Excerpt from the novel 'The Girl in the Dream'

Excerpt from the Novel 'The Girl in the Dream'

teh girl in the dream

Chapter 1
Mission Mars

“I Love you,” she said. Her voice was low but sensuous. A dazzling glow lit up her enticing face. Her cheeks turned pink as all the blood from her body had rushed to her face.
“I Love you too,” Vivaan replied, he looked into her eyes and took her hand in his. Vivaan wasn’t sure how long they had been standing like that, looking into each other’s eyes, but he was aware that his heart had never beat so hard before. He felt like he had just run a marathon and all he could hear was the loud thudding of his heart. There was immense love in her magnetic eyes. The love which felt so right to him. Although Vivaan was taken aback by her sudden expression of love, the sincerity in her voice was enough to melt even stones and he was but a human being made of flesh and blood.
Vivaan noticed that her hands were warm, and her heartbeat seemed fast too. He knew deep down in his heart that she is the one he had been waiting for, for so long. He didn’t have the slightest doubt that she was his soulmate and that they are made for each other. Vivaan felt that every particle in the air was dancing with tremendous energy as if the whole cosmos had come alive because of her passionate love.
It was evening and the sun was about to disappear into the endless ocean. A little away from them, children were playing in the sand on the beach. Vivaan was so engrossed in her that he hadn’t noticed the magnificent castles of sand that they had built. Protecting their castles, each child proclaimed: “This one is mine.”  Each castle was distinct and the kids were very particular about the rightful ownership of each castle. When the castles were all done, one child kicked over someone’s castle and wrecked it. The owner of the castle flew into a rage, pulled the other child’s hair, struck him with his fist and bawled out, “He has spoiled my castle! Come and help me punish him.” The others all came to help him and together they beat up the errant child and then they went on playing with their sand castles, each saying, “This is mine; no one else can have it. Keep away! Don’t touch my castle!”
The atmosphere at the beach was filled with the sounds of playing children and the water waves that were striking the shore with their own rhythm. Like Vivaan, the children were so engrossed in themselves that they had failed to notice it was time for them to return home. The sky was cloudy, and the wind was chilling. As evening approached and darkness was near, the children thought they ought to be going home. Now no one cared about their castles. One child stamped on his while another pushed his castle over with both hands. Then they turned away and went back, each one to their homes. An old man at the beach who was keenly observing the children thought to himself that we human beings get attached to everything in this world, but the truth is that everything in this world is a sand castle to be washed away by the next big wave.
Vivaan was still looking at her and still holding her hands. He found himself unable to take his eyes off her, totally arrested by her beauty. He could feel the enormous love she had for him, sparkling in her eyes. He felt that every wish of his has been fulfilled because the universe had brought them together. He could feel a tremendous energy flowing within him as if every cell of his body had come alive and were beaming with joy, dancing cheerfully to the tune of her overwhelming love.
Someone had said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. The quote is so true, we men never get bored in the company of a beautiful girl, Vivaan thought.
Suddenly it started raining. The tiny droplets of rain struggled desperately to catch the attention of the two lovers who were completely lost in themselves. By then everyone on the beach had taken shelter under the palm trees, restaurants at the beach or whatever protection they found in order to save themselves from getting drenched.
Vivaan got completely drenched and noticed that her face looked even more enchanting as water dripped down her face. Her wet lips looked sensuous and tempting. Vivaan felt like kissing her right then. Everything else disappeared in the background, all he could see was her, and all that he could hear was his inner voice that said ‘kiss her’. Vivaan felt hypnotized by her. He tried hard to resist this temptation and slowly dragged his eyes away from her lips. Her lustrous, long hair, black as night itself was flowing down her shoulders to her waist, and then Vivaan saw something unusual which he hasn’t noticed until now. She was wearing a traditional Indian dress, an elegant red lehenga with lavish artwork, a red blouse which was equally rich in artwork with exquisite embroidery and a matching dupatta worn from back to front in the Rajasthani style. Her earrings were the traditional Indian style bronze metal Jhumkas. She wore a maroon bindi, which was hard to focus on as her sparkling eyes came in the way.
Even though she was looking enticingly gorgeous in the traditional Indian outfit, Vivaan had never seen a girl wearing this type of attire at the beach in Los Angeles. Although sorely tempted, Vivaan did not dare to ask her why she was wearing such an outfit at the beach. He knew very well that it is almost impossible to win an argument with a girl and he didn’t want to spoil one of the most precious moments of his life.
Instead he praised her, “Gosh, you are looking damn gorgeous!”
“Thank you, Vivaan!” she replied in her soft but magical voice.
“Vivaan, would you like to come with me to a temple?” she requested; her eyes expectant.
Vivaan thought that this is completely insane, why does she want to take him to a temple? Also, which temple is she referring to?  There aren’t many temples in Los Angeles and certainly there is no temple in this vicinity. He felt puzzled and stressed out, but he maintained his cool demeanour without letting his inner turmoil show on his face.
“Hmm…Okay,” Vivaan replied, realizing for the first time how hard it is to say no to a beautiful girl.
“Let’s move then,” she suggested, with a hint of authority in her tone.
Vivaan took out the car key from his trouser pocket and pressed the unlock button mechanically like a robot. To his utter surprise, a brand new royal blue Porsche’s car lights started blinking at some distance in the parking lot. Vivaan had always wanted to own a royal blue Porsche, but then it was still a distant dream for him. Vivaan eyes then fell on the car key and he was shocked to see that it was totally unfamiliar. It was brand new with a costly brown leather key chain with the image of a lion engraved on it. To avoid any embarrassment in front of her, he decided to go with the flow of the moment.
Vivaan’s brain was bombarded with numerous questions: where had his own car and its key gone? How did the new car appear suddenly and how had its key come into his pocket?
“Can we move?” she asked and tapped Vivaan’s hand gently. Vivaan returned to the present moment from his chain of thoughts.
Vivaan forced a smile on his lips and tried hard to hide his inner turmoil. He pretended to be completely calm and at ease.
“Hmmm…yeah, let’s move,” he nodded with a smile.
Soon they were in the brand-new Porsche and driving down the streets of Los Angeles. The car was super smooth to drive. Vivaan felt like the car was driving on its own and he didn’t need to put in any efforts to drive it. Driving his favourite Porsche with the girl whom he loves from the depth of his heart was like a dream come true for him. He noticed that they were moving fast through the streets, leaving behind the spectacular Hilton hotel and other famous landmarks.
“Now, which turn to take?” Vivaan asked.
“Take the next right turn,” she guided him, her voice confident.
“Your wish is my command ma’am,” Vivaan said cheerfully and took the next right turn. As he took the right turn, he was surprised to find the road highly bumpy. He also found that he was completely unaware of this place. One after the other, surprises were unfolding before Vivaan, and he was ignoring them all. Vivaan was so enchanted by her beauty that he was unable to pay attention to anything else happening around him and with him.
‘Why do men become so dumb in the company of a gorgeous woman? Why am I unable to think and act logically?’ Vivaan didn’t have an answer to any of his questions, he was feeling helpless and weak.
