Guys, I have finally written Ch 4 to this series. I hope you will enjoy it as well, even though its very long…I wanted to give a backstory to my version of Ishkara..
As Om and Ishana stared into each other’s soul through the side-mirror, both transported back into the moment where their lives collided.
Spring of 2011
It was a beautiful Spring morning, the sky held a soft blue glow. The flowers that had been a tight bud only days ago had begun to open.
There were festivities all over the city to welcome the spring, season of love and rebirth.
Om was working on his very first major art exhibition… the theme was Rhythm of Love. He wanted to exhibit his paintings and sculptures of dancers in motion. Thus, he decided to venture into the two stories dance studio building, which was situated across from his art gallery… little did he knew this first step towards the gate of the dance studio entrance was something that will forever dominate his future…
As Om passed through the hallways, he peeked through the small window on the closed doors on either side. He wanted to look into the room and the performers inside. Each room he peeked into had different style of dance… one room had hip hop dancers grooving to the latest RnB music, another room had ballet dancers dancing to Tchaikovsky’s The Swan Lake while another room had Sensual Tango dancers shaking to the Santiago’s Dream… he felt as though he was walking through a majestic dream; the world of dancers in colorful attires, moving effortlessly to the melodies.
It seemed like their bodies were somehow possessed by the music… different room, different music but each were reiterating a same story of love, loss and pain. Om thought, dancers bring a wordless interpretation of the beats, of the soft strings, in a way the audience can understand no matter what language they speak.
Intrigued Om pondered around the hallway until he came to stop at a door labeled: Classical Indian Dance, a group of Bharatanatyam performers with each swaying movement, with each alluring twist of their body, they told a story. He felt the need to capture all of the magnificent motion in his canvas. There was one particular dancer that caught his keen attention, pivoting on her heel in a revolving whirl of precision and accurate grace, balanced like she was made of weightless silk.
Om slowly opened the door and tiptoed toward the back of the room like an invisible creature in order to watch her perform… it was for the first time Om saw colors, motion and melodies came together to form this spectacular symphony of life. He at last…Om thought, he had found her…his Muse.
After the rehearsal, Om walked up to the dancer with feeling of twisting butterflies in his stomach. Though he spoke very little, he never felt nervous around people, but today for some odd reason he could not help but to feel very nervous, the way a school boy feels before talking to his crush….he drew deep breaths, and he sheepishly said “Excuse me, may I speak to you for a min?”
The graceful dancer, Ishana, turned around to have a look at him, “Sure, what’s up?”
” You dance very well…I was wondering would you be interested to dance for me?”
Trying to make a sense of what she just heard Ishana Shouted, “What! You better not think I am a bar/ club dancer! I am an artist my dance is my passion!”
Om instantly realizing what grave misunderstanding was unfolding before him, apologetically replied in a single breath, “no no no… nothing like that. I am Omkara, I am artist. I am a painter and an sculpture. I am setting up my first major art exhibition in a gallery. My theme is called The Rhythm of Love…I watched you perform and I really appreciate your dancing skills and I thought you and your group would like to be part of the exhibition. I want to exhibit my paintings and my sculptures and I want to keep live performers as an center of attraction..it will be fusion of colors, music, and dance.”
Ishana let out a sigh of relief and skeptically asks raising her right eye brows little higher than her left, “Will we get paid? We won’t do any volunteer work, you know.”
Om assured her,“Of course it will be paid. In fact you guys would have the chances to meet famous international performers as well.”
Ishana trying to mask her excitement, corrected her throat, “Ahmm… interesting…I will think about it and will inform you later. leave your phone number with me.”
Om handed her his card with a grin, he turned back few times to have a few more glances of the dancer before walking out of the room and out of the building.
Ishana tells her her group with enthusiasm, “Guess what! we got a offer to dance in the art exhibition and we will get paid!”
One of her fellow dancer looks at the card, exclaimed “OMG! Omkara Sign Oberoi handed you this card!
