Waxed and Stripped

Published On: 2012-05-22

Author: Aalia

Media Link:

Author: Aalia 



Dev: Hrithik Roshan 

Karan: Kunal Kapoor 

Neha: Katrina Kaif 

Garv: Saif Ali Kapoor 

Nandini: Kareena Kapoor





"Oh Wow Dev!" Karan said as he eyed his friends suitcase. "What exactly do you intend to wear at this wedding of the decade? You have packed a pair of jeans, four t-shirts, loads of boxer shorts and three pairs of socks??!!" 


"Hang on..." Dev said agitated as he stood at the wardrobe. 


"Your brother is getting married!" Karan said as he flopped down beside the bag. "Come on you have to look good- there will be loads of girls there too- you could get a date...and this time hope she won't end being the bride at the next family wedding!" he grinned. 


Dev's love life was a mess. He had loved Nandini since as long as he could remember, but was too shy. She was vivacious and fun loving and he would admire her from afar. She wold flirt with him and they had even stolen a kiss behind the bicycle shed at college. Dev was hooked but after their second date, it had all gone wrong.


As she visited him, but she seemed to spend more time with his elder brother, Garv. She used to enjoy the car rides, money and attention of his brother Garv. How he had hated the both of them- they both knew how he felt, but he felt as if he was invisible when they were together. Dev remembered it all too well. 


"Garv- you know how I feel about her!" Dev argued. "Can't you find another girl?" 


"Why can't you?" his brother retorted. "You can never hold a girl like that. She is so much fun and knows what she wants. It takes you two hours to open your mouth for a kiss and this girl- well she is all action!" he smiled cruelly. 


Dev had shook his head and walked away but was adamant he would win Nandini back. That hope was cruelly dashed when he had walked in on them that evening in his bedroom, on his bed. Dev couldn't believe his eyes. His brother had barked out something about termites in his room but Dev knew this was the final insult. 


He had left Mumbai and settled for a job in Delhi. He loved the pace of life, his job and had made friends. He had his fair share of romances- three to be exact- but he had not found the girl he wanted. 


Not Nandini, he knew that but he wanted someone better than the fair skinned, blue eyed bombshell he had first fallen in love with. He was certain that she didn't exist, so was cynical at the thought of marriage- settling down with a girl who wasn't his dream girl- someone better than the girl his brother was marrying. 


"Ok Mr. Sensitive..." Dev grinned as he turned around. "What do you suggest? I don't know what to wear!" he said as he looked at his best friend. 


"Well then allow me..." Karan grinned as he walked to his friends rather depleted wardrobe. 


"Don't pack any more boxers. They will only impress if you get lucky! You have enough to donate and still be left with some. Why are you obsessed with boxer shorts by the way?" 


"Can we get back to the point?" Dev said turning his friend to the wardrobe again. 


"Ok you need at least one more pair of jeans. There is a strange phenomena which is called washing ones clothes and when that miracle is performed, you cannot walk around in one of the million boxers you seems to have packed. You need, shock horror, another pair..." he said melodramatically with his hands on his face.


"You talk so much Karan- what happened to the simple 'Get one more pair of jeans'?" Dev said rolling his eyes. 


"Ok good boy!" his friend said as he pulled out a pair. "Are they all ripped Dev?" he asked. 


"No- I have a normal one too..." Dev said. 


"Good! And a few more t-shirts- another two will be fine..." he said, pulling out two t-shirts dropping them to the floor with the jeans. 


"Ok now for the wedding! Well, we will go with a black shirt and a black suit- no need for a tie. And for Christs sake, open the buttons or I will break them off right now. What the hell is that chest for- you have to be a sex magnet type thing. Have it waxed too!" he said his mind thinking fast, ignoring Dev's glare. 


"And you will also take a colored striped shirt with a black tie for the reception..." he said pulling out more clothes, the pile reaching up to their ankles now. 


"And you need a grey suit with a green shirt- brings out your eyes..." he said pulling out that too. 


"Err dude! I am not the one getting married- what am I gonna do with all that? And why the hell do I get my chest waxed for? I am not going as a dancer you know and I am not a flippin sex magnet. Dude- you have got to stop with these Bollywood films you know..." he said looking at the pile of clothes at his feet. 


Karan smacked his palm against his forehead and held his friend by the shoulders 


"You are gonna go and sweep a maiden of her feet. Have fun and then come back with a smile on your face. This doesn't have to be a death sentence you know. Go enjoy yourself, look a million bucks and tell that Nandini what she is missing!" he grinned. 


"Ok I will, but I am not having a chest wax..." he said as he pushed past his friend his arms laden with clothes. 


"Oh yes - you are mate. Girls like that nowadays- trust me. Bollywood istyle! Have you not seen Akshay, Aamir, Shahrukh- not a hair in sight!" he smiled. "You could beat them all hands down..." he said turning back to his wardrobe with a frown on his face as Dev rolled his eyes and folded the clothes into his suitcase neatly.




"Karan- you dork! I am not doing this by the way!" Dev said agitated as they entered the salon. "I am here for a hair cut and that is all I am getting. Don't you have work to do?"


"No I don't! I am just a sad little git who was sent here by God to ensure that you don't waste your life looking like a potato when you can look like a ....umm...what is the most attractive vegetable by the way?" Karan said scratching his head.


Dev eyed his friend and said, "I am certain that when you were born, the nurse dropped you on your head..."


"And I am certain that when you were born, the nurse dropped you on your head and left you there. That's where this Devdas effect comes from. At least I was given back to my mum for lots of love and care...." Karan grinned.


"Now shut up and I will tell you what you are having done..." he said slamming Dev down on the chair and looking around for the stylist.


"Ahhh! There she is! Hi, this is my friend Dev and his main goal in life is too look as bad as possible- can you help?" Karan told the stylist.


"Yes she can help by taping your mouth shut..." Dev glared and spoke to the lady.


