Sunday, June 08, 2008

Forbidden Fruit

“Regular please”,
Akash ordered. The waiter bowed and left.
He liked coming to this hotel. The ambience, the dim lights, the peace and quiet (but for the occasional brawl) and the soothing music. He was transported to a different world. A respite from the routine of day-to-day activities. Here he was one among the many. Unnoticed and undisturbed. He waited for his drink. His thoughts, meanwhile, meandered.


There was none like Meera. She was young, vivacious and charming. She was no extra-ordinary beauty. A plain Jane, if you will. But anyone would take note of her. A smile forever plastered on her face, a song forever on her lips. Music was her life.
It was no surprise then that Akash did not fail to notice her. He didn’t realize when she had not only moved into the next house, but also into his heart.

How did it begin?

Music…music it was. It was the one thing that drew him close to Meera. Though a very mediocre singer, he was an avid fan of old Hindi songs. She was his voice. When she sang his favourite songs, the lilt in her voice enamoured him.

“Akash uncle”, Meera called out, “We shall meet tomorrow”.

That was the only problem. Uncle. He was married and a good fifteen years elder to Meera. And he despised it.

Whenever she was free, Meera would come over to his house. He knew that his wife, Malini, was also fond of Meera. The couple was childless and Meera was the only solace in Malini’s life. Her incessant talks and music filled the barren house. In the evenings, he and Meera would settle down to a session of music and movies. She would eagerly devour the anecdotes he narrated. And she would sing songs and mesmerize him.
One day, his heart quelled the doubts that disturbed his mind. Yes!
He was in love- with Meera.


“Your drink, Sir”, the waiter announced. It disturbed Akash from his reverie. He nodded and the waiter took leave. As he took his first sip, his thoughts loitered. He picturised that particular evening in his mind. He remembered it distinctly; like it had happened yesterday.


Malini had left for the temple. She would be late, she said. She would stop at Shyama’s place on the way back. They had to go shopping. Akash found it an extremely pleasant proposition. Now only if Meera would come.

And she did. “Where’s Malini aunty?” she enquired. “She’s gone to the temple”, Akash replied. A couple of songs later, Meera suggested, “I guess I should leave”.
One more song Meera”, Akash requested. And that one song made all the difference.

Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo
Yunhi pehlu mein baithe raho
Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo
Haay mar jaayenge, hum to lut jaayenge
Aisi baatein kiya na karo
Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo

Akash was moved beyond words. Farida Khanum seemed to mouth his sentiments. And Meera, with her eyes half-closed, stirring passionately with every harkat in the song aroused in him feelings he had bottled for long. She continued…

Waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai magar
Chand ghadiyan yehi hain jo aazad hai
Inko khokar mere jaan-e-jaan
Umr bhar na taraste raho
Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo

He didn’t want to repent not trying. He touched Meera’s hand. She stopped singing and opened her eyes, to find his hand on hers. Akash couldn’t hold his thoughts back any longer. They tumbled out like stones rolling down a steep slope. He felt like a well-shaken champagne bottle that has just been unplugged. Everything was out in a moment, with a lot of fizz and very less remained to be said. After this barrage of words, he felt exhausted yet exhilarated. Finally relieved to get it off his chest. Meera just listened. And then she smiled. She felt as if someone had put her thoughts into words. She had felt a strange connection to Akash. And then the moment had revealed it – the feelings were mutual. Akash couldn’t believe it. She echoed his sentiments. From then on, their rendezvous took another flavour.


The waiter appeared again. Akash ordered the next drink.
Where had things gone wrong?
Ah yes! He recollected…


Malini had gone to her native place. He was alone. And Meera had come along, as usual.
There was a particularly uncomfortable silence between them that day. Tension was palpably in the air. She started to sing…

Piya tose naina laage re
Naina laage re
Jaane kyaa ho ab aage re…

The next thing she knew, Akash had almost embraced her. He felt his heart thump hard. He had almost engulfed her in his warmth. But he froze. His eyes fell on their photo. Malini and him. Together and happy. A pang of guilt confounded him.

Meera snorted. “Thought of your wife, didn’t you?” she mocked him. Something he could not deny. He remained silent. She stepped back and continued,
“This relationship has no future. It’s a dead end. Cul-de-sac. You have your family and that is your priority. I will have one in the future; that will be mine. Why fall into a pit with eyes open? This will be labelled as infidelity, promiscuity and what not! I will be called the seductress and marriage-wrecker. I am the woh in 'Pati, patni aur woh'. Can a tawaaif ever become the wife???” And she laughed at her own self-depreciatory joke.

“I may have a place in your heart, but none in your life. This is a forbidden fruit, Akash. Don’t taste it. You will live to repent it.”

“It’s not meant to be, Akash. Just not meant to be.” She said. “I have a career to pursue, in singing. One day, I will be a famous singer. Remember me then.” Saying this, she left his house. And his life.


“Your drink Sir.” Oh yes…he had ordered one. “Thanks” he replied. The waiter left him to himself. He had always wondered. Was it true love? A heightened sense of admiration? Or a passing infatuation? He would never know. She never gave it a chance. But he could never forget her.

Ek tum hi nahi tanha
Ulfat mein mere ruswa
Ulfat mein mere ruswa

Meera still had that lilt to her voice. Akash opened his eyes and saw her sing; with her eyes half-closed. Years had added grace and depth to her singing. He smiled sadly. For all her ambitions, she was relegated to a singer…at a hotel. But he knew she was born to sing for him. Forever.

Is shehar mein tum jaise
Deewane hazaron hai
Deewane hazaron hai

In aankhon ke masti ke
Mastane hazaaron hai….

He closed his eyes and reclined in his chair. He drifted into a world of his own. Where all his dreams came true…
Thought for the day: " The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is to love and be loved in return."
~ From Unforgettable with Love by Natalie Cole


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...