Nandini was back to their room and was selecting the outfit to wear for the Grand Reception in the evening. It had to be a big formal function so the dress had to be the designer one, fit for the new bride. It was so confusing. She decided to take help from Meera. Just then, Manik entered the room. Manik gave good 30 seconds to her face and snapped a finger before her eyes. "Yeah?" She came back...
Someone wanted to see how Manik’s tattoo must have looked – It’s on his chest – around 15 X 7 cm… something like this….
She frowned, pretended to cry and closed the door behind her. They could hear ma and masi busy in their gossip, giggling like teenagers. Manik pretended to stretch his hands outwards, and lifted the sleeves of his shirt at his forearms as he whispered in a husky tease.
“So??? We were talking about secret tattoos!! Right???”
She pressed her lips to suppress her laughter and replied softly, “Yes! And we will keep talking about them.”
“Ha! Not funny…”
“I find it funny!” She giggled slightly more, settled the packet in her hands on the slab and held Manik’s arm, almost dragging him to turn around, “Now, be a good boy and turn around.”
“Turn around? Why?” He refused to budge and tried to pull his arm away but she didn’t stop. She finally turned him around and replied, “Because…you are a gentleman. You will not watch a girl changing her dress, unless she asks you to watch her.”
He turned his face again, asking in a teasing tone, “Are there any chances she will ask me to do that?”
“Mmm…” She pretended to think, tapped her index finger on her cheek and replied with a firm, “No!”
He spread his hands in air, “Not fair. This gentleman is your husband!!”
She giggled softly, holding his arm and now almost leaning over the back of his arm, without even realising that she was hugging his arm at the back. They were in a closed space, once again, and they had to speak in a low, hushed voice so that they were not heard outside, not even as whispers. Unknowingly, unintentionally, they were almost leaning into each other.
She replied, “Yeah! I remember… the husband who came with 1000 rules and conditions with his marriage proposal…”
He corrected her, “To the girl who wouldn’t say ‘yes’ without those conditions.”
“Point!! But still… we were supposed to follow certain rules…”
He smirked, still whispering and speaking in a hushed tone, “I’m not an idiot. There was no condition or rule regarding sex… I’m very clear on that…”
She leaned her head sideways, to look at him and frowned as if she didn’t understand. She raised her brows, “There wasn’t??”
He grinned, “No!”
“We’ll talk about that in detail…”
He sniggered, “Anytime!”
She requested, “Manik, please let me change peacefully… please?”
He was not even listening to her, “Show me the tattoos…”
She chuckled again, speaking in a softest whisper, raising her hand in a question, “What is the fun in me showing them to you? Don’t you find it alluring that… err… whenever we are close… you know… you may spot them surprisingly at places you least expected?”
He cocked a brow at that and a mischievous, naughty grin waltz it’s way on his lips. “Aww… I wish I didn’t know you… Though the offer looks too sexy… but I know you, smarty… you are simply trying to distract me…”
She giggled at being caught. Her tone turned authoritative too, but in a pleasing way, “Okay, enough! Turn now… I want to change!”
“I want to see…”
He grinned and leaned towards her face, almost at a breath’s distance, raising his brows, “How will you stop me??”
“By emotional blackmail!!! Manik Malhotra, I saved you! Now, it’s your turn to pay back! We are partners, after all…”
“Tch… You caught me on that… we are partners, after all!”
“On one condition…”
“Manik…” She just spoke his name in a soft chiding whisper.
“Err… mmm… Okay… just one!” She shrugged and looked at his face adoringly with a confident admiration, “I don’t have to say that I know you will turn around after that!”
He smiled, with a profound assurance on his face. He didn’t have to word it. She just knew that. Still, he whispered, “Take my word.”
“I trust you!” She hardly spoke. Only her lips moved to let him know what she meant and he understood. With a shy smile on her lips, her upper eyelids drooped down as she turned around and collected all of her beautiful hair with soft curls, at the nape of her neck and moved all of them together to bring them down towards the front of her right shoulder.
All his confidence and tease fizzed out and his heart turned into a buttery soft dollop of confusion when she asked him to pull down her zip. He had been teasing her just to get revenge at her and not because he actually visualized her dropping her inhibitions one by one.
Not that he was complaining! He was loving it. Just that he had hoped or maybe expected more resistance from her, like he had seen in films and heard it from friends. It would have been irritating and frustrating, but still, he was prepared for her to be like some girls who made a big issue about small things. But not her.
For every one step he took towards her, she took one from her side. It was awe-worthy. Tt was respectful to him. It was something that raised his confidence in him. For she was not rejecting him.
She had accepted him. And she had accepted the blazing, fiery chemistry between them. She had been melting too.
