The hustle bustle at the office of AR Designs was more than usual. That evening a fashion show was to be held on the top floor of AR Designs. Since morning, there was an inflow of models, makeup artisans, designers, technicians, media men, photographers, etc. The destination of who’s who of the fashion world that day was AR Designs.
Suddenly, word spread among the staff that a top model had arrived and ASR was coming down to receive her personally. All eyes turned towards the entrance. A model wearing high heeled stilettos, mini skirt and an off shoulder top entered into the office. Following her was her assistant who was carrying her vanity and other stuff.
“Welcome Liza”, greeted ASR.
“Oh Arnie! After such a long time”, said Liza and hugged him. Releasing from the hug, she continued.
“Mmm… You and your perfume, how I missed all this time. I am coming back after spending 2 years in Europe . I have been travelling all over Europe for fashion shows and assignments, but haven’t met anyone who could match up to you. So, when I came back and heard of your fashion show I had to call you. Thanks for taking me in at the last minute, Arnie dear.”
“Liza, you are always welcome. You know that”, said Arnie, oops, ASR.
“I know. But what is this I hear? You got married? Never thought you would go that way!” asked Liza.
“Liza, I think you should carry on. I have lot of work to do before the show commences. Mr. Sharma will guide you towards the top floor. You can get ready. I will meet you at the show”, saying so he sent Liza away.
More than Liza’s chattering, ASR was bothered about something else. When Liza hugged him, he sensed a pair of eyes glaring at him. He looked up towards the conference room, but there was no one there. He went back to his cabin to resume his work.
“What? The fashion show is for the AR’s Indian wear collection? And today’s theme is sarees?”, shouted Liza at the organizer of the event.
“Yes Ma’am”, nodded the organizer.
“And why didn’t anybody tell me about this before? I don’t do modeling for sarees”, Liza exclaimed.
“But Ma’am …”, it was Liza’s assistant Lily.
“What is it?” Liza shouted at her.
“Ma’am, it was you who insisted in taking part in this show. You had said you would model for anything. I was there with you when you were speaking with Mr. ASR on the phone. Remember?”, Lily whispered.
Soon enough, Liza remembered her phone conversation with ASR. She hadn’t given him a chance to explain anything and talked into participating in the fashion show.
“Oh alright. I will do it” said Liza irritatingly. Liza had spent too long a time in the Europe. Her hold on the Indian front was losing ground and she desperately wanted to get it back.
She was given a peach coloured saree with a beautiful embroidered work on the border and pallu and a backless blouse with heavy embroidery along with some matching jewellery. Liza hadn’t worn a saree since her early modeling days and she was now feeling very uncomfortable with it. The heavy work on the saree made it slippery and she was finding it difficult to manage. She tried to practise walking but kept tripping as the pleats kept coming between her legs. Irritated with herself she sat down in her chair.
“Lizaji, I think you should practise more. You haven’t got your walk right yet,” she heard a woman speak.
Liza got up, turned around and was shocked to see the woman in front of her. Dressed in a beautiful red saree was a woman whom Liza didn’t fail to recognize.
“You? You are the same girl who spoiled my fur coat. I could never forget you. And how dare you tell me what I should do and what I should not” Liza shouted.
“Er Ma’m. I think you’ve mistaken. She’s Ms.Khushi. She’s the head of the Indian wear section at AR Designs” the designer intruded and introduced.
“What?” Liza exclaimed in shock, lost her balance and tripped again. She sat down on the the chair with a thud. How did she become the head?’ Liza thought.
Meanwhile, Khushi got a call and left the scene. After some time, the designer allotted their turns to all the models including Liza.
“Hey, I am the show stopper! I am supposed to come last, isn’t it?” exclaimed Liza.
“No Ma’am. The show stopper had already been selected. So, we planned to send you just before the show stopper. But since you aren’t even doing well on the walk, Khushi Ma’am has decided to send you along with the other models”, the designer explained.
“What?” Liza exclaimed for the umpteenth time. “The nerve of that woman. I have to complain about her to Arnie”, mumbled Liza.
