Life’s short, yet it’s full of vibes. And as it changes, it changes every bit of it. Perhaps my life was too monotonous to drag on; hence it was time for a little twist and turn.
It all began too unusually, when Ishika took her entry into my life. Like a shining star, she lightened up my city, where someone had left me all alone, getting darkness in every nook and corner of it. Here and there she strolled in my life, and now and then she hummed the tune of an unnamed love.
I had no idea that the flute of her love would play a different tune in my heart. My kite was slowly getting more and more entangled in her string, when I got struck by the dark waft of reality. Amidst the clouds, she stepped into my dark soul, beginning the long lane of our saga, and changing all equations of the known, and the unknown.
It was the blissful morning of February 14, just a few years back, when this story laid its stepping stone. With the little birds chirping, and the cool wind blowing by the casement, she heard the clock strike eight, when she opened her eyes.
I had never felt how my own cards were tricking me for a new game. I had a diamond; I had a spade; but she took my heart, and left me a Joker. The sweet sunshine was energetic. The morning sunrays touched her pretty lips and glowed with the cute ‘Good Morning’ that she wished her mother.
“Romeo! Mom, where’s Romeo?”
“Prachi has taken him for a walk!”
“Strange! Every morning I get fed up asking her to leave bed, and this morning she has gone out with Romeo! What happened to this girl?”
Oh no! She was already half an hour late! More often than not, she woke up around 7:30 a.m. every morning, stirred not by an alarm clock but by the rustling of their dog, which would look to go out, take a walk, and get fed.
Ishika was not getting on time, but her routine never botched! As on the other days, she put on a full kettle of water. The newspaper was lying on the table, while she headed to the washbasin to brush her teeth and scrape her tongue. Mornings without some health habits were worthless! As the water boiled, she meditated.
“Mom, I’m back.” shouted Prachi, while she entered.
“Prachi, good morning.”
“Good morning didi.”
“O Romeo! My sweet Romeo! How was the walk baby? Are you feeling hungry? O dear, just wait a few more minutes.”
Ishika measured and ground the beans, and heated up the water for their Coffee. While it was being made, she fed her dog. Romeo was her cute little boyfriend with four legs. Her love for him could be well understood from her ringtone, as nothing seemed to be a better choice for her, save for the ‘woof woof’ of her Bichon Frise!
The toasts were ready, and the drinks too! According to Ishika, coffee had a power to fight depression, and it generally made her happy. It was a habit she was in love with. However, as she was about to serve the warm beverage, she heard her phone barking.
“Hello, Ishika speaking.”
“Good morning Ishika, are you coming for the movie today? You promised me. Don’t fail. Two p.m. sharp.” A male voice spoke from the other side.
“What? Who are you? And when did I make such a promise?”
“Oh come on Ishika, you are joking right! Yesterday we were sitting in the canteen when we made the plan for today! Ishika, it’s Valentine’s Day, you can’t do this.”
“What the hell are you speaking? I think you have mistaken. Neither did I go to the canteen yesterday, nor did I make such a promise. Please don’t disturb.”
…. and she ended the call.
“Whose call was it?” her mom asked.
“Wrong number may be. Talking rubbish, leave it.”
When I first met her, she was twenty-one. A bubbly young girl, she had just begun her masters in English literature. While a random girl of today’s generation leads a reckless life least bothering about her future, Ishika was one of those to whom family values meant a lot more than anything else in the world.
Life was too tiresome, and time went too tedious even for her, apart from the few hours of musical journey in the evenings that nourished her passion. Every time her soul resonated with the melodious tune of her taanpura, she poured her heart out in her song. Hers was a truly mesmerizing voice, that had a divine power of soothing. Like a winter leaf, it had the courage to flow with the river, blow with the breeze, and even fall with glory from the profligate mountain tops.
Ishika took the coffee cup in her hand and poured some coffee in it, when the phone barked again.
“Hey, what is this? Early in the morning you are disturbing a girl like this! What do you think of yourself? Why don’t you verify the phone number before dialling?”
“No, I know very well whom I’ve called. Ishika, you can’t do this to me. Why are you ignoring me? Even after two months of relationship, you can’t recognize me! Why are you doing this? You know how much I love you, and how much committed I’m to you. Remember the first kiss ….”
“Eh, What rubbish! Stop it right now, or else I will go to the Police.”
“Try to understand. I love you.”
“Oh really! Now bring this joke to a close. Bye.”
“No Ishika! You can’t leave me like this.”
Ishika was now in a state of real despair. “For God’s sake, please, please stop this nonsense. I said I have never made such a promise. I already have a boyfriend and I’m happy with him. Don’t disturb.”
