The universe consists of three loks  (layers) Aakash, Dharti and Patal 

Patal lok was being ruled by King Lord Yakshin. Until one day when under mysterious conditions he was rendered spechless and motionless .The Queen Yakshini had taken over as the ruler and had held her own Coronation ceremony

Amidst the most powerful men of those times, She held her stature high. She was an enchantress

She had almond shaped lustrous eyes ,an enthralling flirtatious smile  and a  magnetic voluptuous body. Her curves were so articulate that she seemed like a flawless painting by kamadeva

Her aura was sensuous.. Her seductive scent aroused temptations in his minds of most glorified souls.Her glance was hypnotic. Whenever she looked at a man, woman or even gods they were instantly mesmerized

Her golden throne embedded with diamonds enticed all the monarchical presence there.

She wore a glistening Silky white robe and a fine piece of jewellery made of rare stones around her neck.

She announced that she will now be taking all decisions concerning the people of the kingdom as the King of Patal Lok- Lord Yakshin was incapable due to hisome illness . He was brought in the Darbar with his four sevaks lifting his throne.

He was not able to even utter a single word. The Almighty Ruler of the dark forces was now completely dependent on his sevaks.. Everyone present had expected foul play but were so spellbound by her that they did not raise a doubt.

Rakansur was the most powerful man in this yuga. He had convincingly defeated all deities of patalpur . He had also acquired tremendous knowledge of everything as  he had been the only one who had travelled across patalpur and been to visit Dharti Lok and other universes that existed. He was the only one who was not enthralled by her presence. He carefully looked away from her as she had the extreme power to attract and destroy his predominance.

He argued the state of the Lord by questioning her credibility. The Valor with which he argued brought tears to the eyes of the Lord Yakshin.

In a thunderous voice he announced “ I am saddened to see that the mighty warrior named Yakshin who fought the hardest against me in the battle of supremacy . He has withered into a catatonic state under the care of this sorceress that claims to be his wife “

The Enchantress sat on her throne and smiled. She was not affected by the hatred of one man. She said in style “ Rakansur, i have a lot of respect for you , my dear. But you need to do your investigation before blaming me for the state of Lord Yakshin”

The entire darbar erupted in support of Yakshini. An enraged Rakansur left the Darbar.

On the very next day as Rakansur was walking past the forest he noticed her hurriedly vanishing into the woods. He followed her and reached to a point of no return.

He stood stunned as she uncovered herself from the shiny robe and opened her arms. He glanced into her seductive eyes and he was hypnotised. He stood there in a trance devouring her captivating body with his eyes, He felt that if he touched her it would spoil that moment of pleasure. The enthralling pleasure of seeing such beauty that could invoke passion even in someone who is dead. He had lost his first battle with her without even putting up a fight. As he walked upto her he was appalled by the sweet fragrance she evoked.

As he was about to touch her she vanished leaving him in a state of despair. He had been transformed into an admirer that lusted for a glance from her.He had been so mesmerized by her beauty and sex appeal that he had forgotten everything around him.The only thought in his mind was hers.All he wanted to do was be around her, see her everyday and smell her fragrance.He was obsessed with her.

The next day he sat next to her in the darbar as he had been appointed as the primary sevak of her husband

While serving as the King’s Sevak.He always saw that question in the eyes of the king that how could a person of his stature give in to desires and fantasies

The great righteous warrior had eaten the forbidden fruit and shied away from his duties

She waged many wars with neighboring towns and countries and appointed him as the army cheif .He won them all as he still was the mightiest.He did everything to impress her and get her attention.

The only thing he lived for was surrendering himself in her arms one day and fullfilling his lustful desires .This addiction to her was growing stronger by the day

One night in his state of trance he had seen the king crying again .His sorrow filled eyes had given him tremendous amount of guilt .He felt the pain and agony the king was going through and he wanted to be the saviour .

