She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue scarf.
A tear drop threatened to roll down her cheek. She rubbed it off violently almost angry with the tear drop. Almost on cue, the past came back rushing, to haunt her. When did it ever leave?
In an instant she was transported back to that quadrangle, where it all began. The very first day of college…
They were all rounded up and made to introduce themselves. She carried the unmistakable stamp of affluence, her clothes, purse everything screaming Top Dollar! Her introduction was over in a jiffy. The seniors wouldn’t trouble a monied lissome lass much!!
And then in that milling crowd, she spotted him. It was obvious he was from the districts. He wore those typical Jhatak clothes, but with a dripping Swag. He started off with a “Myself **** from ***”
He had that raw cocky confidence! He enjoyed the jokes at his expense, the leers, fending them off with his native chutzpah and rustic humor. In a short time, he had the seniors and the entire audience eating off his hands while he charmed their pants off. She, with all her silver spoon upbringing, did not have 1/10 of his confidence.
She accosted him later privately, “What gives?”
“Maaf kijeye ga Behenji!”
“Behenji? Holy @#$%!”
That’s how their skewed friendship had started and it just went zooming further. They fed off each other. She gained confidence from his bindass attitude.
“Behenji kal kisne dekha? Aaj jee bharke jeelo! Bas aur kya?”
It took herculean efforts on her part to move him from Behenji to Sona. Sona Bakshi.
How could she explain to him that there were far too many skeletons in her closet, gnawing steadily at her psyche, muting her, stunting her? That he was a breath of fresh air for her and that now she could dare to break free of her emotional shackles!!
Whereas Chintan BhaaGol took to his new environment like a fish to water, soaking up like a sponge, absorbing every little gift it had to offer. He was nakedly ambitious. All his childhood, he was a big fish in a small pond. He was definitely not going to settle for being the second best now! Chintan aimed to be the big fish in the big bad ocean!
He begged Sona to teach him the intricacies of english, while he educated her on the rustic survival skills. This strange bond slowly morphed into a nascent romance. It was as if Sona wanted to adopt him, protect and nurture him, mother him( something that she had never experienced, given that her mother was busy sowing her wild oats else where) If Chintan thought Sona was the stepping stone for greater things in life, he never showed it. He was extremely affectionate towards her.
They were literally joined at the hips. Her hi-society friends, warned her not to get too emotionally entangled and to just enjoy her unique “slumming-it-up” experience. The heart had it’s own reasons
Chintan’s friends from similar backgrounds as his, found his friendship with the milky white memsaab terribly exciting and egged him on to take his relationship to the next level. – To bed her – To show his virility, to test Sona’s love, thereby her emotional dependence on him!!
At first Chitan rubbished the idea, but the ‘friends’ kept at it. Each time Chintan saw Sona, the worm of this idea became bigger in his head, till it became his raison d’etre. To regain peace, he decided to put his friend’s idea into action.
As was usual, Sona trooped into Chintan’s threadbare room after her classes, to unwind before she went back to her cloistered, suffocating and closing-in mansion with too many dark secrets buried within it’s four walls. Sona felt freer, uncomplicated in his stinking room. He was her stuffy oxygen.
Today the room seemed almost bearable. Chintan was bursting with excitement and was almost immediately all over her, on her, overpowering her. Sona pushed him away angrily, slapping him calling him names but froze when he said,
“Deti hai kya? Varna?
“Varna Tumhara Mera Rishta Khatam! It is not new to you anyways, having done it with all and sundry!!”
It was as if a knife had been plunged into her core. She had shared her darkest secrets with him, trusting him. He chose those very secrets as his trump card to hurt her deep, to subjugate her. Sona’s stunned silence was taken to be her acquiescence and she was violated. Yet again..
Weren’t they all just the same? She was asked to be the good girl once again! This time by someone whom Sona had grown to love immensely, on whom she depended for her emotional sustenance. Her need for love became his basic instinct. A relationship was bought over once again by her submission. But the moot point was who bought whom?