“Yes. Why? ”
The dancer explains: “He is the budding new artist and most importantly son of the Oberoi industries! Ishana, we have gotten offer to not perform in any gallery but we will be in the spotlight with the who’s who of the art and entertainment district!”
Ishana’s eyes widens as if she has just found a gold mine…no she corrected herself.. diamond mine… she mischievously says “Interesting…….”
Ishana was in the 9th cloud from the morning encounter with the artist, she swirled and hopped on the steps at entrance of her home. Just as she walked in…she discovered two goons sent by a debt collector, who were violently shaking her her father by his shirt collar.
Ishana hurriedly hid her sister and went up to them and demanded them to release her father at once. Her drunken father was shoved aside and they walked towards her but her father tried to stop them by throwing a beer bottle at them.
Unfortunately, the bottle deflects and misses the target– the goons. Irritated by drunkard’s futile aim, the goons marches towards him.
Ishana reflexively run to shelter her father and in turn receives a blow from one of the goon’s fist and falls against the hard floor with a thud.
The second goon pulls her up by grabbing lock of her wavy hair and threatens mercilessly, “This time I leaving alone. Next time I will take you and your sister with me. If your dad can’t pay us with the money…he can definitely pay us with his two daughters’ youth. In fact with your zero figure you will be earning more as a top class escort!” and throws her back onto the ground and leaves.
Ishana wipes her tears, without a care to herself she rushes to her father and helps him sit on the nearby sofa. She tenderly assures “Don’t worry Papa, your daughter is very strong.. she will never let any harm come to you or Mona… I will do whatever it takes..just please control your drinking and gambling at least till we pay them back.. Please papa. Please…”
Om impatiently waiting for her calls. He had repeatedly kept on checking and rechecking his phone, making sure it was working. He kept the phone plugged to the charger and ringtone set to the maximum volume his phone would allow.
He sat on his bed waiting as he put the image of that graceful dancer in a loop on his mind’s playlist. Om tells himself “Wow Om you have already developed a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in these few hours! Not cool dude not cool! Wait a minute, I think I’m going insane, I’m talking to myself!” Om thought good thing dumble oberoi isn’t around, he would have taken a class of me now.
Om thoughts were interrupted by the blasting ringtone, he excitedly says “Hello! HI! i was waiting for you!”
A male husky voice replies with a touch of wit “OhhhhhhhH really! wow. I did not know you were this excited to hear from me. You should have called instead of waiting for me.”
Om slightly but not entirely disappointed,”Shivay?”
“Yes, of course, who else would call you this late? It is Saturday morning here in Boston, I was missing you so i called you late in your time, thinking you must be free. But judging from your voice, it seems like my brother is waiting for someone else late at this hour. ..”
Om shyly replies “It’s nothing like that…I have an exhibition coming up and I needed some dance performer. I was told she would call me tonight…so i thought it was her..anyways house is your classes going at the Harvard Business School?… and when are you coming back? I miss our Obro moments.”
“A dancer eh? Haha…anyway, classes are good. I am enjoying the city, But I miss you boys and dadi very much. Guess what Om, I have learned to cook some awesome dishes. My classmate/roommate works as an assistant chef part-time, he taught me so many culinary techniques. I can’t hardly wait to come back to show it all to you guys”
Om amused, “wow my brother cooking, that is something new…Shivay bro I am getting call. Can I talk to you later?”
Shivay like an mischievous teenager, “sure, take the call. good luck with your exhibition. and I can tell this dancer must be very pretty..haha”
Om anxiously receives the incoming call with the same twisting butterflies returning to his tummy, “Um…Hh..hello?”
Ishaha replies”Hi, Mr. Omkara?”
Om sighs from the sound of his name… he loved the way she took his name, “Yes, and please call me Omkara. Please forgive me, i did not ask your name before”
Ishana hurriedly thought of a pseudonym, “Bella… I am Bella…my group and I have decided to perform at your exhibition”.