.He saw his reflection in the mirror and felt that he had become a disgusting opportunist.

In that moment of introspection he also realized that if he started a rebellion , he would suffer the same fate as the king and hence he had to first find out the spell she had used on the king

He had to develop a counter spell so that he could stand up to her nuisance and give justice to all those people that were being tormented by her

One night during his investigations he had found a dungeon full of ex-kings that had gone missing .She had slayed all her husbands and prospective kings.Those she could not kill for some reason were in a catatonic state like King Yakshin

He investigated more and more and secretly followed her to all the places she visited .One night she was hurriedly walking across the jungle and he walked behind her secretly at a distance. She had covered her face with a veil and looked very disturbed .

Hiding behind a tree , He saw something horrific.

She stood below a huge Oak tree and opened her arms .From behind the tree A Wild beast covered in blood appeared.He almost fainted at this sight .The Beast could scare away a mighty warrior like him by just appearing .He had bloodshot eyes and a huge torso.His torso had various scorpions moving around. In his childhood he had heard stories of a Scorpion monster that lived in the deep forest and was the ruler of Satanic forces that existed in the dark world .The Beast feasted on the blood through the Yakshinis neck .

She shouted in pain and cried as he sucked life out of her .She was left in shackles and looked withered and extremely old

Once the ordeal was over she regained her form of the beautiful enchantress and walked back to the palace .

There was no way he could defeat the Scorpion Monster.But there was certainly a way of defeating the Yakshini and freeing the kingdom from her clutches.

He observed her everyday to find one weakness he could capitalize upon

That night she walked into his room and uncovered her robe .His fantasies and dreams were going to be fulfilled .Had he impressed her so much that she was offering herself to him or was she planning something hideous and manipulative .All he could remember was the beast feasting on her neck .He felt repulsive but he couldn’t have stopped her.She started by pleasing him.While she was in the act of pleasuring him he noticed her neck had a big wound .He had never noticed it before .As he tried to touch it , the wound healed itself . .She felt a disconnect right away and read his mind that he could probably could turn rebellious .She usually drank cannabis and offered him to join her. She urged him to close his eyes. As he touched his nose to the cannabis she had offered him.He could feel plenty of scorpions moving all over his body .He closed his eyes as he savoured the heavely drink .When he opened his eyes he found himself in the Jungle tied to the Huge Tree .All saplings had grown over him and he just couldn’t move.The Scorpion monster appeared from behind the tree and stood in front of him The sight made him cry .

The Ugly beast had blood flowing from his eyes and the deafening sounds of his roars made him lose his sanity  .He digged his teeth deep into his neck and started feasting on his blood .The pain was ferocious and the once mighty warrior had succumbed to the dark forces.

The next day he found himself in a catonic state similar to the king .She continued her lustful escapades with him but she didn’t need to change form. She just walked in like a beast and devoured life out him every night .The fragrance was just a farce..She was covered in blood and filth and she smelled exactly like the beast .

The Mighty warrior decided to use his inner strength and fight the demon.He realized that he would be fed to the demon on every fortnight on amavasya . The method remained same. She poured down the cannabis drink through his mouth and forced him to close his eyes. When he opened his eyes he was tied to the Oak tree. For one split of a second he had all his strength. That moment was the only time when he could break free and attack the demon

Rakansur used all his might to break free but he was not strong enough ..The wound on his neck grew wider and a scorpion crawled out of it .The Blood thirsty beast pounced on him and continued the torment .Tears rolled down his cheeks as he sat in a catonic state hoping that a mighty warrior like him would visit patal lok one day and rescue him.

If such a warrior came ,

He would use all his energy to keep him away from Yakshini the enchantress .He had fallen deep in that trap and only he was to be blamed for succumbing to his desires



I feel nostalgic as I walk past auto rickshaws. Nothing much has changed in this city. It’s only me who has changed drastically.I have returned to my hometown Mumbai after being in a New York Prison for more than a decade.

