The Fortune Hunters : a journey of eternal love by aslam rahaman

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Sample chapters of best-selling romantic fiction novel based on hindu-muslim love and marriage. This is a love story that breaks all religious barriers. Amir, a young Muslim once addicted to overnight …

Sample chapters of best-selling romantic fiction novel based on hindu-muslim love and marriage. This is a love story that breaks all religious barriers. Amir, a young Muslim once addicted to overnight romances is transformed into a staunch believer in the power of everlasting love, thanks to Ragini, a simple and cultured Hindu girl. Both belong to conservative families. Is their love strong enough to withstand the strong opposing currents that threaten to tear Amir and Ragini apart? 'The Fortune Hunters' is a touching saga about the quest for true love that has been corrupted by the cynicism of modern living. Amir, an MBA, finds that his life is empty in the midst of the alluring but elusive Sofi. He discovers that simplicity and sincerity is far more fulfilling that empty glamour when Ragini enters his life. But will the two families validate Amir's discovery of true love?
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  • 1. The Fortune HuntersByAslam RahamanPrologueKolkata-2007‘Where the heck are you?’ screamed Sid as soon as I accepted his call.‘What happened?’ I retorted keeping the coffee mug on the table. I hadnever noticed Sid scream like that.‘There is great violence on the streets. The protest march developed into ariot. The rioters have burnt vehicles at Park Circus connector.’ Sid repliedagitatedly.‘I am at the adjoining street but could not spot any commotion,’ I repliedinstantly.‘Pinaki’s agency is in that area. Call him and ask him the address. Do notforget to inform me once you reach safely,’ Sid said.Siddhant Bali aka Sid handled the eastern region for retail loan productsand happened to be my manager. Pinaki was my colleague during my stint withthe International Bank of Netherlands at Kolkata. He was worried about mysafety when he could not contact me at my work station. A protest march hadbeen called by Islamic leaders against the decision made by the West BengalGovernment to grant asylum to Taslima Nasrin, the exiled author, columnistand human rights activist of Bangladesh who was deported due to her hostileremarks about Islam. All the other states of India did not sanction her entrykeeping in view the sentiments of the minority community and the likelyhullabaloo to the country’s social and political harmony.It took me no time to locate Pinaki’s phone number in the phonebook anddial it.‘Where are you?’ I asked in apprehension as soon as Pinaki answered mycall.‘I am in the Beckbagan agency,’ Pinaki replied worriedly.‘Is there some violence in the area?’ I asked with angst.‘What happened?’ Pinaki asked instantaneously.‘Sid informed of severe commotion in the city. Please collect someinformation and call me. I am also at Park Circus and he has directed me tocontact you and reach the Beckbagan agency as soon as possible,’ I saidrapidly, with bated breath.
  • 2. Pinaki explained the address of the agency to me which was about 200meters from where I was on the adjoining street. As soon as I reached the end ofthe street, the brutish scenario was in front of me. The flyover was jam-packedand vehicles were at a standstill. A bus was ablaze and encircled by policemen.Pedestrians were running around to get away but people who were in theirvehicles had no alternative. There was nobody who could stave off theimpending brutality. I thought it wise to not waste a single second and get tosome safe and secure place when Pinaki’s call buzzed on my phone.‘There is great aggression here, brother. I am coming downstairs and willtry to spot you,’ Pinaki shrieked into the phone.I had no option but to run as fast as I could. I spotted Pinaki stationeddownstairs and waiting for me. He escorted me upstairs to the office of theagency where he was sitting with the agency personnel and a friend from someother bank. I called up Sid and informed him about my safe and sound arrival asper instructions from him. Most of the agency personnel lived in the vicinity sothey left for home quickly. Five people were left in the office including me,Pinaki, Pinaki’s friend and two accounts clerks who lived at Barrackpore, aboutthirty kilometers from Park circus by train.‘Please confirm if everybody has arrived home safely,’ I requested one ofthe clerks.‘I have already verified, sir. Everyone has reached unharmed,’ the clerkreplied and entered the kitchen to prepare tea for us.Pinaki informed us that his mother had called up to update him that acurfew had been imposed in Kolkata following the riots for an indefinite period.