Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 23
Continued from “Villainy of Life”
In mid-January that sankranthi, the exhibition ground in Hyderabad came alive as the fair curious of all ages inundated the premises. While some sauntered in and out of the pavilions, erected by the government departments, others filled the private stalls, of consumer goods. But, what took the cake at the grand mela were the garment shops. Nonetheless, the sensible, so it seemed, stood rooted at the vantage points to ogle at the bevy of beauties who made it to the annual fair.
In the pavilion of the Austral Industries, its young Executive Director was figuring out the vital statistics of the female visitors while apparently reviewing the sales figures. Of particular interest to him was the impression the air-conditioners, their new product, made on prospective buyers. Satisfied with the bottom line, he came out into the open to ascertain the proclivities of the passing women who abounded by then.
‘Almost every woman in her youth is beddable,’ he thought, lighting his India King. ‘While some may be repeatable, rarely are they keepable. But, each of them is obtainable, though with some of them it may take some time and effort even. But then, the quick-fire affair affords man ego satisfaction as well as ready gratification. Besides, won’t that make it easy for man to bring the curtains down, when it suits him? It’s as well; women tend to hang on to the illicit stage that much longer.’
‘But should the dame resist long enough,’ he continued with his soliloquy, ‘for the adventurer that would be a different ball game altogether. Her reluctance to give in would only increase her appeal to him by the day, deepening his desire for her by the night. Won’t that make it difficult for him to give up, resulting in unwelcome frustration? What’s worse, it could result in reverse seduction, tying the philanderer in the nuptial knots. And for the married man, courting singles could be a hindrance, for they harp on his divorcing the wife as a prerequisite for liaison.’
‘But, oh, with their ripen wares, aren’t married women truly mouthwatering,’ he continued to delve into the proclivities of women, ‘and are ready-made for affairs. Maybe, some of them may need a man’s helping hand to cross the hurdle of their sentimental fidelity, for them to run the rest of the illicit race with him in their raunchy beds. Why, luckily for men, the hard nuts to crack for the final favor are few and far between! But then, the harder the struggle to win women over, the sweeter would be the pleasure in having them, wouldn’t it be? Oh, what else draws a man to a woman than his desire to access her persona specifics? Won’t woman bare her veiled assets for her fancied man to dabble with her private accounts? But after a few jaunts of his to her favored joint, what would be left in her for her lover to explore, and for her to show him more? And thereafter, how could she cater to his innate need for variety and what else she could conjure up to sustain his enticement? Oh, the poor thing, seeing his interest in her wane in time, won’t she turn more so eager to keep him in good humor? Of course, the more she gives her man; even more she satiates him, doesn’t she? And it’s only time before she finds her paramour bypass her favors for lesser flavors. That’s the woman’s bother, anyway, why should I bother?’
Noticing a pretty lass of twenty pass him by, he thought, ‘Doesn’t she swing her seat as if to suggest that there’s a way too right up there? Heaving boobs and bulging bottom with something passable for a waist in between, won’t that sum up woman for man? Didn’t La Rochefoucauld say that man is the sum total of all the women he had ever loved. Maybe what he meant was that the measure of a man’s worth is the aggregate sum of the vital statistics of the women he had ever laid. Why not I maintain a record of them all, at least from now on, to know my net worth at the time of my death?’
‘Not a bad idea after all,’ he felt amused, and pursued his course in applied sex. ‘Nature made me a ladies’ man and fortune gave me the means to lure them. Oh, how the Cupid fellow thought it fit to endow women with an ear for flattery as if to help his own ilk worm their way into their arms. Won’t a push with praise and prod with a gift bring the babes to bare their boobs? And aren’t women blessed with a weakness for successful men? How money bestows status upon men and brings power over women! Won’t that enable the well-heeled to pick up their fancied women, that too at the drop of a hat! Well, haven’t I tasted the amorous flavors of countless randies in assorted ways? It’s as though every lass is ready for a lay, of course, on the sly. Well, with the right tactics, isn’t snaring women as easy as luring the greedy, but one should use the right tools to handle those fleshy wares in their horny beds. Then, won’t it be a case of quick fixing them in wanton liaisons?’
