Sunday, 9 December 2018

chapter 7 : SHALL WE DANCE?

RECAP: He stepped away and turned his head, "Ok….I will see you tomorrow……sorry if I hurt you," he added softly and walked away.

Riddhima stood frozen at her door, unable to reconcile with her feelings and what had just transpired between her and Armaan. Whatever it was….it was intense, powerful and very passionate. This was not how it was supposed to be- she would have to make sure not to lose her self control in front of him ever again- he had no right to see her tears, nor her weaknesses…….

 Armaan stepped out with a smirk on his face. Even though, he had been humiliated by that peanut sized woman, he had caught her by surprise by his anger and determination. The tough girl was not as unyielding as he had thought- she did have a pliable spot inside her and he was proud to have seen a glimpse of it today. Familiar with women's reactions to his touch, he knew she was not as invincible as she appeared. He was confident that one day, like all other women, she would give in and run into his arms.

 "Let the games begin baby! After all they don't just call me the gen X master blaster for nothing!" He drove off with a smug expression on his face.

yeah! baby when you see me coming, yeah!
yeah, you better run for cover yeah!
'cause you know when i find you yeah!
yeah, i'm gonna be your lover

tujhse log kahenge
na kar pyaar mujhe
main to lakh bura hoon
neend chura loon, hosh uda doon
main to baahon mein le ke
raah bhula doon, baat bana doon
chahe jahaan, dil ko chhupa
baaton hi baaton mein
do mulaqaton mein, le loon!

(Bachna ae haseeno)


As Armaan pondered over his various strategies on how to 'win' Riddhima and also the dance competition, Rhea walked in with Teddy, who had picked her up after class that day.

"Hello uncle," Rhea ran to him while he sat quietly on the couch with his hands folded and index fingers on his lips.

"Hi Rhea," he replied coldly, "how was your practice?"

"It was good…..aap naaraaz hain mujhsey?" She pouted.

"Tum se nahin…tumhari teacher se."

"Sorry uncle….aapko Pappu waala dance achcha nahin laga na?" She touched her ears apologetically, "Riddhima aunty aapse mazaak kar rahi thi shayad."

"Rhea," he got up and knelt in front of her, and looked into her eyes, "tumhein dance achcha lagta hai na?"

"Haan bahut achcha!" She grinned with her eyes wide open.

"Aur Riddhima aunty?"

"Wo bhi bahut achchi lagti hain." She nodded vehemently.

"OK…..kya tum mujhey dance sikhaogi?"

"Main?" She was surprised, "lekin aap tho ab Riddhima aunty se seekhoge na?"

"Haan…..lekin mere paas zyaada waqt nahin hai……I want to be a good dancer like you and Riddhima aunty….so I need to learn from both of you."

Rhea raised her eyebrow and tapped her temple with her finger, "hmmm….mujhey kya milega?"

"Kyun? Har cheez mein faayda kyun dekhti ho?" Armaan asked and could not help noticing the irony in that statement. Hadn't he always used people for his benefit? Rhea was very straight forward- she did not make any bones about her selfish demand.

"Ok," he smiled and patted her cheek, "how about I teach you how to read?"

"Really uncle?"

"Yes! Because I know how to teach you in a special way…..even I had dyslexia as a child…..tho main jaanta hoon kaise padhna sikhana hai……waisa koi teacher bhi nahin sikha sakti."

"YAY!" She jumped with joy and gave him a big slurpy kiss on his cheek and hugged him tightly, "you are the best!"

A hesitant Armaan initially balked, but then returned her hug with an equally tight squeeze, "so that's a deal?"

'Deal!" She stepped back and gave him a high five, "let's start with your dance lesson first."

"Great!" He got up and moved the coffee table out of the way, "I am at your service teacher jee." He chuckled. She got a kick at being called 'teacher jee' by Armaan.

"Let me turn the TV on…..let's start with some dance reality shows."

"NO! NO!" He grabbed the remote from her before she could start flipping channels. Most of the channels were programmed to adult only programs. Quickly, he erased all the recorded X rated movies and sleazy programs, "Ok…now you can use it."

Rhea teased and looked at him with the corner of her eyes, "Muskaan aunty se darr te hain na aap?"

"No way! I just don't think I need those programs any longer…..I don't have time to watch that crap."

"Good boy!" she laughed to Armaan's amusement but he just took it in stride- after all she was his 'teacher jee' now.

