Joined: 11 June 2008
Chapter 24 - And So...Goodnight!
She became aware of the hospital smell 1st. Next came the sound of the a calm, grave voice, speaking to a sobbing woman.
''It's ok, Maaji, she's fine. Sometimes the brain is unable to deal with the pressure and the body shuts down in defence. There was an overload of emotions and shock. She's absolutely fine. All her vitals are fine too. ''
''Doctor, she's coming around.'' Said a younger female voice.
She saw a man clad in white clothes, check her wrist and eyes.
''Geet, how are you feeling now?'', said the grave voice again.
She murmured something incomprehensible.
Why was she here? What was she doing there, in the hospital in the first place.
She suddenly saw the warm image of her father loom in front of her, followed by Raina and Sid. The image of Sid, brought back memories of the party and her brain finally comprehended the gravity of the situation!
Images of a blood-soaked Nik came up as, she began hyperventilating.
''Paapa, Nik...'', she started, he voice catching.
''Yes, Beta, chalo I'll take you to him.'', he said grimly.
Fear was bubbling like an acid in her as she half ran to his room.
She shoved the door open and called out to him.
He turned to see her and smiled.
''Hey gorgeous!'', he said in a weak raspy voice.
She sighed in relief. He was alright. He was smiling. She had feared the worst, thinking he was dead. She didn't give another thought to Sid and Vicky's worry. He'll get better, she convinced herself.
The bed sheet was pulled up to his chin and a drip was attached to his arm. He looked uneasy, and tensed, but Geet's entry blew all that away.
Nik looked at Mohinder, who nodded imperceptibly and left the room.
'He held out, with effort, a bandaged arm to her.
She came and sat next to him on the bed.
''OMG, baby are u ok?, she asked. ''I was so scared, pata hain? But, I wasn't ready to accept that anything could happen to you. Never!!'', She rambled on, while he listened to her. Her relief made her forget to ask the extent of his injuries...she concentrated on his OK-status only.
''Geet...weren't you scared that something would happen to me?'' he asked teasingly. His voice was still weak. It was barely a whisper. But his eyes shone as he looked at her.
''Shut up'', she said warningly. ''I don't like such jokes. Nothing can happen to you.'' The air was suddenly serious and filled with tension.
He lifted his good arm and caressed her cheek. She still looked miffed, but she lay down next to him on the bed.
''Where does it not hurt?...''she tentatively put her arm on his tummy. ''Is it ok if I keep my arm here? Does it hurt??''
He shook his head. Turning his face seriously,towards her, he said. ''Geet if something happens to me, you won't stop dancing will you? You'll keep the dream going, wont you?''
The question was out of the blue. Something she hadn't expected at all. She shivered involuntarily as a cold feeling clasped itself around her, but said firmly. ''Nothing's gonna happen to you, ok. Now get some rest and lemme also get some rest. You missed the hottest party of the year, you know that? Kitne dinoh se plan karke rakha tha maine. Chalo sleep'', she ordered.
He smiled sadly at her stern expression. But shut his eyes. He fell asleep with his hand around her, a smile on his face. It was the first time he'd hidden something from her. But he couldn't see her cry.
What Geet didn't know, was that Nik knew he had hours to live. The bed sheet hid the gruesome extent of his injuries. He didn't want to see her cry, but wanted to see her laugh and be normal, when he took his last breath. He hadn't even winced when she'd hugged him, even though the pain was unbearable.
She was the closest thing to a family he had. He barely met his uncle once a month, but he knew he wouldn't be able to meet him before he died. He was grateful that God had given him Geet. Mohinder had cried at his bedside. As had Naanima, but he had made them promise that they wouldn't cry as much in front of Geet. His last wishes had all been confided to them. He was surprisingly at peace...the biggest reason being that she was in his arms. But, he was scared of how she'd take it? He was worried she'd return to the horrible life she had been living. Of their friends , he trusted only Vicky. He prayed in his last moments for her. Prayed she'd carry on without him. Prayed she'd find new life, something to live for. He prayed like he had never prayed before!
Nik died in his sleep, with a smile on his face; his love in his arms.
Geet was awoken by a commotion. Nurses rushed in, a machine beeped steadily and she turned to see her father looking at her with a strange expression. Was it pity?
''Beta, I'm so sorry.''
She looked at him perplexed. She turned to see what the commotion was. Unable to conclude the source of the chaos, she turned to Nik. He looked asleep. She wondered how he'd slept through the noise. He was a light sleeper. She shook him, but he didn't budge. She wondered again, how heavy a sedative he'd been given.
''Nik,'' she shook him again. She turned to caress his face, but it was cold. There had been only one time she had felt a human that cold...a long time ago. She turned terrified, to her father.
Paapa...??the words died on her lips.
He had silent tears pouring down his face, as he looked at her. His expression scared her more.
''Beta, I'm so so sorry'', he said pitifully.
