Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 30
Continued from “A Brimming Romance”
The Godavari Express that Roopa boarded at Secunderabad that September evening seemed to have been powered by the pull of her passion. As it raced on the rails, the sound of its vibrations synchronized with the pounding of her heart beats but when the train came to a halt at Kazipet ending her two-hour long anxiety, it didn’t take long for Roopa to jump into the waiting arms of Raja Rao.
‘I was afraid,’ she said, hugging him, ‘about your train reaching in time.’
‘How did you think that I could have left that to chance?’ he said, patting her head. ‘I reached here yesterday.’
‘Oh, sorry,’ she said, not hiding her happiness.
‘What is it before that year-long waiting,’ he crooned into her ear.
As they reached the first class bogie, she pulled him towards the farthest entrance.
‘I’ve something to show you,’ she said
‘Can’t you wait till we get in?’ he winked at her.
‘It’s a special from the Indian Railways for us,’ she said, and read aloud from the passenger chart pasted over there.
MR. RAJA RAO
MRS. ROOPA RAO
‘You know how to feel love,’ he said pressing her shoulder, ‘and express it as well.’
‘I’m glad you appreciate it,’ she looked at him lovingly. ‘Don’t they make a bold statement in those bold letters?’
‘Either in small print,’ he said lovingly, ‘it makes no difference to our lovesick eyes.’
‘Of brave souls, that is.’
‘True,’ he said.
‘How are you dear?’ she asked him when they settled down in the coupe.
‘Don’t you worry, I’m in fine shape,’ he said winking at her and added. ‘How are things with you?’
‘Don’t you find me happy?’
‘How can I miss your radiance,’ he said taking her hand. ‘But what about your home work.’
‘He became homebody all again,’ she said in all smiles. ‘Well, with bottle for company, whatever, at last, I could make him feel at home in his home. Anyway, you’re going to meet him soon.’
‘I’m glad at the development,’ he said with an apparent satisfaction. ‘How I would like to befriend him.’
‘Why buy a headache?’ she smiled.
‘What could be worse than the heartache we’ve had,’ he said squeezing her hand. ‘Oh, how I shudder to think of those days.’
‘What about these days?’ resting on his shoulder she caressed his chest.
‘Don’t you see that my cup of joy is overflowing?’ he said reaching for her lips.
‘As I got the news of the new arrival,’ she said, ‘I felt as if I were her mother, since you are her father.’
‘That means,’ he said smilingly, ‘she will have a double protection against my pampering.’
‘Before I forget,’ she said excitedly, ‘especially since these days, everyone complains that I’ve become very forgetful.’
‘Lost in love!’ he said, interrupting her.
‘Don’t you know that?’ she said. ‘I’ve paid the advance for your office as well as her Sweet Home, both in Himayatnagar. You can occupy them any time next month.’
‘So, you’ve got the sets ready,’ he said pinching her crotch, ‘to begin the shoot.’
Shortly thereafter, the TTE had come and gone, leaving them on their own. Having bolted the door, Raja Rao opened his suitcase, and pulled out an ‘Intimate’.
‘When you’re around,’ she said, smelling it, ‘why do I need this?’
‘Oh, nothing is better scented than your body,’ he said, rubbing his nose all over her. ‘It’s just to make it a witness to our intimacy.’
‘You’re such a pet,’ she said, running her fingers through his hair.
‘I read your letter a hundred times,’ he said as he pulled it from his pocket, ‘for its romantic quality.’
‘Thanks for your compliment,’ she sank into him coyly, ‘for my maiden effort.’
‘Why don’t you read it for me?’ he gave her the letter.
‘Why do you want to embarrass me?’ she said gazing at it lovingly.
‘Why not try,’ he coaxed her. ‘Having seen your love in the print of your hand, now I want to savor it in the tenor of your tone.’
She smiled with satisfaction, but read with inhibition.
Believe me, for more than an hour now, I’ve been toying with my pen to picture the feelings of my heart so that you could feel them in my missive. Well, had you been around, by now we would have made love twice over. Is there any human expression other than lovemaking that is so full in its intent and content!
