Stories

[fiction] Mera Geet Amar Kar Do

(This is an old story I’m re-publishing. I wrote this in October 2011, right after the sad demise of Jagjit Singh.)

“Did you take the pen drive?” Rekha asked, about to shut the main door to their house.

Nishant tapped his pockets, looked at his wife and shook his head. “I think I forgot it on the computer table.”

Rekha made a face, an expression Nishant couldn’t decipher, and went in to fetch the pen drive. A couple of minutes later, Nishant’s phone buzzed, he answered the call, wondering why Rekha was calling from inside the house when he was right outside in the car. “What happened?” he asked.

“I can’t find the pen drive,” she said, “it’s not on the computer table.”

“It should be there only; I just transferred all the ghazals into it.”

“It’s not there…”

“Wait, wait, I’ve it here with me, it was in my back pocket…”

“What the…”

“So sorry, so sorry.”

Rekha hung up, and rushed out of the house. Nishant inserted the pen drive into the USB slot of the car stereo, and off they went.

“It’s such a sad thing, no?” Rekha said, as Nishant steered the car onto the main road. “I didn’t even know he was in such a bad condition, found out he had passed away when I talked to Rani in the afternoon.”

Nishant didn’t say anything as he took a right turn to head for the highway. Someone in his office had given him the news; like everyone else, he too was shocked and saddened by it. He belonged to the generation that had grown up listening to the ghazals sung by the man who had silently passed away in a hospital bed that morning.

“Where are we going?” Rekha asked, breaking Nishant’s reverie.

“Like always, on the highway,” he replied.

Rekha settled down in her seat, the wind coming in from the open window caressing her hair. She loved going on these long drives with her husband, they were getting more frequent now because this was something they both enjoyed. They had sporadic conversations in between listening to their favourite music, but most of the time, they enjoyed each other’s presence without really acknowledging it

Nishant turned on the stereo as they began to leave the heavy city traffic behind.  Shaam Say Aankh Mein Namee Si Hain streamed out of the speakers, as Rekha sighed, “My favourite.”

Nishant hushed her, singing the ghazal in his head, the car cruising down the smooth highway now. He smiled when the line ‘…nabs kuchh der se thami si hain, aaj phir aap ki kami si hain…’ came on. It took him back to his college days; these words always reminded him of the days he had spent waiting for the girl he loved to love him back. And then the ghazal said, ‘…waqt rehta nahin kahin tik kar, iski aadat bhi aadmi si hain…’ and he looked at his lovely wife, he had moved on from the heartbreak he’d suffered in college and married a wonderful woman. It was almost as if this ghazal had been written for him.

As the ghazal ended, Rekha sighed again. “So beautiful, no? Which one is next? I want to listen to that Chandni Jaisa Rang Hain Tera…

“That’s Pankaj Udhas,” Nishant told her, shaking his head

“Oh, yes, yes…I actually meant that one, the…you know, another one my favourites…shit, I can’t remember the name now.”

“I know which one you mean,” Nishant said, shaking his head again. All of the ghazals they listened to were her favourites. He scrolled through the ghazals he had copied into his pen drive, eyes diverting between the stereo and the road. He finally came to Tera Chehra Kitna Suhana Lagta Hain and turned the volume up a bit.

“Yesssss,” Rekha said, settling back into her seat again. This time, Nishant didn’t sing the ghazal in his head; he sang it aloud, like he always did. Rekha giggled, Nishant had first sung this ghazal out to her on their honeymoon. And since then, whenever it played out anywhere, he sang it out to her, his eyes beaming because he meant every word of it.

As they drove down the highway, the stereo played one ghazal after another. Rekha and Nishant enjoyed the melodies, lost in their own worlds. When Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho came on, Nishant laughed out loudly.

“What happened?” Rekha asked him. “What was that?”

“Oh, nothing,” he replied. “Just remembered a chewing gum ad where they had changed a word in this ghazal…it was very funny.”

“What ad?”

“I don’t remember the brand, but the line was ‘tum itna jo muskura rahe ho, kya gam hain jisko chaba rahe ho…’ Got it? Gum, chewing gum…chaba rahe ho…always makes me laugh.”

“Stupid.” Rekha said, annoyed at having missed out on another one of her favourite ghazals because of one dumb thing that made him laugh.

On the way back home, their collection of ghazals had nearly run out. It had been a wonderful evening, not the first one they had spent listening to the late maestro’s ghazals. And it wouldn’t be their last. But Nishant felt sad knowing that there wouldn’t be any more wonderful ghazals coming from the legend, and even more unfortunately, there was no one else like him. His demise had been called ‘The End Of An Era’ by news channels, it was a cliché, but Nishant adhered to it. He was sure the newspapers would be full of such clichés the next morning, and they would all be right, because the man who had passed away wasn’t a cliché. The world had seen other ghazal writers and singers, but there hadn’t been anyone quite like Jagjit Singh. And that wasn’t a cliché, it was the truth.

As they neared their home, Nishant pressed the ‘Next’ button on the car stereo until he found the ghazal he wanted to listen to before their evening drive ended. It was his way of saluting a genius who had taught him a lot about life through his ballads.

‘Chha raha hain saari basti me andhera, roshni ko ghar jalana chahta hun.

Aakhri hichki tere zaanu pe aaye, maut bhi mein shayarana chahta hun.’

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Stories

[fiction] A Memorable Suhaag Raat

I just got married, just about an hour ago. It was a wonderful ceremony, held in a sprawling, grand hall, in our city’s finest hotel. It was a traditional Hindu wedding; we took our vows and performed the rituals in front of our family and friends. Everyone who loved us had come to shower us with their blessings. Even those who didn’t love us had come, anxious to witness a spectacle: the much talked-about marriage of one of our city’s most effluent businessman’s son. Yes, that’s me, the heir to a thriving real estate company.

My marriage was looked forward to by a lot of people, almost as much as me. Everyone who knew my family, everyone who wanted to know my family, was eager to see what the family’s bahu looked like. She, Suchita, belongs to another rich business clan. They aren’t as rich as we are, but then, no one else in our city is. But she’s definitely the most beautiful person from our two families combined. Our marriage isn’t a marriage of two hearts, we don’t know each other well enough to be in love, not as yet. But as is common, our marriage is the marriage of two big businesses. I’m sure both of our fathers have their business’ vested interests in their children’s marriage, but I’m okay with that. I’ve known Suchita for only around a month, but I believe we’re destined for a happy married life.

I’ve been informed that she’s waiting in my bedroom…our bedroom, for me. I’ve freshened up in a guest room. There have been people around me all the time, so I haven’t really had the time to prepare myself for our first night. But nothing I can do about it now. I knock on the bedroom door lightly, before I go in. Suchita is sitting on the bed, wearing what looks like a pink, satin nightdress of some sort. I’m glad I haven’t walked into a movie scene, where the new bride sits coyly on the bed, still dressed in the saree she wore during the wedding ceremony, head covered, a glass of milk in her hand, and rose petals strewn around her. I like to have Bournvita mixed into my milk, which is why this real-life suhaag raat seems much better than a filmy one.

