RITISHA, STARTING WITH ‘H'
The next Friday, I woke up early and the first thing I did even before straightening my back, was checking my Facebook page on my cellphone As I scrolled down I saw a post from the Hamdan Institute’s page on my news feed on Facebook. The only thing that grabbed my attention was her picture. The admin of the page uploaded her photo with a welcome post ‘Welcome aboard Ritisha’. The institute is very active on Facebook and ensures their posts are regularly updated on their page. Though I never really cared about all the so-called ‘interesting’ news they posted, this one made me thank them a million times.
Her name was Ritisha. The name rang in my memory like a song I had never forgotten. I searched her on Facebook. ‘Ritisha, Dubai’ I typed in the search box on Facebook and pressed the search button. What happened was exactly what I had expected. Plenty of ‘Ritisha' got displayed on the screen and I was confused yet again. Her name was all I knew about her. Having her surname or even the place she lived in, would have enabled me to get the accurate results.
I opened the post again, started looking at the likes and the comments of the post. There were a hundred likes and around fifty comments welcoming her. I saw that my classmates Raghuvir, Krista, and Amrita liked the post too. I pressed the like button and commented ‘Welcome’. I checked the ‘comments’ and ‘likes’ again just to check if she had liked the post or anything. Disappointment awaited in that zone, as well.
I was excited for the class in the evening. However, this time I would not be done with simply catching a glimpse of her. I would go up to her and welcome her personally. It was twelve noon, and I started to get ready for class. I put on new clothes, jeans, perfume, and gelling my hair. It felt as if I was getting ready for a date.
I reached the class half an hour ago as I wanted to wish her before anyone arrived. However, it seemed the happy hours in my kundli were yet to begin. I found her busy attending one student, explaining him about the CMA course providing by the Institute. I went to my class to keep my bag on the same chair. It was half an hour to go before our class would start. I peeked out to check on her. My impatience growing with the passing seconds, I started roaming around inside the class. I saw the student leave after some time. I knew I could not afford to waste a single second. I ran up to her, stood at a hand’s distance from her and started fiddling with my phone.
‘Yes, do you need something?’ She attention diverted in my direction.
‘Arrey, No. It’s fine. I... I… am just waiting for my class to begin.’ I stammered. It was the first time we looked each other in the eye and exchanged words. I was very scared. I tried a lot to wish Ritisha but failed miserably.
‘Can you please help me put the water bottle in the dispenser if you don’t mind?’ Ritisha asked for my help.
My heart started pounding. I followed her to the pantry without saying a single word. I put the water bottle on the dispenser. She thanked me and I smiled back. I noticed Ritisha was not in a good mood. That smile was miles away from her face. I decided to drop the plan of picking up a conversation. Amrita was the next person to arrive. She saw the both of us coming out of the pantry. There was a smirk on her face and I realized what leg pulling awaited me as I reached class. She went to class, and I followed her.
‘So, how’s the flavor?’ Amrita asked me while putting her bag on the chair.
‘What?’ I asked.
‘I mean to say, how’s the taste of her lips?’ She asked and laughed,
‘Just shut up, don’t start again.’
‘What fun!’ she laughed.
‘You are the limit yaar,’ I said with anger.
‘Okay baba, I am sorry. Leave it’.
‘You better be.'
‘Hmm….by the way it was Maybelline, I guess,’ Amrita said after pausing for five seconds.
‘Aggggghhhhh, Keep your mouth shut,’ I was irritated, but could not help smiling at that.
‘Theek hai Theek hai! Do not cry now, you dog.’
‘Waise, what were you guys doing in the pantry?’ Amrita asked.
‘Nothing, She asked me for the help to put a water bottle on the dispenser,’ I replied.
‘Ohhhh! I see, Superman at the rescue!’
‘Yes, that’s me,’
‘Good going, keep it up.’
The class started. Five minutes into it and I realized that my physical self and the mental domain were not at the same place. My mind was hovering in some distant space where Ritisha and her thoughts engulfed me. I was waiting for the lecture to get over. After an hour and a half of torture, my prayers were answered.
