Chapter 02: "Prem" arrives, and the sinking feeling deepens.
In the period leading up to Prem's arrival, I had felt a vague feeling of dread, an unknown fear.
These fears started forming into more concrete form, after that argument I had with Kavita over my "snooping around".
That morning, I got up earlier than usual. Usually, I wake up after Kavita, but that day I woke up first, made coffee for both of us, hugged Kavita and tried to tell her sorry for what happened the previous day. I asked her if she would like to go out in the evening.
She said no, because she had an appointment. Purely instinctively, I asked her what appointment, and she flared up again.
"I thought you were going to stop snooping around?"
I tried to reason with her.
"Come on, Kavita, It would be snooping around if I tried to find out behind your back what your appointment is."
"Oh, so let's have it your way, you find out yourself what my appointment is. Feel free to snoop around."
I let it go. She was still angry with me over my looking in her yearbook.
I left to work moodily. I was then not as worried about the impending arrival of "Prem" than Kavita's angry mood. I wanted to placate her.
That evening, I came home from work earlier than I usually do. I got her some flowers (she liked to wear jasmine flowers like many married Indian women in India do). I took one look at her, and I knew what her appointment had been.
She had been to a beauty parlour. Looking her over, her skin was glowing. She had gotten herself a facial and I could not help feel romantic over her appearance, and my bringing her flowers. She was surprised that I had brought her flowers, though she didn't wear the gajra in her hair as she normally does. Dinner was a more pleasant affair, and she seemed to have gotten over the previous day's argument.
Since "Prem" would be arriving tomorrow, I wanted us to make love that night. More than anything, my feeling of dread hadn't really passed, and I wanted to make love to Kavita more than anything, to reassure myself than out of feeling horny. Kavita however said she was tired, and we went to sleep quickly.
The day "Prem" was to arrive had come. The day I had been dreading. Somehow, I tried to cover up my emotions and insecurity. I had told Kavita that I would take the afternoon off so we could go pick up Prem from the railway station.
The work day passed in a haze, and I got home to pick Kavita up.
When I got to the apartment, I received the first shock of the day.
Kavita was dresses up gorgeously. She was wearing a light blue chiffon sari with a black sleeveless blouse that exposed more skin than it covered. The cleavage of her big breasts were visible, and I felt I could see her breasts heaving with excitement. Or maybe it was my own dread and fears, I couldn't tell.. She had shaved her underarms as she usually does when she wears sleeveless dresses, and her hair was tied in one simple knot. Her sari was tied just low enough that it left most of her belly and navel area exposed. The chiffon sari highlighted her curvy figure and accentuated her fleshy ass as well.
The thing that shocked me was that she was wearing lipstick. Though Kavita isn't averse to wearing lipstick, she didn't do it much except for special occasions. I guess it was a special occasion to meet an old college friend, I figured.
She also was now wearing the gajra I had got her yesterday. It exemplified her gorgeous looks. Thank God she was wearing her mangalsutra prominently, as well, I thought.
The ride to the railway station was uneventful, and it took us only 30 minutes. I made idle talk, and was pleased that Kavita wasn't being aloof.
After about a 20 minute wait, the train arrived. Walking up and down, I eventually saw Prem for the first time.
I knew it was him because Kavita's face lit up, and she started waving.
We walked up, and he gave Kavita a hug and then we shook hands.
My first impressions of him didn't do much to alleviate my feeling of dread. Prem was just an inch or 2 taller than me, but his physique took me to new heights of fear.
He had clearly been into body-building or fitness at some point of time. He was broad-shouldered, muscular with thick arms that he had clearly worked on a lot, to develop. Probably, he would have been able to make it into the film industry if he were fair complexioned..but he was quite dark skinned. His tight shirt only made his muscular frame stand out next to my boyish weak frame. Our hand-shake was effectively him holding my hand and shaking it, with me limply trying to muster the strength to shake his, and not quite succeeding.
After some chat about the journey, Prem motioned us towards the end of the train, as he said his bike needed to be unloaded.
I didn't know till then that he had brought his bike along, but it didn't strike me as anything particularly worrisome. I started walking, when Prem said "Wait, we also need to take my luggage".
Prem's luggage had 2 pieces: one was a travel bag with what I assumed were clothes. The other was a big metal trunk with a handle on the middle of the lid.
One look at it, and I knew I wouldn't be able to lift it.
Still, being the host, I made a move to try to lift it. It was useless, I didn't even manage to move it off the ground.
Prem saw this, and said "Comeon man, you can do it". It sounded like he was mocking me, but I gave another shot and gave up.
Prem then commiserated that it was too heavy for me, that I could carry something lighter. I was sure I would be able to carry his travel bag, but instead Prem gave his travel bag to Kavita.
To rub insult into injury, he took Kavita's handbag from her and gave it to me. Then, he lifted his heavy trunk all by himself. But before I could protest, Prem and Kavita had started walking towards the end of the platform. I followed them meekly, carrying Kavita's handbag. My face grew red with embarrassment as I realized Kavita was being completely nonchalant to the situation where she was carrying Prem's travel bag and I was carrying her handbag.
