I am alarmed. "Salim! ... Salim !" l shout. "What's happened to you? How come you are back so early?" I turn him on his back. He is laughing.
"The most amazing thing has happened today. This is the happiest day of my life," he
"What is it? Have you won the lottery?"
"No. Something even better than winning thelottery. I have seen Armaan Ali."
Bit by breathless bit, the whole story comes out. How Salim caught a glimpse of Armaan Ali while doing his daily round in Ghatkopar. The star was alighting from his. Mercedes-Benz to enter a five-star hotel. Salim was travelling on a bus to deliver his last tiffin' box to a customer. The moment he spotted Armaan, he jumped down from the speeding vehicle, narrowlymissing being run down by a car, and ran toward the actor, who was passing through the hotel's revolving door. He was stopped by the tall, strapping uniformed guard and prevented from entering the hotel. "Armaan!" Salim called, trying desperately to catch the star's attention. Armaan heard the cry,
stopped in his tracks, and turned around. His eyes made contact with Salim's. He gave a faintsmile, a barely perceptible nod of acknowledgement, and continued walking into the lobby. Salim forgot all about the tiffin and came racing home to give me the news of his dream having come true. A customer of Gawli Tiffin Carriers went hungry that afternoon.
"Does Armaan look different from the way he appears onscreen?" I ask.
"No. He is even better in real life," says Salim. "He is taller and morehandsome. My
ambition in life is to shake his hand, at least once. I probably won't wash it for a month after that."
I reflect on how good it is to have simple, uncomplicated ambitions. Like shaking a film star's hand. [...]
"Your ambition is to shake Armaan's hand," I say to Salim. "But what do you think is
Armaan's ambition in life? He seems to have it all - face, fame, and fortune."
"Youare wrong," Salim replies solemnly. "He does not have Urvashi."
The papers are full of the Armaan-Urvashi breakup, after a whirlwind romance lasting nine months. There is speculation that Armaan is completely heartbroken. That he has stopped eating and drinking. That he might be suicidal. Urvashi Randhawa has returned to her modelling career.
I see Salim crying. His eyes are red and wet withtears. He has not eaten all day. The heart-shaped glass frame containing a picture of Armaan and Urvashi, on which he had spent almost half his meager salary, lies on the ground, shattered into a hundred pieces.
"Look, Salim, you are being childish. There is nothing you can do about it," I tell him.
"lf only I could meet Armaan. I want to comfod him. To hold his hand and let him cry on my shoulder.They say crying makes the heart lighter."
"And what good will that do? Urvashiwill not come back to Armaan."
Suddenly Salim looks up. "Do you think I could speak to her? Maybe I could persuade her
to come back to Armaan. Tell her that it was all a mistake. Tell her how sad and contrite he is."
I shake my head. I don't want Salim trampling all over Mumbai2 looking for Urvashi
Randhawa. "lt'snot a good idea to poke your nose into other people's affairs, or make other
people's troubles your own, Salim. Armaan Ali is a mature man. He will deal with his troubles in his own way."
"At least I will send him a gift," says Salim.
He goes and buys a large bottle of Fevicol glue and sets about sticking the shattered pieces of the head-shaped frame back together again. lt takes him a week,but finally the heart is whole, a grid of crisscrossing black streaks the only reminder of the fault lines on which it broke.
"l will now send it to Armaan," he says. "lt is a symbol that even a broken heart can be put together again."
"With Fevicol?" I ask.
"No. With love and care."
Salim wraps it up in cloth and sends it to Armaan Ali's home address.
I don't know whether it reached Armaan...