Ch1: The Resurgence
December 25, 2016:
Natasha was staring at the city through the large windowpanes, tapping her foot in nervousness. Her hairdresser was giving her final touch-ups, whizzing the hairspray to make two unruly strands of hair settled down. Natasha was lost. She didn’t even realize when the makeup person came, worked on her, showed her results in the mirror, and left.
“Silence on the floor. And rolling,” instructed the Floor Manager at the interview.
Journalist: “A decade-long illustrious career with back-to-back record chartbuster hits. And now, after a two-year hiatus, here you’re, back with your very own show, looking lovely as ever!”
Natasha: “Well, thank you! I’m extremely happy to be back.”
Journalist: “Madonna, Céline Dion, Britney Spears -- they all have their own shows, running full houses in LA. The concept of residencies is pretty well known in the West, but this is the first time that it’s being introduced to the Indian audiences.”
Natasha: “I’m quite excited, actually. Honestly, I was a little skeptical when Wiz. came to me with this opportunity, because, the whole music scene is so different in the West. Like, the industry functions independently there, but here in India, it is the movies that drive it. But Wiz. works magic, and when I heard the whole idea, I jumped onto it. I just couldn’t say no.”
December 26, 2016: The Big Opening Night
The elevator opened and Natasha, wearing a tee, denims, a cape and a cap, walked out to a cheering crowd that had gathered just to get a glimpse of her. The euphoria around her was unbelievable. With security personnel guarding her, she kept her head low, almost hiding it, as she reluctantly waved at the fans and checked into the venue.
Ralph: “Hey, Natasha. Have a great show tonight!”
The entire production crew was charged up.
Natasha: “Thanks, Ralph. You too.”
Aseem: “Good evening, ma’am. I’m Aseem, the Production Chief. Keith has taken ill. I’ll be filling in for him today.”
Natasha and every one of us in her entourage entered another elevator. From our body language, anyone could tell that we were all very nervous. But Natasha managed to look confident. She’d no choice too. Anyone who’s worked with her over the years would know that no matter how low she was, she'd never let her mood reflect on her team. She was always conscious of how hard they all worked to put together a dream of a show for her. She valued them more than anything.
Natasha: “Oh! Hi. How’re you, Aseem?”
Aseem: “Very well. Thank you. The show starts in three hours. Your vanity is all set, and your food will be served just as you like it.”
The elevator opened.
Natasha: “I’m sure. Thanks a lot, Aseem. Don’t stress too much. Everything’s going to be great!”
Her smile was endearing and could melt anyone’s heart.
Me: “It’s going to be a great show, Aseem.”
Natasha and I entered the green room, which was lavish in its décor yet very homely. I’ve been working with Natasha as her personal secretary for almost a decade now. I’ve seen her rise to the pinnacle of success and live a dream, which was no less than a fairytale. And I’ve also seen her sink into the abyss of stardom that others could hardly fathom.
Natasha: “Hi Sussane. How’re you today? How’s your baby now?”
She sat on her chair, ready to get started with her hair and makeup.
Sussane: “She’s much better. All thanks to you! If it weren’t for you…”
Natasha: “She’s like my own, Sussane.”
There was a brief pause.
Natasha: “Can we turn these curls outwards like this? I think that would look better.”
Natasha: “Is the food ready?”
She generally did her own makeup.
Me: “I just called room service and it’ll be here anytime now, Natasha.”
I informed her from across the room.
Natasha: “Oh… here it is, Sakina. Smells great. Thanks.”
Natasha quickly ate her meal, which perhaps was going to be her only one through the day.
Me: “Natasha, we’ll have to be in the dream room in two minutes. People are waiting for us.”
Doing a show seems a lot of glitz and glamor, but what goes behind it is anything but that.
Natasha: “This strand of hair, Sussane. Two minutes, Sakina.”
She quickly gulped down a spoonful of salad, blended her eye makeup a little, and got up from her chair. I held her blazer and she quickly slipped into it and rushed out.
Natasha: “Who’s this little blessing we’re meeting today?”
Aseem: “The special kid today is Trisha, a 6-year-old girl, terminally ill. She’s been accompanied by her mother. The father had passed away in an accident.”
Aseem said in a rather dispassionate tone.
Natasha paused for a second. Her world came to a standstill as if some old wounds were touched upon. Her heart crushed, but did she really have the luxury of feeling her emotions? Not today, not ever.
Catch Natasha's journey unfold Every Friday, 16th Feb onwards
only on www.webnnel.com
Ch2: The Innocent Reminder
Possibly the finest aspect of being a celebrity is to be able to touch many lives and inspire them. Natasha was always grateful for the position she enjoyed, and by way of spending time with her special fans before each show or concert, she tried giving back the love she so received in abundance each day.
Baby Trisha was all shy. She extended her hand and gave Natasha a bar of chocolate that she’d lovingly brought for her. Natasha couldn’t resist herself from giving her a peck on the cheek.
Natasha: “Aww thank you, little one.”
“Thank you for this opportunity. She lights up when she hears your songs.”
The mother of the baby girl exclaimed.
Natasha: “I’m honored to meet her… Do you also sing, Trisha?”
Holding her teddy bear close to her chest, she buried her head in it.
The Mother: “Trishy, Natasha didi is asking you something beta.”
Natasha lifted her in her arms and made her sit on the tiny little chair that was arranged specially for her.
Natasha: “Trisha, okay; tell me, do you go to school baby?”
The little girl nodded in affirmation.
The Mother: “She goes to a special day school.”
Natasha: “Ahaan. So, do you like going to school, sweetie?”
Trisha: “Yes. But sometimes I don’t feel good when they take me to the hospital.”
The Mother: “They take her there because sometimes she develops difficulty in breathing.”
Natasha: “Oh. Don’t worry baby, you’re a brave, brave girl. And look, you’ve such an amazing mommy to take care of you!”
Trisha: “She’s my best friend!”
Tears rolled down her mother’s cheeks, and Natasha went and gave her a hug to comfort her.
Natasha: “Can I have a picture with you and mommy?”
Looked like Trisha wasn’t in the mood to get clicked.
Natasha: “Please, please, pleaseee… Pretty, please…”
Trisha: “Okay, but only if you promise me chocolate cake.”
The Mother: “Trishy, no…”
Natasha: “No, no; that’s okay. I can’t say no to her.”
We all took a picture with the little one. Her innocence touched all our hearts and left everyone’s eyes moist.
Trisha: “Can I ask you something, Natasha didi?”
