A Second Chance
23rd Feb 2012, 20:30 hrs.
Rooftop of Palm Exotica, Goa, overlooking the potent tides of the Arabian Sea and the vast sandy beach lined with an array of majestic Palm trees.
A full moon showering its silver gleam on the roaring crests and accentuating the troughs..A moon lit rendezvous with the one her heart beat for.
The solitary glasstop with two ornate chairs and a vase in the centre with a dash of purple orchids. A bottle of champagne cooled in its bucket waiting to be uncorked and poured into the crystal flutes. Just the way he loves it.
A king-size mattress with a velvety white satin sheet lay at the far end of the terrace close to the edge. A place to stare into the stars as the tides whisper in your ears .. “come lose yourself in my arms..”
“..dil yeh pukaare..tu jo nahin to meraaa…koi nahin hain….” (the heart pines..I have none but you, just you..)
A “Kishore kumar” ditty played in the background from her ipod playlist titled “Rainaa mix”. His favourite.
The perfect setting. She smiled , too pleased with herself, too pleased with what life had given her.
She remembered she needed to get some pillows from the room downstairs, she darted across the terrace, ran down the stairs and the hallway till she reached the door. She swiped the card to their room and opened the door.
A warm smile started playing across his otherwise glum face. He didn’t really know whether the stubble he sported was a week or a month long. It suited him , they said. Just added to his raw appeal. It suited his character, they wrote.
They never let him feel the pangs of depression that was slowly ebbing away his spirits.
For when the screen lighted, invariably every time they just wanted to see “The Rahul Kumar”, not him.
So much for a life as an actor. Regret was the last thing he ever had in his mind, for he owed his entire life, his love and everything in between to the one and only Rahul Kumar.
He loved, lived and laughed and his lovelorn fans discovered a new world through him, as if it never existed before. His every move, every liaison was blown out of proportion, he was the media’s darling. The reigning superstar of filmdom – Rahul Kumar. Deep within, he was not sure who he was.
He knew the day. He lived this day, every moment of his life. The smile that had found its way from his heart reached his eyes. He could feel it oozing out from the corner of his brooding eyes.
A drop of tear. Not again. Not today, never ever from today, Rahul kept promising himself. Life must move on.
He stared at the white pristine clouds, mulling about life and death from his first class cabin on the Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Panaji.
He wouldn’t let himself ruin the evening again. Reena had been insistent, he must make it up to her tonight. Last two dinner dates with Reena had been nothing short of catastrophic – what with him reaching the venue late and leaving her in the middle of a conversation to catch some fresh air on the terrace. The date before that was a blur; all he could recollect was a sobbing Reena leaving him to a handful of curious onlookers and he bursting out to a feat of laughter which he couldn’t justify later.
“Pathetic, I can be at times, not today, not again.”
He was disturbed that she understood, but how can he be inhuman at times, she couldn’t yet digest. After all, they had started their careers together and were considered a hot pair. Even though they were no more than good friends, as it happens in the business, the media spared no bones in linking them up and she had lapped up all the attention, after all he was the one she secretly fancied. The only thing lacking was a spark to be kindled in his heart, which she was sure she would bring about one day until she realised fate had other plans.
Reena Kapoor, the erstwhile face of CineOne movies was launched with much fanfare five years back. After her successful debut she went on to star in some of the biggest blockbusters of her times, most of which were with the then rising and in-demand star Rahul Kumar. Launched during the same period, Rahul and Reena hardly had seen failure. Born to the rich and illustrious, their natural career options were what their parents had nurtured for them over the years. Rohit Kapoor, Reena’s father and Rubaina Khan, Rahul’s mother were big stars of their times. Little wonder, acting was in their DNA, they were born for the screen. So what if they both came from severely defunct families, money and fame can cover almost everything that one’s eyes can see. Rahul and Reena were so similar in ways more than one.
Reena sighed and crossed her fingers – hope everything goes as planned this evening. It will be a pleasant surprise for Rahul. She checked the time in her iphone, quarter to eight. She was shooting not too far from where Rahul was headed, it would take around ten minutes for her to reach Panaji airport and from there to the final destination would not take more than thirty minutes. Just in time for the big surprise.
“I don’t want to lose him this time, God don’t let him slip away from my heart”, she heard her praying on her way to the Panaji airport as her mind raced back to a past she regretted as much as everybody who ever truly cared for him did.