Mumbai 1996

I was just wired differently. I remember it was the same street when I had walked on it as a 14 year old.It was 1996 and the Mumbai underbelly was flourishing. I had belonged to an affluent family of priests,  but my inclination towards criminal activities had started very early in my life

Everyone has their vices. I had too many.I enjoyed doing things that were forbidden. It gave me an high, it gave a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm.

I remember my father running behind me with a stick in his hand because I stole coins from the temple and went to the nearby matka place to gamble with them. It was not the money that sometimes doubled and tripled. It was the excitement . It was the sheer joy of doing something forbidden. Out of the fear of my father finding out that I was gambling. I used to pour all my earnings into a poor cobbler’s hut. He worked hard all day mending shoes but he hardly had money to buy himself a meal.

“Those coins were being wasted when they were being offered to an already rich god. Why does he need money when he is already the almighty,” I told my dad. He slapped me hard.

My father diagnosed my condition as a disease. I was dangerous for this society that set rules for itself and where forbidden things are only allowed to be done behind closed doors and in the dark. They wake up in the morning and pretend as if nothing happened

I used to get beaten at home. My father used to hurt me with tremendous passion..I got used to it. In fact I learnt that self inflicted pain sometimes gives infinite pleasure. Once he was tired and there was no power left in his blows . I Laughed as loud as I could and he would say “Rakshas, Vinashkari , Vipreet Buddhi”

I Could not pretend any longer and live with the self proclaimed god. He used to fool people everyday and survived from the money earned from inflicting fear in them. Human beings build unnecessary cages around themselves called responsibility, Society and Limits. I had to fly and do everything that was forbidden. Not be bound by any artificial restraints

Then on one unfortunate night. The only person I could call my own, Tribhuvan Shastri my father passed away. I was only 16 and I had no source of income. There was no money to even arrange the great priest’s funeral.

As I cried sitting alone. The Cobbler walked up to me with a bag of coins and he offered them to me.The Affluent Tribhuvan Shastri used to tell me that the cobbler is from a low caste and that he is an untouchable was the only person I could hug and cry.

New York, 2005

I walked past Chinese fishmongers and green grocers cluttered in markets in the indian dominated area of Chinatown in Manhattan. I had heard about this man called as Mak.i was going to his office for an interview. On the forefront he ran a big financing company. His real name is Makrand Deshmukh which has cut short to mak as it is usually done here in the US.

He ran an empire of illicit trade .He was the kingpin of the drug mafia and all anti social activities in this city.He was the undisputed king of the Drug Mafia, He was also into Prostitution and Money Laundering for Arms and Ammunition’s and funding of Terrorist Organizations.

As i sat fiddling with my watch in the conference room of a plush office waiting for Mak.

I saw a beautiful girl fair as milk photocopying some papers. In Agreement to my bollywood icon Amrish Puri whenever i see a girl with fair and smooth skin i feel like drinking Black Dog Whiskey as hundreds of black dogs start barking in my psyche.

My heart skipped  a beat as soon as she looked at me. Her eyes were big and the eyeliner and kajal made them looking even more stunning. My thumping heart sound was so elaborate that i felt she could hear it. i felt she could see the tension on my face as she walked towards me with some papers in her hand. She had a perfect hourglass figure as i saw her from head to toe with eyes full of lust. Her body hugging red dress was so elegant and glamorous that it made her look like an enchanting seductress. She said “ Please fill this form, Mr Mak will be with you shortly” .My glare was stuck at her luscious lips and their perfect shape and her voice sounded like a symphony of melodious romantic tracks. I started believing in love at first sight. My brain definitely had a chemical locha, she was the one i was waiting for all my life.I walked outside to find her again. Sitting on her desk and her eyes glued to the monitor on her workstation. As i neared her desk she saw me. She gave out a friendly smile. That smile had the power to make a man suffering from Chronic depression look forward to life with Zest and Enthusiasm.Her name was soothing to the ears. Her name was Nagma.

