Light and Darkness
She glared at the mothers and they gave her sheepish smiles.
“Could you explain?”, she snarled at them like an angry lioness!
She had managed to get some time alone with the ladies and she utilized it very well to get things out of their mouths!
“Ohh have you forgotten Geet?”, rano chided!
“Forgotten what?“, she spat out her anger.
“he is the son of the Malhotras who had come to see you back then!”
Faint memories of that dazed meeting crossed her mind, making her feel like jumping off a cliff. She had been so worried about Maan then that she had actually paid no attention to anything happening around her. and now, the mothers had found this perfect way to set the duo up! She paced around the room restlessly, not knowing what should she do.
“I understand the malhotra thing mom but what in the world is he doing here?”
Avantika gave her an assuring smile,“We had been in contact with mrs malhotra and came to know that Rishi was in Leeds for some work. So we just invited him to holiday with us for a few days. That way, you both could know each other!”
“But badi ma… I don’t want to get married…”
“But theres nothing wrong in knowing a person, my dear. Talk to him. interact. He is a very nice person. And may be, you both will find happiness together!”
Everyone seemed to welcome Rishi with open hearts except three people. Geet, Maan and Dadima! Geet, for obvious reasons, Maan because he was getting continuous calls from office and hence didn’t really have time to sit and listen and Dadima because she had started weaving dreams of marriage of her two grandsons.
She couldn’t sleep that night. The clock struck 1am and she walked out towards the lawn. The restless feeling didn’t seem to ebb away. She wanted to call Maan and talk to him but she knew he’d be working. He was suddenly loaded with so much work and thats when she realized what he had to go through to let his father and brother relax for a week. She smiled, looking at the sky, the stars twinkling at her, and thought of how her darling knight did everything for others but never accepted it.
“hey.. not asleep?”, a very unfamiliar voice startled her.
She looked beside her to see Rishi smiling down at her. she gave a weak smile, totally not in a mood to talk to this person. But then he was a guest.
“No. Just not sleepy. What about you?”
He had a gentle smile on his face, that made him look quite younger than he actually was.
“No. I don’t get sleep easily at a new place.”
She looked at him and then quickly offered him a seat beside her. he gladly accepted and sat down. A few minutes passed in silence and she cringed at the awkward silence she felt. But Rishi, she realized, was lost admiring the night sky. His eyes twinkled in delight and his lips curled with a smile. It was contagious. And she smiled.
“have you been here before?”, he asked her all of a sudden.
“Nope. Its the first time I am here.”
Their eyes met and a silent camaraderie of unknown souls settled between them.
“You know Geet, I was very sceptical about coming here and meeting you.”, he spoke after a long pause, “but then I fell prey to mom’s tantrums. I hope am not making you uncomfortable!”
Geet smiled seeing the genuineness in his eyes, “don’t worry about it. even my mother took me by surprise.”
They talked for a long time about food, studies and places and works and realized they were slowly falling into a comfortable friendship. She was warm and sweet, Rishi realized and he liked her simplicity.
“Since you are new here, let me take you around. I have been here a lot of times. And we can take others too.”
“yeah sure… I will call Maan and others first thing in the morning.”
Maan watched as Geet, Dev, Naina and Rishi drive away towards a local village to explore and sighed. Its been three days already that Rishi was here with them. Knowing he was supposed to be a match for Geet hadn’t bothered him much until he realized how close of friends they had become over such a small time. He just managed to exchange formalities with Rishi for he was busy with office but he somehow didn’t like the prospect of Geet marrying to someone else. his father and brother had scolded him big time for taking everything up on his shoulders but he had argued with them and won it too. And now that he was busy, all he could see was Geet with Rishi.
Preparation for Dev’s engagement was in full swing, which was supposed to be held immediately after they landed in Delhi. He was excited, anxious and irritated, all at the same time. They would be here for a two more days now. And he hadn’t been able to give time to Geet at all. he finished his work by noon and headed straight towards Geet and others.
The local wine festival was on and everyone was in a festive mood. Geet enjoyed the fair, people dancing in colourful dresses and props while Dev took Naina for her first wine tasting, while Rishi pulled her along.
“where to?”, Geet giggled.