Soon , it was time for the show to start. ASR came to the top floor, greeted the guests and media persons and went backstage to have a word with the organizers. He saw Khushi talking to the designers and went towards her. But as soon as he came near, Khushi left to talk to the models.
“What the …” ASR blurted out and halted his steps. She’s clearly miffed’, he thought and knew what he had to do. He smirked. But he had to wait. The first part of the fashion show was about to start.
After the initial introductions, the fashion show started with models walking in one by one on the ramp in beautiful colourful sarees. Each saree was exclusively designed with different types of works. No saree was similar to another. Liza walked in with elegance and grace. However, the saree was spoiling her walk. She tripped a couple of times, but with years of experience on the ramp, she had learnt to balance herself and tread without falling. She somehow completed her turn and went inside.
“Arrrgh… This is my worst performance ever. People in the audience were laughing and giggling at me”, she shouted at Lily and started removing and throwing her jewellery on the table.
Ma’am, there’s another round after the break. You have to wear another saree”, said Lily.
“Another one? And make a fool of myself again? No way. I am going to talk to Arnie”, said Liza and went in search of ASR.
After all the models had finished their turns, a break was announced and a musical band took over the stage. The models rushed back to their places to change and get ready for the next round.
Meanwhile, Liza tried to call ASR but the phone was switched off. After a small search, she found him at a distance. He was holding Khushi’s hand and was taking her into a room. Khushi’s face was gloomy.
“Aha, so he’s going to scold her after all. I must listen to this”, thought Liza and with a wicked smile went towards the room, stood near the door to enjoy the scolding.
“Arnavji, chodiye humey. Go and give attention to that woman whom you were welcoming personally”, Khushi complained.
“I knew you were miffed about it. But Khushi, that’s how it is in the fashion world and you know it”, said Arnav.
“I know. But whenever I see her, everything that she said and did that day comes fresh in my mind”, explained Khushi.
“Khushi, whatever happened that day wasn’t your fault. Lavanya did tell us later that Sim and Pam were behind it. And anyway … you were looking so beautiful in that red saree, that I could forgive anyone for it. ” Arnav advanced closer towards Khushi and whispered, “And you are wearing red again today. Come here.” With a smirk, Arnav caught hold of Khushi’s hand and pulled her closer.
Liza was surprised at the way the conversation was going. But, when ASR pulled Khushi closer, she had a wild thought and with a sly laugh pushed the door completely open and started clapping.
“So, this is how you got the job, you worthless woman”, guffawed Liza.
Arnav and Khushi were taken aback by this sudden, unexpected visitor.
“Mind your language, Liza”, shouted Arnav.
“Oh, I’ve been minding for quite some time, Arnie. But what is this that I see here? You with this girl? Has La made you so hopeless and restless that you are chasing good for nothings? I always knew La was of no good. Oh Arnie, if you were so desperate, you could have called me. I would have come running to you leaving everything” said Liza with an devilish grin.
“Enough with your blabbering Liza. You are crossing the limits now. “, shouted Arnav. Khushi was now almost in tears. And Liza’s grin turned into a frown after ASR’s reaction.
Just then they heard a knock on the door. It was one of the staff. “Sir, Ma’am, it’s time. They are ready for the second part”, she informed and left.
ASR glared at Liza before holding Khushi’s hand and taking her out of the room along with him.
Liza’s temper rose. She hadn’t expected ASR to talk to her in such a manner. Resolving to leave from the place, she went back to her seat to change. She was removing the special make up that was put on for the show when the staff lady came to her to give a message. “Ma’am, ASR has sent a message for you. He wants you to stay back till the end of the show. He wants you to enjoy the show until then. We’ve reserved a seat for you. If you come with me, I will guide you towards your seat.”
Hearing that, the angry frown turned into wicked smile. She felt a sense of achievement. See Arnie, It’s not easy to discard Liza’, she thought herself. She got up immediately and followed the staff lady to her seat in the audience. Meanwhile Lily, who had just arrived with Liza’s clothes was left wondering why her Madam left without any make up. Hoping that she would return soon, she decided to wait for her.
