That was a long night of February, when I meet my soul dancing around in one of the pubs of Mumbai. I gulped shots after shots, gathering all the courage to walk to her. She was a goddess dressed in black off-shoulder dress hugging her bosom perfectly. She was swaying to the melody, and his hands danced all over her body. I felt so jealous of him, he was breathing close to her ear and she giggled. The waiter interrupted the view, and she caught me looking at her without batting an eyelid. I was eye-locked with her at that moment. She held the guy closer to her, still looking over his shoulder… and I failed to release her from my gaze. They danced together engrossed in each other’s embrace… I looked away as he kissed her sucking life out of her lips and her finger pierced deep within his jacket. I walked away to the washroom breaking out of the noise. I walked out of the washroom and dashed into her, unable to utter words.
“You might want to say Sorry, don’t you!” she winked
“Umm… yes, Sorry Ma’am” I uttered all startled
She laughed and believe me it sounded as Melody.
“Hi, I am Nysa. I saw you staring at me right from the bar”
“Hey, Arush… well, I saw you staring back dancing along with the gentleman in black leather jacket”
“Well, nice observation Mr. Arush. Hope to have a drink with you soon or later” she winked again and dispersed, leaving me blushing behind
And she vanished in the smoke of the night with the gentleman.
The next morning, I dressed to drive away for work and at the signal next to my house I saw her… Yes, her dressed in aqua blue top, beige shorts and sneakers, holding a tripod stand. The signal went green and she boarded an auto from the junction. I felt the strong urge to follow that auto carrying her away. Few minutes later, I realized I have crossed by my office route and was driving in the opposite direction. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late. I called Ms. Nair to cancel my appointments for the day. There, we reached the Marine Drive… alas! She got down from the auto struggling to hold her back and the camera stand. I parked my car and rushed towards her. There… she was adjusting her top, pulling her hair together in a bun… she sat on the wall gazing at the waves which came splashing towards her. I saw her smile and missed a beat. I stood at a distance dressed in formals eyeing a girl… too creepy I guessed. But, who cares in Mumbai anyway! For a while, she sat there enjoying the waves splashing the shores and after sometime she stood up adjusting her camera. There, I was… standing at a distance gazing at her… how the wind enjoyed playing with her hair and how the waves romanced with her…. That made me jealous! I walked right in front of the frame distracting her focus. She looked away from her camera and gave me a smile. I smiled back losing all my heart to her. She was my love at first sight and I was mesmerized by the way she looked at me. Marine Drive added to the aura which existed between us, two strangers from a drunk night.
“Hi, what a pleasant surprise…. Ar….!”
“Ma’am, the name is Arush”
“Yes, right… Arush. How have you been?”
“Good after the last night encounter”
“How come here all jazzed in formals, missed the route to work” she laughed
“Yes, I saw someone and couldn’t resist my urge to be with her”
“Oh, I see” she blushed barely uttering words
“You can finish your work, then we can grab a cup of coffee or anything which suits you”
“Umm… ya right! I am here for a shot. I forgot to introduce myself, I work for the Mumbai Mirror”
“Oh! Big shot.” I winked
“Are you done? Can I get back to work?” sarcasm filled the air
I sat at a distance where I could enjoy both… the view of Nysa working and the waves playing with the shores of Marine Drive. I was mesmerized by the looks ignoring all the work calls and even some personal calls. She was busy running around for perfect shot, walking past young couples, college students, and even oldies.
“Do you need something or maybe you can break for a while?”
“Why? You are getting bored alone”
“No, I am just a bit hungry” I said making a puppy face
That worked, she agreed to grab a bite with me at the nearby stall. We had some sandwiches and tea smiling in silence. There was a lot to talk, maybe a lot to question each other. However, no one uttered a word. The chai wala broke the silence when he came around with the change. She offered to pay, but I declined politely without showing any machoism.
“Why are you here honestly?”
“I saw you my heart said follow her”
“Wow! No one has been so honest to me. Men doze around just to fulfill one motif, sleep around with me. Just at the thought that I work for mass media doesn’t make me available to sleep around with every other men I meet.” She was fuming
“Oh! Well, no I didn’t give that even a single thought. If I confess my feelings will you label me as a jerk?”
“No, why would I if the reason makes sense!”
“You are my love at first sight”
She laughed and I was sitting there looking like a complete idiot. After a while, she stopped laughing and the tears of her eyes.
“Sorry, you look serious. But no one has uttered these words for me. Not even, my current boyfriend.”
“Who? The one who was nibbling your ear!”
“Woah! Now you are freaking me out”
“I said you are my love at first sight… since I saw you swaying to the songs at the pub.”
She blushed and kept quiet. I lit a cigarette and offered it to her, which she declined politely. She was fidgeting with her tripod stand which made me feel a bit worried.
“Am I troubling you like a creep would have?”
“No, you are not. But I am not used to the facts…, Love facts”
“The word is Romantic! You can label me romantic”
“No, I don’t want to. After I do so you would start being all bossy and controlling me… starting from the food I eat to the dress I wear… and the people I meet”
“Woah! Easy tigress… I am not doing any of that. I want to love you and not have you as my slave.”
I saw a tear trickle down her eyes as she stole gaze. I could make out that something was not right with her. I stood close by and the storm inside her came out bursting hard enough. She hugged me tight by my arm and cried her heart out. I thought it was my mistake that I have been stalking a girl who is already engaged. A while later, I heard quite sobs that when she was ready to talk.
“My name is Kavya Bhandari, and not Nysa. I am the mistress of the business tycoon Kunal Rathore, the man you saw me with last night. I came to Mumbai with a dream of working in the media world. I met him at a party my hostel girl took me to. He offered me a job and in returned asked something which I shook the ground beneath me.”
“What?” the blood inside me was boiling by now, but I held her hand and listened to her story
“He knew the miseries of my life and the loans I had to clear back home. He took advantage of that and now I am labelled as a mistress. I am not allowed to meet any of my friends, I am allowed only to dine with him and with his circle. I am not allowed to work at any other place, I only work at places he does business at. In short, I am a labelled escort in the business. There have been parties when he has sent men to me for his business profits. I am no longer used to the word called romance. I am a toy, which Rathore and his dogs lick and throw.”
I was silent, still boiling in anger, my grip tightened on her palm. She lifted her teary-eyes and gazed at me.
“Last night, when I saw you looking at me… I couldn’t take my eyes off you either” she confessed
“But I know the consequences of falling in love. He will destroy you forever. And I don’t want any blood because of me. Anyways, I am paying a huge price for this…and…. “
She stopped abruptly as if she sensed something unusual. She took out her phone and typed frantically. She saw Rathore’s men around us and typed that I should leave her alone and walk ahead. By the time, I read the instruction… A bullet pierced in my right shoulder, leaving me blank in a pool of blood… All I could hear was Kavya screaming for help and my vision blurred.