He dragged her towards the canal along the village, lined with small pebbles and soft green grass. The sun was bright up above and reflected itself on the waters, like glittering gold. There stretched farms and vineyards and hills and woods and then there was the water, lapping along the bank, calling out to her. it felt as if a page from Jane Austen had come alive in front of her, reversing the time.
“Isn’t it beautiful?”
“Yes it is.”, she smiled and saw Rishi extend his arms to her.
“Would you like to take a walk with me Miss?”
“why of course sire.”, she giggled and locked her hands with his and they walked alongside the waterway. She wore a bright colored summer frock and adorned a hat on her head that she had purchased in the festival. And Rishi guided her along, telling her stories about his college and the kind of sports he liked. Geet enjoyed his company. He kept her busy with his funny nature when all she wanted was Maan around her. but she knew he didn’t want any distractions when he was busy. And it was this time that she realized Rishi was as unprepared for marriage as she was. And perhaps thats why they had gotten along so well.
He watched her laugh and run behind Rishi to hit him, perhaps because he teased her and seethed. He knew well… he knew very well by now that he had never wanted Rishi between them. He knew he didn’t like any man around her. in fact he had hated his own brother close to her then how could he have seen her with some other man? and he knew now that he had always wanted that woman by his side, no matter what, from the very beginning.
It was dark all of a sudden and it rained. True as they say, never trust the English weather. They ran for cover, giggling and squealing when she slipped and fell down. Rishi stopped and turned back to help her when someone stopped him.
“Maan?”, Rishi was surprised to see him there.
“Go get others into the car. I will take Geet.” He spoke firmly, making it clear to him that there was no room for denial or objection.
“I said I am here. Just get to the others and go home.”
Rishi couldn’t understand but that demeanour from Maan intimidated him. without much ado, he walked away, leaving a stunned Geet behind. not that she wasn’t happy to see Maan but more than that she was stunned to see him this cold.
“Come on now Jasmine..”, he forwarded his hand to her and helped her stand up. It poured and they stood, eye to eye, not moving, drenched and silent.
She stood up holding his hand and stared deep into his eyes, “why did you send him away? And when did you come?”
His jaws tightened and he pulled her close to him, “what were you doing with him?”
She could feel his displeasure in his voice but she was no less. His coldness had irked her.
“Maan, do you realize he is the man whom I am supposed to get married to?”
His hold around her waist became tighter, making her gasp.
“you are not getting married to him Geet!”
“do you even care? The elders brought him here so that we could know each other and probably mom and badi ma are going to say yes to his family.”
“Do you want to get married to him Geet?”
Her breath quickened and she clutched his collars pulling him closer, “what would you do if I say yes?”
“Hell I would never allow that Geet and you know it!“, he seethed in anger, hearing her say so.
“why would you not Maan?”
“because you are mine!”
“ohh really? Then lets go and tell everyone about us! Why are we hiding it when we know for ourselves what we want? I cant keep pretending to be happy with a man when I am not! and am pretty sure mom and badi ma have high hopes from this alliance. Make me yours in front of everyone or let me go.”
And then he realized what he was supposed to do. it was then he realized that it was her and no one else in his life. And then he realized he had to make her his.
He leaned forward and pressed his lips on hers.
She was taken by surprise but then she was quick enough to respond. They belonged with each other. That was the end of all thoughts. Nothing asked, no games played, no hide and seek. Everything just laid bare and they embraced it with open arms. She probably had a drop of tear at the corner of her eyes, feeling his warm lips kiss her so passionately and so breathlessly that she could do nothing but surrender herself to him.
She tasted of sin. He knew it. and if this was the end of the world, then he would die happily in her embrace. Her soft lips yielding to his… no shying away, no hesitation… just them together.
They broke apart after a long moment and she smiled at him, with that flushed look on her face. he took her hand and kissed the pack of her palm.
“Geet handa, Just be mine. Forever!”
She nodded and hugged him tightly, feeling a weight lift off her chest. They walked home, drenched and hand in hand where others waited.
“Maan, Geet where were you both? And why are you drenched?”, Rano scolded.
Maan held Geet’s hand in front of others, especially to show Rishi who was shocked to see them like that.
