Eternal Love
Rudy Ravindra, PhD.

Lost in deep thoughts about her clumsy character’s next fiasco, Vanita pedaled leisurely in the lush, leafy campus, and was rudely brought back from fantasy to reality when her head hit the pavement with a thud. Her thick tangled hair pulled back in a big bun probably prevented a head injury. Dusting off her jeans, she got up and made sure there were no broken bones. However, the victim on the ground, lacking such abundant tresses, was not so lucky. She quickly pulled the scarf from around her hair and stanched the blood flow and cradled his head on her thighs. 

He said, “Am I in heaven? Are you an angel? You are so beautiful!”

She smiled. “I think you are delirious. Don’t move. I’ll get help.” She whipped out her cell phone and called the emergency line. When the victim said, “I’m fine, don’t make a fuss.”, she shushed him ordered him to close his eyes. In a few minutes, an ambulance arrived and the injured fellow was hauled off to the campus clinic. 

Unmindful of the unruly hair flying in the wind, now bereft of the restraining scarf, she rode speedily to the campus clinic. A nurse who was attending to the wounded fellow asked the disheveled maiden, “Is he your boyfriend?”

The flustered biker blushed. “No, no, no. I ran into him. Is he okay? Is he okay?”

The young man said, “I’m fine, I’m fine.” And was about to jump off the stretcher. 

The nurse restrained her frisky patient. “Young man! You are not going anywhere until the doctor examines you. Your injury is superficial. But, you might have had a concussion. Let’s wheel you in for an x-ray.” 

The patient waved at Vanita cheerily. “I’m Sontanna, Satish Sontanna. Wait for me, we will grab a cup of coffee.”

To get away from the coughing and wheezing populace, she stepped out of the stuffy, bleach-smelling clinic and sat on a bench under the Gulmohar trees. The ground beneath the trees covered by the freshly fallen bright orange and red petals resembled a gorgeous carpet, as attractive as the glowing blossoms on the trees. 

She was petrified at her carelessness. How could she dash into this fellow? That was the road she crisscrossed at least six times a day, from the ladies’ hostel to the English department. She knew every bump and every curve of the long stretch. She chose that roundabout route deliberately because it was quiet. As most students preferred the main road, pedestrians or vehicles were rare on her favorite route. 

“What! Ho! Still, daydreaming, huh?”

Totally confused by the accident she didn’t register his debonair looks until now. Notwithstanding the bandage around his head, it was hard not to miss the chiseled features and the dark, curly hair. How could anyone be so good-looking? 

“So, everything okay?”

“Oh, yeah. Shipshape. If I have nausea or dizziness, I need to go back to the clinic. I say I didn’t get your name.”

“Oh, my name, it’s Vanita. Sorry, I wasn’t looking. I’m really sorry.” 

He waved a dismissive hand. “Not to worry, not to worry. Come on. Let’s get a cup of coffee, shall we?”

Vanita got up, her slithering sensuality on full display. It was as if she spoke with her body, here I am, the most striking woman in the entire campus. 

They sat in the open-air café at the north end of the campus. 

He sipped the steaming brew. “I’m in mechanical engineering. What about you?”

Vanita said, “English Lit.”

“So, you are gonna teach after your degree?”

“I might. But, I want to write fiction. What are your plans?”

“Oh, join the family business. We manufacture machine tools and light equipment.”

*

A week after the accident, Vanita saw Satish loitering around the English department. “Hello, Satish, what a pleasant surprise. Fancy running into you like this.”

He smiled. “I’m waiting for you, ah, may I suggest we partake a drink or two at a civilized place.”

“I have to write, turn in my assignment.” While she liked him and his funny manner of speaking, she was not in a mood for social interactions.

“Oh, come, come now. You have all night.”

He led the way to his bright red BMW. “C’mon, hop in.”

“Wow! Nice car, yaar!”

He drove past golf links, Raj Bhavan, Cubbon park, and parked near Koshy’s, a popular restaurant.

Satish asked, “What do you like?”

“An ice-cold beer.”

Satish told the waiter, “Make it two.” 

He said, “So tell me about yourself. Your likes, your dislikes, your favorite color, your favorite music, your favorite food and all the rest. Yes, all about you, and only you.”

“My life is hardly inspiring. It’s very dull, commonplace. But, please do tell me about yourself. You seem to be leading an interesting life.”