Om excitedly said:” that is awesome! Why don’t you meet me at this cafe near the gallery tomorrow morning around 9am, we can go over the plan. I will text you the address.”
“Sounds great. See you tomorrow, Omkara”.
Ishana grins…along with her father and sister, she has a much different motive….Ishana wants to use Omkara Singh Oberoi to repay the debt collector and be free from their harassment.
Besides, Ishana justified herself, these rich top 1 percent became rich by robbing off the poor middle class people…maybe it’s time for the table to turn…
Beforeing calling Om, Ishana did an extensive research and concluded out of the three heirs to the Oberoi industries, Om seems the easiest target. He is an artist, an idealist, sees the good in people etc. etc. ete.. In short a peace loving hippy, who can easily be manipulated…
She made an idiotproof master plan, seducing Mr. Omkara Singh Oberoi. Her being a dancer made her work simpler, she can relate very well with him through art and impress him with her charm… Ishana believed the art of deception comes from getting the prey’s trust…and she, a hungry predator is willing to go any extent to protect her sister and her father from the goons. After all, in order to survive in this dog-eat-dog world one has to put on a face over a face.
Cafe by the gallery:
Next morning Ishana and her dance partners met Om at the cafe like they have planned the previous night. Om’s heart wavered when he saw a large fist-size black-blue bruise over her beautiful face…With genuine concern he said “It looks bad, is it hurting you?”
“I am used to it” Ishana trying to cover it with her hand says “Don’t worry Omkara, I will have make-up over it for your exhibition”
Om replied compassionately “Everyone sees the wound but no one sees the pain… if you want to talk, I am a good listener.” Ishana nods, touched by his empathy, she follows Om to the gallery.
The exhibition was an successful event and highly praised. Omkara, became famous for the first time as an individual artist rather than as Omkara Singh Oberoi, heir to the Oberoi Industries…in fact ever since that exhibition, his career as an artist catapulted into a different heights.
As weeks went by Om and Bella became very fond of each other’s company. He would visit her during her dance recitals and would make regular plans to meet up at a tea stall on the art district area.
One day Bella/Ishana declares “ I have always wanted to learn how to make clay pots” while sipping through a piping hot creamy masala tea.
Om gazes up at her from his cup, and smilingly says, “Then follow me, I shall make your dream a reality”
Om leads her to his studio.. and arranges a block of clay, bucket of water and his spinning wheel. He sits down front of the spinning wheel, and extends his hands towards the standing Bella and with a smile on his face,”Will you do me the honor to teach you the art of pottery?”
Bella amazed by his gestures sits front of Om, her back facing his chest.. Om takes her hands in his hand and pours water over the clay. Om sits crouching with one foot on the lever controlling the wheel. As he spins, the clay and water and their fingers starts to pour life into the lifeless dough of clay. the clay starts to dance in front of their eyes. With the pulp of their fingertips they began to mold the clay into their desire shape. Smooth texture gliding against their fingers with cool water pouring over every so often . Whole event seemed like an dance performance to Ishana as their hands and fingers twirled synchronously.
Ishana, felt this new excitement inside her that she did not feel before. Om too, he loved the close proximity. Finally, at last the performances came to an end. Bella holds up the newborn cup very delicately, while Om hugged her palms with his palms. They both turn towards each other and smiled at the sight of their newest creation.
Om helping her get up, shows her way to the sink to wash off the mud.
Suddenly Om’s phone rings and he excuses himself.
After a while, Om returns and informs her that a caretaker from an palace has called him to help out with the painting restoration. Since, Om has training in ancient techniques, they offered him to come over for the weekend to supervise the restorative duties. Bella overjoyed by the news, “ that is so awesome! You should definitely go!” Om hesitantly replies “I will go, only if you come with me.”
Surprised Bella asks “why do you want to take me? I don’t know about art.”
