LOVE OF THE THIRD KIND
She was standing in the corner of the balcony of the terrace. Her house was just 15 feet apart from ours, separated by a small gali(lane). Her washed hair were flowing in the direction of breeze and her hands trying hard unsuccessfully to stop the hair straying on her face. I could hear the resonance of the clatter of green bangles in her both hand while making every effort to tie her hair in some sort of bun. She was resplendent in red printed designer salwar kameez. The fireball rising in the east was being reflected on her face making it as radiant as light of the morning dawn falling on fully bloomed red rose. Not wearing dupatta/ chunni ( a type of matching shawl/stole to be compulsorily worn by all girls/women to cover their breasts) was not surprising to me at all as modernity demanded that girls & women discard such useful accessory of their dress. She was unaware of my presence till she, perhaps, wanted to turn 360 degree but stopped abruptly at 160 degree finding an alien subject scrutinizing her from just 15 feet. Her deer eyes met mine and became more wider while crossing her both hands over her breast making for her absent dupatta. She sat down trying to be out of gaze but in vain. I could not help smiling on her predicament. Staring me both with half smile and shyness, she hurriedly vanished behind the stairs leaving me awe struck as her long black hairs touching her bottom of her back swayed with her body.
Normally I never used to go to terrace, but that night I could not sleep and kept tossing myself on my bed of thorns whole night dreaming about her. Her first glimpse had made me fell for her head over heals. For the first time, since I crossed the teens, I had to go to washroom in the middle of the night to have a bath and at least have some sound sleep. Being a late riser, I got up not so early in the morning and straight away headed to terrace striding fast through the hall. My mother who was doing pooja-archana(worshiping),left midway (as usually Indian women do in-between their pooja while chanting mantras) and raised her eyebrows questioning my early endeavour to go up the terrace. I was about to make an excuse when the ringing of door bell sort of pulled me in opposite direction. Cursing the untimely visitor, I opened the door and there she was ! My one day old dream girl. The tongue left me in the lurch, mouth immediately dried , the blood rushed to find space in every nook and corner of my body. I had played statue-statue in childhood but had never imagined the real-life situation to arise and as if some one might have called ‘over’, I came to senses when she cuckooed, “ I am Ruchika.” Seeing me still standing at the door and not saying anything, she burst into a laugh. Her laugh distracted my mother from her pooja and she came running to enquire. Mothers are always possessive about their grownup sons and particularly feel insecure when a girl is seen in their son’s proximity though they always want to get their sons married at the first opportunity. My mother had always been social and of helping nature. She was extrovert and liked to make female friends. Age didn’t matter to her. Mother immediately caught hold of her hand and asked her to come inside. I was also relieved mentally in the presence of my mother and giving her space to come in, I resigned myself in the corner chair watching her while she and my mother kept to themselves totally ignoring me.
I sometimes wonder as to how two unknown females with or without their existent age differences get along smoothly within few seconds/minutes of acquaintance. She looked so beautiful in her white kurti-pyjama and without any make up that I immediately recollected Madubala’s sensuality, Aishwaria Rai’s ravishing beauty and Madhuri Dixit’s infectious smile all rolled in one. Was it love at first sight? Might be, but I was sure that intelligent ones might have found my love as infatuation. The fact was I had started to feel the pangs of love already without realizing that the love could not have been one sided.
I was startled when I saw her leave bidding me goodbye and giggling. My mother informed me that she had come to our city for the treatment of her mother who was suffering from suspected breast cancer and had taken the opposite house on rent for a month. She wanted to seek her help in reaching the hospital concerned and was enquiring about the market. My mind raced to acknowledge that seeking the help by her from my mother was nothing but a ruse to see me. Imagination has wings to make one fly anywhere particularly so when someone is bugged by love bug.
Within a week we both became the best friends .She told about her childhood, school education and the enjoyment & thrill of college days which she was missing. She was three years older than I but that did not deter me to make my tryst with love. I met her mother also who did not speak much but was pleased that her daughter got a companion in a strange city. Soon she shared everything that she thought was needed to be shared except getting physically involved. Though she never gave me any indication of being in love with me, I thought, as any one of my age would have concluded by the covert actions of his lady love, that she also liked me. I knew this likeness will soon transform into love.
