It knew no restrictions.
I’m ruined, Mayank has dumped me!’ This was the first thought that hit Jessica as she groggily opened her eyes in the morning. What a horrible night it had been! The previous night’s violent scuffle with Mayank, his betrayal and a few extra pegs of alcohol she had, all had their effects still on her. She had drunk more than usual to drown her defeat and sorrow. Realisation of her perilous situation made her mind alert at once and it raced thinking about her future.
The lease of their fiveyear-old love-nest, which was a duplex row house in an upscale housing complex, was due to expire in about a month’s time. Mayank had promised to buy her a fully- furnished three-bedroom luxury apartment at Bandra and he was to recommend her to the top-notch JVR films and launch her as a Bollywood heroine. He had gone back on all his promises.
He was now trying to sabotage her career and had insulted her by suggesting that she accompany the agency’s star clients on a foreign holiday to earn some easy money! He was turning her from being his girlfriend and an exclusive model of his agency, to a slut! Jessica hadn’t anticipated such a jolt, so early in her career. ‘B******!’ she cussed under her breath as she seethed with anger and resentment.
Jessica had always tried to forget her unpleasant past and move on with optimism. But Mayank’s betrayal now triggered memories of her turbulent past. They repeatedly reminded her of her failure to realise her dreams. The painful circumstances that led to her confrontation with Mayank unfolded for the umpteenth time in her mind… When Jessica was just about three years old, her parents had separated and her father had severed all contacts with them. Jessica hardly had any memories of her father. Her
She had grown up listening to her neighbours’ taunts and innuendos regarding her mother’s friendship with Roshan uncle. As a child, she knew him as a kind and loving uncle who always brought sweets and gifts for Robin and her. ”Jess, the glamour you see here is very fleeting and superficial. There are hundreds of girls coming to Mumbai every day to become models or film stars. Mayank Gupta of Mmystique has a weakness for tall and young girls like you. Catch his attention using all your charms. Once that is done, he will take care of your career.”
mother worked in a travel agency and they had rented a tiny house in a crowded colony of Old Delhi. Jessica’s brother Robin was born after her parents’ separation. Jessica had become the surrogate mother to her little brother who was almost seven years younger than her. She had grown up listening to her neighbours’ taunts and innuendos regarding her mother’s friendship with Roshan uncle. As a child, she knew him as a kind and loving uncle who always brought sweets and gifts for Robin and her. As she grew up, she understood and accepted Roshan uncle as her mother’s special friend even though society sniggered at their friendship.
As an average student, Jessica knew that routine education and work to earn a livelihood was not her cup of tea. She despised a life of drudgery. She knew that society would always treat her differently once they knew her background. She wanted to choose a profession that would value just her looks and make her rich and famous overnight. And Jessica was mentally prepared to do everything necessary to achieve that and change her circumstances. She was nearly out of her teens when her mother purchased a large apartment in the posh area of Gurgaon. She had taken a big loan with Roshan uncle’s backing. This move had helped Jessica befriend some of the rich boys of Delhi and better her social life. Unfortunately, just a few months later Roshan uncle had a massive heart attack and he passed away leaving Jessica’s family in an acute financial mess. That was when Jessica had decided to drop her boyfriends and move to Mumbai to try her luck in modelling and thus support her mother.
At the age of 20 Jessica had quite an easy entry into the world of modelling because of her beauty, figure, and height. As she started doing smaller assignments, Sunny, who was her make-up-artistturned mentor had taught her some of the important truths of show business. He had said, ”Jess, the glamour you see here is very fleeting and superficial. There are hundreds of girls coming to Mumbai every day to become models or film stars. You are just one amongst many. To stand out and achieve success, baby, you need to become the arm candy of an influential and established guy from the industry. As long as you keep his interest in you alive, you will be successful. Since the competition is tough, you have to be quick and you better remember that nobody fancies associating with a struggler. Mayank Gupta of Mmystique has a weakness for tall and young girls like you. Catch his attention using all your charms. Once that is done, he will take care of your career.”
essica was a quick learner and she had managed to capture Mayank’s heart following Sunny’s guidance. With that, Jessica easily scaled the heights of her career in a short time, enjoying fame and money. However, Jessica’s meteoric growth had hardly changed Sunny’s fortunes, since he continued to struggle and nurse his ambition of owning a high-end beauty and wellness chain. Even though he was Jessica’s mentor and confidant, he still worked hard and stayed in one of the modest flats near Jessica’s lavish love nest.
