Bela is back. Sorry Iqu….I failed to keep my promise. But as a bribe, I am giving this episode which has major fluff compared to FFL and PSL standards. Forgive me, please?
You all know the procedure to find Shot 5, don’t you? Type Cocktail by Bela in the search bar. 😛 😛
And for all those asking me what I feel about Teja romancing a ten year old, I say that it is awesome! This is a fresh concept, a hatke one and since Suyyash has joined the team, I am waiting desperately to meet Princess Diya and know her story.
Here is for all Cocktail lovers aka Nashedis 😛 , Shot 6……( aur kitni piyoge?)
I stared at the ceiling fan as I laid on my bed, arms crossed behind my head. Model indeed! Huff! This is ridiculous. First, that FFL gets to have a photoshoot done, and then on top of it, the model is Swara. This is insane!
I mean, okay, she is a model, but then there are so many other models in this country. Why her? She looks like a kid in front of him. I know, I was watching them interact today at dinner. FFL was being his usual reserved self, he often assumes that strict persona with people he doesn’t know. But Swara was being very chatty. She kept telling him about herself, her family, her hobbies, her struggling days, her favourite shades of lipsticks, her favourite hotels amongst the ones owned by him…………….and that duffer Maheshwari just smiled politely at her, nodding his head routinely. Despite knowing that I don’t like her. What sort of a friend is he?
I am not liking this one bit. I mean, Swara is…………well, she wouldn’t look good with him. Lakshya has a very strong personality and only someone who matches it would suit with him. He would end up making a joke of himself and his reputation would go for a toss. I cannot let that happen.
And why is he acting that way? Like, as if, he is enjoying seeing me pissed off at him. I was in a bad mood throughout the dinner and whenever he caught my eye, he would just smirk in that irritating way, making me even more angry. He is a bimbo of the first order! He deserves the ‘Jerk Shri’ award! I will order a fake trophy for him when we reach Delhi. And I will order it from the chor bazaar in Chaawri Bazaar. Stupid oaf!
No, seriously, what is wrong with him? How can he agree to shoot with Swara? He knows I hate her. He himself expressed some objections to her behavior once. How can he act so cool? And the balls of that man, he knows I am upset and yet he is neither calling nor messaging me. He is taking me for granted, that pig!
And that Swara. She has been smirking too much in my direction. I feel like breaking her jaw. What is she being so snooty about? This one assignment with a men’s fashion magazine is not going to advance her career much. She is just being used as a prop, and that doesn’t get you noticed. And has she forgotten who I am? I am Ragini Gadodia. I am the future owner of R-Bazaar. I can do anything. ANYTHING!
My phone buzzed. I picked it up and saw a message from the high and mighty Mr. Lakshya Durgaprasad Maheshwari Ji himself.
“Ohoy PSL? Sleeping?”
“I knew you would not be able to sleep. My news must have killed all the sleep your otherwise extremely lazy body possessed! 😀 ”
“Shut up! Nothing of that sort. I was just busy.”
“Busy in scratching your head over how I did it and feeling jealous.”
“No. I was talking to Sanskaar.”
I don’t know why I said that. I just did it on an impulse. I looked at my phone and waited for his reply. A minute passed but there was no sign of him. He was okay, right? I was getting worried. Finally, his message came.
“Talking to your best friend cum crush? Must be much more interesting than talking to me. I won’t trouble you anymore, sorry if I disturbed. Goodnight and take care.”
I stared at the screen in shock. What was that? He took it seriously? When did FFL start taking my words seriously? And is he genuinely sorry for interrupting my conversation with Sanskaar? Stupid buffalo! I called him up but his phone was switched off. Huh? What the hell? I would talk to him tomorrow. This is unacceptable! I would sit down with him and explain to him that I find it fun talking to him, more than Sanky. With that thought in mind, I went to sleep, unaware of the havoc I had caused in the mind of my best friend, some yards away from me.
I looked at the photo in my hand. I had specially got it developed. Ragini and I were dressed up weirdly, pouting at the camera. It was of a stayover we did at my place a few weeks ago. I smiled as I saw the picture.
How can I even think that I can replace Sanskaar in her life? He will always be her best friend FIRST. I come second. Ragini considers him her best friend, she likes him romantically and I can never deny that he knows her far better than I do. She has more memories with him than with me. Not for the first time since I became her friend, I cursed the fact that my father decided to relocate to Mumbai. I wish we had grown up together. We would have been best friends, classmates, partners- everything. We would have had so much time to explore each other and create memories. But all that went for a toss. She is more attached to Sanskaar than me and even if I tell her that I don’t like him, she wouldn’t listen to me because obviously, she likes him and knows him much better than I do. She TRUSTS him more than she trusts me probably. That resulted in a weird drop in my stomach as my throat choked. I saw her in the picture in my hand. That day had been so beautiful, I still remember it like it happened yesterday.
It was a hot night. No, I mean, it was a warm night. As in, the temperature was high. Weather, get it? Yeah.
Dad and Mom had, as usual, done a bunk. They were in New York, trying to find a new man to trap, oops, I mean to sign a deal with! Ragini, the good hearted hungry angel, couldn’t bear to see me “rot away alone in such a lovely weather” and so, came over for a night stay. Of course, I knew that the one of the reasons was that she herself was alone at her house, her father out for a business trip and her mother at her grandmother’s place, tending to the latter. And I, being the fool I am, had done the unforgivable mistake of telling her that I planned on eating mutton biryani in dinner. Ten minutes later, I found my best friend at my doorstep, grinning ear to ear, holding a big black bag. To my raised eyebrow, she had enthusiastically replied, “Stayover! I thought you must be feeling lonely.” I had been so happy, so happy that tears had come to my eyes at her concern for me, when she shoved me aside and asked, “So, is the biryani ready?” I had come back to Earth after that.
