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Ch20: White Noise
Dutta steered her towards the entrance of the disc with a slight touch on her back. She stopped abruptly on the entrance of the darkened passage and tightened her grip on her pretty silly clutch bag. Dutta could feel the tension coursing through her small frame. He tried to see the scene from her view. Darkness was screaming in loud heavy metal trance tune with sharp green blue beams of laser lights making the human forms gyrating madly to the music look demonic. White and other lighter shades worn by people where turned to neon blue in the electronic haze. Various disc accessories like flashing devil's horns and fluorescent tattoos were glistening on nude flesh. For a second he felt stupid and idiotic that he once enjoyed places like these. Now it all seemed so meaningless. He looked down at her and found her looking at the mad crush with wonder and curious huge eyes. Dutta leaned down to shout in her ears,"Discs mein trance music bahut famous hai..Usse DJ kahtey hai..Wo music bajata hai'Khana-Peena waha us counter pe milta hai'Couples and singles sab yahan entrance pe 'cover' yaani paisa pay kartey hai so tum jitna chaho limit ke andar kha-pee saktey ho. Alag se pay nahi karna pardta." He pointed out the places and corners to her.
Nakkusha looked up and tiptoed to reach his ears,"Yahan sabne lal baati jaise jalty huye sing kyun pahene hai? Agar bhagwaan ne insaan ko sing nahhi diye to koi karan to hoga naa? Aise ajeeb se bail ke sing kyun pahene hai?" Dutta coked on his laughter but before he could reply they were besieged by his friends. He was backslapped and punched good-naturedly on his sudden wedding. He introduced everyone to his wife with pride in his voice. But when he saw some faces in the group he silently swallowed a curse. Anahita was with him in school and she had always wanted to have a go with him. He had turned the offer down more than once. Now she was engaged with his friend Tobby but she always had let him know she despised him and still smarted from his rejection of her offer. But the reason that made him cautious was the unholy gleam in her eyes when she noticed nakusha's wide eyed wonder at her surroundings. He could smell her unholy glee and could feel the claws out.
As they sat on the upper level lounge and had a round of drinks served, Anahita extended a cigarette at him. Dutta could feel nakkusha's eyes on him as he refused smiling. Ravi laughed,"kya D, biwi ke darr se chod di kya?" Nakkusha looked down embarrassed. Dutta smiled,"aur nahi to kya, mere ghar ka sofa mere height se chotta hai aur mujhe us par neend nahi aati." Nakkusha frowned at him for embarrassing her. Chetan looked at nakkusha and screamed his question to be heard,"So how are you liking Mumbai?" Nakkusha looked at dutta who nodded at her in encouragement before answering, "aapka shaher bahut khubsurat hai. Marine drive,gateway of India..samandar...sab kuch bahut sundar hai, theek jaisa filmo mein hota hai..chamkila.." Ravi-Chamkila, what? Dutta explained- she means flashy, glamorous like in movies. They nodded in approval. Garry smiled- you should see the sea link and view from there. And of course, long drives on expressway. This is the best city to live in, I say. To Mumbai! They all raised their glasses for the salute. Dutta smiled and pointed nakku to do the same with her sweet pinacolada mocktail. She hesitantly raised her glass and mumbled to him,"Ye kya tha?" Dutta answered in her ears,"A toast." Nakkusha scrowled,"wo to breakfast mein khatey hai?" Dutta laughed and forgetting their audience peeked her cheek. He watched her shock and embarrassment at his public display but he felt so light inside that he didn't care what others thought. He stretched his arm behind her as he leaned back on the couch relaxed. Shonali who was Ravi's partner grabbed his arm and dragged him to the floor. Nakkusha smiled watching them,"Ye log shaadi karne wale hai?" Dutta cleared his throat and shrugged,"I suppose they will, maybe not. They are partners." Nakkusha smiled- life partners? Dutta scratched his forehead uneasily,"Nahi!shaadi nahi ki hai..par sath rahtey hai.4 saal se." Nakkusha looked at the couple in wonder,"4saal se bina shadi ke sath reh rahe hai? par kyun? shaadi kar lo..saath raho? Ismein kya hai?" Anahita laughed-seriously dutta,where did you get her from? some Indian daily soap? Tobby rebuked her- anni, stuff it. Dutta- Nakkusha, sab shaadi ko ultimate relation nahi maantey. Kai log shaadi mein believe nahi kartey. Shonali aur ravi bhi unmein se hai. They are happy just like that. Unka faisla hai. And anyways shaadi ke bina bhi unka rishta shadishuda logo se bhi strong hai. They don't see the necessity of getting married.
