Thursday, 6 December 2018

chapter 4 : SHALL WE DANCE?

Pehli pehli baar dekha aisa jalwaaa…
Yeh ladki hai ya sholaaa……
Sholaa hai sholaa hai…..sholay se darna……

marna To Thande Paani Mein Marna
raham Jawani Pe Kha
O Mundaya Raham Jawani Pe Kha


 RECAP: His gaze transfixed on Riddhima's face, Armaan stood at the window motionless and mesmerized. And then, she undid her long hair and wiped the sweat off her long and beautiful neck with a towel. A deep flush spread over his face and neck as he saw the pulse fluttering at her slender throat partially hidden under a shroud of hair…….

 "Great practice guys!" Riddhima applauded her troop of dancers and then opened the door to the studio to let them out. Her dancing partner picked his bag and gave her a friendly pat on her shoulder, "as always….marvelous Riddhima…I am sure we will win the competition this time."

"Thanks Sid," she smiled, "we have to…..we have no choice."

"Of course we will…..I am confident….OK see you tomorrow… to go!" He grinned and dashed out of the room.

Armaan observed the interaction between Riddhima and Sid intently. After hearing their conversation through the open door, he whispered in Rhea's ear, "yeh Sid kaun hai?"

"Sid uncle? Wo Riddhima aunty ke friend hain…..aur dance partner bhi." Rhea answered but ran into the dance studio as soon as the adult dancers had departed.

Armaan grimaced at the thought but then tried to gather his courage to face Riddhima in the studio. As soon as he turned around, a group of women surrounded him with pads, handkerchiefs, palms and other body parts. "AUTOGRAPH PLEASE!"

He forced a smile and then nodded, "Oh..thanks…aap sab ne mujhey pehchaan liya?" He took his glasses off and placed them in his pocket.

"Kaise nahin pehchaan te? After all we don't have a celebrity visiting us every day?" A young woman in her late twenties, tall and svelte stepped forward, "HI! I am Anjali Bose! I am the owner of this studio….welcome to our studio Mr Armaan Malik…main aapki koi madad kar sakti hoon?"

"OH HI! Well," he cleared his throat, "I am here with my dau…I mean my niece….Rhea…..she is my cousin's daughter…..just visiting me for a few days."

"Oh Nikita is your cousin?" Anjali raised her eyebrow, "I was told she has no family in this world."

"Well….I guess….I am just a distant cousin you see," he replied sheepishly.

"That's great! Ab tho aap aate jaate rahenge phir," she checked him out from head to toe, her mind drooling at the thought of a rich celebrity being associated with her small and obscure studio in the corner of Daryaganj, an old part of the city.

"AUTOGRAPH PLEASE!" The other women persisted. They were accompanied by young girls, mostly Rhea's age. He conjectured that they were probably moms of the young girls from Rhea's dance class. It was kind of embarrassing for the dashing cricketer to be in the same boat with a bunch of mommies! He was used to young, single women or children hovering around him-not the soap opera crowd!

He had no choice but to oblige the women.

With the corner of his eyes, he made sure Riddhima was still there in the studio as he was dying to talk to her and get a closer look at her. Her image from the day before just did not gel with the sensuous woman he had just seen on the dance floor.

"Excuse me…I need to fill out some important forms….can I go inside now?" He requested.

"Forms? Oh that's just a formality….don't worry about it…we all know you….aap jahan honge dhoondh laayenge wahan se," Anjali smiled and rolled her tongue suggestively.

Under normal circumstances, Armaan would have loved to hang out and flirt with Anjali, but he was in no mood to engage the woman in a conversation.

"Oh..wo…actually," he remembered the check he had written for Nikita, "I need to give her something."

"Mujhey de do…..Riddhima does not like interruption during her class," Anjali stretched her palm out.

"Oh….I forgot it in the car," an irate Armaan stepped out of the lobby and escaped Anjali's lewd glances as fast as he could. He cursed Anjali under his breath, "Rhea sach kehti thi……yeh daayan hai….daayan nahin…..chipkali hai……chipak hi jaati hai buri tarah!" He caught his breath at the bottom of the stairway and after waiting a few minutes, ran back to the studio. To his relief, Anjali was nowhere. The other women were busy gossiping and knitting sweaters on the chairs and did not notice him slide into the waiting area.

