HERO­INE – (PART-III)

She cries in front of her hero. The story so far Ashish and Joanna open up, rather get in­volved. Will it lead to love bloss­ming?

Woman's Era - - Contents - Ar­jun Mukher­jee

Dr Bhar­gav was a strict doc­tor, very strict. ‘Who is this girl, sorry I want to talk to my pa­tient in pri­vate.’ Ashish and Joanna were seated in front of Dr Bhar­gav for con­sul­ta­tion. Ashish was won­der­ing how to con­vince him when she took con­trol. ‘Well Sir, I am the one who is get­ting mar­ried to him,’ she went on, ‘if you can please al­low me, since I think I have the right to know what’s wrong with him.’ As Dr Bhar­gav pon­dered, Ashish whis­pered, ‘good one.’ ‘Okay, let her be,’ he said after a while, ‘You start from the very start.’ ‘Sir, I am in love with the con­cept

Mr Bhar­gav was over­con­fi­dent, he thought his 2 minute lec­ture will be able to in­flu­ence Ashish’s 20 years of ob­ses­sion. ‘ You are still not get­ting me Sir, okay let’s make it even lighter. ‘Sir, I am in love with the con­cept of the Hindi movie hero­ine.’ ‘Which hero­ine, Sridevi?’ Not again won­dered Ashish, ‘You don’t get me Sir, there is no par­tic­u­lar hero­ine, it is the virtue of the hero­ines that at­tracts me,’ he said.

of the Hindi movie hero­ine.’ ‘Which hero­ine, Sridevi?’ Not again won­dered Ashish, ‘You don’t get me Sir, there is no par­tic­u­lar hero­ine, it is the virtue of the hero­ines that at­tracts me,’ he said. ‘Elab­o­rate.’ ‘How to de­scribe, their spon­tane­ity, their ex­u­ber­ance, their never end­ing charm, their aura. The one girl for whom you want to fight with the en­tire world. The sin­gle glance that keeps you awake the en­tire night,’ Ashish would have gone on and on had not Dr Bhar­gav stopped him. ‘Un­der­stood, Schizophre­nia, from when you started hav­ing these hal­lu­ci­na­tions,’ he sym­pa­thised with Ashish. ‘Hal­lu­ci­na­tions,’ he was con­fused, ‘You don’t get it Sir, okay I guess it was too heavy for you, let’s make it light.’ ‘Which is your favourite movie, sir?’ ‘Sho­lay, what does my favourite movie got to do with you?’ ‘Tell me hon­estly when the glass pieces pierced Bas­anti’s soft feet, didn’t you feel as if the

‘ Wow, I al­ways wanted to wear a sari, it’s so sexy, man,’ she was ex­cited. ‘ To­day is your lucky day, go and wear it.’ ‘ You crazy I don’t know how to wear a sari.’ Even her mom had no idea how a sari is worn. ‘Come on,’ Joanna pulled him out in the rains. ‘What are you do­ing,’ he asked. ‘Time to give my au­di­tions, for I des­per­ately want to be your hero­ine.’ She dragged him in the rains. ‘What, I can’t dance.’ ‘I will dance, you just give com­pany,’ she said. So Tip tip barsa paani.

glass pieces ac­tu­ally pierced your heart,’ Ashish was all emo­tional. Joanna tried her very best to con­trol her laugh­ter, but she was not sure till when. ‘Look son, that is what movie-mak­ing is all about, there is a story writer who writes these mag­ni­fi­cient scenes, the screen­play writer vi­su­alises the same, the direc­tor brings them to life and the per­for­mances of your so- called hero­ines make them real. It is a medium to en­ter­tain us, it is a make- be­live world not to be taken so se­ri­ously.’ Mr Bhar­gav was over­con­fi­dent, he thought his 2 minute lec­ture will be able to in­flu­ence Ashish’s 20 years of ob­ses­sion. ‘You are still not get­ting me Sir, okay let’s make it even lighter,’ Ashish was get­ting ir­ri­tated. ‘Have you seen Mr In­dia?’ Dr Bhar­gav nod­ded. ‘How was that song, Kate nahin katte yeh din yeh raat, kuch kuch hua tha naa, Sir?’ Dr Bhar­gav was sweat­ing, ‘no.’ ‘You are ly­ing,’ he an­swered back. ‘Dr Bhar­gav stamped the ta­ble and said, ‘ Bol raha hu naa, no.’ ‘Puree In­dia ko hua tha yaar,’ Ashish stamped the ta­ble even harder and an­swered back. Joanna was des­per­ately try­ing to think about her break-up, even then she was un­able to con­trol her laugh­ter. ‘Look, you are se­ri­ously ill, I am telling you, okay let me try to ex­plain it in your way, have you seen the movie,