"Hi- I just want a trim please. Everything else is fine..." he said looking into the mirror.


Karan keeled down and they both looked into the mirror together.


"Dev- seriously now, I know that this will be hard on you but many girls have told me that when they see an ex. they look their ravishing best. Come on mate....."


"Karan..." Dev smiled. "I am not a girl- and I am not going to make Nandini want me or something. I am going to attend my brothers wedding and that is it."


Karan put his head down on Dev's armrest and said, "Ok so why don't we just go with a Mr Bean hair cut and suit?"


"Oh shut up K. I am not exactly Mr Bean material. There is nothing wrong with me!" he said.


"Yes I know but it doesn't hurt to try. Why be a boring coffee when you can be a cappuccino? Hey I like that one- works better than the potato thing!" Karan said as he picked up the book of samples of dye colors and smiled.


"Ok- you are getting highlights!" he said excitedly.


"No I am not. None gets highlights except for actors and gays and I am neither! And dude are you hungry? Stop comparing me to food!" he smiled.


"Oh sorry- I thought we were out of the 1950s...." Karan said sarcastically.


"He is having highlights..." he said to Deb the stylist, "and a facial..."


Dev opened his mouth to protest whilst Karan keeled down next to him.


"Don't even think about it or I will tell the entire parlor the full details of how you lost your virginity. Just shut up or else I am gonna open my mouth now."


Dev glared at him and said, "You know how much I hate you?"


"Yeah I do but I am also your best friend so you have no option but to do what I say!" he said as he got up.


"Ok Deb. Let's get started. I want nice subtle highlights and a funky hairstyle..." Karan clapped his hands.


"But if anyone touches my sideburns or gets rid of the curls, I will kill them!" Dev said very seriously.


Deb and Karan looked at each other for a moment and carried on discussing at full speed.


The next thing Dev knew was that he was having foil attached to his hair and he cringed at the sight.


"God I feel like such a woman!" he said shaking his head.


"Doesn't hurt looking out on the other side once in a while..." Karan said his face in a magazine. "You will now look at beauty with a whole new perspective."


Dev could not speak as Deb was now plastering his face with a mask and had put cucumbers over his eyes.


"What the hell is this you gay moron?" he screamed as she was done.


"Firstly I am not gay- I am just aware and this is a relaxing face mask with orange peel. It will take away all your blackheads too. I will live with the moron bit for now..." Karan said with a huge grin on his face.


He looked over at Deb and gestured. She nodded her head and Karan took Dev's hand and said, "Come over here for the next bit..."


Dev's eyes were closed and the mask was hard so he couldn't speak either.


He was led over to another chair and the asked to recline which he did. He had a mask on his face and foil all over his hair. "It cant get any worse than this..." he thought.


The next thing he felt was his shirt being opened and as he removed the cucumbers and looked down, he felt immense pain.


"Shhhkkkk....." went the noise and he just stared unable to speak. His eyes opened to their biggest as he had a hairless rectangle staring out of his hairy chest.


"What the f...." he mumbled as Deb came towards him with the next wax strip. Karan was nowhere in sight and Dev had no option but to continue.


"Just you wait!" he thought angrily. "Just you wait...........OOuuccch!"




Dev was still not speaking to Karan as they pulled up outside his house. Dev barged inside and went to the bathroom. He peered at himself in the mirror and opened his shirt to see the red skin underneath.


Karan followed behind and said, "That redness will go down by your flight time tomorrow."


Dev glared at him in the mirror and snarled, "The next time you force me into anything, it will be the your last day on this planet- understand?"


"Loud and Clear!" Karan saluted him and went to sit on the sofa. "But you gotta admit that you look damn cool."


Dev looked at himself and had to agree. The hair cut was nothing special- just his usual curly style, but the highlights suited his soft face. The gold bought out his features strongly. He turned around to say as much when Karan said, "Yeah I know you love it. You know with a clean face, you looked like a woman first- the highlights make you look good."


"Karan - get out and see you tomorrow. I don't think I can take anymore of you right now..." Dev mockingly said.


Karan sighed. "Ok. I will actually go- I have a date tonight and I will take you to the airport tomorrow."


"Or maybe you date is a serial killer and I might get rid of you!" Dev smiled.


"It is a woman I presume..." Dev grinned


"Yes- I hope so!" Karan laughed as he left.


Dev spent an uncomfortable night thinking about his homecoming the following day. He wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing Garv and Nandini but knew it couldn't be helped. He eventually dozed off with memories coming back to him as dreams.


The trip back to Mumbai was depressing. He remembered more and more- none of it too good. He arrived at the airport and was amazed to see Garv standing there.


Garv was a good looking man- not quite up to Dev's standard but a fine looking species indeed. He was balding a little now and had gained some weight to look mature but he had a warmth which Dev appreciated. He enveloped his younger brother into a bear hug and then looked at him when they broke.


"It has been a long time Kid!" he said.


"Yeah!" Dev grinned. "Five years! But I am glad we are meeting for a happy occasion Bro. I wasn't expecting you to be here...." he smiled.


"Come on lets go. Nandini is waiting. She has done a great job with the house and has done up your old room really well. She is a great find Dev and I am lucky to have her..." Garv said as he struggled with and finally piled Dev's bulging suitcase into the car.


"Wow- quite a speech!" Dev thought as he sat in the car, "...and totally uncalled for!"


The ride back home was pleasant as they filled each other in on their careers. Before they knew it, they were home and Dev peered into the garden where he had grown up. Except it looked different now. It was well decorated but didn't feel like home anymore. He pondered over this as he walked up the perfect drive and then he saw her and froze.


She was standing on the porch and she looked as lovely as she did all those years ago. She was wearing a long white dress and her hair fell over her shoulders. He heard her voice call out to him as she shrieked.


"Oh my God- Dev- you have grown up so much!" she said as she hugged him.