She looked at his face, and turned back to Nik. She frowned at him, wondering what was going on. She caressed his face again.
Comprehension dawned on her face, as she kept looking at Nik. Her heart constricted, as she looked at her father, the pieces fitting together. She had begun to understand the situation.
''No'', she choked, looking at Mohinder's tears. ''No, Paapa, No,...not him''!! His face crumpled as she looked pleadingly at Mohinder, hoping he could prove her fear wrong. He just looked at her wretchedly.
''I'm so sorry , beta,'' was all he could say as he enfolded her in his arms.
Mohinder ushered her out. He felt helpless. His child was breaking and there was nothing he could do about it.
Mohinder made sure Geet was not disturbed. But she didn't cry. When they left the hospital, Mohinder looked at her, expecting her to burst into tears soon. She didn't.
Naani sat with her all night on herbed...she didn't sleep at all. She was lost. When spoken to she responded quietly...she caught her frowning from time to time. But she never uttered a word. When Naani tried to feed her dinner, she very gently moved it away. She went to her room and lay down, pretending to sleep.
Nobody disturbed her the next day. Preparations for the funeral had begun. Nik's parents had been Christian and he had wanted a proper funeral. Mohinder made sure nothing was left undone. His uncle managed to make it, but he left early after the funeral, brushing a hand on Geet's cheek and blessing her in a teary voice. Geet stood stock still, kissing Nik's cheek only once and then staring into space.
Days past and Geet barely said enough to anybody. Sid and Raina stayed on to make sure she was ok. She never cried ' the thing that scared Naani the most. She tried to induce tears by talking about Nik to her, but Geet always left the room...or walked away.
Mohinder asked Naani to leave her alone. He didn't want Geet to be stressed. He openly grieved for Nik and had a wake in his honour. Geet preferred to be away from the people who paid their respects and asked Vicky, Sid and Raina to greet them for her. They were scared that she had never said much about his death, much less cried. They gladly obliged.
Geet sat in her room while the guests filed in for Nik's wake. It had been ten days since his death. She sat motionless in her room. The room hadn't been touched. It had been the same for the past ten days.
She could hear the guests outside asking for her, crying tears, expressing their grief, giving their condolences. She wondered how many were from their heart. Then she silently admonished herself. Nik had been a great guy...
'had!!''... it was hard to accept he wasn't there anymore. The guy who had loved her, through all her madness, her drunken days, he crazy moments. He had become a part of their fold...she never realized how and when she'd fallen in love with him.
Nik...his face always shone when he looked at her. His lovely dark crinkly eyes.
He had been loved by one all. The proof was in the number that came to pay respects. Had they shed tears for him? Must have. Were they important to him? She didn't think so. She knew who all he valued. She knew she was the most important person in his life. She had no doubt about it.Why then could she not shed even a single tear for him?
Why? Why did he leave? Would anything have changed had she stopped him from racing that day. She cursed herself.
She had felt her world crashing around her ears, when she had felt his body. It had been so cold. She had always felt him warm...warm in his embraces, warm when he hugged her, kissed her, danced with her. It had been perfect.
She felt betrayed. Just when she had thought life was giving her a clean slip, it had come back in the form of a whiplash. She tried hard to shed tears but they never came.
He had loved life. He had done whatever was right...WHY Him?? His blood soaked image swam in front of her eyes. Naanima had told her that Nik had known about the extent of his injuries. That he had known he was going to die. Why had he not let her know??? Didn't she deserve to at least say goodbye? Why had she been left out in the cold. She couldn't come up with an answer.
The thoughts continued to flow...She didn't realize when she fell asleep on her own bed.
She woke up when it was dark. She'd just had a horrible dream...There was a light on in the passageway. She breathed in relief. It was just a dream... She couldn't sleep. What time was it? She looked at her phone and saw One Unread Message. She flicked open the phone. It was from Nik...she smiled and opened it.
''Hey gorgeous. Wish your lovey boy luck. This has gotta be the race of a lifetime. Wish you were here, but the meeting's gotta be important. Still a good luck kiss would've been just the ticket...Nik''
She smiled. She hadn't seen this message before. She immediately dialed his number. A phone began ringing in her room, on the table. She got up to see and saw it was Nik's...
Why had he left it here?
He never parted with his phone...and he always always, answered her call...
Unless he was away for some genuine reason...!!!
It hadn't been a dream!!!!
Geet started hyperventilating.
She picked up her phone and opened his message...it was dated ten days ago...the air was suddenly very heavy...the room began to squeeze in on her. She couldn't breathe...suddenly it was very suffocating in that room.
She ran out, and stopped in the hall. The passage light was glinting off a large photo frame. It was Nik...he was laughing over something...the camera had brought the happiness in his eyes alive. The very liveliness that contrasted starkly with the garland of flowers that adorned the frame.