‘But access makes all the difference between the conquest and failure, doesn’t it?’ he felt as he thought about his insatiate passions. ‘If not for the lack of that, wouldn’t I’ve laid every woman I’d ever fancied? Given half a chance, won’t women explore their passions in their paramours’ private parts? Invariably, it’s her man who turns out to be the hurdle in the path of her fulfillment. Why, one needs only to show a passing interest in the wife, and the husband can be expected to do the rest to put paid to it. Not content with shrouding his wife, he cold-shoulders the trespasser as if to nip his passion in the bud. It’s as though men are prone to policing their wives than husbanding them! And, as if to celebrate the poetic justice to their predicament, won’t women turn gleeful whenever they cuckold their caretakers?’
‘But working women come on a different platter altogether, don’t they?’ he seemed to sum up the essence of philandering. ‘Far removed from their shadowing spouses, and ensconced with their eager colleagues, aren’t they clearly cut out for liaisons? Besides, won’t the atmosphere at the workplace afford woman more emotional closeness with her doting colleagues, than with her man in the homely monotony? More than anything else, isn’t it their compulsiveness to dress well that makes women seek paramours prepared to foot the bills? How many of them undress in the private arena only to cut a figure for themselves in the public domain. Didn’t I come across many such? And the welcome thing about them is that, when the time comes to hang up the boots, there won’t be any hangovers. It’s their short-term needs that make the liaisons so lively with them, isn’t it? Oh, it’s as if all the pleasures of life are packed in female frames for the favored to savor them!’
Seeing a shapely woman get into the pavilion, he followed her instinctively. In time, sizing her up, he approached her.
‘I’m sure you’re familiar with our kitchen products,’ he said enticingly, ‘all designed keeping women like you in mind.’
‘I find your mixer-grinder quite handy,’ she said, looking flattered.
‘Part of the credit goes to you,’ he said looking mysteriously into her eyes, ‘for its intelligent use.’
‘Thank you,’ tickled by her vanity, she blushed to the roots.
‘Why not try out our air-conditioner,’ he said enticingly. ‘I mean in the guest room.’
‘I know about the launch,’ she said in embarrassment, ‘but we don’t need one, at least, for now.’
‘Nevertheless,’ he said tantalizingly, ‘I’ll get it installed free of charge.’
‘But why?’ she said, looking puzzled.
‘I’m looking for a testimonial, ‘he said suggestively, ‘from a pretty housewife like you.’
‘Let me think it over.’ she said, as she couldn’t refuse being unequal to his flattery.
‘Would you care to leave your address,’ he pushed a pad and pencil into her hand, ‘for me to remind you.’
‘Thank you,’ she said as she scribbled.
‘Why not indicate the convenient timings,’ he said having noted her contact address.
‘I’m a housewife,’ she said overwhelmed by his advances.
‘It’s a pleasure meeting you Mrs. Vanaja,’ he said extending his hand, ‘I hope you won’t disappoint me.’
‘Good night, Mr...’
Having tentatively withdrawn her hand from his, amusedly confused, she hurried home.
‘Isn’t she a pretty prospect?’ he thought pleased with himself. ‘Won’t some follow-up help? Let her in the meantime ponder over the tempting proposal besides playing a guessing game with my name. Oh, having been sourced in her anatomy itself, isn’t mystery the key to open woman’s heart to the thought of man?’
As he came out to watch her figure from behind, lighting another India King he thought, ‘what about going to The Nizam Club for a change? Why not I see who I might come across there?’
When the playboy executive was about to move out, seeing a woman of about twenty come nearby, he stopped in his tracks.
