The moment his foot touched the cracked floor inside the threshold, a kind of electric wave rose through his foot, up his leg and torso, all the way to his head, down the other leg, and a strange rustic pungent smell of rot hit his nostrils. He tried to pull back, but his legs refused to obey, and his body stepped forward as if under a spell. Suddenly it had gone completely silent, not as much of a flutter from outside.
He found himself in a big hall, scattered with remnants of a variety of furniture, statues and artifacts covered with thick layers of grime and cobwebs. With stray rays of sunlight falling through sporadic broken patches in the roof and windows, the whole setup looked like a horror movie set, only a little more scarier. Adding to that, everything seemed eerily familiar. Strangely, he felt a sense of calm descending upon him; or maybe his nerves were going numb with extreme exhaustion and fear.
As he took another step, the door started closing behind him with a mild creaking, pronouncedly audible in the backdrop of the immense silence. He turned his head to look at it, but didn’t make an effort to stop it. Once the door completely closed, he turned his head back; and that’s when everything around started transforming.
Everything his glance fell on started transforming into new – like a magic; each piece of furniture and artifact he glanced at started turning from broken filthy junk to what it was when it was installed – the grime, the cobwebs and the cracks evaporating under his gaze.
As his gaze moved to the walls, the peeling paint, the muck, the fissures and clefts, and the wriggly termite nests started fading away to give way to freshly painted clean walls. His eyes scanned over the broken glass residues hanging from the roof, and its hanging shards started assembling and fusing to give shape to a big sparkling chandelier, its candles lighting up one by one.
Within a matter of minutes, the filthy broken remains of cavern like ruins turned into a tastefully decorated exotic ante-room of a villa; and he watched the whole transformation, wide-eyed and dumbstruck. As he stepped ahead, the tattered floor too started turning into a mosaic of limestone and granite in asphalt base.
The majestic looking marble staircase with mahogany banister in the centre of the room seemed to be inviting him. As he placed his foot on the first stair and looked up, the ruins of the larger-than-life sized painting hung in the centre of the wall facing the first landing started coming to life.
He was on the fourth step when the faces in the painting became clear, and he froze in his tracks. The man’s face was his own; as if he was looking in a mirror. The woman’s face at first didn’t strike a bell but on second look, his eyes got glued on the angelic face.
With a flash, a film started playing in front of his eyes – a grand wedding – the groom and the bride being the ones in the painting. Then they are sitting on a flower bed, both holding hands and looking into each other’s love oozing eyes – they roaming hand in hand – in a garden, in a market place, on a cruise – him secretly ordering for a villa in the middle of woods as a surprise gift to her – they swimming in a pool – frolicking on a beach – playing, teasing, kissing, making passionate love.
The scene abruptly changed with him searching through the cupboards for something – finding a small pink box hidden under her clothes – him opening it tentatively – a bundle of letters bound by a golden string – tersely reading them one by one with blood shot eyes – the words floating in the air- “My love…”, “…I want you in my arms…”, “.. you are mine…”, “…it kills me to think of you in his arms..”, “…finally you came back to me…”, “..can never forget that night…”, “..can’t live without you…”, “…leave him.. come to me forever…”, “…I want to feel your hot breath…”, “…when is he going on his business trip again…”, “…I want you in my arms on your birthday…”, “…only yours!”
The scene changed again – they sitting on a dining table. She said – “I need to go out tomorrow morning to meet a friend.”
He replied-“Tomorrow is your birthday! I want you to spend the entire day with me.” She had this irresistible smile, “Ou…so sweet! I want the same. I’ll be back within an hour, promise…and then I’ll be in your arms the whole day.”
Who could resist such charm; but the words “in your arms” felt like molten glass in his ears.
“That won’t be possible. I have a surprise for you I’ve been working on for months, and we need to leave early morning.” He said with a slight smile, trying not to show the rage building up inside.
“Oh!” The shadow of worry on her face was unmistakable. In the wee hours, they started in their Bentley which took them up to the edge of the infamous vast jungle; from where they continued on elephant-back. All through the journey, she enjoyed the thrills and sights of the new experience, excited like a child. Noticing a little strained behavior and unusual silence on his part, she asked once – “Something bothering you love!?” He shook his head in negative; the word “love” burned a hole in his heart.
They reached this exotic villa built in a clearing in the middle of the jungle, with hills in the background. She was literally jumping with joy on seeing it; she went around the whole house like an excited gazelle.
“It’s so lovely. You got it made for me? Oh, I’m so lucky to have you!” She chirped, “but why is it so empty; no-one in here!?”
“Why…I’m here. Do you need someone else too?” He asked in a strange manner. She looked at his impassive face for a moment, then smiled- “No, I don’t need anyone other than you. I was talking about who looks after this place, like cleaning, cooking, security…”
“Don’t worry about the security; it’s a dense jungle all around for miles, filled with all sorts of wild animals, and no man can reach here as the way-in to this place, or even the way-out, can’t be found by anyone other than Chinu, the ‘mahawat’. Chinu looks after this place; he’s a good cook too. Here we can be with each other without anyone disturbing us.” He said without expression, “Are you scared?”
