She was laughing.
Karan felt a thousand tiny silver bells tingling in glee as her lissom body was swaying gracefully along with her laugh. Mesmerized, he wanted this moment to be eternal.
“So, you’re going to Delhi for an interview and, according to this call-letter, the name of the company is Shreya Infotech”. She said as she finally managed to put a reign on her smile but, Karan could still notice the amused twinkle in her big eyes. He nodded meekly to show his response as ‘yes’.
“What if I arrange your interview right here?”
The deep abyss of her cleavage, offset by the wonderful swelling of her bosom, was enough for Karan to consider her as an enchantress. He wondered what more magic she had under her sleeves.
“Anything for you”.
“Really? Watch your words, for words once spoken can’t be taken back”. The glint of amusement was still there in her eyes, but the lilt of her voice changed a bit to the stronger side.
Thirty minutes later, Karan came out of the Jabarbatti (Shimla) Airport terminal along with her. She had arranged everything for the interview to be held in Shimla itself. She called her father and, the rest was a piece of cake. She, Shreya Bansal, was the only daughter of the owner of the Bansal Group of Companies. Shreya Infotech had been named after her.
Karan missed the first flight of his life.
A bitter smile appeared on Karan’s face as memories played like clips from old films inside his head. Five years! Five years had passed since that day. The bodacious girl whose magnetic beauty attracted him like a dull piece of iron proved herself to be much more than even his wildest imagination. He was now nothing but a marionette in her hands. He had lost all his dreams; everything now looked like a hallucination, as if he was in the midst of a bad dream and anytime it could get over.
He was about to get ready for his evening walk when the strong and sensuous wake of Shreya’s most expensive French perfume struck him.
“I’m going to the club, will come late. Don’t you worry, as you know one of my admirers is sure to drop me home”. She brought a sexy smile on her lips and left, without waiting for his response.
Karan looked at his own shadow. It looked ghastly in the weak light of the late evening. It seemed as if it was mocking him. He had even lost the strength or intention to talk to Shreya. These five years had completely enervated him. He had only one respite, only one corner where he could open himself up- his personal website; the poet in him dreamed here, the person in him ripped open his heart to cover them with words. He started writing a piece for an online contest.
Did he really deserve this? Sometimes Karan asked himself. Someone from inside his heart laughed like a lunatic.
“Yes, you did. Didn’t you want to take that amazing beauty in your arms on your first meet? Didn’t you fantasize her as the décolleté dress she was adorning that day revealed her assets? You fool! You didn’t think twice before missing your flight for the interview. You didn’t want to ponder over the possible reasons for why the daughter of a business tycoon wanted to take you home in the very first meet! You got blinded by the brilliance of money and power and beauty.”
Karan muttered in a raspy voice,”But I loved her….”
“Love?” The voice sounded like the cold, sharp, edge of a serrated knife. “Don’t dare to utter the word. It sounds so profaned from your mouth. Someone loved you too. She was ready to wait for you but, your bedazzled eyes forgot all about her”.
Karan was weeping, silently. The voice, on achieving the desired result, faded away in the distance.
Karan knew it would return again, another evening.
Shreya had everything a girl wanted in her life. An abundance of every mortal possession- especially her physical beauty made her invincible. She lost her mother at an early age and, her father, Mr Bansal seldom could coax out time from his busy schedule to look after his daughter. To compensate this, he allowed her with all sorts of indulgence and independence. The result was disastrous. Shreya grew up as an extremely churlish, schematic, and self-centered girl; who had no inhibitions of any kind and had had her first vivid sex experience at the age of fifteen.
It became her hobby to win over boys. She didn’t care a whit for anyone and wanted everyone to succumb to her whims and angelic beauty. Her face belied her intentions, always. She never fell in love with anybody; perhaps, an absence of parental care and love in her childhood made her cruel to the core. She only knew the fact, that, as long as her father had money and, she had her beauty, nothing was unconquerable to her.
The first blow came when she became pregnant at the age of nineteen. Much to her chagrin, somehow, the news reached Mr Banshal and his fatherly ego got hurt. Cancelling his business trip he reached home and declared, that, Shreya should tie up the nuptial knot with a groom of his choice. An urgent marriage was need of the hour for only then her pregnancy could be camouflaged by the marriage.
Shreya was not at all ready to accept it. She even tried for an abortion but, the doctor told her as she had some gynaecological problems, termination of this pregnancy could lead to a lifetime barrenness of the womb. She had no other way left. The young man responsible for the baby ditched her and fled away. She was frantically searching for some solution. It was then that one day while she was there to meet one of his numerous boyfriends at the Shimla Airport, her eyes fell on Karan. The experienced girl at once felt the fruition of her scheme in the innocent eyes and the silent admiration of the small-town boy. And, God helped her with a miracle; out of all the companies on earth, Karan ended up receiving an interview call from Shreya Infotech.
“My family would never approve our relation, Karan. The only thing we can do is to wait. Concentrate hard on your studies so that you can get hired from the campus interview. Meanwhile, my Masters will be completed and, I will seek a job too. We will settle in some other city”. Roshni was describing her plans, which looked like a distant dream to Karan.
“But why Roshni? Why your parents are so obstinate? Why don’t they understand that we love each other?”
“They won’t. They want me to settle for some…” she hesitated….. ” you know, so-called aristocratic family”.
Karan was fuming. Still, he tried his best to hide his acrimony from Roshni; the girl whom he loved since two years. A cauldron of intense emotions was surging in his mind. His father was a farmer, true. They stood much lower on social strata in comparison to Roshni’s family. But his love was beyond all these social complications and, he would be an engineer in less than six months. He could make Roshni happy in every way. Then just why? Why? Why?
