Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 36
Continued from “Date with Destiny”
Waiting for the arrival of Rayalaseema Express at Nampally that morning, Sathyam felt that only on Roopa’s return would the hidden treasure acquire its true value for its possession. As the train chugged into the railway station, he sighted Roopa leaning out to wave at him, and seeing her alight, radiating in that pearl chain, his own mood was further buoyed.
‘You look great,’ said Sathyam to Roopa, having greeted them all.
‘It’s a surprise from Sandhya,’ said Roopa fondling her pearls chain. ‘Why don’t you see how nice she is in that coral necklace?’
‘Anything goes well,’ said Sathyam, helping them in moving the luggage, ‘with my sister.’
That night, as he took Roopa into his arms, Sathyam could not take his eyes off the pearl chain.
‘I wonder why it didn’t strike me,’ he said a little disappointed, ‘that pearls suit you so well.’
‘Being a face-man, you thought about the nose-stud,’ she said alluringly, and thought adoringly, ‘But Raja, oh! Won’t he turn my face and figure into one? What a time we’ve had!’
‘One day,’ said Sathyam, fondling her affectionately, ‘I’ll make you a queen with the crown and all.’
‘I’ll await the coronation,’ she said in smile, but felt at the same time, ‘Oh, am I not the empress of love with a double throne.’
On the other hand, in that middle-class home with millions in the loft, Sathyam felt that he was in a trisankhu swargam. Though his net worth was enough to make people line up at his doorstep, he felt that he had to run the errands for the IAS cadre. He was disgusted that though he had the means to let Roopa go around in a chauffeur driven Chevrolet, he was unable to offer her any more than a pillion ride on his Lambretta. In his frustration, he often thought of quitting the service, but the temptation to keep it going for some more time, ensured that it was status quo at his office, and home as well.
Then came Saroja’s first birthday, and Sathyam couldn’t resist the temptation to present her a gold necklace befitting his intrinsic worth and his innate love for Sandhya.
‘Sandhya would surely like my present for her daughter,’ he was lost in his thoughts, on the way to the birthday party. ‘What a sweet nature she has. Oh, how she understands people and empathizes with them. And what warmth she has for people. What a rare woman, indeed. Wouldn’t I’ve been better off had she been my wife, instead of a raakhi sister?’
‘But then,’ Sathyam continued in the same vein, ‘Raja Rao would have made a better husband for Roopa. Oh, how she admires him? He’s nothing short of an idol for her, is he not? And it’s quite possible that she’s enamored of him. But how can I fault her, even if she were in love with him? Isn’t he a better man than me in every way? After all, it’s all so apparent. But would her infatuation push her into a liaison with him? Oh, no. After all that, how unfair of me to even to entertain such a thought? Why, didn’t she shun Prasad, that too when she was indifferent to me? By that, hadn’t she showed her character, once and for all? But now, she says that she loves me even! And don’t I know that she’s not making it up. Maybe, she fantasizes about Raja Rao. Well, that’s a different matter altogether.’
When he reached their place, Sathyam lost no time in placing the necklace on Saroja’s person.
‘I envy my daughter’s luck,’ said Sandhya, thrilled at his gesture, ‘Oh, how nice it is that she has an uncle who treats her like his daughter.’
‘I’ve always thought,’ said Sathyam, feeling pleased, ‘that we’re all but one family.’
As Roopa began to dress Saroja in a plain cotton frock, Sathyam said it may not be right for the big occasion.
‘Children are better off in cottons than in those suffocating synthetics,’ she said. ‘But, parents pay through their noses for the kids-wear, just to exhibit.’
‘All that is fine for a drawing-room discussion,’ said Sathyam. ‘But the world sizes you up by the way you dress.’
‘Dress might enhance looks,’ said Roopa ‘but it’s the poise that pleases.’
‘Left to you, it looks like you would make a sanyasin out of Saroja,’ said Sathyam unable to reconcile to her philosophy of life. ‘Anyway, won’t I show Saroja the other side of the coin?’
‘You are welcome to do that,’ said Raja Rao who joined them by then. ‘But personally I like to be guided by the twin quotes that Dr. Ramachandra Rao, our family physician, religiously copies in his new diary without fail. Somehow that slipped from my mind when we were on the subject at the Eagle Bar that day. Let me quote them to you, one is - In bringing up children, parents should remember that not wealth, but education conduces most to their happiness. And the other is - The best inheritance that a father can provide to his son is an education that will fit him to take an honorable place among cultured men.’
‘Rao, I appreciate your intellect, though I differ with some of your ideas,’ said Sathyam extending his hand. ‘But I do envy your experience without any discount whatever.’
‘Thank you for your compliment,’ said Raja Rao. ‘Intellect is all about the ability to analyze human condition and experience is the product of self-introspection. But people tend to attribute their failures to outside factors without reflecting upon their own role in the setbacks. That’s why we find many inexperienced oldies and a few experienced youths. All said and done, I feel you’ve an intellectual heart.’
‘Oh, you’ve touched my heart,’ said Sathyam patting Raja Rao.