Mr Mak walked out of his cabin and looked at me with a sullen look. Probably he did not like me standing so close to the girl’s desk. He Tilted his head and gestured me to follow him.He swayed ahead in style. He was dressed elegantly in a stylish suit and he looked extremely dashing.He stood tall at 6ft and his neatly trimmed beard went well with his overall persona

We spoke for about 30 mins and i really do not know what he saw in a visibly under confident and fidgety me. The best thing i remember i said was that i wanted to become like him one day and wear those stylish suits. I also remember that he told me that in order to achieve that i will have to be very strong and let go off all morals and ethics i have .

Soon i became the most trusted aide of the big man. Every big businessman needs a intelligent confidante. Someone whom he can fall back on for advice or for discussing his decisions and future plans.. I was paving my way up the ranks and soon turning into the man everyone ran to for work. i knew everything . All codes, All secrets, Even Everything Mak thought,i had the key to all the locks of this business empire

Then i fell upon a tiny secret. The Girl i had fallen in love with on my first day at work.The charming fair girl with beautiful eyes was infact Mak’s mistress.She had been an innocent girl who had once been implicated for carrying drugs in her purse. She had no clue how the poison that had been found in her purse had gotten there. The only rescue she had was through Mak. She had come to visit Mak to ask for his help and the filthy man had been allured by her beauty. She had paid a heavy price for it. Mak had kept all the proofs that would prove her guilty and even though Narcotics department in this state was extremely strong but Mak had connections .He knew the figures of authority very well.  He was powerful and he could do anything. He forced her to work for his company and abused her everyday.He proudly narrated the entire episode to me and even though i did not have a heart to understand humanity. i Somehow understood this girl’s plight. Maybe because my heart had thumped out loud when she had smiled at me.

I had tried to speak to her a few times but she had avoided all interactions. This was the opportunity. Mak had sent us together to deliver a consignment. I knew that the cartons we were carrying contained Arms and Ammunition but i was not sure that she knew it.

I asked “Do you know what’s inside” . She looked at me in the mirror from the front seat of the car and replied “ Yes” . I then tried to make small talk.

“ How did a girl as pretty as you start working at this place”

She replied “Well it is the same . Even i am surprised that a guy as intelligent as you is working here” She was smart and witty. She paid me a compliment and smiled.

Well i expected her to compliment my looks and not my brains but then i happened to glance in the mirror and i realized that i was an ordinary looking man and there was nothing earth shattering or even worthy about my looks. At least she appreciated my grey matter.

I was completely smitten by her. We started spending more time after office hours.

After ten occasions of rejecting it , she finally agreed to a date. Just me and her. Fascinating music played in the background and the shade of hazel lights in that discotheque made her look even more desirable and appealing.

But what intrigued me the most was why was she taking all the abuse from Mak. But i dared not to ask. I did not want to put off the vibrant energy she was showing and the did not want the beautiful smile to disappear.

But she herself spoke “ Since you asked that day. I want to share with you” “Mr Mak is obsessed with me and a man who is that powerful just takes a jab at his whims and fancies”

“All these years of endless abuse i have waited for a knight in shining Armour to come and rescue me, i do not know if can expect that from you”

If a man like Mr Mak was obsessed with her then definitely a man who wanted to be the next Mr Mak would see her as an unattainable conquest. But i was completely obsessed with the thought of becoming what she expected to me to be.

We had become inseparable. Especially after that night of passion at her house where we explored each others bodies till we quenched the insatiable thirst our souls had.

We started a joint silent rebellion It was like a slow poison that kills you slowly.Something that you can never get detoxified of.

Yes i was using the trust and faith of my mentor and turning the tables against him.Surprisingly she was much more intelligent than i fathomed. She had a full strategy in place and following her plan would ensure the complete destruction of Mr Mak and demolition of his well built crime empire. We encoded encrypted data, Passed information to competitors and cops. Mr Mak was facing tough times suddenly. His consignments were being caught. The Important men in high authorities that he was friends with, were suddenly getting fired.

