Benign Flame: Saga of Love -34
Continued from “Amor on Rein”
When the curfew was lifted in the walled city across the Musi, it did seem that sanity was restored in the excited souls. However, even as the Hyderabadis began to venture tentatively to get back to their routine, the city was still tense in the emotional sense.
By two that afternoon, Raja Rao left for the Wahab Builders, in the bazaar near the Charminar, synonymous with the country’s pearl trade. As Aslam availed a casual leave that day, and since one of the clients was pressing for the blue print, Roopa substituted as the drafter. As usual, Narasaiah was yet to return from an errand.
“Integral Architects,” Roopa answered the telephone call at three.
“It is Wahab calling tell Rao Saab not to venture here.”
“But he already left at two,” said Roopa trembling.
“Inshah Allah, he didn’t cross the Musi,” said Wahab.
“What’s the matter?” she said.
“Its communal riots all over,” said Wahab.
“Oh God, call us after he reaches,” said Roopa almost inaudibly.
“Surely ma’am,” Wahab hung up hurriedly.
Returning to work then and finding Roopa pixilated, Sandhya became perplexed.
“What’s the matter lovey?” Sandhya asked Roopa concernedly.
“Wahab rang up, saying the old city is in turmoil,” Roopa muttered incoherently
“Oh, Raja was supposed to go Wahab’s office,” said Sandhya concernedly.
“He hasn’t reached there yet,” said Roopa, with tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Oh, God, If he’s harmed, I would die,” Sandhya swooned into Roopa’s arms.
“So would I, that’s for sure,” blurted out Roopa, as they wetted each other’s shoulders.
“Don’t I know that, lovey, hope God saves him for both of us,” said Sandhya wiping Roopa’s tears.
Unable to bear her anxiety as Sandhya sank into a chair, Roopa rushed to the phone to ring up Ranga Reddy, and relieved a little after talking to him, she told her that he promised to find out their man’s whereabouts. However, seeing Sandhya in shock, Roopa cuddled her in silence, but driven by her own anxiety, every now and then, she got up to ring up someone or the other, seeking their help to locate Raja Rao. But Roopa’s updates such as, ‘Subba Reddy has gone to Bangalore’, ‘Ranga Reddy went to the Police Control Room’ seemed to fall on Sandhya’s deaf ears.
In time, exhausted by anxiety, and worn by despair, when Roopa herself dragged another chair to be near Sandhya, they found themselves locking their arms and staring at each other, drawing comfort from one another though without a word. At last when the telephone rang at four-thirty, Sandhya sprang up to her feet, but panicked to pick up the call,
“Sandhya here,” she said nervously, having lifted the receiver on the third ring.
“Rao garu is injured but is quite safe,” said Ranga Reddy.
“Thank God, where is he now?” said Sandhya with relief, as Roopa rushed to her in delight.
As Roopa shoved her ear to the receiver, symbolizing the harmony of their love for their man, Sandhya shared it with her.
“He’s at the OGH, I’ll pick you up from your house around six after arranging curfew passes for you,” Ranga Reddy.
“Please arrange one for Roopa as well,” said Sandhya.
At that, after she hung up his phone, as Roopa fell at her feet, Sandhya took her to into her embrace and said,
“Don’t you know that your place is in our hearts?”
“Oh lovey, but didn’t I tell you that he would be fine?” said Roopa overwhelmed.
“Why did you worry then?” said a relieved Sandhya in smile.
Roopa rested her relieved head on Sandhya’s heaving bosom for an answer.
“So,” Sandhya patted Roopa’s head.
“Can’t you forgive me,” said Roopa, wetting Sandhya’s blouse.
“Don’t try to be smart; tell me the whole story, and then I’ll see,” said Sandhya teasing Roopa, while fondling her lovingly.
“I’m sorry,” said Roopa, almost inaudibly. “I just couldn’t help it. I loved him the moment I saw him, and tried my best to restrain myself. But the more I tried to suppress my fascination for him, the more I was drawn to him. I felt so miserable loving him that I wished I were dead. I became so insane in my longing for him that I lost all my sense of belonging to you. Blinded by my love, my conscience too failed me, and I didn’t feel guilty, though you’ve trusted me.”
