Monday, 8 October 2018

part 50 : To Err is Human

THE DAY AFTER THE SANGEET:


"Kripa….I want you to rest at home this evening….kal raat sangeet mein tumney bahut exert kiya tha….so take it easy tonight….waise bhi kal shaadi hai," Angad slipped into his jacket and picked his car keys as Kripa sorted out laundry in her room.


"Yes doctor saheb!" She smiled and looked up, "lekin tum kahan jaa rahe ho?"


"Uh..wo," he hesitated, "wo Armaan ke saath…"


"Bachelor's party? Mallika ke saath?" she asked, "why are you hesitating Angad….kya sharam aati hai aisa kaam karne mein?" she walked towards him and traced her finger on his face.




'Sharam nahin," he smiled and pulled her closer, "just don't feel like leaving you alone."


"Tho main bhi chalti hoon!" She snapped back and chuckled.


"NO WAY!" He was aghast, 'pagal ho kya…..wahan shareef ladkiyan nahin jaati."


"Shareef ladke jaa sakte hain?" She rolled her tongue and batted her eyelids playfully. She circled her arms around him and gently slipped her hand into his coat pocket as he embraced her back.



"Come on Kripa!" He jerked his head, "be a sport…you know it's a guy thing…bechare ko ek din tho masti karne do." He kissed her forehead and pulled away, "ab zyaada nahin socho….take it easy….do something you enjoy without much exertion….i will see you later."


"By-e," she waved and once he was gone, checked the card she had stolen from his pocket, 'Hmm…Mallika rani…..ab dekhte hain kaun shareef hai aur kaun badmaash," and dialed the phone number on the card.


A LITTLE LATER: BACKSEAT OF A TAXI



"Kripa! Tumney Angad ki pocket maari? Chaalaak ladki! I thought you don't believe in stealing!" Riddhima was astounded, "Angad ke saath rehte rehte tu bhi chorni ho gayi hai."



"Everything is fair in love and in…." She paused and gazed at Riddhima; they burst out in laughter and yelled, "GATE CRASHING STAG PARTIES!"



Dressed as belle dancers with veils on their heads and faces, no one could recognize them as the serious doctors from Sanjeevani. With heavy eye makeup, glitter and thick mascara, they looked like svelte Arabian princesses.




Their taxi stopped in front of a famous nightclub in Mumbai. A tall, leggy woman stepped out of a black limousine parked beside their taxi, and walked towards the two friends.



"Hi!" she said in a husky voice.


Kripa and Riddhima turned around and looked up at the sultry woman towering above their heads.


"You must be Mallika!" Kripa asked.



"Yes darling!" Mallika smiled as she lit a cigarette and inhaled a puff, "so we have a deal?"


"Deal?" Riddhima was baffled.



"Yes Riddhima…..the boys were going to pay her Rs/-25,000.00…..and we will pay her Rs/- 30,000.00….I think that's fair," Kripa winked.



"Sure!" Riddhima smiled and handed a credit card to Mallika, "please note down the number….you can charge it later."



"Armaan Mallik?" Mallika stared at the card and chuckled, "so you are going to charge the poor boy himself for his stag party…clever girls."



"Poor boy nahin….lucky boy kaho….he gave this to me for our wedding shopping….I guess this counts towards it…doesn't it?" with a slanting smile, Riddhima took the credit card back and placed it inside her purse.




Mallika exhaled a ring of smoke and went back to her car; she turned around and winked at the girls, "good luck Katrina and Ruksana!" and drove away as fast as she could.



"Katrina and Ruksana?" Riddhima was puzzled.



"Haan…tum Ruksana…aur main Katrina…..we are Mallika's assistants…..right? Mallika fell ill so she sent the two of us….right?" Kripa nudged her friend and secured her veiled mask carefully and walked towards the nightclub.


"Wow…maan gayi tumhari planning ko," Riddhima made sure her veil was secure too and followed her friend.


INSIDE THE NIGHTCLUB:


Loud music, dim lights, strobe lights, drinks, liquor shots, cigarette smoke, 
back-slapping men and their deafening roars greeted the two women. For a moment, they froze at the door, reluctant to step inside such a vociferous room full of half drunk and shameless men, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the bimbette.




"MALLIKA! MALLIKA! MALLIKA!" Their chants grew louder as they saw two slender and striking women at the entrance.



Angad got off the phone with Mallika, and stared at the two nymphets walking hesitantly into the club.