Mayank Gupta was a married man with three children. His wife was a traditional housewife and Jessica had heard whispers that much of Mayank’s wealth came from his marriage to her. Prior to becoming the owner of Mmystique, Mayank was just an executive in one of the advertising agencies. However, after marriage, he had enough wealth to start his own agency and with his sharp business acumen he had doubled their wealth in a short time. Easy success had brought over-confidence and showmanship to him.
With Jessica becoming Mayank’s exclusive girl, opportunities, success, and fame had come knocking at her door. She had done many exclusive national as well as international advertisements, walked the ramp for all the best designers in the country and had mingled with all the ‘movers and shakers’ of society. All these were essential considering the cut-throat competition and the short-term careers most models had. So using ‘all means’ to grab maximum professional opportunities at the earliest was imperative! As Mayank’s exclusive girl, she had also become the toast of gossip magazines. This was something Jessica loved the most. She had understood early in her career that any publicity good or bad, would do wonders to her career in the glamour business.
Added to this, Mayank had declared his undying love for her! Mayank was stuck in a loveless marriage and much of his wealth was still being controlled by his wife. So, knowing his situation, Jessica had cleverly charted a neat career graph for herself using Mayank as a stepping stone till she would become a Bollywood heroine. She wouldn’t need him later on as he was almost 20 years older than her and she did not want to get stuck with him for an entire lifetime. Just when Jessica was so close to achieve all that she had envisaged, Nysa had entered the scene toppling all her plans!
The latest international advertisement for sunglasses, which was supposed to feature Jessica was the first one for her to be replaced by Nysa. Nysa’s Indo-german looks, foreign upbringing, attitude, and elan had bowled over
With so many gossip magazines watching them over constantly, Jessica knew that it would be a matter of just days before everyone would know about her downfall.
Mayank ! In jealousy, Jessica had sneered Mayank asking what he had found so special in Nysa’s boyish face and figure. Mayank had now stopped seeing Jessica or even taking her calls for that matter. With so many gossip magazines watching them over constantly, Jessica knew that it would be a matter of just days before everyone would know about her downfall. With that, people in show business would lose all interest in her. These thoughts were very scary and depressing.
Apart from this, due to Mayank’s benevolence, Jessica had cultivated a lavish lifestyle, she had paid off the loan on her mother’s Gurgaon flat, she was paying for Robin’s education abroad and the rest of her money was being splurged on expensive beauty treatments and surgeries which were essential for staying on top in her profession.
She was totally unprepared for her downfall. Without a substantial bank balance, Jessica was now getting desperate by the day! She had to take control of her situation and extract all that Mayank had promised as that would leave her financially a little stable till something else could be worked out to salvage her professional goals!
Two days later, when Jessica came to know through her sources about Mayank’s secret rendezvous at the five-star resort, The Cove, she gatecrashed with the intention of embarrassing or reclaimming him and then blackmail him into fulfilling his promises. She had hoped that Mayank would give in to her demands to avoid a public spat and negative publicity. She wanted to get out of his life once he fulfilled all the promises he had made during their good times together. But, when she actually faced Mayank he had skillfully pacified her. He reassured her of his undying love and had driven her back to their love-nest, making Jessica chide herself for her impulsiveness.
But once home, he had abused and threatened her with dire consequences if she ever tried to get in his way! Refusing to take his threats meekly, she had lunged at him and in that scuffle he had assaulted her badly.
Even as she lay crying in pain and frustration, Mayank had left her place threatening her with dire consequences if she ever tried her tricks again. Unable to handle her humiliation, Jessica had had too many drinks the previous night.
Lying in her bed, Jessica fondly looked at all the things in her bedroom. The bedroom wall on her right had a large poster of hers in a bikini showing off her beautiful curvaceous body, a look at which could set temperatures of men soaring! On to her left was a close-up shot of hers showing her innocent face with a seductive pout! What a successful campaign it had been for a Japanese make-up brand, shot almost four years ago! It had brought Jessica so much adulation. A sense of pride crossed her mind.