“Oh, lovey, why did you suffer at all, you should’ve told me?” said Sandhya, moved herself.
“I just couldn’t bring myself to it,” said Roopa, hugging Sandhya endearingly. “Tell me; how am I to tell you that I was coveting your man? I always knew he too was attracted by me, but then, love is a different thing. Just the same, I was living in the hope of being loved by him. Then came a time, when I felt that I was doomed by my unrequited love for him. But then, destiny seemingly dragged him into my longing arms. As you know, triggered by your letter of concern for me, he came to see me this August. Then, as Sathyam too was away, I could hold no more, and overwhelmed him with all my love and longing. Being his very own woman, you would understand what he could have given me in return for my overriding passion for him. Oh, how nice it feels that I too have some place in his heart, occupied for the most part by you. But, if at any time, should my presence in our love triangle irk you, I would withdraw from it without a murmur for even then, I can live on, masticating the memories of his love and passion for me. Oh, won’t all that last for a life time and more.”
“My lovey, how lovely, how I wish I were in your place. But it didn’t take me long to realize that you loved each other, and won’t be able to resist your urge for long. When I sensed that you’re getting closer, I looked the other way, to let you experience the thrills of love in the making. Sadly, somehow, it never occurred to me that you were suffering so much pining for him, and if only I knew, I would’ve myself facilitated your union so long back,” said Sandhya endearingly.
“Oh, you’re an angel, really,” said Roopa kissing her.
“But having made it, why haven’t you told me, even though I prompted you often enough? Don’t you recall the ‘blank cheque’ episode and that ‘take it easy’ tease?” said Sandhya patting Roopa’s head.
“How could I’ve missed those and more,” said Roopa scratching her head mischievously, and added on a serious note. “I wanted to tell you as he was making love to me for the first time, but he feared that a premature disclosure would hurt you no end. Then as you were forthright at the time of Saroja’s barasala, as I wanted to confess to you, but he restrained me saying that we should wait till you get adapted to the idea of our threesome to make it easy for you.”
“Handsome,” said Sandhya pleased that both of them care for her sensitivities.
“Reward him in our threesome,” said Roopa, winking at Sandhya.
Reaching home and fantasizing the presence of their man, the mates took their lesbian love to the frontiers of ecstatic bliss, before Ranga Reddy came to pick them up as promised.
“How I totally forgot about him!” said Roopa, when Sandhya remembered Sathyam after she entrusted Saroja to the ayah’s care.
“In the triangular moment of our life, where’s a corner left for any?” Sandhya whispered into Roopa’s ear mirthfully.
“But our man wants me to accommodate my man in my corner,” said Roopa.
“Really, what a man we have for us, lovey, how different he is from all other men. Won’t a paramour tend to wean the wife away from her man? Now, I see why Sathyam is so happy,” said Sandhya in delight.
“That’s why lovey I don’t suffer any qualms on Sathyam’s account,” said Roopa.
“Oh, how strange is your love twain? While our affair lifts my soul, your liaison with my man, enables your man breathe easy,” said Sandhya in contemplation.
When Ranga Reddy arrived at length, not finding Sathyam at home, they left a message for him with Lalitha, and set out to see their man in the new dawn of their love life. In time, when they reached the Osmania General Hospital, they found Raja Rao, still unconscious.
“You’re lucky really, though the injury was minor, it was still critical,” said Dr. Wazir Ahmed to them.
‘Doctor Saab, we’re indebted to you,” said Sandhya, taking Dr. Wazir Ahmed’s hand.
“Thank you, but we only did our duty,” said the doctor graciously.
“Can we shift him to the Gaganmahal Nursing Home, near their home?” enquired Ranga Reddy.
“Maybe tomorrow, let’s see,” said the good doctor.
“You know I need Roopa now, please ask Sathyam to take care of Saroja though the ayah is a reliable one,” said Sandhya to Ranga Reddy.
“Don’t worry about Saroja,” said Ranga Reddy.
“Please seek Sathyam’s ex post facto sanction for my absence,” said Roopa to Ranga Reddy, as an afterthought.
