“What? Is it a joke Aisha?”
“No, I am serious.” She said without making any eye contact.
“You can’t be Aisha. It’s not what you feel. I know you love me. You can’t hide it from me.”
“Karan, I’ve already said what I wanted to say.” She said with a straight face.
“I won’t accept it.” I yelled.
“Please understand Karan, we are not meant to be together. We both belong to different world’s altogether. And even if I say yes, how long do you think we are going to be together. It’s not going to work and I won’t be able to handle all that chaos that will follow. And you know it’s not love.”
“So what do you think it is? What is going on since past two years? And what do you mean by different worlds. Every individual is different. That doesn’t mean they can’t be together. Just because we are in different professions, we can’t be together. Because you feel that my industry is not meant for long term relationships.” I finally said what she couldn't. Though she never said this directly, but I knew somewhere she had this in her mind.
“Karan, It’s not ……” I interrupted her,
“Come on, don’t lie, I know it’s true. Apart from this, there isn’t anything else.”
“Karan, I am from a middle class family, not the elite class that you belong to.”
“It’s in your mind, it doesn’t make any difference. And I know what you mean by ‘elite class’. You think that I am bound to have affairs with my colleagues and I would give in to the temptations, right?” She didn’t say anything. “Aisha, please don’t do this to me. I really love you, and can’t imagine my life without you.”
“I think we should go. Everybody must be waiting.” She said and got up to leave, when suddenly it started raining and everybody ran towards the hall area.
“Come, let’s go or else we’ll be drenched.” She held my hand and tried to pull me towards a safer place. There was a small shed made up like a shamiyana in the middle of the lawn, which was empty, I took her there instead. A waiter was passing by, with a tray of glasses and a bottle of scotch. I gestured him to keep it on the table. He did as he was told and left from there. I took a glass and emptied it in one go and took another one in my hand. She tried to stop me but I didn’t give a hoot and emptied that as well.
“What are you doing Karan? Please stop it.” She tried to pull me away from there but I resisted and shouted.
“Why are you doing this Aisha?” I asked as I took another glass. She grasped that from my hand and threw it away, which made me furious.
“How dare you? Just stay away.” I yelled and took the bottle and started drinking from it directly.
“Karan, please listen to me………” she tried to take the bottle from my hand, but I moved away. “Stop it Karan.” she again tried to stop me. I kept the bottle on the table and held her wrist as I started moving towards the parking. She tried to resist but my grip was way too strong for her.
“What are you doing?” She asked but I didn’t reply and kept moving.
“At least tell me where are we going?” I pushed her onto the passenger seat of the car and sat at the driving seat.
“We haven’t even informed anybody, they’ll be worried.” I didn’t reply and sped off. She was scared as I was driving at a very high speed. “Why are you driving so rash? Please drive slowly Karan.” I wasn’t replying to any of her questions. She was really petrified, well aware of my alcohol intake. But for the first time, even after having so many drinks I wasn’t high at all.
“Okay, Should I drive?” She asked but there was no response. Suddenly, I took a sharp turn as my car was about to collide with another car that came from opposite side. “Karan……” she screamed as she almost fell on me and buried her face in my chest. I stopped the car at the entrance of my building as she looked up.
“Why are we here?” I opened the door of her side and pulled her out and went towards the elevator. She was constantly trying to free her hand from my grip, but I wasn’t ready to listen to anything. As we entered my apartment, she again pulled her hand and this time I loosened the grip to let it go. I removed my suit jacket and threw it on the floor, and rolled the sleeves of my shirt.
“Karan, please tell me why are we here?” I was not in a state to comprehend anything. I was infuriated and was not able to keep the anger within. The alcohol had also started to have its effect by now and it began to cloud my rationality. “Karan, we’ll talk in the morning.” She said as I stood with my back towards her, one hand massaged my forehead and other was on my waist. “Are you listening to me?” She came closer and held my shoulder from behind. I removed her hand with a jerk and shouted,
“Enough, I don’t want to listen to even a single word from you. What do you think of yourself? You can’t take our life’s decisions alone. You didn’t want to discuss about it, I understood. I never forced you and thought to give you some time. I kept waiting that you’ll express whenever you feel comfortable, even though I was sure about your feelings. Not just me, but everybody else was also sure. And now, when I couldn’t wait any longer, you did this to me?” she kept quiet trying to fight the tears which had filled up her eyes and were threatening to spill out.