I lock the door and walk towards the bed. “Hi,” she says, and smiles, as I sit down on the edge of the bed. I smile back at her, happy to see her smiling, and happier to see that the bottom of her nightdress is like a pair of hot pants. Suchita has gorgeous legs; I haven’t touched them yet, but they look smoother than the satin nightdress she’s wearing.

“You look great,” I tell her. And I meant it, she really does, and not just her legs. Suchita has let her hair fall loosely around her shoulders; they look freshly shampooed and slightly damp. I know this will sound like an over-abused cliché, but she looks more beautiful without the makeup she had on during the ceremony.

“Thanks,” she says. “So, we’re now husband and wife…how does it feel?”

I’m slightly offended that she didn’t return the compliment I gave her, but I decide to let it pass. “Yes, we are,” I reply, smiling. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

“I know what you mean; I guess it will take some time.”

“Yeah, guess so.”

We’re suddenly out of words, and fill the emptiness by looking around the room. I’ve grown up in this room, so there’s nothing new about it for me. I look at the closed drapes fluttering because of the wind, and remind myself to shut the balcony before we go to bed. I wonder if Suchita likes the room or not. There’s a new wardrobe that’s been made especially for her, which I hope is enough to fulfill her requirements. “Did you see the…”

“You know what I was…”

We smile. “You go ahead, what were you saying?” I ask. “I was just asking you about the cupboard…nothing really important.”

“Okay,” she says, pauses, and continues. “I was just saying that we shouldn’t…I mean, I don’t want our new life, married life, to begin this way…I mean, I don’t want things to be awkward between us. It’s our first night, and…”

“Yes, I agree. Even I don’t want it to be awkward like this.”

“Yeah, so…it’s our first night, we’re supposed to make love…so let’s just do it.”

“Okkkkaaayyy.” I look at her, pleasantly surprised to have heard what she just said. From her face, my eyes travel down to the hint of cleavage that is on display. I don’t know why that happens, but it just does. And the minute I realise it, I jerk my eyes up and looked at her face again. I shudder at the thought of coming off as a creep on our very first night together. But Suchita doesn’t seem to have noticed; she is, in fact, moving closer to me.

I perk up as she comes closer; ready for what I’m sure is going to be my life’s most memorable night. I take Suchita’s hands in mine; she closes her eyes as I lean in towards her to kiss her. I hear a sound, something like metal scraping against metal. I dismiss the sound; choose to ignore it, because my lips have touched hers. I hear the sound again, this time it’s louder. I recognize it as the sound of the balcony door opening. Just as I break our kiss and look towards the balcony, a man’s voice calls out Suchita’s name.

“Varun?” Suchita shouts. She’s looking at the man who’s just entered our room from the balcony.

“Who the fuck are you?” I’ve sprung up from the bed, my fists are clenched and I’m ready to attack this trespasser. But the trespasser isn’t even looking at me, his gaze his fixated on Suchita.

“Varun, what’re you doing here?” Suchita asks. She’s standing beside me now.

It hits me then that Suchita is calling this man by his name. “Do you know him?”

“I can’t live without you, Suchita,” the trespasser utters his first words.

“Are you mad? What’re you saying?” She’s screaming now, ruffled by the presence of this man whom she seems to know.

“Who is he, Suchita?” I ask again. “Do you know him?”

But once again, I’m ignored. “I love you, Suchita,” Varun says. “I’ve always loved you more than anyone else…I tried, but I can’t live without you.”

“I’m married…I got married today…” Suchita is in shock.

And now I’m angry, not because there’s an unknown man in my bedroom, but because he and my wife are completely ignoring me. “Alright, that’s it, I’m calling the police,” I say, exasperated.

This gets their attention. “No, wait,” Suchita stops me.

“Do you know this guy?” I ask, once again.

“Yes.”

“Who is he?”

“He’s a…he’s a friend.”

“I love her, I’m her boyfriend,” Varun chips in.

“Ex-boyfriend,” Suchita corrects him.

“Okay, ex-boyfriend, but I still love you,” he says.

“This is insane,” I say. “Okay, you’re her ex-boyfriend, but what do you want now? She’s my wife now.”

“I don’t care. I love Suchita; I want to be with her. I’ve come to take her away with me.” As Varun says this, he’s looking right at me. His eyes are challenging me. I look at him and realise that he doesn’t comprehend the absurdity of what he’s saying. As far as he’s concerned, he’s come to do the right thing. Varun has thrown down the gauntlet at me; I’ve no choice but to accept it. But Suchita speaks up before I can say anything.

“You’re crazy,” she says. “You think you can just barge in here like this and talk about taking me away? You left me when I wanted to marry you…now suddenly you decide to take me back? Go to hell, I don’t love you anymore.”

Varun’s strong demeanor starts to break before my eyes when he hears these words. “You don’t love me anymore?” he asks, not ready to believe it.

“No, Varun, I don’t,” Suchita confirms. “I stopped loving you the day you said you didn’t want to marry me.”

“Oh…” Varun runs a hand through his hair, and looks down at the floor. He looks up again and I can see that he’s clearly dejected. “I thought you…I don’t know…” He’s at a loss of words. He looks like someone who has just run a long race, only to be told at the finishing line that there was no race to be run. It takes him a long, agonizing minute to compose himself.

“I’m so sorry,” Varun tells me. “I knew I shouldn’t have come here, but my friends…they said….oh god, I feel like such a fool.”

Suchita and I look at each other. I don’t know what to do, and looks like she doesn’t either. The thought that I should ask Varun to leave comes to my mind, but then I wonder why he hasn’t left as yet. I look at him; he’s still embarrassed and unsure. Despite the situation we’re in, I feel sorry for him. I take a couple of step towards him, and I hear Suchita say, “Varun…”

He looks up and turns towards her. “Yes?”

I turn back and look at her as well. She looks at me, and then at Varun. It bothers me that I’m unable to read her expression, but I just don’t know her well enough yet. Suchita hasn’t said anything for a few seconds, and now I’m the one in agony. A fleeting thought crosses my mind: Is she going to leave me and go back to him? Will my marriage end in less than a couple of hours? Again, I look at Varun, and see that he’s waiting in anticipation as well, anxious to hear what she has to say.

And then finally, one of us hears the words that he was desperate to hear. “Varun, you should leave now,” Suchita says.

A minute later, Varun goes by the same way he came in. I lock the balcony behind him and turn around, unsure about what to do or what to expect. Suchita is standing right behind me. She smiles when I turn towards her, puts her arms over my shoulders and says, “So, where were we?”

Stories

[fiction] A Miserable Day Ends Well

The phone started beeping at 7am. Kamal rolled over, touched a button, and turned the annoying sound off. Ten minutes later, it went off again. This time, his hand was ready, poised to hit the snooze button again. Another ten minutes later, the same thing happened.

When Kamal finally did get up, he looked at his phone with groggy eyes and realized he was late. Yet again. Bhenchod snooze. He was left with less than half an hour to catch the 8:20 train. A quick brush, a half-hearted poop and an unsatisfactory shower later, Kamal was rushing to the railway station. Ordinarily, he would walk the 10 minutes to the station; that day, he ran.