‘Amrita, you can leave, I have some queries that I want to ask Mr. Mehta,’ I said
‘Sure, even I am getting late, my husband is waiting. See you next week’ she said.
‘Okay bye,’ I said.
Everybody left. Mr. Mehta went to manager’s cabin. Only Ritisha and I were outside near reception area. I was eagerly waiting to wish her, but I was very confused how to start the conversation.
‘Hi, Miss.' I greeted Ritisha.
I used ‘Miss’ as I was pretending to not know her name.
‘Hey, Siddhant right?’ she asked.
‘Ya, Siddhant, so you remember my name, huh?’ I said.
She smiled and went inside her cabin and she came back after getting her blackberry from her desk. I was sure that she was upset; I was waiting for the right time.
‘Ohh, you are still here. Do you require anything?’ Ritisha asked.
‘Ahh, not really. I just want to inform you that I don’t receive any e-mails from the Institute. Could you please check whether my registered e-mail address is correct or not?’ I realized the question was too stupid to fathom, but I was desperate to start a conversation.
‘Let me check. Come to my cabin.’ She replied.
I followed her to her cabin. She turned on her laptop and asked my name.
‘It’s Siddhant Shah,’ I replied.
‘Siddhant, Siddhant Siddhant, Siddhant Rajesh Shah?’
‘Yeah, Siddhant Rajesh Shah, Correct,'
‘According to our records, your email id is email@example.com. Is it correct?’ Ritisha asked.
‘Yeah, it’s correct. Don’t understand why I don’t receive any emails, though’
‘God Knows! Let me put your name again in the e-mail group,’
‘That would be sweet of you,’
‘Mmmmm… it’s done. Anything else?’
She was still upset.
‘Can you please check my mobile number as well?’ I asked
‘It’s zero double five, four double five two nine two three, ‘she said.
‘This one is also correct,’ I said
I was out of questions. My mind ran into a blank and decided to pull up my guts and wish her.
‘By the way, welcome to the Institute,’ I took almost half a minute come up with that.
‘Thanks!’ She smiled at me and started working again on her laptop.
‘So what is your name? And from where you are?’ I asked.
‘Ritisha Jain, from India’ she looked at me. The next second her eyes were back on the screen.
‘Ohh, I am also from India,’ I said.
‘Jain?’ I asked
‘Yes.’ She was not looking at me and busy with her work.
‘Shwetamber Jain or Digamber Jain?’ I was slapping myself in the mind for popping stupid questions but I just had to continue with the conversation.
‘Hmm... .’ She replied. Her ‘hmm’ was not going down well with me.
‘Which part of India?’ I asked
‘Why are you asking me so many questions? Do you want to marry me?’ She slammed her laptop screen. I could see a flicker of anger in her eyes.
‘Excuse me?’ I said
‘Hello Madam, This is not the right way to talk with me okay? I am not your boyfriend or husband.’ I growled as well.
‘Don’t worry dude; you can’t be either my boyfriend or my husband. I have far better options than you.’ Ritisha said.
‘I am not that much desperate and for your kind information, and you are not that lucky. Okay?’ I said.
‘I know. Bye,’ she said.
‘Bye. Take care.'
Everything looks beautiful when we are in love. She was rude to me and I said ‘take care’. Even when we are dumped in love, we never really stop caring for the other person.
Ritisha seemed frustrated. I decided to leave.
I had totally screwed up the first move. The time was very wrong and the move was unexpected. I was about to cry in the institute’s lift. However, my male ego pulled the brakes on the tears. Moreover, why should I cry? For whom should I cry? For the girl who didn’t know how to talk with me? The girl who did not know how to reply? Fuck off! Suddenly I started hating the world.
I reached home. Aaqil was cleaning his cupboard. ‘Ana Ayesh’ a song of Amr Diab was playing on the TV. I could not understand the lyrics. I figured out only bits and parts of it. ‘Ana Ayesh mosh, Ayesh mosh something wala something, wala aref something-something-something Habib something.' However, according to the video, I realized that something happened between Amr Diab and his Girl Friend. He sat on the floor at the outside of his girlfriend’s home, crying, trying to knock the door. The song matched my present state.