In Spite of all these hindrances, he still trusted me and he gave me the code to his secret bank accounts just in case if he was caught. Then he shocked me when he said that he wished he could marry Nagma, transfer all his money through money laundering and move to different country. He wanted me to help him do that and he wanted me to also close all the pending deals and move with them.

That Night when i was smoking with Nagma. I questioned her. I told her about Mak’s Intentions and she laughed about them. She said after so many years of repeated abuse , now he wants to give me a respect and marry me.

Her bloodshot eyes reflected anger. She said with utmost passion that she wants to see him finished.

We were going to pull the trigger now. This was the final round of this drama. Mr Mak was now going to be slayed.Next Morning i was going to call Mak and tell him about an consignment been caught. I was going to pretend that i was shot and i needed his help. We were sure Mr Mak would rush to help me and fall into their trap.

Next Morning as planned i called Mr Mak.He acted as predicted.A Fleet of police cars waited in anticipation but things did not go as smooth as expected. I suddenly felt a jerk on my shoulder as i fell to my knees. Two strong policeman stood behind me with their guns pointed to the back of my head.A Police Van zoomed past others and a lady cop jumped out of it and stood there. Nagma was not the damsel in distress as she had made out to be. She had duped me and Mak. She was the smart Cop with a penchant for acting .She stood there pointing her gun towards Mak who stood there in shock as two people he had trusted the most had been responsible for his downfall. He was not the criminal who gave up that easily. Two pistols came out from two of his jacket pockets and he fired at the cops recklessly. But he did not have the strength to fire the bullet at the lady cop who stood there pointing a gun at him. I have never understood the emotional quotient of these cops. She smiled while she shot him . A bullet pierced through his expensive jacket straight into his heart and he fell flat . She fired another round this time aiming at his forehead and my idol in the crime world lay dead.

I still cannot decipher why she left me. Even i could have been killed on the same day.

For her it was just a mission. When our eyes met ,she looked at me like a stranger.I felt used and abused by a woman She was so perfect in enacting her characters and she had resorted to such cheap tactics to deal with crime and criminals..She gestured the policeman to take me away and walked past me smiling with confidence.

But as they were taking me to the prison, i realized that my end would be similar to that. A Fancy Tracer bullet piercing through my expensive jacket.Probably fired by a someone trustworthy.

Before going to prison i used to think, How would i survive in prison if i ever got caught. But then in prison i realized that An Innocent man cannot sleep in prison as he thinks how did he get there and what is the way out. But A guilty man can sleep in prison peacefully as he knows that he deserves this for the mistake he has made. The Mistake of trusting , the mistake of getting caught. The mistake of being impulsive and emotional.

© Jitendra Kotai

Khanabadoshiyan- The Forbidden Path

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi

How do we draw the line between right and Wrong ? Every single being has their own take on Ethics , Morals , Principles. Norms created by the society.

What if something we do feels perfectly right and awesome but it is obnoxious according to certain norms laid down by society?

What if that experience is the only thing you want ?

You love it so much that you find reasons and arguments to justify that thing. You feel absolutely ecstatic about it.

This gives rise to a rebel ” Khanabadosh” is an urdu word for someone who swims against the current.. He is someone who goes above and beyond what is considered to be a normal way of living. He is someone who flirts with risks and lives on the edge. He is someone who is ready to lose everything he has to the flip of  a coin and start all over again. He is insane , Unpredictable and Ambitious

Dev Kripalani lived his life on his own terms. He did things randomly like quitting jobs and changing careers. He hated to live his life based on a routine. He hated time tables and alarm clocks He enjoyed doing certain things which were totally against all norms.