Woman had also brought a packet of chips which she ate alone while I went to bring her some water! I found her happily sprawled on my sofa, bag on the ground and the empty packet of chips kept on my centre table. I smiled tightly at her as I handed her the glass of water. “Don’t you have Coke or juice?” she asked snootily. I narrowed my eyes at her. Is this some hotel? She narrowed hers back. I sighed in resignation and came back with a can of Diet Coke which she finished in one gulp, as if it was a shot of Vodka!
“Yes, so, FFL. What are your plans?”
“Nothing much. Have dinner, settle some bills and go to sleep.”
Ragini looked at me as if I had proclaimed myself King Kong. “That is……..it?” she asked me slowly. I shrugged nonchalantly. What else was I supposed to do? Ragini slapped her forehead in irritation.
“No offense, but I have no doubt left now, why that Kavya always broke up with you! You are such a bore! You have the whole house to yourself, you are home alone, and all that you want to do is eat dinner and settle bills? BILLS? Are you crazy? And now that I am here, you think you should be doing that? NO! We will enjoy!” she said to me as she stood up and quickly pulled up her jeans. This particular pair always sags down and Ragini always has to pull them up when she stands. She had bought it as she thought she was getting fat. And that was because Sanskaar once said that to her. That jerk!
But hey, wait. I am offended. I am NOT a bore! I am a very interesting person. That girl, who my parents made me meet last week said that too. Though I never got a call from her ever again.
“Enjoy? With you? How?” I asked her. She nodded gravely as she started pacing the length of the room, tapping her chin in wonder. She looked at the watch. It was eight pm.
“Wanna go out?” she asked. Thank God she finally ASKED me something. She didn’t ask me if she could stay the night at my place or not, she didn’t ask before dropping in for dinner, she didn’t ask me anything. I shook my head and fanned my face, indicating that it was too hot to go out. Ragini nodded quickly and went and stood below the AC, blocking the cool air from reaching me. I shoved her aside and stood where she had been, enjoying the cold air. She pushed me away and narrowed her eyes. This went on for some minutes before we finally stopped the fight and started laughing at our actions. Ragini sat down on the sofa and quickly passed her hand behind her, to check if her butt cleavage was visible or not. It wasn’t. She relaxed.
“We need to find something to do. But what? Let us play video games!”
“No electricity. Generator is on and it would shut down due to overuse.”
“Umm…….so that means we can’t watch TV too.”
“I like the fact that you are so analytical.”
“Shut up! I have an idea but I am wondering whether doing it with you would be fun or not.”
“I am not AS boring as you claim, madam. What is it?”
“Let us dance! Like, we will connect your portable speakers with your mobile or mine via Bluetooth. And then we will dance to full volume!”
Just then, a servant came to tell me that dinner was ready. Ragini’s eyes lit up happily as she rushed out. I shook my head at her and followed her to the dining room where, as promised, a casserole full of mutton biryani was waiting for her, along with raita. She sat down opposite to me and started serving……………herself. I looked on dispassionately as she heaped ladles after ladles of the biryani on her plate.
“Weren’t you on a diet PSL?”
“When your darling Sanskaar told you that you were getting fat!”
“Oh…..Yes. But today is my cheat day. Like, you know, that one day when you get to relax? That.”
“Yesterday we went to the club and you ate two plates of Paneer Tikka. And you gave this same reason that time.”
“Just tell me directly that you don’t want me to eat! Why are you trying to say it in circles? And why did you invite me here when you didn’t want to share your food with me?”
“I don’t want to stop you from eating. I just want you to understand that you are unnecessarily stressing yourself. You are perfect right now, no need to pay attention to anyone! And for the record, I didn’t invite you, you came yourself!”
“As much as I was getting emotional at the first part of your speech, the latter ended up washing it all away! You are such a jerk!”
“Your biryani is getting cold.”
“Oh yes! Thanks, I will eat it now!”
With this free permit, Ragini Shekhar Gadodia gobbled up an entire casserole of the biryani. And three bowls of raita too. I chewed my food slowly, watching her stuff her mouth in pleasure. This girl can never diet. And she doesn’t even need to, I thought, looking at her. She is perfectly fine.
Later, after we had an ice cream and were giving rest to our stomachs to settle down, we talked about our lives. Ragini had been really busy for the past week, with her workout, meetings and the annual R-Bazaar calendar launch. Every year, R-Bazaar launched a fashion calendar, with photographs of the past year’s best trends on the best models. Ragini had grudgingly put Swara on a page, due to Sanskaar’s request. Though Swara was made to wear the least best clothes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean but that is what Ragini said when I questioned her about giving favours. I understood though, when the calendar came out. She made Swara wear a white coat which had children’s handprints on it in different colours! Though that trend had been rather popular last year, it was the least impressive, when compared to the other trends shown in the calendar. Ragini sure knows how to rock her way around!
Some time later, we made our way up to my room. Ragini turned to me with a grin. “Let us start our dance!” she said excitedly.
“I am not so sure about this……..”