Liza was seated at the corner in the front row. As soon as she took her seat, the second part of the show started. For the second part, models displayed a variety of printed sarees. Liza was least interested in what was going on on the stage. She was looking for ASR, but she couldn’t see much of the audience in the dark. Her attention diverted when the host announced the arrival of the show stopper. She was eager to know who it was that AR Designs chose instead of her. She didn’t have to wait too long. The show stopper walked onto the ramp wearing one of the best sarees from the collection.
“Natasha?” exclaimed Liza. They chose this bimbo in place of me. How pathetic!’ She was back to being furious. She was now getting desperate to speak to ASR. Soon the designer arrived along with all the models for a final round and left the stage.
As soon as she went backstage, Natasha met Khushi and said, “Thanks Khushi. It was great walking on the ramp after a long time. I really enjoyed it.” Khushi gave her a weak smile.
“What’s the matter? Something bothering you?” she asked. Khushi pointed towards Liza sitting in the audience. “She’s impossible. Keeps blabbering around just about anything. I feel like pulling her hair out”, she confessed to Natasha.
“Really? Then, do go and pull it out. She won’t feel any pain”, said Natasha.
“What do you mean?” asked Khushi .
“That’s not her real hair. It’s a wig. Her hair is actually very short”, revealed Natasha.
“Are you sure? How do you know?” Khushi inquired.
“It’s an open secret. Anybody who’s been in the fashion scene for some time knows about it”, Natasha said and started giggling.
“Well then, I surely must give it a try”, said Khushi and joined in the giggles. Then she sensed someone watching her. She looked around and soon found her Arnavji watching her and reveling in her giggles. Khushi realized that she can’t blame Arnav for Liza’s behavior. She smiled at him. Her gloomy mood was finally gone. Arnav was relieved to see that.
Then the host announced, “And now finally, the CEO of AR Designs and the head of the Indian wear section …’
Now why does he have to come on stage with that girl?’ thought Liza.
The host continued, “Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada and his beautiful wife Mrs. Khushi Kumari Gupta Singh Raizada.”
And in walked Mr. and Mrs. Raizada, smiling and holding hands. The audience stood up clapping and the photographers came closer to the stage to click away the happy couple. This was the first time the two were making an appearance as a couple. Arnav wanted to give a peck on his wife’s cheek, but Khushi had warned him not to do any such thing in public, especially when there were people around holding a zillion cameras. Arnav looked at her unable to do anything and Khushi tried hard to control her giggles fully aware of her husband’s thoughts. Nobody noticed a certain lady at the fag end of the front row, who had got the shock of her life.
As soon as the arrival of the couple was announced, Liza exclaimed with shock, again, “What!”, and she got up from her seat with a jerk. But she had forgotten that she was still wearing the saree. She tripped on her pallu and was about to fall. Close by, there was a tall flower stand. She tried to hold onto it to prevent falling. But, it was a temporary stand and was not fixed on to the ground. So, as soon as Liza held onto it, it too started falling along with her. Liza fell down on the floor with a thud and on top of her fell the flower stand. But, just before hitting the ground, a hook on the stand caught hold of Liza’s hair and pulled it apart.
Liza fell down on her hands and legs and immediately looked up. Nobody had noticed her as everybody’s attention was on the stage and the music was playing loud.
“Aarrrgghhh … how pathetic”, thought Liza as nobody came to her help. But soon, Lily came searching for her and soon found her on the ground. She removed the flower stand on top of Liza and helped her get up. “Ma’m, are you ok?” Lily asked.
But Liza was too enraged to answer any of her question. “She’s his wife? How can she be his wife? That good for nothing. What did he even see in her?” she shouted. Since the loud music was still playing, nobody could hear her wails except Lily.
“Ma’am, Ma’am, calm down. We should first leave from here. You don’t even have your makeup on. What if anybody sees you like this? Wait, let me get your wig from the stand. ” Lily revealed.
It was then Liza realized her state. Her hair gone and with no make up, the saree bruised and torn from the fall, she was looking totally unrecognizable. “Oh no, I should go immediately and change before anyone catches me like this. Let’s go.” Liza and Lily went out hurriedly out of the hall.
