Every year, hundreds of thousands of young girls come to Mumbai, with a million precious and delicate dreams of a starry future shining in their eyes. Most of them give up the dream of becoming a star and settle to a less ambitious life in some other profession or simply end up as housewives on their return to the small cities which they actually belong to…And then, there are some who end up as objects of a sinful world that operates somewhere in forbidden corridors of the city. Devika was one of them…but she was also someone who rose from those corridors and made her way into other sections of the society; she was a phoenix who was destined to rise from the ashes… She was a virtual masterpiece in motion, a sculpture… her features were flawless. From a distance, she looked stunning, an almost perfect figure with long, curly black hair and as one reached closer, one noticed her deep, seductive eyes, beautifully shaped eyebrows and a smile that was almost too beautiful to be real.
It was raining heavily that day, and she was being pushed around by a crowd on her way from the platform to the exterior of the Bombay Rail terminus. It was a mad mess. People were stepping on each other, truly reflecting the actual nature of the commercial capital of the country… which is absolutely ruthless. Unlike several shaken and miserable looking people who were soaked to their skin, Devika was enjoying every bit of it. This is it! This is where I belong. This is the place which shall be the witness of my rise to power. She was a dreamer, acting on her impulses and unaware of the law of nature…Sooner or later, what goes up has got to go down!
“Take me to an expensive hotel…somewhere.” She spoke with obvious excitement in her voice.
The taxi driver was a very old and shabby looking fellow. He watched her carefully, his mind working furiously.
“Theek hai beti…”
She boarded the taxi and the meter started running.
On their way…
“First time in Bombay?” He asked. His voice was soft and warm, a fatherly tone and a sense of belonging were clearly reflected in it.
“Yes… why?” She replied innocently.
“It’s just that, if u need a job or something… just consult my sister… She runs a salon, in Bandra…Here’s her business card.”
“That’s very kind of you…I had to search for a job anyway…”
“She is always looking for fresh talent, upcoming models and all, for in-store fashion shows…and you are a fine looking lady…so the pleasure is all mine. I shall have my commission!” He laughed.
“Are you sure that there is a vacancy?”
“You bet I am. Her office is on the way to the hotel, we can stop by and talk to her about it.”
“That would be great,” she smiled. He smiled back, in the rearview mirror. It is all so easy; lady luck seems to be on my side. She thought, and said a silent prayer of thanks.
“There is certainly a place for a new model…you can start as an intern.” A middle aged woman with calculative eyes said to her. She was sitting on a sofa. The interior of the office was dirty and disorganized. There was a reception, a central room in the building, and a staircase that led to the upper storey. “Have you ever been into modeling?”
Devika felt an urge to lie. But she spoke the truth. “No… But I will give it my best.”
“I am sure you will.” She smiled reassuringly, and nodded.
An unhealthy, stricken, weak old man stepped down from the stairs and with him was a lady with chubby features, dressed in skimpy clothes. They were smiling at each other. “Room No. 22 is free…five hundred… twice!” she said, addressing the lady on the sofa, and smiled at her. A certain sense of foreboding started creeping into Devika.
“Twice! Hmm…you enjoyed a lot Mr. Patel, didn’t you? You are growing old, but deep within, you are still a passionate young man!”
“Just the last flame I guess,” He smiled shyly. “Who is this? She was not introduced in the afternoon… that’s cheating!” He was staring at Devika’s body like a hungry dog and she suddenly realized that her suit was low cut and was somewhat exposing her bulging breasts. She felt uncomfortable and panicky.
“Oh! Monica… she just arrived, a fresh piece from the North! She is an untouched angel from the valley of God, look at her skin… Not tasted yet.” She laughed in a disgusting manner.
“One thousand…she’s mine.” He said, his mouth nearly watering with desire.
“No chance… don’t you see her….she is worth a diamond.” The lady on the sofa fired back.
“Five…and not a paisa less than that.”
“I’ll give you six.”
“Done! Room No. 28. Off you go!”
“Where is she???”
And they turned, only to find her gone!
She was running as fast as she could, till she reached a bench placed on the pavement near the road end, almost a long way passed that place. She sat there, sweating. Nervous and taking short breaths. Recalling… “ just arrived, a fresh piece from North! Not tasted yet.” Bitch! She thought aloud.
Then she noticed a tear rolling on her cheek and she also saw a few strangers watching her from the fast cars that were rushing fast on the road. It was close to 6 in the evening and the sun was getting weaker, it’s bright light was being eaten away from the darkness being spread, as night was pushing herself over day.
She was alone…A stranger in an unknown world! And then she realized that she had left her bag and baggage at that whorehouse while running away. She felt a lump in her throat and the fear in her heart brought about a million emotions that went rushing through her mind. She started shivering. It was getting cold, and there were a number of drunken eve-teasers eyeing her. She was sure that someone or the other would soon try to corner her and take advantage of her in all possible ways.
As she sat there, Devika thought about what to do. she smelled alcohol odour closing by. She turned back and three guys, all of them heavily drunk, were staring at her, analyzing her from top to bottom. One of them took a step forward and she heard him say, “Akeli ho, Jaaneman…???”
Her heart was pounding so hard, it was a miracle that she managed to hear the pleasant voice behind her say, “Mujhe der ho gayi kya…?”
