Ek Boond Ishq - SS- IF ONLY I COULD!

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Nov 23, 2013

Ek Boond Ishq - SS- IF ONLY I COULD! (By Dd-Ipkknd Fan) (Thanked: 17 times)

Since we are longing for MriAra scenes, here is a short story on Mrityunjay and Tara....the way I would hope to see their love story develop.

Not sure how far I can go with the story and how I plan to end it.....



If Only I Could.....

Chapter 1

Tara stood there facing her Father-in-law, Jairaj Shekhawat Singh. He was a nice man, and never spoke to her harshly but yet she found herself screaming at him for this mess.

He had kept his part of the promise and provided the financial security they all needed, the house, a dream come true fully paid for 3-year engineering program for Bunty, but this was unacceptable to her, going against all her values.

She heard herself say to him, "How do you expect me to live with a man who has raped another woman?"

"Tara my son is innocent."

"All I feel is contempt and disgust and would want him dead myself!"

"Calm down Tara my dear,...calm down...meri baat suno" said Jairaj softly. He goes and shuts the door of his study room.

And then an almost whisper of words, "aurat ka nahi admi ka balatkaar aur katal hua Tara bahu.”

She squints her eyes quizzically, confused and wondering what he meant by that,"Matlab?"

"It was a man who was raped and murdered!.This should make you safe living with him."

"Haan! Kya? Aadmi?" unka bhi rape hota hai? Mera matlab aisa bhi hota hai?" holding her head she plonks herself on the settee in utter shock.

Thakurji raised his eyebrows and frowned at her quirky statement, innocent that she was.

"Hey bhagwan idhar kaise kaise log hain!"

"So now will you stay back?"

Tara thinks, gosh wasn't it enough to know he had murdered? But it was a man! I mean she had seen many of the guys in her galli acting a bit sissy......but this guy was all male! His voice, his built, his ...."

Calling out to her God, she mutters, "Hey bajrang bali.......kahan phans gayi mein...why does this have to happen to me!" she shuts her eyes.....smacking her cheeks.  Thakurji looked at her and wanted to argue about his son's personal preferences.........but he prefers to let her to jump to conclusions of her own. At least this way she would be willing to stay back.

"So Tara, what have you decided?"

“Sochne do hume” Still holding her head....confused, surprised with this weirdest of information....she gives it a lot of thought. This meant her personal safety wasn't a problem, and anyways he was soon going to go back behind bars. She could then ask for this marriage to end anyways.

"Theek hai....lekin...Meri Maa ko pata nahi lagna chahiye...she will die of shock ...if at all she does get some news about it, I will say it was to do with your business just like I had presumed. Nothing more, Is that clear?”

He nods, “Agree, you have my word Tara Bahu...and thank you.”

“I need to go now....and think about it...pata nahi kab mera mind change ho jayega!"

And then takes leave of him and goes to their room. Now were she to back out of this marriage deal, Bunty would end up being the biggest loser.  His education was what would get them out of their misery. He was a very bright boy. She had to think of his future. She sighed. And then Thakurji had promised she had nothing to worry about her safety.

She then looks around; nothing indicated that Mrityunjay liked anything feminine. This was a complete man's room.  And yes she would now have to be very lady-like and not like a tomboy or else he might make his advances on her! It wouldn't be too hard would it? End of her carefree days it seems! No more pants and sneakers!

Mrityunjay enters his Father's room.

"Yes Baba."

"I had to tell her the truth, or else she wasn't willing to stay. I know it puts you in a very weird situation....but just bear with me....until this messy case is sorted out."

He shook his head. This was crazy, "But Baba why do I need to prove to anyone about myself. I mean I know what I am, who I am, where I come from?"

"I don't need another headache with this money-monger of a girl...just tell her to stay away from me."

"Don't worry she won't for sure now."

"And yes Baba, as soon as the appeal is rejected there is no point in continuing this relationship, ask the lawyer to keep the divorce papers ready. I don't want her ending up as a rich widow. You can pay her off for her services....but she does not have to continue to be a member of this family."

"Why are you so bitter and being negative....and what if we win the case?"

Mrityunjay thinks for a second , "Better still...I don't have to continue with this farce anymore."

His father shakes his heads ruefully. The boy had just given up on life....

Mrityunjay walks away thinking, why are his Dad and the lawyer working on a lost case? The way the evidence was framed against him in this crime, he knew it won't be long before he was back in to face death.

He had seen her in such stupid clothes. She really looked silly, those shoes...that oversized shirt...and she seemed pure trouble. He'd stay out of her way as much as he could.

But he had to talk to her....just to make sure how things are to be between them behind closed doors.

He knocks before he enters his own room. Gosh he had to do this just for her?

She calls out, "Come in" and rises from her sitting position on the bed as soon as she sees it was him.

Wearing a pretty pink flowing salwar.....and pearl danglers from her ears....that long flowing hair.

Stop it....why the hell did he have to notice?

"I....I need to speak to you."

She opens her mouth and is about to call him baal ki factory, but stops herself, shuts her mouth, and says softly in her sweetest tone, "Boliye"

Strange, down there she was screeching, and now it sounded so.....so...different!

He clears his throat, she keeps glancing at him from the corner of her eye; he turns so that he wasn't facing her.

"This is my room....and I like it in order. Make sure when you are around you don't mess around with anything."

"Hmm"

"You can use the wardrobe for your stuff. I will ask Daijaan to sort it out for you....but stay away from my things."

"Hmmm"

"And you can use the bed...I will take to the recliner.........I am used to it after the hard cold floor of the prison."

"Nahi I can sleep on the floor...you d....."

"Just listen don't argue...I won't be around most of the time....so don't try to act nice to me...."

She nods.

"And yes...just stay out of my way as much as you can...it would be best for the both of us."

She speaks up, "I would like just one thing though!"

"What?" he barked in that thunderous tone.

She gulps hard, the monster of a man shouting for no reason, "I....I just want to place three idols of My Gods on your table."

He turns looks at her face which was turned to him and her large pleading eyes....

He turns his gaze away.....gulps again, "God!...there is no God!...Fine"

But I don't want you to turn the table into a mandir with more stuff... Is that clear?"

She nods again, "Theek hai."

She calls out, "Rukiye...ek minute!"

"Now what!"

Who wants to be tied down to a monster? She goes on,"Baba said he has filed an appeal...win or lose....I don't need to continue with this naatak.... I want a divorce...I don't want anything to do with you or your family except yes Baba who has been like a father to me."

He grits his teeth in anger, so the woman wanted to extract a better deal beforehand, "So how much do you want the deal closed at? Let me know the figure I will tell Baba to draw up a cheque..and think over it proplery......because there will be no bargaining later on" and walks away.

He could hear her "Kya! Deal? Samajhta kya hai aapne aap ko?"

So he thinks I am a gold-digger! Well let him think whatever he wants....who cares about a murderer!

She heaves a sigh of relief, Phew! She was tied down to a man who did not like women! Oh God just save me from this disaster...no no....I have to thank you Lord...this is a chamatkaar....but he is so damn rude.....can't he at least speak nicely....what the hell have I done?"

If nothing she was going to die of suffocation from wearing all these dreaded outfits....

'Asli lohe ka dukaan hai" aloud

The door opens he strides in accusing her, "What did you just call me?"

"Nuh.... nuh....Nothing." she steps back. Such a bully.

He walks up to the coat stand that was placed near to the walk-in closet, pulls out his jacket and leaves. He heard her well. Fuming he hits the jacket against the railing and runs down the stairs.

That night he did not return. Tara made the most of her independence and slept blissfully.

 

To be continued/....

 

Chapter  2

She was still  snuggled in bed... .....the blanket half sticking out of it... cushions on the floor....after tossing and turning some more...the morning light breaking through the curtains...she wakes up, stretches herself and jumps out of bed.

"Tara bacchu woh shaitan idhar nahi hai....achha hua...nahi toh teri nikli, jaldi se kapde badllo."

Click!....the door to the bathroom opens and out comes Mrityunjay wearing a pair of jogger tracks and a full-sleeved body-hugging T-shirt.

He notices...what was that? The weirdest of whatever that was.....a garish oversized shirt...maybe some pyjamas or something...

She runs into the bed and covers herself up with the blanket.

He walks out. Gosh! Yeh sportsman kahan se aaya! She had to be careful she couldn't be found wearing anything that made her look less feminine...I mean what if.....

Whilst going down the stairs, his thoughts went back to her... he had come into the room to find his bed taken over by her.....and cushions strewn on the ground. He had picked them up and placed them on the bed, only to be kicked back on the floor.......he had seen her asleep, his eyes were drawn to her even without him wanting to....she looked like a silly young girl...breathing heavily...clutching the pillow....... locks of hair covering her face......she was so messy......

Why was she in his thoughts? He needed to get out of here.......

"Mrityunjay come here....join me for breakfast" he heard his father call out to him.

"Baba lekin."

"No arguments....don't know for how long we can share these times together, so please...make it a habit to join me for breakfast."

Mrityunjay sits at the table reluctantly.

Daijaan had come up to inform Tara that Baba had asked her to join him down.

What if the guy was around? She better be prepared. Ok now I have to deck up just so that he does not look my way. Yeah anything very feminine would do it. Yes a sari! And then  she thanks Nandu for all those girly accessories. It did come of good use now.

She adorns a plain simple peach sari with a silver grey border......and pulls her long hair to one side of her shoulder.......leaving some of the locks to frame her face. Tara bacchu gets herself transformed into a very pretty young lady!

She walks down the stairs only to notice his back to her. She had no choice so walks upto Baba and touches his feet.

Mrityunjay glances at the woman bent at his father's feet. So this was an act? Good actress! She rises....he notices the slim frame...that bare waistline....damn where were his thoughts moving to....

He looks away.

Jairaj, "I am so happy to see both of you here,sit down have some breakfast." and points to the chair right opposite Mrityunjay.

Who wanted to be around this jerk? "Nahi abhi nahi... bhook nahi hai?"

"I don't want to hear a word...if nothing just a glass of juice."

Jairaj thinks so I got to play cupid....these two aren't even looking at each other....

He insists, so she pulls out the chair and sits. He looks away and she too averts her face....where did he change his clothes? If not their room! Good for her though. He won't hover around her space!

"Are waah dono ne ek hi rang ke kapde pehne!"

Tara stares at the similar shirt colour and turns to Baba saying sweetly, "Kapdon se kya...insaan under se sundar hona chahiye!"

That insulting tongue, he drops his fork onto the plate and glares at her. She stares back angrily. A large pair of accusing liquid brown eyes and flared nostrils strike back at a pair of steely brown ones...told him this was for insulting her earlier. Tara bacchu wasn't someone who was going to take his nonsense and cry over  it.

He does not know she was the Bhai of Bhopal. Oh no no no....not Bhai Tara...be careful....think and act like a female!...galat, galat, galat...........think like a woman, act like one......

 She lowers her gaze to the plate. Jairaj asks her to have some juice. The decanter is sitting at his side of the table. She raises her torso and reaches for it....Jairaj asks Mrityunjay to pass it to her.

They both end up holding the decanter...and the tip of their fingers touch. She withdraws her hand....His gaze is stuck at the black string of beads dangling around her neck and the diamond pendant sitting on her heaving chest....whoever chose that design of two pea****s entwined! Huh! ..... He gulps hard....he had enough for today..."Baba....I'll be at the outhouse."

She gives out a soft sigh of relief, he gives her a stern look...and walks past her....she catches the whiff of his male scent. She gulps...

Tara lovingly tells Jairaj,"Baba aap ne kucch bhi toh nahi khaya...aur aaj kaafiyan bhi nahi? Today I will serve you."

Mrityunjay glances over his shoulder.... She seems so comfortable with his father.....Acting again ofcourse! Kaafiyaan my foot!

He walks out towards his shack...he needed to feel the fresh air hitting him....the warmth of the morning sun scorching him...the pain within just wouldn't go away... the hate, the rejection, the outcast that he was, .....this freedom...which was his just for a few more weeks or days........he wanted to scream, "Why me?"

He sat and spoke to his mare, "Why me? What have I done to deserve this?'

He kicked the stack of hay that went flying. The horse neighed seeing his master in distress. He realized his behaviour affected the animal who understood him better....and so calmed down... covered his face with his hands and sobbed bitterly.

In a way death would free him of his misery...., once and for all....there was no reason to live....Baba would be the only one to miss him.....but then his own children would soon fill the void....No one remembers the dead for too long....

He would cook something. Faheem chacha has left some stuff for him to churn out.  He would manage. Meals were now something he ate just to keep him going.....

He loved his isolation......thank goodness he wasn't in the presence of that that...Spitfire! Her tongue was longer than her whole frame. Tiny that she was....

Chapter 3

Daylight streamed in.....but there was gloom around....the sky looked threatening. As part of his daily routine, he rode his horse, returned to prepare a simply meal of vegetables which tasted terrible, then sketched a little... Another lonely night would go by. The weather was windy.....it might rain....or maybe not.....

He set the book aside and decided to retire to bed.  Feeling a strange ache in the joints...he turns off the lamp, placed his torch beside him and tried to catch some sleep...that never came.

Tossing and turning....he heard the thunderous sound outside. The mare neighed out of fear.  The incessant rains lashed out angrily around him and his mare. He tended to the frightened animal and stayed out until the storm passed away. He felt miserable.

What about the storm within him. Was death going to be the answer?

He sighed and walked indoors, changed into something dry. He would have to go back to the house to get some more clothes and stuff to prepare himself for the weather. Who knows how many more days and nights it would be like this. He felt the chills.

It was a cold and dreary night. Sleep evaded him and his skin felt hot.................it was almost dawn......

Here Tara got up with a headache....the thunder and lightning had kept her awake all night. She loved the rains....but last night was strangely scary....and the walls felt cold around her. She had hugged the blanket, hoping it would go away.

She recollected similar days back home, where Tara and her siblings always cuddled together during such nights....she felt alone and sad....

She got up and showered....leaving her long wet hair and put on a simple sleeveless yellow churidaar...she was about to fill her maang with sindoor when she heard a knock on the door.

Presuming it was Meethi as always, "Come In"

Mrityunjay entered just when her fingers filled her forehead with a dash of vermillion.  Their eyes met through the mirror. His eyes took in the action. A strange kind of feeling  swept through him. And he took in her wet back from the long damp hair with a few strands framing her face.

Her eyes widened with surprise and her cheeks burned.  She moved away from the mirror hoping he would not notice her reaction.

She immediately sought her dupatta , and turned to him in a sharp tone saying, "What do you want?"

"Just came here to get some more clothes, that is all." She noticed his wet clothes, a long wet lock falling off his face.

She thought okay let him be, after all it was his room, she would just go on with her pooja.

He moves towards his closet, when she finds him holding on to its door for support......swaying and almost falling down. Without thinking she runs towards him. He was such a big man. Thud! Mrityunjay  slumps to the floor shaking like a leaf.

"Kya hua hai aap ko?" she touched his arm and found it burning hot.

"Le...leave me alone." he growled trying to push her hand away. She did not bother but grumbled back, "Mujhe koi shauk nahi hai...its basic humanity which you would never understand, so shut up." And then gets up and gives a shout out, Faheem Chacha, Baba, Joseph!

Jairaj and Faheem both come running. They pull him up and place him on the bed. She stands back and sees him being taking care of. The doctor was called.

She stood back in the room whilst hearing the Doctor say, "I have taken blood samples, but it does seem like a bout of malaria. Do you want me to send a nurse?"

"Oh no, that won't be necessary, his wife is here to see to him."

'That's good then, just make sure he doesn't leave the room. I know Mrityunjay can be very stubborn at times. He loves his freedom. If taken care of properly, he should recover in a week's time or so."

"The clinic will call you with the results of the blood test and I shall be visiting him everyday Thakur Sahab."

"I am so grateful for that Doctor."

"Oh after what your family and Mrityunjay have done for my clinic and you still continue to do, it's now my turn to repay back in some way."

She titled her head to see, yeah he was knocked out with the medications, breathing heavily.

She listened to the instructions being given and simply nodded. They all expected her to take care of him as a dutiful wife.  Oh damn! she had to act as nurse now for this man! Why does she have to give into Baba every time?

 

All left the room and she sat down on the chair, seeing him lying on his bed, thinks - The price she had to pay for a few materialistic things. When was life ever fair!

He probably did not know she was present. For sure he would object to her administering the medications. Anyways, he was asleep.  She would go into the kitchen and help Meethi.

It was a moonlit night....with no trace of the previous night storm........he stirred....he heard the rustle of cloth....opening his eyes he looked around him...he sat up...and held his spinning head.

His eyes fell on the recliner, cuddled like a flurry ball was her...even the recliner looked too big for her...she shifted.......with her back turned to him...the  long plait was left hanging off the recliner.

He got up pushing the blanket away, stilling feel weak from the fever, sweating, his parched throat sought some cool liquid....he would leave though...she stirs and turned to see him making an attempt to stand, holding onto the bed. His back was turned to her.

She rose too hurriedly....he could feel her presence....the night lamp cast a shadow on both.

"Wait....C....Can I get you anything?" and nears the bed.

He growls..."Stay away from me, I can manage....don't need you."

Tara thinks, this man is as stubborn as a mule.  He tries to stands without support and sways with dizziness....sits down on the edge of the bed holdings his face in his hands.

"Paani."

She goes to the water jug pours out a glass of water and brings it to him.  But doesn't give it to him. He better hear her words before she satisfies his thirst.

"Rassi jal gayi lekin bal nahi gaya. Now you better listen up Mister, I don't enjoy doing this.....but consider me your paid nurse. Don't worry I will charge your father extra for this service."

He felt too weak to either argue or reply. He knew she was speaking up taking advantage of his weak situation. And then she holds the glass of water to his parched lips. Their eyes meet whilst he sips the soothing liquid down his throat.

" I would prefer you get well sooner than later so you can leave this room at the earliest....so stop fussing and let me help you." Was it the fever or was it her touch on his skin that burned him more. Her face flushed.. what was it....the close proximity of this man?....was the room strangely warmer?  She places the glass and helps him to lie down again on the bed, and pulls the blanket over him.

Tara returns to the recliner. Sleep evades both of them.....with the first rays of dawn fills through the room... another day had just begun......she hears his heavy breathing....

 Who was this man? Was Baba telling the truth that he was innocent?

to be contd.....

 

Chapter 4

Another day begins....Tara wakes up and tiptoes to shower. Towel still wrapped around her head she comes out. It felt so strange sharing a room with a man.

Without a sound she walks out.....it had started to rain again.

She enters into the kitchen and asks Joseph to prepare some hot porridge.  He would be up in a while.  Daijaan comes up to her, "Tara Bahu, you up so early?"shall I prepare some soup or something  light for Kunwar Sahab for lunch?"

"Yes as you wish." No one was up still. She comes back into the kitchen and helps out.  She would go mad just twiddling her fingers, nothing to do around this house.

After a couple of hours she goes back into the room with Joseph bringing in the hot porridge.  They enter to find him opening his closed eyes.

Mrityunjay sees her tiny bird like frame walk in... thank goodness Joseph was in here. He would take his help to go into the washroom. No way was he allowing her to come anywhere closer to him and help him out in there.  He felt so physically weak and helpless, so calls out, "Joseph, I need to go to the bathroom, just help me out."

She watches him get off the bed, and with faltering steps get into the bathroom. Peeling off his Tee he finds long strands of hair on them. Gosh! Must be hers from the bed ofcourse.  He flings it into the clothes basket.

Here Tara immediately gets his bed done up....with changed bed sheets, and blanket.

She hurriedly prays and clears the table.

With folder arms wearing a long-sleeved  Tee-shirt and tracks, and still feeling the chills, he slumped into bed.

"You need to eat something before you take any medications. It’s the doctor's advice."

Joseph helped him to sit up again, whilst she placed extra pillows behind his back. She pulled the blanket over him and placed the thermometer strip on his forehead. It showed a 104.

Joseph left the room presuming he wasn't needed. He turns his face away. She places the bowl on the bed tray and says, "Here finish it, I'll be back."

Oh so she decided to desert me, wow....he makes an attempt to eat, but pushes back the bowl.  Can someone reduce the AC? It was cold in here. He held himself tight feeling ridiculously cold.

Tara returns with a bowl of chilled rose water and a large handkerchief.

What the hell was she upto now?

She notices the full bowl untouched. "Kya hua, why did you not eat? I wasn't here too, so what was the problem."

He looks away stubbornly. She is now irritated. Holding her forehead and one hand at her tiny little waist, she shouts, "Such a big guy behaving like a spoilt kid."

His teeth chattering with the chill he manages to say, "the A/C, shut it off."

"The Doctor said to maintain a cool room temperature, tell me if you are feeling cold."

She goes to the cupboard pulls out a fleece blanket and folding it into half, wraps it around his shoulders bringing the ends to the front. Her knuckles brush against his chest. She takes off her hand, he pulls the blanket around him closer, holding the ends with both his hands and pushing them too inside the blanket. She gulps, he notices the spot on her collar bone. 

"Now eat." Then realizes due to the chills he did not want to remove his hands out.

Well for all those insults, he better learn to be humble and request her too, so what if he was ill. He could speak for sure.

He takes a dig at her, "Being a paid nurse that is part of your job too, so feed me."

She was fuming at his remark, breathing heavily she picks the bowl and places a spoonful of porridge in front of him. She avoids looking at his face. She feeds him like there was no other day. He coughs, the woman was literally pushing the whole bowl down his throat in anger.

Plonks the bowl again on the tray, and gets up to fetch him a glass of water. He could hear her bang the water jar. Places the water glass on the tray, "Drink it yourself." and walks away from the bed.

He did not know what made him do it, pulls out his hand and flings everything in one go. Shards of glass, left over porridge and water covered the floor....some of it on her too! She wiped the porridge off her hand

Shocked with his arrogant behaviour, she turned to him with anger-filled eyes,almost wanting to kill him "GO TO HELL!" and walks out of the room, banging the door after her.

Faheem Chacha was on his way to the room hearing the sounds, "Kya hua Tara Bahu."

"Tumhare Kuwar Sahab ko bhukaar nahi BHOOT chada hai." And she walks off leaving him gaping after her.

He looked confused with her words, she runs down the stairs, tears glistening in her eyes....and without paying heed to Baba calling “Tara...Tara Bahu...ruko”, she ran out in the open. It was pouring. The Gods too in heaven were enraged maybe with whatever happened on Earth.

Here Jairaj decided it was time he spoke some sense into his son.....

She simply ran on the grounds of the mansion...crying aloud...throwing off her sandals...feeling the wet soil and grass on her feet....letting the stinging rain hit her face and body...it would take away the pain she felt within....she did not deserve this.....then slumped against a tree and cried her heart out. The sounds of her cries were silenced by the pouring rain.  She longed to go back home, her family.....she was an outsider here and would always be...

Tara then noticed the gazebo...picked up her wet sandals, wet hair plastered around her face and back, she squeezed the excess water out of it....and entered the beautiful place. White roman columns, and a red flooring...the place looked serene and quite.  

What made her breakdown this way? She had cared two hoots for the man.... just that so much had happened in just a week... the farce marriage, her helplessness in this situation and he wasn't making it easy for her.......all that pent up frustration just gave way....

Tara looked down at her hands, the mehendi was fading away. A wedding day was supposed to be the most special day in any girl’s life. She too had dreams....which turned out to be a nightmare.

Her mother had always warned her, her rash decisions would someday land her in trouble. It sure did. But she was a fighter from the day she was born before time.  A premature baby her mother thought she would not survive for more than a week, but the little fighter survived against all odds...her father always called her his miracle child...that fighting spirit, stubbornness and strong-mindedness became a part of who she was. 

Another challenge was thrown to her and she would not let a mountain of a man scare her off. She had made a choice and she had to stick by it.  No more crying. Instead she would do it her way. She would make the most of her situation during this phase. She was not the kind to cry over spilt milk! Two months, three months 6 months, or a year...This was Tara, the Bhai of Bhopal a survivor!

Tara gets up with a renewed spirit and energy and decides to go back in, she did not want to fall ill. Her mother wasn't around to fuss over her. She sighed wiped away her tears, wrapped the dupatta around her and walked back to the house.

To be continued/.....

Chapter 5

Whilst here, Jairaj entered Mrityunjay's bedroom and asked Joseph to leave the room who was almost done cleaning the place. He shut the door.

Baba paced the room, in a sharp tone, "What do you think you were doing Mrityunjay, by being stubborn? She has ran out of the house once again, and I am not sure if she would return.”

Mrityunjay shut his eyes, leaning his head against the headboard.

“If you are upset about this whole marriage thing, take it out on me. What is her fault?. Tara agreed to this marriage for security, but she presumed you were behind bars for a business deal theft...and I did not stop her from believing so.”

His Baba was agitated and looked angry. It was rare that his father raised his voice on him.

“Mrityunjay look at me, do you know she wasn’t even the one I chose for you? It was her older sister. Her mother rejected our proposal knowing there was something fishy about the whole thing. Then Tara took the decision and said yes directly to me, knowing something was at stake only if I took care of her family’s needs. Their house was being taken over by the bank. It was a spur of the moment decision by her, which she of course regrets now.”

He listened attentively and was  taken by surprise with this information.

“Strange that she is the one to enter your life....Fine you don’t want her permanently we can end it once this whole mess is sorted and done with. But can’t you at least be civil to her?”

 “And such behaviour coming from you shocks me Beta! You are a thorough gentleman otherwise, someone who would never ever speak to a lady rudely, then THIS?”

Mrityunjay looked apologetic.."Baba I don't know what got into me! Sorry"

“Why?” Have you become like one of them after living with the rogues?...I don’t think so Mrityunjay. This is not you.”

Jayraj went on..."At least I need her more than she does us. You are not stupid to know a woman can resort to various means to make a fast buck!...Her family may not be wealthy but they are rich in values and principles....and this is vouched for by our Pandit...I just did not pick any one from the streets."

He lowered his gaze...yes he could be civil to her if nothing. He sighs pulls the blanket around him.

He father is about to leave when Mrityunjay says, “Dad can you arrange for a Sofa-cum-Bed and replace the recliner.  It’s not the best place to sleep.”

Jayraj smiles, “Now that is my boy. I have ordered for it already. It should be here this evening.”

Mrityunjay's mother Nirmala had nothing nice to say when seeing Tara all wet and looking a rag. Tara would have loved to hug her and ruin that fancy outfit that she was wearing just to spite her, but never mind she needed to get out of these soiled clothes. She looked a sight.

Her father-in-law was coming down the stairs and is shocked to find her in this state. He knew the reason for it was his son.

“Tara Bahu kahan the aap.”

“Sorry Baba....bas...mein change karke aati hun.”

“Haan haan jaldi nahi toh aap ko bhi sardi lagegi, jaldi jao”

She enters the bedroom to find him asleep. Takes a pair of fresh clothes from the closet tiptoeing all the while and shuts the bathroom door.

She was enjoying the steaming hot shower. It felt good and relieved.

Suddenly she heard the fire alarm go out. Oh Gosh was this house on fire and she had a patient in her room! Hey bhagwan thought Tara! Another headache!

She got dressed hurriedly, wrapped  her muslin towel round her head and dashed out to see the commotion outside. Mrtiyunjay too woke up with the noise, only to realize the commotion was all because the smoke detector detected huge amount of smoke coming from their bathroom.

Faheem Chacha and Jayraj entered.  Faheem Chacha notices the cause of the alarm...."Yeh dekho dhuaa"

Two pair of male eyes look at her questioningly. Oh dear me, she had no choice but to explain with that Hulk listening into it, “Woh woh.......dimaag thanda karne ke liye bahut garam paani se nahyi mein.” (just to cool off I had a very hot shower!)

Jayraj surprised gave her a smile, ”Garam paani se dimaag thanda? Yeh meine pehle baar suna hai.”

She dare not turn to look at the Moron’s face. Who cares what he thinks. But why was her kameez so loose, she kept holding it in place...oh gosh no!... she forgot to tie her dori, damn! her back was facing Him. He must be asleep.

Mrityunjay notices her open dori and exposed skin glistening with droplets of water! Kameez plastered to her wet body...foolish female..might have just run out of there...Was it the heat from the bathroom...he was warm suddenly...He gulped hard.....Did she just feel a pair of eyes on her back? She turns to look at him over her shoulder and found them shut! Thank goodness!

‘Woh mere naani ka formula hai. Aur mujhe toh bahut pasand hai. Sorry yeh alarm bajega woh pata nahi tha.”  Such stupidity! Mrityunjay did not have the energy to scream at her.

The men notice she was fidgety so Jayraj says, "Go on get ready, the doctor should be here any minute."

She goes back into the bathroom and sorts herself out. Just then the doctor arrives and it was confirmed Mrityunjay was suffering from a bout of malaria.

The Doctor advises, "Mrtiyunjay beta...take it easy for some time now. Stay put in bed...the fever will be on for a couple of days.... I am giving you a shot now...and I am sure your beautiful wife will fuss over you.....make the most of it" and then winks at his patient.

Why should she fuss over him! For heaven's sake...he wasn't her baby or something!

"Taraji.....I know you will take good care of him.....but just make sure he eats his meals, and the medication is administered on time. And yes here is my number, if you find the temperature really high or he gets worse, just give me a call."

She takes down the number, and thanks the Doctor. They all leave....she could hear his heavy breathing. Tara draws the curtains darkening the room, reduces the AC temperature a bit and decides to arrange for his meal.

Mrityunjay turns in his bed...at last he was alone...hoping she would not return soon.........hardly did he shut his eyes, swish opens the door and she barges right in with Joseph behind her and the food trolley.

She had been gone for a good one hour....looks at the clock, and addresses him sharply, "Time for your meal and meds...so get up." Joseph helps him up...

So the cat was still mad at him..but why did she get the worst out of him?

He finishes his meal obediently, whilst she plugs her ears with headphones and turns her back to him.  Even Vasu did not do such things...

After checking he was done with his meals, clears it away and offers him his medication.

She pulls out her earplugs saying, "You can rest now.......I too have to eat.....so if you need anything I'll be down finishing my meal, just call the intercom" placing the receiver near his pillow.

And simply turns to walk away, when she hears him say, "Sorry!"

She strides out...leaving him staring after her. Gosh she just ignored his apology!

What a lukewarm one! And who was it addressed to? His walls, or books maybe. She was fuming.

She wasn't going into that room until it was absolutely necessary. He was fed and taken care of, she would just while her time around the house.

