Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 7
Continued from “World within the World”
That Sunday morning, the picnic spot at Gandipet, on the banks of Osmansagar, was crowded with holidaymakers of all descriptions. When Sathyam and Roopa reached the place on their Lambretta, the gathering found their bearings for reveling.
“Mrs. Sathyam is marvelous,” admired a middle-aged man within Roopa’s hearing. Though the compliment pleased her, the allusion startled her. She was galled at her social identity as Mrs. Sathyam.
‘Mrs. Sathyam could be the prop of my public stance,’ she despaired, ‘but who would know about my private reconciliation for accommodation!’
Besides the admiring looks of the males around, and the eagerness of the females to befriend her, enlivened her mood, Roopa didn’t fail to discern the amorous glances of men who loitered around her, though the not so forthright appeared casual, camouflaging their craving. When someone proposed a round of rummy, and produced three sets of unopened packs, as if to seduce the fence sitters, Sathyam, who was amusing himself with some children nearby, was summoned. Roopa too was roped in for a quorum.
“Five rupees a count,” proposed a regular clubman.
“If it were for stakes,” Sathyam tended to withdraw, “I’m not a game for it.”
“Card-game without stakes,” remarked the regular, “is like an amorous exercise with the incapable: the psyche gets no kicks, while the hands ache.”
“Oh, why spoil the party,” said his friend, “any way; you’ve your sidekicks at the club for your kicks.”
Seeing Roopa adept at the game, Sathyam asked, “How come you play so well!”
“We used to play at Sandhya’s place,” she said declaring yet another deal.
“Mrs. Sathyam,” complimented the regular, “I think you would make a fortune if only you turn into a pro. You’ve got the skill and luck as well in required measures to sweep the stakes.”
“Lucky at cards and unlucky in love,” said his friend. “Why bother her with your proposition.”
After scooting the next deal, Roopa looked up, as if on cue, and found a youth perched on a low branch. Sensing that he was looking down at her, she realized her pallu had loosened its guard on her assets making her readjust her apparel to block her enticing valley to his probing glances. Blushing nevertheless, she seemed pleased at his enterprise and experienced a sense of romanticism underlined by his eagerness.
After the brunch, when the group gathered for a round of bingo with gusto, as Sathyam missed the house narrowly, commented a wag amongst them, “With a wife like his in his house, where’s the need for another house.”
Spending the day in mirth and merriment, and having agreed upon the need for future outings, the gathering dispersed towards the evening.
“I hope you’ve enjoyed,” said Sathyam as she got onto the pillion, “how everyone sings your praises! I’m really proud of you.”
“It’s a nice outing,” she said fondly glancing backwards as they proceeded homewards.
While the euphoria of the event cast an infectious spell on Roopa, synchronous with his spirits, Sathyam switched into the top gear.
As though to bring Roopa back to her humdrum routine, the next morning, Yadamma turned up for work past nine.
“Why so late?” said Roopa in irritation.
“I was held up at Taraamma’s house,” Yadamma began her harangue by way of an explanation. “I was helping her pack up for her journey. Don’t worry amma; she won’t go out much, may be once or twice in a month, and that too just for two or three days, no more.”
As Yadamma got on with her work, satisfied with the explanation, Roopa busied herself with the lunch-box for Sathyam. However, when the buzzer sounded that afternoon, breaking the monotony, Roopa expected the postman, and finding him, she experienced a sense of excitation.
“Have you moved in recently?”’ asked the postman handing her a couple of envelopes.
‘My father is a Post Master at Kakinada,’ she said, and seeing that the letters were from Sandhya and her father, she felt that it was bonus post for her.
“So we’re baradaris,” he said as he left. “I’ll treat your mail as our family mail.”
Closing the door behind him, she opened Ramaiah’s letter first, not wanting to get distracted from the bliss of Sandhya’s missive later. As she culled through her father’s letter, she gathered that all was well at home, and felt glad about that. But as she fondly gazed at her address in Sandhya’s hand, her eyes glistened with fondness. When she pressed the envelope to her bosom, her breasts started heaving as though to synchronize her emotions with Sandhya’s anticipated feelings. As she unfolded the letter at length, her eyes became antennas to transmit the spasms of Sandhya’s heart to her soul.
