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Naughty Nuptials
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Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 15

Continued from “Veil of Fate”

As the chauffeur-driven Ambassador crossed Kakinada, greenery greeted the honeymooners. ‘I never knew that we’re so close to nature,’ exclaimed Sandhya leaning on her man.

‘Once we’re in Konaseema,’ said Raja Rao feeling refreshed, ‘you won’t have eyes for me even.’

‘How I wish,’ said Sandhya, lost in her excitement, ‘that Roopa were with us,’

‘I’m beginning to get envious of your Roopa,’ he said in jest, taking her hand,

‘Why so,’ she said lovingly, ‘she only complements my love for you.’

‘What’s so special about her?’ he tried to appear casual.

‘Oh, she’s unique,’ she said emotively, ‘though it feels nice being your wife, separation from her hurts me as well. We’ve grown up dreaming living as neighbors,’

‘Why,’ he said tentatively, ‘it’s still possible.’

‘Can we move over to Hyderabad!’ she said excitedly.

‘I love that place like no other place,’ he said as he made up his mind by then to try to win Roopa’s favor. ‘Let’s see how soon we can make it.’

‘But meanwhile,’ she said, looking into his eyes, ‘be prepared for my nagging on that score.’

‘Won’t I love that,’ he said kissing her hand.

‘Roopa would be thrilled to hear about that,’ she said excitedly.

‘Don’t tell her,’ he cautioned her, ‘till we come closer to that.’

‘How I wish,’ she said, closing her eyes as if in prayer, ‘it were now.’

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘we have reached Draksharama!’

‘Let’s have Bhemeswara Swami’s blessings,’ she suggested,

‘I think it’s really prognostic of good tidings.’

‘I too have,’ he said smiling, ‘a lot to thank Him about and pray for as well.’

Seeing her in reverence before the deity, he could discern the serenity of her beauty and thanked Him for the blessedness that life had bestowed upon him.

‘What have you sought from Him?’ he asked her as they got back into the car.

‘I think, you can guess,’ she said dreamily. ‘What about your prayer?’

‘Let it be my secret,’ he said smiling.

‘Then keep it under lock and key,’ she feigned anger.

‘It’s all about love,’ he said effulgently.

‘I love you,’ she jibed with him joyously.

Soon they reached the shores of Kotipally to cross the Godavari. Sandhya’s fear of water shored up by his assurances en route, sunk her heart as she saw the mighty river in its lean summer course. While the prospect of boating across it shocked her water phobic psyche, Rao’s coaxing of her, which bordered on pecking, amused the travelers and the boatmen alike. Caught between the onshore embarrassment and the offshore predicament, as Sandhya stepped into the boat as though she were slipping into the river itself, Raja Rao, having jumped into it earlier like a habitual, tended his perplexed bride tenderly into it, and once in, she reached for a cross plank seemingly considering the center of gravity of that which was afloat. Seeing her predicament then, those who sat on it moved away to enable the newlyweds ensconced in the middle. In time, having adjusted herself in trepidation, Sandhya clasped Raja Rao as though he were the mast of the boat itself.

When he ventured during the voyage to toy with the waters, she pulled him in fear and reprimanded him for his daring. Whenever the boat was rocked in motion, she laced him in confusion, inducing him to cuddle her for her comfort. As her primordial beauty pixilated by panic evoked pity in him, he was empathic in addressing her apprehensions. Having got over her fears in his protective embrace at last, Sandhya felt she grasped the meaning of marriage. Seeing her at ease thus, he realized the power of love over the fear of the unknown.

After turning her attention to the horizon, lined with coconut trees, and watching it for long in fascination, she interested herself in the vastness of the Godavari, and felt that the wavy currents of its bluish green waters synchronized with the romantic beats of her expectant heart. Then looking lovingly at her man, she experienced rare warmth in her soul, which made her feel that the sheen of their love matched the glint of the river.

