Chandni kept staring at her lover in shock. In reel life, she had faced many situations where she had faced death but when the pistol was aimed at her head in real life, that too by her lover, she was stunned.
“Sign five blank cheques and give it to me, right now!” Chandni’s lover ordered.
Chandni simply obeyed and took out her chequebook from the drawer and gave the cheques to him.
“That’s like a good girl. I didn’t want to do this to you but you forced me Chandni. Anyway…” He said and walked out of her bedroom.
Chandni sat down on the bed, heart-broken and defeated.
Rashmi Mathur was reading a murder mystery in her study. She took out a cigarette from her packet of Dunhills and lit it. She felt deeply about Nisha’s murder case and wondered about the one who murdered her. Just then, it started raining outside – the sound of the raindrops and the petrichor gave her a sense of calm.
She went out in her balcony that overlooked the sea. She lived in the Marine Drive area of South Mumbai. As she saw the waves roaring and splashing across the wall of the promenade, she remembered Omar Hassan. The man she had met two years ago at a success party of his film, ‘Mumbai Tales’. She had interviewed him and they connected immediately. There was a spark between them instantly. Omar had tried to pursue her after that meeting but Rashmi kept giving him a cold shoulder. She thought that it wasn’t the time for her to get into a relationship; she wanted time to heal emotionally because of her break up.
She thought of calling him up and talking to him now. It had been long that she heard his voice.
“Hi, Omar”, she calmly said when Omar answered the call.
“Rashmi Mathur, the famous journalist!” Omar cheerfully replied.
“I am not as famous as you Omar. People fear me; they don’t love me unlike you…”
“Famous? Say infamous Rashmi. People have begun to talk about me more after Nisha’s death.”
The mention of Nisha made Rashmi spring back. She had to talk to him as a journalist and yet she was talking to him as a friend. The old flame of love rekindled in her heart as soon as she heard his voice. She had heard from her sources that Omar had been called by Senior Inspector Shrikant Joshi for questioning but due to the orders of his seniors he could not succeed in questioning Omar. She was facing a dilemma – was she to speak with him as a friend or as a journalist?
“Hello? Rashmi are you there?” Omar asked due to the prolonged silence during the call.
“Yes, yes. Sorry I think there was some network error”, Rashmi made an excuse and went straight to the point, “Omar I need to see you…”
“Need to see me?” Omar sensed the desperation in her tone.
“Yes. I have some questions to ask you about my next report. I have just written the last chapter in the series I was writing on the underworld-Bollywood nexus.”
“Sure, whenever you say.” Omar immediately agreed to meet Rashmi. He had a soft corner for her. Time had not made him forget her.
“Let’s meet tomorrow at Hotel Marine Plaza at 8 p.m.”
“Ok. See you. Bye!”
When Rashmi disconnected the call, she felt as if millions of thoughts were crossing her mind. She wondered if she would be able to hide her feelings when she met Omar the next day and if she would be able to keep the meeting professional. She questioned herself that what if Omar was really the one who murdered Nisha and what if he was not the one but was in danger? What would she do? Her mind kept running back to Omar and the feeling that she had for him.
She remembered how he had proposed to her two years ago. That moment was captured in her mind like a photograph.
Rashmi and Omar were sitting at the coffee shop of Hotel Renaissance in Powai that overlooked the Powai Lake. It was monsoon and they could see a rainbow in the sky that day. Omar and Rashmi had been meeting often in the last one month. Sometimes it was at a pub and the other times it was at a hotel with scenic locations because Rashmi was fond of such places.
“Rashmi, let’s go for a drive”, Omar suggested. He was always spontaneous. He didn’t believe in planning out everything in life. Rashmi loved this quality about him because she worked like a machine. She was a career-oriented woman and everything was planned in her life. She stuck to her routine irrespective of the fact that it made her happy or not. But Omar’s presence in her life made her happy. He had become a priority for her. Since it was her weekly-off that day, she agreed to go on a drive with him. But what she didn’t know was that the drive was till Lonavla – two hours from Mumbai!
“Omar you are completely unpredictable and crazy at the same time! Where do you get such ideas from to go on a drive till Lonavla? I bet it is from those typical Bollywood movies you have been doing!” Rashmi teased him.
Omar didn’t reply. He told her to look at her left. When Rashmi saw the tiny houses amidst the dense fog from the hill as they were driving towards Lonavla, she was awe-struck. This wasn’t the first time she was watching this view but today it was something special. Suddenly Omar opened the windows of the car and droplets of rain touched Rashmi’s face. She felt ecstatic.
Omar stopped the car as they went a little ahead and asked her to get down.
“What are you doing Omar?” Rashmi said as Omar opened the door of the car for her.
“Step out your Highness.” Omar said laughingly.
When Rashmi was standing facing him, Omar gazed at her face. He looked at him right in the eye and said, “Rashmi Mathur, I love you!” Rashmi’s heart skipped a beat and just when she was about to say ‘I love you too’, she stopped herself and instead said, “I need time Omar. I cannot get into a relationship now.”’
Omar’s excitement died down on hearing her answer. He understood that she had just come out of a relationship where her ex-boyfriend had cheated on her. He decided to give her time. But that time never ended. Rashmi began ignoring him and got busier in her career. Omar too, started becoming famous as an actor and they simply lost touch.
Rashmi wondered that what if she had said yes to him that day. She was happy that she was successful in her career and she knew that to get something, a cost had to paid. Sometimes that cost was death – like Nisha’s and Mohini’s.
To be continued…
Read previous chapters here: Chapters 1- 18