Reality pounded down on her ...as she realised he was never coming back. Never going to hold her, kiss her anger away, joke with her family, dance with her, smell her hair or stay the night over just to be with her.
An animal like cry reached her ears...it sounded like it was wounded !
It took her a while to realize that it was from her own mouth. Anger and pain discharged itself from her as she took the first object that reached her hand and smashed it...the cry becoming louder.
Running feet reached as they grabbed her hands and removed the objects from them. She was turned around to face her father...
''Paapa...Nik...paapa...Nik,'' she howled, her voice catching in between her tears.
''He's not coming back papa...get him back to me...please Paapa...he's never coming back. ''
'Shhh, shhh,''he comforted, pulling her in his arms. He just stodd stroking her hair, trying to comfort her.
His warm embrace tried to shield her from the cold reality, but she only sobbed loudly in to his shoulder. The anger, the pain, the grief finally finding expression in her tears.
Did I disappoint you or let you down?
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Joined: 11 June 2008
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Joined: 11 June 2008
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Joined: 11 June 2008
Annie ran up the stairs in a hurry.
''BHAI...Maan Bhai?!?!?! Vicky...Where the hell are you guys??
She ran at breakneck speed peeping from room to room, calling out to them.
''Annie, we're in Dad's room. '', a deep voice called out.
She ran and entered the room, only to find them playing carom, the board spread out on their parents' bed. The room was dimmed with the curtains pulled close and air conditioning on low...the table beside the bed had half-eaten plates of pasta and two Pepsi cans - a sight she had become used to lately.
''Bhai, I thought you were working today?? Pata hota ki aap ghar par ho toh itna bhaag ke nahi aati. ''( had I known you were at home, I wouldn't have run so hard).
''Kyun aisa kya ho gaya ki tumhe bhaagna padha...''Vicky asked, without looking up, concentrating on hitting the white coin in the pocket.
''Bhai I need you car for the day...''
Panic arose in Maan's chest on hearing the request...''why?? What's wrong with your car?'', he asked as calmly as possible.
''I banged it yesterday, it's at the garage...'', she answered guiltily.
''...and now you want to send mine there too...?'' he asked sarcastically, resuming his game.
''How rude Bhai, that accident wasn't my fault,'' she said, pouting. She took a pillow off the chair and sat on one side of the bed, watching the game proceed. ''How is it that you're at home anyway?''
''I've taken leave for a couple of days.'', Maan replied while trying to judge with cut would be the best for making the shot. ''Vicky was taking a couple of days off. So I thought I'd do so too.''
The world is made up of many kinds of people. Some belong to the foolish breed, while some have the astute genes in them. Maan Singh Khurana belonged to an advanced kind of the latter. After the one-sided conversation with Daadima, he had realized what path life was taking him. Leading a business empire over the country had changed him. At the age of 26 he had gained much, but in the process he had lost touch with what he used to be and he was trying unsuccessfully to re-gain it. He wanted to make changes.
The stern and angry demeanour didn't change much, but he did make an effort to re-acquaint himself with his family. Annie and Vicky were pleasantly surprised to see him make an effort to spend time with them and they welcomed this change with open arms. Spending time with Vicky playing their childhood games or taking Daadi or Annie out for movies had become routine.
''oh...''she replied looking warily at him. Then reverted to her topic...''So can I have the car? ''
He deliberated for a minute, then replied,'' Yes, but my driver goes along.''
She didn't argue - his tone had a sense of finality in it and she knew it was best not to argue.
Maan positioned his hand over the striker and in one clean strike pocketed both the Queen and the cover.
''Damn it...bro fifth game in a row...this board is tilting towards you!!'' yelled a frustrated Vicky.
''Rubbish ' stop being a sour loser...it's all a mind game if u see it...'', Maan replied calmly.. "Exchange seats again if u want to. It's how you strategize and play...Vicky. Not hot-headed playing.''
''Carrom is just a game...one should be a little hot-headed while playing a game ' it's not business where one should be all cautious n over thinking. Kabhi relax kiya karo, bhai!''
''Relaxing doesn't mean that I completely ignore common sense and play without giving it any thought. This isn't your dance studio that runs on adrenaline, Vicky. ''
''Please bro...if I had to run the studio in your Hitler attitude, I'd have no dance studio today!!
''Vicky,'' said Maan sternly, ''My office wouldn't run as efficiently as it does had I not been this strict and firm. I'd have been taken for a ride by many. If you were a lot stricter, you'd probably see Studio 77 work more efficiently.''
''Bro, I run the studio with friends, not employees. People come to the studio to relax and enjoy themselves. If I make a chore out of it, they're never going to show up. ''
''A little bit of discipline is needed, in my opinion, Vicky. And Studio 77 is still in its baby stages. If you want it to go much further, you need to be a The Boss, there. ''
Annie looked from left to right, like it was a tennis match, amused where the conversation had led to.