After voyaging for well over an hour, they reached the banks of Mukteswaram, the gateway of Konaseema, where, courtesy Kamalakar’s clout, an Ambassador awaited them. Looking back at the river they just crossed, she felt relaxed and thought, ‘Haven’t my fears got dissolved mid-course making way for hopes!’ At that, as she got into the Ambassador, it crossed her mind that by the next day around, she would be on the other bank of her virginal canal. Amused, she looked at her man in amorous anticipation.

Soon, entering the hinterland, they found the roadside canal on course, seemingly guiding the visitors to their respective destinations. While the unending rows of coconut trees resembled sentries on duty for the visiting dignitaries, the lush green carpets of paddy seedlings went into ripples, as though stirred by their welcoming instinct. Lending variety to the landscape was many a mango grove apart from the fully-grown banana gardens and as if to avoid the monotony of the greenery, habitats abounded all along with cattle sheds as annexes.

‘It looks like life is closer to nature in these tiled houses and thatched huts, with cattle for company!’ Sandhya wondered aloud.

‘It’s an irony that we fail to fuse the new technology with the old environs in fashioning our modern way of living,’ he said ruefully. ‘It’s sad we’ve to choose between nature’s bounty in the villages and the make-believe of our cities.’

As if to demonstrate the difference, the driver brought them to Amalapuram, the commercial hub of Konaseema. After some snacks and coffee in a bustling hotel, they resumed their journey to their destination that was far from Hardy’s madding crowds and as they saw the back of Amalapuram, they came to face nature all again.

By the time they approached Bhatnavalli, the sun began to set, and the villagers were seen resting in their courtyards. While some men were seen rolling their cigars with lanka pogaku, others were puffing away at theirs. Women there were found gossiping with their neighbors across the fences as if they were mending fences over past quarrels. As the landlords rode home in their bullock carts, farmhands too started trekking back from the fields with their head loads. Giving a picture of the carefree life to the visitors, the youths were engaged in kabaddi and the children were lost in their marbles. As though symbolizing the surging spirit of the fair sex, village belles vied with each other to come up trumps in competitive hops in those eight square courts that were marked in the courtyards. However, the hen in helter-skelter disturbed them in between, making them cautious not to step on them.

‘This is the famed pilgrimage of Balayogi,’ said Raja Rao as they reached Mummidivaram, ‘the saint who’s said to have been holed up in penance round the year. He was wont to come out of his hibernation only on maha sivarathri for his devotees to have his darshan. It’s believed that he had the power to survive without food or water and lived long for all that.’

‘Is it possible!’ she asked in surprise.

‘Well it’s a matter of faith, and his devotees believe in his miraculous powers,’ he said. ‘However, for every devotee there could be ten to deride the god-men.’

As it was dusk by the time they reached Kothalanka, the Ambassador had a herd of cattle on the homeward stretch to accompany. It seemed the dust raised by the vehicle on the kachcha road matched with the mood of the setting sun. While children ceased playing, watching the spectacle of the four-wheeler in motion, the elders craned their necks to second-guess the destination of the visitors.


When their journey ended at his uncle’s courtyard, said Raja Rao to Sandhya, ‘There’s Thimmaiahgaru for you.’

As they stepped out of the car, the old man came out of the courtyard to receive them, all along blaming the transplantation time for his failure to attend their wedding.

‘Oh, the farmhands have become a big nuisance these days,’ grumbled Thimmaiah unceasingly. ‘You’ve to be behind them always or else they would give the slip at every turn. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve come with your wife to your native. I’ve got your house spruced up; let’s see how your wife likes it.’

As he continued to engage them at the gate itself, Narasamma came out of the house, and reprimanded her old man, ‘Why, do you want to send them back from the gate itself?’

Then turning to Sandhya, Narasamma said affectionately, ‘I haven’t seen a more beautiful bride all my life. Our Raja is very lucky. We’ve got excited when we received his letter that you’re coming here. It’s a very sensible thing to do. One shouldn’t forget his roots. We would have loved your stay in our house, but it is only proper that you spend some time in his ancestral home. You might lodge there but know that your board is here only.’

