Benign Flame: Saga of Love - 33
Continued from “Chat at the Bar”
On that vijayadasami, during October, the lane leading to the office of the Integral Architects Pvt. Ltd., in Himayatnagar, was lined up with assorted vehicles of those who came to grace the inaugural function.
While Roopa, in her grey Binny silk sari, was at the entrance welcoming the invitees with her bewitching smile, Raja Rao in brown corduroys and white T-shirt was ensuring that all were seated, as they entered. Handling the refreshments were Aslam, the drafter and Narasaiah, the daftari. As if to capture the moment for the posterity, Sathyam was busy clicking away with his new Canon, but suckling Saroja, Sandhya in her Gadwal sari was bogged down in the anteroom for long.
In that setting, as the muhurtham for the inauguration approached, Raja Rao went up to Sandhya to fetch her for the vighneswara pooja, but seeing her putting the baby to sleep on the divan, he signaled her to hurry-up. Soon, as Sandhya came out, the couple went through the rituals with Roopa in attendance, and after the prasadam was distributed among the gathering, Raja Rao took the floor.
Having thanked those present for gracing the occasion, he wished those haven’t turned up till then would be joining soon. Reading out their resume, he introduced his partners in turn, and said in jest that he was sandwiched between Sandhya, the malikin at the house and Roopa, the boss at the office. That is why, he claimed, Integral Architects could be expected to be equally competent in handling homes as well as offices. In Aslam, he said, he found a competent drafter and that Narasaiah was duty personified. It’s thus; he hoped that their young team would come up to the expectations of their esteemed clientele.
At the auspicious time, Ranga Reddy was accorded the honour to unveil the name-plate, symbolizing the inauguration of the enterprise. When requested, Subba Reddy gladly put the drafting table to use, as a mark of commencement of the operations. Ranga Reddy, in his address, recalled how he was impressed with Raja Rao when they first met, and said it was his confidence in his competence that turned him into a realtor. So, he hoped that his Build Well Ltd. and Integral Architects would combine to contribute to the larger growth of Hyderabad. Subba Reddy, who followed him, said that he was a man of few words, and the two words he has for Raja Rao are - Account Transferred.
At length, leaving the staff and Sathyam behind with the core group, everyone, one by one, had left after refreshments. Thereafter, Roopa assisted Aslam to move the drafting table by the window, even as Narasaiah began to clear the rubbish. However, Sandhya tried to pacify Saroja, who had woken up by then and Sathyam went to Mahaveer Studio with the exposed film rolls.
Shortly, to Roopa’s delight, Tara showed up.
“Lusty congrats,” whispered Tara into Roopa’s ears, handing her a large bouquet.
“I owe it to her,” said Roopa passing it on to Sandhya.
“And I do to him!” Sandhya, holding Saroja, gave it to Raja Rao.
“How handsome,” said Tara.
“Thanks for coming,” said Raja Rao.
“I’m happy that Roopa is in the deserving company,” said Tara.
“Aided by your goodwill that is,” he said as Roopa told him about Tara’s rescue act.
“Is there any vacancy for me?” said Tara smilingly, looking around.
“We’ve to grow manifold to absorb you,” he said smilingly.
“I wish you Godspeed for that,” said Tara, extending her hand to him.
“Thank you,” he said taking it.
“Let me show you the place,“ said Roopa whisking Tara away.
“Why are you so insecure?” whispered Tara, following Roopa.
“Aren’t you a femme fatale,” said Roopa in jest.
“Not of your grade though,” said Tara, taking Roopa’s hand. “I’m glad your patience has paid off.”
“Thanks to your timely help,” said Roopa reminiscently.
When Tara entered the anteroom, Roopa stood embarrassed at the threshold.
“It’s suitable,” winked Tara, lying on the divan.
“You’re impossible,” smiled Roopa.
“When’s the lunch break?” Tara winked at Roopa.