After this, the relationship was never on an even keel. They went about their lives in the same routine fashion. A slight difference crept into their relationship. Chitan began to call the shots slowly but steadily. Why Sona chose to continue with Chitan, she could never answer truthfully. Was it because he was lesser of the evils that she had been exposed all through her life? Or was it just the comfort of continuance with the old familiar foe rather than the risk of unknown? Whatever the individual reasons were, they still were a couple. He never left her side though the frequency of “Deti hai Kya?” had become more regular.
Chitan grew in stature by becoming the student leader and then started penning his two pence thoughts in the college news rag. The number of his bakhts was multiplying exponentially. Chitan then penned a book on his college life, spicing it up with his romps with a Co-Ed. It was easy for him to find a willing publisher as he was flirting with netagiri.
The book hit all the right spots. It was a runaway bestseller. Now there was no stopping him. He churned out one tripe after the other, the core point of each novel being some slice of his very happening life! He kept the mark up rate low, sticking to cow belt lexicon, humor and low brow grammar. He was suddenly the youth Icon! Sona’s family did not mind her hobnobbing with a country bumpkin as he had by now gained respectability by becoming a much published author.
Sona too found her moorings, graduated with reasonable grades. With her family name, it was not difficult for her to find gainful employment. She still put great efforts into her love life though a thriving career beckoned. Chitan still managed to squeeze time for Sona, though now he was literally reaching for the stars. He wore many hats – motivational speaker, columnist, much cherished writer. He almost wore a halo, when he talked about women empowerment, their necessity to be happy so that we could have a thriving nation and the redundancy of perfect round rotis. Whenever he talked about up liftment, “deti hai kya” came to rankle her, yet again.
Chitan was very excited one day, when he called her. He was about to take part in a dancing competition. “Seriously?” Sona thought! She tried to dissuade him and he refused to listen to her. He had already made up his mind. He was partnering with this new buxom starlet. They ended the conversation with her promising him to join their dance practice sessions.
Shortly it was Chintan’s birthday. Sona decided to surprise him by taking off from her work and dropping on his sets. She hadn’t seen him for a while as he had become extremely busy. Sona was missing Chintan terribly and hoped to spend some quality lovey-dovey time with him. At the set, she was met by Chintan’s assistant who seemed mortified at her unannounced, unscheduled presence. He almost didn’t let her go in. Sona was enraged, dismissed him on an errand and barged in.
She could hear faint, muffled sobbing
“Deti Hai kya? It’s my birthday girl! Where is my gift?”
“Tera Career Khatam!”
Sona opened the door and Chitan froze with surprise. The buxom starlet gathered her stuff in a jiffy and ran out of the room, almost thankful. No one was around in the near vicinity. He would have sent all away to keep his rendezvous a secret.
Chintan recovered his wits quickly, trying to give her a tight hug.
“Baby Sona! What a pleasant surprise!”
How many stories she had heard but had chosen to ignore! How many flings she had disregarded? How many times, she had turned a blind eye to his roving eye, his various peccadilloes, hoping that one day he would reciprocate the same ardent love that she had for him? Why oh Why?
“Deti hai kya?” always brought her back to that stinky, musty room, where she was violated for the first time by someone whom she loved.
Presently he hugged her tightly, cooing softly, “Baby Sona, must be very tired! Let me make you relaxed and loved all over!”
She found herself melting in his arms, under those intoxicating words..
“Ma’am will that be all? Ma’am?”
Sona was jolted back to the present and managed a “ No thank you”
Sona was relieved that she had done the deed, putting the apple cutter to a better use when she plunged it into Chintan’s gut, thereby saving millions from his daily tripe, his horrific dance moves and general gen unleashed on the unsuspecting public at large, all in the garb of uplifting that miserable downtrodden species – The Great Indian Womanhood –
His signature style of Transforming the ignorant Indians!!
“Deti hai kya? Varna?”
Diya ji Diya! Chaaku se diya!!
A NO always meant NO! If only she had reiterated that far more vehemently!
And the coffee? It never tasted better!
What happened next? It was her karmic justice. Maybe Sona’s closure too.