“I am. We will dance. Okay? In fact, I have brought some things which would prove rather helpful. Hold on. Wait.”
She opened her bag excitedly and threw something at me. It was soft, like a furball. I looked at it and found that it was a wig. It looked like Malinga’s hair actually, just colored rainbow. Along with it, she threw a pink faux fur coat and large black glasses which glowed when a button on it was pressed. She herself wore blue ones, similar to the black ones. With my help, she wore the coat and then turned to me.
“What are you waiting for? Wear the wig and the glasses!” she said impatiently as she opened my drawers and pulled out the speakers. I looked at the rainbow themed curly wig and the too-funky-for-Lakshya glasses. I looked at her again and found her connecting my phone to the speakers. Hey wait! How did she open my phone? I have a password to protect it. How did she open the thing?
“Hey PSL! How in the name of your father’s profitable business, did you unlock my phone?” I asked her. She looked up at me with a frown. “By typing your password. It is LUCKYMEXOXO, right?” she replied. I widened my eyes in horror. How did she know my password? And since when?
“How do you know my password?”
“I saw you typing your password once.”
“How long ago?”
“The second time we met, at the wedding.”
“f**k! So you must be checking it out since then!”
“Yep, I like that album in your gallery with photos full of a goofy you. I have transferred the photos to my phone and I am planning to use them as a weapon when I have the need.”
“DAMNNNN! This is wrong!”
“Poof! Shut up and wear the wig and the glasses. I am playing the song.”
She forcefully made me wear the glasses and the wig and then took out her pink lipstick and made a heart on her lips carefully. She came to me and made polka dots on my face as I looked at her in shock. Seeing my expression, she giggled and then took a selfie.
Laga ve jab tu lipistick
Hilega Saara District………..
Ragini was shaking uncontrollably and for a moment I thought she was having convulsions! She looked at me and signed me to join her. “I don’t have that song with me.” I told her. “I am playing it online.” she replied. Maata Rani is using my free Jio network to play such songs! God!
Ragini jumped crazily and thrust her arms around wildly. I decided to let go and join her. We started dancing crazily as the next song played. Beat Pe Booty. Damn! Ragini shook hers while I shook mine. Ragini looked at my dance, which was obviously better than hers, in jealousy and started trying harder. Her pants started sagging down dangerously and she pulled them up again, all the while shaking her bum. It was so funny that I started laughing hard.
“Shall we make a musical.ly?” Ragini asked. By now, the adrenaline was rushing through me and I nodded enthusiastically. She turned it on and played Shape of You while we both started what we are best at- being goofy. Next, we played Gallan Goodiyaan, Kaala Chashma and what not and soon we had made about ten videos. Next, The Humma Song started playing and we danced sensuously while Ragini pouted seductively, except that her get up, combined with the heart on her lips made it look comical. And then, we climbed on our bed as the next song played.
Phir Kya Daddy, Kya Amma
Ek bas tu hi, pyaar ke kaabil
Saara Jahan Hai nikammaa
Tamma Tamma Loge………..
Tamma Tamma Loge, Tamma
Ragini laughed in delight as she plopped down on the bed with a huff. I smiled and joined her, laughing at our craziness. That is what we do. We get crazy, absolutely crazy when no one is around. I propped up on my elbow and watched the heavily panting woman beside me grinning as if she was a kid who had been given her favourite candy. She looked back at me and giggled in happiness.
“Oh my God! This was so fun! But I am hungry now……..” she said in a whining voice as she pouted. She looked rather cute.
I rolled my eyes in a friendly manner as I stood up. No one was at home and since it was so late at night, I didn’t want the staff to wake up and work for us, for they anyways had to wake up on time in the morning to start their work. And no outlet would be open now. Which meant that feeding the lady was now my responsibility.
“You stay here. I will fix something up for us and come with it.” I told her as I removed the wig and the glasses. I felt her tug the hem of my shirt and I turned to look at her. “You are going to cook?” she asked me. I nodded. She quickly got up and removed the coat and her glasses. “I wanna watch you cook.” she said decisively. I smiled as she followed me outside.
We reached the kitchen. “What would you like to eat?” I asked her. “What all can you make?” she asked. “Anything!” I replied. Her eyes widened. “Umm……..in that case, something light. Like……..pasta?” she asked. I rolled my eyes at her reply. “blo*dy PSL!” I replied. She turned pink. “I really like pasta!” she said defensively. I chuckled and patted her head soothingly.
“I will watch you work and you teach me your white sauce recipe. Okay?” she asked. I nodded with a smile.
I took out the packet of flour and asked her to fetch milk, butter and cheese from the refrigerator. We put everything on the counter. I took out the container containing pasta. Ragini looked at it curiously.
“The pasta size is too small!” she whined. I chuckled in response. “It is raw. We will boil it first and when it cooks, it will grow in size.” I replied to her. She widened her eyes and nodded.
I took out some pasta and put it to boil. Meanwhile, I put another pan with milk in it to boil and added chopped onions, crushed garlic and some cloves to it. Ragini was paying full attention to each detail.
“You put garlic in white sauce? And onions? And clove? Is it pasta or some Indian curry?” she asked me.
I pressed my index finger on her forehead. “Mute button on. Now shut up and just watch.” She huffed in indignation and I smiled seeing her antics.