“My dear lady, you appear to be harboring the wrong impression of yours truly. I’m a simple, hardworking student.” 

*

They were sitting on the manicured lawn of West End hotel, an oasis amidst the concrete jungle of Bangalore. 

“If we keep on meeting like this, people will start talking, you know, like we, like we, you know what I mean…”

“Yes, my lady, let the whole world gossip, let them fret, let them wring their hands, let them burn with jealousy at this beautiful couple carousing and canoodling, and, and then we will fall in love, get married, and have a bunch of kids. Okay?” Satish swirled his wine and inhaled the bouquet. “You are so beautiful, I’m surprised you are still single. And I’m lucky.”

“I was married. The marriage was short-lived.” Her eyes became red and her lips started to quiver, and she excused herself.

In the restroom, she blew her nose, wiped off the mascara from her fair cheeks and thought, when will I get over that gruesome night and that maniac?

When she walked back from the other end of the lawn, most men, including Satish stared. She walked like a model on the runway, putting one foot in front of the other, and swinging her hips seductively. 

Satish said, “You know, instead of a writer, you could be a model, probably make more money. You are natural, the way you walk, like on a ramp!”

She blushed. “Don’t make fun of me, yaar! That’s the way I always walk.”

“Good to see some color on your face. I’m sorry, I didn’t know, I really didn’t know.”

“How could you? Maybe I should have a ‘D’ for a divorcee embroidered on my T-shirt, huh?” She laughed.

“C’mon, let’s walk in the garden.”

The day was waning, and a shy half-moon was trying to make its appearance on the horizon. Walking along the cobbled path, enjoying the cool evening, they admired the rose garden and stood under a huge arbor of aromatic jasmine creeper. He picked a few flowers and stuck them in her lustrous hair, and kissed her. She kissed him back. One thing led to another and pretty soon they found themselves in a room in the West End. Exhausted and satiated, they looked at each other and laughed.

She wiped off the sweat beads from his forehead. “My God! Why did we wait all these months?”

He gently pushed back her silky hair, albeit damp with sweat, and kissed her lips, her eyes, her cheeks, and her neck. 

    In the morning, she woke up in his embrace, her head resting on his chest. Last night was like a dream, and her unbridled lust was at long last quenched. Her fervent hopes that a chaste hug might morph into an ardent embrace, a peck on the cheek might turn into a passionate kiss, his hand on her shoulder might descend to her bewitching bosom or delectable derriere, now were fulfilled. The cravings that were dormant now blossomed and the suppressed tension was released, just like water gushing out of the floodgates. Now she tasted his wet kisses, moved in unison with him, and moaned, and writhed. 

Her first man and her first love. She hoped and prayed that he would be her man forever, he would hold her, he would make love to her day and night, he would be the father of her children, and they both would grow old together to play with their grandchildren. But she knew that her dreams would remain just that—dreams.

*

“Vanita, will you marry me?” He gave her a ring.

“Oh, my god, it’s such a lovely ring!” She placed it on the side table. Her fantasies finally came true. But she knew it was too good to be true. “Satish, you are a wonderful guy. I love you with all my heart. But, your parents won’t approve of me. You will be damaging your family reputation if you marry me. Let’s not forget you are the scion of a prominent family.” 

“But, I can convince my parents, they will love you.”

She smiled wanly. “No, no, no. You can’t marry a divorcee. Let’s remain friends. I’m always here for you. I’ll be at your beck and call, but I can’t be your wife, I just can’t be.” She sobbed uncontrollably and buried her face in her hands.

“But I love you, Vanita. You are breaking my heart.”

She hugged him and smothered him with kisses. “You are a great guy. You have restored my faith in men. And I’m glad I ran into you. I’ll always love you, sweetie, always and forever.”

Back in her hotel room, Vanita threw herself on the bed and cried. To lose such an opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime was foolhardy. To be loved, to be pampered, and to have a bunch of bonnie babies. She was unlucky to lose a man like Satish—suave, rich, handsome, and most importantly, caring. 

*

At the completion of her Master’s, Vanita might have found a teaching job. But her parents strongly felt she should remarry. But, a typical groom desired a nubile maiden, not a divorcee. Lured by a hefty dowry as well as her astonishing good looks, a few older men, divorced or widowed, and in some cases with children as old as Vanita, were ready; but she was not that desperate. 

She applied for MFA programs and was pleasantly surprised when she got in at a well-regarded university in California. Her parents, although reluctant at first, relented eventually.

