Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 14
Continued from “Wedding Season”
The countdown to Sandhya’s wedding commenced with the arrival of the marriage party on that 6th June. The groom’s entourage felt the official clout of Kamalakar, who by then became the District Collector. Officials worked overtime to spruce up the government guest-houses for the occasion. Fleets of department vehicles were lined up at a hailing distance from the guests. The kalyana mandapam was so made up as to resemble the durbar hall of a maharajah’s palace. Attendants in their scores swarmed the place to be on hand for assorted errands.
Sandhya was wondering how to introduce Roopa to her fiancé. She couldn’t take her to him, as custom ordained that a bride shouldn’t move out of the house on the eve of her marriage. She wished that he would come home to see her but the norms left no scope for that either.
“What about going to the guest-house on the sly,” said Sandhya to Roopa.
“Why not, if you don’t mind me being labeled a groom-chaser,” said Roopa in jest.
As they were wondering what to be done, Sandhya’s mother called her,
“O, Sandhya, come down.”
“She won’t let me be on my own even today,” grumbled Sandhya as she went down.
Springing down the stairs in irritation, Sandhya saw her fiancé following her movements from the drawing room. Even as her daydreaming brought him closer to her in her consciousness, she was still shy in his presence for the lack of intimacy. Thus, stopping in her tracks, she blushed to her roots.
“You look sweeter than ever,“ he complimented, going up to her.
“Thanks,” she said coyly.
“It’s I who should thank you for accepting my hand,” he said taking her hand.
“It’s you who started it all, by taking my hand to read in between the lines,” she turned coquettish.
“What of your inviting gestures then,” he said looking into her eyes.
‘Don’t tell me, you’re blindfolded otherwise,” she said all smiles.
“Won’t your beauty impart vision even to the blind?” he said squeezing her hand.
‘Oh, come on, I’ve a treasure to show you,” she said enthusiastically.
“I thought you’ve more than one but why a premature display?” he said mischievously.
“Behave like a bridegroom, don’t act like a playboy,” she scolded him in mock anger.
“Hope you won’t frame rules for our nuptial night and thereafter,’ he said, and as she turned coy, picking up from where she had left, he added,
“Tell me, what’s that you want to show me?”
“Simply follow me,” she led him sprightly to her room.
“Won’t that be my lifelong occupation?” he followed her smilingly.
When Roopa heard their steps, rather instinctively, she kept her inquisitive gaze door-wards. In time, when their eyes met, her gaze was frozen and he stopped in his tracks. As Sandhya was about to initiate introductions, her mother called her again and hurried by her from downstairs, she left her fiancé and her mate to fend for themselves.
As though guided by her charms, Raja Rao found himself walking up to Roopa without taking his eyes off her even as she stood rooted and fixed her gaze at him as though the slightest tilt on her part might distract his path of attraction. However, as he neared her, she insensibly extended her hand as though to ensure he wouldn’t trip in his trance. While he took her hand, as if to hold on to the summit of his life, energized by her dormant desire, she found herself pressing it in all eagerness. As they held their hands thus, their eyes were locked, conveying to each other the convulsions of their hearts. Lost as they were in their enamored state, they had no words for each other but heaving a sigh on hearing Sandhya’s approaching steps, as though to alert him, she pulled out her hand and wrenched her look. At that, as if cut off from the life force itself, his heart was seized and his hand dropped.
“This is Roopa, my treasure,” said Sandhya to him, patting her friend while she herself panted,
“He’s Raja my beau.”
‘Anyway you look at it, it’s a privilege to possess,” he said to Sandhya extending his hand to Roopa.
“What’s that?” said a perplexed Roopa.
‘That I’ll tell you later but now take his hand to cement our friendship,” said Sandhya.
Roopa didn’t need any further persuasion to recapture the thrill of the past moment.
“If you feel I’m your better half, I may say she is my other half,” said Sandhya to her beau, lacing Roopa.
“What a value addition that’s going to be?” he said meaningfully.
“No less for us, you being our friend, philosopher, and guide,” said Sandhya taking Roopa’s other hand.
“What a pleasurable role to play,” he said to Sandhya even as he tightened his grip on Roopa’s right hand.
“I’m fortunate to be part of both of you,” said Roopa dreamily.
In time, called by Kamalakar, all three went down, the sprightly bride leading and the enamored souls falling behind.
“I suppose you’re finding it tough grappling with our coastal humidity,” Kamalakar greeted Raja Rao.
“Short of altering the climate, sir, you’ve done everything for us. Thanks a lot,” said Raja Rao warmly.
“What do you say about your honeymoon at Kodaikanal?” said Kamalakar to Raja Rao.
“I’ve my Kothalanka in mind, that is if you agree,” said Raja Rao looking at Sandhya. “You could enjoy the scenic beauty of Konaseema, and for me it would be like starting our life where I came into being.”
“I love that for I’ve heard that Konaseema rivals Kerala for its landscape,” said Sandhya, seemingly excited.
“If it suits you both, it’s Ok with us,” concurred in Kamalakar.