The Beau­ti­ful Mind?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Good, you are go­ing through the same emo­tions that Dr Nash was go­ing through, noth­ing is real, it’s all in your mind,’ Dr Bhar­gav was not will­ing to give up that eas­ily. ‘The love in the eyes of his wife Ali­cia Nash was that un­real,’ Ashish choked. Dr Bhar­gav was now at the brink of his tol­er­ance, ‘look you are not co­op­er­at­ing,’ he said sternly. ‘I am sorry Sir, can I give it one more shot.’ He nod­ded. ‘I ad­mit when you say that movies are un­real.’ ‘Fi­nally,’ Dr Bhar­gav al­most shouted, ‘fi­nally we are talk­ing, yes go ahead.’ ‘Movies are not real,’ Ashish said. ‘Good,’ there was a smile on his face. ‘But you will also ad­mit that movies are a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the so­ci­ety.’ ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘So, the char­ac­ters of the movies my hero­ines are noth­ing but real per­sons brought to the reel.’ ‘So the qual­i­ties that our hero­ines have will be present in real peo­ple, they will dance in the rain, sing like a bird, will have the mag­netism that de­fies the Law of Grav­ity, will have those ex­pres­sive eyes, some­one jise dekh ke gaane ko jee kare, ‘ Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga.’ Ashish started singing. He was an atro­cious singer and to add to it he was real loud. ‘Jaise khilta gu­lab,’ he went on. ‘Stop,’ Dr Bhar­gav had enough. ‘Jaise sha­yar

ka khwab.’ He was in no mood to lis­ten. ‘Please stop, im­me­di­ately.’ ‘ Jaise

ujli ki­ran.’ ‘Are you mad?’ ‘ Jaise ban me hi­ran,’ Ashish was in full flow. ‘Leave,’ Dr Bhar­gav was lit­er­ally shak­ing. ‘Jaise chandni raat.’ ‘You should be in an asylum.’ ‘Jaise narmi ki

baat,’ Ashish did not give heed to his words. ‘Get out.’ ‘ Jaise mandir main ho

ek jalta diyaaaaaaa,’ he sang with ex­tra vigour. ‘Can’t you hear me, get out.’ Joanna could no longer con­trol her­self and she burst out laugh­ing. ‘That is my hero­ine,’ Ashish said at last. ‘Get out,’ Dr Bhar­gav re­peated for the third time. ‘Okay, but be­fore leav­ing touch your heart and say that you didn’t get ex­cited in that Mr In­dia song, I bet you still do.’ ‘Guards,’ Mr Bhar­gav yelled. Doesn’t mat­ter, Ashish had made his point.

It was about four in the even­ing but the hov­er­ing clouds had made it real dark. Joanna was still laugh­ing, ‘Know what, I un­der­es­ti­mated you, you are a rock star, way bet­ter than any­one I have ever met.’ ‘No, Joanna, tell me se­ri­ously the pathos in Jaya Bhad­huri’s eyes in Sho­lay, the pain in Mad­huri’s face in Tezaab, the love in Ka­jol’s ex­pres­sion in DDLJ, is ev­ery­thing un­real, ev­ery­thing make­be­lief, can’t be,’ he shook his head. ‘Tell me what is the most im­por­tant cri­te­ria to be your hero­ine,’ she asked all of a sud­den. Joanna was in a blue flo­ral frock which was barely in her con­trol in the strong winds and wasn’t she look­ing vi­va­cious. ‘She must be able to dance in the rain,’ Ashish said as it started to rain. ‘Come on,’ Joanna pulled him out in the rains.

‘Show me her pho­to­graph,’ his mother said. Ashish des­per­ately searched his mo­bile for at least one snap of her in which she wore some­thing sober. 20 odd pho­to­graphs later he fi­nally found one. ‘She is so dark,’ his mom didn’t like her. ‘You have cho­sen her over Ru­pali.

