“Rachna isn’t here, yet?”
“Seema! The later the better! If I hear about her missing dog Rocky one more time I will puke! Who is this interesting friend you invited today?”
“Just wait and see”
“Is your brother still after Rachna?”
“He is! She doesn’t seem too interested, though!”
“You mean she dumped him totally only because he went to his friend’s wedding instead of her place to console her about her dog’s ill-health?”
“Well! If he thinks his friend is more important than me, he can’t be very much in love with me, can he?” interrupted a haughty voice.
Ritu and Seema looked up to see the elegant face of Rachna wreathed in an angry frown.
“Forget my brother, Rachna! I have a good friend that I want you guys to meet. Why, there he comes!”
Greek God is a cliché but, unfortunately, the most appropriate description of the man who walked over to their table. Ritu and Rachna were automatically patting their hair and doing the myriad other small things that women do, when they are strongly attracted to a man.
“Rakesh! Meet Ritu and Rachna”, said Seema, gesturing to each in turn.
“Haven’t I seen you somewhere before”, said Rakesh with his eyes on Seema.
“What a corny line”, said Ritu jealously.
Rachna too wished that Rakesh had been more original. Probably, with his good looks, he had had no need to hone his lines.
“No! Really! I feel like I have known you all my life!” said Rakesh with his eyes still on Rachna.
“Better! Much better!” said Rachna, approvingly.
After that, neither of them had either the time or conversation for the other two. Ritu looked at Seema to see if she was upset by this shameless hogging of her friend’s time. Strangely, Seema had a satisfied smile on her face.
“They do make a handsome couple, don’t they?”
“Yes, Ritu! They do look good with each other!”
Ritu was disappointed. She did not expect such a bland answer from Seema.
* * *
“Looks like your brother has no chance of getting back together with Rachna! She seems besotted with Rakesh. And, why not, all the girls are completely bowled over by his charm!”
“Arvind is coming to this party. Let us see how things pan out”
Ritu was pleasantly surprised. If Arvind came in and saw this couple, there was bound to be fireworks.
Rachna and Rakesh passed by without a glance at Seema or Ritu. Fragments of their conversation floated over.
“….ogling at her like a lecherous…”
“…darling! I was just….”
Mmm! Looked like Rachna had Rakesh firmly under her thumb, mused Ritu. She has always wanted someone who would be at her beck and call, though that is not what she called it. In her lexicon, a man who did not dance attendance on her did not love her enough. Whether it was because she was extremely lovely and rich or that men were extremely stupid, she never had a dearth of men dancing attendance on her. Arvind was handsome enough, though not in Rakesh’s class, but he was still moping about her.
Arvind walked in. One look at the couple and he made a beeline for them without a glance at anyone else.
“Rachna! You cant dump me just because I couldn’t come once to meet you. Give me another chance”, he pleaded.
“Rakesh! Ask him to go away”, said Rachna haughtily.
“Please go away, Sir! The lady does not want you around!” said Rakesh.
“Lady!” said Arvind, bitterly. “She couldn’t wait to jump into your arms almost before she left mine!”
“He can’t say things like that about me!’ said Rachna to Rakesh. “Make him stop!”
“Yeah! Make me stop!” said Arvind, stepping up menacingly. Rakesh stepped back with his hand held out. “Please! I don’t want any trouble!”.
“All bark and no bite, huh! Well! You are welcome to each other!”, said Arvind and stalked away.
“You are useless!’ yelled Rachna at Rakesh.
“Darling! Please don’t say that!”
“At least go and fetch me a drink. I need a double vodka after this shocking scene!”
Rakesh hurried away to do the needful.
* * *
The news about Rakesh and Rachna’s wedding was all over town. Ritu was the first to drop in at Seema’s place to give her the news and to gauge her reaction.
“They are marrying, are they? Good!” said Seema.
“I heard that you guys are going over to the USA”
“Yes! I had planned to do so much earlier but Arvind had other ideas then.”
“I know!” said Ritu, dripping sympathy. “Is he over Rachna, yet?”
“I don’t know whether he is over her but he is certainly done with her!”
* * *
“Seema! Did not expect to see you here!” said a surprised Rachna.
“Well! We are off to the USA next week! Thought I had let you know! And there is one other thing”, said Seema
“What is that?”
“Your Rakesh is your Rocky. No-one knows that witchcraft runs in my family. I changed your Rocky to Rakesh and brought you together. Which is why he felt like he knew you all his life! After all, you bought him as a new-born puppy!”
“Nonsense! Don’t talk rot”
Seema suddenly seemed to glow and loom taller. Rachna was terrified.
“You dare doubt me?” The voice was soft but the words seemed to reverberate though the room far more menacingly than any yell could have.
“Nnno…”, stuttered Rachna.
“I did not come to do you any harm. You are who you are and you love yourself too much to love anyone else. I only wanted to ensure that my brother did not break his heart over you. Which is why I changed Rocky to Rakesh and brought you together. My brother knew who Rakesh was when he came to the party. He refused to believe that you could ever stay content with a man with a pet dog’s personality. Now that you are marrying, he is finally over you!”
“Why am I here? To let you know who Rakesh is really and to change him back if that is what is wanted”
Rachna thought a while. To have Rakesh disappear would seem too much like he had dumped her. Also, after all, he was personable and most girls envied her for having caught him. He was as attentive as she wanted any lover to be and gave her no cause for the slightest distress. And, up to now, she had had no reason to doubt that he was human - in and out of bed.
“You won’t tell anyone?” she asked Seema.
“Of course not! I am off to the USA as I said and I have no intention of punishing you..I never did!”
“Then let him remain human”, said Rachna.
“Is he here? I think that should be his choice as well”, said Seema.
She put her hand up to still Rachna’s angry protests. “He does have a choice. You really think that he can be in a human body and not acquire some human traits?”
“Rakesh!” called Rachna peremptorily. Rakesh came hurrying in the harried manner of someone not wanting to give offense.
Seema explained the matter to him and gave him his choice. Instantly came the reply.
“If I have to lead a dog’s life anyway, I might as well do it as a dog!”
Disclaimer: The idea of a woman finding that the man she loved was a dog changed into a man by a witch was a challenge thrown up by a fellow-blogger.