They say love happens at the most unexpected times with the most unexpected person. It was so aptly true in case of Karan Kapoor, a Bollywood star, who fell in love with Aisha Sehgal, a simple middle-class girl. Even though there was reluctance from her side but this didn't stop him from falling in love with her a little more with each passing day. Let's be a part of their journey- a journey of friendship, love, fights, separation, and eternal love.
Meeting her was by chance, falling in love was destiny,
Waiting for her was a choice and loving her for the rest of my life was something that wasn't in my control...
It was 8:30 in the evening and I was driving my Range Rover like a maniac in the mad Mumbai rush. I was late for the Mehendi and Sangeet function of Sumit and Nikita. Both of them have been my friends since the good old school days, where we were all in the same batch. They now have a joint business in outsourcing of software development, and have a lot of major companies around the world as their clients.
Theirs was a typical high school love story. Though I wonder how Nikita fell in love with Sumit since both of them are as different as chalk and cheese. Nikita is such a sweet, patient girl while Sumit is short tempered and a little immature. I've never understood how both of them work together. When I enter Sumit’s cabin, his table is cluttered, piled high with files and papers. You would think it would be impossible to find anything, and yet, he manages to find any document he needs in the snap of a finger. On the other hand, Nikita’s cabin is always so well organized where files and important documents are neatly filed and in their respective cabinets. But I guess that’s why they say ‘opposites attract’.
It had been a hectic day for me, as I had just started shooting for my third project; an offbeat film, with one of my favorite directors, Rajat Sengupta. I got to play my first ever negative character and I was thrilled to bits to have bagged such a challenging role, so early on in my career.
I had always wanted to become an actor. Not because my father has also been an actor and is a superstar himself. Though he had retired a few years ago and moved to US with his second wife and kids. Of course, being a superstar’s son gave me easy access to the industry, but the reason I chose this as a career was because acting is my passion. Being blessed with fairly good looks, or so the female attention had made me believe, thanks to my mother's genes. I was on the verge of being obese as a child and while growing up, I had to struggle a lot with my weight. But my 6’1” height, and my masculine look enhanced by my stubble saved me, and somehow, my charm always worked, even when I was not so fit. Finally, when I started working for my fourth film as an assistant director, I decided that I needed to work out and get fit if I wanted to be in front of the camera. It took me almost a year of hard work and sweating it out in the gym followed by a strict diet to achieve my current physique. It had been a long but triumphant journey.
Becoming an actor was the only thing in my life I was dead sure about, until a few years ago. I say 'a few years ago’ because that’s when I met Aisha. Before that, acting was the only love that ever existed for me. I don’t know what is it about her that made me fall hopelessly in love with her. I had been with more beautiful girls before, and she was nowhere near the visual that I would consider as perfect. In fact I had not liked her the first time we met, but yet, there was chemistry. She was yet to admit that she loved me, but that didn't stop me from falling a little more for her with each day that passed.
She is over a year older than me, but has a childlike innocence; fan of romcom and love songs, a romantic at heart. Thodi short tempered hai, but never shows her emotional side to anybody. She is a strong headed girl and swears are as much a part of her life as life itself.
My mind shifted to reality, as I entered the building. Dilip, my body guard, waited a little behind in the other car. I normally drive alone and Dilip follows me in another car because I'm not fond of people stepping into my personal space. Unless it is very important, I prefer to be left alone on my own. I stopped the car at the entrance and called up Manish. "Come downstairs. I am waiting." Within few minutes, he along with Aisha, Kirti, Harleen and Geet were at the entrance. Aisha came and sat on the passenger seat next to me, as Harleen got into the back. Kirti, Manish and Geet got into his car. I looked at her from the corner of my eye. She was wearing a peach anarkali. When I saw her walking to the car, I'd noticed her in high heels for the first time. Slipping into something traditional didn't come easy to her, and the discomfort was evident in the way she carried herself, but she was trying her best not to bring it on her face.
"So…." my voice trailed off till she turned to look at me. "You wore them for me?" I said, teasing her quietly.
"What?" She asked, pretending to not understand.
"Your heels," I gestured with my eyes towards her feet.
"What rubbish." she retorted, failing to hide the growing blush on her cheeks.
"Who else?" Harleen was quick to respond and Aisha gave a stern look to her and said, "shut up!" and both of them started giggling. I laughed and sped off towards The Lalit, where the ceremony was organized.