As soon as the milk boiled, I strained it, put another pan on the stove and cut a huge cube of the butter and put it to heat on the pan. As soon as it melted, I added the flour and and after it started changing its colour, I signed Ragini to add the milk. She eagerly stood up, held the jar and poured it as per my instructions, little at a time, while I whisked the mixture quickly.
“Lakshya, why are you whisking it this way?”
“So that no lumps are formed.”
“Lumps get formed?”
“You were right. You don’t know the C of cooking!”
She rolled her eyes while I grinned at her. After the mixture was smooth, I added the required amount of pepper, salt and herbs and gestured Ragini to put the cheese. She grinned in a very scary way and before I could say anything, she toppled the entire jar in the pan! I stared at her as if she had gone nuts while she smirked at me, obviously happy with her action.
“You want veggies in it?” I asked her. She moved her head up and down enthusiastically. I asked her to slice the onions while I started chopping the orange carrot into jullienes. I looked over at her and found her trying to slice onions by watching a video on YouTube! She caught me watching her and gave me a sheepish smile.
“Lakshya, you chop like a pro. How do you do it?”
“Actually, I am a butcher!”
“Hain? What? How? When?”
“Shut up PSL. I was being sarcastic.”
“Yeah yeah. I know. I was just teasing you.”
“Don’t even try to lie. You are too easy to read.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“That you are like an open book.”
“That is too cheesy.”
“Not as cheesy as the pasta is going to turn out, thanks to your little stunt.”
“How do we know that the pasta has been cooked?”
“We take out a piece and cut it from the middle. If the exterior is tender and there is a white line on the cross section when we cut the pasta, then it is properly cooked. Otherwise, it is either under or overcooked.”
“You know so much!”
“And you know so little!”
I had by then, chopped the carrots, mushrooms, red, yellow and green bell peppers and broccoli. I was chopping some baby corn. I looked over at Ragini’s slab and to my intense astonishment, found her still trying to chop the first onion!
“Hey! Haven’t you sliced the onions yet? Here I have chopped so many vegetables!”
“Your fault! You distracted me by having a conversation. I couldn’t watch the video and so I couldn’t complete my chopping! Plus, my eyes are watering.”
I slapped my forehead in irritation. God, why me? What sin have I committed? I took the onions from her and chopped them quickly while Ragini washed her face to clear the tears rolling down her cheeks. I lightly sautéd the vegetables and then added them to the sauce. Next, I strained the pasta and added them to the sauce too.
Ragini had returned by now and insisted on mixing them up as she wanted to move the ladle. I allowed her to do so. She happily mixed the sauce, vegetables and the pasta while I added some more seasoning to it. Ragini grinned happily and thrusted her phone at me.
“Click a picture of me with this pasta. Quick! I will send it to Maa. She will be very happy to see that I have learnt how to make pasta!”
I gaped at her. Is she delusional? When did she make the pasta? I did everything! I chopped all the vegetables, I made the sauce, I put the pasta to cook, I assembled them and she just mixed everything. This is unfair! This is fraud! Cheating!
“Aye FFL! Quick!” she screamed, eyes as wide as an angry Amrish Puri. I hastily clicked her pictures with my pasta, lest she beats me up! She gave many poses and after some fifteen or twenty photos, she finally rested. “How do we switch it off?” she asked me. I rolled my eyes, switched off the gas and served the pasta in a dish.
I swear, Ragini gave the most lustful look to that dish ever! It was the expression of all perverts who walked on this Earth, rolled into one. She grabbed a fork and quickly ate a serving. Her eyes closed as she savoured the taste. A small smile played at her lips cutely and seeing her, I smiled too.
“This pasta is so creamy! So moist, so amazing! You are a fantastic cook FFL!”
“I was honoured today with your presence in my humble kitchen of course!”
“Yes, yes. That too.”
Ragini giggled as she watched my face. She smacked her lips in delight. “This is seriously amazing.” she said as she proceeded to take a bite from my plate too, before I could figure out her intentions.
“Oye Bhukkad! Stay away from my plate!” I shouted at her but then, when has she ever listened to me? She cackled in glee, as she again started torturing me.
We went to the lounge to laze about. Ragini was lying on her back, her stomach looking suspiciously inflated. I sat opposite to her on a recliner, both of us watching the pool. Its blue light proved a shocker, compared to the pristine white moonlight. The temperature was now okay, with a gentle breeze blowing.
“It was really fun today.” I said to her. Her tummy raised higher and I realised that she had been holding her breath all along! She sat up and smiled at me. “I can easily make out that you have done this for the first time!” she said. I nodded in reply. “Have you done this before?” I asked her. I imagined her dancing with a faceless Sanskaar in this way and a strange feeling rose in my chest. She nodded enthusiastically and replied, “With Maa and Papa! Papa and Mama do ball dance on Chinese and Korean songs!” she replied laughingly. The feeling in my chest subsided as I laughed along with her. Her parents are equally crazy!
“My Dad sometimes utters random shayari to impress my mother. They are self composed and utterly ridiculous. He often ends up sleeping on the couch after such sessions! Shall I recite one?” I asked. She smiled and crossed her legs in anticipation while I cleared my throat like a pro.
“Arz Kiya Hai…………..”
“Tu Meri heroine, main Tera hero!”
“Waah waah……..waah waah!”
“Tu Meri heroine, main Tera hero.
Tere pyaar mein ho Gaya Hoon main zero!
Tere liye sad songs main gaayo……..
Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo…..Paayo!”