“Looks like our purohit is missing me, I better get going,” said Raja Rao as someone came to fetch him
While Sandhya saw him off with an endearing look, Roopa seemed lost with a forlorn feeling, and after he went out of sight, Sandhya led Roopa to her room for exchanging notes.
“Won’t you find him handsome?” said Sandhya excitedly.
“He’s better than my dream man,” said Roopa inciting Sandhya to kiss her in response.
“Now I’ve to leave as Chandrika wants me for some purchases,” so bluffed Roopa gripped by an urge for solitude.
However, Sandhya, who wanted to share more about her beau with her mate, tried to hold her longer, and Roopa, after spending some time with her mate in her absent-minded state, could eventually persuade her to let her go.
“Go now but tomorrow I won’t stir from my bed till you come,” said Sandhya, reluctantly setting her free.
‘Don’t worry, if you don’t show up in time, he would come to drag you all the way to the altar,” said Roopa as though attuning her mind to Raja Rao’s proclivities.
‘Isn’t he the one?’ thought Roopa, closing her eyes as if to hold him in her mind’s eye. She felt as though the man she vaguely craved all along came in his form and as though infatuation itself was enamored to feel the pulse of their love in tandem, it induced Raja Rao into reverie to review his feelings.
‘Oh, what a face and the figure to match it, as well!’ he thought excitedly, ‘a woman with a woman’s body, as Dostoyevsky put it, is she not? And what about that bewitching smile, well, what a fascinating woman she is!’
‘It’s as though he came straight out of my heart to delight my eyes,’ Roopa thought in amazement. ‘New, yet so familiar, unknown, but doesn’t it feel as if he is my own! Oh, how it tickles, as though his gaze gauges me nude! Yet, I felt protected in his presence! Well, he’s the Raja of my heart and soul, there’s no mistaking that.’
‘It feels as though we’re born for each other,’ he felt hopeful. ‘It’s clear that she’s attracted to me. Won’t her eyes carry the poetry of her passion for me? To get infatuated, or to love even, is one thing, and an affair is altogether different. But mercifully, I wouldn’t be losing track of Roopa, unlike that Ganga-Kaveri girl. What an incredible fortune to meet this one so soon after losing that one! There could be a chance to make her my own someday, who knows?’
‘Wasn’t my hand languid in his clasp as if to feel the pulse of his love,’ Roopa sighed as she recalled the sensation of that incredible moment. ‘Didn’t his touch, touch the woman in me? And when he pressed my hand with passion, wasn’t I possessed for his possession. If only I weren’t married and he hadn’t been betrothed, oh, what should’ve come in the way of our wedding? But well, I have to suppress my love, if not for fidelity, at least for friendship.’
‘Even if I can’t live with her, I would be able to love her still,’ he felt peaceful in the end. ‘If I weren’t destined to have her, well, my passion in time could transform into a sublime affection for her. Being privy to our mutual affection, won’t we nurse a fond feeling for each other? But then, would my distraction for Roopa affect my attraction for Sandhya? No; don’t I know that my love for Sandhya springs from the depths of my soul. Surely, Roopa seems to rein in my heart, but won’t Sandhya remain its queen?
‘Thank God,’ she consoled herself. ‘We would have enough opportunities to meet. Won’t I see him and be seen by him? So, I would be able to adore him while he admires me. All said and done, isn’t he mine, being Sandhya’s man? Won’t I get a feel of him while I make love to her?’
As day broke that 7th June, the chain of ceremonies leading to the momentous wedding commenced in right earnest that is even as Sandhya clung to Roopa all the while.
“I’m too excited to be on my own,” Sandhya repeated all along.
“Your marriage gives me an idea of Rathi – Manmath’s mythical wedding,” said Roopa heartily.
“You being the attendant angel,” said Sandhya.
“Of an enamored kind,” said Roopa alluringly as Sandhya laced her endearingly.
By dusk, it was din at the kalyana mandapam. Clad in a white silk dhothi, Raja Rao obeyed the unceasing commands of the purohit, uttered in sonorous Vedic chants, but even as his hands were handling the marital rituals to the rhythmic renditions, robot-like, his angavastram had a tough time balancing itself on his bare shoulders. At length, as Sandhya, seated in a bamboo basket, was brought near him on the decorated dais, by four of her uncles, all the way from the anteroom, and well before they could unload the pretty load opposite him, a makeshift curtain was raised in between them to preclude their ogling before the auspicious moment.
When Kamalakar’s watch, set to the AIR time, indicated 08.26, the chosen sumuhurtham from the Pedda Purnaiah’s almanac, Raja Rao was given the green signal by the purohit. Governed by his destiny and guided by the purohit, Raja Rao’s hand, carrying the sacred paste, prepared for the occasion as per the custom, reached out to Sandhya, from underneath the curtain. Goaded by Roopa, the bride bowed her head to enable the groom to affix that mass on her scalp to initiate their union and in turn, Sandhya was directed to follow suit, as though to cement their marital bondage. Then doing away with the curtain, the purohit ordained the just married to stay put in that posture as though to allow them time to grasp the import of the moment to their eventual life.