‘Thank you,’ said Sandhya heartily.

‘Why have you not asked them to come in?’ retorted Thimmaiah.

‘How are Krishna and Krishnaveni?’ enquired Raja Rao as he led Sandhya into the verandah.

‘They keep writing, asking us to join them, but how could we leave our hearth and home and stay with them, that too in the States,’ said Thimmaiah stating their position. ‘Though our thoughts are with our children, our desire remains to breathe our last here.’

‘Now that you’ve got married,’ Narasamma enquired, ‘would you go back to the US?’

‘On the other hand,’ said Raja Rao playing music to Sandhya’s ears, ‘I want to come closer to you all. I’m planning to shift to Hyderabad.’

‘Come on, I’ll show you the place,’ Thimmaiah led the couple to their honeymoon house. ‘There won’t be any end to her enquiries.’

‘Don’t hang around there for long,’ said Narasamma as though to get even with her old man.

Led by his uncle, Raja Rao crossed the road with his bride to enter his ancestral house as a prelude.

‘I let it be used as our village club,’ said Thimmaiah justifying his decision. ‘If locked up, it would only dilapidate.’

When Thimmaiah took them to the backyard, finding a flower-bedecked bed on a high-rise double cot, Sandhya felt embarrassed and looked the other way. As though to let her grasp the significance of it all, said Thimmaiah to Raja Rao, ‘I appreciate your sentiment in having the family cot here. I thought you would need a table fan as well.’ Then he switched it on, as a demonstrator would do in the laboratory.

‘Sorry for the bother,’ said Raja Rao. ‘But I couldn’t help it, knowing that we would land up late in the evening.’

‘Well, you’re like my son though he shuns his native,’ said Thimmaiah before he left them all for themselves. ‘I’m glad you’ve chosen it for your honeymoon.’


Being all alone for the first time with her man, Sandhya was overwhelmed by the privacy the moment had afforded them. However, as Raja Rao cuddled her in ecstasy, she cajoled him with love.

‘How long have I longed!’ he said, caressing her back as she molded into his embrace for a response.

Then, he raised her head as though to see the essence of her soul but saw her droop her eyelids in anticipation. He showered kisses on them, seemingly to cajole them to sight to make them witness his passion. As the ardor of the moment quivered her lips, he joined his to those for support. Gratified by his gesture, so it seemed, her lips played host to their labial guests. The reciprocity of their explorations that followed enabled them to experience the fondness of their love that permeated their souls. In time, he loosened himself from her enticing grip so as not to cross the threshold before the momentous event.

As they reentered the backyard with a compound wall, the softness of the bed, laid amidst a bed of roses, gladdened their hearts. Leading her up to the nearby well, he proposed that they bathe in the open.

‘Why fear?’ he said in mock innocence, as she protested in shyness. ‘I’ll keep guard.’

‘That’s the threat,’ she said, turning coy.

‘Let’s find a romantic balance,’ he said persuasively and went up to the cot in measured steps. He then gestured her to join him and having been amused, she obliged him demurely.

‘It’s half moon now and I would be twenty steps away,’ he crooned into her ears endearingly. ‘Why don’t you let me gloat over your contours that would shape the course of our love life?’

‘Gents first,’ she suggested, ‘in these things.’

‘Agreed,’ he caught her by her waist and led her to the well, ‘If it means courtship manners.’

As he handled the bucket over the overhead pulley, finding some coconuts afloat, she said in wonderment, ‘Oh, the village refrigeration!’

When he was down to his underwear, she thought he resembled a well-chiseled sculpture of a Greek warrior, and as he drew water from the well in bucketfuls, she was charmed watching the contractions of his shapely biceps.

‘Would you please,’ he said invitingly, ‘soap my back.’

