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“SURPRISE!” , she exclaimed, as she halted her steps right in the middle of the room, her face beaming down on him.
He was about to haul himself out of bed, but froze midway, as he took in the sight before him, his brain capturing the details in nano seconds. The sky blue color saree with a thin golden border, was wrapped around her body perfectly. What must have been a perfect, neat braid in the morning looked a bit disheveled now, and a few strands of hair in the front have managed to come loose from the clip used to hold them back. The kohl in one of her eyes was a little smudged, the gloss on her lips had worn off and there was a thin sheen of perspiration covering her forehead.
“Delectable” was the only word that he could think of.
“Haaye, chehra toh dekho Raavan Kumar ka,” she didn’t say, but thought to herself, as she enjoyed the look of shock on his face that slowly turned to one of open admiration.
She cleared her throat meaningfully, before saying, “In case you haven’t noticed yet, aap ki fav Italian layi hoon.”
Holding the food packet up for him to see, she took a few steps towards the bed. She knew he was a goner, but he would rarely admit to it. So she wasn’t very surprised, when he quickly schooled his expressions and retorted, “Kaamchor dentist ! Mujh se kehti hai aaj full schedule hai Raman, chhe baje se pehle nikalna na mumkin hai, aap se mil nahi paaoongi sham ko..aur ab dekho chaar bajte hi ghar aa gayi.”
She glared at him in response, and he wanted to crush her in his arms and kiss her thoroughly. She always looked adorable, when annoyed. To annoy her further, he sat back down on the bed comfortably, and opening the lid of the laptop, pretended to be busy.
“Sach bata Madrasan, kahin Dr. Batra ne tumhe kaam se toh nahi nikal diya?”, he asked, and stole a quick glance at her, fully expecting her to explode.
She had some choice words on the tip of her tongue to respond to that, but a quick glance at the clock changed her mind.
He watched her curiously, as she hurried across the room towards the couch, threw her hand bag on it, and placed the food on the coffee table next to it. Rushing to the wardrobe next, she pulled her clothes out, and ran towards the washroom. But then, it looked like she changed her mind midway, because she turned back and threw the clothes on the couch and then hurried back to the washroom.
“Arre paagal Madrasan , sach mein pagal ho gayi hai kya? ” he shouted behind her, only to hear the sound of running water. But a second later, she replied from inside the washroom, “Sab aap ki beti ki wajah se hai”
“Ruhi ne kya kiya?”
She came to the door of the washroom, with her face and neck lathered with soap. “30 mins diya hai aap ki beti ne mujhe ..oh oh 25 mins now “, she corrected herself, as she glanced at the clock and rushed back inside, leaving him as clueless as he was before.
“What do you mean 25 mins ? Kahi jaana hai kya?”, he shouted back, but there was no response.
She walked out within no time, drying her face with a towel. “Kahi jaana nahi hai. I need to help her with a class project. Yeh school wale bhi ajeeb hai. Holidays mein bhi project !!” She threw the towel on the couch, shocking him, and then walked to the door and locked it .
“Teri tabiyat toh teekh hai na Madrasan. Geela towel couch pe?”, he couldn’t help asking.
“Hatao isko abhi, “she ordered, as she came to stand at the foot of the bed, and eyed his laptop menacingly.
He shut the laptop immediately and leaning over, placed it on the bedstand to his left. In the next instant, he felt her soft, warm body snuggling into his right side. He wasted no time in wrapping his arms around her, and leaned back against the headboard of the bed comfortably.
She pressed her face into his chest and sighed contentedly. His warmth and his scent invaded her senses. She was finally home.
He placed a soft kiss on the top of her head, and let her catch her breath before asking , “Itni si baat ke liye express train ki tarah daud rahi thi? Aur yeh project vagera baad mein karwa lena because I am not letting you go anywhere,” he whispered the last line and tightened his hold around her.
“Ruhi nahi manegi” , she lifted her head up and complained like a small child.
“Kyun nahi manegi woh..aisi bhi kya jaldi hai usse? Aur waise bhi uski chuttiyaan shuru ho rahi hai na ?”
“Wahi toh ! Lekin ab mein usko samjhaoongi, toh jo lecture maine usse sunaya tha do hafte pehle, wahee woh ulta mujhe sunaayegi. ”
He let out a small laugh at that.
” Accha? kya sunaya tha usse ?” he asked, placing a firm kiss on her forehead.