That fateful day my mother was not at home when I received a phone call from her asking me to come to her house. Without hesitation, I locked the doors and rushed to hers. Her mother was admitted for a day in the hospital for some tests and she had come to fetch some utilities for her. She asked me to fix a running tap in the bathroom. She came right behind me. I was trying to find the main knob of the water pipe when all of sudden the shower opened up drenching us both. We both starting laughing under the shower and sprinkling water on each other when we both realised that transparency of clothes had made both of us vulnerable to sexual aspirations. She looked to me a nymphet while I found her ogling me with her hand on my chest and soon we were lip locked taking deep breaths. As if in trance, we came out of bathroom and dropped on the mattress on the floor. How much time elapsed I did not know but when I woke up I became conscious of having lost my bachelor’s status. Will it amount to rape ? Will she lodge complaint against me ? What will she think of me ? These questions made me scared and I starting sweating profusely when I saw her coming out of her room in blue kanchiwaram with golden border , hair tied into a large single plait, hands full of golden karas, tight bellows showing her peaking one side frontal assets, with dangling gold earrings and anklet bracelets. I just could not take my eyes off her. She came and hugged and kissed me. I was immediately relieved of my guilt. She said, “ You will be always with me, Rishab.” I could only mutter,” I love you Ruchi.” She again hugged, kissed but she was weeping and it did not look strange to me as she had also lost her virginity to me. What surprised me was her attire and glowing face which looked heavenly and was not the demand of the occasion. I could not stand there and simply rushed out of the house.
Next day I had to go for an interview to far off place out of the city and had to remain there for next three day. Before going, I went to her house and found the house locked. I was disappointed but ensuing interview blues made me forget about her for the time being. I was selected for the post of Senior Executive. Eager to break the news to my mother and Ruchika, I made an excuse to my seniors and returned home. My mother was more than happy and straightaway broached up the subject of my marriage. I was in no mood to listen to her and wanted to reach to Ruchika when my mother dropped a bomb.
“ Ruchika’s husband Naveen had come and taken Ruchika and her mother to far south for treatment of her mother.”
“ Ruchika’s husband.....Ruchika’s husband.........”
I felt continuously stabbed in the back. Whole world seemed to whirl around me. Blood made its circulation so fast that my brain seemed to burst. I started to tremble. Seeing my condition my mother panicked and called her neighbourers. Soon I was in hospital for medical check up. All sorts of tests were conducted and I was declared fit. No medical malady was found but I knew where the wound was hurting most.
For the next five years, I totally submerged myself in my work. ‘Betrayed’ was writ large on my personality .My mother did everything to get me married but my love towards Ruchika and Ruchika’s betrayal both seemed to overpower my senses till my mother fell sick and extracted the promise from me to get married. To relieve her from the agony of my bachelor’s o oops unmarried status, I had to agree to marry. Why is it that mothers’ always fell sick to get their cherished motives achieved ?
Happily married for another five years with a Rashit to boast I tried unsuccessfully to forget my past encounter with love. I happened to visit Tamil Nadu to overlook company’s project as Vice President. I had a off day and decided to visit Rameswaram, a temple town in Tamil Nadu situated in the gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. It was morning. I was at the beach sipping coconut water when I saw twins, a boy and a girl, asking the vender to give them coconut with malai in it. I always liked to eat malai myself so when I saw them closely I was a little taken aback. In twins I was seeing myself as a ten year old boy. It looked strange that they had same features and facial construction which I had when I was of their age. I was still wondering about the facial similarities between us three, when I saw their mother calling and coming towards them. Ruchika! My eyes could not believe even after blinking thrice. Yes, she was Ruchika. I was stunned and so was she. She had not changed a wee bit.
“ Hello, Kaise ho ?(how are you ?) She extended her hand, gaining her composure and in usual bindas style though every effort was made by her to hide her emotions. I as usual was at loss of words but gathered enough courage to confront her.
“ I never did forget you Ruchika neither could I forgive you”, as soon as I spoke to her, both the children watching their mother talking to a stranger ran away towards the hotel calling, “ daddy.....daddy .”
She smiled. Her smile was same old infectious one. I had to smile but could not know the reason for my reciprocation when I should have raised hue and cry for her betrayal. Her face was as calm and quite as the sea after weathering a heavy storm.
“ Those children........?” I asked
“They are ours. Yours and mine. Rishi and Risha.” she said as a matter of fact. I could not have believed her but the stark resemblance between myself as a ten year old and theirs made me take her seriously. Moreover mothers only know about the real father of their progeny.