I wonder why I feel so diffident to find words to express that by which I breathe my life, is it not our love that helps me live. Perhaps, a woman prefers to preserve her love in the recess of her heart, as if its exposure, even to her lover, deprives it of its pristine purity. You know, I didn’t have any inhibitions turning nude that night, before your very eyes, that too on my own. So, isn’t it strange that I should struggle now to bare my heart, in spite of your command! It looks like the emotions of my love are closer to my heart than the feelings of my frame, if not, how could have I steered clear of all those temptations for the appointment with our fulfillment? Oh what a destiny!
Why, I’m annoyed with you still, for having insisted on my penning down my inner feelings, although I made you privy to every nuance of my emotion. Why, had I not conveyed my craving for you through my body, every time it was entwined with yours? But, as you know, I only live to fulfill every whim and fancy of yours.
All the same, I can feel your desire to behold our love in my hand, having seen it through my eyes. But be certain that whichever way you look at it, you will still find me fulfilled. If I could make you feel likewise, I would have a purpose to live, and a cause to die for. Don’t you pull faces (she paused to see his face and found it aglow) I know what our love means to you too.
Thanks to our union, I have a revelation, as I find it hard to relive the sexual ecstasy I’ve experienced with you; the sensual pleasure of your touch has come to stay in my consciousness. It is as though the softness of your skin has seeped into my flesh.
I wait - to meet and mate.
Yours ever, by heart and soul,
‘I’m eager,’ he said.
‘I’ll go through the ablutions,’ she went about it.
‘I too am thirsty,’ he said in ecstasy.
‘Let’s turn 69.’
‘Oh, my Roopa,’ he sputtered at length.
‘Let’s roll over.’
‘Don wants it,’ he said pushing her away, at length.
‘Dame too craves.’
‘Oh, juicy welcome,’ he said as she took him in.
‘I’m getting mad,’ she groaned.
‘Your spasms tell,’ he crooned.
‘Oh, I’m dying,’ she cried.
‘How thrilling,’ he moaned.
‘Your motions reveal,’ she was ecstatic.
‘Oh, I’m coming!’ he exclaimed.
‘I knew it from my orgasm,’ she cooed in the end.
‘You shall lay me,’ she said, as they lay in embrace, ‘in the very bed that I grew up daydreaming.’
‘Roopa,’ he said in all admiration, ‘you are a love rash really.’
‘If it’s a new coinage, the patent should be mine,’ she said lovingly. ‘Why not lay the hen in its very den. Won’t that be a game man?’
‘I won’t be surprised,’ he said, in jest, ‘if you target my den as well.’
‘Oh, imagine the possibilities,’ she winked at him, ‘with the other one around.’
‘Really, Roopa,’ he exclaimed, ‘you’re a love devil, if there is one.’
‘It’s about being devil in the bed and angel otherwise,’ she said joyously. ‘Haven’t you heard the adage?’
‘Now I’m coming to know,’ he said, and added after a pause, ‘What of Prasad?’
‘Why, are you jealous of him?’ she said coquettishly.
‘No one ever loved without being jealous,’ he said holding her. ‘Do you know of any?’
‘I feel sorry for him that I made him waste his time in my unsuccessful seduction.’
‘How generous you are,’ he said, ‘even to your adversary.’
‘But still, won’t he have a cause of action to claim opportunity costs from me,’ she said in jest, only to continue reflectively, ‘Shortly after you left, he came to force me into surrender. How he made it clear that he came determined to drag me into bed. Oh God, how intense was he in his intent then, and what a storm he created at that. How he tried every tool in his lusty kit to wrench my resolve, why he even threatened to kill himself with my kitchen knife. Since I yield even then, he injured himself with the knife on hand as if carrying out his threat to kill himself in his unrequited love for me. When, I remained unmoved after all that, he called me a frigid flirt and angered by my stony silence, he left in a huff, never to return.’