‘It’s okay,’ I said and reclined on the chair.‘I think I should tell my wife about what’s happening. She might not beaware of what is happening,’ Pinaki’s friend said and rushed towards thebalcony to make his phone call in seclusion.‘Who is he?’ I asked.‘I have met him here only. He works with India Finance Limited and takescare of the two wheeler collections. He is new to Kolkata and hails fromLucknow. This agency works for his company as well,’ Pinaki said.‘What’s his name?’ I asked.‘Amir,’ Pinaki replied promptly.‘Amir Khan?’ I winked.I changed the topic as I saw Amir re-entering the room. Pinaki got both ofus introduced to each other formally though both of us had known about eachother by then.‘You hail from which city?’ I enquired.‘Lucknow,’ he replied instantly.‘Do you understand Bangla?’ I enquired curiously.‘I can understand it but can’t speak or write,’ Amir replied.‘Do you hail from Kolkata?’ Amir asked me.‘I also hail from Lucknow,’ I told him, as I smiled and winked.It is an established fact that that when two, even dissimilar inhabitantsfrom the same place meet at an unusual place, they become best companions.We talked a lot about Kolkata and Lucknow, the political and economic state ofaffairs in these cities; we prepared a comparison chart involuntarily in our
  • 3. minds. We talked for hours about everything from cricket to cinema, politics topoetry, America to Iraq and India to Pakistan. I found this fellow very candid inhis beliefs and conduct. While we were talking, someone had been calling againand again on his mobile phone and he would excuse himself several times totake the call. I was curious to know who it was, but I thought I shouldn’tmeddle into his personal affairs. I gesticulated to Pinaki to enquire who Amirwas talking to each time he went to the balcony but he was also clueless. Mycuriosity was now at its peak, I decided to ask him in such a way that hewouldn’t object to my poking my nose into his personal life.‘I think your wife is quite worried about your safety,’ I smiled and askedflippantly.‘She saw the violence on television and is in great apprehension. She hascome to know about the curfew as well which has increased her anxiety,’ Amirsaid with bated breath.‘She’s also from Lucknow?’ I enquired.‘Yes,’ Amir replied.‘Let her know that you have just bonded with someone who’s fromLucknow and you are with him. She is worried because you are new to thisplace,’ I suggested as I sipped the cup of tea.‘I have already told her,’ Amir replied.‘You have no choice but to respond to her queries and calm her down tillyou reach home,’ I smiled and winked.‘My mother has just informed me that the situation is under control and noabysmal incident has been reported,’ Pinaki said with a relieved expression.‘I hope that the curfew orders would be called off soon,’ Amir said as hereclined on the chair.‘Do you have kids?’ I asked.‘I’ll have one by next month,’ he said with contentment and a grin on hisface.‘Congratulations! That’s great,’ I said enthusiastically. ‘What’s yourwife’s name?’‘Ragini,’ Amir replied.I gulped down the tea and became silent. Pinaki was also astounded afterhearing his wife’s name. There was sudden silence for a few moments as bothof us were taken aback and were at a loss for words.‘Was it an arranged marriage?’ I enquired, breaking the silence.‘It was a love marriage and we wedded without consent from our parents,’Amir replied.‘When did you marry?’ Pinaki asked curiously.‘One and a half years ago,’ Amir replied.‘Did both of you inform your families or are they still unaware ofeverything,’ I asked inquisitively.‘They are aware of everything at the moment,’ Amir replied‘Have they accepted the relationship?’ Pinaki continued.‘I don’t think that is of any significance now,’ I replied.‘My family has accepted her but her parents do not speak to her,’ Amirreplied.
  • 4. ‘What the heck. That’s hypocrisy. They should have been flexible andshould have respected their daughter’s decision. For them religion is moreimportant than their daughter’s feelings,’ Pinaki reasoned.‘Let’s stop the interrogation and hear it in detail from Amir,’ I gestured toAmir to narrate his story.‘That would be fun. I have watched it in movies only. Let’s hear a realstory,’ Pinaki commented with a grin on his face.We were able to persuade him to narrate his story. He readily agreed.‘Where do I begin?’ Amir asked and sat gingerly on the chair.‘Start from when you met Ragini,’ Pinaki said and requested the accountsclerk to give him another cup of tea and to see if some snacks were available inthe kitchen or in the refrigerator.‘Please include the situation and circumstances, under which you met herin your narration,’ I requested him as I switched off the fan and switched on theair conditioner.Amir sipped his cup of tea and began to narrate his story.