He wanted to shout. He earnestly wanted to spill out his emotions by uttering Roshni’s name over and over again. But, he just nodded silently.
“Look”, Roshni said in a serious and serene tone, “I don’t want my parents to get a hint of what’s going on between us. My father is joining as the new collector of the town and my family is shifting here next week. From now on we will act like strangers. Just a few months…… “
Karan stopped her abruptly,”How can you be so sure of getting me a job so soon? Why can’t I talk to you, touch you, and feel you for so many days?” the fervour of his emotion made his voice trembling.
“Try to understand Karan, I will wait for you, even if it takes years. Try to think it as an arranged break-up”.
That was the last time they met.
“Ma’am, there are few more entries for this week’s issue. Will you take a look at them tonight?” Soham’s voice took out Roshni from her reverie.
Coming back to reality, she casually nodded and asked for a cup of coffee.
Working as the editor of a reputed online portal meant you’ve to work harder each day. So many entries were there for the online weekly magazine they published on the web! Not only from India but from all over the world. But Roshni loved her work. Her passion for literature and a Masters degree in the same bestowed her the honour of working with this portal.
The reason for her thoughts involving Karan- was a particular entry. They announced an online contest inviting stories and poems from budding writers and bloggers. A person named K has sent an entry, a teenage love story written in the Shakespearean sonnet form. The name of his website is “Roshni-The Light”.
“Too much coincidence to believe”. Roshni muttered. “Moreover, Karan never tried to reach me after that day. I heard from one of his friends about his interview in some company in Delhi. That was the last news I garnered about him”. She sighed.
Surprisingly, she never felt any hatred or anger towards Karan. The only thing she wanted to know was why he never contacted her. Karan was not in a position in 2008 to afford a cell phone, neither Roshni knew anything about his ancestral village in Himachal Pradesh. She tried every possible online search in these five years to find out a particular Karan Solanki but, in vain.
“Let’s take another chance, I’ve nothing to lose…”
She began writing a reply to the K of “Roshni-The Light”.
Karan’s got married to Shreya within a week from the day he missed his first flight. Only his parents attended the occasion. They were taken aback and, remained speechless for most of the times during their two-day stay in the Bansal House. Karan understood the reality when it was too late. He was used just as a scape-goat…to keep alive the reputation and pride of the Bansal Group of Companies.
When he confronted Shreya laughed and said,”You should consider yourself fortunate enough to be known as the son-in-law of Mr. Bansal and husband of Shreya Bansal. Don’t ever try to poke your sub-standard nose in any of my affairs…I don’t like it”. She smiled again.
That a smile could be so filthy and full of worms- Karan never knew before that.
After giving birth to her child, a daughter, Shaniya, Shreya went back to her routine life of partying and washed her hands off the baby.
She never showed any interest in her daughter. A nanny was appointed and Mr. Bansal tried his best to fulfill the chasm of motherly love and care with dozens of babysitters and servants. Little did he know- money couldn’t buy everything.
The bubbly little girl soon became extremely fond of Karan. Perhaps, her pure heart found some love there.
Karan never tried to contact Roshni, his repentance, and shame prevented him from doing so. He began to hate himself. There was a bleak blanket of frustration that covered him all the time.
But there was a tiny entrance for light- Shaniya. Karan tried but failed to grow a hatred for the innocent, little angel. She called him, papa.
The reply from the famous online portal brought a purely happy smile on Karan’s face after many years. He read it again and again. They’ve acknowledged his entry and asked for his contact details, real name, and address. A short bio mentioning his favorite authors, his inspiration etc. was also needed.
He quickly replied to the email.
“My inspiration,” he wrote, “is a sublime light- Roshni”.
“Why don’t you ever filed a divorce, Karan? You’re enough educated to get a job on your own. Why can’t you come out of this invisible chain of a bitter and loveless relationship?”
Karan was reading Roshni’s email. It’s been six months that they’re communicating through emails and occasionally talked over the phone.
Karan’s primary reaction after knowing the identity of the editor was overwhelming. He cried out of joy and wondered how could a woman be so understanding and lovable and logical. It seemed to him, that, he knew the girl named Roshni; but her maturity and love stunned him once again. He cried again understanding what had he missed. Then, he opened himself up to her, a hand of compassion on his raw wounds made him calmer.
He was replying to her email-
As soon as I understood the scheming behind our marriage, I threatened Shreya with a divorce. That evening Mr. Bansal came home along with the Police Commissioner of Shimla. The bespectacled man smiled and offered me a friendly advice. If I ever try to file a divorce or do any harm to Shreya, he would put me behind the bars making a false case under section 498A. “I’ll also make sure that you’ll enjoy the rest of your life in jail”.
Money speaks a lot, Roshni, and that too, in an obscenely loud voice. He added.
Regular conversation with Roshni was helping Karan to gain his lost confidence, slowly but surely. Again he wanted to be with her, his love of life, his Roshni. He was dreaming again; his dormant wishes got wings, wanting him to fly high in ecstasy.
He secretly was planning for a final move. He arranged his tickets to Mumbai. His plan was to meet Roshni in Mumbai. It’s a big city with too many opportunities. He contacted a person who dealt with fake passports and identities. Karan Solanki was determined this time to live a life of his own; a new name, a new identity.
Karan was about to leave Bansal House. Most casually, without raising any suspicion to anyone, he was crossing the lush green compound when someone from behind held his hand.
“Where are you going, Papa? Today is Sunday and, you promised to play with me….I will cry if you don’t”.
Karan knew he was going to miss the flight, again.