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The Settled Domain
by Awantika Rukhaiyar (Contest Entry) | Published On: 27-Aug-2015

Inspired by Fashion directed by Madhur Bhandarkar

“To me fashion is being comfortable in one’s own skin. My only fashion tip to all the women out there is to feel good about oneself. There can be no confidence greater than that.” Megha smiled and waved goodbye to the fashion reporter who had just taken her interview. He still looked in awe of getting so close to her. Megha was used to this. She had scaled heights to be one of the most coveted models in the international forum. She thanked her genes that helped her defy her age and made her look ravishingly hot. Back in her greenroom she closed her eyes and leaned back as Anne removed her makeup.

“Ma’am, you look so good even without makeup. You know, ma’am, that’s only because you don’t indulge in things that the others are crazy about.” Anne made a face and crinkled her nose which almost made Megha laugh out loud. “Drugs, booze, grass; name them and you get all here. How do you manage to stay away from them, I wonder. Aren’t you tempted?” Megha was tired and did not want to strike up a conversation with the over enthusiastic Anne. She just smiled and fluttered opened her eyes to check if all that dramatic eye makeup was finally removed. There was no need to tell Anne that she had been there and done that all. She had chosen not to carry the carcass of her brief stint with the venom of the fashion world. She had almost gotten herself insane had it not been for the wonderful support of her father. Megha realised that there were tears welling up her eyes as she thought about ‘the other world’ which was how she remembered it. As a mature model, Megha had long since understood that she had to behave responsibly to survive in this fraternity. After all glamour world was known to be as merciless as anything. Megha checked her belongings as she walked out of the place. It was already 3am and she planned to sleep the good part of the next morning. After all she had earned herself a day off. Megha smiled at the thought of having a whole day to herself, not doing anything. She was tired and she deserved it. “I’m going to call dad tomorrow,” was the final thing that she decided before hitting her bed.

“Hi Megha, how are you doing?” Megha felt so uplifted on hearing her dad’s voice that she felt like an excited schoolgirl. She rambled off the details of the previous night’s fashion show and how everyone went wild when she walked the ramp. Megha’s father was ecstatic as he heard the jingle in his daughter’s voice. Thank God, things had turned up well for her. It’s not every model who gets another chance in this mad race of glamour kingdom. Megha had successfully settled in Paris which she insisted was the epicentre of all fashion activity. She wanted to be at the place of action, at the helm of affairs; so her father had not objected to her staying there. He knew Megha had learnt her lessons of survival well. He had faith on his daughter’s judgements and approach towards her new found life. It had been a good five years for her there and her father was proud of her.
 “Megha, your mother and I wanted to talk to you.”
 “Oh no dad! Not again. You know there’s no man in my life. In any case there isn’t time for all these things.”
 “There is a time for everything in one’s life, dear,” her father tried to rationalise. “It’s time you settle down.”
“Whoever said, dad, that marriage gives you the licence of being ‘settled’ in life? I’m very much happy and enjoying life, and pretty much settled.” She emphasised the last word which made her father clear that as always she did not wish to discuss this further.

Megha had projects, endorsements, fashion shows and appearances for social causes all lined up for the entire year ahead. She was not complaining. It was great to be so much sought after, even though she knew this was considered as the retirement age in her line. She loved every minute of the spotlight she was in. Most of her contemporaries back in India were married and even mothers now. Her friend Shonaya, who had been her pillar of strength in this industry had also adopted a child and moved on in her life. Sometimes she felt lonely out here; but the huge pile of work suppressed any desire that was trying to sprout in forsaken circumstances. Marriage and motherhood were sure a blessing in life, but she was wary of entering into any relationship that would cut her off from this dream world. Life continued without any pauses, any breath to exhale.

It was at this juncture that Jimmy came into her life. He was a small-time DJ in a pub she visited frequently. The occasional waves to each other had turned into ‘a drink together’ and then blossomed into something more beautiful than friendship. Megha loved the fact that Jimmy was so caring and understood the nuances of her busy-as-a-beaver lifestyle. He had subsequently moved in with her and Megha was happy to be with him every second that she could manage. True he was not well-off but money was not a concern for her. Together as they watched the beautiful sunset from the terrace of her plush penthouse one fine evening that Jimmy proposed her. Megha had known this coming, so she wasn’t surprised. It was only that she wanted a little more time to decide. As always Jimmy understood and vowed to wait for her till eternity. It was his unconditional love for her that Megha loved the best. She embraced him tight as she thought about her engagements for the next day.

'Sometime’ had turned to two years and Jimmy was getting agitated. He felt like a playboy in the hands of his oh-so-powerful mistress. Megha’s career was moving to unprecedented levels and there was no stopping her. She was like a huge tsunami which could drench even the most forlorn. When Jimmy decided that he could not take it any longer; he spoke to Megha.
“Megha, can we talk?”
“Not now, darling. I’m really very tired.” Megha was just back from New York after a successful show. “Why don’t we wait till tomorrow,” she planted a peck on Jimmy’s nose.
“Why is it we always do things your way?” Megha was surprised at the edge in his voice.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes, everything is. It’s just as you desire. Only it doesn’t suit me. Megha ,” his voice softened, “I want to solemnise our relationship. We are both over forty and it’s time we get married.”
“Hey, you are sounding so Indian.” Megha burst out laughing. “Isn’t this as good as marriage? Aren’t we happy in this set-up? I don’t see any point in disturbing or changing things.”Megha tried her best to reason out. Jimmy just shoved his dinner plate and walked away to his room. All Megha could hear was the slamming of his door shut. She was too tired to speak to him tonight. Promising herself to talk to him right the next morning, she dragged herself to her bed and was soon asleep.