‘What are you do­ing,’ he asked. ‘Time to give my au­di­tions, for I des­per­ately want to be your hero­ine.’ She dragged him in the rains. ‘What, I can’t dance.’ ‘I will dance, you just give com­pany,’ she said. So Tip tip barsa paani, was set on her mo­bile as she scin­til­lat­ing, copied Raveena’s step to per­fec­tion. Ashish could not just be­lieve it, ‘I have found my hero­ine,’ he said with his arms out­stretched.

Ashish had no doubt in his mind that Joanna was his hero­ine. She danced like the trees in a storm, sang like a bird in the sun­rise, looked like a princess in her pu­berty. What was even more im­por­tant, she had a heart of gold. She would never al­low him to spend ex­trav­a­gantly on her. Ir­re­spec­tive of his as­sur­ance that he can af­ford it she would say, ‘If you can, spend it on your par­ents, yes they were a lit­tle harsh on you, but that you are such a nice per­son to­day is due to their up­bring­ing.’ So, she was the sexy hero­ine, beau­ti­ful hero­ine, car­ing hero­ine, con­fi­dent hero­ine all rolled into one. She had the class of Mad­hubala, sex ap­peal of Zeenat Aa­man, fem­i­nin­ity of Sridevi, charm of Mad­huri, warmth of Ka­jol, ac­cent of Ka­t­rina, swag­ger of Deepika. She was the best, ir­re­spec­tive of the era.

The month to fol­low was as good as it gets. He was as proud as he can be as Joanna walked in the party with him the very next week, that too hand in hand. ‘Neigh­bour’s envy, owner’s pride,’ he whis­pered to her. ‘Now, I will slap you,’ she glared, ‘how dare you say you own me?’ ‘I just wanted to ex­press my feel­ings, don’t get an­gry, okay.’ He fum­bled. ‘I un­der­stand, you are too ec­static to be here with me,’ she whis­pered back as they en­tered the hall. ‘Why do you get so ner­vous, when­ever I scold you, I’ll scold you now and then, just like that, get used to it, okay.’

Three months passed by. It was a usual din­ner with his par­ents that Ashish brought up the Joanna topic. ‘You love a nonBen­gali girl,’ his mother was as al­ways over­dra­matic. ‘Not pos­si­ble,’ his fa­ther an­nounced as if it was a ver­dict. ‘Joanna or no one else, pe­riod,’ Ashish said with­out los­ing his cool. ‘Show me her pho­to­graph,’ his mother said. Ashish des­per­ately searched his mo­bile for at least one snap of her in which she wore some­thing sober. 20 odd pho­to­graphs later he fi­nally found one. ‘She is so dark,’ his mom didn’t like her. ‘You have cho­sen her over Ru­pali, are you blind,’ his dad was as­ton­ished. They tried to brain­wash him in ev­ery way pos­si­ble, but it was not to be so. ‘What to say, your life, we’ll go to meet her next Satur­day at 3’ his dad told him, for he re­alised this time his son won’t yield. ‘Well, I have to go to of­fice this Satur­day, never mind you take the car, I’ll reach di­rectly.

That night Ashish told Joanna ev­ery­thing. ‘You ready for mar­riage,’ he asked her. ‘Can we wait till my masters are over,’ she replied. ‘Okay, I’ll buy some time but next Satur­day please do as I tell you for our sake.’ ‘Done.’ Ashish didn’t go to of­fice next Satur­day; in­stead he was at their place. The room as usual was in a mess with whisky and vodka lazily ly­ing here and there. Ashish was not to give up so eas­ily. He changed into a tee and shorts and took com­plete charge of clean­ing the house and in the next 40 min­utes trans­formed it into a per­fect sober home. Joanna was as­ton­ished to say the least. ‘I am speech­less,’ she had to ad­mit. ‘Well, fur­ther sur­prise awaits you,’ he said as he took out a tra­di­tional sari and handed it to her. ‘Wow, I al­ways wanted to wear a sari, it’s so sexy, man,’ she was ex­cited. ‘To­day is your lucky day, go and wear it.’ ‘You crazy I don’t know how to wear a sari.’ Even her mom had no idea how a sari is worn. ‘Don’t you know how it is worn,’ she asked. ‘Well, I do but.’ ‘Bas, prob­lem solved,’ she said ca­su­ally. There was an­other prob­lem. ‘What blouse you brought yaar it is not fit­ting,’ she said from the