This house was eerily quite, no sounds of laughter or noise......everybody so afraid of breaking rules.

She was here as a guest, would live like one....but she would talk to Jairajji tomorrow....she would fulfil her dreams before she was out of here.

Chapter 6

Huh...she needed to check on him. It was mid afternoon....she tiptoes softly inside only to find him wide awake but shivering...the effect of the medication had weaned off. Time for another dose.

For another week to 10 days she would have to go through this ordeal of putting up with him in the same room....

She goes to him with the glass of milk in hand, "Can you get up? Time for your next dose."

He barely lifts his body off the bed...why did he have to be at her mercy....so helpless....she offers him the glass of milk and the tablets. He falls flat again on the bed moaning....

Having no choice but to help him out, she places the glass on the bedside, and asks, "Do you need my help or no?"

Teeth chattering with the shivers he replies, "Can't you see I do! do you have to ask?"

Gritting her teeth she helps him up by placing her hand behind his shoulder and then with all her strength she gives him a push....damn the guy was so strong!...his body was burning with fever...he felt her soft hands....almost at the nape of his neck....and one hand wrapped around his right arm.

He sat up, she got him the glass of milk and the tablets. He returned the glass to her.

"I am sorry...for the way I behaved."

She squints her eyes, plugs her ears and looking straight at the Hulk in bed states, "You better be...because if you ever repeat something like that I might poison your food one of these days and end up behind bars myself." She surely was taking advantage of his helplessness with that barbed wire of a tongue.

He simply ignored her and shut his eyes. A knock on the door and Faheem Chacha came in along with the furniture company to deliver the sofa-cum-bed.

So Baba thought of her comfort too. She would go and thank him in a while....

She makes sure they placed it farthest away from the main bed.

Tara enters Baba’s room. Nirmala her mother-in-law was there too reading some magazine.

Baba is delighted to see her, “Kaise ho tara Bahu?”

“I am fine, just came to thank you for the sofa-cum-bed.”

“Oh don’t thank me.....it was Mrityunjay’s request.”

Hmm...the Moron had sense then. Yeah he could not ofcourse afford to have his nurse sick. Made sense.

“Baba I need to speak to you in fact I would like to ask you about something else as well.”

Good they were both here. She did not have to explain to the woman later. Nirmala ****ed her well shaped eyebrows an inch higher.

“Bolo Tara bahu....what is it.”

“Abb toh Mrityunjay bimaar hai, but I am really bored sitting all day in the house. I am not used to this.”

“So what do you intend to do? Start a dhaaba of your tikkis?”

“No, I would like to join dance and classical singing classes.”

“What? Women from our families don’t do such things. Stop this nonsense of yours?”

“Wait a second Nirmala. Give Tara a chance to speak.”

“See we all know I am here on a temporary arrangement. This is just a contract marriage. When my father was alive I was being trained but had to give up everything. I would like to take it up again.”

“Well you can start your tikka service again.”

“Well Nirmalaji that won’t go well with your society image. Then people would think you have cheated me and nothing good came out of this whole marriage business.”

Jayraj admired the girl’s spunkiness. She had a point.

“Okay Tara I will look for some instructors and let you know.”

Nirmala suddenly gets up and decides to crush the girl’s plans. “No! Wait a minute, she is not going out of the house and doing her thing!”

Jayraj now realized his wife was just being either stupid or was really naive.

“Nirmala ofcourse I won’t allow Tara to venture out for classes. After all till she is married to Mrityunjayshe represents our family. So I am arranging for the instructors to come home.”

“That is okay with you Tara right?”

Tara thinks she would have preferred to stay out of this gloomy house all day long, but it wasn’t going to happen whilst her goal was different.  She had to accept this before the woman changed her husband’s mind.

“Yes, yes that is fine, but I get to chose the instructors. I am sure none of you would know anything about these things.”

Nirmala walks out of there, “Do as you wish Jayraj....don’t understand your giving into her demands every second day.”

Jayraj comes upto Tara and says I am glad you are deciding to do something constructive and yes I do know friends who have contacts with some of the best in this field. Being Mrityunjay’s wife I will make sure we find the best one for you.”

“Thanks Baba.”

“Oh but just one thing!”

“What is that Baba?”

“Once Mrityunjay gets well, you need to inform him yourself...in the meantime I will look for the instructors.”

“Well I don’t want him to jump to any wrong conclusions about you, so it makes sense you inform him....it’s not like you are taking his permission or anything...but just as a courtesy measure.”

Well to achieve her goal, she would talk to the Devil if needed.

She went back to the room.  Hmm she would have to do this just for courtesy sake....

She peeped in. He was still asleep. She walked out and called her mother wanting to get updates on everything happening at home.

Got to know that Nandini had applied for a job somewhere, and that Bunty would be leaving in a week’s time. Said he would come and see her before leaving. “No don’t Bunty....Jijaji is not well....he has malaria.”

Bunty says fine that he would simply call. “MaaJijai is not well. Faltu says he caught malaria or something.”

“Hey bhagwan aise kaise hua?..I have to speak to Tara....Call her right now.”

“Tara beta kuch havan karo apne pati ke liye, amndir jao...vrat rakho.”

Vrat!  Why the hell must I die of hunger for this man! No ways...”Nahi maa abb theek hai woh”

Aradhana scolded her saying, “I do not want to hear another word Tara....., you are coming to the mandir tomorrow. I will meet you there, and haah I will talk to Thakurji about it, I am not fond of talking to your mother-in-law.”

Oh gosh, another museebat now! Mom and her vrats and poojas, thinks Tara.

Anyways she would go in now, it was time for His Highness’s dinner.

She enters to find him awake, an arm placed over his head looking at the ceiling. The meal was brought in by Joseph.

After Joseph leaves she serves him his meal and places it on the bed tray, leaving the medications too for him to consume.

He ignores her completely...and goes on with the business of finishing his meal.  She waits on him till he was done.

It felt weird to thank a man for such a thing, but she had to do it so almost whispers, “Thanks for the bed arrangement.”

He heard it, “You better be grateful” and before hitting his head to the pillow says,“I don’t want to be held for a third crime of breaking the back of a female nurse....and to add to that you might sue my father for atrocities and claim medical bills too. So this was done to keeping in mind foreseen circumstances” He then looks at her....One Furious Little Kitten she was.....Tara glared  back at him, hands on her waist....ready to attack..... Did she find him mocking her with his eyes?...calm down Tara....cool....cool....your goal is something else....not medical bills but she would make them pay for all the stuff she desired with her heart.

Just ignore his digs....and stop being sarcastic yourself.......that permission was still pending.....just be Miss Nice for a while! Yeah!

She hears Mrityunjay say again, “Get me a pair of socks.”

“Socks!...why where are you planning to go? I have to inform Baba then.”

He growled...silly woman,“For heaven’s sake I am not running away though I wish I could..my feet are cold, just get them....this fever.” The chills were too much to bear....

“Where are they kept?....”

He instructs her...she goes looking for them. She had never touched his personal belongings....it felt weird.....

Tara pulled out a pair of socks from the drawer and looked at them wide-eyed thinking, “Itne bade mozhe!.....such big ones!........Hey bajrang bali....I can easily fit in two of my own feet in them....what large feet!”

She hands them over to him. He sits up and struggles to put them on. She ignores him, no ways was she going to help him do that.

He wasn’t going to ask her help, he would manage himself.

Tara leaves the room under the pretext of dinner. Jayraj informs her at the dinner table, "Samdhanji had called about your vrat and visit to the temple Tara Bahu."

Oh gosh why couldn't her mother just be quite about it. "But Babu....it's okay I will go some other time, I mean I am needed here."

"Oh nonsense Tara, Joseph will remain with Mrityunjay. This is really good. Make sure you go tomorrow, the driver will take you and bring you back."

Tara sighs...so this means she would have to go tomorrow and meet her mother at the temple, but she won't do the vrat bit....why should she? For him? No ways!

As usual she walks in late at night to find him asleep and then sneaks into her bed softly and slowly.

To be contd/....

Chapter 7

Next morning,  Tara wakes up early enough to dress up and sneak out carefully. She wasn't going to let him know where and why she was gone.  She had taken pains to get dressed properly...the sindoor and longer mangalsutra chain was worn with some pearl jewellery, yeah!  A picture of a perfect bride! She would make sure nothing would make her Maa doubt on things not right in her life.

In a way this trip would provide some respite from this grim atmosphere. It was quite some time that she enjoyed the market place and outdoors. Tara Bacchu samjha karo! Chance mar le.... chance! After she was done with the mandir bit, some chai at the tea stall and bhajiyas would be awesome. Vrat mrat maro goli! Smiles to herself and saunters down the stairs happily.

She enters the kitchen only to be informed that they were given instructions about her vrat meals.

She feigns a smile and goes out of there.....just then sees Baba returning from his morning walk. "Come Tara Bahu lets go the breakfast table."

He takes her along and she serve him, is about to serve herself when he gently reminds her, "Aaaj aap ka vrat hai naah?"

Oh gosh so now she was being made to starve! Was this a gang working against her?

She frowns, irritated, "yahan mere pet mein chuhe daud rahe hai...aur idhar vrat ka bulawa!...yet fakes a smile for Baba, "Haan...Baba vrat hai!"

Wanting to enjoy the drive to the mandir, Tara pulls down the glass of the window and feeling the breeze in her face. Taking a long deep breath she takes in the smells and sounds of the city, the honking, people calling out to one another, the movie hoardings, smell of food wafts from the food stalls....this was heavenly....the place where she belonged to! Sighs....yeah not so long ago!....she loved her city Bhopal....

With her pooja thaal intact she reaches the foot of the temple to find her Mother waiting patiently for her.  Her mother gives a long glance and hugs her tenderly. "Bahut sundar lag rahi ho Tara beta.....ek patni ki tarah...aur kaisa hai Damaadji..vrat rakha hai ki nahi?" Mom, "bhukhaar hai abhi bhi." but thinks, mother stop fretting over him, that rogue is sleeping in luxury whilst here I am starving to death for him!

"Pooja kare Maa...hume jaldi ghar jaana hai."

The pandit wishes her well and prays for their union and for the good health of Mrityunjay. Tara shuts her eyes praying that whatever her mother wishes for  they may be granted. And that whatever she has set out to do for herself and her family, all her goals be accomplished. She prays for strength and courage to go through this ordeal of a marriage...that was all. Not a word was said in favour of Mrityunjay.

Aradhna prayed for the well-being of her son-in-law and Tara's happiness and that her dreams be fulfilled always.

Whilst leaving her mother warns her not to break her fast before time. It can bring bad luck. You are a married woman now, not a silly girl.....so be sensible.....

Not wanting another museebat to befall her or anger the Gods and mess up her prayers for her mother, Tara returns back home with all her best laid plans of eating out ruined!

Here whilst Tara was gone, Jayraj visits his son....."how are you feeling today son?"

Where was the Spitfire today? He hadn't seen her since morning. Did she just run off.....well good then...he would dare not ask about her to Joseph who was here in the morning to serve him.

"Well the same.....it's okay Baba what difference does it make if I recover or not?"

"Mrityunjay enough of that kind of talk with me! And yes...Tara Bahu has gone to the temple for a special pooja with her Mother and she has maintained a fast just for you? They say the prayers of a wife never go unanswered."

"Baba we carve our own destiny it's not merely a fast and pooja that changes things"

"Yes your destiny is in your hands but can never happen without the will of God....some day you will come to understand that son."

Tara enters...to find her favourite person sitting with the one she disliked the most!...He lifts up his eyes and drink in her decked up vision.  Flowers in her hair!

"Tara Bahu you returned, where is the prasad for me and Mrityunjay?"

Oh gosh..."haah ek minute Baba" she could not ignore that and so leaves to get it whilst irritated "Baba too had no work.....why couldn't he just be quite about it?"

She comes back up and offers it first to Baba. He accepts and then instructs her to offer up to Mrityunjay. She hesitates. But then slowly offers him. He refuses to give his hand. But on Baba's insistence he brings forth his palm. Such a cheeky guy, here her stomach rumbles and he is acting tough. She has her eyes cast down, he sees the sindoor and mangalsutra....her bangles clicking against each other... she gulps sensing his gaze on her....to him she must be looking like a mandir joker...why would he ever admire a female!

Jayraj leaves only to find Joseph come in with his meal. So she had the task of serving him now.

Strangely Joseph places the tray and leaves hurriedly.

Joseph grumbles to himself, "Good Tara Madam coming back....what re  this Kunwar  Sahab  bas only  shouting  simply. My wife kill me if I shouting like that. I run from here now... Mother Mary saved me," and then does the sign of the cross whilst hurriedly rushing into the kitchen.  

Chapter 8

She goes into the bathroom to wash her hands and returns. He watches her movements......finding it hard to ignore her sounds and presence ......he notices her ivory and gold anarkali churidaar ......enhancing her curvaceous figure.....the large pearl drop hanging from strands of pearls... that danced  every time she moved, her hands adorned with gold kadas, their family heirloom...it made her look..... different...so  very regal.....classic and traditional.... her maang filled with red sindoor stood out in stark contrast to her ensemble...why was he even looking...he turned his gaze away.....it had been quite without her this morning, now he had to put up with her sharp tongue and presence.

Tara goes about her business of serving him his meal clueless to his thoughts. She was only hoping he would not ask where she had been all morning, considering she wasn't ready to explain anything at all to him.

 "You did not have to go this natak for my health! I am sure you don't give a damn in reality!

Placing her hands again on her waist, she rants, "Ok don't even think for a second I went through this for you! The fast, the pooja is all for my mother! Just like you are giving into your Dad, so am I for my Mother's sake....I have no choice."

He flares his nose, but then remembers his Father's words on civility. Putting the spoon down declares, "Enough.......please clear this away."

What happened to him? But he had to eat as per Doctor's instructions.

She scolds, "Will you stop being stubborn? If you don't like this will get something else made. But the doctor's clear instructions were you had to eat."

"I am not hungry anymore."

Ok this was the Bhai of Bhopal, she would get him to eat like a rabbit....achhe achho ko theek kiya hai Tara Bachhu ne.  "Oh my my my...don't tell me you intend to fast along with me now like a good husband!" and displays him her sweetest smile ever.

Angry pair of molten gold eyes shot up to her....she stood there mocking him with her large-brown ones.

Damn!..where were his brains!.....this woman could twist anything to win a battle!

"Utter nonsense....just feeling sick....please  clear this up will you?"

 She approaches the bed, clears the tray and leaves quietly.

A little bit of hassles for bigger dreams, think Tara.

After a good 45 minutes returns with another tray. "Get up and finish this now. Only then can I administer your medication."

"Now there shouldn't be a lame excuse of feeling sick with the food. Or else I just might believe what I stated earlier."

Gosh this girl was one stubborn female. Why was she so adamant that he eats? Was it concern or maybe something else?

He did not have the strength to argue anymore, still feeling miserable, so quietly finished his meal. It was tastier this time....the lemon did it.

 And so this routine continued for almost a week. Tara with her ears plugged in all the time, would simply take care of his meals and medications.

One thing struck her though, it was funny  that she never felt threatened in any way sharing the room with him at nights. Why was that so, she just could not understand.....

He would merely rise during these times.  Somehow they had gotten used to the routine. It made sense to both to remain civil to each other. She had even passed him some books to read as he had instructed. Some days when he felt better he would sit up and read in bed.

She became the perfect nurse. But had yet to mention to him about her dance and singing plans.

to be contd/....

Chapter 9

Three days ago she even went along with Faheem Chacha to the outhouse. Being bored she insisted to venture there.

With the Master ill, Faheem had to feed the horse daily. She had seen the stark prison-like house. Her basic instinct found her to be sorting out the place. But then Faheem Chacha told her he would send Madhav to clean it up.

She asked about the mare's name. "Maryal" She stroked the animal and liked the feel of her, very docile and beautiful to look at. So the man rode a horse too. She wished she too could ride a horse one day!

On their way back Faheem Chacha disclosed a few things to her that surprised her.

" I am not sure if I should tell you this. But Mriyunjay is Baba's adopted son, but their love and adoration for each other is more than what Aditya and Thakurji shares. He is a very good human being Tara.... Kunwar Sahab....how this happened and what curse has come upon this family...I question Allah every day."

She was taken aback with this new found knowledge, but thought it best to stay away from their family matters. She was an outsider after all.....not someone who would be with them always.

She had her own set of problems and issues.....but her respect for Baba grew. He was a wonderful person. Treating her as his own, giving her the same love and respect as anybody else in that house.

Several times when she ventured into their room she found him seated at his table, making notes in his diary or reading seated on his recliner long legs stretched out.  She would always walk out just as fast as she came in.

It was time for that talk. He was reading a book.  He felt her presence. Ignoring her like always he continued to read.....the fever had left him during the day. It was only the nights that it would hit him with vengeance, forcing him to stay indoors still.

Barely a whisper, "I need to speak to you about something." He ignores.

Irritated, twirling the ends of her dupatta, she goes on, "Please can you just listen for a minute."

He shuts the book and looks at the Little Cat standing there, fidgeting with the ends of his favourite blue-colored dupatta, "Yes what is it?"

She looked everywhere around the room but at him.

"Do you need more money, have you decided on the amount?"

She wanted to slap him for that remark, but her purpose was different, clearing her throat she spills it out at last, "I need to inform you something....like a......

"For what? And why me?"

"A kind of a permission."

She really seemed nervous."For what? And why mine?" he barks again

"Baba thinks that I need to speak to you first before I go ahead."

"Go ahead with what?.....can you be a little clear?...you want to throw some party or some kind of a pooja and call your relatives and mine. Then it's a big NO"

"Kya? Party!"

"No publicity stunt Tara" and goes back to reading.

Finally she blurts it out, "I know you think the worst of me. I want to take up dance and singing lessons."

This took him by sheer surprise. His head shot up, brows raised, he laughed sarcastically......"You mean after this project you want to become an actress ehh. You will surely succeed!"

"Why take my permission for that? I don't care what you do with yourself."

Control Tara control....he was trying to reel her....she would not let him do that...not now..."I am bored of twiddling my fingers around this house. I asked Baba, he agreed, but said the instructors must come home. Though dont know why, but he said I needed to speak to you first about it."

He opens his book, ignores her and says, "Fine...do what you want...just stay clear of me." In a way it was good....she would be occupied....and he would not see much of her around the house.

What a relief. She did not think it would be this easy for a yes. Phew! "Thanks"

He ignores her word of thanks but looks up the moment she walks out of the room. To him every form of art was something to be loved. Being an artist himself, it was a way of life for him, you could not be human if you had no connect with art or creativity. Though who knows what she was up to next!

Tara shuts the door behind her and looks upto heaven.....the dream that she had given up years ago with the death of her father....might just come true some day. "Thank you Dear God".....we do write our own destinies....some day...she would make it happen, a dance & music academy. Slowly and steadily she would do it, once this case would end, the divorce she would start from home.  It would be in memory of her beloved Father, the man who breathed music.

She hurries down to the study to speak to Baba. He lets her in and sees her beaming, "Baba can you call my Gurus, teachers. I spoke to Mrityunjay. He has no problem with it."

"That is good Tara, I surely will."

A very well-known lady dance instructor would be training her in dance and another renowned classical music teacher for her singing. Baba and she had decided not to let anyone know for the moment. But he had really chosen the best for her and she was grateful. So goes to him shyly and hugs him, thanking him profusely.

 He then says something she had no answer to, "Tara I would like to thank you for taking care of Mrityunjay during this illness, but I also ask of you is to try and understand Mrityunjay a bit...I know he is being rude to you and everything. I have no hopes on the both of you of taking this relationship further. Whilst you are here, if not a wife...can you be a friend to him? That is all I ask.”

She was lost for words.....”....I.....I ........ you know your son thinks the worst of me.”

"That is strange Tara, and I am not saying this because he is my son....Mrityunjay is a thorough gentleman when it comes to women....I have never known him to ever speak rudely to any girl...may it be our house help or otherwise"

Baba continues with his litany of praise, "He means more to me that Adi and Vasu too. And why not he is the ideal son any Father would be proud of. Yes I know this sounds unbelievable but you will find out for yourself as the days go by."

Tara thinks to herself, "Some saint we have here. Such high praise for an adopted son!"

"See Baba I cannot promise about being a friend, it takes two to be friends.....but yes I will make sure I am not the cause of further trouble for him."

He let out a sigh,"Theek hai Tara Babu...I cannot expect too much I guess."

He sees her walk away and says to himself, "I will do whatever I can to make you a permanent member of this home Tara Bahu. You are the best thing that could have happened to Mrityunjay."

to be contd/...

Chapter 10

Happy, she rushes outdoors, it had rained earlier that had left puddles of water around...droplets of rain water still sitting on the lush green leaves....taking a deep breath she smelled the air....took off her chappals....and walked barefooted.....

He set his book aside and walked up to the window, opened them to feel the breeze....and saw her down there.....wading in rainwater......he was about to move...when his eyes caught her in the act.....he folded his arms and stood there....watching her...... opening her mouth, she pulled out her tongue to take in the droplets of rain that dripped from the long vine leaves and gulped them down her throat...smiling still.......she moves...ties the dupatta around her forehead....folding her pants to expose her payal adorned feet........she splashed and jumped  in the puddles of muddy water around...hopping like a little child.....taking delight in the rain water....she twirled and danced... whoooooossshhhhhh....smack!.....slips and falls to the ground hitting her butt to the floor....elbows and hands grazed holding onto the floor....she looks around to see if anyone noticed her.... and then her searching eyes reached up to see him standing there.....My gosh what the hell was he looking at? Playing detective now is he?  He did not move....his eyes intent on her messed yet....yet ...adorable...no funny state......she hurriedly got up....and again slyly stole a glance....he was gone....Phew! she better get out of these soiled clothes...before her darling sasuma thought the worst of her!

She goes upto the room, to find him engrossed in reading his book. He did not look up....she simply rushed into the bathroom for a change of clothes. She would go to Meethi for something to apply on her grazed elbows and hands.

She comes out and hears him say, "There is a tube of antiseptic on the table, apply it."

She goes to the table with her back to him, shuts her eyes in embarrassment...so he did see her fall and foolish behaviour...picks up the tube saying, "Thank you." and applies the soothing cream to the grazed areas....one of the elbows was bleeding slightly. She looks for cotton in the bathroom.

"Wait...utter stupidity for a nurse to get injured whilst on duty." Mirtyunjay got up and pulled out his First Aid Kit...came to her. She looked at him....he seemed miffed to her....Opening the box he pulled out some cotton swab and bandage and asked angrily, "Are you going to just stand there like an idiot or must I scream now."

She does not move. He jerks her arm, turns it and cleans the wound with a solution. He towered over her...her eyes levelled his broad hairy-chest....she gulped hard and cast her eyes down to her own arm. He looked at her face...crazy female.....her creased forehead, her full lips parted in pain... and again his eyes fell on the mark. Where was his concentration....damn.....stop....he shouldn't!  

Then gently applies the medication, and bandages it.  "I am not doing you a favour....if this gets septic.....told you before...no unwanted medical bills." Letting go of her arm, he clears out the first aid box and moves away from her to wash his hands in the bathroom. He leaned his arms on the platform of the wash basin.....what came over him to do this? Meethi would have helped her out! this was not a part of civility! he couldn't.....he wouldn't.....never....why warm up to her? So what if she had been taking care of him all this time....upset with himself....he flung the towel in anger.....

 She stood there, cheeks flushed... surprised by his actions.....Was this the Mrityunjay Baba was talking about? she'd better leave from the room now. It was time for his meal.

When the meal was brought up, he told her he would manage and she did not have to serve him now. "I can help myself, but of course If I need anything, will let you know...and from tomorrow I shall come down for my meals...Need to get out of this room."

Thank goodness no more waiting on him, she nodded and said, "Sure....fine.....let me know I shall be downstairs."

"Hmmm." and she was gone.......the less he saw of her...the better it was.....

Putting a morsel of dal and rice in his mouth, he calls the intercom, "Can you get some Pepper...this food is so bland."

She was standing right beside Joseph when he took the call. "What happened Joseph?"

"Kunwar sahab wants some Pepper, says the food is tasteless." She quickly hands him some lemon pickle and the Pepper and says, "Go and give it to him."

Later that night she entered the room, to notice he was asleep. For the first time she felt conscious of spending the night in the same room.  From the day after she would be occupied with her dance and singing training sessions. She would rise early to do some exercise. It was years since she would start her dance routines again. Pulling the blanket closer to her, she fell asleep.



to be continued...

Please leave your comments....good or bad.....

hugs

dd





Nov 28, 2013

Update Chapters 11 to 13 (By Dd-Ipkknd Fan) (Thanked: 16 times)

Thanks for the wonderful comments...


Updates Chapter 11 to 13

Chapter 11

An early morning rise and Tara was out of the room. She goes to the gazebo and carries out her yoga routine for a good one hour. Her Sasuma notices her....lying flat on the floor in a corpse position and smiles to herself sarcastically. Scoffs and goes off on her morning jog.

She waves to Baba, and comes running to where he stood. After taking his blessings, she told him about her yoga routine which was required for her dance. Then tells him she would now prepare some nice Sunday breakfast for him.

Tara walked into the room still in her exercise gear, whilst Mrityunjay  had just finished his shower and was rubbing his wet hair, wearing tracks and a white vest.  The whiff of his aftershave filled the room.....it did strange things to her insides....

Damn did have to catch her in her favourite clothes! Her Tees and flares and sweaty as ever!

He looked towards the bathroom, those Tees  shaped her ..........but those pants...ridiculous..

She rushed into the bathroom, showered and changed quickly.  He was gone....

She rushed back into the kitchen and with of course guidance from her mother Tara and Meethi quickly prepared Chole Batture.

Tara heard her father-in-law call out, "Tara Bahu nashta kidhar hai aap ka?"

"Layi"

She rushes to the breakfast table, with a tray of hot Bhatooras and Chole! She stops in her tracks...Mrityunjay too was at the table with him.

"Today is Sunday...so I am going to enjoy this breakfast....wow...Chole!" rubbing his hands in glee!

She only serves Baba. "Aur Mrityunjay ke liye?" he questions her.

"I don't want any. Will just have some black coffee and toast"

"Nonsense Mrityunjay....even the doctor said you can  have anything that you feel like, so come on just have one." and places a bhatoora in Mrityunjay's plate. "Serve him some Chole Tara Bahu."

Reluctantly she serves him a small bowl of the Chole. He can ignore it if he wants to. And then leaves from there only to return with a pot of black coffee.

She pours him the coffee to notice he had eaten up the bhatoora and cleared the chole. So the man enjoyed it!

"Kaise the chole Mritunjay? Ache naa! Are Tara Bahu what happened to your elbow? I forgot to ask you in the morning?"

Tara hesitates, "Oh...I slipped and fell in the puddle of rain water outside yesterday....It's nothing....just a small graze."

"Good you attended to it...sometimes even little wounds can create big problems" She recollected that moment....He coughed and looked up to her saying, "Thanks for the coffee."

She almost opened her mouth to say something but stopped herself.

Mid-morning her phone rang. She was in the kitchen. It was Bunty. "Faltu I would like to come and see you. I am leaving tomorrow."

"Ok come, kitne baje?"

"Open the door then Faltu, I am already outside your house...Itna badi haveli  Faltu."

"Kya...you are standing outside the house. Wait...rukko.... I will be there."

Delighted she dashed to the entrance of the house to welcome Bunty in.

They enter the study only to find Baba, Nirmala and Mrityunjay seated there. All eyes were on Bunty and her, when he said aloud, "Faltu so nice to see you after a long time, missing you already re."

Bunty notices everyone, comes forward, greets them and touches the feet of Baba, Nirmala, and goes to Mrityunjay, greets him, with laughter-filled eyes says, "Jijaji how are you now? Tara's vrat and pooja did bring results naah?"

The boy was really cute and from what he was told by his Father a very bright one."'Yes, how have you been young man?"

"Good Jijaji, sorry could not come to see you earlier....have been busy sorting things out."

Nirmala walks out of there.....Bunty continues whilst Tara looks surprised to see Bunty so comfortable with Mrityunjay.

"Uncle and Jijaji firstly I would like to thank you both for doing this for me. I don't think I could ever repay you back."

Mrityunjay, "Yes you can."

Tara's eyes widen, now what was this man upto!  "Kaise Jiju?"

"By graduating with honors."  Bunty replies with full conviction, "I promise you that Jiju I will"

Mrityunjay continues, "And whilst studying have a little bit of fun too. They are going to be the best years of your life."

"Yes I am excited, it's been a dream I never thought would happen. But my Faltu pagal sister opened the doors for me....and I am going to miss her the most."

So she was called Faltu! Apt...Pagal better still!

Tara's glistened with tears, she choked saying, "Mere room mein chal batati hoon tujhe....pagal  kaha." She smacked him...

Mrityunjay was surprised to see the closeness shared between the siblings. He could never remember such moments in his life. An outsider in his own home.

Tara takes his hand to lead him away, but Bunty turns back to Mrityunjay and hugs him, overwhelmed by what he had done for him, "Thank you thank you Jijaji, I promise I will not disappoint you no matter what." Neither Adi nor Vasu had ever hugged him. Such display of affection was something he wasn't prepared for.  He placed his hand on the boy's head, ruffled his hair and then put his arm around the boy's shoulders saying, "I know you won't...All the very best, now your mother and Faltu sister is not around to do things for you. You have to learn to be a man and take care of yourself whilst making the right decisions....and yes you can call and talk to me whenever you feel like. This is my number." Bunty hugs him again and leaves with Tara tagging him along. Did he just call her Faltu too?

Mrityunjay watched the brother, sister climb the stairs. He took an instant liking to the boy...there was a kind of innocence in him a rare quality in the youth. What made him tell Bunty to keep in touch knowing he wasn't going to be around!

Baba watched Mrityunjay come back to life in these few moments. He felt a tightness in his chest. And said to himself, "Oh God...please make these moments of joy permanent in his life."

It was a good two hours...neither Tara nor Bunty had come down. He had finished his lunch and was waiting to rest. Fine he would go up.....

He stood outside the room and hears sounds of laughter and giggles from the inside. He enters...to see Tara and Bunty engrossed in a cushion throwing match. They both straighten up. "Sorry" in tandem. Tara quickly gathers the cushions and straightens up the room.

Bunty gave an apologetic look. "Sorry Jijaji I could not help but smack Faltu before I leave...I am going to miss all the fun we used to have. She is crazy but the best sister in the world....Faltu has done everything for me all my life."