From the corner of his eye, the stranger gave a harsh, unfriendly look to the drunken group, before smiling at her. Devika smiled back. The men immediately stepped back. She breathed a sigh of relief and held his hand and they disappeared from the sight of those cheap drunkards.
He was a young and handsome looking stranger, who held on to her hand, and before she could realize where they were heading, guided her to the more lighted pavement on the other side of the street. Their brisk walk gradually became slower. It started to rain. They took shelter under the tin covered ceiling of a bus stop, which was over crowded as it always was. And Devika couldn’t stop smiling. The relief was evident in her eyes, as was a sense of satisfaction in her heart…and there was a certain thrill that was completely new to her.
She had just been saved from getting raped and, who knows, had perhaps also escaped death. She looked into the eyes of the stranger beside her, and he smiled back. Almost six feet tall, he had ocean green eyes, and a clean shaven face. Boyish, amiable and appealing. Before she could have said managed to say, “Thanks…”, he spoke, as though he’d read her mind. “I am glad I was there, and managed to save an angel”.
She blushed, touched by the gentle, warm and manly voice in which this fascinating, gorgeous stranger was flirting with her. It was neither embarrassing, nor uncomfortable. In fact, it was very friendly, and strangely comforting. They talked freely, oblivious to the noise of the crowd and the rain. Devika kept going on and on about everything that had happened to her the entire day. He listened to her with rapt attention and occasionally gave humorous and witty comments, while she caught her breath before carrying on.
Before she knew it, the rain had stopped. She finally realized that it was only the two of them standing there by that time, laughing and giggling, completely lost in their own little world.
“Want to have dinner with me? Unless you want to go back and enjoy the company of those three friends of yours whom we treated in a very uncivilized manner…I feel so sorry for them now! Let’s go back and say sorry na…” He laughed, and pretended to walk back to where he’d seen her with those men. She held his hand tight and, looking deep into his eyes as if a sense of belonging was ruling her, she replied in a whisper, “Dinner with you is a pain I’m willing to bear.”
And they laughed again… They breathed in the intoxicating smell of the mud that comes with the rain, as they strolled to a Chinese restaurant nearby. They talked of mutual dreams and aspirations… he wanted to be an actor and she told him that she hoped to be a model. He ordered a host of dishes on the table, most of whose names she had not even heard of, but she loved each one of them.
After a lavish and delicious dinner, Devika- on having finally realized that she’d forgotten something very important- exclaimed, “Oh! I am so sorry…I didn’t even ask your name!”
He smiled. “It is not a very common name, but some day, when I will rule the world, it will sound familiar.” And then, after a short pause, he said “Mehul.”
She found herself admiring this young boy for being a dreamer… she instantly felt that she could totally relate to him.
"Do you know any place that you can think of to stay for the night,its late now",he asked with a genuine concern in his tone.
"Not exactly",she replied. Her face looking like a baby.
“I live in a one room flat nearby. I will stay at my friend’s place and you can stay there till you find a place to live in.”
She was very taken aback by his words. It felt like he was an angel sent from heaven, just to take care of her. “No…I really don’t want to trouble you anymore…You have already saved my life twice today…”
“Yeah! I would have died from hunger anyhow, even if I’d have managed to escape from getting murdered by those monsters…” She actually managed to laugh at her own helplessness. His eyes were seemingly looking sad immediately when she said No and he said...
“I would really be happy to help you, Devika…Please, don’t say no! Someday, when you will become a supermodel or an actress, I would feel that I played my part in your rise to fame and fortune.”, his face was innocent and his lips were beautiful as they moved while he spoke.
She loved him for what he’d just said. It made her feel less frightened. She had almost been regretting running away from Delhi, but she found herself hanging on to her dreams, now that this young man had helped her remember that she was here to rise! I will. She thought.
“I will stay… but I will sleep on the couch and you will sleep on the bed, not in some friend’s place, please…”
His flat was beautiful, small yet very tidy. The walls were colored sea green and there were beautiful paintings and tiny decorative pieces on the wall. They all gave the place a personal touch of the soft hearted gentle boy it belonged to.
“Like it?”, he asked cutely.
“Love it…!” she said sounding excited.
“The couch is in the lobby… Good night.” Mehul smiled at her.
“Thank you…” Said Devika, smiling back, her eyes shining.
She reached out to thank him with a warm hug…and he took her into his arms willingly.
“The won’t be needed….” She whispered in his ears smiling, a seductive shine in her eyes and then their lips met almost fusing into one. And with an unapologetic haste, they took off each other’s clothes and ended up loving each other, consuming totally into the ecstasy that engulfed them. And then it was over. Relaxed and happy, she slept in his arms.
He gently lifted his hand on which Devika’s innocent head rested, so as to not disturb her sleep. He kissed her on the forehead. She was beautiful. Innocent and divine. He went to the lobby and made a call on his cell phone.
He whispered, “Rashid Bhai…Salmaan speaking. I will mail you the tape tomorrow. Please send the check by my wife’s name, as always…And you will love the girl this time! She is an amateur, but better than any pornstar of the West…This will be a big hit on your website…mark my words.” He laughed, enjoying a sense of victory.