Saturday, 30 August 2014

149. OS: 7: The Other Woman

This is all SEGAD’s doing! This is her Write OS Challenge. I accept!

Section 1

“Chotey, I think your Jiju is having an affair,” Anjali said, her eyes brimming with tears threatening to fall in to the pooja thali in her hands.

“What the!” exclaimed Arnav, looking up from his open briefcase. He was packing to go to Agra for a two-day meeting.

Anjali nodded. A tear fell on the heap of flowers in the thali.

“I...” Arnav shook his head in acute doubt. “Di, I seriously think you are mistaken. Jiju would never...”

“No, Chotey. It is history repeating itself. Papa....” Anjali choked to a halt.

Arnav stared at her in horror.

“Phone calls at odd hours....He does not let me answer his phone. He is always at the office...says he is busy...always working late...Chotey...” Anjali wept.

Arnav abandoned his files and walked up to Anjali. He took the thali from her and set it aside. Then he caught hold of her shoulders and tried to talk some sense in to her. “Di, Jiju is a good lawyer and a busy one. He might be working. The calls might be official...”

Anjali shook her head tearfully.

“Did you ask him about your suspicions, Di?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I am scared, Chotey,” she whispered.

Arnav stared at her, helpless. "Who? I mean, who is the girl?"

 “The calls...Most of them are from a Khushi,” she revealed.

“Khushi?” Arnav frowned. He had never heard the name before.

“She is a new employee at Shyamji’s office. I think...I think Shyamji and Khushi...,” Anjali croaked.

“Di,” Arnav looked at her devastation, not knowing how to make everything right for his Di as he had been doing all his adult life.

“Chotey, get rid of her. She must be luring my Shyamji, enticing him in to her web with her eyes on our money. Chotey, please make everything alright, as it was before Khushi came in to our lives,” Anjali demanded of her brother, tears wetting her cheeks.

“Di, tum chinta mat karo. I will take care of you,” he tried to calm her down.

“Chotey, I am scared,” she whispered, throwing herself in to her Chotey’s arms and weeping.

“Di, please don’t cry. Di, please. I will see to this,” he promised rashly.

“I knew it. I knew my papad ka tukda would not abandon me in my moment of need,” Anjali dried her cheeks.

Section 2

Arnav looked at Shyam with his sharp eyes.

Jiju was eating his dinner in a disinterested manner, a frown on his face. Every once in a while his eyes strayed to the phone by his plate on the dining table.

The phone rang.

Shyam fell on the phone with an eagerness he did not hide.

Arnav’s lips tightened in annoyance.

“Yes, Khushi?” Shyam whispered as he hurriedly left the table excusing himself.

Arnav imitated him and followed him to the hall.

“I will get there in ten minutes, Khushi. No, no, don’t leave. I will meet you in ten minutes,” Shyam whispered urgently in to the phone.

Arnav frowned. Was his Di right? Was Jiju having an affair with this Khushi? Must be some middle-class girl out to make her fortune by trapping a married man, he thought bitterly, his lips twisted in contempt.

He would have to deal with this Khushi, protect his Di and her marriage from her.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

148. OS: 6: An Unwanted Wife (Part 21)

Section 21

They set out in the morning from Delhi and after a layover at Mumbai, reached Mangalore airport at noon. Arnav held Khushi's hand firmly in his as she stared at the sights around her with wide eyes.

"Arnavji," she whispered in his ear. "I never realised that there is a world outside Delhi and Lucknow."

ASR smiled, enjoying her innocent awe.

"There are so many people like us, Arnavji, with their bags packed and travelling with their families," she marvelled, peeking at fellow travellers.

He cuddled her closer.

From there they travelled for four hours by car to Coorg / Kodagu district in the Western Ghats. Khushi lowered the window and put her head out, loving the cool wind playing with her hair and the sights on the way.

"Arnavji, dekhiye!" she breathed in awe.

Arnav turned to look away from her thrilled face to the sight of mahouts bathing elephants in a river.

He smiled at her excitement as she saw purple mountains, lush forests, trees forming a cover over the road they were travelling on, waterfalls, streams gurgling by the road, wildflowers lifting their shy heads to savour the last of the sunshine, birds calling from their perches on trees, monkeys leaping from one branch to the other, some with babies tucked to them, cows walking home, their golden bells jingling, children playing in muddy water...

They saw Kodava women in their colourful sarees with the pallu wrapped around their trunks and carried over the right shoulder to fall to the front...

 The sights were endlessly enchanting to Khushi.