In spite of all her virtues there was only one flaw in her, a sin­gle flaw but it was bad enough to mar all her good­ness. She did what she felt was right, and not even her par­ents could make her do oth­er­wise.

bath­room. As Ashish was rush­ing away to get an­other one for her she peeped from the bath­room, ‘What will you say at the shop, give a big blouse.’ ‘No, that I have said ear­lier, this time I’ll say give a big­ger blouse.’ She laughed, ‘just tell 36c.’ 36c fit­ted her per­fectly but her wear­ing the sari was tough. ‘Come on yaar, how much time you’ll take my leg’s are pain­ing,’ she said. ‘What to do, I don’t do it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,’ quipped Ashish. The prob­lem was not with the sari, it was with him. Though Ashish and Joanna were dat­ing for over 3 months now yet they had never kissed. Not that Joanna would have re­pelled, as a mat­ter of fact she had cre­ated quite some mo­ments that could have re­sulted in their first kiss. How­ever, Ashish was so awestruck by her that he al­ways shied away. So nat­u­rally, all of a sud­den such phys­i­cal prox­im­ity with her was mak­ing him hell of a ner­vous and he couldn’t con­cen­trate. Joanna could eas­ily make it out. ‘Well, if you get this ex­cited, you won’t fin­ish even in 2 more hours,’ she said ca­su­ally. ‘I am not at all ex­cited,’ Ashish said in his de­fence. ‘Is it,’ Joanna said while chew­ing on the gum,’ well the bulge in your shorts sug­gests oth­er­wise. Ashish was never so em­bar­rassed be­fore and im­me­di­ately turned around. ‘It’s nor­mal, okay,’ he said with a sign of guilt in his voice. Joanna turned him around and said, ‘of course it’s nor­mal, you have shown enough re­silience Mr Ashish Sen, so I have de­cided to re­ward you.’ Say­ing this she kissed him pas­sion­ately. It went on and on. ‘Man, I have messed up my lip­stick,’ she said after it was fi­nally over. ‘Now, Mr Sen, I want you to com­plete the sari thing in the next 10 min­utes, it’s an or­der.’ Ten min­utes down it was fi­nally done and wasn’t she look­ing pretty. ‘Now, let’s see how they can re­ject you,’ Ashish said con­fi­dently. ‘Don’t for­get to touch their feet,’ he gave the last-minute tip and went away.

Joanna looked so won­der­ful as she walked in the room that his par­ents were stunned. ‘Her com­plex­ion may be dark but she is beau­ti­ful,’ his mother whis­pered to his dad. Mr Sen could not deny it. The ef­fort that he put has been worth it, Ashish won­dered but Joanna be­ing Joanna spilled it all, ‘Sorry, in spite of Ashish’s re­peated train­ing I can’t be me­chan­i­cal, but I prom­ise to shower my love on all of you,’ she as­sured them as she hugged his mom tight in­stead of touch­ing her feet. ‘Ladki ac­chi hai,’ his mom ap­proved her that very minute. Joanna re­quested them if they can wait for an­other six months till she com­pletes her stud­ies, to which they agreed. Joanna had that magic in her, ev­ery­body liked her in­stantly, the same magic that the hero­ines have. Ashish never ex­pected this to work out so smoothly.