“Oh, you,” said Roopa in all coyness.
“Where’s the ‘Don’t Disturb’ board?” said Tara, mock-searching underneath the divan.
“It’s on the way,” said Roopa in jest, and put Tara back into circulation.
As Tara got up to leave in time, said Sandhya to her,
“Do drop in whenever you’re free,” said Sandhya.
‘With Roopa’s permission,” said Tara, squeezing Roopa’s hand.
“Not for forcing your way,” said Roopa half in jest.
The next day, during the lunch hour, with Alsam having gone to his nearby home, and Narasaiah out on an errand, as Raja Rao led Roopa into the ante-room, she turned apprehensive, though she looked forward to the opportunity with all her craving.
“It could be risky,” she said.
“Still it’s worth at any cost,” he said, pulling her into his lap.
“Why no bolster?” she said stretching herself on the divan.
“With your chignon, I thought you won’t need any,” he said lying by her side.
“Sandhya too says it suits me fine,” she said, eagerly pushing his head on to her breast.
‘Glad we’ve a place for us,” he said, unbuttoning her blouse.
‘A homely office but what if Sandhya scents our hominess?” she said naughtily.
“That’s what we want,” he said smiling, leading her on the amorous path of their fulfillment.
‘A married woman might enjoy her domineering role over her man but it’s her submissiveness to her paramour that affords her the joy of surrender. So, won’t that make a liaison a singular affair?’ thought Roopa, as they came out of the ante-room at length.
In time, everything fell into a groove at the office and in their homes as well. As Sandhya hired an ayah to assist her in coping up with Saroja, Raja Rao would ride to the office on his Bullet with Sandhya at nine, leaving behind Saroja at home. Roopa, after seeing off Sathyam with the lunch-box, would walk down to the office in time. Aslam and Narasaiah would report for duty on time, for Raja Rao was a stickler for time. While Aslam was always found rooted to his drafting table, Narasaiah, for the most part, was out on errands.
So to feed Saroja, Sandhya would head home at sharp eleven, and at the stroke of one, she reaches the office with lunch-box for the three of them. Aslam, however, was wont to leave a little early for his namaz, on his way home for lunch. Having savoured the meal with her man and her mate, Sandhya would leave the office by one-thirty, to be at home to suckle Saroja. Raja Rao would schedule his meetings to ensure his lunchtime presence for lovemaking in the office. While it was back to work for the rest of them by two-thirty, Sandhya, after siesta, would come back at three-thirty.
The synchronous harmony of their lifestyle enabled the couple and their lover live in ecstatic fulfillment.
While the work at the office gripped Roopa, the weight she came to wield there buttressed her self-worth. After all, Raja Rao came to depend on her for she readily picked up the work with her quick grasp. Besides attending to the office accounts, she helped him at structural calculations as well. As though to prove that she shared his passion for construction, she traced the building plans that he had conceived. Indeed, she was heady with life.
It was in the midst of such a time, which Raja Rao called honey time that he had to go to Madras for a week. At that, missing Raja Rao’s passion, Roopa felt as if she were left in the cold, in spite of her physical intimacy with Sathyam, not to speak of her lesbian time with Sandhya. So, it didn’t take long for her to realize how her own fulfillment came to be pinned upon Raja Rao, and by the time he returned, she was mad and eager.
But as luck would have it, the day he returned, Sandhya, to the lovers’ consternation, brought them lunch in tow with Saroja. When Sandhya revealed that the ayah had gone to the matinee with a friend of hers who came from Khammam, they felt let down and in time, with Sandhya around, the dismay of the vexed lovers began to vent itself in varied ways. So it didn’t take long for Sandhya to notice that Raja Rao turned irritable while Roopa remained morose.
“What’s wrong lovey?’ she asked Roopa.
“Why, nothing,” replied Roopa.
Seeing Raja Rao berate Aslam on a trivial issue, Sandhya tried to calm him down.
