Prem took a sip of his Merlot and leaned back in his plush leather couch, closing his eyes. A few creases, however, appeared across his forehead, reminding him in no uncertain terms that the tranquillity he sought for his wavering mind was still a distant dream.
Straightening up, he placed the wine glass gently on the table, and covered his face with his palms, breathing into them, clouding his glasses.
So much for some me time!
For reasons unfathomable to him, his wife had been fixated with historical fiction. Not that he cared about her literary tastes! Or the lack of it! But LOVE BYTES 2050? The author, known to stir up controversies, had claimed in his bestseller that people back then actually loved. Without using drugs! Prem, the founder and CEO of Amour Pharma, sniggered at the hilarious likelihood. Morons! Did it matter what happened a millennium ago?
** ** ** ** **
This cannot be happening!
Mamta fumed as her eyes scanned the headlines of ‘WE BRING HAPPY NEWS’. Not only had the editor written a scathing review of her last film, but had also compared her with that good-for-nothing newbie.
Who showed it better?
Those four words had knocked the winds out of her. The picture on the right showed Mamta kissing her four-year-old daughter. But it was the other picture which made her want to grab a pill to control her mounting blood pressure. The newbie was holding her infant and seemed to whisper something in his ears. The media had pronounced their mandate. Mamta didn’t shower as much affection on her kid as her rival.
The darling of the masses dashed to the bathroom and undressed. Popping a blue oval-shaped pill from the cabinet, she took a step back. Her bare body made contact with the cold tiles, and the tingling sensation made her gasp out loud. Taking a deep breath, she pressed a button. In a minute, steam emanated from her surroundings. She stood still, allowing the vapour to envelop her. Her muscles relaxed, and she moaned with pleasure.
What would she do without Aish 2.0? And of course, its inventor Prem.
As she emerged from her bathroom, a transparent robe wrapped around her slim body, she messaged him.
Saw the headlines? Have a pill?
The reply was immediate. So typical of Prem. Mamta smiled.
I will have it sent by my drone.
True to his words, in ten minutes, a blue packet landed in Mamta’s balcony. She tore it open. It revealed a syringe and a vial. A single dose of Nirupa 1.0 was enough, so the instruction read. Mamta’s lips curved into a smile, and with a single touch on her PayYou device, transferred one thousand Crypcoins to Prem’s private account.
Tomorrow the tide will turn in my favour.
Mamta grimaced a little, as she injected the reddish liquid on her right arm. She had the pink pill ready. Prem had assured her that the drug had no side-effects. In case her breathing became laboured, she was to immediately swallow the prescribed pill. Thankfully, no such untoward incident happened.
The next day, the paparazzi waited outside her mansion. Cameras followed every movement of her kid’s nanny, as the elderly woman came outside to have a glimpse of the people thronging the road.
The frenzy increased when Mamta emerged from her house, holding the hand of her scowling daughter. The child hesitated as her surroundings reverberated with clicks.
“Mamta! Here, babe! Look here!”
“Anything to say on the rivalry between you and her?”
Mamta stopped in her tracks, removed her huge round goggles, and beamed. She squatted, and pulled her daughter gently towards her. A hint of blush appeared on Mamta’s cheeks as she ran her manicured hand over the girl’s hair. Streaks of brown mascara mingled with salty tears, which she didn’t bother to wipe away. She kissed her child on her forehead, and got into her limo, leaving the nanny to drag the dazed kid back home.
By evening, Nirupa 1.0 had served its purpose.
Mamta is such a loving mother.
Oh, to have a momma like Mamta.
Look at that maternal love!
The reigning queen of the film industry had once again brought down the journalists to their knees.
** ** ** ** **
As the thrusts increased in frequency, so did the decibel level of the grunts. And as he came hard inside his wife, Chirag shuddered. He lay still for a minute, then slid off her, turned to his side, and drifted off to sleep instantly.
It had been the same ritual since his marriage. The sex was passionate. Sometimes even wild. But what purpose did it serve if no children came out of it?
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with both of you”, Dr. Yogi had declared.
“It’s been five years, and still….”, Chirag’s voice had trailed off.
The doctor sighed. “Maybe you should opt for a dose of love. But can you afford it?”
The harsh words of his doctor brought a faint blush to his cheeks. For the umpteenth time in his life, Chirag was reminded of his acute poverty. However, he knew he had to swallow his pride. And like a man wanting desperately to preserve his masculine pride, he did.
“Can I get an affordable version?” he whispered to the doctor, eyes downcast, as if the walls would mock him for not being affluent.
The medic sighed, rolling his eyes. “I can ask Prem.”
True to his words, Dr. Yogi messaged Chirag after a week.
Prem will have two tablets of Santan 0.1 mg delivered to your doorstep. Swallow it with a glass of chilled strawberry milkshake just ten minutes before sex. And yes, don’t forget to transfer 500 Crypcoins to his private account. The details will be provided shortly.
Chirag smiled. Not for nothing was Prem called the messiah of the masses.
“Why are you smiling?”
Chirag turned to his wife. “It’s almost bedtime. Hey! You have strawberries?”
His wife frowned. “Yes, but why?”
“Whisk them into milkshakes. We need to drink it. Then only the tablets will be effective.”
“What type of tablets?”
Chirag winked at her. “Love.”
His wife looked at him. “I have read something about it in history classes. I don’t remember it exactly now. What’s it? This love, I mean.”
Chirag shrugged his shoulders. “Apparently it aids in having children.”