“You are taking me to a temple.  What is your intention ma’am, seems like you have a secret plan to marry me today itself,” Vivaan teased. He wanted to take his attention away from his disturbing thoughts and to focus his attention back to her and her refreshing love.
She looked into Vivaan’s eye; there was honesty in her arresting gaze. “We are already married Vivaan,” she said with sincerity in her voice.
“You’re joking, right?” Vivaan gasped, he was completely taken aback by her reply. He silently prayed hard not wanting another surprise.
“I am not joking Vivaan, we are already married, see our wedding ring,” she said in a confident tone and showed a gold ring to Vivaan which she was wearing on her ring finger. Vivaan noticed that a letter ‘R’ was carved out artistically with diamonds on the ring. Vivaan tried to make sense out of the letter ‘R’ but he failed miserably. His mind once again drifted in a chain of thoughts, he tried hard to recollect memories of his marriage, but not a single memory in his life supported him. He was only able to remember the fond memories of his college days. He remembered the day he won the mathematics Olympiad. The day when he got selected by NASA as an associate scientist. His parents had been ecstatic and felt so proud of him. He recalled loving memories of his first project at NASA and then within his first year at NASA he got promoted twice. He had then become project manager of the critical project ‘Mission Mars’.
“Hey?” she patted his arm.
“Where are you lost, Vivaan?” she asked in her seductive voice.
“Nowhere, I was wondering why I am unable to remember anything about our marriage,” Vivaan protested as politely as he could.
“That’s why I have brought you to this temple,” she smiled and pointed towards an ancient temple which was visible at some distance. Lost in thought Vivaan hasn’t realized that they had almost reached the temple.
“Oh no, this can’t be possible, I can bet that this temple cannot be in Los Angeles!” Vivaan exclaimed. He found himself unable to handle any more surprises. He felt numb and realized that his hands had begun to sweat.
She looked at Vivaan with a lot of affection and warmth, “Please don’t worry Vivaan. I know you have a lot of questions on your mind. But you have to wait for the right time to arrive. Trust me you will receive answers to all your questions once the time is right.”
“Hmm, thank you!” Vivaan said, feeling better.  “You are welcome, Vivaan! Wouldn’t you like to visit the temple?” she giggled. Vivaan was forced to acknowledge that her laugh has a pleasing cadence, like that of the apsaras, the celestial nymphs.
“Yeah, sure,” Vivaan smiled and nodded.
Vivaan got down from the car and opened the door for her, remembering his grandfather’s words to him that a boy makes his girl jealous of other girls, but a gentleman makes other girls jealous of his girl. She delicately stepped out of the car and handled her sophisticated dress to perfection. Holding hands, they both went inside the temple and even the chilling breeze felt pleasant to Vivaan.
True love is hard to find, but when it happens in your life every moment turns magical, Vivaan thought. He felt grateful to God.
The temple was huge with beautiful carvings depicting various phases of life from birth to marriage and then to the heavenly abode. Vivaan knew that such magnificent temples with exquisite carvings exist only in India. He was so engrossed in the temple that for a moment he forgot her presence, and when he turned around, she was nowhere to be found. Vivaan looked all around in the temple and started to fanatically search for her.
Tring, tring, tring. His mobile phone started ringing. Vivaan’s hand reached out to his pocket as a reflex action to pull his phone out, but to his disappointment, he didn’t find it there. He felt helpless and puzzled. The sound of his ringing phone intensified, and then Vivaan woke up. He looked all around and found himself lying on a couch in the cafeteria of his office. He realized that he had come there, totally tired, for a cup of coffee and had fallen asleep on the couch. The half-filled cup of coffee was lying on the table in front of the couch along with his phone which was still ringing. He picked up the phone and saw it was James who was calling him.
“Vivaan, it seems that some problem has occurred in the spacecraft landing. All of a sudden we have stopped receiving signals from the spacecraft,” James said in a worried voice.
“Everything was progressing perfectly then what happened suddenly? I am coming at once, please don’t take any action before my arrival,” Vivaan instructed. He looked at his moist fingers which were trembling while holding the phone. Sweat beads were rolling down behind his ears. He had not completely recovered from the dream he just had. Everything that happened in his dream was so fresh in his mind like it had happened for real.
“Again, the same bizarre dream,” Vivaan mouthed some curses and put his phone in his pocket.
Including today, I have had this same dream eight times in the last month, Vivaan thought. He tried hard to ignore his weird dream, but he realized that it was hard to fool his heart which was still beating fast and his mind which was completely lost with the thoughts of the mysterious girl in his dream. He had a strong intuition that it was not just another dream.
Vivaan hurriedly moved inside the observatory from the cafeteria and left behind the half-filled coffee mug on the table. When he reached the observatory, he noticed that everyone on his team had their eyes glued to the huge blue screen. It looked like the whole universe was painted on that giant screen. Everyone in the team was trying hard to locate the small spacecraft among the galaxy of million stars. To Vivaan, the giant screen looked like one big beautiful painting, a masterpiece creation of God. Everyone’s hearts were beating fast and everyone were praying hard that the spacecraft would land successfully on Mars. ‘Mission Mars’ was the most ambitious project of NASA, and for Vivaan, it was the question of life and death. He was the project manager and his team had work hard on this for the last three years. That day was the most awaited day when finally, the spacecraft was to land on Mars after facing innumerable hurdles of the vast space that lay between Earth and Mars. Everything was going great as per plan. There was an atmosphere of celebration at the space centre, and then suddenly they had stopped receiving signals from the spacecraft.
“Vivaan sir, we were waiting for you. Four minutes ago, we stopped receiving signals from the spacecraft and it seems that some serious problem has occurred,” James said in a voice that trembled.
“Relax, James! Such a situation happens when a spacecraft lands on the planet and places its foot on the surface. We should wait patiently for the next ten minutes after which time we should start receiving signals again,” Mr. Roy said in his heavy but comforting voice.
Vivaan was so engrossed in locating the spacecraft on the giant blue screen that he didn’t realize when the project director Mr. Roy had arrived in the observatory. Everyone at the observatory felt relieved, Mr. Roy’s words instantly calmed them down like the first ray of the sun after a long dark night. Vivaan realized why the experienced staff is so lavishly paid. Their experience matters the most.
James breathed a sigh of relief, “Thank you, Sir, you are the backbone of our team, we all were terribly worried since we had stopped receiving signals from the spacecraft.”
Mr. Roy smiled, “Thanks to you, James! The credit goes to all of you for putting your best foot forward while working on this project. You people have worked day and night to make ‘Mission Mars’ a huge success. I am proud of you all.”
“Thank you, Roy Sir! We are so lucky to have you with us,” a bemused Vivaan said.
As Mr. Roy had confirmed, in the next four minutes they again started receiving signals from the spacecraft. Vivaan and his team members’ happiness knew no bounds, as finally, their project had been completed successfully, creating another milestone. Vivaan was completely overwhelmed by the success of the project. The next two days were spent in partying at the success of the mission and in the hangover that came from the project’s success.