  • 5. Chapter -1Lucknow-2001I was doing an MBA from the Institute of Management, Bareilly, and hadto go back to Lucknow to undergo a summer training project with B.E. Limitedafter completion of the second semester. I preferred B.E. Limited over othercompanies because this company was offering me training at my home town.The AGM of the company had agreed to pay the operating expenses incurredwhile I traveled to secluded spots where a few of the vendors spoke to me,filling me with energy, enthusiasm, passion and commitment. I was involved ina survey wherein I had to evaluate the services offered by B.E. Limited andcompare it with the services offered by the competition. I had worked hard foralmost more than a month and prepared a report on the topic allotted to me.Apart from working on the project, I was also trying to cultivate theaffinity that I had developed while I was pursuing a graduation degree inscience from the University of Lucknow. I never wanted to lose my old friendsso I always tried to make my way to the university campus as a practice. Ialways received my friends with open arms whenever I met them. It was one ofthose warm afternoons when I was sitting alone in the corridor of the chemistrydepartment, when I saw an ex-batch mate, Tabassum, heading towards me.There was no love lost between us as we were not on intimate terms.‘Where have you been since the last one year?’ she asked me casually.‘Career aspirations make one vanish with time,’ I replied equally casuallywhile I leaned on the tall pillar behind me.‘It is indeed surprising to hear that you have turned over into a new leaf,’she commented.‘I have strained every nerve to cherish my career and personal relations,’ Ireplied instantaneously.‘You have become serious now in your career; what will happen to yourhunt for true love?’ she smirked wickedly.‘It is all one to me. I have it at my fingertips,’ I countered rapidly.‘I have to rush home now. Please drop in at my residence tonight and havedinner with my family. We will once again talk about it at home,’ she said,with a hint of a fake smile.There was no reason for me to turn this invitation down. I was delighted asI’d never had the privilege of dining with a girl and that too at her residence. Itried, however, to sound busy and came up with some reckless excuses. Sheinsisted that I turn up and I was highly pleased.‘Where do you stay?’ I asked‘Gomtinagar, with my uncle and a cousin,’ she replied instantly.‘The house belongs to you or your uncle?’ I asked, acting bored.‘It belongs to my Uncle,’ she replied.‘If it was your house, it would be fine but I think your uncle will not likeit,’ I remarked.‘I’m not from an orthodox family,’ she smiled and said.‘Okay, when should I reach there?’ I asked.‘Where are you going now?’ she asked abruptly.‘Home,’ I replied.
  • 6. ‘Do you have anything important to do at the moment?’ she asked andstarted to walk out of the corridor.‘No,’ I replied and followed her.‘Why don’t you accompany me to my home?’ she asked. I was elated buttried to turn her off.‘What will I do there till dinner?’ I asked.‘We will try to discover your true love for you on the internet,’ shesmiled.‘I don’t think an internet connection is required at home at a time whencyber cafes offer such low prices for internet surfing,’ I said as I kick-startedmy father’s Enfield India motorbike. The motorbike belonged to my father whohad bought the bike when he had started his career as a police officer. In thatsense, the motorbike and I were of the same age group. We managed to reachTabassum’s home in 20 minutes.I reclined on an antique chair in the corner of the hall. A dining table waskept in the centre of the huge hall, which was decorated with lavish paintingsand glass balls. I was wondering what to do when unexpectedly an adorable andjovial face emerged in front of me holding a big glass full of milkshake. Thegirl standing in front of me was wearing a long silky kurta and a pair of bluejeans with lots of artificial pearls embroidered on it.‘Is it for me?’ I asked the pretty lass who was now stationed in front of me.‘No, it’s for me,’ she chuckled. ‘Tabassum will join you in ten minutes,’she said.‘Where has she gone?’ I asked lazily as I sipped the milkshake.‘Ask her when she returns.’‘What’s your name?’ I asked.‘Tabassum didn’t tell you!’ she exclaimed with a grin.‘I didn’t ask!’ I replied.‘Then ask her when she is back,’ she replied and entered the adjoiningroom.I could hear nothing as pin drop silence prevailed in the house. I saw aphotograph of the girl whom I had just met lying on the dining table halfcovered with a newspaper. She appeared immensely roguish in that photograph.I kept the photograph in my pocket. I felt drowsy but somehow managed tokeep my eyelids open till Tabassum arrived. The essence of jasmine hitting mynostrils and her wet hair made me apprehend that Tabassum had just had ashower.‘Who was she?’ I asked curiously.‘My cousin, Sofi,’ she replied.‘She is full of arrogance,’ I winked and sipped the milk shake.Tabassum smiled as she switched on the TV and flipped between channelswith the remote.‘Sofi is busy with some project so we will not be able to access theinternet,’ Tabassum said.‘What does she do?’ I asked.‘She is doing B.Tech. from IIT, K,’ she said.‘That sounds great. IIT Kanpur,’ I exclaimed as I wondered if she wasreally that intelligent.