The happiness on her face and the frequent one-armed hugs she gave him to share her excitement were very, very satisfactory to her husband.

As she sat enthralled, Arnav made plans to take her on as many holidays as possible, to show her the world. He had travelled only for studying and for business till then. Now he wanted to travel for pleasure in the company of Khushi Arnav Singh Raizada.

"Arnavji, have you come here before?" Khushi asked.

"A few times, when Anand was alive," Arnav replied. He had spent all that time working, using the drive to the villa to go through documents on his laptop. He hadn't gone sightseeing, hadn't done any shopping at all.

This time would be different.

Finally it was time to live.

He asked the driver to stop the car at Laxmi Nivas, a small wayside restaurant for tea. He led Khushi in to the small cafe built on traditional lines with plenty of wood.

Soon steaming glasses of  Kalladka Tea (KT) were placed before them.

 "Arnavji, how can one tea have three tastes?" Khushi asked, sipping the delicious beverage.

"You are the halwai, Khushi. I am the diabetic," he smiled.

Khushi smiled, her eyes on his relaxed features and twinkling eyes.

As they sipped the refreshing beverage, the waiter placed plates of akki roti and sesame seeds chutney, 

rice balls and mushroom pepper fry, bamboo shoot fry, kumbala (pumpkin) curry, 


and nool puttu.

Khushi's eyes widened to rival saucers.

"Arnavji! So much food! How will we finish all this?" she asked in a low voice, looking around to see if the waiter was listening to them.

"Why are you whispering?" Arnav asked, his eyes on her lips.

"He will feel bad." Her worried eyes looked around.

Arnav chuckled. "Eat what you can. We will feed the rest to squirrels or cows who might wander past. Or we will pack it and take it with us and feed animals on the way."

Khushi beamed.

They tucked in, the delicate taste of exotic spices teasing their taste buds.

"This is so good, Arnavji," she said. "What are these round balls called?"

"I have no idea, Khushi," he confided. "I may have had them before when I visited Anand, but I don't remember." He summoned a waiter and asked him.

"Kadambuttu," the server smiled. "They are rice dumplings."

Khushi smiled at him.

After an eventful journey Khushi and Arnav reached the villa Anand and Geeta had given them. He got out of the car and stretched. The villa looked as beautiful as it had when Anand had been alive.

The door opened and an elderly lady emerged smiling.

"Geeta Amma called and told us you are coming with your wife," she said in broken English, smiling at Arnav.

"Yes. This is Khushi," Arnav introduced her.

The elderly lady took hold of Khushi's hand and pressed it fondly. "May you both live long and have a very big family with hundreds of healthy children," she blessed them. "I am Poovamma, the caretaker of this house." She handed over a set of keys to Khushi. "Now you take care of your house, Mole (daughter)."

Khushi looked at the keys in her hand, blushing a delectable shade of pink at the thought of hundreds of children.

"Dinner is on the table and the kitchen is fully stocked," the elderly lady said. "I will send boys to clean the villa once every three days. Do you want me to arrange a cook for you? Geeta Amma said you might prefer to eat out or cook."

"We will manage," Arnav said, sending silent thanks to a very understanding Geeta. Finally privacy was within their reach.

"I live in a cottage outside the main gate," Poovamma said. "I have written my phone number in the diary by the phone in the living room. Call me anytime you need help, Mole."

Khushi smiled and nodded.

Poovamma pinched Khushi's chin, folded her hands in farewell and left.

Arnav and Khushi walked in to the house, followed by the driver with their luggage.

As Arnav paid the driver and tipped him lavishly, Khushi walked around marvelling at the decor of the house. It was beautifully decorated with colourful silk cushions and drapes. Antique rosewood and teak furniure added to the rich look.

"Arnavji, this is beautiful," she breathed.

"Then you will love our bedroom," he said as he led her up, taking their bags with him. He pushed opened the door to a large room with walls made of warm wood, a huge king-sized bed, a large ceiling to floor window that opened to a large terrace overlooking green expanses. Soft lighting lent magic to their haven.

He dumped their luggage, caught hold of Khushi's hand and pulled her out to the terrace. From their vantage point they could see rice fields, coffee and pepper plantations, green forests ringing the fields...

A cool evening breeze blew her hair against his face.
He smoothed her hair behind her ear with gentle, loving fingers. She turned her head to look at him, her eyes twinkling with happiness, her lips curved in a smile.

He looked his fill of her delighted face, hie eyes tender, molten with a banked fire. 
Slowly the smile died on her lips as her eyes recognised the burn in his eyes. He lowered his head to hers, his nose nudging hers.
 She smiled slightly at the touch.