Nakkusha- necessity? Par Shaadi sirf jarurat nahi hoti? Wo to..She trailed away feeling everyone's eyes on her. She looked down and sipped her drink feeling shy. Jaswindar aka jassi clapped her hands to get attention,"Ok..So since Nakkusha is new to the city and our group..I say we all get our own personal time with her. Sabko nakkusha se thoda interact karne ka time millega..you can ask her questions..you can ask her to dance, of course if her hubby allows. Kyun nakkusha?" Nakkusha looked up anxious ,"Nahi!" Jassi looked at her in surprise,"Nahi?" Nakkusha looked at the curious faces around her and saw dutta leaning forward to make an excuse for her, she bit her lips and said,"Theek hai..par mujhe aap logo jaisi acchi acchi baatein bolni nahi aati." Haresh smiled- don't worry aapne ab tak jitna bhi bola bada pyara laga. Me first. Nakkusha ji, aap boltey boltey rukh kyun gayi..shaadi jarurat nahi to kya hai? Nakkusha blinked and looked around at the expectant faces. She saw shonali and ravi had returned and were looking intently at her with a smirk on their faces. Shonali- Don't tell me Shaadi hotey hi dutta ne team badal di? Nakkusha, shaadi ke pahele, dutta bhi anti-marriage groupies mein se tha. Kyu, Dr Dhokeybaaz? Ravi- actually ye topic kaise aaya? Anahita filled them in by her own vitriolic version making it sound petty back-biting by uncouth wife of their old friend. Shonali sat down facing nakkusha and looked at her with bitter eyes- So Nakkusha? Tell me, aapke hisaab se to main bahut badchalan,low grade ki ladki hongi na? jo shaadi ke bina paraye mard ke saath rehti hai. aapke wahan mujh jaise ladkiyon ko kuch boltey bhi hongey hai na? Dutta intervened- that's not it shonali. Nakkusha didn't mean it like that. Anahita just stretched it. Shonali- she did say something right? I want to know what? Ravi looked uncomfortable- let's stop it, babe. I mean, she is new here. Dutta ki wife hai. Let's cut her some slack. Ok? "No! I want to hear it, honey! Inke jaise old school mentality wallo ki judgemental baatein mujhe sunnani hai, Tell me nakusha." Shonali leaned towards her with unforgiving stance.
Nakkusha kept her drink slowly on the table and looked at her- Agar aap jaanti hai ki aap sahi hai to aapko kissi ko safai dene ki jarurat nahi,naahi kissi se safai lene ki. Haan, shaadi kai log jarurat ki wajah se kartey hai. Kissi ke saath ki jarurat, arthik aur naitik jarurat, vansh ko aagey badhaney ki jarurat. Pyar ki jarurat. Auraton ko hamesha isliye shaadi ki aur dhakela jata hai kyunki unhe kamjhor maantey hai. Mata-pitah ye sochtey hai ki humare baad humari beti ka khayal kaun rakhega. Isliye purane samay se ladkiya is liye shaadi karti hai kyunki unhe isse surakhsha,maan aur aarthik sahara millta hai.Aaj ke samay mein aapke liya yaa shayad kayi aaise auroton ke liya ye jaruri nahi...aaj ladkiya khud itni majboot hai ki wo khud ghar parivar ko sahara de de..Inki leelatai hai na! wo bhi aisi hi hai. Unhe kissi ki sahare ki jarurat nahi. To phir aaj laadkiyon ko Shaadi jarurat ke liye nahi karni pardhti, hai na? She felt foolish when after saying it and looked up at dutta to his reaction. He sat unmoving looking at her with hooded eyes. Ravi asked- aur mard? Wo kyun shaadi karta hai? Nakkusha turned to him- Sahuliyat ke liye. Admi ka kaam hai duniya mein jaake lardhna, aapne parivar ki rakhsa karna, unki jarurat puri karna. Jab duniya hi chalani ho to chula chowka, bachey kaise sambhale? So isliye aadmi ek aurat se shaadi karta hai kyunki aurat janani hai.. sab sambhal sakti hai. Par aajkal to ghar sambhalne ke liye aaram se naukar miltey hai. Hotel aur restaurant mein phone lagao to khana mil jata hai. sab kuch hai. shaadi ki kya jarurat? Aurat ki kya jarurat? Par phir bhi Shaadi hai, wo jarurat nahi jaruri hai. Saath rahne ko to jaanwar bhi saath rahtey hai..par unmein humein ek pharak hai..sabhyata ka..samaj ka. Samaj ke liye nahi, usmein rehne ke liye nahi..balki us samjh ko sabhya banaye rakhne ke liye shaadi jaruri hai. Shaadi koi bandhan nahi hai. wo bas ek tareeka hai saari duniya ko ye batane ka ki mujhe koi aisa mill gaya hai jike saath mujhe aapni puri zindagi bitani hai. Humare baccho ko sahi naam millega. Jab buddhapa ayega to ek dusre ka saath hoga. Maut ke baad bhi saath hoga. Meri maa mere bachpann mein guzar gayi thi, babuji par aajbhi maa ko yaad kartey hai. kabhi gobi acchi banti hai to kahtey hai, maa aise banati thi. Shaadi se perhej kyun hai aapko? She asked them suddenly.