When we entered, I could feel a lot of eyes on me but I turned my attention towards Sumit and Nikita who were standing at a distance, and made my way towards them. A few guests tried to reach me when Dilip stopped them politely, but they requested for a picture so I told him to let them be. I joined Manish as soon as I was done, looking forward to having a gala time. The sangeet had already started, and the chachis, maamis and buas of the bride and groom were in full singing mode. All the girls sat with them and started enjoying traditional Punjabi songs. Aisha being a Punjabi herself, and Harleen and Geet belonging to Sikh families, knew a lot of those songs. They sang along with them, while Kirti, who was from Jabalpur, found it all a bit amusing. As soon as the singing session ended, Harleen went straight to the DJ and requested a song. Soon, we were grooving to the tunes of ‘gallan goodiyan’. As we danced, I couldn't stop myself from looking at Aisha. She goes insane while dancing. Anybody who didn’t know her would think she's completely sloshed. But she'd once told me, she'd never even tasted anything apart from champagne and that too, few years ago.
After dancing our hearts out for a good two hours, I had to literally pull Aisha and Harleen off the dance floor. We went for some snacks and drinks and then the girls went for mehandi. I was sitting at one of the tables in the lawn, with Manish and some other friends of ours, a few who we were meeting after a long time. All of us were enjoying our drinks and chatting about how people have now started spending so much on weddings when I said, "I will not spend so much on my wedding. In fact, I’ll have a very simple wedding with close family and friends."
"Pehle tu ye soch if she'll agree or you’ll have to kidnap her to marry her," Manish whispered to me and we both shared a good laugh.
I saw her sitting in front of the mehandivalas, all set to start her mehandi. I just couldn't resist, so I walked over and told the guy, “Don’t forget to write my name.” She looked at me in shock and said, “Bhaiya aap ignore karo please.” The poor fellow laughed and continued with his work. I smiled and tapped him on his shoulder, “Soch le bhai, you won’t get your payment.” She took the cushion lying beside her and threw it at me in anger, which I dodged successfully and winked. “Shut up, you idiot,” she muttered as loudly as she could, only for my ears.
As soon as the dance performance of bride and groom was announced, all of us headed towards the middle of a huge hall, where they were supposed to perform. The dance started and I stood at one corner looking at Aisha as she was standing on the opposite side.
Raaton Ko Apni Palkon Se
Khwaab Sajaane Do…
Phir Khwabon Ko Aankhon Se
Neend Churaane Do...
Khaamoshiyan Rakhti Hain
Apni Bhi Ek Zubaan
Khamoshi Ko Chupke Se Sab Keh Jaane Do
Kuchh To Hua Hai, Ye Kya Hua…
Jo Na Pata Hai ,Ye Jo Hua…
Kuchh Toh Hua Hai , Samjho Kuchh Samjho Na..
She too was looking at me but would avert her gaze every time our eyes met. Geet went to talk to her about something, and I could tell Aisha was trying to focus but her heart was elsewhere. I don’t think she registered anything that Geet said. As soon as Geet left, she looked in the direction where I had been standing a few moments ago, and became restless when she couldn’t find me. As she turned, I was standing right in front of her. She stumbled a little, not expecting me to be standing so close. She blushed furiously and walked quickly away to the other side. How could I not follow her?
Jo Kadam Kadam Chalun
Tujhe Hi Tay Karun Main
Saansein Bankar Tujhe Odh Lun
Tu Khayaal Sa Mila Hai
Jisko Gin Sakun Main
Aadaton Mein Tujhe Jod Lun
Tujhse Roshan Raatein Saari
Tujhpe Hi Khatam Baatein Saari
Khaamoshiyan Rakhti Hain
Apni Bhi Ek Zubaan
Khamoshi Ko Chupke Se Sab Keh Jaane Do
Kuchh Toh Hua Hai , Ye Kya Hua….
Jo Na Pata Hai, Ye Jo Hua….
Kuchh Toh Hua Hai, Samjho Kuchh Samjho Na…
We walked on either sides of the dance floor, our eyes locked. We came out of our trance when the performance came to an end, and everybody clapped and cheered for Sumit and Nikita.
At the dinner table, Manish and I were helping the girls as they still had mehandi on their hands. Looking at Manish, who was helping Kirti with the food, I asked her slowly, “You also need help?” She gave me an angry stare and continued eating. “I do,” Geet said naughtily. “Ye……… yeah, sure” I fumbled, slightly embarrassed, and went to help her, while the rest of them stood laughing.