"Grown up?" he thought. He wanted to remind her that they parted when he was 24 and he was now 29- that was not exactly a jump from puberty and what was she- his mum!?! That line was surely not reserved for an ex girlfriend who was on the verge of becoming the sister in law. The thought disgusted him and they broke from the hug.


He looked at her closely through the plastic smiles and she grinned at him. He didn't remember her as being so thin and he actually wondered why he had been so attracted to her. She held his hands in hers and said, "I have been waiting for you my dear!"


"My dear???!!!!!!!!- Oh God, she has now changed from my mum to my grandmother. Who says 'My dear' nowadays- Shall I remind her that she is actually younger than me?" Dev rued in his mind.


Garv came and joined them on the porch and went over to Nandini.


"Aaah she is so wonderful isn't she? The woman of my dreams..." Garv whispered in her ear.


Dev looked at him and thought, "Were you always this pathetic or is it a recent development?"


"No Garv!" she said. "It is not me- it is you who makes me this wonderful..." Nandini smiled back at him as they kissed each other.


"Oh my God!" thought Dev. What is it with couples who are gonna get married- is there a rule that they have to be this annoying in public and was she always this air head? Had he not seen it or did he not remember?


He continued to stare as the couple embraced, kissed and heaped praises upon each other.


He actually thought he would vomit so said, "Shall we go inside?"


Nandini turned to him and laughed, "Oh I am so sorry. With Garv around, I just forget where I am. He fills everything with love and I just float on air when he is here- I forget everything..." she beamed.


"Oh, please don't go into that trance when you drive..." he said with a plastic smile.


"...or we will have a funeral instead of a wedding...." Dev thought as he walked in.


The house was immaculately decorated and his room was lovely. He was actually impressed and would have said so if Garv didn't say it so well for him.


"She is good isn't she? The house is so lovely...the room is so nice... she is so special. She....she...."


"Oh really, it is!" Dev enthusiastically said trying to match his brother. "Has she got holy water coming out of the taps?" he thought but refrained himself.


Nandini came inside and said, "Oh you like it? It was not all my doing although of course it was my vision, my ideas, mostly my color scheme but my little sister also helped a bit. Do you remember Neha?" she asked Dev.


"Oh there she is...." Nandini pointed her out in the garden.


Dev followed her thin finger to a lovely looking angel in the garden.


"The ugly duckling has turned into a swan..." he thought as he stared at Neha.




He carried on admiring the young lady as Nandini went to set out the tea. She came back ten minutes later and was amazed to find Dev still at the window.


He had not taken his eyes off her even for a second. The ebony black hair, girly smile and perfect figure had attracted him- "Now that is a woman!" he thought.


"Dev..." Nandini said in an annoying sing-song voice.


"Well I can't leave my broth...well I can't leave you hungry- come on let's eat!" she said as she gestured towards the dining room.


Dev smiled at her attempt to say 'brother-in-law' and followed her into the dining room. At that second, Neha entered from the garden. Her laugh filled the room and Dev admired her twinkling eyes once more. He caught Neha's eye too and they briefly exchanged glances from across the room. He smiled at her and she smiled back.


He walked over to her as the guests were chatting.


"Hi I am Dev!" he said.


"...and I am Neha..." she answered. They both looked at each other awkwardly and Dev smiled again.


"So you been here long- for the wedding, I mean...." Dev asked her.


"Yes- I came a few days ago. I am..." Neha started to answer.


"Yeah I know you are Nandini's sister, you have changed a lot in these years..." he smiled.


"I dated Nandini for a few months and I remember you to be quite different..." he pointed out.


"Yes I remember!" she smiled back.


"You were Didi's only boyfriend who was actually nice to the silly girl with braces and glasses!" she said."Thanks for that!"


"Well, you don't have braces now and I don't mind glasses..." he said laughing.


"Errrr- excuse me all- shall we eat?" Nandini cried out clapping her hands.


Dev was certain that he must have suffered from a disease or was blind as a teenager to have loved Nandini at that age. As she stood hands on hips, glaring at everyone to come to the table, he was certain that it was going to be very difficult to being even civil with her.


He took his seat next to Neha and they chatted quietly through tea. Their conversation flowed easily. It came to them naturally. Even the silences in between their chat were not awkward.


Nandini caught up with Neha after tea.


"Hmmm- you have taken quite a liking to Dev I see..." she smiled wickedly.


"Yes Didi, I always liked him and he is quite gorgeous!" she smiled shyly.


Nandini felt a small pang of jealousy. He was definitely gorgeous with lovely highlights and features to match those of a Greek god. But it would be wrong to think lustfully of him now and if she had lost him, she was adamant that Neha wouldn't have him either.


"Uuhhh I would stay away from him if I was you..." she warned her little sister putting a protective arm around her.


"Why!?!" Neha asked.


"Because...because...." she said her mind thinking fast.."...because he is a stripper!" she finally blurted out.


Neha gasped at the idea.


"He is a what didi?" she asked shocked.


"Yes that is right- he is a stripper!" Nandini lied. She was certain that after this revelation Neha wouldn't speak to or of him during the wedding- perfect!.


"Oh my God!" Neha said slowly looking at Dev chatting away to Garv.


"Does Jiju know?" she asked her eyes wide open.


"Oh God no!" she laughed flapping her hand at her. "He is very close to Garv- Garv loves him but he only told me..." she said.


"So don't get close to him at all. You don't know their types..," she warned.


"Why do you think he has those highlights and that shaved chest? I mean who does that? That should have been the biggest clue to you!" she said as she walked away.


"Silly, naive girl!" she laughed.


Neha continued to stare at Dev.


"God yes, he has been waxed!" she thought.


"Oh my God- that must be true then! Oh God how terrible..." she thought as she hurried upstairs.


Neha had occupied the room next to Dev's and five minutes later, they found themselves standing face to face on the landing between their rooms.


