There was hardly an hour left before sunrise. The patriarch was by now a tired man and an exhausted lover. The younger bahu, too, could hardly keep her eyelids open and, drawing herself into the arms of Balwant, ready to pass into slumber. Balwant kissed her fully on the lips again.
“Meri rani (my queen),” he said lovingly, “get some sleep now for you’ll have a tiring day from the morning.”
Matasari had earlier gone off to the adjacent room that was Sonam’s. As the child lay sleeping on the cot, she spread a mat just beside it and dozed off quickly. She too would have a very tiring day ahead of her with so many household chores in hand. Tomorrow would be another day, and her authority as a priestess over the master of the house and the young daughter-in-law, would be gone. But, before she fell off to sleep, she couldn’t stop recollecting those intimate moments with the two most important members of the household.
In the other room, the couple lay in each other’s arms. They looked exactly as a loving couple would be like, with Balwant holding Sonam within his arms and squeezed into his chest. But holding Sonam within his arms, Balwant seemed a worried man. He kept thinking of what he had assured Sonam a while back.
” Wait and see what happens … everyone will get to know today itself …and you’ll have no complaints,” Balwant had said in the end.
Yet, in Balwant’s mind, there was a lurking fear. No matter how powerful and assertive head of the family he might be, he feared that considering the unthinkable relationship between him and his bahu, some of his family members might seek their pound of flesh … The young Bahu’s flesh to be precise!
But exhaustion got the better of him and he too soon fell into deep sleep. When he got up, the rays of the morning sun were brushing his face and, in moments, he was wide awake. He turned around and found that Sonam had already got up and left.
In fact, Sonam had got up with a start. She couldn’t afford to be late but try and be ready before the rest of the household. Usually, others would come and be in the sitting room talking before they would walk into the dining room for breakfast.
Sonam’s dress was simple. She wore a mauve coloured chiffon saree and a green satin blouse with sleeves that came down to her elbows. For her undergarments, she chose a white, lacy pair, the sheer gossamer hugging her most beautiful areas exquisitely. Needless to mention, she looked elegant and thoroughly ravishing. She bowed before both Anurudh and Anjali in the usual gesture of respect before she dashed off to the kitchen to guide the maids in preparing the morning breakfast.
Balwant took his time in getting ready. He just lay on the bed recollecting the events of the previous night and the torrid sexual activities that he had with the two women. He felt a surge in his energy just thinking about his own prowess in the night, and how he had given pleasure to his bahu and the maid and, in return, had been fully satisfied himself. Lazily, he got out of bed and ambled over to the bathroom. He trimmed his moustache and proudly looked at his Rajput face. Usually, he would rub mustard oil all over his body before his bath but that day he did away with it. While having his bath, he soaped himself well, building up a rich lather all over his body and, more particularly, cleansing his penis and scrotum thoroughly. The bath was very refreshing, and he felt invigorated. Stepping out of the bathroom he got dressed in a fresh dhoti and kurta. Finally, he walked towards the stairs.
He took his steps slowly, coughing a bit now and then as he came down the stairs. Frankly, despite being a man with a towering personality, and an authority that stemmed from his position as head of the family, he was not feeling too comfortable at the thought of telling his brother Anurudh and sister-in-law Anjali about his new relation with Sonam.
“I’ll tell them later, not now …not now,” he kept murmuring to himself. His wisdom advised discretion, and he decided he would defer informing them about his indiscretion till beyond Holi, the festival of colours and fun.
Still coughing a bit, Balwant came and sat at his usual place at the dining table. He looked a couple of times at Sonam, trying to catch if she in turn was looking at him. But Sonam was too shy and withdrawn to steal glances at this stage. She kept herself busy with other chores, rushing into the kitchen, wiping the plates, setting the items for the morning meal comprising of pyaaz (onion) kachori with coriander and tamarind chutney. Once ready, she nodded at Matasari who deftly took them to the dining table and placed them before the family members.
Balwant looked towards the kitchen, catching a glimpse of the naked waist just below Sonam’s blouse that her saree didn’t cover. The faint vision of her belly button was enough to stiffen the patriarch’s cock in an instant, almost wanting to go and take his bahu in his arms and make passionate love immediately. He sighed silently before he touched one of the hot ‘kachori’ on his plate and, whispering his prayers to himself, commenced to munch it with a bit of chutney.