After the sangeet, all of us headed towards Kirti and Manish’s place as all of them were staying there for the night. I went up for a cup of coffee with them, to discuss the plan for the next day. As I got up to leave, Geet said, “my hand bag is lying in your car," and then turned to Aisha, “can you please get it for me?” Aisha had already washed her hands while the rest of them were still waiting for the mehandi to dry. We both went downstairs and I handed over the hand bag to her. As she turned to go, her right foot twisted. “F*@#,” she cursed as she held my arm to save herself from falling, and removed her heels, “I don’t understand how girls wear these.”
“Then why did you wear them?” I chuckled and asked.
“To impress you,” she said teasingly and I tried not to smile too big.
“I am already head over heels in love, what else do you want. Aise bolegi toh, I won’t be able to wait till tomorrow, abhi utha ke le jaunga.”
“Abe…." She suddenly looked conscious. “I was just kidding. And by the way, you are not Mr. Fatty Kapoor anymore. You won’t be able to carry me,” she giggled, her tone lighter.
“Try me?” I looked into her eyes and asked. It was her cheeks now, that had turned crimson, and she tried hard to control it, but in vein. “By the way, I want an answer tomorrow, and NO excuses.” It came out sounding like a warning, and for a second, her face turned grim. But then she smiled. "Good night," she said and turned slowly to go.
As I reached home, the same emptiness welcomed me, which had become a part of my everyday life now. Since mom and dad’s divorce a few years ago, dad had settled in US with his family, and mom and I were staying in this five BHK duplex at Imperial Heights in Bandra which dad had bought a few years before his divorce. This was one of the many properties that he owned in some of the upscale areas of Mumbai and a few in US. I lost my mom around a year ago and since then I had been staying alone. I was used to staying alone, but sometimes it irked me.
Suddenly, my phone beeped, jarring in the silence. It was from Aisha. “Have you reached?” I replied with a “yes” as I smiled at how she never misses to ask me every single time. I was dead tired and quickly changed and hit the bed. But that night, I couldn’t sleep properly. I was eagerly waiting for the next day’s wedding because that’s when I was going to get my answer. An answer I'd waited a long time for and one she'd avoided for as long. But not any more.
Next morning, I was about to leave for gym when I got a call from Manish. It was 8:30 am. The girls were planning to go shopping, so Manish asked me to come over as I was free for the day. He too had taken an off as the last couple of months had been extremely hectic for him. “Everybody is up?” I asked.
“Yes, except Aisha”, he informed me. “And Geet is having a hard time waking her up.” This was expected from Aisha; except for work, she was too lazy to wake up early. I didn’t understand what it was with her love for so much sleep.
I reached Manish’s apartment at Park Residency, Juhu by 11 am. Manish and I have been friends since my school days, though we were not in the same school; we met through our common friend, Sumit. Both of them stayed in the same building. Since then we have been the best of friends in spite of the fact, that he is four years older than me. His family was in Mumbai at that time, but few years back, his father who was heading the Quality Assurance Department of one of the leading Auto giants, decided to move to their home town Jabalpur, after his retirement. Manish decided against it, because of his studies and most importantly, because he was so in love with Mumbai, that he couldn’t see himself living anywhere else. He has an elder sister who was married and settled in US.
I still remember when he had bought this apartment around a year and a half ago. It was one of the newer buildings with modern amenities and spacious flats. I had never seen him happier, more so because he wanted to have a house of his own before he gets married. Manish worked as the VP in the International Marketing division of an MNC, dealing in electronic home appliances. After slogging for long hours and traveling to different parts of the world, he finally bought this apartment and decided to take things at a slightly slower pace, since he had been working day in and out leaving everything else aside.
His wife Kirti was also from Jabalpur, though she had stayed most part of her life in Delhi, initially for studies and then for work. Their families had known each other since very long, but Manish and Kirti had never met. It was an arranged match, but Manish was really happy, because their first meeting itself made him feel that she was the one for him and that it was the right time to settle down. Within six months they got married. It was because of her efforts that the apartment turned into a beautiful and cozy home. Though it’s amazing how she manages all that with her work. Earlier she was working in the Corporate Banking Department of a private sector bank, but after marriage, she decided to venture into a business which had always been her dream. She had partnered with a colleague of hers for a start up in training outsourcing around three months ago. She was doing quite well as she had tied up with a handful of big names in the industry in such a short time.