"Oh hi!" Dev said cheerfully. "I just came upstairs for a quick nap- and you?" he asked.




Neha was far too occupied with his profession to think of his questions and so just smiled. She then thought that she should not judge him or be rude.


"Yeah! Me too and you must be tired after work and your flight. Your work must be so ...err...tiring. So tell me Dev, you know what you do...err.....why do you do it?"


Dev was slightly amazed at this abrupt question.


"I am sorry. What do you mean?"


"I mean, your job. Why do you do it?" she asked her eyes glancing at his tell-tale chest.


"Well Neha....." Dev said smiling at his talent for architecture.


"I truly believe that it is an art form. There is no other way of seeing it. It is art- a way of expressing your visions and beauty."


Neha was amazed at this answer- since when was stripping an 'art form' and it certainly should not qualify as being visionary!


"Oh!" she said. "And you always wanted to do this?"


"Oh yes definitely!" Dev smiled. "It was my life's ambition. As a young boy, I would watch Dad do it- he was really good I tell you."


Neha grabbed the banister with both hands at this comment to prevent her knees from buckling.


"Your father also did front of you?" she asked in shock.


"Oh yes!!!" Dev said proudly. "He was the very best. You wont believe his body of work. Immense. He had the most well paying clients let me tell you. When I was a teenager and was starting out, he told me I had real talent and would do the family name proud."


Dev stopped speaking as he saw Neha turn a shade of white. She looked faint, almost green.


"Neha are you ok?" he asked.


"Uh- yes, yes! I am ok...." she said. "I think I should go..."


"No its ok. I want to tell you all now..." he said.


Neha thought it would be rude if she walked away now and cursed herself for starting the conversation in the first place.


"As a young man, my dad stood me in front of me and said 'Come on son. Let me see your talent'..." Dev remembered proudly the afternoon when pencil in hand, he had helped his father in designing one of Mumbai's tallest buildings.


He looked at Neha and again was confused at her expression which bordered on shock to horror.


"Talent?" she thought.


"How disgusting!" she thought as she fought the urge to even look at him.


"Your dad made you do this?" she asked almost feeling sorry for him.


"No no! This was my dream to emulate him. I just wanted to be like dad and this profession is just so expressive. I followed my heart and wanted to show my talents. And I have extraordinary talent let me tell you! Can I share it with you................. do you want to see my stuff now?" he asked as he went to his suitcase.


He opened the suitcase and Neha's eyes fell on a red colored CK boxer shorts that lay on top.


"Oh my God!!!" she exclaimed as she ran out of Dev's room.


Dev turned around with some sketches he had made of projects and was surprised to see that she had left.


"Oh well! Maybe next time..." he thought.


"I like her..." he smiled. "I like her a lot and I think she likes me too!"




Neha ran straight to her room and locked the door. She sat on the bed and a faint image of Dev dressed, or rather, not quite dressed in red boxer shorts came to mind which she shook off immediately. She got up to drink some water and sat back down again.


Neha was completely different to Nandini- she was shy and reserved. She was quite conservative and it was horrifying to her at how someone so eloquent and seemingly decent could be so crass. She bit her lip and sighed. She had liked Dev ever since he had dated Nandini. He was always civil to her, often standing up for her even if her own sister turned on her. He was her first crush and she didn't have a boyfriend after that as none matched Dev.


Earlier in the day when she had walked into the dining room, he had taken her breath away. He was just perfect and the following conversation was beautiful. She had enjoyed his company, laughed at his jokes and blushed at his attention. Why did he have to ruin it all? She got up and went to the door. She peered out and saw Dev move around his room arranging his clothes for the mehendi function.


"Thank God he is coming fully dressed..." she thought as she closed her door and started to prepare herself too.


As she started, she heard her sister's shrieks from down the hall.


She ran out and was joined by Dev along the way. As they entered, they saw Nandini lying on the bed crying. Garv was standing over her totally confused and helpless. Dev and Neha looked at each other and then at Nandini.


"Has someone died?" Dev asked. "Oh God, its you mother isn't it...."


"No worse than that!!!" Nandidni said as she looked up.


"What could be worse than your mother dying?" Dev asked confused.


Garv hit him on the head and said, "Their mum passed away two years ago..."


"Ok it is the pet dog..." Dev added unhelpfully as Garv glared at him.


"I have....................ahhhhhhh............." Nandidni wailed.


They all looked at each other in shock and the suggestions started to pour out.


"You have broken a nail!!" Garv said.


"You are not feeling well?" Neha said.


"You have realized you don't have a brain..." Dev thought but didn't speak.


Instead he offered, "You have Aids!"


Again Garv glared so he racked his brain again.


"Garv has told you he doesn't want to marry you after all?'' Dev said coolly.


Even Nandini stopped crying and stared at him along with Garv and Neha.


"No God no...he wouldn't do that..would you Butter Lips?" Nandini pouted as she looked at Garv expectantly.


Neha and Dev both let out little giggles as they looked at Garv to reciprocate appropriately.


"No way Sugar Lips!!" he said sitting on the bed next to her.


Dev started to turn thinking that he would now get a repeat of the porch act but then he heard the real reason of the drama.


Nandini started.


"When I tried on my dress, I did not look quite right. I have put on some weight on my waist and look terrible. Look......."


All three looked around as she pinched some fat on her waist.


"Neha you are heavier than me- give me your lengha for today. You can wear anything...." she demanded.


"Yes sure Di...." Neha smiled.


"Whoa! Hang on a minute! You look fine Nandini. Why should you have her dress. She looks gorgeous..." Dev argued.


Neha blushed as she looked at Dev and he carried on, "What is she supposed to wear?"


"Look Dev, I am the bride and I am supposed to look the best of all. She will look like she always does no matter what. I want that green dress and anyways, I don't want to wear red as it will clash with the dress I have for the wedding tomorrow. I didn't think of that earlier but now I want the dress she is wearing!" she said as she crossed her arms.