“Just trust me once.” I pleaded. “I promise I will never let you down. How can you not see, how much I love you? Had it not been love, why do you think I’d wait for so long. Please don’t do this. Just brush off your worries and concerns for once.”
“Karan, meri baat sun….”
“No, I’ve heard enough from you. Now it’s my turn. It’s not just about you. It’s about us. I’ll decide what I want to do with our life. You have dragged it enough.” I said as she came closer. I was feeling helpless and exhausted with the turn of events. She held my arm, as I turned and kept my head on her shoulder and embraced her. She slowly wrapped her arms around my shoulders as she tried to pacify me. “Please control yourself Kar……” she could barely complete when suddenly, I snaked my hands up towards her back and tightened my hold. She wasn’t expecting this and instantly tried to move away.
“Karan……..” she wanted to shout but could hardly whisper. Her body stiffened in response to my touch. “I’ll take your leave. We’ll talk in the morning.” She separated herself from me abruptly and started walking towards the main door.
“You are not going anywhere.” I grabbed her hand to stop her. She wasn’t left with any more patience. She stopped and turned immediately,
“What the f#@& Karan, we came here for this?” she shouted as she was fuming with anger. “I can’t allow myself to land up in something I know is going to destroy me forever, it’s inevitable. I know somewhere I got carried away and that made you believe that I have feelings for you…….”
“So you don’t feel anything for me?” I interrupted her and asked.
She stopped for a second as though gathering courage for what she was about to say, “No, I don’t have any feelings for you. I can never have any sort of feelings for anybody.” She spoke for her ears more than she did for mine.
“And what about my feelings? They don’t matter to you?”
“What feelings are you talking about? The one I experienced just now. That is what you want?” She spoke at the top of her voice. She kept her hands on her forehead and moved them through her hair as her face looked completely irate. “Fine, if this is what you want, let’s finish this off once and for all.”
I was really furious as I heard those words but didn’t say anything and kept looking into her eyes. She took my hand and started walking towards the bedroom. As soon as we entered, she held the collar of my shirt and pulled me closer, “What are you waiting for? Just do whatever you want to. I am all yours.” She screamed. I kept staring at her for few moments and then slowly held her waist as my other hand went towards her nape. She kept looking as though her eyes challenged me. I moved my hand up towards her back and pulled her even closer and touched her cheek. She was intimidated and closed her eyes as tightly as she could, as if trying hard to not push me away while my hands explored her body. My eyes didn’t leave her face even for a second and I could see her lashes turning moist.
“This is what you think about me, RIGHT?” She opened her eyes and looked puzzled. “This is what I want from you. You think I am only interested in this.” She kept looking at me trying to figure out what I wanted to convey. “This is what you meant when you said that it’s not love. If that is what I wanted from you, I wouldn’t have waited for so long.” I said as I separated myself from her. “And if you don’t remember, we were together last night also, in the same room, on same bed. Had this been the case, I would have…… ” she interrupted me in between,
“Stop it Karan…..”
“No, I will not. And I’ll prove you wrong. Let’s stay together. How much time do you need to believe that its love? Two months? Six months? One year?” She looked at me, a little baffled.
“We’ll stay together for one year and I won’t touch you, NOT EVEN ONCE. Then you’ll believe that I really love you? Will I be able to prove my love for you then?” I wasn’t sure myself of what I blabbered as I was completely smashed by now.
“Have you totally lost it? Saath mein rehte hai, Is it a joke?” She shouted at the peak of her voice.
“I don’t know anything.” I blasted. “I want you at any cost, no matter what I have to do.” She took a deep breath and composed herself as she realized that I wasn’t going to calm down in any way.
“Karan, look at me.....” she tried to hold my face in her hands but I was infuriated. I pushed her aside and tried to walk but fell unconscious on the bed.
It was 4:30 am. I woke up and found Aisha sleeping on the arm chair near the bed. As soon as I looked at her, pangs of guilt surrounded me, as flashes of the way I behaved a few hours ago, passed in front of my eyes. I was annoyed; annoyed with myself at being so weak emotionally and losing control. And annoyed with Aisha, that even after all this, she was still concerned about not leaving me alone, when I fell unconscious. “Why didn’t she go? And then she says that it’s not love.” I thought to myself.
She was still in her saree, which had almost dried by now, but I was in my track pants and t-shirt. She must have called Sanju, who stays nearby. Since he had some work in the evening at his place, so I had excused him for the night and had asked him to come in the morning. She had always been so concerned about so many small things, but would still not admit that she loves me. I know it sounds clichéd, but it’s impossible to understand a girl.