‘What does it mean?’ I asked Aaqil.
‘What?’ He asked.
‘Meaning of the song,’
‘Aaaah, Habibi, He is saying that I cannot live without you, I do not want a love after you and all’ He explained.
I got up and went to the washroom. I burst into tears. My male ego shattered into pieces, I was crying like a child. I did not deserve this. I washed my face, wiped my eyes, and came back to my room.
‘Shu hada? What happened? Why your eyes are red?’ Aaqil asked me.
‘Nothing’ I ignored him.
‘Any problem? You can tell me.’
‘Sure, I will,’
I wanted to tell him what had happened to me. However, I ignored. It was around five in the evening. I decided to sleep. Aaqil left earlier as he wanted to meet one of his family members and then he told me he would directly go to the club. I was alone in the house. I walked around, tossed in bed but could not catch a hint of sleep. The episode with Ritisha played in my mind a million times.
It was about to be midnight. The same place, the same time, almost the same people, except for me. In the past few hours, it was as if I had gone through an emotional toil like never before. I could not sleep and could not eat after the incident. To keep my mind distracted from the situation, I went to Aaqil’s club ‘Rock Your Soul’. I found a corner table to sit and to avoid been seen by Aaqil or Madeena.
I ordered one 30 ml peg of Chivas Regal with Coke. In a minute, the contents of the glass got emptied in my mouth. Like most people, I needed alcohol to forget the incident that left my ego in ravages. I ordered for another 30 ml and I could feel some really amazing Bollywood dance numbers playing on the speakers, while people grooved to it. I could not fathom the enjoyment they were having, but could not make myself to share the same.
One message from an unknown number was appeared on my WhatsApp. It was around one o’clock in the midnight. The number read 971 528845574. It was from UAE. I checked the profile picture. It was one of the pics of Salman Khan and Bhagyashree from the movie ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’ in which Salman was trying to punch Bhagyashree and Bhagyashree wore the famous black cap on which ‘FRIEND’ was mentioned holding the teddy bear.
I checked the status; it was the dialogue from the same movie ‘Udaas hona, yun akele mein rona ... is injurious to health, sehat ke liye hanikarak hota Hai’. It was just updated six hours ago and thirty-five minutes just when I was crying. What a co-incidence.
‘Hey, May I knw who you are?’ I replied.
‘Siddhant Shah?’ I got reply from the unknown number
‘Hey, Hritisha here.'
‘I don’t know any Hritisha. Sorry’
‘Arrey. We met at Hamdan Institute today.'
‘Yeah, you asked me to check your details. You even wished me.'
I could not believe she would message me. I came to know how her name spelled. Hritisha with an ‘H’'
‘Oh ya, the angry lady’ I replied.
‘Hey, I’m so sorry for that. I was not in a good mood, so I behaved rudely’ she replied with fifteen crying emoticons. I felt guilty. I could not see her sad even in chat.
‘Hey, don’t be, it’s fine. Actually, I'm sorry.’
‘Why are you sorry?’
‘I knew dat you were not in a good mood. Still, I was irritating you with my questions.’
‘Hmmm, sorry to say but it was irritating ;)’ She replied.
I realized that she has resumed her normal state.
‘Then toh you should slap me’ I messaged.
‘Because whenever I asking so many questions, girls happen to slap me.'
What the hell! I have started ‘Hmmmm.'
‘Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.’ she replied
I continued the chat.
‘Hey, btw, how did u get my number?’
‘I guess someone confirmed me your number in the institute today ;)’
‘Smart Girl, haan?’
‘Since birth dude.'
The music was louder in the disco. Aaqil was playing a remixed version of the Arabic songs. Everyone was enjoying the music, and I was enjoying my chat. I did not even finish the second peg. The ice had melted under the whiskey and coke and between her and me. I was smiling like an idiot.
‘I know Habibi. I can read that in your eyes’ I replied with winked smiley.
‘Ohhhh. Habibi haan? Pakka Arab’ She replied.
‘Yeah, when in Rome, do as Romans do.'