Natasha: “Of course, baby.”
Trisha: “Do you have a best friend? My mommy’s best friend is gone and she’s sad.”
The Mother: “Trishy, no… Ma’am, I’m really sorry…”
Natasha: “No, no; it’s okay.”
She knelt down, her eyes meeting hers.
Natasha: “You know what sweetie, your mommy’s best friend and my best friend have both gone to a beautiful place…”
Trisha: “I know, they told me he is in heaven, and I’m going to meet him soon.”
Our hearts crushed. How cruel could life get? The mother broke down and I rushed to console her. Natasha held the little one tight, close to her chest.
“Oh Lord, please have some mercy. What you’re doing is not right. It’s not fair.”
Natasha chocked. The faint heartbeat that she could feel against her was reminiscent of the fading breath that made her own existence to crumble. The wound of losing someone dear was still fresh, its memory still gut-wrenching.
Aseem: “Ma’am, I’m really sorry, but we’ll have to leave.”
Ch3: The Rustle Hustle
Aseem: “We’re ready for sound check. We’ve exactly 10 minutes and after that we’ll head back to the green room ASAP.”
Natasha: “Sakina, the costumes?”
We were all now walking at a lightning speed.
Me: “Tara called me, and they are on their way. Will be here any minute.”
We all took the elevator to go downstairs and to the backstage where the dancers were warming up and getting ready.
Natasha: “Oh my God! What happened to your leg, Tina?”
Tina: “I’m fine, Natasha.”
Natasha: “Is it hurting bad? Will she be able to perform today?”
Concerned, she asked the physiotherapist.
Tina: “It isn’t hurting anymore. Trust me. I’m good.”
Natasha: “I’m asking your physio…”
Aseem: “Sound check, ma’am. We need to rush.”
Natasha almost ignored him.
Natasha: “Is it advisable for her to perform tonight?”
Physio: “Well, she really needs to be careful, but….”
Aseem was now getting restless.
Natasha: “But what? If she isn’t 100% fit…”
Aseem: “Thank you. We will not make her perform if she isn’t 100% fit, ma’am. We need to head to the stage, ma’am.”
Tina: “I’ll be fine.”
Aseem: “Thank you…”
Natasha: “You please take really good care of that girl…”
Physio: “I will. 100 percent.”
We headed towards the stage.
Me: “And here we are! How does it feel?”
I stopped, turned around and looked toward her as we reached the side stage. As much as I was excited for Natasha, I harboured tiny little fears within me. Was she really ready for this? Will she be able to pull this off?
Natasha: “Good. Mic?”
I was pleasantly surprised to see her this composed.
Me: “Got it. Let me help you clip it.”
Natasha: “Thanks, and has Richard arrived?”
Her mike was on. Suddenly a sense of quiet took over. The background vocals stopped humming, the drummer’s hands stopped midair, and the guitarist silenced his chords. Some crew members hung their heads sympathetically, while some looked towards her with grief. Reality struck Natasha, and it struck her hard. Richard, the man who was her biggest fan, her biggest strength, and most of all, the love of her life, wasn’t beside her for the first time in all these years. And this was supposed to be such a momentous occasion. Richard never missed a sound check ever.
Natasha: “Hey everyone! Hope y’all are having a great time.”
This wasn’t easy for her but she had to break the awkward silence for the sake of her people.
Aseem: “We’ve six minutes, guys.”
He tried to restore some normalcy in the auditorium.
“Now that you’re here Natasha, all’s well!”
Abhijeet, the drummer said, trying to pep up the mood.
Natasha: “Abhijeet! I hope you’ll give me my cue on time today.”
Abhijeet: “Will not disappoint you.”
Natasha: “Thanks. Aryan, Saisha, Leena, all set?”
Natasha: “Let’s do this!”
The excitement returned to the magnificent auditorium that was custom-designed and made for her show. Natasha sang her opening song, and standing right there, I had goose bumps all over my body. Watching her comeback, doing what she did best was an overwhelming sight. What a fighter she was!
Natasha: “Can we reduce the reverb just a little? Else, everything’s great!”
Aseem: “And we’re done. Good show guys.”
I helped Natasha quickly unclipped the adapter of the mic.
Natasha: “You guys are amazing and we’ll definitely have a great show tonight. I’ll see you guys around.”
We swiftly headed out.
Me: “The costumes have arrived and they’re being arranged in the changing room backstage.”
Aseem: “We’ve 60 minutes until showtime. The hallway would be cleared by the time you’re ready.”
Natasha: “Thank you.”
Aseem: “Is there anything else I could help you out with?”
Natasha: “You’re doing a great job, Aseem.”
They reached the green room where they were joined by Sussane, who was waiting to work her magic on Natasha’s hair.
Aseem: “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll see you in 40.”
Me: “Thanks, Aseem.”
As soon as I closed the door behind me, I found Natasha rushing into the washroom. Clueless for a moment, I looked toward Sussane, only to find a bewildered face. Then suddenly it occurred to us: something was wrong, very wrong. Both of us dropped everything we had in our hands and rushed.
Ch4: The Anxiety Pill
Her hands were trembling, her breath heavy, and sweat slowly meandered down her side buns. Sussane and I found Natasha sitting on the tiled floor of the bathroom. Her head was rested against the wall with eyes half shut and mouth alternatively gasping for air. Her clothes were soiled and hair smelled of vomit.
We both screamed in shock. Anybody would have panicked in that situation, but Sussane and I gathered ourselves, and immediately sprinkled some water on her, undressed her, cleaned her, and gave her some water to drink. And once she was calm and regained some strength, we assisted her to the vanity chair.
Me: “Doc, she just had a severe panic attack… Can you come see her ASAP? Oh… okay… okay… Thank you.”
Sussane: “What was he saying?”
Me: “He’s asked us to give her the prescribed pill that she’s routinely taking and has suggested a few exercises that will calm her down.”
Sussane: “Tell me what to do.”
Me: “Just hold her hand.”
Natasha sat there quietly; not having spoken a word in the past five minutes. But her clumsy body language did quite convey her state of mind. I was worried.
Me: “Here, Natty. You’ll be okay. Take this.”
Natasha swallowed the pill with great difficulty.
Me: “Natty, we’re by your side. Don’t worry.”
Natasha’s head was low, her hands clasped, and her right leg was shaking uncontrollably. I quickly held it down with my hands.
Me: “Natty, look at me. You’ve got to calm down, you’ve got to hold yourself together. Do you get me?”