“Mom, Rano ma, dad… Dadima…call off Geet’s alliance!”
Everyone was stunned to silence and Geet’s father intervened.
“What happened Maan? Is something wrong?”
“Yes…there is something wrong.”, Maan announced confidently, confusing
everyone. And then he raised their banded hands up for everyone to see.
“We are together and there is no need to look for any other person for Geet’s alliance!”
A long silence hung on then but they stood together… confident… holding hands, not even faltering a bit.
It was a few moments later that people actually grasped the situation and expressed their shocks and surprise. she couldn’t have been happier standing right beside him and facing the world. Thats what she had always wanted. That was her destiny.
It was much later at night that she found herself standing by the window in the attic. Rishi chapter was closed now. He was a very nice person but she was not for him.
Two warm hands slid round her waist and pulled her into his strong embrace, making her smile. She leaned backwards and rested her head on his chest.
“you seem too busy these days.”
He kissed her ear lobe and breathed into it, “never for you Jasmine…”
She turned back and wrapped her arms around his neck, “so… what are we going to do now?”
He arched his brows, “what do you mean by that? We will be getting engaged once we land in delhi. Did you forget what dadima had told?”
She shook her head, “no. I was just wondering… we are getting engaged on the same date as Dev and Priya… is it okay with them?”
He pecked her lips, “trust me, more than us bro is happier. And I just cant wait to have you with me. All the time.”
“stop dreaming. We will still have a year before we got married. But Maan..”
Her voice dropped to a whisper.
“do you think we are hurrying up? I mean its so fast and…and..”
He tipped her chin and made her face him
“I was sceptical too, some time ago. But then i rattled myself and realized its always going to be you in my life Geet. Didn’t I tell you, you are my home!”
She hugged him tightly and softly whispered in his ears, “I love you.”
“I love you”
His voice reverberated in her ears. How long has it been that she heard him profess his love for her in those three words? She tried but she couldn’t recall because he never let her think beyond himself. He had undressed her so raw and she remained pinned to the bed beneath him. she had cried in his arms, wanting to see him but he had held her hand and guided it over her body, asking her to unlearn what she had known about him till date and learn him anew just by her touch. And she had done that. She had unlearned everything about him and touched him under his guidance, learning where his pulse points lay, learning where his muscle flexed, learning where he was most sensitive hearing the change in his breath! She learned his breathing pattern.. when he sighed, when his breath quickened and when he took in a sharp breath. She leaned the contours of his face, the bridge of his nose, the curve of his cheekbones, the stiffness of his jaws and moaned in pleasure.
She writhed under him in pleasure as he made love to her with such a passion that she had never felt before. He refused to let her think further as he made her come violently and desperately and she held on to him like her very dear life depended on that hold.
She woke up much later to the voice of naina around her. was it morning already?
“Ohh good morning di.“, she heard her sister, bright and chirpy.
It was morning? and the memories of last night flooded her mind, making her blush profusely. She pulled the duvet close and quickly ran her hand over her body and sighed in relief realizing she was dressed. Never had she thought her dark night could bring about such pleasure to her.
She was awakened by the loud noises coming from outside her room and she sat up quickly, realizing it was Maan’s. Naina helped her stand
“Naina, take me to the door.”
“Just take me.”
As she approached the door, the noises became louder and realized there was heated arguments going on downstairs. She could very well distinguish Maan’s out of all the voices and wondered if something was wrong.
“Mr, Khurana, we don’t care about your excuses. We are churning losses, do you realize that?”
She gasped hearing whatever they were talking. KC was incurring losses for the past few months and his people complained that he wasn’t giving his best. They had lost a lot of money in the past two months and people were displeased.
“I will not hear anything about this. You know well that my wife needs me and I cannot leave her alone. Adi, handle this and I don’t want anyone to come complaining to me. If the investors want to pull out, let them.”
She felt weak in her knees, recalling which project they were talking about and how hard had Maan worked to get things right. He was throwing away everything just for her. tears rolled down her eyes for a storm, emerged within her. all this time she was so happy that we was with her but at the cost of his dream? She felt pathetic of herself and she was again pushed back into the darkness that she had tried so hard to come out of it.