Finally, on the third day when Vivaan reached the space centre, James informed him that a reporter of a leading magazine wanted to interview him on the success of ‘Mission Mars’ and that she was waiting for him in the cafeteria. When Vivaan reached the cafeteria, he found a young and attractive lady waiting for him. The lady was holding a notepad in her hand to note down the key points of the interview. She was wearing a blue skirt, a light red top along with an elegant pearl necklace and matching pearl earrings. Her shinning brown hair was flowing down to her shoulders. 
“Hello Vivaan, I am Veronica, a reporter from the Outlook magazine and I am here to interview you with regard to the success of your project ‘Mission Mars’ which is NASA’s most ambitious project till date,” Veronica introduced herself and offered her hand to Vivaan.
“Hello, Veronica, nice meeting you,” Vivaan said, shaking hands with Veronica.
Veronica smiled; it was an adorable dimpled smile. “Nice meeting you, Vivaan. Pleasure is completely mine. Thank you for agreeing to the interview!”
Both Vivaan and Veronica settled down on a couch placed at the corner of the cafeteria.
“Would you like to have a cup of coffee or tea?” Vivaan asked.
“Err…I mean coffee, cappuccino or chocolate mocha?” Vivaan corrected himself immediately, as he realized that not many people in Los Angeles are used to tea. It was just that tea was the most widely prepared beverage at his home and hence comes more easily to his mind.
“Thank you, Vivaan, coffee would be good,” Veronica confirmed in her modulated, courteous voice.
Vivaan got up to fetch the drinks from the coffee vending machine that was near the couch. He picked up a disposable coffee cup from the stand and put it under the coffee nozzle of the coffee machine and then touched the coffee button on the menu screen. The coffee vending machine started making an irritating sound as if it was preparing the best coffee in the world, but to Vivaan’s disappointment, it did not deliver coffee in the next one minute. Vivaan waited patiently for the first thirty seconds but the remaining thirty seconds felt like ages to him.
“Damn,” Vivaan mumbled to himself. Unable to control his anger, Vivaan hit the machine with his right-hand fist, his left hand still holding the coffee cup. To Vivaan’s horror, out of revenge, the coffee machine started pouring hot water on to Vivaan’s left hand through a hot water nozzle which was situated next to the coffee nozzle. It was a Herculean effort on Vivaan’s part to not scream out in pain, as Veronica was observing him through the corner of her eye. Vivaan immediately put his left hand under the cold water. Fortunately, the cold-water tap was located just beside the coffee vending machine at the utensil washing sink. It gave him immediate relief. One thing Vivaan had learnt from the fire drills that happened twice a year in his office was that the first thing to do when one gets burnt is to put water or milk on the burnt area. When you put water or milk on the burnt area, the heat doesn’t penetrate below the surface of the skin and the damage is controlled to the minimum.
Vivaan stared angrily at the coffee machine and wondered why the coffee vending machine starts behaving like a jealous girlfriend whenever a gorgeous girl comes to the office. One thing which Vivaan was sure by then was that Veronica would certainly doubt his credibility. He knew that she would wonder how a person managing a team which successfully launched a spaceship on Mars is so unable to tackle a simple coffee machine. 
Vivaan gave Veronica a sheepish smile. She was looking directly at him by then with an inquisitive expression on her face, and it looked like she was trying hard to figure out what was happening. He once again placed the coffee cup below the coffee nozzle and touched the coffee button on the screen. Fortunately, the machine delivered the coffee this time, and soon the next cup of coffee was ready too.  Vivaan breathed a long sigh of relief and handed one cup of coffee to Veronica and took his seat back on a couch adjacent to her.
“Vivaan, tell us something about yourself,” Veronica started her interview while taking a sip of the hot coffee.
“Well, I belong to Jaipur, India. My parents shifted to Los Angeles when I was 8 years old, and since then we have been living here. From my childhood, I had wanted to become a scientist. I also have a great fascination for mathematics. I won many maths championships during my school and college days. Just after finishing my graduation I got an offer from NASA and joined as a Trainee scientist, and within a year I got promoted twice to the role of Project manager. ‘Mission Mars’ is my first project as a project manager,” Vivaan stated.
“That’s admirable and praiseworthy! Two promotions within the first year of joining NASA, it’s awesome!” Veronica said with sincere appreciation as she unconsciously tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
Vivaan smiled and winked, “Thank you!”
“What is ‘Mission Mars’ all about?” Veronica asked Vivaan. She leaned back and crossed her legs.
Vivaan couldn’t help but notice her smooth legs. He felt guilty and wondered what men should do in the presence of a hot girl? Ignore their sexiness and concentrate on boring stuff? Sorry, men are not designed to do that.
Vivaan looked away and pretended to be thoughtful. “Mars Science Laboratory is a robotic space probe mission to Mars which was started by NASA three years ago. We have now successfully landed Curiosity, a Mars rover, in the Gale Crater. The overall objectives of this mission include investigating Mars’ habitability, studying its climate and geology and collecting data for a human-crewed mission to Mars. The rover is primed with a variety of scientific instruments designed by an international team.”
Veronica smiled and smoothed down her skirt. “Vivaan, I hope you wouldn’t mind telling us something more about yourself.  Our readers would definitely love to have a peek into your life,” Veronica requested with a mixture of excitement and curiosity writ large on her face.
“Hmm...I am a simple person who loves to read books apart from working at NASA. In my free time, which I have very little of, I enjoy solving mathematical riddles. I also enjoy spending time with my friends and a childhood girlfriend Riya; they are my stress busters.”
Veronica’s eyes sparkled and her ears perked up on hearing about Riya, Vivaan’s girlfriend. “Wow! Childhood girlfriend! That’s really sweet, please tell us something about Riya!”
Vivaan blushed but decided to talk: “We both know each other since I was eight-years-old and first came to Los Angeles with my parents. She is a wonderful girl; I can’t imagine getting a better life partner than her. Yes, Riya and I are going to tie the knot soon.”
Veronica flashed another killing smile at Vivaan, “Heartiest Congratulations to you both!”
“Thank you, Veronica! I must say that you have a beautiful smile,” Vivaan said. He finished his coffee and put down the empty mug on the table. The chocolaty taste of coffee lingered in his mouth.
“Thank you, Vivaan!” Veronica giggled; her laugh was even more breath-taking than her smile. Vivaan’s heartbeats increased as it had reminded him of the mysterious girl who keeps coming in his weird dream.  
“One last question: you are an inspiration to many. At such a young age you have achieved a lot, what is the message you would like to give to our readers?” Veronica asked.
Vivaan looked thoughtfully at Veronica.
“Well, the message I would like to pass on to all the wonderful readers of the Outlook magazine is that everyone works based on their unique time zones. People can have things worked out only according to their pace. Work in your time zone. Your colleagues, friends, younger ones might seem to go ahead of you. Maybe some might seem behind you. Don’t envy them or mock them; it’s their time zone. You are in yours! Hold on, be strong, and stay true to yourself. New York is three hours ahead of Los Angeles, but it does not mean that Los Angeles is slow, or that New York is fast. Both are working based on their own time. Someone is still single. Someone graduated at the age of twenty-two yet waited five years before securing a good job, and there is another who graduated at twenty-seven and secured employment immediately. Someone became CEO at twenty-five and died at fifty while another became a CEO at fifty and lived to ninety years.  All things shall work together for your good. You’re not late.”
Veronica gave Vivaan the thumbs up. “Indeed, a wonderful message Vivaan! Thank you so much for taking time out for the interview. We will publish your interview in our upcoming monthly issue and will courier a few copies of the magazine to you.”
Vivaan smiled, “Thank you, Veronica! Pleasure is completely mine.”