She barely responded but slowly regained her composure.
I gestured her to take over.
Natasha’s silence overpowered the sound of the blow dryer. Personally, it was extremely difficult for me to see her in that state. I still remember her first concert quite vividly. We were backstage, and all of us were nervous but not her. And boy, did she sweep everyone off their feet that evening!
That day not only did India get a singer whose voice and singing was impeccable, but a complete performer who had the looks and moves that could kill. It was as if they’d finally found their very own Madonna. No wonder, she became the face of every major magazine that was there.
Me: “Natty, do you need something?”
I knew what was bothering her.
I put my hand on her shoulder, and she turned toward me.
I knelt down.
Me: “If you feel you cannot…”
Natasha: “No, I’m good.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Come in.”
Aseem: “It’s time.”
Me: “Five minutes, please.”
Aseem: “I hope everything’s alright.”
Natasha was strong willed. She got up from her chair, put on her coat, and let Sussane adjust her curls that cascaded down her slender shoulders. While she looked breathtakingly beautiful as she walked through the hallway with elegance and grace, her eyes were grim.
“Good show, Natasha.”
Joy, one of the production crew members, wished her.
Natasha: “Thanks, you too.”
The security was beefed up to avoid any untoward incident, like the one that had occurred that morning. Natasha had just arrived at the venue for rehearsals, and a crazy fan, who wanted to get her autograph, had jumped over the compound wall and slipped into the backstage, dodging all CCTV cameras and bouncers who guarded the venue.
Aseem: “Alright, everyone! Please gather at once.”
All the background dancers, technicians, along with the production crew, quickly assembled and welcomed Natasha with a roaring applause. Before each concert/show, it was a ritual to invoke the Almighty, and there stood everyone, holding each other’s hands waiting for Natasha to take the lead. I looked at her. She was staring into the crowd, lost. I took that as a cue.
Just when I was about to cover up for her:
Natasha: “Thank you Lord for blessing all of us with this day. Thank you for keeping us safe and being with us through all the difficult times. There are kids who are ailing, there are people dying every single day because of diseases and because of man’s hate and greed. Dear Lord, thank you for choosing us and giving us the opportunity to touch lives and bring smiles on the faces of millions of people out there. Please be with us and protect us, dear Lord, like you always have, so that we could do our bit for humanity. Please be with my dancers, my technicians, and my entire crew who’ve worked really hard for this show. Bless them with your kindness, and protect them.”
Aseem: “Alright, people; it’s showtime!”
Ch5: All Hell Breaks Loose
The curtains were waiting to fall, the fireworks were ready to sparkle, and the stage awaited the diva to grace it all over again! Watching Natasha standing there at the backstage was an overwhelming sight. I knew, this hasn’t been easy for her at all, either physically or mentally. It needed character and immense will power to return to the limelight after all that she’d gone through in the past two years, and worse, after being reminded of it all in the past 24 hours at every step.
I caught her by surprise.
Natasha: “You remembered?”
I’d got her a beautiful white lily. Richard always gave her one before the show began.
Me: “How could I have let you go without this?”
Natasha’s face brightened up. The warmth of her hug made my day.
Natasha: “I love you.”
Me: “I love you too, Natty. You go, girl!”
My eyes were moist.
Forty-five seconds to the show.
There was utter chaos backstage. The hustle-bustle reminded me of a fish market. People were running from one corner to the other, tripping and falling, carrying props and costumes. The dancers were ecstatic, warming up and going through their choreography while having fun and helping each other at the same time. And there, in one corner, stood Aseem, ensuring everything was in place and good to go.
Thirty seconds to the show.
Aseem: “Tiger, standby with the lyrics.”
Aseem: “Tara, costumes.”
Rohit (the stage manager): “All set.”
Adam: “All clear. Check.”
The atmosphere in the control room was all charged up, too.
Aseem: “Are we good up there?”
Peter (Show Director): “Great. 20 seconds!”
Amit (Sound Engineer): “Sound up.”
Sherlock (Graphics): “Mood set. Lights up.”
Their fingers worked in tandem on the giant switchers.
Peter (Show Director): In 3… 2…1
The spectacular fireworks went off all at once and the huge piece of white Satin cloth flowed to the ground like a waterfall that quickly receded into the side stage. Natasha raised her head like a star and the crowds went wild at the sight of their favorite singer. Slowly, the fireworks simmered down and the drums picked up momentum as she walked down to the middle of the stage with much panache.
“I wish you were here for this, Richard. I hate you for taking the bullet for me. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for it.”
Trapped in the thought, she missed her cue.
Me: “No. No. Come on, Natty.”
My head was low, eyes fixated on Natasha and my hand covering my mouth.
Peter: “Oh oh… Roll it from the top… Roll it from the top, guys. Standby, dancers.”
The orchestra picked up the instructions, but Natasha continued staring into the darkness of the packed auditorium. I was at the side entrance, watching in anticipation.
Me: “Come on, Natasha. Come on.”
Adam: “There’s a problem. The second floor has been locked down. Copy.”
Aseem was standing right next to me and the walkie-talkie was loud enough for me to hear what was being said.
This was Aseem’s first time as Production Chief.
Me: “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of things here.”
Aseem: “You sure?”
I nodded, and he turned around and rushed toward the sealed area.
Aseem: “Adam, secure the hallways too. I’m coming.”
Natasha hadn’t begun singing, and I had to quickly think of a plan. I couldn’t run to the stage nor could I go into the audience and wave at her. All of us; the technicians, the production crew, the dancers were getting anxious.
“Oh, yes; the dancers.” I looked around, and there was Tina. I quickly went up to her and instructed her what to do.
She glided down the stage so gently as if it was a part of the act. Flaunting her poised contemporary moves, she gracefully took Natasha’s hand in hers, patted it and exited from side stage 2.
Natasha: “This one’s for you, Richard.”
The audience suddenly erupted again with hooting and whistling and screaming, as if they were waiting for a cue to unleash their fandom mood.
Natasha’s opening song was the beautiful melody “99 Times,” a single from her last album, Love. It was a song she wrote for Richard after they had first met. The entire atmosphere inside the auditorium quickly changed. Loud cheers and applause replaced anticipation. And before we knew, the audience was up on their feet and humming the song along with Natasha. One could literally feel the positive energy that filled every corner of the concert hall. Good music has this ability to transport you to a different world, where you can’t feel anything but the rhythm and an overpowering emotion, and a weird sensation on your skin. The song, an all-time favorite of mine, did the same thing to me and probably to the audience as well. What an emotional moment it was for all of us.