''That's unfair , bro, if you're talking from your own perspective... Khurana Constructions was an established enterprise when you took it up. I built Studio 77 from scratch. There's hardly any comparison.'', said Vicky with a hurt expression on his face.
''The fact that I had to follow in Dad's footsteps, made it all the more difficult. Have you any clue how hard it is to earn somebody's respect...especially if that somebody isn't your friend, '' was Maan's pointed comeback.
''Had I been a little kind in Khurana Constructions, at least I'd have a friend or two in my staff!!'', bit back Vicky, a tad rudely.
''Wow'', said Annie cut in, keeping a straight face. ''Two grown men, arguing away over who's the better boss?? You two wouldn't last in each other's shoes two days!!'' Saying this, she got up from her seat and headed for the door, while Maan and Vicky looked at each other astonished.
Had a Girl just thrown a challenge at them indirectly??
Annie raised her hand to open the door, when she heard Maan's voice loud and clear.
''Two months, Vicky,...I'll hand over Khurana Constructions under your able lead, and I'll handle Studio 77. Let's see who'd ideologies win?''
Annie gasped and turned around shocked to see, Vicky looking him straight in the eye, and saying determinedly, ''It's a deal!!''
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Joined: 11 June 2008
Chapter 26: The Eyes have it...!!
It was only after Annie left that they realized how ridiculous a proposition they had agreed upon. But , it was a mutual decision to be lenient with the other and to take important steps only after the other's consent.
Maan entered the studio early in the morning. Vicky had filled in the group with the details , not mentioning the details, but letting them know that Maan was taking his place, with his consent. They were annoyed, understandably, but they didn't say much. Maan's reputation had preceded him.
He found the main leading troupe sitting on the floor awaiting his arrival. They were the dancers who assisted Vicky when it came to choreography, and teaching. His trusted gang.The expressions that he saw ranged from hostile to curious to plain indifferent.
''Hi,', he said in general. ''I'm assuming Vicky has informed you about our 2 month arrangement''.
There was no response in any form. It was time to take up his 'Maan Singh Khurana' demeanour.
He started with a speech that was general in nature, about all the things related to the studio, one that touched all areas of administration, performance and work...he had delivered speeches like this scores of times. He had purposely indulged in such babble, so as to ensure their attention on his high flung words , while he minutely observed them.
His eyes flicked over their faces, turn by turn.
The first to be seated was a dainty looking girl. Her hair was done up in a short pony tail and expressive eyes adorned her face. She sat with one arm resting over a the knee of the boy who sat behind her. She seemed to be curious, cause she listened intelligently to every word Maan uttered.
The boy behind her looked happily at Maan, He was tall and wiry looking, with a happy expression on his face. Maan wondered if any of his speech was reaching him...his face however showed open friendliness and amiability. His eyes twinkled at times and seemed to drift away at others, while he unconsciously played with the girl's ponytail. He sat up straighter and in the process pushed the boy sitting next to him a little...the boy however didn't react. His face displayed a brooding expression, but his eyes seemed to be piercing and sharp. His attire and outward appearance struck Maan. Long silky straight hair reached his muscular but lean shoulders. His face was peppered with acne but, his eyes blew all the attention away. The word that sprang to Maan's mind on seeing him was ,'Focus'. His demeanour exuded complete discipline.
A small movement to his left made him turn to the last girl in the corner. She sat half turned from him, her curly hair falling like a curtain on her face. She wasn't looking at him, evidently lost in thought. Unconsciously , her eyes flicked to meet his. He felt like he was looking at a light-less tunnel devoid of life. They looked back at him, showing no sign of existence. Yet they struck a chord somewhere...a sense of dj vu. Maan was captivated!
Vicky parked the car in the garage and sat in it a while longer. It was just 8:30am...way before the office time. He sat in and absorbed the enormity of the situation he found himself in. What on earth was he thinking to have agreed to this bet? The mere thought of spending his day amongst staidly dressed people depressed him. It sounded like a death wish.
He was the boss of Khurana Constructions, for two blessed months. He wondered how Maan must be faring at Studio 77. A wave of homesickness passed over him as he thought of his baby. It was a home he had built...each and every member was a friend ' a kindred spirit! Zaakhir, the sunshine man, Nida the lovable kitten, Farhan the idealistic, Geet '
Nick sighed. He still worried about her. True, he wasn't as close a friend of hers as Sid and Mayank were. He had been closer to Nik. It was amazing how a person's life could be snapped away in the blink of an eye. He missed Nik, he was his partner in crime. He knew how much worse this was for her, then. That first one month after she had accepted his death had been horrifying. Her emotional graph had steadily descended. The first few days had been the worst, when she had not spoken to anyone...the few times they had tried forcing their company on her, she had ended up isolating herself from them, even more.
He recounted the nights he and Sid used to spend outside the graveyard. She would sit quietly for hours, not knowing they were keeping a watch, following her back home in the wee hours of the morning. Sid had waited impatiently for Mayank to get done with his passport hassles and return to India. His impatience had been justified.