'GUYS!" He yelled, "Mallika is not coming…..she fell ill….but she has sent two hot ones…RUKSANA AND KATRINA!"



Kripa and Riddhima cringed behind their masks at being referred to as 'hot ones' as if they were being served as entrees at a restaurant full of hungry men!




"TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE!" Armaan, dressed in a translucent black shirt and faded jeans, looked like the perfect nonchalant bachelor, ready to celebrate his last night of liberty and freedom.



Riddhima's eyes blazed with anger once she spotted her soon-to-be-hubby in his semi-transparent shirt. She whispered in Kripa's ears angrily, "mere saamne tho hamesha do-do shirt pehen kar ghoomta hai…aur yahan dekho Mallika madam se apna cheer haran karwaane aaya hai! How disgusting!"





"Aaj in aadmiyon ki asliyat hamare saamne aa jaayegi!" Kripa whispered back and caught Angad staring at the two of them, "udhar Angad ko dekho….kaise ghoor ghoor kar dekha raha hai….jaise kabhie ladki dekhi hi na ho!"




Something about the girl's mannerisms and hesitation had caught Angad's eye; he was scrutinizing them from head to toe for some signs of familiarity, "yeh kaun hain? Mallika ne kaha apni assistants ko bhej rahi hoon…lekin yeh tho nau-seekhiya lagti hain…..are they really club dancers? Kuch jaani pehchaani sib hi lag rahi hain." He wondered.



"COME ON LADIES! BREAK A LEG!" The men shouted in their intoxicated voices.



Kripa and Riddhima cleared their throats and decided to take the plunge after all. They strode in confidently in their most sleek and sensuous gaits. The men sighed, ooh-ed and aah-ed as the two enchantresses sauntered between the drooling men.




"Aai Hai….mar jawaan…..hai meri jaan…..meri Katrina….meri Ruksana….aa gale lag jaa…..ab tak kahan thi kudiye……soniye….zara idhar bhi nazar ghumaana jaaneman……" precious adjectives were thrown at them by the lecherous men.



 Kripa and Riddhima cringed behind their masks, but managed to escape to the dance floor in the center by deflecting their advances and any form of contact from the lewd men.



They were appalled to see Angad and Armaan clapping, cheering and whistling with rest of the men, with their eyes glued to the women on dance floor.



Angad placed his arm around Armaan and whispered, "yaar….soch le aaj aakhiri din hai masti ka…..kal ke baad yeh Ruksana aur Katrina kahan milengi….aaj jitni masti karni hai kar le."



"Wo hi soch raha hoon….waise yeh Ruksana begum kaafi hot hai…haina?" Armaan sipped his drink and asked.



"Mujhey tho apni Katrina zyada pasand hai," Angad replied.



"OK…ek teri…ek meri….make sure no one else gets near them…..yeh hamari bachelor party hai…..tho hamara haq pehle hai in par….Mallika's loss is our gain buddy!" Armaan slapped Angad's back.



Even though the women wished they had never decided to gate crash this stag party, they decided to hang on to see how ridiculously low their men could stoop, when it came to events like this.



Watching Armaan and Angad's gleeful faces infuriated the women, but they swallowed their pride and acted their parts convincingly.



As the music started blaring and other co-dancers started swaying to the beat, Riddhima started swirling sensuously and danced to this popular number from "Bachna ae haseeno'- Lucky boy.



Kripa danced in the background with the other women and managed to ward off the advances from the other men. Angad's curious and perplexed eyes stayed fixated on this petite 'Katrina' as Ruksana danced for Armaan.

Nain preeto de
Bai ja bai ja bai ja
Nain preeto de
Le ja le ja le ja le ja
Nain preeto de
Bai ja bai ja bai ja
Karde raen dupehri dil
Le ja le ja le ja le ja
Karde nain preeto de

The song and dance routine relaxed Riddhima. Her tantalizing and alluring moves sent a flutter across the hearts of all the men. Armaan, half drunk by now, took to the dance floor and enjoyed the exclusive attention from his Ruksana.


Ho kya gazab ki tujhpe
Meherbaaniyan
Main ik nazar daalun jo tujh pe toh
Badh jaaye mere saath teri yaariyan
Kadmon mein tere lakh jannat ho
Aankhon mein baatein hain
Baton mein vade hain
Vadon mein baahein hain
Tu baahon mein aa ja zara

Riddhima's taunting and teasing moves had Armaan bewitched and delirious. He tried his best to grab her, but an agile Riddhima managed to entice him without giving in. She tormented his intrinsic desires, but deftly avoided any contact with him. Her blistering gaze excited him further as he wished this sultry siren was Riddhima and not someone else.