*

“So, how many years, this, this your American stint?” Satish fondled her shapely breasts.

“Maybe three or four years. I’ll get my degree, hopefully, become a better writer, and…” Vanita kissed his chest and her hand wandered hither and thither. 

“I’ll be sad and bored when you are gone.”

“No, no, no. You are the most eligible bachelor in Bangalore. It will be only a matter of time before you are snatched by a high society maiden.”

“But, we are made for each other, why can’t you agree to marry me?”

“Sweetie, I already told you many times. I’m a divorcee, and your parents will be unhappy. You should marry a girl they pick out. Everybody will be happy.”

“Yeah, yeah, everybody except me. How I can simply erase your memory, your face, your beauty…” He buried his face in her bosom.

She played with his curly hair. “Satish, I’ll miss you too. Let’s keep in touch. I’ll e-mail you and text you, okay?”

*

    A nervous Vanita got off the airplane at Los Angeles international airport and looked around for the guy who was supposed to meet her. She dragged her heavy bags, one of them with a year’s supply of spicy mango pickle, curry leaf powder, mint powder, garlic and red pepper powder—condiments to pep up any dish, be it white rice or vegetables, and sat on a bench. Tired after the long flight, she dozed off.

“Hi, Are you Vanita?” 

She was startled and stared at a breathless guy who looked as if he ran all the way to the airport. 

“Sorry, I’m late, there was a bad accident, traffic was snarled.” 

*

Vanita was shocked at the brazen attire of the California girls. In the campus, most students wore shorts and T-shirts and went around in beach sandals or flip flops. The most shocking were the bikini-clad girls tanning on the terrace. During weekends, these Sun worshippers laid on beach towels, read, drank, ate, and baked their skin. Some were stark naked and didn’t care if the whole world saw their assets. And then the kissing and fondling, right in the open. A couple, walking side by side, in an animated discussion, would suddenly stop right in the middle of the road and kiss, as if it couldn’t wait until they went home. And a guy squeezing his hand into his girlfriend’s shorts to fondle her butt. Vanita was envious of this open and free culture and wished she wasn’t born and raised in a straight-laced society.

*

At a Christmas party, her classmates and a few faculty members were having fun. Relaxed after a few beers, she bobbed her head and swayed to the music. A tall guy coaxed her to the makeshift dance floor, and they began to move to the music. She followed him shakily and somehow managed to last the number. He laughed. “You did well. This your first time, huh?”

She drank another beer and felt good about life. 

“Having a good time, hey?” Doug, her classmate, smiled. “C’mon, let’s dance.” 

That was a slow number, some country twang, she couldn’t make out the words what with all the cacophony around. He was a natural and guided her gracefully. She, on the other hand, was clumsy and missed her steps many times. At the end of the dance, he kissed her. Her first kiss in America. Doug said, “Shall we go to my place?” And her first man in America.

Back at her place, she could not help but compare Doug to her first man and first love. With Doug, it was simply a physical act to fulfill a primal urge and lacked the emotional aspect of the deep bond she had with Satish. Although guilty at the one night stand, she told herself not to be a fool and forgo the simple pleasures of life. It was senseless to lead the life of a nun. Nothing would be achieved by her pining away for Satish. Their perfect union could never be legitimized, and could never get the seal of approval of his elders. All in all, she was happy to be his consort and felt honored that he picked her instead of any of the bevy of beautiful babes who literally threw themselves at him.

*

At a dull party, she met her future husband. Vanita wore a shimmering silk sari and bindi. To complete the Indian touch, she contemplated a coronet of jasmine flowers, but curbed her enthusiasm, thinking that it might be an overkill. She nibbled on a few appetizers, carried on a desultory conversation with a few acquaintances, and wandered off to escape the boring crowd, and stumbled into a room with a huge collection of books.

Moving from shelf to shelf she saw an elegantly dressed man. He smiled, “So you too have come here to escape the babbling populace?”

She laughed. “Yeah.”

He said, “I’m Amulya. The host of this wonderful party is my sister-in-law, she feels that it is important to flaunt her wealth, ha, ha, ha. And you are?” He appeared to be in his late forties. 

She smiled, “I’m Vanita. I’m a grad student, hope to become a novelist.”

“Glad to meet you. I went to Stanford, that was many years ago. I live in Bangalore.”

“So you are here on business?”

