Benign Flame: Saga of Love ( Roopa’s En Passant, page 1 of 7)

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Roopa’s En Passant

That Sunday morning, the picnic spot at Gandipet, on the banks of Osmansagar, was crowded with holidaymakers of all descriptions. When Sathyam and Roopa reached the place on their Lambretta, the gathering found their bearings for reveling.

“Mrs. Sathyam is marvelous,” admired a middle-aged man within Roopa’s hearing. Though the compliment pleased her, the allusion startled her. She was galled at her social identity as Mrs. Sathyam.

‘Mrs. Sathyam could be the prop of my public stance,’ she despaired, ‘but who would know about my private reconciliation for accommodation!’

Besides the admiring looks of the males around, and the eagerness of the females to befriend her, enlivened her mood, Roopa didn’t fail to discern the amorous glances of men who loitered around her, though the not so forthright appeared casual, camouflaging their craving. When someone proposed a round of rummy, and produced three sets of unopened packs, as if to seduce the fence sitters, Sathyam, who was amusing himself with some children nearby, was summoned. Roopa too was roped in for a quorum.

“Five rupees a count,” proposed a regular clubman.

“If it were for stakes,” Sathyam tended to withdraw, “I’m not a game for it.”

“Card-game without stakes,” remarked the regular, “is like an amorous exercise with the incapable: the psyche gets no kicks, while the hands ache.”

“Oh, why spoil the party,” said his friend, “any way; you’ve your sidekicks at the club for your kicks.”

Seeing Roopa adept at the game, Sathyam asked, “How come you play so well!”

“We used to play at Sandhya’s place,” she said declaring yet another deal.

“Mrs. Sathyam,” complimented the regular, “I think you would make a fortune if only you turn into a pro. You’ve got the skill and luck as well in required measures to sweep the stakes.”

“Lucky at cards and unlucky in love,” said his friend. “Why bother her with your proposition.”

After scooting the next deal, Roopa looked up, as if on cue, and found a youth perched on a low branch. Sensing that he was looking down at her, she realized her pallu had loosened its guard on her assets making her readjust her apparel to block her enticing valley to his probing glances. Blushing nevertheless, she seemed pleased at his enterprise and experienced a sense of romanticism underlined by his eagerness.

After the brunch, when the group gathered for a round of bingo with gusto, as Sathyam missed the house narrowly, commented a wag amongst them, “With a wife like his in his house, where’s the need for another house.”

Spending the day in mirth and merriment, and having agreed upon the need for future outings, the gathering dispersed towards the evening.

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