‘Oh, I see, your desires are ever on the raise,’ she said mischievously. ‘Since you behaved well all the way, I took you for a gentleman.’

‘In other words,’ he said pulling her nearer to him, ‘you were afraid that the burden of initiative should’ve landed in your lap. What with the driver around, I had no go but to steer clear of your curves.’

‘I never thought,’ she said turning coy, ‘that you’re such a shameless character.’

‘If men were to turn shy at the threshold,’ he said in all smiles, ‘the burden of shame would fall on women. I’ll tell you an interesting anecdote. One of my cousins didn’t stir in the nuptial bed as though he was in meditation. Finding him tepid to her eager charms, crossing her fingers, his bride felt him at the right place! As you could guess, that did the trick for the rest of the night and ever after.’

Without further fuss, hitching her sari and tucking it, she obliged him.

‘I would like to have,’ he said winking, enjoying the sense of her touch in the slippery medium, ‘a little more pressure applied later.’

‘You seem to be quite experienced,’ she said taunting him.

‘Can’t that be imaged,’ he said tentatively, ‘even without going through the motions?’

After his bath, he filled the well-side tub for her use, and retreated to the cot as agreed. As he waited in anticipation, she started her bath with her clothes on. Crying foul, he rushed to the well and pulled at her sari, leaving her in her blouse and the petticoat. When his attack was directed at her midriff to untie the ribbon, she agreed to obey and sent him away.

As she began bathing with her back to him, he goaded her to be more open, and as she relented, seeing her myriad movements in nude, he felt as though some romantic poetry acquired her form. When she stepped out wrapped in her bathrobe, he nestled her from behind eagerly and whispered in her ears endearingly. ‘You look sex fresh,’ and as she blushed to her roots, he went on showering her shoulders with warm kisses.

By the time they arrived for dinner, he in his white pajamas and kurta and she in her light green cotton sari and a black blouse, Narasamma was ready to serve them some spicy dishes. Being hungry, and egged on by the aroma of the preparations, the eager couple ate well to the visceral satisfaction of the hostess.

After dinner, Narasamma adorned Sandhya’s forehead with kumkum and gave her a white voile sari with gold border and said, ‘Women should wear white for the nights. Of course sari and not that tent called the nightie, as it fails to move your man. Remember that there is none like the sari to lend appeal to feminine frame for the male eye, for it symbolizes the seductive dressing at its very best. Well, it is the sari that has in it how much to reveal and what to veil off a woman’s bearing.’

When the fresh pair left, soon after, the old couple began to reminisce their own sweet times, and as it dawned on them that they forgot to place ‘milk and sweets’ near the nuptial bed for rejuvenation of the just weds, they sent them post-haste with a farmhand.

Soon, laid on the high-rise cot in the courtyard, Raja Rao was impatient for his bride’s arrival and as Sandhya stepped out into the moonlight, he felt as though she were an angel that had descended from the heavens. However, as she neared him, her pace slowed down while his pulse increased, and finding her coy to climb up the cot, he clenched her waist to catapult her onto the bed. While she landed herself in his ardent embrace, even as her sari went askance, exposing her legs and baring her blouse, her pulse increased anticipating an ambush. What with her breasts heaving alluringly, as if to invite him to steady her impulse, as she felt the pressure of his hand on her bosom, she realized she was in the realms of masculinity. As he began feeling the softness of her belly, she felt fascinated by the firmness of his touch and as his hands probed the contours of her bottom, she found herself rollicking in anticipation.

Soon, as he turned her naked, she dropped her eyes, as she felt shy to espy herself in his presence but when she sensed he was nude as well, she stole a glance to gauge the measure of his manhood. When he held her firmly against his hairy chest, her breasts had their first brush with maleness, and as he sought for her lips eagerly, she provided them readily. After stooping to her feet in passion, having conquered her heart with love, he found his way back on her silken slopes with the labial support, and rested his head on the slab of her midriff. However, as though signaled by its spasms, while he tended his lips to her labium, she moaned with his labial nuances before guiding him to enter her arena with his passion for her possession. As his manhood reached the threshold of her maidenhood, her womanhood connived with him to contrive its crossing. On their way to orgasm, they experienced the ecstasy of union brought about by the feeling of lovemaking.

