Shruti Chapter 7: The Homecoming

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“I got a call from your mom today. She invited us over to Bareilly, there’s a family wedding that we need to attend”, Sameer said as he took Shruti’s handbag from her and put in on the sofa. Shruti had returned from office and looked tired while Sameer had reached home earlier in the evening. Shruti didn’t react to what he said and went straight to the bathroom to freshen up, leaving Sameer a little confused.

“I thought you would be excited” he said to her as she came out of the bathroom, towel in hand, wiping her wet face.

“I have a lot of work at office Sameer, I can’t take leave”, Shruti said curtly and went into the bedroom.

Sameer was a little taken aback. Shruti was quite close to her mother and in the last six months that they had been married Sameer had not seen her lose any opportunity to see her. Her mother had even come and stayed with them on multiple occasions.

Shruti’s father had passed away when she was a child and she was naturally close and protective about her mother. Shruti had spent her childhood in Bareilly with her mother and her younger brother. Her mother and most of her maternal side family lived in Bareilly. Shruti had moved to Delhi with her mother and her younger brother after she completed her 11th standard, leaving the support of their extended family. Their family had advised them against moving to the big city. How will a single woman raise her children in the big city? Two women living alone would seem like easy prey for men, they had warned, with her brother considered too young to be a man. It was Shruti who insisted and convinced her mother that it would be best for her and her brother’s education and future.

Living in the big city had been a struggle and Shruti’s mother worked hard to make ends meet. Shruti supported her in household activities and later taking up tuitions teaching little children for extra income. Shruti got admission in Delhi University after her 12th and started her BA in English Literature. It was in college that she met Sameer. Sameer was much older than Shruti, working on this PhD when Shruti joined college. Sameer was tall, well-built and stood out of the crowd because of the beard and long hair he sported at that time. Shruti fell for his calm and composed demeanour as he seemed to have a steadying effect on her life that had been a struggle since their days in Bareilly. She felt safe with him with Sameer being extra protective about her. In her third year of college, Sameer proposed asked her mother for her hand in marriage.

There was resistance from both families about the match. Age difference, different family backgrounds, Shruti’s widowed mother, and horoscopes, the list of reasons seemed endless, but none of them seemed logical to Sameer and Shruti. Eventually they got married in full traditional ceremonies. After marriage, Sameer asked Shruti’s mother and her brother to stay with them but that was not acceptable to her mother. And thus, they moved back to Bareilly, to the comfort of her extended family.

Sameer followed Shruti to the bedroom confused. “Did your mom call you?” he asked.

“Yes, she did”, came the curt response from Shruti.

“And….”, Sameer prodded on.

“I don’t want to go to Bareilly Sameer”

Shruti picked up a glass of water. Her hands shook as she took a sip from the glass. Sameer was befuddled about Shruti’s behaviour. He came and stood close to her and took the glass from her shaking hand. Something seemed to have upset her and he wasn’t sure what it was.

“But why?” Sameer asked gently, “You haven’t been to Bareilly since you moved to Delhi. This would be a good opportunity to go back and meet everyone. All your cousins will be there, and your aunts and uncles”, Sameer tried to reason.

Shruti seemed to convulse at this. “Get away from me” she shouted as she pushed Sameer back violently and went and sat in the corner of the bed. Bundling her arms around her legs, she buried her face in her body and started to cry. Sameer wasn’t sure what had triggered this reaction in Shruti. He had not seen her react like this ever before. Sameer put his arms gently around her to calm her down. “Tell me what happened” he whispered as he hugged her and held her close to him.

“I can’t go back there Sameer. I can’t face Jagan mama*, Shruti said between her sobs.

Sameer continued to hold her in his arms. “What happened with Jagan mama?” he asked gently.

Shruti broke down and between her sobs she told him how Jagan mama had physically abused her repeatedly in her childhood. She didn’t have the courage to tell anyone, not even her mother because their family had supported them in times of trouble. She had finally found a way out by moving to Delhi. She couldn’t bear the thought of facing him at any cost.

Sameer held her in his arms until she calmed down. “Do you trust me?” he whispered to her. Shruti looked up to him, teary eyed and confused at what Sameer was asking. If there was someone she trusted completely it was Sameer. She blinked still unsure why Sameer was asking this. “We leave tomorrow early morning for Bareilly”, he said with gentle firmness, still holding her in his arms reassuringly.

“No” Shruti protested weakly but she felt a certain determination in Sameer’s voice.

“Don’t worry, we won’t stay long, just need to complete some formalities” he said, “Nothing will happen to you, I promise.”

Shruti spent the night tossing and turning in bed, not sure why Sameer was insisting on going but she knew she would be safe with him around.

