Reviewed by Lakshminarasimhan and Shahaan.
I was awake in the middle of the night. I knew I was no more the sweet little daughter of my father, but I had become the best part of an ambitious business leader, who had won my heart.
Rather than feeling apprehension, fear or anxiety, I felt pride and joy in what I had done.
For all those days, I had experienced the warmth of love only externally. I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life, when I first felt this warmth spread into me.
I could see his face in the moonlight from the window. He had cuddled next to me. He must have been tired of the journey, and the weary day. I didn’t want to wake him. Not just because I didn’t want to disturb his deep sleep, but I was admiring him sleep like a cute infant ignorant of everything else on earth.
Something was lurching in my intestines. It took me time, before I could realize I was feeling hungry. I barely had lunch the previous day, and had nothing but ice-creams for dinner. I got up covering myself with a blanket shielding myself from the air-conditioners freezing cold.
I felt very weak out of exhaustion, cold and hunger. I walked to the kitchen and fiddled with the utensils to no avail. The fridge had nothing worth being called ‘something to eat’, but a loaf. I was let down, and the blanket slipped off me as my shoulders slumped.
Before the cold could conquer me, a pair of hands embraced me from behind, covering me from the cold, and charging me with his warmth. He kissed my ear.
“Are you hungry sweetheart?”
I badly wished that Shantanu could do some magic, and prepare dinner out of nothing. I helplessly told him, “Ya I am”, in a pleading tone.
He took my shoulders, and guided me to the drawing room, seated me on the couch, switched on the TV, and gave the remote to me. Covering me with the blanket, “Just keep watching something interesting, I will be back in a moment.”
I was anxious of what he could do with the stuff at home. I couldn’t wait, not just to have something, but also to see his magic.
I just ruffled through channels, nothing interesting at the middle of the night. I was not fancied by TV programs even during the day. I could hear him doing something.
After around fifteen minutes, he came into the drawing room. He played some melodious music, and took my hand, and guided me towards the dinning hall.
While we were near the entrance way he closed my eyes from behind. He took his hands of my eyes, when I was near the dinning table. There was a pair of lit candles at the center of the table.
A plate of toasts with their sweet scent filling my nostrils was at one end of the table, two crates of ice-creams to the right of the plate, and a glass on the left. Another glass with tissues was at the centre. Two different spoons were on a tissue to the right of the plate, and a knife on a tissue to the left.
It looked like a setup in a five star hotel candle light dinner. He pulled the chair back from the table for me to sit. Taking a piece of the toast he applied ice-cream on it with the knife. I was shaking with saliva failing to stay behind my lips.
I controlled myself from grabbing it from his hands. I trying hard to be polite, slowly took it from his hands, and stuffed it into my mouth. I was in no mood to savor the taste for the first couple of toasts. Only on the 3rd one I realized how delicious it tasted.
“How did you do this?”
“I found some ghee in the refrigerator, and sugar in the kitchen. If only I had milk the toast would have been better.”
I couldn’t wait for the fourth. After stuffing a fifth one, I felt dried out. I took a sip from the glass to my left. It was neither water, nor some drink I had ever tasted before. In the dim candle light I failed to notice that it was red in color.
“I must admit your grand pa has a classic taste.”
“Last time we were here, I found this in one of the closets in the other bedroom. I wondered whether it would still be there. Luckily it was.”
“Ok but what’s it?”
“How does it taste?”
“Not bad, but..”
“Red wine, possibly imported, must cost a good deal.”
“Wine!!! You don’t mind drinking..”
“Just because I hate something, I couldn’t force it on you. This doesn’t do you any harm unlike vodka. After all life is all about keeping each other happy.”
Truly I felt what a luxury drink was. The drink was awesome. I was timid to ask for more, and take too much advantage of his good mood, but I gathered courage to.
“It’s good. Can I have some more…” I asked him in a pleasing softer tone.
“It’s not good to have more than a glass a day. Anyway if you could answer your grandpa, I have no objection tonight.” He smiled. Answering my puzzled expression he continued.
“The few mls you had now must cost in thousands, must be a gift from someone. Your grandpa had already used up a little. Let’s pray that he doesn’t find the slight decrease.”
“He already had part of the drink?”
“Ya, may be he didn’t want to use it all at a time. How often does he use this place?”
“Once in a month at least, he would come on business to meet some people. During elections he will be here often.”
“What if he bumps in all of a sudden tomorrow?”
I could sense the slight apprehension on his face. “Don’t worry about that darl. Every-time he comes here, grandma will call me, asking me what she shall send me through grandpa.”
“How sweet of your grandma” he said with a sardonic smile.
Only when I had the first bite of the last toast, I realized that he hadn’t any dinner either. I looked up. He was sitting opposite to me, admiring my barbaric feast.
“Don’t you want to have something?”
“I feel more than just filled seeing you eat.” He simpered.
We had a few more crates of ice-creams, mostly in the intention of finishing them off, than enjoying them.
We went to bed, cuddling next to each other. We spent the night talking of sweet things. Just before dozing off, I asked the usual question a girl would ask her boy friend, after doing something that she is not supposed to do before marriage, and this is one occasion, and the only occasion in the history of mankind, when a girl asks “Will you marry me?”
It’s also a fact that the answer would be undoubtedly ‘yes’ regardless of whether or not the guy really meant it. But the truth in his ‘yes’ was unambiguously obvious.