She switched on the radio and entered the kitchen to cook something to her stomach’s content. She could hear “Yaad piya ki aane lagi..Haaye bheegi bheegi raathon mein..” in the background. She tried to ignore the memories that were attached to that song. She put on the frying pan and started dicing some veggies. Slowly, a drop of tear started making its way down from her eyes. She wiped it off and continued cutting the vegetables to small shreds. She had decided to prepare Paneer fried rice and Gobi manchurian gravy which was her all time favorite. Soon, tears began to flood her eyes like a broken dam. She stopped cooking and switched to another radio station. She waited till she could completely get over her sobs. After a few minutes, she went back to her work as if nothing had happened.
Aarushi had been living a mundane life in her posh deluxe 2 BHK apartment in Mumbai. She was working in Wipro as a senior programming analyst. Her mechanical life was beginning to take a toll on her. She was 26 and all alone. She had left her parents back in Delhi as they were pestering her to get married. Neither she was interested in commitment nor did she have a boyfriend. She was unreceptive to boys and never welcomed them into her life. She had severed off ties with her old friends who were keen on asking unwanted questions about her life. She whiled away her days by indulging in painting. She painted whatever she saw. She painted truth. She painted her hidden dreams. She painted her varying moods. Finally, she painted ‘him’. She considered that as her masterpiece. She would just sit and look at that painting for long hours. Except that particular painting, she had sold the others to an art exhibition. Her paintings were displayed under the pen name ‘Dheeksha’. For some unknown reason, she chose to keep her real name as a secret.
Once, she was being asked by the exhibition manager over the phone,”Which painting do you consider as your masterpiece, Ms.Dheeksha?”
“Well, that’s a painting which stays close to me. I have not displayed it in the exhibition” she replied.
“Why don’t you make a public appearance? There are many admirers for your paintings. They are eager to meet you and interact with you.”
“But I am not eager to publicize myself. I prefer to paint anonymously under the pen name ‘Dheeksha’.”
“So, ‘Dheeksha’ isn’t your real name?”
“Yes, its not.”
“Well madam, why aren’t you interested in this chat? You seem to be lost. Even when you visited our office to display your paintings, you were aloof. May I know what’s bothering you?”
“That sounds as a personal question, Mr.Srinivas. You can hang up rather than asking such questions.”
“I am sorry madam. I don’t have rights to interfere in your life. My sincere advice is, be happy always. Have faith in God.”
“But I have got no faith in God for the past ten years.” She hung up abruptly and switched off her mobile. She slopped down on her bed and buried her head in the pillows.
She cried and cried till her heart ached. Yes, she had painted him finally and kept him as her masterpiece. But she had lost him in her real life. She had lost him ten years ago. He was her first love at the sweet age of 16.
The year 2000 held a lot of memories for her. She had fallen in love with Sandhesh, the great singer of her high school. Their love story was sweet, mushy and innocent. They exchanged letters and met up as often as they could. His interest for singing merged with her interest for painting. It was as if they were made for each other. Bu there was always a problem of communication between them. Sometimes letters were also not exchanged. Their only way to spend time with each other was to meet in school. Technology was not developed in India and there were no mobile phones. Calling to your loved one’s land-line number seemed dangerous. And that’s why their love story ended soon.
One fine day, Sandhesh was gone. He could not inform Aarushi. There was a miscommunication. When she contacted his friends to know about his whereabouts, they were as lost as she was. Sandhesh and his family were nowhere to be seen in that area. And that’s when Aarushi lost faith in God and turned into a lifeless being.
She had been waiting for him from that day. She knew that she was turning insane with each passing minute. But she was always hoping for the best. All she needed was to see him at least once in her life. She was waiting for that moment. She dreamed about that moment. She delved in those sweet memories. It was those memories that brought a smile on her face. She knew that even if she sees him, he won’t be able to recognize her. Worse, he might have got married and was already living a happy life. She shuddered at the thought of her Sandhesh with another girl. She had stopped her tryst with boys as she was not able to forget him. She never allowed herself to fall in love again.
First Rays Of Sun was a band formed by Bobby, a few years ago. They churned out albums after albums that went on to become chart-busters. The creator of the band was a most sought after pop singer. He was the one who had brought back the essence of pop music in India. But he had not delivered any performances nor had he made any public appearance. People never knew how he looked like. He was gearing up for a live performance. He had planned it to be a grand musical show.
“So, who is that special person whom you are about to invite?” asked Pranav, a young and talented singer in Bobby’s band.
“She is the one who instills music in me” Bobby said.
“Whaaat??? You haven’t introduced her to me. Who is she?”
“Even I don’t know who she is. I haven’t seen her before.”
“Speak some sense Bobby. How can you invite someone whom you have not seen?”
“I am inviting her to see her” said Bobby with a wink.
“We cordially invite you to our grand debut musical show Chaahat. The show features the pop sensation Bobby and his team. An evening filled with the true soul of pop music. Please do join us and make the show a grand success.