Lucky boy, you're my, lucky boy
Jaane kaun banega mera lucky boy
Lucky boy, you're my, lucky boy
Jaane kaun banega mera lucky boy
Nain preeto de
Bai ja bai ja bai ja
Karde raen dupehri dil
Le ja le ja le ja le ja
Karde nain preeto de


As he danced along with Ruksana, his hips gyrating in synchrony with hers, he shut his eyes and imagined he was with Riddhima.

Khwab ke dhaagon se, buna hai
Jaal yeh lafzon ka, suna hai
Teri hi raahon mein, khula hai
Mera hi nazaara
Ek isharey se, diya ha
Hosh jawani ko, mila hai
Mod kahani ko, hua hai
Zulm yeh dobara
Ho sabki zubaan pe
Kyun mera hi sawaal hai
Jo ho gaya hai
Yeh mera kamala hai
Lucky boy, you're my, lucky boy
Bai ja bai ja
Jaane kaun banega mera, lucky boy
Le ja le ja
Lucky boy, you're my, lucky boy
Bai ja bai ja
Jaane kaun banega mera, lucky boy
Le ja le ja
Dekha jo tuney mukjho
I know that you like it
I need a man that can get me
So excited,
l-u-c-k-y
man I wanna tell you no lie
darta kyun hai, why you shy
main bana doon teri life
I went from London to japan
But I couldn't fine my man
Jo chura le mera chain
He makes me say goddamn
Nain preeto de
Bai ja bai ja bai ja bai ja
Karde raen dupehri dil
Le ja le ja le ja le ja

By the end of the dance, Armaan was on a high, ecstatic, enraptured and completely smitten by Mallika's assistant.


"Yes….jaaneman….I am your lucky boy," he slurred and tried to get close to Riddhima.


Without saying anything, in case he recognized her voice, she traced her finger on his face seductively and then pushed him away with full force into the arms of the other men gawking at her avidly.


"Hai mar jaawan!" Armaan yelled back and was lifted on the other men's shoulders.


"LUCKY BOY!!!" The men sang in a chorus as Armaan bounced on their shoulders.




Kripa stepped forward and started her gyrations to this popular number from "Guru"-



"Maiyya maiyya"



Angad was mesmerized by his 'Katrina's' flexibility and the way she swirled and twirled her waist like a real belle dancer. Something about her was too familiar. The dim lights, loud music and the heady ambience clouded his thinking. Even though, he enjoyed Katrina's serpentine moves, he felt uncomfortable when the other men tried to get close to her. Why did he feel so protective and possessive towards this club dancer? He practically surrounded her with his long arms, deliberately cutting off the other irate men from her proximity. He kept gazing into her eyes whenever the spot light rested on her veiled face. Kripa tried her best to deflect her gaze away from him and continued to dance unperturbed.





As he revolved and danced around her, his doubts about his 'Katrina' vanished once he spotted the skin colored bandage around her left forearm, deftly camouflaged behind her transparent long sleeves on her arms. The site of the cannula on her left forearm, through which she underwent regular dialysis, was obviously hidden behind the bandage.



He smiled and to her surprise, placed his hands around her waist from behind. He whispered softly, "aaj raat ka kya plan hai tumhara?" He pulled her closer and pressed his frame against hers.



Kripa was mortified as he held her firmly in his arms and brushed his lips against her ear- a part of her wanted to turn around and slap Angad's face for his indecent behavior- how dare he act so crudely with another woman? Armaan looked like an angel in contrast- at least he did not try to harass or touch 'Ruksana' the way Angad was coming on to 'Katrina.' Kripa poked his chest with her elbow and with all her energy released herself from his grip. She ran as fast as she could and landed in a room behind the nightclub where the bartenders and other servers were hanging out.



Angad followed her swiftly and found her panting against a wall in the back room. The waiters and bartenders ignored them as they were used to seeing inebriated men chase bar dancers and girls all over the nightclub.