I laid her on the bed and covered her properly. As I sat on the arm chair, I glanced at her face which looked exhausted, but still beautiful. I couldn’t help going down the memory lane and remembered the first time we had met.
January 2013 - It was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I had some work with Manish. He told me that he was at a coffee shop at Carter road with Kirti and a few of her friends. So I reached the café which was at the first floor of a multi storey building to meet him.
“Hey Manish. What’s up?” He got up to hug me.
“How are you doing?” Kirti asked as we hugged.
“Girls he’s my friend, Karan.” Manish introduced me to all of them. I extended my hand as I greeted her,
“Hi, I am Aisha.” She took my hand as she introduced herself. I saw her for the first time. She was a simple girl with average looks, around 5’5” height, but had beautiful big eyes, which were highlighted with a nice stroke of kohl. She was dressed casually in denim shorts and light pink t-shirt, and her waist length slightly wavy locks, tied up in a careless manner. ‘Too casual for my liking.’ “How can somebody be so careless about her looks?” I thought to myself as I shook hands with Harleen and Geet also.
As Manish and I talked regarding the work that I had come for, the girls went towards the balcony to chat. After about twenty minutes, I stepped out to leave and saw Kirti, as the way to exit passed from there. All of them were busy chatting, so she couldn’t notice me. I went towards her to bid good bye, when I heard her telling them about me.
“Yeah, he is the son of superstar Mr. Anand Kapoor and soon going to be an actor himself.”
“What? He’s Karan Kapoor?” Aisha was surprised to hear that. I could make out that she knew about me but couldn’t recognize when she saw me there. “Oh my god, aenna patla kiddan ho gya?” (How did he become so fit?) She said in punjabi and laughed aloud. “Wasn’t he fat?” She asked out of curiosity. Just then Kirti looked back casually and saw me standing there. She tried to change the topic, but Aisha didn’t stop. I gestured Kirti to remain quiet and stopped her from interrupting Aisha. Harleen and Geet saw me, but were too stunned to speak. As I was standing at the back, so she couldn’t see that I was there.
“Yes, I was.” I said with a straight face. She turned around as she heard my voice.
“Oh..…..” She immediately stopped laughing. “Ummm…..” she was unable to find words. “I mean it’s great that you’ve become so fit.” She tried to cover up.
“Thanks” I said without a change in my expressions, as I bade good bye to them and left from there.
Since the shoot of my first film was well underway, so for next few days I was not in touch with Manish. It was quite hectic as we were running a little behind schedule, so had to shoot rigorously to cover up. One day I got a call from Kirti who invited me for Manish’s birthday which was next day. She told me that she has invited Aisha, Geet and Harleen also.
Next day, I got late at my shoot so headed straight to Manish’s place. I rang the door bell of his apartment and saw Aisha standing in front of me as she came to open the door. “Hi” we both greeted each other as I entered.
I went inside and greeted Harleen and Geet who along with the house help, were trying to hang a beautiful poster of Manish and Kirti on the wall of the living room. Kirti had got it especially for Manish as he had wanted to get one for quite long. Kirti came from kitchen and I engulfed her in a hug.
“Hey, how are you? Come sit. Manish must be about to reach.” She said.
I went to help Harleen who was trying to adjust the poster on the nail fixed at the wall but in the course broke a small painting that hung next to it. Aisha and Geet started to laugh as I looked at them clueless.
“Why do you give such fragile things in her hands?” Geet asked Kirti and she too started laughing. I was a little amused at that as I didn’t get the joke.
“Excuse me. What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Actually, she has quite a strong pair of hands and breaks almost everything that she holds in them. She even twisted a key once in the office. You should also be careful when around her.” Aisha warned me as she teased Harleen and all of us shared a hearty laugh. Just then, the door bell rang.
“It must be Manish.” Kirti said as the house help went to open the door. Manish entered and was surprised to see us all together.
“Hey, what a surprise? How come you are here? No shoot today?” He asked me as we both hugged.
“I came to romance your wife in your absence. Right Kirti?” I turned and looked at Kirti as both Manish and I laughed and I wished him.
“Yes, why did you come so early?” Kirti asked in a complaining manner and we all laughed a little more.
As rest of them wished him, his eyes fell on the big poster that graced the wall of his living room. He turned towards Kirti and thanked her. “Anything for you baby.” she replied lovingly as he engulfed her in a hug and kissed on her forehead.