Shonali looked at her as if she was hit by brick,"kissi ko bina jaane pehchaney kaise unke sath zindagi bhar ka wada kar de? Shaadiyan kar bhi le to kya guarantee hai ki wo life long teekegi? Divorces bhi to hotey hai. Kal kya pata, kaun badal jaye? You love someone, you think you can live your life with them and then one day you wake up and find that love is no more. And person you loved is so changed. And you are trapped in marriage. "
Nakkusha smiled- Haan, ye problem to hai shaadi ke saath. Koi bhi pandit shaadi ke pheron ke baad guarantee card nahi deta. Wo kya hai na, shaadi koi fan,fridge ya VIP suitcase to nahi ki chali nahi to paise ,beeta waqt aur pyaar wapas. Shaadi is liye soch samajh kar karni chahiye. Aur ek baar karli to zindagi bhar nibhane ki har koshish karni chahiye.
"Oh really? Zindagi bhar nibhani chahiye? Tumhey kaise pata ki jiss si shadi karo wo sahi hai? How can you know a person? How can you know ki wo kal tumhe chod nahi dega?" Shonali asked her scathingly.
Nakkusha looked her in the eye and said softly,"4saal saath ek chat ke nicchey reh kar bhi agar aap usse jaan na paye..us par bharosa na kar paye..to aap sahi hai. aapko shaadi nahi karni chahiye. Kyunki jo 4saal mein nahi ho paya wo 40saal mein nahi ho payega." Haresh asked,"aaa..kya nahi ho paya?" nakkusha turned to him and blinked in surprise," kyun? Bharosa! Agar shonaliji Raviji par aur raviji shonali ji par 4saal mein bharosa nahi kar paye ki wo dono hamesha ek dusre se sachey rahenge to phir wo kabhi nahi ho sakta na? Bina bharose ke koi shadi nahi ho sakti. To phir inka shadi na karne ka faisla sahi hai."
They fell quiet after Nakkusha finished. Dutta looked at her wife who was looking at his friends with trepidation expecting them to laugh at her face for saying so much. She was wringing her hands together looking uncomfortable. He saw Haresh had an enchanted look on his face as he looked at her. Shonali and Ravi were not meeting anyone's eyes. Dutta knew nakkusha hadn't realized how easily she had held a mirror to his successful, educated urbane friends and showed them the reality, just like she had done to him in her small town making him love her so much.
Chetan cleared his throat breaking the uncomfortable silence, "Enough talking. Let's dance. Nakkushaji, please?" Dutta stopped him by holding his hand,"Sorry dude! Teri reputation jaan ney ke baad main meri biwi ko tere saath dance nahi karne de sakta. If anyone is dancing with her, it's me." Dutta took nakkusha's small hand in his and pulled her to her feet while she looked as if she had been told to stand on her head. Haresh whistled wolfishly while Jassi teased,"Oho..possesive Dr. Dutta?" Dutta grinned back at them,"Yup, damn right I am. And by now you all know with good reason. She's mine!" Dutta pulled a resisting nakkusha to the dance floor and held her to him. Nakkusha breathed in his ears,"Ye aap kya kar rahe hai? mujhe ye sab nahi aata." Dutta tightened his hold on her and brought her body closer still. She stepped on his shoes and faltered but he held her holding her waist guiding her arms around his neck. As she put her arms around his she dissolved in an embrace while he moved her unresisting body blindly in the crowd, moving as one.