Then fondling his back, as he lay on her in exhaustion, she felt life was worth living if only for that moment. Seeing he was fulfilled as well, she felt gratified for being the source of his fulfillment and as her own enjoyment, occasioned by him, made him even more endearing to her loving heart. Holding hands in satiation, wondering about nature’s ingenuity in conceiving sexual gratification as a means of human fulfillment, they looked at the skies, as though to thank the stars for their union. Soon, Sandhya couldn’t help but think about her intimacy with Roopa and felt, ‘while lesbianism with Roopa entails our bodies delight our minds, in coition with Raja, oh, how our bodies and souls come to fuse.’

Before exhaustion overpowered their youthful exuberance in their nuptial bed and sleep overtook their adoring gaze, the moon was on its westward descent, and as though it got inkling from its fairer partner on the horizon, the sun lay in wait to catch a glimpse of the nuptial bride in sleep. As if influenced by his possessive instinct, Raja Rao woke up at dawn to catch the peeping tom at the act. Turning then to Sandhya who slept spread-eagled, he felt she looked splendid. It seemed as though she resembled the bedside roses, having herself flowered overnight after being deflowered. Seeing his bride thus in the nascent sunlight, he surged to have more of her fresh youth and as he pressed against her ardently, she woke up to his ardor to match him amorously.


When it was time for breakfast, Raja Rao and Sandhya went hand in hand to Thimmaiah’s place to be greeted by Narasamma’s steamy idlis and spicy chutneys, and having savored those, they set out for sight-seeing.

Thy sauntered in the paddy fields and roamed about the mango groves until Sandhya became sore footed to go any farther, and ignoring her coy protests, he carried her in his arms, inducing her to cling on to him comfortably. But once they reached their coconut plantation, she jumped to the ground as though to view the setting in its proper shape. Their kapu, so as to sweeten their palates and fill their bellies, fetched a couple of ganga bondaalu, and a rejuvenated Sandhya then accompanied Raja Rao to pray at the nearby darga of the legendary Vali Baba, who, it was said, walked on the rivers and wasn’t wetted by rainwater.

Returning to the Thimmaiahs for lunch, they stayed back for gossip lest their hosts should feel that they were treated as mere innkeepers. Thimmaiah poured out the problems agriculture posed, and was pleased at having a person for an audience who didn’t have ideas to differ with his own. Narasamma, however, tried to interest Sandhya with a game of dice and shells. After drubbing the bride in half a dozen games, Narasamma switched over to the sport of tamarind seeds. She spread a few score of them at random on the floor at arm length. Then she tossed one up and picked up another from the spread before catching the former mid air. As the play progressed, she increased the number of pickings from the spread and yet didn’t let the tossed-up one slip through her guard. Sandhya, who watched in wonderment, made a mess of it when it was her turn to try her hand.

When it was time for tea, Sandhya offered to serve them and savoring her sweetened preparation, Thimmaiah complimented Sandhya, ‘You seem to be one up on my old woman.’

‘To be honest,’ said Sandhya earnestly, ‘I want to be her apprentice.’

‘It’s good to know that you realize that cooking is an art,’ Narasamma said as though to begin the lessons for Sandhya, ‘though nowadays it’s being treated as a machine craft. Pressures of the times have brought in pressure cookers, and it’s lost on the housewife that as nature takes its own time to deliver, cooking needs time to impart taste to the food. And if you pressure it to deliver, either way, it’s going to be a premature issue. It has become fashionable to talk in terms of the recipes these days, though they’re no more than the same garam masala with different brand names. Won’t one lose the unique taste of the vegetables, the gravy being the same in every curry? Cooking seems to have fallen into the hands of barbarians, and the family members too don’t seem to mind any more. Anyway, I’ll give you some useful tips before you leave.’