Roopa, my Lovey,
I couldn’t think of a better way of addressing you than the one you thought for me, moreover, you are to me what I am to you, aren’t you?
In our separation, I feel as though the vitals of my body and the essence of my soul were wrenched out from me. I have come to realize that your body is but an extension of my soul. I can feel your line like the flow in my veins - I’ve carried my body leaving behind my soul in your frame. Now I know, more than ever, that we are complete only in our togetherness. I pray that after I get married, we might become neighbors for all our life. Until then, we have to bear our separation and bide for the time.
Sorry for having kept you waiting for so long for my letter. Well, I was at a loss for words when it came to writing to you. Believe me.
As Roopa read and reread the letter, her innate longing for Sandhya wrenched her every nerve. Thus at bedtime that night, having shown her father’s letter to Sathyam, she said, “I want to go home.”
“What’s the hurry?” he said softly. “Any way we would be there for the dasara.”
“Let me go now as dasara is far way,” she tried to persuade him. “Then we can go together.”
“It’s not even a month since we’ve set up our sweet home and why sour it so soon,” he said in smile and tried to take her into his arms, as though to whisper the prescription for her ailment. “Not that I can’t understand your feelings but you’ve got to get over your homesickness.”
Dodging him, she turned her back on him.
“Don’t behave like a kid,” he said affectionately, and tried to turn her to his side.
“What have you got to do with a kid?” she said as she resisted his advances.
“You know,” he said softly, cuddling her, “‘that I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Never mind,”’ she said withdrawing from his embrace. “I prefer being a kid.”
“I am sorry,” he said pleadingly, “if I’ve hurt you.”
“If you are really sorry,” she said, pulling a blanket over her head, as though it were curtains for him, “let me be alone.”
The next day too Sathyam had to contend with a morose Roopa, and during bedtime, as if to preempt his move, she pretended headache. Unable to bear the tension born out of her regimen, that plagued him for a couple of days more, he gave in.
“Look,” he said that night, “I’ve a surprise for you.”
Though she smelt victory, she feigned indifference.
“I’ll put you on the train,” he showed her the reserved ticket, “this Saturday itself.”
“Thank you,” she tried to appear casual.
“Now at least,” he said, taking her into his arms, “you can bring your bewitching smile back onto your fascinating face.”
Having enfeebled him into setting a precedent, she was not averse to giving in, and thus said enticingly, “Switch off the light.”
Roopa’s arrival that Sunday morning took her parents, still at ablutions, all by surprise.
‘What’s the matter?’ said Janaki apprehensively.
‘Oh, don’t imagine things,’ said Roopa heartily. ‘I’ve come to have some fun.’
‘Still Sathyam should’ve wired about your arrival,’ said Ramaiah in relief,
‘If you’re not pleased,’ said Roopa making a mocking move. ‘I’ll go back right now.’
‘Stop it now,’ said Janaki holding Roopa’s hand, and probing her daughter’s demeanor, she asked, ‘how’s your husband?’
‘He’s fine,’ said Roopa looking around. ‘But where are our devils?’
As though to answer her query, Chandrika emerged from the bathroom and Raju came from the vegetable market.
‘So, Raju gives you a helping hand these days,’ Roopa said aloud before whispering to him. ‘What’s the commission like my boy?’
‘How is my poor brother-in-law?’ Raju said in jest. ‘Hope he didn’t pack you off to get rid of your nagging.’
‘What’s the news from Suguna?’ said Roopa.
‘She’s doing fine with her family,’ said Janaki with that sense of satisfaction mothers derive at the well-being of their married daughters. ‘But she complains that you don’t write to her.’
‘What of her?’ said Roopa, ‘why not find out if she ever wrote to me?’
‘How parents wish that their children develop a strong family bond that binds the coming generations,’ said Janaki stoically. ‘Sadly these days even the first cousins are not on familiar terms.
However, proving her mother wrong, Roopa and Chandrika closeted over coffee to exchange confidences.