They reached Bareilly in the afternoon. The house was still being decorated for the marriage, the hustle-bustle of the workers all around. A young boy ran inside to announce their arrival and Shruti’s mother and other relatives came out to receive them. Hugs and loud voices greeted them, welcoming them and at the same time complaining why they hadn’t visited Bareilly in all these years.

Tea was served along with sweet and savoury snacks as things settled down. Sameer went to Shruti’s mother and inquired about Jagan mama. Shruti’s mother shouted at a young girl around to call Jagan mama. Shruti heard her mother’s call for Jagan mama and her eyes widened in fear, looking for Sameer amongst the crowd of people. Sameer looked at her and gestured her to calm down.

Jagan mama arrived boisterously, loudly asking about Shruti and Sameer. As he stood near the door, Sameer stepped ahead. He walked across the hall full of people up to Jagan mama and without any warning flung his hand back and landed a loud slap on his face. The sound of the slap stunned everyone, and the room went quiet. It took a minute or so, but it seemed like eternity for Shruti’s mother to realize what had happened. She rushed forward and yanked Sameer by his arm.

“Have you gone mad”, she shouted at him.

“No mummy ji, I haven’t gone mad. If I had gone mad, mama would be standing here alive” Sameer said calmly. “This man will not come into this house ever again if you don’t want me to go mad” he said sternly to Shruti’s mother. He then moved close to Jagan mama and whispered threateningly in his ear “You know why I am saying this right?”

Stunned Jagan mama nodded and quietly left the house leaving everyone shocked. Shruti started to cry in the corner while her mother sat stunned. The cousins and other relatives dissipated carrying details of what happened and even things that didn’t happen to share with others in the family and friends. Shruti finally told her mother what Jagan mama had done to her in her childhood and they both cried their hearts out.

That day the bond between Shruti and Sameer was cemented with dependency that would be hard to break.

 

* Mama = Uncle (mother’s brother)

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Jasmine Chapter 3: The Morning After

…Chapter 2

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Jasmine felt his sweet caress of the morning, feeling his skin next to hers, as he gently ran his fingers on her back and turning her over to face him, nuzzling against her neck and stroking her nipples to arousal, letting his mouth linger over her breasts as she opened her eyes to see him. Shiva moved up to passionately kiss her good morning. Jasmine kissed him back and smiled as they parted. “Good morning” she said holding his face in her hands, gently caressing his eyebrows with her long nail. She looked at her red sari, sprawled on the floor and smiled again at the thought of the night she spent with Shiva. She remembered running out of Shiva’s car in the rain to her apartment only to find herself alone. She cursed herself for leaving him so soon, as she remembered their kiss in the car. And when the phone rang her heart skipped a beat as she saw Shiva’s name on the little screen. Shiva’s car had broken down in the incessant rain and she lost no time in inviting him home.

Shiva was wet when he reached her apartment. She bought a towel. Instead of handing it over to him, she proceeded to dry his hair. He did not protest as she stood close to him. She had not changed and was still in her red sari. She wanted the night to be theirs. As she dried his hair, her breasts thrust close to his face. She felt his hands rest on her shapely waist as she continued to play with his hair. He looked up into her inviting eyes, his thumbs getting closer to her breasts teasing her, their eyes trying to read each other’s next move, cautious and unsure. Shiva felt Jasmine’s heartbeat increasing as he felt her fingers gripping his hair just a little bit tighter. He moved up to kiss her parted lips as she gripped his hair and pulled him closer, their tongues intertwining, playing with each other. Shiva’s hands explored her back over her low cut blouse and moved slowly to caress her shapely body.

Jasmine smiled as she played the night over again in her mind.

With their lips locked, Jasmine guided Shiva to her bedroom. She liked space and time, which they had tonight. Shiva didn’t seem to be in a hurry as she enjoyed their moment of passion. He ran his fingers through her hair and let them trace down on her neck to her shoulders. He took the pallu of her sari and unravelled it off her. She stood there with in her sleeveless blouse and petticoat as Shiva appreciated her curves. Slowly he unbuttoned her blouse and untied her petticoat and let them fall on the floor. Red was the color of the day as he discovered Jasmine’s red lacy innerwear. His hands gently pushed the strap of her bra off her shoulders as his lips traced the curves of her neck and shoulders. She giggled as his lips moved down, his tongue tracing its path over her breasts on to her navel and tenaciously tickled her.

What followed was a night of passionate love making over and over leading to the surreal morning.

