Chanda pressed her soft lips to Ranveer’s rough cheek as she bent towards him as he lay on the bed. She simply loved the tingly sensation on her sensitive mouth as she kissed the man she had fallen in love with. She knew that he was not sleeping while he pretended to. She did not mind as it gave her a sense of freedom that would have not been possible if his eyes had been open.
|Dolls created by Jayashree Karthik|
Chanda’s hands ran through the silky strands of his hair while she sat down next to him on the edge of the bed. Ranveer moved unobtrusively to accommodate her. He kept his eyes closed with difficulty as he felt her fingers massage his scalp. He felt the feather touch of her lips all over his face as she explored it inch by inch. He felt impatient for her to reach his lips. It became too much when she ignored his mouth to place hers on his chin. There was only so much he could endure.
Chanda was startled when Ranveer’s strong arms suddenly wrapped themselves around her as he captured her lips in a devouring kiss. He was thoroughly aroused and wanted more than her playful pecks.
He pulled her quite easily across his chest without breaking the liplock and held her body close to his. Chanda shut her eyes tightly the moment she realized that Ranveer had taken over. She felt too shy to look at him. Moreover, she was quite dazed at the awareness that spread over her body. Her breasts were crushed against his hard, wide chest and they felt bombarded with sensations that were quite new to her. But she loved them all.
If Ranveer held her close, Chanda clung to him, her legs tangled with his while he kissed her thoroughly. His large hands were on her back. While his left arm held her close, his right hand moved in a caress as he traced the contours of her slim waist and lush bottom. Chanda was lost in a rosy world when she heard a knock on the door. She froze in Ranveer’s arms as he continued to kiss her. Couldn’t he hear that someone was at the door?
Chanda tried to pull out of his arms, but Ranveer refused to let go of her. The person at the door was getting impatient as they knocked loudly and incessantly. Chanda pushed Ranveer away and got out of the bed. She ran her hand over her hair, pulled down the kurti that had ridden up and walked to the door.
Chanda opened the door a couple of inches to see her father-in-law standing outside. She shut it immediately and leaned against it. What was Surendraji doing here? Chanda panicked. It was one thing to decide that she would divorce Veerendra and get married to Ranveer – presuming he wanted to wed her too. It was an entirely different matter that her father-in-law found her in the same room with a stranger while she was still married to his son. But why had he come here?
“Chanda, we know you’re there. Open the door, will you?”
What? That was her father. Her father was also there with Surendraji. Chanda turned to look at the bed. Ranveer was lying there, his eyes closed as if in sleep. Was he mad? But then, Chanda most definitely did not want him to meet her father just now.
Before she could do anything, a third voice joined the melee. “Chanda, open the door Beta.” That was her mother.
Where the hell was Lakshman? Or Ram for that matter? They were supposed to help her out. That’s the reason she had come here to Mount Abu. To wait here till everything was set right. She did not want to face Veerendra’s father at this juncture. It was his son who had run away and there was no need for her to be afraid of him. That’s what Lakshman had told her that day. But why had her parents brought the old man here along with them? Chanda was in a fix as she did not want to talk about Ranveer to her parents just now, most definitely not with her father-in-law hovering in the background.
The door rattled on its hinges as three people knocked on it now. Not able to wait any longer, Chanda opened the door halfway to find the hotel boy outside.
“Memsaab! You have to get ready for the trek. We tried to call you on your phone, but you did not pick up. I came here to call you as you have barely half an hour to get ready.”
Chanda stared at him, her black eyes confused. She turned to look at her bed to see no one there. The bedspread and comforter were in a mess as if she had tossed and turned throughout the night. Had she been dreaming?
“Memsaab!” called the boy once again, worried about the dazed look on the guest’s face. He wondered whether what he had said had registered with her. She had only requested for an alarm service that morning.
Chanda nodded her head much to his relief. “I’ll be ready,” she said before closing the door behind him.
Luckily, the geyser heated up water quite fast and she had a quick shower before wearing warm clothes. She carried an extra shawl and sweater in her backpack and ensured that she had a water bottle along. Locking the door behind her, Chanda ran down the staircase to join the knot of people waiting at the reception. Thank God there were still three others who were yet to come down. That gave a chance to have some hot tea that was being served. Thank God for small mercies! That dream had been so authentic, not just Ranveer and his lovemaking. Her parents and father-in-law had appeared real too. A small shudder shook Chanda’s slender frame as she held the hot cup of tea in both her hands, willing it to warm her chilled body.