"Tara Di and Jijaji I promise you both I will make you proud one day."

She hugs her little brother, "Come on now Mum will be waiting back at home....lets have lunch."

Mrityunjay shakes his hand, "Bye Bunty and Take Care...and here this is for you from Baba."

'What is this?"

"You will need it....keep it as a parting gift." Bunty shakes his head, hands the envelope back to him, "No Jijaji you have done enough for me...I don't need anything more."

Tara was glad Bunty acted in the right way. She was proud of her little brother. But Mrityunjay objected again, "Now Bunty, it's the first time I have given you something....it would hurt me should you refuse....would you not have demanded things from your older brother?" Tara had her eyes cast down....was he trying in some way to impress her or something?

Bunty had no answer..."Thank you Jiju...and yes please take care of my crazy sister.....and Faltu if you happened to fight with Jiju you can take out your anger in front of my picture that I gave you....don't fight like a goon or cat with him."

Tara looked up to see Mrityunjay staring at her. "Bunty I don't fight for no reason...you know that."

Mrityunjay spoke up, "Go on now and finish lunch...your sister must be hungry too."

She held her little brother's hand and got him out of there before he spilled the beans of her ever famous fights on the streets!

He felt tired.....so rested....his thoughts went back to Bunty. The boy really adored his sister. He could see the admiration and love in his eyes for Tara. Funny that he bonded with the boy in just the first meeting. What made him to do what he did? What was the point in giving Bunty his number?

Baba had updated him that his parole was extended for another month on medical grounds....and there was an upcoming court hearing too...he sighed.......

She came into the room at dinner time as he had asked for his meals to be brought him.

She went about her business of serving him and said, "You shouldn't have done that."

He answered, "Yes you are right, I should not have given Bunty my number.....what is the point."

"I am talking about the money in the envelope, it wasn't necessary. Who knows what next you expect of me."

"First and foremost that is none of your business, it stays between me & Bunty....you are not part of that deal.....and secondly he is right in calling you Faltu...because you do have Faltu ideas in that head of yours."

She pointed a finger at him and snapped, "Listen, don't ever call me by that name again....only Bunty has the right to do so."

The Little Tigress that she was....huffing in anger....when she placed those hands on her waist like that it did something to him, the fabric of her top stretching against her chest....could not understand she wasn’t supposed to make such movements in front of man!....he had to stop from letting his thoughts wander...

"And yes I have spoken to Baba I will move out of this room to the guest room. With me practising my singing and dance, it would create a hindrance to you. Though if you need me just call me, I am a couple of rooms away. "

"Fine....though I would not be using this room too. I'll be at the outhouse."

"Well the doctor has said you need to be indoors with the weather going bad, so I think it's for the best if I move out.....anyways I am just a guest here for a few more months."

He looked up at her...she had her back to him. His voice cracked "Yeah so am I....I might be dead before you are gone."

She turned at his crude remark on himself.....she searched his sombre face....the statement pricked her. He spoke so easily about death...like as if he had accepted his fate. She had no reply..

Continued.....

Chapter 12

Next day Tara went about her business of getting her room arranged. She made sure there was enough space to practise her dance sessions.  She could now sing and dance to her heart's content yet when she lay down on her pillow that night ......all she did was toss and turn......loneliness sweeping over her....

Baba wasn't too happy with this new arrangement, but then thought despite them living in a room all they did was argue. Maybe distance would make the heart grow fonder.

Mrityunjay found her things gone. His table was clear of the idols. The wardrobe all cleared of her stuff.....it was back to its old self....stark and bare of color and clutter. He felt the silence surround him...he looked around.....he embraced the isolation once again....but remained restless all night long....got up and read a bit hoping that would bring in sleep....looked for warm water....the thermos was not around. No he would not call for her.....he would make do without it. He flung the cushion off his bed in frustration...pumped the pillows and tried to catch some sleep...

Tara and her dance teacher had decided that her dance sessions would be carried out under the gazebo in the open. Only singing classes would be conducted in the confines of her room.

A daily routine was followed, she would serve Baba and him breakfast. Her dance sessions took place in the morning for 2 hours and in the early evening her singing sessions. Though she saw him every morning seated on the breakfast table along with Baba....she stayed clear of him as much as she could during the rest of the day.

Sometimes when serving a meal, their hands brushed, and she would be the one to withdraw it from his touch.

He eyes took in every move of hers, the way she brushed her hair to one side or plaited it. The chime of her bangles.....her large brown eyes that softened every time she spoke to Baba.

"Tara Bahu can you get us both cups of masala waali chai of yours?

"Ji Baba...aap jaye...mein lekar aati hun."

"Not for me please"

"Fine"

Tara was about to enter the living room when she overheard their conversations. Aditya was in argument with his Father over a plot of land.

Aditya insisted, "Dad why can't we just uproot the school. It's just a small school. Pay them off and get hold of our land. It's the perfect place for a bar and restaurant."

"No I am not doing it."

"Dad this is ridiculous......I don't understand why so much sympathy towards a mere school."

She entered whilst Mrityunjay spoke up, "Aditya Baba is right. How can you call any school just merely a school? It's an education centre. In fact we should be donating the whole land to the school, even the part that is not being used by them....it would be a perfect playground for the children."

'"Bhaiya why do you interfere in our discussions...you are not even part of this family."

Jayraj raised his voice, "Because he has the right to and has more sense than you and your mother....Tara Bahu...come come I have been waiting for your malai marke waali chai?"

Tara heard every word and it all took her by surprise....why was she appalled by Adi's insulting  remarks?

She served Baba his tea whilst Aditya walked out in a huff. Tara then placed a cup of coffee next to where Mrityunjay sat, saying softly, "Your coffee."

He looked up into those large brown eyes.....how did she know he would love a cup of coffee? She looked back at him waiting for his acknowledgment. He would now snap for sure thought Tara.

But Mrityunjay lifted the cup to his lips, sipped it and looked at her saying, "Thanks...strong but bitter."  Tara's eyes widened and nostrils flared.

Baba smiled to himself seeing their banter....was there mischief in Mrityunjay's eyes when he said 'strong and bitter.'

Baba added, "Mrityunjay you like your coffee that way isn't it?"

"Yes Baba..it's perfect." without looking at Tara.

Tara was taken aback with his praise and a tingling sensation of her ears, yet did not show it and was leaving hen Baba asked, "So Tara Bahu how are your classes going on?"

Vasu walks in and interrupts the conversation. "Baba I need some money, its Mufti day today."

Tara happy to see Vasu dressed so differently in a neon yellow Indian ensemble remarks, "Vasu you are looking lovely...how nice."

Vasu snaps back at her in a bored and sarcastic tone, "What would you know what is good or bad...I mean anything at all about fashion?"

Jayraj, "Vasu!"

Mrityunjay remarks, "Now Vasu I would not like my sister talking to anyone like that, does not suit you."

Jayraj asks her to apologize. Tara interrupts, "No its okay Baba....Vasu is right, Nandu too has chided me many a times on my dressing sense."

Tara instead smiled and turned to Vasu, "Vasu next time I shall come to you for help, What say? ...you can help me out with choosing and selecting my outfits...hmmmm."

Vasu in true teenage style, turned her face away giving a bored look and said,"Whatever!"

Vasu leaves and Tara is about to leave when Baba continues probing about the classes.

"Theek chal raha hai Baba." she was embarrassed talking about it in front of him. Why did Baba have to start this conversation now.

Now here was a perfect chance of praising his dear Bahu in front of his son."I met your dance teacher the other day, she had all praise for you...calling you an accomplished dancer, and a natural...where did you learn before."

"Oh Baba I have been learning dance and singing since the age of five or six at school and then was taking professional classes at age 12. But then stopped when Papa died.....everything changed. Now just taking up from where I left ....Baba I have to go....my teacher will be here any minute."

She did not want to continue any further, not when he was giving ear to every word she said...so hurriedly walked away from there.

Mrityunjay had his head down not wanting to give away his train of thoughts.

He got up to leave when he heard his step-mom taunt Tara about her dance and singing. And he heard Tara reply, "Sasuma, you know dance is the perfect form of exercise, you must try it too you know." Gosh she sure had guts to talk like that to his step-mom, he walked up to his room...yes he would sketch a little. How much longer did he have to stay indoors....maybe a few more days then he would venture back into his personal abode. This confinement in the room was as good as the stark prison.

Pulling out his drawing pad he began to sketch. Most of the time he would bring out his emotions on paper. His pain, his anger, his damning situation. But today the artist in him...felt a different kind of urge.......he felt a weird feeling......the need to sketch a complete woman........a warm feeling crept through him...he closed his eyes and he saw her vision......the conflict within him began....should he make her his imaginary muse or should he not?  It was just his artistry instinct....he wasn't going to connect with her or something....oh forget it! Frustrated with himself he threw the pencil across the room. He held his head in his hands and closed his eyes....he envisioned her standing in front of him with hands on her hips and fire in her eyes.

Mrityunjay flung the shawl off his shoulders, opened the windows and looked out...and his eyes fell on the dancing form under the gazebo..........there she was a tiny little bird...flitting feet,  the swinging plait, the tilt of her hips,  the fluid body movement.  He had drawn the curtains before and seen her dance...he had watched and turned away....but today....he did not know what made him just do it.........Mrityunjay got out his camera, zoomed out and captured every move every turn he could of Tara.

He turned away from the window and closed his eyes, threw the camera on the bed.  Why did he do such a stupid thing?  Paced the room, ran his fingers through his hair....looked at the camera lying on his bed, picked it up again...and rushed out of there going straight into the dark room.

She wasn't coming here anyways.....she would never know.....it was only for his sketching purpose....he got on to the task of developing the pictures... Funny he got impatient to get them developed.

He stared at the photographs in his hand. She made a beautiful dancer...he could not capture the emotions on her face, but her moves and tilt of her supple body he did. He felt a tightness in his chest....a kind of guilt....these pictures did not belong to him.....he had no right over them, he flung the pictures around the room...this was wrong...he invaded her private moments...he needed to ask her about it.....no....he would forget about the whole thing....just a matter of time before he went back into prison....Death was waiting around the corner....why look at Life then?.....this torture of seeing Life and knowing it wasn't going to be his ever....why did he get these urges to want to Live and this point......he pulled at his hair....banged his head against the wall repeatedly and cried out....opening his eyes fell on the pictures of her strewn on the floor. He gathered them, heaved a heavy sigh of apprehension.....looked away... and then dumped them into the drawer....this wait was worse than death....wish it would come earlier and end this wretchedness once and for all!

He laid down on the settee, shutting his eyes...embracing the darkness around him.....

Tara had got to know from Joseph that he hadn't eaten lunch and was not in his room too all day.

She had knocked on the door of the dark room late afternoon, only to be told, "I am fine just leave me alone." She walked away from there not knowing what to do....he did not like her intruding...anyways now he did not need her....but wasn't she wanting the same time......be away from him...out of his sight......without a care, they why did his reply make her feel so....so....unwanted like. She huffed grumbling to herself, "Now he does not even want to see my face, selfish man....who cares......forget him."

She went back into her room and would start her singing riyaz. Her music instructor would be here soon...

That afternoon her instructor had scolded her, where is your attention, what is distracting....we both are alone here.

She had shut her eyes and tried to concentrate....but those words just kept playing on her mind, "leave me alone"

"Kuch bhi nahi Guruji"

"Kya hua Tara....tumhara dhyaan kahi aur hai.....chalo phir se..gao..."

She apologized...excused herself saying she had a terrible headache since morning... The instructor left before time.

Tara shut the door after her and was angry with herself.  Why was she feeling so dejected? Damn...plugged her headphones on and playing a racy number...anything to just her mind of things...

Later that evening Mrityunjay  returned back to his room and asked for his evening meal to be sent up.

Baba had come up asking him if everything was alright. He assured his Dad  he was and that he needed to get out in the open before he would turn mad sitting indoors. Jayraj agreed but ensured that he come home for his meals and he would spend the nights at home.

They had  then discussed about the upcoming court hearing date, where he too would have to be present.

After Baba left Mrityunjay stared at the ceiling with his hands folded behind his head.....the court date was here...in a couple of days...Baba sounded positive...he was not willing to dwell on hope...most probably he would not return home and would be put back in prison....another two more days....that's it...better this way...his misery would end soon.

He took a sleeping pill, that the doctor had prescribed on his persistence......could not handle this anxiety and depression anymore he had told  the Doctor.

to be continued

Chapter 13

They met next day morning at the breakfast table......she ignored him...well he ignored her last night, so she was doing exactly what he said, 'to leave him alone!"

"Good Morning," Mrityunjay wished Tara. She mumbled something....and ignored him, busy serving breakfast to Baba. They were just the three of them around.

"Tara Bahu baitho....sit....join us."

She sat at the table facing Baba to her left, Mrityunjay was seated to her right.  She did not bother looking to her right. But he had to since Baba was seated to his left....

"Can you pass me the fruit bowl?" He addressed her.  She picked it up and dropped it close to his side. ...what happened to her now? What did he do that she seems mad at him?

"Thanks." she ignored it......Baba, "Aap hume Chess khelna sikhao aur mein aap ko Dhol bajana?"

Mrityunjay coughed...Baba and Dhol! She sure was crazy and would turn all of them as well.

Baba, "Dhol!" "yeah why not Baba...don't you want to learn something very different...which is fun and noisy."

"What is Life without noise, fun and laughter?"

"Haah yeh toh aap ne sahi kaha."

"Aur Dhol...where will you get it from?"

"Don't worry about that...I will...."

"Baba I shall take leave....Baba..Bab....I am leaving."

"Huh!...oh! okay Mrityunjay."

Baba seemed very excited about the whole thing....silly.....just because He was a grumpy Old Joe did not mean everyone around him had to behave like him.

Baba left for the day...and Tara decided to help out Meethi in the kitchen since she wasn't keeping too well. Her dance teacher too wasn't coming in today.

Tara pushing Meethi out of the kitchen decided she would cook something for lunch today...but of course with the help of her mother...

With mobile on one ear, hands busy pulling out boxes of ingredients,  with a pan placed on a burning gas stove...Tara went about her business of following instructions..holding the open box of oil.....in her mad rush to get to the ingredients on the opposite counter..down went the can of oil on the floor...all around her....

Damn....Ma...I shall call you back...rukho....tell gir gaya...."Oh gosh...careful Tara....standing there in a pool of oil...she turned bent close enough to place the can on the closest counter...and moved to walk in a pool of oil...when she felt herself falling ...and going for a toss........hey bhagwan Noooooooooooooo...her left hand dropped the phone...almost about to fall.........when she felt a pair of large hands around her waist....her left hand clung tightly to whatever support she found .......his trousers.....she felt her back braced against his chest....he commanded softly against her neck, "Take off your sandals"...she could feel the pressure of his arm around her midriff against her ****s...........at his mercy she obeyed...still leaning against his hard body...and then in one smooth movement...like he were picking a doll....he scooped her out of the pool of oil and places her down at the other in one...... they had never been in such close proximity to each other, he growled, his voice heavier than before,  "Haven't you messed up enough, you are pulling my pants down now?.... she looks....oh Gosh!.... her hand was still clinging on to the side his thigh trousers..she jerked it off him abruptly....looked for her dupatta which lay soaked in oil on the floor...... ....she straightened her kameez,...fidgeting her fingers.....dared not look at him.....this was embarrassing.....her cheeks and whole body burned.......

Mrityunjay had to cover up, he spoke up, "Aren't you supposed to be practising dance? What are you doing here? Where is Meethi and Madhav and all?"

No choice.....she turned....he notices...the effect of what just happened.... her flushed cheeks....her glazed eyes....her heaving chest.... She gulps hard...stammering..lost for words....trying to catch her breath..."Woh....woh....I thought of cooking ....woh woh Meethi is not too well" averting her gaze from his..she tries to move, he raises his hand and shouts, "Stay where you are before you create further mess..I'll get hold of Joseph or someone."....and then he was gone suddenly....

Tara sighed held her hand on her chest...Phew!....sweaty hands......no man had ever held her the way he did....she touched her cheeks....what was happening to her....his touch affected her so badly..... she thinks thank goodness he seemed pretty cool to her...like as if nothing happened.....yeah but of course how could a woman affect him! Stupid of her to think it would!

Mrityunjay rushed out of the house for some fresh air....he barked at Joseph for not being around the house...."get into the kitchen." and then walked up to his shack....got hold of the reins of his mare and rode into the wilderness............stopped for breath....came down from the horse and sat .....the ride did not change a thing.....thoughts of her just did not vanish away.....she felt so right against him....when he slid his arm against her tiny midriff, her softness rested against his arm....her nails digging into his thigh....her body leaning against his...Damn!............he picked up a stone and flung it hard and far..... he had no right to feel this way......but he could not deny it anymore or run away from this stark reality...........Yes He was totally and physically attracted to Tara! She aroused in him feelings he never felt before...

But it was not just the attraction, he somehow felt something more...care? .....How could this possibly have happened. He had met so many women, beautiful, tall leggy ones,  before this bad phase..With his Father's name tag there was never a dearth for them, a couple of them openly showed their interest, but he respected women too much to indulge in frivolous relationships. A strong believer in Eternity with his woman or not at all.

Enough!...what eternity was he thinking of now...

He hated being judgemental...yet what was with this chit of a girl?  A loud, brazen spitfire of a child-like woman....the first to rub him the wrong way...yet he felt drawn to her.....the bloody joke was he was even married to her........he consoled himself...what was the big deal....he got attracted....it could be natural under the circumstances.....living in such close proximity....so what....okay fine...he would just stay clear of her as much as he could...a dying man had no right to feel anything. very soon he would be dead and gone and forgotten anyways!...He had no right to hope...he shut his eyes...forcing himself to think of the dark prison walls..his inmates, the cold floor he had slept on....this was reality.....he sighed...feeling a shooting pain inside of him...

Tomorrow was the court hearing....another wasted day....he did want to really go through this again and be disappointed....nothing made sense....all a waste of time...damn, he kicked the mud around him hard...looked at the empty vastness around him and lingered around waiting for his best friend - The Darkness to come....

That night he returned very late when the whole household had fallen asleep...ate dinner, popped a pill and went off to bed.

to be continued..


hugs

dd


Dec 4, 2013

Bonanza - Updates 14-20 (By Dd-Ipkknd Fan) (Thanked: 16 times)

Ok these days the episodes aren't headed in the right direction..


So here is a bonanza of chapters to keep you occupied.....


And yes wonderful wonderful comments...thank you all


Chapter 14

The following morning, Baba and Mrityunjay had left early. Meethi had informed her they were going to the court and Vasu had left for University.

Baba had told her to pray that they would get some positive news. Well she would just for Baba, but then why was she so anxious for him...hoping they would come home with some good news? It did not matter to her anyways.....

That morning Tara had a longer session of dance practise. She had danced  with vigour and passion.....wanting to unleash all that she had been feeling these past few days, the strange way his proximity was making her go weak in the knees,  her eyes seeking him out every day, wanting to look good for him knowing he would never admire her as a woman.  Wanting to get rid of such thoughts Tara punished herself with more strenuous moves and turns.

Tired and worn out....just as she was going up the stairs, Meethi came running to her holding the phone, "Tara.....Tara...its Vasu!"

Tara stopped in her tracks, "Vasu?...Kya hua.....stop crying Meethi!.....what happened?"

Meethi handed over the phone to Tara...someone from the University was on the other end..."This is Mrs. Agarwal...Head of Student Councillor, Vasu is hurt....we tried calling her mother and father both their mobiles are unreachable."

"What happened?"

"I can't explain over the phone, a boy was involved, we have administered first aid, please come immediately" said the woman at the other end.

Tara asked Meethi to call Jayraj, Mrityunjay. Their mobiles were all switched off. Aditya was out of town. Nirmala was said to have gone for some Reiki session and her mobile too was off.

Meethi continued to cry, "Tara kuchh  toh karo."

Tara called for the driver, ran up threw a shirt on her body con  dance gear and ran out of the house asking the driver take her straight to the university.

On the way she kept trying to reach her Sasuma.....to no avail, Baba...no one.......nobody seemed to be around when needed most....Gosh!

Leave it, she would handle the situation, it wouldn't be the first for her, she was well known in her galli to come to the rescue of someone or the other....

Tara  called back the Principal, asked to speak to Vasu, who was crying bitterly "Mama...please come Mama...I need you." refusing to take the call, they then held the phone to her ears, Tara spoke in her softest voice, "Vasu Pari....you hear me right! I am coming don't worry," Tara prayed fervently for nothing serious to be the matter. She reached the University and ran all the way to the Dean's office caring two hoots for the students around!

Panting for breath...she entered to see Vasu hurled on the floor, in a curled up position, against the door of a cupboard, looking away from everyone....crying bitterly.

The Principal filled Tara in on the incident privately. Vasu had liked a boy who she was pursuing for quite some time. The boy asked her do things she refused to, he persisted, forcing himself on her...she ran off from the empty classroom, when she tripped and fell off the stairs.  Tara thanked the Principal profusely and prayed to give her the strength and mind to handle the matter her way. She was informed the boy was with the security. Tara asked for the boy to be brought to where Vasu was in a while after she was done talking to Vasu.

Faheem Chacha stood there watching the child, feeling helpless....where was the girl's mother, where was Nirmala Begum? He was clueless to what really happened....but felt terrible seeing her in this state. And then he saw Tara come and tend to the girl.....

Tara approached Vasu and sat down on the floor beside her saying gently, "Pari....my angel...it's me....hey....I am here now....shall we go to the doctor's first....you can talk later...hmmm..what say." Vasu did not budge... she further cringed away from Tara.

Tara then took off her shirt and placed it on Vasu's exposed thighs, coaxing her gently again, "Baba will be very worried for you Pari come now you are a very responsible young girl. Take this"...and hands her a wet wipe continues gently, "And wipe your face, all your eyeliner is dripping...you look a sight....come on...girls should look pretty even when they cry."

Vasu turned slowly.... to look at Tara....with tears streaming down a face...gave her a weird look..."really"

Tara thanked God...she responded...so  nodded...."We girls are strong never let the guys know about your weakness. You want to know how, wait."

Tara rises and asks for the boy to be brought to them. The boy arrives, hands in the pocket with arrogance written all over his face and no regret over what he had done.

He scans Tara from top to down. Tara now all the more mad thinks this chip of some dirty old block needs to be taught a lesson. Why did she have to bring him here now thought Vasu. What was this Tara upto?

Yet Vasu turns a little to watch the drama unfold in front of her. Tara scared as hell but not showing it...she had to do this for Vasu.. goes to the boy touches his arm saying, "Wow you really are muscular, strong and a real man, I would love to see your muscles."

Faheem gives Tara a confused look. What was this young lady upto? That too in front of the students and Vasu?

Man the boy is all agitated, with a glorified smirk takes off his shirt displaying his bare chest... to all in the room.  There was pin drop silence....all waiting what next....The boy looks at the girls around and waits for Tara to admire him. And Tara does it with her eyes and continues to elate him, "Hai Hai...tuh toh bada pehelwan nikla re."

She then touches his belt, "Yaar teri belt bhi super hai, nikal toh zara?" The boy is ready to strip. as soon as he unhooks it and pulls it off she takes it from him. "Kya mein yeh rakh loon?" Teri yaad mein re.....abb tuh nikal hmmm...phir milenge....hmmm!"

He winks and smiles...and turns to leave when everyone hears the most stinging shot of a belt on the boy...who is shocked and falters in his footsteps.

"Tere jaise double pushti waale pehelwano ko theek kiya hai Tara ne, and whacks the belt with another blow." The boy winces in pain...."this woman is crazy, please help me someone."

Faheem Chacha claps and is laughing at Tara's tactics says to the boy, "Aurat ke haat se maar khana matlab tuh napunsak bangaya"

"This is from Vasu" and whacks again and another one "And this is from me....you haven't met her brother yet, your parents would have been doing your antim sanskaar by now. Chal nikal idhar se." The boy runs off filled with shame and pain!

Vasu amidst her tears could not believe her eyes to what she just saw....her wet eyes light up....... Tara was crazy!

Tara then informs the Principal they would be lodging an official complaint with the police. 

She comes back to see Vasu had stopped crying, "Chalo I'll help you let's get out of here." Vasu nods and Tara manages to get her out of there from the back entrance away from the students prying eyes...whilst she called Faheem to get the car into the grounds of the University.

 Tara and Faheem Chachan decide to go to the hospital in order to rule out any concussions and attend to her wounds. Once inside the hospital Tara uses the Shekhawat name to get the doctors to attend to Vasu at once.

Running up and down the hospital she got all the formalities completed and then insisted she would stay with Vasu all the time.

Faheem in the mean time tried to get in touch with Nirmala, Jayraj and Mrityunjay. No one was yet available.

After the necessary tests were done, the doctor rules out everything was okay. Minor bruises were taken care of and tells Tara, "She is hurt emotionally more than physically."

Tara agrees, "Yes doctor...thank you....I will keep that in mind....she is  in a delicate situation right now."

When they were on their way home, Baba's phone was reachable, Faheem gives Tara the phone to fill him up with the details. She assures him they were coming home and Vasu was fine.

Tara turned to Vasu and places a protective arm around her. The girl did not mind instead inched closer to Tara seeking solace, placing her head on Tara's chest.

Tara's eyes glistened with tears, a tightness in her chest...her heart went out to the teenager who was so lost right now feelings of guilt, disgust and rejection. Faheem watched the scene behind and wiped away his own smiling to himself.

to be continued/...

Chapter 15

They reach home to find the men anxiously waiting for them.  Tara had her arm around Vasu who was still covered with her shirt. Mrityunjay saw his little baby sister cling to Tara...ignoring their presence...and walk away from them.

Baba and Mrityunjay ask in unison, "Vasu, beta....tum theek ho?" Vasu simply nods.

Tara placed a finger on her lips asking the men not to ask any questions, and quietly takes Vasu to her bedroom and shuts the door on the face of MJ and Baba, requesting for some privacy.

Faheem Chacha fills the men up with all the details, the drama of whatever he saw and happened in front of him. Mrityunjay eyes widened with shock, she beat up that guy? Does she not think it could also land her in deep trouble?

Whilst here Tara helps Vasu get into something comfortable, pulls the blanket over her and opens the door for her Father and brother to come in. Tara rushes to her own bedroom and puts on another shirt conscious of her figure hugging gear and returns. Baba and Mrityunjay were at Vasu's side asking her how she felt, "I just want to sleep now" refusing to divulge anything.

"Where is Tara...why did she leave me?" Baba and Mrityunjay exchange glances. Baba says softly "She is coming and so is your mom....she will be here any minute."

Tara and Nirmala enter the room at the same time. Tara stands back at the foot of the bed. Mrityunjay gets up to let his mother be seated next to Vasu.

Nirmala, "What is this nonsense Vasu, how did this happen?"

Vasu does not reply, Nirmala continues, "Answer me Vasu, what happened?"

"Leave me alone Mama."

"Not until you tell me what happened?"

"Just go away please," whimpers Vasu.

Then looking at Mriyunjay she remarks, "This is a price we are paying for Mrityunjay's sins."

With a painful scream Vasu cries out, "Stop it!...my brother did not do anything..I hate you....go away from here" Mrityunjay rushes to her beside trying to calm her down, "Vasu its okay...shhhh." No response... "go away" still crying, "leave me alone all of you."

Tara and Baba looked stunned, yet worried. Tara hesitates but then comes to Vasu, "Pari it's fine...we will leave if you want us to....shhhhh.....stop crying." and then gets up to leave.

She pulls Tara's arm and says, "you stay...don't leave me."

Tara did not know what to say to the girl's family members. Nirmal walks out in a huff, hurt and angry. Baba pats Tara's shoulder, "Bahu, Vasu needs you, it's okay."

Mrityunjay kisses Vasu on the forehead, "Take care Choti" and walks out of there with his Father.

After Vasu was fed, medications given...Tara leaves her with Daijaan saying she would change, eat and promising her she would return soon. The girl was falling asleep.

Tara goes back into her room, showers and comes down for her meal....only to see Mrityunjay standing looking into oblivion...The night breeze swishing and swaying the palms of the trees....Tara walks upto where he stood, he turned when he saw her and said, "How is she?"

"Asleep now."

He look down, she continued softly, "She will be fine...don't worry." Silence.

"She adores you and loves you a lot."

He looked up, "Yeah I know and so do I...sadly though she is not my flesh and blood."

"What has bloodline got to do with love?....it's  an emotion that goes beyond blood, sense and sensibility..its purer than the blood running in your veins" what was she saying and to whom? She better shut up.  He stared at her in a strange way.

He heaved a sigh, and then looked up to her accusingly, "There is more to this whole thing than what Faheem Chacha has told us isn't it?'

She folded her arms against her chest and said, "Maybe there is maybe not...though I have not hidden anything as such.....whatever needs to be told I have told you and Baba."

"But it's not everything."

"It's nothing she is a little lost right now...it's a phase...just a teenager after all...also there will be things that will always remain between us, I would be betraying her trust if I spoke more than I should. "And honestly you being her brother and Baba her parent I would not be stupid to hide anything."

He smirked, "Oh so you are getting wiser hmm"

She frowned, damn the man...he looked so different when he smirked, but why did he have to rile her, "What do you mean?"

"Well you don't seem a day older than Vasu to me? The beating up of the guy, did you really have to resort to that?"

Proudly pat came the reply, "What?.....I am all of 21 for your information." He now knew how old she was..."Oh so the wisdom is getting there...hmmm."

She grumbles, "If you were to do that it's fine because you are a man, but because I whacked the guy it becomes questionable? That is just not fair. He deserved it, naani yaad aayegi usse...he would never behave with another girl again. I am not called the Bhai of Bhopal for nothing"

His eyes laughed, "Wait a minutes....what did you just say?" Bhai of BHopa?!" and he bursting out laughing...

She stared at the man....she sees him laugh for the first time a full throttle laugh..

Oh Gosh no....she and a big mouth...."Not now....I ...I used to be called...n....no...not anymore." she went about correcting herself.

Still smiling, "I see"

Just then Daijaan came to her saying, "Vasu is asking for you."

"I'm coming," and she walked away to turn back and see him still laughing...She smiles back.

This was really funny. God did play a funny prank on him. He was in for the murder & rape of a man and here he was married to a woman called the  'Bhai of Bhopal' Could life get weirder than this? For the first time he could laugh over the strange situation he was in...