"It is ok...." Neha said. "Didi, I will go and change- you can wear this and I will have yours..."


Dev and Neha exchanged glaces as she walked out and he remembered that through out their earlier lives, it had been the same way. He would make it up to her in some way.


Their eyes met again as she walked into the hall for the mehendi celebration. He was wearing a black suit with a red scarf around his neck. She was wearing the red lengha and the spark between them as she walked in could have lit the entire room. They fixed their gaze on each other and Dev walked over. He was stopped mid way across and the dancing erupted. Neha did not dance so sat in one corner and watched the merry making. Nandini and Garv danced in the middle of the room and everyone was happy.


Dev walked over to Neha and held out his hand. "Come on! Lets dance!"


"No. I don't know how to!" Neha said.


"Then I will teach you- come on!" Dev giggled.


As they walked to the rest of the group, Dev said, "You know an American actor once said 'If you ever want to put your arm around a beautiful woman, ask her for a dance'. This slow song I requested especially for you- for us."


He held her close and Neha thought she would faint. She had never danced in her life and here she was dressed as a bride dancing with the most handsome man she had ever set her eyes on. She could feel every nerve end absorbing his body and she relaxed and smiled. The six minutes passed in a minute and the bhangra beats that followed signaled a new song.


"Now lets have some fun baby! Let me do what I do best!!" Dev grinned as he removed his jacket.


Neha screamed and ran towards her seat leaving Dev bemused.


"What on earth happened to her?!?" he thought as he looked for her.




"Oh God! I do not want to see this!" Neha thought as she made her way to the back to her chair. Dev tried to follow but was engulfed by the guests who wanted to see him dance.


None moved quite like Dev and bhangra was his favorite. They all stood him in the middle as Dev danced to their cheers, claps and whistles.


Neha could not see Dev for the sea of people but was amazed at their reaction. She was certain that they would part to a scantily clad Dev covered with money and lip stick marks like she saw in the movies but she was surprised at the reaction.


"I didn't know people here were so open minded...." she pondered what was going on in her sister's wedding when the song stopped and the dance floor cleared.


She saw a sweaty but still dressed Dev walk towards her and she breathed a sigh of relief and wondered if putting clothes back on was also a part of the act now. Her palpitating heart soon started to return to normal.


"Hey where did you go?" he asked.


"I wanted you to watch the dance!" he said breathing heavily.


"Well let's say I couldn't quite take the excitement..." she answered rather coldly as she walked away.


She avoided Dev all evening and he couldn't understand it. He ate his food with his friends but his eyes were on Neha. She seemed edgy, a bit disturbed but whenever he asked, she would refuse to talk. They had appeared to get on so well but he couldn't understand why she was behaving so badly.


As he sat in his room after the function, he racked his brain for anything that could have hurt or offended her but he found none. He peered out of his doorway for a glimpse of her but was disappointed.


He went downstairs for a glass of water and his mobile rang noisily. Little did he know that Neha was coming stairs for some ice cream and she would listen to half his conversation.


"Hi Dev!!" Karan's cheerful voice rang out.


"Just wanna confirm that I will be arriving for the grand event tomorrow morning. I am so excited- even if I was invited to the Tom-Kat wedding, I wouldn't have been this happy!" he laughed.


"Yaar- half of those who should have been there didn't get an invite so fat chance for you...." Dev friend said preoccupied.


"Buddy, I met her..." he finally said.


"Duh dude I kinda figured. She is the one getting married...." Karan replied confused.


"No you dork not Nandini. I met the girl of my dreams- she is the one Karan. She is perfect...." Dev sighed.


"Wow that is brilliant! So what is the problem?" Karan asked.


"She is not really speaking to me and is kinda avoiding me and I cant figure it out. So much for being the sex magnet..." he said rather glumly.


"Dev only someone like you could take that face and package and then mess up the love life so badly. How on earth did you manage that in the space of one day?" Karan smacked his palm on his forehead.


"It started off great- it happened in the middle of the mehendi. We were getting along fine first- dancing up close and all but then.........." Dev stopped in the midst.


"Oh its simple- your breath smells! How many times have I told you to brush your teeth twice a day!" Karan rebuked.


"Well Mum it isn't that. I was looking and smelling fine!" he answered twitching his mouth.


"You had a ...err...gas problem?" Karan offered.


"No you dork not that either. I am not 6 any more!" Dev said rolling his eyes.


"Ok what is wrong with you up close? Lemme think- there are endless possibilities you know..." Karan said thinking fast.


Dev smiled and said just as Neha entered the kitchen.


"I never thought I would say this openly but Karan, I am really missing you...." Dev smiled and bit his lip.


She froze at the door and peered in to see Dev standing in his sleepwear muzzling over the phone.


"Yeah I know you old bear- me too in a funny way..." Karan laughed.


"You know when we are in Delhi we are so busy with other things that I never do tell you..." Dev started.


"And then it isn't a guy thing to do either is it...." Karan chuckled.


"Yes but don't care now...." Dev said, "....about what is cool or whatever."


"I love you dude!" Dev said gruffly.


Neha turned with her mouth covered. "Oh my God," she thought. "Dev is gay too!!"


She came out of the shock by hearing Dev laughing, "Yes Sweetheart!" he said to uproarious laughter from Karan on the other end.


Dev continued, "I will come and pick you up tomorrow and you have to stay with me in my room- I know that will be actually...."


Neha couldn't bear to hear the last of the sentence and fled up the stairs barefoot.


" there is no other room in the house!" Dev finished. "And dude you gotta help me with Neha."


"Neha..nice name..." Karan smiled.


He made up his mind that he would make this work for his friend; if anyone deserved love, it was his Dev- the kindest soul he had ever met.


"I will make this happen for you Dev- no matter what..." he thought as he replaced the receiver.




