Chap 19: A Lifetime to Love
A blood curdling shriek good enough to put the best horror movie to shame echoed from somewhere within the south-east corner of the bungalow. Mrs. Sharma exchanged a perturbed glance with her sister-in-law whose pencil thin eyebrows vanished promptly inside her elaborately coiffed hairdo. Her crimson lips cranked open to speak but were forced shut by yet another ear splitting rendition.
Meanwhile inside the suspect room, a broad palm clamped down hard over the source of the cacophony.“It’s me Mili! Shut up if you care in the least for your husband’s reputation.”
Her limbs momentarily abandoning their struggle, Mili opened her eyes and stared benumbed at the face of her handsome captor. For captor he was; one who had ensnared her in a well designed trap, with the wholehearted assistance of her parents who had no doubt fallen victim to his inordinate charm; just so he could exact his revenge. Any fool could have seen it coming, except her of course. It all reeked of a perfect plan, from the casual proposal to the innocent courtship to today when dragged from her warm bed in the wee hours of the morning, she’d been dumped unceremoniously into a lukewarm bath after being smothered with oodles of turmeric and sandal paste. Then, following hours of painstaking adornment she’d been deposited in the mandap (wedding stage) where he’d already been waiting; resplendent in red. His eyes after widening ever so slightly at the sight of her face, had become all somber and businesslike and his manner so suave about it all. Guiding her through all the rituals, hanging on to every word of the priest, translating the vows, and finally he’d anointed her with the symbols of his ownership. But she’d been too exhausted to care, falling asleep the instant her head touched the pillow on the conjugal bed until now when she’d been rudely awakened to reality; she was his prisoner and handmaiden.
Anxiety riddled fingers and toes struggled but failed to find purchase on the sateen sheets. Terrified, she wondered what mischief lay behind that devilish grin as he pinned her back to the bed and sorely wished she could keep her legs from trembling.
“Whaa…” She gasped out finally, “What did you do to me?”
“Darling. So sorry to wake you up. But I couldn’t resist the temptation presented by your exquisitely bare back. Will you not reveal the rest to me? I don’t mind doing the honors.” He drawled confidently drawing close, holding her captive with his eyes; beguiled like a hunted prey while his fingers worked to loosen the ties on her skirt.
A loud knock broke the spell and drew a loud curse from her husband’s mouth. Pushing him away she stumbled out of bed but he beat her to the door. It was Mrs. Sharma, her mother in law.
“Is bahu (daughter-in-law) all right, Ahaan?” She asked surveying Mili anxiously.
“Yes, absolutely ma.” He smiled with the slightest tilt of his head in her direction, “It was just a bad nightmare. She’s fine, now that I’m here, aren’t you love?”
Mili nodded before turning away sharply, her cheeks burning with abashment. How dare he address her with such intimacy in front of his mother?
She waited for him to close the door. “How can you behave like this with me, especially on our wedding night?”
He frowned looking genuinely puzzled, “Wedding night? What’s so special about a wedding night. It’s like any other night or isn’t it?”
Mili scrambled to the window and leaned heavily against it, suddenly dizzy. His hands wrapped about her fingers and his warm breath fanned her exposed neck. Turning around she found herself completely hedged in; the contours of his face uncanny in the moonlight, “Tell me Mili, isn’t it?”
A pulse banged painfully in her throat, “I..I don’t know. Just do what you have to and get it over with.” The words came tumbling out.
He stared at her briefly before bursting into loud merriment. “And what is this that I have to do?”
She pursed her lips to keep them from trembling. “Whatever you guys do on Suhaag raat (wedding night).”
He smiled his eyes suddenly tender, “You talk as though it is some kind of compulsion.”
“It is ..isn’t it?”
“It doesn’t have to be. Whatever it is, requires equal and whole hearted participation from both of us. And we have a life time for that sweetheart.”
She began to shudder violently as a strange craving clenched at her stomach, “I’m so tired.”
“But of course. You haven’t eaten all day.” He said swinging her up in his arms. He carried her to the bed where he lay her down gently then turned away.
She sat up concerned that he was going to leave her, “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere.” He replied. Her eyes followed him to the other side of the bed. He came back with a glass of milk that she’d forgotten all about. “Here, I think you need this more than I.”
She gulped it down while he sat patiently beside her. She’d begun to feel extremely guilty and nauseated. “Nervous? I’m not going to eat you up Mili.”
Raising a hand to her forehead, she winced.
“My head hurts.” She wasn’t lying. It truly throbbed.
Ahaan grinned. “I know why. Let’s take these off.” Gently he began unpinning her veil and all the ornaments from her hair. He slowly unclasped and removed her necklaces, slid off her bangles, and heavy bracelets and her gem studded waistband. “Anyway as you know I like my Mili without anything at all.”
She stared dewy eyed at her husband. All she wished now was to collapse in his arms.
“Now lie down.” He instructed softly.
“Mili, please listen to me just once.” He said pushing her back gently yet firmly then having her flip over, massaged her neck, shoulders and upper back..slowly easing the tension out of her muscles. It felt so good. In no time she was fast asleep.