There are certain things that we plan in our lives and then dream about achieving it… someday. And there are things that just happen …and when it happens, it feels like a dream too good to be true.
It was just another day. I was visiting my relative when my driver informed me about Aamir Khan’s visit to Assam. Really?, why Assam? Thoughts like, may be to shoot an episode of Satyamev Jayate…or travelling to another eastern country via Assam..were entering through every corner of my mind.
‘It’s a gift he is giving to his wife on her 40th birthday’, my driver exclaimed.
A trip to Assam as a Gift??? Now that was unusual. But then, when it’s Aamir Khan doing it, I felt, anything is possible.
‘Actually it’s the wife’s dream destination’, my driver was explaining. Quite possible, I thought. Kiran Rao wants to visit Assam and why not? Assam has enough beauty to radiate all around and attract tourists. Not a big deal, I mused.
‘But how do you know about it? There were no media announcements etc.’, I was obviously puzzled.
‘Oh how will you, sir? It’s a surprise visit..’, driver was smiling. And so did I, agreeing to the fact that when Aamir Khan want things to be hidden from media, he actually means it. All in all a hush-hush affair, I guessed. Lucky Kiran.
‘I saw it in the local news channel today morning. Aamir Khan, Kiran Rao, Karan Johar and many relatives of the couple are staying in a certain resort in Tezpur. My distant relative in Sonitpur confirmed it as well. Perhaps they will be here for another couple of days. They have already visited Kaziranga and are planning to visit Tawang soon…’, the driver went on while I was lost in a different world. The distance between me and Aamir Khan was about 180Kms…but I felt he was right there, sitting next to me. Aamir Khan is in Assam…in Assam..can you believe it?…can you?.., I could hear my mind talking to my heart.
And when I reached my relative’s house, the aunt greeted me saying, ‘Dhoom 3 star is in Assam, can you believe it?’ That was the first day ever in my life when the aunt served me cakes instead of water. Was it Aamir’s magic????
Later in the evening I was speaking to my brother. ‘I am sure Aamir Khan will be interested in buying some Assamese traditional clothes. What if they contact us?’
(Our family enterprise is related to Assamese traditional wear, specially Assamese silk –Pat and Muga ).
Considering the fact that in the past, stars like Raveena Tandon, Kirron Kher, Rohit Verma etc. have visited our retail store, I felt why not Aamir Khan? What if the couple decides to buy some typical Assamese garment as a souvenir? Well, It seemed too good to be true.
‘No, I don’t think he will come to the city of Jorhat or Guwahati to buy this stuff. It would create tremendous buzz and media frenzy which I am sure he wishes to avoid’, my brother replied as if he was a childhood friend of the artist.
But he was right.
That night before sleeping, I visualized Aamir Khan and his family entering our retail store and going through our products while I was explaining them the ‘local’ significance of these materials. The visuals seemed so real that for a fleeting moment I felt that it was actually happening in front of me. I smiled and was about to close my eyes when suddenly I saw a book lying next to the pillow. It was a mystery novel based on the Universal Law of Attraction, titled The Seventh Cup, my debut novel. I had penned it down during the year 2012 during my stay in Zurich. I opened the first page of the novel and read the words from Paulo Cholelo:
‘When a person really desires something, the entire Universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.’
Next day evening, one of my relatives in Guwahati called me.
His voice was shaking, ‘Nitesh, we received a call from one of the managers of Aamir Khan’s team from Tezpur. They are interested in buying some of the attires from our store. The only catch is that they will not be coming to Guwahati, instead, they want us to come to Tezpur with few selected items.’
The words lingered inside my ears while I was staring at the glowing radiance of the sun embracing the horizon.
‘Are you there? Hello.’
I cleared my throat. ‘ Yes, so what have you decided?’, I inquired.
‘I think we can go. Besides it’s a Sunday tomorrow and Tezpur itself is a beautiful place. What do you think?’, the relative questioned.
After a momentary pause, I replied, ‘ There is nothing to think about. You must go and take your wife and children as well.’
‘Fine. But I have an idea. Why don’t you guys come over as well? It will take almost the same time’. (Tezpur lies almost in between Jorhat and Guwahati)
I was initially elated, but then realization hit me.
‘No Uncle, I don’t think they would allow so many people.’