Karan's flight was scheduled to land at 6 am and Dev awoke even earlier to receive him. He spent an extra five minutes cleaning his teeth in the morning, just in case and went downstairs quietly. He was amazed to find Neha reading a paper with a cup of coffee in hand.


"Oh hi! I am surprised to find you here- quite early isn't it?" Dev flashed his million dollar smile.


"Yeah...I was just up and about- couldn't sleep..." she replied.


This was true. She had gone up to her room totally disappointed and as she grew more aware of the fact that she couldn't have Dev, he grew more attractive to her. He was dressed in a white tee shirt and ripped jeans but still looked amazing.


"What a complete waste this is!" she had thought as she folded her paper in half.


" best friend is coming for the wedding- do you wanna come and pick him up with me. It will be a nice drive....." he asked his peridot green eyes almost pleading with her.


Neha opened her mouth to say 'No' but a look at his innocent face made her somehow say 'Yes' and five minutes later they were speeding towards the airport.


"You will just love him!" Dev beamed. "He is quite a character, very nice but a bit mad..." he enthused on the way.


Neha felt increasingly uneasy but still smiled as they drew up.


Karan walked in a few minutes later and the two friends hugged. Neha watched them, her jaw open.


"Ok it is legal now- but come on!" she thought as she looked down.


Dev bought him over to meet her and said, "This is my best buddy, Karan!" as he gave him a light slap on the back "...and this is Neha..." he said turning his face to Karan and giving a slight nod.


Karan looked at Neha and smiled "Hi- I am Karan."


They shook hands and let Neha walk in front of them back to the car.


Karan gave Dev the thumbs up behind her back and the three made their way back home.




They arrived home just in time to witness Nandini have her ‘fit of the day’ as they called it. She was bad enough as it was but with the wedding growing too close for comfort, she was almost unbearable. Karan stared in surprise but Neha and Dev who were accustomed to the daily shouting which came regularly with the morning newspaper and singing of the birds, just carried on with their morning routine.


"I told you to have a nice big floral arrangement!" she wailed at full throttle. "I can’t even see that little thing" she said.


All eyes fell upon the seemingly gigantic floral arrangement in the main hall which was supposed to ‘offset the color scheme and mood of the wedding’ in her words. It was truly beautiful and one had to be blind not to see it. As soon as you walked in through the door, the senses were blasted with hues of red, yellow and white- thanks to the tiny flower decoration which was threatening to consume the hall.


"That will not do- it is my wedding- mine and I want only the best…." she carried on.


"Excuse me!" Dev said as he tried to move Nandini.


"See Dev agrees with me too!" she said to Garv who exasperated was listening to the tirade.


"No…actually you are standing in front of the fridge and I need the butter…." he said.


"Have you got any poison in there kid?" Garv mumbled.


"Nopes! Not yet bro- that will be the breakfast tomorrow morning when you will realize that you will have to listen to that nagging for the rest of your life…." he smiled.


"Will it work quicker on me or her?" Garv smiled.


"Well for her we need horse poison…" Dev sniggered as both laughed.


Karan was still standing in the middle of the room watching the Adam’s Family react to each other. He couldn’t resist but speak


"You know Nandini ji, I totally agree with you. That is ridiculous, I need my magnifying glass to see that…" he remarked.


All eyes shot to him and Dev hurriedly introduced him.


"Ah yes!" Garv stepped towards him. "Dev mentioned he was calling a close friend..."


"And you have no idea how close they are…." Neha thought as she watched her brother-in-law meet and greet the stranger.


"Well he maybe Dev’s friend but he has sense I see. And how did you know I was Nandini?" she asked surprised and happy at the same time.


"How do I know? Nandini ji I could recognize you from a sea of millions. Dev has spoken so much of you- more than anything else your soft, sweet, humble personality…" Karan smiled.


"And of course, a beauty like you has to be Nandini- who else? You have no idea but I am a fan and now I have met the goddess in person- I am honored!" he grinned as dev shook his head.


"Actually let’s put the butter back- there is enough coming from your mouth to feed a five thousand population…" Dev muttered to his friend.


"Oh my goodness, no one has described me like that before and I think only you have realized my true worth. Nice to meet you!" she smiled. "Make yourself at home. Any friend of Dev’s is a friend of the whole family."


"I am family!" Karan smiled.


Neha had been busy serving breakfast as all the drama was being played out and Dev was watching her the whole time. The bounce of her hair, the way she bit her lip to think about her next step, the careful supervision of the table- God she was so perfect but so out of reach.


Karan had noticed this and wanted to go and give Dev a kick. "He looks like a love sick puppy- it is so pathetic! Puppies are taken for walks and left in the kitchen with a bowl of milk for Gods sake!" he thought. "When will this guy learn?"


After breakfast Dev took Karan up to his room.


"You are such a--...I can’t find the right words Dev... but I believe ‘flid’ is the most appropriate here…" Karan said.


"Why what happened?" Dev asked


"Why are you such a woman repeller- just explain it to me! You couldn’t even keep an airhead like Nandini and she left you for your dinosaur brother and now Neha.. did you look at yourself Dev? You were literally salivating over the bread but you didn’t even speak to her man!"


"Garv ain’t a dinosaur!" Dev laughed. "He is just 5 years older than me…"


"Oh please let’s not discuss your parents family planning- back to Neha..." he said.


"She doesn’t really respond Karan.." Dev mulled.


"Aah yes! Now that is such a valid problem. Please remind me of that if there is a fire. Question to Dev- why did you leave Karan in the burning inferno? Answer- because he didn’t really respond! What do you expect from her- a thesis? She will not come and fall on the floor and beg to be asked out- make the first solid move"


"I did Karan..." Dev tried to argue.


"And what earth shattering gesture was it?" he asked hands on hips. "I know you well Dev- the speed it takes most people to meet, date, marry and have the first born is the speed at which you normally ask the girl her name."


Dev glared at him and said "I have only been here a day!"