After his system had shed the anesthetic effect towards eleven that night, Raja Rao regained his consciousness. Seeing both his women, on either side, he involuntarily stretched his hands towards them, which seemed to them as if to bring about a rapprochement between them. Grabbing his hands in unison as they warmed them with their tears, he felt gratified as both of them showered kisses as well on them.
“Don’t you forgive us,” he muttered to Sandhya, having savored them for long in silence.
“How can I forgive you for the long delay?” Sandhya smiled taking Roopa’s hand as well.
“You are an angel,” he pressed her hand feebly.
“How dare you slight her?” smiled Sandhya.
“Oh God, I’ve got to be on guard or what! Well, I asked for it,” he said in jest.
“Don’t worry, as a loyal wife, I’ll stand guard at the ante-room,” said Sandhya to him, as she took Roopa’s hand.
“How cute, but won’t we drag you in,’ he said in all happiness. “But why are you mum, Roopa?”
“I’m benumbed with joy,” said Roopa.
“Wither gone your guilt?” he smiled.
‘It got dissolved in our tears of joy,” said Roopa fondling Sandhya’s hand.
“I equally love her romanticism and ardency,” he said, turning to Sandhya.
“We’ve been having each other much before you started having us,” whispered Sandhya into his ears.
“So, my lesbo dears, no need for rehearsals,” he pulled them towards himself.
“So, our macho master would find it thrilling,” whispered Sandhya into his ears.
“Hope, it won’t be a ringside view,” he smiled.
“Before your virility enters into our arenas,” said Roopa coyly.
“I’m all eager for our orgies dears,” said Sandhya mirthfully.
“So I’ve been for so long, but lying in a pool of blood, how my heart bled for both of you in turns? How lucky I am to survive that ordeal. Had I died how am I to taste all that’s in store for us? What a frightening experience it was, really!” he said reminiscently.
“Why think about all that now?” said Sandhya persuasively.
‘‘It’s a miracle to be alive, where’s Saroja?” he said with an apparent relief.
“I’ve asked our ayah to stay back,” said Sandhya.
That night, keeping vigil over their man that united them in their love for him, the mates didn’t wink even for a moment. However, by the time Ranga Reddy came along with Subba Reddy towards mid-day, what with Raja Rao, raring to go, they were as fresh as the flowers at dawn.
“Raogaru what a fright you gave us all,” said Subba Reddy
‘If not for Ranga Reddygaru, we could’ve become mad by now,” said Sandhya.
“Ma’am, it’s a minimum human courtesy,” said Ranga Reddy.
“Don’t tell me about human courtesies as I had seen the visage of inhumanity at close quarters,” said Raja Rao, brushing aside Sandhya’s protests. “When I was a few meters away from Wahab’s office, some Hindu hooligans seeking out the Muslims for slaughter, accosted me. Oh, I was so dazed by the frenzy of those hate-merchants that some of them felt I could be a Muslim in fright. After stripping me naked, to confirm my religion via circumcision, they advised me to run for safety. I was too shaken to comprehend whether I should thank the foreskin for having saved my skin, or feel ashamed of the crassness of my co-religionists. Then, hardly could I cross the street, when I ran into a Muslim mob that was braying for the Hindu blood. Before I could utter a word, someone stabbed me in my back, and as I ran for life, they chased me like a stray dog with ‘death for the kafir’ shouts. When they were about to close in on me, I slumped to the ground, and maybe taking me for dead, they left for good. As I lay there, I craved for life, cursing the religions. Now, I vaguely remember to have been picked up by a police patrol, and as you know, Dr. Wazir Ahmed, and others here, retrieved me from the jaws of death.”
“You can talk all about that when it would have become a distant memory,” said Roopa, trying to restrain him,” said Roopa.
“The wound I received at the Muslim hand is bound to heal in time, but the humiliation I felt amidst the Hindu mob would be hard to obliterate from my memory,” said Raja Rao regardless.
“This is the ugly face of these two great religions,” said Dr. Wazir Ahmed stoically.
