se dekhte hai.’ It truly embodies the Imtiaz Ali franchise where his one-liners or dialogues have always been his forte and this is what makes his movies stand out from the rest. SRK is charismatic and endearing as Harry. He doesn’t rise above the script but is sublime as Harry, delightfully slipping into the skin of the character. It’s an act that touches the heart.

Sejal is fun-loving and full of zest. Anushka Sharma is electrifying in donning this character, at times weird and quirky with her Gujarati accent that you will drool over. She is simply stunning and wins the heart. One of the most amazing actresses that we have, Anushka is like the light feather and the hatke girl who stole your heart in the not so distant past. There is so much of Sejal in an ex-flame. She is caring. She is selfish. She can be brutal yet want to lean on your shoulder for you to take care of her.

There are some scenes in the movie that will sweep you off the feet. First, when Sejal tells Harry to consider her as his girl friend till the time they are together but is selfish for she will leave him for his fiancée back home. It’s about human weakness, compassion and reminds us that love is all that we need and triumphs over and above everything.

The discussion between Harry and Sejal about finding God is something that we all have done, dhunde mein bhi bhagwaan milta hai. It can’t get more real than that. She told me that one day. It is this vulnerability in love that Imtiaz Ali has treated in a sensitive manner. Love can hurt but is a medicine to heal hearts. The scene when Sejal and Harry sleep on the floor and end up cuddling each other will touch every soul who has ever been in love. The heart knows no reason.

Of course, there are some hilarious scenes that will make you laugh your lungs out. Sejal following Harry in the lousy bar and the letter Sejal writes in the case there is sexual intercourse, Harry will be absolved of all legal charges. Of course, the encounter with Don Gas (Chandan Roy Sanyal) where Harry turns the table on the former breaks the monotony and brings the laughter alive.

Imtiaz Ali brings out the ring analogy to the fore in depicting the love growing between Harry and Sejal which also shows the palatable chemistry between both actors. It sends a strong but proverbial message on the lies that humans make and we look for emotions far away but its simplicity lies within and near us.  What you seek is seeking you makes for a strong statement but a down to earth philosphy about life, love and relationships. For me, the lost ring analogy depicts love and weakness in all its forms. It’s simple and endearing.

Of course, Jab Harry Met Sejal is not the best script that will blow your mind like Jab We Met, Socha Na Tha, Love Aaj Kal or Highway did. It’s not the best work of Imtiaz Ali for he borrows from the same old tried and tested formula. There are moments in the second half that moves at a sluggish pace that work against the film but also that Shah Rukh Khan’s entry is too ordinary that doesn’t live with his superstar image.

JHMS stand out for its human narration about human emotions and tribulations that tug the heart. The way the song Hawayein has been shot is not only electrifying but is a personal favorite for both SRK and Anushka brings so much energy that electrifies the screen. Do watch the film for it means to be hopelessly in love. Fuck logic. Love is not about practicalities but losing all senses.

 

Love

V

Left, Right…Romance Chowk: Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: Stony trip, flying balloons and the invisible woman

Sejal almost panted and exuded a sense of relief when she successfully thwarted Mann’s questions on her estranged Dad. She was reluctant to confess how she abhorred her Dad who left her mother in the lurch and took a mistress who was half his age. She was a new-born baby who made the cradle her universe.

It was sheer luck that Mann didn’t prod her on the family, mother and her half-brother after whom she secretly lusted. She wanted to seek revenge on her father by playing hide-and-seek and tried to seduce her half-blood brother by using her body as a bait to get even. The last time she wore a short skirt and dropped something on the floor to reveal her legs in a move to glaringly distract his attention by moving her tits and boobs. It pissed her when the half-brother from another mother didn’t react to her sensual gaze. The last thing that Sejal wanted was to have a face-off between Mann and her estranged half-brother. Revenge has always been playing on her mind but not in a tragic fashion to breed jealousy or conflict between this brother and Mann. It was the last thing that she wanted or else, her carefully laid plans would have gone for a toss.

It rained heavily that night. She slouched on the bed and emptied the tobacco to fill it with ganja leaves. Sejal expertly rolled the ganja leaves inside after rummaging to remove the dirt where everything was spread on the morning Bombay Times supplement. She took a drag deep down, wafting through her nostril and the sensation running high inside her body. The water rattled on the window bar and she enjoyed listening to the plopping sound outside. It gave her a high. She took another drag and glugged the Old Monk Rum mixed with Cola. The rum taste swirled around her tongue which was her favorite exercise as she thrust her long leg on the wooden bed handle. She sat in her short and caressed her leg. It gave her a high. There was something that occupied her mind and took another drag wondering how to solve the puzzle. Stoned to death, she burbled endlessly to herself and fidgeted with her phone when a WhatsApp message flashed. It was Mann.