"It takes half an hour to achieve what you have done so far and the girl is not even speaking now- I don’t know how you managed that!" Karan shouted at him.


"Have you asked her for coffee?" Karan asked counting it out on his fingers.


"No…" came the reply.


"Asked her what was bothering her?"




"Asked her mobile phone no?"




Karan slapped his hand against his head and sat on the bed.


"Then kill me now!!" he said.


Dev sat down next to him and said, "I guess I am not too good with this eh?"


"You want to do slow I know, but are so slow you are going backwards my friend. This slow is not gonna help either…" he said his hand resting on his friends shoulder. "You have to just go for it sometimes. Be confident and I will help you with the rest but you have to take the first step-…."


They looked up and saw Neha at the door with two towels in hand and a shocked look on her face. She put them down and fled the room without a word.


The two men looked after her and then looked at each other confused.


"Is she dumb?" Karan asked. "I don’t think I have heard her speak yet…" he said.


"No she was fine. I just don’t understand!!" Dev said looking at him.


"Ok lets go to this wedding lunch thing planned and then we will see. I will get to the bottom of this no problem…" Karan said, "Leave it with me!"




Dev spent most of lunch chatting to his brother and it felt comfortable. They relived their childhood days and laughed easily. Suddenly, Garv turned round and said to Dev, "I am sorry Kid..."


Dev was taken aback and said, "What for Bro?"


"You know what for!" Garv said. "For what we did all those years ago. She was your girl and just to spite you, I took her."


Dev looked at him and thought that in retrospect that was the biggest favor he had done him but he kept quite as Garv carried on.


"'But then after dating I really did fall in love with her. She is an amazing girl full of energy and now we are getting married and I couldn't be happier...." Garv said looking her way.


Dev also looked at Nandini and then put his hand on his brothers shoulder.


"As long as you are happy- it doesn't matter Bro. This is for life just like my relationship with you is- for keeps. Lets just forget about it. Tomorrow, you will be a married man and I will be going back to Delhi. Life carries on and we move with it. That was then- now you and Nandini are getting married and I am happy for you..." he said genuinely.


Garv looked at him.


"Yeah I am getting married- for life- gosh that is so scary. A commitment for life with Nandini..." he said as he gulped down a drink.


"Yeah..." Dev said thinking that his brother needed all the strength in the world for his life ahead.


Karan and Neha were nowhere to be seen and he smiled to himself that his best friend had probably taken take care of the girl he liked. After lunch, he took a quick nap thinking about where they had gone and started to prepare for the wedding.


At that time, Karan walked in with a sheepish look on his face.


"Thank god!" Dev said with his clothes in hand. "Was about to send the police dogs- where were you?"


"Just around- man , dude you gotta sit..." Karan motioned.


"What happened?" Dev asked concerned.


"Well- do you want the good news or the bad news?" Karan mumbled.


"The good..." Dev said carefully looking up at his friend.


Karan pursed his mouth and said, "Well I don't have one so lets just do the bad."


"Neha thinks you and me- well we are..." Karan started.


"Yes I know!" Dev said with a laugh. "Is this what CNN bought for me?"


"No no! I have managed to talk to her that we are not so that is kinda ok although she wasn't quite convinced seeing as you barked 'I love you' down the phone at me..." Karan said.


"When did I...oh yeah.." Dev remembered. "But why was she listening in on my conversation?" he asked angrily.


"Dude this is not the time to discuss social etiquette- there is actually more..." Karan said impatiently.


"What possibly more could there be Karan- it can't get much worse..."Dev said surprised.


"Well actually it can. Somehow she thinks you strip for a living..." Karan said.


"I do what..?" Dev said his mouth dropping in shock. "What a dirty can she even think like that? This is all your damn fault..."


"Yes that's right- blame me! How you managed to convince her of that in the space of two days was your own miracle- don't involve me..." Karan said raising your hands. "And she thinks it is some kind of a family tradition with you adding it too..."


"Whoa, whoa..what?" Dev asked his head spinning with the latest news.


"Just explain how you did this one?" Karan asked with genuine surprise. "I mean how..."


"Oh God- she asked me all these questions when she came into my room. Oh God I told her it was an art form and Dad was my inspiration and ..." Dev suddenly remembered.


"Hang on- the girl of your dreams walks into your room and you start talking about your father..mate, tell me seriously, are you a virgin? I mean......." Karan asked in surprise. "If she was in here, why didn't you impress her- was that really the time to discuss the family tree? You do that when you are in your nineties and that is the best way to pass the time. At this age- you compliment her, charm her not talk of bloody art!"


"Was there any more?" Dev asked quietly.


"What more do you expect?" Karan asked. "What more is left? Could it get any worse? Terrorism I think we missed..."


" But don't think I am gonna go grovel to her. This is beyond repair...." Dev mumbled her lovely image in his mind


"She was saying exactly the same. She doesn't believe me when I tried to convince her. You two are both so stubborn..." Karan massaged his temples wearily.


"Fine with me..." Dev said crossly as he got up.


"So that is it then. You are gonna let your false pride get in the way of what could be love for you?" Karan asked.


"Yep..." Dev said and went back to his clothes. He picked up one after the other, they all seemed so dull and unimpressive. He needed something macho and something that could sweep the girl he loved off her feet.


"Damn it my gay boyfriend- what shall I wear?" he finally said to his friend.


"Ok darling- stand aside!" Karan smiled as he pushed Dev to one side. "Why haven’t you unpacked into the wardrobe- why wear stuff from your bag?"


When he got no reply, he looked around to Dev who was lost in thought. He was looking down- his green eyes seemingly making the green carpet even more emerald. Karan smiled at him and looked at his clothes again.


"Why don’t you wear your underwear..." he finally said throwing his clothes back into the bag.


"You have enough for the bridal party. People distribute sweets at a marriage- we can distribute your boxers..." Karan said with a grin as he picked up a black pair with the words ‘Isn’t my butt sexy?’ scrawled over the middle.


