Falling for a strong woman…
Who are they?
They are the ones who make you realise that they are with you because they want you and not need you.
They are the ones who can handle anything and everything on their own.
They are the ones who know what they are worth and would not settle for less.
Too independent. Too firm.
They scare you.
I had seen a lot of such “strong women” and I had also seen many who were “conveniently strong”; until I met Kaira.
I had reached half an hour early on the sets. My newbie success in the film industry brought unwanted attention. Well, to be honest I enjoyed it; especially when it came from women. But I’d seen struggle well enough to fall for this and lose my head. I was still aware of the grounds and my humility even though I don’t deny the pinch of pride.
That day, I was just bored and hibernating. I wanted to avoid meeting anyone till I began working and so I stayed in my car. This was a new project and the movie was dance based. We weren’t shooting anything on day one because the choreographer wanted us to learn the dancing first so I was saved from make-up pains.
I was waiting in the parking lot in my car scrolling down my twitter account, reading fan mail and replying to few interesting ones when a car caught my attention. It was a decent sedan and the driver was a female. There was hardly any room for the car but she managed to park with an unnatural precision.
Now, I know this is very sexist but come on; how many people (including men) do you find who park so well? And here; a woman did that. I was more than impressed. I got off my car and walked up to her.
She didn’t see me coming, she was busy looking for something in her car. When finally she got her pen drive and stepped out; I was standing right there, grinning.
“I must say, you parked very well. Not many women can do that!” I said.
TRUST ME, THIS IS THE WORST PICK UP LINE EVER. NEVER, NEVER, JUST NEVER MAKE A SEXIST COMMENT.
She glared at me and if eyes could kill, I’d be burnt right away.
She gave me a fake smile, did not even acknowledge me (the famous star) and walked on.
All the humility and modesty aside, I could not bear this coming from a girl. Okay, I don’t expect you to have a fan girl moment; but at least acknowledge a handsome face!
I watched her go. So simple. She wore a high neck kurti and leggings. What is she doing on a film set? I wondered.
The girl with a frown…
That’s what I called her and kept thinking about her till my assistant called me saying the choreographer had arrived and it was safe to enter the sets.
When I finally reached the sets a girl was dancing on the wooden stage, spot lights were dim and the hall was dark, I could only see a silhouette moving like wind. I finally saw her and—
She was the same girl I’d met in the parking lot but nothing like her!! Her smile, her grace, her poise, so feminine, so gentle, so attractive. She was poetry personified. She tied her hair in a moderately tight bun but as she danced a few stray strands fell down like tendrils on her neck. Her face was split into a genuine smile and I could see a burning passion in her eyes. The entire team was present, yet she danced like she were alone. I am no great dancer but you didn’t need to be one to know that she was amazing.
The girl with a smile….
I could not help but smile at the irony. Few minutes could change your entire deduction of a person. From frown to smile; she had journeyed to grow beautiful in my eyes.
When she finished, I felt my heart crack at places.
I wanted the time to stop.
I did not want her to stop.
But she did stop.
And when that happened; puff! The girl with a smile was gone. The frown was back. A straight face, a serious persona, a professional mannerism with which she was talking to my colleague. I was there, but I was lost. I was looking at her face, trying to find the trace of the girl who was dancing with such a grace. But no, there wasn’t even a single sign of it.
It was like two personalities in one body.
She came up to me, and I forgot who I was. Numb, I felt numb. I was intrigued, mystified, attracted. I felt everything at once. I felt one thing, I felt another. Each feeling belonging to different poles. I had seen prettier faces; I had dated more attractive girls. But she was something else, I knew it right there.
And I proved myself right.
She really was something else. One of the most successful choreographers in the industry, yet refrained from extravaganza. Didn’t smile often, but when she did it was always a real one, reaching her eyes. She never gave the fake polite smiles we generally use to build rapports. She never had to. Her work spoke on her behalf and directors were dying to have her choreograph their songs.
I tried to befriend her. She grew suspicious. She had only a couple of friends who were her friends since her school days. She hardly attended parties. But when she did, she slayed the carpet. From paparazzi to fans; everyone was in awe. Actresses thought of her as competition and were relieved she loved to maintain a low profile.
