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  • Raphael Khaleel

Storytime: 'Ek Rupay Ka Idea' (Part-I)

Updated: Sep 3, 2020


I was sitting on a high raised chair, particularly ones’ used by film directors or T.V. personnel conducting interviews, and I am sitting in one such interview like that. Blinding lights everywhere, production cameras pointing from all angles, and cameramen deliberately working behind their machines. A woman with a makeup mirror and face powder was standing beside me pointing the mirror towards my face. It would have looked like I was living my dream to anyone else. But I wasn’t, on the other hand, I would say that it was all too overwhelming, this past couple of weeks, the fights with Dad and Ayush, the late-night coffees with Roshan. Ish’s bickering about my selection of reads. Slow memories, but I felt like chuckling to myself, but somehow I couldn’t.

“We will be live in a few minutes”. A distant voice shouted. I zoomed back from my personal mental space. Now I saw people walking haphazardly over the floor, some carrying wiring equipment while others moving large soundboards across the room. In midst of all that, I see a young woman early-20s' probably an intern, she was holding a writing pad to her waist and a microphone that was hanging around her small neck. She was showing some kind of quick signals to someone in the dark. At that exact moment a young man probably the same age as mine, appeared out of the darkness. His dashing looks and style suggested something into my head. ‘He must be the reporter guy’. His face reminded me badly of someone else, Harsh. His dad Jain Patel and I have a really bad history. “Akash Bhaveni”, I was startled, my constant distraction was a real menace. He said, “Oh, I am really sorry”. I then looked sideward. A giant figure appeared beside me, he pushed his hands forward. Tall, broad shoulders, perfect jawline, and dark hair. The kind of material people wants for modeling. I returned him with a smile and stammered “Rithika Seghal”, and he drew back. He sat on a similar chair next to mine. “I am sorry for keeping you waiting here” he spoke. His words sounded kind of genuine as if he was really sorry for the inconvenience. “So let’s start, shall we?” he whispered. I nodded slightly. He raised his hand towards the production crew indicating we were ready. I wasn’t ready and I will never be, I thought. “Going live in 3, 2, and 1” a distant voice shouted. The reporter was facing the camera “Rithika Seghal, the ‘Iron Woman’ of India, the brains behind 'SENORAS'. A company that is spreading a fashion fever all over India.’ He glared at me like a hunter for his kill, and I there was waiting to be shot down with a question I will never have an answer to, ever. ‘What makes you so special?’

And all of a sudden my head just swirled backward. Time froze and it was just me. Scared, overwhelmed, happy, excited. All the emotions at once.


She’s home!

The time was around 5 in the morning and my flight was just landing onto the Indira Gandhi Intl Airport, it was really dark outside. The flight attendant announced, “local time in Delhi is 5.15 am and the standard ground temperature is 18°C, hope you have enjoyed your flight, see you again soon”. I was like damn, I wasn’t prepared for such weather. A jacket and a scarf aren’t going to be much of a help.

I looked for my phone so that I could call dad but then realized I really didn’t want to wake him up. I was out of the airport by 6.00 am and by that time the sky was much lighter but the air was still cold, or should I say colder. That’s when I noticed two things, one the air was so cold and thick that I could actually bite it off. Second, I noticed a familiar face, Mr. Sethu. He used to work for my dad once. I waved toward him. He, not realizing who I was at first drove his car towards me from the taxi stand. The moment he got out of the car to take my bags, he understood, and his face just lit up, a familiar expression when someone meets a person after a very long time, “Kirthi Baba, you?” his English might be broken, but his memory isn’t. We were about to leave, but I asked him to pit-stop near any open confectionaries. I knew at this time of the day, none would be open but he just said okay. So we drove to this small shop outside the airport. There were small stalls set up beside it selling tea, biscuits, and cigarettes. I brought some chocolates and a fresh bouquet for him, I thought to myself maybe I should buy something healthy, but then anyways I didn’t. I bought a cup of tea and a packet of cigarettes for myself. The strange thing is all of them at the stall was looking at me as if I did some unspeakable act. It was then Sethu Bhaiya told me that girls in Delhi don’t actually smoke in public, I was like “Did I just get teleported to a parallel universe?” I asked him “Since when?” to that he just kept quiet. Maybe he didn’t understand me quite well or maybe looking back at it right now, I didn’t at the time understand the system very well.