Jasmine Chapter 2: The Rain

…Chapter 1

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Shiva rang the doorbell and waited. It was raining heavily and his car had stalled in the water-logged area just outside the apartment complex. He was already wet running back from his car to the apartment block. Drops fell from his hair as he hung his head and shook it.

Shiva had dropped off Jasmine after the concert. She had worn an exquisite red chiffon sari. Her shoulders stood shining in her tight sleeveless blouse. Her hair covered her bare back making up for the low back of the blouse. She wrapped the sari elegantly around her, just below the navel. She looked extremely sexy and Shiva had a hard time keeping his eyes off her. He didn’t want to make his glare obvious but was sure that she caught him admiring her a few times as his gaze bounced of her breasts. Her small breasts were hidden under the palloo but contoured shapely in the tight blouse.

As they had sat next to each other in the theatre, he was mesmerized by the whiff of her perfume. Her bare soft arms rested on the armrest between them, lightly touching his arms, her shoulders rubbing his shoulders as she leaned over to say something softly in his ears. He tried to focus on the concert giving her pieces of information about the band and the style of music. He wondered if she knew of how gorgeous she looked and how she made him feel.

Dinner followed the concert. She didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get back home even though it was late. On their way back, he drove by the beach. It was a stormy night. The dark beach lit up by the lightning that flashed through the sky as large drops of rain fell on the windshield of his car. Light music played on the stereo while she spoke nonchalantly about her day, the concert, the beach… he lost track of exactly what she was saying as he just focused on her sweet soft voice.

The rain soon turned into a full-fledged storm. Shiva drove slowly into her apartment complex, wading the car through pools of water.

“I had the most wonderful evening today” she said as he stopped the car.

“Me too” he smiled at her. He didn’t want her to go, didn’t want the evening to come to an end.

“We should do this again” she said softly

“We must” he said.

“Good night” she said as he felt her hand rest on top of his hand. She squeezed his hand as she smiled sensuously. He turned his hand over to and intertwined his fingers with hers and held her hand tightly. He leaned towards her staring into her eyes. He could feel her grip tightening on his hand. He leaned forward, his lips hovering close to her. Her lips parted just a little. He placed his lips on hers, gently caressing her lips with his. His tongue met hers as he felt her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him closer to her.

A bright streak of lightning and loud thunder broke their kiss.

“I really should go now” she said, wiping her mouth with her sari. She looked around to see if anyone in the apartment complex was watching. There was little chance of anyone being there in the incessant rain.

“Don’t go” he pleaded with her, still holding on to her hand.

She looked around and kissed him lightly on his lips first, and then gave him another deep kiss. She pulled her hand from his as her lips left his. In one swift motion, she collected her purse, opened the car door and ran through the pouring rain into the apartment building. He watched her through the rain drops on his car window disappear into the building, sitting there soaking in the moment they just had.

As he turned his car out of the apartment complex and into the street, he was met with knee deep water. His car waded through for a bit and then stalled. His attempts to start the car failed.

“Shit” he cursed under his breath wondering what to do. There was nothing much he could do. It was pouring and quite late in the night. There was no way he could find a mechanic now. He picked up his cell phone and dialled Jasmine’s number.

“Hi, my car broke down just outside your apartment and I am stuck in the rain in the middle of the night” he told her on the phone. There was a long pause.

“Hi, you there?” he inquired.

“Yes, yes, of course. Ummm would you like to come up to my apartment?” she said.

“Is that going to be okay? I mean what will your parents think?”

“Actually there’s no one at home. They’ve gone out and won’t be back until tomorrow. I just saw their note.” She said, a little hesitantly.

“Are you sure it is okay?” he asked trying to sound as though he didn’t want to impose.

“Absolutely. It will be good.” He thought he heard her chuckle as she said that.

 

Chapter 3…

Jasmine Chapter 1: Desire

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Jasmine got her files ready for the project meeting and entered the conference room. When the meeting started, her boss introduced Shiva as the new member joining their team. Shiva appeared cool and calm and his voice was gentle as he gave his introduction. As the project meeting started, she noticed that Shiva was contributing to the discussion even though it was his first day in office. He was using his prior experience and making some very meaningful suggestions. As the discussions progressed, she felt drawn closer to Shiva, continuously attracted to his chain of thought and approach. She was secretly admiring Shiva, glancing at him without obviously staring at him.

After the meeting, some of the team members huddled together. They weren’t happy. They criticized Shiva for his comments and said he didn’t understand how things were done there. They said he just didn’t appreciate the challenges they faced. Jasmine tried to get her words in edgewise defending Shiva without appearing to disagree with her team, trying to appear to be on their side. She was walking a tightrope, not wanting to alienate herself from the rest of the team and yet not wanting them to dislike Shiva.