“Ahem, Ahem…….” I tried to bring their attention back to all of us, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Sharma, we are also here.” I said as their face turned a deep red and all of us teased them a little more. Just then, Geet came with cake from the kitchen. Manish cut the cake and everybody attacked on it as though we had never seen a cake in our life. Manish quickly went inside to change as we planned to go out for dinner.
We were waiting for Manish as we all chatted over a cup of coffee and some scrumptious snacks made by Kirti and Geet. I got to know that they had shifted to Mumbai just three months back. Aisha and Kirti were college friend as they studied management together in Delhi, although Aisha was from Chandigarh.
Harleen and Geet, also from Chandigarh, were Aisha’s colleagues, and now very close friends. All of them worked with Binge Foods, one of the leading companies in North India, involved in manufacturing of bakery products like breads, biscuits, cakes and different types of spreads and sauces. It was one of the fastest growing companies in that region, and after it covered the entire Northern region including Delhi, now the company had decided to spread its wings across other parts of the country. Aisha and Harleen were working at managerial level in their Human Resources department. They had brought in major changes in the company’s HR policies which helped the company immensely as it gained the reputation of a preferred employer, ahead of many other major companies in that region. Since both of them had successfully handled various projects at their head office in Chandigarh, therefore, when the company decided to set up a new unit in Mumbai, they were the obvious choice to initiate and carry out the department’s functions smoothly. Geet was working in the Marketing department of the company. They were staying in a shared three BHK apartment in Andheri provided by their company since it was nearby to their office.
It was a welcoming break from the otherwise hectic schedule and I had a great time with all of them as we chatted and spent a great evening together.
For about a month after this, I went to Australia for an outdoor shoot. The schedule was hectic because of the strict timelines, but a fruitful one. A few days after I returned, I was in the middle of a photo shoot when my phone rang. It was a call from Manish, who invited me for a relaxed dinner at home, since it was a weekend and they had an off next day. He informed me that they had invited Aisha also.
I reached Manish’s apartment at 8 pm. Kirti opened the door as we greeted and hugged each other, “Someone is looking beautiful” I complimented her and looked at Manish teasingly.
“Abe aate hi line marne lag gaya” Manish joked and we all laughed. “When is Aisha coming?” Manish asked Kirti.
“She left late from the office due to some work. So she’s on the way.” Kirti informed and as we were talking, the door bell rang. Their house help opened the door and as expected, it was Aisha.
“Just now, we were talking about you.” Manish said. She looked tired and had tied up her hair messily in a bun.
“What happened Aisha, why are you late? You were supposed to reach early.” Kirti asked.
“Don’t ask yaar. I don’t understand why people need references to get a job. They can’t even get a small job on their own? And then they expect a royal treatment, since they came through some xyz reference. Incapable a$$#*!%”
“Careful Aisha.” Kirti brought her attention towards the other two people present in the room. She stuck her tongue out in embarrassment as she rattled on completely forgetting that we were also there and both of us suppressed a chuckle.
“But I am sure tune solid watt lagayi hogi uski.” Kirti tried to divert our attention.
“Of course I did. I can’t stand such idiots. He is going to remember this interview for the rest of his life.”
“Really, so much anger for this?” I asked.
“I get to encounter such people every now and then, so at times it becomes quite frustrating. Actually, Our MD, who happens to be the owner of the company is such a down to earth and humble soul, that if anybody requests him, he wouldn’t say no to them.” She explained.
“Okay now, calm down.” Manish said.
“Relax and have water.” Kirti said as the house help brought a glass of water for her. All of us sat down on the couch in the living room and chatted over a few rounds of drinks. While having dinner, I got to know that Harleen and Geet had gone to visit their families and would be back after a fortnight. Before we knew, it was well past mid night. I quickly got up to leave as I had an early morning shoot next day. As I was about to leave, Kirti noticed that Aisha was busy with her phone and asked her about it. She informed that she was booking a cab for herself.
“You stay with us na?” Kirti asked her.
“No thanks, you’ll wake me up early. I don’t want to spoil my weekend.” She made a face and said.
“I promise I won’t. You can sleep as much as you want.” Kirti tried to convince her.
“Last time bhi tune yahi bola tha, no thanks.” She said sarcastically. “And by the way, I don’t want to be ‘kabab mein haddi’. You guys enjoy your weekend.” She gave her a naughty smile as both the girls giggled. Manish also pressed her to stay with them but she was adamant to go, so he turned towards me and asked if I can drop her, and I agreed.