I tried to gain her trust. The more I tried, the more she ran away. I tried harder. Why? I didn’t know. She was like a challenge but more so she was a mystery. I had never seen a girl with a straighter face, who remained unaffected by glamour, charm and attention. Someone who was highly determined to mind her own business.
It was the weird force-energy relationship. The harder she pushed me away; I retaliated back into her territory with the same force. Newton’s third law? And well, inertia always brought me a step deeper into her life. But you see, these were baby steps and achieved after hard blows. It was maddening and I was on the verge of giving up.
“Why are you behind my life, Sameer?” she asked me one night as I offered her lift in my car.
“I was just trying to be a good friend,” I said calmly.
“Why? Haven’t I made it clear how unwelcome your friendship is to me? You’ve many fans out there who are dying to befriend you, why waste your time with someone who isn’t interested?”
“Why are you so suspicious? It’s late and your car has broken down. I am just offering you a lift so that you reach home safely. Is it something so offensive?”
“You think I am incapable of reaching home safe at this hour?”
“Not again. This isn’t about feminism!” I snapped.
“I was born in the world of men without a man to take care of me. I have raised a man to become a gentleman and I have been the ‘man of the house’ for so long that nothing here is about feminism. It’s the way I live, have been living and will continue to live. If you think I am some stupid girl playing games and I would eventually give in to your charms, no it’s not like that. If I am a challenge for you; you win! Tell me when to sign the testimony. But, Mr Popular, You can look for your time pass in the people who are willing to be around you. I don’t want the women around me thinking I am a competition when I am clearly not. So stay away! I am telling you once and for all!” she yelled.
What the hell! What was she thinking?
She was panting. I was quiet. We stood there on the edge of the road in the middle of the night, staring at each other for few seconds. And then; it started to rain. She hailed a cab and zoomed away. I could not help but go behind her. It was raining out there. It was 2 a.m. and she was alone. It was important for me that she reached home safely. I maintained a safe distance between our cars so that she could not get paranoid about me following her!
The taxi was on the main road for a while and then it suddenly took a turn which was definitely wrong. I didn’t know where she lived exactly but I had a rough idea and this was nowhere on the way to her home. I grew tensed. What if the cabbie stops at some place where he can gather a group of men? How would I deal with them alone?
With my phone on one touch with the local police station and my heart pounding against my chest, I drove ahead. A few seconds later the cab stopped abruptly. I was only few metres away. I saw the cab driver come out of the car, open Kaira’s side of the door. Before I could speed up or do anything to protect her; I saw a hand coming out of the car and the cabbie was screaming because he had a bleeding nose.
And then Kaira kicked him in the groin.
I didn’t realise I had reached the spot and was still sitting inside my car. Kaira now had the man on the ground and was kicking him mercilessly till he finally called her behen and pleaded her to stop. He lay wincing with pain on the ground.
When she finally spared me a look, I gulped visibly. I didn’t want to end up like the cabbie with a bleeding nose and kicks everywhere! The sight of my beautiful face being broken by exactly the same girl who I was crushing on was not exactly very pleasant. I mean, wasn’t she already breaking my heart? My face should be spared!
She walked up to my car and knocked on the window,
“Can I still get a lift?”
It was the most unexpected thing I could ever hear. I was expecting to be scolded on following her!
“Of course,” I said without much delay. What if she would change her mind?
I drove her to her home. There was an awkward silence during our journey. Well if I’ve to be honest I was scared of her. But it felt good that she found me worthy enough to drop her home. When we finally reached her building I was expecting her to wave and leave. But guess this was the night of unexpected events.
“If you’re not too tired, come up for a coffee. My mother is your fan, she would go crazy if she gets to meet you!” she wasn’t very insistent but she meant it.
Of course I would go!
When we reached her home a young maid opened the door and as we entered in an elderly disabled lady was sitting on the couch, watching TV. The maid and the lady who I presumed to be her mother shrieked as they became aware of my presence. I was overwhelmed by the welcome and the response I got there. The maid wanted a selfie while Aunty as I called her, wanted an autograph.
“Let him breathe?” Kaira interrupted.