Ralph: “We need a medical team ASAP, side stage 2. A spotlight has fallen on one of our dancers. Copy.”
Aseem’s step froze midway on the staircase.
Adam: “We’ve lost the trespasser. All exits have been closed. Copy.”
Ch6: The First Time
Rohit: “Everyone, clear the hallway. Clear the hallway, please.”
Natasha and I ran toward the changing room. We had a 60-second change time.
Me: “Great start, Natty, but we’re 15 seconds over.”
Natasha: “What happened backstage? I thought I heard someone scream.”
Me: “Nope, all’s well.”
Sussane, Tara, and her assistant, Shikha, were waiting for us in the change. Tara quickly helped Natasha to undress and get into another, which was already kept unzipped and placed on the ground for her to simply pull up and secure. Sussane had her instruments ready.
Me: “Remember your first concert and your first ever change? You’re all shy to get naked in front of your girls but you had to and had no choice?”
Light and peppy talks always help, you know.
Natasha: “Oh, that was scandalizing!”
Shikha: “Ma’am, could you?”
Natasha raised her left arm for Shikha to secure the zipper. I handed over the body shimmer.
Ralph: “30 seconds ladies.”
Sussane ran her fingers through Natasha’s hair, as I unlocked the tiny room’s door.
Me: “Let’s go.”
We sprinted our way to side stage 1 from where Natasha was supposed to make her reentry. And just as we reached, it was time for her to take to the stage, with not even a second’s luxury to regain composure. Her feet switched from being those of an athlete’s to a poised performer’s, and the sight of it happening so seamlessly, baffled me again, like always. “Wow!”
The second song was a dance number; her first ever single, “You make me want to move.” Ten years ago, it’d become a rage amongst the youth all over the world. And what also made it so special was the fact that it was the first time an Asian artist, who was not an American citizen, was launched by an American record label and received the kind of love that she did.
The dancers were already on the stage. Tina had been replaced by Sasha, and I wondered why. I looked around for her and spotted Aseem instead, who was walking toward me.
Me: “Is everything alright?”
Aseem: “Under control. The stalker has been handed over to the police and…”
Ralph: “All secured, the flying cycle is good to go! Copy.”
Aseem: “Copy that. And Tina’s been taken to the hospital.”
Me: “What? What happen to her?”
Aseem: “The spotlight fell on her back.”
Me: “Damn. But this security breach, second time in a day, is concerning, Aseem. This better not repeat. And please keep me updated on Tina.”
Of late, I’d been playing Natasha’s interim manager, too.
Aseem: “We’ve got it, you don’t have to worry.”
The scene up in the control room was quite relaxed as compared to the madness around us.
Peter: “Standby graphics aaaaand cue.”
Amit: “It’s just crazy how she’s managed to recreate the euphoria around her.”
Peter: “The euphoria had never died down.”
Sherlock: “Had I been in her place, I don’t think I’d even have the courage to think of coming back on stage.”
Peter: “But she no longer has the moves that she once had. Her body’s become stiff.”
I remember the first time I had met her; it was in a dance studio in LA where she was rehearsing for her first music video for “You make me want to move.” All of 18, all chirpy and smiles, she was learning the choreography like a sincere student. Her poise, her moves—everything about her was remarkable, extraordinary—and at that moment I knew I was looking at something big, and that awed me.
Chuck: “Isn’t she great?”
I looked toward my right where a tall, white man stood gently staring at me with his deep blue eyes.
Chuck: “Hi Sakina, this is Chuck; Natasha’s manager. And we meet again!”
Me: “Oh hi. How are you?”
Chuck: “I’m good. How are you?”
Me: “Very well. Thank you.”
I was flown in from Florida, where I lived with my family that had migrated to the US from India when I was 15. I remember, my initial years in America were quite challenging. High school was particularly a harrowing experience. Not only was I bullied for being a Muslim but also for not being “white” enough. Speaking in a “funny” Indian accent didn’t help either. I spent those years feeling isolated. I’d no friends at all. I’d become a recluse.
College was still better. Not because things were any different than they were in school, but I guess, I’d matured and learned to handle difficult situations. But it was during my sophomore year that my prospects really changed. It was a fine October morning when I came across this job posting in the newspaper that required me to be a “buddy” to an upcoming star. Since I was a 20-year-old of Indian origin, who was acquainted with the life in the US and shared similar interests with Natasha, I was hired for the job.
Natasha: “Hi Sakina.”
She had wrapped me in a warm hug.
Natasha: “So I finally have a sister I always wanted. All thanks to you, Chuck.”
I was moved beyond words. All my apprehensions vanished that day. In that moment, I don’t know why but something within me reassured that this bond was going to be special. And I wasn’t wrong.
Ch7: The Emotional Upheaval
Natasha: “I can’t do this.”
She was wearing a beautiful golden gown with a plunging neckline and fitted waistline. Her hair was done up into a messy bun. It was just her and me in the second floor vanity room now.
Natasha: “All this is just too difficult for me to cope with.”
I went and sat beside her.
Natasha: “I don’t want to perform anymore. I just can’t.”
She cried profusely.
I hugged her.
Natasha: “I can’t pretend to be okay anymore.”
Me: “You don’t have to.”
The success party was underway in the ballroom of the venue. Dignitaries and well-known faces from both Bollywood and Hollywood were present there. Mr. Mehta, the Director Chairman of Wiz., had graced the occasion, receiving compliments with pride.
“What a magnanimous production, Mr. Mehta. Absolutely spectacular.”
Mr. Sood, MD of Global Media Tech, congratulated him.
Mr. Mehta: “Thank you!”
“What a brilliant concept, Mr. Mehta. Mind blowing. Where is the star of the day?”
Mrs. Sodhi exclaimed.
“Ya, she’s nowhere to be found.”
Another guest added.
Mr. Mehta: “She must be here any moment. You’ve dealt with stars, I’m sure you know the drill.”
“Oh come on. She was a mess. She should be grateful to you for reviving her career.”
Mrs. Archana Bajaj, a well-known name from the fraternity, said.
Mr. Mehta smirked. “You bet.” He told himself and glanced at his Personal Assistant who in turn nodded and left the place.
The entire media was waiting for Natasha to arrive. One hour into the party, and there was no trace of her.
Me: “Who is it?”
“Mr. Mehta’s assistant. He’s asking for madam.”