It was as though Prem was telling me that I was only fit to carry a woman's handbag, and Kavita was agreeing with him.
We reached the end of the train, where the luggage compartments are located. Kavita took the car keys from me, and Prem and Kavita went to our car to load up his trunk and his travel bag. Before going, Prem got a couple of porters and paid them to unload his bike.
I tried to swap Kavita's handbag for Prem's travel bag, but he said with a smile (was he smirking? I wasn't sure, but I thought he was) that "It's better if we have a man stay here with the bike.
They returned in 15 minutes after loading his luggage into the car, and we started walking towards the parking area. I asked "What's the plan now?"
Prem said "I don't know the way to your house, so it would be best if I follow you guys".
Kavita said: "What if you lose us? You won't know where to go. Better if I ride with you on the bike so at-least I can guide you if we lose sight of Manu".
I couldn't come up with a counterargument, but I felt my dread go up several notches, as I thought about my wife Kavita riding with Prem on his bike.
Still, there was no better plan, so reluctantly, I watched as Kavita got behind Prem on his bike. I started to drive, watching for them in my rearview mirror. Soon, however, I lost sight of them and the traffic got quite bad with the evening crowd returning from work.
It took me 1 hour 15 minutes to get home. As I pulled into the parking area, I saw that Prem's bike was parked, which meant they had got home ahead of me.
I looked up towards our apartment, and saw them both on the balcony of our guest bedroom.
Kavita was standing closer to the ledge of the balcony, and Prem was standing behind her. His hands were where her waist would be...her bare waist. My stomach did a gulp and I tried to pull myself together and wave. Kavita waved, and Prem waved with his right hand. My stomach did another turn, as his left hand stayed near her waist region. Was he touching her, or worse, fondling her? My fears were growing rapidly.
Prem came back downstairs to get his trunk from the car. This time, thankfully, he let me carry his travel bag.
Prem settled in and Kavita suggested he take a bath and freshen up, while she would make tea. Prem said he had to first unpack some of his stuff so he could start his assignment the next day on time.
I was relieved to hear him mention his assignment, he wasn't here just for the sake of seducing my wife!
Prem went about unpacking his metal trunk. We left him alone in the guest bedroom for a while, I heard some metallic noises but didn't go check what was happening. I was afraid of opening the door, and finding him in a state of undress...or rather, the fear that Kavita might see him like that.
After a while, Prem came back to the hall, and went over some paperwork (pertaining to his assignment, I guessed).
I tried to busy myself making some small talk, and arranging our own paperwork on our tables. Along the way, I noticed a badge with Prem's photo on it. But, the name on the badge read "Amir Ali".
I asked, "Prem, your badge has a different name on it, is Prem not your real name?"
He laughed and said "Oh yeah, my name's Amir Ali. My friends nicknamed me 'Prem' in college and that nickname stuck, so a lot of people call me "Prem" rather than "Amir Ali". They do call me Amir at work, though".
I laughed and said "Ha ha, that's funny. I didn't think Prem was a nickname. Why Prem?"
At this, Kavita spoke up: "Take a guess, can't you tell?"
I tried to jog my mind on someone famous named "Prem" whom he might bear a resemblance to, but drew a blank.
Kavita prodded me, as Prem continued to smile: "Think movies. Does he remind you of any Hindi movie star you know?"
I laughed and said "Kavita, you know very well that they don't have many dark skinned Hindi movie stars".
Kavita responded: "Don't just think of colour, silly".
Kavita then addressed Prem: "Prem, go ahead and take off your shirt. You'll soon be taking a bath anyway, so you will be taking your shirt off soon, anyway"
Before I could say anything, Prem got up, took his shirt off. He was wearing a vest underneath, thank God for that.
He then flexed his arms, to highlight his arm muscles and his physique. And then it struck me with a jolt.
The "Prem" reference was to the movie"Hum Aapke Hain Koun" starring Salman Khan. And seeing his physique, I could see the reference to Salman Khan in his nickname.
It didn't make my feeling of uneasiness any better. This actor was known to be a badly behaved Casanova type of guy, flitting from 1 woman to another. Was the nickname reflective of his physique only, or was it referring to the kind of guy he was? Was he a womanizer like Salman Khan? Had he already seduced Kavita? Would he seduce Kavita? Worse, was he here to seduce Kavita?
Putting aside these fears, I grinned as I let them know I finally got it. Kavita said, "Phew, I thought you would never get it!!!"
She then turned to Prem and said "Yeah, you looked more like Salman in those days."
She then reached out and stroked his chest hair and said "You didn't use to be hairy then...but this is much better, you look even better with all this chest hair". And saying that, she stroked his chest hair again.
Standing there, watching them uneasily, I coughed and asked if we need anything else for tomorrow.
Prem said "I know you guys don't eat non-veg being Brahmins, but I have eggs with breakfast every day. And I do have chicken at-least once a week. I don't mind going outside or getting it from outside and eating here, but I'll need eggs with my breakfast."
