Pyar Actually

An irritating and compelling sound suddenly drilled into unknown corners of my subconscious mind, which until then was busy playing distantly possible but soothing moving images of a singer singing with full beans. 

Before I could let that nice feeling take over my entire body, my mobile had already conspired to seek its attention by rattling in my Sleep well mattress. Frustrated by my mobile’s indecent behavior, I shut it up. I tried to run that beautiful movie in my mind again. I smiled thinking about it. It struck me that it would not be just a dream. As I rose up, Sun kissed me good morning in my cheek, crawling her way with affection through my window pane. Today wasn’t just another day. Hearts ruled the roost. Antediluvian Shiv Sainiks hogged the limelight this day for those stupid protests, ransacking mom n pop stores selling love cards. This day, few years before, meant nothing to me. Today, it has evolved as one of the eagerly awaited days of the year.
My face could barely hide the excitement. I mean, it was understandable as I was about to do something which seemed impossible to me even in my wildest dreams. I went to take bath. While taking bath, it occurred to me that my favorite dress is lying at the laundry room. My teeth started type writing, as I ran by the corridor towards the laundry, clad with a single towel. Looking at me, he grinned sheepishly. I winked at him, my hands rummaging through the piles of dresses. I pulled out my beige colored cargos and mild yellow Perri Alley Cotton shirt tagged with a white thread. “Mahesh Bhai. I ll pay later for this.”I told him and ran out of the room, taking five long jumps to the flight of stairs leading to my floor. I reached my block and knocked on my neighbor Shobhit’s room. He opened the room after a while, his eyes sloshed with dregs of sleep. “Leave by 9:30…Give me a missed call when the job is done. Ok…Oh...Yes.You remember the place right…Ghod Dod Road... Coffee Culture... “. He smiled, “Arey… I remember…You’ve told me so many times. All the best. You are all set??” I gave him an impish smile and went back to my room.
For obvious reasons, I took much longer time to get ready and left the room when I was convinced that I was looking smart and dashing. By the time, I was leaving my room; I remembered that I had forgotten something. I looked at my table. As always, my table was in a mess, with leaning Pisa towered mumbo jumbo of blue colored spiral bounded texts, 24 x 7- active laptop and a poor Nokia 1200 phone tethered to the charger, fighting for space. I opened the drawer and took out the plastic red rose, wrapped in a glossy transparent sheet, sprinkled with dazzling dots over it. I unzipped my cargo pocket and dumped them inside. I gulped one halls tablet lying. As I was about to close the door, I saw Shirdi Sai Baba, hung over the screw, smiling at me with his divine grace. I went back inside and took out the dabba from the wardrobe. I applied a small steak of holy ash in my forehead, muttering prayers to the divine. “Today is a very special day, Be with me...” I closed my eyes for a while, and opened in a jiffy, diverted by the monotone grunt of my mobile. 

I opened, wondering whether it was her message. “Today special class on Heat Exchangers at 9” I looked at my watch. It was five minutes to nine. I had already promised her that I would pick her up at 9:30 at her local guardian’s place. One voice came from the opposite block. “Venky…You are going for the class? “I… don’t know yaar”, I felt a strong impulse to attend the class as my Dept. Head would be taking it. He has a universal constant named after him. He was an extremely important person and wouldn’t tolerate morons foolish enough not to understand the importance of his time. While walking, it dawned to me that I had none of the essential life lines like calculator and photocopied lecture notes which would help me dawdle time and make me look busy while trying to avoid the professor’s attention. I thought of running back to my room. I looked at my watch. Less than 300 seconds away from the class!! Coming late to his class was unthinkable. I found myself scrambling my way to the department. As I took my first step on the stairs to the department, I stopped. Wait! I began to think from the intellectual plane. Is it so important to attend a class on heat-exchangers? After all, heat exchangers simply transfer heat from one lifeless object to the other. Today, hearts will be exchanged. Which is more important?? My legs started drifting towards the gate.

