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Disclaimer : All characters in the story are above 18 years of age.
I winced as the splitting headache refused to leave. I had hardly slept last night on the train. Since the journey was so sudden I had to bribe the TTE for a berth. I had negotiated hard for two, but apparently there was only one available. God knows if it was true. In between consoling Swetha, my wife who had lain on my lap sobbing all night, and figuring out how to deal with the future, sleep had eluded me.
It all seemed like a nightmare. I had been browsing on my office computer on what to get Swetha for our first wedding anniversary when her uncle had called me with the news. When he hung up I was left with the unenviable task of telling my wife that her father had passed away. We had taken the next available train to Calicut, my wife’s hometown.
As soon as we reached in the morning, Swetha ran inside her house crying… to see the lifeless body of her father. I could hear her mother and sister wailing inside. I stood there in the crowd with everyone’s eyes on me. Their gazes seemed to penetrate my skin and judge my worth.
“He is the son-in-law, from Pune,” some of their lips seemed to be murmuring. I looked around and nodded to the few people I recognised. I found uncle standing in a corner, his eyes silently beckoning. I went towards him. As I neared him he pulled me aside and spoke in a low voice.
“Nitin… Son, I know you must be tired… but we can’t keep the body much longer… you will have to perform the last rites,” he said. I was taken aback.
“Me!” I said, loud enough for a few people who stood nearby to turn their heads. Uncle placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Yes… you know last rites are performed by the son… Swetha and her sister can’t do it… and they don’t have any adult male cousins… it has to be you.”
That was how I found myself being ushered towards the open well behind the house. I was handed a white towel. I removed my clothes and left them in a pile beside the well. Wearing just the towel around my waist, I stood there as uncle poured water drawn from the well over my head. The cold water trickled down my head and over my face, temporarily easing my headache. Many buckets of water later, I was handed a white wrap-around dhoti. I wore it on my wet body.
A few minutes later uncle led me down to the adjoining plot of land where a small squarish area had been cleared. I stood aside and watched in a daze as logs of wood were stacked up at the centre. The body was brought a while later. The heartbroken wails of the three women failed to register the true measure of their agony in my mind as I was led through the rituals by some old men whom I recognised had led my wedding rituals too. After a few karmic rituals to ensure peace for the departed soul I lit the pyre. Flames engulfed the logs of wood, burning into ashes the body of the man who had been the anchor in the lives of my wife, her sister and their mother. As smoke rose skywards, I looked at the three of them… realising the weight of the responsibilities that the departed had passed on to me.
I spent the next two weeks in the house consoling the women and taking care of the financial matters of my late father-in-law. I completed the required procedures at the bank and insurance company, settling his savings and death claim respectively in favour of the nominee, Uma – my mother-in-law. Uncle helped me with all the matters. I had to perform some more rituals for the departed soul in those two weeks. No day went by where the women’s eyes weren’t red from crying. I learned from visiting relatives and friends how kind a man my father-in-law had been… how much love he showered on his women and how they reciprocated. All of them without an exception, though not in the same words, told me I had big shoes to fill… that I was the man of the house now. I heard them all out with a growing sense of responsibility albeit with considerable trepidation.
On Saturday night two weeks later, I found myself walking around aimlessly on the verandah after dinner. I don’t know what force was pulling me but my feet followed the path I had taken on that fateful morning wearing just a white dhoti… down to the plot of land where the cremation had taken place. In the light of the moon I saw that the ashes had been cleared, but the earth around the area where the pyre had been was darker. The night was silent except for some nocturnal animals and the breezing of the wind. The cold wind sent chills up my spine. I looked up at the stars in the sky. With them bearing witness, I made myself a promise… a promise that I knew would put my father-in-law’s soul at ease. The next night, I opened the door to my Pune Apartment leading my wife and the two women into my home as well as my heart.
I woke up early at 7 AM the next morning. It was unusual, coz I was a late riser. Swetha though was still in bed uncharacteristically late. In fact, whenever I had stayed at her home I had found that all three fatih escort women along with their late father would be up by 6 in the morning.