Dev was about to respond when Neha walked by their room and happened to throw a glance in that side.


Karan quickly hid the boxers behind his back as he blurted out, "These are mine!"


He turned to look at Dev who was turning scarlet and expected him to say something. Dev however, whose expressions ranged from surprise to shock to complete stupidity piped up. "Don’t you know it is impolite to glance in a room that has two…"


Karan glared at him. Out of all the things he could say, he had to say the one that was most gay! He turned to look then at Neha who didn’t know whether to cry, laugh or throw up at their feet.


"Err…no... I don’t know the norms of your world. And anyway, I was going down..." she said as she left quickly.


"What was that?" they both yelled at each other when she left.


"What are my boxers doing in your hand?" Dev said as he snatched them. "And why did you say they were yours- why would you be waving your boxers in my face?"


"Well what would I be doing with them in my hand. And need some decent underwear which doesn’t scream stuff at people!" Karan snarled.


Dev sat down with his face in his hands.


"I can see why she thinks what she does. I mean look at us. The conversation..everything…well this is one helluva story to tell the kids. Imagine me sitting by the fireplace, our kids in my lap saying, 'Shall I tell you about the time when Mum thought Dad was a gay stripper in love with his best friend?’"


They both imagined the cozy Christmas scene, looked at each other and burst out laughing. The room was filled with giggles which reached Neha. She looked around, thought of Dev and her broken dreams, sighed and went downstairs quietly.




Half an hour later, Dev still sat on the bed gloomily. Karan had started to get dressed and walked happily around the room, singing as he did so, glancing at his friend from time to time.


"Dude staring at that towel won't make it all go away. Besides you don’t look good while thinking- it's kinda like Mr Bean having sex- it just doesn’t look right..." he smiled.


Dev smiled and looked up.


"It’s not Neha's fault- I have to make her understand..." he finally said.


"And it took you the last hour and half to figure that out- given that I told you the same thing like 2 hours ago..." Karan said.


"Well yeah!" Dev shrugged. "And I am going to do it right now..." he said as he stood up.


"Dude what you gonna say?" Karan said his eye's flashing concern and worry.


"Umm...I will figure that out when I get to her..." Dev said as he started for the door.


"No no..." Karan screeched as he grabbed onto his arm. "You aren’t the best of people with words even when you rehearse for ten hours- I don't even want to imagine what will come put of your mouth spontaneously…come on lets think..."


Dev looked at him, turned towards the door, stopped and sat down again.


"Yeah you’re right- I don’t want to mess up what little chance I still may have with her..."


"Ok..." Karan said as he sat down beside him again. "Well you can’t dive in with ‘hello I am not gay and definitely not a stripper...’"


Karan mused. "It has to be softer, more romantic..more..I dunno..believable...."


"What do you mean believable- it is the truth- of course it will be bloody believable...." Dev said surprised.


"Yeah but the truth has to be worded carefully..." Karan said as he stroked his chin.


Dev finally got up- "No I am gonna do this my way…whatever that will be..." he said as he walked out of the door straight to Neha's room.


He rapped softly on the door and looked round to Karan who was still seated on the bed. They smiled at each other and Karan noticed how nervous his friend looked. He knew that he really liked the soft girl and hoped it would all work out for him.


"Umm I am getting ready- who is it..." a soft voice sailed out.


"It is me Dev- I have something to say to you..." Dev mumbled.


"Dev later maybe..." she said back through the closed door.


"No it has to be now..." he said quietly but with so much authority that both men heard the door click open. Dev quickly took a final glance at Karan who gave him the thumbs up and walked in.


He went in to find Neha still wearing her jeans and tee shirt but her hair was softly curled and her make up was half finished. Her red lips stood out from her otherwise bare face and to Dev no one could look more irresistible. She looked at him awkwardly and then her untidy room. She had never been alone with him and as he closed the door, she felt shy.


"What is the matter?" she finally asked.


"It is all a lie..." he said looking at her. His eyes rested on her face- the innocence, the purity and those red lips tempting him to fall from the heavens without regret. She looked so beautiful.


"I really don’t…" she stared but could not finish.


Dev walked towards her, cupped her face and sank his lips to taste the redness of her lips. Her eyes flew wide open and she grabbed onto his wrists. His arms gathered around her waist and he kissed her deeper into her mouth. She grabbed his shirt with her might and dug her nails into his back. He carried on kissing her without reaction and as he gathered her into her arms, her palms opened and she found herself holding him. Her eyes closed and she opened her mouth to him. His tongue flicked warmly against her own and she kissed him back.


When they broke, Dev was covered in red lipstick which she wiped away. He kissed her fingertips as she touched his lips and he rested her forehead against hers.


"That was the kiss of a man desperately in love with you..." he muttered softly.


"Dev..." she whispered as he lowered his lips once more. He kissed her softly and said, "I am an architect Neha and Karan is my friend. I am in love with you and well..That’s it really..." he said as he laughed.


She smiled at him and stared into his light green eyes. As she played with the curls at the back of his bed, she lowered him towards her and that kiss sealed their relationship. As she sank deeper into the warmth of his body and lips, she stopped. She looked at him fearfully. She thought back to her sister's spiteful words.


Memories flooded back of when Nandini would rather ruin a coveted old toy than give it to her- this was the same. She couldn't have Dev and neither would Neha. She pulled away and stared at the man she was falling in love with.


"Dev- Nandini told me you were a stripper..." Neha said slowly.


"What?" Dev asked shocked.


"Yes..she ..It was her..." Neha said her eyes lowered.


Dev was about to console her, tell her it was ok but he looked at the tears in her eyes. She grasping tightly onto him almost scared to let go lest she loose him again. She buried her face into his chest almost like a child and just stared into space.


"No it is not ok..." he thought as he protected her with his strong arms. It was not ok- this time she would pay.