The roads around Kamal’s building were filthy, filthier than they were in the rest of the city. Why the fuck do I live here? Because you can’t afford a better place. For the umpteenth time in as many days, Kamal wished he would allow himself to go back to his cosy family home a few suburbs away. He had left his father’s home in a fit of ego; he didn’t want to be a part of the family business. Kamal wanted to do something that was much cooler; he wanted to live by himself. He wanted to live the dream that every Bollywood movie had shown him. But the dream had turned into a nightmare very soon.

He had a lowly office job in a large corporation; of course, it wasn’t befitting him. But he held onto the job, because he didn’t believe he could get anything better, and he didn’t want to lose what he already had. His pay wasn’t anything substantial, his boss was an asshole, his colleagues were conniving bitches. He knew a bunch of people he called friends, but he hated how most of his time and money was spent on living up to their expectations. Nonetheless, Kamal found solace by telling himself that he wasn’t alone, he wasn’t the only one living a shitty life. All bosses were assholes, weren’t they? The competition to survive made people bitchy, didn’t it? Nobody ever earned enough, did they? Kamal hated his life, but he wouldn’t go back. Going back to his family would mean he had conceded defeat; his ego wouldn’t allow him to do that.

Lost in the thoughts that had emerged from the filthy roads, he missed his train. He lost 15 precious minutes while waiting for the next one, and ended up late to work. Yet again.

“Kamal, see me in my office,” Murthy, his senior, said, even before he had put his bag down on his desk.

Inside his cabin, Murthy looked pissed. “You’re late, Kamal. Again.”

“I know, sir. I’m sorry. I missed the train…and then there was no auto…”

“How many times will you use the same excuse, Kamal? It’s lame, and I’m bored with it.”

“I’m not lying, si…”

“I can’t stand anyone who’s not punctual, you know that. I’m never late, what makes you think you can come in at any time you want?”

“No, sir. It’s just that I missed the 8:20 train today and then the…”

“Wake up early, Kamal. Try to take the train before that train, run to the station…I don’t care…”

“I did.”

“You did? You did what?

“Ran to the station…today, I mean.”

“Are you talking back to me? Are you trying to be funny? Everything’s a joke, isn’t it?”

“No, sir, I didn’t mean it that way…I wasn’t trying to be funny, I wa…”

“Don’t even try to be funny, because you’re not.”

Murthy was sitting back in his swivel chair, looking at Kamal, who was standing in front of his boss’ desk, staring at nothing in particular below him.

“I don’t want you to be late ever again, you understand that, Kamal?”

“Yes…yes, sir.”

“Okay. Now what happened to the project you were assigned yesterday?”

“I’ve started work on it, sir. I think I’ll be able to complete it by tomorrow aftern…”

“Nobody here cares about what you think, Kamal. You’re paid to do the work that is given to you, not to think.”

Kamal could feel Murthy’s eyes burning a hole into him. He didn’t have anything to say, he remained quiet.

“I want the project on my desk before you leave today, no matter how long it takes,” said Murthy, dismissing him.

Kamal worked as fast as he could, but he was stuck in the office till almost 11pm. His plan to catch a movie with friends had gone awry, he had to walk most of the way home because the bastard rickshaw-drivers demanded an additional amount to ferry passengers at night.

Disappointed, dejected and depressed, Kamal finally reached home. He knew he should go to sleep, so as to not wake up late again the next day. But he was sick of everything, and wanted to spend some time surfing the web. He turned on his laptop, struggled with the data card to connect to the internet, and logged into Twitter.

This was one place that made him feel good. He had an anonymous identity on Twitter, where all his jokes about celebrities and other famous personalities had earned him over 1,000 followers. Here, Kamal was cool. Here, people liked him. Here, he could get away with anything. Here, four to five people asked about his whereabouts if he hadn’t tweeted for a few hours.

A look at his timeline told Kamal that people were making fun of something Chetan Bhagat had said. He didn’t know what it was that Bhagat had said, but since everyone was ridiculing him, it had to be stupid. Kamal had no idea why everyone joked about Chetan Bhagat, but he felt obliged to do the same. It was the coolest thing to do on Twitter. All the people he followed were dissing him, and he didn’t want to be left out of the party. Heck, my followers expect me to joke about him as well. I’ve my cool image to uphold, after all.

Composing a joke about Chetan Bhagat was easy for Kamal, it was almost a template. It was a grammatically incorrect joke, revolving around the word ‘loser’. Kamal pressed enter to send the tweet out, and waited. Within a couple of minutes, his tweet had been retweeted by four people. Within the next five minutes, his joke was mentioned with comments like ‘ROFLMAO’ and ‘ROFLcopter’ and ‘Lol’ and ‘lulz’ and ‘Hahaha’ and even ‘Gahahahaha’ and ‘Mwahahaha’. Kamal’s inbox was suddenly active as well. Wow! Five new followers already!

He sat back in his chair, savouring the retweets and new follower notifications. So what if my boss shouted at me today? So what if I had to spend the entire day in an office I hate? So what if I didn’t have enough money to take an auto? I got new followers by calling an author a loser on Twitter. At least, I’m still cool!

Stories

[fiction] Kareena Ka Sabse Bada Fan

Because I’m such a big fan of hers, she gave me her phone number and email ID. Actually, ‘such a big fan’ is a bit of an understatement, I’m her biggest-ever fan. The title bestowed upon says so. I won the ‘Kareena Ka Sabse Bada Fan’ contest, after all.

It was a contest organised by a TV channel, my wife entered me in. I’ve followed Kareena Kapoor’s movie career right from her first film, Refugee. I really started liking her after Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, fell in even more love with her after Jab We Met.

It’s been the kind of fixation that die-hard fans often have for celebrities. My laptop screensaver is a collection of her photographs; I’ve nearly a thousand of them. Every time her movie comes out, I make it a point to watch it within the first couple of days. It’s safe to say that I love Kareena.

I love my wife too, more than I love Kareena. A tad more. And she knows it, my wife, that is. Kareena found out when I won the contest. My entry into it was supposed to be a fun thing, neither my wife, nor I, expected me to win. But I did, and won myself a dinner date with her.

That was when she gave me her phone number and email ID. We got along really well. We talked about a whole lot of things. Her life, my life, her Saif, my wife. She told me about the movies she was shooting for, I told her about the stories I published on my blog. She said she’d read my stories every Saturday, I told her I’d watch her movies every Friday. I told her we went to school together when I lived in Mumbai. We were in the same class, and we fought a lot. I told her a couple of incidents from our school life that I remembered; we had a hearty laugh over them.

The dinner was great; both of us had a really good time. I know I did, I know she did as well because it was Kareena who brought up the idea of exchanging numbers to keep in touch. So we kept in touch. My wife and I met her couple of times more when we were in Mumbai. We couldn’t talk much on the phone because of her busy schedules, but we exchanged texts and emails often. She read a few of my stories too. I, of course, watched all of her movies that came out.

And then, earlier today, she called me up. It was quite a shocker, seeing her name flash on my phone screen. She said she wanted to meet, she was in Ahmadabad. She asked me if I had the time. Did I have the time to meet Kareena Kapoor? Rhetoric, isn’t it?

