By Neel Anil Panicker
She loved it. Placing her warm hands on his chest, running her nimble fingers over rich, thick mounds of curly hair__whirling, encircling, twisting and entwining them into delicate serpentine knots.
And when she looked up into his smouldering, wicked all knowing eyes__crystal clear as a full moon sky__, she could spot her reflection.
The image of a not so young woman, happy nevertheless, lying stark naked, cuddling and curled up against the flaming machismo of her lover.
The thought made her smile.
Her hands hovered over his nipples.
” What makes you smile, my love?”
The fingers squeezed the nipples, one at  a time.
“You know what is the best part of our love making”? she countered.
The words spoken very softly, each syllabic sound a slow enunciation; the sound the gentlest of caresses as moistened wet lips joined embraced red hot tongues, journeying through and unlocking hidden chambers of ravenous mouths.

“This”, he said, when they broke after a while, for a while.

“Isn’t this the best part”, he said as his hands went into hiding behind her back.

“No, for me this is the best part of our love. We too together, like this, like now, just after we have made love, lying together, both of us naked and you looking up into the skies, your eyes in some far away land, and your one hand God knows where while with your free hand, a cigarette dangling between them, you puff holy smoke into the air.

And I hold on to you, my eyes half closed as they are now and my hands resting on you, on your chest.”
He got up slightly to stub out the cigarette.
“You know, sweetheart. My hands on your chest. What does it mean, to a woman, to me?”
He looked down at her, his eyes dancing merrily with a naughty glint in them.
“They mean that you are mine, mine only, and mine for ever”

Her face gleamed as she said this, the perfectly set jaw lines tightening further; and seconds later when he bound her in his arms she let out a slight gasp as her feminine self momentarily shook against the sheer weight of his heavily muscled body.

The two lovers jailed themselves in a steely embrace and this time they made love with their eyes__two pairs of fiery, determined eyes gridlocked onto one another, utterly oblivious to the world around them.

Except, of course, her mother’s coughs.
For just about the very first and perhaps the only time in her life her invalid mother was dictating her life, and that too the most critical aspect of her life_ the conduct of her affair with Rishi.

All through the night the two lovers were together, on their ‘love couch’.
It was a waiting game.

It began with the first set of instructions that she had relayed over the phone.

“Wait for another fifteen minutes. I will leave the door open. You come in then, only then, mind you. And darling, be careful. Don’t switch on the lights. And no shoes. Wear slippers, and better still, hold them in your hands when you climb the stairs and enter, but not before you hear her cough”.

Their love making began, stopped, resumed, and then ended at the sound of coughs__her mother’s.

“Hey, you bitch. When did you land in Mumbai. I thought you were out in the wide world gobbling up men thirty three times a day.”
Shefali just couldn’t believe her ears. How long was it? __four, five months. Yeah, the last they met was in January, at Christmas. Yes, Christmas eve it was and she had come over with Andy.
‘Meet randy Andy,’ was how she had introduced him.
And then she had stepped off the radar. And now, what’s this?- April.  Gosh, so long and she was hearing her voice, her near hysterical voice that carried the faint aroma of distant lands; lands that she had visited or claimed to have been to.
She pulled a dinner chair and settled herself into it, looking forward to a long chat over the phone.
“So what’s up, you cock sucker”.
They were good at this. Calling names, trading abuses et al. And they spoke the language went coarse, straight down to gutter level.
This was how they talked, two of them,  best friends for ever __Shefali and Puja. The two inseparable, like Siamese twins joined at the hip.
” Will talk. Am busy now. Just landed. Tonight, Red Fox, the Lounge Bar . We are meeting. Eight sharp. It’s my party. See you there. Love, Bitch”.
The mouthpiece went down. She had ended it, as quickly as she had begun.
But then that was Puja, wild and certainly unpredictable with a capital P.

Shefali found herself smiling as picked an apple from the tray.

Only two were left.
Time she made that weekly trip to the fruit market down the street.
‘Yes, she would go. Go to her best friend’s party. And it was also time to introduce Rishi to her friends’.
The thought made her sink her teeth deep into the luscious blood red apple.


 (To be continued)

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