Balwant finished his meal and gulped down some water from the steel tumbler. As he set down the tumbler on the table, his eyes fell on the engraved letter ‘B’ on its metal surface. It was the first letter of his name, one that he was proud of. And yet, at that instant, he only saw the word ‘Bahu’ in that one single letter. It only made his heart swell in a deeper sense of love and belonging to this sweet, pretty, young bahu of his. Lost in his thoughts, he was largely silent at the table while his brother Anurudh and sister-in-law Anjali went on in their endless banter.
Their son, Abheer, a strapping lad of around nineteen, had returned home just that morning, after completing high school from a boarding institute. He was tall and well built, a strikingly handsome boy just as a Rajput would normally be. He had some stubbles on his cheeks and more on his chin, with a fine moustache over his lips, possibly following in the footsteps of his uncle, Balwant. His teeth were sparkling and perfectly aligned on his young face which gave him a smile that most girls would fall for. He was wearing a crimson T-shirt and light blue jeans, as he spoke rather boldly with his parents.
The heated debate revolved around his career and where Abheer should now be completing the next part of his studies. The lad was insistent on studying at any local college in the city while his parents wanted to send him off to some distant engineering college. The young lad had a soft corner for Sonam, who was his young bhabhi (sister-in-law) ever since her marriage to Rajesh, his elder cousin brother. He was younger by a few years and hadn’t had too much interaction with his ‘bhabhi.’ But now, with this home coming, it was enough for him to develop an infatuation for her. Events would soon turn that infatuation into a growing lust for this attractive woman.
Behind Abheer’s almost adamant desire of continuing studies in his hometown was his secret and steadfast wish to be around his ‘bhabhi’. His age was now such when infatuation becomes far too binding to wish away. And, he usually relieved himself from overpowering urges in the privacy of the bathroom by imagining this ‘sweet’ bhabhi of his.
“I have been away from my home and family for far too long to want another bout of banishment,” he cried in a voice that was far deeper than it was a few years back. And it was forceful, almost demanding and adamant.
Just then, the young bahu had walked into the dining room with a glass of hot milk and put it right in front of Abheer. She smiled at him affectionately, as she always did, just like an elder sister. She put a hand on the youth’s shoulder.
“You must take your milk first, shouldn’t you?” she asked sweetly.
Abheer was in an aggressive frame of mind and his attention was anywhere other than on milk. He vehemently shook his head and said, “No, I won’t drink it. Do I get milk when I am in a hostel? Or do I get Bhabhi to serve it warm and with so much care when I am there?”
“What’s the use of staying here if, when even bhabhi gives it to you herself, you refuse to drink?” Her voice was cool and calm and caring. She was just rubbing her hands on the lad’s shoulders.
Abheer instantly took up the glass in his hands and gulped down the milk, hardly wasting any further time on it. When he put down the glass, there was unmistakable trace of it over his existing moustache where the milk had touched. He looked almost like a grownup child.
Sonam started laughing. But, the way Abheer responded to Sonam’s words by drinking the milk only showed him up as a rather obedient devar (brother-in-law).
“Bahu, try to convince this boy that it’s in his interest to pursue higher studies elsewhere instead of being tied down in this place,” Anirudh appealed to Sonam.
“Abheer, listen to your parents. Aise nahin karne chahiye. Woh tumhara bhalai ke liye bol rahen hain. (You shouldn’t do this. They are telling this for your own good.)”
Sonam said sweetly, now sitting down beside the lad for her own breakfast. Abheer instantly felt elated.
“No bhabhi. Mai ghar mein rehe kar padai karunga. Sab ke saath rehe ke. Tumhari pas rehe ke. (I will study by staying in the house. With everyone. And staying beside you).” He said, uneasily shuffling in his seat when saying this.
Balwant looked up quizzically on hearing the last words that his young nephew said. He somehow didn’t like to hear them and wondered how possessive he had already become. But he kept quiet, not wanting to intervene in this discussion when the lad’s parents were already debating his future with him.