Chapter 2
A Secret Untold

“Good afternoon, Aunty,” Riya greeted Vivaan’s mother Mrs. Goel, who was busy cutting vegetables at the dining room of the home.
Mrs. Goel’s face lit up as she saw Riya. “Oh! Very good afternoon, Riya beta, please come! How are you? How are the engagement preparations going on?”
“Preparations are going good, Aunty, I have finalized the engagement outfit and accessories; they should be ready by next Wednesday. How are Vivaan’s preparations going on? He seems to be busy with his ambitious project ‘Mission Mars’. He messaged me two days ago that finally, they had achieved a milestone by launching a spaceship on Mars, it’s a huge success for Vivaan and his team,” Riya replied and settled down on a chair adjacent to Mrs. Goel.
“Yeah, Riya beta, but I am fed up with him and his ‘Mission Mars’. Work is important, but then the work-life balance is equally important. Vivaan needs to understand that spending all his time in the office is not good. We all require adequate rest and entertainment in order to work efficiently. I hope when he gets married, he will start taking his personal life seriously,” Mrs. Goel moaned. There was an expression of worry on her face.
Riya nodded her head in agreement, “Exactly, Aunty, it looks like you stole my thoughts. Many times, I have similar worrisome thoughts. It’s now two days since his project completed its milestone and he is nowhere to be found. We also deserve to be part of his success and celebrate along with him, don’t we?”
“Definitely, Riya beta, we also deserve to be part of his success. We have every right to celebrate along with him,” Vivaan’s dad Mr. Goel said affectionately. He had heard Riya’s voice and came in from his room to join the ladies. And had overheard their discussion. 
Riya twisted in her chair to look at Mr. Goel and smiled. “Hello, Uncle! Yes, I will not let him escape so easily this time. By the way, where is he uncle?”
“Good! That’s the spirit beta! Vivaan is in his room, go and do not let him off the hook this time,” Mr. Goel replied, his voice cheerful and affectionate.
“Thank you, Uncle!” Riya said enthusiastically. She got up from her chair and climbs up the stairs leading to Vivaan’s room situated on the first floor of the duplex home.
“Many Congratulations! The handsome scientist has finally succeeded in launching a spaceship on Mars. I am so excited and happy for you, Vivaan,” Riya greeted Vivaan, her voice beaming with happiness.
Vivaan looked up at Riya and closed the book which he had been reading. He sat straight on the bed, picked up a pillow, and placed it behind his back to provide him support.
“It’s our success Riya, congratulations to you as well!” Vivaan said.
“I am pleased that finally I able to see you. I thought NASA has dispatched you to Mars along with the spaceship,” Riya said, her voice laced with sarcasm.
Vivaan ignored her sarcasm and smiled. It was a genuine smile with a shine in his eyes. The happiness of his project’s grand success was clearly visible in his joyful eyes.
Riya raised her eyebrow and shot Vivaan an inquisitive look.
“Nope! Why would they send me to Mars? And even if they plan to send me, I will not go. What will I do there without you?”  Vivaan replied and tried hard to suppress his smile.
Riya kept quiet. Vivaan noticed that she was looking pretty in her ruby-coloured sleeveless top which contrasted perfectly with her denim jeans. She wore stout burgundy earrings which looked mesmerizing.  She had a hint of kohl in her eyes, which Vivaan was crazy about. Vivaan admired Riya’s dress sense. She pays attention to even the smallest of details when it comes to dressing. Something which he was completely alien to.  It appears that only girls have been blessed with the ability to distinguish between ten different shades of any given colour. They are capable of remembering what their friends had worn a month ago. To add to the fun, they can easily describe their friend’s dress to you in minute detail.   
Riya and Vivaan liked each other since their childhood. Although they have completely different personalities, they had developed a special feeling for each other from the moment they first met. They say that opposites attract and seeing Riya and Vivaan together it looked like that saying had been specially coined for them. Vivaan was always fond of reading, and it was difficult to keep him away from books. Being a reserved person, he opens up only to close friends. He has as many friends as can be easily counted on one’s fingers. Irrespective of Vivaan’s reclusive and quiet nature he is popular among girls due to his attractive physique, good looks and gentle manners. There were rumours that in his college days, one girl had tried to commit suicide when Vivaan politely refused her advances stating that he was already committed. Riya is the exact opposite of Vivaan and dislikes anything related to reading; she instead prefers spending hours talking with her friends. She is full of energy, always surrounded by her gang of friends and is the centre of all activities.
Their love for each other grew stronger with time and then finally the time arrived when they decided to make it official by tying the knot. Their parents who were already aware of their fondness for each other had no objection; in fact, they were eagerly waiting for the auspicious announcement.
“Finally, your three years of hard work has paid off with great results. I wish I too was part of that historic moment when the spaceship finally landed on Mars after traveling all through the vast space lying between the two planets. It would have been a thrilling experience to capture the excitement on your face at that historic moment,” Riya said after a few seconds of silence as she settled down on a chair.
“I had also wished the same, Riya; my happiness would have been doubled if you were also there with me to experience that breath-taking moment. It was 2:00 in the night, and I went to the cafeteria to have a cup of coffee as I was feeling drowsy, everything was going great until then. I was sipping coffee at the cafeteria when James called to inform me that we had stopped receiving signals from the spacecraft. I felt like I was being bitten by the big snake at the ninety-ninth step while playing the snakes and ladders game. That bad news implied that we were required to start our project again from scratch,” Vivaan narrated the incident describing every twist and turn in detail and then paused.
