The Actress and the Bai

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“Chup chap apna kaam karo, mujhe kisiki nasihat Nahi chahiye… ”

That stung, Ruksana bi was stunned into silence

It was only her 3rd day in the posh Yari road flat of the 20 year old Vedika Singh who in a period of 6 months had become an overnight sensation. Her serial Mere Apne where she depicted the journey of young girl with dreams to an abusive marriage had struck a chord.

The journey from Bombay Central station an year back with Rs.25000 in her bag and the no of one friend who happened to be a production assistant in the industry was no less ordinary. Vedika’s dreams couldn’t be contained in the small house in a nondescript village of Kapurthala. Education was not her calling. Rebellion was in her blood, complying would mean marriage. She took the leap, boarded the train and in an year here she was living her dream.

While it all seemed like a dream from a distance, things were not as simple as they seemed. Yes there was money in the bank, a posh house on rent at Yari road, a swanky car, but her family had practically disowned her. Mom used to pickup the call and listen, that’s what she had in the name of family at the moment.

Things changed at a personal level as well. Her boyfriend Sidharth had moved in with her in her flat. Sidharth was her co-star in the serial and their relationship was talk of the town.They hooked up at the set, She had no friends in Mumbai and she was spending about 16 hours at the set with him. This relationship was only a natural progression. Almost the same age and similar backgrounds both of them hit it off. Off late the relationship had become very violent. The neighbours could here screams, things breaking from their flat.

It was Rukshana bi’s 3rd day in the house. She was going about her chores, picking up bottles and glasses. She saw Vedika had a cut on her elbow and a mark on her cheek, “Kya hua baby? Kuch problem hai kya?” That’s when she was shut up. Rukhsana bi put her head down and went about her business. She had worked in many such homes and knew what to do. Vedika sat on the couch and started crying.

At home, her daughter was hooked on to Mere Apne and asked her, “Ammi ye Vedika kitni khoobsurat hai na, dekho bechari ke  armaan kuchal diye uske gharwalo ne.. Mujhe milaaoge kya vedika se??? Mai uski bahut badi fan hu…” Rukhsana bi didn’t utter a word. She went and fed Iqbal. Iqbal had been paralysed for about 10 years now. And depended on Rukhsana for everything except breathing. Everytime she fed him, Iqbal’s eyes would turn moist, and then would stay fixed at the fan.

This ritual continued for many days… Here was Rukhsana who was witness to two daily soaps, one reel and one real played out by the same characters. In one serial Vedika and Sidharth were trying to find love among all d hostility in Sidharth’s house. There was an innocence in their story which connected the masses. At home in the real story here were two people who fed off each other’s abuse, as if each fed of the other’s weakness venting out their deepest insecurities and misplaced this emotion as love. All Rukhsana bi could do was to put her head down and clear the glasses.

Today was Iqbal’s birthday and Rukhsana bi had made his favourite sevai and fed him, the moment she fed him, she paused for the now usual single eye drop, instead she saw a hint of a smile on his face. It took 10 years for this to happen and Rukhsana bi couldn’t control her tears. As the tears dried, she felt very light. She started laughing uncontrollably, Iqbal’s eyes were responding. There was a shayari in the air, a shayari composed by the eyes. The 50 year old Rukhsana bi had a spring in her step. She gave a peck on Iqbal’s cheek and left for work.

Rukhsana bi just hugged Vedika as she opened the door. “Kya hua Rukhsana bi?” Vedika asked. To which she replied “Aaj meri zindagi muqammal ho gayi baby, aaj Iqbal ki saalgirah hai aur aaj Allah ne mujhe mera aajtak ka sabse pyaara tohfa diya. Aaj Iqbal hasse…” Saying this Rukhsana bi started crying uncontrollably, then started laughing.

Vedika:  “Bass sirf itna…?”
Rukhsana: “Ha baby”

There was silence in the room.