In spite of all her virtues there was only one flaw in her, a sin­gle flaw but it was bad enough to mar all her good­ness. She did what she felt was right, and not even her par­ents could make her do oth­er­wise. She was so stub­born that she never lis­tened to oth­ers advice even if it was for her own good. It was a friendly gath­er­ing of his close-knit friends when Ashish de­cided to in­tro­duce her to the world at large. Yes, you have the lib­erty of be­ing a lit­tle over the top in a trusted friend cir­cle but that does not mean that she would ar­rive in a risqué. Ashish came di­rectly from the of­fice and Joanna was sup­posed to come on her own. As Joanna en­tered the club he was shocked, look­ing at her dress. So much so that his friends were too un­com­fort­able to talk to her. Ashish didn’t tell her any­thing in the party be­cause he was well aware that she was ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing a scene in her own wed­ding party, leave aside any­where else. But when he was drop­ping her home in his cab, he gave her a piece of his mind. ‘What the hell Joanna, what dress is this?’ ‘Why, it re­vealed noth­ing,’ she said in de­fence. ‘Yes it re­vealed noth­ing, but left lit­tle to imag­i­na­tion, and how many pegs did you have,’ he was ter­ri­bly up­set. ‘Ev­ery­body out there was drink­ing, apart from you, I had 3 or 4, it’s nor­mal for me,’ she replied. ‘3 or 4, I stopped count­ing after 5.’ She kept quiet. ‘You got to be sober next time on­wards or else.’ ‘Or else what Mr Ashish Sen, you’ll leave me, to hell with you, I call it quits right here right now, stop the car.’ ‘No, I won’t,’ he said in re­turn. She slapped him tightly, then again and again, yet he drove on. Fi­nally they reached her home. He pulled her up to her floor and as the door was opened he said ‘Now, I call it quits.’ ‘Of course you will, now that you had ev­ery­thing,’ she was in tears. It was enough for him, ‘I have never for once forced my­self on you, you had so many boyfriends. God knows what you have done with them.’ ‘Thank you Ashish for call­ing it quits, kaafi cheap nikle yaar, not that I owe you an ex­pla­na­tion but will tell you for what Joanna does she does khul­lam khulla. 15 boyfriends in 3 years, slept with none since no­body was spe­cial, thought you were but for­get it, you won’t un­der­stand.’ She paused for a while. ‘Lis­ten dude, I live my life the way I want to and not even my par­ents are al­lowed to com­ment on that, what piece of shit are you and by the way were you not aware the way I am?’ she went on, ‘as a mat­ter of fact, my most re­veal­ing out­fit was on the day you saw me for the first time and since you men are ego­is­tic pigs you won’t con­fess, but I know that you fell for me in the very first sec­ond.’ ‘You were count­ing my drinks to­day, why were you not count­ing

Joanna on the other hand was ab­so­lutely un­af­fected with his ab­sence from her life. She par­tied, drank, danced at her will and fancy. So much so she had as many as three boyfriends over the last six months.

my drinks the day we met for the first time, I cross my heart that day I drank even more.’ She was out of breath. ‘Yes, you have been re­ally sober and never forced your­self on me, big deal. I gave you your hero­ine, I gave you your 20 years of pa­tient ex­pec­ta­tion, I gave you what the whole world told you is not get­table.’ ‘Go and get mar­ried to the girl of your par­ent’s choice, I can as­sure you she has not or in fu­ture sleep with any­one else but you, she will only have her face, tummy, hands and her feet for the world to see and will keep the rest in­tact for your bed­room.’ ‘You al­ways say naa you can af­ford it, well tell you what you can’t af­ford me and just for the records you can’t af­ford your hero­ine as well, what did you al­ways say, yeah hero­ine is a con­cept and that con­cept sug­gests that she will be ad­mired and liked by all, she will wear spunky clothes, she will be sought after and you can’t take away the male gaze from a hero­ine once it goes. So goes your hero­ine.’ ‘I am tak­ing your con­cept of hero­ine along with me, now leave you son of a ….’ Ashish held her mouth, ‘bitch, mat bolna please, not that I’ll say any­thing in re­turn but as you rightly said I fell for you in the very first sec­ond I saw you, let that stay in my mem­ory rather than some­one who called my mom a bitch,’ say­ing this he left.

‘I’ll marry any­one you want me to, but I re­quire some time to get over Joanna,’ Ashish told his par­ents that very night. ‘Why, what hap­pened to Joanna,’ his mom asked. ‘Don’t ask me that but all is over be­tween me and her.’ Ashish had a scrap­book which he has main­tained for the last twenty years. It con­tained pic­tures of his hero­ines. Once in his room, the first thing that he did was to take the scrap­book out and tear it to pieces. Hero­ine is not a con­cept to be be­lieved in any­more. Still he stopped on the last page’ He had pasted Joanna’s photo on it, he just couldn’t tear it apart. Yet he had to. He touched her for the very last time as he never touched her be­fore and tore the pho­to­graph into a mil­lion pieces.