‘I would be grateful for that,’ said Sandhya eagerly.

‘What about visiting a few temples?’ Narasamma said as an afterthought.

‘Why forget they’re here honeymooning,’ said the old man jokingly, ‘and are not on a pilgrimage?’

‘Jokes apart,’ said Sandhya, ‘I’m keen praying at a couple of temples.’

‘Raja you spend a night or two in a houseboat on Vasishta,’ suggested Thimmaiah. ‘That would be like icing on your honey.’

‘That’s when Sandhya gets over her phobia for water,’ said Raja Rao.

‘Then take her to Vodalarevu where the Gowthami makes a ‘T’ with the Bay of Bengal,’ said Thimmaiah. ‘It’s a sight to see.’

‘I would love to witness that,’ said Sandhya in excitement. ‘Who knows, in time I might be a game for the houseboat even.’

‘I feel Ryali is a must visit,’ said Raja Rao to Narasamma’s delight, ‘if only to envision the sculptured fusion of Vishnu’s front with Mohini’s back in saligrama.’

‘God bless you people,’ said Narasamma, seemingly blessing them herself. ‘It helps to place trust in God.’

‘The days have changed,’ said Thimmaiah. ‘Nowadays, it’s as though men are guided merely by religiosity and not by any religiousness. Naro narayana, man is God, that’s what our sastras preach, implying that you only reach Him through the service to humanity. Nevertheless, man today seems to believe he no longer needs to serve man to please the Gods. In this jet age of non-stop flights, it’s as though man thinks he can hop to heaven by merely visiting temples. One no longer prays to God for peace of mind; it’s his prosperity that’s at the back of his mind. Boon seeking has become the bane of the religious spirit. The more one is moved by his motive, all the more the fervency in his prayer increases. All the while, it’s as though the fellow-beings count for nothing.’

‘In my opinion,’ commented Raja Rao, ‘there is more to religion than meets the eye. It is the most effective means devised by man to hold human beings from cracking at the threshold of their anxieties. If you see, when a man is gravely ill, his wife fears that she’s on the verge of widowhood and all that goes with it. Unable to bear the anxiety about her future without him, won’t she turn to God via her religion to transfer her burden? God, please save him, she would pray for His mercy while waiting for his recovery in hopeful anticipation. As a result, in the mean time, her own anxiety lies in suspension of belief, making it easy on her mind. In the end, if he comes out true and kicking, its God’s grace, but were he to kick the bucket, then it’s God’s will. However, life takes over where her man would have left it, and soon she gets adjusted in the altered situation. The feature of faith is it rescues us from going insane by helping us to face the vicissitudes of life with religious hope.’

Thimmaiah nodded in approval as Narasamma scowled her disagreement, ‘What you say might be true but it could be too sensitive for your wife.’

‘I would like to see life with maturity and not approach it with sentimentality,’ said Sandhya. ‘I’m glad that I’ve found the right guide in my husband.’

‘That’s the benefit of woman’s education,’ said Thimmaiah greatly impressed.

‘But the real tragedy of man lies not in death but in life itself,’ said Raja Rao characteristically. ‘Man would nurse animosity lacking perceptivity, burdens himself with sentimentality, courts trouble thoughtlessly and then turns to god-men for deliverance. It’s a pity that man meditates for peace of mind having purchased headaches at a discount.’

Seeing the nuptial couple yawn at length, Narasamma suggested that it was time they caught up with lost sleep under the mango tree in the backyard. After siesta, however, at Sandhya’s behest, the aged couple accompanied the newlyweds in the evening to the Sathyanarayana Swamy temple on the banks of the village tank.

