11, Sky Heights : Chapter 1

PROLOGUE

May 17, 2015,
3:30 a.m.,
Carter Road Police Station

The sudden sound of the telephone ring filled the silent room inside the police station.

Senior Inspector Shrikant Joshi heard the sound of the ring emanating from the inside as he stood at the gate of the police station, smoking a cigarette. The second he heard the sound, he understood that it spelled trouble. His experience told him that a call at a police station so late in the night certainly had to do with something serious.

The ringing stopped. Sub inspector Shinde must have received the phone call, Nayak thought. He looked outside the gate, on the road and took a last puff of his cigarette before he attended to the emergency. On the road, he saw a car speeding by and his mind immediately thought about the risks of that situation, he thought what if that car caused an accident? Was the driver drunk? He decided to inform on the wireless about the speeding car but before he could think anything further, Shinde came running to him. There was a tone of urgency in Shinde’s voice.

“Sir, a woman is found lying in a pool of blood at Sky Heights!”

CHAPTER 1

May 16, 2015,
11:00 p.m.,
Sky Heights

“Welcome Chandni!” screamed Nisha, one of the new and promising actresses of the Hindi Film Industry while running towards Chandni, the number one actress of the Hindi Film Industry. Every guest present at Nisha’s terrace party looked at Chandni in awe. Chandni’s presence upped the glamour quotient of the party. The photojournalists at the party, rushed to click her photographs.

Chandni hugged and kissed Nisha on the cheeks. “Happy Birthday Nisha!” said Chandni while gifting a present to Nisha.

“Thank you so much!” While Nisha thanked Chandni, her eyes sparkled with enthusiasm. She idolized Chandni and wanted to become like her.

Chandni’s presence at her party, made her extremely happy. She introduced the other guests to Chandni as most of the people present there were looking forward to meet the famous actress. Chandni noticed that all the who’s who of the Hindi Film Industry were present at the party and she made sure that she spoke sweetly with all of them even if she hated them otherwise. She knew that many of the celebrities were jealous of her, some wanted to sleep with her while others wanted to run their money on her by casting her in their movies.

Nisha ordered a waiter to get a Margarita for Chandni but Chandni politely refused to drink. She wanted to remain sober throughout the party, to avoid causing a scene or a controversy. But on Nisha’s insistence Chandni agreed to drink. While the two of them were having a chat, Nisha’s boyfriend, Karan, walked up to them.



“You both look like twins!” he exclaimed and went on praising Chandni’s beauty. Nisha and Chandni were look-alikes. Many of the facial features were exactly the same, as was their height and skin shade. There was one major difference between the two. Nisha was barely twenty years old and Chandni was in her early forties. When Karan called them twins in spite of the huge age difference, Chandni blushed. Most women prefer to lie about their age because youth is one thing that they never want to do away with. Chandni was one of them. She knew that the older she got her chances of bagging a good movie decreased and she was in no mood to step out of the Hindi Film Industry anytime soon.

“Oh, come on, you are flattering me”, Nisha said and continued; “Chandni ma’am is way more talented and beautiful than I can ever be. She is my ideal.”

“Chandni ma’am, you are a man’s dream come true. I mean if I was asked that who is the most beautiful woman on the planet, I would surely take your name”, Karan began flattering her more.

“Karan, thank you for the compliment but I am not so beautiful, really”, Chandni said while trying to be modest on the surface, yet on the inside she was bubbling with happiness because a young and handsome man like Karan was praising her so much.
“Ma’am I am sure, your presence in the party, is the biggest gift for Nisha,” Karan said while sliding his hand on Nisha shoulder.

After spending some time with Chandni, Karan and Nisha went on to welcome their other guests, while Chandni walked up to the edge of the terrace that over-looked the sea. She sipped the Margarita in style, knowing that people’s eyes were on her. She was being observed from head to toe. After two-three sips of the cocktail, she got lost in her thoughts while staring blankly at the sea. Her focus was no longer on the people present at the party.