The day Mayank had returned, he had spent hours locked up with Geet in her room. They didn't know what went on in there, but the change in her was there for all to see.
Geet had returned to the dance studio. He and Sid never asked Mayank what went down in her room, but they understood from a passing comment that it was something to do with Nik's last conversation with her.
But Vicky had been scared that returning to the studio will only remind her of Nik more...His fear had led him to give her more responsibilities. He'd made her the second in charge. It had worked to some extent, but his fears had been unnecessary. She had never missed work after that. She had trained the students and worked well with the others. She never smiled, but stayed to herself. She looked after the other dancers too, but Vicky hardly ever saw her interact.
He wondered how she'd fare under Maan's lead. He knew she's never bow under Maan's dictatorial regime.
Yes, he was worried!!
Maan sat in the cabin that had belonged to Vicky all these days. It had CDs and cassettes and videos in them. The challenge was finally beginning to show.
He went through all the files in his 1st hour in the cabin. All the rents and accounts, the different classes for each type of dance, the kind of performance Studio 77 put up, and the different expenses and accounts were all recorded. According to Zaakhir, the girl named Geet looked after the running of the studio and the long haired boy Farhan did the accounts.
Maan asked for Geet to be sent to him.
She entered after knocking, ''Did you want to see me?'' she asked quietly.
''Yes, '' he replied curtly. He kept her waiting, as he looked through a file. Once he was done, he looked up. Again he was hit by her face. Where had he seen this girl? He knew he had never met her, but why did she look so familiar?
He realized he was staring at her, while she was looking at him eyebrows raised, her expression cold.
Maan collected himself, and cleared his throat. ''Yes, I needed to know who had the charge of the spare keys and who looked after the running of the studio.''
''I do, ''she replied, in a monotone. She didn't look him in the eye, just spoke quietly.
''Yes, '' said Maan. He found her responses rude, and he was beginning to get annoyed with her.
He opened his mouth to say something of his annoyance to her, when music began thumping outside the door.
He stood up surprised and moved to investigate the source, completely forgetting he was the head of a dance studio now. He stood beside Geet and looked outside the cabin.
The entire group outside was warming up and stretching. The music seemed to be just the thing to get them into the mood of dancing. It seemed like routine.
Geet, left his side wordlessly and took her jacket off. She was dressed the same way the others were. Black vest and long tights. Each person seemed to be dressed and ready to dance, though the clothes didn't seem like a uniform.
Zaakhir began dancing randomly, doing steps out of habit, trying each one to see which fit his mood.
''Come one guys,'' he said cheerfully. ''Let's get started.'' He started on with a few more steps, while the other took places behind me, following his lead. He didn't seem to be doing anything out of routine. The others observed his steps in the mirror and followed them.
Maan stood at the door and observed them silently. They seemed to be aware that he was watching them. All of them danced the tempo building, up as their steps became more complicated. He observed each of them dancing. Farhaan had his eyes glued to his image in the mirror opposite them. His eyes piercing, as he seemed to be in perfect control of his movements. His arms and legs tensed and relaxed on command. Geet seemed to be following the steps. She seemed lost in thought. But, as opposed to her expression, she did all the steps to the T ' they were perfect. Every bend every spin was graceful and swan like. Unwillingly, his eyes moved to Nida - she had the inbuilt performance in her. The dance movements only heightened her eyes and the open expression in them. And lastly there was Zaakhir. He seemed to be the unofficial leader. He was cheering them on, dancing happily, playfully.
Maan could feel the atmosphere heavy and pregnant. He wondered why. He slowly observed each of them again. Slowly her realized that they seemed to be judging him too...out of the corner of their eyes when they thought he didn't notice.
It struck him suddenly out of the blue...they were testing him...trying to gauge his ability of being their head. He knew they trusted Vicky implicitly, but his reputation undoubtedly must have preceded him and they wanted proof if he was capable of leading them.
They wanted him to dance!
He looked back at them again... with a new point of view...Yes...they were waiting for him to prove himself. Their body language betrayed them. The only person who didn't seem to care, was Geet. She was lost in her own thoughts...her face closed and empty, while her body moved involuntarily.
He wanted to disappoint them, but his ego got the better of him. He stripped down to his vest and walked languidly towards the group, falling in with them. They moved to give him ample space... expectation glinting off their faces.
Sorry for the wait and sorry for the abrupt end.
Precap - Maan dancing - Geet gets a challenge.
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Maan had been observing the routine. The steps to it had been easy enough to follow ' adhering to most of their comfort zones! He walked languidly towards them and stood right at the back where he was visible to everyone in the mirror and melded the steps with the others following their lead. ...who would've thought Maan Singh Khurana would ever follow another's lead. By the time they had finished the 1st round, he had got the hang of it. That was when he started adding his own moves to the routine. It came unconsciously and he was enjoying himself. The vigour in the steps increased and the tension slipped off. He added more of his flavour to the moves, twisting and bending, sliding ' what he didn't realize that the others were observing and incorporating his steps with theirs.