The smile vanished as his lips hovered and then settled on her plump, pink curves.

When he lifted his head a few moments later, Khushi was clinging to him, her arms around his neck. His arms were around her waist. Her eyes were dazed and she was panting. His own breathing was heavy, his heart racing, his pulse galloping.

Cool wind blew her hair against her cheeks.

"Koi dekh lega," she whispered unsteadily with bee-stung lips.

"Dekhne do," he whispered back, his hot breath singeing her cheek.

"Arnavji," she whimpered.

He lifted her in to his arms and carried her to their bed, his eyes on hers. 

He laid her gently on the bed, freed his arms from under her and then walked to shut the door.

"Privacy finally," he murmured as he joined her on the bed. He lay on his side, looking down at her flushed face.
He ran a finger down her cheek. "You look like a rose that has been kissed," he spoke against her warm, silky cheek.

Khushi trembled. Her neck arched and her fingers curled around his arms, her nails biting in to his muscles.
His lips roamed freely around her face, tasting her eyeslashes, her nosepin, her ears, her forehead, her chin. Then he moved down to her neck. Khushi shuddered and clutched his shoulders, leaving nail marks on his skin through his shirt.

He lifted his head as though to move away.

"Arnavji," she moaned.

"Hhmmm?" he asked, teasing her.

Khushi lifted and rolled with him, turning him to lie on his back. She lay on him, her legs coiled around his, anchoring him to the bed.

She looked down in to his naughty eyes looking at her with a blend of laughter and barely controlled desire. Without volition, her lips lowered to his face and she dropped slow kisses on the frown lines on his forehead, his jutting nose, his stubborn chin, his well-formed ears... His eyes adored her, love mingling with a frenzy of hunger. His arms held her locked against him. Their hearts pounded against each other. Their pulses throbbed in unison.

Khushi captured the hard curves of his tempting lips with her own in a fury of ecstasy.

Long moments later, Arnav rolled on the bed, bringing Khushi to lie beneath him, their lips still fused. He covered her with his body, taking care not to rest his entire weight on her frail body lest he hurt her, but Khushi needed him close to her so badly that nothing mattered to her. Caught in the inferno of an all-consuming rapture, she pulled him down, locking her to him with her limbs, lost to shame and all other considerations. She forgot that she was the sheltered Khushi, raised to be sanskaari, lady-like. All she knew was Arnav, her husband, the feel of him in her arms, against her body, the touch of his all-consuming lips against hers, the passion blazing through her veins, the fire licking at her nerve-ends as he used his talented fingers to slowly trail down her body, the flames devouring her as his body rocked against her welcoming one.

Lost in each other, they remained oblivious to their clothes falling off the bed, a pillow or two dropping off, the late evening becoming dark night outside their room. All her inhibitions burned in a proud bonfire that lit up the night sky of Coorg.

A bird landed on the railing of their terrace and sent out a glad cry to its mate.

Khushi blinked bleary eyes and looked around. The ceiling, the room, the open window, the blue bird with its head twisted slightly to the left to study her better...

Her eyes widened. She turned her head.
Arnavji was waking up. He stretched his arms and opened his eyes to look at her.

"Khushi," he murmured, the name carrying a world of love and acceptance.

Khushi blushed and looked away.

What had they done last night? No, she should ask, what hadn't they done last night? Her face became pink as a rose. They had woken up last night after a nap, dragged on the first clothes that had come to their hands, ambled down and had a leisurely dinner and then returned to bed to make love again and again and again...

Arnav smiled at her averted pink face and in a sudden move, leaped on her, trapping her in his arms.

She gasped. "Arnavji, aap kya kar rahe hein?" she stammered.

"Don't you know by now?" he teased her, murmuring the question in to the hollow of her throat.

"Arnavji?" she asked timidly, the passion rising in her again.

"Hhmmm?" he asked, his tongue tasting the pulse throbbing in the hollow.

"Arnavji, can I ask you something?" she gulped, feeling the burn of his stubble on her soft skin sending tingles down her spine and turning her in to a puddle of mush.

"Anything," he whispered fervently.

"Arnavji..." she asked in his ear. "Is it normal to want to do this again and again?"

Arnav stared at her for one moment, his beautiful eyes on her guileless, earnest ones.
Then he burst out laughing, hugging her close, his chuckles resounding in the estate bungalow. Long moment later, he managed to control his laughter and looked down at her cross face. The look on her face set him off again.

He guffawed till tears leaked from his eyes.

The End