I didn’t feel like waking her up. Poor thing had been through a lot. I decided to get up and fix some breakfast for everyone. When I reached the kitchen I realized that I had been beaten to the task by Mom.
“Good Morning,” I said as I approached. Quietly she handed me a cup of tea. I observed her while sipping the hot tea. She was a mess. Her hair was dishevelled and she looked weak. Dark circles around her eyes made it look like she hadn’t slept in ages. She had barely spoken a word to anyone since her husband’s death. I could not allow this to continue. I could not just stand by and watch while her grief consumed her, ruining her mind and her health. I went close to her.
“Mom,” I said, “you haven’t talked to anyone in weeks… I know dad’s passing has been hard on you… I know how much he meant to you… but you cannot shut yourself down like this.”
She had stopped what she was doing when I spoke, but it didn’t seem like she comprehended what I had said. I took her hands in mine and pulled gently, making her face me.
“Mom, look at me! You can’t waste away like this… you have to think about the girls.” I said a little louder. Still her eyes seemed vacant.
“Uma!” I called her by her name surprising myself, “listen to me! You have to be there for the girls… they need you… if you don’t do that, they’ll shut themselves down just like you are doing now… is that what you want? Is that what dad would have wanted?”
The mention of dad stirred something in her. Her eyes welled up. Small teardrops trailed down her eyes. She fell forward overwhelmed by the rush of emotions my words had induced. I caught her by her shoulders and hugged her. She started crying on my shoulder.
“Mom, don’t cry… I’m here for you… I’m here for the three of you,” I tried consoling her, “I don’t know if I can be as good a man at everything as dad was… but I promise you… I’ll try.”
I gently patted her back as she got a hold of herself. Once she did, she looked up at my face with such tender love and gratitude that my heart melted.
“I will take good care of the girls… but I need your help… I need you to stand beside me and guide me… tell me how dad would deal with things.” I said, struggling to control my emotions. She raised her hands and lightly stroked my face.
“I will stand by you son,” she said lovingly, “I am so grateful that we have you to lean on… you took care of everything after dad’s passing like a son would… Swetha is so lucky to have you as her husband… and Navya is still young… she needs a father figure… and I… I too need someone to depend on… we are all so lucky to have you.”
The mention of Navya, my sister-in-law, took my mind on another path. Uncle and I had gotten her transfer documents from her college at Calicut. Getting the transfer certificate and conduct certificate wasn’t much of an issue since the academic year had just begun. Ensuring her admission into a college in Pune was an immediate task in front of me. I had made a few calls and pulled some strings with the help of my boss who had some connections. I had to take her to MG College around 10 kms from my apartment and get the transfer procedures done today.
“Speaking of Navya, I have to take her to her new college today to complete transfer procedures.”
“Oh.. she is still sleeping. I’ll go wake her up.” Mom offered.
“No. I’ll do it. You finish up on the dosas.” I told her gesturing at the pan on the stove. I walked to the small room to the left of the main door of our apartment which Swetha had used as a storeroom earlier. We had cleared it out for Navya. The door was slightly ajar. I pushed it open. It was dark inside since the curtains were drawn closed. I walked to it and pulled it open. Light filled the room illuminating the small bed on which she was asleep, blanket drawn up over her head. I went and sat on the bed. Gently I lifted the blanket off her face. The view of Navya’s serene sleeping face stirred something in my belly. The uncanny resemblance it had with that of Swetha never ceased to surprise me. I took hold of her arm over the blanket and shook her gently. She opened her eyes slowly, adjusting to the light the open curtain had caused in the room.
“Good Morning,” I said smiling.
“Jiju?” she said groggily, disoriented from waking up in a new bed. ‘Jiju’, that was what she called me. She probably learned it from Bollywood movies. It always caused a flutter in my heart. I didn’t have a sister of my own. So I really liked Navya. However, not all of my feelings towards her were brotherly. The resemblance to my wife often created some perverted images in my mind… but I made sure to keep them in check. Outwardly, I was always her loving brother-in-law… her Jiju.
