RUTH­LESS AM­BI­TIONS

It knew no re­stric­tions.

Woman's Era - - News - Geeta Kashyap

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…

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