Armaan put his glasses back on and planted himself at the observation window. He was amused to see twelve little girls, more or less Rhea's age, twirling and swaying in their colorful tights, skirts and tops. Their teacher stood in the center and guided the young girls with their tiny steps and hand movements. This was a third version of Riddhima he was seeing now. Gone was the passionate dancer with the sensual moves, she was now a young girl just slightly taller than the other 8-9 year olds around her. How could someone be so sizzling and innocent at the same time? And not to forget her ruthless and unforgiving persona from the evening before-he was completely baffled. This mysterious girl was very intriguing for Armaan. As he kept his gaze on her and her graceful movements, she never once looked up to see if she was being watched so carefully. It was her dedication and focus to her work that had made her the most sought after teacher at Anjali's studio.

Armaan, not known for his patience, one who had never stayed on the cricket pitch long enough to last a team's innings, stood there quietly for the entire one and half hour class. His swashbuckling batting usually lasted a few overs, enough to guarantee his team a victory, but one could never expect him to observe someone else performing or be a mere spectator. Something about this woman had him glued to the window, without blinking or complaining.

At last the practice was over. Patiently, he waited for all the girls to depart with their respective moms. To his annoyance, Riddhima spent an inordinate amount of time with each mother, explaining them the details of the dance, the competition, the costumes and rules.

After he could take it no more, he knocked at the door and walked into the studio, "Excuse me! May I come in?"

A pair of incandescent eyes looked up at the door, trying their best to recognize the tall man in thick glasses. A faint smile fell on her place, but soon faded away and her eyes turned into fireballs, "agar andar aa hi gaye ho tho permission kyun maang rahe ho?"

Her condescending tone was back. Gone were the smile and the radiance on the face; she was back as her livid and fuming self.

Offended by her tone, he frowned and snarled at her, "excuse me Ms…..whatever….." He adjusted his glasses on his nose.

"Riddhima…Riddhima Gupta!" She interjected.

"I am a very busy man….I don't have time to waste in this god forbidden place…..agar class khatam ho gayi hai tho main Rhea ko le jaana chaahta hoon." He gnashed his teeth and walked up to her. He stared at her perspiring face intently. Loose locks of hair fell on her forehead, hiding her eyes partially. Oh God-she was beautiful! How he wanted to remove those loose tendrils and wipe the sweat off her brow and feel her soft skin. He took his glasses off and glared into her eyes angrily.

Rhea stood silently, watching the verbal and non verbal duel between her beloved teacher and her dad.

"Haan….le jaa sakte hain," she looked away from his gaze and picked her scarf from the hook on the wall. Something about his gaze felt awkward and disturbing to her.

"Rhea….let's go," he said coldly. The little girl nodded obediently and picked her bag, "yes uncle…..main bahar wait karti hoon."

"Bye beta…see you tomorrow," Riddhima bent down and kissed Rhea good bye, "main raat ko phone par baat karoongi tumse…..koi problem ho tho mujhey bataana." She glanced at Armaan with the corner of her eyes as she mentioned 'problem.'

Armaan raised his arms in disgust, "what? Kya problem ho sakti hai Rhea ko wahan? She is staying at my place like a princess da** it!"

"Yes…uncle….koi problem nahin hai," Rhea grinned and ran out of the studio.

Riddhima turned around and smirked, "buzdil!"

"Buzdil?" He asked.

"Apni beti se apne aap ko uncle bulwaa rahe ho……buzdilli kahoon ya bad naseebi Mr Armaan Malik?" She asked sarcastically.

"You are stepping outside your limits Riddhima!"

"Miss Riddhima….not Riddhima! Is dance studio mein sab bachchon ke parents mujhey Miss Riddhima kehte hain….understand?" She snapped her fingers at him.

He almost lost his balance as her finger with a sharp long nail almost poked his eye.

"Be careful! My eyes are insured for a Crore each…..better watch your long nails MISS RIDDHIMA!"

"Andhon ko bhi aankhon ki insurance chaahiye hoti hai…yeh tho pehli baar suna hai," she mocked at him.

"You are a crazy woman! Any ways… is a check," his voice softened a bit, "please give this to….to Nikita…..I heard she has cancer."