Liza changed quickly, put on her makeup and asked Lily to get her bags. “Come on, hurry up. I don’t want to stay one minute more here.”
“What’s the hurry Liza? Didn’t I ask you to stay back till the end of the show?” Upon hearing the voice, Liza turned around to face ASR.
“Arnie, now what else is left for you to talk to me about. I have had quite a bad day, thanks to you”, Liza retorted.
“Nah Liza. Whatever happened to you today, you yourself are responsible for it. Nobody else. No one forced you to do anything. A good model is supposed to carry any garment elegantly. But, you couldn’t even manage a saree. And why are you at the back of Khushi. You should be thanking her. If the fur coat didn’t get spoiled, you would have got punishment for being in possession of an illegal garment. Yes, Liza. Fur coats made from animal skins are banned. Do you know how many animals are skinned to make one fur coat? Ah well, I know you are not interested in any such details”, said Arnav glaring at her.
“Stop the lecture Arnie. I am leaving”, said Liza and started to leave.
“Not yet Liza. What’s the matter? You sound too upset. Is it because no one took your photographs? Don’t worry. I personally asked my photographer to take your snaps. See, he’s already sent me some on my phone.” Arnav took out his phone and started looking at the pictures.
“Wow Liza. Even after so many years, you still come up with new poses and new expressions. Wonderful.” And he showed the pictures to Liza. Liza was shocked to see them. The pictures showed an irked Liza lying on the ground bruised, with short hair and sans make up.
“Arnie, how could you …”, she exasperated.
“Now listen to me Liza” ASR’s tone turned grave, he gave her a stern look and continued, “Learn to behave and stop your snobbish attitude. You will no more degrade any other woman or employee working for you, me or anyone else. Keep your behavior within limits. Or else, you know what I can do with these photos. You still have a few years in this line Liza. Don’t spoil it with your own hands. Understand?” ASR warned her and started to leave. But after a few steps, he turned around again.
“By the way, thank you for choosing AR Designs. Glad to host you on your back to India tour”, said ASR sarcastically and left. He was joined by Khushi who had been witnessing the whole conversation. She was proud at the way Arnav handled the whole situation. This was her first fashion show after she joined the office. Any uproar from Liza would have spoiled the whole event. But with a deft hand, Arnav managed to keep her in check. She hugged him then and there with people still all around.
“Khushi, do you know what you are doing?’ Arnav whispered. Realising what she just did, Khushi released from the hug shyly. Arnav smiled at his wife’s bashful condition, took her hand and started walking. Along the way, they heard some people talking.
“I heard some woman had fallen down at the show towards the end. Is it true?” asked one man.
“Yes, I saw. Some girl came to help her. Couldn’t see properly who the woman was. She was quite shabby. She was holding some rod like thing. Must be a broom or a mop. Maybe she was from the cleaning department”, replied the other man.
Arnav and Khushi heard this, realized whom they were talking about and soon burst out into laughter. Their loud laughing grabbed everyone’s attention, including Liza. She was shocked at what she saw. She had been getting shocks throughout the day, but this was the limit. ” Ar… nie … is laughing loudly? I … can’t … be..lie … ve …” She lost her senses and fell to the ground. Lily dropped all the bags in her hand, ran to her fainted boss and tried to revive her. “Water, water. Someone please get water. Liza Ma’m has fainted here.”
By the time, people gathered to help the international model, Arnav and Khushi had left the building.
* * *
This is the third instalment of the OS series I had written earlier, about people who knew Arnav and Khushi prior to their marriage, but had no knowledge that they had married and neither did they ever imagine that these two would end up getting married to each other and the quirky Khushi Kumari Gupta would become Mrs. Raizada, the beloved wife of the business tycoon. Their shocking discoveries upon meeting the couple and their reactions, often involving in them fainting, produce some hilarious moments, much to the amusement of the much in love couple. Hoping the readers enjoy these funny episodes and have a good time.
Next instalment – next Friday …