The alarm went off at seven thirty sharp, making me jump up from bed and almost fall onto the floor. I opened my eyes and tried to remember where I was. Looking around, I noticed that I was in a blue colored room. I had fallen onto the matching carpet; and there was a cupboard at the foot of my bed. I couldn't remember where I was. This certainly looked nothing like my room. I jumped to my feet, feeling absolutely lost. The mirror on the door of the cupboard showed me that I was wearing my usual green night time pajamas. Yet the whole surrounding was unfamiliar.
"Darshana, are you awake?" a voice called from outside the door, making me jump.
I looked towards the door hoping the appearance of the owner of the voice would throw some light on my confusion.
"Darshana! Darshana," the voice grew steadily louder and finally a middle aged woman appeared at the door. "You can't answer? What happened to your voice?"
I realized who the woman was, but it didn't help me comprehend where I was. She was very good looking, and her eyes were sparkling. But there was an air of sadness and calm about her. The parting of her hair had no vermillion because she'd been robbed off that happiness in her early thirties.
"Pishi, where am I?" I asked her, a little lost.
"Oh my God, what will I do with this girl?" asked my pishi, raising her eyes to heaven and then lightly hitting me on my shoulder said, "You're in Mumbai with me and Indrayudh, you idiot. Did you forget that? This is the first day of your job!"
And then, everything came flooding back to me. I used to live in another city altogether; but the one phone call last week had changed my life. I had been offered an apprenticeship under a major serial making brand in Mumbai. Having always wanted to work in scriptwriting, I had accepted the offer without batting an eyelid. I'd flown down to Mumbai just yesterday night and therefore couldn't make head or tail of anything when I had woken up.
"Oh God, Pishi," I wailed, "I better get ready fast. I can't be late on the first day of work."
I shouldered my towel and rushed to the bathroom with my aunt calling after me, "You won't leave this house before eating breakfast, Darshana."
At twenty three, I was going towards the life I'd always dreamed of living. I'd taken a scriptwriting course in correspondence while pursuing my masters in History. Even though I'd known what I wanted to do from the time when I was a little girl; I mislead my family into thinking I would end up being a teacher
"Darshana! You won't leave this house before you eat breakfast – do you hear me?" my Pishi called from the dining room.
"Coming, Pishi," I called back from my room. I looked at myself in the mirror. I was sporting a pink short kurti and a pair of jeans. I shouldered my bag, and wondered what to do with my long, wavy black hair. After gazing at myself in the mirror, I tied it up with the help of a band. I walked into the kitchen-cum-dining room.
"Darshana, I'm warning you…" Pishi was going on, without bothering to look from the food she was cooking.
I hugged her from behind and placing a kiss on her cheek said, "I will never leave this house before having breakfast. Okay, Pishi?"
I settled down at the table. My cousin, Indrayudh, was already seated there. He smiled at me, "Good morning, Didi."
"Good morning, bhai," I smiled back at him, "What's for breakfast?"
"French toast," Pishi replied. She carried a pile of them on a plate and tipped some onto mine and Indra's plates, "You can eat now. Talk later, both of you."
When we'd finished eating, Pishi watched us both go from the gate, wishing us both farewell. I hugged her tight again and said, "Wish me good luck, Pishi."
"Oh, good luck, my child," she said pinching my cheeks, "You're father would've been so proud of you had he been alive to see you today…"
I squeezed her hand tightly and said, "So what? His sister's here to see me, right? That's enough for me."
"Come on, didi," called Indrayudh from the road, "Or do you plan to stay there forever?"
I rushed out of the house and went to where my cousin was standing. It was a fifteen minute walk to the bus stop from there.
"Didi, are you free in the evening?" he asked me.
"Why? Do you need help with some assignment?" I asked, surprised, "And I'm not sure when I get off work."
"Oh, will you go somewhere with me? Please, please?" he begged me, earnestly.
"Indra, where are we going to go?" I wondered, "And does Pishi know about this?"
"Just say yes, please!" he continued to beg me.
I finally gave in and said, "Yeah, okay. But only if I get off from work at a decent time."
"Yaaaaaaay!" shrieked my cousin joyfully and hugged me tight. He rushed towards the bus that was drawing up at the stop, calling over his shoulder, "It's a date then, didi. Don't forget! See you in the evening and good luck."
I got an auto rickshaw from the stand, and gave him the address of the place I had to go to. The sets of the serial we'd begin shooting in another week's time. Today was the day to go over the plot, the major characters and look at the screen tests of the actors and actresses who'd so far been approached with the offer.
I closed my eyes, and felt the breeze brush against my face. "Make this day memorable, my God," I prayed silently, "It's the first time I'd be working. Make me successful and happy."
I opened my eyes wide with shock, and looked in front. My auto had collided head on with a Maruti car coming from the other side. We had reached the gates of the place where we'd be shooting for the serial. The driver from the car got off, and walked towards my auto. I shrank back, when I realized he was about six feet, broad shouldered and was sporting a scowl on his face. He was clean shaven and his black hair had been back brushed. The crisp white shirt and the faded jeans didn't make him look any less handsome than he already was.
"What the hell!" he screamed, "Can't you watch where you're going?"
I got off the auto and said, "Please don't shout at him, he must've not realized you were coming from the other side."
"Listen, you don't have to vouch for him," the guy told me rudely, "I know exactly how to…"
Knowing he was one of the unpleasant sort, I got the fare out of my purse and gave the money to the auto driver, saying, "Sorry, bhaiya. Keep the change."
The auto driver drove off happily with his money. I could tell he wanted to look away from this fight from the start.
"Excuse me!" thundered the man, "What the hell did you just do?"
"Pay my fare," I replied back, innocently, "Why? Is that a crime?"
"Oh, people like you…" he muttered and walked back to his car.
I shook my head exasperatedly, and walked inside the place. The security guard asked me to fill in my details in the book; and once that I was done, I entered my new office. I breathed happily and went off to find the head director and screenplay writer. I felt like I was in seventh heaven at the moment.
I found the room the security guard had mentioned, and knocked on the door. When I heard someone say 'come in', from the other end, I pushed open the door and entered with a smile on my face.
Author's Note: Hey guys… since the Strange Proposal is about to end, I decided to begin another romance novel. I hope you guys like/love Darshana just as much as you'd loved Jasmine. Do leave me your reviews and suggestions. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. Culture specific words:
Pishi – father's sister is called 'pishi' in Bengali
Didi – Elder sister in Bengali
Bhaiya – Usually younger brother; here brother generally used
Bhai – Younger brother in Bengali