Mr. Sinha was a much tensed man. He knew that today either he could finally succeed in dethroning the vibrant Vikram Sisodia, son of Mrs. Jaya Sisodia; the Peoples Progressive Party’s President or forever stay forgotten. Jaya was calm as ever, in the Jaipur heat. She was remembering the moment, when she chose the love for her country more than her security and embarked on the political journey. She never wanted her only child to come in this field. But as luck could have it, he took a sabbatical and came back from the US, when he realized that his mother needed him. Vikram was more nervous than anybody else today. Last night, the party leaders unanimously persuaded him to become the party president and run for the prime minister’s post. Among other challenges, Vikram joined the party, while opposition was getting successful in slowly tarnishing the image of the present prime minister, which in turn made him a week and unpopular figure among the youth.
Today he had to address his party leaders, who were awaiting his decision that whether he will choose his country or Shalini.
The love story of Vikram and Shalini was very well documented, thanks to the million newspapers and magazines. Their first meeting took place in a Chinese restaurant in Delhi, where Shalini was being given company by red wine. Dressed beautifully in a salmon coloured sari with henna on her hands she had just ordered her second bottle. As soon as Vikram entered the restaurant there was an obvious hustle bustle. Shalini was so much drowned in her own sorrow that she did not even notice but Vikram did notice her. It became uneasy for him to sit with his friends and his mother’s PA as he was taken by Shalini that very moment. After the PA made it impossible for him to stare at Shalini, he got up from his seat, took out the table napkin and gave it to him and in his heavy yet scary voice and said, “You are fired…if you ask me why I will make you run away from this city.” Nobody from the table spoke anything at that moment and Vikram walked up to Shalini.
“May I sit here with you? You see I have some irritating company and I am pretty sure you can save me from that.” Vikram’s voice had changed from scary to seductive.
Shalini looked up and gave a heavy sigh. She moved her hand and gestured him to sit. “You want me to throw them out?” I can … this is my fiancé’s restaurant.” Probably any other man after hearing the word fiancé would have left, but he did not. She was his.
“No… they would leave in a bit. I see your drink is getting over you want me to order another one for you.” Vikram moved confidently.
Shalini somehow took his advances in humour and started laughing. “You want me to get drunk?” Shalini asked this question in such a childlike innocence that Vikram laughed as well.
After few more jokes Vikram asked her about the fiancé. Shalini’s laughter suddenly stopped. “Today could have been my first wedding anniversary you see… could have had…. But it’s not. So I’ll get back to drinking and you could join your annoying people who are constantly looking at me as if they have seen a ghost.”
Shalini got up from the table and started walking out of the restaurant. Vikram did not think twice and rushed out only to find her just outside the door of the restaurant, crying. He spontaneously embraced and she did too after some time and for the first time after 30 minutes of meeting each other, their eyes locked.
“You want me to drop you home?” Vikram asked. He wanted to take her home so that he could watch her sleep in his arms. At that very moment Vikram knew that the idea of love at first sight which he ridiculed so much has bewitched him. Shalini nodded her head and Vikram then asked one of his personnel to find her car. Vikram then made her sit in the car, and drove. He then quickly found Shalini’s father’s number and called him to enquire about her residence. Vikram was besotted. He wanted to know more about her. He wanted to hold her and wanted to kiss her.
Within few minutes he reached her house. Vikram laid her on her bed and walked out. He had already saved her number, met her father, nothing could stop him from meeting her more often.
However; before leaving Vikram asked Shalini’s father about this fiancé. Her father became glum and answered Vikram’s question. “His name was Kapil… he was Mr Ashish Monga’s son.” Vikram did not really need to know anything further. He got his answer with the revelation of the name in itself.
Kapil Monga’s father was one of the few newly found fortune industrialist in Delhi. Kapil and Shalini met through a common friend and after a year of dating and a 3 day break up they decided to tie the knot. Ashish’s father had no objection since Shalini’s father was also a wealthy businessman. On the eve of her wedding, Kapil was gunned down by a sharpshooter since even after repeated warning to his father; his father had refused to give an enormous amount of money to the goon.
That explained the wine, the henna and Shalini being all dressed up. Vikram’s heart also shattered on the thought that he would not be the first guy in her life but the want to have her became even stronger.