“What’s troubling you after having bagged such a prestigious contract?” Sandhya said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said.
‘Is it a mere coincidence that both of them are off color at the same time?’ contemplated Sandhya. ‘Isn’t it clear that something is troubling them both? What it could be? Are they in love and in heat as well? Surely they’re having sex during lunchtime but my untimely presence, on top of a week’s abstinence, is weighing on them. So, they’ve made it to the post sooner than I expected; why not I have a dig at them then?’
“Lovey, have you encashed it?” Sandhya whispered in her mate’s ears.
“What?” said Roopa.
“The blank cheque I gave you,” said Sandhya, teasingly.
“I don’t get you dear,” said Roopa confusedly.
“Wait for his next withdrawal,” said Sandhya smilingly, and went up to Raja Rao, leaving a perplexed Roopa behind.
“I know why you’re out of sorts,” she said leaning on him.
“Don’t be silly,” he said in irritation.
“Sorry for your miss,” said Sandhya.
“What do you mean?” he said getting subdued.
“Out of the right slot one goes out of sorts, right,” said Sandhya mysteriously.
“Oh, my lovely little genius, why don’t you write a thesis on that?” he said managing a smile,
“Why not if Roopa is its co-author?” she said smilingly.
While Roopa’s wanting remained unfulfilled for the day, Sandhya’s romanticism ensured Raja Rao’s fulfillment that night; and the next day, as the eager lovers came out of the ante-room, they felt as if they had sex for the first time in their life.
However, a few days later, at the sound of the buzzer, fearing exposure, they were benumbed in their lovemaking.
“What to do?” Roopa whispered, instinctively covering herself.
“Let’s not respond,” he said in undertone.
“What if it’s Sandhya?” she said, worried.
“I’ll see,” he said getting dressed hurriedly.
When he returned relieved, she was partially dressed.
“Thank God, I escaped the quarantine,” she said in relief but added in apprehension, “I’m afraid we may not be lucky next time.”
“And there’s the Murphy’s Law to back your fears,” he smiled.
“It’s no laughing matter; if it is Sathyam, it’s death, and if it were Sandhya, it’s shame though she seems to have guessed it,” she said nervously.
“So, it’s time we seduce her into a threesome,” he said thoughtfully.
“How I would love that day, nay, that night,” she said, as she hugged him in hope.
However, as the buzzer never sounded again during their escapades, their fear of exposure was evaporated in the heat of their passion and so the urgency to rope in Sandhya into their orgies receded.
Soon, as the business improved, Raja Rao was getting bogged down at the office until seven, however, freeing his women by five. Back at Sandhya’s place, the mates were wont to melt in each other’s arms.
In their lesbianism, even as the feeling that her man was also enjoying her lover gave the cutting edge to Sandhya’s amour, Roopa was eager with her ardour to augment her lover’s pleasure with her mate later. Thus as their fondness for their man grew, they were ever closer with each other in their lesbian domain and since Sathyam too was keeping late hours at the Secretariat, the mates began to keep themselves in their arms for longer hours.
“My lovey, what a life!” resting in Roopa’s lap, said Sandhya that evening.
“A love filled one,” said Roopa, fondling Sandhya’s breasts.
“Yet with yearning,” said Sandhya, winking at Roopa.
At that, having looked into Sandhya’s eyes intently, Roopa buried her head into her mate’s bosom endearingly.
“Take it easy,” said Sandhya in all smiles, moving her finger meaningfully in Roopa’s erotic essence.
“Make it hard now,” said Roopa in ecstasy.
Also, the affection Roopa felt for Saroja catered to her innate sense of womanly want and fondling the baby, she experienced a motherly fulfillment as well. Whenever Saroja smiled in her lap, wanting to mother her sibling subconsciously, Roopa felt spasms in her womb. The mood at the office too was upbeat for them all. Even as Ranga Reddy’s ambitious ventures were rising to the skies one by one, Subba Reddy’s new contracts were wearing the drafting table a little bit more. New clients too were trooping in, making Raja Rao think in terms of expansion. Thanks to the word of mouth, Sandhya too was busy with the decor of the posh bungalows of Banjara Hills. And all that made it a dance and dinner in Roopa’s life.