Om replies “ well, there is a very beautiful garden in that palace, i am sure you will enjoy it there. It’s a long journey and I want you to accompany me. Beside you don’t have any family here. So why are you worried? Don’t worry i will keep you well protected” he adds with a wink.
Ishana lied to Om when she said that she didn’t have any family. All her life she wanted to travel to new cities, but her socio-economic struggles always prevented her from such luxuries.
Beside, Ishana thought if she could trust one man in this entire world; it would be none other than Omkara…Bella finally asks,“Omkara, when should we leave?”
Up on hearing Bella agreeing to accompany him to his work/trip exhilarated Omkara to his very core!
On the Express Train:
Next day Bella and Om arrive at the station for their train ride.
Om thought, Trains are best place to see an entire civilization on action. There were people from many walks of life in it. There are merchants, priest, a newly married bride and groom, babies and children, someone’s first ride, someone’s last ride, someone returning home to the loved ones,and someone going away from the loved ones; each with their own adventures and destination.
Bella took a seat next the window and Om sat beside her. An elderly couple was sitting across from them. The elderly lady wore a parrot green silk saree with lemon-yellow, golden border and her pallu formed a veil over her head. She had a small pouch in one hand and her other hand was tenderly clutching the shirt sleeves of her husband. The elderly gentleman, wore a thick spectacles, a seashell white cotton button-up shirt and a ashfold grey pants, his one hand supporting his wife’s hand and with other hand he was pointing out to show her the scenic view of the passing city.
Om smiled at them, wishing to be like them one day, glances at Bella…she was already tranquilized in the swinging motion of the train, like a baby in a cradle, and in her sleep she held onto the sleeves of Omkara’s Shirt like a child grabbing on to her mother’s pallu.
Om, delicately making sure not to disrupt this sleeping beauty, straightened her head and rest it on his chest. The elderly couple glances at them and smiles at Om approvingly, as if he just reminded them of their first train journey together.
The horn blows and the train comes to a stop. They have reached their destination.
At the palace:
A caretaker and a priest shows Om a beautiful portrait of a nameless princess lost in the pages of the history book, when the kings and queens were in rule of the motherland, way before the British invasion.
The owner has decided to turn this historical palace into a Continental resort, but wants to maintain the authenticity for the palace similar to its glory days. What is unique about the portrait and why Om was called in from so far, was because the ingredients that was used to make the paint is rarely used now days.
It was painted with many natural pigments and very few artist have mastered the techniques, one of them being, Om. some of the natural paint that were used were Ochre, indigo, Saffron’s and the sacred Vermillion/ Cinnabar (sindoor).
Painting was hung on a high wall, fearing any movement might disfigure the paintings, Om climbed up a ladder with a palette filled with the desired paints n a wore a toolkit belt around his waist to carry different shapes and sizes of brushes and painting knives.
While, Om worked laboriously to perfection, Bella strolled around the pretty garden.
Lushes of green carpet of grass were everywhere. There were beautiful flowers of all kinds arranged throughout the garden. The explosion of flowers in colors so bright they almost made Ishana’s eyes ache. In the middle of this naturalist beauty laid, a very beautiful circular water fountain with water shooting up into the air… behind the palace there is lake.. it is said the royal family used to stroll around on boats during the monsoon season, when the water tide was high.
Bella was overwhelmed by all the beauty of the palace and it’s surrounding.
Bella wonderd if Om would be free enough to take her on a boat ride. So she rushes to the palace. As she enters the room with the painting her feet slips on the shimmery marble tiles and with a bang she shoves the ladder where Om was on. Luckily Om missed a grave fall by taking extra precaution by having a safety lift belt around his waist attached to the ceiling, but what happened next was astonishing. …. Om’s palette fell on Bella. Om runs to her side in an instantaneous leap, so did all the other workers…everyone gathered around Bella. Om held the unconscious Bella in his arms and to everyone’s amazement. …Bella forehead was smeared with the sacred vermillion that fell from Om’s hand.