“Arre it’s okay. I’ll book a cab na” She looked a little hesitant.
“It’s late Aisha, so you better go with him.” Manish reasoned. She looked at Kirti as she was still doubtful and she nodded in assurance.
“Okay, I’ll just be back in two minutes. My handbag is lying in your room.” She turned to Kirti and asked to accompany her. They both returned a few minutes later and we both left from there after bidding them good bye.
While in the car, we both were silent as we were unable to find anything to talk. As I was still contemplating on a topic to start the conversation, she broke the silence.
“I hope you don’t mind, I was a little hesitant to come with you.”
“Of course not. It’s perfectly alright.” I took a pause and asked, “By the way, what did you ask Kirti when you went inside. “
“Ummm, I ……….” She didn’t know what to say.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to answer.” I saw her discomfort and decided to drop it, as I understood her worry of traveling alone so late at night with a person she hardly knows.
“So how’s your shoot going on?” She asked as if she wanted to change the topic.
“It’s going fine. We have completed almost 50 percent of the shoot.” I informed her.
“It must be so much fun na. Visiting so many places; acting; dancing.” She asked in excitement.
“Yes it is. I have been watching all this very closely since my childhood. I used to accompany dad for his shoots sometimes. Though mom never liked it and tried to keep me away as much as possible, because she wanted me to concentrate on my studies first. But still I would sometimes go with dad and instantly fell in love with it. And the best part is that you get paid for it.” And we both laughed.
“So you like sleeping till late on weekends?” I asked.
“Not only on weekends, just whenever I could get a chance, I won’t leave the opportunity.” She laughed.
“Really? How much do you sleep at a stretch?”
“Fifteen to sixteen hours.” She said as I looked at her in shock.
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“No seriously.” she laughed. “Once I was alone at my apartment on a weekend, as Harleen and Geet were away and I ended up sleeping till afternoon.”
“I can’t believe this.” I said.
“I just looovvveee to sleep. But you seem to be an early riser.” She looked at me and asked.
“Actually, most of the times, I have to go to gym, so can’t afford to sleep till late. But when I have late night shoots, then I allow myself to sleep till 9:30 or 10am max.” I smiled.
“Oh, you wake up so early?” She looked at me and a few moments later we both laughed. As I entered her building gate, she thanked me and got off the car.
On my way back, I thought about how I had not liked her the first time we met. I thought she was mean, very careless about her looks and careless about her words, but she was not that bad. There was something likeable about her. I reached home after twenty minutes and went to sleep soon after.
The next morning, I came back from gym and got ready to leave for shoot. While having breakfast, my thoughts went towards Aisha and the conversation that we had last night and a smile crept up my lips. I took my phone and sent a ‘hi’ to her. I had taken her number last night when she was about to enter her building. Though she felt a little awkward, but nevertheless shared her number. There was no reply from her. ‘She might be sleeping’, I thought to myself and after having breakfast, I left for my shoot.
It was almost 1 pm and I was in the middle of a discussion with my director and female lead regarding an important scene when my phone beeped. I checked and saw it was from Aisha,
“Hi, how are you?” Came her reply. Since I was busy with my work, so couldn’t reply at that time. After half an hour as the discussion was over, I replied her,
“So you are finally awake.”
“Yeah yeah long back, it’s been one hour now.” She replied with a laughing smiley.
“Oh so early, hahaha, okay so what are you doing today? Any plans?”
“Not really, will be at home only.”
“So, Can we meet?” Not that I was attracted to her, but couldn’t understand the reason why I asked.
“Why are you so shocked? Just want to know you better, so that we can be friends.”
“I don’t make friends so easily.”
“So then what will I have to do, to be your friend?”
“Like.... maybe make awesome coffee for me.” She replied.
“Done, my friends say I am great at that.”
“I’ll come to pick you up in the evening.”
In the evening, as I waited in front of her building gate, she came out wearing a ruffled top and a pair of jeans, and her hair left carelessly open. She sat on the passenger seat and I started driving.
“Where are we going?” She asked.
“Well, that’s a surprise.” I smiled and drove towards the outskirts of the city and stopped at a place off the road. As she came out of the car, she was pleasantly surprised.
“Beautiful. I’ve never seen this place before.” It was a beach just on the outskirts, away from city’s hustle bustle.
“Not many people visit this place.” I told her. “And it’s my favorite place in Mumbai.”
