Continued from “Vestiges of Prestige”
Chapter 10, Book One, Artha and Kama, Jewel-less Crown: Saga of Life
In his search for someone better than the one who had spurned him, Gautam rejected match after match. Well, as his eyes were in search of Mallika’s replica in the prospective bride, no match matched the lost one. But as it dawned on him soon enough that it was far easier to boast than to bring it about, he felt doubly shattered. And yet, as he kept nursing the slight he felt, his hurt ego ensured that he sustained his resolve to get even with those who humiliated him.
When Sneha brought some schoolchildren for a picnic to Nagarjunasagar, Dame Luck smiled on him as though to tempt his destiny. Assigned by his boss to guide the party, as he entered the guest-house that morning, he saw her in the sofa waiting for the unknown him. Bewildered by her beauty and bowled by her charm, he stopped in his tracks. When she got up to greet him, the flow of her frame stunned him even more. As she went about assembling her flock, struck by her poise, he didn't take his eyes off her. Further, enthralled by her bewitching smile and enchanting tone, he felt as if he had retrieved his lost hope. While he stood rooted lost in her charms, sensing that she had stolen his heart, she bowed her head as though in guilt.
Taking them around, he felt that his sprouting love was ever on the rise as a dam in the making. Instinctively, he felt that as his wife, Sneha could wipe out his hurt and make him forget his past. Thus, guided by his conviction, he tried to charm his way into her heart. When he perceived reciprocity in her coyness, he felt ecstatic about his future.
When it was time for her to take the kids back to Guntur, for fear of losing her hand, he contrived to accompany her. Spurred on by her fondness for him during that journey, he lost no time in proposing. And she joyously responded by inviting him home.
When they were engaged shortly thereafter, not only he was thrilled but also felt avenged. The chance happenstance made him believe that the hand of providence was at work in his life. When Sneha told him that their engagement was a remedial measure to her family as well, his sense of destiny reached the core of his hope. Having got a wife who was better than the one who had spurned him, he felt hopeful that the other vow he took would as well come true. And that became Gautam’s abiding faith.
The wedding that followed became the talk of the town as the love marriage of the time. Besides, his handsome persona and her divine figure made them look like they were made for each other. In that romantic backdrop, the praises showered by their cousins and others made them value each other even more. As they divined the just married, even as the eyes of her parents were welled up with joy, the hearts of his parents emptied their anxieties.
The nuptial night however ushered in new hopes for the vindicated groom and the blissful bride. While Gautam’s passion took her to the frontiers of her dreamland, her amorous eagerness drove out his sense of rejection from his subconscious. It was as though the force of her physical charms dented his desire for material possessions. The fulfillment of their consummation buttressed his self-worth and furthered her hopes for the future. But, his feeling of being avenged that her charms buttressed blocked his vision to the beauty of her inner self. Likewise, having been swirled by his manly passion, she found herself gloating over her womanly fortune. It was in that sensual setting they were to begin their married life at Nagarjunasagar even as the euphoria of their fortuitous union restored equanimity to Gautam’s hurt ego and brought balance to Sneha’s twisted psyche.
When she first set her foot in the township, Sneha became a big draw with one and all. While her charms whetted men’s appetites, her simplicity endeared her to the womenfolk. Even as her unassuming manner drew the youth to her home, her dignified demeanor kept the lechers at bay. But, destiny didn’t seem to have tranquility in store for them as they soon found themselves heading towards New Delhi.
As Sneha frequented the Officers Club with Gautam, his boss didn’t lose much time to develop a crush on her. While Gautam was engaged in one sport or the other, his boss turned solicitous about her affairs. Mistaking her respect towards his elderliness as her admiration for his youthful heart, he soon started imagining the possibilities. So he began scheming about the ways of seducing her and saw Gautam’s absence-at-home as the means into her enticing arms. Thus, assigning outstation duties to Gautam, he began calling on her on the sly.
Though she guessed his motives soon enough, she was out of depth to handle his trespasses. That only emboldened the boss and thus he began to court her in earnest. As his ardency increased, Sneha was seized by her impulse to show him the door. But on second thoughts it occurred to her that if snubbed, he might take it out upon Gautam. And were she to take her man into confidence, he might take his boss to task. Either way, she feared that it would hurt Gautam’s career and her own future not to speak of shattering her parental hopes. It was not lost on her either that his visits might send wrong signals to the neighbors making their way to Gautam’s ears in the end. Confounded thus, she was immobilized by her predicament.
But the seducer, mistaking her stance as a veil of soft resistance, waited for an appropriate moment to unmask her charms. When he ambushed her in the end, she raised an alarm that ensured his retreat. Fearing his misadventure was sure to hurt his promising career and so as to long distance himself from the scandal, the boss pulled all strings to get Gautam transferred to New Delhi. Outraged though at his boss’s perfidy, Gautam felt the development could be a blessing in disguise for Delhi would provide better opportunities for his development. Above all, he was gratified by his wife’s chastity and felt he was doubly blessed for that.
Continued to “Bellows of Delhi”