Om shouted Bella’s name from top of his lungs to awaken her from unconsciousness. The hotel owner ask Om to carry her to the suite while a doctor was fetched for help. Panicking Om picks up delicate Bella in his arms , the priest who was the bystander, expresses “The sacred vermillion dropped from your hand and adorned hear manag… son believe it or not she is your soulmate, nothing will happen to her…” nervous tears slides down Om’s eyes as heads toward the suite.
Even though doctor assures Om, Bella is alright, he is still not able to relax… not until he hears from her…
Om sits by her for hours but to him the wait seemed like an eternity, until at last, Bella wakes up and murmurs “Omkara?”
Om nods “ I’m here. Are you OK? Are you in Any pain? Is there something I can get you? Wait let me call the doctor”
Bella holds Om’s arm smiles, “ I’m OK…bit hungry.”
Om relieved, “ I’ll get some food just stay put.” and Rushes out the door.
Few minuets later, He arrives back to the suite with a tray filled with all sort of food which Bella thought would easily suffice at least 5 people. Bella giggles, “All this for me?” Om shyly replies “Actually I did not know what you would like so I got you all the variety of food.”
Bella has never been taken care of before. ..it was always her who looked after others… seeing Om’s genuine concern brought tears to her eyes…. Om seeing her tears ask if he had done something wrong or should he get some help
Bella puts her arms around Om n says “ You are perfect, everything is perfect. No one ever cared for me like you are caring for me now” and she sobs burying her face on Om’s shoulder.
Om embraces her in his arms n soothingly strokes her hair and whispers “It’s OK. .. I am here for you. Always.” As they remained in the embrace, their heart rhythm started to sync with each other’s beat. They both did not wanted to break the embrace because for the first time they felt complete.
Bella opened her eyes and saw their embracing reflection on the mirror… admiring their reflection, she notices bright red color all over hear forehead…Om lovingly explains to her the incident, how is his palette fell on her head and knocked her out, how the vermillion was splattered all over her head he adds blushing, everyone here believes they were a match made in “heaven”….
Bella hugs om again and does something that both them would never forget for rest of their lives, she let her heart speak and says– I love you, Omkara
Omkara slightly releasing her from the embrace, tilted her chin to look into her eyes, His right hand raises to her hair, tucking the mahogany wisps behind her ear.
Outside the clouds parted and moon became visible, it was a full-moon, it hung low, so large and magnificent. The ivory-silver moonbeam shining through the window, poured a luminous angelic glow over Ishana’s face, shoulder and her bare arms.
Om felt a warm tear form at the corner of his eyes at the sight of this beautiful being… he too reciprocate the feeling of love towards her and pulled her into a kiss….savouring each moment, lost in hypnotic passion.
Ishana and Omkara lived their entire life on that one night…
As the first orange hues of the sunrise, kissed Ishana’s eyes. Her hands hovers around the bed to feel for her Omkara. Opening her heavy eyes and finds the room empty… a strange feeling of weary starts to build up inside until she finds a note on the nightstand tucked under the table lamp:
“ Good morning my love. I will be back soon. Please enjoy the breakfast and be ready to leave before afternoon. P.S Thank you for making the last night my best moment in my life”
Ishana, blushes remembering last night.
Om and Bella arrives back to the city, and before Bella could get on a taxi to head towards her home, Om gives her a golden pouch with red silk geometric embroidered motifs. Ishana smilingly nods and takes it in her hand and opens it to see it’s content. She is mesmerized by the sight of a elegant golden chain with a dancing peacock pendent… Om insist she see the back of the pendant. Ishana sobs as she reads the engravings in a beautiful script:
“From here to eternity, together forever”.
