Saturday, March 22, 2014
Arhi SS: Untouched. Part 3.
AN: Hi guys! So I am finally back with another update of Untouched. The reason I am writing this note is that I have decided to convert Untouched into an SS, though earlier I had intended it to be a TS. Well, the thing is when I start writing as in actually start typing at my system, the story gets out of my hand and starts weaving itself and so it very often happens that my stories start as something but end up being something very different. So, my apologies, but try and bear with this one for a bit longer. I promise, it won't be very long.
He didn’t know how he ended up there, right by her side… her angelic face just a touch away, the temptation growing stronger with every heartbeat. And as the rhythm of his heart pulsed beyond control, so did his fingers, now feathering the contours of her face, both past any rhyme or reason. As he felt the silk of her skin under the tip of his fingers he was reminded of Coleridge’s immortal verse, “Water, water, everywhere,/ Nor any drop to drink.” He could finally relate to the Mariner and all those sailors… dying of lack of something that was in abundance and at an arm’s length… thirsting for water… while being surrounded by it. Ah! The mockery life makes of us mere mortals. Here he was less than a breath separating him from all he desired, all he thirsted for, all he was dying for… and yet he knew he was destined to die with parched lips and scorched soul. Lost in his thoughts he didn’t notice the slight frown lines marring the smoothness of her forehead and the next moment he was looking deep into those shining pools of hazel. And once again he was thrown back in time…
Arnav Singh Raizada was known for his very and at times dangerously practical approach towards everyone and everything in life. Every single idea that he conceived took months of mulling over before any real action happened. Every complexity and contraction; adversary and adversity had to be taken in account. In fact, at times it seemed like he was challenging fate by taking his life in his own hands, disregarding the presence of anything external and unrelated. And that was his mistake, for don’t they say, ‘don’t tempt fate’. Well, fate retaliated and in the last few hours he found himself desiring the woman he couldn’t have; breaking his relationship with the woman he could have but didn’t want, not anymore and probably never had; willingly occupying the spot that had been vacated… nah, rejected not too long ago; and willingly taking the woman who had very recently fallen from the state of societal grace for no fault of her own. And right now he stood waiting for her… waiting to hold her in his arms… to finally touch her and claim her… mark her as his territory. And that was how Khushi found him when she entered the room, leaning against the window, his posture calm as ocean but a tsunami stirring in his eyes…Waiting… Waiting for their wedding night to finally begin.
She had all but stumbled inside, as if someone had forced her in… as if she would be anywhere but here at that moment. She had looked at him once and then turned around moving towards the door; the door had been shut the very next moment and locked from outside it seemed. And so she stood frozen. Her back was turned towards him and so he could not see her face. But the stiffness of her posture screamed her displeasure, her discomfort at being forced to share her intimate space with him. Discomfort and displeasure were very very mild terms to express what Khushi was feeling at the moment and Arnav was to discover that soon. He took a step towards her and then stopped as she had turned towards him, alarm evident in her big innocent eyes. The way she had clutched the sides of her very ornate lehenga and stumbled taking a few hurried steps back towards the closed door had nothing to do with the nervousness of a bashful new bride. No, it was the naked fear of being chased by a predator or worse, being trapped with one… for the next seven lives.
The fear that came with the realization that tonight she was a dish that would soon be devoured by her husband… a dish… that is what she was, to be traded for fortune and served for honor and devoured for pleasure. And all this for others, after all who ever gave a single thought to the dish, or showed any concern about how it might feel… for dishes were not supposed to feel. Not the deer satiating the hunger of a lion, not the chicken kabab gracing a nawabs banquet and not the meager serving of mashed potatoes in front of a tired rag-picker. She saw a similar hunger stirring in the eyes of her husband of a few hours, a man she hadn’t even known existed before tonight.
Khushi looked at her husband of one year. The hunger was there again, the hunger that made her feel like she was some exotic foreign dish that her husband ate with so much relish at those numerous parties. What was it called? Ah, Lazania, yes that was what he loved. She had tried learning the recipe from Miss Julie, her English tutor but the final product had been a little to dry at first and a little too gooey finally and so she had just dumped it in the dustbin, never letting her husband get even a whiff of her adventure with the foreign delicacy. She remembered seeing that hunger in his eyes when their eyes had first met, while she was sitting beside Shyam on their wedding alter… She remembered seeing it when she had first entered her room that night as an unrecognizable outsider, as Mrs. Khushi Singh Raizada… The hunger was still there and she would get a glimpse of it every now and then, sometimes when he was lost in his thoughts and sometimes when he thought she wasn’t looking. But it was too strong, too tangible to go unnotice. And it was in those moments, those scarce stolen moments when she thought, nah, she knew that she still existed in his world, that she was an actual tangible part of it. Mostly it just felt like no one really noticed her.
She saw a flicker of sudden realization in his eyes and then he had straightened, distanced himself from her. Taking her cue from it she too stood up and then turned towards the kitchen to heat up the food. The heat between them hung there, unmentioned, untampered, and untouched… but there. He saw her toe as she turned towards the kitchen and noticed that she had painted it red today. It was the first thing he had noticed about her, well the only thing that he could have seen of a woman who was another man’s intended, a red painted toe peeking at him invitingly from under her bridal ensemble and he knew it then that he was a goner. But then, fate had played its twisted game and the next he saw her toes playing peek-a-boo with him was when he had already marked her his, well at least according to the societal conventions he had. Arnav, however, believed in the more primal system of markings…
The slight shivering of her fragile form and the naked horror of hopelessness in her eyes pierced through the shroud of madness that had engulfed him for the night and for the very first time that night Arnav saw Khushi for what she really was, a lost terrified child. A sixteen year old, who was not even considered eligible for giving her consent to the silliest of decisions like whether or not Congress should form the central government, no, she’d have to wait another two years to cast her vote and yet, she was married. Everyone but her, had been involved in taking the biggest decision of her life, a life that was still getting accustomed to the rhythm of breathing… and was now reduced to the bare mechanics of it.
Her whispery movements brought him back to the huge antique oak-wood dining-table, that looked like it could belong no where else but in that huge antique Raizada drawing-room. She was busy arranging the various smaller bowls in his plate and then serving liberal portions of curry, dal and sugar-free kheer in them, alongside plain rice and ghee-less rotis. He knew that she knew he would be removing a lot of it from his plate to the extra plate she had kept near his (which he was sure she had kept there for the same reason). And somehow the fact that she always served him the formal liberal quota of food despite being aware of his appetite clearly pronounced the distance in their socially approved and assumed intimacy. She sat beside him and started serving food on her plate. The Raizadas didn’t approve of this sort of companionship and camaraderie between husbands and wives, but Arnav had remained adamant and Khushi had bowed… she anyway had to bow, this way or that. Just like she had had to that night… their wedding night…
To be continued...
Hope to see your reactions on this one, any and all forms of it are more than welcome.
Srija Singh :)