‘Ac­cha, is it true that long­est your af­fair lasts is a cou­ple of months,’ Ashish asked ner­vously as they were re­turn­ing home after watch­ing a movie. ‘So far yes, but why do you ask,’ she en­quired. ‘For to­day we will be 2 months down.’ ‘Toh kya karu chor du?’ ‘Well, I can also leave you,’ he said in re­turn. ‘You can al­ways leave me, but boss Joanna is an ad­dic­tion just like your hero­ines, once you fall for her then you won’t like any­one else, let me warn you,’ she said play­fully. ‘Let’s see.’ ‘Am se­ri­ous ev­ery guy I have ever dated has asked for a sec­ond chance, dekh lena, if you leave me then in ev­ery girl you will search me, but Joanna is one piece.’ She was not wrong about her­self, six months passed by, but Joanna was not to be for­got­ten, there is sim­ply no one like her.

These long six months were tor­tur­ing to say the least. Along with Joanna, Ashish lost in­ter­est in any­thing and ev­ery­thing else, even his hero­ines, his only source of sus­te­nance. He re­al­ized, what a fool he had made of him­self in front of the world. Peo­ple must have joked be­hind his back in­clud­ing Joanna. Stars will be stars. Hero­ines are made for he­roes and he is not one.

The only re­gret he had was that of taunt­ing Joanna of his ex-boyfriends. He felt so low when­ever he thought about it. Joanna was so right, you can’t cage a bird in flight. Hero­ines were easy to ad­mire but to walk­ing hand in hand with them re­quires courage, re­quires char­ac­ter which he ve­he­mently lacked.

As time passed he was to­tally de­tested with his life. To get away from the same he con­cen­trated more and more on his work, some­times work­ing for hours at a stress. He hardly had food in time, rarely had enough sleep.

Joanna on the other hand was ab­so­lutely un­af­fected with his ab­sence from her life. She par­tied, drank, danced at her will and fancy. So much so she had as many as three boyfriends over the last six months. Un­for­tu­nately that Ashish was just an­other chap­ter in her life, a ter­ri­ble chap­ter, writ­ten, read and not to be re­vis­ited again.

Six months passed by. It was a Satur­day night, just as won­der­ful as Satur­day night’s nor­mally are when she was out for din­ner with his 19th boyfriend Os­car, an adorable guy with loads of money and a fake ac­cent. He was kind of a de­spo but Joanna didn’t mind as long as his des­per­a­tion was limited to her. Os­car had gone to re­fill their plate and she was seated alone when some­one called her from be­hind. ‘Joanna, isn’t it?’ ‘She turned around. ‘Dr Bhar­gav, right?’ She smiled. ‘Long time, how are you?’ He said in re­turn. ‘All well sir, I can’t be­lieve you still re­mem­ber me, some­one as busy as you.’ ‘Well, some­one who hap­pens to know Ashish can’t for­get, Joanna De­suzza,’ he an­swered back. ‘Sorry Sir, we are no longer to­gether,’ she said, ‘I am with Os­car.’ She pointed at him as he was hur­ry­ing to­wards the ta­ble with both the plates over­loaded. ‘Well, then I think you no longer have the right to know what’s wrong with him’ he was about to leave, but Joanna stopped him. ‘What’s, wrong with Ashish, Sir.’ ‘Well, he is not well.’ Dr Bhar­gav shook his head. ‘What the hell is go­ing on, Joanna?’ Os­car was real mad. ‘We are on our first date, and you are wast­ing your time on your ex?’ ‘Ashish was a dear friend, please do not re­fer to him as XYZ,’ she re­tal­i­ated. ‘What do you mean by he is not well,’ she asked Dr Bhar­gav. ‘He is go­ing

‘ You got to be strong,’ he said as they reached the ho­tel.’ ‘ You are Ashish’s hero­ine, be that and no one else, and if you suc­ceed which I’m sure you will, just tell Ashish.