After the parikrama, they had the Lord’s darshan and sitting by the lake, Narasamma narrated the temple’s legend thus:

When Lega Sathyanarayana of the village went to Annavaram, the Lord visited him in his dream and directed him to begin building a temple for Him at this very spot. Once Lega returned, everything fell into place by the blessings of the Lord and the benevolence of the villagers and the others. It was thus at Godspeed the temple for the Lord was built.

On their return, as the nuptial-couple headed home to have their way, the elderly, while preparing to receive them for dinner, reminisced about the finest day they had in years.

‘Let me repay my debt,’ said Raja Rao picking the soap, as they went into the backyard for bath.

‘Wait for my call,’ she said smiling.

‘Don’t keep me waiting,’ he said ardently.

When they reached the Thimmaiahs place for dinner, seeing Sandhya in an off-white voile sari with maroon border, Narasamma was truly impressed. Though Sandhya returned upbeat after dinner, nevertheless, Raja Rao found Sandhya morose in his embrace.

‘Why darling,’ he said in jest, ‘did the honey turn bitter just after seven spoonfuls.’

‘Don’t be cruel,’ she said. ‘Somehow, I’m missing Roopa, that’s all.’

‘You should’ve opted to be co-wives then,’ he said sharing her mood. ‘Jokes apart, I admire your love.’

‘To tell you the truth,’ said Sandhya smiling, ‘by the time we realized that, we both got married.’

‘By the quirk of fate,’ he said as if to put ideas into her head, ‘it seems, someone had missed so much in life.’

‘Let me not miss you now,’ she said eagerly.

‘Wonder how,’ he said taking her into her arms, ‘Roopa excites you as well as depresses you.’

‘That is true,’ she said before he sealed her lips.

Over their weeklong stay there, having gauged Sandhya’s ability to take things objectively, Raja Rao thought it fit to lead her on the realistic path of life.

‘Sandhya,’ she heard him croon, as she lay exhausted in his arms that night, their last night of the honeymoon at Kothalanka.


‘I must confess to you that I fancied some women and enjoyed a few of them even,’ he said, ‘I even imagined that a wife could be just another woman in my life. However, you’ve made me realize that wife is man’s very own woman, different from all other women.’

‘Are you upset,’ he enquired, as she didn’t respond, ‘that you didn’t get a virgin man.’

‘No, not at all’ said Sandhya. ‘I was just thinking about something else.’

‘Normally it is better that woman keeps her past from her man,’ he said setting the standard for their relationship. ‘As I appreciate the proclivities of youth, you can be open with me without any hesitation.’

Then she readily narrated her experience in the city bus, and said, ‘All that would seem so funny now.’

‘Well,’ he said, making light of it, ‘he stirred the nest and the bird flew into my hold.’

‘Now I’m relieved,’ she said, ‘Oh, how it has been bothering me ever since.’

‘Treat that as one of those small pleasures in life, and no more,’ he said smiling. ‘But they have a place of their own in one’s life.’

‘Maybe, it’s my love for you,’ she said reaching for him, ‘which induced that guilt in me.’

‘While nature has conceived man-woman attraction for the furtherance of procreation,’ he said to let her understand the import of it all, ‘it’s man that invented the institution of marriage for orderly living. However, nature didn’t oblige us by altering the catalysis of man-woman chemistry to suit the structured need of marital fidelity. Thus, the human proclivity to get attracted to the opposite sex comes into conflict with the concept of adultery. That’s why it’s not fair to judge the sexual ethics of others.’

‘You’re an intellectual,’ she said in all admiration to him. ‘I am proud of you really.’

‘You are my angel indeed,’ he said, as he became eager all again. ‘I adore you.’

When the time came for the Raja Raos to leave, the old man hoped there would be similar summers to come.

‘But they should come with the newborn next time,’ said Narasamma, making Sandhya blush to the roots.

After being in the seventh heaven for over a week, the honeymooners left Konaseema for their new sojourn.

Continued to “Tidings of Love”

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