Om wipes her tears, and tells she should not make the taxi wait any longer.
while getting into the taxi, Ishana drops her cell phone. Before, Om could stop Ishana’s taxi, it had already passed a block. Om picks up the phone and puts in his pocket thinking he will give to her tomorrow when she arrives at his studio.
Just as he reaches the his studio, the phone rings, before he could speak, a female voice with concern, streams out through the phone speaker:
“ Ishana Di, where are you!! I have been worried for you! You must have been busy romancing the fool, Omkara. I am sure he must have been gone all gaga over you by now. Still, di you could have called papa and I were all worried. When are you coming home? Hopefully we will become rich now. Hello?? Are you there??” Om drops the phone.
The desolation Om felt was consuming him. His mind became paralyzed and he felt some sort of icy tentacles squeezing his heart so tightly it almost stopped beating.
Om thought, how could she do this to me…his knees became limp, and he fell on the ground, and howled in agony.
Next morning, Ishana arrived early in the studio; the room was darkened by the heavy curtains blocking the sunlight entering through the windows.
She finds Om sitting on the floor motionless and crust of red paint smeared over his wrist…her misconception is cleared when she sees broken glasses on the floor and she realizes It wasn’t red paint but it was Omkara’s blood. She runs to him, and tries to examine the wound, Om looks at her, and shakes off his hands from her gentle grip.
“Don’t you ever come near me again, Belle sorry, ISHANA!” Before Ishana could speak, Om continues, “I hate Liars! You are just like others. You’ve cheated me and my love! I never knew the one I love so much could be my assassin”.
Om’s face had streaks of dried tears and eyes filled with sadness and pain, “Today you have killed me! JUST LEAVE! AND NEVER SHOW ME YOUR FACE AGAIN!”
Om pushes her out of his studio and slammed the door on her face. Ishana sobs “I’m so sorry, Om”, knowing very well, there isn’t any justification for what she has done.
Disheveled Ishana arrives home, and breaks down in Mona’s arms as she tells her the event that had occurred earlier that morning.
Pained by his daughter’s first heartbreak, Ishaan’s father runs toward her to stop her from crying, but he realizes, it is he who is the main source of all misery.
He was given the best job a man can have, to be a father. It is his duty is to protect his family, but he failed in every aspect of his fatherhood… So, he thought for the first time he will do something for his daughters, he will release his daughter from his sins… with that he walked out of the house.
While Mona consoling her broken Di, a neighbor knocked at the door and informs them to follow him outside. Ishana and Mona runs to the street, only to find a wounded, body lying on the pool of fresh blood surrounded by gathering of crowds. Ishana and mona shoves away the crowd as they run to the figure and realizes it was their father…. With his last breath he says “Forgive me. I release you from my sins. Please live your life. Be happy always.”
The rain hammered down on them as if the sky was ripped apart, the sound of thunder rolled through the area as another lightning bolt split in the distant sky.
As the rain poured, it washed away her tears and her father’s blood. In one single moment, she had lost both her Omkara and her father.
Ishana felt engulfed with grief and remorse. She clutches to her sister and says “This is a punishment for my crime” and looks up into the heavens vows “I will never break another heart again!”
Flash back ends:
Drops of rain start to make its way through the window into the car. Rudra tells Om. “O please shut the window, we have arrived at your studio”
Om wiping the tiny beads of rain drop mixed with tears on his face and slides up the window.
Ishana in the backseat as well shuts the window and gets out of the car. Mona and Soumya carries the luggage and equipment hurriedly to the studio, avoiding to get wet.
Seeing Ishana struggle with lifting a heavy bag, Om bends forward to help her. Just as he looks up, he sees the the golden dancing peacock dangling out from Ishana’s t-shirt.
Sensing Om’s gaze at her neck, she hurriedly puts the pendant back inside her t-shirt and zips-up her hoodie and in a subdued voice says, “Thanks, I can take it from here.”
As Ishana walks toward the studio, Om stood wondering in the rain; could it be she really meant it when she said she loved me?… Does she still loves me?…