Amateur photographers, from among the relatives, vied for vantage positions with the professional ones engaged for the occasion, and in their eagerness to capture the moment for the family albums, they tended to block the view of the vintage event to the curious audience. When the couple was allowed to free their hands, they raised their heads to espy each other as man and wife. After having been satiated with Sandhya’s demeanor, when Raja Rao’s eyes met Roopa’s stare, they seemed to acquire a longing look, and sensing his ardor for her in her enamored state, Roopa felt as though the moment belonged to her as well.
Meanwhile, the mangalasutrams, symbolizing the nuptial knot, were taken around by the chota purohit to enable the married women to bless them. In time, as the junior brought the blessed things back to his senior, Raja Rao was ready to usher Sandhya into the dream of her life. While Roopa maneuvered the flower-decked plait of the bride, Raja Rao stood up to tie the blessed things round Sandhya’s shapely nape, and before he proceeded, Roopa heard him whisper to his bride, ‘With your permission.’ As Roopa looked at him in admiration for his ingenuity, he raised his head and gazed at her in fascination. Puzzled by his manner, as Roopa wondered whether he had her too in mind when he sought that ‘permission’, Sandhya bent her head even more, as though to salute him for his thoughtful gesture.
While the rituals lasted a little longer, fuelling the longing of the newly-weds for each other, as they were given the green signal to shower the talambraalu over each other’s heads, the respective camp followers egged them on for one-upmanship. Finding Roopa helping his bride to gain the upper hand, as Raja Rao cried foul, Sandhya retorted, ‘didn’t I tell you that she’s my other half’ and increased the tempo, unmindful of his further protests. What with the euphoria that followed amused the gathering no end, and as a fistful of the sacred rice, let loose from Raja Rao’s hand, landed on Roopa’s head as well, she wondered whether it was merely accidental! Reflexively looking for Sathyam, she found him engrossed in a conversation with someone in the gathering.
When it was time for the gathered to greet the newly married, Roopa joined her husband.
“This is Sathyam, Roopa’s husband and my raakhi brother,” Sandhya joyously introduced him to Raja Rao.
“Thanks for coming,” said Raja Rao, while he shook hands with Sathyam, and as Roopa scrutinized his demeanor to discern the nuances, he added,
“It’s a pleasure meeting you two.”
‘Didn’t it sound like ‘you too’?’ thought Roopa staring at Raja Rao, ‘It’s as if he won’t miss an opportunity for a double entendre! Isn’t he at it ever since we met? Maybe, that could be part of his charm.’ What’s more, she thought Raja Rao’s eyes were smiling as though to confirm that she got it right.
“We wish you spend some time with us on your way to Delhi,” invited Sathyam, as Roopa’s face lighted up.
“Thanks, we’ll try, but,” said Raja Rao
“Why don’t you recommend,” said Roopa to Sandhya imploringly as Raja Rao read the disappointment written all over her face.
“I’d love nothing more than spending some with them,” said Sandhya entreatingly to her husband.
“As you please, so it’s done,’ Raja Rao seemed to address Roopa’s ears.
“That is sisterly affection,” said Sathyam warmly.
“We’ll be waiting,” Roopa said camouflaging her longing.
“Can I detain Roopa for tonight?” said Sandhya to Sathyam.
‘Do you need my permission for that,” said Sathyam and added,
“I don’t come in her way either.”
“Is there any alternative path of salvation for a married man,” said Raja Rao heartily, and turned to Roopa,
“You take care of her till I take her over.”
Past midnight that night, the physically fatigued bride fell into the arms of her mentally exhausted mate.
“Lovey, it’s all like a dream come true,” said Sandhya resting her head on Roopa’s ample breasts.
“Anyway, it’s all real now,” said Roopa pressing Sandhya’s head deep into her valley.
“Tell me, how it would be like with a man,” Sandhya asked thoughtfully.
“As mating itself is so exciting, lovemaking must be a lot more fulfilling,” said Roopa in all contemplation,
‘I’ll be in your arms anyway, narrating what it was like in Raja’s coition,” said Sandhya mystically.
“Promise me then,” said Roopa.
‘Promise what, to land up in your arms in Hyderabad, or to kiss and tell about our honeymoon,” said Sandhya with a smile.
‘Of course both, you know how I miss male sexual romance but from now on I’ll have proxy experience,” said Roopa taking Sandhya into her embrace.
“How sweet, but it all depends on how you make me want to come to you,” said Sandhya, in all eagerness.
‘Come, I’ll make you feel doubly wanting by the time your man comes mounting,” said Roopa pressing closer to Sandhya,
Soon, Sandhya realized to her gratification that Roopa’s love meant business.
The next day, after seeing off the newlyweds on their honeymoon trail, Roopa set out on the homeward stretch with Sathyam towards the evening.
‘While Sandhya’s love would find fulfillment in Raja’s passion, am I not left to pine for his possession,’ she felt as she struggled to find solace in sleep in that sleeper coach of the Godavari Express.
Continued to “Naughty Nuptials”