‘Won’t you,’ said Roopa eagerly, ‘show me the progress card?’
‘He’s on the lookout for a job in Madras,’ said Chandrika holding Roopa’s hand. ‘We want to move out of here to save embarrassment to our parents. Hopefully the decks would be cleared by December. You know he’s eager to meet you.’
‘It should be a pleasure,’ said Roopa, ‘meeting my brother-in-law in the making.’
‘I hope,’ said Chandrika hoping to hear in the affirmative, ‘your fears are but liars.’
‘When hopes are duped what’s there to fear?’ said Roopa resignedly. ‘Maybe, it’s in the nature of marriage that one learns to fall in line.’
‘I’ll know that any way but you should know,’ said Chandrika, ‘without you Sandhya is like a fish out of water. Oh, how she loves you!’
‘If not for her love,’ said Roopa closing her eyes as though to picture her friend, ‘there’s no hope in my life.’
‘I wish I too had a friend like her,’ said Chandrika, ‘your friendship makes me jealous.’
‘Roopa,’ yelled Janaki from the kitchen, ‘why not you have your bath.’
‘I’ll have an early lunch,’ said Roopa to Chandrika, picking up her bathrobe, ‘and rush to Sandhya.’
‘I know you would be restless till you meet her,’ said Janaki in smile as Roopa went into the kitchen on her way to the bathroom. ‘Tell me, how are you managing your home?’
‘Why not come and see for yourselves?’ said Roopa smiling.
‘We’ll come after you settle down,’ said Ramaiah joining them. ‘I hope you’re making the best of life.’
‘You should know,’ said Janaki to Roopa, ‘how your father is worried about you.’
‘No need for that,’ said Roopa thoughtfully. ‘He looks after me famously.’
After bath, in her anxiety to rush to Sandhya, Roopa joined her mother in the kitchen to pressurize her to speed up the cooking. But hardly could Roopa eat what her mother so fondly served her in time, and rushing in a rickshaw, she reached Sandhya’s place only to fumble in greeting Damayanthi at tête-à-tête with a guest.
When Roopa began to hop up the steps to Sandhya’s room, Damayanthi in concern sounded caution, and told her guest, ‘She’s Roopa, Sandhya’s friend, looks like they are born for friendship.’
Storming into Sandhya’s bed without a word, Roopa overwhelmed her in a cyclonic embrace and buried her head in her sharp valley and excited by her touch for which she was craving, Sandhya wanted gratification for her soul as well with the timbre of Roopa’s tone. However, even as Sandhya parted her sensuous lips to initiate a dialogue, Roopa in all eagerness to savor them, closed in on them for deep kissing, and even when her lips were set free, Sandhya couldn’t give vent to her feelings past monosyllables as Roopa went on probing her labia with her craving tongue. But when Roopa’s clamor rent the air as Sandhya plunged her tongue into her surging vulva to savor its flavor, they both had gratifying feeling.
‘Oh!’ said Sandhya in embosom with Roopa. ‘It’s as if it were ages.’
‘How true,’ crooned Roopa into Sandhya’s ear, ‘that you make me die for you!’
‘I’m going crazy craving for you,’ said Sandhya longingly. ‘How I started wishing that you weren’t married!’
‘Wonder how we failed,’ said Roopa fondling Sandhya, ‘to make it before I was trapped in the wedlock.’
‘Better late than never,’ said Sandhya fondling Roopa, ‘but, still we have so much life left for us.’
‘If only,’ said Roopa in apprehension, ‘our men wink at our escapades.’
‘Why not I,’ said Sandhya joking, ‘marry a blind one?’
‘Jokes apart,’ said Roopa in speculation, ‘what if your ‘would-be’ spoils the party?’
‘Why,’ said Sandhya mirthfully, ‘I would walk out on him. Are you for that?’
‘Won’t I make Sathyam blind,’ said Roopa mystically, ‘literally and otherwise as well.’
‘Why soil the hand and then go for the soap,’ continued Sandhya in the same vein. ‘I will remain single.’
‘But that would leave you without a manhood,’ said Roopa in jest. ‘Better you hook my dream man for our menage a trois.’