  • 7. ‘No, International Institute of Technology, Kursi Road,’ she smiled. Icould not hide my mirth and started laughing. Sofi felt disturbed and requestedus to maintain decorum. I felt as if I was a Member of Parliament and had toobey the chairman of the house to maintain decorum in Parliament. I hadapprehended that Sofi was full of conceit and had been giving herself fancy airsand graces. I wanted to talk to her, but could not work out how to kick off theconversation. Tabassum had persuaded me for dinner with the entire family butthe family that I dined with constituted only of two people: Tabassum and me.Tabassum introduced me to her uncle whom I looked upon as my ‘prospective’father-in-law.I thanked him for the splendid dinner although he was not even in thescene when I had feasted. I wanted to thank and see Sofi but could not find herto fulfill my desires. I was fascinated by her adorable, enigmatic persona.I felt very indolent and distressed as I kick-started my motorbike. I had torush to Bhootnath market where my friends were waiting for me. We followedthe normal convention of meeting every day at Bhootnath market in thesuburban ambience of Indira Nagar. Indira Nagar is considered one of the bestplaces to stay, in Lucknow. The place is full of decent, educated and richpeople. Bhootnath market is the biggest market of Indira Nagar.. The bestpeople of the area would hang around there. The place always had a fair-likeatmosphere with the best girls of the vicinity roamed around in high spirits.This was the ‘charm’ factor that pushed the boys, especially teenagers evenfrom distant places to this market. Our group consisted of my MBAbatchmates, Rakshit and Akshay, and a number of their childhood and schoolfriends along with me. There was a tea stall in the centre of the Bhootnathmarket where all of us assembled and gossiped everyday in the evening. Theobjects of attraction for all of us were obviously the enchanting girls whowalked around; apart from that, the subjects we discussed included our dailyactivities, career, politics and girlfriends. If we would have cared to count, theneach one of us would have kissed thousands of girls, India would not have lost asingle cricket match if only the players would have taken tips about the nitty-gritties of cricket from us, U.P. would have seen more than 100 chief ministersand India more than 50 Prime Ministers. It is said that Lucknow is the centre ofcountry politics and inhabitants of U.P. and Bihar have politics running in theirveins; we were born to validate the proverb.None of us had mobile phones in those days. We had adopted a veryinnovative mechanism of eve-teasing and flirting. We made eye contact with aparticular girl and waited for a positive response from her. Once a nod wasreceived, we stuck our e-mail ids to the vehicle that the girl had ridden upon.Hence, it can be assumed that our target were the girls who already hadpersonal vehicles to commute on.Those were days when mobile phones were too expensive and call makingcharges were exorbitant. None of us could afford mobile phones and e-mailswere the most economical and affordable way to nurture relations. I had signedup on yahoo with a very unique username, feelme_imagine. I had taken theidentity of a fake name, Aryan, to build associations. Perhaps, I was scared ofthe fact that my actions might one day, land me into great trouble. Though Ienjoyed corresponding through mails and made a number of chat friends, I wasstill afraid. Then, one day turned out to be a dark day making me feel out of
  • 8. spirits. I neither made eye-contact with any girl nor did I stick my e-mail id tothe vehicle of any lass. I wanted to reach my home as soon as possible. I leftfrom there with an excuse that I was not feeling well.I reached home at around 9:30 p.m. and went directly to bed. I could notsleep the whole night, anticipating the next morning. I had decided that I wouldcall up Sofi and speak to her. I had intended to make a telephone call toTabassum’s home and would pretend as if I had called up Tabassum for somevital advice. I had jotted down a number of items that Tabassum could talk tome about. I woke up early in the morning and left for my office. I parked themotorbike in front of a public telephone booth and dialed Tabassum’s phonenumber.‘Hello! Who’s that?’ a very high-pitched female voice resonated myeardrums.‘Amir,’ I responded instantly.‘How are you?’ the girl on the phone asked.‘I am fit and fine. Who’s that?’ I asked.‘Sofi,’ she replied.‘Hi! How are you?’ I asked in an informal tone.‘I am fine. Tabassum has already left for the University. Do you have anymessage to pass on to her?’ she asked.‘I have to prepare a project report and Tabassum told me that she wouldhelp me in preparing my report.’‘How can she help you? Has she ever seen a project report? What exactlydo you want? Maybe I can help you.’‘I have already prepared the report. I just need the same to be typed using MS-Word and I also need printouts,’ I said.‘How many pages is the report?’ she asked.‘About 150 pages.’‘What will I get?’ she asked. This question was mine to exploit. I was fullyprepared to grab this opportunity.