‘Maybe he too loves you,’ said Raja Rao
‘While he lusted after me like nobody else,’ she said reminiscently, ‘he never came to love me, why, my sixth sense warned me from the beginning about it, if not, he could have had me much before you made me yours. Oh, you can only see to believe the intensity of his passion that day! Thank God, your August visit saved the day for our love and me as well; otherwise, I don’t think I could have mustered the strength to resist him then.’
As she hugged him with the relief associated with having escaped some danger, he held her with the feeling associated in retrieving a valued object before its accidental fall, and said, ‘But would he leave it at that. What if he begins spying upon you?’
‘I told Sathyam about it all, to take the wind out of his sails of mischief,’ she said coolly. ‘But I don’t think we need to worry about him anymore. After all, the vanity of man makes him believe that if a woman shuns him, she would snub others as well, but, should man suspect that a woman is carrying on with someone, he would imagine that she could be an easy lay for him as well. It’s all because man tends to picture woman’s preferences through the prism of his fallacies, and not in the mirror of her proclivities.’
‘Whatever,’ he said, ‘it’s the woman’s whim that prevails in the end, isn’t it?’
‘You shouldn’t grudge us our only advantage,’ she said while picking up some bananas from her basket. ‘Otherwise, are we not at the receiving end, in every way?’
‘I haven’t seen you reading any Telugu Weekly before!’ he said, finding an “Andhra Pathrika” therein.
‘I picked it up at the Higginbotham’s to keep my anxiety at bay,’ she said, giving him a banana, ‘I read a couple of stories, but I felt the characterization was poor.’
‘Characters of fiction are authors’ children and critics’ neighbors,’ he said enigmatically. ‘Even if we perceive them as inadequate, nevertheless, we should appreciate the fact that they were the products of someone’s imagination, however limited that might have been. It’s not often that you come across a book from which you could quote much.’
‘That’ true, but in these writings, I find only the phantoms of wishful thinking rather than any products of imagination.’
‘Do you have some more?’ he asked her, having helped himself to a couple of them by then.
‘It’s the last one,’ she offered him the one she was having.
‘Never mind,’ he persisted, ‘you have it.’
‘You know that my preference,’ she pushed the banana into his mouth as a prelude, ‘is for the one with the skin.’
When they savored the meal that she brought along with the saada paan for them, which rejuvenated them for their nocturnal exercise, so much so that when the Godavari approached Eluru at three, unable to part from one another, the lovers were still at caressing each other.
‘At this rate you may be sending me to Sandhya’s bed just to rest,’ he smiled in the end.
‘Why, hasn’t she a clear lead of a year,’ she said winking at him. ‘That is, accounting for the off days. Let me get even before you can be even handed.’
After that journey of ecstasy, they reached Kakinada in the morning. At length, when they got to the exit gate of the Town Station, for appearances sake, they went their separate ways - he in his in-laws’ car and she in a rickshaw.
While a hiatus after lover’s jaunt is welcome prospect for that would afford sweet reflection upon the amour what is unwelcome is a long separation that entails painful craving for their reunion.
While the rickshaw-puller was peddling her home, Roopa tried to speculate about his wife and their life.
‘Would their married chores be any different from the middle-class mores?’ she wondered. ‘Maybe, for want of space in the slum life, liaisons could be but a handshake away. But won’t that take away the pining from love as well as the exhilaration in union? How am I to know?’
‘Welcome dear,’ Ramaiah greeted her warmly. ‘How are you doing?’
‘Naannaa you know the face the index of mind,’ she said joyously.
‘Yes, you look happy,’ said Ramaiah in apparent relief, as though her joy by degrees had reduced his guilt.
‘Glad you’re relaxed,’ she said noticing his mood, and headed towards the kitchen, shouting, ‘Oh, Janakiammagaru.’
‘Now you’ll have it from her,’ Ramaiah said to her in all smiles, ‘ever since Sandhya was is in the family way, we all have had it from her on your account.’
‘I won’t let you go back,’ said Janaki, as Roopa joined her, ‘without a proper medical checkup. Be sure about it.’
‘You better sort it out,’ Roopa enlaced her, ‘with your son-in-law when he comes.’