Tara asks Daijaan to get her dinner in Vasu's room and says she would stay there for the night.

Vasu falls asleep and Tara too curls up in bed beside her. Vasu did not let go of Tara's hand all through the night.

Suddenly Tara hears the night lamp go on....tries to open her sleepy eyes to see Vasu get up and wanting to sit.

"Vasu what happened? Why aren't you sleeping? Rest now."

Vasu leans against the headboard and says, "Is it wrong to like a guy? Was it my fault I dressed like that?

A drowsy Tara got up realizing Vasu wanted to speak it out....she wanted answers to her questions...

Sleepy though she was after all that happened the previous day.......She pushed herself up and took Vasu's hand in hers and said, "No its not wrong to like a guy,  if you don't like guys I would think you are abnormal, but if HE sees you as an object it's not your fault at all."

Vasu pours out the whole incident, "I really liked him Tara, and thought he did too, that day I went to him hoping he would ask me to be his partner for the upcoming show."

Tara listened without interruption, rubbing her hand all the time, Vasu continued, "He said he would ask me provided I did something for him. He asked me take off my clothes."

She looked at Tara, "I objected...he said....if half of your body is exposed what is the harm to expose the rest."

"I called him names and told him to shut up....I wasn't going to do any such thing....he was mad....seeing we were alone...he began to tug at my clothes, ...I pushed him away realizing I was in trouble....but he came after me....I was really scared...I ran as fast as I could...and screamed when I saw some other students, who happened to be my senior....that is when I tripped and fell....I feel so dirty about myself....what was I thinking when I went to him. I am such a fool" ..and then hid her face in her hands sobbing softly..

Tara gently stroked her hair saying, "Vasu Pari now listen to me. Look at me....look here."

She wipes of those tears from her face, speaking in a firm tone, "This is the last time I will see you cry over an scumbag. That badmaash and lafanga...chuchundar..gadha.. ... is not worth it and has not been taught at home to respect women.

Also you are a very very brave girl to say no to him and run away from him. Not everyone has the guts to do that....so you should pat yourself on the back rather than feeling guilty."

Vasu interrupted, "Funny the person who then asked me to run and stood there to block Ratan was a guy too. How could one be bad and the other good?"

Third thing..."Ratan the scumbag saw you only as an object of desire, it's not in your dressing it is the way he perceived you..sadly some males only see women as objects....but not all are the same...see the boy who happened to be there to help you...he was so different...he helped you out right?"

"If your dressing was so wrong, then all the women who were attacked before this, should have been attacked because of the clothes they wore? No...it's not the case...you and I know that."

"And yes let's forget about this incident, no more crying....actually I would not have minded whacking him some more....even to the extent of pulling his pants down and belting him."

Vasu laughed, "What? you are crazy you know?"

Tara winked, "yeah maybe I am....feeling better" Vasu nodded, then yawning Tara says, "shall we sleep now, you need to rest...and I am dying to sleep."

Vasu agrees. She would talk to Vasu about her mother tomorrow. And they both fall asleep holding hands.

To be contd/....

Chapter 16

Next day morning , Mrityunjay enters to find a messy Tara in deep slumber...arms raised above her head.....A woken Vasu nudges her, "Get up." seeing her brother around. Tara kicks the cushion down and says in her sleep, 'Sone do Maa" "Tara Bhabhi" nudged Vasu. Tara,"Pehle namak waali chai lao Nandu" turns and sleeps again. Vasu nudges her harder, "Bhai is here!...get up." To him she looked....the messy hair, eyes shut, the full mouth slightly parted.. that weird yet a bit revealing night suit.....lazily  stretched out like a cat....an adorable morning look....She opens her eyes they fall on him......what was he doing here early morning.....damn this wasn't her room... he stares back.........she quickly pulls the blanket upto her chin, and says shyly, "Excuse us please." He walks away wishing it was his room and his bed...... She gets up hurriedly telling Vasu she would be back in a while, then rushes off to her room to freshen up.  She had cancelled her classes for a couple of days. The girl needed her.

She returns after a while to find Mrityunjay and Baba talking to Vasu.  She decides to walk away.  It was sad that her mother did not make any attempt to see her child.

She goes looking for Nirmala who was in her bedroom. She knocks asking for permission to come in.

"What do you want? Are you here to goad me now?"

"No....I just came to tell you that you have brought up the perfect daughter. Your Vasu is very very brave and strong."

"Yesterday she was shattered after what happened. All she wants is for you to tell her she is not at fault...and to ask her how she was feeling."

"She is actually waiting for you to come and see her."

Nirmala does not say a word, Tara leaves the room, when Nirmala says, "Thanks for being around."

"You are welcome"

Tara goes back to check on Vasu, Mrityunjay was still around.  He gets up seeing Tara in there. Greets her a good morning with a smile and she does the same....she notices his attire. The white kurta looked so good on him...She gulps hard....why did she start noticing what he wore now...He....leaves but not without hearing Vasu says, "Sorry Tara Bhabi I troubled you a lot." to which the spitfire replied, "Bhabhi? Kaun Bhabhi? Kiski Bhabhi...No bhabhi wabhi...please. Its Faltu, Tara Bachhu or Tara."

Vasu remarks, "Faltu?"

"Yeah Bunty, my younger brother calls me that...and you can too."

MJ stood outside the door and could not help but eavesdrop; she sure knew how to win people over.

He left letting the girls get on with their silly talks. She was no less a child, at least behaved like one most of the time.

He also remembered sometimes he would heard the faint melodious sounds of her practising her singing. The ragas...she was rarely loud and most of the times that she did go on with her singing sessions when he was out. She was sensible enough not to break the strict house rules by his mother.  The corners of his mouth broke into a tiny smile, smart girl.   

Nirmala did come in later to speak to Vasu and Tara stayed away. She let mother and daughter sort their issues out. There wasn't any need to talk to Vasu.

Tara heard a knock on her door. She had her ears plugged in, it was him standing there.

She spoke louder than required, "Yes!"

He enters and moves close to her, she jerks back, he reaches for the earplugs and pulled them off. His fingers brush her neck...oh how he wished he could trace her pulse there...

"I forgot to say this....thanks a lot for handling Vasu the way you did."

"You are welcome."

"I mean you did not have to go out of your way....the counselling bit....you really managed to charm her."

So he was praising her, a warm fuzzy feeling crept inside of her, he noticed her lowering her gaze.

"How did you know?"

"Oh don't worry Vasu too hasn't told on you. I just presumed. But next time as long as the Shekhawat name is attached to you, you won't take the law in your hands. Is that understood?

Hmmm so now he is back to giving orders thinks Tara.

"Yeah sure fine, I'll try, but I cannot promise for sure, it depends on the situation."

'You are one stubborn lady," and then turns to leave.

She whispers to herself, oh so he did think I was a female after all.

"What did you just say?" he turned back.

"Nothing," she shakes her head...eyes growing large.

He leaves knowing exactly what she said... ...she would never know....how she was affecting him....there was nothing  boyish about her, she was all woman to him....albeit crazy yes....but her femininity  was as brazen as she was. That raw quality he had rarely come across... He had noticed her simple bright green viscose kurti...making her look like a young girl...nor could he get out of his mind the figure she posed yesterday with that body hugging outfit that she had on. It had enhanced every curve of her. He had noticed her discomfort when his eyes fell upon her...

There was a lightness in his step as he sauntered down...a faint smile touching his lips...

 "Mrityunjay!" he heard his father say, "watch it" he had bumped hard against his father.

"Oh! Baba!...so sorry. I...I was just going out" taking backward steps...and rushes out of the house.

With a narrowed gaze and a smile Baba continued to watch his son behave so differently...was it Tara who brought that smile to his face or was it the appeal being accepted. Maybe both.

Mrityunjay rode the mare and went about his daily business. Nothing had changed in his life he thought...but why were his thoughts muddled with visions of her...his mellowing towards her...accepting her childish ways of doing things.....it did not irk him anymore....was it wrong to feel a bit of that joy....for a few days? The appeal did not mean a thing.....apart from the court restudying the case.....he would not dwell on it....but what if!

Jayraj fills up Tara with details of the appeal, happy as ever, "Tara Bahu can you believe it, the appeal has been accepted. We have been trying for months. It has come through now....they will be studying the case again."

Tara listened and she was happy for Baba and him but her heart sank....this would mean so many things.....she would rather not ponder on any right now....

He remained at the stable that night....sketched for some time.....and was looking forward to the sunrise after so long....

He had got up just before dawn, strode outside and perched himself on the tree house....and watched the glow of the sun kiss the sky....his artistic eye caught the grey at first, then silver, then pink to a deep crimson...the golden rays touching the green foliage around him....he breathed in deeply letting the air fill his lungs......a new morning....darkness was always followed by light...this was the will of Nature ........but how many mornings did he have left?  

Contd/....

Chapter 17 Mrityunjay rode Marya at dawn, then attended to her needs and was walking towards the house when he spotted her in her extended warrior pose....a hand touching her foot and the other upright in the air...she saw him.....she quickly straightened up and saw her wave out to him.....

Bu then why was he walking towards her? he asked himself....

Tara asked herself the same question, a loosely fitted shirt sat on his broad shoulders....the early morning sun casting a golden glow on his brown curls...the stubble....she gulped...then quickly pulled the shirt around her slim waist...and smiled...."Good Morning, you up so early today."

He approached her and replied, "Yes stayed at the stable last night...and you?...okay yes the warm ups before the dance sessions."

And then he sat on the parapet, "How is Vasu?"

Tara wanted to continue with her yoga routine, thinks does he not get it, I need my privacy?.but then she had waved, well it was just to say hello....but she instead found her feet walk towards where he sat, she plonked herself too, saying, "She is doing fine...she has a test....at first she did not want to attend." She looked at her hands, and then looked up and continued, "She has agreed now as I promised I would accompany her to University. The Paper is today afternoon."

Strange he could talk to her so easily after all their fights and arguments, "Is the Driver taking you both?"

"Yes of course"

"I will come along."

Now why does he have to come with us.... "You? But why?"

She folds her arms and pouts her lips, "I can handle it."

"I know you can, but just in case there is trouble for some reason...I will stay in the car....and wait outside the University , until you both finish."

She sighed, such a bully, thinks I can't handle things, but he did have a point, what if? After all it was his sister.

'Fine....now acting cheeky she goes on, "Can you please leave now..I still need to continue with my routine.

He gets up, "What time do we leave?" She lets him know whilst taking a whiff of his sweaty self.

He walks away, kicking a stone here and there. Turns and sees her supply body take on another pose, and telling himself, he was going along to safeguard Vasu...nothing more.

Tara and Vasu were all ready, when Tara asked Joseph where was he?...

Joseph replied in the negative that he had no idea. Tara then told Vasu she would go and check as they would get late for no reason, though they were had enough time to reach Uni.

Reaching their bedroom she knocks, not a sound...pushes the door open only to find him soundly sleeping almost snoring.

What? The guy is sleeping! Did he just forget?  Well they could just leave, but then he would find an excuse to blame her for nothing...so decides let me wake him up, Oh gosh she now had to call out to him. She calls out, he does not answer,  she paces the room, then goes to him and shakes him touching his arm, calling out his name, "Mrityunjay utho, Mrityunjay get up."

He opens his eyes to see a faint vision of her standing right over him. He wakes up all of sudden, "Oh gosh, so sorry, will be ready in a second."  Gets out of bed and says, ""Can you pull out something for me to wear?"

A shocked Tara, "Me!"

"yes you...please aren't we getting late?"

Why did he order her around like as if she was his wife?  She frowned. What the hell, he was treating her like his paid nurse now.

He did not bother seeing her uneasiness and dashed into the bathroom under the shower.

After giving a lot of thought she pulled out a kurta set and placed it on the bed, just when he walked out only wearing a towel around his taut waist. She looked up to see a hairy broad chest...those rippling muscles...she gulped hard, lowering her gaze....yet she stole a glance at his bare calves....she better get out of here.

"'I'll be down," and rushed out of the room feeling her body all warm and fuzzy. The man was shameless, oh but of course he would probably be more ashamed in front of a man than a woman of course! She rolled her eyes...Halleluia!

A faint smile played on his lips, she did feel shy of him. Whilst getting dressed he thought , he did not mean to take advantage of her, but it just came naturally, asking her do things for him, like as if he had some authority over her. He sighed, but he did legally...yet...he could not afford to get used to such things in his life! But why was she dressed like a college girl, jeans and a floral shirt?

They drove to the University with Tara taking the front seat and Vasu sitting at the back with her books spread out revising. She kept asking Mrityunjay for doubts and he answers them.

She hardly said a word to him, busy looking outside checking out the hustle and bustle of the city. Suddenly Vasu asked, "Tara Bhabhi you will come inside with me right?"

Mrityunjay and she exchanges glances. She turned and spoke to Vasu, "Yes Pari I will. Don't worry, I will be right there, whilst you give you exam, I shall sit in the Principal's office, or maybe go to the canteen!"

At once he said, "NO! You are not going to the canteen, you stay put in the Principal's office, did you hear me." First and foremost she was dressed like that and then wants to wander around! Foolish woman!

Who was he to order her around? But quietly relents and nods her head.

Tara and Vasu get off the car and enter the University. Mrityunjay gets off and stands outside, making sure there was no trouble when they entered. He watched them go and saw them stop when a group of students stopped Vasu. High fives were exchanged and the girls hugged Vasu. She was welcomed back...he smiled....thank goodness....The boys too came forward....and he could see they were all agitated and talking and laughing. Tara too took part and laughed and smiled and then she shook hands with a guy. Now this irked him. He locked the car and entered the University,   quickly striding to where they were....Tara turned to see him amongst them. Vasu, "Bhai!..meet my friends."

"This is my brother."

The same guy who shook hands with Tara extending his hand saying, "Hello Sir, nice to meet you and your wife.”

He shook hands, "Same here young man."

"Vasu aren't you getting late for the paper?"

"No Bhai ....another half hour to go!"

The boy and another girl spoke up, "Are Vasu all the best haan, and yes we have something really exciting to tell you both. We have decided on a campaign for our University. I mean your Bhabhi inspired us to do so."

Tara now enthusiastic about it asked, "Really, what is it?"

"Ma'am we have decided to start a campaign in the Uni about educating girls and boys on how to behave and treat women, in and outside of University. How girls must fight back and for guys too on how to protect the girls and females around them. Vasu we will talk about it soon. So much to tell you."

"When do you plan to come back to Uni, we miss you yaar."

Vasu looked at Tara, "Soon in the next few days."

The girl hugged Vasu and  then they left Mrityunjay standing there seeing Tara so part of the youth around her. At that moment someone's heart swelled with pride.

And then he heard one of them say, "Vasu why is your brother so grumpy, doesn't he smile."

Pat came Tara's reply, "Oh you see he has fake teeth, if he smiles they may all fall off."

Vasu too laughed, "Bhabhi...that's my bhai you are talking about."

They all laughed at the joke on him. She turned to see if he had overheard and saw that he did, the laughter vanished from her face. She turned back and walked faster into the University. He sure is going to kill her for that remark!

Chapter 18

Whilst he sat and waited, he thought of the perfect way to punish her for that remark, but he just could not.  He banged his fists in frustration on the dashboard and steering wheel. She kept arousing such thoughts in him. He would find a way though of making sure she paid for that joke on him!

Paper done, they return to the car, and there goes Vasu, 'Bhai I am hungry and so is Tara, can we stop to eat some ice-cream?...please Bhai"

Theek hai, he consents.

Vasu, "Tara have you tasted Baskin Robbins ice-cream"

"Nahi...woh kya hai, are ****o, BHopal mein agar malai kulfi nahi khayi toh kya kiya."

"I will take you to the best place in Bhopal for malai kulfi."

"Bhai...please naah...let's go where Tara says, I want to taste. Mama never allows me to eat and enjoy like my friends do. They too talk about it."

He agrees, and starts taking directions from Tara.

They reach a small nukkad of a busy market place. And there stood a ice-cream cart "No. 1 Malai Kulfi Centre."

Mrityunjay parks the car, the girls excited as ever get down and they buy three sticks of Malai Kulfi and return. She offers him one. He declines. Vasu has one and was enjoying the flavour and sheer joys of sucking into the milky cold stick.

"Tara this is awesome, thank goodness Mama is not here. What fun naah."

He watches Tara like a child...who would say she was married! "Hold them please," and coolly hands them over to him.

She sits and then takes just one. "Have it, it's really good."

He returns it back to her. "No thanks, I don't want it."

"Eat it, you are not going to die eating it, for heaven's sake." and then realizes what she just said.

He gives her a hard stare. "I'm sorry I did not mean to...I mean," and takes the stick from him.

"It does not matter anymore....I just don't like kulfis."

"So I have to end up eating both now!"

Vasu informs, “Tara, you know Bhai loves chocolate cakes....all kinds of cakes actually.” Tara steals a glance at him. He doesn’t look like he would loves cakes...maybe bitter chocolate!

And goes on to hold one in each hand and licks both right in front of him. She was clueless to what the act did to him... Trying her best to finish both, sucking onto them, making weird slurping sounds, whilst the melted cream trickled down her mouth and her hands, licking of her lips with her tongue....Had it not been for Vasu's presence he would have thrown caution to the winds and wiped off the cream off her lips...and who knows what more.......

He was losing concentration, he better driver properly... looked straight ahead of him..and then he braked.

"Bhai! what happened?"

"What are you doing?"

"Nothing, sorry!" And then moves the car to one of a street and parks. "Please finish, clean up and then we leave."

"Will you just wipe off your face, you look like a clown," he barked all of a sudden! She looked at the half eaten sticks of ice cream, one in each hand..and saw him turn his face away and rub his forehead.

"Huh!" Fine...she was upset....holding the half-consumed  sticks in one hand, she pulled the window down, opened the door , got down and threw the sticks in the street  bin close by.

When she was gone, Vasu slowly asked, "Bhai why do you fight with her always?....can't you be nice to her? "

How could he explain to his little sister why he had to be rude, "Sorry Fatso!"

He gets off the car, and gets a bottle of water to give it to her to wash her sticky hands and his kerchief to clean up. She takes it from him rubbing off everything from her mouth leaving even lipstick marks. She seemed miffed. Who cares if  he was disgusted by lipstick smears!

They reach home and just when she walked towards her room, "Wait a second Tara! I want to speak to you, can you come to my room?"

She walked, and he after her. "What is it now?"

He folded his arms and said, "Next time don't make a joke about me."

Tara thinks oh gosh no....he heard it...I've had it now.

She won't show him she was scared of him now. "So! what do you want me to tell them you don't smile because you have a noose around your neck?'

"But you could have just ignored their question and just not answered!"

Oh boy she did reel him. She better be careful next time. "Fine, now what? So do I get punished?"

Looking at the defiance in her eyes and yet being vulnerable to the situation, he let go of his crazy thoughts....it was becoming hard to think rationally. And then she was too damn naive....

'It's okay you can go, but don't you ever do that again?"

He shut the door after her and leaned against it, how could he tell her he did not care about the joke, but instead it was her being so much at ease with the young boys there. He had seen how the boys were really flattered to be around her.  This irked him.. ...since when did jealousy creep in?

He ran his hands through his hair.....confused with himself, irritated, why was everything about her affecting him? What she did, who she spoke to, where she went. What right did he have?  And then this sudden urge to....to be around her. For God's sake she lived in the same house. Yet! he asked himself...he shut his eyes and she was right in front of him, he opened them and they searched for her.  He pulled off his kurta and flung it on the bed. How was he supposed to get rid of these feelings? Damn!

 

Chapter 19

The next few days fell into a routine for both. Vasu returned back to college and sat for the rest of the exams. Usually he would see her at the breakfast table,  he would serve him and make small talk. With someone or the other at the table, he would rarely find her alone.

One morning strangely all apart from Aditya were seated at the table. He found it strange to see his mother around. She was courteous as usual.

Baba, ‘Sit Tara, have breakfast with us.”

Tara took the seat beside Baba and opposite Mrityunjay. Vasu came down the stairs all set to go to college when she sat and announced, “Guess what, remember Tara the other day my friends spoke to us about, well its happening.”

Baba, “What’s that Vasu beta?”

“Well a student initiated campaign is being started. This campaign would cover defence lessons for girls, counselling for students who face attacks even at home or outside university and even lectures for guys on Chivalry and How to treat women. And guess what,” her eyes lit up....what asked her Mother, “We decided to call it the Tara campaign.”

Tara was shocked, “Kya...nahi Vasu no.....please...no...I am not even a student there and it's not about me.”

Vasu was sad, but she went on, “Actually Tara I gave the same reasons for knocking off my name too, so suggested yours....but now you too?”

Tara continued, “But we can think of something else.”

Just then Mrityunjay spoke up, “I have a suggestion.”

All eyes were on him, “Bolo Mrityunjay.”

He looked at Vasu and said, “You can call it Mission Pari." And his eyes moved and dwelled on Tara whilst uttering, "Every girl is an Angel.” She stared at him with a weird surprise look, he had used the pet name she had given to Vasu. And this was known only to Vasu, Him and Her.

“Oh Bhai that is perfect,” Tara too was delighted. “Perfect Name for a Perfect Mission.”

She looked at him again, but he was intent on eating his breakfast and looking at Vasu.  Nirmala then spoke, “Vasu that is really cool and also I can volunteer to make a flyers along with my friends...Hmm.”

“Oh no Mom, that is fine, the Art students are taking care of that....but we might need some help with the counselling. Aunty Asha could assist." Nirmala agreed.

MJay again spoke up, “Vasu I can talk to someone about the defence courses for the girls. In fact you will get the best. What say Baba?”

She looked around her and felt an outsider for the first time.  Together they are looked like one big happy family. Just she was the odd one out. She rose from the table, when Vasu too got up and came to her side saying, “This is all happened because of you. Tara Faltu you are the best,” and hugged her from behind.

Baba exclaimed, “Vasu!

Tara explained, “Baba bas mazak hai hum dono ke becch mein.”

Whilst Vasu dashed off, Mjay told her, “Would like to see your mission statement, its important.”

“Sure Bhai," then hugging both her parents left.

Tara couldn't take her eyes off him, he was a man of surprises. Baba noticed the admiration in her eyes...was he reading too much. So it was both ways and he hadn't done anything yet. God has his Ways. He gave out a sigh of relief and left for the day.

Vasu, thought to herself whilst banging her fist over her books, "Something is cooking up, Bhai likes Tara I think. He was looking at her half the time whilst talking to me!"

After a while they both were leaving  the house together, when she fell into step with him. Outside in the lawns she continued walking along, then said, "That was nice of you to support Vasu's cause."

"yeah wish I could do more than just that. Especially talking to the boys and training them,"

"So why not?"

Don't know what came over him that he opened up to her, "How could I Tara, if the kids or their families got to know what I have been accused of, I would be thrown out of there Doesn't matter to me, but Vasu."

There was a tinge of sadness in his voice. She felt for him. "I have a suggestion."

He turned to look at her, the sunlight letting a soft glow on her skin..."What!"

"If you can't go to them, let them come here. Why don't' you let Vasu chose a couple of guys who could come over the weekend and you could train them at your stable?"

The girl was determined to get him involved, "It would be worst still, would they trust me Tara is the question?...you are too naive to understand."

She suddenly stopped walking, he did too. She turned to him and asked, "Did you commit the crime Mrityunjay?"

Did she just call him by his name, his heart skipped a beat, he replied, "Does my answer matter at all?"...and then moved closer to her and looking right into her big brown eyes he asked, "What do you think Tara?"

Her eyes shining bright...and without hesitation even for a second she replied, "A crime is a crime, does not matter who the victim is......if I had believed you had done it, I would not have spent 10 days in confinement with you Mrityunjay."

And then continues, "But I ask myself this question...how did I come to trust you so easily...I have no answer to that."

She then stepped back, bent down to pluck a flower from the flower bed and pinned it into her hair, smiled and walked away.

Surprised by her answer...all he did was stare at her........a woman with a flower in her head...giving him his answer...she had placed her trust in him completely.

Tara walked back to the gazebo thinking, she had spoken the truth...she had never felt uneasy living in that room with him.....but what made her tell him that...he was never going to think the better of her...she was here for the money  according to him.....she sighed...and then his preferences were so different.   Why would he take a second look at her? She was but a nuisance to him and he made sure he kept her under his control, nothing more than that. She would insist for the divorce papers from Baba tonight. Every time she did, he would come up with an excuse. She needed to be firm.

A tear trickled down her cheek, she wiped it away and saw her instructor waiting.

Tara was clueless though that she had just made it harder for the man to deny her. He walked to the stable....and whispered to Marya, "What do I do Marya with her?  Why did this happen to me? Why did Baba have to bring her into my life Marya? When I can't....every time I say to myself I will stay away...it gets worse....instead..... I want to feel her crazy presence.... He hit his head against the pole..... Marya grunts, kicks the hay around her....he looks at the mare....and then he laughed aloud, "The silly woman thinks I am not straight, she thinks I like men....and I can't tell her otherwise....for her own good...she is better off without me! Gosh!"

The mare understood her master's misery and torment....she neighed...she was the only one he spoke his heart out to, when he was happy or at his worst moments....

He came closer to Marya and whispered, "What I feel for her, Is this Love?....why now? why at this stage in my life?" feeling the tightness in his chest...he lay his head on the mare, "Oh Marya...."why is life so cruel?"

And the days went by....Tara managed to get Baba to give her the divorce papers. She signed them off and wrote another clause that as his wife she would not file for any alimony, and rejected all claims of inheritance in the event of death or otherwise.  She had shunned all monetary claims with the Shekhawats.

To be continued/....

Chapter 20

Another afternoon when they were all sitting after lunch and Tara was busy playing the dhol in front of Baba, the door bell rang....when her mother barged in shouting, "Tara! Tara!....

Tara surprised, "Maa..kya hua...Nandu theek  hai naah?"

Ardhana looked at her daughter angrily, with tears in her eyes, "Chall abhi ke abhi apna bori bistara band le...aur idhar se nikal....tuh dhol lekar baithi hai jab humara band baj gaya hai. AKal hai ki nahi?"

Jayraj got up saying, "Samdhanji kya hua....aap yahan!"

She pulled at Tara's hand, almost dragging her away, turning to Jyaraj and said, "Thakurji  sabse pehle mein apni beti se baat kar rahi hunn. Doosri baat, joh insaan mujhe shaadi ke mandap se door rakh kar meri beti ko uske mujrim bete se shaadi karwa leta hai, mein usse kya baat karunn......aur apne paison ke bal se meri beti ko yahan phansa kar rakh leta hai?...Aap achi tarha se jaante te the Thakurji, ki mein iss shaadi ke liye kabhi haa nahi karti.”

Tara tries to pull her Mother's hand off her arm, "Maa baat toh suno.Mein kahi nahi jaa rahi hunn"

Furious than ever, she raised her hand to land on Tara’s cheek in a stinging slap...Tara went pale... tears rolling down her cheeks....Aradhna said, "Chup....ek dum chup...sab kuch jaante hua tuh ne itna bada kadma liya? Kya teri maa mar gayi thee tumhare liye? bas abb...seedhe ghar chal abb..."

Mrityunjay gets up, she raises her hand and tells him, "Hume aap se koi baat nahi karni hai"

"Haan aur ek baat, mein Tara ko yahan se lekar jaa rahi hun...aur Bunty bhi wapas aa sakta hai...hume unn paison yaa aaram ki zindagi nahi chahiye jisme meri beti ki bali chadi ho." (Iam taking her away, I don’t wany any of this luxury which is burdened by my daughter’s sacrifice)

Mrityunjay realizes that her mother never knew of the circumstances all along....Baba should not have hidden it from her Mother.

He saw his son's accusing eyes on him. Baba put his head down in shame, yes he had hoodwinked her family and ensured Tara was alone in her decision about the marriage, afraid that her mother would never have allowed it to happen then.

Tara was being yanked by her mother, and they all stood helplessly and watched. Mrityunjay could do nothing. He saw her slipping away...

Tears running down her face...she kept tugging at her mother, "Maa....suno....please re maa."

Mother and daughter had both reached the outside of the house, when Tara managed to let go of her arm.

Mrityunjay watched Tara and her mother argue...amidst tears and frustration. She had managed to make her mother sit on the bench....holding her mother's hand Tara revealed everything to her mother, "Maa we got married in the prison, at that time I thought he was behind bars due to some business deal, I got to know at home and was leaving when Baba explained that he was wrongly accused in this murder & rape case and it's a Man."

Her Mother more shocked than ever with this revelation exclaimed, "Kya Tara...tuhh pagal toh nahi ho gayi hai...idhar rehkar?...."

She touched her mother's hand gently and said, "Maa....I believe he is innocent, we live in separate rooms, if that makes you feel better....and he has been a perfect gentleman with me...also you know I did this solely for Bunty I could not crush his dreams. Maa think about it, if Bunty has a good education it will solve our problems forever."

"But Tara...a criminal?...I mean what will people say?"

"Maa re tuh bhi naah, is society coming to our rescue when in trouble?....Baba had kept up to his promise and he cares for me like his own daughter....I am completely safe here...and yes I won't hide from you anything....we both decided to go through a divorce once this case is over....which might be soon....so you see this is temporary."

"Tara I don't understand what you say...nothing makes sense."

"See Maa...trust me...will you...if I was being harassed do you think your Tara would have continued to stay here?..she wound her arms her mother, "You think I would spare anyone? I am being taken care of and so is our family....also forget about the society...we can even leave town and settle  elsewhere when this is all over.. ....the world is such a big place....surely we can find a small little haven for us?...Haa Maa...and yes I have to tell you this...I have started to learn dance and singing again...It was my Daddy's dream....and I will fulfil it someday. Baba is paying for my training."

"What? You are really crazy." Aradhna was shocked to see her little girl take so many decisions in her life on her own.

"Well Maa I thought why not make the most of the situation, there was no point in crying over a situation I got myself into. Maa I love you and won’t hide anything from you I promise.”

She lay her head on her mother's shoulder and felt good and relieved at last for sharing her woes. It made her feel so protected.....she knew if nothing worked her family her pillars of strength would always be around her.

Her mother cried and held her dear child. She was like a man for her. When did this little girl of hers grow up?  Despite being married she wasn't living as a married woman. What could be worse than that?  How could God not bless her with happiness and find her love that she deserved. She sighed....she had some fighting to do with God when she returns home.

For now she would speak to Thakurji. She told Tara she had to speak to him.