That evening, as they were calling it day at Integral Architects, Narasaiah brought the disturbing news of a communal commotion in the old city.
The walled city of Hyderabad, on the banks of the Musi, built in the 16th Century by Quli Qutub Shah around the Charminar, is a predominantly Muslim populated part of the modern metropolis. As the legend has it, Shah built the place to commemorate his love for Bhagmathi, his Hindu beloved, and named it Bhagyanagar. Manned for most part by the Muslims, His Court felt that a Hindu name for a Muslim capital would be a misnomer, and thus proclaimed it as Hyderabad for the posterity. Ironically, as history witnessed, the Hindu mind and the Muslim psyche failed to fuse with the spirit of love that brought the place into being. Instead, they preferred to imbibe the theory of the Court that the Hindu character and the Muslim identity are things apart.
“They say some pork was thrown into the Mecca Masjid, and the Muslims suspect a Hindu hand behind the defilement,” reported Narasaiah.
“That might spell trouble after all but why do they provoke the Muslim sentiment at all?” said a worried Aslam. ‘
“The fact, that the mere presence of pork in a mosque or beef in a temple could trigger a communal riot in our country speaks for itself,” articulated Raja Rao. “There’s no denying that it hurts the hyper-religious both ways, and it’s precisely for that reason that the mischief mongers from both the communities resort to such acts. If we allow such symbolic hurt to trigger a communal riot, it’s like walking into the trap laid by the cunning con men or the religious zealots. Everyone knows that the silent majority is peace loving and law abiding; not that they are spiritually enlightened or religiously tolerant. It’s just that all realize that orderliness serves their self-interest the best. But, thanks to the machinations of the mischievous few, all get engulfed in the communal frenzy. Regrettably, the politicians too developed a proclivity to fan religious passions to create vote banks for themselves.”
“What’s the way out then?” asked Sandhya.
“Oh, there seems to be none really,” articulated Raja Rao. “But common sense might help one to reach out to others across the boundaries of religious biases. Let’s take the present incident. Even assuming that it’s the handiwork of a couple of Hindus, can one say that all the Hindus of the city are behind it? But for all that, it could as well be the handiwork of a demented Muslim. The Muslims might rightly be outraged by the sacrilege, but won’t the Hindus themselves be wary about the tasteless deed? Instead of getting at each other’s throats, won’t it make sense for all, to collectively voice their common consternation? If only we could do that, the miscreants from both the communities would realize that there’s no mischievous ground left for them to foment trouble.”
“But who’s to take the lead?” asked Aslam.
“Who else but the middle-class as the pigheaded religious heads have failed the masses? Partly, the problem lies in the tendency of those that tend to give a public face to their private faith, and that makes the others suspicious about their religious intentions and personal inclinations,” said Raja Rao.
“Is it to suggest that the Muslims should desert their mosques?” asked Aslam.
“Who says that, but all should downplay the manifestations of their faith in the public arena at least. Maybe, more than the others, the Muslims need to do a lot more social re-engineering for their own good,” said Raja Rao.
“We, Muslims believe that there is but one God, so we can’t religiously relate to the Hindus who worship at the altars of so many gods, and that’s the source of the discord to begin with, something like an ideological dispute,” said Aslam.
“If that’s the case, the Christians too believe that one God, yet there were those crusades against the Muslims,” said Raja Rao. “But then, how can God be one, when all religions have their own ones! As for the Gods in our religion, I would say without meaning any offence to other faiths, there’s no contradiction in that. As the modern organization has evolved round department heads, it seems to me that our sanatana dhrma conceptualized various gods and goddesses for specific functions governing the Hindu destiny.”