‘I’ll take you to Munchy Bites,’ I replied after a pause. Munchy Bites is anexpensive restaurant in Gomtinagar where couples dine to avoid being noticedby their parents and relatives.‘Okay. You shall get the report in three days provided I get the materiallatest by tomorrow because tomorrow is Friday and I don’t have classes onSaturday. I will prepare the report by Sunday night so that I hand over aprepared project report to you on Monday at Munchy Bites,’ she asserted.‘I am ready for that. Shall I drop in to your residence and give you thematerial?’ I asked. I wanted to grab another opportunity to meet her. I had anobvious excuse in the form of the project report material.‘I have to rush to my engineering college. I have to attend some veryimportant lectures on tool designing. Why don’t you hand over the papers toTabassum? You can find her in the social works department of the university.You give me a call in the evening at around 8 p.m. We will discuss the fonts,pictures, etc to be used once I get possession of the report from Tabassum,’ sheexplained.I had no option but to give in. I kept down the receiver of the phone aftergiving in to her wishes and thought of rushing to the university to hand over thereport to Tabassum. I would proceed to office from there in time. I wanted to
  • 9. share some terrific and magnificent moments with Sofi whenever she met me. Ireached the social works department and started searching for Tabassum. I sawTabassum sitting in the hallway with a group of at least 20 classmates. None ofthem seemed to have anything important to do in life other than wastingprecious time, chatting. Tabassum noticed me and started walking towards me.‘Hi! How are you?’ she said merrily.‘I am fine. What about you?’ I asked.‘I am also fine. What happened? Why did you come so early?’ she askedsuspiciously.‘Actually, I came to give you my project report material so that you maypass it on to Sofi.’‘What will Sofi do with this?’ she asked in surprise.‘She will prepare the report for me before Monday.’ I responded smugly.‘Did you speak to her about it?’ she asked with some irritation andjealousy.‘Yes,’ I replied.‘When?’ she asked.‘Today,’ I narrated the situation and summarized the conversation I hadwith Sofi to Tabassum.‘You are my only friend for whom Sofi has agreed to do special favors.It’s because both of you are from the same school.’‘She has done her schooling from C.M.S,’ Tabassum revealed. I waspleased. I had also completed my high school from City Montessori School thatis popularly known as C.M.S. Lucknow. It is one of the best schools in Indiawith lots of recognition and celebrated awards. It’s mentioned in the GuinnessBook of World Records.‘Which year? Which branch?’ I asked.‘She passed her class 12 with science in the year 1997. She is from the theMahanagar branch,’ she revealed. I was immensely happy because I discoveredmore things we had in common, apart from our religion. All these commonpoints would help me to cultivate a strong emotional bond with Sofi.‘Please keep the papers safely and hand them over to Sofi. I am gettinglate for office. I will give you a call in the evening,’ I said, entrusting a bundleof handwritten papers to Tabassum.I was in high spirits throughout the day and waited impatiently for thedays end. I went to the Bhootnath market to meet my friends but did not makeeye contact with any girl or affix my email id to any girl’s vehicle. Perhaps, thistime I had discovered true love in Sofi and wanted to be loyal to her. I spentsome quality time with my friends and rushed home as I had to call Sofi at 8p.m. I called her up at exactly 8 o’clock in order to avoid any false perceptionsabout me and I was ready to strain every nerve to get her. I spoke to Sofi forfifteen to twenty minutes and discussed our school, personal life, professionalaspirations of course, the project report. I informed her that I had picked up herphotograph the first day I met her. I felt contentment from the core of my heart.I desired to continue talking to her for the rest of my life.I now started calling her four to five times a day without hesitation andwithout the need of any excuses. Everything was going well. The day camewhen Sofi informed me that she had completed the project report and I had to
  • 10. give her a treat at Munchy Bites the next day. I was keen to meet her and seeher again. I liked her personality.I had to meet Sofi at 11:15 a.m in front of Moti Mahal, a very famoussweets shop at Hazratganj. She was to go to with me on my motorbike. I hadheard from my friends about their first dates when their beloveds sat behindthem on motorbikes. They used the brakes as many times as possible to feel thehard and pointed protrusions on their backs.I reached Moti Mahal in time and waited for Sofi in front of the shop.Suddenly, I saw Sofi sitting in a Fiat car that was owned by her old-fashionedfather. I called out to her. She indicated to me to occupy the seat besides her inthe wretched car that she was driving herself. I was not ready to face thissituation. I was dreaming of Sofi sitting behind me on my motorbike and bothof us enjoying the jerks on the narrow roads, but now I had to sit beside her inher father’s pitiable car.I had imagined a vacuum between me and her on the motorbike but nowthere was only a