“Wake up Navya… we have to get your transfer procedures fındıkzade escort done at your new college today.” I said. Slowly she sat up on the bed, her face a blank. I had no idea how she was feeling. Dad’s passing had affected her the most. Not only did she lose her father, but due to the relocation she had lost her friends too. Maybe she was angry with me for it was my decision to bring her here. I felt it was the right thing to do. The family had to be kept together if they are to pull through this unfortunate tragedy.
“Get ready, we have to be there at 10.” I said as I left the room.
I went back to my room. Swetha was still asleep. I bent down to kiss her forehead. Her eyes opened slowly.
“Morning love!” I smiled. She lay there, not responding… just looking up at the ceiling.
“You have to get up now if you plan on reaching office at time.” I told her. She worked at a Public Sector Bank in a local branch at walking distance from our apartment.
“I’ll call in sick,” she said and turned facing away from me, going back to sleep. Seeing the mood that she was in, I thought it’d be better to leave her be. I took a bath in the attached bathroom of our bedroom. By the time I dressed up and went to the dining room, mom was waiting with my breakfast ready on a plate. I sat down and started munching on the crispy dosa and coconut chutney.
“Swetha isn’t up yet?” Mom asked.
“She is staying home today… went back to sleep,” I said in between chewing, “she must be tired. One more day’s leave shouldn’t be an issue at her bank.”
Mom observed me silently as I ate my breakfast. Something seemed to be on her mind. A couple of minutes later she spoke.
“Son, there is something I want to talk to you about.”
“It’s just that… one thing dad wished for the most was to see a grandkid… he would tell me often how amazing it would be to hold Swetha’s baby in his arms… it’s so sad that he didn’t get his wish fulfilled,” mom said looking earnestly into my eyes, “but I think you and Swetha should have a baby soon… it’ll be good for her… take her mind off things.”
I was surprised by the open suggestion. Though I’d heard murmurings of this before, no one had actually said this to my face before. I didn’t answer her. I contemplated it for the rest of the breakfast. Navya got ready and joined the breakfast table soon. She had worn jeans and a yellow top that looked quite nice on her.
After breakfast me and Navya left the apartment. At the door, mom looked deep into my eyes as if urging me to seriously consider what she’d told me before.
Though Navya’s new college was only around 10 kms away, it took us 25 minutes to reach there due to traffic. She was quiet the entire drive. I was silent as well, coz mom had given me a serious matter to consider.
Me and Swetha had discussed this previously. We had both decided to wait for two or three years before trying for a child. We were still young. I was only 28 and Swetha 26. But things seemed different now. The way mom spoke at breakfast got me thinking. Swetha had lost the guiding light of her life, her dad. She seemed completely lost these past two weeks… ate too little… spent way too much time sleeping. She needed something to look forward to… something that can be her guiding force… and a baby seemed like the most logical thing. My mind was gravitating towards this conclusion when we reached the college.
I parked the car neatly into a lane in the visitor parking. I shut off the engine and looked over to the left. Navya made no move to get out of the car. She seemed lost in her thoughts.
“Navya?” I called. She didn’t hear me. Her hands were on her thighs. I placed my left hand on her right one and called again. That brought her out of the reverie.
“Are you alright?” I asked. The eyes that looked at me told me she wasn’t. They were vacant… like there was no hope left in her. I snapped open my seatbelt and leaned over, taking both her hands in mine.
“Navya… I know how hard this has been… I know your dad meant the world to you… like it did for Swetha and Mom… and I am so sorry that he is no more with us,” I said with as much love and courage I could muster, “I understand that you are feeling lost now… without his presence… without his guidance… I understand that… and it’s okay to cry… it’s okay to feel down… but just don’t shut yourself up… you have to talk to your sister… your mother… we have to tide over this as a family.”
I could see emotions rushing out of her onto her face. Her eyes moistened. Her lips were shaking with a cry that she was trying hard to suppress.
“I am here… I want you to know that… I’m here for whatever you need,” I continued, “Anything you need… even if it’s someone to talk to… or just a shoulder to cry on… I’m here.”
The dam of her eyes opened and tears burst through. The car was filled with her halkalı escort cry. She bent her head and rested her forehead on my forearm as she wept. I let her. She needed to get the grief out of her. Warm tears fell on my arm.