‘Oh God, a real stunner here!’ he ogled at her greedily. ‘What a flowing figure! Why, have I ever seen a more desirable woman, ever? That is, in spite of my roving eye! What a dream stuff she is? Why, more than that, for I didn’t see such in my wildest dreams really. Well, it’s as if she’s shaped for sex, isn’t she? She is the woman to be laid, and there’s no mistaking it. How surprising she has a divine face and a voluptuous figure on the same frame? Won’t that make her the Goddess of sex? But is she a resident or someone here on a visit? Whatever, this woman is too good to be lost. If only she goes into the pavilion, there could be an opening for me then. If not, I should follow her to her very doorstep, even if that takes me to the end of the world. But now I should be careful not lose her in this god-damn rush. If I get her, that would be the jackpot of my life, and I shall get her, whatever it might take.’
While he went towards her as if in a trance, with the fag burning his fingers, soon he came to his senses, and saw a man with two ice-cream cones joining her. As the man bore a familiar face, he moved towards him to realize that he was Sathyam, his long lost friend, and as he neared him he thought excitedly, ‘Won’t his nose give him away in a million?’
‘Can you place me?’ he asked Sathyam tentatively.
‘Of course,’ said Sathyam thoughtfully, ‘you do seem familiar.’
‘Sathyam.’ said he patting him.
‘Oh, Prasad,’ Sathyam said hugging him excitedly, nearly spilling the ice-cream and all on them all, ‘I’m glad we’ve met again.’
‘How’s life, buddy?’ Prasad asked him as he extricated himself from Sathyam’s bear-hug.
‘I’ve no regrets, thanks to my wife,’ said Sathyam. ‘Meet Roopa.’
‘How do you do,’ Prasad greeted Roopa.
‘Namaste,’ said Roopa.
‘I’ve heard you’re a bigwig now,’ said Sathyam in all excitement. ‘Tell me all about yourself.’
‘I’ve to play my cards carefully,’ thought Prasad, affecting hiccups. ‘It’s so sudden, like a
bolt from the blue. Well, it pays to play down my success till I get into the winning position and till then; I should mildly impress Roopa without unduly alarming Sathyam. Unless he sees the present as an extension of our past, he won’t be too keen to renew our friendship. And for me, that would be back to the hiatus.’
‘Why,’ said Prasad at length, ‘do you want to call it quits right now? I thought we’ve met not to part again.’
‘Won’t I drag you,’ said Sathyam catching hold of Prasad’s hand, ‘all the way to my house.’
‘Then,’ Prasad pulled Sathyam into the pavilion as Roopa followed them, ‘allow me to wind up.’
‘My search has come to an end, after fifteen years,’ said Sathyam in continuation. ‘You don’t know how I missed you all these years.’
‘Same is the case with me,’ said Prasad, ‘thanks to Roopa Devi.’
‘No suffixes please,’ said Roopa as if she were withdrawing. ‘But how am I responsible for your chance meeting?’
‘If not for women,’ said Prasad, ‘would men ever venture out on their own?’
‘I agree with you,’ said Sathyam. ‘Surely we owe all this to her.’
‘Give me five minutes,’ said Prasad so as to gain time. ‘In the meantime, our manager would take you around.’
‘Oh, how she turned out to be Sathyam’s wife!’ thought Prasad in excitement as he went into his cabin. ‘What an amazing development though! But how on earth did Sathyam land up with such a dame! Maybe, owing to my destiny to have her, who knows? Whatever, won’t his friendship prove to be a thoroughfare to her favors? Just the same, won’t she need some wooing as well? I might as well dazzle Roopa straight away by flaunting my credentials right away. But won’t that drive Sathyam into a shell, hindering my endeavor? Worse still, sensing trouble, he might even erect checkpoints all the way to her bedchamber. It looks like the Formula One won’t do for her final favor, even if I were to muster Senna’s skills and Sorkar’s stealth for that for surely Sathyam would ensure that I end up in the pit on my way to the putt, won’t he? Since overt courting seems to be risky, I better sneak into her bed under the shadow of his goodwill. Won’t that be fine with me? Going by his confidence quotient, Sathyam shouldn’t have made much in his career. So, the winning strategy is to downplay my success to develop my equation with him. Then, won’t his camaraderie issue me visa to land in his wife’s embrace?’