She stared at the check and then looked up into his eyes, "har cancer ka ilaaj paise se nahin hota Mr Malik…..Nikita ki zindagi ka sabse khatarnaak cancer tho usey 9 saal pehle tumhare roop mein mila tha….unfortunately us cancer ka ilaaj paise se nahin ho sakta!" She took the check from him, shred it into pieces and stuffed it into his palm.

He was infuriated. "What the he**? Yeh kya kiya tumney? Jaanti ho kitne ka check tha?"

"I don't care….and neither does Nikita."

"Usmein mera signature bhi tha….kum se kum autograph samajh kar hi rakh liya hota," he cried.

"I take autographs from people I respect….and I am sorry to say you are not autograph worthy Mr Malik!" She flung her bag on her shoulder and walked out of the studio, leaving an agape Armaan behind.

His eyes followed her poised gait, her black bag and hair danced over her back as gracefully as she did a while ago. She had managed to wound every cell in his body- his pride, his arrogance, his ego and above all his heart……..

"Uncle….chalein?" Rhea stepped inside and asked.

"Haan chalo."

As they drove off from the studio, Armaan, lost in Riddhima's thoughts paid no attention to Rhea's constant chatter and her drawings she had made for him at the cricket field.

"Uncle! Uncle! Aap kya soch rahe hain? Riddhima aunty se kyun ladh rahe the?" She shook his arm. He was jolted out of his thoughts when she mentioned 'Riddhima.'

"Huh? Wo….tumhari Riddhima aunty hi laddaki hain…she loves to fight….kya wo sab se aise hi ladhti hain?"

"Jo unhein pasand nahin hain….unse tho waise hi ladhti hain," Rhea giggled.

"Ok…ek baat batao….does she like that man Sid?"

"Sid uncle? Haan! Wo unke bahut puraane friend hain…wo college mein bhi saath the unke."

"K..kya…wo unke boyfriend hain?" Armaan asked haltingly.

Rhea burst out in laughter and clapped her hands, "bhool kar bhi aise mat kehna uncle…..Riddhima aunty does not have a boyfriend……she says she will never have a boyfriend."

"Kyun?" Armaan got a little worried and wondered, "I hope she is not the kind who only likes girls….baap re…...that would be a major loss for all mankind." Her slithering and extremely feminine gestures allayed his fears about his doubts.

Rhea just shrugged her shoulders, "pata nahin……par Sid uncle ki girlfriend se main mil chuki hoon."

"Really?" Armaan smiled a little, "kya naam hai unka?"

"Tamanna aunty…..unki engagement mein gaye the hum."

A relieved Armaan parked the car in the garage, handed the keys to the concierge and headed towards the elevator along with Rhea. He noticed that Rhea dragged her feet as they got off the car and walked.

"Uncle…I am tired," she groaned.

"Haan….haan…bas chalte hain….Teddy will fix you some dinner…..then you can go to sleep." He replied unsympathetically.

Rhea put up a brave front and waddled behind him.

Riddhima's fiery but sensual image consumed Armaan as they walked back to his apartment.

"Uncle….I am tired…..mujhey bhookh lagi hai…..please….mere pair mein dard ho raha hai," Rhea could not take it any longer and collapsed in the hallway. She refused to budge, "mujhey mama chaahiye…..main aur nahin chal sakti."

Tears rolled down her eyes as she sat holding her cramping legs.

"Rhea! Rhea! We are almost there," he shook his head and then reluctantly lifted a weeping Rhea in his arms and carried her bags on his shoulder. Rhea circled her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. He felt her warm tears soak through his t-shirt as he unlocked the door to his apartment.

"Hi darling!" Rosie came running to them as he walked in with Rhea in his arms.

"Tum? What are you doing here?" A stunned Armaan asked.

"Baby….don't you remember we have to go to Robbie's party?"

Armaan sighed and rolled his eyes, "Oh God! I forgot all about it."

"Forgot? That's so unlike you baby….you never miss a party….and that too Robbie's?"

"Please don't call me baby….and hang on a second…..I need to set Rhea down first," Armaan walked to Rhea's room and placed her on the bed.

"TEDDY!" He yelled, "KAHAN HAI TEDDY?"

"Teddy ko maine ghar bhej diya darling," Rosie joined them in the guest room.

'Who told you to do that?" He asked irately.

"Sorry darling….but I thought we will be going out."

"Hum kahin nahin jaa rahe….we are both tired……and do me a favor… can go alone for the party….I am in no mood!" Armaan was furious.