After a pause Vedika asked “Rukhsana bi pyaar Kya hai ?”  To which Rukhsana replied “Pata Nahi baby, Shayad woh Jo tumhe muqammal banata hai” 

“Kya hua baby? chup kyu ho gayi?” Rukhsana bi asked in a harried tone.

Vedika stood there silent..

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Being Human

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Monday, 10:00 Am , Mumbai, Goregaon, Oberoi Signal.

This was Michael’s daily routine, A 60 second wait was inevitable, the highway was jammed,Malishka was screaming her lungs out on the radio, Michael however was tuned to another frequency, a frequency from hell, his mind. Michael and Gracy were married for 10 years, it was tough, they were medically fit but unable to conceive a child.

Thak thak thak

The knock distracted him. There was a kid only wearing a big T-shirt and nothing underneath, he must have been about 8. He was looking at Michael and saying something. Michael pulled the glass down, the sound at the signal was deafening. He was about to ask the child and the signal went green, the cars zoomed ahead, the honking sound became unbearable, he had to leave.
His boss noticed him sleep walk the whole day in office, at home Gracy was trying to liven up the place, but Michael was still on his personal frequency.

Tuesday, 10 Am, Oberoi Signal Goregaon

Thak thak thak

The same scene again. Michael pulled down the glass, ” Kya bol raha hai?” He queried. “Uncle mere T-shirt pe kya likha hai?” The child asked. Michael was stunned, he was expecting the child to ask for money. About 4 feet in height. This kid was a real piece of work, absolutely unkempt, it was impossible to have more dirt on his body than there was already. OK so what did the T-shirt say? ” Being Human likha hai.. Kyu tu pad Nahi Sakta kya??”  Michael replied. “Nahi uncle ye log mereko chida rahe hai… Bol rahe hai Salman Khan ka T-shirt hai, Ye mera hai” The signal went green, and the honking started, it looked like the traffic cop was shouting at Michael. Michael left.

Wednesday, 10 am, Goregaon, Oberoi Signal.

Thak thak thak,

“Arre uncle kal chale gaye, matlab to bataya hi Nahi” the kid was there. It was like everyday Michael was noticing something new in this kid. There he was all of about 8 years wearing the “Being Human” T-shirt, there only seemed to be some more kids around, possibly they were the ones who teased him, in all that grime and dirt, the kid had an attitude, a devil may care one, he looked like a born vagabond. ” Tera naam kya hai?” Michael asked, “Are mereko sab Pintya bolte hai” Michael handed him a 10 rupee note, the kid said “Are tu paisa rakh re sahab, apun ko paisa Nahi chahiye terese , apna shift abhi shuru nahi hua, tu bata na matlab” signal went green and Michael drove off.

Thursday, 10 am, Goregaon, Oberoi Signal

Thak thak thak,

“Are matlab batao na sahab?” This kid was not going anywhere.Something clicked. Michael opened the side door and said “Andar aaja” Pintya jumped in.
The signal turned green, Michael drove off, they started talking, Where did Pintya live? Who were his Parents? Why was he begging? They went to the mall, had sumptuous food, and bought clothes from… Yes “Being Human” store. After all of this they went to Michael’s home. Gracy and his mother gave him a perplexed look, Michael said meet my new friend “Pintya” he will be staying with us. Michael’s mother just went off the handle and started shouting. Michael asked Pintya to wait in the drawing room and took Gracy inside. Pintya stood there dumbfounded, he had no clue what was happening. In the meanwhile Michael’s mother called somebody and after sometime the door bell rang, An elderly gentleman came in. As he came in, Michael’s mother called Michael and Gracy outside, She said “Father Francis is here” Gracy had tears in her eyes, She came out and hugged Pintya tight. Pintya was perplexed, he thought “Saala ho kya raha hai? pehle chilla rahe the ab gale laga rahe hai, ye Buddha koun hai?” Then Father Francis said something that was unbelievable, ” I am proud of you my son Michael, this is called Being Human”. Pintya shouted “Saala wapas Being Human??? Are koi to iska matlab batao” the whole house burst into laughter.