When he reached home, he found his mother waiting for him. The ex-PA had already informed of all that had happened. His mother bombarded him with questions and he then held his mother and asked “is it possible to fall in love with someone in just a second?” His mother replied that she knew his father for years, but it was at a party in London, while they were dancing that she realized that she was in love with him. Time had nothing to do with it. If he thought he loved her then he should pursue her.
Next morning the tabloid had a picture of Vikram’s hand wrapped around Shalini’s waist.
Shalini had a smile on her face. For the first time in 15 hours she thought about Vikram. She wanted to meet him. She checked her phone and there was a message from Vikram.
‘I know last night you probably did not even notice me… I hope you would today.’
There was a knock at the door. Vikram was standing with flowers in his hand. Shalini did not care that she was in her pajamas and nor was she feeling shy in his presence. There was this silence between them which was talking. He came in… she took the flowers from his hand and both of them walked towards the balcony. If Vikram was already in love, Shalini was feeling some unnamed emotions. The emotions dictating her that she had moved on. They talked at length about each other, each not ready to bring last night in between. He was a handsome man, she said to herself and she remembered his hold. After months she had felt calmness while in his arms. Why was that? What were his intentions? She thought.
“Let’s take a drive? I have asked for your father’s permission.” Vikram told her while leaning towards her. He gave her his hand and she grabbed it. As soon as she stepped out she saw 4 -5 cars with commandos and other people in safari suits. She froze. Vikram after seeing her reaction instructed each and every one to vanish. A verbal argument commenced when the senior guy of the security team told Vikram that there are instructions from the PMO not to leave him alone even for a second. Vikram did not even react, he grabbed Shalini’s hand, made her sit in his car, pushed off his driver and then said to her, “I am now going to give you a filmy scene…” Before Shalini could react a car fight began between Vikram’s car and the others. Shalini was enjoying this and was so bright and vibrant that Vikram knew that it was worth it. After 20 minutes the caravans of the cars were lost. Vikram had won.
In that laugh they shared Vikram pressed his lips on Shalini’s. Tears tricked down her cheeks. Till yesterday she was lamenting on the loss of her first love, and now after 24 hours she felt happy and at peace. Her heart was melting and she was also returning Vikram’s passionate kisses. As each of the kisses deepened the unnamed emotions was forming a name. She was falling in love. She was his as well.
After the passionate kiss got over she just put her head on his arms. “You have made my life upside down. It’s complicated.”
Vikram kissed her on her forehead and asked why did she feel so?
Shalini looked at Vikram and said, “I know it’s too early. It is. I have only known you for a day and yet I feel I’ve known you all along. It is strange. If I will tell this to someone they won’t believe. And you are not normal. You are a Sisodia. You have journalists after you, you wear khadi, and you have so many security personnel. If Kapil was a nobody he would have been alive today. I can’t afford to fall in love with a somebody. I can’t.”
Vikram now understood why she froze when she saw his security. He was relived as this was all temporary. He was here for his mother during elections to help her and that’s it. Then he will return back to the US.
He explained all this to her. There was a sigh of relief which she made pretty obvious and then hugged him. For the next 4 months the new formed elite couple was everywhere. Although Shalini smiled at the various flashbulbs but inside she was counting these days to get over. She was present at all openings but was never ready to go for any event closely connected to politics. Some section of media called the future Mrs Sisodia unfit to be a politician’s wife, but she ignored all the reports as she was never going to be a politician’s wife.
Things were however changing for Vikram. With every passing day he was getting more involved in his mother’s party and in the country. His sabbatical which was taken to help his mother was extended to help the party and help the unpopular PM. After 6 months of hard work, PPP had won in 3 out of the 4 states. Every where the party people spoke highly of Vikram and said that it was his hard work that paid off. Vikram was happy. He nearly achieved what he had come for. He helped a dieing ruling party. Now he could return.
Shalini was also jubilant because now she could tell Vikram that she wished to marry him and leave the country. Vikram, to celebrate his success took Shalini to Paris much to the displeasure of her father. Shalini how ever did not care. Vikram had finalized everything. On one hand he will propose her and on the other her mother will speak to Shalini’s father for her hand. In the pleasant breezy atmosphere of Paris, now as Vikram’s fiancé, finally let her guard down. The passion between them which was always building up and being hid because of Shalini’s own rules could not be ignored anymore. Vikram finally understood the difference between sex and making love. While they were having the time of their lives, back home things were taking turns. A pressure was being mounted on Jaya Sisodia to step down and let her son take her place. She had begun her fight. Her son’s happiness was not here. It was with Shalini and which meant no politics. The whispers in the party was being echoed by a stalwart of the party Mr Sinha who could have been where Jaya Sisodia was, but lost. Now again it was his turn. Vikram’s lack of interest in politics because of Shalini would make him the obvious next choice.