I had told her a couple of times that I loved her Chammak Challo look. I mean, who didn’t, right? Even people who weren’t her fans would find her hot in that red saree. People like me, who were hardcore fans, were expected to go gaga over her in that song. And we did. But what I didn’t expect was her to be dressed up in that very saree, nose ring, bangles, et al, when I caught up with her in her hotel suite.

Mouth open, metaphorically speaking, I walked in and took up a position on the couch. Kareena stood by the window, the curtains were drawn, and as I looked up at her, my mouth refused to close, metaphorically speaking, again. My eyes were boring a hole into her belly button when she told me she was going to break up with Saif. Metaphorically speaking, my mouth was open, but that drew open my eyes in real.

When I asked her why, she didn’t say anything. She walked over to the couch and sat down beside me. Now, this made me extremely uncomfortable. It’s not because she’s pretty as hell — I can handle pretty women, my wife’s extremely gorgeous — but because this was getting awkward. No man can sit comfortably with Kareena Kapoor sitting beside him, let alone with her dressed in the Chammak Challo ensemble.

I asked her why she was going to break up with Saif, again. Things were going well with him, I knew. She’d found someone else, she said. I was afraid to ask who. But, of course, I had to. Was he another actor? Someone else she had worked with? Did she meet someone in Venice where she’d been shooting recently? I had questions galore; she didn’t have many answers though.

Finally, after a lot of prodding and probing, she told me who she had fallen for. That would be me. Shocked, aren’t you? I know! Imagine the kind of shock I would have felt upon hearing Kareena tell me that she’d fallen for me. I would have been flabbergasted, flummoxed, and probably even traumatised. But, I wasn’t. I took it in my stride. For a moment, I expected it to be some kind of a prank. Maybe, an MTV Bakra kind of thing, or some such movie promotion stunt. But I didn’t think Kareena would do something like that to me. And even if she did, she didn’t need to be dressed up as Chammak Challo to do that.

This was real; Kareena Kapoor had fallen in love with me. Before I could comprehend the implications and complications of this situation, she asked me if I’d leave my wife to be with her. To her, that was probably a no-brainer. Here I was, her biggest fan, or so said a TV contest, an ardent watcher of her movies, and for the past few months, also a good friend. How could I say no to her? To her mind, I surely wouldn’t.

But, I did. It didn’t even take me a minute to ruminate the proposal thrown at me. An outright ‘no’ came out. I love Kareena, but I’m not in love with her. My wife is the woman I want to live my life with. Kareena and I could be just good friends, nothing else. I told her all of this, she listened to me, but she didn’t seem to be taking it well. It wasn’t what she’d expected. She probably expected me to jump up in glee, take her in my arms and kiss her. But that didn’t happen.

I got up from the couch when I saw the look of utter shock on her face. It was she who now had her mouth open, not speaking metaphorically. Kareena’s face was turning red, it wasn’t from the anger, it was from embarrassment. She placed her head in her hands; she looked like she might cry. But thankfully, before her tears came out, my eyes popped open and I sat up on my bed.

Stories

[fiction] Friends are Assholes

Despite what had happened the last time they had gotten together to share a bottle of whiskey, Karan decided to patch things up with Adi. It’d been nearly 5 months since that day when he had stormed out of Adi’s home, 5 months without a word being said to one another. They had run into each other occasionally, at parties hosted by common friends and such, but neither had acknowledged the other. Both of them had looked the other way.

But Karan had missed Adi, and he was sure his friend missed him too. So when an NRI cousin gifted him a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, he called up his old friend. Karan knew he’d enjoy the fine whiskey only with Adi, his best drinking buddy.

Adi was elated to receive Karan’s call; they met that evening itself, at Adi’s place. Adi’s room had a wide, sea-facing balcony; it was their favourite drinking place.

“That goatee looks good,” Adi said, as they settled down with a peg in their hands, “it suits you.”

“Yeah? Thanks. Just trying to look a bit mature,” Karan grinned. “You know how it’s been with me…I still look like a school kid.”

“Hahaha…yes, even with that goatee you do.”

Karan smiled. “I missed you, man.”

“Me, too. I’ve always had a good time with you.”

In the couple of awkward minutes that followed, both of them stared out towards the sea and sipped on their drinks.

“So, how’s your story writing going?” Adi asked.

“It’s going well,” Karan replied. “I try and write whenever I can, my blog gets a decent number of views…the readership’s been increasing.”

“Nice, nice. But how do you…like, publicise your blog? I mean, how do you tell people about your stories.”

“Well, I stand on the road, stop each passerby, and tell them to go read my blog,” Karan laughed.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you were really doing that,” Adi smirked.

“Ha! Frankly, that wouldn’t surprise me either,” Karan laughed, again. “But seriously, I just post links on Twitter and Facebook.”

“Oh, that’s good, I’m sure everyone you know loves to read your stories. Facebook is a good way of keeping them updated.”

Karan didn’t say anything to that. He drained out his peg and got up to make another one. Once he was back with a fresh drink in hand, he looked at Adi. “You know, that’s what you think would happen, right?”

“What?”

“My friends would want to read my stories, right? They would click on the links I post on Facebook, right?”

“Yeah, of course,” Adi shrugged. “So? What’s your point?”

“My point is that they don’t. I hardly get any hits from Facebook.”

“You don’t?” Adi asked. “Really?”

“Nope…the people who’re supposed to know me, my friends and all…they don’t read my stories. I get a 1oo times more hits from Twitter, they don’t know me personally, but they read my stories. But not my so-called friends…hardly any hits from Facebook.”

“That’s really sad, man. Your friends should read your stories,” Adi asserted.

“Well, you’re my friend, you’re there on my Facebook…do you read my stories?” Karan asked.

Adi didn’t know what to say to that. He didn’t read Karan’s stories, and he knew Karan knew he didn’t.

Karan looked at him, and smirked. “Yeah, like I thought. Friends are assholes,” he said, shaking his head.

Stories

[fiction] Just Two Idiots Drinking and Chatting

“Man, this story’s going now-fuckin’-where.”

“What the fuck do you mean? Are you even fuckin’ listenin’ to me, you stupid cunt?”

Adi reached out for a bottle of Kinley Club Soda, picked it up, and in one quick motion, threw it at Karan. The half-full bottle hit Karan smack on his chest. “Fuck,” he shouted. “What the fuck did you do that for, cunt?”

This time, Adi didn’t bother around with the plastic soda bottles. He picked up the half-empty, glass bottle of Blender’s Pride whisky.

“Whoa! Hey, what’s gotten into you, man?” Karan screamed, shielding his face with his hands. “What’re you doin’? What’s wrong with you?”

“Don’t you fuckin’ use that word again,” Adi said, bottle still in hand, “you know I hate it.”

“What word?”

“Cunt, you asshole, cunt…I fuckin’ hate that word; don’t you dare fuckin’ use it in front of me again…I swear to fuckin’ god, I’ll break your fuckin’ head…”

“Alright, alright, pipe down, man….Jeez, it’s just a goddamn word, what’s the big deal?”

“I hate it, it’s terribly offensive.”

“Alright, I swear to…” Karan looked around hastily, “…this fuckin’ whisky, I won’t use it ever again in my life. Okay? Relax, now.”