Nainaa Sharma was the name. A rookie page 3 journo from one of the countless glamour publications that ruled the minds and hearts of the star struck populace, she was sure of herself that she would make her mark in a big way, and pretty soon. Her confidence had got her the job and her nonchalance to stars’ perceived power and ego had taken her to Rahul Kumar’s Van, after only a week’s persuasion with his PR team. While her friends were jealous of her, she was hardly excited – it was just another actor living in a cocoon believing every moment that the world actually revolves around him. Big deal! She had done her research and had prepared her well balanced list of masturbatory and caustic questions in equal measure.
Their first meeting led to the second and by the third time they met, Rahul had hopelessly fallen in love with her. What she found in him, she couldn’t ever describe, it was as Rahul told her in his mock-filmy style- she discovered the real Rahul Kumar. And Rahul found in her a life he never knew existed and he can be an exulting part of. It was as if they both liberated each other from their façade that they had made a part of their self.
When the mask is taken off, one finds true love.
Five minutes to Eight pm. As her driver parked the car, Reena put her oversized Prada sunglasses and hurried out from the car, eliciting curious glances from foreign visitors around.
A hug and five minutes later the driver zoomed away from the airport carrying a pleased looking Rahul and Reena on the passenger seats.
The destination, Palm Exotica.
As if in a trance, Rahul clutched Reena’s hand and entered the silver rimmed elevator. Reena pressed number thirteen on the key pad containing the bejewelled numbers backlit with a purple glow.
Rahul smiled at her and in that elevating moment of their lives, they kissed. Reena’s heart was beating fast. This was the day she had waited for years and she didn’t want the moment to pass. Their kiss lingered till the silver rimmed doors opened as they were placed in front of the large hallway criss-crossed with rooms on either side.
As if spellbound, Rahul gently let go off Reena’s hand and marched ahead to the far end of the hallway followed by Reena. She stopped a door back and realised that she had forgotten the door card in the car seat where she was fiddling with it on her way to the airport.
“Darling, sorry I forgot the keys.Won’t be long, I’ll go get it” she said with a tinge of surprise in her voice as she could yet not know why and how Rahul knew she would book a room at the far end of the hallway.
“Don’t be sorry Reena” said Rahul as he turned left, staring at the gold plated room number.
“His favourite number 13 , I know how he would have guessed” , thought Reena and prepared herself for the next course of events she had planned but as she stepped up to the door her face was clouded with surprise.
The door was ajar.
Strange.She must have forgotten to lock it, she thought. What with the hurry she left the room to the studio that afternoon. She hadn’t got a chance to get back to the deluxe suite that she had booked from her shooting site as she had to rush back to the airport to fetch Rahul.
He opened the door. The décor of the room was impeccable; it exuded a certain luxury and charm that the chain of hotels were acclaimed for. Thirteenth floor, room number 1313, she had left no stones unturned to make his day extra special in every which way. Rahul stood at the doorway for a second, thinking of the night before, when they had made love and made promises to each other. They were married in their hearts and souls and nothing else mattered.
He stepped in and looked around, the bed was not made, and the pillows were gone. Strange, where is she by the way? She had said she was waiting for him.
“Honey where are you?” he enquired as he went to check the bathroom and then to the Balcony.
His eardrums were blasted by the scream and he stood there, motionless. He felt blood straining from his body and his heart stop for a second.
“Surprise ! Happy Birthday Rahul!” Reena screamed into his ears as they both entered the room. She took the remote from the table and switched on the music.
Rahul didn’t hear a word.
“Honey where are you ?” He enquired as he went to check the bathroom and then to the Balcony.
“Who are you looking for Darling? Please now !” Reena knew somehow her dreams were just a moment far from crashing down.
“I am sorry Reena, you were right the other day. Life does give you second chances. And today is mine. I am sorry.”
“I am coming to you Nainaa” were Rahul’s last words as he jumped from the 13th floor Balcony of the Luxury hotel, following the trail his love had accidentally taken two years back while setting up a bed for them on the rooftop, falling straight through, in front of Rahul’s own eyes, screaming his name.
23rd Feb 2014, 08:30 pm.
Reena stood there, motionless, heartbroken. Her world came crashing down as she fell down to the floor clutching the ring she had bought for Rahul to surprise him with her proposal on his birthday.
“Saagar kinaare, dil yeh pukaare, tu jo nahin to meraa koi nahin hain..” (By the sea deep and blue..the heart pines..I have none but you, just you..)
Crooned the voice the background.
© “And Life Unfolds” and Subhendu Mohanty, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Subhendu Mohanty and “And Life Unfolds” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.