I said as I did Sonam Kapoor’s steps. Ragini laughed crazily, clutching her stomach as I continued doing the steps while assuming my father’s expressions. “Yuck!” she said. I nodded in agreement. “After this one, she threatened to leave him. So he stopped for a while.” I said. She smiled at me.
“Seeing our parents, I feel that they are so lucky. They are living their desired lives, with their chosen careers, their favorite things and their loves. While I think we will manage the others, I doubt we will be able to find someone to love us or whom we love as madly as they do.” I told her. She smiled sadly.
“True, isn’t it? You may like a person all you want but if you don’t see a future with them, what is the damned use?” she replied. I nodded and opened my arms and she quickly came and hugged me.
“Don’t worry FFL. If nothing happens with Sanskaar, and you are unable to find someone, I will marry you! We two ‘Forever Alones’ would be happy with each other!” I said jokingly.
“Done. Just for the record, I want a fairytale-themed reception. I would wear a pink or blue gown. Okay? Can you afford it? Reception is given by the boy’s family.”
“Are you questioning my wealth? If you had wanted an Arabian Nights themed reception too, with gold and stuff, I would have been ready. It would be my wedding too, after all!” I winked at her. She smiled softly as she snuggled closer and uttered a ‘Hmm’. We sat there for a long while, silently looking at the water, as I felt her deep breath on my chest while she listened to my heartbeat.
*End of Flashback*
I smiled softly as I recalled that memory. Gosh, we had had so much fun that day. I couldn’t recall one another day as it when I had been so happy. I had felt so……. satisfied. Like I didn’t need anyone or anything else to make my life better. And now, it is kind of hurting me.
It is not Ragini’s fault. She has always maintained that Sanskaar is her best friend. He was her first best friend and is also her crush. Just because she considers me a best friend now, doesn’t mean that she would let go of him. Not that I understand what she sees in him. He tries to be so cool but comes off as a featherbrain macho. Plus, I hate his attitude towards Ragini. He acts as if he is doing a favor on her by being her friend, when in reality, it is the other way round! Ragini is so better as compared to him. Far more beautiful, far more kind and far more friendly. She can do much better than him. But I cannot say that to her, it may hurt her. Just like it is hurting me right now.
I admit, I am too attached to her. I may be one of her two best friends but for me, she is my only best friend. I don’t want to share her with anyone. And nor does Sanskaar, obviously. He was more pissed off at my friendship with her than my work with his girlfriend. If Ragini’s wish of getting together with him comes true, I would be out of the picture. It would hurt so much then. A tear rolled down my cheek.
I would not let that happen. I will have to maintain distance from her. I can’t get too attached to her emotionally, I anyways find it hard to move on. That’s it. I would try and lessen our interactions now. I will………..exclude myself from her life and her from mine. I have no idea how I would do it but I would. For her.
Next morning, we were all sitting on the beach, watching the proceedings as the set for the shoot was made. Lakshya and Swara were in the hotel, being prepared for the shoot. But they were taking a lot of time. I walked up to the assistant photographer and flashed a sweet smile to which he instantly responded by giving one of his own.
“Hello, what is your name?” I asked him.
“Sameer. Aren’t you Ragini Gadodia, the owner of R-Bazaar? Glad to finally meet you, I have seen your pictures in the newspapers. Don’t mind, but you look really beautiful, better than in those papers!”
I threw back my head and laughed. This guy was clearly trying to butter me and I had to play along, if I wanted to get my information.
“I am not the owner YET. God willing, I would be one day though. And thanks for the compliment Sameer. How old are you?”
“Ahaan! You are really fit for it. I would have guessed twenty two, at most. Good going!”
“Thanks a lot ma’am. I work out daily. And I control my diet too. In fact, some people were saying that I myself would have looked great on the cover, had Lakshya Sir not agreed! But I guess I would have to make do with the photography.” he said as he laughed. I cringed at his conceit.
“How long before the shoot begins?” I asked casually.
“As soon as the model and Sir arrive.”
“Oh! They are being prepared, aren’t they?”
“Yes, the model is having some bronzer applied on her entire body, she is too fair! We need someone with a more neutral skin tone. Someone like you!” he said as he winked. I smiled. He is so chep!
“What about Lakshya?”
“He has the perfect skin tone for it, he is just being taught some poses and is being oiled.”
“They are taking too long…………”
“I know right? He is in the second floor of the Sunrise Block. Room number 805, with the makeup artist Saksham.”
“And what about the model Swara?”
“A few rooms down, 813 or 815, I think”
“Oh. So they are quite close by. Wouldn’t take them long to come, then. I guess the shoot will commence early.”
“I hope it does! How come you are here? In Goa, I mean? Alone?”
“No bro! I am here with my friends.” I replied. I saw with a smirk how he spluttered when I called him bro. Good, he was getting too chep! Before he could say anything, I thanked him and left. My work was done. I had wanted to know two things, i.e. if Swara and Lakshya were in the same room and whether Lakshya was dealing with a female makeup artist. Both answers were satisfactory. I heaved a sigh of relief.
“Ragz….what were you doing with that man? You know, he is kind of a creep!” Sanky said to me as he wrapped his arm lazily around my neck. I wrapped my arm around his waist and we walked ahead. “Nothing! I just wanted to ask him how much time it would take for the shoot to begin and he started complimenting me and becoming clingy. I couldn’t be rude to him, I have a reputation. So I was just humoring him.” I replied. Sanky chuckled. “You were humoring him too much I think. He was positively drooling on you. I had half a mind to break his jaw, but then I thought that you are self sufficient yourself. There is no need to act without any reason. I have full faith in you, you would have made him recall the time gramophones existed!”