On their return to India the couple were surrounded by the media, each asking the same question. “When will you become the party president?”
After almost 15 minutes of constant questions Shalini lost it. She held one of the TV reporter’s mike and said, “He won’t be joining politics.” Fate was about to however changing the table. For the next 1 month it became impossible for Shalini to meet Vikram and on the other hand, Vikram was being poured more and more in to some work or the other. Finally one night Jaya, locked herself in Vikrams’s room, and told him to leave the country. Vikram then tried to instill some sense in her mother, “if I refuse, Sinha will come to power, he will ruin all your hard work. You know how corrupt he is. It won’t be fair to you.”
“What about Shalini?” Jaya asked.
“I just have to wait till this constant nonsense gets over and the members again see you as their face and not me. Shalini would have to wait till then.” Jaya did not say anything else. Shalini was also communicated of this decision. The fear did creep in to her but she did not make it evident. The party members decided to celebrate their new success and strength at Jaipur. Everything was planned. Sinha along with the other powerful minsters would elect Vikram as their party president and then Vikram would have no choice and publicly say no and then Sinha would be elected. Sinha’s plan gained more strength when he saw Shalini making her presence felt for the first time. She came with Vikram. She wanted Vikram to watch her all the time so that he does not falter. Another group who wanted Vikram to actually become the party president had plans of their own. The women and girls of the youth wing of the Party were asked to keep Shalini busy.
When Sinha took the podium, without even waiting, he forwarded his demand. No sooner did he mention Vikram as the party president than the entire hall full of party members cheered and did not allow Sinha to say anything else. Vikram did not know what to do. After half an hour when Vikram successfully made the hall quiet, he started praising his mother and tried to make sense. But the crowed did not listen. They became violent. On seeing this Vikram asked for some time to ponder over it and would tell his decision tomorrow morning.
Shalini was asked by Jaya to join her in her room. Both the women had to help Vikram out. While Shalini remained quiet Jaya became emotional. She told him that he needs to let it go now. She will also quit all this and move to the US with her son. Vikram then again became emotional. His mother gave up her life and desires, just because she wanted to give her life to the party his father made. It was his party and he just could not see it crumble. Shalini was not letting her man go as well. “I can’t live in the constant fear of your life. I told you this. You assured me. How can you go back on your words? Sorry if I am being selfish.”
Vikram later that night thought that loosing Shalini would bring him a bigger blow than loosing his father’s party. It took him years to find his love and he just cannot afford to loose it. Even his mother wanted this. But, what about his father’s dream for his party? What about changing the country? Although he was never truly connected to India as connected he was to his party but this 1 year had bought him closer to his people. He thought, if Shalini truly loved him then she would and should understand.
The stage was set and he after a lot of pondering had a decision in hand.
“The idea of being a politician is to serve your people. Do we really do that? It’s all about power at any cost now. This party was given a new life by my father and it was his clean intentions and hard work along with my mother’s personal sacrifices that today we are at the center. But I don’t feel you value it. You are ready to push her out on the most baseless ground I have ever heard in my life. That she is old now. A lot has been written about my love life. So much so that if I choose my love I will be the shallowest man, and if I leave her I will be called a heartless man. If the choice is between being shallow and heartless I choose to be shallow instead, because in that case I will be surrounded by people who love me for who I am not because they would gain more power through me, and also because a heartless man can’t represent a nation. I also know that you would be inclined to choose Mr Sinha after me, but remember you are being watched by millions.”
No one applauded. Vikram took Shalini’s hand and walked past everyone. Shalini then slowly asked Vikram if she should feel guilty about the decision he has taken. Vikram stopped walking and looked at her, “No… I will be fine without all this…but without you I will be miserable. Kings have given up their thrown for the sake of love, then I am but a normal person” They embarrassed each other and Vikram kissed his bride to be in full public glare. Few of the youth wing members applauded after all.