Adi leaned back in his heavily-cushioned chair, placed his head back and took a large swig from his glass. He downed the bitter-tasting whisky with a handful of peanuts, and walked over to the balcony of his bedroom.

After giving his friend a couple of minutes to calm down, Karan asked: “Hey, Adi, why did you get so angry, man? I’m sure my story wasn’t that bad.”

Adi turned around, looked at his pal, shook his head, and smirked. “That wasn’t even a fuckin’ story…I mean, like, was there even any point to it?”

“Not all stories have a point,” Karan replied. “Some stories are just…you know, stories. They don’t necessarily have a moral, or a…message, or something…they’re just simply…”

“That’s bullshit,” Adi cut him off. “Those kinda stories are useless…because the reader doesn’t take anything out of them.”

“The reader had a good time reading it…”

“How do you know? Maybe he didn’t like the story at all, he didn’t enjoy it one tiny bit…and then, hated it even more because it had no moral, or message, as you say it. What then, huh?”

“Look, man, I know more about stories and readers than you do, okay?” Karan said, clearly out of a valid point to argue with.

“Oh, really?” Adi asked. “And why is that? Because you’ve a stupid blog where you write some stupid stories? Some two-three people read your stories, and now, suddenly you’re an expert on literature?”

“I get 50 clicks on an average every day, okay,” Karan said, looking at Adi, almost in disbelief.

Adi chuckled. “And how many of those are yours? Huh?”

“Why’re you being this way, man? Over smart as always…here we are, having a good time, a bottle of whisky to finish between us…and you’ve to start being a cu…asshole.”

“I’m not being an asshole, okay…I’m just trying to make a point, that stories without any point are fuckin’ useless.”

“It’s just a story, Adi.” Karan was exasperated.

“Well, then, don’t tell it to me,” Adi said, finished the last of the whisky in his glass with one single gulp, and continued, “I read a fuckin’ pointless story on your blog earlier today, and now I’ve to sit and listen to you tell me another one? No way! I don’t have time to sit here and listen to some shit story of yours about two idiots who’re drinking and chatting…don’t have time for that shit.”

Karan had had enough. “Fine,” he said, getting up, “I’ll just leave then. I don’t have time for your bullshit either.”

“Fine, leave…and here, take your fuckin’ whisky with you.”

Karan picked up the bottle of whisky, and walked to the door. He opened the door, looked back at his friend, and said, “You know what, Adi? You are a fuckin’ cunt, a big fuckin’ cunt.”

He saw the anger flare up in Adi’s eyes, but gave him no chance to speak. Karan slammed the door shut and left.

Stories

[fiction] Catching the Criminal

The first thought that came into Roma’s mind when the car left the highway and turned left into the giant gates of Vijay Nath’s house was: Wow! Crime certainly does pay. Before her was a sprawling mansion, standing proudly in the middle of a piece of land that was probably so huge, it could house an entire village. But the land housed just that one palace, flanked on both sides by professionally landscaped gardens.

The owner of this ginormous property steered his BMW convertible into the driveway and stopped in front of the steps leading up the door of his house. Roma’s door was opened from outside by a waiting valet. Vijay Nath held his hand out to her as she stepped out of the vehicle.

“My humble abode,” he proclaimed, waving a hand at his palace that towered over them.

She laughed. “It’s beautiful,” she said, and she meant it.

“Oh, it certainly is, but not as beautiful as the woman who’s graced it with her presence.”

Crime does pay, but money doesn’t make you any less corny. Roma let him place his arm around his waist. Vijay Nath pulled her closer to himself and guided her up the stairs. Roma felt his hand venture underneath her tube top, his palm rested on her bare skin and the top fell back over his hand. Roma didn’t complain, she couldn’t; she had to let Vijay Nath believe that he could take liberties with her. She had to make him trust her, her entire plan would fall apart if he found out who she really was. She probably wouldn’t live to see the next morning if that happened.

Inside, the mansion was even more awe-inspiring. They had walked into an expansive living room. A grand chandelier as big as most people’s bathrooms hung above them, the living room itself was almost as big as her own apartment. Roma took in the sights as they walked on the marbled floor. Vijay Nath’s hand was lightly caressing her waist; she started to feel ticklish and tried to walk away from him. But Vijay Nath held onto her narrow middle firmly, and kept the other side of her in contact with his body.

“So, do you like it?” Vijay Nath asked Roma. They were now sitting on a plushy couch in the middle of the living room, right under the chandelier. Roma sat on the edge of the couch, not wanting to sit back because she was afraid her skirt would ride up her legs and show more than she intended. Vijay Nath leaned back on the couch and set his sights on Roma’s lower back, left exposed between her low-waist skirt and tube top.

As his fingers drew lines and shapes on her skin, Roma cringed from within. But she didn’t move herself away from him. She looked back at him and smiled, “You’ve a wonderful home, it’s a palace, it’s beautiful.”

“Yes, it is, isn’t it?” Vijay Nath’s fingers were finding their way underneath Roma’s skirt and top, exploring skin that wasn’t on display. “But I don’t know if I can call it home…it’s a wonderful house, but not really home. In fact, I’ve to move around so much that I really can’t call any one place my home.”

Roma smiled. And which is why we haven’t been able to catch you as yet. She squirmed when his fingers went a little too under her skirt. Again, she didn’t move, but promised herself she would make him pay for whatever liberties he took with her today. What she really wanted to do was slap Vijay Nath. But she couldn’t, because she was on duty, she was undercover.

Roma told him she was thirsty, and went over to the bar to make them both a drink. While she poured him some whisky and herself some vodka, she contemplated about how to proceed further with her operation. The man she was alone in the big house with was the head of a major drug cartel. He had eluded arrest on numerous occasions; it had become tough for the police force to even come within a few meters of him. It had taken Roma’s sex appeal and attitude for her to finally get this close to him. She was a special investigative officer; she had gone undercover as a struggling actress and charmed her way into Vijay Nath’s house.

Her plan was to mix a powder she’d been given into his drink, and call for backup once he was unconscious. They would take Vijay Nath to jail, where he would be interrogated. Roma and her seniors expected to unearth a lot of information from him, information that would help them bust the entire drug racket.

While she filled their glasses, Roma sneaked out a small plastic bag from inside the front of her bikini panties. She quickly opened the bag and poured its powdery content into Vijay Nath’s whisky. The empty plastic bag went back into her panties, the powder dissolved into the whisky.

“Come with me, I’ll show you the spectacular view from the first floor balcony,” Vijay Nath said, taking the glass of whisky from Roma. He took a sip and smacked his lips. “I’ve the finest alcohol that money can buy,” he proclaimed. Roma looked at him curiously, wondering how long it would take for the powder to start working.

As they walked up the wide marble staircase, Vijay Nath’s hand took possession of Roma’s waist once again. On the first floor landing, he pushed open the glass French doors and led her outside onto the balcony. Oh my! The view is really spectacular. Roma was awed, once again. The balcony was huge, bigger than most roads that people drove on. It looked onto green grass for as far as Roma could see.

