He rings the bell. On the dot, always at the same time. One could fix the clock with his evening routine. It was a practiced one now. The lights would be dimmed, an instrumental music of a different kind would play in the background and the curtains to the windows would be open. The city lights sparkling into the night. She would be watching TV, reading a book, or fixing a light supper, or even dabbing some perfume behind her ears when the bell would go off.
She’d skip out to the front pausing ever so slightly to peek into the mirror next to the door. She’d check herself as he’d watch her through the glass panel. The excitement simmering through various reflections. She’d open the door, and he’d step in smiling. He would scoop her in his arms and kick the door shut with his foot. As she’d throw her arms around him, he’d bend down to nuzzle her neck.
He’d half lift her and seat her on the couch and they’d spend the next few moments, talking of their day. Fingers locked, her legs across his thighs; as he’d caress her hair, her waist and her toes. Her excited chatter interrupted by gasps and laughs. She’d share everything with him. He’d pause to listen as his eyes would soak in her warmth and happiness. He was happy seeing her laugh. That’s the least he could give her he had decided a long time ago. The laughter and joy that he spread through scores of people and audiences, he wanted her to be a part of it. She would laugh when he was with her.
Almost always she cried when he left. She would be brave, but he could see through her veil.
The bittersweet decision he had to always make while standing outside her door. The reason that made him turn around and leave. He was no good with emotions. Laughter he thrived on, but tears made a complete wuss of him. He could not bring himself to console her or say a quiet word, lay a hand on her and hold her in silence. Instead he’d let her cry, a captured soul waiting for a lull in her breaths when he could flee the scene.
The sheets would be cool against her warm skin. The kisses through the smiles, the heat in the skin, and the ardor that lay beneath it all. She’d snuggle up to him, touch him, hold him, and pleasure him. Her engrossed serious face as he looked down on her triggered waves of fondness that always took him by surprise. He could not bring himself to sweet-talk, or use endearments much to her consternation. During these moments however, she woke a gentler side of him, one that would add curves around his lips, a narrowing of his eyes and a deep intake of breath, and one that spoke volumes that only his heart heard. He’d slip his fingers through her hair and hold her close, kissing her with a sudden surge in passion, almost as if she’d flicked a switch on.
The moments would melt between lust and love, the pain and the pleasure, the screams and the moans. They’d end it with each glistening in the other , a pair locked in a state of delirium.
That was how they spent their nights. He’d occasionally stay longer, or leave right after dinner. It all depended on his schedule in his blackberry.
This Thursday was different. From the moment he entered there was a visible tenderness and warmth in his touch. She went through the motions until they lay exhausted in each other’s arms. With a peck on her neck, he lifts himself up to get off the bed.
She whispers “You were so good today.”
He smiles, “So were you baby.”
She traces his lips and replies, “No, today was special. There was something..”
Holding her finger between his teeth, he mutters “Something? Like what?”
She smiles,” I donno, I’ve always felt it. There’s this bond between us.. that’s why we are so good together.”
Pushing her away, he sits at the edge of the bed and pulls his pants on. Walking towards the bathroom, he pauses with the light on, leans against the door and says “Have to be home soon, wife’s brother’s family is in town.“he adds with a slight mock in his tone, “You are a woman and I am a man, and that’s the only reason we are good together. Nothing more. ”
The door shuts.
The lights for the coming Durga Pujo were being strung outside her apartment, and she could hear the workers beneath. Through her 3rd floor window, a sudden harsh band of light comes through, flooding her sheets and her skin in crimson.
“So this is how a new entrant to the Sonagachi on the other side of the city must feel” she murmured aloud.
Just body, nothing more.