She looked at him sheepishly for a second and started to speak. “Main kya karti Raman woh itini lazy ho gayi thi, apna koyi bhi kaam time pe karna jaise uske liye impossible ho gaya tha. Aur sawaal karoo toh duniya bhar ke excuses, chahe woh home work ho ya subah school ke liye ready hona…har din subah uske peeche bhagna padta hai..do baar school bus chooth gayi thi uski kyunki madam late uthi thi aur nikalte waqt toh itna drama..my god ! Toh maine usse ek din bithake acche se samjhaya, ki life mein organized hona chahiye insaan ko, sab kuch time par kar na chahiye, ek fixed routine honi chahiye aur discipline bhi-”
“Bas bas meri lecture queen. Samajh gaya main”. He clamped her mouth shut with one of his palms.
“Kuch nahi samjhe aap. You weren’t even there ! “, she said as she moved his hand away from her mouth.
“Beti hai woh meri Madrasan. Acche se jaanta hoon main usse. And if I am not wrong, ab woh tere jaan ke peeche padi hui hai, all thanks to your lecture ”
She mock banged her head against his chest. “Toh aap usko samjhaona!! Chalti phirti time table ban gayi hai woh. Main ek min bhi der ho jaati hoon, toh sawaal karti hai. Aur ab apna har kaam time par nahi, time se pehle karna chahti hai woh.”
She buried her face back into his chest, and felt him shaking all of a sudden. She looked up, only to find him trying hard to hold back his laughter, but failing miserably.
“Don’t you dare !” She warned him and in the next instant, he burst out laughing.
” You…deserve…this….Madrasan,” he said, between gasps of laughter. “Aaj mujhe lag raha hai ki bhagwan sach mein hai aur tujhe teri karmo ki saza de raha hai, ” he continued to rile her up, but failed to realize that her fingers have now sneaked inside his shirt .
“Aaaaaah!!” He yelped in pain, as she pulled on the sparse hair on his chest.
“Paagal Madrasan! Kya kar rahi hai??” He almost shouted and she smiled gleefully in return, before saying, ” aap ke karmo ki saza de rahi hoon.”
She grabbed his hand that was rubbing the stinging spot on his chest, undid the top few buttons of his shirt, and leaned in to place a soft kiss on the same spot. He calmed down instantly, soothed by the touch of her lips .
“I am still angry with you,” she spoke, as he wrapped his hands around her again and held her close.
“Yeh sab aap ki wajah se hua hai. You are so busy at work, meri chodo, Ruhi ke liye bhi aap ke paas time nahi hai,” she complained.
” Aah! Is my wife finally complaining about my lack of time? Aur yahan main soch raha tha ki mere hone ya na hone se tumhe koyi fark hi nahi padta”
“Great! Ab complain na karoo toh bhi problem ? You know what ? You don’t deserve an understanding wife”.
She made an attempt to move out of his arms, which only made him tighten his hold. “Ab itni bhi understanding wife nahi chahiye mujhe. Why dont you start complaining?” he whispered, and slowly started to nuzzle his face into her neck.
“Raavan Kumar, meri shikayaton ki list thodi lambi hai, aap handle nahi kar paoge, aur filhal mere paas time bhi nahi hai,” she said , turning around to look at the clock.
“Yeh baar baar time dekhna band karogi?” Holding her chin, he turned her face towards him.
“If it makes you feel any better, meri aaj ki meeting postpone ho gayi hai Monday ke liye, and I don’t have to go anywhere today,” he assured her.
“Really?? Thank god !” She exclaimed happily, with a wide smile breaking out on her face, and hugged him tight, before pulling back and looking at him intently.
He felt his heart race a little, and the urge to pin her down and claim her lips was growing by the second. Putting a lid on those urges for now, he brushed back a few strands of hair falling on her forehead, and spoke softly. “I am all ears now. Apni complaints ki list nikalo aur shuru ho jao.”
She circled her arms around his neck and leaned up to whisper in his ears “Koyi shikayat nahi hai, aap bas mere paas raho”
“Jhoot,” he said, and paused looking deeply into her eyes, before asking in a low whisper, “Kal raat ke liye bhi nahi?”
She froze, as she realized what he was hinting at. “Woh..mm..its alright ..I mean ..I’m sorry…I didn’t…realize you were tired,” she replied, her face coloring a little.
He cupped her face immediately. “I am sorry Madrasan..bohat zyada thak gaya tha main..my head was hurting aur ooper se peeth dard bhi tha. I just wanted to slee-”
“Its not a big deal Raman! Is it still hurting?” She asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“It is a big deal for me Madrasan!” His hands continued to cup her face, and his eyes bore into hers, as if trying to read her innermost thoughts.
