I enjoy writing fiction romance stories because I can always let my imagination take centre stage and pair off the most unlikely characters. The whole gamut of emotions that accompany love is so much fun to imagine and put into words. It gives me vicarious pleasure to play cupid and this short love story titled- ‘As Long As You Love Me’ is all about loving another person quirks and all. This pair is as different as different can be but when cupid’s arrow strikes, logic always takes a back seat. The title is a reference to one of my favourite Backstreet Boys song and just like the lyrics of that beautiful song, the protagonist won’t care who the girl is, where she is from, what she does as long as she loves him! Read this humorous, fun and passionate love story of a girl who knows what she wants and a guy who has no idea what’s headed his way!
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I concentrated on walking in one straight line but I faltered, tottered and nearly fell. I slowed down my pace and tried to put one foot in front of the other, while trying to look elegant and graceful. The bobbing yatch made it doubly difficult to walk in four inch high heels but Ananya had assured me that women looked sexy in four inch heels and nothing less than that. I reached the cabin door and congratulated myself that I managed to reach this far and not fall on my face. I smoothed out the creases on my red kurta and checked that my dangling golden earings were in place. A strong gust of wind from the sea carrying the humid aroma of salt sent my red dupatta flying and as I tried to catch it, I felt every breath in my body leave me.
My heart tingled and flopped upside down when I saw him. He was all sharp lines and lean angles. A chiselled jawline accentuated with light stubble, reflector blue aviators shielded his eyes from the late afternoon sun at the Gateway of India. He wore a crisp white shirt and navy blue shorts. He laughed heartily at a comment made by his friend and rich deep laughter filled the air. He helped a lady dressed in ridiculously short shorts and a tank top to get onto the luxurious white yatch.
He was tall and fit. Fit to feature in a fashion magazine. To me, he was the perfect specimen of what a man should look like and in that instant, I, Hetal Tanna was hopelessly, desperately, hook, line and sinker in love with this man. I found out from Reyna Ajmera, the owner of The Matchmaker that this gorgeous man was Rohansh Mehra, a rich and successful corporate lawyer.
I did not regret parting with five thousand rupees to be a part of this exclusive dating club. After all Ananya had found Armaan, her perfect match, at such a party organised by The Matchmaker. If I wanted to bid adieu to my single status, then this was the perfect place to look for love.
When Anokhi, co-owner of Mayuri, our dance class and my best friend got a call from her cousin Ananya Mehta to conduct a garba and dandiya workshop at her Mumbai dance studio, I was jumping with joy. It was an opportunity to go to my favourite city and live the life of my dreams by leaving my mark in that city. A lot of coaxing and cajoling later we landed in Mumbai. The Navratri festival was just two months away and the garba and dandiya fever had enraptured the Mumbai youth who were excited to learn the moves of this traditional dance form.
Anokhi was sceptical about teaching the snooty urban kids and being a misfit in that modern city but Gujarat girls are nothing if not spunky and fearless. We vowed to do our best and reached Mumbai five days ago.
I had taken a bold step when I decided to live in Mumbai and now I was determined to take charge of matters of the heart but nervousness had rooted me to the spot. I felt butterflies somersaulting in my stomach at the mere thought of approaching him.
‘Will you just stand and stare or even make a move?’ Reyna smiled at me and gave me an encouraging nod in Rohansh’s direction. She was a tough, no nonsense woman and had grilled me mercilessly during the interview round. Apparently getting into this exclusive dating club had an extensive procedure with a telephonic conversation followed by a face to face meeting. My less than perfect English which was generously tinged with a Gujarati accent and my anxiousness at not being modern enough to fit in with the chic SoBo crowd had made me nervous but after the initial hesitation, I had answered confidently. My educational qualifications of being a Biotechnology Major, coupled with Ananya’s referral had saved me. Ananya and Reyna were school friends and that had helped me tremendously to become a part of this elite group.
I smiled weakly at Reyna and tried to valiantly calm my rioting nerves. I approached Rohansh. He was looking out at the sea and had his back turned to me.
‘Uh, um H- Hi’ I stammered and continued,’ Myself Hetal Tanna from Baroda. I was shocked to see you and stared at you because you are so handsome and dashing.’
I was sputtering nonsense and I knew it but nervousness always turned me into a babbling idiot because silence just seemed all the more intimidating. Before I could continue, I heard someone laugh and looked at a statuesque brunette. She looked stunning in a flowy off shoulder day dress which was cinched to show off her incredibly tiny waist. Her features were highlighted with artfully applied makeup and her deep rouge lips parted to show perfect white teeth.
‘He didn’t hear a word of what you said because he’s listening to music. She chuckled. She snaked a hand around his waist and Rohansh turned around to look at her. He smiled and then looked at me. He had hazel eyes. That was all my numb brain could register. He plucked out his earphones and before he could say something I fled from there. In my hurry to get away from him, I smacked hard into a waiter serving starters and within minutes I had embarrassed myself beyond belief. I lay there sprawled on the gleaming wooden floor with cottage cheese sandwiches, tomato ketch up and mayo sauce spattered on my plaited hair and face. I tried to get up but a greasy sandwich stuck to my heel had me slipping and falling, this time prostrate on the floor.
I wanted to drown into the depths of the Arabian Sea and die. In fact, I was already dying with shame and embarrassment. My cheeks were flaming and I could feel hot tears threatening to spill. I heard gasps and smothered laughter and tried to get up, clinging to my sliver of residual dignity and tottered as quickly as I could to the ladies restroom. I locked myself up for the rest of the evening and let the tears flow.
Only when I heard the whirring noise of the engine die down, did I unlock the door. I peeked out to see that almost everyone had alighted from the yatch. I gingerly stepped onto the pier and was shocked to see Rohansh standing there.
‘I was afraid you had fainted in the ladies room. Why didn’t you come out? I was waiting for you.’
‘You- you were waiting for me?’
‘Yes. Reyna told me all about the incident and I’m sorry I embarrassed you. I didn’t know you were speaking to me.’
He looked apologetic and sincere about it, so I felt a little at ease.
‘After what happened, I was very embarrassed. I don’t think I could face anyone,’ I mumbled.
‘It’s ok, stuff like this happens, don’t worry about it.’
He smiled at me and I felt my heart thump harder. Maybe the day wasn’t such a nightmare. Infact it swiftly turned into a fantasy when Rohansh offered to drop me home.
We chatted the whole way back from Colaba to Malabar Hill where I was staying with Ananya and I told him all about my dance and how I wanted to turn my passion into my profession. He told me about his work and interesting cases and how much he loved going to court and helping his clients. It sounded pretty drab but listening to him allowed me to gaze unabashedly at his mesmerizing face.
I got off the car and promised to see him at the next party which was going to be a salsa dance night at a club in Bandra. I realised I needed two miracles to win his heart. One, I needed a makeover and two; I had to master the seductive dance form of Salsa to enchant Rohansh.
Little did I know that my fairy Godmother would be a tall, strapping man always dressed in black with a permanent scowl on his bearded face. Apparently, Ayaan Mehta, Ananya’s arrogant, brooding and darkly handsome brother and a senior fashion stylist at a leading fashion magazine, was going to be my miracle.
(To Be Continued…) 🙂