The newly committed lovers drove in silence the rest of the way. A companionable silence. Each lost in their own thoughts, satisfied with the turn of events. She reassured as to his intentions and he left in no doubt that she reciprocated his feelings. Yet there was something that gave them away; they were holding hands. The pressure of his fingers as he gently stroked her palm, stimulated a complex system of neurons that calmed her down and lulled her to sleep.
And that was the way he found her when he brought the jeep to a halt at the entrance of her apartment complex; her head continued to rest on his shoulder and her eyes remained shut. Feeling an immense affection for his future wife, Shantanu lifted her hand and gently kissed it. But when she didn’t stir, he resorted to another trick.
“Ouch! What was that?” Khanak jerked awake and snatched her finger from his mouth.
“Revenge my dear, tit for tat;” he drawled.
Realization dawned on his sweetheart’s face. “But do you how much that hurts?”
“Nope. But now at least I know that it works, a sure fire way of waking my sleeping beauty though I’m also aware of several other methods, they might sound quite indecent at this juncture.”
His ladylove rewarded him by coloring prettily. “Anything and everything you utter sounds indecent. Are you ever serious?”
“Yes I’m very serious when it comes to getting my way. I’m a schemer and a planner. Or else how do you think I made you accept me in such a short time? How long has it been since we met? A month? Two?”
Her large black eyes glowed bright in the darkness. “So now you are a schemer and you expect me to be thrilled to fall into your trap?”
He grinned warming to the challenge. “Thrilled you are no doubt. I had the perfect demonstration of the fact on the beach; Kiss me properly!”
Shantanu burst into a laugh as she scrambled to hide her face in her hands. Then she jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the building.
Khanak knew he would be waiting for her when she reached her floor and leaned over the balcony. She waved to him. But he wouldn’t leave till she blew him a kiss and then several more. She was thankful her mom wasn’t waiting up for her though it was highly unusual. She presumed Shaan had told her not to. Schemer!
Sleep evaded both the lovers that night. Khanak’s cheeks burned like fire as she thought of what had transpired. She hugged her pillow and tried to pretend it was Shaan’s muscular frame while he on the other hand chose to drench himself in a cold shower.
When Khanak entered her office the next day, she was greeted with the fragrance of two dozen red roses sitting on her desk. Within a few seconds she was grasping a small sealed envelope in her hands. It said: For Doctor Khanak Agarwal’s eyes only. Inside was a short note penned in his inimitable style:
Roses are Red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
But my Doctor is CRUEL!
(Khanak eyebrows rose)
Ever since I met you, I have become an insomniac.
Is that what you do to your patients?
Do you know how many cold showers I took last night?
I bet you didn’t take even one.
Showing me a glimpse of paradise then running away!
Yup I know you will deny it.
But what about my poor heart?
Lord! These hormones!
Wait. I’ll get you for it.
Khanak was desperate for some ice to rub on her cheeks. As if she had not blushed enough! He was killing her! Was it healthy to consider marrying him? You’ll suffer regardless, her heart said. Might as well suffer in the arms of the devil, rather than burn in hell pining for him.
It was a struggle to get through the rest of the day. His early morning message with that thinly veiled threat at the end had left her aching for him again. She exploded; “Damn you Shantanu Khandelwal! Look what you have reduced me to. I can barely recognize myself. Am I Doctor Khanak Agarwal, super smart physician? Or am I your lap dog, going gaga wagging my tail as soon as a get a whiff of your scent. Damn you over and over!”
Her secretary knew something was in the air. She related her suspicions to her colleagues during the lunch hour. “It seems like our doctor’s attention is engaged somewhere else. She looks lost. And she received a huge bouquet today. Right after she began to forget the names of her patients. Whoever he is I hope it is not Dr. Deepak. That man is mean.”
Just then Khanak walked by sporting a harried look on her beautiful face.
“I hope she gets married soon or she’s bound to go mad.” Her secretary murmured with a shake of her head.