Wednesday, 19 December 2018

chapter 14 : SHALL WE DANCE?

RECAP: "GOOD GIRL!" Nikita rolled her tongue, "remember… have to win the dance competition first…..let him feel good …..let him feel he is on top of the mountain….just like I felt when he trapped me in his love…..seduced me….and then dump him like he dumped me! I'll make sure Abhimanyu, Anjali, Naina, Sid, Rosie and Rhea play their parts as we have planned."

"Yes Nikita…..I'll perform like I have never performed before." Riddhima took a deep breath, shut her eyes and gave a parting glance at the gift box in the corner before exiting the room behind Nikita.

Nikita disappeared behind the stage while Riddhima settled nervously beside the other performers on the table next to the stage. Armaan, sitting across from her, smiled and nodded his head in appreciation, once again acknowledging how stunning she looked that evening. She reciprocated with a faint smile, avoiding any prolonged eye contact with him, and kept her gaze fixated at the stage. Armaan, used to being in the limelight, was familiar with pressures of performing. He could relate to Riddhima's plight at that moment. A little jittery himself, he sat back, anxiously waiting for the moment when Riddhima would be in his arms on and off the dance floor.

As Anjali introduced the judges and the chief guest for the evening, movie producer, Abhimanyu Modi, Armaan shut his eyes and silently waltzed with Riddhima in his imaginary world. For him, there could be nothing more relaxing and calming than that. He marveled at how their relationship had changed from that of hatred to love just in a short span of few weeks. Silently, he congratulated his luck for having found the most wonderful woman in the world. He opened his eyes and saw Rhea standing with a group of girls on the stage. He gave her a thumbs up sign and gloated at his luck once again, "zindagi ne mujhey hamesha jeetna sikhaya hai….chaahe wo khel mein ho ya phir pyar mein…..itne kam waqt mein Riddhima aur Rhea dono ka dil jeet gaya main….haan farak itna hai ki is baar main bhi apna dil kho baitha in dono ko…..lekin mujhey koi afsos nahin hai……Nikita bhi khush hogi…..uske jaane ke baad Rhea ko ek ghar mil jaayega…..ek nayi maa aur uska baap……I know Nikita will forgive me…..she has to," He looked up at the ceiling, "for making me a winner every time!"

Soon, the young girls (Rhea's group) were on the stage dancing to this number….

Naa Re Naa Re, Naa Re Naa Re
Naa Re Naa Re, Naa Re Naa Re
Barso Re, Megha Megha Barso Re
Megha Megha Barso Re, Megha Barso
Meetha Hai Kosaa Hai, Baarish Ka Bosa Hai
Kosaa Hai, Kosaa Hai, Barrishon Ka Bosa Hai
Jal Jal Jal Jal Jal Jal Jal Thal Jal Thal
Chal Chal Chal Chal Chal Chal Chal Chal
Chal Chal Behta Chal
Geeli Geeli Geeli Ha, Ha Ha Ha Ha


Proud of his eight year old daughter, Armaan admired Rhea's dancing skills as she gyrated enthusiastically to the song.

"Rhea sure has the talent!" He mumbled to himself and glanced at Riddhima through the corner of his eyes to gauge her response. To his surprise, Riddhima sat with her eyes lowered, fiddling with the corner of the table cloth instead of focusing on her students on the stage. That was certainly a strange reaction from a teacher who had sacrificed her blood and sweat into training these 8-10 year olds for this competition.

Armaan's gaze stayed fixated on Riddhima; even though he knew all about her and was madly in love with her, there was something mysterious about his mermaid. There was always a thin screen that separated them. The only time that invisible screen disappeared was when they were on the dance floor together. If he had not been lucky enough to be her dance partner, her inner most feelings would still be elusive to him. In the studio that evening, even her confession was triggered by their passionate dance. At his house, she had doubted his intentions and was ready to hide back into her shell. If it were not for the slow dance number that evening, he would have never seen that love and tenderness in her eyes, her surrender in his arms as they had held and kissed each other while swaying to the music.

"Dance is like wine for Riddhima….the more she drinks……the more she reveals herself….I hope we can continue this dance forever my love," he smiled inwardly and blew a soft kiss in her direction. Momentarily, Riddhima looked up and was taken by surprise by the invisible droplets of love floating towards her. She couldn't help smiling back at him; this time a whole hearted one, right from the bottom of her heart. Armaan's heart did somersaults at her endearing and magnetic smile. If he had his way, he would have leapt over the table and swept her away into oblivion, away from this crowd.

Riddhima, as if reading his mind, averted her gaze guiltily. She pretended to focus on the girls on the stage, but her mind did somersaults as she oscillated between her commitment to Nikita and feelings for Armaan. Not only had Nikita's story moved her, but her lucrative offer had convinced Riddhima that she was actually helping Nikita by helping herself. Without blinking she had signed on the contract. But tonight, Riddhima was wondering if she had made the right decision. Seeing the love and affection for Rhea in Armaan's eyes filled her with guilt and remorse. Rhea was an orphan, picked from an orphanage in Mumbai by Nikita to act in her 'reality show.' Rhea and Riddhima shared a mutual interest in dance and acting. That's how they hit it off the very first time they met. Nikita was thrilled when she had found the perfect characters for her game. Blinded by Nikita's one sided sob story of betrayal by the dashing cricketer and visions of stardom and fame, Riddhima had not thought about the repercussions of this reality show. She knew Armaan would be heartbroken after tonight, but what about Rhea? Rhea was still an innocent child and not very good at hiding her inner feelings. As an orphan, she had been through hardships and detached emotions, but her relationship that she had developed with Armaan was pure and unadulterated- it was true love just like between any parent and child.