Mrityunjay watched both Mother and daughter enter the house again. Her mother looked at him and said, "I want to speak to your Father and you too."

Thakurji came forward and directed Tara's mother to the study room.

She first spoke to Thakurji. "Tara ne mujhe sab kucch bataya hai. Mein meri beti ko tumhare hawale aur tumhare bharose par **** rahi hunn. Tara tumhari zimedaari hai."

And then she looked at Mrityunjay and said, "Tara meri beti hi nahi Mera Beta bhi hai woh. Mera kandha hai woh. Tumhare beech kaisa bhi rishta ho....lekin jab tak woh tumhari patni kehlayegi woh tumhari izaat hai. Uske upar koi annch nahi aani chhahiye."

"Agar usse kuch bhi hua...toh mujhse bura koi nahi hoga."

"Ji Maaji...mein waada karta hunn." He then came forward and touched her feet. She blessed him....and thanked Thakurji and left.

Tara then went and spoke to Baba apologizing for her Mother’s behaviour. But Baba instead told her that her Mother had every right to be angry.  They had after all hidden such an important matter from her.

Mrityunjay noticed the bruised cheek from the slap. He went up to her saying, “I am sorry, did not know that your family was not aware of my case.”

Her eyes still wet with tears, not looking at him said, “It’s not your fault, I chose to do so...or she would never have allowed this to happen...excuse me,” and walked away.

She stayed in her room all day. He felt miserable.

To be contd/.




Dec 9, 2013

Updates 21-23 (By Dd-Ipkknd Fan) (Thanked: 14 times)

Chapter 21

Tara was in her room practising her singing when her phone rang. It was Vasu. She screamed from the other end, "Tara I passed, those tests and with awesome results, coming home now."

The girl reached home and right away went upto Tara. She hugged her hard and said, "Chalo let’s celebrate, I will take you where ever you want to go."

Tara was excited and glad so said, "Listen Vasu, what say we celebrate with some masti of our own at home? And we get Meethi too. Just the three of us....and yes you can take your friends out. What say?

Vasu folded her arms, narrowed her eyes and asked, "Tara what is cooking up in that head of yours?"

Tara filled her in with all the details. And the three women decided to have some plain crazy fun the next day. Vasu and Meethi were both excited. No one would be at home and Bhai goes to the stable. Vasu spoke, "We can order for some pizza and ice creams too, what say?" All agreed.

Tara called her mum and asked her to send Bunty's shirt, jeans and some other stuff. Aditya's clothes were stealthily stolen for a day for Meethi.

Next day as soon as everyone was gone from the house, Meethi and Vasu came to Tara's room. They dressed for a session of fun, song and dance. Meethi  put on Aditya clothes and Tara put on boots borrowed from Vasu, tucked in the almost transparent white shirt into Bunty's fitting jeans..... And Vasu put on one of Tara's saris.......

They all looked at each and laughed. Vasu looking pretty in the sari, whilst Tara and Meethi looked ridiculous yet cute in their male ensemble, moustache and all.

Vasu remarked, "Tara you are looking like a real hot guy, and then turned to Meethi, "Bhabhi if Aditya bhai had to see you like this...he sure would go mad!"

"Life mein kuch masti aur alag nahi kiya toh kya kiya? Hmm.." said Tara with hands on her hips.

And so began their day of fun ...amidst roars of laughter Tara began to imitate Mrityunjay, Tayaji, Aditya, Baba, Fahim Chacha and even Joseph was not spared. The girls fell off their chairs just laughing....watching Tara and her amazing antics!

Joseph knocked on the door and informed the pizza delivery was here. They took the pizza from him and shooed him away. He looked at the closed door and the sounds of laughter never heard before in this house. The women were really having fun. And then suddenly he heard loud gyrating music coming from the room.....good no one was around....or else Nirmala Madam or Kuwar Sahab would have blasted him....he then himself smiled and  broke into a dance routine...the music was so tempting....and then straightened up to see if anyone was looking. Phew no one!

After a while Tara said, she and Meethi would be the guys who are supposed to woe Vasu the girl....she the road-side romeo and Meethi the decent guy. So Tara opened up her shirt a bit and tied a scarf around her neck typical mawali style....gosh her shirt was transparent....revealing her lacy pink innerwear....never mind they were just the three of them here. Who cares....

She was on top of the coffee table dancing away to glory........  and pulling on an act....singing to the bollywood number...whilst outside the door stood Joseph with the ice cream bag in hand, knocking.....

Mrityunjay entered the house and heard the sounds of a raunchy movie song being played out loud...he ran up the stairs to see and found Joseph standing outside the door waiting for someone to open it.

Joseph, "Sir they can't hear me I think."

Mrityunjay fuming, "Kabse?"

"ten minutes sir...ice cream." lowering his head...

"Ok give it to me and go"

Mrityunjay knocked once, no response, he knocked twice - no response, he knocked thrice....still no response....how could she?..... he pushed open the door to see that she was shaking her booty to the song... with her back to him, Vasu and Meethi also were in a world of their own.....when suddenly Meethi stopped in her act of dance...shocked to see Mritunjay standing there.....she nudged Vasu...Vasu saw her brother and said softly, "Oh my Gosh Bhai!"....he looked angry.....she stood standstill...but Tara oblivious to his presence continued, with the scarf dangling in her hand......he shouted "Stop it!" Tara turned and was about to trip and fall off the table when Mrityunjay lunged forward and held her in his arms.

Vasu and Meethi looked at the scene and ran out of there for their life.....leaving Tara to handle her husband.

The room was a total mess, ice cream all on the floor, whilst Tara lay cradled in his arms and her one arm wound round his neck........ She looked into a pair of dark angry eyes, but still mustered enough courage to say, "Why are you here? Put me down...damn you." He looked into those cheeky large brown eyes and dropped her off on the floor. She got up dusted her hands and was about to say something, when he blasted her, "What the hell is going on Tara? Don't you have any sense at all? Behaving like a kid...and then pulling Vasu and Meethi  too into your stupid and foolish antics? Have you thought for a second that you are a married woman?"

She listened to his crazy barrage....but the word married just got to her....she looked up angrily...fuming she accused him sarcastically and with sadness, "Married?" She went closer to him and demanded, "Oh really! Married!...Just explain to me how married am I now Mrityunjay Singh Shekhawat? YOU! of all the people tell me that?" He knew what she meant... he realized he might be too harsh....he saw the raging anger in her eyes...she raised her hand and continued, "Let me finish and don't say a word?".."Do you need sense to have some fun?....do you even know why we were having a good time? Meethi lives like a robot in this house, Vasu is only given orders...when was the last time they had a little bit of fun? Tell Me? This was to celebrate Vasu passing in her tests despite what happened in her life....How wrong is that?" she yelled at him...

He looked at the woman standing there dressed as a man, wearing an almost unbuttoned shirt that revealed the very lacy pink bra underneath it.....his eyes turned dark..he gulped.....then saw the jeans and boots and that moustache that she had not bothered taking off whilst talking...She looked funny yet ****y and adorable......

Suddenly she pulled off the moustache in one go.... winces in pain.........He spoke, "Tara I did not mean...just that Joseph..." she did not let him complete...instead pounced saying, "Joseph!....hahaha...I bet he would have danced to the beats of the music...gosh they all look like they are in a very sophisticated prison in this house...Look at them....have you seen Joseph or Daijaan smile?"

She goes on,"Strangely no one is really living in this house. All move around like zombies and you most of all."

He came up to her and barked back, "ME! What do you want me to do? Celebrate my looming death?"

Tara now angrier than ever for everything, “Death...death...death... what do you think are you the only one who is going to die Mrityunjay? There are thousands in this world who will die this minute. You have a tomorrow and many more days probably...hell I could die before you...who knows.....so for heaven's sake stop giving that excuse."

She continued, "None of us know what's going to happen next..where life will take us?" looked right through him and said, "Why don't you just laugh, love and live each day like it's your last" she was tired of fighting....her voice cracked, "Just Live Mrityunjay  Live... whilst you are Alive!" and then moved away from him....breathing heavily still. The atmosphere was tense....

She went about picking stuff around the room....He stood there shaken by her words, "Sorry I..."

Her temper had not cooled off.....irritated, frustrated she lashed out, "Wait a minute....wait a minute......you know what.....I should be the one to say Sorry...Sorry for having some fun" then pointing out to the mess, "for .....for ruining this room, for making such a ruckus in your house, sorry for...for ending up being your wife, sorry for being the way I am...a jungli.... sorry for saying things to you...Sorry for everything...... Happy now?  So just go."

He  walked towards her, "Tara...please."

She turned her back to him...."Just leave..."

 He walked out of the room.....she slumped on the bed....and let her tears flow....

He walked into his dark room and slumped on the settee holding his head between his hands...........why did they always have to end up like this.....hurting each other.....

To be contd/....

Chapter 22

They had hardly spoken to each other after that...and if at all...it would always be in the presence of Baba. Whenever he tried to say something she would simply ignore him and walk away.

A week later at night, he was in his room reading at almost two am when he heard it, a loud cry "Buntyyyyy", he opened his door, and then heard more wailing....realized its Tara, he dashed to her room, frantically knocking, he could hear her cries, "Tara open up!, all he could hear were sobs...he banged harder, "Tara! dammit open the door! Now!....please Tara....open the damn door!

She opened howling and crying aloud like a baby...."What happened Tara....Bunty?...what happened?"

He shook her arm, "Say something Tara!...first stop the crying. I am here now. Tell me"

She realized he was there to help, between her crying she spoke, "He had an accident, I....I got a call."

"From whom?"

"Don't know...maybe from his University,"still sobbing..

"Where is your phone?"

She searched for it hurriedly then picking it up from the chair, she handed it over to him.

Mrityunjay looked at her ashen face....she was shattered with the news, but first he had to find out, he redialled the last caller.....the phone rang, "Hi this is Mrityunjay, Bunty's brother-in-law."

The person at the end hardly spoke a few words, when the phone got cut midway. Tara quickly explained, "No credit I think."

He looked at the foolish girl standing there, who was supposed to be Jayraj's Bahu and had no credit in her damn phone when needed most! He wanted to scream at her, but seeing her state, just shook his head...and simply dialled the number from his phone.

And then he commandingly asked, "What's your name and who are you."

The student explained he had a bad accident and was rushed to the hospital. He gather all the information...he could hear Tara now crying louder than ever knowing it all.

He wanted to gather her in his arms.....not yet... first he had to find out more.

He then called Vijay his closest friends, "Hi Vij, Mrityunjay here... Listen up, quick, put your pants on, I need a big favour. Bash me later with all your questions, but first do as I say, this is the hospital, patient's name is Bunty...Tara spoke "Rohit Sharma" Mrityunjay said to Vijay, “Vij no it’s Rohit Sharma....has been taken into emergency and call me from there...these kids I have been talking to aren't able to tell much."

The man as the other end, "Gosh Mrit! Bloody hell you get married you don’t bother telling me about it when the whole idea is mine, Baba lets me know, who is this kiddo?'

Mjay gulped hard, "My wife's brother."

At the mention of the words 'my wife' Tara shot her heard up between her sobbing, his back was turned to her...pacing the room whilst he spoke so matter of fact and called her his wife, that to someone at the other end of the earth.

"Give me an hour or so buddy, will call you back!...what's her name." He answered, “Tara”

The guy whistled, "Hmmm....as beautiful as her name?"

He stole a glance at the child-woman still right there in a mess, "Yeah...absolutely."

"Will you hurry up Vijay?"

"Well if you wanna know, I am pulling my pants up, haven't brushed my teeth...whilst the wifey looks on...why and who I am rushing out to meet, just for you buddy!"

Vij continued, "Pal listen on a serious note, don't worry I'll take care of stuff, trust me....and yeah hug her for me will you?...go on I know you too well, hope she is not as dull as you are."

He growled,"Vij!"

Mrityunjay put the phone down and poured out a glass of water for her. "Now drink this," and then pulled her up from the floor and got her to sit on the settee.

He sat next to her, tears still streaming down he face, "Tara stop it...you heard me right...Vijay a very close friend is rushing to the hospital...Nothing is going to happen to Bunty."

She jerks her head up crying and accusing him, "How do you know nothing has already happened to him or not? What if he was....what if?....and then wails, her body shaking.....he couldn't see her anymore like this,..he could not stop himself anymore.... Mrityunjay put his arm around her, pushed the hair away from her face, she automatically let her head rest on his shoulder...and wept bitterly......why did she find so much peace and comfort in the crook of his arm...he uttered softly, "Tara...let's hope nothing happens okay... Shhhhh...now enough..stop it....Bhais of Bhopal don't cry like babies."

She raised her head and looked at him... is that why he put his arm around her shoulder? He thought of her as a Bhai! She pushed his arm away. Got up and with her koala like eyes...and amidst kajal stained tears "I am not a Bhai!'

Oh gosh, he was saying all the wrong things, damn.."Sorry I know you are not a Bhai..I did not mean it that way".....what a bozo he was.....at least she had stopped crying...He continued, "Until we wait for the call, would you like to pray!"..he had to divert her mind.....

She nods but asks, "You don't mind?"

"No, I don't...and gently told her, "Come now...go and freshen up....you will feel better."

When she was gone, he smacked his fist into the settee.... Oh how he wish he could just tuck her in bed and take away her worry...

She looked terrible, and realized she was still in her night suit, her weird pyjama pants and just a spaghetti tank top. ...She would change, it was too intimate....he was around. She then quickly got  dressed in a salwar suit and came out to see he had bought a tray of tea for her.

She questioned him with her eyes, he responded, "You are probably going to stay awake all night, but, first finish your prayers."

She lit the diya and incense sticks and prayed. Whilst he looked on....He was getting anxious now. Vij hadn't called yet.

He shut his eyes and hoped that all would be okay...'Oh God for Tara's sake please make sure Bunty is doing fine...please."

She finished her prayers and he made her a cup of tea and silently offered it to her, then got his cup of coffee. It kept them both occupied with the silence echoing around them....

He kept looking at his watch, pacing the room, with the coffee mug in hand..."How much longer" the phone rang, Mjay picked up the call right away, "Yeah Vij."

Vijay filled him with the initials details, "Tara around? Ok the boy had it bad. Multiple fractures. Head injury, how severe I don't know. Some stupid hit and run case and drunk bozo....the kiddo was on a bicycle....thank goodness he had his helmet on, surgery on...spoke to another doc from emergency, she said he would be okay...dunno Man.!

She was standing next to him, he moved whilst he spoke...she walked behind him, tugging at his vest..."What happened.....how is he...tell me something"

He disconnected the call, held her hand and got her to sit. Taking her hand in his he said, "He was hit by a car, his friends rushed him in time to the hospital, he is injured quite badly, and the surgery is on. VIjay my very close friend is still there....doctors say he will be fine." And then she burst out crying, "Why did this have to happen? No one is with him? Why did he have to go abroad? It's all my mistake. If I hadn't to marry you, Baba would not have paid for it....all my fault....and she howled and howled....."He is paying a price for my mistakes." She pulled her hands out of his grasp and got up and moved away from him....went to the window and leaned her head against it and cried her heart out.

He was left speechless with her outburst of anger, frustration, pain knowing the boy was so far away...and she could do nothing about it.....why did her words prick him?....It was such a delicate situation...he stood there silently...desperately wanting to gather her in his arms and console her, tell her everything would be alright...but he was the last person she wanted to see...yet he would not leave her alone.

It was the darkest night for Tara....what was the whole point of this marriage..... did not do good for anyone....What if Bunty could not walk again? What if...so many fears ran through her head.......she sobbed continuously, she longed for the comfort of her mother, no one to console her...a husband who wasn't even hers.. when she heard his voice, "Tara please stop crying, I can understand what you are going through...Bunty is just like Vasu to me!" holding her arm he turned her around,  a tiny tug and she landed right where he wanted her to be, in his arms, sobbing hysterically against his chest, both her hands clutching his T-shirt, he stroked her head with one hand and the other he stroked her tiny back..... it broke his heart to see her this way...."Shhhhhh....bas Tara bas...enough Baby...stop it now...shhhh...... I promise you he will be okay" she hears his soft soothing words.... felt the warmth and strength of his arms...it felt so good......and then suddenly...Oh Gosh no....she realizes what she had done and suddenly moves apart, he let go of her, it felt so natural to be there yet so awkward, she whispered, "I....Im sorry...."

"It's okay", he hushed her, his voice suddenly cracked....I'll be back."

He rushed out of there and went into his own room and broke down against the door and wept...for her...he knew then...He wanted to live for her, he loved his Tara, she was His Eternal Woman!

He held his head in his hands and felt the stinging tears...."If Only I Could My Love....If Only I Could...!

Knowing she was alone, he gathered himself quickly, washed his face and walked out of there back to where she was.

She was curled on the settee, dozing off to sleep.  When he entered she straightened up. He went up to her saying, "Go on rest," and then picking the blanket and a pillow from the bed and placed it under her head, tucked the blanket around her and let her sleep right there on the settee.  

He put his phone on silent and waited for Vijay to call back with more news. It was almost dawn, the phone flashed he tiptoed outside the room and took the call.

Vijay, "Buddy ok the surgery was successful, doctor says nothing to worry. The head injury was minor, the fractures a couple are bad, but sorted and he should be fine. I am going to see him now, he is awake they say, bye, will call you."

MJay, "Thanks a million Man."

He went back in and was not sure to wake her or not...he waited and watched her sleep.....after a while he pushed the lock of hair from her face, knelt down at her side and waited. After a while the phone flashed again, he answered, "Listen Mrit...he is fine....the boy is absolutely cute...told him who I was....don't worry guys he should be okay. I can put him on speaker for a second if Tara wants to hear him...he is still groggy though...... She must be scared to death."

"Call you back in a few minutes."

All curled up she slept like a baby, he touched her arm and whispered, 'Tara....Tara...wake up..."

She opened her eyes to see him so close to where she slept, straightened herself up,  he spoke softly, "Bunty is perfectly fine, surgery was done, Vijay will put him on speaker...only for a second but....he can't talk really."

He handed the phone to her,  Vijay on the other line, "Tara.... ...hello I am Vijay....namaste......here say something....She started to weep when she saw Mrityunjay make signs to her not to, she gulped hard and spoke aloud, "Bunty kaisa hai re tuh.?"

Faintly she heard Bunty say in a groaning voice, "Faltu! Jiju!...I am fine....don't worry re faltu."

"Dekh Bunty tuh Vijayji ki baat sun....aur apne aap ko sambhal, tuh theek hoga jaldi...aur nurso ko tang mat kar...Love you re Bunty...sorry mein tumhare paas nahi hunn."

"It's okay." the voice got fainter.

Vijay came back on line, "Listen Tara, he is still drowsy, so can’t speak much....please don't worry, MJay's Bunty is my Bunty. I promise you my wife Simi and I will take good care of him. I am going home now and will bring Simi here to be with him. You must know I would do anything for Mrityunjay. He is my God!”

“'Thank you."

Mrityunjay took the phone, Vij continued,"Man she has such a beautiful voice, listen I am stinking like a fish, got to go home, will come back with Simi.....and we have a lot of catching up to do...come online tomorrow, you have been ignoring me for too long Mrit!”

“Fine, call me later...thanks once again buddy.”

He looked at Tara, who eyes were swollen with all that crying....what a night it had been....

He sat next to her, “Felling better?” she nodded...”Come on now catch some sleep, go on to that bed of yours.”

“No”

He had to be firm, he stood up, extended his hand to her, “Listen to me Tara...now...chalo...”

She got up obediently, he picked the blanket, she went and lay down on the bed,  he tucked the blanket and turned off the lights, leaving the night lamp on.

She whispered, “Why don’t you go back to sleep too?” Ignoring what she said, he went and sat on the settee.

To be continued

Chapter 23

He fell asleep until the rays of the sun hit his eyes....realized it was mid-morning....found her still asleep...so tip-toed out only to find his Father about to enter his room. They meet each other outside his room, he opened the door for his Father to come him, who asked, “Mrityunjay what happened? Did you not sleep all night? Tara too is not down for breakfast?”  But there was a twinkle in his Father’s eyes. Oh my gosh what was his father thinking...

“Baba....Bunty had an accident, minor head injury, multiple fractures, Tara got a call at around 2 am, surgery done. He is okay. Vijay is with him....was with her all night and on the phone with Vij.”

How is Tara Bahu?’

“Baba she is shattered, though sleeping peacefully now.” He felt the deep concern and worry in His son’s voice and manner. His face drawn, the sunken eyes......all for Tara. He knew it then his son had finally come home.

“Ok son, you too rest....I shall talk to you both later...and will call Vijay too.”

“Yeah it’s been a long night.”

He then called Vijay again, his very close and dearest friend, who knew all about his case. They had talked and talked and he filled him in about Tara and at what juncture he stood. The marriage idea  was Vijay' s idea, but after he had come out, MJ never did fill him in with the details upset as to why Vijay ever did give this suggestion to Baba.

He could heard Vijay sigh and say, “Man Mrit you started it on a wrong foot...how could you have possibly jumped to wrong conclusions about her without getting to know her and she on the other hand has her own notions about you. Gosh you have got yourself into a real soup.”

"Why don't you just sit and talk it out to her."

"If I do she will simply bolt out of here, no reason for her to stick around, and then I have nothing to give her Vijay."

"But Mrit...you are in love with her Man...tell her so."

Mrityunjay replied, “Vij.....you mean tell her that I can love her just for a months, days maybe? Is it going to change things....there is no point is there now...not when I have the noose waiting for me.”

“Don’t do that **** with me buddy...I know you too well, ...this is pure suicide Mrit.....and I hate you for that.”

They argued some more....

Finally Mrityunjay said , "Listen this stays between us and us alone, hope you get that."

"Yeah yeah I do."

He disconnected the call and then increasing the temperature a notch higher, he got into bed, hugging the pillow thinking of the moment she was in his arms those few minutes, he smiled to himself and right away fell into a deep sleep....

It was around three in the afternoon when he heard a knock on his door. It was Tara....she entered and asked, “Any news?”

“Did you eat?”

“No!”

“Me too, I am hungry so let’s go and eat something...and yes I spoke to Simi she is with him. Vij went to the University, finished the paper work there, spoke to the cops etc...

“After lunch you can talk to Simi...he is doing fine.”

“I am not too hungry.”

He firmly stood there and scolded her, “Now Tara if I have to shove food down your throat I will do it, so come along and eat like a good girl...chalo...come on.”

Pushed her out of his room and got her down to eat something. She nibbled on her meal, and he made sure she finished everything in her plate.

“Baba too will be here any minute. He wanted to see you too. He was worried as well when I told him. And I think you should tell your mother about it.”

She nodded, deep in thoughts, eyes still glistened with tears, and she would wipe them off time and again, forcing herself not to cry. This was not his Tara, the crazy woman. Something in her just died.

Just then Baba came and immediately asked, "Tara Bahu kaisi ho?" And all she did was say, "Baba yeh kya hua." and burst out crying again.....Baba stroked her head gently, she lay it in the crook of his arm...then Baba lifted her face and said, "Wipe off these tears, as long as I am there, nothing will happen to Bunty, even if this means that you have to go to him....we will make the arrangements. And he is in a country where he gets better treatment than he would here."

She wiped her tears and said, "I want to go home....to my mother" Father and son looked at each other. Mrityunjay's face fell...Baba did not know what to say. It was his son's call.

"For a few days at least" Mrityunjay choked...she was going away from him, yet he spoke up, "I'll take you home, pack your bag."

She went up to pack her bags, Baba asked if Mrityunjay had made the arrangements, he said, "yes Baba, he will stay at Vijay's place. I have wired the money too. They will also get him a nurse at home. So Simi is not overburdened and he is taken care of professional, plus Vij has spoken to the University about video conferencing from home with his tutor so he does not miss on lectures."

"Good....and did you speak to Vij....I mean not about Bunty?"

"Will do so tonight or tomorrow Baba."

He then knocked on her door, she was zipping up her bag, "most of my stuff is still at home. I don't need much."

He picked the bag for her, whilst she objected that she could do it. He ignored her and walked out with it.

She got into the front seat of the car. He then went back and got a laptop bag with him, placed it on the backseat of the car.

Tara wondered what did he need that for? Anyways she was worried about what and how to tell her mother about Bunty.

She sat in silence on the ride home. He turned to her and said, "Listen Tara you can't be crying in front of your Mother. If you breakdown who is going to console her....please you got to be strong."

They reached home, he carried the bag in, and her mother was surprised to see her with bags and Mrityunjay in tow.

"Are Tara kya hua sab kuchh theek hai, namaste" to Mrityunjay.  And then she sat her mother down before she went to get them something to drink.

"Ma idhar aao baitho...." Aradhna sat down, anxious....Mrityunjay sat beside her.

Tara held her mother's hand and said, "Ma Bunty ka accident hua hai"

Kya....kab kaise!" and began to weep.

"Mene kahaa tha tumhe Tara...hazaar bar usse mat bhej bahar gaon...mat bhej."

"Ma woh theek hai, thodi chot lagi hai, meine baat ki hai usse,"

"Lekin abb hum toh nahi hai naah uske saath....acche bure waqt mein hum kabhi alag nahi hua hai."

"Maa woh Bunty ka sapna tha, na tumhara, na mera..issli liye toh use itne duur bheja."

Mrityunjay spoke up, "Dekho Maaji mera dost aur uski biwi hai Bunty se saat. Koi darne ki baat nahi....Woh use apne ghar bhi lekar jayenge, hospital se nikalne ke baad....Aap Bunty se baat karlo mein abb phone lagata hun."

"Vij, Simi....how are guys...my mother-in-law, Bunty's mother wants to talk to him....is he awake?"

It was morning there, "Hey Mrit...yup having breakfast in fact. Here let me put it on speaker."

Tara and her mother spoke to Bunty. He laughed and sounded so much better than yesterday. He told them he found a new big sister, Simi Didi....she was awesome and fun....and better than even his Faltu.

They were both relieved. Mother got into the kitchen to get them something, when Mrityunjay asked her, "where shall I set up the laptop."

She frowned, "Why?"

"So that you can see and talk to him silly, setting it up for you and your mum and Nandini."

Her eyes lightened up, "Really?"

It made his heart skip a beat, "Yeah, you want to see him right?"

She checked the rooms, her Mother told her which room she could put up in. He entered and fixed it for her and got it running.   He gave her Vijay's and Simi's numbers. Explained the time difference. Told her when to call. And then said, "Here keep this phone, don't want you running out of credit like last night."

"I....I don't need it."

"Don't be silly...you would now.."

Why was he going out of his way to ensure she had no problems in any way.  Suddenly he asked, "How long do you intend to stay?"

She replied, 'A week or so!" This was the first time she would be separated from him and Baba.

What! His heart sank.....that was way too long......but isn't this exactly how he wanted and would eventually happen anyways.

He fiddled with the wires of the laptop and asked, "And your classes?"

She unpacked her bag, "I will call and inform them that I need a break...they would understand."

He heaved a sigh of remorse, "Yeah they would."

"If you need anything call me.....and I have put in the driver's number, call him if you need to go anywhere."

"That is not necessary, there are rickshaws and buses."

He pleaded, "I know there are...yet I don't want you to, and do we have to argue on this?

She sighed...."Fine.....  and thanks a lot for everything.....asking your friends to take care of Bunty and all.......I mean it."

They both seem awkward by this separation, he wished he could tell her he wanted her back tomorrow, but refrained, "you are welcome, .....I'll get going......see you....take  care."

She raised her eyes to him, "Yes.....ok bye."

Just when he walked out Aradhna came and stopped, "Beta, kahan jaa rahe hoo. khana khaa kar jaana...itni jaldi bhi kya hai.....khana khaye bagair nahi ja sakte ho aap....aur Nandini bhi toh aayegi abb...hmmm....bas phata  phat khana laga deti hunn."

Where were her manners, her Mother pointed out to her, so she said, "Sorry yes..please stay back and have dinner. You will love Mum's cooking."

He did not need any convincing, smiling he looked at the motherly woman who welcomed him despite everything, "Fine sure I will then."

To be continued/....




Dec 16, 2013

Updates 24-35 (All Chapters) (By Dd-Ipkknd Fan) (Thanked: 15 times)

Chapter 24

Whilst driving home, he thought of how her mother waited on him, treating him with utmost respect mingled with genuine affection. Nandini too who discussed about her work and things like as if she had known him all her life. Despite just a few hours...yet  he had felt so much at home...and cared for.......something he never found in his own step-mother.

He noticed the closeness as a family, Their love for each other very vocal, the bonding  between them....their warmth and togetherness.....even during their moments of sadness and anxiety over Bunty...they shared their pain openly. They had huddled together and cried over Bunty regardless of his presence and he had to console all the three women.......though Tara seemed to be who recovered right away and ended up supporting them.

On reaching the mansion, he went straight to the stable to Marya. The mare would keep him company. He just did not feel like stepping into the Villa.

Tara and Nandini chatted for a while and then Tara went to her mother's room. They had talked and talked....and Ardhana realized that her little girl had grown up so much....hiding things from her....especially about him...she kept mentioning him...and there was a sense of awe when she did ....but a kind of sadness. The girl wasn't telling it all.

Tara tossed and turned and got up in the middle of the night, tiptoed outside her mother's room and went outside and sat on the bench. Looked up at the moonlit sky... It felt good to be back home and in her mother's comforting arms...but there was something amiss....with a heavy heart she sighed....feeling miserable....she remembered the previous night, he was with her the whole time, she had gone into his arms just like it was the most natural thing to do for her...it was a sense of belonging there, he had called her BABY...but him?.....he was probably just being nice to her considering the situation. The words she had blurted out... Feeling miserable and low...she realized....the  whole marriage was surely a big mistake. Had she not married, Bunty would have been with them now. Apart from a roof over their heads, nothing good came out of this marriage, and then now Bunty miles away from home and injured, let alone her own mess.

 Could it have gotten worse than this, she sighed maybe...or maybe not. He had taken care of her last night....but why did she feel she was hoping for a lot more from a man who could never ever be hers. Her feelings would always always be one sided. He could never reciprocate the way she wanted ever!

What were her feelings she questioned herself, she was missing his presence already....but why...how could she have loved a Man who would never love a woman let alone her.  She shut her eyes and said to herself, "Why did you make me fall in love with you Mrityunjay...why...when I know you will never come to love me." Tears streaming down her pale cheeks she thought ....

