Of No Avail: Web of Wedlock – 1
All marriages are made in heaven but some are delayed on earth:
We endeavour to hasten them all.
So read the billing at Renuka Marriage Bureau.
Rushing to Venu, Priya reread the same.
‘Oh, how fortuitous!’ she thought excitedly as she walked up to her car. ‘So, I could wed him now. Going by his photograph, he looks handsomer than ever; if anything, that streak of grey hair only lends him an aura of its own! It’s as well that he doesn’t dye his hair as most dandies would, more so while seeking a bride. Isn’t it true to his character; being truthful to himself, and to others as well. So, he’s divorced, which means that he was married; what was his wife like; could he have wed on the rebound? How long would’ve their marriage lasted; what could’ve gone wrong with their wedlock? By the way, have the roughs and toughs of his marital life affected his amiable disposition? May not have been, given the softness of his visage in that picture; oh, how I was tempted to flick it from that folder! But why did my sense of decency tie my hands when fate itself played foul with me; didn’t it make me reject his hand out of hand?’
Having reached her car, and sitting still at the steering, she continued to take the clock back in time, ‘How I used to like him in those days, but fate made me blind to his marital charms. But now he’s nearing forty-four and I’m touching thirty-nine; so what, as age has seemingly spared us both its ravages of time to afford us a hectic time to make up for our lost time. Maybe that’s why he looks at his handsomest best and my allure too is at its peak; wont’ all those ogling eyes tell that? Now that his picture has brought my loss to the fore, nearly two decades after our parting of ways, is it that fate has come to repent its thoughtless act? But is it going to redress its wrong doing? If so, when he sees me now, won’t it induce romantic impulses in him replacing his bitter memories of our parting? And for all that, ours could be one such marriage made in heaven that got delayed on earth. Maybe his divorce portends that. But still, given his past hurt and my present proclivities, would he like to own me? Well, I would know that soon enough, won’t I? But come what may, I won’t lose him this time for I can’t bear his loss anymore.’
Having resolved thus, she started her car to steer it to her newfound destination. In time, as the address led her to a middle-class setting, parking her car by the roadside, she rushed to Venu’s first-floor flat only to hold herself at the threshold. Soon though, as the doorbell couldn’t clear the hurdle, seeing the irony of it all, she went back to the car to continue her wait.
‘Would he be able to recognize me at all?’ she thought as his fortuitous absence made her lose the ecstatic momentum his memory had generated. ‘Surely, he would’ve pushed me out of his memory; if not for anything but for peace of mind. Moreover, twenty-years are too many for any to nurse an unrequited love. But once I announce myself, how would he react to my visit? Maybe for old time’s sake, he won’t turn me away straight away but surely he may not warm up to me, why should he? In that case, what could be the outcome of our cold encounter? Won’t he try to get even with me if I were to propose? Won’t hurt egos tend to go wayward in weird ways? Haven’t I seen that happen with Rekha’s hubby? So I should not let his temptation to score over me ruin the opportunity that life has at last presented to us. It makes sense to soften his hurt and win his trust to bring him around. But what if he tries to dismiss me at the doorstep itself? Well, he would know I’m no pushover of a gatecrasher.’
Checking the time, when she looked into the rear mirror, she saw a motorbike zooming near, and as it passed her by, turning her gaze through the windscreen, she saw the helmeted rider steer it through the compound gate. Sensing that it was Venu, she readily got down from the car to catch up with him but as her common sense cautioned her to allow him time to refresh, she got back into her car to wait for a while.
Soon though, as her eagerness got the better of her patience, with her heart in her mouth, she set out for a date with her destiny; but having reached the threshold, unable to decide about the period of a decent wait to cross it, she stood rooted there for long. At last, though driven by an irresistible desire for his espial, yet she knocked at the door tentatively but as Venu opened it immediately, she lost her way with the words that she had been rehearsing relentlessly.