“It’s really beautiful.” She said as she went ahead to explore the beautiful beach with big rocks lying at the sea shore, being thrashed time and again by the sea waves, as the sun was still up gazing from the far end. I took out two coffee mugs from the car and kept them on the hood, and poured the coffee from the flask.
“You actually brought it.” She looked surprised.
“I had to.” I extended the mug towards her and took out a box from the car. She opened it and found chocolate walnut brownie with chocolate syrup on it.
“Wow, I love this.” she said. I offered her the spoon and she instantly took a bite.
“Mmmm, it’s so yum. You made this too?” she asked in excitement.
“Are you mad? I am not THAT crazy to meet you.” And we both laughed and then she took a sip of coffee from her mug.
“Amazing yaar, it’s really good. You made this, seriously?”
“I told you, I make really good coffee. So how are you finding Mumbai?” I asked as we went and sat on a big rock lying at the sea shore.
“It’s nice. Getting used to the crowd. But I really miss Chandigarh. It’s so peaceful, unlike here.” she said.
“How do you stay at such places which are so sparsely populated? Don’t you get bored?”
“No ways. I love my city. Less population doesn’t mean nothing interesting there.”
“Really? So what’s interesting there? Someone special?” I asked out of curiosity, as she laughed.
“No, no, just my family; friends and the place. I didn’t like Delhi also, since it’s so crowded. But you seem to be in love with this city.”
“Oh yes, absolutely. I can’t imagine myself living in any other city. Actually, I think everybody is in love with the place they have been born and brought up in. And also, my work place is here, which is the most important. It’s my life. I’ve grown up in this industry and can’t imagine my life without it.”
“Obviously” She smiled naughtily.
“Why is it obvious?” I asked.
“Because there would be so much fan following due to your family name and status, MR. KAPOOR.” She said playfully.
“Mr. Kapoor!” I laughed and continued, “I know what you are trying to say.” I smiled. “But I am not interested in all that fame. Besides, you very well know how I used to look earlier.” I joked.
“Oh yes, how can I forget, Mr. Fatty Kapoor.” She teased me and I smiled in embarrassment. “So how do you introduce yourself? Hi I am Fatty Kapoor, son of Mr. Anand Kapoor, the superstar.” She laughed.
“Shut up.” I tried to look annoyed.
“Okay, okay sorry Mr. Kapoor. Don’t be so angry or else the whole Mumbai police would be after me, since I made fun of THE Mr. Kapoor.” She said in exaggeration.
“Hahaha….” I mocked a laugh. “Are you done with your PJs now?” I gave her a blank look but she didn’t stop and kept laughing and after few seconds, I also started laughing.
“So you stay alone?” she asked.
“Yes, after my mother passed away, I stay alone now.”
“I am sorry about…..” she suddenly became guilty of unknowingly touching a sensitive topic.
“It’s okay, don’t be.”
“Heart attack? I read that in newspaper.” She asked as I nodded and went on to pour some more coffee for both of us. As I came back and sat, she asked, “On a serious note, how is it possible that you don’t want to be in the lime light or be famous?”
“I have seen all this very closely, so it doesn’t interest me. All this stardom is momentary. I want to be known as an actor and not a star. People should remember my work. So my focus is on doing the roles that establish me as a performer.”
“Really? I can’t believe this. Being from such an illustrious background, you don’t like that glitz and glamour?”
“Nope, I am a very private person and want to lead a very simple life. That’s the reason I don’t take my body guard everywhere. However, I know I’ll have to get used to it as my film nears its release but till then I want to enjoy my freedom as people don’t recognize me. And I am quite thankful to my mom for that. She was the one who always kept me away from media and cameras, so that I get a normal childhood. At that time, I used to feel irritated because I wanted to accompany dad wherever he went, but she was very strict about it and would rarely allow me to go with him. Though, I am just about half way through my first film and it’s been hardly five months, I don’t know if I would be accepted by the audience or not. But I am very clear in my head that if I stay here, my focus would only be my work.
“Not bad Mr. Kapoor, I am impressed. Normally people want to be part of this industry, because they want to be famous and lead a glamorous life.”
“I can’t say anything about others, but that’s how I am.” I shrugged my shoulders slightly. We kept chatting about various things, our likes, dislikes, films, traveling, her job, my work and life in general, and found mutual love for bollywood.
“So how was the coffee?” I asked as we sat in the car to return.
“Awesome” she replied.