She looked at the sea and thought about her loneliness in spite of being on the topmost ladder of success. She thought how so many girls wanted to be in the place where she was today and in spite of achieving so much, she still felt incomplete. She turned around and looked and Karan and Nisha. Nisha had a charm to attract people towards herself because of her mischievous and open nature. While on the other hand she was a reserved person or she portrayed herself to be reserved after becoming famous in the Film Industry. She thought about Karan’s comment calling her and Nisha twins and smiled at herself. There was pain behind her smile, there was insecurity. If she had decided to get married in her early twenties like most of the women, she would probably have a daughter of Nisha’s age.
However, the reality was that Nisha was Chandni’s competitor. Nisha had become extremely successful after entering the Hindi Film Industry before two years because she looked like Chandni. When Nisha was studying in her second year at Mithibai College, she got an offer to do modelling for a brand. When Nisha had to take a decision to accept the offer or not, she was hesitant like any teenager would have been in her place. With the help of her parents, she decided to take the step forward into modelling.

Once she became famous as a model, she started getting offers to star in low budget movies. These movies were made in the half the amount Chandni used to charge for acting. Nisha’s first film, ‘Mera Naam Ayesha’ failed miserably at the box office. But soon after that her second film, ‘Tere Ishq Me Sanam’ was a blockbuster. In spite of being a low budget film, it was a super hit. This film made Nisha a star over-night.

Nisha bought a posh penthouse in ‘Sky Heights’ towers at Carter Road in Bandra, within a few months of her second release. Her birthday party was at the same pent house, overlooking the sea. When Nisha met Chandni for the first time at Film City, she had paid her respect to her by touching Chandni’s legs. Nisha idolized her from the very beginning of her career. But the situation was different now for Chandni. On one hand, this new look-alike of hers had put her number one slot in the Hindi Film Industry in danger as she was emerging as a very strong competitor. She was worried and she was beginning to get jealous. Chandni attracted the emotions of envy, hate, awe and respect from the people and Nisha attracted an added emotion – people loved her for her charm and mischievous nature. The emotion of love was absent from Chandni’s life. On the other hand, Chandni’s increasing age was proving to be a disadvantage for her.

Lost in the thoughts about her future, Chandni gulped down the entire Margarita as if with the cocktail she was also gulping down the harsh reality of her life.

***



“Excuse me didi”, Nisha interrupted Chandni’s chain of thoughts and ordered another glass of margarita for her. She called her ‘didi’ out of respect and love. Till the time the waiter got the margarita, Nisha spoke with Chandni about movies and acting. When Nisha was speaking, Chandni was looking at her glowing skin and sparkling eyes. Her envy for Nisha was increasing drastically.

To make matters worse, Karan once again came to them and whispered something in Nisha’s ear and both of them laughed over it. Chandni was irritated by this gesture. She saw Karan’s hand on Nisha’s waist and how he showered his complete attention on her.

When the cocktail was brought, Nisha excused herself from Chandni’s company and said, “Didi, please enjoy yourself. We will be right back.” Karan smiled at Chandni. Chandni smiled back at them forcefully indicating a yes.

Chandni’s eyes were fixed on Nisha as Nisha spoke to her guests, giggled and charmed them. She drank another glass of margarita in one go. In sometime, she was tipsy and the only thing her intoxicated brain wanted was Nisha’s destruction.
Chandni whispered under her breath, “If I would have it my way, I would have pushed you down this terrace right now Nisha!”

To be continued…

Read Aashu Patel’s Suspense Thriller every Sunday with Cocktail Zindagi.

Aashu Patel
Aashu Patel

Aashu Patel is a writer, who has written on a variety of genres ranging from crime to inspirational. 40 books written by him are published. He has worked as an editor of many leading newspapers. He has written many novels. Well-known film director Tigmanshu Dhulia is making a Hindi film based on his English novel 'Madam X'.

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