Fortunately, a repeat telecast of 'Jhalak Dikh Laja,' a reality dance show with celebrities was on at that time. Rhea grabbed his hands and guided him through some of the steps as the celebrities and their partners danced on screen. Armaan was not a complete novice on the dance floor as his numerous trips to night clubs and discos over the years had trained him to at least move with the beat of the music.

"Ek minute uncle," Rhea paused, "agar aapko Riddhima aunty ko impress karna hai tho aap saare steps dekh dekh kar mat kariye….be spontaneous……aap beat ke saath free hokar dance kariye…..she will work with you then lekin agar aap har step copy karne ki koshish karenge tho wo aur bhi difficult steps add kar dengi."

"You sound like the judge on the show," Armaan laughed.

"Of course! I watch all the dance shows…..main bhi ek din dance show ki judge banoongi dekhna," Rhea said confidently.

Armaan was reminded of his own childhood. He recalled watching his first live cricket match at a stadium with his uncle at the age of six or seven. He had enjoyed every moment of that match and had declared on their journey back home that one day he would become the best cricketer in the country.

They resumed their dance routine as Armaan followed Rhea's advise this time and let himself free instead of trying to imitate each step onscreen.


The door bell interrupted their session as Teddy let Muskaan Misra in, "Good evening madam."

"Here you are! Kab se tumhara mobile milaa rahi hoon! And so the press is right!" She walked into the living room and watched Rhea and Armaan sway to the latest number on screen.

A panting Armaan paused the TV and waved at her, "Hi Muskaan…..come join us on the floor."

"Thanks….but no thanks!" She smiled wryly, "aaj dopahar se mere phones par kitne messages aa chuke hain…..what is this dance competition thing? Are you crazy or what?"

"No…not me," he turned the TV back on and tried to match his steps to the new competitor onscreen, "she is… dance teacher."

"Who is this she now?" Muskaan walked up and turned the TV off, "Armaan! Listen to me…..what are you doing? Kyun apne career se khilwaad kar rahe ho? Do you want to get bumped off the team now? Captain tho kya, vice captaincy se bhi haath dho baithoge."

"Relax Muskaan!" He grabbed a towel and his water bottle, "This will not interfere with my game….I know myself."

"Par yeh dance ka bhoot kaise savaar ho gaya tumhein?" An exasperated Muskaan sunk into the couch and then looked at Rhea, "beta…..jao Teddy se keh do tumhein khaana de de…..I need to talk to Armaan uncle privately."

"Ok aunty," Rhea nodded and skipped all the way to the kitchen.

Wiping his sweat, Armaan sat across from Muskaan, "I thought you are smarter than me Ms Muskaan Misra! Give it a twist……you know how to do that……tell them that I am doing this for the benefit of a small dance studio……it's for a good cause……all the money raised will help build a bigger studio… would be accessible to a lot more people….especially poor kids….kyun?" He winked at her as he gloated at his plan.

"Dance studio? Who cares about a dance studio?" Muskaan shrugged her shoulder, "tell me the real reason. Is it that Anjali girl? Uske liye kar rahe ho yeh sab?"

Armaan gulped down his bottle and laughed heartily, "no way! I can't stand that b***h!"

"Then is it the dance teacher…kya naam hai uska?"

"Riddhima…Riddhima Gupta!" He replied.

"The peanut sized woman?" She chortled.

"Yup! She challenged my manhood today…….main usey sabak sikhaana chaahta hoon."

"Your manhood? What did she do or say?" Muskaan was not only intrigued but very curious to meet Riddhima now.

"Jaanti ho poori duniya meri kitni kadar aur puja karti hai….young girl's heartbeats stop when I even look at them……aur us ladki ki yeh jurrat………she insulted me in her dance studio today….called me some Pappu saala or something……and made fun of me and my dancing abilities."

"Armaan! You are too much! I really want to meet Riddhima now….in fact I have been trying to reach her since you asked me to investigate this Rhea's case….but she is not accessible at all."

"Jab chaaho milwaa sakta hoon…..ab tho mera roz ka aana jaana rahega wahan," he sneered.

"I will manage…..doesn't look like she will be too hospitable to me if you are with me," Muskaan shook her hands.

"Ok you can meet her at your convenience…….so were you able to reach Nikita?" Armaan asked.

"Yes…I was……I talked to her briefly on the phone….she is at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai……with end stage breast cancer," Muskaan said softly, "she is on some experimental treatment….apparently that's her last hope."

"Oh..I am sorry," Armaan sounded detached, "how can I help her? Poocha tumney?"

"Haan…..she doesn't want any money….she just wants you to acknowledge publically that you betrayed her and left her all alone as a single mother nine years ago."