“Thank you friend” She looked at me and understood why I said that, as I smiled.
“Okay so now that we are friends…..” she took a pause, “I hope you don’t mind that I was so rude about your weight, when we first met at the café.” She looked at me in embarrassment.
“Of course I do.” I looked at her impassively. She seemed to be a little concerned and started to clarify but suddenly caught me trying to suppress a snigger and a few moments later, we both laughed as I drove off to drop her back.
As I turned the car towards the gate of her building, her phone rang. She looked at it and saw Harleen’s name flashing on screen. She took the call but as I stopped the car, she asked Harleen to hold on. She took her handbag and bade me good bye.
“Haan bol ab” she resumed the conversation with Harleen.
“Kisko bye bol rahi thi” she asked as Aisha told her about the evening that we both spent together.
“Ohho kya baat, coffeeeee ” Harleen pulled her leg.
“It was coffee, not coffeeeee” she clarified.
“Haan, haan okay. So where did you go? Which café?”
“Not to any café. He made it himself and brought from his home.”
“Acha ji, khud bana ke, now tell me quickly, kya chal raha hai?”
“Are you mad? kuch nahi chal raha, tu bhi na. We just went out casually.”
“Arre kitna cute hai, such a tall and handsome guy. Punjabi bhi hai and that stubble makes him so irresistible and that smile to die for. I am telling you he is interested in you.”
“Waahh Ms. Harleen Suri, kudos to your imagination.”
“Acha okay, where did you go?” she ignored her and again asked.
“We went to a place on the outskirts. It was a beautiful beach. I never thought there could be such a peaceful place here also.” She filled her up and they kept talking for some more time and then hung up.
A week later, I was passing outside her office and suddenly decided to stop and dialed her number.
“Hey, where are you?” I asked as soon as she picked up the call.
“I am in the office.” She informed as I again enquired about the time by which she would be free.
“Probably by 6:30 pm, but why are you asking?”
“I got free from shoot early and was getting bored, so thought to pick you up. You are also alone, toh saath mein bore hote hain.” I knew Harleen and Geet had not returned from Chandigarh as yet.
“I agree.” I said. “Chal ab jaldi aa, I am waiting.” She came after ten minutes and sat in the car.
“So what’s the plan? Let’s call Kirti and Manish also. We’ll have street food. It’ll be fun.” She said like an excited child.
“Mere saath akele aane mein dar lagta hai?” I looked at her and asked. “Main ache ghar ka ladka hun, trust me.” I said impishly.
“Ab chale ya saare dialogues yahi marne hai” She said as she shook her head. “Let’s have bhelpuri and golgappe and batata puri. It’s so yumm.”
“Yaar who eats all this? Let’s go somewhere else. I know a place where they serve amazing thai cuisine.”
“Karan yaar, I know you don’t like all this, but I want to have this only.” she said like a stubborn child.
“It’s so unhygienic Aisha, they don’t even wash their hands and utensils properly.” I tried to talk her out of it.
“Oh come on Mr. Kapoor, don’t be such a typical star kid.” She teased me.
“You know I am not like that.” I looked at her with a serious expression.
“No I don’t know. Prove me that you are not like that.” she said naughtily. I took a deep sigh and knew she’s not going to change her mind.
“Okay fine, let’s go. And its paani puri, not gol gappe” I made a face and said.
“Okay Mr. Fatty Kapoor. Who would know it better than you.” she said while laughing loudly as I frowned. I asked her where she wanted to go as I was sure she must be having a favorite place for all this and we headed towards that place. As we reached and stopped, a few heads turned towards my car. Though they didn’t recognize me but the car sure kept them guessing. I waited as she ordered.
“Bhaiya, gol gappe”
“Paani puri” I corrected her.
“Offo, he knows what I mean. I am a regular customer.” she said as he handed over the disposable plate to her and offered one to me also, but I refused. As she put the first paani puri in her mouth, the expressions on her face told me that she relished it to the core.
“Try one.” she said as she extended the plate towards me.
“No thank you.” I said as she gave me a tough look. She took one in her hand and put it in my mouth. I didn’t quite like it as it was very spicy and I don’t like spicy food. She saw that and started laughing. She took the bhelpuri, she had ordered while having pani puri, and we left from there. She was enjoying her bhelpuri, while I still couldn’t recover from so much of spice. So she took out a chocolate from her hand bag and handed it to me. I felt a little better after few bites.
“How do you eat such spicy food? You should not have it. It’s not good for health.”