‘So what? Even if they won’t, at least we will have a chance to have a glimpse of the star. I mean how many people in this country even get such a chance?’, my relative posed an obvious question.
‘Very well. I will inform my brother about it and start early morning from here.’, there was sudden excitement in my tone, much to my surprise.
‘Wonderful. Oh and by the way do not forget to get a copy.’, the relative announced.
‘A copy of your novel-The Seventh Cup. You idiot. You might just be one of the few authors in India who will have a chance to gift a copy directly to the star. See you guys tomorrow.’
And he hung up. Suddenly, I felt a jolt inside me and heard the beats of my heart escalating. After a couple of moments, I realized why this was happening. It was not because of the ‘gifting’ idea my relative had just given to me. It was because of the fact that somehow I felt, I was nearing to my dream- A dream that seemed so real.
10th November 2013.
We gathered outside the guest house of Mr. Aamir Khan. We were about 12 people, almost a cricket team waiting for the huge metal gate to open. After a couple of minutes a dark muscular man opened the gate and addressed us.
‘So you are the guys from Silkalay. The visitors are almost ready and would be coming out of the guest house any moment. But I am afraid only three members from your team are allowed inside.’ The guard’s announcement filled everyone with mixed emotions. We were staring at each other. And none of us could decide who should go inside.
I spoke to my relative quietly, ‘You must definitely go with your family. After all, you were the first person who received the call’. I looked at his wife and could immediately fathom how much she desired to meet her favorite hero. Throughout the journey she was the one who insisted on playing a game of Antakshari based on Aamir Khan’s songs. I did not want to spoil her day or her mood either. I cheerfully handed over few copies of The Seventh Cup to him. But to my surprise other members from my group (mostly young kids) began to argue with the guard.
‘We want to meet Aamir Khan Sir, please allow us inside. Just a glimpse would suffice.’
‘I have watched Tare Zameen Par sixteen times and he deserves to know.’
‘I want to meet Kiran Aunty as well’
And the discussion went on for another 10 minutes. The guard, realizing that there was no use being harsh towards young kinds and ladies went inside and returned after a couple of minutes.
‘Ok here is the deal. Initially only three members will be allowed inside to set up the stall. Once the visitors are done with their shopping, we would invite the rest of you inside to have a group photograph with the star. Agree?’
We looked at each other for a second time. The smiles on everyone’s face were the answer. While I was waiting outside the gate, I was receiving constant updates from inside, through an SMS from my relative.
Kiran Rao and her parents are here.
Kiran Rao is looking at our materials.
Kiran Rao’s friend is buying a shawl.
We are clicking pictures with Kiran Rao.
After receiving these messages, I was both amused and confused. It was my turn to post a million dollar question.
Probably resting inside the Guest House.
Are you guys not inside?
Nope we are in the garden area.
Now I began to doubt whether Aamir Khan was really inside. The feeling of…so near yet so far.. never seemed this real. Suddenly there was another SMS
Hey just gifted a copy of The Seventh Cup to Kiran Rao. She says she will read it surely.
I read the message almost a zillion times. I went running around, loudly reading each and every word of the SMS, much to the amazement of my fellow members and the guard. At about 3pm the guard announced that we were now allowed to go inside and have a group photograph.
As I entered, the first face I could see and recognize was that of Kiran Rao. It is almost impossible to not recognize her, thanks to her curly hair. She was standing with her friends and relatives close to another garment stall. As I went nearer, I could gather that there were only two stalls that were set up. One was obviously ours and the other one was from some merchant from nearby area. Our group gathered around our stall and began to discuss what all has elapsed during the past hour. All of a sudden, Kiran Rao came to our stall and began to go through some silk traditional attire. I thought, this was my chance to speak to the lady. (My admiration for her was no less than Aamir Khan. After watching her much acclaimed Dhobi Ghat, I had begun to follow her work more closely.)
‘Maam, I would like to gift you a copy of my novel.’
‘Oh Yes. So you are the Author who has written it? Your relative was mentioning about you. Congratulations. I already have a copy. I will definitely read it.’
It was Kiran Rao who was speaking to me. Really?
The initial few words did come with a stammering affect. ‘Thank you so much maam. Also, if possible, I would like to gift a copy to Aamir Sir as well.’
