Anita and Natasha were cuddled up on the couch, intently listening to Harry’s story. Arjun had slipped away from there, unnoticed. He was not into love affairs. Sitting apart in a corner of the lavish living room, he was glued to his phone. Swapna, who was sitting next to Harry, looked much more immersed than the rest.
As Ramu was serving refreshments, she remarked that she saw as much intensity between Cindy and Dilip as between Shom and Raima. Everyone thought of it as a strange remark. Natasha was irritated and she said that all her mother could think of was Raima, who was in her world of her own. Only Harry understood and he hugged Swapna.
“What do you think she’s doing in Jaipur when the festival is long over?” asked Arjun.
“Raina has been in touch with Harry and me. She is busy now with interviews with international magazines, besides making friends and business contacts,” said Swapna
“Is Raima into another Shom or another Natasha?” quipped Arjun.
“How dare you talk like that?” asked Swapna. Harry gave Arjun a stern look.
Arjun laughed and said, “Actually Shom is very much into Raima. I don’t want to say something nasty. I came to know this a while ago when Dad was talking to them.”
“What?” asked Harry.
“Shom and Khush were talking about their first interaction with Raima and how she was the bone of contention between the two.”
“Let’s continue with Cindy and Dilip. What happened to poor Cindy? Did she throw Bert out?” asked Anita.
Harry resumed his recollection.
The big day had arrived. Ten minutes before the match, Dilip dada and his team arrived at the courtyard and began to practice their swings. Bert came out of his house with his team a few minutes later. Dilip kept looking at Cindy from the corner of his eye. She looked nervous and her gaze was fixed on Dilip all the time. Dilip felt that she was trying to express something and he nodded in acknowledgement.
A minute before the start of the match, he addressed the entire Anglo -Indian community. He said, “The match is going to begin now. What will be the outcome? Most of the Anglo-Indians will die or be severely injured. Is that what you want? I don’t think so. This is just a clash between Bert and me. I don’t want you to suffer for it.”
The sigh of relief could be felt by all. Some said that Dilip had backed out. Bert exploded, “Have we wasted so much time for you to chicken out in the end? How dare you do that, we will not allow you, we have a full house for the games to begin.” He sounded like the Emperor of Rome at the Coliseum.
“Let’s do it right now,” replied Dilip in calm and mature tone. “It’s a sensitive time after the ghastly incident the other day. I was dragged into it, so I know it will not be possible to avoid the police, especially when there are mortalities. I don’t think the community can take that kind of risk. However, I don’t want the audience to be disappointed. I suggest that the match be played between Bert and me alone to reduce the number of deaths to only one.”
There was a pin drop silence. Cindy looked shocked! She was restless to intervene and stop this nonsense. She could not bear to see Dilip hurt in anyway. “He will die only over my dead body,” she said under her breath. She felt helpless. An Anglo-Indian woman couldn’t be seen favouring an Indian against her Anglo-Indian husband. She almost collapsed as the confrontation between Dilip and Bert began.
It looked like one-sided as Bert had a very powerful swing and a big built to leverage his massive strength. Dilip was more graceful with dodging and had a very rhythmic swing, but otherwise, he was no match for Bert. Bert looked as if he was possessed and was all out for Dilip’s blood. Somehow, almost the entire audience was sympathetic towards Dilip as this looked to be a very unfair fight.
Suddenly, there was a crashing sound of Bert’s hockey stick clashing with Dilip’s. The impact was so powerful that it completely shook Dilip. Cindy was badly shaken up too. Without an instant came another bang, this time it was Dilip’s back being crushed by a robust blow. Cindy’s screech was drowned by the collective screech of the audience.
Bert was ready to finish off Dilip with a blow on his head as Dilip lay limp on the ground. Everyone’s heart was in their mouths, praying for a miracle. As Cindy came running to guard Dilip against the finishing blow from Bert’s hockey stick, Dilip swiftly moved his head out of the way to see the toe of hockey stick head dig into the ground till the heal.
Dilip quickly came forward on his fours and with his hockey stick he pulled at Bert’s left leg. Bert tripped and his huge body fell on his back with a heavy thud. He was finished. Dilip quickly jumped on his chest and raised his stick up in the air to bring it down on Bert’s skull. But he stopped in mid-air and said aloud, “I am stopping this nonsense. I am not a barbarian. I spare you.” Saying so, he left and the rest of his team took over. The crowd rose in joy, chanting, “dada, dada.”