Dutta whispered softly thinking she might not hear it in the din," I am so glad I met you. So glad!" But she heard it and closed her eyes as a lone tear of thankfulness leaked from corner of her eye.
Anahita looked at the mousey little girl who was wiping her face with the tissue fixing her smeared sindoor cautiously. Anahita looked around to see if they were alone. Shonali was in the cubicles behind while Jassi was chatting with a friend a little distance away. The girls had all elected to freshen up before they left for the small upscale restaurant beside the disc where they had booked a table for dinner. Dutta had held onto nakkusha's arm saying she looked fresh enough to him. But when everyone had teased him mercilessly he had let nakkusha go with a pronounced reluctance. "Don't lose her in the crowd. She is brand new!"He had warned them laughingly.
Nakkusha still looked red in face at his possessive attitude while shonali and jassi had commented on it. Jassi had smiled at nakkusha,"Dutta loves you like crazy, nakkusha. He has never been so possessive of anyone." Shonali smiled,"Yup, under all that teasing and joking he was dead sure about that warning to us. Uska pyar uski aankhon mein jhalakta hai."
Anahita extended another wipe towards her. Nakkusha shook her head smilingly. Anahita said as she watched nakkusha putting her sindoor and gloss again,"You are lucky. Tumne job hi kiya Dutta ko impress karne ke liye, it worked like a charm. Warna kai ladkiya aayi gayi par Dutta ne kabhi unhe jayada bhav nahi diya. Ek baar Goa trip se lautey waqt ek ladki milli thi. Saari train journey dono ne train ke ghatiya bathroom mein bitayi thi. Mumbai lautke bhi they were so close, all over each other. Then suddenly one bright day Dutta stopped calling her. Aise hi, bina kissi explaination ke. He can be like that, you know. Hard, uncaring, unfeeling. Par of course, ussey tumhari bahut parwa hai."
Nakkusha froze her pleasure in the evening vanishing. She looked in the earnest eyes of the woman who had spoken to her. She looked down at the sindoor box in her hand.
Dutta tried to pull her cold body towards him on the bed. She went still like a rock. He kissed her shoulder and her neck softly making his way to her lips. She moved away a little shaking her head in the dark. Dutta switched on the sidelamp,"Kya hua? Tu theek to hai na? Jabse club se lautey hai tu bahut chupchap hai. Tujhe kissi ne kuch kaha?" Nakkusha closed her eyes turning away from him,"Bas mere sir mein dard hai." dutta narrowed his eyes looking intently at her. His mouth hardened as he realized she was lying. He griped her arm viciously turning her to face him,"Shaadi ke ek mahine mein hi tere sir mein dard hone laga hai. mujhe mallom hona chahiye tha, hai na?" He threw off the blanket and went out of the room knocking over the vase filled with flowers over in his haste.
Nakkusha sat up pulling up the covers to her chin as tears coursed down her cheeks. Anahita's words hitting her inside as she tried to think clearly. She sat there feeling lost and broken on the huge four posture bed. Heat from where he had lied a few minutes ago was scathing her skin in pain. As she sat there feeling sorry for herself she heard her own words from the evening,' Bina bharose ke koi shadi nahi ho sakti'. She buried her face in her hands. 'Jhoot'.jhoot..jhoot', her heart screamed.
He felt a pair of small cold arms going around his rigid torso and felt her leaning on his back, hugging him tight from behind. He still felt enraged at her trying to use the age-old tactics of withholding herself from him to punish him for something. He was wrong when he had thought she was above all these games between man and woman. But basics don't change, do they? He was a man and she a woman. And the power-play existed always. He stood rigidly ignoring the feel of her at his back with his arms apart braced on the balustrade of the terrace. He watched the steady traffic on the road and the foaming sea dark as night itself. It was the night after full moon and there was enough moonlight to bask the world in silver glow.
Nakkusha shivered a little as she leaned her head on his back,"Usne kaha ki aap..ki aap ek ladki se goa se aatey huye milley the..train mein..aur..aur phir yahan bhi..par phir aapne ussey chod diya..main she nahi payi..mujhe jalan ho rahi thi..ye soch kar ki aap kissi aur ke saath the." Dutta sighed inside. He had always known this was coming. He had known it since he had realized he was in love with her. He had known that he was not the kind of man she deserved, a man who was a clean and pure as her, a man with no sordid past. He also knew she had long away told him that she would be jealous of anyone who had any relation with the man she loved. 'main to muh noch lungi. Itna maarungi churail ko ki aankhein bhaingi ho jayengi ' He smiled as he remembered her words on the kalatai's terrace.