The warm up took 15-20 minutes, where all of them moved as one. They finally stopped, cheering and clapping as one.
Maan moved forward to change, a feeling of elation rising within him. He hadn't felt like this in ages. He had missed it...and he'd realized that just now!
It was time to show them that he could be nice. The classes began in another 20 minutes. Plenty of time. He walked back out, a slight smile on his face.
They turned to him, their expressions showing they were impressed. He started with as pleasant an expression as he could manage. It was surprisingly difficult.
''Guys, that was a gr8 warm up ' thing is ' Vicky knows you guys in and out. But I'd like to know you better. So how about a few solos of you in your area of expertise? Zaakhir, would you like to start?''
A few students had entered early for their class ' they heard Maan's dialogue and cheered giving hoot calls.
Zaakhir was more than ready. Apparently, he was the popular one. Nida looked smug as she watched him.
He started with a Hip-Hop cum Popping routine on a Flo-Rida track. The foot tapping no. got all of them enthused. He finished with a difficult cartwheel 'the studio erupted in applause.
Farhan came forward next ' his eyes focussed on the mirror - He started a contemporary style of dance ' his eyes portraying it's intensity. His steps shifted from contemporary to fosse to ballet moves. The studio watched in awe as he completed each step perfectly skimming above the floor. When he finished there was a hushed silence. And then an uncertain applause.
Nida pranced forward to get in her turn She picked a jazz number, moving nimbly her happy exterior making her movements infectious. She began using more and more of the floor ' adding ballet spins and contemporary moves., making eyes at Zaakhir all the time. He; taking the invitation, suddenly, joined her miming her in the peppy number. She responded in sheer delight as she moved with him. When they stopped, Z smacked her on her mouth, in front of everyone. Maan noticed a few miffed expressions on the face of the girl students.
He looked to see who was left. It was Geet and she looked non-committal.
He asked her. ''Geet, would you like to show us your bit?'' His voice betraying his impatience.
''No'', she replied brusquely and stalked towards the door.
Zaakhir laid a hand on Maan's shoulder and said seriously, ''Don't force her.''
''What do you mean, don't force her? Can she even dance?'' , spat Maan finally losing his temper.
Geet who had reached the door, froze and whipped around. He eyes were spitting fire and she walked back to them in slow menacing steps. Maan was aghast by her sudden temper. He thought for a minute that she might hit him. But she moved to the middle of the dance floor and whipped forward in a few free spins, moving faster than he thought possible. She did a few difficult popping moves and finished with a few perfect head spins. She got up and looked pointedly at Maan and walked out of the door.
''I think she might have just proved her point and answered your question.', said Zaakhir to an astounded Maan!!
Vicky stood outside teh main office of Khurana Construction, watching the staff get ready for the day. A flash of blue caught his eye and he looked at it. He called up Maan excitedly. He had just seen a pretty young thing in the office. He didn't wait for Maan to say anything but, just delved right into his line of thought.
''Wow bro, aapne bataya nahi, that you've got office hotties, huh. I always wondered how it was that you managed to spend hours in this stuffy office of yours.''
''Hi Vicky, how're you doing? Pretty early in the day for you to be in the office, isn't it? And who exactly are you talking about?''
''That Hot Hot thing in the office, slim, dark eyes, pretty babe...''
''You must be talking about...''
Vicky didn't let him finish...''No, don't bother telling me. I'll find out who she is soon enough!!'' He hung up and headed to the office!
* * *
3 hrs later. . .
There was a knock on the door. Vicky didn't raise his head.
''Er, Vikram sir?''
He looked up at the voice and saw a girl's head peeping through the door. He looked questioningly at her then smiled.
''Er, you didn't answer the door so I opened it.'' she said.
He realised she had addressed him with his full name. He was so used to being called Kay at the studio or at least Vicky that he had forgotten that here the formal name would be the norm.
''Sir, '', she prodded again. He realized he was staring into space. It was time to set things right.
''Err...call me Kay. Not Vikram , geddit. I'm not used to this formal kinda atmosphere''
''With all due respect, Sir,'' she replied stiffly, ''Since this is an office, I think the formal atmosphere is what suits it best. So please forgive me, but I would rather stick to Vikram Sir.''
Vicky stared at her. She didn't seem like the office hottie anymore. All his dreams and hopes of flirting or having a pretty face to gaze at, were crashing around his ears!!
''Did you need something?'', he asked dejectedly.
'Yes!!...I need your signatures on this file. It has been tallied. Could you please go through it again?''
It had been like this for the past 3 hrs. Every other minute an employee knocked and kept a file and left. They looked a little afraid and tried to exit as soon as possible. All but this girl. She had been the only one audacious enough to talk back to him.