I reached her local guardian’s residence. A middle aged lady opened the door. She smiled and turned towards the circular stairs going upwards, “Sapna...He has come”. “Two minutes”, a voice came from the top. I sat in the sofa, browsing through the magazines lying around. After five minutes, Sapna, the girl of my dreams descended through the stairs. Her eyes, an eclectic mix of sensuousness and childish innocence, were flowers in black & white, making me wonder if I could turn myself into a Thumbelina and repose in them, intoxicated in her fragrance. Wearing a pink long skirt and creamy white tops, her wild shoulder length hair let loose, bedecked with myriad curls, were floating like waves in air. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever met in my life. She spoke in her inimitable Tamil, a triple sundae with a lip smacking flavor of words from Brahmin word-robe, added with topping of chaste Hindi. “Shall we leave?”, she asked tossing one of her cute smiles.We got inside an auto. “Tell me first...where are we going today?”, she asked curiously. “You will come to know…Wait..”, I said absentmindedly, reveling in the breezy sway of her hair across my face, thanks to the speed in which the auto traveled towards the coffee shop. With a husky voice that resembled Bombay Jayashree’s in the song “Zara.Zara.” from the movie “Rehna hai tera dil mein”, she uttered her clich├ęd phrase, “Arey..Baba… Tu pagal hai”, pointing, I was mad. I was not sure if I could call this state madness. To me, it was an elevated sense of consciousness: An egoic consciousness, alchemized by the infinite powers of love, into higher consciousness, with the realization that the sole purpose of my life to give all happiness in her life.

Many a time, I often wondered how it all happened; just like a dream. I recalled the day when I saw her for the first time in my life. It was the second night of my first college culturals. I was with my friends. The stage was empty. Struck by the unexpected silence, I gazed at the stage curiously waiting for something interesting to happen. A girl from nowhere, came to the center, waving a dazzling florescent ribbon in her hands, her lips mouthing funky vocals of a hep chick chanting “Get up…Get up and dance…” ,flashing a smile that warmed the cockles of my heart. The first thing I noticed about her was her smile. Her smile radiated an ineffable feeling of contentment to my soul. After seeing her smile, I felt the world turning lovelier than before. She wasn’t smiling just from her lips. Every cell of her body was smiling. She wore glitzy blue tank tops. Her hands and legs blended beautifully with the vibrant beats of Chandu ke Chacha.  

The beats were so contagious, that it awakened the dormant pathetic dancer within me. I found myself shaking my tight limbs, blushing at her unabashedly. This was the opening scene of my love story in the college, inspired by the canons of Bollywood romances, where the hero glimpses his belle for the first time amidst song and dance sequences, gob smacked by her beauty and falling in love at first sight. Just like they show in movies, my eyes could only see her, blinding others in my vision. After few days, lady luck smiled at me and I caught that smile in the canteen again, talking over the phone in Tamil. I saw her from a close distance. Her face had a mild tan complexion, a colour when you get, when you add a pint of decoction more than what would suffice for coffee. It had an innate luminous glow, as if God had taken tips from my favorite ace cinematographer Ravi K. Chandran and lit her from within. When I heard her speak tamil, I looked at the skies and smiled. I desperately wanted to talk to her. However I didn’t have any courage to go and approach her. Few days passed by, my mind caught intermittently under the spells of her charm. While I was looking for an opportunity to get acquainted with her, Bollywood’s age-old formula for wooing came handy. This trend started way back in 1931 when W.M. Khan sang “De De Khuda ke naam Par pyare”, the first Hindi song to be recorded for a movie. Call it either perfect filmy coincidence or go-for-broke madness, devoid of logic. The announcement for inviting singers to sing for culturals perfectly coincided with the finding from reliable sources that she was a singer too. However, unlike movies wherein heroes sang duets in hills of Switzerland running around the trees after falling in love, I decided to sing a duet with her to fall in love with her.

It was a breezy afternoon. I saw her drinking orange juice in a shop. She was alone. I knew this was the right moment. Clearing my throat, I found an unknown force propelling me to go and talk to her. “Hi Sapna.. I am Venkat. Im from A division, first year. I heard you really sing well. Will you sing a song with me during this culturals?” I realized what I had spoken only after I finished muttering the last syllable. “So you are Venkat.. Hi.. Heard you sang really well at the talent hunt in staff club…Sure..Why not.. We ll meet some time and discuss the song.. Gimme your number.” My hands trembled inside my jeans pocket and I took out my mobile. I stored her number. While I was typing her name, by some strange thought I added letter V after ‘a’ with a space. She winked me good bye. My voice froze. Unable to bring my voice from within to say “bye”, I moved my fingers in quick succession. I started walking towards my hostel adoring at the newly added contact “Sapna V” To my eyes it looked like Sapna Venkataraman. Few days later, I was in my class, enjoying my favorite professor’s class, totally absorbed in the world of thermodynamics. My mobile vibrated. 