With that, he followed her to the kitchen. As his wife whisked the strawberries into a pink concoction, he took out the mustard-sized pills.
“I hope it’s not harmful”, his wife said, as she offered him the glass.
“Nay! Worry not. Let’s have it.”
They took a swig of the milkshake and popped the pills. Ten minutes passed by.
“Do you feel a weird sensation in your heart?” asked Chirag, his voice shaking. His wife gulped, her eyes wide with fear.
“Prem mentioned something about Oxytocin. Maybe it’s harmless”, he consoled his wife.
She smiled. The hormone had started its work. Chirag wrapped his arms around his wife, and pulled her closer to him. As she nestled her face against his chest, his heart did a somersault. He ran his hand over her back softly, relishing the delightful sensation as she moved teasingly against him. She raised her face. Chirag looked into her eyes. Is this a sparkle I see in them? She opened her mouth to say something, but the words remained lost midway, as his lips locked with hers in a deep and long kiss.
The tiny kitchen witnessed a hitherto unseen union of two bare bodies, as they writhed and moaned in pleasure.
Prem, the Pharma Prince had proved his mettle yet again.
** ** ** ** **
Prem sat on the edge of the bamboo chair, shuffling his feet. Beads of sweat had formed in his forehead, which he kept on wiping with a recycled tissue. The temperature of the air-conditioner had been set to polar. Why the hell am I then perspiring like a pig?
Did he goof up somewhere?
The sound of stilettos clacking against the black granite tiles made him look up. Janani approached Prem and extended her hand towards him. He rubbed his palm against his linen pants, and shook hands with the firebrand Minister of Humanity Affairs.
Janani sat down on a white settee and motioned him to do the same.
“So, I finally get the honour to meet you!”
Prem looked up. Did she praise him? A wave of relief spread across his face. “The privilege is mine, madame!”
“Call me Janani.”
“Let’s not beat around the bush. The government has been keeping a watch on you. We are mighty impressed with your work. Mamta simply gushes about you. You have done wonders for her publicity. But what I love about you is the way you treat your clients equally, irrespective of their financial status. Dr. Yogi vouches for that. You know him, right? Anyway, I am digressing. I am here to offer you a lucrative deal.”
Prem’s eyes widened. This is too good to be true.
“Do I take that as a yes, Prem?” Janani raised her eyebrows.
Prem gave a jump. Shit! He had been so tongue-tied that he had forgotten to reply. He stood up and bowed before Janani. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to disrespect you. How can I say no to you, Janani?”
“Good. I will brief you about the requirement. But before that, you need to know a bit of the history behind it. Not much, I assure you. So, here you go. Our Premier feels that a certain section of the population is revolting. You see, like posing unnecessary and uncomfortable questions to him. It also pains him to see that the youth of our nation have a very, how do I put it, casual attitude. Just last week, he had visited a school, and the kids jumbled up the words of the national song. The audacity!” Janani paused, as her eyes reddened with fury.
Prem shook his head. “I saw the news, Janani. I was shocked too.”
Janani continued. “I had a talk with the Premier. He agreed to my proposal. I am planning a nationwide vaccine drive on patriotism. Any citizen not partaking in this drive will be stripped off his identity and various subsidies. Media might spread some rumours, but that will be taken care of. Prem, can you develop the vaccine for us? Needless to say, you will be paid handsomely, and we will provide you the personal bodyguards of our Premier.”
Prem didn’t hesitate. “Of course, Janani. It will take some time. Any deadline?”
With that, Janani waved her hand. Taking the cue, Prem got up, nodded at her, and exited her room with a spring in his step. He had already decided on the name of the vaccine. I am going to be popular and powerful. Bhoomi V 1.0 will be my most famous invention.
Janani snapped her fingers. A burlesque man appeared before her.
“You saw him? He is Prem. Treat him with kid gloves.”
With that, she got up. The man nodded and made way for her, as she went to her cabin to call up the Premier. She would soon take his place. Of that she was sure.
** SIX MONTHS LATER **
“My dear citizens!” The audience in the hall broke out into a thunderous applause as Janani took the microphone. She waited till the claps receded and raised her right hand in a victory sign.
“It gives me so much joy that I could see this day. I was on the verge of giving up. But I had immense faith in Prem. And I have to admit, he didn’t disappoint.” Janani turned to Prem, who was on the podium, relaxing on a sofa. He uncrossed his legs, stood up and waved to the audience. They clapped enthusiastically.
“Thank you, Prem.” Janani turned to the people again. “Having said that, credit goes to every one of you out here. You spread the good word around. The vaccine drive was a stupendous success. It couldn’t have been done without your support.”
A few members whistled. Janani giggled. “I will not come in the way of your celebrations.”
Prem’s eyes darted to the crowd sitting in rapt attention, latching onto every word uttered by Janani. She sure had that magnetic pull required of a leader! The Premier would be so proud of his protégé. Alas! The poor soul was in hospital, fighting for his dear life. An overdose of Aish 2.0 would do the trick, Prem had assured Janani. The recipient would derive too much pleasure, which would then be followed by acute withdrawal symptoms. This would ultimately result in a ruptured blood vessel. The beloved leader of the nation would join his dissenters on the stairway to heaven. Or was it hell? Who cared? Prem smirked and adjusted his bow tie. Janani would be announcing the new portfolio anytime now. She had assured him that he would head it. It would be his baby – The Ministry of Love.