space between us. I advised her to sell the Fiat and buy aLadybird bicycle. I had to park my motorbike at the parking space in front ofthe Hazratganj police station. She drove me to the restaurant where I hadalready called my friends, Rakshit and Akshay, to see her. I had directed themnot to speak to me or to make any gestures that they knew me.They only had to see her so that they may form their opinions about herand tell me about them later. We took a corner seat near the air conditioner as Iwanted to recover the cost of every penny I was going to spend. I saw Rakshitplaying foul as he along with Akshay occupied the table next to me. I startedfeeling uncomfortable while talking to Sofi as it was my first meeting alonewith her. I did not want my friends to hear anything. I made eye contact withAkshay and signaled him to make their way out. Akshay is very decent andsincere unlike Rakshit who is open-hearted, extroverted but wayward. Akshayunderstood the situation and my discomfort and somehow managed to takeRakshit away.We had a great lunch that day and I wanted to open out my heart to Sofibut did not say anything.‘When are you going back to Bareilly?’ Sofi asked.‘First week of July,’ I replied.‘What are your plans after that?’ she asked.‘I’ll search for a lucrative job by hook or by crook once I complete thefinal semester,’ I replied.‘Not about that. What about your much-desired true-love hunt?’ she asked,grinning.‘I don’t need to look for it now,’ I responded as I got an opportunity toopen out my heart to her.‘Why?’ she asked anxiously.‘I have found that in you. I think I am in love with you,’ I said and closedmy eyes.‘Are you ashamed of saying that?’ she asked innocently.‘No,’ I retorted.‘Why did you close your eyes then?’ she asked.‘I have written something for you. Please keep it in your wallet and read itat home when you are alone. Love cannot be thought or expressed, it is felt. I
  • 11. have felt it for you. It is up to you whether you accept my love or discard myfeelings. You are free and mature enough to take decisions on your own,’ I saidwith bated breath.‘These decisions cannot be taken in seconds. I have developed a softcorner for you but I am confused whether it’s love or infatuation. Please giveme some time so that I may know you more. It would be the decision of alifetime. I think we should not be hasty,’ she replied.‘I didn’t ask you whether you love me or not. I told you that my heartbeats for you. It’s your life and you have to decide for yourself. Please let meknow your decision whenever you feel like it,’ I said.I was very relaxed after confessing my feelings to Sofi and I felt as if I hadgot rid of heaps of burdens weighing heavy on my head and heart. Wediscussed many things starting from school to college to her parents to Indianpolitics to the future of cricket and everything that we could think of. Sofiforgot to bring a soft copy of the project report and told me that she would handit over to Tabassum and requested me to collect it from her. Sofi dropped me atthe Hazratganj police station and we departed with a smile.While returning from office in the evening I felt perturbed and thought ofmaking a call to Sofi. I had an obvious reason to call her. I had to confirmwhether she had given the project report floppy to Tabassum. Tabassum pickedup the phone as it rang. I talked to her about trivial stuff but could not dare toask her to hand over the receiver to Sofi. I came to know from her that Sofi hadhanded over the floppy to Tabassum and Tabassum requested me to collect itfrom her at Bhootnath market in the evening next day. She finally handed overthe receiver to Sofi. Sofi informed me that she had discussed my loveconfession with Tabassum and Tabassum, in turn projected me with all kinds ofnegative traits and adjectives such as playboy, Casanova, etc. She also told herthat I had a crush on many more girls and projected herself as a sister-savior.For the next one hour I could not convince her that I was honest to her and hersister was misguiding her for some unidentified cause. She just stuck to onepoint that Tabassum was her sister and would not misguide her and thatTabassum was my friend who knew me more than her. I felt irritated anddisconnected the phone line. I thought I would discuss the matter withTabassum when I would visit her to collect the floppy the next day.I was to meet Tabassum the next day at Bhootnath market near Babianrestaurant at 4:30 p.m. I was disturbed, distressed and depressed so I discussedthe whole matter with Rakshit and Akshay who suggested me to ask Tabassumwhy she spoilt everything. I, along with Rakshit and Akshay waited forTabassum who arrived at 4:50 p.m. She was accompanied by one of her friendswhom she introduced as Ragini. I introduced Rakshit and Akshay to Tabassumand Ragini. Before I could start investigating Tabassum, Akshay asked her,‘What have you told Sofi about Amir?’‘Nothing,’ Tabassum responded with an annoyed tone.‘Amir is very distressed. Sofi told him that you have given only negativefeedback about him,’ Akshay retorted.‘She is not fit for you. I know both of you. Both of you are opposite endsof the same pole. She is very ruthless and full of arrogance,’ Tabassumremarked instantly.