His Decision to get married to Vaani had been an instant one too. They had fallen in love on a Thursday and gotten married on a Friday. She was completely drunk when he had proposed to her kneeling down with a rose in his hand. She had been barely able to stand on her feet but had accepted his proposal and jumped with joy.

But things had become pretty stagnant considering his vagabond ways and her disconnection from him. He always felt she was in a world of her own. Barely listening to him . He felt lonely in her company. He felt he was the only one attempting a conversation, starting a topic and then ending it himself.. He had stopped feeling that spark and all his efforts to rejuvenate their marriage had been futile. He hoped that one day she might understand his worth and acknowledge his presence.

He was not someone who could be captivated within certain predefined limits and restricted boundaries. He was like a bird that flew above and beyond breaking all shackles of society

But then something happened in his life that left him wrecked completely

Her name was Shreya. His relationship with shreya could not be defined by him. He was definitely smitten by her. But he had never had any bad intentions or hidden agenda .

But he was always unsure about her. He himself could not predict what she could come up with next.

Shreya was the most awesome thing that had ever happened to him. It was way beyond friendship and yet it was not love. Society understands the most complex of things But what it fails to understand is a special bond of friendship between a man and a woman

They had met in the strangest of ways possible He had been standing there at the grocery store watching her argue with the store owner over selling goods which have been long expired .

This girl looked like an Aphrodite  with her round face and beautifully carved features. As if the maker had specifically drawn the beautiful eyes, nose , lips and structured the way her lips curved when she smiled. She was petite and vivacious. Her voice was chirpy and she had the exuberance of youth.

Logically speaking , Every friendship is based on attraction and every relationship is based on friendship. Sometimes you just like the way someone smiles or speaks or just the way they are

He instantly developed a liking for this girl. But he was scared to speak to her. He Stood there staring at her and when she looked at him, he looked away and started walking . The Chirpy voice stopped him “ You are Vaani’s Husband right ?”That brought an instant smile on his face. The Girl knew him. He smiled and introduced himself ” Dev Kripalani” and she replied by saying ” I Know”.

They hit it off , right from the day they had met. High fives and loud roars of laughter ensued every time they were together. She brought out the best in him and he seemed to have the solutions to all her woes. They shared a common ground. Unfriendliness from their respective spouses.

Her past had been a very tragic one. She trusted him and shared everything with him about her  Past, Present and Future Aspirations.

She had belonged a small village on the outskirts of Gurgaon where Khap Panchayats still created havoc. She had been married off to her Husband Randeep just because she had been caught by her brother watching a movie with a boy. A Normal date where they bunked college and caught the latest bollywood blockbuster. But that ensured her brothers rage, She was caged in her own house and then made ready to be sent off as soon as they found a suitor. The age gap between them was not considered since it was more of a generation gap.

Four Years into her marriage she still longed for acknowledgment from him. He was the old school patriarch who did not have great respect for strong and independent women.

According to him women were only supposed to do certain household chores and keep their husbands happy She had religiously fulfilled all her duties as a wife. Randeep was a self proclaimed perfect man. He was well groomed, well read, educated, a great orator, extremely handsome and played the role of the patriarch perfectly. But what she needed was a light hearted conversation. His attention and acknowledgment. Maybe a couple of compliments on her looks and even a faint lopsided smile.

But the old school men were taught to be rude and arrogant. They had learned to be aloof and not show their love. If they showed love and appreciation to their women, the women might just be compelled to have an upper hand . If they gave too much liberty she might start taking her own decisions and it would be too disrespectful for them. She might even end up talking back and putting her foot down against unrealistic demands and not fulfilling her duties as expected.

Dev was the one who gave her undivided attention. He complimented her for every new dress she wore and how pretty she looked. He even remembered certain things she had spoken about and made sure he helped her fulfill those wishes. He had once helped her sneak out of her house and taken her to a discotheque that she had longed to visit. She had then fulfilled her wish of sipping alcohol and dancing like no-one’s watching .He considered himself lucky to be in her company. He longed for spending some with her. Listen to her chirpy voice. Smell the fragrance of her perfume. 