Good she had signed the divorce papers despite Baba requesting her to give it some more thought and time. There was nothing to think...neither did she want any claims as his wife later nor an empty marriage. But strangely, she had never seen any signs of that weirdness...oh forget it...he did not have to behave in a certain way  to know what he did in private and she never was judgmental . Even if he did like women, why would he bother with someone like her? She wasn't his type,  a girl from the galli of Bhopal.

 She wiped away her tears clutched the shawl around her and went back to bed only for her Mother to ask, "Tara kya hua neend nahi aa rahi hai tumhe? " "Maa mein paani lene gayi thee so jao re Maa." She turns to her side and wept silently......a broken heart and a wet pillow was all that she held onto that night....

They were all at the breakfast table, when her phone rang only to find that it was Mrityunjay calling. Why did he not leave her in peace? What did he want now? Frowning she answered the call, "Boliye?"

That melodious soft voice, he spoke, "Good Morning"....then silence, he so wished to tell her he missed her badly but instead asked, "You okay? How is Maaji and Nandu? Did you all manage to speak to Bunty and chat with him?"

Nandini winked at Tara. "Jiju subha subha...hmmmm....missing you already?"

"Yes we did, he looked fine...head bandaged, and the left arm and leg in a cast.

"How is Baba, Vasu and all?"

Why don't you ask about me Tara but replied instead, "Baba is fine, Vasu was upset with you gone," so am I "Do you need anything, let me know"

His divine velvety voice was enough for her to go all warm, "Sure I will, I got to go and help Mum..thanks for calling.....I will call Vasu later....bye."

She disconnected the call, feeling all the more miserable....why oh why....she kept herself busy by going along with her mother to the market place, meeting some old neighbors and friends. And all remarked, "Tara why are you so quiet, marriage has really changed you from a Jhalli to a woman." She was either irritated with their remarks or it just hurt her more to see them chide her on her hollow married life. No more trips to the market place, she would simply stay at home.

The very long day passed by. Aradhana noticed her brooding most of the time...what was wrong...why wasn't she opening up....Tara never hid things from her....she could tell,  this was not her baccha...who ran around, troubled everyone....pulled a leg or smacked someone there...

Tara even called up Vasu and Meethi and spoke to them that she would be back after a week. She was loving it at her Mother's place....she was having fun with Nandini and her old friends whom she had not even connected with. She felt all the more low lying to them...

Mrityunjay did not go back home and stayed at the stable. Baba had called him asking him why he did not come home for the meals and he excused himself lying that Marya was ill and he had to be there at her side.

Every  evening he would watch the sun go down and watch it rise again the next day.....three nights and two sunrises......

Chapter 25

Tara....lay in bed..the third morning....feeling low and depressed....did not want to wake up.....Nandini came and troubled her but it just irritated her and she ending up snapping at her. Her mother noticed she went to her and asked, "Kya hua Tara tabyat theek toh hai?" It was 11 am and the girl was still in bed. This is so not like her.

Suddenly Tara got up from the bed and announced, "Ma mein ghar wapas jaa rahi hunn."

"Ghar?"

"Maa mere dance ke classes hai, meine aap ko kal bataya tha." and she lied that they would then not be available for her when she wanted so had to go.

"Achha theek hai, Tara joh teri marzi...pata hai abb tera mann idhar nahi lag raha hai."

She avoided looking at her mother whilst hurriedly getting ready and grabbing something to eat. She felt lost her, she had to go back....who knows how many more days she would get to be around him, every moment with him was precious.....she would treasure them.......

Called a taxi and reached the Shekhwat Mansion by afternoon. The house was empty apart from Meethi and Faheem Chacha. She hugged Meethi who wondered why she was back so soon, when she planned to stay for a week!

She faked it saying, her mother scolded her to return back with the usual married woman stuff. Meethi bought the answer...

Tara was rushing back into her room when she met Fahim Chacha. "Are Tara bitiya wapas ghar aayi? chalo achha hua."

At the stable Mrityunjay was busy preparing his afternoon meal when the phone rings, "Bolo Faheem Chacha."

"Tara Beti ghar wapas aayi hai!"

"Kya!...lekin woh...." his heart jumped with joy...she was back home...but how come? She was supposed to stay for a week or more!

He paced the stable should he go or not back home. No he would not....it would be too obvious...

Finishing lunch he got hold of a book to read..after flipping through just one page...he dumped it....nothing held his interest...

He buttoned up his shirt and rushed back to the house...his eyes searched for her everywhere....he did not want to make it obvious....so acted normal and went up to his room.Just as he was entering in he heard her voice, his heart skipped a beat, "Here this is yours"

Acting as if he did not hear, he ignored and walked in so this ensured she had to follow him inside.

She followed him, "Your....your laptop!"

He missed those big brown eyes, that lock of hair that framed her face, her tiny little frame, "What are you doing here so soon? I thought you said you would be away for a week?"

Just the sight of him filled her with warmth.....she had missed him so badly.....oh gosh no, why must she explain to him, fine, so lied, and avoided looking into his eyes for fear of giving too much away of herself "I could not miss too much of the dance classes so returned...here is your laptop, placing it on the side table.

"How did you come back home? Who asked you to get the laptop back, it was for your mum so that she could see and talk to Bunty."

Here she was pinning for him and rather than being glad she had returned he was all out to bash her so  with her nose up in the air she answered, "It's not needed, mum can't handle these things and she prefers to talk on the phone."

"Take it back to your room then."

"But why I do not need anything from you."

This girl is as stubborn as a mule, "Aren't you being selfish now, have you thought that the boy alone there might want to see and talk to you?"

He had to say it so went on, "One more thing, now listen carefully."

She frowned, "What now?"

"Whether you or I like it or not, we are married to each other, you understand that." She nodded, he continued, "So until such time, one - we can surely try to be civil to each other Tara, and two why do you object to everything  I do or say? I asked you to call for the driver, you take a rickshaw and come home, and now this laptop."

She sighed, and look at the floor, and then at him, "Okay so can you fix it in my room and connect it for me? I mean Please...I ...I am just not good with gadgets, at home Nandini handled it?"

He looked at her lovingly, now she was talking, "Sure.....come."

He picked up the laptop and together they went and he got by connecting it for her while she looked on.

"Can I get you a cup of coffee?"she asked it was better than just hovering around him...his presence made the room feel tiny.

He stared at her, a look that said I would love to, "yeah sure." Whilst she was gone he looked around the room and his eyes fell on the picture at her bedside. It was a shot on her haldi day. Adorned with flowers as jewelry, face smeared in haldi, her sister and mother at her side and her eyes squinting and tongue out. He got up and picked it up, she looked adorable, full of laughter and then the wedding must have been a nightmare.  They might be the first couple to marry under such a harsh situation. In prison! He placed it down and quickly rushed back to his seat to connect the net for her.

Tara was a strong woman, had it been someone else they would have cowed down to this whole farce. Her mother was right she was a pillar of strength for them. They were two of a kind in some way.

She entered and offered him his coffee. He took the cup from her placing his hand over hers,...She pulled out her hand immediately from his grasp.

"Come sit...let me explain."

She sat in front of the laptop screen, he bent over her and explained. She could feel his breath over her  neck and the whiff of his heady sweat.  He could feel her breathing heavily, the discomfort in her from his closeness.  She hardly looked at him...afraid he would see it in her eyes and he too avoided for fear of giving away his feelings. But he took advantage of the situation, brushing his hand against her shoulder, placing his hand over hers when it was on the mouse.  Standing and leaning against the wall whilst she spoke to Bunty. She dreaded his presence. What for him, she was flustered with his moves...it did not affect him..she frowned....

She spoke to Bunty, who then informed her that he would be discharged in a day or two and he would be staying at Vijay Bhai's place. Also that he spoke to his University and would taking his lectures vide video-conferencing . How cool was that?"

She asked again, "Dont you want to come back and study here Bunty?"

"Oh no Faltu, no ways...no matter what happens...I am not coming back until I graduate."

She sighed...spoke some more and then disconnected the call....

He was about to leave when she spoke up again, "thanks for everything and the arrangements, it is more than anyone can ask for."

Ok so he would now make a deal, hoping she would agree, still leaning against the wall, with folded arms he asked, "Your welcome but would you mind doing something for me?"

Now what did he want, she knew he would make her pay in some way or the other.

She heaved and asked with a bit of anger in her eyes, "What is it?"

"Would you sit for me?"

"Sit for you? meaning?"

"I'd like to sketch you, paint you, click some pictures of you for that."

Her eyes went wide and her voice shrill, "What do mean? you want me to pose without clothes for you?  How can you even ask?"  She felt sick if that is what he thought of her.

He laughed and rubbed his forehead with a twinkle in his eye he said, "When did I say that? who said about without clothes?" But he suppressed his laughter though inside he couldn't help but think ...she did put the wildest thoughts in his head now.

She was embarrassed, oh shoots why did she open her mouth before knowing facts?

She went around her room sorting stuff out and asked without looking, "But...but why me at all?"

He wanted to blurt out that she was his perfect muse, that child-like quality yet so womanly...that bold raw look at times in her eyes when she was mad and the twinkling in her eyes when she was happy....

He sighed, "First thing you should know I am an artist and always wanted to paint a dancer. Now to my luck I happen to find one right in this house hence why not you? and I don't have much time...just my last wish you could say."

How could she refuse when he spoke that way! Her heart sank.... he sure was good at blackmail. And a feeling of excitement filled her.."Fine when and how many days would it take..and where?"

"Maybe a couple of days....in some dancing poses...under the gazebo...or  in the meadows near the stable or my room! Will tell you what to wear...and where." His eyes lit up whilst talking. He seem very happy and excited about the whole thing.

"No.....I'll decide what to wear...that is if you trust me."  He looked at her intently..."yeah I do."

"Good...then leave it up to me...if you don't like something, I can always change."

Overjoyed he replied, "Thanks Tara...I really mean it...and you might need a music system for some dance moves because I want to capture you when you dance not just pose. Hope you get it."

She replied, "yes I get it."

He then said, "I'll leave you to do your stuff," and left the room.

Wish he knew she was being selfish and wanted to spend whatever little time she could with him....this was more for her own self than him....she sighed slumped herself on the bed, holding an outfit tears flowing down....and then thought...no...no more tears....she would live each day as it comes....she had bashed him the other day and here she was fretting herself over life being unfair.

Pulling herself together she dug into her wardrobe looking for what to wear. She pulled out a few outfits...and then her eyes twinkled......yes why not.... she would make the most of the situation...yes she would get her mom to deliver her dancing attire and stuff!

 

Chapter 26

Baba was glad to see her back and so was Vasu. Vasu came into her room to update her about the Pari Mission campaign...and how things were going, and then she noticed the picture of Bunty as her screen saver on her laptop.

"Who is this cute guy?...love his eyes"

Now Tara wanted to have some fun. "Guess Pari guess.....who do you think it is!" and winked at her.

"Now don't tell me Tara you liked him at school."

Tara laughed at the girl......"Achha you love his eyes....that's Bunty my little brother."

Vasu now embarrassed, "Nahi nahi...I am sorry....but he is cute honestly."

Tara now all happy to show off about her brother told her about the accident and his studies and then how Mrityunjay had gone out of his way to help them out.

She put on her laptop and went on to chat. Bunty came online....she introduced Vasu to him.

Bunty openly asked, "Faltu who is this cute little chick with you?"

Tara scolded him and warned that she was her sister-in-law and Mrityunjay's little sister. They seem to be two teens busy chatting and talking about  their studies and stuff...

She then let her know, "Mrityunjay wants to paint me in my dancing poses."

Vasu was all excited, "Really!....Bhai wants to do that? OMG OMG.....how cool is that....Ok I shall help you with your makeup and hair....and let me know what you are wearing...you don't have to tell Bhai I am helping you out...he might be embarrassed by it all."

They were both like two girls giggly and excited about the whole thing.....

Later that night he could hear her singing..............he smiled to himself.....he tried to catch the words...the tune was soothing.......

She and Vasu had discussed it. She would be wearing a traditional one and the other a little different more sensual. They had both gone out shopping for ornaments and stuff....Vasu had insisted, "Tara make the most of it...come on......This may be the first and last time he does such a thing..come on Tara don't be a spoilt sport...Chalo."

An orange bustier Choli to go with the dancer pants like outfit and another white chiffon and gold anarkali traditional skirt and churidaar.

She had gone to his room after her shopping spree, he wasn't there.  Must be in the dark room...she came out only to see him approaching the room.

"Hi." he greeted her.

She felt a bit shy...."Hello....I...got the outfits...hope the colors make sense to your paintings."

They went back into his room, the outfits were hanging on her arm...did not give out the style or what exactly it was.....he looked at the colors and remarked, "The sunset orange is beautiful...and the ivory white is good....will have some difficulty with the gold bit....it should be okay though...will manage....

He knew anything would look good on her, and suddenly said, "What explanation are you going to give Baba or Meethi with your absence in the house?"

Her eyes  smiling she said, "Well you do the telling to Baba and I shall explain myself to Meethi....after all its you who wants to paint."

"Agree I'll do the talking....when can you start?"

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes tomorrow will be fine."

Nest day morning Baba and Mrityunjay asked Vasu why she wasn't attending college. She excused saying they had no lectures and was feeling a bit low so would stay put at home.

She then winked at Tara. Mrityunjay noticed that. What was going on between these girls?

When Tara was away in the kitchen he questioned his little sister, "Moti...now what was that wink all about? What are you upto?"

"Bhai I really have nothing much to do at college. And I am here because of you, helping Tara with her hair and makeup."

He beamed and winked at her, "Oh really! then make sure you make her look all the more beautiful for me will you Moti?" ruffled her hair and walked away.

Vasu wide-eyed kept smiling to herself. What was happening here? Bhai so happy after so long! Hmmmmm!

The women went into her bedroom and Vasu worked on Tara's natural beauty. Her Bhabhi was beautiful in a very special way.

She worked on her innocent eyes and created sensuality in them. Showed her how to do up her eyes and then the hair....

Today she would wear the white and gold churidar outfit. The back was low and ****y thought Vasu smiling to herself. And the frontline was perfectly cut to expose her mark and just a bit of her cleavage. Oh it took so much of cajoling on her part to get Tara to pick it up with that fabulous orange outfit too. The whole ensemble was very traditionally rich yet graced her body like it was made for her alone.

Thought Vasu whilst decking Tara up, hope her brother had the sense to take a back shot of her. She knew this alliance between her brother and Tara was temporary....she had misunderstood her all this time and now she found in her the perfect friend and confidante. Vasu prayed silently wishing things would work out between the two which looked impossible right now. But she and her brother both deserved happiness.

Vasu was delighted to see the woman reflecting back at her from the mirror. Tara looked stunning.

Tar wrapped herself in a chaadar and went down to the gazebo. He had said today's session would be here and tomorrow they would go to the stable or in the open meadows.

All nerves.......and almost wanting to run back into the house....his back was facing her....she reached the gazebo...he was busy getting the tripod ready and his easel.

He looked up when she arrived, why was she covered like that? He frowned. In order to  lighten up the tensed situation she asked hardly looking at his face...."where is the music system" still holding on to the ridiculous chaadar around her.

And then she turned, he saw her face...looking different...those eyes..larger than ever...he peeped through the camera lens ....he could drown in those eyes right now.....he would have to learn to keep a strict control on his emotions....and then she dropped the chaadar.....what stood in front in of him was a woman of beauty and grace....first her saw her exposed deep back, she moved and he saw her fidgeting with her flower draped long plait of hair...those jhumkas that hung from her tiny ear lobes...the necklace that adorned her deep neckline....his hands shook, he wiped off the sweat from them....he gulped hard....the fitting bodice that nipped at her waist and then flared and hung around her wide thighs......flowing around her whilst she sashayed around........the fabric that clung to her skin........thank goodness he watched through the lens... God! She was his and yet not His!

He moved around with his back to her, shut his eyes for a second or two, ran his hands through is hair.....this is going to be more difficult than he thought.....trying to curb his feelings..he just needed to act very professional...nothing more...took a deep breath, then turned back again looked at her blankly, cleared his throat saying, "Looking good......the color is great....and the morning light will capture it beautifully.

He looked at his phone, Vasu had sent him a message. He reads, "So? How's it?" He gulped hard...he saw her busy trying to put on some music....so sent a text back, "Gorgeous!...love u Moti"

'Tara...just play some light music...and pick on your dance poses." he went up to her...."set the dupatta aside will you please?".....she took it off her feeling a bit conscious of herself....she looked at him but found him hardly bothered about her presence....moving around ...just  occupied in getting his pictures and sketches right...he had not even complimented her on her look. Could he not just say she looked good at least to make her feel nice? So what if he admired men, don't girls appreciate girls? Moron thought Tara! Her heart sank....all in the name of Love!

He moved to the camera and spoke encouragingly, she seemed like she was in a bad mood, what could it be? he needed her best shots. "Ok now look at me...give me your best poses Tara. You can dance and find your rhythm...when I raise my hand you hold still in that pose. Get it." She nodded....that commanding voice could make her do anything...

She started slow and then got  into a routine, slow and rhythmic....her grace and poise perfect, very fluid movements...but her face reflected some kind of irritation. She seemed moody.

He rubbed his brow, he had to talk to her...going upto her he asked, "Tara what happened...you don't seem to be happy doing this?  Are you okay?"

She was now all the more mad, "Why? I am fine and I am happy doing this....if not I would not have decked up this much just for your pictures and sketches...why you don't  find the dance moves good enough?"

"It does not reflect on your face Tara?"

"What do you want exactly?" she snapped back, put her head down and was twirling her fingers.

No choice he had to...he goes upto her....his heartbeats raced....placing his arms around her shoulders he said seductively, "Look at me Tara." She raised her head to him, "First and foremost you are looking absolutely stunning today" her eyes lit up..."And I want you to dance as if you are dancing for Me...do you get it...I need to see the passionate side of a dancer...the real you." she nodded..."good girl". He reluctantly removed his arms.........

His touch had done the trick....she changed the tempo of the song...and then broke into a routine, dancing like she had never before.....He forgot he had to click...staring at the woman who gave it all to him...she realized he was just staring.....she stopped and asked smiling, "what happened?"

He snapped out of his reverie and said, "Gosh you are an amazing dancer Tara." she smiled shyly, panting and sweating...and he said "Go on don't stop" and then rushed to the tripod pulled out the camera and captured every breathless move of her smooth body, her beautiful graceful hands, the sway of her hips, her upper torso tilted in grace, her beautiful back with beads of sweat, her brow, her sparkling and radiating eyes filled with a dancer's passion and fury....he just went click click click.....he was truly enthralled....

"Relax Tara...go and freshen up and return."

When she was gone he went through every frame of hers.....and just sat and admired each of them.......so much of grace in every energetic movement, those spins, breathless footwork......she was truly a fabulous dancer....such rapid fluid movements...... He would cherish them...till he lived.....yes a short lived time on this earth...he sighed....

She returned and he explained now he would stake some still shots and would start to sketch her. He explained he wanted very traditional poses whilst sitting...like tying her ghungroos....and moves whilst sitting on the floor.

He sketched her face and parts of her upper frame......with breaks taken in between....

They wound up for the day and he called out, "Tara tomorrow we will do it indoors, in my room."

"Why?'

"See will arrange for some lighting etc....want a different setting."

Confused she asked, "But where would be the space for me to dance?'

"Not much dancing we will do more stills....what is the colour of your next outfit?'

Oh so he forgot, she replied sternly, "Orange...you forgot right."

"No just wanted to confirm....will set up the lighting based on that.....and the sheers in the room."

"Thanks Tara....you did a good job today....we meet up tomorrow."

She turned away but then walked back to him..."Can I ask something from you?"

He was busy packing up the equipment, he asked,"What?"

"Well....can you teach me to ride Maria...the mare?"

He straightened himself up, smiling..."Really..ride a horse and you? I mean are you sure?..aren't you scared?"

She gave him a naughty smile back..."Yeah...but since I get free classes from you...why not...I can get rid of my fear too...I would have never attempted it in my lifetime otherwise."

"Fine...that is if you give me your best shots tomorrow." and he winked at her..."Now go on." thinking, go away girl...go....before I grab you and take you in my arms....

She rushed into her room and realized she was seeing a different side of him...like he was happier, that wink...what was that for...was that a joke between two guys him & her....or did he wink at Her, Tara the girl! Hmmmm....she sighed...she was confusing herself.....Consoled herself, don't think too much...it's only going to hurt you....and make you go crazy....you've chosen to spend time with him and you are getting to do just that...

They had met at the dining table again that evening. He kept stealing glances at her which did not go unnoticed by his Father though he found his son not doing it when she was looking. Like as if he did not want her to know.

Baba had got to know from Vasu that Mrityunjay wanted to sketch and paint Tara as his last wish! Whatever his reason they both were in close proximity.

Chapter 27

Next morning  she was all excited....a hurried breakfast and back inside her room she had second thoughts of putting on the outfit. What if he was mad and asked her to change. Vasu was really crazy to choose something like this, She wasn't on stage for goodness sake. She was just about 4 to 5 feet away from him? And now he said in his bedroom? Hey bhagwan! She would call Vasu.

"Vasu listen I don't think I should wear this outfit. It looks too too...my tummy is exposed..."

Vasu was giggling at the other end, poor bhabhi, she clears her throat and says, "Tara don't tell me you of all the people is scared of Bhai."

"What? I am not afraid of anyone!"

Vasu still smiling, that does it, "Then what is the problem Tara. You are a dancer and that is an outfit worn by a dancer, so just do it...Bhai is not painting some Nun there.....it would look fabulous in a painting.....or sketch....Tara I have to go now" and disconnects the phone on purpose.

She sat on the bed not knowing what to do. Frowns and thinks but why was she getting so worked up? Why would it matter to him of all the people what she wore? As long as it came out good in the pictures!

So Tara pulled out the burnt orange two-piece ensemble and began to get dressed. Leaving a few lose tendrils across her face she brought the hair to one side of her shoulder. She looked at herself in the mirror and adorned herself with heavy earrings, left the neck bare and instead wore a beautiful gold and orange stone-drop  waist chain..........anxiety building in her...... She covered herself with one of her very colourful long loose shirts and went up to his room.

She knocked on his door. He called out, "Come In"

She entered and found the room transformed.... some of the furniture moved out ......there were ivory sheers, a hue of orange lighting........She pulled her shirt closer to her....her heart beats raced....

This posing for him was a bad idea....she wanted to run....His back was to her, anything looked good on the man...but today he looked a lot like an artist, the beige kurta and brown pyjamas.... she found  him looking into the lens, he glanced up and went about fixing something when he said, “Can you please take off that ridiculous shirt?”

Ridiculous? Really? Fine!  Thought Tara...and so took off the shirt and flung it on the bed....he was too busy to notice anything anyways. He raised his head........only to find an exquisite Apsara like form of Tara standing right in front of him. Mesmerized by her presence his eyes took in the hair loosely left on one side of the shoulder, her generous bosom covered in a short heavily embroidered choli, the fitting dhoti-like trousers sitting low on her wide hips whilst draping her shapely legs and nice derriere, exposing  her bare midriff on which tiny gold boondis  danced from the edge of her choli.....the hue of the lights lending a special glow to her skin....He gaped....put his foot forward....a faltered step....and lo and behold......he hit his shin hard into the table in front of him...Ouch!.....he winced in pain....Oh gosh! he felt like a drooling idiot....who had just opened a poster magazine! He straightened up, damn he felt silly like as if he just found his eye candy...what was wrong with him! Get a hold of yourself man thought Mjay!

Wide-eyed and a little concerned she moved forward and asked him, “Are you okay? I mean are you ill or something?”

He raised his hand saying, “No...no... I am fine...I just did not see the table. By the way what are you wearing? That is not a traditional Kathak dancer costume?"

She was self-conscious now...twiddling her fingers she replied, “Well not really.. it’s mostly worn during fusion dances, and Vasu really forced me to get it...I...I wasn’t too keen. But if it’s not, appropriate, I can change, honestly I can.”

“Hmmm.” Well if she wore it he might as well take advantage of the situation.

“No, it’s perfect...it would look amazing in the pictures," how could he tell her that the whole outfit only complimented her womanly curves. She really looked like some exotic dancer!

“You know the drill.... put on some light music.” Said Mrityunjay in a very matter-of-fact manner and whilst she moved he poured himself a badly needed glass of water to soothe his parched throat.

Over the rim of the water glass his eyes followed her movements......all he could do was stare.... Whilst fidgeting with his camera in hand....he wondered how was he supposed to go through this ordeal?  Yeah all he needed to do was keep his hands to himself!

A nervous wreck herself Tara  looked everywhere around the room but him.

He went back behind the tripod, saw that she was nervous too,  and he was supposed to be in command here, so cleared his throat and gave instructions, "Tara now start a slow tempo, want to see a lot of your poses and hand movements. Will do some close ups too today....are you ready?"

She snapped, "Listen I am not a model, I just can't pose...need to dance...to get the poses right."

He could feel the tension in the air. She wasn't wrong being upset and uncomfortable....he felt worse...he had no right to put her through this........

With her eyes closed she moved and was warming up to the sound of the beats.....He came up to her and reluctantly said, "Tara it's okay if you don't want to go through this....I mean......we can stop....I think you are not too happy about the whole thing."

She heard what he just said...well Mister....I might as bloody well show you the grace and beauty of a woman...Mrityunjay you'd be sorry  you  ever liked a man.... opened her sparkling eyes......looked at him whilst she swirled.....stopped ....... and went and surprisingly increased the volume of the music....the beat and tempo filled the room....eyes radiating she spoke aloud....with a taunting smile, "Are you going to stand there and talk nonsense or will you do what you have to do?"

"Huh" Mjay  stood there tongue-tied...... yet thrilled........ a second ago she had snapped.....what made her now come out of it...nervousness gone! she was all ready for him....

She again indicated with her eyes to get going....he smiled, nodded and strode  back to the tripod, disengaged the camera and began to capture her in every frame........

What she could not manage to do due to lack of space she gave him in her amazing poses, gestures and facial expressions......

Between shots he relished every move she made, the breathless footwork....those adas...

She explained, "Tribhanga Pose" she indicated with her eyes....and then she titled her hips to the left, bend her right knee and raised her hands above her head creating the perfect dramatic and sensual S. He captured the pose...but then his eyes lingered there...

He saw the waist chain hanging........he had to....the urge to feel her just overtook his sensibility... making it an excuse to touch her......he moved forward ...her eyes grew wider....a little confused....hearts racing ..........he did not look into her eyes...instead lowered his gaze to her beautiful belly button...letting his fingers caress her there...... whilst he adjusted the waist chain to sit properly on her hips..........her body flushed at his touch...igniting a fire in her belly....her hands came down and she lost her balance, he held her with both his arms around her bare waist....his warm fingers lingering on her burning skin...he looked up.....she looked into his smouldering brown eyes and did she by any chance see  desire in them? ....did he feel the way she did.....why did he not say something..........no of course not.....for sure no....it was all for his pictures...."let go of me" her trembling lips whispered....pushing him away.......frustrated he stepped back....

What was he up to? Why punish her this way.... thought Tara........

He just stared.....angry with himself for doing this to her and mad with her for pushing him away......she seemed irritated...still breathing heavily she reached for her shirt .....he growled, "Sorry" is all he could muster......

She did not look at him, collected her CD...and  continued speaking, "I think you are done...I am tired, can we stop?"

How could he expect so much out of her when he wasn't giving anything of himself?.....He wished he could ask her to stay back.... but said otherwise, "Yes....we can......you have given me more than I could ask for. ....I mean your time and effort in this whole session..Thanks a lot."

She looked at him accusingly...he could see she was about to cry......she gulped hard....he wanted to gather her in his arms...but refrained....once he did that there was no turning back for him and for her....for her own good he forced himself to curb his feelings his desires.....she simply nodded, "yeah" and then just abruptly left...

Tara almost ran into her room, banged the door behind her, locked it.....fell on her bed and cried....cried for loving him, cried for wanting him, cried for running away from him....cried for him, being the way he was....for everything.....she pulled at the belly chain and flung it across the room.......she hated this costume...why did she wear it.....stupid of her to do so.....

She changed and wore something really ridiculous....and then just curled in bed....feeling miserable.

Mrityunjay had slumped onto his recliner.....eyes shut....he hated himself for putting her through it.... oh how he would like to go to her right now and explain himself...clear the air....tell her what she wants to hear.....but then what was the point.....he would be selfish in doing so.....she was better off without him in her life....

Vasu enters, winks at him and asks, "so how did it go Bhai?" He was not in the mood to talk to anyone. MJ gets up holds her by the shoulder and pushes her out of the room, "The shoot was okay...but please Vasu I am not in mood...have a bad headache." and pushed her out of the room...when she said, "Tara too did not open the door for me and now...?" he did not answer and shut the door on her face. Vasu wondered....

Then going into the bathroom, Mrityunjay  took off his kurta and let the stinging cold shower run down his body....he needed to kill every feeling inside of him.........mingled with it were his hot tears......

 

Chapter 28

Next day he met her in the hallway. She seemed withdrawn a faint Hi is all she said and walked away.

He wanted the real lively bold and brazen Tara back.... Tara did everything to avoid him...Easier said than done she had coming running home from her mother's just to be around him...but it was becoming difficult being in his presence and hide her feelings....

Had he to know she would look like a fool or he may think she was doing this for his money after his death....

He noticed she was avoiding him...it had been almost three days now....he waited to catch up with her on the way out of the house......

"Hi....how have you been?" he asked her.

No choice thought Tara, "Oh I am good."

"So what happened to those horse riding classes?"

"What horse classes?" she feigned....

"Now don't tell me you want to chicken out!....And all that lecturing to live whilst living?"

Damn the man knew how to get through to her.......

"I haven't chickened out."

"Then you must be scared."

"No I am not....okay fine let us start tomorrow."

"Now that's like my girl....see you tomorrow and yeah wear your sneakers and comfortable trousers...you know you will need to climb on the horse."

She looked defiant, "Sure I know that...Tara is not someone who backs off from something so easily."

His eyes were laughing at her,..he comes closer to her...looked into her eyes saying,  "Yeah I know you too well by now," and touched her nose with his finger and walked off.

Leaving her standing there a little amused by his endearing gesture.