It was Sapna V’s message. “Shall we meet this evening at the staff club and decide the song?”. I replied back “Sure”. Thermodynamics began to feel like a bore and I started anxiously waiting for the period to get over, looking at the watch refusing to move ahead. Staff club was the ideal socializing place. We met and decided to sing AR Rahman’s melodious composition “Bol Sajini Mori Sajini” together. The song selection could not have been any better. I connected with its tamil version “Velli Malare” sung by S.P.Balasubramayam, while she did with the Sonu Nigam’s hindi rendition; providing the perfect platform for the song to trigger the dil ka connection between a guy from the southern part of Chennai and a quasi tamilian girl who hailed from Baroda. I had written the song lyrics in English. While trying to sing the hindi version ala Sonu Nigam style, I realized that I was spitting the words like a chaff, usurping the sweetness from the words. She sat besides me, taking great pains to spell every single word for me and made sure that I pronounce it right. I never knew Ignorance could be so blissful!

It was the D-day. After series of rehearsals together, we left to dress for the occasion. I went back and reached the back stage, sporting a red kurta and again by the power of Bollywood’s law of coincidence, she came in, wearing a perfectly matching red patiala suit. We were standing a furlong apart, smiling at each other, yet, our eyes so intimate that it dissolved the space between us. Amidst a jubilant crowd, we sang the song of love and it turned out to be a huge hit with the audience and judges. The results came and we were adjudged second prize in Hindi Duet category. I was in cloud nine. Our names were called out and we ran towards the stage. The judges were waiting to hand over the prizes. We walked together and collected the trophy. We were asked to wait for some seconds at the stage for the photographers to click pictures. I was holding the trophy with my right hand. She moved her hand beneath mine, with her freckles softly caressing my hands. It was the first touch. It seemed familiar, yet so unique. It was exhilarating.

And so began my odyssey to win her heart, after many interesting twists, reached the climax today on February 14th. The auto was speeding towards the Ghod Dhod Road. We had terrific chemistry. Our conversations often played like a symphony, with every note from her side landing in the vacuum I created with silence. Sometimes, the notes waltzed together in glee. At times they reached a crescendo together and drifted to land at reveling moments of nothingness. During those conversations, her eyes animated more expressively than any of her words could. In the auto, all of a sudden, her hand snuggled cosily on my left shoulders. Hariharan’s dulcet voice suddenly began to resonate in the intricate alleys of my brain. “kaash..aisa..koi Manzar hota..Mere kaandhe pe tera sar hota”(I wish I could spend some more of these priceless moments; your head reposing in my shoulders..)Those were the perfect mushy romantic moments seen in movies, accompanied by the instrumental versions of the romantic soundtracks of the movie. My mobile peeped and I opened shobhit’s sms. “All set...Come soon.”. 

By the time she saw the Coffee Culture shop, she gave me a familiar smile. It was one of our favorite hang-outs. “I knew you would bring me here.” With a chivalry that could be matched by those knighted warriors of the West, I invited her in, “This way…Mam” She came in with pursed lips, looking all around for clues, trying hard to find out what the surprise was. I took her arms and led her to our favorite table. The one in the left most corner. “Where are you going?”, she asked authoritatively with a lovely smile that cannot be described by any adjective in this world. It was heaven like. I walked to one corner and pulled out a blue guitar. She was flabbergasted; her eye brows rose northwards, looking like a first stroke of a celebrated artist. Her voice shrilled with excitement. I rested the guitar in my laps, keeping my feet on a chair. I adjusted my fingers over the frets and held the position at the perfect spot to play F chord properly. Ankit Kush, my best chum and teacher who had been training me since ten days, was standing at the corner, lest something goes terribly wrong with the guitar. I raised my voice towards the crowd. “Hey folks…I wanna sing this song for my love..” I closed my eyes for a moment. I began, while plucking F chords.” Shaam ke saye jab odha ke din so jataa hai… Take me to your heat.. Take me to your soul…Give me your hand and hold me...Don’t need too much talking without saying nothing.. All I want is someone who makes me wanna sing…Take me to your heart..” Listening to the song amidst rhythmic claps from the jubilant crowd, her smile turning beatific, she metamorphosed into the most beautiful angel descended into this world… 
During those four minutes in the fullness of that moment. I transcended time and space. The ambrosia of love dissolved my identity. During those reveling moments, I felt that I belonged to the generation where love is carried right from the fallopian tubes, starting from Shammi Kapoor serenading with passionate aggression in the 70s to the current heart throb Ranbir Kapoor serenading in the year 2008 in the movie Saawariya. The reveling sounds of the jubilant crowd primed my ears and brought me back from heavens to the Earth. Down, on my knees, I took the plastic rose and asked her “I shall love u until this rose fades...Will you love me?” With tears welling in her cheeks, she went speechless and nodded her head, her eyes effusing with bliss.