“Yeah, I come to America often on my company business.” He adjusted his gold-rimmed glasses on his beaky nose. “So, you are a writer, huh? What do you write about?”

“Just the usual stuff, relationships, love, lust, jealousy, you know, human emotions…”

“Great! great! I used to read a lot during my student days, but nowadays I’m too busy running our software company. So, what are your plans?”

“I plan to return to Bangalore after I’m done with studies.”

“What a coincidence, marvelous, marvelous, you are a Bangalore girl! You should marry me, yes, you should. What do you say?” It was if he mentioned a mundane matter of a margarita.

She said, “But, how can I? I hardly know you.”

“All in good time, Vanita. All in good time. I promise you, I’m a man of impeccable credentials, which I’ll presently acquaint you with.”

*

For the next three years, during his periodic visits, Amulya passionately pursued Vanita and persuaded her to be his bride. Although she would have preferred to remain single to enjoy her freedom, she reluctantly agreed to the marriage. Since he was much older, accomplished, and from a venerable family, she felt secure. An additional advantage of a wealthy husband would be her ready entry into the upper crust. Also, those pesky roadside Romeos would keep their distance. Most importantly, her parents would stop worrying about her future. 

She was pleased with Amulya’s dogged determination. Alas, it did not extend to love with a capital L. That emotion was most undoubtedly reserved for her first man, and her first lover, who unleashed the passion that was hidden behind the façade of an ice maiden, a persona she assiduously cultivated over a period. But, she was resigned to a passive life without Satish in it. Now married to the beautiful daughter of a doyen of the Bangalore society, Satish was beyond her reach. When she read about the grand wedding in Deccan Herald, she cried all night. She couldn’t help but imagine their intercourse. The man whose lips kissed her, the man whose hands caressed her perky breasts and shapely buttocks, the man who transported her to the peaks of ecstasy were now probably making his bride deliriously happy. 

When she was about to speak of her short-lived marriage, Amulya put his palm up to stop her. “Vanita, every one of us has a past. It’s futile to dwell on it. The Past is history, future is mystery and present can be slippery. My wife died of cancer a few years back. I immersed myself in work, hoping the pain will go away. Work was therapeutic, helped me recover my bearings. Only recently I gave a serious thought to remarriage. When I saw you, so beautiful in that splendid silk sari, I was simply bowled over.”

*

Amulya lived in a quiet residential area not far from shops and restaurants. The imposing colonial mansion had tall columns on the front patio and high ceilings with ornate chandeliers. 

He said, “This house was built by my great-grandfather, more than one hundred years back. My brother and I inherited this house after our parents passed away. He didn’t want to move back to India. All the furniture is ancient but quite comfortable. But if you feel like doing some cosmetic changes, you are welcome, provided the cost is not too exorbitant. Although I’m well off, I’m not rolling in cash like Tatas or Birlas.” He giggled to let her know he was joking. “Go around, pick any room you like. We’ll get you a fast computer and internet connection. We have a dedicated staff. You don’t have to be concerned with housekeeping. Just focus on your writing. Yes, yes, I have every hope that one day you will join the ranks of luminaries of the literary landscape.” Another giggle. 

She liked a room on the second floor, overlooking the backyard with colorful flowering shrubs and large banyan trees. The large windows let in light and breeze, and there was even a wood-burning fireplace. Thanks to global warming and the influx of throngs of people and thousands of carbon-spewing vehicles into the metropolis, the fireplace might never be lit. However, the large number of books in the wall to wall bookshelves would be put to good use.

Amulya said. “This was my mother’s room. She spent a lot of time here, reading and writing. She was a philosophy professor at the university.”

“You don’t mind if I…”

“No, no, no. Not at all. My mother would be happy that another scholar is using this space. Do anything you want with this room, you know, different furniture, drapes, or a coat of paint.”

*

While signing copies of her novel at the Mantri mall, Vanita heard a familiar voice from the past.

“What! Ho! Selling like hot cakes, huh?”

She said, “Hey, Satish! I didn’t know you came to book readings. I’m used to seeing your picture in the newspaper with a minister or foreign dignitaries.”

“I didn’t know you are back in Bangalore. I’d have met you sooner. Anyway, we have some catching up to do.”

*

He sipped a beer. “It’s amazing to run into you like this. So, now you are a famous writer, huh?”

“Hardly. I’m just another struggling writer.” 

