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Looking at her dead body, I didn’t know what to do. Mind went blank and hands into the pockets. I found the dagger that Rashmi had gifted me. I wanted to move on and not die, but what can one do if I have to die as per the script? Who could change the script of life? Sab bhagwan ka khel hey! All in the name of, holy cow!
I was just about to play by the rules and poke the dagger into the left ventricles of my heart, ki I heard a voice calling out loud to me.
“Abe uttja oye…naalayak…paune nau bajgaye” – it was my mother, and I was thrilled that she rescued me at the exact moment.
“Thank you maa, thank you”
“Kyun beta, saw a bad dream?”
“Hey bhagwan, how did you guess? Tumhe sab hey pata, hey na maa?”
“Why won’t I know? Beta baap pe jo gaya hey“.
I was very similar to my dad, so said everyone. Papa kehte hey, ki he named me Raj as he knew looking at the newborn me that I would one day become a Shahrukh Khan fan. Truth is, he was in love with Rajani, his professor’s daughter but never had the courage to confess to her. In those pre-internet days, he had no option of remembering her as his password either. So when my mother was carrying me, he vowed to offer 100 coconuts to the almighty if I would be born as a girl so that he could name me Rajani. Maa knew he was a fan of the tele-serial ‘Rajani’, but never got to know why. To his utter dismay, it turned out otherwise and thankfully he cut short what he had in mind and named me Raj – naam toh suna hoga!!
Falling in love I think came to me, inherited. Same was the case with bad luck, when it was about getting committed. Papa had spent some quality time running around trees, while his younger brother had done all the high pitch drunken drama standing atop the water tank. Maa was no Mother Theresa either.
But none of them managed to hold on to what they went after. Eventually they settled down with what was being offered by the experienced, their elders.
I remember Papa narrating to me tales regarding our family history, most of which I must add, was tragic especially where love happened to be the central theme.
One legendary story was about how my great-great-grandfather had plastered my great-grandmother-to-be inside the walls and buried her while alive right in front of my chained-to-vows great-grandfather. My great-grandfather is then believed to have aimlessly wandered before surrendering himself into the arms of a courtesan, who is said to have had a moon-like-beautiful-face and as a matter of fact, even a stake in Royal Challengers Bangalore probably through ‘sweet antiquity’.
With such a glorious family background, they had high expectations from me when it came to keeping up with the tradition and I didn’t disappoint any of them, one bit.
When I fell in love with Rita, I had shared the joy with my best friend Sanju that she was the one for me, for the saath janams. But when Rita didn’t like my brand new second-hand ambassador car, the seven births’ dream ended like in less than seven weeks and I was totally devastated and heart-broken. Ditto with our Yezdi freak Sanju, when Devika left him in favor of the Ritchie Rich Shekar who owned the latest, sleek and brand new 4-cylinder 1089cc Premier Padmini.
My parents were proud of me, so much that I overheard them broadcast “Raj ban gaya gentleman” over the telephone.
And then came in Priyanka, who stayed right opposite to my house and loved to spend her time by her bedroom window. Everyday from my window, I admired her beauty of a ponds-lotion-face, but she thought of me as an awara romeo who invaded into her private moments and unconditionally hated me for it. I even made Kallu maama scan through all the 12 rashees to see if something can be set right which would make her favor me, but Priyanka had long given up on me.
When it comes to love, people end up doing what-not. Sanju once told me about a distant relative of his who had to put up at his father-in-law’s house as a maid, fully packed and all that, for over a month just to convince his angry wife to get back home and eventually was successful.
So we, Sanju and I decided to leave our hometown and go to Mumbai, where life runs faster than the local trains, in search of a job, a career and of course, love. Finding true love was tough, but nothing compared to finding a place to stay in Mumbai. Some how we managed to find two single rooms for us, close to each other. Ever since our padosan aunty, Laxmi Chachi received a telegram which read “Maa ka ladla bigad gaya” from her son’s landlord in Mumbai, we were being advised to lookout for separate houses.
Being from a small town, every girl in Mumbai looked eligible to my eyes so much so that I found it hard to differentiate between married and single women.
I got a job as a radio jockey, but love was hard to come by. Even my beautiful colleague Janhavi, was committed to an underworld gangster.
Though I put in some more efforts and did give it a try by staying a few months longer, I saw little hope for myself, a poor man, to find true love in Mumbai. I sincerely wished someone would invite me for her swayamvar too. But inherited genes and strong family tradition always seemed to rule the roost and I decided to return back home.
Inside the courtroom of a highly secured prison, I was standing in the custody box waiting for the judge to deliver his sentence.
“My lord, the most important witness in this case is here. Please give her a chance to speak before you break that cheap local nib.” Saamiya Siddiqui, my saucy young lawyer brought in that much needed twist to an otherwise slow and boring courtroom proceeding.
“Pesh kiya jaaaaye” the judge seemed to have read what he stereotypically uttered, out of a book.
“Thank you my lord. I now present before you, Zaara who is the love interest of our cross border prisoner. Kaidi number 786, Mr RAJender Pratap Singh.”
As the courtroom door opens in slow motion, I feel the heat and start perspiring profusely. I was very eager to have a glance of Zaara, ki I heard a voice calling out loud to me.
“Abe uttja oye…naalayak…paune nau bajgaye…iss garmi main kaise sota hey tu?”
hmm…You Know Who!
PS: When it got to know that I was in fact the tribesman, who would be writing on this topic revolving Bollywood, Hindi demanded its rightful presence and usage in the write up. Being a true Indian Inscribed Tribesman, I had to honor the request as the ‘Show must go on’!