I laughed with him as we kicked sand together, arms wrapped around each other. He told me that my hair was looking far shinier today and demanded to know if I had changed my shampoo. When I refused, he gave me a cold stare. I had to reveal to him that I had switched to Loreal.
A few minutes later, Lakshya came out and I dropped my jaw in shock. He was wearing blue jeans and was shirtless and I was shocked to see that he had eight packs! Eight! His dark skin on his chest was hairless and shining due to the oil while his jet black hair had been ruffled to give a boyish look. His stubble had been trimmed. He looked like the alpha male. If I had not liked Sanskaar, I would have fallen for him, then and there!
He looked in my direction and I passed him a smile. He looked behind me somewhere, frowned a little then ignored me and went ahead. My jaw further dropped to the ground. Did he just ignore me? Me? Ragini Gadodia? Doesn’t he know who I am?
A woman, looking deeply traumatized, came running to to the head photographer. All of us scooted closer to hear.
“Sir that model is allergic to the bronzer! Her skin is all red now, due to that product.” she said helplessly. Sanskaar widened his eyes and looked at me. I nodded to him and he smiled at me and ran towards where Swara was. Kunj and Twinkle followed him to help.
“Sir that model is allergic to the bronzer! Her skin is all red now, due to that product.” she said helplessly. Sanskaar widened his eyes and looked at me. I nodded to him and he smiled at me and ran towards where Swara was. Kunj and Twinkle followed him to help.
“What? Damn! I had asked her beforehand to tell if she was allergic to something or not. What do I do now?” the photographer asked. Lakshya, who was standing next to him and drinking water, spoke.
“Why don’t we shoot without her? She isn’t gracing the cover, I am!”
“I had planned my aesthetics in that way. I have a vision. I can’t just change it at the drop of a hat!” the photographer replied in irritation. Lakshya shrugged.
The unit members ran here and there to find a replacement. I looked at the photographer and went to him.
“Mr. Tarun? Hi, I am…………..”
“Ragini Gadodia! Oh my God! Such a pleasure to see you again! We worked on the R-Bazaar winter collection.”
“Yes, I remember. I was really impressed by your work. In fact, I called you up to do our annual calendar too, but you were already engaged.”
“I know ma’am. I still curse myself and my fate. But congratulations, it has come out fantastic! This model Swara was chosen when I saw her on that calendar. But I think fate has ditched me again.”
“You want my help? I can call up my team to find a spare model for you.”
“Can you? I would be extremely grateful.”
“I don’t think it would be a problem.”
As it turned out, it would take almost two hours to for a model to reach Goa while the team couldn’t find a suitable model from the local agencies. Almost an hour had passed and Lakshya the Cover Boy was getting irritated.
“It is okay. You tried. Actually, there are so many models available locally but none fits the bill. We want someone tall, who comes till Lakshya Sir’s chin, is fit and has a honey complexion, for he is on the darker side and we are unable to find one. It is becoming a headache………….”
Tarun squinted at me. He looked me up and down and frowned. “You are exactly the type of girl we are looking for!” he said quietly. I widened my eyes in shock.
“You got to be kidding me! I? A model?” I asked him. He nodded. “You are tall, you have a honey complexion, you are fit and you are really good looking. Perfect fit with him. Ma’am, please. Can you do this? I know it is asking you a lot but we will put you both on the cover together, if you want. Please agree to it. We need to complete this shoot today, Lakshya Sir won’t give more dates.”
I looked at where FFL was sulking under a tree. His reputation was at stake. He had committed to the project and if it didn’t take off, his image would get ruined. Plus, what is the big deal? I just have to make a poker face and stand still. And then what better way to announce our friendship to the world than a covershoot together? I told Tarun to wait. I called up my PR team, confirmed with them that it would be okay and then gave my nod. I told him that I didn’t require money for it but I wanted to be on the cover. Tarun looked at Lakshya and told me to talk to him about it. I nodded and went to him. Lakshya looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
“They have asked me to be the model. And I said yes.” I told him. His eyes almost bulged out at the news. He looked at Tarun who sheepishly came forward. “Sir, we weren’t able to find a suitable replacement for the model. Ragini Ma’am perfectly fits the role and the criteria required. She is even willing to do it for free, she just wants to be on the cover with you and her name on it too. It is too convenient for us to ignore. And even you don’t have dates after today.” Tarun stuttered. Lakshya looked at me while I looked back at him, eyebrows up in a challenge. He sighed and nodded. “Fine. I don’t have any issue. We are friends anyways. I don’t mind sharing the cover with her.” he replied. Tarun smiled and shook hands with him while he called a man who was carrying the necessary contract papers. All my demands had been typed out on it (fast people!) and they were ready to be signed. I quickly went through the papers, found them satisfactory and signed on them.
As soon as Tarun went away to call the makeup artist for me, Lakshya turned to me. “You are going to model with me? Are you serious?”
I looked up at him. He was sounding angry but looking surprised. I nodded. “You are obviously keen on it and if you don’t get a model in another hour, this shoot will be called off. So, I stepped in.”
“But what about your overcautious PR team………”
“I talked to them and told them that I am doing it. They had no other option than to give their blessings and wish me good luck for my debut. What about your PR? Will they agree?”