“Then?” Riya prompted, her eyes focused on Vivaan.
Vivaan looked at Riya and smiled, “Fortunately, Roy Sir came to our rescue and explained us that such things happen due to friction when the spacecraft lands on the destination planet. To our delight, he further added that we would start receiving signals back from the spaceship shortly. Our team’s heartbeats were almost at a standstill till we started receiving signals from the spaceship again. The moment we started receiving signals again was one of the happiest moments for all the team members. Everyone at the observatory went insane with intense happiness.” Vivaan completed the narration and smiled gleefully. He cleverly avoided saying anything about his weird dream or giving any hint about it. He even didn’t mention that due to tiredness he had fallen asleep in the cafeteria.
If you tell Riya about your weird dream then she would certainly get upset with you, Vivaan’s mind warned him. Vivaan’s mind was constantly occupied by the thoughts of his weird dream, and he was unable to put it out of his mind. He wanted to share the details of his disturbing dream with someone, someone who could help him recover from the hangover of it, but surely it was not Riya.
“Wow! I felt like I was watching a scene from the Star Trek movie!” Riya said, her voice her cheerful best.
Vivaan runs his hand through his hair. “Yup! It was an exciting and dramatic event.”
“Let’s celebrate, I am sure you have already celebrated the success with your team,” Riya said excitedly, though there was a hint of complaint in her tone. She knew Vivaan rarely attended parties and this time his team deserved his presence as it was a grand success for them as a team. Thus, she has not protested, although she wanted to be the first one to celebrate Vivaan’s success along with him. She tried hard to convince herself that he was right to celebrate with his team, but then she can’t help feeling bad as her heart refuses to understand her intellectual logic.  
Vivaan looked at Riya and smiled, “Sure, wherever you want. I have a surprise for you as well!” He has planned a surprise for Riya to make up for his absence in the last few days due to his hectic work schedule. For the last two months, he had been spending most of his time in the office, as ‘Mission Mars’ was going through its most critical phase. To add to that, the project’s success parties had consumed two more days. Even though he wanted to celebrate the success of his project with Riya, but he had to surrender as his team members had been extremely insistent.
“Oh, really?” Riya’s eyes light up.  “A surprise, wow! I least expected that from you, but I am happy that at last, you planned one for me. Let’s go to the Little Door restaurant. It has a great ambiance, good food, and is perfect for couples. One of my friends recently visited it with her fiancée and she was all praise for it,” Riya enthused, her voice excited.
Vivaan nodded his head enthusiastically, “Great! Then, let’s go to the Little Door restaurant this evening.”
“Okay, it’s time for me to leave now, please pick me up from home in the evening, I will be ready by 7:00 p.m.,” Riya said and got up from the chair.
“Sure!” Vivaan said and looked at his watch. He felt good as he still had three hours and could easily use an hour to complete the chapter of the book which he had left midway.
Riya pulled her hair back, tied it in a loose bun and then walked slowly towards Vivaan. She bent and looked into Vivaan’s eyes. “Hey! What is it in your eyes? Are you hiding something from me?” she asked. Her voice took on a seductive tone.
“Wh…what?” Vivaan said, his heart all a flutter had started beating faster. He felt like he had been caught red-handed.
“Nothing!” Riya burst out laughing, kissed Vivaan’s cheeks, and ran away.
“Oh! C’mon, Riya, we are not kids. For God’s sake, please stop playing your stupid pranks on me,” Vivaan screamed and threw a pillow at Riya but missed the target as she had already left.
As promised, Vivaan reached Riya’s home on time to pick her for their date. He found her father, Mr. Oberoi busy reading the newspaper in the drawing room. Mr. Oberoi owns and manages an investment management firm. His venture investment in Facebook in its early days fetched him a handsome reward and added his name to the list of most affluent people in Los Angeles. Although rich and highly successful he was a grounded and modest person.
“Good Evening, Uncle,” Vivaan greeted him with a smile.
Mr. Oberoi was pleased to see Vivaan. “Very Good Evening Vivaan beta! Congratulations to you for the huge success of your project, ‘Mission Mars’, you made all of us proud.”
Vivaan smiled humbly, “Thank you so much, Uncle!”
“Please come, Vivaan beta and take a seat. Riya is getting ready in her room. Would you like to have a cup of tea or coffee?” Mr. Oberoi asked.
“Thanks, Uncle, a coffee would be good,” Vivaan replied and settled down on a couch adjacent to Mr. Oberoi. He knew that it would take at least ten more minutes for Riya to get ready. Vivaan picked up a newspaper from the table and started reading it.
“Thank you, Uncle,” Vivaan said, as Mr. Oberoi handed him a cup of coffee. He took a sip of coffee and again went back to reading the newspaper. To Vivaan’s relief, Riya got ready before he could finish his coffee.
For a moment he was unable to take his eyes off her, she was looking stunning in her light purple knee-length one-piece. An elegant pearl necklace was looking perfect on the boat neckline of her dress. Matching pearl earrings were adding to her allure. Her trendy white sneakers were looking cool.
Riya looked at Vivaan and smiled, “I am ready, Vivaan, could we leave now?”
Vivaan winked at Riya, “Sure!”
Riya turned towards Mr. Oberoi and asked, “Dad, may we go?”
Vivaan likes this quality of Riya’s the most, although she was brought up in Los Angeles; she had respect for Indian values and culture.
Mr. Oberoi nodded affectionately, “Of course, go beta and enjoy your evening. Please do return by 10:30 p.m. Your mother starts worrying about you if it gets later than that.”
Riya being their only daughter, both Mr. and Mrs. Oberoi were extra protective towards her. They were happy with the fact that after her marriage their daughter would live nearby enabling them to see her daily.
“Yup! Don’t worry, Dad, we will return on time,” Riya said. She knew that if she got late then his father would worry equally as her mother or probably more but most of the time, he refrained from displaying his emotions. 