The next morning when Megha woke up, she found Jimmy gone. There was just a note which said, “It’s time Megha you start seeing things from someone else’s perspective. Probably that’s asking too much from a selfish woman who is in love with just herself.” Megha was shattered. She was so much in love with Jimmy. Frantically she tried everywhere she could think of for his forwarding address. But he was unreachable. She realised that she knew just a couple of his friends. “Was Jimmy right? Was she really selfish?” But she had loved him like none other. She took care of his every necessity, every trivial wants. He was almost a destitute whom she had given a home to live in. Wasn’t he being unfair? Wasn’t he being so much ungrateful? Megha realised painfully that Jimmy was a lost chapter. She had to move on.

After another fruitful year, Megha realised that the endorsements were dwindling. The designers were experimenting with newcomers and loving it. Her work had reduced to less than half and she was having more time to herself than she wanted. She missed having someone to come home to. She suddenly realised that her father was right. Career was important but there were other things in life too which demanded equal attention. She had lost some of the glorious years of her life concentrating just on proving herself, without thinking of repercussions that would follow. Suddenly she felt jealous of her friends who had ‘settled down’ and were actually enjoying motherhood. She felt like she had conquered the Everest but had failed to ascend a sand-dune. The more she tried, the more the sand flattened under her feet making it impossible to conquer its height. She felt lost in a forbidden territory. Suddenly she missed Jimmy like never before...

It was like fate had designed things against her in the days to follow. She lost both her parents three months apart of each other. They both had been ailing for quite some time, but Megha had not found time to pay them visits. The irony was that now when she had time, there was no one to go back to. She felt deserted as she found she was all alone to herself now. Her so-called friends from the industry were no longer interested in her life, now that it didn’t speak of success anymore. She had been so careful, but age had its own way to reflect on one’s face. The fine lines had turned to slightly more discernible ones. The pigmentation were difficult to hide behind huge glares and her body was no longer firm and sleek as before. Distressingly she realised that every work has an expiry date. Hers had come before she had contemplated.

As she opened the door of her once-prided-upon-penthouse, she found it too stifling. It was as if devoid of oxygen, of any life giving substance. Quickly she retraced her steps and decided to go out for a long walk. It was raining outside. If things would have been well, she would have found it all romantically beautiful. But now as her tears mingled with the pat of raindrops on her face, she looked up at the sky. It was as if asking God to show her the way. She wished He would guide her to undertake the path, the trajectory He had designed for her. She did not have anyone to turn to for advice. It was too late in life to ‘settle-down’. She clutched her stole around herself as if it were a life saving system. She hadn’t realised that she was now crying aloud while walking on the road and the occasional passersby were giving her an amused glance.

Before she could realise where she was, she found herself at the threshold of a huge monastery. Funnily enough she hadn’t known all this time that it ever existed. There were monks with their heads shaven and all wearing white or saffron. They were moving around doing chores with ease and comfort writ large on their whole psyche. They looked so much at peace with themselves, so much at peace with the world; though they looked oblivious to everything around them. Megha felt attracted to the whole ambience. It was as if some unseen magical force pulled her towards it with so powerful a magnitude that she felt like a puppet in the hands of its master.

“Ma’am are you the yesteryears famous model Megha, who had given up everything to embrace the spiritual path?” The reporter was having doubts over her identity. The clean shaven woman with a simple white sari and no trace of makeup was a sharp contrast to what he had seen so many years before. Megha smiled and ushered him to a couple of wooden chairs that stood in a corner of the corridor. “Actually ma’am, I’m doing an article on ‘long-lost celebrities.’ Who other than you whom I would like to write about?”
Megha raised her left palm as if to silence him. She looked at him with eyes that spoke volumes about the peace that had inadvertently found a way into her. She looked calm, composed and so much in sync with everything around her.
“Please do not write about me here. I’m not someone who got lost. I have just found myself.”
The reporter was amazed at the kind of aura she reflected, so much so that it hurt his eyes to look at her for a long time.
“I was lost back then when the world knew me. Now I know myself like never before. I have discovered ME in myself. So please do not underestimate my new found identity.” Megha rose up to leave. Behind her she left an open-mouthed reporter who was still trying to decipher the meaning of it all.

As Megha became blurred to the reporter’s vision she thought that it didn’t take might to climb the sand dune. In the end only fortitude and perspective mattered. She looked up at the sky and said, “Dad, I’ve finally settled.”

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Author
Awantika Rukhaiyar

Awantika Rukhaiyar

Written: 4 Stories

Member Since: 27-Aug-2015

Country: India