On One such Fateful day when they had met secretly.  she had come with a different agenda. She had been predetermined to end their friendship.

Her friends had spoken about seeing her with another man and the fear of Randeep knowing about her friendship had shaken her completely. Today she had made up her mind to tell him that she wanted to never meet him again

Dev, You are a wonderful friend to have” Shreya quippedYou understand me perfectly. Your sense of humor relieves me of all the stress I go through , sometimes you miraculously resolve all the issues I have” But” She said and paused

But What” Dev asked

Don’t you think we are taking it too far. We are literally talking all day and spending too much time in each other’s company. I am scared we might end up with a bad name in society” She Concluded

But we know that it is just friendship. We connect at a certain level but we are not crossing boundaries .” “ Society never understood friendship between man and a woman and they never will” “They have their minds full of filth “Dev Said

I wish you understand me again and stop all sorts of communication with me” She said with tears in her eyes. She had said and walked away

Our rebellious hero decided to play some stunts. He enrolled himself for the same cricket club where Randeep used to play. His game plan was to befriend Randeep and in the bargain get his old friendship back..

His struggle for winning Randeep’s friendship may never seen the light of the day unless Vaani entered the scenario. After earning his spot as the opening batsman alongside Randeep when he started wearing his gloves, randeep asked him the same question that he had heard in a chirpy voice before “ You are Vaani’s Husband right ?”

And then the Pandora box opened revealing loads of secrets.

History Professor at the most reputed Arts college in the city Mr Randeep Singh had a special liking for his student Ms Vaani Thakur. He had spent a lot of time with her after college imparting historical wisdom into her

It happened to be Vaani’s birthday.The stage was set. Dev had decided to make them meet. For him it was a win win situation. Vaani gets to meet her old crush Professor Randeep and he gets to meet his special friend Shreya

He had invited the couple for dinner to a safe and sophisticated italian restaurant where he personally knew the owner . He had taken Vaani along and not informed her the names of the guests.

The Surprise in store was going to be as surprising to the recipient as it was to the Planner of the surprise.

He kept fidgeting with the forks, spoons and tissues in anticipation of what was coming next.

Randeep and Shreya entered arm in arm . They looked beautiful together. Dev looked at his wife and he had expected a certain discomfort or awkwardness which would have given him lots of sadistic pleasure. But Vaani greeted them with a smile.

The two women were having a lovely conversation from planning for kids to shades of nail pant.

The awkwardness ensued between the men. Dev realized that Randeep had sensed his special inclination towards his wife, by the way he had looked at her, greeted her and continued to stare at her.

Randeep proposed the two men take a smoke break. As they lit their respective cigarettes in the smoking arena ,Randeep spoke “ Vaani is a fabulous human being, Things did not work out between us since we had a tremendous age- gap. Her father had not given his authorization for our marriage. He felt that two people with an age-difference of 15 years are not compatible “ .

Taking a Deep Breath He Continued .

You know I accepted the proposal from Shreya’s parents simply to show him that I can live my life with a girl who is 15 years younger to me. That too a perfect life”

Shreya is perfect wife. Cooks amazing food, takes care of my parents. She starts her day at 7.00 am and is doing something for me and my parents till way past midnight”

Another puff and he confinued

“She did get a little distracted in between due to a new friend she made. Her name was Devi “

“ But she soon stopped meeting her , since she was leading her to be rebellious” I discouraged her from meeting Devi, Since it would mean unnecessary confidence and higher expectations “ Dev could not believe how logic and reasoning went beyond this professor who believed in being the god of his wife’s life. Controlling every bit of emotion she had ever had.

Randeep Sir” Dev said reluctantly “ She is extremely beautiful, you are a very lucky man “

” I Would suggest you should allow her to see her friends once in a while” he added

Randeep smiled and left the smoking zone.