Me: “She’s getting ready. She’ll be there in a while.”
Natasha: “I’m not going down there.”
She burst out in irritation and anger, tears smudging her kajal.
Me: “Okay. Relax. We won’t go. Let’s get rid of these sandals, and lie down on the bed for a while.”
Natasha: “Why did you leave me, Richard?”
I lay next to her, cuddled and held her close to me.
Me: “It’s okay, Natty. It’s okay.”
Richard was a thorough gentleman. He’d met Natasha socially for the first time at an after party at the Grammy’s. And I could tell he was head over heels Natasha, the very minute he was introduced to her by Chuck.
Richard: “What an honor it is to personally wish the gorgeous lady for her well-deserved win!”
Natasha: “The honor is entirely mine, sir. Thank you.”
I could see the spark in both of their eyes as I watched them from a distance.
Richard: “Isn’t the party a little too braggy?”
He leaned towards her ear and whispered.
Natasha: “Pardon me, but isn’t that a politically incorrect statement to make? You may want to retract it.”
She looked around, smiling at the scoop hungry news reporters who were hovering around them.
Richard: “Politically incorrect would be to ask you to ditch this party and come with me to a much happening one that’s currently underway at my place.”
Natasha had just been in one relationship before she met Richard and it wasn’t a very pleasant one. Mark Shepard was her choreographer and it was but natural for them to grow fond of each other, as they spent a lot of time together on tour. And when Natasha broke the news to all of us, we weren’t really surprised. She would blush; act all goofy whenever he was around. She was simply adorable! But all this did not last long.
I remember, it was the fall of 2010, Mark had gone back home for vacation. Natasha was off for two weeks before she resumed rehearsing and recording for her second album. Being the workaholic that she’d become, she turned restless.
Natasha: “I’m going to Chicago tonight.”
Natasha: “Yeah. Please help me with the tickets, Sukku.”
Me: “You should be resting, you know.”
Natasha: “I can’t rest. I need to go, I need to go, I need to go meet him, Sukku...”
She swirled me around so fast that I ended up feeling dizzy.
Me: “Okay, but I’m coming with you.”
Natasha: “Nooooooo… Okay, alright.”
We flew to Chicago that night and directly went to Mark’s apartment. Natasha was in disguise.
Me: “I’m sure he’ll be ecstatic to see you.”
Natasha: “You think so?”
Me: “Of course. He loves you. Why are you even asking me that?”
She stared at me, biting her lower lip in anxiety.
Natasha: “Okay, bye.”
It was a bit odd to see her in doubt. They were in love. Why would she think Mark wouldn’t be excited to see her? Never really got to know what had transpired that day.
Ch8: Party’s Over
Natasha frantically pushed me away, picked up the pillow from below her head and threw it across the room.
Me: “What happened?”
Natasha: “Who am I? Haan? Who am I? A piece of human flesh, whose parents dumped her like trash in the garbage bin? A poor little miserable thing that was picked up from an orphanage by some money fucking agency and made into this person which people all over the globe recognizes, but herself… Who am I, for God’s sake?”
I’d never seen her this vulnerable. She turned toward me.
Natasha: “Remember I told you that Mark and I mutually broke up?”
Natasha: “I was fucking lying.”
Natasha: “He was fucking me for money and fame. All those red carpets he walked down with me, all those photo shoots and interviews we did as a couple—everything—was a farce. He never was in love with me. He was fucking using me all the time. Everyone around me used me like a doormat. Dammit. Everyone. I don’t know why you’ve stuck by.”
She was weeping uncontrollably.
Natasha: “Want my money? Take it and just leave me.”
Her words penetrated my heart. I was deeply hurt. But I also knew where she was coming from. Natasha wasn’t a bitter person. She was perhaps the warmest and the most loving person I’d ever known. But life hadn’t been kind to her. The feeling of betrayal and let down was so enormous that it sometimes impaired her judgment, making her say things she did not mean. Her affection for me was genuine and that’s what mattered to me the most.
Me: “No, Natty.”
Natasha: “Richard was the only one I could call my own in this world, and he left me too.”
I hugged her tight.
Natasha: “You’ve known me for over a decade now. What did I do wrong? Please tell me, where did I go wrong?”
Me: “I’ll always be with you, Natty. Always. I’m not going anywhere.”
Downstairs, the guests slowly started to leave, murmuring about Natasha’s absence.
Mrs. Archana Bajaj: “The press isn’t too happy it seems, Mr. Mehta. Looks like your star has fallen flat on the ground. I’d warned you, this was a bad investment. Good luck dealing with it now.”
Mr. Mehta: “Ha, well, looks like somebody needs to remind the socialite in you that bad press is also good publicity.”
She smirked and left the ballroom.
Back in the vanity room, I helped Natasha to change into some more comfortable clothes. I thought it was best to take her home before anyone gets to see or meet her in this state. I called Aseem to make arrangements for her exit. I gave Rocky, Natasha’s new personal bodyguard, instructions. He coordinated with Aseem and Adam.
There were three exit points in the venue.
Adam: “Some cameramen there. 3 is clear.”
Rocky: “I want you to be very, very sure. No screw ups this time.”
Aseem: “Don’t worry. Adam clear and secure exit 3 right away.”
Adam: “On it.”
Me: “We’re going home, Natty. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be okay.”
Rocky: “We’re clear.”
Natasha covered her head with the hoodie and slowly walked through the carpeted corridors to the pantry and then the exit door. The car was already there, waiting for us. And while we were scuttling toward it, somebody passed by on a bike, clicking her picture on a mobile camera.
Natasha: “Fuck you, moron. Bastard.”
Quite a few people gathered around us, shoving off their camera phones at our faces.
Me: “Quickly, Natty. Get inside. Get inside.”
I knew this wasn’t going to help our situation. I pushed Natasha into the car’s backseat as Rocky quickly shut the door and rushed to the passenger seat in the front.
While I tried to contain the situation outside, things weren’t too good inside the ballroom.
Mr. Mehta: “Where the hell is Natasha?”
Aseem: “She just left the venue, sir.”
He frowned, and signs of irritation appeared on his face.
Mr. Mehta: “Ask her to come see me in my office first thing in the morning.”
About 20 cars and bikes followed us till the point we entered the gate of her bungalow. While the paparazzi culture had been thriving there in the US for years now, it had grown exponentially in India in the past 5-6 years. They say public figures have brought it upon themselves—an explanation and justification that is beyond me. If they need a picture, they can always request for one. But thrusting their cameras when a person is vulnerable and stalking them to get an exclusive snap is just inhuman and insensitive. Nobody has a clue what damage such intrusions do to the human psyche. I’d seen what it did to Natasha.