‘Congratulations for forming a new Mutual Admiration Club,’ smiled Roopa.
‘Membership drive is still on,’ said Raja Rao, ‘you’re welcome to join.’
Soon, the invitees began to arrive with their kids, and in time, the place was all agog with excitement. At length, as it was time for high tea, announced Sandhya, ‘Pray it’s palatable, and pick up your plate.’
For the first anniversary of Integral Architects, that came close on the heels of Saroja’s birthday, Raja Rao planned to celebrate the occasion with the staff at the office. Besides, he wanted to wine and dine with their friends at Blue Fox in the evening.
Thus, after performing the customary vighneswara puja that morning, and having handed over the mandatory mementoes to Aslam and Narasaiah, Raja Rao called it a day at the office.
Soon they reached home, and Sandhya, as was her wont, sent Saroja with the maidservant to Lalitha’s place, so finding themselves all alone with their man, as the mates looked at him admiringly, Raja Rao folded them tenderly with his ‘I love you’. Having kissed them both, he handed them diamond ear-studs each, that they found fascinating.
‘Cute,’ said Sandhya excitedly.
‘Radiant,’ reflected Roopa reflexively.
‘Like you two,’ he said as they went about unscrewing their gold studs.
‘Do you know Sandhya,’ said Roopa mirthfully, ‘how he used to pronounce ‘two’ as ‘too’, to seduce me!’
‘Had I known that,’ said Sandhya mirthfully, ‘our orgymoon would have been my honeymoon.’
‘Oh!’ said Roopa reminiscently, as she tried to position the diamond ear-studs all by herself, ‘how that would have saved me all that misery.’
‘But it was your pining that made our meeting so poignant that night,’ said Raja Rao, stopping her from changing the ear studs.
‘Well, there’s a price to pay for everything,’ said Roopa, ‘maybe, ordeals throw up rewards in the end.’
‘Now for a romantic touch to our dalliance,’ he said, and took the pair from Sandhya’s hand, and gave one to Roopa, saying, ‘let’s together adorn the First Lady.’
‘It’s just love,’ said Sandhya, as her man and her mate were at work on her ears.
‘Are you not our love,’ they said, biting the respective ear.
‘Oh, you look wonderful,’ said Roopa to Sandhya, ‘look into the mirror.’
‘Don’t I know that from the glow on your faces,’ said Sandhya, embracing them both.
When he invited Sandhya for a repeat performance on their lover, Roopa said mischievously to Raja Rao. ‘You leave the right one to her, as she has the first right on me.’
Seeing her adorned, Raja Rao said, ‘Oh Roopa, how your face glows in the diamond triangle!’
‘Can’t I guess that from the glint in your eyes,’ said Roopa, ‘
‘You are a rare gem,’ said Sandhya, kissing Roopa.
‘Spotted by your taste,’ responded Roopa, even as Sandhya sucked Raja Rao into a grander kiss, she added, ‘polished by his passion, and embedded in our love triangle.’
‘I too love to wear a nose-stud,’ said Sandhya, fondling Roopa’s.
‘Don’t we think alike, darling?’ he said, pulling one from his pocket.
‘But then, won’t she need a poke,’ said Roopa, laughing, ‘on her nose for that.’
‘For that,’ smiled Raja Rao, ‘I don’t mind sending her to any doctor.’
‘And for that,’ said Sandhya naughtily, ‘would I need any other needle?’
‘It’s time we chained him,’ Roopa winked at Sandhya.
‘Can I ask for a lovelier punishment,’ said Raja Rao, all eager.
Pressing herself to him at his back, as Roopa blindfolded Raja Rao with her palms, having removed his shirt thereafter, Sandhya slipped a gold chain onto his chest, and as her grateful man opened his arms, Sandhya sank into his embrace in mirth. But when she moved her hands to his navel, Roopa shifted her hands onto the chain, as though to rein him in.
‘Won’t our womanly togetherness adorn your manly chest?’ Roopa whispered to him, showing him the locket.
‘It’s amazing in its alphabetical reversal,’ he said, hugely pleased.
‘Let’s go by the precedent,’ said Sandhya, stripping him naked.
‘First lovers first,’ he said, holding them together, ‘that’s the right order.’
‘Won’t we take that as your order,’ said the mates, and began to show an unusual zeal in their lesbian togetherness.
Watching them in wonderment, he took out two waist-chains to adorn their nudity with those but as they reached for them randomly, he suggested they guess the respective destination of the gold and the platinum ornaments.
‘Who knows, you might bluff,’ said Sandhya, seconded by Roopa, ‘even if we guess it right.’
‘No way, as each of them’ he said in all smiles, ‘has a name of its own.’
As they guessed theirs’ right, he began with Sandhya, and exclaimed, ‘oh, how it vanished!’ and when it came to Roopa, he wondered, ‘how well it matches!’
In that euphoric moment, as his women lost no time to go to each other’s erotic roots, seeing their waist-chains sink into each other’s breasts, he said ecstatically, ‘What a rainbow of love to behold!’
‘Oh, enough of your voyeurism,’ sputtered Roopa in time, ‘why not you shoot now, having two strings to your bow.’