  • 12. ‘Yesterday, you told her that I am not fit for her and today you are sayingthat she is not fit for me. What do you want? Why are you doing this to me?’ Ipleaded.‘I just want everybody to be happy. Moreover, are in control of my homeonly to accomplish your desires. It will be a face-off situation for me. I wouldbe blamed for everything. I regret introducing her to you,’ Tabassum mumbled.‘You just listen to me. You won’t be blamed for anything, but please don’tplay with my heart,’ I requested.‘She is too rigid and you are too simple. You will not be happy with herand she would not be able to adjust. If you don’t trust me you may ask Raginiabout her,’ Tabassum said.‘You know her?’ I asked Ragini.‘Yes. She is a very good friend of mine but please don’t include me in allthis nonsense. I am out of it,’ Ragini responded ambiguously.‘But you can at least guide Amir about what he should do? He doesn’tknow Sofi much but you being her friend obviously know her more thaneveryone else,’ Rakshit requested with a wicked smirk.‘I will not comment. Please excuse me,’ Ragini retorted and went to sit onthe front seat of her scooty.‘Do whatever you want to do. Don’t blame me when anything goes wrong.I had come down to give away the floppy to you. Please take it and let us go,’Tabassum said irately.‘Won’t you help me?’ I asked Tabassum calmly.‘No,’ she retorted.‘Don’t spoil everything then,’ I pleaded Tabassum.‘Tell her not to take my opinion. Bye. Take care.’ Tabassum said anddeparted with her friend.‘I think Ragini is better than Sofi. Why don’t you try Ragini?’ Rakshitwinked.‘Don’t fart from your mouth and fuck off,’ I yelled at Rakshit.My life had completely changed. I would call Sofi everyday at around 8p.m. and waste as many as two hours giving testimony and evidence about myhonesty and loyalty towards her and that my intent was not time-pass but that Isought to marry her. The chemical reactions taking place in my mind hadcaused me to start behaving in an unusual manner. Love had gradually startedaltering into hatred. I didn’t feel like talking to her and getting distressed. I triedto make myself busy in other activities and tried not to think of Sofi. I startedcalling her once in two days and the gap constantly widened with calls everythree to four days. Sofi usually tried to behave well when our conversationsstarted but they ended in blame games. I also came to know that Tabassum hadconstantly been throwing cold water on my schemes. I had realized that theselacunae could never be bridged seeing the harsh and rigid attitude of Sofi. Shealways tried to get at me with illogical reasons. One day, Sofi directed me toreturn the photograph that I had taken from her home when I visited her homefor the first time. She was put out when I refused her request for the photo. Itried to convince her to meet me so that we may sit together and discuss aboutwhat went wrong between us. If she wanted to breakup, I would return herphotograph but she rigidly refused to meet me claiming that I had hurt her
  • 13. feelings and that she did not want to continue the relationship with me. It wasvery difficult in bringing her round to my views.I had to take Ragini’s help to return the photograph of Sofi who initiallyresisted meddling into our affair but later agreed to give away Sofi’sphotographs to her. The days passed and I became busy with my friends and mymuch desired true-love hunt. My summer vacations ended and I returned toBareilly to complete the last two semesters. Meanwhile, I had started speakingto Ragini whom I used to call up once in a month or fortnightly. I regarded heras a good friend and enjoyed talking to her. I came to know from Ragini thatSofi had agreed to marry and her father had started hunting for a groom. A fewmonths later I heard that Sofi had got married and shifted to Mumbai with herhusband who worked with a telecommunications company at some seniorposition. I was much cast down by this loss. I never contacted Tabassum or Sofiafter that but I was in touch with Ragini.‘You had the same group to explore within. You tried Sofi and settled withRagini,’ Pinaki interrupted and laughed.‘Did you try Tabassum also before getting married to Ragini?’ I askedwith a wink.‘I tried for Sofi only. It’s mere luck that I am married to Ragini,’ Amirsaid.‘How many barriers did you cross before reaching Ragini?’ Pinaki askedwith a wink.‘Let’s hear it from him. Please don’t disturb,’ I commented and requestedPinaki to order for another cup of tea.Pinaki reduced the speed of the fan and requested one of the clerks sittingin the other room to prepare tea for us. Amir sipped the cup that he could notfinish and continued to narrate.
  • 14. Chapter -2New Delhi-2002I had shifted to New Delhi with my friends after completing our MBA’s toset us up for better careers. We lived at South Extension-II, one of the poshlocations of Delhi. I stayed with three of my friends, Devesh, Rohit and Abhi.Devesh and Abhi had girls in their lives but Rohit and I were still single.Devesh and Abhi had 3C’s, Lajpat Nagar and PVR Saket as weekenddestinations while Rohit and I enjoyed watching movies in theatres likeChanakya, Chanakyapuri and Sapna, Nehru Place. Rohit and I had instructionsfrom Devesh and Abhi not to be at home on Sundays and other holidays; so wehad to take shelter at a neighboring public park at Neeti Bagh. It meant to usthat we were not supposed to be at home during the day on any of the daysbecause on weekdays we had to be at office and on Sundays in the public park.Devesh was dating Manjari and Abhi was involved with Manjari’s elder sisterSarika; fortunately or unfortunately.I used the term fortunately because both the girls needed no excuse tomove out of their house if they were together and were easily accessible to ourfriends. I used the term unfortunately because if Sarika went through sometrouble with Abhi then Devesh had to put up with a good deal of discomfort andif Manjari had some problems with Devesh then Abhi would be in trouble withSarika. We had to count the condom packets kept in the cupboard to decidewhether the day was fortunate for them or they had to eat humble pie. Both ofthem had clear cut instructions from us to carry the used condoms along withthem when they leave. So, the girls had to keep their share of used condomswrapped in newspapers to dispose of them outside.The girls were hi-fi Delhiites and dominated their boys. I never understoodtheir relationships. I heard from Devesh and Abhi that both girls detested Rohitand me and saw us as low profile guys with rural upbringings, perhaps becausewe had no girls. I pulled together because I was aware of the fact that the guysdid not love them and had no intention to marry them. We planned to throw anew year’s party at our home to welcome 2003. All our MBA batch mates wereinvited. Sarika and Manjari were also invited and Devesh and Abhi hadconvinced them to stay at our home that night. There were only two rooms inthe apartment so it was decided that both the couples will share one room andRohit and I would restrict ourselves in the other room. Devesh and Abhi did notresist because they thought the room would be dark enough and the quiltswould set apart them to enjoy sex with their partners without any hindrance.They were also amused because they were getting the whole night with theirpartners who would be equally drunk. The party started after all our friends hadarrived. There were drinks and cigarettes, non-vegetarian food from Nizam’s, avery famous restaurant in Delhi and cold drinks as well. We danced hard to therocking numbers of Bollywood. There was pleasure all around; people drinkinghard and partying harder.‘Don’t you drink?’ Manjari asked viciously as she sipped the glass in herhands.‘No,’ I retorted and bent down to change the song.