“After the first few emails, I never got any more messages from you. I sent you a few texts, but…”

“I’m sorry, Satish, things got hectic and, and, I read that your dad retired, and you are in charge. I wasn’t sure if you had the time…”

“Yeah, I miss those carefree student days. But, I try to make time for friends. But I say! You haven’t changed a bit. The same beauty, the same lovely look. Wow! How do you do it?” Now in her thirties, her face and body thickened a bit, more mature with ripe sensual curves.

She blushed. “Enough, enough, enough. You are still very handsome, not even a single strand of gray hair. How’s life treating you?”

“I’m recovering from a failed marriage.”

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry. Any kids?”

“No kids. Tell me about yourself. I see a ring on your finger, so you are happily married, huh?

“Yeah, but marriage is so overrated.”

“Trouble in paradise, eh?”

“There was never a paradise. Mine is a marriage of convenience.” She nibbled on a few cashew nuts. “Do you still keep a room at West End?” She caressed his smooth manicured hand and kissed it suggestively.

It was early morning when they woke up in each other’s arms.

*

“We have been seeing each other for quite some time. It’ll be great if we get married.” He gave her a diamond ring.

“I love it. But, sweetie. You know I’m married.” Her beautiful brown eyes brimmed with tears.

“Yes, yes. Marriages are supposed to be made in heaven up above, but divorces definitely do happen down below, on this good earth.”

“It’ll complicate things, it’ll be messy.”

“Take your time, Vanita. I can wait.”

*

Seeing a bearded man at the door, Satish asked, “Who are you, where is room service?” 

When Vanita sprawled on a sofa and fiddling with her cell phone looked up, the man yelled, “You bloody bitch! I’ve found you at last. Now you can’t escape me, you whore! I’ll teach you a lesson.”

From his unmistakable high-pitched voice, Vanita recognized her ex-husband. “Oh! My God! It’s you, you pervert! Get out of here! Satish, kick him out, close the door.”

Satish got hold of the intruder, but he wriggled out and viciously stabbed him and Satish fell and bright red blood gushed onto the lily-white carpet. And then the monster charged at Vanita, his bloody knife ready to do more serious damage.

Hating what had to be done, she very reluctantly shot him in his head. 

*

The manager of the Sontanna industries rescued Vanita from the press and police. Although it was crystal clear that Vanita shot the intruder in self-defense, police procedure required that she be arrested. When Vanita got out of the police station she enquired about Satish.

The manager said, “Madam, Mr. Satish lost a lot of blood, he was given three units. The surgeons are doing everything they can. He had two stab wounds, one in the chest and the other in his stomach. The stomach injury is not serious. But the chest wound is deep and the right lung is damaged. The surgeons are trying to repair it.”

“Thank you for your help. I might have rotted in a cell for a very long time but for your intervention. Thank you very much.”

The manager smiled. “We mobilized a few contacts and, you know, money has its use. My guess is you won’t be charged. Eventually, after some legal wrangling, the case will be dismissed.”

“When can I see Satish?”

“Madam, I really don’t know…cannot say anything until after the surgery. Maybe tomorrow. I’ll call you. We all pray for his full recovery.” With teary eyes, he looked up with folded hands.

*

Wearing sunglasses and a cap, Vanita checked into Oberoi. She did not want to face Amulya or her parents. The sordid episode would be front page fodder, with her picture splashed in all the newspapers. Amulya would read about the nasty incident in the morning. She was remorseful for hurting the feelings of a kind and considerate man. She paid the price for her strong, steadfast love for Satish. Now she had little choice but to leave Amulya and was deeply sorry that their marriage had to end on such a wretched note. The only honorable way out was to release him from the bonds of matrimony. It was her intention to make a clean breast of it and seek Amulya’s forgiveness and move out of his house soon. Little did she knew that this decision would be forced upon her in such an unseemly manner.

It was an arranged marriage, and her folks had absolutely no idea that Seshadri, from a rich and respectable family, was crazy. She was prepared for some pain on her first night with her husband, but certainly not that kind of pain. She had nothing but disdain for that deranged monster who brutally sodomized her and tried to slash her face and body with a sharp knife. She somehow managed to escape that mad man. And then, her father hired a few men to teach Seshadri a lesson that he would never forget. A pity that Seshadri could survive, to torment her and her lover after these many years. 

She felt a little insecure without her Beretta. Once the investigation was completed and the case closed, she hoped that the police would return her gun. She reassured herself that since the dreaded man was dead, now she had nothing to fear.

