It was our honeymoon, I a naïve girl, newly introduced to the pleasures of sex, could not keep my hands off Navin, my husband for the past six days. He was strutting around like a proud peacock, my arm around his waist.
Mall Road, Simla
Life was perfect wasn’t it?
I stole a glance at his face, the angular lines of his cheek bones, the broad forehead topped by a mop of curly hair that I longed to run my fingers through. Yummy.
“What?” he asked, his voice laced with laughter.
“You look good enough to eat.”
“Should we go back to the hotel?” he asked, his eyes alit with desire.
“What’s the hurry?” I asked. I did not know much, but I knew this – a little bit of anticipation improves the outcome of passion. Ours was an arranged marriage, where parents decided on our spouses, and we found nothing wrong in it. He was seven years older, and I knew I needed someone older, more mature. I was just a silly girl … he would look after me.
Lost in each other, we walked exchanging sweet nothings. It started drizzling and we snuggled closer, ignoring it. It always rains in Simla, and we loved the rains. But it soon developed into a downpour. Somehow we took a wrong turn and got into the non-touristy area of the town. We looked around for a tea stall, a restaurant, anything to escape the downpour.
He looked pale, upset. I was silly enough to think that it was something to do with me. I withdrew slightly, noting the tension in his body, the restless fingers that ran through his hair, brushing the drenched hair, the nervous way he cleared his throat.
“I feel as though I know this place,” he muttered.
“Deja vu?” I teased, but got no answering smile.
We walked or rather, he led and I followed, he seemed to know where to go.
He stopped in front of a small cottage, no different from the others in the lane and whispered, “I think we can spend our time on this porch.”
It was a small wooden porch, nothing remarkably different from others we had crossed. Shivering, I followed him to the porch, staring at him as the world around me wept.
An old man opened the door, peered at us and asked, “Kaun Hai?” (Who is this?)
My husband looked at him and then as if compelled he brushed past the astonished home owner into the small living room.
An old woman was lying on the couch, she opened her eyes and tried to raise her head on her elbow. But she was sick and weakened.
“Tara,” he said in a hoarse voice, choked with emotion.
Those eyes smiled slowly, possessively. “Vivek” she whispered softly.
And then they fluttered slightly and fell shut.
He turned and ran out, he fled without a backward glance. For that moment, I think he forgot me, he forgot himself, he even forgot that he had never been in India ever … in this life.
I did not stop either. Scared out of my tiny sheltered mind, I ran after him. My eyes wept and the rain water washed away the tears