through se­vere de­pres­sion and with time it’s get­ting worse.’ ‘De­pres­sion and Ashish, he used to be so jovial ear­lier.’ Joanna couldn’t be­lieve it.’ ‘Well, I’ll like to call it the Joanna Ef­fect.’ Dr Bhar­gav was hon­est. ‘Look, we are here to have a good time and not to dis­cuss your so­called, dear friend’s men­tal con­di­tion’. Os­car had enough. ‘You can’t re­ally keep quiet, can you,’ Joanna said at last, ‘Okay, it’s over be­tween us.’ ‘What?’ Os­car was heart­bro­ken. ‘Please, don’t mind, I am some­one else’s amanat, you see,’ Joanna said calmly with a lot of con­trol. ‘Whose, Ashish’s?’ ‘Je­sus, you are in­tel­li­gent as well.’ Joanna said acidly. He seemed to be heart­bro­ken. ‘Don’t make such a face, it makes me feel guilty,’ she said at last, ‘let’s be hon­est, you wanted a sexy girl­friend to brag to your friends, I wanted one more boyfriend to make him jeal­ous, mis­sion ac­com­plished.’ ‘Don’t worry, you will have plenty of girl­friends now that you are ex-joanna,’ she quipped. ‘You are a doc­tor, right?’ He asked Dr Bhar­gav. ‘A psy­chi­a­trist, to be pre­cise,’ he an­swered back. ‘Even bet­ter, take her into con­sul­ta­tion, she is mad.’ Os­car was not ac­cept­ing to lose her. ‘No, she is not,’ Dr Bhar­gav said sternly, ‘You know in my 25 years ca­reer I have never been proven wrong, not that I could cure all but at least I was right in my di­ag­no­sis, un­til she came along.’ ‘Ashish was right, hero­ines do ex­ist, and she is one of them.’ ‘Now, can you please leave, I’ll take care of the bill.’ Joanna was get­ting rest­less. He left. ‘Thanks Sir, I am ever so grate­ful,’ Joanna said. ‘Do you be­lieve in destiny, Joanna?’ ‘Not re­ally, Sir.’ ‘Well, you should, had I met you any later it would have been re­ally late,’ he said. ‘What do you mean, has any­thing hap­pened to Ashish?’ Joanna’s heart thumped. ‘No, but just as we speak Ashish’s fam­ily is meet­ing up with Ru­pali’s fam­ily to fi­nalise their mar­riage.’ ‘Ashish’s fa­ther hap­pens to be a close friend of mine and I can as­sure you if he gives his word, he will never shy away from his prom­ise,’ he con­tin­ued, ‘and If I judged Ashish right, he loves him way too much to go against him.’ ‘Then,’ Joanna asked ner­vously. ‘Then, what? you are the hero­ines, the cli­max awaits you, the best I can do is to give you a lift to the ho­tel, rest you got to take care by your­self.’ ‘As the car speeded to the Ho­tel, Joanna asked, ‘Did he speak about me in your ses­sions, Sir?’ ‘He only spoke about you,’ he as­sured her, ‘and he des­per­ately wanted to apol­o­gise for some­thing he said in the night you guys sep­a­rated, to quote him, she won’t be­lieve me but if you ever meet her ever again just tell her I didn’t meant it.’ Joanna broke down. ‘You got to be strong,’ he said as they reached the ho­tel.’ ‘You are Ashish’s hero­ine, be that and no one else, and if you suc­ceed which I’m sure you will, just tell Ashish, for he’ll never need me again that Hema Malini was my favourite hero­ine and I in­deed felt like the glass pieces pierced my heart when it pierced her soft feet.’ Dr Bhar­gav drove away.

It took some time for Joanna to find them, but she fi­nally did. Yes, Ashish’s par­ents were there but not Ashish. ‘Sir, I’m sorry for ev­ery­thing, won’t you give me a sec­ond chance?’ Ashish’s dad was busy dis­cussing some­thing with Ru­pali’s par­ents. He looked up. ‘How dare you come here to­day?’ ‘I re­ally love him, please un­cle, won’t you for­give me,’ begged Joanna. ‘Stop mak­ing a joke out of your­self in front of us.’ Mr Sen said harshly. ‘Well, I can make a joke out of my­self in front of you peo­ple, but can’t af­ford to see Ashish make a joke of him­self in front of the en­tire world,’ she said strongly, ‘where is he?’ ‘You ex­pect us to tell you that,’ Ashish’s mother in­ter­vened. ‘Don’t bother, I’ll find it out for my­self.’ She called a waiter, ‘Hey, where did the girl in the Red sari and the hand­some boy who was seated here go?’ ‘In the lawn, maam,’ he replied. ‘How did she know that she was wear­ing a red sari,’ Ru­pali’s mother asked. Mrs Sen had no an­swer. ‘Who is she?’ Ru­pali’s fa­ther was be­wil­dered. ‘She is my son’s 20 years of be­lief, she is the hero­ine he tried ev­ery one to con­vince but ev­ery­one thought he was crazy, but he was right, hero­ines do ex­ist.’