‘Do not worry. We are a couple, you see. So I think one book in a house is more than enough. Isn’t it?’, and she smiled.
‘Of course. But where is Sir?’, I had no idea whether I was supposed to ask such a question.
But before I could utter a Sorry, she replied, ‘He is still inside, a bit tired today.’
I was both happy and sad to know that Aamir Khan was inside the Guest House. I felt this would officially be the minimum distance between me and the star. I roughly calculated it, perhaps 15-20 meters. Kiran went back to her group at the other stall. After a few seconds, I could see some of them staring directly at me.
‘Seems like Kiran Rao is telling her friends about you. Brother you are on a roll.’, one of my cousins remarked gleefully.
All of a sudden, I saw my relative’s wife heading towards the other stall. She went close to Kiran Rao and asked us to follow suit. As if we were hypnotized, we did what she commanded.
Once we were all close to Kiran Rao, the wife spoke.
‘Maam, just for once ask Sir to come out. We would like to have a group photo with him as well.’
I was both shocked and amazed to see the guts of the wife. But then who would like to miss an opportunity to meet a teenage crush. She was just another fan among the star’s million fans across the globe. And today destiny had placed her in a completely unimaginable position. And she seemed to forget everything else and do whatever she could to have a glimpse of the star.
‘Let me try.’ With these three words everyone watched Kiran Rao heading towards the guest house. After a good 10 minutes (which of course seemed like 10 years) she emerged from the guest house.
Only this time she was not alone.
As couple neared our stall, we stood gaping, almost dumbfounded, witnessing something that none of us had ever imagined. The couple was heading straight towards us. Mr. Aamir Khan was wearing his Dhoom 3 hat (The star is reputed to retain the same avatar of his upcoming movie even after the shooting stalls.) –a perfect picture.
He looked smart in his attire and that signature smile was there, intact. Now the distance reduced from 15 meters to 15 inches.
Yes, the world was trembling. Yes, time was losing its meaning. And yes , stars were shining down today and literally so.
While we were standing frozen, it was Mr. Aamir Khan who spoke and broke the ice.
After about two more minutes, someone from the couple’s group announced, ‘Guys we are getting late. We have to visit the park.’
All of a sudden there was this urgent need to take the last few glimpses of the star. We requested for a group photo. And finally the moment arrived. There we were all in one frame with Mr. Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao. The image was not only captured inside the camera but into our hearts as well, forever.
Once this was over, suddenly my relative came to me and spoke, ‘Is that it? Let’s gift something more to him.’
‘Like what? We just now gifted him an Assamese Memento.’, I asked quizzically.
‘How about this half-jacket. Let’s gift it to him as well?’ ‘You mean this one?’, I held the jacket high in the air.
It was a black khadi half jacket. ‘ Yes, why not?’ ‘But who will give it?’ ‘You do the honors?’
There I stood with the black jacket in my hand and trying to locate the star that was about to fade any moment. I had no idea what came over me.
I ran towards him and almost yelled, ‘ Sir, I have something to give you.’
Aamir Khan turned towards me. ‘Yes? What is it?’
‘Sir, It’s a jacket’
I was about to give the jacket when he spoke, ‘Why don’t you help me wear it, right now?’
I always felt that in everyone’s life, comes a moment when an extreme state of happiness can make you go numb and dumb at the same time. This was surely one such moment. I was standing with the jacket in my hands, while Aamir Khan waited for me to do the honors.
It was something I would have never imagined even in the wildest of my dreams. I mean who ever would? But yes, it did happen. The star did wear the jacket and he did it in style. The jacket fitted him so well, that, it was as if it were designed only and only for him.
Next few seconds went in a flash. The entire group left for their tour and we began to pack our belongings. Later on, the management team invited us to the tea room and served us snacks. Almost half an hour later, we were all heading towards our homes, away from the dreamland.
In the car, everyone was silent for a while. Each one of us was trying to recollect the episodes from the past couple of hours. Was it real or a dream? Oh yes it was real, damn real.
Suddenly my eyes fell on the wife of my relative-the same woman who had shown some mettle by approaching Kiran Rao and requesting her to bring the star out of the closet. My eyes met with hers and there were tears of joy and victory in them.
Thanks Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao for giving us a day to cherish forever.
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”