aati hai sada teri… tute hue taro se
aahat teri sunti hu… khamosh nazaaro se
bheegi hawa.. sudhi ghata..kehati hai teri kahani
tere liye.. bechain hai.. sholo me lipti jawani
Vaani and Ved stood at the edge of their rooftops, listening to each other, taking turns singing their lines. They lived at two adjacent storeys of the same building. During the day, they would leave early, going their separate ways in search of work. They were artists and so naturally it was tough to find. But they were humans before that and to keep on being artists, they had to take up petty jobs now and then. Their lives were harsh but they didn’t complain.
They did not have much in common other than the fact that if their favourite songs were to meet at a party, they would become lovers.
Both of them had come to the town about two years earlier with colourful aspirations. Ved was a writer, a poet, a lyricist; Vaani was a singer, a musician, a songbird. They did not have much in common other than the fact that if their favourite songs were to meet at a party, they would become lovers. And they knew this. The two of them took respite in each others’ company, in each other’s songs at night- all the while standing at their own storey but never coming to meet at the others’. They felt that it was better this way. This way, no one could question the ethereal bond they shared and they could go on for hours. They also believed it had a certain joy of its own.
So every night, they would come close to the edge of their railings, Vaani would bend on hers like one normally does and Ved would bend at his back. This way, they could see each other. They would talk about their day and life and everything the flow seems to repeat. Ved would then read her one of his poems and she would try to give a rhythm to it. She would then sing it for him and he would feel like his poetry had reached its zenith. He would then request another song to her and she would cheerfully comply. They would talk a bit more, nothing too personal, nothing too intellectual but everything close to heart. Departing, they would take up a duet, something for which it was never hard to find a song of their common liking, and then bid each other a good night. The next morning would be another day.
One of these mornings, Vaani was full of hopes. The owner of a prominent band company that used to perform in parties needed a female vocalist and a connection had landed her a recommendation. “If only this works, everything would be fine”, she thought as she got ready and was about to leave. She had told Ved about the opportunity and he met her at the stairs, wishing her the best of luck.
She went to the place, with a little apprehension regarding the owner. She prayed that nothing bad happens. Much to her surprise, nothing did and the owner was a genteel, kind , elderly man who right-away saw the grit in her. He booked her for two parties, one as a support artist and the other as a lead vocalist. Vaani was delighted and the remuneration was more than she could ask for.
Returning, she told Ved about her little tryst with success and he congratulated her. The night’s songs were going to be those of jubilation.
After her performances, the owner called Vaani once again and offered her the chance to become permanent. She would be working second-lead to the senior vocalist and he made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. But that wasn’t the end of it. For the job to work, she needed to move to the big town, along with the band.
With bittersweet feelings, she came back, asking for some time to make a decision. When she told Ved about it, he knew exactly her dilemma. But he understood that you needed to let go some things in life to hold on to better ones. And he made her realize just that. They never talked about what would become of their relationship but believed in their hearts that it would thrive. A few days later, Vaani left town.
Big town meant big things for Vaani and luck finally seemed to be smiling on her. Within months, she would earn respect among the people in the business and many wanted her by their sides. But she stayed with her elderly employer. Maybe she saw it fit not to leave the man who made her what she was; maybe it was destiny’s hands at work. She would occasionally talk to Ved and tell him her story. She would then ask for his side and come to know that things weren’t good. He did not seem to be getting anywhere and the odd jobs that kept him there were running out.
One day, the elderly gentleman called Vaani to talk about something important. She went in and was told that the senior female vocalist was retiring after all those years of working for the band and that Vaani was supposed to become the next lead. She was ecstatic and hugged him, seeing in him the father she had lost not long ago. He congratulated her and asked her to take a break and celebrate.
That night, Vaani called Ved and before she could tell her about the news, she was told that he was going to return home, being no longer able to support himself in the town. Vaani knew how much he loved music and could feel his heart paining as her own. She reminded him of those hundreds of things he used to tell her about, his plans and his ideas of the sort of music he had always wanted to write. She asked him to keep going for the sake of those moments and to not give up. But he was inexorable. She felt like something had changed inside him. Something that comes upon a man when he realizes that everything he has stood for in life has been a betrayal; that there is little reason to fight for those things and he comes to a point where giving up seems like a way out of this misery. She understood all this and realized that she could not let him give away. She realized, she had to bring the old Ved back.And so, she asked him to stay till she gets there.
The next morning, she went to the owner to ask him for a job as a writer for a friend. The owner knew she wouldn’t ask him for it, knowing that they already had a good, senior writer in the band. He asked to know the whole matter and she confided in him everything. The owner understood that it was true love but at the end of the day, he was still a businessman. Then he came up with a proposal. He told her that he could support another writer on the band if she could settle for the same amount she was getting as second-lead in spite of being the lead. Vaani agreed without the slightest hesitation and couldn’t thank him enough. Departing, she called him ‘babuji’, something she used to call her father and told him that she would never ever leave his side.
Vaani took the evening train to the town and reaching her old home, asked for Ved. The landlady was all too happy to see Vaani and told her Ved returned late those days. She also offered her to stay at her old room, which was still empty. That night, when Ved came home and opened the lock, he was amazed to find Vaani there, for the first time at his storey and inside his home. She told him that she had found a job for him and that finally, they could be together. Ved thought of thanking her, thought of asking her the whys and hows but he knew better not to. All he knew was that they were going to be each others’ and that meant the world to him.
That final night, in that small town together, Ved and Vaani sat beside each other, near the railing, in the silver of the moon, remembering those Chaandni ratein, remembering those Pyaar ki baatein, that had lead them here.