Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beautiful

“They are going to be here in like fifteen minutes,” he hissed at her. “How can you still be in the kitchen!”

“I have had to cook for a gathering of twenty on the short notice of six hours,” she gritted through her teeth. “We did not order in, because you didn’t want to spend money on futile stuff like that, remember?”

“You are not even dressed to greet them!” He scolded. “How come Natasha manages everything with such flair?

“Because Natasha has two cooks and a manservant,” She almost shouted. “Not to mention at least two days of advance notice.” And a husband who loves her, she added silently.

“Never mind,” he mumbled as he headed out of the kitchen. “I suppose even they are used to you appearing unkempt and froppy. And frankly, its not like it would make a world of difference even if you decided to put in that effort to look good.”

Her dishrag dangling from her half-forgotten hands, she watched as slapped his feet on the linoleum flooring and headed to the hall. Where had she gone wrong? She gave herself a mental shake and hastened to finish mopping the granite. She really had less than fifteen minutes to get ready.

She eyed herself critically in the mirror. The red and blue saree, complimented her dusky complexion. Did she look presentable? She wasn’t vain or stupid enough to think she looked beautiful. She had not felt beautiful in a long time. But there was a time when she really believed she could be beautiful.

He made her believe she was beautiful.

She often recollected glimpses of time spent with him. Like that time, when they were sitting behind tall glasses of chocolate fringed cold coffee – he had said something which had made her laugh.

“You could create a traffic jam when you laugh like that,” he smiled at her. She rolled her eyes. “No. Seriously. Your eyes get that unique hint of sparkle and your cheeks get tinged with this faint pink blush… it’s mesmerizing!”

Or that time when she had dragged him shopping with her and had asked his opinion on the red and black stilettos she was trying out. “I am blushing,” he said with a straight face.

“They are that good?” she asked eyeing the stilettos dubiously in the mirror.

“Your ankles are sexy,” she rolled her eyes again. “No. Honest,” he continued. “You should stay away from guys with foot fetishes. One look at those and they’ll begin stalking you!”

Her favorite one was when they had gone to the disc together. She was eyeing the crowd wearily. She hated being pushed against strange bodies. Maybe coming here was not a good idea after all. But the music was good and she was in a mood to dance.

“I don’t like crowds,” she confessed. “And the dance floor looks crowded multiplied by two.”

“Dressed like that,” he looked her up and down. “All you have to do is step on the dance floor and the crowds will part for you!”

She had felt beautiful.

She needed to feel beautiful now. She needed that bit of confidence to face her husband’s office crowd downstairs. And him. He would be there too. Did he think of her as often as she thought of him? Did he know she thought of him that often? How could he? Nobody could even guess what she thought! She had successfully pulled off the farce of a happy marriage for two years. She had to continue doing that for the next couple of decades.

She saw him the minute she stepped into the hall. Their eyes met and for a brief second, she felt incapable of looking away. She then nodded her head acknowledging his presence and smiled briefly at him. She shifted her gaze to seek her husband.

It wasn’t difficult to spot him, considering he was heading her way.

“You are late!” he hissed as he wrapped his fingers around her arm and almost dragged her to meet the guests. After a couple of perfunctory smiles and handshakes and ‘how do you dos’ she found herself alone with her husband.

“You should have tied your hair,” he instructed through the fake smile plastered on his face. He wasn’t even looking at her. “You look so silly with your hair let down like that. For once, you could have put your heart into looking close to presentable.”

She swallowed the lump of tears, forcing its way up her throat.

“Hey,” he smiled at her and then shook hands with her husband. She smiled at him and looked around for something to occupy her attention. If she looked at him, she would definitely cry – for everything that could have been and everything that wasn’t.

“What?” her husband fooled around with him, “No gorgeous model is clinging to your very available arm?”

“Didn’t want her ego to take a bruising,” he laughed.

Her husband smiled and looked around, “I don’t see much of a competition here,” he winked at him.

“Maybe you’ve gotten used to it,” he said.

“I don’t get you,” her husband frowned.

“The only way you haven’t noticed how stunning your wife looks in that particular shade of blue, is because you have gotten used to seeing such beauty everyday,” he smiled.

She wanted to throw her arms around him and laugh, and cry. “It is very unbecoming of you to flirt with a married woman,” she told him instead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

cheat sheet

She had been up all night. He could see the faint circles the shadows of the dark had etched around her eyes. She dragged the wicker chair further away from the table and plopped on it. Her pink lips opened in a delicious O as she sucked in a yawn.

“You need some sleep,” he observed uselessly.

In response, she put her feet up on the table and slid further down in the chair. Her eyes were fixed on her unpainted toe nails. She wriggled them and then seemingly satisfied with their response, crossed one ankle over the other and closed her eyes.

“Thankfully we can afford a bed,” he smiled as he settled in his chair and flapped the creases of his newspaper. She did not grace him with a response. The breeze ruffled his newspaper. He ignored it. Annoyed, it moved on to flirt with her hair, lifting them off her shoulders and splashing them across her serene face. The sun giggled, struggling hard to balance its delicate position between the elegant V of the soft green leaves.