We reached my doorstep around 6.45 am, I forgot to mention that we live in a housing colony close by to the airport. My dad is a retired officer of the Indian Army, and while in duty I and him moved around a lot. Finally, just before his retirement, the army handed him residence on the AWHO colony. So yes I grow up in a neighborhood full of patriotic heroes. You would think that my dad would be a “Hitler” type strict parent, but he is the complete opposite. A funny, carefree person full of gassed up stories of war. I sometimes wonder, maybe he is doing all this to just keep me happy, after all, I am the only one he has. I paid a Sethu a hefty tip, I am sure if my dad was here he would have said “What the hell are you doing kid? Have you lost your mind, you are not Ambani’s daughter, for god sake”.

The door was locked when I tried opening it, he must have gone out, but so early in the morning, not so usual of him might be a new habit “jogging”. But one thing was sure, he would always leave a spare key on the flower pot hanging in front of the porch. So I took the keys and kept my luggage inside and was in no rush at all, so I thought why not explore a bit. So I started off with the house, seriously somethings have changed from my last visit four years ago, frequent calls through skype won’t tell me much of what’s changed maybe I ought to find out myself. There had been a lot of changes in the house and it seems as if some serious designing had taken place, my dad couldn’t have done this alone, because he, as I know, has a really poor taste in decorations, he is a man that has no differentiation between a simple vase and a flower a pot. So, this can only mean two things, either Roshan is helping him or he has got someone professional to get things done. But what confuses me the most is the way the photos were arranged in the living room, it’s as if someone so close and personal had placed them that way. The next thing I noticed is my room, which has now become a storage unit for all the junk in the house. I noticed the lavatory has also greatly changed, pink and pearl flooring, this color doesn’t appeal to his choices. My dad has a very antique sense of fashion, in his words “Old is gold”, for such a man pink and pearl, Nah that is not him. So I decided to freshen up in that odd-looking bathroom of my house and head up to the kitchen to have some coffee. I notice even unusual things like baking papers, trays, jars full of powder of some sort, and cookbooks on the kitchen table. It seems he was busy trying new things. But what horrified me, even more, was that there was no sugar or coffee powder in any of his cabinets. So I grab my phone, took the morning newspaper from the mailbox, and left the house.

My childhood best friends, Roshan and Ishaana lived a few blocks down the road, and apparently none of them know I am here, even my father doesn’t. I actually wanted to surprise him, but despite my efforts, it seems I am the one being surprised here. So I ring up Ish, and she seems to be in a pretty deep sleep. So I ring her door, and Aunt Lucy opens it. Her eyes widened and in one swift moment, she cupped my entire body. Aunt Lucy is one of those typical Indian aunty types, an oversized lady wearing an even oversized khurta and loose pants. Her grip was so strong that one moment I was gasping for the last air within that space. All these typical aunties have this one cliché dialogue “Oh my god! Look at you girl”. It is like all these aunties just want to see you round like a giant pezzi ball. She loosened her grip once she saw me struggling. Ishaana’s dad, my dad, and Roshan’s dad were batch mates in the academy. That is why we ended up being best friends, but we aren’t like other best friends, cutesy moments, or cheesy stories, we are the ones that did anything bad or worse to really annoy the other. Ishaana was still sleep in her bed when I came in, she at the moment is a successful freelance photographer for The Vogue magazine here in India. Her normal schedules are like night parties, clubs, and fashion shows usually when the main gossips are in town, so daytime is much of sleep time for her. I took a bottle of water from her bedside table and poured it all onto her face, ‘enjoy that bitch’. She just got up furiously, red eyes and an angry look, monstrous. She was about to throw a pillow but decided not, instead threw the steel alarm clock next to her bed. I would say her aim was so perfect, that if I hadn’t skipped a foot from where I stood, I might’ve ended up in bandages, see that’s what I told you, we like to annoy the other a lot. It might be that we are all single children and we see each other more like siblings rather than just friends. She laughed at me mysteriously, it was like something else was waiting. She got up in her pajamas, walked to the lavatory to get changed, Ish is different from other girls like me. She wears less makeup, wears not too open clothes, and is slightly fashioned. It was always easy for her to make friends compared to how Rosh and I struggled. Her height was the one thing that was so adorable amongst the three of us. If you kept us on an assembly we would look like the fucking Mount Everest. Rosh was 7’1, I was 6’1 and Ish was 5’7. From this you might wonder that Rosh might be the protective one, to be clear he is the exact opposite of what you think he might be.

To Be Continued shortly...

(Disclaimer, none of the above-mentioned characters or events are from real life. Any similarities with stories written previously are just pure coincidence)

Hope you enjoy my work.

By Raphael Khaleel


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