"How can I sweetheart?" Rosie flailed her arms, "I can't go alone without you."

"AGAR JAANA HAI THO JAO…..MERI JAAN MAT KHAO!" His nostrils flared as he gave Rosie a dirty look.

"Oh sorry darling…..lagta hai kharaab mood mein ho…..this little girl has made you cranky…..kab jaayegi yeh yahan se?" Rosie gave her an appalling look. Poor Rhea hid behind Armaan's back and clung to his waist.

"ROSIE! Go to my room……I will meet you there," Armaan replied patiently. For some reason, he did not appreciate Rosie's interference in his personal life, and felt guilty for her behavior in front of the little girl.

"Rhea….stay here…..I will get some food for you."

Rhea withdrew herself from his waist and sat quietly on the bed.

Armaan walked out and a few minutes later, was back with a cucumber and cheese sandwich for her. He found her busy with his brand new Play station game.

"Yeh kya khel rahi ho Rhea?" He asked authoritatively.

"dekho uncle… game hai… teams banani hain……aapki team ka kya naam rakhoon?"

"Mujhey nahin khelna….yeh sandwich khao aur so jao."

"Please uncle….please….please," she pouted and batted her eyelids. Armaan shook his head and sat down next to her, "OK….I am Australia."

"Then I am India," she grinned and munched her sandwich, "ismein tomato tho nahin hai na?" She asked.

"Nahin hai baba….I know you are allergic to tomatoes," he grinned back.

She glanced at his face and smiled, "uncle…..aapko yaad raha?"

"Haan baba yaad raha," he chuckled.



"Aap hanse? Mujhey achcha laga," she smiled again.

He wiped the smile off his face and sat up seriously, "Ok…..come on let's start the game."

"OK….main India….aur mere team ka captain ARMAAN MALIK!" She raised her arms cheerfully and entered it on the screen.

He was bemused, "captain? Captain tho Atul hai."

"Silly!" She smacked his head with her little hands, "game mein silly……real mein nahin."

A sheepish Armaan picked the game control and quietly labeled his team- AUSTRALIA….CAPTAIN RICK PONTING

The two of them spent at least a couple of hours with the new cricket video game. Armaan taught her strategies and batting techniques as they bowled out each other's teams on the screen.

Meanwhile, Rosie waited patiently for Armaan to arrive in his bedroom. She changed into his favorite lingerie, lit the room with candles and played his favorite music to make the ambience more conducive to romance.

After Rhea fell asleep on the game console, Armaan tucked her into the covers, turned the videogame off and stretched his arms. As he turned the lights off, he could not help admiring the innocent face peeping through the covers. Although tempted, he never gave her a goodnight kiss; instead he blew a soft kiss with his fingers and quietly walked out of her room.

When he heard the music playing in his room, he remembered he had asked Rosie to go to his room. He peered through the half closed doors and was relieved to see Rosie fast asleep, skimpily dressed on his bed with melted candles all around the bed.

He shut the door and tip toed out into the living room. He ate the remaining sandwich from Rhea's leftovers and then plopped onto the couch.

Exhausted physically but invigorated emotionally, he shut his eyes and dozed off with memories of his bewitching mermaid from the afternoon dance class ….

In his dreams, he imagined he was dancing to this wonderful pop song by Athma…'Thoya Thoya' which expresses his hidden desires…….

Tune kya kiiya meri jane ja ek nazar mein dil churaliya
Tujhko kya hua koi jane na
Tujhko dekha to hosh kho diya
Girl you are my fantasy
Girl you are my extasy
Wanna be your lover baby
Whenever I see you my heart goes thoya thoya

Thoya thoya thoya thoyya thoyya thoya - 4

Teri har nazar teri har ada
Kya kahu tujhpe dil hai ye fida
Tujhse hai zameen tujhse asmaan
Tujhse badhkar koi nahi mera

Girl you are my fantasy
Girl you are my extasy
Wanna be your lover baby
Whenever I see you my heart goes thoya thoya

Thoya thoya thoya thoyya thoyya thoya - 4

Tu meri jaan hai

Tune jane dil ko kya kiya
Dil tujhpe qurban hai

Girl you are my fantasy
Girl you are my extasy
Wanna be your lover baby
Whenever I see you my heart goes thoya thoya

Thoya thoya thoya thoyya thoyya thoya - 8

……………to be contd………


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