“Wow! You are looking stunning,” Vivaan complimented Riya as he fastened his seat belt.
Riya blushed. “Thank you, Vivaan! You are so cute,” she said. Her broad smile made her eyes crinkle.
Soon they were moving through the streets of Los Angeles in Vivaan’s car towards the 3rd street where the restaurant was situated. It was a cold winter evening; outside visibility was adversely affected by heavy fog.      
“You know Riya, whenever I drive on a foggy day, it reminds me of a childhood incident,” Vivaan said. He had a philosophical bent of mind and thus was up to sharing something interesting always. Riya used to cherish the conversations as Vivaan always presented things in an interesting way. Otherwise, she has not much interest in insightful knowledge. She was someone who would rather prefer living her life to the fullest than spending time in understanding and finding meaning in life.
“Oh, which incident?” Riya asked inquisitively.
“Well, one day our family was returning from my father’s office. We went there to attend a family event which was organized for the families of the employees. While returning we got late, and there was a heavy fog outside with very poor visibility, only about a two-meter distance was visible with the car headlights on. I thought we would not be able to reach our home, but my father drove the car back without much difficulty. I was surprised and couldn’t resist asking my father how come with such poor visibility he was able to drive the car back home. My father smiled and replied, it does not matter if the road is not completely visible at the beginning of a journey. We can still drive easily, as when we move ahead, we get further visibility and this way we reach our home. Similarly, in life, what’s important is to take the first step with faith, confidence, and understanding, as we take another step, we will get further clarity and thus by taking one step at a time we will reach our destination.”
“Wow! What a lovely message, undoubtedly, it’s an incident worth remembering,” Riya appreciated.
Vivaan smiled. “Thank you!”
“I suppose the 3rd street is the next left, what do you say?” Vivaan asked.
“Yeah, the 3rd street must be the next left,” Riya said, her voice confident.
Vivaan quipped, “Okay, I am taking the next left as girls are always right.”
“Ha-ha, good that you realized this truth before our marriage,” Riya laughed.
“Hmm…you are lucky that you have such an intelligent fiancé,” Vivaan boasted and looked out closely to figure out the next left turn as outside visibility was really bad due to the fog.
“Yup! I am lucky,” said Riya mischievously and kissed Vivaan on his cheek.
As Riya had confirmed, Vivaan took the next left turn and they reached the Little Door restaurant. The restaurant was grand and looked perfect for a couple. It was dimly lit with candles and had an elegant interior. The ambiance of the restaurant had a touch of romance in it, and everything from the walls to the furniture was artistically designed. As Riya had already booked a table for two, the receptionist at the entrance directed them to their reserved table. Upon settling down at the table, they ordered mocktails, a Mexican Limeade for Vivaan and a Paloma Fizz for Riya.
“So?” Riya said and raised her eyebrows. Her eyes widened, and her heart began to beat faster in anticipation of the surprise Vivaan had planned for her.
“What?” Vivaan narrowed his eyes and acted dumb. “This afternoon, I had narrated to you in complete detail the incident of the huge achievement of our project ‘Mission Mars’.” 
“Grrr! I am not talking about your project ‘Mission Mars’. I am talking about the surprise that you have planned for me,” Riya frowned.
Vivaan looked at her nose and saw that her nostrils had flared up. This happens every time she gets upset. “Oh, surprise! Of course, I have planned a surprise for you. It was so stupid of me that I wasn’t able to understand a simple gesture of yours!”
Sometimes Vivaan found pleasure in provoking Riya. She looked prettier with all those different expressions that emerge on her face when she gets annoyed.
“I am not talking to you,” Riya made a face.
Vivaan smiled, “Okay, no more pranks, I promise. Please close your eyes and no cheating.”
As Riya closed her eyes, Vivaan took out a nicely wrapped gift from inside his blazer. “Okay, you can open your eyes now,” he said as he handed the gift to Riya. Riya quickly opened her eyes.
“Thank you so much, Vivaan!” Riya grabbed the gift from Vivaan and immediately started unwrapping it.
The gift looked like a book at first glance. She silently prayed to God for it not to be a book. To her surprise, when she completely unwrapped the gift, she found a photo album. A smiling face of Vivaan with her graced the first page of the album.
That picture was taken during a memorable trip with their families to the Niagara. She was overwhelmed with joy when she turned a few more pages. The album held a collection of lovely photographs of the memorable moments they had spent together. Some pictures were of their childhood which reminded Riya of their carefree days. Beautiful memories flooded her mind as every picture had a story behind it. Vivaan had also added meaningful captions to each picture, which further added to the allure of the album.
Riya was speechless. “Thank you so much, Vivaan! I could not imagine a better gift than this. I felt that I am reliving all the wonderful moments which we spent together, it’s simply outstanding. The captions are equally awesome. I must say that you took a great deal of trouble to create it.”
“I am glad that you liked the gift. I read somewhere that we should always keep good memories fresh in our minds and forget the bad ones as it strengthens our relationships and in turn every aspect of our life.” Vivaan couldn’t help himself, he just could not resist talking philosophy even on a romantic date. Romance is something that does not come naturally to him, but philosophy does.
“I am so happy that you took time out to prepare such a lovely gift despite your hectic schedule. I feel so fortunate to have you in my life,” Riya said as tiny tears appeared in her eyes.
“Thank you, Riya, I am equally lucky to have you in my life,” Vivaan said and looked at her moist eyes. Riya’s nose had puckered up a bit and he could have looked at it forever. 
Riya leaned back as the waiter placed their mocktails on the table.