  • 15. ‘Cigarette?’ Manjari gestured at the lightened cigarette that she wassmoking.‘I don’t smoke. Sorry ma’am,’ I replied instantly.‘Why do you live then?’ Sarika commented whilst approaching me,accompanied by Abhi.‘Enjoy life. Have fun,’ I said and sipped the glass filled with Coca-Cola.‘I don’t know why these people come to places like Delhi and spoil theatmosphere. Bloody backward people,’ Manjari murmured and started walkingaway.‘Behave yourself,’ Devesh shouted at Manjari.‘Why are you shouting? I am not your slave. Get lost!’ Manjari yelled.‘When will Delhiites like you learn moral values and etiquettes?’ I gazedat Manjari and walked towards the exit door.‘What happened? Where are you going?’ Devesh followed me out of thehouse.‘How do you tolerate such girls who drink to their nose and misbehave?’ Iasked as I sat on the pavement gingerly.‘She is drunk. I’ll speak to her in the morning and tell her to expressregret,’ Devesh replied persuasively.‘What will you do if she turns against your parents and misbehaves withthem after marriage?’ I asked blatantly.‘I will not marry her. I keep her for my cock,’ Devesh replied cheerfully.‘Let me have her for my cock tonight,’ I replied.‘What do you mean?’ Devesh asked.‘Let me sleep with her tonight,’ I requested.‘Have you gone nuts? Behave yourself!’ Devesh said rudely.‘What’s the harm? You are not going to marry her. Let me show her whatlow standard people can do to her if they want to. You are my friend and belongto a similar background. How can you tolerate such comments from a bitch?’ Isaid to persuade him.‘What will happen even if I agree with you? She hates you and you arelonging for her?’ Devesh asked.‘Nobody will know. It will remain between you and me. Even shewouldn’t know,’ I said.‘Are you mad? Have you gone nuts?’ Devesh responded.‘She is drunk. You make her drink beer as much as she can. We’ll bethrough with dinner by midnight and everybody would go back home. Youwould take her to bed along with Abhi and Sarika; Rohit and I would go to theother room. Everybody would be badly drunk and I am sure that Rohit wouldsleep as soon as he hits the bed. Once I am sure that Rohit has slept, I would goto the toilet. Your task would be to seduce Manjari in the meantime and makesure that she is without her clothes. You will meet me in the toilet takingadvantage of the darkness and would go and sleep besides Rohit and I will go tobe with your lady. I promise you that it will be between you and me. Now, yougo back and see how the party is going. I would be back in another 10 minutes,’I elucidated.I was delighted because I had hatched a plan which would enable me tolose my virginity. I was very keen to grab the opportunity. Everything went inline with the plan. I went to the toilet and Devesh met me as planned when
  • 16. everyone was asleep. I gave my shirt to Devesh who went to sleep besidesRohit. I, in only an underwear went to grab the opportunity. As I lay downbesides Manjari, I embraced her. My feelings at that moment can never beexpressed in words.‘How many times do you go to the toilet?’ Manjari asked. Her voice wasquivering as she had swallowed six bottles of beer.I did not say anything as I knew that everything would be spoilt if I openedmy mouth. So, I kept my lips over her lips and gave no way to air. I entered herfirmly and enjoyed every moment and every posture. She was badly drunk andthe room was dark enough for her to realize that the intercourse happenedwithout using a condom.‘You are too hot in bed, Amir,’ Manjari whispered in my ears with aquivering voice as she had just felt the orgasm.‘How did you recognize me?’ I whispered and pushed myself hard as I layon top and her legs were on my shoulders.‘Perhaps, I did not want you to live with the feeling that you raped me.Don’t question, just rock. Enter me hard,’ Manjari whispered and embraced meforcefully, making me feel out of breath.