As I sat on the couch, I saw Aisha still in her night shorts and t-shirt, “You're still not ready?” I asked. “I’ll be ready in five minutes,” she said sluggishly.
"Geet, if she’s not ready in five minutes, we all will leave,” said Kirti.
“I said I’ll be ready, don’t be a drama queen," she quickly went inside, knowing that everybody was waiting for her. After around twenty minutes, Aisha came out of the room and quickly went towards the main door but then turned around, picked up a sandwich from the platter that the house help was taking back to the kitchen and ran out as rest of them had already gone downstairs. I couldn’t help shaking my head at the unrequired haste with which she did things.
They came back after a couple of hours and as we all sat on the couch in the living room, I asked, “what time are we planning to leave in the evening?”
“I think we should leave by 8 pm,” Geet suggested.
“Yeah right and please girls, be ready on time," I said to all but my eyes were on Aisha.
Kirti laughed and said, “tell Aisha to be on time, everybody else will be ready.”
“I think she got the hint,” I said, as Aisha looked annoyed.
“What is wrong with you guys, huhhhh…… I am always on time.”
“Oh really?” Geet asked sarcastically and we all started laughing, while Aisha narrowed her eyes and looked at me. I kept looking at her for a while, until she became a little conscious of my gaze on her. I too realized this and got up to leave.
I left soon but messaged her once I'd reached home, “can’t wait for the evening!"
“I am not feeling well, so might not come for the wedding,” she replied with a wink smiley.
“Oh really great!! I’ll also stay back, so that we can talk without any disturbance,” I replied with a laughing smiley.
“No, I was just kidding, I am going with you guys.”
“That’s okay Aisha, we’ll stay back na.”
“Mr. Kapoor, don’t try to act smart.”
“Who started it?”
“Okay, I have to get ready, I am getting late, else you will start shouting at me that I am not ready on time. Bye.”
“Yeah, yeah as if you care.”
I got ready in my navy blue suit and crisp white shirt, the combination she says really suits me, and headed back to Manish’s place. I entered the house and found everyone ready and waiting in the living room, except Aisha, which was expected. All of them started to go downstairs as Geet said, “go and get her fast, or else we'll be waiting forever.” I gave her a nod and turned towards the room where she was. Just when I was about to enter, I heard her calling Kirti. As I reached closer, I saw her standing in front of the mirror draping her dupatta. Her back was towards the entrance of the room, so she couldn’t see that I was standing there. For a second, I was stunned looking at her image in the mirror. She looked breathtakingly beautiful in a dark green flared silk lehanga with hot pink dupatta and a low back blouse in gold. I leaned against the wall and kept staring at her. I came back to my senses with her voice as she again called Kirti.
“Are you there Kirti? I need your help to tie the……..” Her voice trailed off as she looked back and saw me standing at the door.
“Can I ……” I hesitated, “can I help?” I asked trying to sound as normal as I could. “Everybody has gone downstairs and we also need to be quick, we’re getting late.”
“Ummm okay.” she said cautiously.
“I told you to be ready on time.” I said while walking towards her.
“I am ready Karan, except for this.” She gestured with her eyes towards her back.
I went closer and stood at the back, as she moved her hair to one side. I was standing really close to her and could smell her favorite Armani Code. It was making me go weak and I suddenly wanted to touch her bare back, kiss her on the nape of her neck and hold her in my arms. She turned slightly to look at me as she waited. I quickly shrugged the thoughts out of my mind and tried to concentrate on what I was doing. I raised my hands to hold both ends of the dori, and realized my hands were shaking.
'Damn, I should have called somebody else for this,' I thought to myself. She would instantly know my hands were shivering. I started to tie the dori, trying to keep my movements as deliberate as possible. “What the hell happens to me when I am with her? I hate this nervousness.” I was thinking about all this as I looked into the mirror, “You look beautiful.” I whispered in her ears.
She looked at me through the mirror and spoke in a nervous tone, “Thanks, let’s go.” She quickly turned and went out of the room, avoiding any sort of eye contact, which was so typical of Aisha, always trying to hide what’s going in her heart. While we were in the elevator, I looked at my watch as she was standing behind me. “Don’t over react, we are on time,” she said. I looked back and gave her a tough look, but couldn’t help smiling as soon as I turned my face. We went down and saw Geet waiting for us as the rest of them were in Manish’s car waiting a little ahead.
“What were you both up to? We’re late,” she looked at me and smiled naughtily. I too smiled as we sat in the car and started driving towards the Westin Mumbai Garden City.