Rocky: “We’re good to go. I’m ready whenever you are.”
Me: “Two minutes.”
I peeked outside through the window. A large crowd had gathered, mostly the media. Twitter was filled with tweets about last night. “Natasha loses her cool again,” read several newspaper headlines. I made sure Natasha didn’t get her hands on one that morning.
Me: “You look lovely. Feeling better today?”
Natasha: “Ya. I’m okay.”
She stepped out of the bathroom.
Me: “Mr. Mehta would be asking you about last night. I’ve told him that you fell sick and we brought you home.”
Me: “And just don’t say anything about…”
Natasha left the room.
Rocky escorted her from the lobby to the car that was parked and waiting for us in the portico. Natasha quickly stepped into the car. She was wearing her Ray-Ban and hair let loose. She wasn’t in her best of moods for sure but was stable enough to not react irrationally to any situation. I knew her at least that much.
Me: “We’ll take the alternative route, Rocky.”
It was really difficult for our car to maneuver through the crowds and all the commotion. Natasha was sitting by the window, covering her left profile with her palm.
Photo Journalist 1: “Natasha, Natasha. You look lovely. Please look left.”
Photo Journalist 2: “Natasha, where were you after the show?”
Photo Journalist 3: “That is a beautiful ring that you’re wearing. Are you engaged again?”
Natasha lost her cool and banged the window with her fist but did not utter a word. I turned toward her. The reflection of her ring showed bright on the window.
Summer of 2012:
Richard and Natasha had gone on a holiday to Ibiza, away from work and away from all the media glare. Privacy was a luxury they could not afford back home in the US. And I remember she was just too excited to see me, when she returned. But I was home in Florida with my family.
It was 4th of May, 2012. Around midnight, the doorbell rang. Everyone in my home was fast asleep, so I went to check who it was. Rubbing my eyes, I opened the door.
There stood Natasha, with a big smile on her face.
Me: “Natty? What are you doing here?”
She immediately lifted her hand and there was the ring.
Me: “Are you kidding me?”
We hugged each other and started hopping and jumping around the lobby.
“Who is it, Sukku?”
I heard my mother’s voice from across the hall.
Me: “It is Natasha. Let’s go to my room. I want to know everything. I mean everything.”
I was just too exhilarated in that moment.
Natasha: “It was sweet, you know.”
Me: “Of course it was! Details, please.”
Natasha: “Okay so we’re just walking by the beach at sunset, and I was like, you know… I was just going on and on and on, when suddenly I realized he wasn’t walking beside me.”
Me: “And you turned around and found him kneeling down with the gorgeous ring in his hand? Oh my God! Oh my God!”
Neither of us could sleep that night, I recall. The ring that once made her blush, now brought tears to her eyes. While it was an imprint of their eternal love, it was also a painful reminder of him gone. I still remember those days when members of the paparazzi even climbed over the tree in the neighborhood when news of the “impending engagement” had started doing the rounds. They’re literally everywhere just to get that one exclusive image of the rock. And boy, did they go lengths and breadths for it. Even when they got married, they never left a chance to capture them. They were just happy to follow them wherever they went.
The paparazzi situation has only worsened over the years. Today, there are at least 18 dedicated photographers following our car at a given point in time.
“Richard!” Natasha screamed as the driver suddenly applied the brakes.
Me: “Everything’s okay, Natty. Don’t worry.”
Our car pulled into Wiz.’s office. Instantly, a horde of journalists and media personnel surrounded us like a pack of hungry wolves. With their cameras, microphones, and even mobile phones thrusting on to us, there was absolutely no breathing space around us.
“You’re teary eyed, Natasha. Are you missing Richard?”
Asked one callous journalist.
Sometimes I wish I could kick these insensitive bastards, who call themselves journalists, in the ass. Rocky pushed around the crowd to make way for us. I guarded Natasha from behind, my hands around her shoulders. It took us about 10 minutes to walk across 25 meters to the entrance where Mr. Mehta’s PA stood waiting for us.
“This way, ma’am.”
He guided us.
Mr. Mehta was observing the media frenzy outside the office when we reached his cabin. He turned around, holding pipe in his right hand.
Mr. Mehta: “Oh. Look who’s here, gentlemen, our star! Come, come, please have a seat madam.”
I could smell the sarcasm and subtle outrage in his tone.
Natasha: “Thank you.”
Anand Patel, CEO, Wiz. Entertainment; Jayesh, the publicist; and Tarun Yadav, Senior Advocate; along with a few other people were present in the room.
Mr. Mehta: “Can I get you some coffee or hot water? I’m told you are unwell.”
While his words had a hint of chivalry, he didn’t give two hoots about her, let alone her health.
Natasha: “No, thank you.”
She replied politely.
Mr. Mehta: “Then let’s simply get to the point, shall we?”
His voice now stern and body language, condescending.
Mr. Patel: “We’ve made a few additions to the schedule.”
And I thought this was going to be about last night.
Mr. Patel: “We opened to a tremendous response last evening, and your stint with the media after that, which surprisingly, and luckily for you, attracted a lot of “attention,” we are already booked full-house for all the shows this month.”
Me: “I’m surprised to see you surprised, Mr. Patel. People have always loved Natasha and have always been with her through thick and thin.”
We were handed over a copy of the revised schedule.
Me: “With all due respect, we hoped you took us into confidence before deciding on the dates, Mr. Patel.”
Natasha kept staring into the piece of paper.
Mr. Patel: “Our contract gives Wiz. a free hand on this matter. Mr. Yadav here can run you through it, should you want.”
Me: “I would have still appreciated if you considered…”
Mr. Patel: “And we really would have appreciated if you’d showed similar confidence in us and kept us in loop about what transpired last night.”
I now knew what all this was about.
Me: “We had it under our control, and Natasha’s not new to the business and I am sure none of us here are.”
It wasn’t much the ordeal of the paparazzi but Mr. Mehta’s ruptured ego from the after party that was motivating this move. We all were aware of what happened on the evening of 15th of January, a couple years ago.
Natasha: “We’ll do it.”
I was taken aback.
Natasha: “But I have a few conditions.”
Ch11: The Deal
Me: “You didn’t have to do this, Natty. You do know what they are trying to do, right?”
Me: “But why? It’s Richard’s…”
Natasha: “Let this be a tribute to him.”