The following day...he saw her walking towards the stable, with her flared pyjamas, sneakers and a oversized ridiculous miss matched shirt over a tee... Hmmm....she did not want trouble like the last time...playing safe was his Tara. She should not catch him laughing so turned his back and laughed it off. Then maintaining a straight face he greeted her, "Hi....Ready?" She looked at him in riding pants, boots and all.....he looked so royal....like those pictures of men from those old traditional princely families. 

She walked into his abode....and looked around.....saw his easel that had a cover on it...."Can I?"wanting his permission to venture into his private domain.

He extended his hand that said, "please go ahead."

She entered and remembered how the real man lived...stark...bare of anything beautiful....just a simple wooden bed....the basic necessities....a wooden rocking chair maybe made by him...the last time she was there with Fahim Chacha, she so wanted to beautify and clean up the place. Today it was neat and tidy.  She saw a frame turned and kept away on the shelf. She reached for it....he quickly stopped her from doing so..."That's private" and pushed it further away from her prying eyes and hands.

Oh so he did not want her to know who it was.....

"Shall we?"

She walked out and went upto the mare. Stroked it and said, "She is beautiful and so gentle."

'Yeah she is.....so you scared or nervous?"

"Yes a bit nervous."

"Ok I got you a helmet.....and maybe you need to get riding boots and trousers.....but today its okay....Now remember this...horses can actually tell what mood you are in when you are riding. So if you are nervous Maria will sense it and become nervous as well. So stay calm and relaxed.

She listened attentively whilst he touched and stroked the mare. She looked on....such gentleness in his touch...

He spoke to the mare but looked at Tara, "Maria this is Tara...remember I told you about her?...you have met her...I know....but now she wants to learn to ride you...so you are going to be patient and gentle with her."

The mare grunted...So he has been talking to the mare about her? Oh gosh who knows what he has been telling her..she would only know once she mounted the horse.

He looked at her in a very gentle yet commanding voice, "Tara if you trust the horse it will trust you too...and you got to trust me too."

"I trust you...you know that."

He felt his heart swell with love for the woman standing beside him..."Ok now first you will learn to prepare your horse for riding so I will teach you to groom her."

She followed his instructions....and did as she was told....he would correct her...and she listened...

He then said, "I am going to teach you to mount her okay....come....she reached close to the horse...he said, "You always mount from the left.....I'll help you don't worry....hold the reins in your left hand and turn the stirrup towards you with your right. Put your left foot into the stirrup, hold the saddle, bounce gently in the stirrup, then swing your right leg over the horse, and sit down in the saddle."

"'Come on now try..." and he repeated whatever he said and tried to get her on top of the horse. She failed to do so thrice....

On the fourth attempt he pushed her up and got her eventually in the saddle."Steady....stay calm Tara....don't get scared...I am here."

She was squealing with delight and apprehension too....

"I am going to lead Maria...and we will only walk the horse.....nothing more...okay?...

She nodded...scared but did not show it....

"Why are you slouching? Sit up tall Tara!"

Gosh her master wanted her to get everything right. She sat upright and he walked the mare...she loved the feeling...sitting up...seeing the meadows around her...it was a different feeling...

He then helped her get off the mare, whilst she got off, his arm protectively went around her waist...she did not mind....instead loving the feeling....she had got a whiff of his sweat..

He said, "I think Maria likes you."

"How do you know."

"Well she has not got agitated at all....which is strange...she doesn't really know you."

She strolled around and said suddenly, "I am dying for a cup of tea would you like some or maybe your coffee....I'll make it...I mean as payment for today's class."

She went into his abode again and felt so much at home...and got on with making him coffee and herself a cup of tea. Oh how he wished he could hold her from behind and plant a kiss on her neck......he walked out instead...... He was falling deeper and deeper in love with her seeing her there in his little hut and stable so comfortable in his bare surroundings....

She offered him his cup and went and plonked herself on the tree house and said, "I understand now why you love this place."

"It's beautiful and amazing to be one with nature....the feeling is something else."

"When do I get to see my paintings?' she asked him matter-of-fact

"Not until I have finished," said he.

Then hurriedly she sipped her tea and announced, "I got to go home it will be dinner time soon."

He immediately asked, "So shall we continue with the riding lessons again tomorrow...if so need to wear boots....that you can borrow from Vasu...and wear jeans...not these looking at her flared pyjamas!"

She looked down at her pyjamas and was about to snap back, when he said, "They are not for riding bass."

"Ok fine...aren't you coming home now?"

Oh gosh she sounded like his wife.....he smiled....she did sound like his wife......

"No you go on...I'll be home a little later...will get some sketches done," he hoped some day he could use the word Love!

When he saw her walking towards the stable the next day, she was found to be carrying two bags full of stuff out of which one had flowers sticking out of them.

He asked her, "Tara what's this?"

She announced, "Well you live like a monk...so thought I would bring you some things."

And then went about removing fruits, biscuits, some soup packets and snacks. And then she explained the wild flowers she picked on her way to the stable....looked for something to keep them in...cut out a plastic bottle, filled it with water and placed it on the dressing table in the stark room.

He leaned against the door with folded arms and said, "You know I can bring all the stuff from home myself."

She went about emptying the basket and said, "Yah I know you can, but you don't...so I had to do it...."

She went on with her blabber, "You know what....you should plant some flowers around the place....and some herbs."

He had to stop her before he felt like hugging her for it..."Are you here to play house-house or to learn horse-riding."

Frowning and with pursed lips she retorted, "Fine...let's go."

He trained her a little more, she had fallen twice off the mare...he pushed her to get up and try again and again.....they did a short trot......and then she remarked suddenly, "I have never seen you ride...do you mind?"

he looked at her and narrowed his eyes in suspicion, "Why are you so keen on it?'

"Hmmm...I know you think the worst of me, but which student would not like to see their master in action...I am in awe of my dance and music teachers when they perform."

Her questioning was totally innocent..he would have loved instead to corner her and tell her he could be her master in more than just horse riding...

And so like a pea**** trying to display his attributes as part of his courtship and charm her...... Mrityunjay mounted onto Marya in one smooth go.  Then looked down at her with a smirk...that signalled to her that he was doing it just for her whilst Tara watched the beast and his magnificent master bolt like the wind.....She stood in awe as she watched with fascination taking in the beauty of the scene, the man and his horse....those strong sinewy arms that held the reins of the beautiful beast....the way they took off....

To be contd///

Chapter 29

They were gone from her sight and she waited with baited breath for their return.

A good ten minutes and she was still leaning against the tree when he returned and bolted close to her, extended his hand, saying, "Come up."

"What?...How? Why?"

"You ask too many questions....don't you trust me?'

"Get up here in front of me....will take you for a ride...come on...before the sun sets."

He leaned and helped her mount, his powerful arms around her waist holding onto the reins, thighs touched thighs....she gulped hard....a throbbing heart....his vast broad shoulders engulfing her...she dare not turn her flushed face towards him...she could feel his breath against her skin...he whispered, "Afraid?"

Yes of what you do to me now....her response was just the opposite, in a cracked tone, "No."

His voice dropped...knowing too well she was completely affected by his proximity just as he was with hers..."Then why do you sound scared," waiting for an answer....he looked straight ahead....confused...why did it feel like as if he wasn't talking about the ride at all...and wasn't expecting her to answer....so cleared her throat and replied, "No I don't..of course not."

So she was backing off...He then gave her instructions to hold the reins steady and he rode the horse....that galloped and sped....she felt the wind in her face and hair, the meadows and hills passing by.... ....the feeling was amazing...suddenly she felt she would slip off the mare when his left arm grabbed her by the waist, she heard him say, "Steady now Tara"....she could feel the strength and safety of his hand and arm through her shirt...

She steadied herself and sat upright..........they had reached a hill...the mare trotted on his command....and stopped. He got off first....then helped her get down....

The sun was almost ready to set and disappear......

He held the reigns of the mare and said, "Beautiful isn't it."

"Breathtaking," she stood and watched while the glow of the star reduced to an orange hue....shining bright in another world....but spreading darkness around them....just like the sun her heart sank.....was he trying to tell he there was no tomorrow with him.....

It was such a beautiful spot...a lover's point and here they were...two people.....bound so closely yet so far away....afraid of giving to each other.......

He had witnessed this sunset so many times but today it was special....she was with him....he might never be able to bring her here again....never would they see the sun rise...

It was dark around them, she said, "Shall we return, its dark now."

There was pain when he spoke, "Oh I could stay here in dark all night...you know Darkness is my best mate."

She opted to walk along with him....the darkness and silence...walked along with them...and then she asked, "Why have you embraced Darkness?"

"What?"

"You heard me.....don't you want to live."

"The point is Can I? and can we not talk about this?"

"But why not?"

"I just don't want to....that's it."

He was not ready to open up to her yet.........

They reached home to find Baba waiting for them.....he announced, "Listen here is the invite to the house party at Uncle Mishra Silver wedding anniversary this weekend. You know how close we are....especially Mrityunjay."

Meethi rushed up to her, "We will go shopping tomorrow Tara, and take Vasu as well with us."

Vasu turned to Mrityunjay, "Bhai why don't you take us for shopping?"

"No Moti...why me?"

"Please Bhai it's been ages since you took us out." Baba too insisted so it was agreed....

The next day Mrityunjay had taken the women along and left them to shop on their own, saying he would return as he had to get his own stuff.

He picked up what he wanted but suddenly retrieved his steps back to a diamond jewellery store. Couldn't help but go through the display. Seeing the rings he so wish he could gift her one, but how?......one he did not know her right size and secondly how could he? When he knew that their relationship would terminate sooner than later, how could he gift her something that meant commitment? He knocked his knuckles onto the glass top in a fit of frustration, a salesman approached him, "Can I help you sir?"

"Oh sorry I....I was looking for gifting something to my wife.?"

"Any occasion."

"No, just a thank you gift," he would tell Baba to give it to her when he was gone....something to remember him by....a parting gift.

The salesman displayed various chains and pendants....nothing seem to please him, so the man asked, "If you don't mind asking you Sir but what kind of a person is she?"

He looked around and his eyes fell on one that was displayed right there in front of him...he pointed out, the man smiled, "There...like that Ruby there."

The man beamed, "Yes I get....You do have great taste....that's from our best ruby collection."

And brought out the dark red ruby and diamond pendant hanging on a white gold chain. He held the pendant in his hand and thought yes just like her Vibrant, soft, passionate and energetic. That was his Tara.

He paid for it with his debit card that Baba had recently activated. The first ever big purchase he had done on this card.

He then went back to collect them and was filled in with details of their shopping spree, whilst complaining about Tara not keen to buy anything.

"Bhai, Meethi Bhabhi and I had to literally force to buy stuff."

He glanced at Tara who looked away. She wasn't too keen on this whole party and invitation. What was the point of posing as a couple when they were not. At least he knew people there, she would be left out amidst their crowd.

Vasu had then asked him, "You did buy something! Really you shopped? I can't believe it Bhai"

"Oh nothing just some necessities Fatso....that is all."

Vasu and Meethi giggled. Tara wondered so he is pretty keen on going there, She remembered Vasu telling her that Bhai was very close to Uncle Mishra's family. There would lots of friends of Bhai.

They had rushed home, when MJay received a call from Baba informing the lawyer was at home waiting for him.

To be continued/....

Chapter 30

They would be going out together as a couple for the first time. She was nervous and excited as well. Did not know what to expect, but since Meethi had filled her in with some details, she painstakingly dressed for the occasion. It was the first time she was wearing a sari at least after her marriage.

She loved black and had chosen the sari on Vasu & Meethi's persistence finding it a bit too expensive and the jewellery to go with it.  But when she had draped it she herself topped with the gold spaghetti strap silk blouse, she could not help but fall in love with it. She may be his temporary wife or whatever but to the world she was Mrs. Mrityunjay and nothing and nobody could take that away from her. She would not let herself down in any way nor allow anyone else to do so.

Vasu, Meethi and Mrityunjay were all waiting.  Looking confident from the outside but extremely nervous she climbed down the stairs.

Mrityunjay looked up to see her coming down and was completely gobsmacked....he was a goner....ravishingly beautiful in the black see-through lace sari her hair all tied up in a soft bun at the nape of her neck with a few tendrils framing her face....an epitome of sophistication and yet titillating and really ****y.....he gulped.....their eyes met as she scanned his dapper suit. She had always seen him in traditional wear, but the dark blue blazer and the silk blue shirt over trousers made him look like he was all dressed to kill.

Too shy to look at him she turned to Meethi and Vasu....

Vasu exclaimed, "Tara...Oh my gosh...you look really wow.....woohaa!..someone is gonna get killed tonight."

She turned to her brother and joked, "Bhai you better keep an eye on your wife tonight." His eyes fell on the black mole against her dusky skin, yes he would have to...but then turned to his sister saying, "I have no choice do I, and there is you too, looking prettier than ever."

Tara felt stubbed and ignored.....never mind...it was expected of him....

Baba and her MIL came and they decided the couples would go in separate cars so if anyone wished to return they could do so....

Tara asked Vasu to join them, now he was irritated.....

They reached the venue and the introductions were done and pleasantries exchanged, Mr & Mrs Mishra greeted and gave her a genuine welcome. Mjay hugged them and they were very pleased to see him. He was told where his son and friends were.

Mr. Mishra seemed like a very fun and jovial person who said, "At last I get to meet you bitiya, now I know why Mritu beta and Jayraj kept you away"...then offering his arm, "chalo let me take you around and introduce you to everyone here...Jayraj I am taking away your Bahu tonight."

She took an instant liking to him and his wife "Uncleji ka saath nahi diya toh kya kiya?" said Tara and was whisked away by him.

After introductions were done and a lot of fun and laughter shared with Uncle Mishra Tara sat along with Vasu, Meethi & Aditya.  

She had kept glancing towards him and found that he was with a group of guys who were involved in very animated conversations. Laughing, joking, hugs, handshakes whilst some more guys came forward to meet Mrityunjay.

Many had turned towards her and raised their glasses and she had smiled back in acknowledgment...

More people arrived and the party was in full swing. She was standing and talking to Aunty Mishra and another few ladies when she saw the tall beautiful girl walk upto him and greet him with a cheek to cheek kiss on both sides and placed her arms around him in a hug. The girl was wearing a halter gown and Mrityunjay was all smiles and hugged her back.

Across the room their eyes met. Her big brown eyes widened in surprise angrily staring at him..... she looked away....totally miffed and filled with jealousy.....oh so he wasn't immune to women after all.

Meethi asked her, "What happened Tara you look upset?"

"Nothing just getting a headache, that is all."

She looked up again and found the woman mingling with the other guys as well. So it seems everyone there knew her and were friends probably.

He looked up and saw her staring again.......he knew then she was jealous....hmmm.....he would simply play along...ignoring her he continued being a part of the male banter and bonding. The boys were asking him to introduce her to them and he would in a while....

She was busy in conversation with Meethi, when she heard him approach her, "Tara,"..she  turned to see him with the woman. "Hello" said the lady and extended her hand. "Hello Tara...I am Sasha." Tara smiled said a "Hello" and extended her hand too, whilst he explained she was Aunty Mishra's brother daughter.

The girl had a very heavy American accent when she spoke, "Looking gorgeous and I am so glad to have met you...I have heard a lot about you from Jaya Uncle...I do hope someday both of you can make it to the US."

 She had no answer to that, so just smiled and said, "Thank you for the invitation Sasha, nice to have met you."

The lady was genuinely sweet.....she then turned to him and said, "Mrityunjay, I shall say bye to you both, I have a flight to catch tonight....lovely meeting you Tara... and then kissed Tara on the cheeks, turned to him, "And Mritu take care....you surely did the right thing," and then hugged him and left.  

They were left alone...first they shared a glance, and then she looked around her, he asked, "Tara did you eat something?" Irritated that he was only bothered now, “So you finally asked.”

Just then all his male friends turned up at his side, "So aren't you going to introduce us to Bhabhi MJ?"

Each of them extended their hand introducing themselves, and she did the same but was smiling and said, "Itne saare naam toh mushkil hoga yaad rakhne mein, ek minute...aap Ravi - hmm Hasmukh Ravi, achha aap Sahil - tirchi aankhen, ghungroo baal wale, and went to give them each a descriptive name.... and continued, "Aaap sab se milkar khushi hui" "Same here Tara Bhabhi....our Mrityunjay thoda dull hai lekin now meeting you we know you will change that about him."

Mjay punched Ravi in the tummy in a playful manner for complaining about him....just then the guys turned to see the entry of another guy, said one of them, "here comes the Casanova Samir."

All eyes turned to see an extremely handsome looking man, he walked with an air of flamboyance, and went around flirting and flattering every woman in the room including Mishra Aunty. He looked like a star and was aware of the way women drooled over him, young and old. He was an obnoxious charmer!

Just then Uncle Mishra and Baba called the guys to get something done, so they all had to move away.

As soon as Samir reached  her side, he turned to Tara saying, "Now who is this gorgeous hot looking lady in black.....that I have never met before" Meethi was about to answer when Tara replied, "Mrs. Mrityunjay Shekhawat."

She noticed MJ looking in her direction. She ignored him and got on talking with the guy. Samir ofcourse was flattering her, but who cared, the man whose attention she longed for did not bother to even say she looked good.

 She was really bored of the guy and his self-praise...but kept smiling  and laughing at his silly jokes...just so that Mjay knew she was having a good time.

The music tempo changed to a slow dance and Samir extended his hand saying, “Since MJ is not around would you care to dance?”

She answered, “Sorry but I don’t know to dance.”

“Oh she does know but has promised me the first dance,” Tara heard MJ say right by her side whilst he placed his hand at her waist.  Where did he come from thought Tara.

Samir still not giving up, “MJ boy how are you doing? I have missed you.” And then embraces MJ in a tight hug.  

Samir then looks from Tara to MJ and taunts,“You know as a rule never leave a lady unattended, you never know who can whisk her away.”

She would have loved to reply but thought let the man do it. “I will sure remember that Samir, can you excuse us now, would like to dance now,” and whisked Tara to the floor.

She grumbles, “Why did you bring me to the floor, when did I say I want to dance?”

He had already taken her in his arms, his right palm touching the bare skin of her back, he forcibly placed her left hand over his shoulder then bent close to her ear and whispered, “Everyone is dancing around, now don’t make a scene for nothing," entwining his left hand in hers.

She shut her mouth up and just looked away, whilst his eyes were intent on her, “What was so funny about his jokes that you were enjoying them?”

She looked at him furious, but did not say a word, “I don’t need to answer that Mrityunjay.”’

He pulled her closer and whispered, “Just wanted to say something though.”

“Now what?’ she snapped.

She was busy smiling at whoever passed by them, refusing to look at him, his voice dropped to a husky low, “You are looking stunning in this saree....and really ****y!”

She jerked her head up to him, lips parted, her glazed eyes widened in surprise, saw the twinkle in his eyes and the smirk on his lips...his eyes fell on her parted lips. She stopped swaying...stunned by his remark...just then she was jerked by another couple close to them she let go of his hand and moved back. The music had stopped. They moved apart.

She just kept thinking it was the way he had said it. Confused she did not know what to say, lost for words. But then her attention was diverted to Uncle Mishra making an announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been told by my very dear friend that we have an accomplished singer in our midst, so I am going to request that person to give us the pleasure of listening to her sing. Tara Singh Shekhawat.”

Her hands went to her mouth, Oh Gosh why did Uncle do that? She looked at Mrityunjay for support. “Please can you tell Uncle I can’t do it?”

He shrugged his shoulders, "Sorry...If I were you, I would not disappoint such a lovely couple on their Anniversary."

"Please there are so many people around here," she pleaded for his support.

"But I am confident you can do it...so come on," and instead took her hand and brought her to the elderly Couple.

Tara tried convincing Uncle Mishra, but everyone just insisted that she sing. Baba too and Vasu toh was overly excited.

Auntyji said, "Beta we are family here, so it's going to be okay...don't worry...your Uncle knows all the songs...another lover of music, he will support you if you falter."

Turning to her husband she said, "Kyun Janaab."

""Haa aap ke liye kuchh bhi karoonga darling."

Auntyji blushed and Tara saw the love between these two, even at this stage of their life. It was such a joy to watch this loving couple....sharing something so precious.

Tara took the mike from Uncle and announced, "Ok I will sing whatever songs you ask me to." Aunty mentioned her choice and so did Uncle.

She then went to the DJ to sort out the BG score and other technicalities.

Placed herself on a high rise bar stool. Mrityunjay had moved to his circle of friends, but was right opposite her. Vasu stood as support holding her hand.

She first looked at him.....there was a faint smile to his lips...and his eyes pierced through her soul....she could not look further so looked at the couple and said, "Auntyji this is for you....your favourite"

And then Tara sang, without a care in the world....her song and she became one.....

He was enthralled with her sing....and it pricked his heart.....the lure in her words...calling out to him.....She noticed his friends patted him and nudged him....she averted her gaze from him and sang to her heart's content....

lag ja gale ki phir ye hasin raat ho na ho

shaayad phir is janam men mulaaqaat ho na ho

lag jaa gale se ....................

ham ko mili hain aaj, ye ghadiyaan nasib se

ji bhar ke dekh lijiye ham ko qarib se

phir aap ke nasib men ye baat ho na ho

phir is janam men mulaaqaat ho na ho

lag ja gale ki phir ye hasin raat ho na ho

paas aaiye ki ham nahin aaenge baar-baar

baahen gale men daal ke ham ro le zaar-zaar

aankhon se phir ye pyaar ki barasaat ho na ho

shaayad phir is janam men mulaaqaat ho na ho

lag ja gale ki phir ye hassin raat ho na ho

shaayad phir is janam men mulaaqaat ho na ho

lag ja gale ki phir ye hassin raat ho na ho

When the song ended there was a resounding roar of claps.......she took a bow....and then announced, "This one is for Uncle & Aunty and wishing them another 100 years of togetherness.

"Uncle you have to sing as well, it's a duet."

And so they both sang the song "Janam Janam Ka Sath Ho" a classic by Lataji & Mohd Rafi.

Everyone clapped again and Uncle came forwarded and blessed her, "By God you are a fabulous singer, Jayraj kaha se mili aap ko Tara Bahu."

"And yes beta we have to do this singing session again."

Tara immediately said, "Uncle why don't you come home and we can have a nice session of Antakshari and play the dhol....now Baba too will learn soon."

The older men laughed and joked....and MJ's friends came forward also to congratulate her collectively.

Samir took the mike and said, "Wow...that was just amazing Tara, wish I knew you before MJ did."

MJ now wanted to smash the guy up but the boys stopped him. Samir got a scolding from Uncle and the matter was cooled off.

They are had their meals, and then said their goodbyes and promises to meet again.  

Tara and MJ thanked their host, and Aunty & Uncle hugged her and MJ...."Beta don't worry everything will be fine, you have our support and prayers and now you have your wonderful wife with you. Good luck and God Bless." To Tara he said, "Take care of him....he is a wonderful human being...and now you are his Ardhangini...no matter what happens don't lose hope." She nodded not knowing what to say....eyes glistening with tears, choking with emotions she said softly,  "Sure Uncle thank you for everything, I really had a lovely time." She took their blessings and they left.

The ride in the car was a silent one. Vasu was sleeping on the backseat of the car.... She softly woke her up when they reached home.

Tara was climbing up the stairs and he was behind him, when she heard him say, "I want to talk to you."

"I am tired...can't we talk tomorrow." they had reached her room.

Pushing the door of her room open, she enters, he says "No."

She threw her purse on the settee and was in the act of removing her earring she asked, "Ok shoot what is the urgency."

He had shut the door behind him, "Why were you sucking upto that guy?"

Confused she frowned, "What kind of a question is that? And which guy are you talking about?"

Getting worked up with her attitude of ignoring him, he turned her around, "Samir ofcourse...what was all that laughing and joke sharing with him?"

She was furious now, keeping one earring on the table, she looked at him angrily, "Weren't you doing the same thing with Sasha, kissing and hugging her?"

 "Don't bring Sasha into this....you don't know anything about that creep...and you were really enjoying it."

She was now defiant and angrier than ever for accusing her without reason, "So what if I laughed and joked with him...and then she laughed sarcastically, "wait a minute.....wait....wait....don't tell me Mrityunjay you like him for yourself? so you were jealous he did not pay You any attention?"

She hit the nail on the head, he yelled, "What?....I have had enough of your nonsense."

He grabbed and pulled her close to him, one hand he held at the nape of her neck, the other was around her waist.

She struggled to get out of his hold, "Leave me, damn you, what are you doing?"

He pulled her closer, her ****s crushed against his chest...she looked into his smouldering angry eyes, fearing what was coming....she had never seen this side of him before.

He brought his mouth down on hers and devoured her lips, punishing her, sucking every breath out of her....her legs gave way....he tightened his hold, the hands that were banging against his chest relaxed when his kiss began to explore every corner of her mouth, seeking her tongue, probing and demanding more out of her.

He raised his head and huskily called out her name, she opened her closed eyes...knew he wanted more out of her...but she pushed him away....

He was mad..."This should clear your stupid notion now and that I am straight and always have been. And yes Sasha is like an older sister to me, nothing more..and happily married to an amazing man." and walked out of there......banging the door after him.

She stood there shocked.....trying to find her balance....her throbbing heart....her face flushed, her body burning ...she  touched her bruised lips and mouth..trying to get a hold of herself.....when he barged back in again!

She saw him move towards her...she backed off..........he neared her again like a Lion to its prey....she walked back and landed against the wardrobe...there was no escape....."Please Mrityunjay, stay away."...he cornered her, she brought her hands forward to push him away, he held them above her head with his left hand....he was stronger and towered over her after all....physically she could not overpower him....he growled in a soft tone looking into those frightened yet beautiful large brown eyes, "I want you to know that I have been wanting to kiss you the day you brought Vasu home,  then again when you dressed like a man, and again when you cried in my arms like a baby for Bunty, and again when you posed in my room like an exotic dancer," he looked at her accusingly, the intensity of his stare piercing through her own, his voice a husky low, "what did you have in mind that day? coming to me like that?"....her lips quivered, she was breathless, he had come back only to tell her so...but like a moth drawn to a flame he could not help it....his eyes turned dark with desire, "and now I am dying to do this,' he lowered his head... whilst his right hand let go of her hands and instead reached for her exposed waistline, his fingers caressed her bare hot skin.........her lips parted waiting to receive his.....instead his lips grazed her cheek all the way to her ear and lower  down to the black mole of her exposed neck..and he kissed her there crying out her name.....she shuddered with pleasure..... his caressing fingers....linger in the centre of her belly, he pushed his hand inside her sari skirt....she trembled...a strange sound coming out of her throat.........his fingers deftly playing around her lower belly and all he did was pull out the pleats of the sari...pin and all...spilling them on the floor....her body aching for more of him but her mind angry that he dared to do this to her..."No" she gave him a push...he backed off releasing her just as quickly.....He looked lost in her...his eyes still glazed with desire and pleasure..."Tara please...I..let me" hearts pounding...a heaving chest..burning cheeks...she turned her back to him, the whole sari lay encircled around her feet, he heard her shaking voice whisper, "please leave," he was gone.

Mrityunjay went back into his room and slumped himself into bed. He had let his feelings and desires over ride his sensibility and he did not care anymore. He loved her deeply and that is all that mattered. He would tell her so tomorrow.

He could not sleep a wink...tossing and turning....he stood against the window looking out for the sun to rise....

Tara was  upset with herself for responding that way to him. But wasn't this what she wanted. She loved him...so what was the matter.......she undressed....looked at herself in the mirror, her whole body had responded to him...just thinking of him made her go all warm...she then put on her night clothes and got into bed...hugging herself...she thought..... she had been longing for his attention and he had denied it to her all along....making a fool out of her.

She wanted to shout and scream at him....how dare he...how dare he.....pumping and hitting at the pillows Tara just about managed to fall asleep.

 

Chapter 31

Next day Tara did not turn up at the breakfast. Meethi announced Tara was not keeping well, so was resting. Daijaan had taken the breakfast to her. She had not come down all day.

He had to speak to her.  Mrityunjay went up to her room and knocked. She did not answer. "Tara....you okay?"

"Just go away," is all he could get out of her.

He decided to let her be for today, he could wait until tomorrow though he was restless himself all day.

The following day, he had told Joseph were she to ask about him, though he was at home, to tell her that he was at the stables.

And right enough she had come down, he sneaked in to the kitchen to find her alone.

"Why are you hiding and from what?" She turned to look at him in surprise...."I am not," continuing to be busy around the kitchen.

"Liar....if you are not then I want to speak to you."

Ignoring him, "I am busy you can surely see that."

She was being stubborn...but he was not going to let go of her so easily. He first said, "Look at me when talking to you." Still mad at him and at herself for allowing him to have such a hold over her, she folded her arms turned to look at him and said, "Yes."

He gave her serious stare and warned, "I am giving you an hour to sort yourself out here, then come up to our room. If you don't....I would not hesitate to come down here and carry you up myself."

She was fuming...how dare he speak to her like that....as if he owned her...when did his attitude change?

She had no choice....just wasting the hour around the kitchen somehow, with sweaty palms and a throbbing heart she knocked on his door.

He was standing at the window looking outside when she entered....his wife...the woman he so dearly loved....he felt bad for being harsh to her...but he had to.... knowing her too well.

Scared, confused, mad, angry, anxious....Tara stood there....looking at her husband, the man she so deeply loved....He moved closer to where she stood...

"Why are you avoiding me?"

"I am not...who said so."

"Tara stop denying it......I know you are mad at me but can't we just talk it out?

She blurted it out,"I have every reason to be angry with you......you you have been lying to me that you have not been straight."

He drew closer and pulled at her arm, "When did I ever tell you that I am not? Tell me...you just jumped to the conclusion when Baba told you about the victim." He was right she had made her own presumptions and never asked him about it.

"But you knew I was thinking on those lines.....so why did you let me believe, because you knew if I got to know otherwise I would not have stayed back."

"Yeah....I agree to that........I am sorry for that."

"Then why now.....why...."

He pulled and held both her arms, looked into her accusing eyes, "Because I LOVE YOU LIKE CRAZY, and I cannotto bear to see anyone else get close to you."

Her eyes widen......her heartbeats raced......eyes glistening......she shrugged off his arms, "But if you love somebody you will not deny them your love...you did not start loving me just yesterday, did you?" she screamed.

Wanting to desperately explain, he cried out," Tara I....I....was denying you and myself because I cannot guarantee a future together."

"What future are you talking about? We don’t even have a past or present.....what about all the yesterdays that have gone by wasted, can you return them to me....the moments that I would have cherished all my life?... If I were to tell you I was to die tomorrow of some illness, would you deny your love to me?....Answer me!"