A perspiring Kripa stood with her back to a wall, beads of sweat covering her forehead, her heart racing against her chest, her eyes roving back and forth, vigilant against and incoming danger. Suddenly, a firm hand on her shoulder startled her. She looked up from her masked face and saw Angad staring down at her. Emotions ranging from I-am-glad-it-is-you-and-not-anyone-else to I-can't-believe-you-would-stoop-so-low clobbered inside her head. With a wicked smile on his face, he ran his finger through a slit on her sleeve and traced it all the way from her shoulder to her wrist. She shuffled nervously against the wall and gently moved away, but he followed her footsteps till they were in a dark corner of the room.

He bent down and whispered huskily, "Katrina….aaj raat mere naam kar do…..tumhein mooh maange daam doonga….haan keh do please."



An incensed Kripa could not take it any longer; she turned around with the intention of slapping Angad's face, but Angad was too quick for her. He grabbed her wrist in midair and gazed into her eyes.



"Yeh aankhein dekh kar hum saari duniya bhool jaate hain….inhein paane ki dhun mein har tamanna bhool jaate hain," he recited. Kripa lowered her eyes and looked away. In a muffled voice, she replied, "main is type ki ladki nahin hoon…..please leave me alone!"



"Wo tho main nahin kar sakta," he held her wrist firmly as she tried to wiggle out from his grasp and laughed viciously.



"Bilkul lafenge….badmaash…..aur gire huye ho," she mumbled through her veil.



"Jaanta hoon….wo tho tumney mujhey pehle din hi karaar kar diya tha…..waise hi jaise main pehli hi mulaqat mein tumhari aankhon ka ghulam ho gaya tha," he chuckled and then kissed her wrist tenderly. Kripa was shell-shocked by his words- so he knew who she was- she had not been able to fool him despite her garb and make up. Her body went limp and relaxed as she collapsed into his arms. Angad circled his arms around her and removed her veil, "buddhu ladki…..kya yeh nahin jaanti ki main tumhein aankhein bandh karke bhi pehchaan sakta hoon….meri Katrina Kaif!"



She let out a chuckle and pounded his chest with her fist, "aur agar main sach much Katrina hoti tho?"



"Tho main uske peeche peeche club ki masti chhod kar nahin aata….Mallika ki baahon mein hota," he squeezed her in his arms and kissed her nose.



"Jao hato phir," she pouted, "apni Mallika ko hi dhoondo lao."



"Wo bimaar ho gayi hai….iss liye Katrina se hi kaam chalaana hoga."



"Tum aadmi logon ka koi bharosa nahin hai."



"You are right…bilkul bharosa nahin hai….aur agar meri zindagi mein baar baar Katrina jaisi lachili kamar waali aati rahi tho main tho permanent bachelor hi banaa rahoonga." He laughed and then paused as they both realized the irony of his statement.



Kripa lowered her eyes and looked away, "Angad…chaahe kuch bhi ho….hamesha bachelor mat rehnaa."



He placed his finger on her lips, "Ok bachelor nahin rahoonga….kyunki jald hi hamari shaadi bhi ho jaayegi kyunki tum bilkul theek ho jaaogi…….now I want you to go back and rest…..aur in kapdon mein club ke andar jaana bhi mat…samjhi?"



"Kyun? Are you ashamed?"



"No….never…..but I don't want anyone else to stare at you in this state…..mera tho bura haal kar hi diya hai….aur logon ka kya haal karogi?"



"Theek hai," she chuckled, 'Riddhima ko bahar bhej do."



"You mean Ruksana?"


Before they could turn around, the door flew open and out came a frazzled Armaan holding his cheek with his palm, followed by Riddhima like a raging inferno.



"ANGAD! ANGAD! KRIPA?" He was flabbergasted, "please mujhey meri hone waali biwi se bachao."




"Kya hua?" Angad laughed and shielded his friend from Riddhima's anger.



"Riddhima trust me….I kissed you because I thought it was you….of course it was you…..and not someone else," Armaan blurted off.



"No…you kissed Ruksana! You have no respect for women…..did you see the way you were flirting with Ruksana?"



"No…I kissed you…and you are ….were Ruksana!"



"No…you kissed and flirted with Ruksana!"




"Hold it guys!" Angad stretched his arms and separated the two lovers, "it's one and the same thing…..Ruksana is Riddhima and Riddhima is Ruksana."




"Main bhi tho yahi samjhaa raha hoon isey," Armaan was frustrated, "she does not want to listen."



"Of course not! You kissed me thinking I was Ruksana!"


"Nahin Riddhima….main tho tumhein samajhkar Ruksana ko kiss kar raha tha," Armaan tried to explain.