“Then how would I see those funny expressions on your face after having those gol gappas.”
“Yes it was very funny.” she said and giggled.
“Shut up.” I shook my head. “You want to have something else?” she nodded her head in negation. “Okay, then let’s go and have coffee.” She agreed and we went to Prithvi café in juhu. As I ordered coffee and cinnamon muffins for both of us, Aisha was talking to one of her school friends. As she disconnected the call, I asked,
“You have lot of friends in Chandigarh?”
“Not many, but the ones I have, they are all very close to me.”
“And that includes Harleen and Geet?”
“Yup. I never thought I would be able to meet such amazing friends, that too at my work place. It was least expected. Both of them are such wonderful girls and very loving. Geet is such a caring and beautiful soul that sometimes we don’t even miss home. I am really close to both of them, especially Harleen. We both joined on the same day and since then, we have been…..”
“Best friends?” I asked.
“No, that’s an understatement. It’s much more than that. In fact now when I think of it, I don’t know what my life would have been, without her. She is such a fun loving girl, always so supportive and much sorted in her thoughts, unlike me. When it comes to my life, most of the times, I am a complete mess so mostly, she is the one who makes me understand what I actually want and for her, I play the same role. But when it comes to our own lives, we are quite indecisive. She’s very funny too, always the first one to be ready for a party.” She smiled as she told me about her equation with Harleen. “Okay, enough about me. You must be having lot of friends here, in the industry and outside also?” She asked.
Just like you, not many, but I do have a bunch of close friends. Being part of the industry that I am in, I have to choose my friends very carefully. Manish is my closest friends, who always stood by me through difficult times, without passing any judgments. It’s rare to find such a pure heart. He’s like a brother, I never had. We know everything about each other. I feel so fortunate to have him, because there are so many fake people around who only want to be with you because you are a superstar’s son or sometimes because they want to know about my father’s personal life. I don’t like talking about it and till date nobody knows the inside story. They want to use it for their own personal interest so that they can sell it to the media or maybe, just put it on social media and gossip about it all day long.”
“But Karan, being in this profession, it will be really difficult for you to keep yourself away from public glare.”
“I know, but it’s not impossible, and that’s why I said that I choose my friends very carefully.”
“So then how did you become friends with me?”
“Apni tareef sunna hai?” A smile crept up my face.
“Koi toh kare” she rolled her eyes.
“Come on, don’t lie. I am sure, there must be many, who find you tareef-worthy.” she grinned and I continued after a pause, “I don’t know how to explain this, but there was something positive about you. Some connection, I can’t put it in words. You were never bothered about my family name and all. You treated me as a normal human being, and not like a celebrity son. I loved that. It’s important to keep you grounded. I saw how, instead of being very close to your friends, you also knew where to draw the line and not intrude too much into anybody’s life. We have met only recently, but it seems like we have known each other since ages. There’s certain comfort level with you which I don’t feel with everyone.”
“Wow, I didn’t know I have so many qualities. Thank you Mr. Kapoor” She laughed.
“Any time” I said with a smug. We kept talking about random things and I told her that I am going to London for my outdoor schedule.
“Great yaar, I love that place. Mujhe bhi le ja” she said on a lighter note. “I went there once for our educational trip during my masters, and it ended up being anything but educational. Kirti and I ended up roaming around so much that I am sure the entire city must have started recognizing us.” Her face lit up as she talked about it.
“Great” I laughed, “Tell me seriously if you want to go, I’ll arrange for it.”
“No thanks Mr. Kapoor. I was just kidding. You go and enjoy.”
“You can think over it. I still have few days to go. You won’t get a chance to go with such a handsome guy again.” I smiled.
“Is there any other hero in the film? She asked with serious expressions on her face.
“Very funny.” I said sarcastically.
“Oh you were talking about yourself, Mr. fatty Kapoor.”
“Now you say that one more time and see what I do.” I warned her.
“Okay, okay fine.”She laughed.
As we were about to leave, I went towards the billing counter and took out my card to make the payment, but she came from behind and stopped me.
“Wait, you won’t pay.” She fished out her wallet from the handbag. I couldn’t understand why she stopped me.
“Last time it was your coffee treat, now it’s my turn.”
“Oh come on Aisha. How does it matter?” She took my card as I was about to hand it across the counter.
“Then let me pay na” she gave her card instead. “I know I am not earning as much as Mr. Kapoor but still…..” She said teasingly and I couldn’t help but shake my head as we left from there.