“For dinner let’s order Burritos and Fajitas as this restaurant is popular for its delicious Mexican dishes. I googled it today afternoon,” Vivaan said, taking a sip of his Mexican Limeade.
Riya chuckled. “Sure, you are leaving no stone unturned today to impress me.”
Vivaan is proactive when it comes to planning. He is in the habit of planning everything in advance, and even the finest of details couldn’t enjoy the privilege of escaping from his sharp mind. Riya admires this quality of Vivaan’s, as on many earlier occasions they were saved from last-minute rush or delay due to it.
“Thank you!” Vivaan smiled and waved his hand at the waiter standing at some distance. Vivaan placed the order as the waiter arrived.
“Yummy! The Mexican dishes of this restaurant are utterly delicious,” Riya said, forming a circle by connecting her thumb and index finger.
Vivaan’s chest inflated with pride as if he himself had cooked the dishes. As they finished dinner, Vivaan ordered strawberry tiramisu for dessert; he knew that Riya is fond of strawberries.
“Are you hiding something from me, Vivaan? It looks like something is going on in your mind,” Riya interrogated, dipping the spoon in the strawberry tiramisu and placed a scoop of it in her mouth. 
“Huh? Nothing, why would I hide anything from you?” Vivaan said, but his voice held a tremble.
“C’mon Vivaan, I know you from the time we both were kids, it’s now more than seventeen years. I noticed you even this afternoon when we met at your home. I have no doubt that there is something going on in your mind which you didn’t disclose to me yet. If you do not share your worries with me then I will have to assume that you do not trust me,” Riya said.
“Hmm…Okay, it’s true that I have not disclosed a secret of mine with you,” Vivaan surrendered as he knew it is impossible to hide things from Riya.
“Oh, a secret! Very bad Vivaan, you started hiding things from me before marriage itself. I am scared about what you will do after our marriage.”
“C’mon, Riya. It’s only that I felt that you will get upset on hearing it, hence I was hiding it from you. Well, I have been having a strange dream repeatedly since last month. It was two days ago that I had that dream again, just sometime before our spaceship landed on Mars. I went to the cafeteria of our office to have a cup of coffee and fell asleep on the couch due to tiredness.” Vivaan paused for a second. His mind warned him again not to share his weird dream with Riya, but then he had no choice but to continue.
“I will tell you the dream, but you have to promise me that you will not get upset. It was a dream and I have no control over dreams,” Vivaan said.
Riya looked puzzled. “You had the same dream repeatedly? That’s quite strange. But why are you so afraid of sharing it with me? We all see numerous dreams during our sleep. Why would I be upset upon hearing your dream? I promise I will not get upset.”
Vivaan felt relaxed. “Hmm, thank you, I dreamt that I was on a beach with a beautiful girl, we were holding hands, she confesses her love for me, and I also felt strongly attracted to her. Soon it started raining, and we get drenched, I noticed that she was wearing traditional Indian dress, an elegant red lehenga with rich embroidery, a red blouse which was equally rich in artwork and exquisite embroidery. I found it strange as I have never seen a girl wearing such an outfit to a beach…”
“So, you kissed her?” Riya cut Vivaan in mid-sentence.
It was insane of Vivaan to have believed that Riya would not get upset with him on hearing his dream. He realized that you could not learn everything by reading books, some finer lessons in life are the ones that you can learn only from experience. 
“What nonsense, I didn’t kiss her. I already told you that it was a weird dream on which I didn’t have any control,” Vivaan protested, he tried hard to save their romantic date from getting spoiled.
“Any girl will get upset when she comes to know that her to-be-husband is dreaming of another girl and kissing her on the beach,” Riya said, her face softened and Vivaan heard tiny sobs. 
Even though Riya had a genuine point to get upset, it is me who is being haunted by a weird dream. I should be the one getting to cry. However, I guess only girls look nice crying on dates, Vivaan thought.
“Oh! C’mon, Riya! I already told you that it was a dream, on which I don’t have any control. Also, I didn’t kiss her, it was my dream, do you know better or do I?” Vivaan said.
His loud voice attracted the attention of the neighbouring tables. All the girls at the Little Door stared hard at Vivaan as if he was the worst possible male chauvinist pig ever.
Riya’s tears were back. However, she noticed people watching them and composed herself. A few wipes with a tissue and she was normal again.
Riya being a mature girl, didn’t want to spoil their date. She somehow convinced herself that it was a dream and not something that had actually happened. The return journey to their home was quiet, as Vivaan chose to remain silent rather than say something to trigger another chain of arguments. Riya was unable to get her mind off Vivaan’s strange dream. Even though she had a lot of things to discuss with Vivaan ranging from their engagement to marriage, she also preferred to keep silent.     
“Riya, believe me, it was just a dream on which I had no control. I do not know who that girl is. It was just a dream,” Vivaan tried hard to persuade Riya one more time, as they reached Riya’s home.
“It’s fine, Vivaan! Let’s forget about your weird dream. We have many things to focus on, like the preparation for our engagement day which is approaching fast. It’s not your fault as dreams are something over which we do not have any control. Moreover, the girl you dreamt of does not exist in reality,” Riya said and smiled gently. To Vivaan her words felt like a breeze of fresh air on a hot summer afternoon.
Vivaan’s face lit up with joy. “That’s exactly, what I was trying to tell you. I am happy that you finally got the point. Good night and sweet dreams, Riya.”
“Good night, Vivaan, I hope that you will dream of only me for all your romantic escapades while you sleep.”
Vivaan smiled and nodded his head in the affirmative. He scolded himself for wishing her sweet dreams and thus reminding her again of his dream. He left without uttering anything further. He could easily sense another half an hour argument with Riya if he continued a conversation with her.  
To be continued...