He turned now to this girl. She had a delicate face, with dark intelligent and serious eyes. Her hair was done up straight and simple 'without any style and her posture was erect.
''What is your name?,'' he gave a last go, with his most charming smile.
''Miss Shergill'', she replied and marched out of the door.
''Ah well atleast I tried,'' he thought.
Kay turned his head back to the file he already had open. It was some project that was in the middle of construction out of Delhi. He had taken all of 2 hours to get through that. He sighed and buried his head in it again!
Meera walked at a quick pace. She looked around as she walked, in search of someone. He shoulders ached and her posture had no resemblance with the one she had in her office. Still she walked quickly.
There was nobody in sight. It was late evening and the streets had lesser people. Meera opened her flat and dumped her bag and changed. While she started making dinner, she kept looking back at the door as if expecting somebody. Finally, she heard a knock and rushed forward. Outside stood a small boy in a worn out shirt and shorts. He seemed about 4 or 5 yrs in age. His hair was sun bleached and his dusky skin was sun tanned and slightly dry. His eyes however were captivating. They sparkled and shone and had an impish delight in them.
The same delight was now reflected in her eyes. She gathered him in her arms and picked him up.
''Where were you? Why did you take so long? Where's my chocolate?'', he demanded.
''Catch a breath first, Ajay.'' she laughed. ''There's a new boss in the office. He doesn't know how to do any single thing properly. So I had to stay back and teach him stuff.''
''Hmmm'', he said thoughtfully. ''Sounds like me on my first day to school. You know Didi, I didn't know anything and all the other kids laughed at me. That day Teacher madam stayed back and helped me.''
His words left Meera in shock. She switched on the TV for him and escaped to the solace of her thoughts.
The following 3 member(s) liked the above post:
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Joined: 11 June 2008
Chapter 28: Who's afraid of Geet Handa!
Maan was annoyed. Nobody had dared to mess with him ' it had been years since anyone had been so audacious in front of him. And the irritation in him threatened to explode. Who the hell did she think she was?? How dare she behave in such a manner??
He watched now through the one way mirror as she taught a complicated step to a student. The student seemed to cower in front of her, as Geet corrected her stance. He saw her relax once Geet had left her side.
Over the next couple of weeks, Maan observed the entire troupe. They all seemed to gel well, but what was evident was that the dancers and the troupe would steer clear of Geet and vice versa. She never tried to interact with the others, nor did she avoid them. It wasn't like they hated each other or any sort of rivalry. She just didn't bother with any sort of interaction. The only person who she actually had any interaction with was Nida and that too was monosyllabic, as Nida mimed with sign language. Still, she seemed to be putting an effort in doing even that.
Still, of the fortnight that Maan had spent in Studio 77, he had barely seen Geet talk, and he had never seen her smile. She was getting under his skin, but he didn't realize that. He was, however, bent on looking out for the mistakes she made. Whenever she did something that wasn't according to his liking, he announced his displeasure with flair. But she never reacted. Unwilling, he goaded her further to elicit a reaction from her ' but in vain. By the day, his frustration grew!
Geet walked quickly to her jeep. It was late in the evening. She sat in silence for a minute and then started the car. She drove quickly as she knew her way well. She could drive in her sleep. On reaching the destination; a building of flats, she walked up quickly. She put the key to the lock with a practiced air. It wouldn't budge. She tried again and then banged the door in frustration. It was opened suddenly by a man in a vest.
Geet stumbled behind, startled by the sudden appearance.
'Yes?',, he asked eyebrows raised?
Geet looked at him, shocked. Her eyes flicked to the number of the flat on the door and then she looked around to check if she was on the correct floor.
He still stood looking at her.
''This f-f-flat was empty,'' she stuttered.
''Yes it was just yesterday that we shifted. If you want something, you need to talk to the landlord. He's on the 1st floor, 2nd flat.'' He added helpfully.
She didn't wait to listen, anger rising in her chest . She pounded on the door of the landlord.
The moment he opened she shouted at him.
''How dare you let that family into his flat?? Why did you allow it??''
He looked at her puzzled. ''Madam, the rent on that flat hadn't been paid in two months. And that family was in need of a place to stay. They also paid extra. ''
''So why didn't you ask for me for it? Didn't you know I came here every night? I would've paid the rent, dammit!!''
''You came here every night? But there was no one else in the flat. Only a bunch of some boy's stuff. And As far as I know, the boy is dead. This flat was in the name of some Colonel Chopra...and I couldn't get in touch with him.''
Geet looked at him frustrated and then punched the wall close to him. He jumped back in shock. He was a short fat man, with a pleasant face. He behaviour and the desperation in her eyes melted any antagonism he had in him.
''Madam, you come in and have some water. Come come...'', he invited smilingly.