‘Does he count at all,’ said Raju teasingly, ‘my poor brother-in- law.’
‘When you’re married,’ said Roopa smilingly, ‘you would know about that.’
‘But you look exhausted?’ observed Janaki.
‘Is it so?’ she said smiling.
‘Ask Sandhya, if you don’t believe me,’ said Janaki. ‘I know that her words are the gospel truth for you.’
At the thought of her impending meeting with Sandhya, what with her guilt feelings coming to the fore, Roopa was tied her to bed all morning, rationalize her affair with Raja Rao. Scared as she was at the prospect of facing her friend with her lover around, as her love for Sandhya got the better of her guilt in the end, she sprang up from her bed.
On her way to Sandhya’s place, she recalled her state of mind when Sathyam returned after Raja Rao had left, ‘How is it that I didn’t feel guilty then, but felt it odd to think in terms of loving him, though I gave my word to Raja? But with Sandhya it’s all so different, isn’t it? Oh, it’s her love that sustained my interest in life until her man turned me on. Won’t seducing her man amount to betrayal? Well, if I develop qualms on that count, won’t I end up in the doghouse of guilt? After all, I’m not for robbing her joy by grabbing him all for me, isn’t it? What’s wrong then, if I share his affection with her? Isn’t it fine, given our lesbian connection, won’t extraordinary situations call for extraordinary solutions? Why not we three engage our love in a round robin of ardor?’
Helped by that euphoric feeling, Roopa felt relieved by the time she reached the District Collector’s bungalow.
‘What’s your secret Roopa,’ said Damayanthi in welcome, ‘that you look prettier than ever?’
‘Surely you radiate!’ said Kamalakar. ‘Sandhya is dying to see you. What a friendship yours is! Touch wood, may God keep it that way for ever.’
As she began to climb up the staircase, Roopa saw it all in a new light.
‘Sandhya might misread the cause of my joy,’ she thought, ‘won’t she suspect that I’m carrying on with Prasad? What a pity that I can’t clarify.’
When Roopa reached the threshold, she found Raja Rao cuddling his kid, even as Sandhya caressed his head. As Roopa coughed to announce her arrival, Sandhya jumped for joy.
‘Oh, Roopa,’ Sandhya reached out to Roopa with her outstretched arms.
‘How’s our little darling?’ said Roopa, fondly looking at the baby over her mate’s shoulders, in their smug embrace.
‘Here she is,’ said Raja Rao coming near.
Still enlacing Sandhya, Roopa pinched the baby, and said, ‘So cute, like her mother.’
‘Seems she too welcomes you,’ said Raja Rao, to the cry of the child.
‘Wasn’t it my coercion,’ Roopa said in all smiles, ‘that led to the outcome?’
‘Oh, how ravishing you look!’ said Sandhya. ‘You’ve never been better.’
‘I don’t know, but that’s what everyone says,’ said Roopa, and taking a hard look at Sandhya, she said in undertone, ‘Why, you look fuller in your fulfillment. Won’t those extra pounds come in handy to him and to me as well?’
‘Won’t I love that,’ Sandhya cooed back.
‘Well, what’s the secret Roopa?’ said Raja Rao with the intent of making Sandhya get used to his closeness with her friend.
‘I’ll tell you,’ said Roopa winking at him, and then turning to Sandhya, she apologized, ‘I’m sorry for being so late.’
‘Who’s she after?’ Raja Rao sought Roopa’s opinion about the newborn.
‘She has her father’s features,’ said Roopa, looking fondly at the baby. ‘And her mother’s charms.’
‘Hope she picks up,’ said Raja Rao in jest, ‘your diplomacy, as she grows up.’
‘Oh, our dream is coming true,’ Sandhya took Roopa’s hand. ‘How did it feel when he broke the news to you?’
‘Can’t you guess!’ said Roopa reenacting the act, ‘I nearly swooned.’
‘Thank God,’ said Raja Rao, ‘she didn’t collapse then.’
‘Well, to spare you the trouble,’ Roopa told Raja Rao, and turning to Sandhya, she said dreamily. ‘It’s all dream like you know.’