"WHAT? NEVER!" Armaan sprang up, "I am not crazy!"

"Well…..I have arranged for your and Rhea's blood test for DNA matching……at least that will prove whether she is lying or not." Muskaan stood up and looked at him.

"Nahin…..abhi uski zaroorat nahin hai…..I need Rhea right now," Armaan averted his gaze and replied.

"Are you using her just like you used Nikita?" Muskaan was appalled.

"Muskaan! Stay out of my personal life… many times have I told you?" He gave her a sharp look, "a-and I am not using Rhea…….I will teach her how to read in exchange……and if she is really my daughter……that's my right!"

"Maybe we should not find out the truth then…..shayad Rhea ki bhalai isi mein hai……kum se kum us bechari ko ek baap ka thoda bahut pyaar tho mil raha hai is bahane." She became a little emotional. Muskaan herself had lost both her parents at an early age, and felt a close bond with Rhea.

"Yes…drop it for now…..jab Nikita wapas aa jaayegi….tab dekh lenge."

"OK," she sniffed and blinked away the mist in her eyes, "why don't we give your dancing stint a more plausible twist?"

"Like what?"

"You are doing this to raise money for cancer victims……perhaps it might even touch a chord in Nikita's heart."

"Phir Anjali ko kya kahoonga? She wants that money for her studio."

"She sounds like a shrewd businesswoman……I know how to handle such people…….does she realize the endorsements her studio will get after having a celebrity on stage? They will be way more than the money she gets from ticket sales."

Armaan's eyes lit up, "yeah! I knew it Muskaan……tum sach much bahut smart ho… wonder I have tolerated you for this long."

"Yeah right!" She chuckled, "who's tolerating whom…..yeh tho tum bhi jaante ho."

"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Muskaan Misra…..remember you get paid well…in fact very well for your job."

"Yes boss!" Muskaan smiled, "I am always at your disposal… let me go and arrange a press release with our new story…..your team mates are dying to know the 'truth' also."

"Good! And please find out some more information on Ms Riddhima Gupta."

"Looks like you are getting obsessed with her," she picked her bag and papers and walked towards the door.

"No way…..I just want to break her arrogance."

Muskaan chuckled and then muttered under her breath, "wonder if she is planning the same…..good match! Better than a cricket match for sure!"

Armaan ran after her, "kya kaha tumney? I didn't hear what you just said."

"I just said……good match….and good luck!" She walked towards the elevator as Armaan frowned and wondered what Muskaan had just said. Although Muskaan had been with him for almost 5-6 years, he still had to read in between the lines to understand what she really meant.

Armaan joined Rhea for dinner and the two discussed various topics like Rhea's day at the cricket field, how she liked Radhika, what kind of dance and music she liked, who were her other friends in school, how she had never met her grandparents as they never talked to Nikita, how Nikita, Riddhima and the other dancers at the studio were her family now. Armaan felt sorry for Nikita as she was all alone in this world, especially now that she was almost on her death bed.

He gazed at Rhea's innocent face and thought, "after Nikita…..why can't she just stay with me? Maybe I should not even bother to find the DNA report……why would Riddhima lie to me? Rhea is so similar to me…..I bet she is mine……maybe she can even attend a good boarding school once Nikita is gone…..or maybe I can hire a nanny for her…..."

"Kya hua uncle? Kya soch rahe hain?" Rhea snapped her fingers in front of his eyes.

"Kuch nahin," he shook his head and asked, "Tho Riddhima aunty ke ghar mein aur kaun hai?"

"Unki bahut badhi family hai…..unki mama…unke papa…..unki dadi…….unke badhe brother…..aur phir unke chacha-chachi bhi aate rehte hain…..aur……do chote bhai aur behen…..aur," she scratched her head.

"Itne log? Wow!" He wondered if her large family was the reason for her financial responsibilities that Anjali had alluded to at the studio.

"Mujhey unke ghar jaana bahut achcha lagta hai….lekin abhi nahin jaa saki," she sulked.


"Pata nahin," Rhea shrugged her shoulders and wiped her hands, "chalo uncle… practice karte hain……aapko ek step dikhana hai…..come," she pulled his hand and dragged him back to the living room.