Ashish and Ru­pali were in the lawn all by them­selves as Joanna rushed in. ‘Ashish,’ she ex­claimed. He looked back. ‘What are you do­ing here?’ Ashish couldn’t be­lieve it. ‘You got to be Joanna,’ Ru­pali in­ter­rupted. ‘How do you know?’ Even Joanna was stumped. ‘Since he was only talk­ing about Joanna, in our pre­cious pri­vate mo­ment be­fore we go back and ob­vi­ously say we do like each other, I pre­sumed the one to barge in like this got to be Joanna.’ ‘I was only telling you my past,’ Ashish ex­plained to Ru­pali. ‘We don’t have a past Ashish, we have a fu­ture,’ Joanna said. ‘Don’t get overex­cited, I was crit­i­cis­ing you by the way,’ he said. ‘If this is crit­i­cism, I would like to be crit­i­cised all my life,’ Ru­pali said in re­turn. ‘Look, I don’t have any­thing per­sonal against you and I don’t fight, I only fight back but if you come be­tween us, I’ll have to be in­dis­creet. ‘Madame hero­ine, take your hero with you, I have no in­cli­na­tion to get mar­ried to him,’ Ru­pali said. ‘Can you guess, how hu­mil­i­at­ing it can be for a girl if a task is given to her to im­press a guy who is deeply in love with some­one else just be­cause he is well set­tled.’ ‘You know what I re­ally want, to go to the Goa trip that my friends will be go­ing in a few weeks from now, but alas I can’t.’ Joanna was sur­prised. ‘You

are a hero­ine as well!’ ‘Ev­ery girl is a hero­ine, Joanna, some have the guts to ex­press it, some can’t.’ ‘I re­ject you Ashish, since I want my hero who will be as crazy for me as you are for Joanna and I will only be his hero­ine.’ She walked away. J oanna walked up to him. Ashish was not the same old Ashish. He has re­duced like any­thing, looked pale and sickly. She took his face in her hands and said, ‘What have you done to your­self?’ ‘Well, Dr Bhar­gav had an apt name for it which I can’t dis­close,’ he said. ‘Okay, I am mad, what you and my par­ents told me was so very right, I dressed ob­scenely I drank pro­fusely, I be­haved rudely with you that night but the next morn­ing you should have come and paci­fied me,’ she con­tin­ued with a deep breath, ‘at most I would have slapped you hard again and again, snubbed you for a few days but even­tu­ally I would have melted, naa.’ Ashish couldn’t be­lieve she was ca­su­ally say­ing all this. ‘Wouldn’t you have done the same if I was one of your hero­ines,’ she asked. ‘Don’t ridicule me Joanna, hero­ine is a myth,’ he said. ‘What, hero­ine is a myth,’ she was again shout­ing. ‘Please don’t shout, it’s a renowned ho­tel. ‘Hero­ines are like this only, boss,’ she replied back.’ ‘You could have come also,’ he com­plained. ‘Hero­ine tum ho yaa main, hero­ine ke

nakhre uthane parte hai use

manana parta hai.’ Ashish looked up, hero­ine is in­deed not a myth, here stand­ing in front of him is a girl who can dance in the rain, sing like a foun­tain, have a mil­lion-dol­lar smile and can take panga with the en­tire world for her man. He came for­ward, ‘I am sorry for what I said that night I didn’t mean it, and I never wanted you to change, drink, party, wear what­ever you want to wear but you have to strike a bal­ance, all I wanted to con­vey was that but as al­ways you never lis­tened even to those who re­ally cared for your well-be­ing.’ ‘I know, I was ob­sti­nate, and I very well know you didn’t mean it, you love me way too much for that, I know you were hurt, but why didn’t you re­alise what I said that night, it was al­co­hol not me, you gave up on me too eas­ily.’ She was in tears. ‘From then till now, I have dressed real soberly, as per my stan­dards, drank soberly as per as my stan­dards.’ Was Joanna De­souza cry­ing, won­dered Ashish.

‘Hey, be strong, hero­ines don’t cry that too in front of her he­roes,’ Ash­sih replied. ‘ Don’t copy me, okay,’ she replied, ‘and for your knowl­edge, hero­ines only cry in front of their he­roes,’ she said as she sur­ren­dered in his arms. We do not re­mem­ber days, we re­mem­ber mo­ments.

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