Slowly, as she returned to the present all the expensive artefacts brought from her various trips around the world stared back at her. They reminded her of the massive personal and professional loss she would suffer due to Mayank’s anger and indifference. She shuddered. She had to do some damage control before it was too late! She could not think of taking advice from anyone at that juncture but Sunny. Yes, he was the only person whom she could trust blindly. As the thoughts became clear, she tried to get up, but her right forehand hurt badly making her wince and she moved her fingers over her painful swollen nose. Ouch! It hurt really bad, perhaps it was fractured! Last night’s memories of violence came flooding all over again…
Her hands shivered as she picked up her mobile that lay next to her to check her face using the selfie camera. Her beautiful lips and nose had turned blue and swollen. Her left cheek had a gash very close to her eye. A large blood clot had formed there. Goodness! She winced. Mayank had been really rough and violent; he had revealed a face that she had not seen in the five years she had spent with him! She always knew him as an overconfident and domineering super- successful advertising business shark but she was no less of a match for him! She knew really well to handle him tactfully; always pampering and bolstering his ego to get whatever she desired! But the entry of Nysa had tilted her scales and now
Jessica becoming Mayank’s exclusive girl, opportunities, success, and fame had come knocking at her door. She had done many exclusive national as well as international advertisements, walked the ramp for all the best designers in the country.
Mayank desired Nysa! “B***!” She cursed loudly.
She couldn’t help crying over her situation. Jessica struggled to get up once again but lost her balance and fell back on the bed. Supporting herself carefully against the headrest, she phoned Sunny and started crying bitterly as she heard his caring voice from the other end. In between sobs she narrated, “Sunny, last night… Mayank was here and we had an ugly squabble… and he has assaulted me badly… I think he has fractured my nose… I need you here desperately, NOW! Come over at once, please… I want to lodge the complaint with the police and also see a doctor.”
“Jess, how could he be so brutal? Relax dear; don’t cry, hold on, baby, I will be there in 15 minutes,” the concern in Sunny’s voice comforted and reassured Jessica that she was, after all, not alone in her fight. Having an experience of nearly 20 years in the industry, Sunny could easily gather more support for her from the others in the industry as well. This thought brought back Jessica’s lost hope. Checking her image once again, she clicked a few selfies from various angles. Visuals of bad bruises strangely comforted her and they strengthened her resolve to fight back!
She now had proof of Mayank’s brutality. Once again she felt the scales tilting in her favour! With renewed confidence, she thought it would also be a good idea to hold a press conference and get better publicity! With the satisfaction of having taken the correct first step, with great difficulty, she got out of her massive circular bed and headed for the bathroom.
In exactly 15 minutes, Sunny, who had keys to her house, was by her side. His punctuality reassured Jessica of his support. Hugging him tight, Jessica cried her heart out. She narrated Mayank’s brutality in detail pausing in between to give choicest abuses to him.
Sunny listened to Jessica with rapt attention and pacified her with the right amount of sympathy and the magical healing words. He knew Mayank had indeed crossed his limits and messed up Jessica’s life. Sunny thought for a while pacing in Jessica’s living room. He couldn’t help noticing the opulence of the room; from artefacts to furniture. One wall of the room had a huge photograph of Jessica splashing water in a playful mood. Jessica looked so lovely and ravishing in that photograph. Sunny held his breath and thought, no photographer could ever do full justice to Jessica’s beauty in flesh and blood; she was far more beautiful in reality...and Nysa may be even better to have captured Mayank’s fancy!
Sunny felt a pang of jealousy raising its hood! People like him had to toil endlessly to survive and then reach some respectable level in life, while these girls achieved so much in such a short time! He was the guardian angel of Jessica, yet his own standing in the industry never improved! Had she cared, she could have changed his fortune for the better, but… she hardly ever thought of helping him out in her heyday! Talk of friendship and affection was limited to lip service only.
Yet, today in her darkest hour she could think only of him! He sighed and muttered under the breath, ‘Hope at least now she realises my importance in her life!’ He thought over the various options available to them. After much thought, he concluded that taking a stand against Mayank and supporting Jessica openly at this stage could jeopardise his own career and isolate him in his own profession! …He had to now play his cards wisely!...
He turned to Jessica slowly and said, “Jess, I thought over the issue on hand. We are going against the tide, Mayank is too influential. An FIR won’t get you the desired results. The police may not file an FIR and may, in fact, advise you to simply patch up with him.