Over the next few weeks, Jasmine had a chance to interact with Shiva on various occasions. Even on days when there was no specific meeting, she would make it a point to talk to him on some pretext or another. She even started coming to office early to be able to see him walk by to his workstation. Jasmine even spent time researching about Shiva on the Net and she found his profiles on various sites and tried to gather as much information about him as she could. Her urge to be close to Shiva grew deeper each day. Shiva would normally offer to get her coffee when they were chatting. Slowly the coffee meetings became regular. She would feel excited sitting there in front of Shiva, her heart pounding heavily as her eyes focussed on his lips as he spoke. The sound would fade away as she imagined kissing and biting Shiva’s lips. She would control herself to bring herself back to their conversation. She wondered if Shiva noticed the way she felt.

On a Thursday evening, she met Shiva in the canteen near the coffee machine. He stopped and waited for her while she got coffee from the machine. His subtle gesture and eyes guided her to follow him to the corner of the canteen. They casually sat on the table making small talk.

“So, what are plans for the weekend?” he asked casually.

“Oh nothing, just the usual” she replied, nervous and hopeful, wondering where the conversation would go.

“Hey it’s the weekend, you should go out to the movies or something.”

“I don’t really go out much” Jasmine said.

“Really, that’s strange. Such a pretty girl like you not going out?” he smiled as he said that.

Jasmine’s heart skipped a beat. That’s the first time he had said anything about her appearance. So he does notice me, she thought and suddenly became conscious of how she was looking at that moment.

“I have two passes for a Spanish music concert. It’s organized by the Spanish cultural centre. If you are free, maybe you could give me company.” Shiva asked softly.

“Yeah sure” Jasmine said without much thought, and realized that perhaps she shouldn’t have said yes so quickly. A thousand thoughts flooded her mind. What would he think of her, having agreed so quickly? What if someone from office finds out? And yet, when she looked up from her coffee into his eyes, she was mesmerized by them. She knew she wanted to go out with Shiva. She knew in her heart that this is exactly what she had been waiting for. She was completely ecstatic at Shiva’s offer and was having a hard time controlling her excitement.

“Great. Let’s leave tomorrow around seven then.” Shiva said as he got up. He smiled as she nodded and walked back to his workstation, leaving her shaking from the inside.

Chapter 2…

Shruti Chapter 6: Friendship

…Chapter 5

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As Sanjay pulled his car on to the main road his cell phone beeped announcing the arrival of a new message. As his car sped on the open road, he read the message:

Thank you so much for the lovely evening. I will never forget this day. You are really a nice person.

A smile broke on Sanjay’s lips. He had taken Shruti out for coffee to a fancy barista. It was a perfect evening. Shruti wore a red top and a long flowing white skirt. The dim lights of the barista bounced on her fair skin, giving her a glow around her. Her perfume still lingered in the car. Sanjay read the message again.

You are really a nice person.

He remembered looking at her soft smooth hands as she played with her rings. How he wanted to hold her hands in his.

He remembered being mesmerized by her lips as she giggled at one of his anecdotes. How he wanted to let his lips linger over them.

He remembered her beautiful feet peeping from beneath her long skirt. How he wanted to caress them gently and tickle her sole.

Sanjay scrolled to read the remaining message.

I am so lucky to have you as my friend. Luv Shruti

Sanjay moved his thumb over the small screen on his cell phone trying to feel the words on the screen.

I am so lucky to have you as my friend. Luv Shruti

He read the remaining message again. He brushed aside the thoughts of her soft hands and full lips. He rolled down the car windows to let her perfume blow away in the wind. He couldn’t betray her trust. He couldn’t let her down.

 

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Shruti Chapter 5: The Phone Call

…Chapter 4

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Three days had passed since Shruti had saved Sanjay’s number in her contact list. In those two days she had wondered when he would call. Sameer had gone for his tour and was not expected back for another week and that added to her loneliness and craving for Sanjay’s call. She had tried to busy herself in work and brush away the thoughts of expecting a call but they would surprise her by creeping up every now and then. And then when she was in the middle of her staff meeting, the phone lit up without making a sound. It was Sanjay calling. She had strict no-calls-during-staff-meetings rule for her team and she would look bad if she broke that, so she let it ring till it stopped on its own.

After the meeting, she hurriedly picked up the phone and went to her cabin and dialed Sanjay’s number. It rang for a few times but it seemed like a long time to Shruti.

“Hello”, she heard Sanjay’s soft commanding voice

“Hi, it’s me, Shruti”, she said. She really wanted to pretend that she didn’t know whose number it was and was tempted to ask who it was calling, but she didn’t. She didn’t want to risk putting Sanjay off.