However, seeing his face acquire that look, which the first look at a desirable woman induces in man, she readied her eyes to discern the nuances in his demeanor even as hers followed suit as an enamored female of a male. Soon, seeing the evolving signals of recall inevitably progress into signs of surprise, she presented him her smile dimples.
“What a surprise,” he said excitedly.
“Your face tells,” she said coyly.
“Come on in,” he said wide opening the door.
“But I seek a customary entry?” she said standing still.
“I don’t get you,” he said confusedly.
“Can’t wait till you get it,” she said flirtingly and stepped in.
“You haven’t changed much,” he said closing the door behind them.
“Your eyes said that much,” she said coquettishly.
“May know I’m wiser to your teases,” he said smilingly.
“I was afraid you might’ve forgotten me,” she said sitting in a sofa.
Then the doorbell rang as if to afford him an interlude to respond to her gambit.
‘He hasn’t taken my name as yet,’ she thought following him with her eyes to the front door. ‘Is he buying time with generalities to try to place me? Maybe his desiring look is more to do with my allure than with his recollection of me. But still, isn’t it good enough for my mission?’
Greeted by a salesman of doormats, Venu was not irritated for once, and having seen him off, he tried to come to grips with the sudden development.
‘What a bolt from the blue?” he tried to figure out his situation. ‘But how on earth she has managed to find me out, and for what purpose? What am I to make out of her peculiar overtures now? Is it her courtesy call after that discourteous send off? Or has she come to take my material stock to revalidate her rebuff then? If so, seeing my setting, won’t she feel vindicated? Why won’t that make a day for me for not giving her a cause for regret? Surely she has realized that I’m bowled by her charms, but how my enamored eyes could’ve hidden the urge her allure surged in me. What a sextraordinary thirty-nine she has turned into now! Whatever, I shouldn’t make a fool of myself yet again; I should see her off before my weakness for her grips me all again.’
“Sorry for coming in the way of your guest,” she said smilingly as he rejoined her.
“Never mind, it’s a trespasser,” he said sitting in the nearby sofa.
“Like me I suppose,” she said feigning to move closer to him.
“What do you mean by that?” he said unable to suppress his mirth.
“You haven’t taken my name as yet,” she said heartily.
“I felt it could embarrass you in my pronunciation,” he said dryly.
“Go ahead, and let me see,” she said coquettishly.
“Priya,” he said in spite of himself.
“I love it, don’t you see that?” she said coyly.
He merely looked at her for a clue to her flirtations.
“Glad you haven’t forgotten me,” she said tentatively.
“I forgot you in the sense that I hardly think about you,” he said unassumingly.
“No faulting you for that,” she said melancholically.
“I’m sure, it wouldn’t have been any different with you,” he said nonchalantly.
“Are you still bitter with me?” she said taking his hand.
While the sensuality of her touch raised the pitch of his flesh, the sensitivity of it insensibly induced empathy in his despondent heart.
“I’m sorry if I’ve sounded so,” he said pressing her hand.
“I know, you’ve every right to feel jilted by me,” she said still holding his hand.
“I was sad for losing you but never felt ditched by you,” he said withdrawing his hand, as if recalling his resolve.
“Don’t tell me that?” she said as much in surprise as in relief.
“You should believe me,” he said.
“I know you don’t lie, so do I,” she said taking back his hand.
“I know that but how do you do now?” he said letting her hold his hand.
“You would know that by and by,” she said mirthfully.
“There could be many threads for us to pick up,” he said in spite of himself.
“But two would do to twain it,” she said tantalizingly.
Beset by doubts all again, unable to enthuse himself, he withdrew his hand.
“Since I’ve taken the lead, I’ve the first right to gather,” she said regardless.
“It’s the same one-upmanship,” he said resignedly.
“So be it,” she said moving closer to him.
“First let me prepare some coffee for us,” he said getting up.
“May I steal the pleasure of it,” she said following him into the kitchen.
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