Distances5 mins 283 5 mins 283
Naina was getting ready as she was next in line to go on the ramp. The supervisor scurried around here and there, frenziedly looking at all the models.
“Naina! Ready?” The supervisor asked in a hurry.
“Yes!” Naina replied promptly just when she saw Kartik come back from the ramp after his first round. He was immediately given his next set of clothes as he glanced at Naina.
“Quick, quick! Kartik!” His manager blurted out in his ears as the lights around the mirror flashed brightly at Kartik’s face. His face was being touched up as he took off his shirt and slipped his arm into the new one while gazing at Naina.
“Come Naina, your turn!” The supervisor shouted out as Naina left, turning her eyes away. As soon as Naina came back, it was Kartik’s turn to go and when Kartik came back, it was Naina’s turn again. The sequencing was such that they got to be with each other yet remained apart. Finally, the show got over after the designer walked the ramp with the showstopper and everyone gave him a huge round of applause.
“Here!” Kartik handed Naina a cotton ball smeared with cleansing milk. She took it gently from his hand and rubbed her face clean, her eyes being blackened for a while her lips bled a deep maroon. Kartik smiled at her.
“Such beauty!” He remarked. Naina giggled as the foundation on her face was melting away with the milk, revealing her true skin colour.
“Your feet are fine?” He asked with concern as she had sprained her ankle during their rehearsal last evening.
“Yeah, almost…” Naina replied while squeezing her eyes as she slipped her feet out of her heels and stretched her ankles and wiggled her toes. Kartik bent down and lightly pressed the sides of her ankles as Naina moaned with relief.
“What are you doing?” Naina exclaimed as she was suddenly lifted off the ground and found herself in Kartik’s arms.
“I guess I can carry you like this till the time you can walk again!” He replied promptly with a twinkle in his eyes. They were still at the show’s venue, though it was empty and a few workers were winding up the whole set. Many models had already left with a few who were on their way back.
“Let’s go then.” Naina said, getting comfortable in her new position as Kartik walked out of the greenroom.
Kartik was sitting in his New York apartment while looking out of the window. It had been ten years since he had seen Naina. His wife Lauren called out to him when he was jostled out of his thoughts. He got up and went to the living room where his kids were playing with their brand new toys. His 3 years old son, Zack, came running up to him, giggling gleefully at him as he looked wistfully in his little eyes. Sukriti, his 5-year-old daughter, was playing with her new designer dress which her mom had brought for her from her friend and fashion designer, Peter Grande. Lauren herself was a successful model, internationally renowned. It was at the Milan Fashion Week where Kartik happened to meet her. Naina was not part of that event, he had flown out of India. Lauren and he had spent some days together and instantly she felt a connection with him, he did too, but he was restrained by his commitment to Naina.
As she kept approaching him, his restraint also broke loose and soon enough, he and Lauren were officially together. When he came back to India, he broke the news to Naina, who did not react and just left. Since then, he had not seen her. As Lauren was already quite successful, he too got a number of international contracts from big and reputed brands. Within a few years, he was at the top of his game, rich and sought after. Lauren and Kartik bought a house together in a posh locality of New York and got married in a lavish wedding ceremony. Sometimes in his solitude, Kartik would reflect upon his reason for breaking up with Naina.
He had convinced himself that he loved Lauren more than Naina and that it was a natural move for him to leave Naina and marry Lauren. Whenever his heart tried to spew out the truth to him, he would engage himself in some wasteful, routine activity in the name of ‘me-time’. He knew that he had married Lauren for her contacts, if he had remained with Naina, he would still be struggling through the damp streets of Mumbai. They would be living in a small one bedroom apartment in the suburbs and their children would be going to a local ‘International’ school. A ‘Kanta bai’ would be shouting at their heads and Naina, she might be preparing tiffins all the time, running after the kids through the shabby and unkempt house, skipping and hopping over half broken toys littered around the living room. Would life have been so bad?
Naina was packing Kartik’s bag, hurriedly running around their bedroom to check if he had forgotten something. Kartik was getting ready, it was almost time. She opened his bag and put his toothbrush in the pouch.
“You forgot your toothbrush!” Naina exclaimed, widening her eyes.
“You are there no!” Kartik replied genially. Naina shook her head.
“You cannot even remember such small things, how will you take care of yourself there?” She remarked rather irritably, worried about him. He was going to leave for Milan Fashion Week.
“It’s time Naina, I need to leave.” Kartik replied in a rush.
“Wait! Let me see!” She uttered while turning him towards herself and taking a keen look at him from top to bottom.
“Yeah, looking good, just like a successful model should look!” She remarked. Kartik smiled, it was a very big brand for which he was going to walk the ramp. He gazed at her.
“What?” She asked shyly.
“Won’t you miss me?” He asked in turn.
“Why? Aren’t distances more intimate?” Naina whispered. Kartik nodded and kissed her on her forehead.