She turned around and looked at me with compassionate eyes.
Me: “Are you sure?”
Natasha: “This is the least I can do for him.”
Her smile was sincere and exuded a lot of warmth. But I wasn’t really convinced if she could pull this off. I’d my apprehensions, and rightfully so, especially after last night. It’s taken Natasha a lot in the past two years to even reach where she is both emotionally and physically, and performing on the 15th could potentially cause irreversible damage. I couldn’t let her do this to herself and me.
Me: “We can take our time on this, Natty. We can still talk and share our mind with Mr. Mehta.”
Natasha: “No more discussion on this, Sakina. I’ve communicated what I had to.”
Natasha had laid a couple of conditions: a) 30% of the seats were to be reserved for the cancer society’s patients, and b) Wiz. had to donate 25% of the revenue from the day to the cancer society that Richard and she had been supporting for the past 10 years. Mr. Patel did show reluctance in the beginning and tried to renegotiate the deal, but Natasha did not budge.
Natasha: “It is a win-win situation for both of us, Mr. Mehta. You get me to perform on the 15th and receive all the publicity that you seek, and I get to do my little bit for a cause that is very close to my heart.”
Mr. Mehta: “Congratulations then, Ms. Natasha. It’s a deal.”
He extended his hand to her.
Standing besides her during that meeting, I did have my reservations regarding Natasha agreeing to perform on the 15th of January, but I was quite proud of her for being true to her ethos and asserting what she’d always stood for, not just as a celebrity but as an individual as well. I was amazed to see her set aside her own grief for the good that she could catalyst.
But, will she be able to pull this off?
Finale Pt1: Tribute to Love
January 15, 2017
Natasha: “Good morning, Sukku!”
I was still fast asleep on Natasha’s couch.
Me: “Oh God, what time is it? Are we late? Why am I in your room?”
Natasha: “Relax. Here, coffee.”
Natasha: “You spent the entire last night looking out for me, and then fell asleep on the couch in the morning.”
It was 9 AM, and Natasha was up rather early that morning. As I rubbed my eyes, I discovered that Natasha’s face had an unusual calm about it. She’d the same glint in her eyes that I had first seen in that young 18-year-old who I’d met a decade ago. Was I dreaming? She was even smiling now! I really had to pinch myself to confirm if all this was for real. I couldn’t contain my tears. My Natasha was back. Yes, she was! Oh my God.
Natasha: “Didn’t you have to go early today and inspect the arrangements?”
Me: “Oh ya. We have a press conference at 12 this noon with participants from the cancer society and then we are shooting “The Backstage’” with Keith Ford, who’ll be covering the behind the scenes and then a press conference and gala party after the show.”
Natasha: “I am ready whenever you are.”
Wiz. had planned elaborate PR activities to mark today’s special show. They wanted to cash in on this day as much as possible. While I hated the fact that Richard’s death anniversary was being exploited like this, I was happy to see Natasha so involved and channelizing her energies into making the most of a day that had left her wounded, perhaps for life.
We left for the venue half an hour later. We dodged the media that had gathered outside the residence as usual and headed straight to the venue. It was heartening to see Natasha so chirpy, something I’d been missing for a very long time. Turns out, I was worried for nothing last night. But what brought this unlikely change? Whatever it was, I was happy.
Rocky cleared our way to the conference room where all the media had gathered for the press conference. There was a lot of buzz about Natasha performing on Richard’s second death anniversary.
“I don’t think she is going to turn up today.”
I overheard one of the TV journalists say.
“How can she even perform today? I mean as a woman who lost her husband to this day and that too when she was partially responsible for it, is hard to believe and digest.”
Said a female journalist to another.
“Money can make the world go round, after all.”
I tried to retain my calm.
There were rumors which suggested that Natasha was apparently being paid 30 crores just to perform today. While the truth was, Natasha had pledged her entire fee for a cause. But you cannot really stop people from saying some of the most obnoxious and baseless things, or can you? It hurts when these same people forget that these stars have emotions and feelings like every other normal human being.”
“Natasha, today’s show was initially not in the original schedule, and we’ve learned that it was included only recently. Is this a tribute to your late husband?”
A reporter from the crowd asked while the press conference was underway.
Natasha: “Well, the past two years have been really tough on me with Richard gone. I’ve had major meltdowns, some of them even publicly, after which, a lot of you guys even called me crazy. But my husband was the greatest gift of my life. He was everything I had. For an orphan, he was my family. He held my hand with compassion and love, and always believed in the power of giving. And I, somewhere, in my own grief, forgot the purpose of life that he had given me. I was becoming bitter and too consumed in my own sorrow and self-pity that performing on this day almost seemed out of bounds. But when Wiz. proposed this tribute to my late husband, it reminded me of who he was and what he meant for the people. His only mission was to help people, who were in dire need of financial and emotional support. That’s when I questioned and asked myself, what was I doing? Only mourning his loss instead of extending a warm hug to those who needed it the most when I could? What a disservice was I doing to his legacy. Yes, today’s show is a tribute to him and everything he stood for.”
There was a huge round of applause. Every single person in that hall succumbed to moist eyes, including me. Natasha’s presence filed the place with such a strong and powerful energy that it sent jitters down our spine.
As soon as the press conference had concluded, Natasha rushed to the adjacent hall where she was scheduled to meet the cancer patients. My heart brimmed with emotions as I watched her embrace them with her angelic smile and warm hugs. She also played musical chairs with them and deliberately lost to the little boy. I had not seen her this happy in a very long time. And happiness is contagious, you know; seeing her happiness made me happy. And this is one of those snowflakes of beautiful experience that gives you contentment even in a rigorous and hectic industry as the entertainment.
After group pictures were taken and she waved goodbyes to everyone, I walked up to her.
Me: “I’m so happy for you, Natty. And I can’t tell you how proud I am of you.”
With a childlike enthusiasm in her eyes, she smiled.
Natasha: “I can’t thank you enough, Sukku. You’ve sacrificed so much for me. I know I have put you through hell. I’m so so sorry.”
She held me by my shoulders.
Me: “Not at all, Natty. I love you.”
I hugged her tight.
Natasha: “If not for you, I don’t think I would have survived through all this. I can give up my life for you.”
Me: “Shush. Don’t you dare.”
I pushed her away from me.
Natasha: “Don’t don’t-you-dare me, alright. You’ve been more than a sister to me.”
Me: “Shut up.”