“That’s my private golf course,” Vijay Nath told her, when he saw what she was looking at. How many innocent people did you kill with your drugs to afford such luxuries? Roma wanted to ask him. But of course, she didn’t. “I’m impressed,” is what she said instead.

“Hahaha…I’m happy to hear that,” Vijay Nath said, guiding Roma to the railing. He stood back against the railing, placed his glass on it, took Roma’s glass from her hand, placed it beside his glass, and drew Roma between his outstretched legs.

Vijay Nath placed his hands around Roma’s waist and pulled her closer to himself. Just as she was about to make sense of the insides of her legs pressed against his, he leaned towards her and planted his lips onto her mouth. Roma didn’t know what made her open her mouth, but she did. His tongue ventured into her mouth, and sought hers out. The kiss was a short one, but in the few seconds that it lasted, one of his hands had found the curve of her buttocks.

“So, you’re from Chandigarh?” he asked her, one hand on her ass, the other on her waist. She said she was. That was her cover: a struggling actress in Mumbai, who hailed from Chandigarh.

“Can you please pass me my drink?” Roma asked, eager to take his hand away from her body. And also eager for him to drink some of his own, so that the powder could get to work. Vijay Nath handed Roma her drink, and much to her delight, took a big swig from his.

He placed his glass back on the railing, and lightly played with Roma’s hair. She shivered as she felt his left hand touch her cheek. “You’re extremely beautiful,” he said, one finger tracing the outlines of her lips. “You certainly have what it takes to be in films.” While he said that, his right hand squeezed her ass and his left hand found its way to her bare shoulders.

“Come on, let’s get comfortable inside and talk about how I can help you out.” Vijay Nath took her by the hand, gulped down the rest of his drink in one go and started to walk back in. He stopped in mid-step when they were almost at the French doors. He seemed to sway a little bit. “Are you alright?” Roma feigned concern, happy to see that the powder was starting to work.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” Vijay Nath replied, shaking his head, trying to clear the cobwebs that had suddenly surrounded him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, yes…I’m sure.” Vijay Nath jerked his head up, pulled on Roma’s hand and started to walk inside. But he was dizzy and walked shakily. His foot hit the side of the open French doors, which made him lose his balance. Roma felt him tighten his grip on her hand, but she shook it free. Vijay Nath fell back on the open door. Before Roma could stop him from falling down, he crashed into the glass; it broke under his weight and he fell down on the shattered pieces of glass.

Roma mouthed a silent ‘Oh no’ when she saw him fall down with the glass. She couldn’t react fast enough; he twitched for a moment and then went still. A large piece of broken glass had cut right through his neck. Roma placed a hand on her forehead as she regrettably realised that Vijay Nath was dead. 

Stories

[fiction] The Day She turned Eighteen

She turned 18 today. It was a day she had been looking forward to, although adulthood had beckoned her for a long time. Age was just a number, she had started to think like an adult long before her time; girls matured faster than boys, they said, after all. And yet, 18 was a number she wanted to achieve, desperately.

She had planned this day a month in advance. The luncheon date had been lined up a few days back, at a coffee shop near her college. She had seen him just once, a couple of weeks back, in her home. She knew he was the one right away, he looked better than the rest. Looks mattered to her; she was attractive, she didn’t want to be with someone who wasn’t. She had called him up, finding his number wasn’t tough; all she had to do was look it up in her mother’s cellphone. She had asked him to see her for lunch, he had readily agreed. She didn’t feel the need to tell him to be on time, she knew he would be there before time.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she smiled. Her outfit for the date had been chosen after much deliberation. The sleeveless white dress clung to her body; it fell sublimely over her curves. Underneath, she decided to go for low-cut panties, and a matching black brassiere. She looked at herself in the mirror, she frowned. The outline of her black bra was quite prominent under her white dress. It looked slutty. She undressed, put on white undergarments under her white dress and looked at herself in the mirror again. it looked too plain now, not enough oomph. When she finally stepped out of her house, her light purple undergarments were visible under her white dress, but only to those who looked deliberately.

As she parked her car outside the coffee shop, she sighed and tried to collect herself. Her emotions were a mess. Her heart felt heavy under her heaving breasts, there was a tingling in her loins that was sending shivers through her body. She could see him sitting by the window. She didn’t know much about him, he appeared to be in his early 40s. She was certain he was married; she hoped he was decent and nice.

A big smile lit up his face as he saw her walk towards him. They greeted each other, exchanged an awkward handshake, she sat down across him.

“I didn’t know you knew me by name.” He was clearly excited. He fumbled with his phone, failing at appearing confident in front of the most beautiful girl he had ever shared a coffee shop table with.

“I had heard my mom call you by your name the other day,” she said, appearing more relaxed than she felt.

“Oh, okay,” he said. He looked around himself, the coffee shop didn’t have many patrons at that time of the day, which was just the way he would have liked it. He wasn’t too keen on being seen.

She was thinking about the same thing. Maybe it had been a mistake to meet near her college, but then, she didn’t intend to spend much time in the coffee shop anyway.

“Would you like to order something?” he asked, breaking the momentary silence.

They ordered a couple of sandwiches and coffee. “You must be wondering why I asked you to meet me here.” It was more of a statement, than a question. He nodded his assent.

She told him why. She told him what she wanted to do, why she wanted to do it. She answered his bewildered questions. When there was nothing else left to question, he knew he had to ask this: “Are you a virgin?”

“Yes, I am,” came her prompt reply.

He smiled inwardly, her reply was expected but it felt to good to hear nonetheless. “So, how do we go about doing this, then?” he asked.

“We could go to a hotel,” she replied, “you would know better than me.”

“Okay, let’s go the Palm Grove on the highway…not many people will know us there.”

She liked that idea. They didn’t talk much on the drive to the hotel. She was thinking about her mother, what she would feel if she knew where her daughter was. He thought about his wife for a moment, like he always did. But as always, he was so excited about what lay ahead for him, his feelings for his wife didn’t bother him. There was no guilt in either one of them.

The hotel room was commodious, nothing extravagant, but adequate. The bed was big; the other furniture didn’t matter to them. As he closed the door and locked the room, she waited for him to make the first move.

She sat down on the bed; he made himself comfortable in a chair. He was now confident; he had been in this situation many times before. He knew what to do, the fact that the girl before him was seemingly nervous added to his excitement. He knew he would be in command of her the way he had never been in command of any one before.

“Would you like me to undress you? Or you…” he asked.

“I’ll undress myself,” she smiled. The irony of how long it had taken her to dress up struck her when her dress fell down around her ankles in one big heap. Her bra followed her dress, as he got up from the chair and approached her. She shivered as he ran his hands over her sides and cupped her tender breasts, her nipples hardening under his palms. She closed her eyes as he became the first man to touch her young body.

He got rid of his shirt and engulfed her in his arms. In classic romantic movie style, he lifted her chin up with one hand, while the other hand pressed her closely into him. He looked down at her, she looked up at him. Her arms hung loosely by her side for a moment, but they found his strong shoulders as their lips met. She opened her mouth to let his warm tongue in, allowing her mind to lose itself in what was the first kiss of her young life.