She was glad that her father insisted that she carry a gun.

*

A few weeks after her ordeal on that ill-fated wedding night, her father said, “Vanita, you need to learn to use a gun.”

“But, why Daddy?”

“You know that mad fellow Seshadri has met with an accident, he will be rotting in the hospital for a few years. But I’m afraid one day he might come looking for you. I’ll do my best to protect you but it’ll help if you have a gun.”

At a shooting range, she practiced with handguns. She had a tough time holding a gun, and her hand ached by the end of the day. It was a painful job but she persevered. First, she practiced shooting stationary targets and then with moving targets. With the help of pulleys and levers her instructor set up a complicated contraption, moved the target while she went on a shooting spree. Then there were lessons on drawing the gun quickly.

“Madam, you can have a thigh or an ankle holster. You can also have a waist belt to carry your gun. It all depends on what you wear on a given day. I suggest you get all three kinds of holsters and practice drawing the gun. You can also carry your gun in your handbag. But you need to practice a quick draw and ready to shoot in the blink of an eye. It’s my hope that you’ll never need to use a gun.” The instructor took a sip of water from his bottle. “Do you know about war and peace?”

“You mean the huge novel by Tolstoy?”

“No, no, no, for heaven’s sake, not the novel. Haven’t you heard the statement, ‘If you want peace, prepare for war’.”

“No, I haven’t heard.”

“God knows what they teach the kids these days. Oh, well, let’s hope you’ll never need to use your gun. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

At the end of the grueling training, the instructor pronounced her fit to use a handgun. And then she had to choose a suitable gun, one that could be slipped unobtrusively into her handbag or waist belt. After trying many guns, she chose a Beretta and practiced with it. 

She felt like Clint Eastwood in ‘Good, Bad, and Ugly’. Humming the catchy tune, she twirled the gun around her trigger finger. Missing were the Western cowboy hat and the associated paraphernalia.

“Okay, Madam. I think you are very good. But you have to practice a few hours once a week or so. Otherwise, you will become rusty.”

*

In the morning, she drove to St. Mary’s hospital. The surgeries were successful and Satish would recover. Since the patient was in ICU, no one was allowed to see him. 

For the next few days, she kept track of his progress. Yes, the patient was getting better. No, he was still in ICU. 

*

“Hi, Vanita. I’m out of the ICU. Would you like to visit?”

She tied her damp hair up with a yellow scarf, pulled on a pair of faded jeans and braving the rush hour traffic, headed to the other end of the town.

Satish was in a loose kurta and jeans. He smiled, put the newspaper down and got up gingerly.

Vanita’s eyes welled up. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so glad you are doing better. I was so worried. I see the dressing under your kurta. Are you in pain, honey?”

“No, no. no. They drug me pretty good. I don’t feel a thing. Oh, it’s a great relief, all those horrible tubes out of my body. Now I can drink a little tea and eat a bit.”

“It’s all my fault. I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

He waved away her apology. “I’m glad you are not hurt. I can’t bear to see you bleeding all over the place. Anyway, well…ah…hm…um…there is some good news. I found out just yesterday that I have a son. Sharmila heard about the stabbing at West End and rushed back to Bangalore. It seems that a few weeks after settling in her job at Caltech she came to know of her pregnancy. She kept it a top secret and raised the kid all by herself. She was worried that her parents and my parents might put pressure on her to return to Bangalore.” He sighed. “For Sharmila, it is always been her career, it’s her top priority, she’s one track minded. Anyway, upon learning I was at death’s door she brought the toddler along.”

Wiping her eyes, Vanita said, “You should be with your son and wife. I better go.” 

“Whoa! Whoa! Sharmila and I are not compatible, we will not get back together. She might look for a faculty position here at the university. Most likely, we will have joint custody of Kishore. I’m sure everything will work out. And you and I will get married.”

Vanita smiled sadly. “But, now I have two strikes against me. One, I’m a divorcee, and two, I’m a killer. Your family will be embarrassed if you marry a gun-toting female.”

“On the contrary, they are proud of you. You are brave and brainy. They like your pluck. You will love my mom. She will tell you all about the wedding plans.”

Rudy Ravindra lives in Wilmington, NC. His prose has appeared in The News & Observer, Ginosko, Chicago Literati, Saturday Evening Post online, and others.
More at: http://rudyravindra.wix.com/rudy

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