“Very well,” said Anurudh, coaxing his son in the end, “we will keep both options open. If you succeed in getting admission in an engineering college, then you will not refuse. But, if on the other hand, you don’t get it, then you’ll continue your studies here whatever the subject. But promise, you must try hard in the competitive examinations for getting admission into engineering colleges.”
Abheer just nodded his head, but really, he had already decided to stay at home and continue his studies. Getting, or not getting admitted into engineering colleges, was entirely in his hand. And he knew how easy it would be to be out of the merit list.
“You have earned a gift, Abheer,” suddenly Sonam uttered and, taking a hot kochori from her plate, kept it on the lad’s, “because you have listened to your bhabhi.” She affectionately rustled the young lad’s hair, smiling prettily to expose her sets of milky white teeth within her luscious lips.
Abheer shifted in his seat, blushing a bit at this sort of amorous display by his strikingly attractive sister-in-law. Out of the corner of his eyes, he tried to catch a glimpse of the reaction in the faces of both his parents and on his somber uncle, Balwant.
He was relieved to see that his parents had a look of relief, arising out of his acquiescing, after the earlier resistance to leave town for higher studies, albeit out of the persuasive powers of his Bhabhi.
Yet, the expression on his uncle’s face did not augur well. For, Balwant was looking intently at both Abheer and Sonam. Very intently in fact, the reason for which the lad was unsure. His heart escaped a beat, for he wondered if his uncle had caught on to the growing attraction within him for his Bhabhi, a feeling that he was certain nobody had any inkling about, not even his Bhabhi. He quickly tried to make amends by pretending to show a dislike for the way Sonam was showering her affection.
He moved his head away, picked up the ‘kochori’ that Sonam had placed on his plate, dropped it on hers a bit rudely and, without smiling at all, looked at her.
“Stop it, Bhabhi! If I leave town, I’ll leave on my own … with or without your ‘kochori’.” His voice was bland and loud enough for all to hear.
Instantly, Sonam’s face turned pale. She hadn’t expected her dear and affectionate ‘devar’ (brother-in-law) to behave in this manner when she was being so affectionate to him. Abheer felt bad. If only he could explain to her that this was just a mock show of indifference against the probing eyes of his strict and assertive uncle. But he kept quiet out of fear.
By now, Balwant was looking quizzically at Sonam. Even if his nephew seemed indifferent to or irritated by Sonam’s outward show of attention, what if his ‘Bahu’ really fostered a liking towards the young lad? After all, there was hardly a difference of three or four years between the two, and it was natural for her to have some fondness for the young Abheer. He must keep a close watch, thought Balwant. He was a possessive man and now that he had made this strikingly pretty and sensual woman his own, he had no intention of losing her to anyone.
Sonam quietly finished her breakfast, not raising her face from her plate nor talking, after what she felt was a snub from Abheer. The young man felt bad and, overcoming his fear of his uncle, he tried to make amends.
“Bhabhi! ‘Kochori’ is no gift. You must offer one that is priceless for me to accept, isn’t it?” He said in the end.
“Very well. Then tell me when you decide upon it,” Sonam said without much emotion. She was still feeling hurt.
Abheer knew that any further pampering or indulgence wouldn’t go down with the family head and it would be best to leave the table.
In any case, he had emptied his plate. He pushed back his chair and got up. He wanted to hold his bhabhi’s hands, tell her he was sorry for this outburst which was anything but true. But then, it would only defeat the purpose for which he had behaved in this fashion. He would make it up with his Bhabhi later, he thought.
Balwant looked around the table. He had resolved to tell the household about his relationship with his daughter-in-law, Sonam, later after the Holi festival. He decided to set the tone for the most colourful of all Hindu festivals in India.
“Listen, everyone,” he began the discussion, “Holi is very near. In fact, it is hardly a week away. I think we should start preparing. Already, the villagers are busy preparing for the Rashleela Dance that we hold prior to the Holi festival and we are supposed to be having our own Radha and Krishna too performing in the fun and frolic.”
“Yes, yes, we must do that,” Anurudh was quick to agree, “and who would be better to portray Radha than our own, sweet bahu in that role?” He laughed heartily.
“And may be Abheer would fit in nicely dressed as Krishna,” Matasari butted in, but froze when Balwant gave her a cold stare.