He didn’t know if they were taking it too fast or slow… he just knew that this was how it had to happen between them… they were just taking the natural flow.
She waited for him and initally looked away towards the wall of the washroom, but later turned sideways to throw a glance backwards, overlooking her shoulders, when he finally held the little sea green slider at the top of the zip of her kurti and slowly slid it down. The creamy soft skin at her upper back was exposed. He slightly moved the slider for more, tongue tied and nervous as if facing a viva voce of a lifetime…
She pressed her lips, tapping her foot impatiently and sighed, “It’s on the left shoulder bone…”
His breath was caught in his throat as he removed the flap of the dress sideways. He was speechless. While he spoke nothing and his wordlessness ruled him in such moments, he was left admiring her in awe, that she could speak even in such situations, even if she had to whisper.
“My mom was dead against the tattoo thing… but I HAD to… like, HAD to get it done!! So, I promised myself that when I pass final MBBS exams, I will gift myself a tattoo. My mom freaked out when she saw this… she is still not in terms with this…” Nandini giggled, “But in my defence, it is a hidden area… I wear T shirts and kurtis and a big white coat in the hospital, so how does it even matter… and when I have to wear a saree, it is hidden under the free end of the saree… that is why I got it done over the left shoulder…You know what, Manik…”
Before she could speak more in her cute, sweet voice, he touched his forehead over her hair and breathed a deep sigh over her hair with a husky, “Sssshhuuut Upppp!!!”
She stopped speaking. And pressed her lips. It was THIS awareness that she had been avoiding when she was speaking. She knew how it was going to be if both of them stayed quiet. Manik was overwhelmed and so was she… and someone had to make it easy between them… and that someone had to be ‘her’…
Manik knew the same. It wasn’t that he didn’t like it when she was talking. It was just that he was living this moment beyond their world of moms and masis and families… this moment was special… this moment was ‘them’… and he wasn’t going to allow anyone to intrude… not even her tales…
He was standing at a small distance from her, with his forehead touching her hair. He could smell the intoxicating fragrance of her shampoo from her soft hair and she could smell ‘him’…
“I don’t want to know what your mom thought about it… I want to know what made you get a dream catcher tattoo…”
She blushed and sighed. “It protects. The round hoop catches bad dreams when you are asleep at night. The good dreams gently pass through the feathers at the end.”
“I can only see the round hoop… I can’t see any feathers…”
She moved the flap of her kurti away and slipped it down her left shoulder to gently ease away her left arm out of it, while carefully securing the dress at her bosom. The dress slightly slipped further down.
“Shit! I didn’t mean that…” He nervously apologised.
She giggled, “Nervous! And you wanted to see ALL 5 tattoos??!!”
He grinned and pressed his lips in embarrassment, “You are such a tease…”
“You are no less…”
He took a step back and turned around with his back towards her. “Change quickly now! Mom and masi might be busy gossiping but you never know when they come knocking on the door.”
“Yep!” She smiled with a proud grin her face and pulled her kurti down for the entire length to change. She didn’t have to worry for she knew that he will not turn around to watch her or embarrass her. The proud grin on her face was courtesy ‘him’… She was so proud of him!
Where the world was full of leeches and creeps in the name of men who wouldn’t flinch at outraging the modesty of random women on the road or office space, this guy was patient and understanding enough for his own wife. He was not someone to proclaim his right on her. And that made him worthy of having all of her…
She blushed at that thought! But it was true…
He rolled his eyes and waited for her to change. In fact, he hadn’t expected that she will trust him so easily. They were married only 2 days back and till last week they were thinking about ways to avoid getting married to this stranger.
Today, she was in his washroom, slipping away one shoulder of her dress… for him…
He gulped hard…
He was more awkward than her, this time. She was bold and he loved it. And she was like this only with him, he was sure of that. Despite being so outspoken and smart, she had carefully guarded her dignity to not give away just like that to someone, made him respect her.
He, on the other hand, had been careless. He had experimented once. Though, to his defense, he was not callous about women and never slept around with random women. Not even with his ex- girlfriend… He didn’t feel like anything physically compelling with her, but that was another story…
But still… he was not chaste like her and this made him feel responsible. He wasn’t going to rush into things to make it awkward for her or feel like she was being forced to do something…
He had already told her that, before.
One more thing, he promised himself today that he was never going to do ‘it’ unless, she asked herself. She had mentioned ‘not wanting to do it, with anyone before’ and why should he consider himself special just because they were married?!
She had every right to feel everything she wanted to feel… follow every dream she had hoped to see… stay in a power of control and stay independent and free, as he had promised her when they got married to each other.
She had earned that value and power to take that decision. He was going to wait as long as she wanted.
And he was always going to protect her heart and her dreams… like a dream catcher…