Dutta sighed- mere ateet main bahut se aise panney hai Nakku. aur ye sach hai. Us ladki ka to mujhe shakal hi yaad nahi. Par aise bahut se log hai jinka naam bhi yaad hai shakal bhi. Main jo tha ya jo hoon.Tere samne hoon, nakku. Aur tera hoon! Bas, isse jayada main kuch nahi keh sakta. Kyunki mera ateet ab mere haath mein nahi. I can't wipe out all that I have done. I am not like you. Tere jaisa bada dil nahi hai mere paas. Jo apno ke liye sab kuch chod de. I am very selfish, self centered. Main aaj tak sirf apne liye jiya hoon. Jo bhi kiya ye jaantey huye kiya ki meri beheno ko ya mere maa-baap ko ye pata chalega to accha nahi lagega..Phir bhi wo sab kiya kyunki main karna chahta tha. Kissi ke bare mein nahi socha. I am not perfect. In fact I am so flawed that sometimes I am sacred to think if I even deserve something as pure as you. He caught her hand and pulled her infront of him wiping away the tears on her cheeks. He looked down sadly,"ussne jo kaha sach kaha hai. mere zindagi mein tujhse pahele bahut si ladkiya thi. Par ab meri zindagi mein tu hai. aur mera future bhi tu hai. I can't help my past, nakku. not anymore. But please, please don't let it affect our future."
Nakkusha held his shoulders and went on her toes to kiss his lips,"Mujhe maaf kar do. Main to hoon hi aisi. Didi kehti hai ki gussa meri naak pe till ki tarah bait jata hai. par sach kahoon to mujhe darr lag gaya tha. Ek pal ko laga ki kya main aapke layak hoon. Aap perfect nahi hoo..par aap wo ho, wo kehtey hai na..Almost perfect. Par main?" She shook her head,"main to bas aisi hi hoon...kuch kaas nahi hai mujh mein. Maa kitni sundar thi. Sab maa se pyaar kartey the. Par sab kehtey hai mujhe maa ka kuch nahi milla..sonu maa ke jaisi hai. sundar, pyari. Babuji bhi kehtey hai. Mujh mein tareef ke layak kuch hai hi nahi. Jab mere haath ka khana sabko accha lagta tha naa? Tab bahut accha lagta tha. Lagta tha, chalo kuch to kar sakti hai nakkusha! Par aapko meri chai bhi acchi nahi lagi. Char baar banwayi thi." Dutta smiled sadly as she turned in his arms her back leaning on his front now. He tucked her head under his chin tightening his hold on her, warming her. She spoke so softly that she was barely audible,"par phir na jaane kya hua. Kanhaji ko kya sujhi ki aapne mujhe chunna. Mujhse itna pyar kiya. Sab ab bhi sapna sa lagta hai. Kaladidi jo mujhe bachpan se jaanti hai, unhone ne bhi apke liye mera rishta thukra diya tha. Unka maanna bhi sahi tha. Aapki duniya mein main kya reh paungi? Jabse shaadi ki baat tai huyi thi, tabse andar hi andar ye darr tha. Kahi kissi din meri wajah se aapko koi sharmindagi na ho. Na sundar hoon, na smart hoon, baatein bhi nahi kar paati..padhi likhi bhi nahi hoon..aaj wahan itne logon ke samne wo darr aur bada ho gaya tha..phir uski baton se bas...Sorry!"
Dutta kissed the top of her head- so I am not perfect and you are not perfect.so together we are perfect for each other. Nakkusha smiled- hmm..kuch aisa hi hai. Dutta- meethu, You were awesome today. I was so proud to be with you. You are everything I had dreamed of and everything I never even thought I could dream of. To me you are perfection. Everyway perfection can be. Nakkusha smiled as she turned to face him. She peeked his cheek lightly- Same to you. Dutta grinned- Meethu, tujhe maloom hai mere paas tere sir dard ka ilaaz hai. Doctor husband hone ka faida. Nakkusha looked ashamed- mere sir mein dard nahi tha..naak pe gussa tha..Sorry kaha na! Dutta whispered looking at her meaningfully- ye nuskha naak ke gusey par bhi kaam karta hai. Nakkusha shook her head as he nodded fervently before kissing her deeply.
...To be continued
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