“Ya hi Shruti” Sanjay continued, “I had called but you were probably busy”. And Sanjay went directly to the reason he called. He was looking for connects in her company as he had heard they were looking to start a new project. It was a direct to the point conversation. Shruti agreed to find out who the right person would be within the company and said she will get back.

When she hung up, she felt disappointed and a little foolish. How silly of her to expect anything else. Sanjay was a professional, just as she was. They were just networking professionally, and nothing else. She felt as though she stubbed her toe against the furniture.

Sanjay hung up and apologized to the people sitting in front of him. He was in the middle of a meeting when Shruti called and he didn’t want to miss her call. He rued his missed chance of chatting up anything more than just professionally. Perhaps the next time when she calls back, he thought as he busied himself in the conversation with others.

The next day Shruti called him when he was alone. He smiled as he greeted her on the phone. Shruti told him about the person to connect with in her office and gave him the number. This time Sanjay extended the conversation, speaking about how wonderful he felt at the chance meeting with her. He wondered what she was doing in the evening and invited her for coffee. Sanjay was pleasantly surprised when Shruti agreed to meet with him that evening. He cleared off his calendar and started looking for places to take her out.

…Chapter 6

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Shruti Chapter 4: The Crush

…Chapter 3

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Shruti was at work when her phone beeped. She looked at the phone to check the message. It was a message on Whatsapp from Ritu. “Hey girl, thanks for making it to the party, sending some pics, you looked hot babe”, Ritu wrote in her casual tone. And slowly the pictures started to download. Shruti kept the phone down and got back to work. She knew the kind of pictures that were taken at the party, the women with their pouting faces and arched body poses, and the men with the drinks. By now Shruti had gotten used to Ritu’s party and the pictures that followed.

On her way home in the evening as Shruti checked her phone she started to view the party pictures. There were the usual poses as she expected. She scrolled through the pictures and then stopped at one. It was a group photo but this one had Sanjay standing next to her in the photograph. She remembered their brief conversation and her feeling of a teenage crush on him. Sanjay was tall and attractive man. He was well built and exuded confidence and charm. She remembered wondering how he was married to Rachna, who was so loud and garish, lacking the class that she saw in Sanjay. She zoomed in on the photograph to see Sanjay more clearly. He had a serene smile on his face but his eyes seem to be on her in the photograph. Was he watching her, she wondered, the thought of which brought a smile to her face. She felt strange feeling the way she was feeling seeing Sanjay’s photograph.

She was still some way from reaching home when Ritu called. While she wasn’t good at small talk, Ritu had no problem in keep the conversation going with small talk. Shruti asked about the slightly plump lady who was giving Ritu competition in being boisterous and loud. She really wanted to ask about Sanjay but didn’t know where to start. Ritu didn’t need much prodding. It seems Jagdeep firm had contracted Sanjay’s company for a new project and Jagdeep had invited Sanjay with his wife Rachna to the party.

“Rachna runs her own boutique, you know, she’s a wannabe fashionista”, Ritu told Shruti in a slightly condescending tone.

And then Ritu asked a strange question, “Waise what happened between you and Sanjay?”

It caught Shruti completely by surprise. “What do you mean what happened? Nothing happened” she mumbled, a little flustered

“Sanjay was asking about you rather inquisitively” Ritu said.

“I have no idea, we just spoke briefly” Shruti replied feeling almost guilty of being caught but also feeling excited about Sanjay asking about her.

“Accha rehne de, waise you are such a fattu, kuch nahin hoga tere se” Ritu was back in her nonchalant tone. “Listen, I am texting you his number” she said.

“What will I do with his number?” Shruti was a little surprised at where this conversation was going.

“Oh you, you and your dirty mind. He needs some connects for his business, and I told him you can help him get an entry in your office for the new project”

“Ya sure I will do what I can, but if he needs help he should call na, what will I do with his number?” Shruti said defensively even as she felt a strange happy feeling at the possibility of connecting with Sanjay again.

“He will call you silly girl” Ritu said, “I have given him your number. You save his number so you can recognize when he calls you” Shruti felt as though Ritu giggled under her breath as she said that.

They said their goodbyes and hung up. And sure enough a little while later her phone notified her of a new message with Sanjay’s number. As she looked at the number on the screen she remembered their brief conversation. He made her feel so comfortable with his light talk, his soft voice gave her a sense of belonging, and his small gestures of chivalry made her feel wanted. Something about him made her want to continue talking to this stranger. She wondered if he would call her soon. She saved the number in her contact list as her car pulled up near her house.

Chapter 5…

 

(Image credit: instagram.com/moomooi)