She didn’t realise that one of his hands had left her body; she didn’t notice the rustling of clothes as he stepped out of his pants. It was only when she felt something hard against her navel that she realized he was now naked. She had never seen a man’s member before; she broke the kiss and looked down at it. It was beautiful. It was thick, and erect. She took it in her hand, and he let out an audible gasp.

He looked at her as they sat down on the edge of the bed. He couldn’t believe that such a gorgeous, young woman was running her hands over the length of his throbbing manhood. If this was a dream, he never wanted to wake up.

She pumped his member, she didn’t know how, but it came naturally to her. She held it the base with one hand, and ran her other hand up and down its length. She felt something wet on her hand, she stopped and looked at its wet head. She looked at him, and licked his wetness off her hands. That was all he needed to make his excitement grow to the point of no return. It took only three more strokes of her hand for him to let go.

She went into the bathroom to clean him off her hands and arms, as he recovered on the bed. She went back and laid down next to him. He removed her panties and touched the most private part of her. Her body jerked, her legs squeezed his hand between them, as if not wanting it to ever leave. She threw her head back as his finger found its way into her. The rest of the afternoon passed away in a wondrously erotic haze.

Later, when they were driving back to the coffee shop, she asked him how she’d been.

“The best I’ve ever been with,” he replied, looking over at her and meaning every word of it.

“Even better than my mother?” she asked.

It was a question he hadn’t anticipated. Until then, there had been no mention of the times he had been with her mother. He thought about her question and realized he didn’t need to lie. She was definitely better than her mother, how could she not be? She was young, he was her first, and he intended to have her for himself.

“No comparison, at all.”

When they reached the coffee shop, he handed her a wad of 1,000 rupee notes. “Thanks,” she said. “You are worth a lot more,” he replied.

Before she got out of the car, she asked him: “Will I be seeing you at my home?”

“No,” he replied. “I won’t be coming to your mother anymore, but I’ll see you again, like this…a lot more.”

“Call me,” she said, content. There was a big smile on her face as she walked to her car.

Stories

[fiction] New Years Resolution

“Happy New Year, Prakashbhai.”

Prakash stopped, surprised. He turned left, saw Venkat grinning at him and returned the good wishes for the New Year.

What does he want? Prakash wondered as he walked to his desk. Venkat had followed him inside their office; he was now standing above Prakash. “So, Prakashbhai, any new New Year’s resolutions? Or still dreaming about the same old things, huh?”

Before Prakash could answer, they were joined by another one of his colleagues, Janak. “What’s happening? Early morning conference, huh?”

“Hahaha, no, no, just asking Prakashbhai about his New Year resolutions,” Venkat winked at Janak.

“Ah, yes, he loves making resolutions, no?” Janak asked.

“Yeah,” Venkat smirked. “You remember the resolutions he made last year, don’t you? What was it, Prakashbhai?”

Prakash was annoyed, which was exactly what Venkat wanted. Janak hopped in on the ride to have some fun as well. “I remember what Prakashbhai had said last year…his New Year’s resolution was to leave this job and start his own company.”

“Oh, yes,” Venkat acted as if he’d just remembered that. “But that didn’t happen, did it? Do you have the same resolution again this year, Prakashbhai?”

Prakash looked at his two colleagues; they were staring at him, a smirk plastered across both of their faces, waiting for him to take the bait, eagerly expecting him to get into a mud-fight with them.  But Prakash wasn’t in the mood to get dirty, unnecessarily.

He turned away, not feeling the need to say anything to them. Prakash knew they were right. His resolutions hadn’t been realised. He had resolved to quit his job and start a company of his own, but the year had gone by and he had failed to do anything about it. What Venkat and Janak didn’t know was that he had made the same resolution the year before last as well. His dream was now over two years old, but nowhere near coming true. He had spent enough time working for others to know that he could do this for himself. He would earn a lot more, he would be a lot happier, he would have better control over his life’s paths. Yet, he was where he had started, still stuck behind the starting line.

Later that evening, after dinner, Prakash took his business plan file out of the cupboard. It had occupied that place under a pile of shirts for a long time. From time to time, Prakash had added and amended the plans in it. The dream had evolved, at least on paper. He went through the file again; the plan was well laid out in front of him. He had learned in management school that most new businesses failed because they were not planned properly to begin with. Well, if planning was the tough part, he had already done it.

What was it that was stopping him from executing the plan, then? Why don’t I make my resolutions come true? Fear, he realised. I’m afraid of losing, I don’t have the balls to go out and do something by myself. Working for someone else was easy, you did your job and you were paid for it even if the company suffered losses. If you got sacked, or lost your job for some reason, you would eventually find another. Prakash compared that to running a business, and he realised why he hadn’t put his plan into motion.

He knew he had to make a choice. He could either keep his job and live reasonably well, or he could take a risk to achieve his dreams. Taking the risk would make him the owner of a company; he would probably be able to afford a car, a finer house, and better things for his family. But what if it doesn’t work out? What if I lose even what I have right now?

That night, sleep eluded Prakash. He was groggy when he reached office, and groaned when he saw Venkat’s face. Venkat wasn’t saying anything, but Prakash could see he was itching to rib him again. And very soon, as expected, Venkat and Janak were back at Prakash’s desk for their morning dose of fun.

“Looks like you didn’t sleep well last night, Prakashbhai,” Janak said. “Dreaming about your company, huh?”

Venkat found this to be very funny. Guffawing, he managed to add, “The only thing Prakashbhai is good at is dreaming.”

That was too much for Prakash to take. He’d had enough of the two jokers; they were getting on his nerve. He got up from his chair, determined to shut them up once and for all.

“Yes, I was dreaming about my company,” he told them. “I want to quit this job and start out on my own…that is my New Year resolution for this year also. You’ve a problem with that?”

Prakash’s outburst didn’t faze Venkat and Janak. “No, no, why would we have a problem with that?” Venkat said.

“No problem at all,” Janak chipped in. “Just remember to wake up once you reach office. You might get fired from this job before you can leave it if you keep dreaming.”

The look of anger and frustration on Prakash’s face was all they wanted. They walked away from his desk, the sound of laughter following them. Prakash was seething, but he was happy to get them off his back. He eventually did calm down, but the feeling of helplessness persisted.

Venkat and Jana didn’t talk to Prakash after that morning; they just kept smirking at him from a distance. And then, after about a month, Prakash stopped coming to the office. They inquired about his whereabouts and found out from the office grapevine that Prakash had quit. This piece of news left them astounded. They couldn’t make themselves believe that Prakash did indeed have the guts to leave a good job and venture out on his own. They kept making fun of their ex-colleague, saying that he would probably fail to build a good company, but secretly feeling extremely jealous of him.

A few more days passed, Venkat and Janak forgot about Prakash. They found someone else to make fun of, about something else. Then one day, Venkat received an email from Prakash. The subject read: ‘Thank you.’ Intrigued, Venkat opened the mail, it said:

Hi Venkat

You’ll be happy to know that I’ve started a company of my own. It’s called ADY Enterprises. It’s been a few days since we went on the floors, and we already are a team of 5 people. We have started out well and I’m sure ADY will do really well.

I just wanted to thank you for pushing me into this huge step forward. If it wasn’t for you making fun of my dreams, I wouldn’t have gone ahead with this. You irritated and bugged me so much that I had to prove it to you as well as myself that I could do this.

