“Hello,” said the voice on the phone. “My name is Shah Rukh Khan. I know you never expected a call from me, as famous as I am, but I’ve been given your name as someone who can help me find something I’m looking for.”
‘Yeah yeah yeah and I’m Anushka Sharma, Virat is right here by me would you like to say hello? YOU STUPID IMBECILE!! It’s 3 am for Godssake and prank calls are so 80s YOU JOBLESS FOOL, You have nothing better to do on a Monday morning?’ Brinda erupted.
Now before you get the wrong impression about Brinda, let me tell you that she’s normally a gentle soul, it’s just that she had been provoked beyond measure over this past weekend.
It all began yesterday morning. She was woken up very very rudely yet again by the incessant roaring of a car and the raucous jubilant laughter of her husband. If there’s one thing Brinda treasured passionately (after her teen crush Shah Rukh), it was her Sunday morning sleep.
Her husband Bikram, on the other hand, loved even more passionately, his 1936 Ruby Austin. ‘It’s much more than a car,’ he would say to anyone who cared to listen. The said car had been in Brinda’s family for decades and had been her father’s gift to Bikram. She sometimes thought her husband had agreed to marry her simply because he had fallen deeply irrevocably in love with her father’s Austin.
Come Sunday, way before the sun rose, he would arm himself with a host of cleaning materials, polish and grease and a bunch of soft muslin cloths and get to work on the Austin. He would polish it till it gleamed, then start it up. It would sputter and stutter as noisily as a kettle drum and then with a huge roar it would come alive. And each time it trumpeted to life Bikram would give out a loud proud cheer. He’d rev it up and drive it up and down the long driveway of their bungalow at a royal speed of 20kms per hour, giving out whoops of childlike joy.
Neither her entreaties nor her threats managed to deter him. After an unusually bad fight he’d stop for a week or two and then he’d be back at it again.
Meanwhile Brinda would twist and turn in her bed, stewing in anger, her sleep quite gone. Yesterday morning when Bikram had returned to their room, pleased as punch, twirling his majestic moustache (another thing he was rather proud of) and reached out to give Brinda an expansive hug all he had received for his troubles was an impatient shove that had sent him sprawling on the ground.
She really hadn’t meant to push him but ‘he deserved it’, she told herself when her conscience had dared to open its mouth.
Bikram had collected himself unhurt, except for his ego – which was worse than any physical injury. Talks since then had been suspended between the two, each swearing he/she would make up over his/her dead body.
It was a bad bad night for Brinda because she could never sleep well after an unresolved fight. Bikram’s snores had only made her angrier and now she had had to get up to take this call!
Oh she was fuming!
‘Errr.. hello, ma’am.’ The caller seemed to be rather taken aback at her tirade. ‘Hello this is Shah Rukh Khan, the actor. I’m terribly sorry I didn’t realise it was so late, or should I say so early?’ he ended with a cheeky-apologetic laugh. Oooooh he was good, this guy. The laugh was exactly like SRK’s and he was persistent, thought she, the last vestiges of sleep leaving her. An old friend perhaps, who knew of her continued crush on the actor.
‘You’re Shah Rukh, eh? How come you’re up so early, I know SRK is a true blue night owl.’ Not for nothing had she read up every available trivia on her heart throb of decades.
‘Early morning for some, late night for some – I haven’t gone to bed yet, ma’am,’ he said and there it was again – his characteristic laugh.
This time her heart flipped. That laugh rung so true she had to catch her breath. Could it really be Shah Rukh? The man of her dreams?
But never in her dreams had he said he needed her help. He had said everything from ‘I love you’ (when she was a teen) to ‘Let’s have an intellectual conversation about Spirituality and Philosophy,’ (when she had entered her forties) but never this.
‘You need my help?’ she said her heartbeat spiking.
‘Well it’s like this I spent my childhood with my maternal grandfather in Mangalore. I presume your grandfather was from there as well?’
‘That’s right but he moved away eons ago,’ she said.
‘Yeah well I have some very happy memories of those days. My most favourite one is of man-to-man conversations with my grand-dad as we drove through long winding roads. While he is gone, the memory remains. The memory and the car. It used to be a gorgeous 1936 Ruby Austin. I’ve been looking for it for years and years. A contact told me it had belonged to your father. You see it is much more than a car. I was wondering if…..’
Shah Rukh wanted the Austin! Bikram’s Austin! And he was coming here to get it! The thought brought Brinda to her knees and she sank back into a delicious day-dream.
But Bikram …… he would never part with it. The thought intruded on her dream and she laughed out loud at the irony of it. The only two men who mattered in her life, the only two men who she’d dreamed would fight over her, would now be fighting over another.
Edited to add: This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to anyone dead or alive is purely coincidental.
Written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018 for the Day 5 prompt:
“Hello,” said the voice on the phone. “My name is __________. I know you never expected a call from me, as famous as I am, but I’ve been given your name as someone who can help me _______.” (Write a story that follows this line.)