Cindy went after Dilip and caught hold of him before he dropped on the ground. Her tears on Dilip’s face brought him back to consciousness and he smiled at her before passing out again. Cindy was relieved that Dilip went all out to protect Bert, entertain the audience and gain her trust, all in one go, but at the cost of risking his own life.
Later, she took some stern steps in retaliation. She left Bert in her house with his friends, with a notice to vacate at once. She set up her one-bedroom apartment that she always wanted to occupy. The spacious hall was converted into a dance school while Cindy lived in the bedroom till Bert vacated her two-bedroom house. Her dance classes were in great demand. This helped her retain her sanity while Dilip was recouping in the hospital. She kept Dilip abreast of all developments and enrolled him for dancing lessons. Dilip joined the day he was discharged from the hospital.
Dilip was only five years old when he was beaten up by his father. His stepmother, much younger than his father, had him totally in her grip. One day she screamed at Dilip while breastfeeding his infant brother and wrongfully accused him of touching her breast. She ordered her husband to teach Dilip a lesson.
The poor child wondered why he was slapped so hard. He was shocked to know that he had done something wrong. He loved his stepmother a lot, never having seen his biological mother, as she had died during childbirth. After that day he was terrified but his desires grew strongly. He secretly watched his tiny brother possess the most precious toy. He was envious and was dying to be in his place. He used to dream of his mother loving him the same way. He wanted to draw her attention and have her cuddle him close to her chest. This never happened and he remained deprived of the mother’s affection that he craved. Things were different before his stepbrother was born, she was quite a loving person.
It was painful for him to learn in later years that he was a step child. He detested his father all the more when he came to know that his mother had died due to gross negligence on his father’s part. Thereafter, he constantly got into rifts with his father and hated him. He grew up to be a rebel. However, he was an exceptionally intelligent child, naturally good at his studies, brilliant in sports and a born leader. Unfortunately, his aggressive nature and give-a-damn attitude was cleverly exploited by the local politicians. This helped him extract all the clout and power he needed to satisfy his whims. At the young age of 18 he was a law unto himself and a feared gangster.
However, the mother fixation was something that he had to live with. No amount of exposure to the opposite sex calmed him. It would hurt and anger him when people ridiculed him with the taunt, “Maine apni maa ka doodh piya hai. (I have been breast-fed by my mother)” It would bring back the pain of his childhood, the deprivation and the sense of not being loved and cared for by his own family. At such moments he would feel that his physical strength and the influence which he had over others, were of little value in the absence of maternal love.
An unusual incident took place one evening after Dilip joined Cindy’s dance class. Dilip would look at her bosom which would always swell up when she danced with him. Every night she would imagine herself feeding Dilip and would end up caressing and squeezing her areolas. That day she just couldn’t resist anymore. Pure love for the boy exalted. Something in his pleading eyes did not allow her to ignore his look. She pulled him closer and dragged him to bed. She had been itching to this for a long time. She felt the warmth of his breath on her cleavage. “Oh my God, this is killing me”, she gasped. In a complete helpless moment, one thing led to another. A sense of longing was evident between both of them with Cindy willing to break all bounds and Dilip restless to satiate his crave. Her elevated senses knew no bounds as her bosom was sheathed amidst the warmth of Dilip’s seeking lips. This went on, oblivious of time. Unable to fathom his own actions, Dilip couldn’t realise that his vigorous fondles were actually inducing lactation. The moment was a dilemmatic mixture of reminiscences of a childhood deprived of mother’s love and his current seeking of a woman’s love.
The intimacy was longed for and sought at last. Both were lying alongside, staring at the ceiling and breathing heavily, then looking at each other. It seemed as if they did not care about the consequences. Unable to overcome her desire to be loved, Cindy gave in to the moment, her femininity delved into by his virility, consummating their unexpressed love for each other.
That night while in bed, Cindy lay confused about her amorous encounter with Dilip. What kind of love was this? Her son would have been exactly Dilip’s age and how could she take him as a lover? Does age really matter when it was about true love’s devotion? She had no answers, this was beyond her. She could not sleep through the night and somewhere her inner self was under sharp blows of guilt. Was she ruining Dilip’s life? He was young and capable with a lovely girlfriend she had met the other day. Her mind was racing. Was he serious about her? Was she going to leave him? She realised that she cannot possibly live without Dilip now. After long years of loveless existence and an abusive relationship, Dilip was her saviour and she loved him from the deepest depths of her heart. He had almost killed himself to get to her. How would their communities accept this relationship? Would Jesus pardon her? Her mind and heart seemed to be a battle ground at that moment with ethics and dedication in war.