“They won’t have another choice. I need to get this over with.” He said with an attitude as he walked away.
Nisha came running towards me but was stopped by the security. I went to her.
“What are we hearing Rags? You are modelling for them?”
“I am. It is…… exciting. They could not find a model and asked me as I fit the bill. Even Lakshya has no issue. I would be on the cover with him and even inside.”
Nisha smiled and gave a thumbs up to the gang behind her. All of them started hooting. Sanskaar was still with Swara. I smiled at them and bowed gracefully. They came towards me and pulled me in a group hug.
“My gal is a model!”
“I am so happy for you!”
“Dude, this is amazing!”
“You are going to put it on fire! Rock it!”
“This cover will be a hit!”
“Of course it will be. Our Ragz is gracing it!”
I smiled as I heard them. I am so lucky to get such supportive friends like them and FFL. They all clapped my back and then stepped back when a girl cleared her throat behind me.
The young girl, who introduced herself as Madhu, came forward. “Perfect. I won’t have to use the bronzer. Ma’am, I am your makeup artist. Shall we start?” she asked. I followed her to a room where she proceeded to strip me and apply oil over my body. Another girl, who was the hairdresser Navya brushed my hair. “You have beautiful hair ma’am.” she complimented. I thanked her as she curled my hair into soft waves and blow dried them. Meanwhile, Madhu had started applying makeup, light and natural. She used tones of brown, peach, orange, gold and bronze and then applied a coral lipstick. Finally, I was given a blood red bathsuit which was cleavage baring and had thin white ribbons to tie in the back. It was backless, except for the ribbons and was really beautiful. And not my type. Damn!
I wore it quickly and came out. Madhu and Navya wolf-whistled seeing me. “Gorgeous!” Navya exclaimed. I was blushing like hell, I know. Lakshya would drop dead laughing.
I was escorted out and even though I was shy to drop my covering robe, I knew that what had to be done, had to be done. My gang was cheering me on. I took off the robe and saw everyone’s jaw drop. Gosh, I knew I would look like a dud! I spied Lakshya looking at my exposed legs with an expression akin to wonder. I ran my hands through my hair and went to the set.
“You are looking ravishing Ragini ma’am! Okay, so let us start. So sir is going to sit there on that wood setee. You sit behind him and put your left forearm on his back, just below his neck, with your hand behind his shoulder and both of you look towards your right, at the cameras. Don’t smile or anything. Just make a straight face. Okay?” Tarun instructed. We nodded at him.
Lakshya sat on the setee while I sat behind him. His shoulder blades were distracting me too much. Hell, why is it that I didn’t notice his abs and all last night when I was cleaning his wound? Damn! I gingerly placed my forearm on his warm back and a sensation passed through me. God, this is weird!
We both looked rightwards, at the camera. Tarun clicked some photos while we stayed in that position. Next, we were asked to strike a different pose in which we were standing and Lakshya’s arm was wrapped around my waist while my hand was on his chest. Again, we faced the camera. Next, I was sitting on a net which was tied to two trees and Lakshya was lying on it with his head on my lap. This was an aerial shot so we both looked up. “And this is the last one of the first schedule. Amazing! You two make a great team!” Tarun remarked as we stood up. I smiled at his comment and turned to Lakshya but he had a blank expression on his face.
Next, I was quickly taken to change into a breezy flowing hot pink dress which came to my knees and had small white flower blocks printed on it. It was a close fit till the bodice and flowed downwards. I wore white slippers with it and my hair was straightened a bit to remove the waves. I came out and saw Lakshya standing, with a white shirt on with his jeans, the first few buttons open. We posed for a few more times and then were given a break of half an hour before we began the last two schedules.
The gang ran up to me. “Damn Ragz! You are doing amazing baby!” Arjun said as he hugged me. Radhika smiled. “I was so worried but you are nailing it!” she said to me with a hug. Twinkle winked at me. “My friend is a model now!” she said happily. “And an amazing one at that!” Nisha joined as they both squealed in excitement. Kunj was searching something on his phone. “Dude Ragz, we have also clicked some pictures. Shall we send it to your parents?” Kunj asked. I nodded with a smile. Kabir came to me, carrying a bottle of juice. “You deserve it! Such confidence! If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought that you are a pro!” he said as he handed me the bottle. I smiled in thanks and took a gulp while everyone discussed how amazing the shoot was. “Shall we go and find something to eat?” Kabir asked. Twinkle nodded heavily and everyone declared that they were hungry. “Let us find some cafe. Or wait, let us go to the buffet at the hotel. What say?” Kunj asked. Everyone agreed. “Ragini, come let us eat.” Nisha said to me. I shook my head. “You guys go. I will come in a while. I needed to talk to the photographer about some clauses in the contract.” I told them. They nodded and went ahead while I turned to the person who I actually wanted to speak to.
Lakshya sat under an umbrella, checking his phone. I marched up to him but was stopped by his appointed bodyguard.
“You can’t meet Sir.”
“Why not Chetan Uncle?” I asked him. He looked at me in surprise and recognised me. He smiled softly.
Chetan Uncle and I are partners in crime when it comes to troubling Lakshya. He is mainly DP uncle’s bodyguard but on some cases, protects Lakshya too. But not against me, of course. He considers me like a daughter and always gets ‘scared’ of me which means that even when Lakshya tells him not to allow ANYONE near him, I am always excluded.