“Fuck,” she moaned. It completely slipped her mind that they were supposed to hang out together in his suburban apartment. He was irritated and pissed off. The phone buzzed but she cut it off several times. Sejal wanted to fling it outside the window when her fingers accidentally stumbled to pick up the phone.

“Hella,” her voice slurred. Mann first thought that he must have dialed a random number who substituted hella for hello. “Mannnn,” Sejal broke into a cackle. “Sorry,” she coaxed him. “I forgot my munchkin.” He was bewildered but got it that she was high under ganja. He gently said, “You having the shit without me baby.” Sejal felt that she was traveling in the air and spoke in lyrical tone, “You know! I am seeing condoms in the air and spurting in the rain like blown balloons. I am whispering in its ear…you know condom can listen and that’s how we fuck,” she palavered. “Baby blow inside the condom to release air and send me a love chit. Tab, you shout Kabutar jaa jaa and it will fly in the rain to pop in front of my window.” Sejal havered and rollicked in laughter.

Sejal weltered towards the hall and wadded to open the door, grabbing the house key from the table, almost tripping on her way out. The door was closed behind her. She oscillated from right to left, doing a zigzag of sort as she rifled her steps inside the elevator.

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An unknown number flashed on Mann’s cell phone and was wondering who was calling at this odd hour. He reluctantly picked up the phone when a worried female voice gently spoke, “Hello beta! I am Anita here, Sejal’s mum. When was the last time you spoke to her? Is she with you? I have tried her phone for the last 24 hours and she is not picking up. I am really worried. Please tell.”

It was raining heavily outside. The roads were dark and deserted. Mann braved the rain and after much convincing, he hailed the taxi after agreeing to pay the cabbie double fare. The car headed towards Sejal’s apartment. He tried calling but looks like the network was jammed. He sensed trouble.

Love

V

 

Excerpt from the novel in progress

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Hey people,

The novel is still work in progress. It’s the first draft that I decided to start all over again and the good news is that I have almost reached 25 brand new pages, an entirely different product from the earlier draft that I was writing. Of course, it’s a rom-com and sharing an excerpt. Of course, looking for honest feedbacks. I shall tentatively call it, “Half-baked Love.”

Excerpt from, ‘Half-baked love.’

Walking past Churchgate Station, they hailed off the stationed black-and-yellow taxis scouting for passengers and plodded their steps past the fountain, where a line-up of shops selling cheap jeans and tee shirts put on display and hanging on ropes on the colorful tents. A shopkeeper stopped Zoya, “Salum walekum Malkin! Apne Mister ke liye kuch lijiye? (Buy something for your mister)” Kshitij face was amok with excitement and congratulated this guy in his heart , wondering why the fuck they don’t make such kind of commoners. Deep inside, he was plotting that this hawker blurts out some more rubbish.  He was amused and signaled the hawker who sported a grey beard to tell more by waving his hand. He made faces behind Zoya back. She turned towards Kshitij with a serious look and exuded a timid smile, flashing her jaws before turning towards the hawker.

She addressed him in Hindi, “Janab, aap ko kisne bola key eh mere Mister hai? (Sir! Who told you he is my Mister?)” There was no smile on her face nor sign of mild irritation. She is an expert in addressing people in a super cool manner that doesn’t make them back out nor feel apologetic. In turn, it makes plain strangers warming up to her as her cool and calm demeanour makes them feel so good. It’s this one quality that drew Kshitij towards her and wonders how she can easily gel with people like that.

The elderly hawker in between measuring legs for a client and marketing his clothing materials, gave Zoya a tenderly father figure touch. “Kya fadak parta hai! Agar Mister nahin hai toh boyfriend hai ya banjayega. Usske ankhein meindekh aapke liye bohot pyar beti. Ban jayega ek din Mister (What difference it makes? If he is not your Mister, he must be or will be boyfriend. I have seen love for you in his eyes, daughter).” He winked at Zoya. She became sheepish and her face turned red with embarrassment.

Kshitij felt like touching the man’s feet and wished that Harry Potter was real, that he would mix a magic potion to make both father and daughter. He felt like telling the guy, “Thank you Sasur-ji. Banoonga mein aap ke damaad when you adopt this girl. (Thank you father-in-law. I will become your future son-in-law with this adoptive daughter of yours).” Kshitij had to take things slow and was wary of the implications of blurting out such nonsense. He was still reeling under the nightmare.