Kavita said "That's OK Prem, let me know what else you need, and Manu will go get them now. We have soap so you can go have a bath while Manu gets eggs and anything else you need"
There were a couple of other items that Prem wanted me to get, including a specific brand of photographic film. I was to find out why, later that evening.
Knowing I was leaving my wife alone in our house with this hunk didn't help me concentrate on my driving. I got to the shop, hurriedly bought eggs and then went to a specialty shop to get the film. When I got back home and parked the car, Prem had already had his bath.
He was again standing in the balcony, and he appeared to be wearing a towel. He was bare chested.
Kavita was standing behind him this time, and this scene made me far more uneasy than the last time, when Prem appeared to be possibly fondling her waist.
Kavita was stroking his back, running her fingers along it, as he pointed to some things in the distance, and appeared to be lost in what they were talking about. I waved, but they didn't see me.
I hurried upstairs. Kavita opened the door in a couple of minutes, and I saw Prem's door was closed. He probably was dressing up now, I figured.
I asked her if she didn't see me waving, and she dreamily replied no.
I quietly put the eggs away, as Kavita busied herself preparing dinner.
Prem came out from his room. He was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless vest again exposing his muscular arms. This didn't make me feel any better, as I was intimidated enough of his physique, without him having to "rub it in".
I still tried to make conversation, handed him the film, and asked him why he needed specialized film.
It was then that I learn that he was a photographer
Prem explained how it started off as a hobby, and he loved it so much that he decided to make that his profession.
Dinner was a comparatively quiet and uneventful affair. Kavita told Prem about our marriage, our honeymoon in Hawaii, and our coming back to Bangalore eventually. I also learned from the conversation that "Prem" had been 1 year "Junior" to her in college, and that explained why he wasn't in her yearbook. It didn't explain how Kavita and Prem became "good enough friends" for her to want him to stay with us for a few months.
The feeling of dread returned, and the rest of the evening was a blur, till we got to bed.
Again, I wanted to make love to Kavita. I watched as she changed out of her chiffon sari into a more comfortable "home" sari.
.I hoped her choice of going to the beauty parlour, then wearing the same sleeveless blouse she was wearing earlier even to bed, perhaps indicated that she would be ready for sex. I tried to fondle her, she didn't stop me at first, but stopped me when I started playing around with her nipple.
"Hush, we can't do it tonight, Prem's just arrived and in the other room, he might hear us"
I generally give up trying when she didn't seem to be cooperative, and didn't pursue it again that night. The travel, the effect of the small taunts from Prem in the railway station, and then the sight of Kavita running her fingers over Prem's chest hair, and down Prem's naked back and shoulders were too disturbing mentally, and it took a while before I drifted off to sleep.
It was a fitful night's sleep, I got images of Kavita stroking Prem's chest and back with him only in an underwear. Eventually, I took some syrup to help me sleep.
When I woke up in the morning, the bed beside me was empty. Kavita was already up. My heart started racing as I feared the worst at once. Then I chided myself for thinking such thoughts about my wife.
I heard some dull metallic sounds, and got up to see where Kavita was. Our bathroom was empty, and the kitchen and living room were also empty. The door to Prem's room was half open, half closed. I peered through the opening, and saw Kavita and Prem were on the balcony. What I saw made my heart rate pump just a little higher.
Kavita was sitting on the ledge, she was still in her sari from last night. Our apartment had a concrete "bench" in our balcony, and Prem was lying on the bench, on his back. He was in a vest and shorts, and was lifting weights. He was dripping with sweat, and this made his muscular frame look more fearsome to me.
I looked at Kavita to see if she felt the same fear that I felt. My heart fell to see her expression was nothing like fear. Was it nonchalance, or indifference, or concealed lust? I couldn't tell.
Prem caught sight of me through the corner of his eye and said "Hello, you've woken up. Come on over".
I walked over to the balcony.
"I do my exercises wherever I go. It's what keeps me fit, and is my other passion other than my work, photography."
I said:" That's nice, did you bring your equipment in your trunk?"
Prem said "Yeah, that's why it was heavy for you yesterday" and grinned. I tried to return the grin, but it was difficult.
My mind went back to the scene at the railway station. Perhaps he sensed it too, so I tried to grin back.
Shortly afterwards, Prem was done with his exercises. Kavita got up off the balcony ledge, and walked past me into the bedroom, and wished me good morning. I returned her greeting, trying to not show my fear and worry.
Prem then took a couple of steps forward, and stepped into the bedroom too.
Then, without warning, he started saying...
"Exercising every day is a good idea, whatever your preferred kind of exercise is. Me, I prefer to get a good mix of weights and cardio exercises so if needed, I can do this..."
And saying so, he quickly put one arm around Kavita's waist, and another around her thighs near her knees, and lifted Kavita off her feet.
This was a very intimidating sight. Prem had just exercised, and his body was dripping with sweat. His arms were covered with sweat, and this meant Kavita's waist was quickly glistening with his sweat as well. Kavita's left shoulder was leaning against his shoulder, and her sari and blouse in that area were quickly getting wet with his sweat as well.