So thanks for that. And thank Janak too on my behalf.

Regards,

Prakash Jain

Proprietor

ADY Enterprises

Stories

[fiction] A Day in the Life of a Porn Star

The small red light on the handycam came on. She looked at the camera and smiled. A few seconds later, she looked up at him and raised her eyebrows, unsure about what to do next.

Chetan sprang into action; he shuffled the sheets of paper in front of him into a pile, and picked up the handycam. “Umm…I don’t want this to be like a…you know, question and answer…interview type of thing,” he said. “Let’s just keep it real, you go about your day and I’ll record it.”

“Well, okay,” she said, shrugged and got up to pour herself some coffee. “You want some?”

He looked at his half-full cup and declined.

She took a sip of her coffee, stood back against the kitchen counter and said, “Well, so, I don’t really have a fixed time to wake up every morning, it really just depends on my shooting schedule. But I’m usually up before noon.”

“Okay,” Chetan said. “Well, one thing I wanted to ask you is, about your name, how did you come up with Honey Moon?”

“Oh, it’s just an Indian thing,” she replied. “Indians have most of their sex during their honeymoons, most women still lose their cherries on their honeymoon, so being Indian, I just thought I’d go with a name that would mean something to Indian men.”

“Very interesting. And your real name is…”

“Vijayalaxmi Harshwardhan,” she replied, and laughed. “Obviously not right for a porn star.”

“Oh my god, that’s something,” he said, laughing along with her. “I think I’ll just call you Honey.”

“I’m now Honey,” she smiled, “not Vijayalaxmi.”

Honey turned around to butter some toast. They were in her kitchen. Chetan got up and focused the camera on Honey getting her breakfast ready. “So, how long have you been in porn?”

She looked over at him, at the handycam in his hands, and asked, “Are you sure you can do this? I don’t want you getting into trouble at school because of me.”

“No, no, I won’t get into any trouble,” he assured her. “My project is about…we’re supposed to document a day in the life of a famous person, it could be anyone…and you’re certainly very famous.”

“But I’m a porn star, aren’t you supposed to cover doctors or politicians or somebody inspiring like that?”

“No, nothing like that. I just wanted to feature someone very different…so, you know.”

“Well, okay, it’s your project, not mine,” she said, taking a bite of her toast before continuing. “I’ve been in porn for nearly five years. For me, it’s just another job, it helps me pay the bills and live comfortably.”

While Honey had breakfast, Chetan kept filming her and asked her questions about her life, her lifestyle. He had seen most of her pornos, repeatedly. For an Indian college student in a foreign land, Honey was what his dreams were made of. In an industry ruled by white-skinned women, she had made her mark as the most famous, dusky porn star of Indian origin. Honey was a niche, and Chetan was the market she catered to.

Expectedly, he was deeply excited at the prospect of spending an entire day with the woman who had spent numerous nights with him, in his dreams. He had fantasised about some things happening with her during the course of the day, he anticipated it to be the best day of his life. She was not only gorgeously sexy, but a porn star, after all. And he looked fairly alright; yes, he had a lot to look forward to on this day.

After a light brunch, it was time for Honey to work out. Chetan kept the camera running as they drove to her gym. Chetan waited while Honey sought permission to be filmed during her workout. They went into the cardio section once she had changed; they made small talk for the camera while she stretched. Chetan admired the curvy contours of her body, catching glimpses of her cleavage here and there. At one point, when Honey bent down to touch her toes, her well-toned buttocks were right in front of Chetan. It was the fear of getting slapped in public that stopped him from reaching out and grabbing her. He was glad when she finally finished stretching and got onto a treadmill.

There wasn’t much to talk about while Honey jogged on the treadmill, or for the rest of her workout routine. Chetan filmed her, zooming in occasionally on her various body parts. But she had been on his computer screen, without any clothes, so he eventually got bored and decided to wait for her to finish her gym session.

Honey looked gorgeous when she walked out of the showers, wet hair cascading over her shoulders, skin glowing, mouth smiling. Chetan believed she looked better without make-up, and wondered for the umpteenth time why porn stars wore hideous make-up in most movies. On the drive back home, Honey plugged her Bluetooth headset into her ear and talked to a friend on the phone. They were discussing shoes; there was a particular red heel that her friend had been looking for, Honey had seen one such pair, or something that came relatively close to what her friend had in mind, at a store nearby her place. When the talk moved from the exact length of the heel to the exact red colour, Chetan nearly fell asleep.

The conversation continued all through lunch. Honey didn’t eat much, so Chetan couldn’t either. They had a bowl of soup each, and shared a chicken salad. Soon, she had finished lunch and managed to convince her friend that the heels she had seen in the store were the exact kind her friend wanted. Chetan wondered if it would have been easier for her friend to just go to the store and check the heels out. But then, she wouldn’t be a woman if she did that, would she?

“So, how are things going? You getting enough footage?” She asked him, done with her call and her lunch.

“Oh, yes, yes,” Chetan replied. “I think I’ve got a lot stuff already.”

“Great, think we should move on to my highlight of the day?”

Chetan nodded eagerly. Would they go to the studio to shoot now, he wondered? Or maybe she wanted some practice before the shooting, practice with him. Giddy, he looked at her in anticipation. If he was dreaming right now, this is where she would do a striptease for him.

But she didn’t. “I need to take a nap now,” she announced.

And with that, his excitement crushed, Chetan sat down on in her living room while she headed to her bedroom, alone. While he waited for her, he dozed off as well. He woke up around an hour later, and slumped back on the couch again when he didn’t find her around. She finally emerged when it was already evening, seemingly dressed to go out. Chetan jumped up when he saw her.

“We’re going out?” He asked.

“Yes, I need to get some groceries.”

Chetan almost groaned out aloud. He was bored, and tired. He felt lethargic. The day was turning out to be nothing like he had expected. So far, it had been probably the most boring day of his life. But he still had hope; he dragged himself to a supermarket with her. He kept filming while she bought groceries, looking more like a housewife than a porn star. Some people looked at her twice, but she didn’t notice, or didn’t care enough to notice. Chetan pushed the cart around for her, filming her fill it up with mundane everyday things.

It was late in the evening when they came back to her place. Chetan helped her unload the shopping, and sat down on a chair, exhausted. He felt more tired mentally, than physically. He had waited for this day for long time, imagined numerous times how it would pan out. But nothing could have made him believe it would have turned out the way it had.

Once the groceries were put away, they were back in her car. Chetan wasn’t even interested in asking Honey where they were going. They were out of things to talk about, and since he had enough footage of her driving her car, he just looked out of the window. When the car came to a stop, Chetan looked out and saw they were outside a famous movie studio. Still weary, he got out of the car.

“We’re here,” Honey said, locking the car. “I begin shooting a new movie tonight.”

“Oh, great,” Chetan said, surprising himself at his apparent lack of enthusiasm. He had just had enough of this, he decided.

“So, you wanna come in and watch?” Honey asked.

This was what he had been waiting for; this was what he had dreamed of. But, “No, I’ll just wait for the DVD,” is what he said.