Natasha: “Okay listen, we still have plenty of time for me to get ready for the show. I just have some work to finish. I’ll quickly go and come back.”
Me: “What work? And where? I’m coming with you.”
Natasha: “Don’t you have to be with Keith?”
Me: “I’ll ask Ruby to take charge.”
Natasha: “No. You stay here and I’ll be back.”
Natasha: “I’ve never asked you for anything. Please consider this my only wish, my first and also my last? I’d never ask you for anything like this again, I promise.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll ask Rocky to accompany you.”
And there you go, her puppy face was on.
Me: “Why do you do this to me all the time, Natty. Alright, but keep me informed at every step. And don’t do anything that could even remotely take this happy and chirpy Natasha away from me again.”
She hugged me really tight, nearly suffocating me.
Natasha: “Thank you, Sukku. I love you.”
She kissed my forehead and left.
Finale Part 2: Till Death Do Us Apart
December 25, 2016
Journalist: What made you want to make this 42-minute documentary and why did you choose to call it Natasha: My Journey, My Ordeal.
Natasha took a pause. She looked away from the interviewer for a brief moment; probably to gather herself, her thoughts. This was for the very first time since Richard’s passing that Natasha was opening up to the world about what was perhaps the most traumatic phase of her life.
Natasha: “I think I wanted to make the film because I started to feel like I wasn’t being seen in the light that I wanted to be seen in, perhaps… I don’t know what light that is… But I felt like there were things being said and written about me that weren’t completely true. Not that I care about what the tabloids say… There are a lot of things that people don’t know and I want to share those with them.”
Journalist: “Your husband was a fine human being. What was your relationship like with him?”
Natasha: “Richard meant the world to me. He was the gentlest soul I’d ever known.”
Her reminiscent eyes and that faint smile on her face, spoke volumes about the bond she shared with him.
Journalist: “Losing someone that close could be really, really tough. How did you deal with your loss? Do you recall the events from the fateful day?”
January 15, 2014
It was a beautiful winter morning in Manhattan, New York. Richard and Natasha had just celebrated their second anniversary the previous night. It was a small and closed affair, just as the couple liked it to be.
Richard had rented out a penthouse that had the most spectacular view of the New York skyline. He knew Natasha would love it. The roof was all decked up with lights and smelled of roses. Richard’s parents had flown in from LA. His two brothers and his younger sister too were in attendance with their respective spouses.
Natasha always felt the void of not having a family. She would often wonder what that warmth of a mother felt like. She’d imagine her father holding her hand and taking her to school and wave her goodbye. Richard’s parents knew her past, and they always tried to make her feel accepted and a part of the family. They tried to make her feel right at home and be the parents whose love and tender care she never had a chance to enjoy. In fact, it was Mr. Rochester, Richard’s step-father, who held her hand and walked her down the aisle. The love and care they bestowed on her sometimes made Richard envious.
Richard: “Natasha gets all the expensive jewels and I get nothing?”
“Son, we’ve spoiled you enough.”
Mrs. Rochester, Richard’s 67-year-old mother, said with a straight face.
“I sure agree with you mom.”
Arthur, the eldest of the four siblings said, taking a dig at him.
Richard: “Hey, I take offense here. This is not fair.”
Natasha teased him- showing him her tongue and making animated gestures like a kid. She looked so adorable!
Dinner was a solemn affair. We all sat around the huge dining table, sharing funny moments over a hot and delicious three-course meal that was well complemented by champagne.
Richard: “I love you.”
He leaned towards Natasha and whispered into her ears. She closed her eyes and blushed as if a crush had just proposed to her. She slowly turned toward him, opened her eyes and looked deep into his. Watching them so madly in love with each other and seeing them share something so pure, reinstated my faith in fairytales. Maybe, this is what true love looked like.
Richard and Natasha were scheduled to visit a friend’s house which was just five blocks away. The friend was Richard’s closest buddy from his kindergarten days. He had invited them over for lunch.
Richard: “How on earth can one look this beautiful all the time?!”
He was caught dumbfounded as Natasha came out of the bathroom.
Natasha: “Stop it.”
She said, feeling embarrassed.
Richard: “I mean, I swear! I could die happily, right now.”
Natasha: “Don’t you dare say things like that.”
He walked toward her, wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed on her forehead.
Richard: “I love you and I promise that I’ll keep loving you till death do us apart.”
Natasha: “I love you too!”
Richard: “Alright, alright. We better get moving now otherwise we’ll end up in bed and… piss Tony off just like the last time, by not turning up.”
Natasha: “Oh God. We are horrible, terrible people, Richard.”
Rocky was waiting outside. As soon as they were ready, he escorted them to the basement parking.
Natasha: “Ooops, I think I forgot something upstairs. I’ll quickly go get it.”
Richard: “I’ll come with you.”
Natasha: “No, thanks. You stay right here. I’ll just be back, okay?”
Both stared into each other’s eyes, as if they were never to see other again.
Richard: “Alright. Alright. Waiting for you. But don’t take too long, okay?”
Natasha: “I won’t.”
Rocky accompanied her to the 45th floor while Richard hovered around in the parking lot.
Richard: “Hey champ, looking for something?”
“L-O-V-3, this is Natasha’s car, right?”
A 13-14-year-old boy seemed to have recognized Natasha’s car by the number plate.
Richard: “Looks like you are a big fan of Natasha!”
Boy: “This one’s a custom-made convertible. One that only Natasha owns and one that she got as a present from BMW on her birthday… I want to drive this car. Do you know her?”
Almost ignoring Richard, the boy continued to gaze at the uber red car.
Richard: “Yes, I do. And you do look like a fine young man to me. But do you have a driver’s license yet?”
Boy: “No, but I want to drive it.”
Richard: “I’m afraid my friend, that would not be possible. Are your parents around with you?”
*Pop*… *Pop* *Pop*… *Pop*
The boy had stains of red splashed all over him. He stood there still, not having moved an inch. He gazed at the body that now lay in a pool of blood - squirming from the shock that it just endured from the four bullets that were pumped into it.
Natasha screamed and dropped the box she had in her hand.
December 25, 2016
Natasha: “My world had collapsed that day. The echo of the gun shots still haunts me. His pale face rested on my lap, his cold body in my arms - I just wanted to give up on life that very moment but… ”
Natasha: “I had to live for the new life that was breathing inside of me.”
The box she’d dropped had the news wrapped in it. The pregnancy stick that ought to have put Richard on cloud nine, lay broken on ground at the crime scene.