Cindy was a mess. She wanted to think right but her mind was clouded. The truth was difficult to accept but she had to get to it. She decided to seek counsel from her aunt Gloria, a woman of great wisdom and highly respected in the Anglo-Indian community.
Next day she took a tram to Mandeville Gardens in Ballygunge, opposite an upcoming public school known for its modern ways of teaching. It was located on a huge plot of land bought by Mr. Guha, the principal of the school, from Gloria. Her rich aunt was all set to receive her favourite niece today. “My, my, look at you, looking as young as ever, you don’t age at all!” said her dignified-looking aunt.
They hugged as if there was no tomorrow and sat down to have tea. The table was set with a teapot covered with a tea cosy, two cups and saucers of expensive bone china, all reflecting Aunt Gloria’s extravagantly beautiful sense of interior decor. Cindy was thrilled to see the apple pie aunt Gloria was famous for. She blew a kiss to her.
Cindy told her aunt everything honestly. Her aunt, who looked shocked and objected to most of the things she said, later settled down after Cindy threatened to go away. She heard her out patiently and studied the situation. She then locked herself in the study and left Cindy pacing up and down the hallway.
Hearing her aunt on the telephone, she went to eavesdrop by the study door. “DSP sahib, how are you…thank you, any time… I’ll always be available, now I have something to ask you about Dilip Paul, Dilip dada… are you saying Dilip is well connected and liked by everyone? Okay, I see. Tell me if he has any criminal record…no criminal record? How can you say that? He is a dada, not a saint…okay, Robin Hood… ha, Robin Hood of our generation… if you say so… okay, and everyone is of that opinion… okay thank you… I will call you when I have something more to ask. Bye.”
Cindy quickly moved away, suppressing a broad smile. Her aunt came out of the study and told Cindy that she wanted to meet Dilip. Cindy looked at her aunt, trying to gauge her.
“Why do you want to meet him?”
“Don’t you want me to? You’ve already had two relationships that did not work. I had told you about Bert, the big hulk with a king-size ego and a bird-size brain. This time I want to be sure.”
“Oh my dear aunt, you will surely like him!”
“I have to find everything about him before I make up my mind. How will we face Jesus Christ! Isn’t this incest? I have been reading about this in ‘Sons and Lovers’ by DH Lawrence. It mirrors your story.”
“What rubbish! Dilip is not my son!”
“He reminds you of your son, he’s a reincarnation of your son.”
“You may assume as you please, but I know that he and I are soul mates since time unknown and would remain so.”
“Holy Jesus! The Lord has blessed us by taking away your real son, otherwise your relationship with him would have been an embarrassment for us all.”
“How dare you talk like this? I never knew you could utter such unethical thoughts for me! I came to you seeking your help and instead you are showering such unscrupulous words upon two different relationships which are sacred in their respective positions.” Cindy broke down at her aunt’s wicked anticipation. She, however, realised the truth in what her aunt had said.
Gloria immediately went up to her niece and hugged her. “This is a blessing from Jesus, it is a very sacred relationship”, she said. Then she kissed her forehead and cheeks. It was a miracle. She had found the truth she was looking for. They were soul mates indeed.
Dilip was in a similar state. Liora was the only person who knew everything about him. He told her about the night before. She looked sad, although there was nothing that she was not aware of and knew what was coming. She told him that it was all because of his mother fixation. He readily accepted this, but was not bothered about what others would say. He was helpless, madly in love with Cindy. His only concern was Cindy. What was she going to do next? Liora watched him all the time, he looked tense and utterly restless. She decided to cheer him up by taking him for a movie. They went to the nearest cinema hall to watch a Hindi film. She just sat there holding his hands and watching him all the time. He looked preoccupied till one scene in the movie upset him. Liora noticed his face go red when he heard the hero say, “Chhaati thok kar usne kahaa, aa jao saamne, sab ke sab, maine apni ma ka doodh piya hai.” (He thumped his chest with his fist and said, come on, all of you together, I have the strength to take you on because I was breastfed by my mother).
Liora was quick to realise this. She got up and said, “I don’t like the movie, let’s go to Victoria Memorial and sit on the lawns there.” He got up and followed her.
Victoria Memorial was crowded that day. Some vendors were selling cheena baadam (peanuts) while others offered moshla moodi (spiced rice puff) or chana jor garam (spiced roasted chickpeas), singing, “Babu main laaya mazedaar chana jor garam. (Sir, I have brought lip-smacking spiced roasted chickpeas)” People were sitting in groups munching cheena baadam with jhal noon (salt and red pepper). Kids were running around, kicking a ball.