“My good doctor, to say that all religions are great is a quid pro quo,” said Raja Rao excitedly. “Well, the followers of all religions feel great about their faith. If not, how would they become believers in the first place? But, if we were to go by the static inscriptions of their scriptures, then, the one common drawback with all the religions is the diktat to conform to their unique dogmas. In the guise of preaching goodwill, all faiths effectually divide humanity on religious lines. Isn’t it the villainy of religion? If the behavioral pattern of the followers be the criterion to judge the greatness of a religion, don’t we find that all faiths to be equally wanting? How can any religion claim to be great when it fails to inculcate human values in its own followers? So, it’s the poverty of thought that veils us from the fallacy of the faiths.”
“But then, are there not good people in all faiths,” said the doctor.
“That’s due to the diversity of human nature and not because of religious conditioning of human character,” said Raja Rao
“The trauma of the event could be but a passing sentence in the history of man, and life, but for the dead, would go on, on the familiar course,” said Ranga Reddy.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Wazir Ahmed fetched RajaRao’s case history, and having checking up his condition all again said,
“You can take him now.”
Having thanked the doctors and the staff profusely, Raja Rao left the Osmania General Hospital with his family and friends for recuperation at the Gaganmahal Nursing Home.
Once admitted in the GNH, he was gripped by an urge to see Saroja, and as Sathyam fetched her soon enough, he held her, as if he were clasping to his life itself.
“How pleasurable it is to live?” Raja Rao seemed to tell his daughter.
Then, turning to Sathyam and seeing him visibly moved, he thanked him for his concern and expressed his regret for having detained his wife.
Towards the evening that day, Aslam came with tears in his eyes and a bouquet in his hand. Narasaiah, on hand then, narrated the tale, as if he were the eyewitness to the happenings.
“Inshah Allah, you will live long sir,” ’ said Aslam holding Raja Rao’s hand.
“I heard there was some problem at Musheerabad as well,” said Raja Rao.
“There were a couple of stabbings here and there,” said Aslam in all emotion. “The saddest part of it all is that people go by rumors. It was said that the Musi turned red with the Muslim blood and that was enough to spur some of us in of our locality to goad others to join the jihad, for Islam was in danger. I wonder why the faithful fail to realize that Allah is all-powerful to protect Islam on His own. And being merciful, He wouldn’t approve killing people in the name of the faith. It’s sad that the thoughtless outrage of a few brings a bad name to our religion as a whole. If only the Muslim who stabbed you knows what a good human being you are, he wouldn’t have lifted his little finger against you.”
“The communal jaundice colours our vision with the bigotry of our faith to project hateful images of the people of other religions; it pays to be more humane and less religious, as, the more religious one is, the more biased one would be,” said Raja Rao.
When Roopa was alone with Raja Rao that night, she told him that Sathyam was accommodated in that very room after his appendicitis operation, and at that, they reminisced how wretched they felt, unable to have a longing look at each other, owing to the patient’s presence. Thus having recounted the tale of her anxiety after his sudden departure, she told him about the ‘one line love letter’ of hers that she kept ready for him then, and a visibly moved Raja Rao vouched his eternal love for her.
However, as his recuperation at the GNH took longer than expected, Raja Rao turned apprehensive about the possible fallout from Roopa’s long hours at the hospital.
‘If you hang around here this long, Sathyam could become suspicious,” he said to her.
“Don’t worry about that, he asked me to assist you, as long as it takes. Why, when push comes to shove, won’t I walk over him to walk into your home? You know that Sandhya has kept the door open for me,” she said coolly.
“What courage!” he was amazed.
“What’s love without that?” she cooed in his ear.
“How true, but sadly it’s jealousy that spoils love,” ’ he said.
‘Jealousy is the device that denies man the divinity of love; I wonder how our Sandhya is an exception! An angel, indeed she is,” she said contemplatively
‘How well you’ve put it about our dear,” he said, pressing her hand.
‘And love can be the failing of the divine even,” she said looking at him fondly.
‘Only those in love would realize that,’ he said patting her affectionately.
“It’s not that I’m being good and all, but I realized that, on our D-Day, that August day,” she said, reminiscing about their first night’s togetherness.
Continued to “Date with Destiny”