The novel, 'The Girl in the Dream: A Love Story Planed 500 years ago' continues to be on Amazon bestseller list. Tap the below link to buy. 

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the girl in the dream

Synopsis: The Girl in the Dream

2017, Los Angeles - Vivaan, a NASA scientist has a strange recurring dream of a mysterious girl. His engagement with Riya turns into a nightmare when his dream starts turning into reality. He flies to Madhya Pradesh to find himself at the center of a 500-years-old enigma.

1500 AD, Kingdom of Ujjain - Shrinika is heartbroken when she is betrayed by Rudra, the king of Ujjain. After the unfortunate incident, she mysteriously disappeared.

2017, Madhya Pradesh - Dhiren, the evil son of the village sarpanch is in desperate search of the ancient Statue of Lord Shiva which is hidden somewhere in Shivgarh Fort and worth a billion dollars.

2011, MNIT Jaipur - Rachit fall head over heels in love with Swara when he is asked to propose to her, as a ragging prank, by his seniors.

What links Rachit and Swara to the complex puzzle of Vivaan’s dream? What is the secret of the ancient Shiva temple? What connects Vivaan to Shrinika, the missing girl in the 16th century? Read on as you travel through a saga of love and passion, betrayal and conspiracy, hope and ambition. 
"Enthralling and thrilling, a mix of romance, mystery, mythology and fantasy...The story has the visual effect of a screenplay...a magnum opus!"
"The novel is for all the readers who love reading modern Indian fiction that has meaning and enthusiasm, element and energy, style and class, modernism and traditional appeal."   
Regular Books & Reviews
"Full of mystery, thrill, entertainment, and unexpected turns...A nail-biting romantic thriller..."
Indian Book Critics
"Pravin has achieved quite big in terms of fiction's height in this novel. Reading the novel will be a very happening journey for the readers."
Book Reviews Web
"An engaging and exciting plot that keeps the readers glued to the novel throughout! It's a moving novel and the readers will never feel underwhelmed."
The Best Books
"It began with a surprise and continued to pack and offer me the surprises all the way. It will be interesting as well as exciting read for the readers."
Silent Book Reader
"The Girl in the Dream is a novel that has pace, interesting threads that connect the past and the present and a storyline that is impressive, compelling and also exciting for the readers all the time."
"Pravin Agarwal, the novelist who penned this beautiful story of lovers at present and lovers in the past, has done his extreme best."

the girl in the dream

The Girl in the Dream


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