“Ragini beti! Hello, what are you doing here? I didn’t know you were here too!” he said pleasantly. We were standing a few feet behind Lakshya, so I was sure that he couldn’t see us or listen to us.
“Nothing. I came here with my friends. How are you these days?”
“Overworked! Durgaprasad Ji is increasing his security and the job of selecting new recruits is now on me. Plus, Lakshya beta wanted me to oversee his security while he was here. So I had to fly here today morning.”
“What about your daughter Shweta? How is she doing in college?”
“Brilliant! She is in third year B.Com Hons and has already found a campus placement in Lakshya Beta’s cafe.” He said proudly. I congratulated him.
“Ragini, I wanted to warn you. Lakshya isn’t in a good mood today. He is really irritable. You know, today he shouted on a waiter just because his coffee tasted a bit sweeter than usual! You know that he never does that. He gently explains to them not to repeat it. But today he did a huge drama! He is upset about something. I cannot ask him and today, he was strict with me that I must not allow anyone to come near him. He said not to………let even you come close to him!”
I looked at him. He wasn’t lying, Chetan Uncle is always honest. In fact, it is an inside joke in the Maheshwari family that he is Yudhishthir! Maybe Lakshya was pissed off at yesterday’s conversation. I winked at him. He understood and stood up straight.
“BUT UNCLE! I am Ragini!” I shouted, loud enough to confirm that Lakshya could hear me. He turned around and saw me as I stood before the huge elder man in front of me, hands on my waist with an angry expression on my face.
“But Lakshya Sir has especially said not to allow anyone. In fact, he said that even YOU………”
“Chetan Kaka! Allow her in.” Lakshya’s voice boomed. He turned his back to us as he continued typing in his mobile. I gave a high-five to Uncle as I went towards Lakshya, unaware of the storm that was raging inside him.
Damn! What was Kaka about to do? He would have told her that I had asked him not to let even her come. What would she have thought of me? She would have been so hurt! Can’t Kaka keep his Raja Harishchandra mode off for one damned day?
And this Ragini. I had come out to see every female eyeing me lustfully while all the men were glaring. I was so happy to see this and then I saw her. And who do I find close to her, in fact, just behind her with his arm around her neck? Sanskaar Singhania! And moreover, she had her arm wrapped around his torso! Such an intimate position! What was I supposed to do? Dance for her? Huh. And then she agreed to shoot with me! And I, like a fool, allowed her to share the cover with me. And then she comes out looking so hot! I blo*dy couldn’t take my eyes off her. How am I even going to succeed in my mission?
“Hey FFL! So, the shoot day is finally here! You are looking good, I must say. Never thought I would see the day!” she chuckled as she sat down beside me. I scooted away from her and she looked at me in confusion. Sorry Ragini, but I have made up my mind.
“I know it is hard for you. I must thank my stars that you, who otherwise finds it so tough to appreciate anyone other than Sanskaar, found me looking good today!” I spat bitterly. What am I supposed to do? I am feeling a bitter taste in my mouth.
“Why are you being such a b*t*h today?” she asked me. In spite of myself, I smiled a little. Only she has the guts to call me a b*t*h to my face.
“I am not being anything. Where is Sanskaar by the way?” I asked as I looked around.
“Gone to see Swara. She is hurt, you know?”
“Hmmm……that is why you came here, to me, right? Because he isn’t there anymore?” I asked her. And instantly regretted it. I saw Ragini look at me with a shocked expression but more than that, the hurt was evident in her eyes. Shit! I took it too far!
“You think I came here because he left? Do you?”
“Listen, I didn’t mean………….”
“DO YOU?” she shouted at me angrily. People around stopped to look at us. I looked at them with an expression which was enough to kill. All of them hastily returned to their work. I looked at Ragini and felt a pang of remorse.
Tears were forming in her eyes and she looked really hurt. Even though I wanted to distance myself from her, I didn’t want to hurt her in the process. She stood up and before I could speak, put out her hand to stop me.
“I don’t know what is wrong with you and why you just said that ridiculous thing. But you just insulted me and our friendship. If you really think that I come to you only when I am free, then I am really sorry that you are my friend!”
Something snapped inside me. My nightmare was coming true. I wanted distance, not the breaking up of our friendship. And here, she was clearly indicating towards the end. She wants it to end!
“Nice excuse you just got to end things, didn’t you? I am sure I must be a burden now since I am coming in between you and your quality time with your Sanskaar. But I am not someone who you can take for granted! If you don’t want to be friends, don’t. I don’t care!” I snapped at her.
A tear escaped her eye and rolled down her creamy cheek as she turned around and walked away from me in a fast pace. I kicked my chair in anger and it broke with the force. Damn! Why is it hurting? Why now? It has not been too long since we became friends. Why am I hurting?
I slipped on the ground with a thud, my head in my hands as Ragini’s hurt, tear stricken face flashed in my mind. Why Ragini? Why are you hurting me, even without doing anything? Why am I unable to accept that we cannot be friends? Why am I feeling bad for talking to you in that way? Why are you affecting me?
Had I been a bit less stubborn and stupid, I would have realised that it was all because seeds of a pure emotion had started sowing in my heart, an emotion far different from friendship. I would have realised it and saved a lot of time, energy and effort and would have saved myself and PSL from unnecessary pain and heartbreak.
DONE. Kaisa Tha? Go and comment phataphat se. And do tell me what all you liked in Raglak’s friendship till now. Important for the next shot. Till then, stay tuned to Cocktail!