Minutes passed by. Slowly she quietened down. Soft sobs still escaped her lips as she raised her head. I wiped the tears off her face with my fingers. Before withdrawing my hands, I gently pushed a few strands of hair from her face to behind her ear.
“I’m here.” I assured her once again. We spent a few more minutes in the car till she calmed down, before going inside the college.
The transfer procedure involved quite a lot of paperwork and an interview with the principal. It was noon, when we reached home. Mom was sitting on the sofa absentmindedly flipping through TV channels. Navya sat beside her and hugged her, tired from all the paperwork and the crying. Mom hugged her into her bosom.
I went to my bedroom and found Swetha still on the bed. I sat beside her sleeping figure and looked at her beautiful face worn out from the stress of the past week. I remembered the conclusion I had come to during the drive. I decided that a baby would be the best thing for her life now… and not just hers… a baby would bring back a lot of joy to the people in this house… the joy that was snatched from them by fate.
I went to the door and closed it. I came back to the bed and got under the blanket behind Swetha. I snuggled up close to her and draped my arm over her. Her body was warm from being under the blanket and mine cold from the car AC. I hugged her close to me. I could feel her body waking up from the sleep. Still not fully awake, her arms and legs moved a bit by instinct adjusting herself to my position. I positioned my head near the nape of her neck and kissed her gently. It invoked a series of wave-like movements from her head to her feet.
“Nitin,” she called my name in her raspy just-awake voice.
“Mmm,” I said placing more gentle kisses on her neck and getting similar waves of movement in return.
“Nitin, what are you… doing?” she asked, the ticklish sensations from the erogenous zone on her neck leading her body to respond to my kisses. The sensations in her body had temporarily overpowered her mind and brought her out of her sad thoughts. I pulled, turning her around to face me and resumed the kisses on her neck. She squirmed at the ticklish sensation each kiss brought forth.
“I need you baby,” I talked between necking her, “I need my Swetha back… my joyful fun-loving Swetha… I need you back if I am to take care of your family, our family… don’t leave me alone like this… I need you.”
She heard me without responding in words, but I could sense the response in her body… in how it responded to my kisses. She placed a hand behind my head and started caressing my hair as I planted sensuous kisses on her neck. She raised her feet and placed it over my legs rubbing them along smoothly. I pulled her tight into a hug. Our legs tangled together and my right leg moved in between hers. I felt a warmth radiating down from her to just above my knee… from her vagina. I moved my legs gently back and forth rubbing my thigh between her legs and found the warmth increasing. I lifted my lips off her neck and planted it on her expecting lips. My lips blended with hers as we kissed, getting more passionate with each passing second. I put my tongue through her parted lips finding her tongue. They danced with each other sensuosly exchanging saliva. Few seconds later, her tongue pushed mine back into my mouth and followed, exploring my mouth. My cock was getting hard with the passionate kissing. I moved my hand to her back, sliding it along her hips. My fingers encountered the waistband of her track pants. I slid them underneath it as well as the waist band of her panty. My palms rested on my wife’s meaty butt cheek. I squeezed. She responded by moving even tightly into my arms, pushing her vagina down on my thigh. I squeezed again and found her responding by grinding herself on my thigh. I then started lightly grazing my finger along the crease of her spine, beginning at the top of her butt crack. Swetha liked such feather-like caresses. My hands popped out of her panty and track pants as my finger moved up along her back. It slid underneath her t shirt. My finger traced a path along the middle, up and over her bra strap… along the back of her neck. She shuddered and closed her eyes as my fingers grazed the base of her head at the back of her neck. That was the spot that got her every time. A slight touch with my fingers or a light peck of my lips there broke down her defences no matter how angry she might have been at me.
This time too it worked. Her whole body shivered. She grinded hard on my thigh and pushed her breasts against my chest. I knew it would happen. One year of passionate lovemaking had taught me all I needed to know about her body and its special zones. I made my move to the next zone.
I removed my hand from inside her t shirt and brought it up to her face through her side. I held her face by the chin and turned it towards the bed so that I would have easy access to her left ear. My mouth moved towards it. When it was close enough, I parted my lips and nibbled on her earlobe.
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