First Rays Of Sun“
The invitation read. Aarushi couldn’t believe her eyes. She read it again and again till she felt exhausted.
“Wowwwww!!!!” She jumped in sheer excitement.
“I…I can’t believe this. I have been invited to Bobby’s show. Oh My God!!! Am I imagining things??? I am going to see Bobbyyyyyy.”
Aarushi had been a great fan of Bobby and his band First Rays Of Sun. She had never missed a single album of his. HumKab Milenge sang by Bobby himself was her favorite. She felt that she could easily relate herself with his songs. She had even thought that she could move on with her life and start loving Bobby. She had been such a crazy fan of him. The thought that she was going to see him for the first time made her go nuts. She learnt that the invitation had been first sent to her art exhibition. So, she called up the manager, Mr.Srinivas.
“Sorry to disturb you sir. But what was actually addressed in the letter that came along with this invitation? You refused to send that letter to me.”
“Well, it states Hi, this is Bobby. I am a great fan of Dheeksha’s works. Her paintings are just out of the world. I want to meet her. So, I invite her especially to my debut musical show.”
Aarushi pinched herself to know whether this was all really happening.
“I have no words to say sir. I am Bobby’s craziest fan. But I never knew that he would be a fan of my works.”
“This is a miracle madam. I think you might have a great future with Bobby.”
“What do you mean?”
“Err..I meant that you might work along with him. For example, you could paint his music and he would sing your paintings. Am I sounding funny??”
“Shut up and hang up now!!!” Aarushi roared at the other end.
“Noooo…I am in love with mmy Sandhesh. I have been in love with him for the past ten years. Nothing can change me. I am just infatuated with Bobby. That’s it. There is nothing more to it.” She reassured herself by looking at her masterpiece.
Bobby adjusted the guitar that hung from his shoulder. He was giving his rehearsal a final shot. He hoped that the audience would love him. Ever more, he hoped that Dheeksha would love him. He was going to see her for the first time. He prayed to God that she should turn up for the show.
Aarushi had entered the venue with the invitation card. She acquired a place in the third row. She kept her fingers crossed. She had never imagined that she would be invited by Bobby himself. Her heart beats raced higher as she waited for him to appear.
“Dear friends, brothers and sisters….A happy musical evening to you all!!!!” The anchor began his introduction.
“We are not going to make you wait anymore. It’s high time that you must know who Bobby is. Let’s begin the countdown. 5…4…3…2…1…And here comes Bobbyyyyy…The pop star of India…”
Festoons and fireworks burst up as the spotlight centered on Bobby.
“Oooooooo….” Aarushi cheered along with the crowd.
“Hum kab milenge jaaneman….” Bobby began and lifted his face to show to the entire world in front of him.
“Oooooo..” Once again Aarushi shouted. But her voice soon faded away. Her heart sank when she saw Bobby. Everything around her came to a halt. The strum of the guitar and the blaring synthesizers were muted. There was stone silence. Only she could feel the silence. The world around her ceased to exist as she stared at Bobby. That face which she had longed to see for the past ten years.
“Sandheshhhhhhhh….” She exploded. But her voice was bogged down by the music.
She wept. Nobody noticed her. She was the only one to weep amidst a crowd of smiling faces.
Soon, the song ended. And there was a serene atmosphere for a minute.
Then Bobby spoke,”Hellooooooooooo my dear friends…..How are you all???”
“Ooooooooooooo…” The crowd roared back.
“As you all know, I am Bobby. Sorry, I think its time to reveal myself. My original name is Sandhesh. I adopted the name Bobby because the industry required it…” He laughed.
“This is my first public appearance. And I am here to entertain you with more of my songs. But before that I have tell you something important. I have been inspired by someone to create such music. Are you all eager to know who my inspiration is?”
“Well, its a girl.”
Tears flowed from Aarushi’s eyes. So, there was a girl in Sandhesh’s life.
“I had been in love with a girl for a long time. And that’s why I named my band as First Rays Of Sun, which is the meaning of her name.”
A fake smile appeared on Aarushi’s lips as she knew that he was referring to her.
“But I was blinded by love that I couldn’t recognize myself. The girl whom I currently refer is someone else. Not the one whom I had been in love with.”
Once again, Aarushi’s face dropped. She knew she had to face the reality one or the other day. The time had come. Sandhes was in love with someone else. He was not hers anymore.
“This girl whom I am talking about inspired me to create music. I could relate myself to all her paintings. I think she painted my whole life. I gave my heart away to her. I have not seen her before. And this show was an excuse to see her. I hope that she had turned up. Dheeksha, please come up on the stage wherever you are. I am proud to say that I love you. Please do come, Dheeksha.”
The entire hall stood in awe. Their eyes frantically searched for Dheeksha.
Up went Aarushi. She climbed the steps that led her to the grand stage. All eyes were on her. She walked elegantly and stood in front of Sandhesh. She smiled as if there was no going back.
Now, it was the turn of Sandhesh’s world to cease.
“Aarushi…” He whispered under his breath.
But there was no time for anymore words as they hugged each other.