“No. You can’t say this. It hurts. Why don’t you admit it? Admit you love me too. I can’t live without you. You promised you’ll never leave me alone.”
Ishika, as baffled and tensed she was now, answered in a trembling voice, “Listen, I really don’t know you. Please don’t do this. I think you meant to talk to someone else. Please check the phone number once more. I have to get ready for my classes. Please excuse me. Bye.”
Seriously! What an episode it was! I could not control my laughter. Well, the boy was none other than me, the Great RJ Aarav Singhal! Ha ha. I regret for talking too much, but it’s what I get paid for, isn’t it? “Never mind”, I confessed, and finally spoke up, “Please don’t get angry! This is Aarav from ‘Sweet 99.9 FM’. Miss Ishika Rathore, I just made you the fool of the day.”
I had thought she would laugh, and say that she had enjoyed the prank. But O God! I was wrong. Ishika was not a girl to be subdued.
“What the hell is this?” She started, “You call anyone like this and crack a joke of the person! And how did you get my phone number, huh?”
“Ishika, relax. I think you missed my show today. I am RJ Aarav! Can’t you recognize me? Switch on the radio and get to me, on Sweet 99.9 FM.”
“I don’t need to listen to all your rubbish every morning. My sister is enough to get the worms out of my ears; I don’t need you for that. By the way, who knows if you are really from the radio or you’re trying to trick me? I can’t believe you. Even if you are speaking from the so called Sweet FM, how dare you? I just wanna make a complaint to the police. You can not disturb people like this.”
Ishika’s call had kept me in a truly disastrous state of affairs. The show was live, and this kind of mess was surely going to invite a debacle for my show!
From the very beginning of my childhood, I had a liking for the radio. Speaking was my hobby, and I was the one who had to kneel down in every class in my school days. Too talkative I was! People said I was a happy-go-lucky guy, full of unflagging energy and liveliness. But had I ever imagined in my childhood that one day I would be among the most popular RJs of all times!
The gift of the gab was a boon to me. My effortless and spontaneous singing ability, when added to this, made me one of the star icons of the city. An inborn talent, when exposed, led me to the peak of success in just two years.
But what would happen to me if she filed a case of harassment against me! The idea of such a show was utterly mine. Oh no!
“Ishika! Why so grim and serious? Why don’t you think the other way?”, I said in the softest tone I had, “I can see, your sister Prachi Rathore had mailed me this morning for this, and it was just for fun. Switch on the radio and get to us.”
The thunderstorm in her mind seemed to fade away under a strange magic that perhaps my voice expelled. “Oh! Then this was the reason behind her early rise today!” she murmured.
“No, nothing.” Ishika stood quiet for a while, finally realizing her foolishness.
“Is this a live show?” she asked.
“Yes, and everyone is listening to you.”
“Is this a very popular show? But I never knew about it!”
It was a question so awkward! Wasn’t it? I was puzzled, but still happy- at least I found someone who had never heard of it before!
“It’s alright.” I continued.
I could understand, Ishika was extremely angry with her sister. She was embarrassed, I knew. Still she went on, “But these kinds of shows cannot run! Someone is trying to disturb others and you all are helping in it!”
“Hey Ishika, cool down.”, I interrupted, “It’s just a fun show and nothing is intended to get hurt or disturbed. So, if you have already forgiven me for all these, may I know your plan for the day?”
“Oh, I don’t believe in all these.”
“Why! How can there be just one special day for love? Ridiculous! It’s just a day for florists and gift shops to make money.”
“OK you don’t believe in it, but you must have got a plan for the day to celebrate with your boyfriend, haven’t you? By the way, who’s the lucky guy?”
“No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Hey just a few minutes back you said you’ve a boyfriend!”
“Oh yeah, It was to get rid of you.” Ishika laughed, “Life is a long journey, and I hope to get the right person at the right time. Perhaps these days will be meaningful then.”
“Well said Ishika, Life is indeed a voyage and may your co-traveller join you at the right moment. Here I say ‘bye’ to Ishika. Happy Valentine’s Day, enjoy and stay tuned to Sweet 99.9 FM. Sweet friendship never dies!”
Ishika stood confused for a moment and giggled at her stupidity.
“Mom where is Prachi?”
“She has gone for tuition. Why? Any problem?”
“No, let her come back in the evening, I will see her!” -she went for the bath and shut the door.
The Valentine’s Day episode was a great hit and the huge response from the young generation yet again proved their love for the show with thousands of calls and messages. Oh, at least my show did not have to face any police case!
Talking to the callers, I remembered how my trust was once broken by a girl whom I had loved more than myself. She was my first love. Simran! Simran Raghuveer Singh- a simple girl from Punjab. Singh and Singhal- sound too similar? We were indeed too close, yet too far! Punjab and Himachal touched each other on the map, but our fates never did.