Dilip and Liora were not in a mood for all that and they decided to head back home. Liora stretched herself on the sofa with her head on Dilip’s lap. Dilip started massaging her head with his warm and loving hands as he always did. This gave him a lot of peace and Liora enjoyed it immensely.
Suddenly, the telephone started to ring and Liora rushed to answer it. A moment later she called out to Dilip who was surprised to know that the call was for him. It was Cindy calling from Gloria’s house. She sounded excited and Dilip’s hands started to shake in nervousness. He was thrilled to know about Cindy’s meeting with her aunt.
Cindy was going to take a tram from Ballygunge to her house in Park Street and she asked Dilip to come there. Dilip, in Park Circus was almost midway. If he timed it well, he could board the tram she was in when it crossed Park Circus.
Liora could see the transformation in Dilip after the conversation. He had a spring in his step now. She was relieved too, her love for him was superfluous. She and her entire family were indebted to Dilip in many ways.
He was getting ready to leave. “It is too early to go, Dilip. Calm down, it will take her at least ten minutes to walk to the Ballygaunge tram stop and the tram takes 30 minutes to get here. If you leave now, you will be waiting for her for 35 minutes.”
Dilip knew Liora was right. He smiled in acknowledgment and Liora took his hand in hers. They began to walk hand in hand in silence before Liora gave him the signal to leave for the nearby tram stop. Dilip walked with long strides to reach the stop quickly and then seeing the tram at a distance, ran to it. He boarded the first compartment where they usually sat. She was not there. He was disappointed. Was she in the earlier tram? He then saw the next tram at a distance and Cindy was there looking lovely in her pleated dark grey skirt and an alluring pink blouse. He boarded the tram and they hugged each other, hardly conscious of the people around.
This was true love. She was his strength. He worked hard to be worthy of her and this made him successful and prosperous. He was able to bring all the Anglo -Indians together. He helped them with the formalities for their migration to England, Australia and Canada. This was all due to Cindy’s influence on him. He even helped Bert. As a result, Cindy and he were made the chief guests at the party Bert hosted a week before leaving for Perth. Bert and his friends heaped praise on Dilip and this was a high point in Cindy’s life.
Cindy too flourished beyond Gloria’s imagination. Gloria wrote an article in ‘The Statesman’ about Cindy’s achievements. This motivated Cindy, who took pride in keeping herself young, fit and as attractive as ever.
Everything was falling into place but the migration plans of Liora’s family seemed to have stalled. They had been struggling to migrate to Israel since 1948. Her father had been seriously ill and bed-ridden. Now that he had recovered, the migration papers he managed were no longer valid. Dilip used his political contacts and one morning his contact came over with some good news. “Dilipda! Hoye gache kaaj ta hoye gache. David ke bole dao!” (Okay Dilipda, your work is done. Tell David it’s all done.)” Dilip was thrilled. He ran to meet Liora who kissed him profusely.
The scene at Dumdum airport was emotional. Liora and family were leaving for Jerusalem. It was not easy for Liora and Dilip to part after 16 years of being together. Just before security clearance, Liora broke down, ran up to Dilip and hugged him tightly. He too was intensely emotional and he kissed her for a long time. As she parted, tears flowed freely before giving way to a smile lending Dilip all the solace he needed. What kind of love was this? She knew him more than he knew himself. He was overly protective of her since childhood, how could she go away from his life in such a haste? He had no idea how Liora felt, when Cindy suddenly came into his life. He had vanished from Liora’s life into a world of his own. She was immensely understanding and caring, was this sisterly love? No, she wanted him in every sense and yet loved him for what he loved and who he loved. Now, he understood what Cindy meant when she said that love was impossible to define.
Cindy was sad that she had had virtually no interaction with Liora. She and Liora had not met and yet they knew a lot about each other. Dilip was the medium and they both threatened to complain about him to the other. This common agenda resulted in respect for each other.
As the weeks went by, Cindy and Dilip began to spend more time together. A connection that began from the soul, they were always in each other’s thoughts when not physically together. They were held in high regard by both, Indians and Anglo-Indians. It seemed to be the God’s way of blessing two devoted hearts in love.
A truly blessed twosome!
“Wow!” said Anita and Natasha hugged her. There were tears in Swapna’s eyes and Harry kissed her on her cheeks. Arjun came back to say that he was not able to get in touch with Khush or Shom and Raima’s phone was switched off. Harry and Swapna got up with a start.
To be continued…