‘How can I,’ he said, feigning helplessness, ‘with both the targets out of sight.’
‘Hit here straight,’ said Roopa, raising her head, ‘before you aim at my rear.’
When nature ended the orgy, said Roopa dreamily, ‘Can anyone have an idea of our joy?’
‘If only they could,’ Sandhya said smiling, ‘won’t they die of jealousy for the lack of it?’
When Roopa returned from her bath, finding her waist bereft of the chain he gave her, said a disappointed Raja Rao, ‘I thought you liked it.’
‘I want it to witness only our lovemaking,’ she said, embracing him with a feeling of emotional commitment to him.
Having slept for a while, Roopa returned home by the time Sathyam came from the Secretariat. At length, the Sathyams went to the Raja Raos’ place to proceed to Blue Fox at seven. Among those who made it to the party in the evening were the two Reddys, Wahab and Dr. Wazir Ahmed.
Sitting beside Sathyam, Sandhya said, ‘Haven’t you noticed the ear-studs on Roopa and I have on us?’
‘They suit you both,’ he said, ‘equally well.’
‘We wanted to surprise you,’ said Sandhya, ‘as ever.’
‘I’m glad you care for her,’ he said. ‘She’s very happy these days.’
‘Why don’t you stop with that?’ said Roopa to Sathyam in between her conversation with Wahab.
‘These mixed dinners are for novices,’ said Wahab. ‘Aren’t stags the answer for the regulars? What do you say Sathyam saab?’
‘I would say cheers,’ laughed Sathyam, lifting his glass, ‘to encore, that is.’
At the other end of the table, Dr. Wazir Ahmed said to Raja Rao, ‘I understand the architects are having a pretty good time these days.’
‘Can’t you see, doctor saheb,’ Subba Reddy said in undertone, before Raja Rao could reply, ‘with two pretty directors on the board, how could it be otherwise for our romantic architect.’
‘Thank God, you’ve stopped at that,’ muttered Raja Rao.
‘Well,’ laughed Subba Reddy, who was high by then, ‘it’s I who has stopped at that, isn’t it?’
Sensing trouble, Ranga Reddy, who was sitting beside his inebriated friend, thought it fit to preempt the embarrassment in the offing, and announced thereby, ‘I request Dr. Wazir Ahmed to present this miniature Charminar to Raja Rao garu on our behalf. We fondly hope that one day, Integral Architects would conceive a modern day symbol of Hyderabad.’
‘Thank you all,’ said Raja Rao, sounding closure after they had dinner, ‘for a wonderful evening.’
‘It’s our pleasure as well,’ echoed the guests.
Back home, in time, Raja Rao told Sandhya, ‘Can’t we look back with satisfaction?’
‘Of course,’ she said, making herself smug in his embrace. ‘And hope for a lovely life as well. I’ve never been happier all my life. Isn’t it all about the power of love?’
‘And the favors of fortune.’ he said fondling her lovingly.
‘But, I’m worried at times,’ she said in apprehension, ‘Isn’t our bliss too good, to last for long.’
‘By some twisted logic of the law of averages,’ said Raja Rao, ‘Roopa’s unfortunate past might as well ensure the future stability of our love triangle.’
‘Well, for all that, going by your logic, it may come true even,’ said Sandhya sharing her thoughts with him. ‘But, what can be said about the strangeness of life and the singularity of the relationships it occasions? To start with, it was the mutual admiration that ushered in my friendship with Roopa. Then, our growing affection found its true expression in our lesbianism, triggered by, of all the things, by her post-nuptial depression! And our chance meeting in New Delhi brought you into my life to provide substance, as well as sustenance to it. Later, your mutual attraction resulted in your passionate liaison that catered to Roopa’s craving for male élan, and yours, for your dusky dame. In the end, it was the reality of relationships that you presented me, helped me color our love triangle on the canvas of our sexuality. And then providentially at Tirupati, spirituality too insensibly seeped into our orgies, enabling us to experience divinity in our lovemaking. And above all, thanks to the innate empathy you have for the fair sex, the idea of woman in liaison loving her husband made you Roopa’s benign flame, to light Sathyam’s way. Oh, that’s life.’
‘Can we imagine our life without her now,’ said Raja Rao contemplatively. ‘What more can we ask from life?’
‘Why not we make a menage a trois with her,’ Sandhya said dreamily, ‘Oh how we used to jest about it!.’
‘Find him a wife before she files the suit,’ he said joking. ‘But, one shouldn’t be too greedy even in daydreaming.’
‘Contentment is the finest thing,’ she said, sinking into him, ‘even in loveseeking, isn’t it?’
‘Doesn’t it go against the other saying,’ he said, winking at her, ‘that variety is the spice of life?’
‘But then,’ she said, ‘how our life covers both the grounds.’
‘Won’t that give us,’ he said reaching for her lips, ‘contented variety.’
‘Here you have,’ she said, turning amorous, ‘the first of it.’
At length, the blessed couple sank into a blissful sleep.
Continued to “End of an Innings”