‘It is fine,’ said Sandhya, ‘just to fantasize.’
‘Why won’t a threesome be fantastic,’ said Roopa, ‘as well in reality.’
‘Given our love,’ said Sandhya thoughtfully, ‘it may be so.’
‘But for now,’ said Roopa, ‘it’s back to the reality.’
‘How are things with you now?’ said Sandhya
There’s nothing wrong with him,’ said Roopa as though grasping the reality, ‘and nothing goes right for me. That’s the irony of it all.’
‘Why this emergency landing?’ said Sandhya in seeming innocence.
‘Don’t you know that?’ said Roopa looking at Sandhya endearingly. ‘Your letter gave me wings, and I flew into our nest.’
‘Why not find a groom for me in Domalaguda,’ said Sandhya dreamily, ‘for our meaningful life.’
‘Good idea,’ said Roopa pensively, ‘but I’ve come to believe I’m born unlucky.’
‘I’ll do all I can to make you happy,’ said Sandhya overwhelmed, ‘our ménage a trois included. It’s my promise.’
‘Well it’s your love,’ Roopa was touched, ‘that keeps my life going.’
‘We will keep it that way,’ said Sandhya, signing the kiss of contract with her lips, ‘come what may.’
‘I know we would,’ said Roopa, grabbing Sandhya’s lips to seal the agreement, ‘at any cost.’
Buoyed by Sandhya’s commitment to their love and accompanied by Raju, Roopa called on her in-laws that evening.
‘We’ve always felt you would make a good daughter-in-law,’ said a satisfied Durgamma, after an hour-long enquiry. Taking leave in the end, Roopa promised to stay with them for a couple of days before she left for Hyderabad.
‘It’s terrible waiting for you all day long,’ Roopa said as she nestled into Sandhya the next evening. ‘Why not bunk the post-lunch sessions?’
‘Why, to let all tongues wag at the campus,’ said Sandhya in jest.
‘Coming to ours,’ said Roopa winking at her.
‘See,’ said Sandhya protruding her tongue, ‘how dry it is.’
‘I’m all wet for that,’ said Roopa shedding her sari.
‘Your figure dear,’ said Sandhya fondling Roopa in their embrace, ‘is flowing to perfection.’
‘Thank the change of the climes for that,’ said Roopa naughtily.
‘Don’t be mean,’ said Sandhya teasingly, squeezing Roopa’s. ‘Give credit to whom it’s due.’
‘Come lovey,’ said Roopa invitingly, ‘let me credit it to your account now.’
‘Oh!’ sputtered Sandhya in time. ‘I feel wanted.’
‘You make me live,’ continued Roopa.
Next day, when Roopa went to Chandrika’s office, she saw her with a man of about thirty, and felt that he could be her beau.
‘This is Roopa,’ Chandrika introduced her to him.
‘I am Anand,’ he said, ‘the ever grateful.’
‘Please, don’t make much of it,’ said Roopa in embarrassment.
‘Your gesture is love-saving for us,’ he said.
‘I’m glad you’re happy,’ said Roopa as though to shed part of her guilt. ‘How are you sure I didn’t have an axe to grind?’
‘Even then,’ he insisted, ‘it doesn’t lessen our gratitude.’
‘I don’t deserve it, though,’ she thought, but said, ‘I wish you all the best.’
‘Thank you,’ he said as he left them to exchange notes.
‘How do you like him?’ enquired Chandrika eagerly.
‘He has got good features,’ said Roopa shaking Chandrika’s hand in congratulation. ‘You’ve chosen well.’
‘Coming from you,’ said Chandrika in elation, ‘it’s a compliment.’
When it was time for Roopa’s departure, the mates felt wrenched from one another. Neither was Janaki satisfied. ‘You were hardly at home,’ she complained. Seeing his daughter in a happy frame of mind, Ramaiah, however, thought she got reconciled to her situation at last and felt relieved at that. However, the three days she spent in her in-laws’ house, with the constant reference to Sathyam therein, made her experience the effect of his presence more in his absence, which made her feel that she was in the annex of her own home.
Continued to “Threshold of Temptation”