"So I am right? You did kiss Ruksana!" Riddhima snapped her fingers and then held Kripa's wrist, 'let's go Kripa…I am so glad we came here tonight….doodh ka doodh…paani ka paani ho gaya…..now I know his true colors." She did not wait for Kripa's response and walked out of the back door.



"Kripa…please apni saheli ko samjhao," Armaan pleaded.



"Armaan…..did you know it was Riddhima behind the mask?" Kripa asked.



"No…yes…no…mera matlab no lekin yes," he stomped his feet like a little boy who no one was willing to understand.



"Bye Armaan," she waved and ran after her friend.



Armaan smacked his head against the wall, 'why am I such a fool? Aur yeh ladkiyan yahan aayi kyun? Is this what my last night of freedom was supposed to be? It's all your fault Angad…..ab kahin main zindagi bhar kunwara nahin reh jaaoon. I AM THE MOST UNLUCKY BOY!"



"Relax man! The girls were just having some fun….chal hisaab barabar hua."



"Fun? No way….they were spying on us…..aur ab humein kabhie kabool nahin karengi," Armaan buried his head in his hands and whimpered, "and why did she have to dance like that in front of everyone?"



"It's our fault yaar…we should have never talked about the bachelor's party in front of them…..next time yaad rakhna."



"Next time? Are you crazy? Even if I end up being a bachelor all my life…..I am never going for a bachelor's party."



"Kyun yaar…no lap dances?" Angad asked.


"I think I just have slap dances in my fate," Armaan complained and walked out the back door. Angad sighed and followed his friend as the rest of the crowd wondered where the two men had disappeared with the dancers.



………………………………………………


LATER THAT NIGHT:


Armaan paced up and down in his room guiltily. He felt bad about the whole bachelor party incident and kicked himself for making such a fool of himself in front of Kripa and Riddhima. Riddhima had every right to get upset with him. How could he justify his ludicrous and salacious behavior to the two women who meant so much to him? Riddhima refused to take his calls and the nagging worry that she might call off the wedding sent shudders in him.


Finally, a restless Armaan knocked at the Gupta's door at 3 in the morning.



"Armaan?" Dr Gupta opened the door, "itni raat ko?"



"Sir…wo Riddhima se milna tha."



"Sorry Armaan…it's late….Riddhima is still my daughter tonight and I cannot allow her to meet you at this hour…..kal shaadi par mil lena usey."



'Sir please….I have something important to say to her.

"I am sure it can wait a few hours….goodnight Armaan," Shashank shut the door and went off to bed.



Armaan had no recourse but to climb her window and land inside her room.


He peered through the curtains and was surprised to see Riddhima on the phone. He came forward and overheard the conversation. She was obviously talking to her best friend.




"Par Kripa…..how can I forgive him? Main pehle sochti thi wo sirf mazaak mein hi oot patang baatein karta rehta hai…..but now I know, he can slip at the sight of any pretty girl…..I don't know what I should do Kripa?" She was bawling on the phone, "should I call off the wedding?"



"NOOOOO!" Armaan jumped out from behind the curtains and protested. A stunned Riddhima dropped the phone and sat frozen on her bed.



Armaan rushed to her bedside and hung up the phone, "Nahin Riddhima…please meri baat suno."



He sat at the foot of the bed and took her hands in his. After swallowing hard, he mustered the courage to speak, "Riddhima….you are right….I can slip at the sight of any pretty woman…but whenever I slip, there is only one woman who can lift me back on my feet …..you have the right to not trust me……but I promise I will never give you any opportunity to mistrust me in future…..Riddhima….I promise I will never flirt with any other woman but you….and never have a bachelor party for myself in future…..and I will always treat all women with respect….I promise." The earnestness in his voice melted her heart. Armaan's deep blue and pleading eyes had always managed to soften her, and tonight was no exception.



"Kyun divorce karne ka iraada hai kya?" she wiped her tears and asked.




"Divorce?" he looked up confused.



"so why are you thinking of another bachelor party?"



"Tho iska matlab tumney mujhey maaf kiya?" He smiled and sat with her on the bed.



She nodded and blushed, "ek shart par."


"Jo hukum sarkar," he kissed her cheek softly. She came closer and whispered her condition in his ears.



Armaan's jaw dropped to his knees as he turned red from embarrassment.



'Kyun manzoor hai shart?" She chided.



With a seductive smile, he drawled amorously, "shart bhi manzoor hai aur shart waali bhi."



…………….to be contd…

bheegi

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