There was a silence next. I saw that Hritisha was online until three to four minutes. I was waiting for ‘typing…..’On my screen. I was expecting that she would send me a message now. I did not want to stop the conversation, so I initiated the conversation again.
‘So are you Salman Bhai's fan?’ I asked
One tick mark sent, two tick marks, delivered.
‘Bhai for you, not for me’ within fifteen seconds she replied with a number of angry emoticons.
‘Hehehe. Kk. So are you Salman Khan’s fan?’ I asked again.
‘Yes, he is my jaan, my darling’ she replied with hearts. That girl, like many I knew, had already taken the Bollywood superstar as the man she dated.
‘We have something in common then. He is my favorite as well’ I replied.
‘Ohhh. Everything okay na?’
‘Are you gay?’
‘Hmmmmmm, for Salman Khan? You can say that!’
‘Yes. He is the only guy in the world I have got lovey-dovey feelings for.'
‘In which sense?’
‘In that sense.’
‘Now to pakka you are gay.'
‘Told u na? For him; YES.'
‘Oouch…your pinch really hurt!'
‘Hahaha, good one!’
‘Lol! Ty Ty’
‘Okay thn, it's one o’clock now. I should sleep.'
‘Yup, you can.'
‘What about you? You don’t want to sleep?’ Hritisha asked.
Damm! I was in trouble now. What should I say her? That I am in a club boozing all because of her.
‘I will, in a while’ I replied safely.
‘So, friends?’ I asked
‘Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi hote. Lol,’ she quoted a famous line from Maine Pyaar Kiya.
‘Hahaha, haan, yeh to ek parda hai parda, kapkapati raton me, dhadakte hue dilo ki bhadakti hui aag ko bujhane ka, chhupane ka’ I replied with another famous dialog from the movie.
‘OMG! You remember the full dialog haan?’
‘Yes, madam. I saw MPK more than ten times.'
‘Bas? I saw more than twenty times.'
‘Ohhh that’s cool.'
‘Okay then, my eyes and hands are grieving.’ She said
‘No problem yaar, u can sleep and thanks.'
‘Hey, Dosti Ka ek usul hai sir, no sorry, no thanks to you.'
‘Hehe, I know I know. But still, thanks!'
‘Lol! It's okay and sorry to you again!’
‘You better be. Lol! Maaf kiya.'
‘Hmmmm, chalo then, GN SD TC.'
‘Yes, you too.'
Our first chat was over. Suddenly my mood was totally changed. I leaned my seat sideways to come into Aaqil’s view. He saw me. His eyes dilated in surprise. He called me to his place. I went to meet him. He hugged me tight as we met after a century.
‘What are you doing here?’ He asked loudly due to loud music.
‘I was missing you. So I came here to meet you Habibi’ I shouted too.
‘Kamal karte ho yaar pandey Ji’ he slapped my back after quoting Salman Khan’s dialogue.
‘That’s me,’ I said
‘You enjoy bro; I will catch you soon,’ He said.
‘No problem, I am here only,’ I said
I took the front seat and started enjoying the music, which was irritating even twenty minutes ago. A single text from Hritisha changed my mood.
The gorgeous Madeena came for her performance. She started with the Hindi song Mashallah from the movie Ek tha Tiger. Oh, yes! It was the day on which she used to perform on Hindi songs. She finished her performance after four Hindi songs, starting from Mashallah followed by Choli ke peeche kya hai. Salam-e-ishq meri jaan and Maar dala. What an incredible performance it was! After her performance ended, she spotted me. She smiled and winked at me as usual and I clapped and cheered for her.
It was her last performance. After her performances, Aaqil again started playing famous Bollywood numbers. I felt overjoyed at the recent turn of events and broke into a jig on the dance floor. I realized that though alcohol is for every mood, something special happens when we drink either during happiness or during grief.
The club closed at three in the morning. I said goodbye to Aaqil and some staffs and managers of the club. Aaqil asked me to leave as he had some meeting with the club’s management. I left, went home almost drunk, but I yet in my senses. I lay down on my bed, checked my WhatsApp nearly twenty to twenty-five times, read the conversation between Hritisha and me repeatedly. I slept at four in the morning with a smile running from ear to ear.