RANVEER REACHED AJMER THAT NIGHT AND CHECKED INTO MANSINGH PALACE. The luxurious room was lost on the distracted guest. Throughout the day, he had been thinking of Chanda. He so hoped that she was attracted to him as much as he was to her. But just now, he was unable to quite believe it. How could she not contact him? She had mentioned a family emergency to Parth. Then, obviously nothing could be wrong with her. Why had she switched her phone off in that case? Ranveer refused to think that she may not be interested in him. It had been obvious that she was an innocent when he had kissed her. Why would she return his kisses so fervently if she had not been interested in him?
Ranveer’s mind went round and round in circles as he thought of different reasons for her silence. Finally, as he went down to dinner, he decided to concentrate on his visit home rather than the woman he had fallen for. There, he had admitted it finally. He had fallen for Chanda. And he wanted to marry her.
Ranveer went to Sipehsalar, the luxury bar at the hotel. He sat back in a comfortable chair in one corner and ordered for a Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey on the rocks. While he waited for his drink, he thought of his grandfather. The old man and Ranveer had been very close. While Dadaji had loved all his grandchildren, Veerendra had been his favourite, more so as he had been the youngest.
A sudden thought struck Ranveer. Will his Dadaji be alive? Oh my God! He had never thought of that all these years. In fact, over the past 14 years, Ranveer had done his best not to think about his family. Getting in touch with them had not been an option as he would have been stuck with a wife that he most definitely had not wanted. They had not left him much of a choice. While Ranveer regretted breaking off ties with his family, he was glad that he had found a way out of that marriage. And better yet, Dave and Jane had educated him. He wouldn’t be what he was today if he had stayed back in his village. He would probably be a farmer like his brother Jeetendra. He wondered whether Jeetendra had kids by now. He must have surely, Ranveer answered his own question.
His thoughts moved to his father and mother. He wondered whether they had grown very old. If he remembered right, his mother was barely eighteen years older than him, while his father was 10 years older than her. That made Sona forty-five and Surendra fifty-five. Ranveer could not recall his grandmother’s features clearly. She had talked very less and had always remained in the background. Ranveer’s sister Sulekha had been a year elder to him and had been married when she had been nine. He did not remember her much either. He had been quite close to Jeetendra who was four years elder and the first born.
Scenes from his childhood came in flashes as Ranveer allowed his mind to recall his life before his marriage, after all these years. He remembered playing a lot. It had been fun in the village and the young lads usually had no responsibilities. That was until they got married of course. He recalled his bitterness when Jeetendra had got married to Meena and had stopped coming out to play.
Jaggi! Jaggi had been a close friend. In fact, Ranveer had misused their friendship quite badly. He had spent more than a year mentally apologizing to his best friend for having placed him in a quandary. He wondered whether Jaggi still lived in Jastwantpura or had moved on. His father had been the local blacksmith and there had been vague talks of moving to the city as business had been quite bad in those days.
Ranveer looked down at his glass suddenly to realize that it was his third drink. Not wanting to imbibe more, he finished the whiskey and got up to go to the restaurant. He opted for the Italian buffet that was available at Sheesh Mahal. A live gazal programme was on while a local artiste entertained the guests to popular numbers sung by Jagjit Singh and Pankaj Udhas. The soothing music barely registered with Ranveer who walked directly to the buffet spread.
Carrying a plate filled with pasta in tomato sauce, fresh salad topped with a dollop of onion sauce and crisp golden garlic bread, Ranveer found a table for two and sat there all by himself. While he had his dinner without tasting it, his mind wandered once again to the family that he had left behind at Jaswantpura. He wondered how they would greet him. Will they be too annoyed? Of course, they would be. He only hoped that they would forgive him. Ranveer did not feel too apologetic as he knew that he would do exactly the same if the circumstances repeated themselves once again. He had not wanted to be tied down to a child wife at 13 years of age and had found the only way out that had been possible.
After finishing his dinner and signing the bill, Ranveer got up to leave, completely unaware of the admiring glances from a group of young women who sat at the table on his right. While they had been eyeing his brooding features, Ranveer had been completely lost to his surroundings. He went up to his room and decided to go to bed even though it was not even 11 pm yet. But then, he had a long drive in front of him the next day and was keen to leave as early as he could. He wanted to reach his village by evening.