‘But what about Roopa?’ he tried to analyze her proclivities. ‘Doesn’t she wear that disinterested look I’m so familiar with in women? Maidens embrace it when they are lovesick, and in the married, it’s proof enough that their pudding had turned all too stale. Isn’t it clear that she’s unexcited about her marriage? Won’t that make her a candidate for conquest? But that subtle awkwardness discernible in women, when attracted to men, is missing in her, is it not? All the same, she doesn’t seem to be vainglorious either. Won’t that call for a change of tactics? As it appears, it needs some effort, and a lot many seductive tactics to bring her over to bed. Well, for all that, it appears to be a conditional access, after all. Thou art so near and yet so far, oh, Roopa dear!’
‘But, how do I go about it?’ he tried to analyze his moves to checkmate Roopa in her own bed. ‘What could be the path of least resistance to her favors? Won’t the first few steps decide the outcome of this ticklish tangle? While cultivating his confidence, I must undermine her defenses as well. But with a stunning wife like that, any man would be on guard to see through the motives of the callers. Why not vouch brotherly feeling for her to keep him off guard? Won’t that cut both ways in the triangle? That way, I can get closer to her and then worm my way into her affections. Besides, won’t that enable me to appraise her weaknesses for later day exploitation? Why, that’s a great idea, which can be implemented without alerting Sathyam!’
Carried by his brainwave, a hearty Prasad came out of the cabin with great expectations.
‘I’m at your service now,’ said Prasad to the Sathyams, as he came out.
‘Let’s go to our place,’ said Sathyam.
‘I don’t know about your means of transport,’ said Prasad, ‘but I will have to hire an auto-rickshaw.’
‘I thought you must be moving in limousines,’ said Sathyam unable to hide his surprise.
‘I use the office Ambassador,’ said Prasad, who by then had instructed his chauffeur to report for duty the next day, ‘which is in the garage now.’
‘You haven’t changed really,’ said Sathyam all excited. ‘Roopa, you know, he’s always an adjusting type.’
‘If it doesn’t bother my sister, I would like stay on for dinner,’ said Prasad as they walked towards the exit. ‘Ever since Rani went to Delhi, I’ve been eating junk, and it’s been a week now.’
‘You’re welcome,’ Roopa smiled her invitation.
‘Thank you,’ said Prasad heartily.
As they got into an auto, Sathyam told Prasad, ‘Now tell me.’
‘As I spotted you,’ said Prasad in jest, ‘I’ve the first lien.’
‘After graduation,’ said Sathyam, all the while eager to hear his friend’s story, ‘I joined the State Government, and am working ever since at the secretariat. Now I’m a Senior Assistant, waiting to be promoted as Section Officer. In a nutshell, that’s all there is to my life.’
‘Why, you’ve missed the essence,’ said Prasad. ‘When did you get married?’
‘Well,’ said Sathyam smilingly, ‘we’re two years old.’
‘What a wit,’ said Prasad. ‘Love marriage, I suppose.’
‘It was love at first sight,’ said Sathyam for a shocking effect, ‘during our pellichupulu. But I heard yours is a love match.’
‘Stop near that gate,’ said Roopa to the driver.
‘Now tell me all,’ said Sathyam as they went in behind Roopa.
‘Let my sister serve some water first,’ said Prasad taking his seat. ‘At least that would help quench my thirst.’
‘Won’t you like to hear his story?’ said Sathyam, as Roopa turned back after giving them some water.
‘I’m afraid you’re giving an impression to my sister that there is a great deal of interest attached to my life,’ said Prasad. ‘On the other hand, my life is as ordinary as any but for the marriage. Rani was my classmate in Delhi and we happened to like each other. And I never dared dream of marrying her, as her father is a business magnate. But without my knowledge, she pressured her father for my hand. His fondness for his daughter, and my eligibility otherwise, made us man and wife in the end. I came here last year to put back on its rails a sick unit that we took over. At home, we’ve Gaurav and Omathi to engage my family time. That’s about it all.’