As Dev was walking towards the dinner table. He met shreya who was walking towards the smoking zone She dragged him back to the smoking zone and lit a cigarette for herselfYou planned this, Didnt you? She demanded to knowYes “ he said , looking down.

Shreya opened her big eyes really wide and said in an obnoxiously rude toneI know you do things randomly and then think about them. You married Vaani and then regretted” .Now you are hopelessly attracted towards me and you keep planning things to get near me again”You think you love me , Do you have the guts to walk out of your marriage and be with me”You stammer while speaking to my husband “

He held her shoulders and calmed her down “ You are getting it all wrong. My Intention was to get back your friendship. I am not thinking about anything else. I am not a pervert as you are thinking now” “Even Vaani is missing friends in her life and she used to connect well with Professor Sahab”

Connect well “ , “My foot” she saidShe is the reason he married me but never loved me. “ I longed for his love, his acknowledgment, his affection. But he was so deeply depressed that she was not in his life that he had stopped living “

I targeted you” she revealed . “ I wanted to take revenge from her for ruining my life” But half way through it , I realized I was doing the wrong thing. It was all a pretense. I wanted my life back” I was craving to get some love from my husband” “ I never intended to have any relationship with you”

But when I started spending time with you. He realized something was missing. He realized that I was drifting apart. He started communicating with me, bringing me gifts, complimenting me “His attention seeking behavior made me blush”, “ The very fact that he was talking to me and sharing his problems, his jokes , his aspirations with me was redeeming “

Randeep and Shreya had redefined their relationship. Dev had unknowingly help them sort their marital issues. Shreya still did not understand that all Dev wanted was to be her friend. She shunned him for bringing Vaani back into her husbands life. She had pulled out his ex from his psyche after tremendous amount of effort and in his foolishness Dev was making all her efforts go waste.

Right now she is sitting with my husband on that dinner table. I do not know what they are talking about. May be rekindling their old friendship. May be they made some plans to meet separately alone”You are culprit. Do not play with my life now. Especially since I am pregnant “

Wow “ Dev Said “ Excellent news. That calls for a party. “ I am really so happy for you”

You are Impossible” She Said and slammed the door of the smoking zone and left Dev kept thinking about it. Was she expecting that Dev gets angry knowing this? But she had said she enjoyed the attention from her husband. Understanding a woman is more difficult than rocket science .

Dev walked back to the dinner table and sat right across the history professor.So how was the wisdom imparting session” he made a smart quipWell” Vaani Said “ You will know when you get home” Should I tell him Sir ?” She winked at Randeep and they all laughed. They made it all sound so normal.

Well Vaani had never been able to forget her first love. She had always been in touch with Randeep. Shreya’s idea of revenge had started after she had eavesdropped on a conversation between Vaani and her husband.

And when Randeep found out about Shreya’s friendship with Dev. He had confronted her.

Things had been talked about. She had confessed to him about her wish to take revenge on Vaani and all that had transpired after that.

Her reasons and justifications had led to a grand session of tears and accusations . But Eventually They had both accepted each other and tried to start a new life.

With everyone having their hidden agenda and manipulating each other. They had somehow used Dev to rectify their lives and put all the blame on him .

Dev was left feeling bad about himself. To the three people sitting on that table he was A lowly pervert who had eyed someone else’s wife. And they were all perfect.

Since they had done all things within the dimensions defined by the society and not tried to swim against the current. A New day would start and he would get back to another routine normal life but considering the Khanabadosh he is , You never know. He may try another experiment against the basic rules the society sets for itself .

The fact is that he still feels great about himself and has tremendous respect for the fact that at least he was true to himself and pretending to be perfect. But the question still haunts him “ Can A Man and a woman be Just Friends , Can they have a purely platonic affection? And if they do, Will people talk about it with Straight faces ? “

© Jitendra Kotai