His pounding heart could not believe it...moisture filled his eyes...she did admit she loved him all along...and that  she was accusing him of keeping her away from him...

She wiped away her tears and spoke, "Anyways I have signed the divorce papers, like you said we have no future together...then why now."

He pleaded, "Tara damn the bloody divorce papers....don't do this to me...I am sorry for what we lost....but now..."

She was still angry with him...just then they both heard Baba frantically calling out, "Mrityunjay Mrityunjay open the door, quickly."

He wiped off his wet cheeks, and so did she, he opened the door to see his Baba in tears,  who hugged Mrityunjay and said, "Beta you have to surrender yourself tomorrow.....I failed you....the lawyer just called....he says until the case reopens in the court you have to serve your sentence..don't know what this means."

Tara's world came crashing down.....  knuckles turning white ...she couldn’t breathe..... trembling  she clutched on to the chair,..... Mrityunjay felt the blow... colour drained from his face...he was scared to look at her .... so it was all over after all......he had to show he was strong for his Baba who was breaking down....

He consoled his father, "Baba I had resigned to my fate, you should too. Better now than later." How could he tell his father than this time it was harder for him, that he wanted to run away from it all and take her along with him......

Baba realized Tara was in the room, he called out to her "Tara Bahu" she ignored both of them and was leaving the room when Mrityunjay said, "Tara wait..." she just fled the room, dragging feet, gasping for breath, she wept all the way to her own room.

She cried and cried, sobbing her heart out.........felt a horrible sinking pain in her chest...she sunk to the floor and stared into oblivion...a numbness taking over her body.....it was all over.....he had not come......

To be continued/

Chapter 32

It was evening, the sun had set......... She had gone to Baba to console him, ignoring her own pain, an eerie gloom set in around the house...... got to know from Faheem Chacha that he was at the stable.....Baba had asked Fahim Chacha to take some food for him there since he had decided to spend his last night there....

Vasu was in tears too....and so was Meethi and everyone...strangely her MIL just did not care....

Mrityunjay watched the sun go down....kicking the stones, he stroked Marya....hoping for a miracle....knowing it was an empty hope.....he had loved and lost her too in just one night.....

He went inside and took out the little box that sat on the bed....opening it he looked at the fiery Ruby....shining bright, he shut his eyes in anguish... remembering her trembling body against his,....opened his eyes and touched the stone.......felt its smoothness and beauty.......closed the box.... and placed it aside...he would hand it over to Baba tomorrow.

He lay on the bed, trying to read...but nothing.... he could feel the black hole in his soul, the gnawing emptiness, he felt dead already inside... ...hating the lamp that burned...turning he began to dim it when he felt her shadow fall on him.......stunned he turned.....and saw her standing there...her funny flares and a white shirt...the light from the dimmed lamp lent a soft glow to her wet-cheeked face.......he whispered, "Tara!"...he could not believe his eyes....his joy knew no bounds...She had come to him......

She knelt beside him reaching up to his level....the tears hadn't stopped flowing....she wiped them away...and said, "are you going to sit here all night and stare...and let every moment go wasted?'

Typical of her to say that...he smiled....his little vixen....she looked at him will all her love leaned forward and placed her lips on his, whispering against them, "Is there space for me to spend the night here Mister?"

He held her by the shoulders, "You deserve better, not this stable....let me take you home."

She held his face in her little hands saying, "No...with you every place would be Heaven...I belong here just as you do." He beamed, lifting her up he cradled her in his arms and placed her on the bed lovingly....and lay there beside her....and asked tenderly, "Are you sure Tara?"  She placed her finger on his lips and said, "Shhhhh........ I have never been so sure all my life.....and then she took his hand kissed the inside of it and placed it on her heart, "Do you feel them...my heartbeats...they will beat for You forever! ” Then places her hand over his heart, nuzzles closer whispering softly, "Mrityunjay...Love me like there is no tomorrow, make me yours tonight." He was overwhelmed with love and gratitude....what more could a dying man ask for! They silently let the tears flow, tears of joy....knowing what they had was precious...just one night of togetherness....he took her hand to his lips and kissed the inside of it, "Love You Tara."

And then he kissed her forehead, her eyes, her tears...showering her with kisses all over...hungrily claiming her lush warm lips, and with his trembling fingers reached for the buttons of her white transparent shirt....undoing them one by one.....he pushed the shirt off her shoulders...lifted his mouth to smile again.....shaking his head with glee....noticing she had worn the same lacy pink bra that he had stared at that day,..."so you noticed I was looking." With sparkling eyes she said, 'yes of course how could I not"

Tenderly pushing aside the tendrils of her hair, he said, "I am scared of hurting you." She looked at him with love and understanding, running her hands through his long tresses, touched his face, "I don't think you can hurt me even if you wanted to Jaan." then bringing her hand down she tugged at his vest, trying to pull it out of his tracks wanting to feel his bare skin against hers....he took it off for her with the rest of his clothing.. The moonlight cast its glow on the two lovers, and the gentle breeze brought in scents of the night. She said running her hand through the hair on his chest, “You are so broad-shouldered!” He smiled, she held his palm against hers and compared, “My Gosh! My hands are so tiny compared to yours.” He chuckled, whilst cupping her ****, he growled in his velvety voice, “This means I can love you more,” she moaned in ecstasy....he then undressed her gently, wanting to see all of her in her feminine glory.

Whilst caressing his sinewy arms, suddenly Tara remarked innocently, "Oh yes wait...one thing hurts," "What?" he asked in surprise, twitching her nose, and with her finger tracing along his jaw line, she cheekily replied, "your moustache..... and this beard.....it hurts." he roared with laughter, "Oh is it! Well sweetheart it stays, you have no choice do you?"  And then looked into her large innocent eyes, "You are beautiful Tara and I am going to punish you my way for being upset with me" and then rubbed his beard against her cheek, and lowered his head to seek her generous softness, marking her as his own.........her skin burned at his touch,...her body arched forward to meet his demands, his smouldering hungry gaze and calloused hands feeling her, caressing her, probing her... and he gently reached into the depths of her body, whilst she cried out his name amidst sweet pain, their bodies shuddered together and from deep within he whispered, “Love You”.  He lay his head in the hollow of her neck, and she held him tenderly, whilst a tear trickled from the corner of her eye....

After their passionate lovemaking, he had reached for the tiny box and put the chain around her neck....he said, "This ruby is like you, fiery and passionate...I want you to keep it." She asked, "it’s beautiful but when did you buy it and why?” He had explained...

The dark red ruby sparkled against her naked skin...'Thank you"...she had nothing on her but a token of his love.

Wrapping herself up in the bedsheet  she sat nestled against his broad chest on the floor whilst he showed her pictures of his childhood and orphanage....she had asked, "And your biological parents?" He sighed, "No idea...I have never thought of finding out." She hoped some day they would.....

She then put on just the white shirt and went up to warm some milk for him and tea for her......complaining she was hungry....he was busy attending to Maria and he came back in...when his eyes fell on her form, her long tousled hair flowing down her back, that white shirt that barely covered her buttocks and thighs, and it did things to him, he came up to her, stood behind her and placed his hands on both sides of her bare thighs knowing she was completely naked, lifting the shirt...bringing his hand all the way to her warm belly....teasing her warm moist skin....her body quaked....... hands shook....she left the mug there and placed her hand on his... whilst he nuzzled his head into her neck, she arched her head back, moaning “Jaan” he growled, “hmmm”  and murmured, "Tara I need you now"...she responded, "I am all yours."

He had made fiery passionate love to her again on the stark floor ....not wanting to let a moment go by without loving and giving to each other all they had....there was no holding back .... there was no tomorrow!

It was dawn....Tara found him to be peacefully in deep sleep, she looked at him with a heavy heart, a tear rolled down her cheek,  she kissed his forehead very gently, gathered her clothes, dressed up quietly and left.

When the sun streamed into the place he woke up to find her not around.....he called out to her...but she wasn't anywhere to be found....

He got dressed and decided to rush up to the house...smiling and remembering their  stormy night....almost forgetting it was the day of his surrender.

He ran up the stairs, looked around the house she wasn't to be seen.  He kept asking everyone if they had seen her, no one knew..he panicked.....where was His Tara....he ran into his dark room, and then went back into her room....rushed to the bathroom found it empty...looked around and found them....on the table were the heirloom kadas, mangalsutra and the ruby chain he gifted her....and a note..that was still moist....from her tears....with trembling hands he picked up the note to read. "My Beloved Mrityunjay....I have failed you...nothing good came out of this marriage...I could not save you... , instead brought you more pain, All I could give you was one night of myself....I will forever cherish every moment  I lived in your arms....I love you with all of my heart, body and soul....Forgive me for doing this but I had to go away...I leave behind the ruby....so that you keep it as a reminder of me...Your Tara Forever!

He screamed her name aloud and cried, Baba came running into her room and saw his son huddled to the floor, crying his heart out, "Baba she has left."

"Yes I know she left another letter in my study. She has given up all financial rights as a wife and if she bears your child then all financial support for your child. She said to collect the keys of their house from the neighbour's place. They were leaving the place in a week's time, moving to another city."  Baba had cried for his son and her..... They were two lost souls who found each other and now belonged to each other. But fate had other plans....

"Son it's time to leave to the prison....can you get up and get ready."

Mrityunjay had just died....he rose and said, "Baba I am ready let’s go right now....there is nothing left here for me now."

To be contd/....

Chapter 33

Tara had reached her home and locked herself in the room all day.  She refused to eat or talk to anyone. Baba had called her several times she had shut the phone off eventually.

Her mother got worried, the girl had stopped eating, would sit and look outside the window, crying and refusing to talk to anyone. It was two days now.

Baba called her mother's phone, she yet refused to talk.  Her mother coaxed her, forced her to get out of depression, but nothing made her get out of that bed. She would just drink water when she felt like.

Three days had gone by and Tara had not got out of the room, her mother came to her and said, "Tara its Vijay from USA." She turned and took the call...holding the phone she wept.

She heard him say, "Why are you doing this to yourself Tara. You both are two of a kind."

She cried some more, he went on, "Were you married to him for just one night? Or is your love beyond that?"

" I can't live without him, I have to see him Vijay...don't know what to do..."

"And what are you doing here? You were are and will always be his wife. That whole family is shattered because they are not just losing their son this time but you as well."

She wept bitterly, "I just want to see him first...I will go insane if I don't"

He was firm, "Listen to me, Baba will be there any minute, talk to him. I will be arriving in India next week."

She shut the phone and said to her mother, "I have to go...I have to go."

"Where Tara....wait."

Tara got out of bed and stood up, but being dizzy and weak she collapsed in her mother's arms.

Nandu and Aradhna got her into bed.  They gave her a glass of glucose water to regain her strength.  Baba had just arrived and she was surprised to see Vasu with him.

Vasu hugged her saying, "Why did you leave us? What have I done? Bhai is gone and you too? You will always be my Bhabhi no matter what."

Tara hugged her and cried...Baba looked on....She looked at Baba and said, "I want to see him Baba."

He wiped away his tears and made a few calls and said, "First the doctor will be here. Do as he says, get your strength back and I will take you there."

She was administered some intravenous fluids and then by late afternoon they left to the prison.

She looked at the mangalsutra hanging around her neck. Vasu had brought a box along with her and had told her "I think you forgot this at home....Bhai told me whenever I happen to see to hand it over to you." And she had said, "Bhabhi come back home, we all need you."

She opened it and pulled out the mangalsutra and wore it around her neck. She felt a part of him with her....

The prison guard went upto MJay who was busy painting hurriedly. They had been watching him, sketching and painting day and night with the closely guarded photographs in his hand....like as if he had a deadline and had to complete them.

"Mrityunjay there is someone here to see you."

MJ ignored him. The guard said softly, "A family member."

"I don't want to see anyone."

"It's your wife."

He shot his head up....."I don't have a wife."

The guard goes and conveys his message to Tara who was waiting for him. Tara turns to the guard saying, "Tell him he better come and see me, or else I would not hesitate to even kill you and land right where he is."

The guard frowned.....biwi bhi khooni!....goes back and says exactly what Tara had conveyed.

He throws the pencil and sketch pad away and comes out....wanting to bash her.....he walks ...and his eyes fall on his little wife sitting there wiping away her tears, her eyes seeking him out.....she sees him the way she had met him the first day of their wedding as a groom.....in prison garb...the grilled window separates them.....her sunken eyes filled with tears, her pale face, and trembling lips call out, "Mrityunjay."

A parched soul....He walks towards her...his spring of  life,  his existence.......like manna in the desert...his eyes devour her tiny frail frame......he sits across the caged window...his eyes telling her why did she leave him alone that morning.....crying out....she asks him to pass his hands through the opening...he does...and she kisses them fervently.

"I....I thought I could live without you...but I can't...I can’t survive without you." the tears flowed....

"Oh Tara....stop crying....what have you done to yourself and what is that!" he notices the band-aid stuck on her hand due to the IV."

"It's nothing I got a scratch...so Maa made sure I applied medicine....don't worry I am fine."

He looked at her angrily, "Tell me the truth Tara....I am not stupid."

She lies..."I had a bad stomach...so the vomiting and all....so..just some Glucose IV that is all." He shuts his eyes and the warm tears flow out....gulping hard he tells her, "I know you are lying....why are doing this Tara...there is no hope...you are better off without me.....it's just a matter of time."

"I am going to live each moment with Hope...I want to live with you, love you, have babies from you, grow old with you."

"Tara stop it nothing of that is ever going to happen," and tries to pull back his hands, she holds on to them tight and bring his hand to her face placing her cheek against it..and then bringing it down to her neck.

Her pleading eyes and trembling lips ask, "Don't you want to live Mrityunjay for me, for our future, our children?"

He does not utter a word...and felt the blood rush to his head....longing to gather her in his arms...

She then wipes away her tears and says, "I have applied for conjugal rights."

"What?...No...As much as I love you....this is not a place for you to be...and I don’t think something like this exists here or is possible."

"Why not? If you can be here, why not me?"

He smiled shaking his head, "You are crazy and you are doing no such thing.”

"Yes I must be crazy to love you....Vijay will be here next week to see you."

He squeezed her hands, "Tara ...now listen if you want me to be okay...you need to be okay and take care of yourself for me....., that is not from a stomach ache...did you hear me, and go back home."

"What is the point of going home without you?"

"Do it as a favour for me, Baba and Vasu need you...and so do I...please Tara."

The guard came to remind him that the time was up....

He kissed her hands and looked right through her soul. She began to cry again, "I will be here tomorrow...Take Care of yourself...Remember that I Love You.....My thoughts and prayers are with you....do you need anything."

His voice cracked, "Yes...YOU." she looked at him....and saw the longing for her in his eyes....and those shared passionate moments of that beautiful night...... she lowered her gaze feeling shy.

"Tell Baba I want to speak to the lawyer." he got up and turned to see her fading face...she stood there crying her heart out.

 

 

 

Chapter 34

Tara returned to Shekhawat Villa with Baba. She had not entered their bedroom but remained her bedroom that she had used when she last left.

Meethi and Vasu had been with her all day, trying to bring a smile to her face. All she did was stare at the emptiness around her.

On Vasu's insistence she gulped down the soup and food....all the time thinking about what he must have eaten today. He loved milk, and his bitter coffee....and now.  Baba had given strict instructions that she should eat properly and no skipping meals.

The only time she showed any interest was when it was time to visit him.  She worried about what to wear, wanting to look pretty for him the next day. Tara got dressed an hour early and waited anxiously for Baba to take her along.

Being there before time she anxiously playing with her fingers, she waited with bated breath to get a glance of him. She saw him approach her with a smile on his face. Sitting across her through the grilled window he said, "Hi, you looking pretty today?" Her eyes lit up, "Am I...oh thanks." she asked for his hands and she held them in hers caressing them and kissing them....almost ready to cry...seeing his miserable state...she could not bear it.....behind those grim walls, those stark conditions...choking with emotions she asked, "How have you been?"

"Getting by...it's harder this time without you"...she entwined her fingers in his large hands he caressed them looking at her intently....."you know you don't need to come to see me every day."

"If I don't I would not able to survive the rest of the day...it's only these visits that keep me going."

His heart broke to see her this way...her pinning for him so badly, "Oh Tara....what have you got yourself into."

"Mrityunjay pagalpan...or whatever," and smiled through her tears.....then continued, "I...I got you some books to read...from your room...it's with the Jailer...they should hand it over to you soon."

"Thanks...you know you are crazy."

"Ok in what way?"

The guard stood afar probably listening into their conversation,  he said softly, "Every way...I miss all of it....all your craziness."

Her eyes twinkled and she started to tease him, "How much?"

He said hoarsely, "Come closer," she leaned forward boldly, he traced his finger over her cheeks, her parted lips...all the way down to her throat reaching her cleavage, and then whispered, "this much and much much more."

Looking into his dark smouldering eyes...she gulped hard with flushed cheeks and a shy smile....his fingers continued to linger there... caressing her, touching her, feeling her..."Miss you Like Hell."

She held on to his palms, kissing them, "Me too."

She had to lighten the mood so  straightened up and asked, "Now tell me about Maria, when you are not around, I will need to take care of her....I will ask Fahem Chacha to help me so don't worry."

And so he told her what Maria liked and did not like. Her behaviour and everything he could remember. Tara listened attentively. "Hmmm she is so much like you then?"

It was time to leave, she reluctantly said goodbye, telling him she loved him and she would be there tomorrow.

He returned back to his cell and banged his head against the wall, each passing day was getting harder without her next to him...

Tara would visit him daily, and not a day went by that she did not cry....some days she would blabber about every little happening of her day. How she took care of Maria, groomed her, and she had thrown in some seeds of a watermelon around his stable, she told him she had seen her pictures in the dark room.. ...sometimes she would suddenly breakdown and weep bitterly..........He could see she was falling apart slowly...those sunken eyes, hollow cheeks....that pale skin....he was afraid....this was not like his Tara...the bubbly, blabbering woman....the spark in her was diminishing....

No more he had to get out....he wanted to be free....he had to come out with the truth....it would create havoc in the lives of many...Baba would be hurt too, they were all suffering even otherwise....he could not kill Tara along with him....not anymore....she was his reason to want to live....he would wait until Vijay came.......

It was one of those days at the stable when she felt the urge to lift the cover from the canvas and see his unfinished work....she had brought the easel inside....

She lifted the white fabric and stared at the woman smiling back at her from the canvas.....what reflected back was a Tara through His eyes.....it was one of the poses where she was seated on the floor, body titled in a side pose....but what he captured with such a simple pose was beyond her imagination...she gulped hard...... he had dropped the sleeve of the choli to expose her shoulder, her neckline.....and the way he had added sensuality to the painting. She went all warm....and quickly pulled down the cover over it......she would go mad just thinking of him so far away and unreachable.....she wanted to scream....but all she felt with stinging tears.... and a stabbing pain in her chest.....she knelt down and cried.....and lit the diya and prayed fervently....for his health and safety “Dear God please bring him back home to me...please..why did you bring him into my life if you wanted to take him away from me. And he deserves to live more than anything else.” Beating her hands to her chest she wept...and lay on the floor....reminiscing that night and all those moments they shared at the house....

Vijay arrived that day and he met Tara for the first time at home. She was just as he had imagined, and Tara found in him an older brother. Never thought this short, slightly plump man would be Mrityunjay's best friend.

Though now he had an accent, she managed to understand him. Many a times he broke out in Hindi.

"I went to see him straight from the airport."

"You did?....I just came from there,"

"For the first time I have seen my dear friend wanting something from life for himself....and express his love for somebody and that too for a woman...he is someone who finds it hard to say what he feels."

Her lips quivered and eyes glistened....

"He is ready to speak to his lawyer and come out in the open. Do you know he wasn't even there at the place of crime?"

"You know everything what happened that day Vijay?'

"Yes, I do, I was with him when the crime had happened."

He looked at her and smiled, took her hand in his and said, "Our Mrityunjay is like that. He is someone who would not think twice to lay down his life for his family and friends. "

The tears fell, and Vijay continued choking with emotions, "What I am today is because of him. I was the son of a sweeper.  When my father died I had to leave school. Mritu asked his parents to pay for my education. His mother refused, saying she could not afford to take care of two orphans. He made a deal with his father, since he was going to an expensive school, he told his father to take him out of there and that he and I would study at a regular school. Baba loved and admired what Mritu did for me. We went to very ordinary schools and universities. So he paid for my education sacrificing his very own. His mantra was it was the same syllabus and he consoled me that going to expensive schools would only make us look down on the less fortunate.......we studied together. He also paid for my uniforms and extra- curricular activities with his pocket money. I was never deprived of anything that would hamper my education. He told me he was blessed to have found Baba as his Father and Saviour.  He would die for him if he had to, and he is doing just that."

"Tara God makes men like him once in a way. He is a living angel."

"And now?'

"Tara he never really found true love, apart from his Baba, no one really cared for him. He was always considered as an outcast. And he has no attachment to worldly and materialistic things. He is a man of this earth."

"And that is why I asked Baba to find him a woman to marry, so he would find love in his life and a reason to live and fight back the wrong,” he looked at her squeezed her hand and continued, “And I thank God that he found You for my dear friend." She lowered her gaze.

"So who is responsible for the crime?"

"I am telling you this with his permission, remember that. Or else , I am sworn to secrecy."

"And Baba?"

"No he is not aware of it, might have doubts and he does not believe MJ could ever commit a crime against anyone."

"Who then?"

"A group of boys and Aditya.”

"What? But a young man was killed and....and raped?"

"Aditya and his friends were out drinking and doing drugs at a hotel, they happened to flirt with the girl, the mad guys thought of punishing the boy and having some fun at his cost. They took the boy as punishment...they were so sloshed out with whatever they were having, that they had no control over what they were doing. The boy was gang raped and killed because he tried to escape or defend himself. A knife was used, carried by one of the guys."

Adityya called MJ and cried his heart out that everyone would know about what he did. His mother would die knowing what her son did. So MJ took the blame upon himself for his Parents. There are other boys involved from some prominent families and Adi is covering their bloody butts....Adi might have not killed but the rest he was involved in."

"Am I the last one to know?"

"Yes!"

"But doesn't Mrityunjay understand that to save one he could be putting many other people in danger, because the real culprits are out there still."

"Yeah Tara."

"We are talking to the lawyers now and reopening the case.  I am not going back until this ends."

She cried and joined her hands, "Thank you Vijay."

Chapter 35

It was a month since he was behind bars. In the past week he had told Tara not to visit. Vijay too had insisted. So she had stayed away. Vijay promised he would bring Mjay back home soon.

So Tara waited anxiously for the day he would be released.

Meethi  was going through a divorce, but she stayed back for Mrityunjay’s return.

Nirmala was heartbroken and decided to stay out of the country for some time. The media, her friends and everything just got to her. Tara spoke to her requesting her to stay back, she had explained that she was too ashamed of what Aditya did. Her own son had forsaken her and she was ashamed of what she did to Mrityunjay. She could never be a good mother.

She then pleaded, “I need some time to be alone. I can’t handle all of this.”

He was going home from an Under-trial prisoner to a Free Man at last....to the woman who made it happen....

Mrityunjay had told Vijay to get his pooja clothes, on the way home they would stop by at a hotel to freshen up. He had changed into a white kurta and pyjamas.

Mrityunjay, Vijay and Baba had just left the hotel when Mjay said to Vijay, "Can we please stop at the salon?" Vijay, "Why salon?'

"Please!' Ok fine....Baba and Vijay waited outside the salon and were shocked to see a changed Mrityunjay walk up to the car. Vijay who was leaning against the car gaped at his dearest friend in surprise. "What?" asked Mrityunjay to Vijay. Vijay pulled him in a hug, patted him on the back saying, "I have my old friend back." choking with emotions...

It was that day....Tara had insisted that they keep a Satya Narayan pooja in the house for his safe return.  The house was decorated....a kind of frenzy and anticipation filled the air....

Faheem Chacha, Vasu and even Meethi stayed around despite her divorce to welcome Mrityunjay back home. Uncle & Aunty Mishra too were at home. His friends all planned to come in later....

Aradhana and Nandu were bustling around getting things prepared for the pooja. Nandu pulled Tara up to her room to get dressed finally.

Tara had chosen a beautiful red and gold border sari for the occasion. Butterflies in her stomach she was excited...and a complete bundle of nerves....Like a new bride waiting for her groom, she draped the sari with Nandini's help, plaited her hair to one side, adorned herself with a beautiful gold jewellery kundan set, a maang ka tikka, she had also put on a long mangalsutra to go with it.

Nandini  and Vasu exclaimed, "looking gorgeous in red just like a bride Bhabhi."

They had all gone down together....Baba had called to say they were on their way....She was nervous....might as well keep herself busy with the pooja preparations.

Tara got the pooja thaal ready, and was busy lighting the oil lamp. He saw her bent slightly over the lamp stand, the light illuminating her face...he went and stood next to her and placed his hand on hers, she turned to see who it was.....smiling back at her was Mrityunjay....she was stunned....looking extremely handsome and adorable....she could not believe it was him....she just stared wide-eyed......Tara fell in love with her husband for the second time.......he had cleaned shaved his beard and moustache...whilst maintaining his long tresses....eyes sparkling....she smiled shyly...remembering her complaint to him that night....her cheeks burned, her heart throbbed, he winked, 'Hi Gorgeous!"...she was dumbstruck....."Huh.....wel......welcome home." Vijay came forward..."So Tara did I keep my promise or not?' placing both his hands on each of their shoulders.

She looked down shyly...and then raised her gaze to her beloved man and said, "Yes thank you...I will ever be grateful to you all my life Vijay."

"No I should be to you Tara, he is here standing in front of you, only because you made it happen...the Tara magic." Mrityunjay nodded saying, "I agree to that VIjay....my wife is my reason for being alive today."

Baba came forward and they started the pooja.  Throughout the pooja, whilst performing and praying...their hands touched, shoulders brushed, she could see the love and joy in his eyes...he would deliberately nudge her, entwine his fingers in hers...she kept blushing...and  found Vasu making the most of it with her little comments on her brother's display of love for his bride.

Pooja completed they all sat to eat....she was seated beside him. He dropped a fork on purpose, bent down and brought his thumb to her exposed midriff.....she gulped hard and coughed.....

Then straightened up saying softly, "I was longing to do that to you." Wide-eyed she looked at him"...okay she would play naughty now, "Just that...Don't I get anything more?" He smirked passed the kheer and  then said, "Did not know you loved kheer so much Tara?...here let me serve you," pouring a large amount of it in a extra large bowl.

Baba remarked, "Oh she is just celebrating your return Son."  Some more remarks and Tara just brought her gaze down to her plate and ate up every bit of the extra kheer which she never was fond of earlier.

After lunch the men gathered around, and she went on to serve coffee.....they would keep stealing glances. Well wishers never really left and the discussions went on and on, which left Mrityunjay frustrated and irritated.  "Why couldn't Baba have just called everyone some other day? thought MJ.

MJay came up to her and took the tray from her hand whispering in her ears, "You said you wanted to make babies with me, now how can that happen if you keep serving coffee?"  She looked around to see if anyone heard him. Completely flustered and blushing she whispered back she said, "Mrityunjay shhh...there are guests around here."

Mrityunjay put his arm around her waist whilst she looked all the more alarmed and he announced, "Baba we need to add one more custom to the Shekhawat rituals."

Baba asked him, "What is that beta?"

He handed over the tray to the nearest person and lifted Tara up right there in his arms and said, "OF carrying the bride up the stairs to the room."

Baba and everyone laughed and Tara was left blushing, embarrassed and shell-shocked....

"Oh yes Mrityunjay...go on you would be the first Shekhawat to do so."Vijay and everyone only cheered him on. His killer smile made it difficult for her to breath, she shyly wound her arms around his neck and he  carried her all the way to their bedroom.

"You are shameless Mister," He laughed, "Not my fault...you are responsible for that."

When he reached the bedroom he placed her on the bed.."Stay there, don't get up." He shut the door and the lights off leaving the night lamp on and then came to and sat beside her, she simply hugged him tightly and buried her face in his chest, held him and cried....he crushed her in his embrace and kissed her forehead, "I thought I would never get to see this day again."..he lifted her face and kissed her tears..."no more now.....never again are you going to cry," and then she smiled, touched his face a little shy, she asked, "You did this for me....you look so so...much like a hero".

She reached for her maang tika to take it off, he stopped her and removed her hand saying, "Let me undress you."  he looked at her so much love and tenderness and she did the same....he gently took it off, and then reached for her hands and pulled off the bangles, then bent over her...he knew she was being affected by his nearness...but he wanted to celebrate and savour every moment....he took off each of her earrings....and then reached for the back of her necklace...his breath and touch on her skin created a tingling sensation.....she curled her toes....he had taken all of her jewellery, when his hand reached for the pin of her pallu......he deftly took it out...he searched her flushed face.... lifted her pallu to reach for the inside of her sari skirt...but instead her brought his head to her belly and undid the pin with his teeth...whilst his lips grazed her bare skin.....breathing and heaving...she called out, "Mrityunjay".....he pulled out the sari and...she clung to it...out of shyness......he did not let her...unzipping the sari skirt.....pulled up the silken bed sheet that she drew up to her bare torso. Why did it feel that this was their first night...the apprehension, anxiety..... He got rid of his clothes and lay down beside her......letting the glow of the candles and night lamp play their magic on their bare bodies...her lush lips open to invite his fevered kiss.....whilst his hand reached for the clasp of her choli.....he pushed the bedsheet down to drink in her feminine beauty....his voice cracked and horse, he groaned,"I missed you so much...that it hurt...every part of me hurt so badly...and yes now that the beard is not there I am going to taste you from forehead to toes Mrs. Mrityunjay Shekhawat...you can't be complaining now." She blushed a crimson red, and held and touched him with the same passion and hunger that he did....raining kisses on his face and body.....feeling  the strength in his sinewy arms, Her beloved Man and then lifted her head and placed her soft lips on the tiny cleft of his chin saying, "I can do this now to you....it was hidden all along.”. He chuckled and sought those same thirsting lips for his own....

Mrityunjay & Tara once again became prisoners of their wild fiery desire, and would never be free to be alone again, their chains of love binding them so tight, until the end of time.....

 

The End

Love You All & a Big God Bless

Wishing you all a Blessed Christmas & a Peaceful & Joyful New Year

 




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