‘I feel,’ said Sathyam, ‘your wife could be a remarkable woman. ’
‘Oh, no doubt about that,’ Prasad patted Sathyam while looking at Roopa. ‘But you’re better off for my sister.’
‘I reserve my opinion,’ said Sathyam, ‘till I see Rani.’
‘Rani is dear to me as wife,’ said Prasad, ‘and Roopa endears me as sister, and so you can rely upon my judgment, can’t you?’
‘I know how blessed I am,’ said Sathyam looking at Roopa in admiration.
While the friends continued to reminisce about their childhood days, Roopa went into the kitchen.
‘How lucky is Rani to have married a handsome man like him whom she loves as well,’ Roopa contemplated. ‘Why, there’s no denying that he’s truly handsome, but why does he refer to me as sister at every turn? How odd that a handsome man should keep calling me sister. It’s as if the sisterly reference takes away the very essence of my persona, or, has it got to do with my own vanity? Maybe, but even Ramu, being so close, doesn’t address me that way. Well it’s no more than a mere form, isn’t it? Am I obliged to address this man as brother or what, how odd it feels? What if I too address him as brother to make him feel sissy? Well, he’s my husband’s friend and just another interesting character, no more and no less. That’s all there’s to it, isn’t it?’
At the dining table, Prasad was effusive in his praises all the way, and as if icing his seductive cake, he said, ‘I feel I’ve tasted food for the first time in life, it’s like an annaprasana for me.’
‘You exaggerate a great deal mister,’ said a visibly embarrassed Roopa.
‘You’ll know how I feel if only you could taste your preparations with my palate,’ said Prasad pursuing his game-plan. ‘How I wish Sathyam will come out with an empirical formula of relativity of palates. Then, that should prove me right. Don’t you know how good he is at maths?’
‘Why don’t you stay back tonight,’ suggested an apparently flattered Sathyam.
‘I would have loved to, but I have got to go now,’ said Prasad, hoping to create the impression that he was not the one to take undue advantage of his friend’s generosity.
‘At least, till Rani is back from Delhi,’ said Sathyam, ‘keep having your dinners here.’
‘It’s worth going miles to have her preparations,’ said Prasad, ‘and enjoy your company. But why trouble my sister.’
‘You’re always welcome,’ said Roopa in spite of herself.
‘Then I’m no fool to miss out on the fare,’ said Prasad to Roopa. ‘Thank you, and good night for now.’
Though Prasad insisted that he would carry on his own, Sathyam persisted in seeing him off at the street corner. In time, as he returned home, said Sathyam to Roopa, ‘That’s why it is said it’s a small world! How nice we met again. I hope you liked your new brother.’
‘Looks like he’s an interesting character,’ said Roopa.
‘It goes to his credit that there’s no change in his attitude, in spite of his prosperity,’ said Sathyam. ‘Yet we see people putting on airs though they wouldn’t get to spell the ‘S’ of success. How they spread the rumor that a businessman roped him in for his plain daughter! What a pity that a lovematch was dubbed as a mercenary marriage, and why not as through jealous eyes, all that is seen is green isn’t it? Well, I’m sure we’ll pick up the threads from where we had left them.’
Struggling to catch up with the elusive sleep that night, Roopa contemplated, ‘If only Raja were to be in Prasad’s place, what a different time it would have been! What would Raja be doing now? Does he remember me, leave alone craving for me?’
‘What separates these two remarkably handsome men?’ Roopa couldn’t help but compare them. ‘Whereas Prasad has a pleasing face, Raja’s demeanor is demanding, isn’t it? True, Prasad exudes self-confidence but Raja personifies self-worth itself. No denying that Prasad looks handsome, but oh, how Raja abounds with that sex appeal. No doubt, Prasad is a pleasant person, but is not Raja a lovable persona. Prasad might charm women with his dash but Raja captivates them with his romantic aura. Besides, who would have Raja’s compelling eyes with that penetrating looks. Above all, Raja is the he-man and my dream man at that, there’s no mistaking that.’
It seems it is in the nature of woman to value herself by the worth of her man more than her own self-worth.
Continued to “Scheming the Theme”