''No!!'' She stopped him. ''Where are all his things from the flat?'' She blinked several times hide the tears.
''In the storage room. Come, I'll hand them over. They're taking up unnecessary space, anyway.'' He led the way to the last flat. All of Nik's things had been stacked up neatly. Geet took the landlord's help and carefully carried them to the jeep. He thanks her and made his way back to his flat.
Geet drove to a nearby car park. Only when she had stopped did she let the tears loose. That flat had been her only solace. The only place filled with memories of him. It still had his fragrance in it. The place it had all begun. After his death she had spent numerous nights in his bed, feeling him around her, dreaming of him, escaping the pain for a bit. She never had the nightmares here. At home she dreamt of him in the hospital almost every night. She felt betrayed. Why was it that life was doing this to her? What had she done to have all her loved ones taken away from her. Nik! ' he was her life...the only reason she never contemplated suicide was cuz Nik had once said in a passing moment that he'd never commit suicide. He was stronger than that. But, it was all the more harder. She didn't feel strong at all. It felt like the world was squeezing itself around her all the time.
She did continue to dance ' it had been his dream more than hers. It was her tribute to him ' to all he was in her life. She could never do this to him. But what was the point when he himself wasn't around! The zing was missing. She no longer did it for the people who were watching. She still loved it no doubt, but it was painful now.
It had days since she had eaten a proper meal. She tried to act normal for her family, eat as much as she could, she had sent Sid and Mayank back to their studies by force ' trying to make them believe she was ok; in control of her life. Nobody believed her. But , they listened nevertheless. The Geet that had arisen after Nik's death was far different from the Geet she used to be. While she was more in control of her life, it was highly unlikely that she would ever revert to being the Geet she used to be!
But getting used to the continuous surprises thrown at her were not possible. She wished there was one place she could go where she could just stay with Nik's memories. Be lost in that long gone world. Where she need not pretend to be normal, to be alive. Where she could cry her eyes out or sit listless without eyes worrying about her, avoiding her or worse ' pitying her.
And the answer was before her, before she knew it. How could she never have realized. She pushed the car in gear and sped off, the way she came!
Maan sped up the grand staircase of the mansion. He hurried towards Vicky's room.
He'd had a bizarre day. He had been involved in a conversation in whch he had not been able to understand anything the person opposite said. He wondered if Vicky knew how to interpret sign language and if he did, how and when did he learn. Nida had been explaining some problems to him and he hadn't comprehended a single thing ' that is, until Zaakhir had come to the rescue. Mostly, Zaakhir was her voice. He even finished some of her sentences before she finished miming them. But Maan knew that he couldn't always depend on somebody to translate for him. Wasn't there any online video teaching him? Vicky must have learnt through Zaakhir ' they had been friends for ages now. He didn't think Vicky would follow staid methods like reading a book or watching a video.He wasn't that prosaic.
But he, Maan was more independent than that. And he couldn't expect Vicky to back him up with that, now that he was heading Khurana Constructions. That reminded him; he had to find out how the new Noida project was doing. He and Vicky had discussed the pros and cons of the latest clauses over a game of Half-Life on the PSP...he wondered what the clients would've thought had they seen him playing a videogame , discussing business strategies with his brother. He had let Vicky take the decision, but he didn't know what that was.
He entered the room only to find Vicky sprawled on the bed in his office clothes ' fast asleep. He hadn't even taken off his shoes. A tender smile lit up Maan's face, as he took off Vicky's shoes and loosened his tie. He threw a blanket over him, switched on the air conditioning and was about to walk out, when his eyes fell on the book rack. It had the words SIGN in bold letters and the picture of a hand doing an action. He chuckled to himself as he picked it up and left the room.
Meera stroked her hand across Ajay's head as he slept. There was a serene look on his face. A gentle wind wafted through the window and Ajay turned towards her and hugged her hand. She sighed and pulled him closer.
Ajay was her only source of comfort. She never thought she could be there for anybody - ever again. But Ajay had made her realize the value of people through his sweet innocent nature. She knew she didn't love anybody in the world, as much as she loved him. It was strange how people who were thoroughly unconnected with each other, could become so close.
She had found him as a small kid running around on the pavement outside her flat. On finding that he was a street urchin, she had brushed him off...Until the day she had seen him collect waste paper and old pencils and struggle to hold the pencil and scribble. He heart had gone out to him. She had beckoned him and had gifted him a book and a pencil set. The rewarding smile had been just the thing to melt her heart.
The following 4 member(s) liked the above post:
Chitrita, -BeingAppy-, sonia_koolkhan, Downhill,
Joined: 24 August 2010
The following 1 member(s) liked the above post:
FREQUENT Maneet Bumping: Maneet, & Maan's Dadi LOL
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|maybe-just||24||10750||29 May 2011 at 1:02am by SaritaMSK|
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VOTE FOR MANEET...WE ALL LOVE MANEET
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