“Scared! No, why should I be scared? I know- as long you are with me, I have nothing to fear.” She said with her characteristic charming smile. It was this innocently disarming smile of hers which had him smitten the first time he’d seen her and he couldn’t think of anyone else ever since.
‘What a fool he had been…If only he could see beyond that smile..back then!’
It was already evening. They were on the balcony overlooking the forested slopes, having tea with donuts and sandwiches.
“Isn’t that the direction we came from?” She asked excitedly, pointing to a corner of the clearing visible on one side.
“Yes. That’s the only approach to this place. It’s better visible from the corner window of the bedroom.” He replied, amazed at her sharp sense of direction.
She looked around while sipping her tea and biting into a soft sugary donut. A flock of peacocks and peahens were pecking at the edge of clearing; some hares were running around nearby; a bunch of antelopes grazing in the distance, and rare colourful variety of birds frolicking all around. With the setting sun’s rays making mesmerising aurora-like patterns in the cloud-streaked sky over the hill-tops, the view was simply breathtaking.
As he finished his tea and placed the empty cup on the table, she abruptly got up and sat on his lap with her arms around his neck and started showering his face with small amorous pecks and passionately wet kisses. “Thank you honey….I love you…so much.” She whispered in between. It was humanly impossible for him to remain dispassionate and distant against such abundantly fervent assault from such a lovely creature and his arms wrap around her to pull her in a tight bear hug.
After being lost in each other’s arms for what seemed like eternity, he lifted her up and took her inside the bedroom. Once on bed, they proceeded to explore each other – playing, teasing, pinching, caressing, kissing, licking and holding each other’s body, and soul – in a dance of passionate love-making, like there was no tomorrow. He’d never been so ardent and wild; he seemed as if possessed. Even she’d never been so vocal and loud, so explicitly untamed in her moves. He didn’t seem to be getting enough of her. It was as if he’d never known the extent of his fervor for her before this night, and this night was seemingly too short for him to express how he felt for her.
As he neared his climax the second time, evident from her contorted face and dilated pupils that she was nearing hers, he looked deep into her eyes with his hands curled around her throat and thrust with all he had. They both exploded together, like a tsunami, breaking and washing away everything on its way, bucking and panting and writhing and clutching each other, still looking in each other’s eyes, tears hanging on his eyelashes.
As he laid pent up, on top of her with his head resting on her soft breasts, trying to regularises his jagged breath, she asked softly, combing his hair with her fingers – “Do you want to ask something?”
He lifted his head to look at her face. Her eyes were closed and her face was filled with serenity and love, with a hint of her childlike smile playing at the corner of her lips. Added to that, a few stray strands of her hair falling across her angelic face and naked breasts were making her look like a Goddess. He was still looking at her, hypnotised, when she opened her eyes to look straight into his eyes. “Ask what you need to.”
‘Yes, I have a lot to ask,’ his heart screamed inside, ‘I want to ask why you did what you did… how could you do this… did I go wrong in loving you more than anyone in the world… Hell! I literally worshipped you like a Goddess. Why did you do this to me…why girl, why?’
His whole was screaming inside, his anger ready to burst out, his rage desperate to burn him to ashes. He didn’t know how, but he managed to keep a straight face and replied in a strangely calm voice- “No! I have nothing to ask. With you in my arms, I have everything I could ever ask for.” She broke into a wide smile displaying her pearly teeth and pulled his head into her bosom, crushing his face into her softness. They slept like that, skin to skin, wrapped tightly in each other’s arms; not even air could pass between them.
With the first rays of rising sun, he opened his eyes. He disentangled himself out of her arms, careful not to wake her and went into the washroom. She was still sleeping when he came out, all dressed up. He looked at her sleeping form fixedly for a minute, and then turned away with a stabbing pain in his heart. As he opened the door to walk out, her soft voice rang in his ears- “You going somewhere love?” He slowly turned around to look at her; she was half sitting with her elbow over the pillow, blissfully oblivious to her nakedness. At that moment, she was looking so tempting that he wanted to pounce on her and make love till she screamed, and then some more.
He forcibly pulled his eyes away from her and said- “Yeah! Got to visit… another part of this jungle where a… a project is coming up.” He stole a glance at her and managed to say- “I’ll be..back….soon.”
“I know, you’ll be back.” She chirped getting up, and then swiftly trotted to him, raised herself on her toes to kiss him on his lips, wrapping her arms around his neck. Her naked sculpted body pressed against his, with the fragrance of her warm breath getting into his nostrils was too much of a temptation to resist, and he started melting, his hands automatically caressing her bare back.
“I’ll be waiting.” She whispered. It was a herculean task for him to peel off her; he abruptly turned and left, not daring to look back.
Chinu had the elephant ready and they started immediately. As they were about to enter the dense tree-line at the corner of the clearing, he looked back at the house, and saw her distinct profile standing in the corner window, looking at him.
To be continued…