“Now you are making me uncomfortable. I told you it’s alright,” she mumbled, her hands coming up to hold his hands that were cupping her face.
“Answer a question for me first,” he demanded.
“Did you miss me ?”
“Miss kar ne vaali kya baat hai? Saath hi toh rehte hai hum.”
“You know what I mean!”
“Do I ?”
“Don’t play dumb Madrasan,” he warned her and brought his hands down to wrap them tightly around her, and pulled her close, their lips now barely inches away from each other’s.
She felt as though their heart beats were in sync, their breath short, quick and mingling.
“Kya jaan na chahte hai aap?”
“Yahi ki, was it just last night or did you ache for me all these days?” His voice turned low and husky, and his warm breath teased her lips.
His question made her breath hitch. She pulled back a little and exhaled audibly, her mind instantaneously drifting back to those moments in the last couple of weeks, when she missed him terribly. What would she tell him?
That she hated to wake up in the morning to find him already gone, with only his cologne lingering in the air?
That she turned over and over in sleep, desperate to feel the weight of his bare body on hers’, and then would wake up to find out, he was still not home?
That she missed sleeping on his bare chest , and the feel of his strong arm snaking around her waist to pull her towards him, whenever they drifted apart in sleep?
That she missed being cornered by him on the landing of the staircase for a quick kiss, making her heart beat wildly out of fear of being seen?
That even at work, her mind was occupied with his thoughts, sometimes to the point that she got all hot and flustered?
He couldn’t read her thoughts, but his eyes followed the path of the reddish hue that spread upwards from the side of her neck to her cheeks. His fingers came up to trace the path of her blush, stopping at her lips to lightly stroke her lower lip.
And that broke the last bit of restraint that she had over herself. Inching forward, she claimed his lips, kissing him deeply and thoroughly.
“I missed you so much !” She confessed breathlessly as they parted.
In the very next moment, she was pinned down on the bed, and he came on top of her to return the favor. He let go of her lips, only to rain kisses on her face and neck and she kept murmuring his name, as she ran her hands up and down his back. She had to stop him though when his hand came up to unpin her pallu.
“Wrong timing!” She whispered, and holding his chin, turned his face towards the wall clock.
The clock read 4:30!
“Ishimaaaa!” Ruhi’s voice reached them from the other side of the door.
He groaned in frustration and fell on her, breathing heavily.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry ! ” She whispered and rubbed his back soothingly.
“Aur do lecture usse!” He lifted his head up to scold her .
“Bola na sorr-”
“Ishimaaaa..you are late !” Ruhi shouted again and banged on the door.
“Rooh! Ishima bathroom mein hai and Papa is on a call beta..so don’t shout. Aap apne room mein jao. Ishima wahi aajeyegi” He shouted back.
“Okay Papa ! Tell her I am waiting for her.”
She mouthed a ‘thanks’ to him and he glared at her.
“Aayinda kisi ko bhi lecture diya toh ..” He left the sentence hanging, and bent down to kiss her hungrily.
“Main dekh thi hoon usse kya chahiye”, she said as soon as he broke the kiss, and made an attempt to sit up.
“You have got to be kidding me Madrasan..I am not letting you go!” He caged her in his arms.
“Not that I want to go,” she said, and peppered open mouthed kisses on his neck and jawline, and claimed his lips again.
“Samjho na Raman. Woh pura ghar sar pe uthayegi ” She pleaded as they parted.
He relented and let her go. She got off the bed, straightened her clothes and checked herself in the mirror once before heading towards the door. As she reached for the door knob, she felt his arms encircling her from behind. Mirroring her actions from last night, he kissed the side of her neck, nipped her earlobe and whispered, “Aaj raat ko..jo tum chaho aur jaisa tum chaho. Its a promise!” She walked out of the door, weak- kneed, as his words sank in.
A few days later…
It was one of those days at the clinic, when she didn’t have back-to-back appointments. As she sat back in her chair and closed her eyes to relax, her phone buzzed, notifying an incoming text message from him.
“I miss you too!”
“Samjho Madrasan.. I miss you too!”
“Still playing dumb, are we ?”
She giggled, as she imagined his annoyed face. But before she could type a reply, she received another text from him.
“Its a two way street Madrasan, and its your turn now!”
“Its a promise then !! ” She replied and leaned back in her chair, her heartbeats beginning to get a little erratic.