Of filter kaappi and maakkolams, of pookalams and kaineettams, of madisar and settumundu, of mangaacurry and mysorepak, of books and words, of pens and colours, of steps and rhythm...
To the good at heart, I offer a feast ;
Mess with me, and I'll be a beast :-D
“ Ms. Neharika, here’s someone to see you”, Sylvia opened the door and announced to her.
Neha looked up from her desk.
“ Yes, I’m expecting him. Ask him to come in. And tea for two, please”.
She was reading the interview of hers that had been published in the recent issue of “ The ArtSpace” magazine.
Her life till date, her student days when she was just another girl, and her growth from that point to the famous Kathak exponent that she was now, had been widely covered in a semi-biographical, semi-conversational style.
The reporter had done a good job.
She remembered the conversation she had had with him over the phone.
She was then on a trip to Orissa , to meet her Dance guru. That was when shehad got the call from “The ArtSpace” team. The editor had first called himself and transferred the call to the reporter , requesting her personally that the latter had sought anonymity. That puzzled Neharika, but she nonetheless accepted it, because she knew the editor well from previous meetings.
The reporter was a very soft guy, who knew to ask questions or seek clarification without sounding offensive.
The call had lasted a little more than an hour, and at the end of it, she had poured out everything about her life.
How she had wanted to dance as a young kid, and how her father had beaten her once, breaking her ankles, when he found her dancing to the tunes of a bollywood number.
How she had secretly pursued her dreams, never breathing a word of it to anyone, masking her absence from home in the evenings, in the name of private tuitions.
And also the one incident that changed her life.
She had joined college, and on the freshers’ day, a group of guys from her senior batches had cordoned her off from the rest of her new gang.
They were drunk. Drunk till they oozed booze.
One of them , Ritesh, asked her whether she knew how to dance.
She replied in the affirmative.
He threw a pair of anklets at her, as if her had them ready, and asked her to dance.
On the basketball court.
She said, she wouldn’t do it, as she thought the art was sacred and not to be insulted this way.
He slapped her, and mouthed expletives.
And that moment, she was come over by the real streak of vengeance.
She wore the anklets, and danced, danced and danced, till the whole college including the teachers had gathered, watching her, applauding her for her courage, presence of mind and strength to face the miscreants.
She hated the situation, she hated Ritesh for making her do it.
She would have stopped dancing then, for the insult she had had to endure.
But that had only been the beginning.
Later she started receiving mails cloaked in anonymity, praising her for her performance, requesting her to dance at college festivals and celebrations.
All the mails came from the same person, she was sure, because the handwriting was the same in all.
Neharika tried finding who the hidden admirer was, but she couldn’t. Mobile phones weren’t common then, and facebook wasn’t even heard of !
She loved these mails, and would look forward to receiving them. They thrilled her, and they gave her the boost to perform.
Often she got calls from television channels, where she was given opportunity to perform. Her father had realized his folly by then, and she performed at events in and outside the country. By the time she graduated , she had carved a niche for herself in her chosen field, and soon she turned a professional Kathak artist.
That was three years ago.
Neharika had been spoken out all this to the reporter, and he had done her justice by publishing all this in detail.
Surprisingly enough, the day before, she had got a call from none other than Ritesh.
“ I read your interview on the ArtSpace,I’d love to see you, Neha”, he had said.
“ Oh !! So, you still alive ? What makes me so likeable now, Ritesh ? So you remembered what you did to me all those years ago? You want to seek forgiveness, now? After all these years? Still drunk, eh, Ritesh ? “, Neha had let out her pent up frustration.
“Neha, please”, Ritesh had pleaded.
“ Yeah, I want to see how you face me after humiliating me so much, Ritesh. Come down tomorrow evening. 5 O’ Clock. And by the way, call me Neharika,” she had replied and disconnected the call.
And here he was, as Sylvia had announced.
The tap on the door brought Neha back to her senses.
Ritesh was at the door, smiling at her.
“ Oh, come in, Mr Ritesh”, Neha spoke with a mocking voice.
“Hi Neha, sorry, Neharika. Nice meeting you after so many years. So long , isn’t it ? “, Ritesh spoke soothingly, as Sylvia came in with the tray of tea and cake.
That was all she needed to flare up.
“ Look here, Ritesh. I’m not the very same person you tried intimidating years back. Even then I’ve stayed away from you. I’ve never wanted anything to do with you. The insult I bore from you that day on the basketball court is enough to fuel me for a lifetime. I shall not forgive you for mocking me and my art. You’ll never do that to any girl hereafter. I think I made sure of that when I took up your challenge.”
Ritesh tried to say something, but Neha gestured with her hand.
“ No, Ritesh. I don’t want to listen to any apology or soothing words now. I don’t need it now. I’ve achieved in life, I’m famous, rich. And in a couple of years I’ll be married to my love. I’ll have a perfect family.I don’t want you haunting me anymore. I’m an achiever. You must know this, for the way you humiliated me”, Neha spoke rapidly and fiercely, with hatred oozing out of every word.
“ You may go, I don’t want to see you again.”
Ritesh got up from his seat.
“ Ok, Neharika. I promise not to disturb you again. You’ll never see me. All the best in all that you do,” he said, and walked out of the room.
He smiled to himself as he walked away.
Neha would never know him to be the secret admirer she had had. He had been mesmerized by her that day when she danced to his command.
He had realized his mistake and wanted to admit it and his love for her.
But he had never been able to do it before her.
She had only had hatred for him then.
And he had taken to writing her secret mails. And watched her grow and succeed in its shade.
She would never know he was the reporter who had covered her story on “The ArtSpace”.
She would never know the pains he had taken to mask his voice, lest she should find him out and refuse to talk.
She was happy as the achiever that she was. She was in love and ready for a happy life.
She needn’t know all this.
Ignorance indeed is bliss, he thought to himself, as he walked back to his home, letting his thoughts be washed away in the happiness of seeing her happy.