‘I wish to join you by the month end but mom won’t have it,’ said Sandhya in all disappointment. ‘She feels it’s too early for me to manage the baby.’
‘Won’t I be on hand,’ said Roopa, ‘to lend a helping hand?’
‘Who’s for wasting your talents at baby-sitting,’ said Sandhya, ‘Can’t we contribute at his office?’
‘Won’t I love that,’ said Roopa in vexation. ‘But you know how touchy Sathyam is about my working.’
‘Leave that to me,’ said Sandhya, sounding confident.
‘That’s a relief indeed,’ said Roopa.
‘Hold your breath,’ said Sandhya, ‘he wants to make us both his business partners.’
As Roopa started sobbing, for want of a better response, Sandhya couldn’t hold her tears of joy either. The euphoria of their love insensibly impelled in Raja Rao the urge to merge with his women.
‘What a fortune to partner your beautiful souls,’ he said as they clung on to him as one, as he held them both in his arms.
‘Oh, how concerned you both are,’ said Roopa bogged down by tears of joy, ‘Now, I can live in joy and die fulfilled.’
‘Oh, Roopa, don’t get emotional.’ said Raja Rao patting her head, fearing she might bare her soul, overcome by remorse.
‘What would be my share of the investment?’ said Roopa, recovering herself at length.
‘Don’t bother about that,’ he said, ‘But it won’t take much investment to get started.’
‘Well,’ said Roopa, ‘I would like to contribute. Why, I can sell some of my jewels.’
‘Do you need to go to that length?’ said Sandhya.
‘I don’t want Sathyam’s favor,’ said Roopa, ‘and I don’t like to be a drag on you either.’
‘We better respect her feelings,’ said Raja Rao to Sandhya.
‘Well, as I hold your jewels in trust,’ said Sandhya, ‘we use mine as our common wear. Is that okay?’
‘Sandhya,’ said Raja Rao, ‘you’re a wonder.’
‘She’s the fortune,’ said Roopa to Raja Rao, enlacing Sandhya, ‘of yours and mine as well.’
‘Being your beloved,’ said Sandhya, taking Raja Rao’s hand, ‘is no less a fortune.’
‘What a circle of fortune it makes,’ said Raja Rao holding Roopa’s hand.
‘And I want to keep her for us, forever,’ said Sandhya holding their hands together.
‘Oh, how you’ve made me your slave with your love,’ said Roopa, coy in the circle of affection.
‘Why, haven’t you enslaved us yourself,’ said Sandhya affectionately to Roopa.
‘What about the little darling’s name?’ said Roopa.
‘Let him apply his mind,’ said Sandhya.
‘I welcome your suggestion,’ he said to Roopa.
‘I’ll second her stand,’ said Roopa, leaning on Sandhya, as though in solidarity.
‘As you’ve passed the buck to me, you both are equally accountable,’ he said mirthfully, ‘and as the ball is in my court, I can’t avoid taking a shot at it. Thus the name derives by itself - Sa - Ro -(Ra) Ja, - Ra being silent, Saroja.
‘Lovely!’ Sandhya exclaimed.
‘Creative!’ Roopa admired.
‘Inspiration of the friendly kind,’ he said, taking both their hands.
‘I’ve to leave now,’ said Roopa reluctantly, and withdrawing herself from them, she went up to kiss Saroja.
‘Come for lunch tomorrow,’ Sandhya kissed Roopa in turn.
‘We’ll come to pick you up,’ said Raja Rao in jest, ‘though your invitation is not forthcoming.’
‘I don’t think you’re the type to wait for an invitation,’ Roopa smiled. ‘Don’t keep me waiting.’
Sandhya couldn’t contain her joy that Roopa was so joyous, and thanked Raja Rao for enlivening her friend’s mood with his charm and wit.
On her way home though, Roopa wondered as to how to bring about a homely union with Raja Rao. However, as she reached home there was a godsend for her in the form of a wedding invitation to the Ramaiahs.
Continued to “Living the Dream”