“But it’s the Hindu idolatry that is at odds with Islam,” commented Aslam.
“Well, religion is an emotion peculiar to the humans, the sensitivity of which increases in the face of criticism from those of the other faiths,” said Raja Rao. “We, Hindus, feel incensed when others tend to reduce us to idol worshippers even as the essence of our Hindu dharma is aham brahmasmi brahma - God is but the self of man. Where is the question of idol worship when our bowing before our deities is only a symbolism of our submission to the paramatma, that is, Him? However, being ignorant of this Hindu nuance of our devotional ethos, those professing the Semitic faiths naively take it as idol worship.”
“Moreover, our deities impart form to the god we seek solace from, and thus help us stay focused in our prayer to Him,” continued Raja Rao. “By way of an example, we can all recall the features of our beloved ones in their absence, yet it’s only when we look at their pictures that our emotions for them get focused in our minds. It’s time others realise that what they misconstrue as idol worship is but a Hindu way of concentrating on God in their worship as well as in their prayers. Besides, we Hindus need distinctive images to envision our concept of God’s avatars but all the same, hasn’t the so called idolatry insensibly seeped into the religious ethos of the Christianity and Islam as well? Won’t that prove, if proof were ever needed, that when it comes to spirituality, imagery comes naturally to man, and anything contrary, be it religious or be it ideological, is the pretence of the protagonists.”
“Given the reality of human emotions, religious tolerance seems a mirage after all,” opined Roopa.
“Misplaced zeal for one’s faith and uncalled for bias against the other religions has been the bane of the humans,” said Raja Rao. “It should be understood that no one can emotionally feel about a religion other than his own, and only in the realization this truth lies the mantra of religious tolerance. Having said that, my intellectual perception of Hinduism and Islam is this: Hinduism is the most abstract of all religions, to comprehend which one needs a certain level of intellect, not common to the masses, which, at once proved to be its strength as well as its weakness. It’s the very character of their philosophy that enables the Hindus to try to understand the atma, that is, the self. And this Hindu endeavor to understand the self brought about the evolution of a thought process of the highest order ever achieved by the humanity at large. On the other hand, the Aryan intellectual apartheid pushed the Hindu masses into abject ignorance, not to speak of poverty.”
“Islam, on the other hand, is supposed to be a concise creed without any scope for ambiguity,” continued Raja Rao, “It’s as though the faith was fashioned keeping in mind the intellectual limitations of the mass of its adherents. Maybe, this clarity coupled with the egalitarian, though sectarian, concept of its teachings could have led to the conversion of those Indian masses who were either unable to comprehend the precepts of the Hindu dharma or those oppressed by the social prejudices of the caste order. But at the same time, this very virtue of definitiveness of Islam precludes any philosophical discourse about life, making it fundamentalist in its precept as well as its practice.”
“What do you think of Christianity?” Narasaiah, a Christian convert, asked Raja Rao.
‘To my mind, going by the progress made by its followers in shedding its dogmatic shackles, it’s the most dynamic of all dispensations, though its core remains fundamentalist. But its undue emphasis on sin as the fulcrum of the faith is indeed intriguing,” said Raja Rao.
“All religionists claim their religions preach peace, yet what governs the world is strife,” said Sandhya.
“That’s the paradox of the faiths,” said Raja Rao in exasperation. “While one wails over the death of a co-religionist in a riot, the same person is indifferent to the slaughter of scores from the other community! But will it be a consolation for a woman who lost her man that a dozen from the other faith were widowed as well, in the same commotion? Why would ever wounds differentiate human bodies on religious lines to heal themselves? What else is religious strife but human stupidity?”
“Inshah Allah, let it subside without further trouble,” said Aslam.
What an irony that modern man, engaged as he is in the pursuit of knowledge, allows himself to be stymied by the dogmas of the Dark Ages, perpetrated as religious tenets.
Continued to “Surge of a Merge”