The only  that he could do was make his heart clap like a silent spectator in his theatre of real imagination. Zoya caught his amusement and waged her middle finger at him, whispering threat into his ears, “You having fun, na. Now, you wait what I do to you? You think that I don’t understand…saala kaminey, harami.” Kshtij immediate change his expression from amused to serious before mocking her. She turned away from him and let off to the enthusiastic, “Yeh koi Mister nahin…bas raaste mein mila (He is no mister and I found him like that on the street)” The hawker let off a smile and tried not to laugh on Kshitij’s face. It was his turn to become red.

She shook the guy’s hands before asking his name, “Suleiman. It was nice meeting you.” Suleiman shook the hand of Kshitij tightly and hugged him with, “Koi baat nahin dost” and whispered in his ear, “Don’t let her go ever. Be stubborn. Yeh ladki Heera hai.”

Zoya scolded Kshitij and pulled his hand, “Let’s go. Do you want to get married to his daughter or what and set a stall here at Churchgate. That way, both son-in-law and father-in-law will make good money.”

Love

V

Fiction: Cheat Kiss and the frog

Standard

‘What did you do just now?’, Mehr’s face turned shy and red, shifted her gaze away from him in the crowded coffee shop to watch the rain splattering on the glass window. He nonchalantly said, “Oh! I was trying to count and feel the butterfly. She wore a feigned smile to express surprise in an ironical way, “WoW! Genius! Where was the butterfly roaming? On my lip. I am flattered.”

Kamal tapped the wooden table with his hand and fingers humming, “I stole a kiss. I peck her on the cheek. She turned her face away. A coy princess. The butterfly lips didn’t kiss and melt.”

“Aha! Mr Shayar. You are in total mood today and better don’t buy moods condom at the shop. Keep the smartness inside your pant,” Mehr deliberately stitched his lip with her words. Mehr has a natural flair for words and this is one thing that made her Kamal’s hot pursuit until she relented.

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Image credit: Google.

The rain lashed uninterruptedly for hours. Mehr stuck her cheek like glue to the glass pane, watching the branches clattering outside and water pouring as black umbrellas resurfaced in the city, people flocking for shelter and safety under the thin roofs on the street, housing a line up of old colonial buildings in a row. The face tingling with icy cold sensation was a favorite pastime and she loved this feeling to death. Kamal inched forward to stroke her cheek but he suddenly felt a spurt of numbness on his palm and fingers. A dripping cold sensation ran down his spine and made him shudder. He jerked backward with the cold feeling that almost made his palm and fingers numb.  Mehr broke into a cackle of laughter. “Now, you know why I am a cool oven. Caress me at your own risk. I am electrical and piping red-hot.” He mocked her laughter, “I thought you were cold like the icy water.”

“Hey, Mister,” she lightly chided him. Perhaps, you don’t know how hot and desirable I am.” He was not going to let go of the moment and jumped on the occasion, “You gotta prove your hotness quotient right now here in the crowded cafe after this tall claim. Show some guts, babe. It’s a perfect time. The rain will make it something to remember. The romantic moment, rain and breeze will soon elapse. Enjoy before it melts.” She knew what he was hinting at.

Mehr would play hard to get. At least, he should do some hard work and not empty talk to kiss her most prized possession, the moist lip, She is not going to give in so easily this time. She smiled with naughtiness brimmed to her lip. “Nice try, dude. Better be more creative. After all, it’s a question of lips which I don’t barter for free.” Kamal was losing patience but faked a smile, “You wanna me move the mountains or sing Karaoke in this place full of couples busy making out to win over you. It’s just a kiss yaar.” She put her seductive smile, “Try better. Buck up your act and words. Take your time…I am a hot pursuit, after all.” She winked at him.

Kamal tapped his finger on the table and fling a rupee coin in Mehr’s direction which amused her. She looked at how he expertly tossed the coin with his index and asked, “What are you doing?” He casually distracted her, “Look at this dude wearing fancy trousers. He looks like Ranveer Singh in this funky Pyjama.” She turned her face towards the random guy. He calculated his move as she turned her face and held her waist, swiftly planting a kiss on her quivering lip.

Kamal felt the dripping sensation of moist lips that made him smile. His heart warmed as their mouths cupped. Mehr was taken by surprise and blushed, almost hiding her face under the paper napkin. She moved her face closer and kissed him back. Their hearts melted. She couldn’t stop herself from cajoling him with a tender touch on his face, “You are a cheat kisser. Look outside and see your reflection. Just do it na.” He relented and saw a frog soiling in the muddy patch.

He was taken aback and muttered, “What! You think I am a frog.” She was elated after pulling this one on him, “Of course, you will turn into a cute frog after kissing me. I am a true princess who needs no kingdom.”

Love

V