Teddy was surprised to see how Armaan was literally dancing to the eighth year old's tunes. Under normal circumstances, Armaan interrupted his dinner only if a sexy woman was at his door. This was a new leaf in Armaan's book; Teddy crossed his fingers and hoped that Rhea would always be a part of his master's life. Since Rhea had been home, there were no half nude women loitering in his apartment, nor were there his rowdy and drunk friends who would stay up till late at night and mess up the whole apartment, leaving everything for Teddy to clean up the next day. He didn't mind picking a little girl's dolls, leggings, shoes, color pencils; drawing pads or her socks from the floor- they were way better than empty beer cans, women's lingerie and cigarette butts.

Armaan and Rhea danced for hours and then later read a book together with Armaan giving her tips on how to sound words and practice writing some letters. Exhausted, both fell asleep with books on their chests on Armaan's bed.


Riddhima applied a light shade of lipstick, dabbed her cheeks quickly with some make up and looked at the clock. It was almost time for the adult's class to begin. She was sure Armaan would arrive bright and early for the class. His threatening stance had shaken her for a few moments yesterday but she was back to her spirited self.

"Wo apne aap ko samajhta kya hai? He thinks he can just walk into my dance class, disrupt it and threaten me? Main uski dhamkiyon se bilkul nahin darrti……I will make sure I keep a good distance with him today," she recalled how his proximity had dazed her for a few moments, "I cannot afford to lose my self control…I know how to deal with such men!" She put her glasses on, tied her hair into a bun and walked out in her leggings and a long t-shirt to the dance studio.

"Sholon si….sholon si…." The dancers were rehearsing when she walked in. As expected, Armaan was already there. He practiced his steps with one of the other women in the group called Naina. Dressed in his black slacks and red sports vest, he looked dashing with his hair slightly ruffled on his forehead from the twirling and swaying.

Riddhima ignored him, looked through him and announced, "sorry guys…..I have decided to change the song……it won't be sholon si anymore."

"WHY?" A simultaneous disappointed gasp filled the room.

She gave Armaan a sharp look, "because some of the steps of sholon si might be difficult for our celebrity performer……he was not very comfortable with the lifts yesterday….mujhey darr hai kahin mujhey hi na gira de." She sneered sarcastically.

The other dancers exchanged glances with each other as they had in fact commended Armaan's performance yesterday. As far as they could tell he had done a great job of the lift, but they did not argue with their teacher.

"NOTHING IS DIFFICULT FOR ME MADAM RIDDHIMA!" Armaan came forward and snorted.

"Armaan Malik…..aap cricket ke maidan mein vice captain zaroor honge," she smiled with her teeth clenched, and made sure her glasses fit snugly on the bridge of her nose, "lekin dance studio mein main captain hoon…….aur aap sirf ek khiladi…..agar extras ke saath nahin baithna hai tho aapko meri baat maan ni hogi!" She replied firmly.

The other dancers took a step backward as they had seldom seen this aspect of Riddhima's personality.

Armaan remained silent and just clenched his jaws, "fine….I am ready for the challenge……you can play whatever you want."

Riddhima replaced the CD and clapped, "let's all try a free style before I decide the steps……all couples face each other …..and dance along with the beat."

(Dhoom 2)

uuuuu Babby

The other dancers swayed with the music as Armaan and Riddhima came face to face.

Teekhi teekhi teri aankhiyaan
chuke Chuke Behkati hai
Dekh dekh na yun mujhko
hosh hosh le jati hai
Teekhi teekhi teri aankhiyaan
chuke Chuke Behkati hai
Dekh dekh na yun mujhko
Hosh hosh le jati hai

They walked slowly along a circle, their eyes glued to each other, piercing through like daggers.

Deewana Dil kahin kho jaye naa
Humse khata koi ho jaye naa

Armaan placed his one hand on her shoulder and the other on her waist as she twirled around……..

Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya
Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya

He turned back and grabbed her hands gently, leading her to a twirl on his finger. The more he touched or got closer, the more she resisted him but Armaan with a never-say-die attitude managed to pull her closer each time. What was a pull and push game soon became a beautiful, well synchronized dance performance.

Are Chod chod mere raho ko
Tauba tauba dar lagta
Aisi waise teri baaton se
ishq visk sa jagta hai
Are Chod chod mere raho ko
Tauba tauba dar lagta
Aisi waise teri baaton se
ishq visk sa jagta hai

Deewana Dil kahin kho jaye naa
Humse khata koi ho jaye naa

Their swirls and steps became more and more coordinated with each other as they continued to dance with each other. At no point did they take off their gaze away from each other's face. Soon they were oblivious of any other dancers in the room. It was just them, their pelvic gyrations and their amazing eye locks that dominated the dance floor.

Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya
Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya

uuuUuUUUUuuuUUUUu baby

The other dancers stopped dancing as they were all in a trance at the sight before their eyes. This was not a rehearsal, not a dry run, not a try-out- it was a full blown performance of two souls lost in each other, unaware of their surroundings, savoring every moment of the dance. The tension between them was so visible that if one had a knife, one could cut it into two well defined pieces.

Roke na ruke mere yeh kadam
tute na kahin jana har kadam

Rehne de zara thoda fasla
Pagalpan kare maan hai manchala

Deewana Dil kahin kho jaye naa
Humse khata koi ho jaye naa

Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya
Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya

Naina whispered to her partner, Yuvraaj, "yaar Yuvraaj kisi ne sahi kaha hai that dance is a vertical manifestation of a horizontal desire."

"Yeah…..Jennifer Lopez said that…..and now I know what she meant," Yuvraaj sighed, 'kya hum tum bhi kabhie aise dance kar sakenge?"

"KABHIE NAHIN!" She slapped his arm as she was not interested in his advances and had reluctantly become his dance partner.

Na mein hosh mein
Na tu hosh mein
behke na kahin dono josh mein

Seene mein kahin
Shola sa jale
Yara Ishq mein kiska bas chale

Deewana Dil kahin kho jaye naa
Humse khata koi ho jaye naa

Even though there were no complicated steps, nor any choreographed ones, Armaan and Riddhima danced as if they had always been dance partners. Their synchrony and coordination was so harmonious that if one did not know how much they hated each other, they would easily pass off as the most passionate and connected couple. Armaan matched his steps as best as he could with hers and she slowed down automatically whenever she realized he was falling behind. To an untrained eye, even these minor adjustments would be visible as a part of the dance. Mid way through the dance, Riddhima's bun came undone as her long tresses fell on her face and neck. She threw away her glasses when the sweat from her forehead cast a mist on them.

Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya
Touch me dont touch me
Dont touch me soniya

Teekhi teekhi teri aankhiyaan
chuke Chuke Behkati hai
Dekh dekh na yun mujhko
Hosh hosh le jati hai

Chod chod mere raho ko
Tauba tauba dar lagta
Aisi waise teri baaton se
ishq visk sa jagta hai

Deewana Dil kahin kho jaye naa
Humse khata koi ho jaye naa

Their bodies touched, swayed apart and then touched again as the music continued to play. They could inhale each other's rawness whenever they came close and as if bound by a magnet would be seen twirling back towards each other.

As the dance came to a completion, Riddhima came to her senses and realized all her other dancers were mere observers and it was only her and Armaan on the center stage swaying to the music…..

Touch me don't touch me
come touch me don't touch me
come touch me soniya
touch me don't touch me haan touch me soniya(2)

The dance came to an end and the studio buzzed aloud with applauses and whistles, "ENCORE! BRAVO! AWESOME! MINDBLOWING!"

Anjali walked in with a big grin, "wow! What chemistry guys! Phew……..this room is way too hot now…..koi AC tez karo yaar."

All the dancers laughed aloud at Anjali's rare display of humor.

An awkward silence fell between Armaan and Riddhima. Riddhima wiped her brow with her arm and averted her gaze, "guys why did you stop dancing?"

"We couldn't keep up with you both," Naina answered, "we can only do sholon si Ms Riddhima."

Anjali rolled her tongue and announced, "I have good news for everyone……..we will have two entries in the adult category now……one group dance with sholon si……and the other will be a couples only dance with Armaan jee and Riddhima on this Dhoom 2 song… we have a chance to win in two categories," she gleamed with joy.

"Anjali?" Riddhima was flabbergasted, "how can I prepare two dances in such a short time? And I also have the kid's dance."

"You can……you just did!" Anjali roared and walked away gleefully rubbing her hands, " we need to advertize their chemistry all over……so more people would want to come and watch them……that means more money money money….I love it!" She danced all the way back to her office.

Armaan wiped his brow and then looked at Riddhima with a smug expression.

"What?" She snapped at him.

He just shrugged his shoulders and whispered in her ear, "waise ek gaana aur add kar sakti ho iske saath."

 She stepped away, "kaun sa gaana?"

He picked his towel, dried his damp back and then hummed softly, "zara zara touch me touch me touch me……zara zara kiss me kiss me kiss me."

 Frustrated, she threw her soggy towel at his direction but he caught it just in time as the other dancers laughed and applauded at the flirtatious session in front of their eyes. Their dance classes had never been so entertaining.

 …………….to be contd………………….


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