Simran was the fairy of my tale. Her leaned eyes, her every style, all had something to tell. Since the time I had met her, I didn’t realize when I became hers, and she was mine. She was one of the strange colours, which I used to keep looking at. All the time we met, I kept laughing at her talks, and kept on making a fool of myself.
Bade bade colleges mein aise chhote chhote love stories, hote hi rahte hain. But our chronicle was different. I was a traveller of a far away land, a lover of sunshine. I never liked shades, yet thousand shades of love she shaped for me. She was as if a beautiful poem, which gave a moment’s peace to my soul.
It could have been a sweet evergreen love story, had my faiths not broken in the middle of her lies. The healing was not easy. I believed she loved me intensely, but I never knew one day the same girl would betray me, and leave me alone, in the heart of the crowd, for a reason that forever remained a mystery.
Valentine’s Day is a great day for lovers, but what about the roses? To be honest, I was going through a heart break on a personal front, but on air, I solved others’ romantic problems, as they called me a ’love guru’. The talks of heart were all deception. Whether she was there with me or not, what was the difference? The life was heartless, and forever merciless. It was a memory that I lamented every time it came back, and I still wish it had never happened.
“Well, it was a truly remarkable time talking to you all. Each one of you, please enjoy the day with your special one. And if you are still single, there’s always an option to mingle, isn’t it? Hereby I sign off and Shivin will be with you all in a few minutes. Till then, here’s a soulful recent hit for you. Stay tuned.”
The watch showed 11 o’ clock and I left for my home. There was huge traffic on the road; the traffic light was red for quite some time. Unlike the mountains, the lowland was too busy. From down below, none could make out how beautiful my city was. Sitting in my A.C. car and listening to soft music, I looked out through the window. There I saw the boy at the corner of the street selling magazines. I saw the fat lady quarrelling with the shopkeeper for charging extra money for a thing.
The man at the side of the road reminded me of my dad. Mr. Singhal, I knew, was not my biological father, but for me, he was my only father. At least my mother was happy with him! After five years of a mismatched marriage, when my mother finally took the decision of coming out with me, then just three and a half years old, it was Mr. Singhal who came forward and stood beside her.
Mr. Singhal’s first wife had died in a terrible fire accident, and his little son had been a witness to the whole incident. It would be a hard time for him to take care of his business and Rishav at the same pace. His son was just a few months younger than me, but I don’t know why he never understood me! We had neither been good friends, nor brothers. He had never played with me, never shared his feelings with me, and above all, I realized, he hated me.
When Mr. Singhal was alive, he had never let his wife and his sons realize what the word ‘poverty’ meant. As an eminent architect, he was an umbrella to his family. I was very close to this man, and I knew I was no less than his own child. Though planning “daddy time” for kids each week was tough for him, yet he tried to be there for important milestones in our lives. His fatherly affections to us were more than any other pleasure on the earth.
Tears rolled down my cheeks. When he passed away seven years back, Rishav left us and started living separately with his band. He never bothered to contact us, and we too failed to reach him. Sources said he had developed a particular weakness for swopping and betting, but that was only to lead an extravagant life. My mother took a small job at a nearby tailoring shop to run the family of two. Not a square meal was available daily, still contented we were.
How happy my father would have been if he knew that his son had won the “Trendiest RJ” award in the recent times! I had lost my own father, but currently I’m the son to thousand more. The sincerity and dedication I put in my work, I believed, was enough to fight every negativity that came my way.
I looked at the man yet again; he was desperately trying to go to the other side of the road. I could not resist myself, so I got down from the car and moved on to the man.
“Excuse me uncle, may I help you?”
“No child, I am perfectly alright.”
“I am like your son. It’s my duty to help you. You seem to be weak. As a human being, can’t I lend a hand to you?”
“Han beta, you’re right. I am not feeling well. Thank you so much, child.”
I still remember Steve Maraboli has once said, ‘A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.’ Previously, I was not acquainted with the man, but I felt as if I knew him.
I helped him cross the road, and in its return, what I got was irreplaceable by any other materialistic gifts in the world. Almost in his fifties, the man touched my cheeks with his skinny fingers and blessed me.
“Perhaps God has sent my son through you. May God bless you.”
I touched his feet and smiled. The man too smiled at me. His smile was captivating and full of warmth. I don’t know why, but I could feel it. A blessing from a father-like man was the highest reward for me, and I believe it was worth doing my duty towards nation.
The green light shone. I put the key again and drove back. The RJ Hunt was not too far and I realized I had lots of work to do.