“ Why...for God’s sake... why did you keep me in dark.....” I was abruptly stopped by her by putting her finger on my lips. Her touch was enough to calm my agitated nerves. She pointed to a hotel some 300 metres away and asked me to follow her. While walking, she held my hand in hers and suddenly tears rolled down her cheeks. I stopped .
“ Does your husband know about us and the children ? ” I was curious to know and could not wait to reach the cottage. She wiped her tears and said, “Yes.”
Had the lightening struck me I would not have been surprised and shocked as her three letter words did the damage to my ego and self esteem. She made no attempt to see my reaction and continued,
“ Naveen and I were in love since college days. We promised each other to tie the knot as soon as we were through our MBA and started earning. On one unfortunate day Naveen met with an accident and was injured waste below causing severe damage to his testicles. Doctors declared that he would not be able to procreate due to lack of testicular functions. Naveen was devastated. The revelation did not deter me to marry him as our love was beyond having babies. Naveen though was not inclined initially but I insisted to marry him as we both knew we could not have lived separately. After some years we both realised that something was amiss. Our earlier resolve not to do anything with baby/babies was slowly and gradually waning. Particularly Naveen starting feeling some sort of vacuum in our lives. I used to see Naveen watching kids playing. He liked the kids and used to go to orphanage. I asked him to adopt but he wanted kids who were at least a biological part of me.” She then took a deep breath and continued, “ When I saw you first time on the terrace I instantly took a liking for you. Call it destiny, fate or whatever. Meeting you was intentional. Naveen was told about you and he consented to get myself impregnated by you. After the culmination of our physical adventure or misadventure , I immediately knew that I had desired result but my heart went to you and I could not bear the burden of guilt. I wanted to get hooked to you but your further presence in my life would have distracted me emotionally and destroyed my love for Naveen. So I left when you were out of town, informing aunty about Naveen and self. Do you remember what did I tell you on the same day when we had that sexual encounter ? I had told that you would be always with me Rishab.” She took deep breath and said, “ you would remain always with me in my head and heart and you are with me in the shape of Rishi and Risha.”
I became too dumb to react. Everything she told was hard to absorb. Those two kid are mine from her. All hatred against her simply vanished. I could understand her deep and unconditional love for Naveen, her compulsions to have children from me, her immense unreserved respect and love towards me. We both reached the cottage where Naveen hugged me warmly. Both kids were curious to know about me but Naveen and Ruchika avoided their queries simply telling them that I was a distant relative. We had lunch together. Kid became so chummy with me that I played with them and I knew I enjoyed their company as much as I used to enjoy with mine at home. They made me forget everything. Seeing me playing with them, Naveen and Ruchika made sure that I remain with them for the maximum time.
Whole day I was with the kids. Naveen and Ruchika made my stay as comfortable as home. We shared everything we had missed during last few years. It was getting dark. I kissed both the children who were busy playing carom. Risha had moist eyes when she learnt I was leaving but Rishi was smiling and waving. Ruchika and Naveen came out to see me off. At the gate, Ruchika holding back her tears hugged and kissed me and then bowed to touch my feet. Tears welled out. I could simply held her face cupped in my hand while she hugged me tightly. She freed herself, glanced towards Naveen whose presence seemed to be reassuring to her and then folding her hands she said, “ Please never ever try to meet us again. This is for good of all of us, Promise me.......promise me please......I beg you. I can not afford to share my love and love of my children with you. Naveen will simply die. I know him.” I understood her, I understood her plea and hidden emotional stress she was going through. I promised her not to visit them ever, knowing fully well that the promise would hurt me till the end of my life.
I kept my promise to her and never made an attempt to visit them inspite of my wife Nisha’s many endeavours to make me visit them while our own son was in a boarding school .
Today I received a wedding card. Reading the contents of the card I became speechless. After 15 long years since I had met Ruchika at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and kept my promise to her, she had herself broken it by sending the wedding card of our both the children. What broke me down was an attached letter written by Risha, last line of which was, “PAPA PLEASE DO COME FOR MY KANYADAN* WITH MAA AND BHAIYA.” Reading it my wife also became inconsolable.
* a ceremony in an Indian marriage of a daughter where father hands over his daughter to his son-in-law.
All rights reserved by Tribhawan Kaul
Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.