"Show ke baad mujhey Nikita se Rhea aur Armaan ke baare mein baat karni hogi……warna Rhea ke saath bahut badhi naadaani ho jaayegi." Riddhima composed herself and resolved to protect Rhea from a potential heartbreak.

Soon after Rhea's group completed their number to a loud applause, other groups performed their numbers on the stage. It was clear to the audience that Rhea's group was way ahead in their quality and caliber. Armaan felt elated as he was sure his daughter was a born winner, just like him.

Next, the adult group and couple's came on stage for their performances.

"YOU'RE NEXT!" Anjali nudged Armaan from his daydream at him and ran up to the stage to make the announcement.

"ME? US?" He gulped anxiously and waited for Anjali to announce their names.

Armaan walked up to Riddhima and helped her on her feet, "are you nervous?" He asked softly as they walked hand in hand to the stage.

She squeezed his hand and gently tilted her head to rest on his shoulder, "are you?"

"Jab tum saath ho tho chinta kaisi?" He clutched her hand firmly, an unspoken gesture to a lifelong commitment to her.

With flapping heartbeats, they ascended to the stage together, hand in hand, greeted by applauses, whistles and cameras.

Soon, the music started and what followed later was pure magic and symphony.

pyaar ki yeh kahaani suno
ek ladka tha, ek ladki thi
hoti kya hai jawaani suno
ek ladka tha, ek ladki thi
woh bhi ek daur tha
waqt hi aur tha
jab woh the ajnabi
dono tanaha se the
par woh kehte kise
baat jo dil mein thi) - 2
pyaar ki yeh kahaani suno
ek ladka tha, ek ladki thi
hoti kya hai jawaani suno
ek ladka tha, ek ladki thi

Never before had this stage seen such perfect harmony between a dance pair. Dancing in rhythm, eyes locked together, gyrations perfectly gelled with each other, Armaan and Riddhima set the stage on fire. The audience sat speechless, awe struck at the display of two bodies melting and swaying in each other's arms.  While the stage had been ignited by the two electrifying performers, the couple themselves singed in each other's heat and passion. They could have danced all night even after the music came to a halt. The applause and cheer from the audience seemed like a faint echo compared to the thundering heartbeats they felt against their chests. Riddhima held on, afraid to let go of him, scared to let the moment slip by, fearful of what was about the befall them.

Just like it takes a flicker of a flame to ignite a candle, it was at that moment, while holding Armaan on the stage in front of everyone, Riddhima's heart and mind knew what she really wanted. It's only when the mind accepts what the heart wants, does one feel at peace within. A tranquil feeling filled Riddhima at that instant. Being with Armaan and accepting him and his love was all she needed; she knew if he was with her, everything else would fall in place.

Armaan pulled her closer and whispered into her ears, "I don't know whether I love to dance or dance to love…..but I know I will always love you……and will always love to dance with you forever…….will you……?"

"THE NEXT COUPLE TO GRACE THE STAGE IS….." Anjali's loud voice interrupted them. Armaan's incomplete sentence took Riddhima by surprise. As they walked off the stage, hand in hand, she looked up and asked, "will you what?" Her heartbeats galloped anxiously. YES! She wanted to scream YES in front of the world if only she could hear him say "will you marry me?"

"HEY YOU GUYS WERE GREAT!" Muskaan, Anjali and a few of his cricket buddies surrounded them, separating them as they thumped their backs with compliments. Rhea came and gave them both a bear hug. Riddhima knelt down and hugged her back, "thanks Rhea…..tumne bhi bahut achcha dance kiya tha."

"Jaanti hoon aunty…..pata hai Nikita aunty backstage kya keh rahi thi? First prize tho humein hi milega aur keh rahi thi ab hum dono Abhimanyu uncle ki film mein kaam kar sakenge!" Rhea's innocent face lit up at the thought. Riddhima's heart sank as she tried to shush Rhea up. Even though Armaan was surrounded by his friends, she knew his eyes and ears were glued to her. She was desperate to talk to Rhea and Nikita in private. The contract would have to be dumped; she was willing to face Nikita's wrath and anger, live with her dysfunctional family and uncle, forget her celluloid dreams as long as Rhea and Armaan were in her life.

'Rhea….mere saath chalo." She held her hand and sneaked out of the performance hall.

Once his friends settled back on their seats, Armaan glanced around in search of Riddhima, regretting that he could not propose to her on the stage, at the heat of the moment when she would have never said NO. The moment had come and gone; now he would have to wait till after the show. She was gone. "Kahan chali gayi wo?" He wondered. Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

Hoping it would be Riddhima, he turned around with a smile, but was shell shocked to see the tall, svelte, glamorous woman with a cigarette in her hand.

"NIKITA?" He was elated and shocked at the same time.

"HELLO ARMAAN!" She drawled sardonically, "CAN WE TALK?"

"Sure!" He smiled hesitantly, perplexed at a very healthy and alluring Nikita in front of him. He had imagined her to be a terminal cancer patient, perhaps pale, dark circles and even balding. But here she stood in front of him, healthier looking than she was even nine years ago.

"Great! Let's go backstage to the changing room…..tumse zaroori baatein karni hain."

"I am glad to see you Nikita…..yes let's go….mujhey bhi tumse zaroori baatein karni hain," he followed her, relieved and apprehensive at the same time.

………….to be contd………….


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