A couple of birds chattered about politics high up there.

“Honey,” she mumbled without opening her eyes, “what if I cheated on you?”

“Are you?” he asked without looking up from his paper.

“Am I what?”

“Cheating on me?”

“Would you believe me if I said I am?

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because if you were cheating on me, you would not tell me.”

“Why would I not tell you?”

“Because if you told me and did it, how does it qualify as cheating?”

She snapped her eyes open and smiled, “I never thought of it that way!” She grinned.

“So, to successfully cheat on you, all I would have to do is tell you. Because that way though I would be cheating on you, you would never believe it! It’s brilliant!” She said excitedly.

“This is by far one of the most enlightening Sunday morning conversations,” he drawled.

She stood up, knocking her chair off balance. “You bet!”

“Why did you want to know?” He peeped over the newspaper.

“Know what?”

“All about this cheating business?”

“Oh! Needed some help with new story I am working on!”

“You know you could drive any sane man up the wall,” he mumbled as he returned to his news.

“You are still sitting quite cozy on your ass!” She pointed out affectionately.

“The day I married you, I was declared insane!”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dream Realities

Sweat trickled down her bare back. She flicked a tongue over her dried lips. Her panic stricken eyes darted left and right. She tucked a stray strand of disheveled black behind her ear. She limped to a halt. Her bosom heaved with the effort of breathing. She gulped once, twice and then parted her dried lips to pull in more air. With one hand she shielded her eyes from the brazen onslaught of the sun.

He could not help but notice how beautiful she was.

Her pink and black saree hugged her slender frame like a lover lost in the throes of passion. The silken material curved sensuously around her thigh and disappeared amidst the folds, where her hand crumpled the fabric in a death grip. The fair skin of her waist looked like it was sprinkled with diamonds of the afternoon soon. It shivered deliciously with every painstaking breath. The saree molded itself beautifully around the curve of her perfect breast and moved rhythmically to the melody of life within her.

The very life he was about to take. He did not want to kill her, but he would have to. It was who he was. She had known that and despite the knowledge, she had taken the risk of being with him. Stupidity always had a price to pay.

She must have sensed him, because with a quick flick of her elegant neck, those panic leaden brown eyes were boring straight into him. She took a step backwards. She tripped and struggled to regain her balance. Her eyes never left him. A spatter of blood marked the spot where her bare feet had been just seconds ago.

“Don’t do this!” She pleaded brokenly, as tears mixed with the sweat on her face.

“You asked for it,” he replied as he took a step towards her.

“You love me!” She gasped.

“I loved you,” he corrected, “Till you cheated on me!”

“I did not cheat on you!” she sobbed.

“You are lying,” he shook his head as he drew the knife out of its sheath. He stared at the gleaming edge of the steel he was holding. Soon a shade of deep crimson would steal its shine. Soon crimson would cover the beauty of being alive.

She started to run again, but he grabbed her by her arm and spun her around to face him. He plunged the knife in her heart and with a wicked gleam looked into those brown eyes. Shocked. Disbelieving. And he realized he was the one who had lied. He still loved her.

He wedged the knife out of her heart and tried to stem the fountain of blooding forcing the life out of her. “Don’t leave me!” He sobbed. “I forgive you!”

“Karan?” Her voice floated to him. He felt her cool fingers on his cheek and smiled. “Karan?” She called worriedly. He was shaking. It must be all that silent sobbing. “Karan?” She called again. He was still shaking. Somebody was shaking him. His vision began to blur as the shaking got more intense. Her voice seemed to calling from far away. He was slipping into a welcoming darkness. He closed his eyes and for a second everything went blank.

A splash of cold, had him snapping his eyes open. He blinked tightly and then blinked again.

“Are you alright?” She asked. He looked at her with confusion. She was right there beside him draped in her pale blue night gown. She was kneeling on the bed beside him, her hands caressing his cheek, her brown eyes looking at him with concern. He looked around. He was in his bedroom, sprawled on his bed, his clothes were slightly damp with perspiration.

“Bad dream?” She asked as she stroked his forehead. He let out a deep sigh. That’s all that it had been.

“Did I wake you up?” he asked apologetically. She smiled. She spread out beside him and rested her cheek on his chest.

“You heart’s still working over time,” she said with a smile. He smiled and turned off the bed lamp. He ran his hand lovingly through her hair. He then gathered her to him and closed his eyes. What an insane dream it had been!

Hours later when the sun was once again conquering the blue spotless skies, she lay on the same bed as last night. She remembered his violent reactions to the dream he was having and shivered. He pulled the sheet tighter around their naked bodies. “You ok?” he asked.

She looked at him and smiled. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his chest. “Do you think Karan knows about us?” She asked after a while.

“Not a chance,” he confirmed, as he stroked her back. “Its been two years and he hasn’t had a clue. Why do you ask?”

She looked at him with confusion clouding her beautiful eyes, “He said the strangest things in his dreams last night. He said – don’t leave me. I forgive you.”