“You need a watertight case if you want to corner Mayank.” Then rubbing his chin thoughtfully, Sunny continued, “Look, I have a plan, it is a bit risky… but it is worth trying. With this plan in our armour, we can manipulate Mayank to fulfil all his promises and even more. He will do anything to save his marriage, to prevent negative publicity, and to avoid going to jail!”
Jessica put the mirror in her hand down and listened to Sunny attentively.
Sunny reiterated,“you are the topmost model right now. How dare he treat you so shabbily? We will definitely make him pay for his deeds, don’t you worry, dear, I am with you.”
“To corner that lout and cheat, I will do anything you say, Sunny? You have been my mentor and you know what is best for me,” Jessica affirmed, checking her image again and again, in the hand mirror.
Synchronising the time on his wristwatch and the wall clock in Jessica’s living room, Sunny said, “Then listen, in about two hours from now, that is exactly at 10, I will come here. The entire industry swears by my punctuality, you are aware of that, right?”
Jessica nodded in affirmation.
“By then, finish your breakfast and be ready. Write a detailed suicide note implicating Mayank and leave it on that sidetable at the entrance of your living room. Prepare a noose right here in the living room and wait for me. As soon as I park my car in front of your house, I will honk twice. Then, as you know, it takes me just a minute to open the main door and come in.
“As soon as you see me open the gate, hang yourself. And in less than
Had she cared, she could have changed his fortune for the better, but… she hardly ever thought of helping him out in her heyday! Talk of friendship and affection was limited to lip service only.
half a minute, I will be inside here to rescue and rush you to the nearby hospital. Don’t worry, you will be absolutely safe! For authenticity’s sake, we have to go through this act. I will then promptly hand over your suicide note to the police. After that, you can sit back and watch Mayank fulfil all your demands to escape from the law! You will then have him run behind you like a puppy! Ha...ha! Then… show him who you are and what you mean. Extract all that you desire from him. He won’t have any options left if he wants to save his marriage, money, and position in society!”
Appreciating Sunny’s clever plan, Jessica smiled hesitantly and started rubbing her palms feverishly in nervousness. She said, “Sunny, you are a genius! I will do anything you say, but just assure me that nothing would go wrong with me. I am feeling damn…damn nervous.”
Sunny patted Jessica’s hands and assured, “Trust me, dear, simply stick to our plan and I will handle everything else. Just keep your lips sealed, never ever leak our plan to anyone, any time. We cannot trust anyone else! And, after the event, remember to share some goodies with me!” Sunny winked wickedly at Jessica easing the atmosphere.
Jessica nodded solemnly. She still looked nervous and uncertain.
“Cheer up, dear! I am with you. Everything will turn out fine…we have a perfect plan in hand. So, be ready. I will see you at 10 o’clock, sharp.” Sunny hugged her gently, kissing her forehead in affection and he said,” Bye, dear, see you at 10.”
As Jessica closed the door behind Sunny, a wicked smile escaped her swollen lips. She thought Sunny had indeed worked out a wonderful plan to trap Mayank and in that process, again she could garner a lot of publicity! Mayank wouldn’t be able to escape such a high-profile case easily. If fate smiled on her film directors and the production houses would queue up in front of her house for the rights to make a movie based on her own life! With that, she would become famous on her own! Jessica couldn’t hold back her triumphant smile; Sunny had shown her an excellent way to tame Mayank. She could now extract double or even triple the amount Mayank had promised!
Jesssica hissed, “Mayank…you do not know the fury of a scorned woman. Your game is up!…and…you are finished!”
That afternoon, all the midday newspapers and television channels screamed about the death of ‘Supermodel’ Jessica under mysterious circumstances, by hanging at her residence, without leaving a suicide note! According to the news agencies, watchmen at the gate of the housing complex had told them that, after Mayank left on the previous evening, an inebriated Jessica had gone out all alone, driving her SUV rashly. When she returned an hour later, she was crying and her face was badly bruised. They also revealed to the police and the media that Jessica had a young mystery lover, who perhaps was the reason behind her bruises and her untimely death! Three months later… As the police could not trace Jessica’s mystery lover or the motive behind her suicide, they closed her case as ‘Death by accident’. Since Jessica’s high-profile suicide case put undue strain on Mayank’s family, he and his wife separated. Nysa had become the new supermodel and, last but not least, Sunny had finally launched his ambitious ‘Beauty and wellness chain’ in collaboration with a top European lifestyle brand!
Sometimes you face difficulties not because you’re doing something wrong, but because you’re doing something right…