As always, throwing cold water on the excitement.
“You won’t offer him coffee?” she asked the handmaid and she rushed to the open kitchen to prepare coffee for me!
“Arhan is home?” she asked her mother.
“No he had to attend an urgent meeting, he’s flying to Delhi,” Aunty said.
“Who’s Arhan?” I couldn’t help but ask. What if he was her husband and she was hiding that marriage since forever?
Well, that wasn’t the case. Arhan was her younger brother. I learned a lot of things about Kaira that night. I understood what she meant when she said she has been living in a man’s world without a man to take care of her. Her father was abusive. He would drink and never care about his family. In fact, the domestic violence had cost Aunty her limb. At 13, Kaira was doing state level dancing and Kickboxing. At 15, she chucked her father out of her home. Her little brother was only 7 at that time. Since then; she has taken care of her disabled mother and little brother.
When I walked down her apartment. I felt so full that I thought I’d burst. Kaira had not only let me drop her but also trusted me with her past. Though she wasn’t exactly the one to fill me up, she knew if I visited her home I’d know everything. It was overwhelming.
It has always been overwhelming since then.
After that night, she let me into her life. And surprisingly, I wanted to stay. I had never thought of myself as a person who could care of another person with such a lot of baggage. But it so happened that every detail I learned about her made me fall for her more and more.
It took a long time for us to be friends. And I didn’t stop trying. I came to understand her. I realised she would never express her feelings. Her actions might do that. It’s a lot of reading between the lines when you’re dealing with Kaira. But now, I knew her language. I knew when she was touched. I knew when she was insecure. I knew when she was happy. I knew when she was off.
And when I would guess her moods correctly, her eyes widened slightly. But she would never admit. It was as if she liked denying, defying. But I was stubborn too.
She is different. Very, very, very different. Ever seen a girl who shuns away from chivalry? She says it is like I am inferior to her. Oh woman! I totally am! Accept it!! But she won’t. She talks of equality for women AND men.
She says what if in the cue of empowering women we burden our men? We don’t want another social imbalance, do we? We could keep it equal in real sense.
Complimenting her is very entertaining. She rightfully claims all praise on her dance moves. You can openly tell her how amazingly strong she is, physically especially! But the moment you tell her she looks pretty, she doesn’t know how to react. She would just get awkward, smile and then smartly change the topic. But if you happen to compliment her by comparing her with another women; you’re signing up for a lecture. She won’t let you put other women down just to hear herself being appreciated.
And then, she does these amazingly cute and cliché things. She would care about everyone but herself; so typically motherly! Arhan is home or not, Mom is taking medicines or not, Sakina (her maid) is studying or not and well, she cares about me too now (okay I am blushing!) But has she eaten or not? I’ve to ask daily. Rather remind.
When I told her I loved her she wasn’t surprised. We were strolling along the sea line as I said those words, it felt right this way. Plus she wasn’t exactly hearts and flowers and fancy proposals weren’t her type. She was facing me, looking somewhere else, licking her lips, and tugging her hair. Oh! Fighting it so much! She loved me too, but wouldn’t say…
However, I was expecting some response at least. She didn’t say a word. Just walked with me silently. Words were stuck in her mouth as usual. But this time I needed to hear it. She can’t have her way in everything. And so I kept walking along, without a word. It was the longest walk we had ever had.
She wouldn’t stop. She wouldn’t say.
When we had walked almost a mile, I saw tears dropping down her face.
I stopped. Held her gently by her shoulders and made her face me. I didn’t say anything. She was into tears now. Crying, no mourning!
And then she hugged me.
It felt like I was on the top of the world.
I rubbed her back, held her gently and let her sob. When she was finally done, I heard her out.
“This is exactly what breaks me. You never give up. Whether it is about being a friend, or it is about loving me. I always test your patience and you always stay. It breaks me, overwhelms me. You literally testify that I could walk forever without a word, without a promise and you would walk along. How do I stay away from such love? Tell me, how?”
“Why do you have to do that?”
“Because….because I am scared. You scare me. I am happy when I am with you. And I am scared to be happy, because once you’re happy it can be taken away from you….”
TO BE CONTINUED….