Balwant’s initial glare quickly turned into a look that was mischievous as well as scheming. He wondered if this would not work out well to find out if the young bahu, whom he had secretly married the night before, had her mind enraptured in the thoughts of his young nephew now. He was surprised how jealousy had quickly transformed his thoughts, and he was willing to doubt his bahu as easily as he would doubt a whore. He wasn’t even prepared to give the benefit of doubt to Sonam, whom he had vowed to love just a few hours back.
“Yes, yes,” Balwant said, “in the absence of her husband Rajesh, we should get Abheer as Krishna, for they would make a lovely pair, eh Matasari? They would perform the ‘rasleela’ (dance) rather well, don’t you think?” Balwant’s voice contained tones of suppressed sarcasm. He abolished the idea of declaring his secret marriage to the rest of the family. He decided to wait for some more time before he would announce their relationship that had ended in a marriage of sorts.
Sonam by now was turning pale. Did her behaviour with her ‘dewar’ a while back cause any suspicion in the mind of the patriarch? She had wedded the patriarch the previous night in a manner that was clearly different from what was customary or had social acceptance. Theirs was cast in moulds of sex and erotica, and they had made vows of love. How could this man even think of anything otherwise or doubt her loyalty? She looked sideways at Balwant, noticed the clear marks of scorn on his face and was almost on the verge of crying.
Balwant got up from his chair and, in leaving the dining room, beckoned Sonam by saying, “Bahu, when you have finished your breakfast, you shall come to the study room. I have something to discuss with you.” He hadn’t even turned his face to look at Sonam, just walking off with a huff.
“Go bahu, I think your Babuji is somehow angry with you, for whatever reasons that may be,” Anurudh said. His wife, Anjali nodded her head. She was already wondering why the patriarch’s mood had suddenly turned sour when the young bahu had apparently not done anything that could really cause any anger.
By now Matasari was beside Sonam, picking up the plates and bowls from the table for cleaning. Standing beside Sonam, she said softly, “Bahu, Babuji is calling you. You shouldn’t keep him waiting.”
Unseen by others, she nudged Sonam at the shoulders and directed her with her eyes towards the study room where the patriarch had said he would be waiting.
Sonam waited a while in front of the door to the study room before she pushed open the unlocked door and, in a meek and scared voice, with her head still looking at the floor, said, “Babuji, you called me?”
Balwant was peering out into a small cemented courtyard from the window beside him. Hardly anyone treaded in this area that was usually locked and isolated. He turned and faced his bahu.
“Close the door. Lock it.” Balwant commanded.
Sonam didn’t delay for she was full of fear and apprehension. She quickly raised the catch on the door to lock it and turned to face the patriarch.
“Am I already too old for you, Bahu?” His voice was cold and yet almost taunting.
Sonam was taken aback at this unexpected utterance from Balwant, the man whom she had so lovingly wedded the previous night. Her eyes had the look of a shocked and yet timid deer.
“Why, Babuji? Why are you saying this?” She was almost crying out the words.
“You think that two-bit kid can give you the satisfaction that I can give at my age?”
Balwant was simmering in rage. “I’ll show you tonight what makes a man a man, a real ‘mard’ from one who has only youth to show for himself!”
Sonam was aghast! What, in heavens, was her beloved Babuji talking about?
“Babuji!” She could only exclaim in shock,” What? Who” She could hardly continue before Balwant’s tongue lashed out once again.
“Don’t pretend, Bahu! It will get you nowhere. You know very well who I am talking about. The one you now seem to fancy … your young devar, Abheer. Who, despite being nineteen years in age, has miles to go before he can become a real man, a real ‘mard’ with the sexual prowess that I have! Do you hear?” Balwant’s voice, although supressed, was harsh, accusing and hurtful.
Sonam covered her ears in shame, shocked beyond imagination at these utterances from her father-in-law to whom she was now wedded too.
“Babuji! Stop, stop! I beg you. Listening to your words is just as much a sin! God knows I have never thought, nor imagined anyone other than you for the last few days. You are my husband now, and I shall ever remain faithful to you alone,” Sonam cried out, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Balwant by now had got up from his reclining wooden chair and walked up to Sonam. He raised her chin and looked at her pretty face.